Green Garden Tips

Black-eyed susansGoing green in the garden (so to speak) isn’t hard, and you’ll save money as well. Try one or more of the following:

1. Reduce your lawn. Keeping that putting-green-worthy swath of grass pristine takes more water and fertilizer than any other area of your yard.

2. Mow what lawn you do have less often. Because they are unregulated, gas-powered lawn mowers emit more pollution than driving your car to work. Plus, it’s better for the grass if it’s kept a little long.

3. Plant natives. They are better adapted to our unique climate, more resistant to diseases and pests and they help support native wildlife. For information on what to plant, take a look at Native Plants in the Home Landscape: Upper Midwest by Keith Nowakowski or Easy Care Native Plants by Patricia Taylor.

4. Don’t use herbicides or pesticides in your garden. Most plants need little or no fertilizer. And unless you are visited by a plague of locusts, most insect damage is relatively minor. Plus, pesticides will also kill the “good” bugs and are hazardous to the birds which, if left alone, will often take care of the “bad” bugs. If you must use chemicals, use the absolute minimum amount. Runoff from overuse of herbicides and pesticides used in home gardens is a serious threat to local water sources.

5. Mulch your flower and vegetable beds to conserve water and improve the soil. Use chopped leaves from your yard or take advantage of Davenport’s compost program; they sell finished compost by the bag or by the truckload.

6. Go organic. It’s easy, fun and it’ll save you money. Not to mention the planet.

Green Tips for Earth Day and Beyond

EarthHere are some small changes that will not only reduce your ecological footprint, but may even save you money and help you live a happier, healthier life!

1. Bring your own bags when shopping. An average American family acquires 60 plastic bags per week and rarely reuses them.

2. Buy local. Produce at a local farmer’s market may be more expensive, but you are almost always guaranteed a high quality product. Buying goods produced locally reduces the fossil fuels needed to transport items across the country and around the globe. Do you really need to eat that banana from Central America?

3. Green your coffee habit. Each year Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers, 110 billion cups, and 58 billion plastic utensils. Many coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own receptacle, so buy a couple of mugs and keep one in your car.

4. Yes you can drive 55! Slowing down really does save gas. For every mile per hour faster than 55 mph, fuel economy drops by 1%. The drop-off increases at a greater rate after 65 mph. Also to remember to keep your tires inflated to the correct air pressure.

5. Stop buying bottled water. Consider buying a reusable container and drinking tap water. Bottled water is an incredibly wasteful product. It is usually packaged in single serving bottles made of fossil fuels. It then travels miles to its destination using more energy. The Earth Policy Institute estimates that the bottled water industry consumes the equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil annually, the same as having 3 million additional cars on the road.

For more ways to go green at home, check out Easy Green Living: the Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home by Renee Loux for lots of tips and ideas and which urges you to start with small steps that anyone can accomplish. Earth Day is for everyone, every day.

What’s Your Favorite “Green”Book ?

Broken Kettle Grassland, IowaVote for the novel with an environmental or nature theme that affected you the most – by adding a comment below. Some ideas to get you started:

Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen (or any Hiaasen book)

The Appeal by John Grisham (ditto)

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

The Postman by David Brin

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

The Day After Tomorrow by Whitley Strieber

The Talking Earth by Jean Craighead George

Vote through Sunday, April 27th. We’ll let you know the winner next week.

National Hanging Out Day

The Clothesline

clothes·line [ klṓz ln, klṓz ln ]
noun (plural clothes·lines)
Definition: line for hanging laundry: a cord on which clean laundry is hung to dry,usually outdoors.
 

It is a simple word that is causing much discussion these days. The act of hanging out clothes in the fresh air brings back many memories for me. Days with my grandmother and mother, the smell of fresh sheets on the bed at night. I still hang out my clothes, rarely using a dryer. I read an article in the New York Times about a year ago about clotheslines and how some areas, mostly new house subdivisions, have banned the use of clotheslines. The article led me to Project Laundry List where founder Alexander Lee gives the top reasons why you should hang out your clothes, the first and foremost being to save money – about $100 per year on electricity for most households. The organization has designated April 19th as National Hanging Out Day to encourage everyone to hang out their laundry and save energy.

There is a beautiful book on the subject, The Clothesline by Irene Rawlings and Andrea VanSteenhouse, which discusses the history of drying laundry, types of clotheslines, laundry rooms, laundry collectibles and clotheslines as art. The illustrations alone make it worth a look.

This is How it Happened by Jo Barrett

This is How it Happened by Jo BarrettSometimes the only way to get over a guy is through revenge. And the more painful the ending of a relationship, the more elaborate the revenge. Madelaine spent four years with Carlton, financing his education, creating the ideas and energy behind their business, devoting everything to their relationship. When he dumped (and fired) her the only thing she could think about was getting back at him. This is How it Happened by Jo Barrett will have you laughing out loud as Maddy experiments with poisoned brownies, voodoo spells and hiring a hitman. Don’t worry, no blood is spilled, but everyone gets their due in the very satisfying end.

