In the Garden

Willows at work

With a 164,000-gallon petroleum plume spreading underground, there's an awful mess at Fort Drum in New York. No one knows just how it happened, but researchers are fairly certain the military training facility's problem has been around for over 50 years. Still, it wasn't until the late 1980s that folks noticed small creeks near the army base's shuttered "Old Sanitary Landfill" had turned a rusty brown. Estimates suggested constructing a treatment plant to remediate the associated environmental damage would cost a whopping $8 million, but, thanks to some thirsty willow trees, that figure's been trimmed down to one million dollars instead.

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Voting out poison ivy

My dearest friend always votes Republican, and, even this year, there is no changing his mind. And, so, we've found other things to talk about. As it happens, this isn't just election season. It's poison ivy season, too. That's because when all the other weeds begin to die back, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac turn pretty shades of red, making them much easier to spot and, as a result, making this the perfect time to get rid of them. But, again, while my friend and I do agree that the skin-irritating plants in our yards must go, we don't agree on the methods for its eradication.

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Thoughts on a pumpkin chunkin'

Pumpkins can fly, but should they be made to do so? About this time every year a local farm market hauls out what it calls the Pumpkinator to hurtle its surplus squash skyward. Last weekend I saw the spectacle firsthand, and, as I watched, I felt alternately gleeful and guilty. The gleeful part? One doesn't often see pumpkins traveling at 400 miles per hour to clear a quarter of a mile so lickety-split. Also, the Pumpkinator is itself beguiling.

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Composting under the radar

You've got a recycling bin for paper and another few for plastic, aluminum, and glass. By now, thankfully, many people do. But there's one more way to recycle -- one which I hope will catch on as well as the reduce-reuse-recycle concept has. If it does, nearly all of us will have another "recycling" bin to add near the rest. Only this one goes best in the kitchen, and, full of able-bodied, composting redworms, it's alive with activity.

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Depression-era gardening

Bailout or no bailout, the latest economic shenanigans have hit most of us squarely in the pocketbook. Values in our 401Ks have plunged. Real estate trusts and other investments, likewise, have ticked down. Serious doom-and-gloomers whisper that we could be headed for the next Great Depression. No matter how all of this shakes out, I'm reminded of a little rhyme my grandmother -- herself profoundly influenced by the Great Depression -- taught me many years back: "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without."

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Issue 25

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