Remember the young lady who said all she wanted for Christmas was her “two front teeth”?Well, for the moment I have all my teeth, and I don’t need ties, shirts, socks and other useful but predictable gifts. But there are some things for the garden I’d like.Books Top the ListOn my Christmas list are books. Every time I go to the book store, I’m drawn to the gardening-book section. I won’t put any of the northern writers on my list, but not out of any residual feeling from the Civil War.I’ve just had my fill of comments about cool springs, illustrations of lovely, friable soil, and pictures of lilacs and head lettuce. I want books written by Southern garden writers. The ones written by the people on latitude south of Rabun County just may have a better grasp on our climate, pest problems, soil type and growing conditions.Tools That Will LastI want tools that will last. Don’t give me those wimpy little hand tools with painted flowers on them. I want heavy duty ones that endure. Cheap tools are just that, and likely to bend just as I’m opening ground, as daylight wanes, for a bag of caladiums. I want rakes and shovels whose heads will stay on the handles.I don’t want the accessories – Japanese gardening pants, hose carriers in the shape of frogs, or clever garden signs that proclaim my garden the stopping place for the world-weary traveler. Give those to my wife. I want stuff I can use.Gardening Promissory NotesWhen my children were younger, they gave me gardening promissory notes as gifts. Under a gardening chore was the childish scribble, “Daddy, just let me know when you want me to do this.”This is such an unusual gift, so personal, and it always meant so much to me. I probably didn’t collect on some of them (Hmm, I wonder if it is too late?) but they were all the more delightful because they gave me an opportunity to spend more time with my growing gardeners.Put Some Thought Into ItWhatever you want as a gift or want to give as a gift to someone, put some thought into it. Is it useable? Or will it just sit there? A load of compost for a gardener is really not a bad idea.Now that I really think about it, all I want for Christmas is a normal gardening year. I’ve been gardening in Georgia for almost 20 years and am still looking for that “normal season.”But then I might miss the challenge. And that reminds me – given our rain deficit, a drip irrigation system would be nice.
By Faith PeppersUniversity of Georgia Garden center owners have watched extreme weather pummel their businesses this year. They hope the holiday season will end the troubled year on a greener note. Georgia had a harsh freeze on Easter weekend. It was followed by a summertime drought that has forced many cities and counties to enforce watering restrictions. North Georgia has a total ban on outdoor watering.“This double whammy to the green industry in both of its peak seasons for retail sales has been devastating,” said Todd Hurt, a specialist with the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture in Griffin, Ga. Big ‘green’ lossesGeorgia’s green industry has had its total revenue cut almost in half this year, according to an October survey by the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council. It has a $6 billion annually impact on Georgia’s economy and employs 80,000 people.“I’m running as thin as I can to get as much profit as I can,” said Terry Kraft, who owns LawnSouth located in Fulton County.Kraft knows some landscape and nursery businesses have recently gone out of business or are facing serious financial trouble. Unlike some, his company also offers Christmas decorating services. He hopes this will save the year for him.“Thank goodness for the Christmas décor business,” he said. “If I didn’t have it, I don’t know what I would have done to be honest.”Winter is usually slow for businesses, he said. But it is when he needs money to get ready for spring planting.“We were facing equipment purchases we needed to make during this season,” he said. “Without the Christmas décor business, we would have been faced with keeping the old clunky stuff. If the drought continues we wouldn’t survive next year without the extra business.”The Christmas décor business is off a little this year, too. Kraft blames the slump in the housing market, which has hurt expendable income for some.“Even the Christmas business for clients who are affected by the housing market is off,” Kraft said. “Many of those clients like the bankers, loan officers, mortgage brokers and realtors, didn’t return for the Christmas business this year.” Back to natureBut recent media reports about high lead levels in some imported artificial greenery may turn holiday decorators to more natural décor this year, Hurt said. He urges shoppers to buy holiday plants and greenery from local suppliers. “Any traffic in nursery centers right now is a holiday gift,” Hurt said. “The drought has already proven to be the Grinch that stole business. Hopefully, the holidays will get customers back in the stores.”(Faith Peppers is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
The forests of a wet winter and spring are very active. Roots are growing and rains are helping decay last year’s woody debris. One of the most curious features of decay in spring forests is fox-fire, which are strange and eerie lights that illuminate the forest. Fox-fire is not fire and is not associated with foxes. Fox-fire is a light source or glow on the ground; a by-product of rotting wood. Not a fairy or a ghostIn the past, people thought fox-fire was a cold fire which burned old stumps in moist areas of oak and hardwood forests. This light has been attributed to fairies, ghosts and assorted other supernatural beings. The much less romantic and less sinister cause for these night lights is special fungi-rotting wood.The lights glowing along the floor of a forest are called fox-fire, fairy-fire, or will o’ the wisp. The scientific term for this glow is bioluminescence, which means light given off by living things. The best way to see fox-fire is in old, moist oak woods where plenty of big dead limbs and old stumps litter the ground. Fox-fire can be seen in the spring as the forest floor warms. The light is so dim, many people never notice it. To see fox-fire, pick a night with no moon. Keep away from areas with artificial lights and do not use a flashlight. Your eyes must be well adjusted to the dark.Fungi + rotting wood = lightThe glow of fox-fire is powered by fungi consuming rotting wood. The fungi inside this wood produce light as a byproduct of growth. It is the mat of growing fungal strands, or mycelium, not the mushroom that usually glows. The most common luminous fungi is a root rot fungus found on many hardwood trees. Light is produced when the fungi break down food materials within the wood in the presence of oxygen. Some of this food energy is captured to maintain fungal life, and some is lost as heat. In luminous fungi, a small amount of the food energy, usually lost as heat, is shifted into an enzyme system that emits light.Usually bluish greenFox-fire’s luminous glow is bluish green. The colors seen in the woods can be slightly different because leaf litter, woody debris and soil may filter or block some portions of the light. The color is also affected by an individual’s color vision at night. In general, color descriptions for fox-fire range from a stark blue to a sickly green.Fox-fire is strongest in the early evening when temperatures are around 71 F. Both hot and freezing temperatures eliminate light production. The rotting wood needs to be moist, not soaked with water. Too much water keeps oxygen away and drowns the fungi. If the wood dries out, the light is extinguished and the fungus dies. Fox-fire specters of dark spring nights can only be seen by those who look carefully in the forests after dark. Sometimes firewood cutters and late-night hikers notice this strange light. Most people never see fox-fire.
Dishwashing liquid: The bottle in the stand is sometimes missing or empty, and you’ll need this to clean utensils, equipment or even to wash hands when there is no hand soap.Roll of paper towels: Use these towels for washing and drying equipment and utensils, cleaning countertops and drying hands. Sponges, dishcloths and brushes left from week to week can harbor and spread bacteria. Homemade sanitizing solution: Prepare a sanitizing solution using a tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Some can be placed in a spray bottle to sanitize countertops and equipment after they have been washed with soap and hot water and rinsed thoroughly. You can also use the solution in a clean dishpan or sink to sanitize items after they are washed and rinsed thoroughly. Place the items in the solution for at least one minute and then allow them to air dry on a clean surface. When you sanitize, you go one step beyond clean. You reduce the levels of bacteria that may be left behind after cleaning. Have you ever looked around a concession stand? If not, take a minute to stand back and take stock. You might be a little grossed out. You are likely to see dirty utensils left in the sink, refrigerators that feel too warm, dirty, smelly towels, dishcloths with bits of food stuck to them and sponges that have been there since you graduated. Concession stands can be breeding grounds for bacteria, and some bacteria can make people sick if they get into the food we eat. When it’s your turn to work in the concession stand, “stand up and holler” for safe food. To help you and your team enhance the safety of the foods you sell, consider preparing your own take-along concession stand kit. These are the essentials: “Two bits, four bits, six bits a dollar, all for safe food, stand up and holler!” Back to school may mean back to sports for children and back to the concession stand for parents. Donate a refrigerator/freezer thermometer. Make sure refrigerators keep foods at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, and that freezer temperatures are 0 degrees or colder. Include a box of disposable gloves, food tissue paper and/or tongs so you can avoid contact with ready-to-eat foods. Keep in mind that gloves are meant to protect the food – not your hands. If you collect money and give change with your gloves on, wash your hands and put on a new pair of gloves before returning to food preparation and handling. Gloves and hand sanitizer should not be a substitute for handwashing. These are meant to offer extra protection. Did you know that people can shed viruses from their bodies before they show signs of illness and for a few days after their symptoms have cleared? That means you need to be extra careful when preparing food for others. Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, running water and soap. Pay special attention to cleaning around fingernails and in between fingers before handling food.And food safety doesn’t stop with the food. Always make sure the ice scoop is kept in a clean place outside the ice bin – not inside where germs on the handle can come in contact with the ice. Wash the ice scoop just like any other utensil at the end of your shift. Always leave the concession stand cleaner than you found it.If you need to thaw foods, the only safe methods are to move them into the refrigerator ahead of time; thaw them in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes; or thaw them in the microwave followed by immediate cooking. If your duties include grilling burgers, carry along a food thermometer. Make sure ground beef reaches at least 160 degrees in the center of the burger and ground turkey reaches at least 165 degrees in the center. Remember, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.Some foods must have time and temperature controlled to be safe. Make sure hot foods are kept hot for serving and cold foods are kept cold. Keep these foods out of the temperature danger zone between 40 and 140 degrees. Keep hot foods at 140 degrees or hotter and cold foods at 40 degrees or colder. If these foods sit out at room temperature for more than two hours, discard them. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.For additional information on this and other food safety topics, contact your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1. For posters you can print and hang in your school’s concession stand and other food safety resources, visit the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences website at http://tinyurl.com/UGAfoodsafe. Here are a few other suggestions from University of Georgia Extension food safety specialists: Dr. Judy Harrison is a professor and UGA Extension foods specialist with the College of Family and Consumer Sciences department of foods and nutrition.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) recently honored members of theVermont Public Television staff with national awards for their localfundraising efforts in the 2003 fiscal year. Besides recognizingfundraising success, the awards cite innovation and best practices. VPT’svice president for marketing and development, Lee Ann Lee, and her staffwere recognized for overall development. Sharing the honor were PeterShea, Paul Ugalde, Scott Schultz, David Donegan, Jeffrey Nelson, BrennanNeill, France Hilt, Trish Sweeney and Jeff Cory.David Donegan, pledge/events coordinator, and Kelly Luoma, vice presidentfor programming, headed a project to stage British comedy teas around theviewing area that earned VPT the PBS Development Award for cultivation andstewardship.Peter Shea, director, corporate and foundation support, won a corporateand foundation support award for his efforts in securing support forprograms.Trish Sweeney, auction coordinator, earned a certificate of achievementfor her work on the annual Travel & Leisure Auction.Vermont’s statewide public television network must raise about 57 percentof its operating income, more than $3 million, each year from localcontributions to support its programming and services.Lee Ann Lee said, “These are difficult times for non-profit organizations,but we work hard as a team to broaden VPT’s support base, while keepingour cost ratios within industry standards. We’re encouraged by the manygenerous individuals and businesses who support our work of making ourcommunities stronger.”
There were 836 new regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance last week, a decrease of 19 from the week before. Altogether 11,842 new and continuing claims were filed, a decrease of 191 from a week ago and 2,690 fewer than a year earlier. The Department also processed 2,026 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 29 more than a week ago. In addition, there were 898 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is a decrease of 24 from the week before. The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external) Vermont’s unemployment rate also continued to fall. The February rate was 5.6 percent, down one-tenth from January and down 1.1 points from February 2010. CLICK HERE FOR STORY
Coal-dependent Serbia moves ahead with new wind farms FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:The Green for Growth Fund (GGF) said on Tuesday it would provide 32 million euros ($37.44 million) financing for Serbia’s first large-scale wind farms, to help the Balkan country diversify its energy mix and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.GGF, founded by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and German state bank KfWas a public private partnership, is a specialized fund for advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy in East and South Europe, including Turkey, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa. The fund said it would provide 18.35 million euros for the 158 megawatt (MW) Cibuk wind farm, Serbia’s biggest, which will be built 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Belgrade.The wind farm is being developed by Vetroelektrane Balkana, owned by Tesla Wind, a joint venture between an Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy developer Masdar and Cibuk Wind Holding, a branch of the U.S.-based wind energy developer Continental Wind Partners. It will comprise 57 turbines supplied by General Electric with a capacity to supply 113,000 households.GGF said it would also support the 42 MW Alibunar wind farm with 13.5 million euros of financing through an IFC loan. The Alibunar wind farm, which will have 21 wind turbines provided by German wind turbine manufacturer Senvion, is being developed by Elicio NV, a Belgian renewable energy firm, near the town of Alibunar in northeastern Serbia.The plants are the first of a number to be developed in the next few years in Serbia, which produces 70 percent of its energy from coal and the rest from hydropower and aims to generate 27 percent of its energy consumption from renewables by 2020.More: GGF to provide $37.4 million for Serbia’s first wind farms
