Thursday, October 30, 2008

Huge new source of fresh water discovered in Oregon mountains

While the U.S. Southwest looks to a future of continued population growth and development but no substantial increase in fresh water supplies — indeed projections are for a reduced supply of fresh water due to climate change — a huge underground reservoir of fresh water has been discovered in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.

The stockpile stores close to seven years’ worth of Oregon rain and snow and is like to become increasingly precious, given the West’s continued growth.

The U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State University say the water has been collecting in cracks and fissures in the young (less than 1 million years old) volcanic rock in a large swath of Oregon and northern California.

The cache of water is being described as “one of the biggest groundwater known in a mountainous region anywhere on the planet” — in effect a huge sponge.

Click on the headline to read more about the underground discovery courtesy of

Plant breeder Crystal Rose-Fricker gets props from the Crop Science Society of America

If you plant turfgrass, renovate it, fertilize it or mow it, you owe the small fraternity of U.S. turfgrass breeders a big thanks. These are the folks that love working and improving the most valuable landscape plant in the United States. Without them, you’d be out of a job.

Mitch Lies, a reporter who often writes about turfgrass for the Capital Press in Salem, OR, in the heart of the nation’s turfgrass production region, wrote a recent excellent article focusing on Crystal Rose-Fricker, plant breeder and president of Pure-Seed Testing.

In the article she points to the development of Aurora Gold, a turftype tall fescue with natural tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate, as one of her most gratifying projects. Not only is she talented, she’s persistent. It took her 10 years to develop Aurora Gold.

Click on the headline to read about Crystal Rose-Fricker’s work and the well-deserved recognition she recently received at the recent Crop Science Society of America meeting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

How do you steal 120 tons of road salt?

Tovar Snow Professionals, headquartered in the west Chicago suburb of Elgin, IL, recently discovered that somebody made off with 120 tons of road salt from its Aurora storage facility, according to the Chicago Tribune. That's enough salt to fill six semi-trucks. The salt, as any snow management professional will tell you, has become an expensive commodity. The value of the stolen salt was listed at $32,000, according to the article, which is available by clicking on the headline above.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Florida landscaper decides to grow his own fuel

Tired of those high prices at the pump? Brian Shank, president of Clermont Scapes, a landscape company based in Groveland, FL, was.

He says he's planting a 22-acre crop of a desert-native plant known as jatropha to make biofuel for his equipment.

According to an article posted at, he figures he can get about 1,000 gallons of biofuel per acre per harvest from the jatropha, which offers significantly more energy bang for the buck than the same amount acreage planted in corn.

Click on the headline for the article and the comments it generated.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The unexpected kindness of strangers

Just about the time you’re thinking that everybody is out for themselves and don’t give a crap about anybody else, something happens to recharge your faith in people’s kindness and generosity.

An article on by talented reporter Erin Sullivan brightened our day recently.

Briefly: Joseph Prudente, a 66-year-old grandfather, was jailed without bail on Friday Oct. 10 because he wasn’t keeping his lawn in good shape. Apparently it was brown and not being taken care of, which didn’t sit well with the homeowners’ association where it was located. It seems Prudente had fallen on hard times and didn’t have the money to care for the lawn.

The next morning Andy Law, who lived in a nearby community, read about Prudente being hauled off to the slammer, and it really ticked him off. He rounded up some equipment, and other folks, including a Pasco County commissioner, started showing up and fixing the lawn. By 6 p.m. the volunteers had replaced the brown grass, fixed the sprinkler system and planted flowers.

The next day, the sheriff, after a brief court hearing in which a representative from the homeowners’ association confirmed the lawn had been improved, let Prudente out of jail.

Click on the headline for Erin Sullivan’s article. It will gladden your day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cry for universal lawn care raised again during campaign

Columnist and University of North Carolina professor Mike Adams says that in spite of candidates' promises, preventative lawn care remains out of reach for most American families.

Will the winner of the approaching presidential election finally initiate a plan to make lawn care universally available? he asks.

