garden

The Environment Report
9:35 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Plant zones shifting north as winters warm

The USDA came out with a new interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map. But new research suggests our warming climate has made even this new map out of date.
USDA

If you’re thinking of planting trees or shrubs in your yard... the U.S. Department of Agriculture has guidelines for what to plant depending on where you live. It’s called the Plant Hardiness Zone Map.  It’s based on average minimum winter temperatures.  So you can use it to decide if the kind of tree you want to plant will make it through the winter without freezing to death.

This past January, the USDA updated this map for the first time since 1990. 

But one researcher argues it’s already out of date.

Nir Krakauer is an assistant professor of civil engineering at the City College of New York. He says the USDA used the annual minimum temperatures between 1976 and 2005 to make their map.  He updated that map with more recent data.

“In general, a lot of Michigan might be a half zone less cold than the USDA map would show.”

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Environment
8:55 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Report: High levels of hazardous substances in some garden products

A warning label on the packaging of a garden hose.
Rebecca Williams/Michigan Radio

The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor tested 179 kinds of garden products, including garden hoses, tools, gloves and kneeling pads.  They found 70% of the products contained levels of "high concern" of one or more toxic substances... including lead, cadmium and mercury.

From the report:

  • 30% of all products contained over 100 ppm lead in one or more component. 100 ppm is the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC) for lead in children’ products.
  • 100% of the garden hoses sampled for phthalates contained four phthalate plasticizers which are currently banned in children’s products.
  • Two water hoses contained the flame retardant 2,3,4,5-tetrabromo-bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (TBPH).

Jeff Gearhart is the Ecology Center’s research director.  He says the biggest concern is garden hoses – because a lot of people like to drink out of them on a hot day.

"We found that one-third of them contained lead in excess of the U.S. drinking water standards that apply to products like water faucets."

He says the problem is – garden hoses are not regulated.  Some hoses have warning labels telling you not to drink from them.

But Gearhart says they tested some polyurethane and natural rubber hoses and found they were lead-free.

"There’s a variety of polyurethane-based hoses that are made out of food-grade polyurethane and have lead-free fittings that are on the market. And there’s also natural rubber hoses we tested that don’t have the types of contaminants that are typical of the vinyl hoses."

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What's Working
10:06 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Tending a garden behind bars

When you think of a prison, you probably envision an expanse of concrete, metal bars, and tall barbed wire fences. But, on the grounds of the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, there’s also a huge garden. As part of our What's Working series, we speak with Ellen Baron, a horticulture instructor at the prison who teacher inmates how to plant crops. Once the food is grown, it's donated to a local food bank.

Environment
1:29 pm
Fri April 8, 2011

Bus tour gives Detroit urban farm some love (audio slideshow)

In one of the greenhouses at Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Earlier this week, I joined a bus tour organized to bring community leaders from Grand Rapids to visit Detroit. One of the many cool places we visited that hasn’t made it into my writing so far is Earthworks Urban Farm. I didn’t want to overlook it – so here’s the second installation of what Detroit can teach other cities in Michigan about urban farming.

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