Mitsubishi Financial Group says it will no longer finance new coal plant construction FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group will no longer provide financing for new coal-fired power generation projects after July 1, it said on Wednesday in a revised environmental and social policy framework.MUFG, one of the world’s largest banks by assets, said the decision will gradually reduce the balance of its exposure to coal power station projects.The company could make exceptions where governments need to build plants to meet local electricity demand, an MUFG spokesman said.It will take a cautious approach to the coal-fired power generation projects for which the bank has started considering financing before July 1, it said in a statement.In an original policy framework issued a year ago, MUFG said it would provide financing to coal-fired power projects in line with international guidelines.In the revised policy, the banking group added forestry, palm oil and coal mining to its “restricted transactions” list, saying it may ask clients to obtain globally recognized certification.More: Japanese bank MUFG rethinks policy on coal-fired power projects
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Coal power plants in New South Wales are running less than 60% of the time due to an influx of renewable energy, increasing the likelihood some could become economically unviable and close earlier than planned.An analysis by Hugh Saddler, an energy consultant and ANU honorary associate professor, also found coal generation in Queensland had dropped to less than 70% of capacity as more cheap solar and wind came online.Saddler said the resulting fall in revenue for coal plant owners, and the wear and tear involved in ramping up and down decades-old generators designed to be run constantly, increased the likelihood of breakdowns and early closures in the years ahead.AGL’s Liddell coal plant is scheduled to close by early 2023 after the company resisted a campaign by the Morrison government for it to extend its life. Saddler said the fall in demand for coal over the past two years suggested other plants that have yet to confirm closure plans could follow.He said coal could be running at 50% capacity in NSW by 2022 and 60% capacity in Queensland by 2025 on current trends.“Ageing coal power stations like Liddell will find it increasingly difficult to stay afloat if they are only being used half the time, and that is the direction we appear to be heading in NSW in the next two years,” Saddler said. “If there are extended breakdowns, as we had at Loy Yang A in Victoria last year, it may not be economic for owners to keep a plant going.”[Adam Morton]More: Influx of renewables sees coal power plants run well below capacity, increasing chance of closures Rising renewable generation in Australia undercutting economics of coal-fired power plants
Hope everyone has been able to get out and enjoy the amazing April we are having so far on the East Coast. While winter was quite the cross to bear, the end of March brought warmer temperatures and sunshine. It feels pretty good to be hitting the roads and streets in just running shorts and a tank rather than 15 different layers of performance wicking fabric. I wanted to share two items that I have really been enjoying on the trail, which are Injinji socks and GU Chomps Energy Chews. They bring their A game whether you are running, hiking, or biking. Let’s dive into each product in more detail.Injinji SocksWell let’s get the obvious out of the way; these are not your cookie cutter performance sock. They have separate sleeves for each of your toes! Injinji is the model success story for a company that thought outside of the box. The sock hasn’t changed in years, and Injinji decided they could do it better. There toe socks help prevent blisters, wick moisture faster than normal socks, provide better feel, and promote better balance. My friend Nicklaus (ultra runner) swears by them, and I really enjoy the feel and fit they give you while running. I will say they get some getting used to, and some people do not like the feeling of having separate toe sleeves. I think it’s worth trying a pair, if only just to try a new sock design. If between sizes go for the larger, and give them a shot!($10-$16); injinji.comGU Energy ChewsAs you avid outdoors people know having treats for the trail is serious business. You can go many routes like the classic PB&J or G.O.R.P., mix it up with the more complex like a burrito or brownies, or go the technical route with chews, bars, or gels. While all are tasty, the chews and more that company’s offer many times have far more calories, essential ingredients, and more that will get you through that big day in the woods. GU sent a few packs of their lemon flavored Energy Chomps over and I have been able to test them running and biking. The lemon flavor is new for GU, and they nailed it. Over multiple hours the chews were still tasty and they pack a punch of 180 calories and 60g of carbs per pack. A box of 16 will run you $35, and most shops sell one pack for about $3-$4. Tasty, affordable, and packed with the good stuff, what more do you want?($3/per pack, $35/per box); guenergy.comBe sure to try these two great products out, and hope to see you out on the trail!