Tag Archives: plants

Zero Waste: coffee grinds for your garden

The key to being zero waste is finding all the little ways to avoid throwing things out. And sometimes that means taking things in too. Which is exactly what I do with coffee grinds. The little bit I create at home gets added to the garden, but it’s never enough. Every month I make a run to Starbucks for a commercial-size bag of coffee grinds. And that allows me to skip buying fertilizer at the store.

The science behind coffee grinds in the garden is pretty simple. It’s a rich source of nitrogen and minor amounts of other soil nutrients – phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. The same items you will find in a bag of fertilizer at the store. But do be careful when adding coffee grinds to plants, as it might interfere with growth. It is best to place in the soil – tilling 6-8 inches deep – before or after planting.

And that’s perfect for me. I can avoid throwing away coffee grinds, avoid buying fertilizer at the store, and take in trash from other places. The local coffee shops throw away their grinds unless someone asks for them. And the baristas love handing them over because it means they don’t have to take out the trash.

It’s just one part of zero waste but it shows how easy it can be. Not to mention money saving – no more fertilizer – and helpful for the community. Can you believe I’m reducing the trash that Starbucks creates?

 

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Easy recipe for drying basil – use the microwave

Summer is coming to an end and it’s time to pick all that basil. Don’t forget or you might find all the leaves fallen off. And thanks to some friends and HomeGrown.org for this easy recipe – drying basil in the microwave:

  • Wash and dry basil.
  • Place leaves on a paper towel in microwave and cover with another paper towel.
  • Let the microwave run for 30 seconds. Turn leaves over and run for another 30 seconds.
  • Repeat as necessary (can take 1.5 minutes).
  • Before storing (whole or crushed), make sure all moisture is gone (option: place in plastic wrap overnight to get rid of moisture).

 

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Why do experts always lowball clean energy projections?

Last month, Michael Noble of Fresh Energy put up a fascinating list of projections made by energy experts around 2000 or so. Suffice to say, the projections did not fare well. They were badly wrong…

What should we take from this?

The projections weren’t just off, they were way off. You can find similarly poor projections from the ’70s that underestimate the spread of energy efficiency and other demand-side technology solutions (They thought they were going to need hundreds of nuclear plants). Similarly terrible projections were also common in the early years of cell phones.

What do cell phones, energy efficiency, and renewable energy have in common? One, they are dynamic areas of technology development and market competition, which makes straight-line projections pretty useless. And two, they are distributed, with millions of loosely networked people and organizations working on them in parallel. Distributed, human-scale technologies come in small increments. They replicate quickly, so there’s more variation and competitive selection, and thus more evolution.

 

Keep reading: Grist - Why do ‘experts’ always lowball clean-energy projections?

 

 

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Final report issued on San Onofre Nuclear Plant – Edison not to blame, it was a Mitsubishi computer glitch

The final review of the radiation leak at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) has been completed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Among its findings are that Southern California Edison (SCE) responded appropriately to the issue, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a company based in Japan, is to blame. They found that Mitsubishi’s “faulty computer modeling” resulted in mismatched components that, after only a year, had worn down significantly.

The good news is that we caught this issue before a catastrophic problem occurred, hinting that the safety protocols from SCE were adequate. The bad news is that we were one computer glitch away from a national disaster.

The outcome of all this is uncertain. You can bet that SCE would like to restart SONGS to start making money again, and they can do so by completing the checklist in the NRC report. They have said publicly this will not be until at least September, probably longer, meanwhile the public is digesting this news and preparing a public hearing from the NRC.

Many are speculating that since the plant was not needed during the heavy-use summer days, maybe it is not needed at all. But, that ignores the fact that other power plants were operating above capacity to compensate. Either way something will need to change, whether it’s an acceptance of the restart of SONGS, a new plan to make normal the over-operation of natural gas plants, or some blended model that takes into account the renewable energy sources coming online in the next few years.

 

More on this…

NRC:

 

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The most common ways a dog will get injured – while adventuring with you

Ski edges (11%): Avoid slicing your dog by bringing it only when you cross-country or skate-ski. (Most nordic skis don’t have edges.)

Poisonous plants (11%): Dogs that forage aren’t getting a proper diet. Feed your dog grain-free dog food (no corn or gluten). It’s more expensive but healthier.

Cars (18%): Use rewards to train Fido to do two things—to come when called and to heel on command, especially at trailheads and intersections. If your dog is at heel and you stop, it should stop, too.

Exercise injury (29%): To avoid ACL tears and other mishaps, feed puppies food with a protein-to-fat ratio of about two to one, for bone and joint development, and keep hikes longer than two miles to a minimum.

Dogfights (19%): Get your puppy used to unfamiliar dogs. Talk to and shake hands with another dog’s owner, demonstrating that the two of you are in charge, then tell your dog, “Go say hello.”

 

Source: Outside Magazine - The Ultimate Outdoor Companion (w/ adventure training, adventure breeds, and more)

 

 

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