CInder Block Vertical Wall Planter

THE ONCE A WEEK POST FOR FEBRUARY 22 2012

I found this Vertical Wall on Urban Garden‘s site and chose it for the first Once a Week post because, well, not only do I love it, but it is made from cinder blocks which can often be found at construction sites; it is easy to build; won’t cost a fortune and is cool looking but not so hip it will make the rest of your garden look immediately out dated.

Zac Benson built the wall (and took the beautiful photographs of it) in his California home. He is a succulent collector and felt this would be a great way to display them.

You can read the full article here which has instructions on how to build it but it’s not that difficult. Plus, with this design you can start small and add on; either up or out.

The Congress for New Urbanism

February 19, 2012

At Resolution Gardens, which is located here in Austin, I read about The Congress for New Urbanism which had a post about the Partnership for Sustainable Communities which I posted about yesterday. Got all that?

CNU touts itself as “the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions.” Co-founders include Peter Calthorpe, Elizabeth Moule, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Stephanos Polyzoides and Dan Solomon all people with a wealth of experience developing sustainable communities. This organization has some real potential to do good.

Also read about this good news at the CNU website Obama Administration Releases 2013 Budget, Protects Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is an inter-agency partnership between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whose goal is to create more sustainable communities.

As defined by the Partnership sustainable communities are “places that have a variety of housing and transportation choices, with destinations close to home. As a result, they tend to have lower transportation costs, reduce air pollution and stormwater runoff, decrease infrastructure costs, preserve historic properties and sensitive lands, save people time in traffic, be more economically resilient and meet market demand for different types of housing at different price points.”

I have to admit I was unaware of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ existence until recently so I can’t say ‘oh, they’ve done amazing things’ but there is definitely interesting information on their website that gave me food for thought.

There is also information about what they have planned for the future, ways to get involved, grants, addresses of regional offices and other resources.

Be sure to take a look at the Partnership’s About Us page where they list their Livability Principles.

How To Eat Green

February 17, 2012

English: Tomatoes at a market.

Image via Wikipedia

This has become such a complicated issue sometimes when I’m in the grocery store I feel like I need a PhD in sustainable eating just to shop. So I did some research and found a few articles that will help us all navigate the aisles the next time we’re in the store buying groceries.

First of all I want to explain what I mean by “green.” I mean food, or other goods, that were grown or produced with the least impact on the environment. So, not just organically but also locally and using fair labor.

In this New York Times article by Elisabeth Rosenthal she explains that much of the produce in the supermarket labeled organic comes from over a thousand miles away and is grown with intensive irrigation – not so green. There is also an excellent short slide show by Marcus Yam that sums up the situation

At GoGreen Kim S. offers up information about how “green” your food is that will help making choices at the grocery store easier. Kim also recommends Local HarvestEat Well Guide, and FoodRoutes as places where you can find locally and sustainably produced food in your area.

At TreeHugger Jess Root writes about how eating green is not just good for the planet but also good for your body and your waistline. Read Seven Ways to Eat Green. (There is a photo with the article taken by Marina Avila of a hamster eating a grape. It just cracks me up every time I look at it!)

There is also a link on Jess’s page for a recipe for grilled avocados. I usually eat avocados mixed with fig balsamic vinegar and a bit of sea salt but this sounded so good I am definitely going to try it.

Victory garden poster, World War II

In an interview on Garden Rant, Michelle Owens talks to David Wolfe, a plant scientist and  expert on climate change at Cornell University.

Wolfe brings up a point which I thought was very interesting; Victory Gardens as a litmus test for climate change.

During World Wars I and II people planted vegetable gardens to supplement their food supply and help ensure troops would have enough to eat. The smallest spaces were used to grow food. People grew lettuce on their windowsills. The gardens were truly a country wide effort.

You can read the entire Garden Rant interview here but the part I found really interesting was this:

Q:  In The New American Landscape, you recommend “cautious exploration” with less hardy plants on the part of gardeners.  Why not wild experimentation? 

A: Actually, gardeners can lead the way here, figuring out how we can take advantage of the opportunities offered by a warming climate, because it’s not their entire livelihood at stake, as with farmers.  Maybe we need Victory Gardens in a new context, that of climate change.

I think this is a wonderful idea. A lot of people think you need a good size suburban backyard to have a vegetable garden that will give you anything substantial. To that I say three things. One, Pshaw. Two, Not true. You can grow more than you think in less space than you thought possible. And three even if you only get four tomatoes and two cucumbers that’s four tomatoes and two cucumbers more than you would have gotten if you hadn’t had a garden at all. And let me tell you you haven’t REALLY had a tomato until you have had a tomato straight from the garden.

One way to ease into a Victory Garden is to add some edibles into your ornamental garden. Here are two sweet potato vines planted in a small raised bed around a Honeysuckle shrub. Most of the Sweet potato vines with pretty foliage don’t produce potatoes but these do. And they are tasty.

Plus remember my post about Living Walls? You can do that with edibles as well as ornamental plants. At Woolypocket you can buy products to create a Living Wall of vegetables, herbs, ornamentals or any combination thereof.

Urban Gardens also has some very interesting and sophisticated Living Walls you can take a look at here. There is one with lettuce and strawberries.

As far as figuring out where to begin with your new Victory Garden there are a number of books dedicated to vegetable gardening in small spaces. Two of my favorites are Joy Larckom’s Creative Vegetable Gardening and Designing the New Kitchen Garden by Jennifer R. Bartley.

Joy Larckom is a Garden Writer and Horticulturalist. She is a master at creating interesting and unique looks for an edible garden. The way she combines different colors, textures, vegetables, herbs and edible ornamental flowers is just short of, dare I say, brilliant. This is a link to a wonderful article she wrote for The Guardian in the UK.

Jennifer Bartley is a Landscape Designer and garden writer. The underlying theme of her book is that it is rewarding to feed your body from your garden but twice as rewarding to feed your body and your soul; something you can do by creating a vegetable garden that is not only functional but is also en expression of your creativity and beautiful to look at day after day.

Historically a Green Wall was used to describe a row of hedges or low growing trees that were used to form a border or boundary. Theses days, however, the term has taken on a whole new meaning.

Green Walls, also referred to as Living Walls and Vertical Gardens, are basically gardens that grow up rather than out. Up a previously built wall or a wall that was created specifically for thee purpose of planting.

Perusing the LandscapingNetwork.com‘s facebook page I saw what I thought was a particularly imaginative and well executed Green Wall. It was done by Blooming Desert Landscapes in Bend,Oregon.

Blooming Desert Landscapes' Green Wall

According to their facebook page it is made from old pallets. I love when recycling and great esthetics come together.

%d bloggers like this: