March 7, 2011
March 4, 2011
In 2009, the U.S. passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in order to create new jobs and save existing positions. Many of these new jobs are focused on creating clean and reliable energy around the country, with a special emphasis on solar, wind and biomass energy. Between 1998 and 2007, jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a national rate of 9.1 percent, while traditional jobs grew by only 3.7 percent. That 9.1 percent growth accounted for more than 770,000 green energy jobs by 2007, and has been growing steadily ever since. So, how does Ohio measure up? According to a recent report by the Council of Economic Advisers, Ohio ranks No. 1 in green job creation, and is continuing to be a poster child for this growth! In the first quarter of 2010, a March 2010 Council of State Governments report showed more than 3,000 full-time equivalent jobs were funded in Ohio, including projects awarded through the State Energy Program, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, and the National Clean Diesel Program. Whether the programs target energy efficiency, renewable energy or reducing emissions, Ohio continues to pave the way in every corner of the state. We can all help to sustain the green growth movement by supporting businesses and organizations that are leading the way in green job creation and technologies that are promote safe, natural and green solutions in energy, agriculture, construction, landscape and organic waste recycling. Please visit www.GreenEnergyOhio.org to look for ways that you can support our Buckeye State, and join the Green Movement!
The Eastern Redbud is an Ohio native, and old time favorite of gardeners everywhere. When the Redbud are in full bloom, with their incredibly vuluptuous dark pink blossoms, there is no tree that can rival their striking beauty. Looking similar to a cherry tree in full flower, the bloom are edible, and make an excellent garnishing for salads and other seasonal dishes, imparting a pea-like taste. Eventually, the bright pink blossoms give way to fantastic heart-shaped leaves, that are very insect and disease resistant, and emerge in subtle shades of purple, then dark green by late spring. These small to medium sized trees, never grow much taller than 15′-20′, and are perfect for even the most compact yard, lending themselves well to both full shade or full sun. Redbud can also tolerate even the poorest soil conditions, but really flourish when amended with our homemade compost and beneficial mycorrhizal fungi product, better known as CPR. We have both pink and white blooming redbud varieties, all approximately 5′-6′ tall in easy-to-transplant containers. SALE $64.95 ($10 savings!)
We now carry indoor edible mushroom growing kits. Both children and adults will have fun with these easy-to-grow mushroom kits. You can grow Oyster Mushrooms in your kitchen, which are both nutritious and tasty! This grow system is easy. Simply lay your mushroom bag length wise on a table with morning sun, afternoon shade exposure. Make one 1″ slit on one end of the bag and then cover mushroom bag with a larger clear freezer zip-loc bag, which will stand in an upright position like a dome to help hold humidity in and around your mushrooms. The freezer bag need not be zipped shut, but rather left open on bottom facing side. Every day, once or twice per day, mist the inside of the freezer zip-loc dome and mushroom bag with spring or distilled water to promote higher humidity. You will notice primordia (small mushroom pin heads) forming on the inside of your bag near the sight of your incision, which will grow rapidly once exposed to oxygen. Within 1 week, your oyster mushrooms will be bursting out of your bag, eventually reaching the size of a human fist, possibly larger. You will notice when it is time to harvest because your mushroom will slow growth considerably, and turn from pure white to crème colored. If you can harvest the mushroom cluster just before it turns crème colored, that would be best. Simply take a knife and cut the oyster mushroom stem as close to the base of the bag, near to the incision you made in the bag, in order to harvest the mushroom cluster, without injuring the rest of the culture. Then seal the incision on the bag with a piece of tape to prevent bacteria from entering into the bag. Then, flip the bag upside down, still lengthwise, and make another 1″ incision on the other end of the bag and repeat the same method as used for the first harvest. Once you get your 2nd harvest, flip the bag upside down again (this would be the same side of the bag that the original incision was made), and make another 1″ incision on opposite end of the bag from your original mushroom harvest. Cover with zip-loc dome for the 3rd time and repeat method as described for the first harvest. Ultimately, you can get four harvests per bag if you keep the bag well humidified, which is the biggest secret to success.