What to Read Next…

booksLooking for that elusive next great book to read? I like to look at what’s popular with book clubs; the books they read are usually timely, well-written, thoughtful and provocative, all ingredients for a great read.

Reading Book Choices, a website that reviews books with an eye toward book clubs, has just released their list of the top book club books of 2007. Have you read any on this list? All of them? Would you recommend them to a friend? Any that were missed? Any you need to add to your to-read list?

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

2. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

3. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

5. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

6 TIE Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

6 TIE The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

8. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Don’t forget, the Davenport Library offers Bookclub in a Box, kits which include multiple copies of a single title, information on the author and sample questions to get your discussion started. They can be checked out for six weeks. We have more than 40 titles and we’re adding new ones all the time. Visit the library catalog and type in “bookclub in a box” for a complete listing.


Things I Learned from Knitting (Whether I Wanted to or Not) by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Things I Learned from Knitting (Whether I Wanted to or Not) by Stephanie Pearl-McPheeThis little book is filled with essays on life lessons, often learned the hard way, as shown through the craft and art of knitting. Things I Learned from Knitting is sharp and funny, written with a dry sense of humor and underlined with truth and generosity. Stephanie, a self-described knitting humorist and philosopher, has been a long-time presence on the internet with her very popular blog where she’s known as the Yarn Harlot.

Examples of Stephanie’s observations that are true in life as well as knitting include:

-Babys grow

-Beginning is easy, continuing is hard

-Everything is better so long as it’s happening to someone else

-Idle hands are the devil’s workshop

She also includes a list of the health benefits of knitting, what to do if the airline won’t let you fly with your knitting needles and 5 reasons why knitting is better than video games, all delivered with tongue firmly in cheek.

Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream by Jennifer Ackerman

Sex Sleep Eat Drink DreamSex Sleep Eat Drink Dream takes an insightful tour through a day in the life of our bodies. Divided into morning, midday, afternoon, evening, and night, Ackerman explores how we are very much driven by internal clocks that guide our daily rhythms. She does a great job of intertwining biology with plenty of interesting anecdotes. This is not a medical book but rather an informative commentary on the wonderment of the human body. Being one who loves factoids, I found some great ones in this book including:

  • Air released from your lungs when sneezing travels at 500 mph.
  • Coffee’s flavor is 75% smell. In fact all flavors are mostly smell.
  • Thinking about exercise can actually boost strength in the muscles involved. This is the best excuse to avoiding exercise that I’ve heard!
  • Yawning is contagious in only about half the population, and it’s probably the half with the most self-awareness and empathy.
  • The amount of calories we consume in foods may not be a fixed value but rather influenced by the nature of our gut microbes. That doughnut may have 30% more calories for you than your neighbor.

Happy National Library Week!

LibrariesCan’t get enough of libraries? Celebrate National Library Week, April 13-19, by reading a novel or watching a movie about them… And be sure to check out all the events taking place this week at the Davenport Public Library!

Movies on DVD

The Music Man

This is the classic library movie. It’s the story of Marian Paroo, the librarian of River City, Iowa and con artist Harold Hill.

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear

In the spirit of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Noah Wyle is a scholar/librarian turned action hero. Finally, someone tells the story of what librarianship is really like.

Books

The Mummy by Max Allan Collins

Muscatine author Collins wrote the novelization of the movie,which features an accident-prone librarian and an adventurous archaeologist. Together they attempt to solve the mystery of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The Librarian by Larry Beinhart

A political thriller about a presidential election and starring, incredibly, a librarian.

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Many of the key scenes take place in London libraries, where two young scholars try to solve a mystery about the romance of two Victorian poets.

Instant Karma by Mark Swartz

One of the stranger novels about libraries, this one features Chicago’s public library and a young man who spends each day there. His obsession with the library and it’s books takes a frightening turn.

The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken

A young librarian champions a patron who suffers from giantism. They are united in their love of books and sense of being outsiders. McCracken also has Iowa ties – she went to the University of Iowa and one of her books, set partially in Iowa, Niagara Falls All Over Again, was an All Iowa Reads selection.

Hardy Succulents by Gwen Kelaidis

Hardy SucculentsWant to try something a little different in your garden? Take a look at plants like cactus, yucca, sedums and echieverias; many of these low maintenance, exotic-seeming plants are surprisingly at home in our Zone 5 weather. It’s very likely that you’re already growing sedums – the ubiquitous “Autumn Joy” is lovely in the perennial garden year-round and the lowly hen-and-chicks make charming ground covers (they also make ideal house-warming presents; in some parts of Europe it was believed that when planted on the roof they would ward off lightening strikes) And you may be surprised to learn that Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) is native to Iowa.

Gwen Kelaidis’ Hardy Succulents will open your eyes to the many forms, varieties and colors succulents come in, and will show you how to integrate them in your existing landscape. She also offers tips for how best to grow them, the best varieties for cold regions, and combinations for container gardens. Many gorgeous photos spotlight their graphic shapes which are both modern and timeless. Succulents are showing up more and more in nurseries; be sure to try a few – you may get hooked!

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