Thanks To Climate Change, Dwarf Plants May Be Food For Future ‘Mini’ Humans.

Happiness!  Wee Humans Meet Wee Plants.  Back in March 2012, Popular Science posted “Hot Weather Makes Mammals Smaller, So Will Global Warming Make Us Shrink?” The article discusses how 56 million years ago, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) phase, horses shrank in size when global temperatures increased by 5 to 10 degrees due to an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Going further, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan, Philip Gingerich, joked in the article about our future climate change and stated that “we’re going to be walking around 3 feet tall if we keep going the way we’re going.” Basically, next-humans will have to become smaller and subsist on fewer resources in order to adapt to our warming climate.

Now here’s the part where Laverne, meets Shirley.

Just in time to feed the petite-humans of the warmer future, Gizmag posted, “Dwarf plants could reduce demands for water, fertilizer, nutrients and pesticides.” The article is about the work of Assistant Professor of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Burkhard Schulz, and how he discovered a way to treat plants with a cheap and widely available fungicide, propiconazole, that will keep them small in size without affecting their output. Not only would the treated, smaller plants need less fertilizer, water and space but they could also be sturdier due to their small size and ability to resist the weather.

So thank you wee-plants. Wee-humans of the future owe you a solid. [PopSci and Gizmag]


The Green Cycler From Ecotonix May Have Your Kids Fighting To Grind The Pre-Compost

Designed by gardener Gail Loos, the Green Cycler is a cool idea that could make pre-composting fun. It’s a hand-cranked composting aid that speeds up the process by grinding up your plant waste before you add it to your compost pile and I could definitely use one. The compost in my Sun-Mar drum composter looks like an un-fruit salad with intact apple cores, pineapple skins and orange peels that aren’t breaking down because they’re too big. With the Green Cycler, I have no doubt that my kids would grind our compostables down and they’d even fight to be the one doing the cranking.

As useful as the Green Cycler seems, I’m not ready to shell out $139 to get one. I think the only way I could justify the purchase of a Green Cycler is if I made it a Christmas gift and gave one to my kids. [Treehugger]


WISErg Corporation Creates WISErganic’s Organic Liquid Fertilizer From Local Food Waste

WISErg Corporation's Harvester

WISErg's Harvester

The Seattle Times posted an article about WISErg Corporation and their goal to reduce the amount of plant-based food waste from grocery stores and produce companies by converting it into a valuable product – their WISErganic organic liquid fertilizer. The process starts by capturing the food waste onsite in a silo type system, the Harvester ($40k – $55k), that holds and minimally processes the plant matter until it’s picked up by WISErg in 10 days. At WISErg, the slurry is anaerobically broken down, chemically stabilized, packaged and sold as WISErganic ($8 for 32 oz) brand organic liquid fertilizer. It’s takes the plant waste through the “full-circle” waste cycle and will reduce the amount of organic waste entering landfills.

Currently, WISErg has their first Harvester installed at an organic grocery store, PCC Natural Market, that is located about a mile from their headquarters. With the Harvester, PCC has been able to reduce the number of compost pickups from three per week to one.

Full-circle recycling is great and being able to create the WISErganic fertilizer is a nice bonus but I’m still not sure this is going to fly. Why? Because it’s not cost effective for a grocery store or produce company to fork out $40,000 – $55,000 (+ $350/month maintenance) for a Harvester when they could just continue throwing their plant-based waste into a trash for much less. Yes, WISErg has a lease option but the fee still has to be less than the cost of tossing food in the dumpster. WISErganic Organic Liquid Fertilizer There has to be more of an incentive for businesses to want the Harvester system because being green will only motivate a few and they aren’t the Safeways and Costcos.

I do hope WISErg makes this work but they need to offer their partners more in order to be successful. Exclusively selling their organic liquid fertilizer, at WISErg’s cost, to partner resellers that use the Harvester would be a good start. Another option would be to cut the price of the Harvester and waive the maintenance fee so it is an investment with no recurring costs. Then it could possibly payback in the seven years they’re expecting.

WISErg may also reward their partner stores based on how much they put into the Harvester each month and it could be used to defray some of the initial investment. Kind of like a kickback, they can call it a greenback, that is based on the amount of liquid fertilizer sold by WISErg.

We’ll see what happens and hopefully this is not going to end up being a great idea for which the market just is not ready. [Seattle Times]


Seattle Is Joining The Cool Kids By Creating A Rooftop Garden On A Parking Garage

Garage rooftop gardenIf you have a glut of parking spaces in your city, why not turn them into gardens? The City of Seattle is following the lead of New York and Chicago by adding a rooftop garden to a parking garage. Seattle has approximately 23 acres of P-Patch gardens in open spaces throughout the city but the parking garage rooftop, community garden will be its first.

Rooftop gardens make sense on many levels and putting them on a seldom used parking garage is a double win. Not only do they bring fresh, low-mileage produce to the city but they also help keep urban areas cooler, mitigate runoff and look better than the alternative – empty parking spaces. Hopefully this is just the beginning. [Seattle Times]


Upcycling 2-Liter Soda Bottle Into A Broom And More

DIY broom made out of 2-liter PET soda containersA friend of mine sent me a link to this article on a broom made out of empty 2-liter PET soda bottles. After an adult cuts the bottom off of the 2-liter bottles with an Exacto or similar knife, it seems like a neat idea that even kids could complete. The website Permaculture Ideas outlines how you build it.

The best part is that after your kids complete the project, they might be more apt to sweep with something they made versus using a store bought broom.

This upcycling plastic bottle broom project reminded me of the time we went camping and were swarmed by yellow-jackets. DIY Yellow Jacket Trap made from 2-Liter PET plastic bottle My daughter dismantled a 2-liter bottle and went to work making a yellow-jacket/wasp trap and she then baited it with the soda left in the bottle. Counting the yellow-jackets she caught became an activity. Sure the People for the Ethical Protection of Stinging Insects (PEPSI) would be opposed but it made the camping experience a lot more pleasant and safer.

Other useful products you can make from a 2-liter PET plastic bottle include a bird feeder and lawn sprinkler.

Simple DIY ideas like these make recycling solutions like shirts made out of PET plastic bottles seem a little over the top. But I guess making bottle-shirts from recycled plastic containers is better than the alternative of making them from new materials.