Once you have harvested at least 3-4 times on the oyster mushroom bag, there is yet another way you can expand the culture. Its called the straw box culture, which is even easier than bagged mushroom culture. Simply select a used cardboard box, approximately 2′x2′. Then purchase a bale of straw, which is the same straw you would buy if you were seeding and strawing your lawn. Soak the bale in water for 24 hours minimum, by immersing in a big rubber-made container or other water holding vessel. Once thoroughly soaked, grab a single section (flake) of straw, typically a 4″ thick section and pull it apart and pack the loose wet straw about 4″ thick in the bottom of your cardboard box, making sure it is welled packed against sides and bottom. Then, take your used bag of mushroom spawn and open the bag and thoroughly break up the grain spawn block with clean hands. Once mushroom spawn is broken up into grain-like consistency, sprinkle 1/3 of the spawn content a top newly packed wet straw in box. Then, firmly apply a 3″ layer of wet straw on top of the newly sprinkled mushroom spawn layer, followed by another 1/3 contents of mushroom spawn on top of the 2nd packed straw layers, followed by another 3″ layer of packed straw followed by the final spawn layer, and then pack once last 4″ layer of wet straw on the top of the final spawn layer. Close the box lid and cover the box with a trash bag, open end facing towards ground, to create a humidity tent over top of your mushroom grow box, similar to how you used the freezer bag to create a humidity tent a top your mushroom grow bag. Water your mushroom grow box with rain, spring or distilled water once to twice per week to keep the straw moist. The mushroom grow box should be located in an area where you can leave it in one place on the ground or on a table that is okay to get wet during watering. A garage, back porch, balcony, patio or deck works great for growing mushrooms in a cardboard box. Check for mushrooms to start growing through the bottom of the box, after about 6 weeks to 2 months. You will harvest when the mushrooms achieve maturity, similar to the size and color you harvested during bag culture. You will be able to harvest mushrooms in your box for about 2 full months. This straw, once permeated with mushroom mycellium, will turn web-like and white, similar to the way it looked inside your mushroom grow bag. After your grow box slows down, you can used that inoculated oyster mushroom straw spawn to again expand your grow box culture. Or, if you are finished growing mushrooms, just put this high quality mushroom straw spawn in your compost pile and cover with organic matter like partially decomposed leaves or wood chips. If the compost stays moist, you will usually get one more good harvest right out of your compost pile. Just add water to your compost pile 1-2 times per week until mushrooms emerge.
Bon appetite and happy mushrooming!
If you are looking for ways to increase your garden production while reducing your fertilizer and irrigation needs, you may be interested in the ancient practice of making BioChar and applying this process to your garden. This 2500 year old technology adapted from the ancient farmers of the Amazon Rain Forest can be replicated in your backyard with a few basic tools. You need to use about 10 pounds of BioChar per 1000 surface feet of bed area to make a lasting positive impact.
Benefits of using BioChar:
1. We can make it ourselves with a few basic materials: wood, steel container and fire!
2. Replicates the ancient Amazonian practice of sustainable agriculture. Another affective ancient technology!
3. Excellent for carbon sequestering, and other gases that promote global warming (or global cooling depending on who you ask) 6 pounds of Biochar hold 3 pounds of carbon in the soil permanently!
4. Great way to hold nutrients in soil, reducing the need for fertilizer of any kind, and reducing water pollution from leaching
5. Eliminates the need for slash and burn agriculture, because farm fields can be farmed for centuries without wearing out the soil
6. Holds water and releases as the plant roots require. So porous that 1 lb of Biochar has as much surface area as 7 football fields
7. Boosts soil biology because it holds carbon so affectively, ultimately promoting healthier, more sustainable crops of all sorts
8. Attracts and holds many toxic pollutants and can be safely added to aquaculture ponds in ‘tea bags’ to absorb toxins and nutrients. 1 lb. required for 1000 gallons of water
9. Lessens soil erosion by helping to bind to soil particles with its electrical charge.
10. If produced correctly, emits less the 5% carbon into atmosphere. The byproduct of the process is an oil used for biofuel.
11. Waste wood, agricultural debris and trash can be used to make it. This could be a great way to rid our forests of honeysuckle!
12. Completely non toxic, so won’t hurt if it is swallowed by pet or child.
13. Can increase crop yields, according to Australian scientists, by as much as 880% when added to soil with compost.
14. Easy to apply, as little as 5% needed in upper 20 centimeters of soil to promote long term positive results
15. Will remain in soil for thousands of years with no known repercussions. Still finding traces of it in the Amazon rain forest 2500 years later, where they are now selling the activated ancient soil as a local ‘compost’