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April 1 - April 30, 2021

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  • Reflection Question
    Transportation Research and Consider Switching to a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle
    Reducing (or eliminating) exhaust emissions and improving public health are two benefits of green vehicles. What other motivators inspire you to consider switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle?

    Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/30/2021 6:07 PM
    The main motivator is the fact that I have absolutely zero desire to be out in public.  I don't "go for a ride"; I don't meet up with friends; vacations are far too expensive for me.  I don't sit in traffic for hours and hours just to go to work.

    My needs are practical, but, from time to time, require some heavy lifting (usually when it comes to hauling gardening supplies).  Switching to an E-SUV that costs under $40,000 is incredibly beneficial to me.  A hybrid SUV would probably be a more reasonable transition, but, ...wait, what did I just mention in my earlier response about geothermal?  Something about retrofitting and upgrades?  If I'm going to make a switch, I might as well go completely electric.

    EVs are energy efficient, and have come a very long way since their original conceptualization.  I remember seeing a documentary about the first electric cars.  They were such a wonderful alternative to gasoline powered cars, BUT--some investors were reluctant to continue to develop them.  The documentary talked about how expensive they were, how heavy the battery was, and how surprisingly low the battery efficiency was.  There were so many cons to EVs in their early stages, but now, there really is no reason to not invest in one.

    Having charging stations that use solar energy make the prospect of investing in an EV that much more enticing.  We'll see what happens.
  • Reflection Question
    Land Sinks Learn about Temperate Forests
    As you learn more about the scope and seriousness of the environmental challenges we face, what impact does that have on your thinking and actions? What are the parts that feel overwhelming? What parts help you feel hopeful?

    Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/30/2021 4:52 PM
    I think I already know what practices to continue, and what behaviors I must change as an individual.

    The parts that are overwhelming is the apathy of OTHER people.  I simply think that not enough people care.  While video games, and virtual reality tours are great to visit places that you will never see, I think it's silly that we need refined artist renderings in order to energize people to care about nature, in general. 

    However, I think that Digital Life 3D, and Nature XR, are still, nonetheless, are great ideas.  It also turns artists on to REALISM, instead of interpretive styles, which ends up turning them on to how natural environments will always be far superior to created ones infused with so-called "self-expression".

    I'm unapologetically, incredibly critical of art.  Moving on.

    Here's what makes me feel hopeful:  Rather than resorting to escapism (movies, video games) on my day off today, I unearthed a Japanese Barberry, synonymous with The Worst Shrub Ever; I transplanted some milkweed and other perennials into my anti-deer moat, and I'm hopefully going to continue doing more tomorrow.

    Yes.  Individual envolvement makes me feel hopeful.  It has to start somewhere.

  • Reflection Question
    Electricity Explore Other Electricity Solutions
    What is the most exciting solution you explored? Why is it exciting to you?

    Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/29/2021 9:07 PM
    Clichy-Batignolles' eco-district; it implements multiple solutions to climate issues.  And there are plants EVERYWHERE.

    Seriously, go read about it, it's great.

    Yet, the story of Samsø, Denmark, is also exciting, because its transformation followed a timeline--a sequence of events based around an ultimatum.  It addressed the concerns of older communities, their trades, and skepticism around this "renewable energy" concept.  But Samsø is a "tight-knit" community, so they got their act together, collectively, from an absolutely honest "what's in it for me?" angle, as opposed to a "let's save the planet because it'll be really nice" angle, and made the best with what renewable energy was available.  And in many cases, a lof of areas in the world need to do the same--that is, to make the best with what we got, in all geographical locations. 
  • Reflection Question
    Electricity Learn More About Geothermal Energy
    Geothermal energy is reliable, abundant, and efficient. Project Drawdown states that public investment will play a crucial role in its expansion. In what ways (i.e. with money, time, advocacy) can you invest in geothermal energy?

    Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/29/2021 8:41 PM
    I love the idea of geothermal energy.  Considering that the system is...how should I say, "simple", it makes me wonder why geothermal energy wasn't more of the standard.  Then again, it's probably no easy feat to install those pipes.

    Sorry, I have the tendency to reflect on these topics instead of answering the question and moving on.

    What I have to do is, first, is find out what Dominion Power up to with their renewable energy enrollment programs (residential and business).  I'll go from there.

  • Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/28/2021 7:46 PM
    Finished transplanting tomatoes!  This makes five tomato plants, and five bell pepper plants!  Now, I have to make sure that I have adequate amount of organic fertilizer/compost to keep them going...and be on the lookout for tomato hornworms.  

    I also took a risk and transplanted the Mexican sunflowers out to their summer homes...  Hopefully they will take.  If not, I'll just start all over again next month.  They grow SO easily from seed, so it's really no harm done.  It's more of an experiment for me.

    The marigolds are doing just fine, as are the black-eyed susans--and the calendula!  Now that I think of it, I need to start up a few basil plants...  Also--milkweed surprises me every time.  I usually jump the gun with hardening off, but these little ones are so tough despite being thrown out into the sun, there's hardly any sun damage to their leaves at all!  Native plants; gotta love them.

    I never like to be over-enthusiastic about summer; it's just too hot and humid for me to truly enjoy...but I am looking forward to being able to spend more time outside growing, especially since I've expanded my growing space this year!

  • Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/26/2021 7:12 PM
    Tithonia rotundifolia, Mexican Sunflower "Torch".  The butterflies absolutely loved these last year, so, I decided to start up three to be transplanted when it gets consistently 70+ degrees outside.  They'll be added into the anti-deer moat....as they can get around 8 feet tall.  Great camouflage.

