Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
I was at Wichita Valley Nursery yesterday and saw some olla pots with information on using them as drip irrigation. Olla pots are unglazed terra cotta pots that are buried in the garden and filled with water. The water slowly seeps out of the pot into the surrounding soil, keeping it moist near the roots of the plants. We certainly qualify as arid right now. I didn't ask Paul how much he was selling his pots for, but online they are pretty pricey. If anyone has local sources and prices, please post a comment.
If you happen to be artsy/craftsy (I'm definitely not), then I found a video on making your own olla pots on YouTube. Ignore what seems to be narration that you can barely hear at the beginning--it is a radio in the background. The person doesn't talk at all in the video.
Since we will almost certainly be on watering restrictions soon if we don't get some significant rain soon, now is a good time to look at alternatives for low water use in your yard and garden.
Today's post is a guest blog by Krista Petersen. Krista is an aspiring writer and recent graduate from the University of Central Florida. As a Health and Safety Advocate, she shares a strong passion for the wellness of others in her community and for the environment. Krista uses her writings to spread awareness of such issues to help encourage others to live the healthiest and most eco-friendly lifestyle possible.
With an increased movement for sustainability and going green in Wichita Falls, there are always some new ways to go about helping the environment. One way to make some great sustainable steps is to help cut out toxins in the home, by finding suitable alternatives to some products, thus improving indoor air quality. By finding some of these alternatives, we can cut down the risk of health problems like asthma, nausea, mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancer.
Cleaners and pesticides can be major sources of toxins in the home reducing air quality. Pesticides can be used a ton both inside and outside the house, yet they can be pretty dangerous. A couple ways to go about cutting down on toxins from pesticides is to use them only on the outside of the house, along with that plan, you can start removing your shoes before coming in from outside to prevent from tracking more of these chemicals in. Many of today's common house cleaning supplies, from types of window cleaners to different floor solutions can be loaded with toxins like triclosan and formaldehyde. Thankfully, there are a number of organic options in most stores these days, as well as the option to make your own cleaners as well.
Paint is another common product that can often be high in toxins, thus not good for indoor air quality. When using paint for decorating or maybe even with a project around the house, exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) are a possibility. Most paints are very high in VOC's; luckily there are usually great alternatives available. Most popular hardware stores carry low-VOC paints that are safer and will cut down on the risk of asthma and respiratory problems that can be brought on by repeated exposure to VOC's.
Another way to cut down on a risk of toxins is to have older homes checked for asbestos insulation. Asbestos was a commonly used fiber throughout the 1900's in all sorts of buildings and homes. Workers in many factories with asbestos began to develop mesothelioma, as health officials began to take notice. With mesothelioma life expectancy being particularly low, asbestos was soon blacklisted and removed from many structures. Although not used today, the possibility of asbestos in older buildings and houses around Wichita Falls is a possibility. Using some green insulation alternatives such as cotton fiber or foam spray can also be an efficient, cost effective substitution.
As seen, there are some easy steps that can be taken to improve indoor air quality all around Wichita Falls and everywhere else. By taking some of these steps we can not only improve indoor air quality, but also cut down on potential health risks from toxins around the house.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
March 29, 2011, 9:30 AM
Red River Authority of Texas
3000 Hammon Rd
Wichita Falls, TX
Welcome and Introduction
Nutrient Criteria Standard Development
Presentation of the Draft 2011 Basin Highlights Report for the Canadian and Red River Basins
Review and Discussion of Current Monitoring Activities and Recommendationsfor Fiscal Year 2012
An Overview of Water Quality Projeccts in the Rolling and High Plains
Design for an Investigation of Concentrations of Pharmceutical and Personal Care Products in the Trinity River, Dallas, TX
Invasive Species Management and Control in Texas
General Comments and Discussion
The Red River Authority will provide lunch, but you need to RSVP to Stacey Gree at the RRA by March 24. You can reach her at 940-723-2236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I plan to attend and would like to see other interested citizens there. Let me know if you're planning to attend and we can meet up. Just email email@example.com.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Although the focus of the report is international and from a human rights perspective, there is much food for thought for policy makers, food producers and consumers. The report identifies three objectives:
- Adequate supply of food
- Increase income of small farmers
- Must not compromise the ability to meet future needs (i.e., be sustainable)
It is a fascinating report for those interested in the subject.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
The park was very busy, with spring break in full swing. Every campsite was full, the boat ramp parking full with trucks and trailers, the fishing piers packed, and many of the picnic pavilions in use. It was good to see so many people out.
