Showing posts from July, 2007

Think Before You Axe

Guest blog by Fred Gillespie Trees. For many individuals trees are usually viewed as things of beauty. Joyce Kilmer said as much in his poem, “Trees,” written in 1913 as part of a collection of his works published in 1914 under the title, “Trees And Other Poems.” We have since come to learn, however, that there are considerably more benefits that trees provide besides their aesthetic pleasure. For example, trees, whether alive, in stages of decay, or dead, provide nests, nesting materials, and protection from the elements for a wide range of bird and animal life. Many also serve as a food source. In addition, they also emit oxygen into the earth’s atmosphere, while their roots aid in maintaining the quality of the water in streams and rivers by limiting and/or preventing soil erosion. A single mature tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) notes that construction sites may prod

Tree Fight

The fight over Jackson Township’s tree preservation ordinance points up how important it is to get ordinances right the first time, but that’s not the only thing it shows. Unfortunately the law was written to require replacement of every tree removed from development, or an in-lieu fee, and that’s where it missed the mark. Since replacing every tree would be impossible, builders were essentially forced to pay the fee. (Must be a lot of tree chopping going on down there, since the fund has collected $1,937,598.33 since 2003 and has a $663,039 balance.) The Tree Escrow Fund was created so that the town could plant trees or shrubs on public property elsewhere in town. But the appellate court agreed with now-retired Superior Court Judge Eugene D. Serpentelli's 2005 finding that Jackson did not explain how planting trees on township land could benefit the properties from which the trees were removed. And here’s where I have a problem. Clearly none of the judges grasps the f

Tricky Tomatoes

When we added onto our house five years ago, the builder told us he would have to resolve a drainage problem by burying a large perforated plastic pipe on the half of the front yard that slopes downhill, and covering it with material that was little more than 2-inch limestone gravel and sand. Since we live in an area of acid soils, our little alkaline patch presented a real gardening challenge. No amount of amending could ever make this into suitable “soil.” I experimented with a wide variety of perennials, only to have them all die within a couple of weeks. I considered a gravel garden, but decided that the look of it would be jarring, given the Arts and Crafts styling of the house and the floral and foliage colors we’d chosen for the rest of the property. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that this sun-baked site might be the ideal place for a modest vegetable patch. Eventually, the spot disclosed itself to be the perfect location for a lavender border. In their second ye

Cucumber Surprise

We are rather casual composters. No scientific layering, no compost “boosters,” no careful control of the ratio of green to brown material. It’s more like, dump the daily vegetable waste; toss the results of weeding the garden on Saturday; pile on the shredded newspapers and appropriate junk mail on Sunday. Toss occasionally. Since we live in the middle of the woods, come Fall, the whole thing is blanketed by two to three feet of leaves. The resulting earthworms are the size of small snakes. The vegetable waste is almost a non-starter, since it is nearly all consumed by our resident ground hog, Chubby Chuck. Chubby is treated to all kinds of exotic fare: Mangos, avocados, bananas, a variety of melons, citrus fruit, nectarines, and plums, in addition to the more ordinary stuff, like carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, etc. Chubby is an equal-opportunity eater, gobbling everything available with the same relish. This system works well for all of us. Chubby is fat, dumb, and happy and