December 8, 2013
Going really green for the holidays
Who says that you don't make any important connections on
Facebook and Twitter? Well, perhaps nobody says that. And the reason is
something that happened to me in the past couple of weeks. I received a
message from a guy from the Seattle area named Tom Watson, who has been following me on Facebook and Twitter. Here's how he describes himself:
I've been with King County Recycling and Environmental Services for 21 years. As part of my job I've written the EcoConsumer column for the Seattle Times
for eight years and have done EcoConsumer TV segments on KOMO4, the ABC
affiliate, for six years. I also do a lot of radio interviews and
guest segments. I have a gardening background also (like you),
doing it myself (mostly veggies and natives) and doing public education
about it, and I have been a regular guest on a Seattle radio
What's not to like? So I contacted him, and on this morning's show
Tom and I will expore ways to make your holidays greener. While he has
a ton of suggestions, which I am about to get to, we welcome your calls
at 773/763-9278, as well on my show page on Facebook and via my Twitter account, @MikeNow.
In a (Christmas) nutshell, here's Tom's advice for holiday consuming:
For gifts and decorations, consider buying less
"stuff," especially stuff that's not needed and won't last. For gifts,
consider giving "experiences" (like tickets to a show), practical gifts
(like socks), locally- or regionally-made gifts, local
foods (cheese, beer, wine, all kinds of stuff in jars), donating
in someone's name, and volunteering in someone's name, just to name a
few ideas. Make sure the gift recipient is receptive - don't force a
"green" gift on someone who doesn't want it. For families, try to
emphasize holiday traditions and special activities rather than gifts.
Try to drive less (they say that waste increases 25 percent during
the holidays, but I'll bet driving does too) by combining shopping
trips, car-pooling to holiday activities, etc.
Tom thinks that a good place to start is King County's Green Holidays page. It's divided into six major areas:
That last area, Get in the Know,
contains links to articles that Tom has written as well as radio and TV
segments about greening the holidays. He's also written an article
titled 10 Creative Ideas for Greener Giving, which just appeared in AgeWise King County. So it's clear that Tom Watson never stops thinking about how we can reduce our impact on this tiny blue planet.
I did a little searching around myself, and here's what I discovered.
Send me your tips for a greener holiday season and I'll get them posted on this website in the next couple of weeks.
Melinda Myers is back...and she has four (count 'em, 4) new books!
I'll say something for my buddy Melinda Myers,
she doesn't do anything in a small way. While many of us (okay, I'm
talking about ME) would be happy to get ONE book published, Melinda is
in the process of releasing FOUR books. I mean, c'mon, Melinda! Are you
trying to give me a complex or something? You already do radio and TV,
write a column and more.
Well, regardless of how many she's written, I'm only reviewing one: The Midwest Gardener's Handbook.
The others are the The Minnesota and Wisconsin Getting Started Garden Guide, the Michigan Getting Started Garden Guide.and Month-by-Month Gardening Minnesota & Wisconsin , which will be released mid-January, but both can be preordered now through amazon.com.
But let's get back to the Midwest Gardener's Handbook. Melinda
describes it as "for the more experienced intermediate to advanced
gardener." It's nice to see that, because, in my opinion, when a book
tries to include novice gardeners as well as veterans, it can sometimes
shortchange the more experienced gardeners.
Believe me, if you've been out in your back yard once or twice
before, you will find this book to be an invaluable resource. When she
says "Midwest," she ain't kidding. Melinda even has specific Hardiness
Zone maps for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, and Wiscosnin.
Now, I suppose you could argue that some of those are "plains" states,
but she's not taking any chances.
Then she divides the book into the categories of plants you are
likely to grow, including annuals, bulbs, groundcovers and vines,
lawns, perennials and ornamental grasses, roses, shrubs, trees and
vegetables. There are even quick primers on pruning and creating raised
For each category of plant, there is an overview, a look at design,
oil preparation and potential pests and diseases. Then there's a list
of what are basically the most well-known plants in that category,
along with their particular needs and traits. Finally, in each section
there's a calendar of when to get things done for that particular kind
Along the way, there are numerous sidebars, with tips on things like
forcing and storing bulbs, how to buy the right number of plants for an
area, a look at common rose diseases, trannsplanting trees and shrubs,
even how to make growing vegetables fun (because sometimes, honestly,
Curse you, Melinda Myers! You've done it again! This is a wonderful
book and every gardener should be happy to have it on their shelf. In
fact, get it as a holiday gift for a gardening friend.
Melinda is here for the second hour of the show today. We'll give
away a book or two and answer as many gardening questions as we can get
it. Hope you join us!