Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Greening the Nevada Desert

Some of you know my husband Bob as the person who fixes everything at The Flower Tree, and others may know him as the "Beer Guy" who has been doing the beer tasting and events all summer at Red Zinnia, but here is a little fact you may not be aware of. While it may seem that he is either at one and/or both stores quite a bit, he actually has a FULL time job, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for almost 30 years now. The following article was written to recognize a huge accomplishment that took place over the last year at Stillwater Refuge here in Fallon. Thank you to Susan Sawyer, from the Fallon office for this great article and recognition of the maintenance team at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge.

He is proud of the men he works with, and I am proud of him........

"Greening the Nevada Desert: Stillwater NWR Shop Goes Solar "Over the past several years, Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge near Fallon, NV has made several steps towards a 'greener' way of doing business in the northern Nevada desert. The refuge has instituted practices and made purchases that help reduce its carbon footprint on the fragile desert flora and fauna, conserve fossil fuels, promote cleaner air and save taxpayer resources.

The largest step in this 'greening' process was completed earlier this year with the second half of a 2-phase solar energy system installed at the refuge maintenance shop. Bob Henderson, Maintenance Supervisor, researched the various options available, and designed a plan for a 15 kilowatt, full grid tie-in photovoltaic system (as opposed to using batteries) that would meet the power needs of the main shop building. However, initial cost estimates from professional engineers put the project out of reach. Not one to be phased easily, Henderson gathered his solar facts, and approached refuge Manager Mike Goddard, who gave his full support to the project and authorized station funds to install the first phase of 7.4kw. This was completed in 2009.

When the CNO Regional office learned of the projects' success at a much lower costthan expected, allocated construction funds were approved for the remainder of the panels, which were installed last Spring. The total cost of the finished 15kw system amounted to about half of the original professional engineering estimate.

A major key to the success of this project was choosing a modular system of proven design that could be added to as funding became available, or if power needs increased. Another cost-saving measure was that Henderson and his staff installed the solar panels, inverters and peripherals themselves, rather than hire an outside contractor. The finished system consists of 72 solar panels that save an average of 1.7lbs of Co2 per kilowatt of power generated. As of this writing, nearly 12,000kw of solar energy has been produced, saving almost 20,000 pounds (10 tons) of Co2 from polluting the atmosphere.

With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year at Stillwater refuge, Henderson says, "it was a no-brainer for our shop to run off solar. Most stations in this region [8], except for those in the extreme northwest, could use solar power in some form; it just makes sense." Currently, the system produces about 100kw of free power daily, enough to provide for the shop's 4-day work week. Excess power produced during the three off-days ties into the main power grid for distribution to Fallon area residents. Not only does the Stillwater NWR shop reduce their carbon impact on the refuge's desert dwellers, they benefit their human neighbors as well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Have Mums....will travel!

The only possible drawback to riding my new bike to the nursery everyday, is if I can't fit all the flowers I need for that evenings planting in my side baskets.              
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Right in my own backyard.........

Many gardeners and tree shoppers that come into the nursery to purchase a poplar/cottonwood or willow tree have patiently listened while we talked about the diseases and bugs that attack them. After explaining why we don't stock them in the nursery, we make every attempt to steer tree shoppers to a long lived and mostly bug resistant tree that will do well in our area.

Yesterday I was out in our back yard looking at the damage that a large cottonwood tree had done after the last big wind storm. We have a very tall pergola that barely missed becoming firewood when this branch fell. As I was examining it, and trying my hardest to move it away from the patio area under the pergola, I noticed little orange dots on one side of the smaller branches. AHA! Cytospora Canker !!! I didn't think that the fungal disease regularly attached the older cottonwoods, just the newer hybrids. This tree is probably 50 - 60 years old judging by the trunk diameter. A little more technical info from the University of Arizona Extension office:

Cytospora canker :Cytospora canker is caused by the fungus Cytospora chrysosperma, the conidial stage of Valsa sordida. This fungus infects twigs, limbs and trunks of cottonwoods, and other poplars and willows. Cytospora canker causes death of weakened bark in either localized annual cankers or slowly spreading perennial cankers. Dead bark becomes loosened, and numerous small black spots are visible in the cankers (photo 1). These are pycnidia, the reproductive structures of the fungus. They become sticky and orange-yellow when it rains and spores are produced, then they dry to a hard reddish-orange mass.New infections occur in wounds such as sunburned bark, broken branches or pruning wounds. Infected sites are girdled, resulting in death of infected twigs, limbs and trunks. The only controls are to prevent wounding and sunburn, prune correctly and cut out infected branches. Tools should be disinfected between cuts and after pruning to avoid spreading the fungus to new sites. Infected wood that has been cut to use for fuel should be stored dry since spores can be produced on dead bark.
Some photos of the culprit in my own yard:
spores - as they appear on the fallen branch

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And the Winner Is.................

$286.00 ! ! ! worth of raffle tickets sold!!

Largest raffle yet!
We drew the winning ticket for our summer CAPS raffle on Labor Day. Camille, one of Jennifer Williamson's mastiffs even helped us. The tree this summer was a beautiful Moraine Ash, just like the ones that we have planted out front. Thank you to everyone that bought tickets to support CAPS. 
 And the winner is.....................

Posted by PicasaLinda D. !!!
Only fitting, as she is one of our communities largest animal supporters. Thank you again to all that bought tickets to support this great organization. Look for our next raffle to start soon.


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