The lake level is low, since we haven't had rain in a long time. Between the low water level and the burn the park conducted in January, most of the paper trash was gone, but the cans and bottles were easy to spot. We were able to pick up several bags of trash in a short time and then enjoyed hot dogs on the patio.
I took some picutres, but have managed to misplace my hook up to download them into my computer, so later for those.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I was contacted by another company this weekend which installs solar screens. I don't know the people who own this company nor at this point have I talked to any customers, but I am glad to know there are more companies offering products and services to help our community be more sustainable. The company is Texoma Sunscreens; Keith and Jennifer McDaniels are ready to answer your questions or to provide a free estimate.
If you come across other companies in Wichita Falls that offer products or services that would interest people in the community who are trying to live more sustainably, please send the information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pass on the information.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Interested individuals and groups are welcome to volunteer. For more information, contact Terry McKee at email@example.com.
KWDB is looking for energetic people who want to live in a community free of litter, beautification project planning, recycling and green effort education and brining people and groups together with the goal of beautifying streets, neighborhoods, parks and businesses in Wichita Falls.
Come tonight to River Bend or contact Rachel Brown, President of KWFB, at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or 940-733-5819.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Members get in free; non-members pay $3 for admission.
The program will qualify for advanced training for Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists.
Friday, March 4, 2011
The first thing that catches your attention is the pretty pictures. I'm perfectly capable of reading a non-illustrated book, but hey, I am not above becoming absorbed in beautiful pictures of flowers, butterflies, and bees. After all, it works for Birds and Blooms, doesn't it?
The book discusses why pollinators are important and why they're struggling. Then the authors' provide strategies for helping preserve and improve habitat from urban landscapes to parks and farms/ranches. The book also describes how to make a number of low cost pollinator shelters and suggests appropriate plants for your garden. If you don't feel ready to make the leap to design your own garden, they have plans for several layouts with regional lists of appropriate plants (to include ours.)
You can't go wrong with this book. For everyone trying to make our community a more liveable and sustainable place for both people and other living things, I highly recommend getting and using a copy. I bought mine from the Xerces Society since I am a member and support the organization, but I found the book on Amazon.com for cheaper, so feel free to go that route--just get one. Remember, if you purchase from Amazon consider accessing through Wild Bird Rescue's website, and they will receive a portion of the proceeds. I know that and seem to rarely remember.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I admit I haven't been doing my share on documenting invasive plant species for Texas Invasives this past year, but I have gotten rid of many invasive plants in my yard, so I am not a complete loss.
The bottom line here: species that we import frequently are harmful to our native plants and animals and decrease biodiversity. More insects, butterflies and other important species live on native plants than on invasives.
We can each help by learning which species are invasive, planting native species in our yards and eradicating invasives whenever we can.
The Friends of Lake Arrowhead have several projects upcoming, some in conjunction with the Rolling Plains chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. Some upcoming events:
- 19 March: Lake cleanup, 9:00 AM - Noon. You can participate whether or not you are a member of the organization. Both the Friends of LASP and the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will have information about their organizations there for those who may be interested.
- 13, 14 May: Buffalo Soldiers event. Although not sponored by the Friends of LASP, the park staff could use a few extra hands for the event.
- 4 June: Kids Fishing Day. Although the Texas Master Naturalists usually have several volunteers out that day, more are always welcome to help the kids enjoy the fishing experience--for several, it may be their first exposure to the sport.
Several more activities will be coming up. Watch for announcements.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I like to grow fresh herbs and I like to compost (although I am not practicing that right now) but this looks interesting, and I think I will give it a try when I can find the appropriate bucket. So the idea of being able to make small amounts of compost in the house sounds like a great idea.
I'll let you know--or if you have tried it, let me know.
A number of items will be discussed, but the primary item of business is the review and hopefully adoption of the organization's bylaws. Members may also pay their dues ($10 individual/$15 family/$5 students.) We will also be discussing upcoming events.
If you are interested in improving our local state park, please come.
We often have people take the class just to learn more about our area's natural history, even though they do not plan to become a certified Texas Master Naturalists. This is especially true for teachers.
The course includes 4 field trips and 14 class sessions. The instructors are primarily MSU professors although some classes are taught by members of the local Texas Master Naturalists or professionals in a given field of expertise.
Registration is $80 ($70 for full-time college students.) The complete schedule and registration information is available from Mark Howell at Inland Fisheries. His phone number is 940-766-2383.