From Vacants to Vegetables: How do I build a garden?

As reported in my last post, I obtained rights to build a community garden on a vacant lot from the City of Baltimore. But I have never actually gardened, and had no idea how to build a garden from scratch. After doing my homework, and looking into examples of urban gardens online and around the city, I had a better idea of where to start. So this is what I had to start with (see above). Not so great in the natural light department, but at least there wasn’t any trash to clean up!

The lot. 414 E 26th …read more

Taking Design Underground: An Innovative Solution to Overcrowding

As we enter the New Year, our thoughts turn to the future – from making our personal resolutions, to pondering what 2014 will bring for us, our families, and our cities.

One exciting prospect for New York City is the Lowline, an initiative to build the first underground park in an abandoned trolley terminal in the city subway system.

Lowline Tech Demo (Photo credit: mlcastle)

In an overcrowded city like New York City, space is always at a premium. Architect James Ramsey has taken on this challenge by envisioning the Lowline as a counterpart to the popular Highline, an …read more

“Ask a Master Gardener”

From Engineer to Master Gardener: NAVFAC Pacific Employee Serves Community Selflessly (Photo credit: NAVFAC)

Would you like to know what is knocking out your Knock Out rose? Why the bloom is off your lilac? Do you have tomato trouble? The lavender blues? Are you eager to learn about safe, effective and sustainable horticultural practices? And, would you like to help share these with the community? In either case, the Master Gardener program may be for you.

If you need to have a plant or insect identified, a plant disease diagnosed, or just a gardening question answered, then “Ask a …read more

Really Simple Ways To Go Green


Inspired by Real Simple magazine’s readers sharing the “little ways they’ve gone green,” I collected my friend’s and family’s day-to-day efforts to be more environmentally-responsible:

Demetria Barrett – Limits the amount of garbage she produces by scrutinizing items going into her trash can. Rob Dickerson – Eliminates disposable take-out containers by not taking restaurant leftovers home. Transforms and revitalizes second-hand furniture documented on her blog, Decorum DIYER. Erin Drumgoole – Shares that her family’s “Paperless Kitchen,” exhibited in her Getting Greener blog post, is still going strong! Kristy Gizinski – Reuses bags, bottles and plastic containers. Kathleen Holmes – Repurposes …read more

Ballpark Tomatoes

Tomato Plants (Photo credit: kendra e)

Homegrown tomatoes are one of the great joys of summer. Fortunately for the apartment or small space gardener, there are a number of breeding advances that make it possible to grow at least one tomato plant in even the smallest space.

It’s been said that once planted, it’s hard to prevent tomatoes. That’s close to true, but not entirely. Tomatoes do have needs to be met.

Tomatoes need sun – lots of sun. If you can’t find a place that provides sun for a minimum of six hours a day, preferably eight, than …read more

Grow herbs in a strawberry jar

Susan Reimer

A strawberry jar is a tall pot that has holes in the side used for planting several plants at once. They are perfect for the balcony or fire escape gardener because they don’t take up much room and you can use them to plant a collection of different plants, either decorative or culinary. You can buy them at garden centers or places like Walmart, Home Depot or Target that have seasonal gardening departments.

Most strawberry jars are made out of terracotta; plants dry out quickly in this material. If you are shopping for a strawberry jar, opt …read more

How to Plan a Toxic Tour

Rainbow Stop (Photo credit: mindgutter)

According to the International Eco-tourism Society, eco-tourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

You may imagine exotic jungles and pristine hillsides when you hear the term eco-tourism … but there’s another, darker, and still very necessary aspect of eco-tourism: toxic tourism.

Toxic tourism is an opportunity for school groups and activists – or anyone who is interested – to tour a U.S. city’s poorest neighborhood to witness the visible toxic mishaps that are dumped or crowded into marginalized communities. Toxic tourism …read more

April Is National Garden Month

Boston: Public Garden (Photo credit: wallyg)

By now, most of the country is showing some bloom in the landscape even if it may not quite be time to put tender plants in the ground. Serious gardeners have been scrounging garden catalogues since January and sharpening their tools in preparation for digging. To mark this national greening, The National Garden Association has declared April National Garden Month.

Even if you do not have what could officially qualify as a garden in the strictest sense of the word, there are ways you can join in the celebration.

1. Visit a public …read more

Go Native, My Friend

Driving through the rural southeastern part of the United States, you pass ghostly scenes that are composed entirely of green. You are looking at a non-native plant that was introduced into the U.S from Japan in 1876 and used the 1930’s to control erosion. It’s kudzu!

Kudzu is an invasive weed that climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so rapidly, it kills them by heavy shading. It even covers entire buildings. Kudzu’s environmental and ecological damage results from acting through “interference competition.” Kudzu competes with native plants for light, water, and soil nutrients. It blocks another plant’s access to …read more

Peak Oil and a Peek at Reducing your Oil Production at Work

Peak oil ahead (Photo credit: Viktor Hertz)

CNN contributor David Frum seeks to re-define the term “peak oil” for the United States in his article ‘Peak oil doomsayers proven wrong’.

The term “peak oil” was used to refer to the speculation that the world was nearing its peak oil production rates five years ago and that sometime in the near future (now), oil production would begin to dry up.

Fast- forward to today. World oil production continues to rise. The United States will reclaim its spot atop the list of most oil producing countries in 2017.

Instead of throwing …read more