Weed cloth always fails

Posted on | March 27, 2017 | 5 Comments

Photo: Emily Green.

A failing parkway garden in central Los Angeles in which weeds have seeded in drifting mulch that is migrating off rumpled weed cloth. Photo: Emily Green

IF GARDENING know-how is the product of observation over time, then a guideline long overdue for orthodoxy is: Weed cloth always fails. Not sometimes, not most times, but always. Look for the evidence and you start seeing its black lumps protruding like coattails from shallow graves in parkways and tree wells across the country.

This is not about the practice of solarizing, which is a method of killing weeds by overlaying them with plastic sheeting until they cook to death, though there are far more wholesome ways to kill weeds or an unwanted lawn (see sheet mulching). No, this is about a porous synthetic textile also known as “landscape fabric” that has been designed to allow water to penetrate but not air or light, thus depriving weed seeds of two of three essentials for germination.  Read more

Rat-proofing row homes in Baltimore

Posted on | January 6, 2017 | 3 Comments

Bin hutches with planters imagined in front of a typical East Coast terrace of row homes. Drawing: Emily Green

When Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s mayorship of Baltimore is finally judged, her crowning achievement may be having provided residents with rat-proof trash cans. The stout green plastic bins that arrived early last autumn came in two sizes, enormous (roughly 60 gallon) and large (more like 40). After the city dropped them off, as is if over night, the cans radically reduced the amount of skimpily bagged food waste left out on city streets as trash collection days approached. It was so effective that in a recent round table assessing Rawlings-Blake’s tenure, NPR host Tom Hall and his guests were talking trash cans in the same breaths as the former mayor’s handling of the riots and a huge port development deal.

But, months after the roll out, with a new mayor, securing Baltimore’s trash remains a job half done. The former mayor’s veto of the single-use plastic bag ban mean streets and drains are still clogged by persistent waste. The city’s quaintest streets are too small for alley collection so the cans must live out front, where they are eyesores and open to unsavory contributions from passers by. Perhaps their biggest failing is that they only address one waste stream: trash. What rats lost in open garbage on Tuesdays, trash day, they won on Thursdays, recycling day. The new bins did nothing to deny rats greasy pizza boxes and glue-rich Amazon packaging. Read more

Forget it, Jake. It’s Cadiz

Posted on | June 8, 2016 | 1 Comment

Photo: Chris Clarke/KCET

Money flows uphill to money. Not a drop of water has been exported in a 22-year-old bid to mine Mojave Desert groundwater for Southern California cities, but many millions of dollars have gone to the speculators behind the scheme. Click on the image to read my commentary at KCET on the water grab known merely as “Cadiz.” Photo: Chris Clarke/KCET

Gone painting

Posted on | May 29, 2016 | 2 Comments

Angus waiting for Donna

“Angus waiting for Donna,” May 2016, Emily Green. Painting not reporting this holiday weekend. For the latest in water news, do browse the Climate and Water column to the right.

The week that was, May 15-21, 2016

Posted on | May 22, 2016 | No Comments

Upper Colorado River. USGS

So much for the long-assumed notion that groundwater can be used as a get-out-of-jail-free card when rivers are over-drafted. Click on the image from the USGS for the survey’s study showing that as much as half of the streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater.

“I thought it was too long, and just a piano and voice.” — Paul Simon on “Bridge over Troubled Water,” Paul Simon has never stood still, Belfast Telegraph, 5/19/16

 The nation’s largest man-made reservoir slipped to a new record low sometime after 7 p.m. Wednesday, and forecasters from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expect see its surface drop another 2 feet through the end of June. — Lake Mead hits record low, Las Vegas Review Journal, 5/18/16 Read more

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