In part he writes:

"Well we can't afford another disappointing charade in 2008 and 2009 and 2010. It's not only tiresome, it's wrong. Wrong when a home-owner cannot hire the child next door because he cannot afford the bill that comes with it. Wrong when 46 million Americans have no lawn care at all. In a country that spends more on lawn care than any other nation on Earth, it's just wrong.
And we can do something about it.

"In recent years, what's caught the attention of those who haven't always been in favor of reform is the realization that this crisis isn't just morally offensive, it's economically untenable. For years, the can't-do crowd has scared the American people into believing that universal lawn care would mean socialized lawn care, burdensome taxes, rationing - that we should just stay out of the way, let the market do what it will, and tinker at the margins."

Weigh in and support our drive to provide affordable, universival lawn care for U.S. homeowners.

Click on the headline and let Adams know that you're with us 100%.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bird feed could be spreading noxious weeds

Lots of Americas like to put out bird feed to attract song birds. What they probably don't realize is that they could be helping to spread noxious weeds. No kidding. The Weed Science Society of America issued the news release below.

In studies at Oregon State University, scientists examined 10 brands of wild bird feed commonly sold in retail stores. The samples contained seeds from more than 50 weed species – including 10 ranked among Oregon’s most noxious weeds. Each brand tested contained weed seeds, with six different weed species found in half or more of the samples.

“Once a weed seed drops from the feeder to the ground and sprouts, it has the potential to flower and spread,” said Dr. Jed Colquhoun, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, formerly with Oregon State University. “In fact, when we informally questioned landowners and farmers to investigate the spread of a relatively new weed in the Pacific Northwest – velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti) – we found it is growing in the soil beneath backyard bird feeders.”

In a short-term study of what happens when stray bird feed drops to the soil, about 30 weed species sprouted in just 28 days. Between three and 17 weed species grew from each of the 10 brands of feed tested.

So how can you minimize the spread of new or invasive weeds that originate in bird feed? There are several simple strategies to consider:

Use a tray attachment under your feeder to keep seeds off the ground.
Select foods that won’t sprout, such as sunflower hearts, peanuts, peanut butter, raisins, mealworms and plain suet cakes.
Look for treated wild bird food mixtures. Many manufacturers are now baking their products to kill weed seeds, using guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So read product labels carefully to make certain you buy a treated brand.
Keep an eye out for weeds under your feeder and pull them before they can flower and spread.
If you use a wild bird food blend that contains a variety of seeds, contact the producer or talk to your local retailer to discuss what measures are taken to ensure the product is free of invasive weed seeds.
Jed Colquhoun was lead researcher for the bird feed study in cooperation with Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor at Oregon State University. The Agricultural Research Foundation at Oregon State University funded the work.

Ten Noxious Weeds Found in the Bird Seed Evaluated in the Oregon Study:

Buffalobur (Solanum rostratum Dunal)
Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
Dodder (Cuscuta spp.)
Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
Jointed goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrica)
Kochia (Kochia scoparia)
Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris)
Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Americans entitled to government-funded lawn care?

Jon Delaney of Springfield, VA, in a recent letter to the Culpeper Star Exponent newspaper asked our national leaders in this election season to do something about the disgraceful situation of Americans being forced to provide their own lawn care.

In part he wrote:

"It is my belief that everyone who must perform lawn care should have this basic need fulfilled. Some argue that it is the homeowner’s choice to live where lawn care is required. The argument follows that if one does not want to be bothered by lawn care, one should not buy a house.

"Surely it is a patriotic duty to pay more taxes to help our brothers and sisters maintain their lawns as there are millions of Americans afflicted by this abandonment by their government."

We think he has a great idea (wink, wink) , but tell us what you think.

Read the letter (and the responses it got) by clicking on the headline above.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Spring-Green reaching clients with podcasts

Spring-Green, the Illinois-based, lawn care franchisor, is now offering podcasts containing information about seasonal landscape care — watering, mowing, raking leaves, shrub care, you name it.

The most recent "Lawn Talk" podcast (click on the headline), features Harold Enger, the company's director of training and support, offering autumn tree and lawn care advice. Enger has more than 30 years in the business so he knows what he is talking about.

We think this is a neat way to provide information to consumers. Way to go Spring-Green.