by Randy Rath

One of the biggest threats to the water quality of many lakes – including Lake George in upstate New York – is stormwater runoff. After a storm, water that falls on soil can infiltrate down into the ground and eventually make its way into the groundwater. Water that falls on impervious surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, cannot soak into the ground, and instead moves across these surfaces. Continue reading

by Joel R. Carlson

Prescribed fire has been defined as any fire ignited by management actions to meet specific objectives, additionally a written approved prescribed fire plan must exist with all applicable regulatory requirements being met (NWCG 2012). New England is not commonly known as a region with fire influenced landscapes, yet actually it has a long history of wildfire and prescribed fire. Prescribed fire has been used for over 30 years by federal, state, county, municipal, and nongovernmental land managers in the region to meet varied management goals and objectives. Continue reading

This excerpt from a longer article is reprinted by permission of the author and Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens and appears in full at http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/a-tale-of-three-garden-shows-progress/.

by Sue Reed

I have recently attended three very different garden shows that together reveal a big shift in our society’s gardening attitudes and interests. Yet I also found that a troublesome old belief – the idea that people’s garden dreams are more important than the health of the natural world – not only persists but is being re-invigorated in a surprising new way. … Continue reading

Encouraging Home Gardeners to Buy Locally Grown Tomato Transplants

UMass professor Robert Wick and UMass Extension Specialists Bess Dicklow and Ruth Hazzard are mounting a public relations campaign to encourage home gardeners to buy locally grown tomato transplants. Locally grown transplants are much more likely to be free of serious diseases that tend to remain active in the southern United States. This effort, in addition to lab and field studies, is being funded by a grant to work on late blight of potato and tomato.

This past week, 350 posters encouraging the purchase of locally grown tomato transplants were distributed by mail to a selection of garden centers. If you did not receive a copy in the mail and would like one, use this link to download a high resolution digital image of the poster that you can have printed at your local print shop. This effort aims at helping businesses in addition to maintaining the health and well-being of the commercial potato and tomato crops.

Reusing Potentially Contaminated Landscapes

Reusing Potentially Contaminated Landscapes: Growing Gardens in Urban Soils (EPA 542-F-10-011). EPA’s new factsheet on urban gardening is now available. You will find information on common contaminants that can be found in urban soil, ways to identify contaminants and reduce exposure, improving soils and growing plants in mildly contaminated soil, and additional resources and technical assistance (Spring 2011, 12 pages). View or download at http://clu-in.org/techpubs.htm .

A Community Guide to Growing Greener

The Massachusetts Watershed Coalition (MWC) has just released A Community Guide to Growing Greener. It is available for free download from MWC’s website: www.commonwaters.org. These practical guidelines explain how low impact practices and better site design will help communities grow greener and fix stormwater problems. Its information is easy to understand and apply for many types of development projects.

The Guide to Growing Greener was created with the help of community boards in Hubbardston, Leominster, Rutland, Sterling and Westminster. Several communities have adopted this guidance, which does not add regulations but will help town boards and builders to achieve more sustainable development. The Coalition will host free workshops in Leominster on May 19 to discuss the Guide, better site design for natural resource protection and stormwater management. The Guide was created with support from Constellation Energy, The Country Hen of Hubbardston and the Massachusetts Environmental Trust.

Nitrogen and Water Use with Turfgrass

As you gear up for the 2011 growing season, a new fact sheet from UMass Extension entitled ‘A Practical Guide to Improving Nitrogen and Water Use Efficiency in Turfgrass Systems’ details cultural practices and other tips for prudent use of nitrogen and water. To download the fact sheet, visit: http://www.umassturf.org/mangement_updates/2011_archive/15apr11.html

For questions or comment, email webmaster@umassturf.org

by Maureen Sundberg

Whether you sell a product or provide a service, you need to stay ahead of the curve with your business, your profession, your skills, and your education in order to succeed. Staying ahead of the curve was the goal of over 350 landscaping and land care professionals who met in Springfield on March 3 for ELA’s 17th annual Conference & Eco-Marketplace where they expanded their knowledge base, connected with peers, and explored products and services for the ecologically minded.

Education sessions at the Conference covered diverse design approaches, investigated soil development, and looked at a variety of landscaping projects – large and small. Mercer Bonney, AMEC Earth and Environmental, spent her afternoon sessions with Dan Kittredge and Jerry Brunetti looking closely at soils and came away with “a sense of the wonder of nature.” She noted, “To recall that sense of wonder is important. We need to look with fresh eyes.”

Bookstore 2011
Conference attendees perused a wide range of titles at the ELA Bookstore.

A Marketplace full of ecologically connected exhibits provided many opportunities for anyone strolling through to glean information about plant material, tools and implements, soil amendments, and a range of non-profits with an ecological view. Maribeth Porter, Neptune’s Harvest exclaimed, “It was busy, busy, busy! Every time a session ended, I was bombarded.”

Keynote presentations by William Cullina, The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens; Peter Del Tredici, Arnold Arboretum; and Jono Neiger, Conway School of Landscape Design, generated lively discussion on the roles of native, introduced, invasive, and endangered plants in the ecologically managed landscape. According to Ben Larsen, Habitat Garden Design, “The knowledge and experience of the speakers brings much needed perspective to this complex debate.”

Led by Penny Lewis, ELA Executive Director and Conference Committee Chair, a core team of six ELA volunteers began work in June of 2010 to orchestrate the 2011 Conference and Eco-Marketplace. An additional twenty-six volunteers provided support on the day of the Conference by fulfilling tasks that ranged from setting up an insect identification quiz to helping attendees navigate the complex system of Continuing Education Credits offered by the Conference.

Active Zone 2011
Louise Barteau demonstrates how to make paper from invasive plants.

Kathy Sargent-O’Neill, a Conference Committee member since 1997, noted that M.L. Altobelli and Nancy Askin have helped organize all 17 ELA Conferences and Eco-Marketplaces. Asked about the group’s commitment to the event, Sargent-O’Neill said, “It’s gratifying to see folks returning year after year, and new faces as well, hungry for information which will help them in their businesses, on their own properties, and in their communities. To hear the conversations, see the connections being made, and to feel the energy that’s generated at this event – there’s nothing like it anywhere else. The committee that pulls this event together is made up of interesting and talented people, and it’s fun working with them to plan and create an event that gets better and better very year. Stay tuned for 2012; it’s sure to be another winner!”

About the Author

Maureen Sundberg, ELA newsletter editor, writes and gardens at home in Andover, MA.

Understanding your soil conditions and how to work with that soil is important to successful landscaping. Watch the following Ecological Landscaping Association (ELA) video to learn more. This video is an excerpt from an interview with ELA’s Vice President, Kathy Sargent-O’Neill. The complete interview aired on Plymouth, Massachusetts PACTV (www.pactv.org) on the program, Seniority, which is produced and hosted by Robbie Haigh. Seniority is a Herring Swan Production and this video is shared with permission.