    Tagetes patula, French marigold.  These germinated in less than 48 hours--in K-cups, no less.  Like all my other annuals, I use bottom heat and a clear plastic hood/lid to make sure they germinate consistently and quickly.  Once they germinate, I remove their nursery lid.  

    My family has always worked with French marigold in the vegetable garden.  They keep mosquitoes away (something I tested last year on my front porch, and it worked), and they keep pests from nibbling on the roots of plants.  Deer aren't particularly fond of them either because of their scent.

  • Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/23/2021 9:30 PM
    And now, a confession:  Rather than planting a tree for Earth Day...  I'm having two of them removed.  The process started Friday, courtesy of the fine folks at David Tree Service. 

    https://treeservicesva.com

    One of the oak trees in my backyard is sickly and blackening at its base.  I believe the poor thing became housing and nursery for carpenter ants, as we observed and tracked them last year.  We had tried to work with the tree, but unfortunately, the situation hasn't improved.

    The maple tree growing in my front yard is...well, seriously, maple trees shouldn't be growing in people's front yards, or back yards, unless they are VERY VERY VERY EXPANSIVE yards.  Anyway, the maple, which has been growing in this spot since before we moved into this home (as with all the other trees in our yard), was growing at an angle, and its has roots have sprawled everywhere.  Now, the root coverage of maples are great for erosion control, ...  but they are known for damaging foundations of homes, and utility lines.  I'm not okay with that.

    So, as of right now, there are cut up parts of the oak's trunk in my back yard. As for the maple, one of the large limbs that was hanging partly over into the street and a neighbor's yard has been cut down.  David (the owner of the company) will be checking the utility lines, and will be continuing the process of stump grinding as he sees appropriate.  The crew will be coming back out on Monday, hopefully, because of COURSE it'll be raining over the weekend!  Why not!

    I might also note that the crew was supposed to come out on Earth Day itself.  Unfortunately, because of the cold front that came into our area (along with 50 mph gusts of wind)...they had to take care of two emergency tree removals.  Because, you know....50 mph gusts of wind + sickly, old trees = home disaster.  Which is something we're trying to avoid!

    While these actions don't exactly support the whole "plant a tree" on Earth Day movement, I'd like to mention that it's equally important to re-think the trees in your landscape and watch for their health.  Trees, like everythin g else, get old, sick, and weak, and...yeah, fall onto your house when you least expect it.

    I'd like to take a moment to say that, over the last year, my dad and I were involved in tree-related car accident.  It just so happened that my dad was chauffeuring me to work.  Anyway, it was an oak which became uprooted, and fell into the road, because of weather conditions.  The incident had probably happened minutes before we arrived at the location, so there was no warning signs, or cones, or flares, or any officials re-directing traffic.  And so, we were rear-ended by a Jeep.  Cool story, right?

    So, yes.  Call Before You Dig, and educate yourself on native trees that are suitable for planting around your home.  It makes all the difference in the world.

    NEEDLESS TO SAY...  I didn't get out for my tour around the neighborhood because I was SO ENGROSSED with the way that this crew of five men managed to, without incident, dismantle a VERY large oak tree in a small space in my backyard.  They did it with ropes and chainsaws; David was the one doing the cutting 50+ feet in the air, and he had the climbing spurs attached to his boots.  No cranes, or cherry pickers, or heavy machinery making ugly tracks in my yard; no damage to the back deck or to the fence!  I kept saying to myself, however out loud, "THERE.  IS A MAN.  UP IN THIS TREE.  MOM, REALLY, LOOK--HE IS UP, IN, THIS, TREE."

    Maybe I'm just easily amused/impressed.  But seriously, anyone in Virginia need assistance with tree removal--get in contact with them.  I'll definitely be getting in touch with them again when I have to have a few other trees removed (with the intent to be replaced BY PAWPAWS!!!) in the future.

  • Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/22/2021 7:51 PM
    I finally got around to sowing those Lavender and Virginia Bluebell seeds I had in my fridge...  Might be way too late for the bluebells.  We'll see.

    This time, I had sowed them into disposable K-Cups, as opposed to plastic and paper Starbucks cups.  I had grown lavender in the K-Cups last year (I didn't have many other containers available), and it works pretty well.  I'll be starting Black-eyed Susans and French Marigolds in them this weekend.

    I'd only suggest reusing empty, clean, disposable K-Cups for starting seeds for plants that don't mind a little root disturbance.  For example, sowing seeds for tomatoes, or even milkweed, in a container that small doesn't work well for it's fibrous root systems, or those with very long taproots.

    Seriously, you propagate plants out of almost any container.  You just have to understand how the plant grows, and what it needs.

  • Brittnay O'Hop's avatar
    Brittnay O'Hop 4/21/2021 5:09 PM
    I had to take some time to put some thermal cover over the milkweed (and crew) that I had started to harden off outside.  I'm looking forward to getting back outside once this cold front passes through.  Good work is never done!
  • Reflection Question
    Food, Agriculture, and Land Use Learn the Truth About Expiration Dates
    How does knowing the difference between use by, sell by, and best by dates empower you to make better decisions?

    Jen Wilson's avatar
    Jen Wilson 4/20/2021 8:48 AM
    It allows me to plan out my meals better and have less waste. If I understand what all the dates mean then I can learn to stretch certain items to use all that I bought.