Free ways to improve your garden

There are many free ways to improve your garden. Get started now to be ready for 2016!

  1. Use shipping pallets.

Shipping pallets can be of use and are almost always available for free. Try looking at free stuff on craigslist.org. Pallets are a fabulous source of wood that can be used to fix broken outdoor furniture, create raised bed gardens or even to build a deck. People have even used them to build garden sheds.

2. Do stoop to picking through trash.

roadside dumping

You’d be surprised at what you can find by the side of the road or waiting for pickup at the curb on trash day. Wood is always a great resource. I unearthed these thick planks found along a country roadside and have put to them to use as a commodious and sturdy bench suitable for outdoor seating and display of intriguing found objects.

woodplank bench

 

 

 

 

3. Reuse old stuff.

put old stuff togetherIt often happens that people will give you items that seem to serve no earthly purpose. For years I stashed a disliked copper platter in a remote corner of my basement. But just this past summer, I found a suitable use for it. Perched atop a plastic pail, it is a display for a crumbling ceramic bowl. The copper has taken on a turquoise hue and lends the appearance of a sculpture garden display.

Repair broken furniture with stuff you have. My shabby chic garden chairs where sadly seatless. But I put them to use again with pallet wood and slender branches cut to size.

4. Plant Perennials.

Russian KalePlant perennials including those you can eat. Russian kale is hardy in cold weather and survives from year to year. Not only is it attractive in your garden – it also is pretty delicious and nutritious. Rhubarb, blueberries and blackberries are all happy to live through our most brutal winters and they’ll feed you year after year.

5. Share cuttings and collect seeds from established plants.

plant seedsDon’t be embarrassed to ask your friends for cuttings. Many plants can be rooted in a cup of water. New rose bushes can be propagated by bending branches and planting the ends in the soil.

 

 

6. Let imagination be your guide.

Look at your discarded objects in a different way. Do you have an old doll that could add some whimsical charm to your vegetable garden? Those headless Greek sculptures are quite pricey but a discarded plastic doll might look just right next to your cabbage and lettuce.

There are so many free ways to improve your garden. Make your home delightful when you reconsider throwing stuff away. Just ask yourself “What can this be now?”

free headless doll graces garden
free headless doll graces garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problems Nano Technology Can Solve

Graphene

Miracle substances made from nano-sized material can help us live longer despite serious disease, and can help save our planet from the devastating effects of climate change. Products made from these materials will be researched, designed and produced in the Mohawk Valley of New York.

Graphene is a two-dimensional material made from carbon. In 2010, groundbreaking experimentation with this substance won Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim the Nobel Prize in Physics. A stellar performer in material science, graphene’s electrical, chemical, mechanical and optical properties make it a miracle for innovators in many different fields.

Carbon in graphene is one atom thick, a hexagonal lattice with a single carbon atom at each of its 6 vertices. It’s ironic that a way to overcome the long-term threat to life on Earth posed by climate change is by using the very material that all life on Earth is made from, carbon.

A recent MIT tech review article discusses how super thin graphene can mitigate climate change. Graphene may be the catalyst to protecting us from slow death by  global warming. Graphene traps the carbon that contributes to CO2 pollution and the greenhouse effect—a process that’s causing average temperatures to rise all over the Earth.Through the process of graphene sequestering, this seemingly miraculous material will convert the harmful CO2 it captures into a valuable building material.

Researchers are optimistic about graphene’s huge potential for reducing atmospheric temperature. They calculate that given an area less than 10 percent of the size of the Sahara Desert, the method could remove enough carbon dioxide to make global atmospheric levels return to preindustrial levels within 10 years, even if we keep emitting the greenhouse gas at a high rate during that period.

Another nano-filter solution of global impact is desalination. Many parts of our planet are experiencing severe drought. California has long been a region where much of US produce is grown. But California’s devastating water shortage may severely impact its agricultural production.  With graphene, though, large scale and inexpensive desalination can come to the rescue.Reuters reports that defense contractor Lockheed Martin is developing graphene filters to cleanse wastewater contaminated by oil, using sheets with precisely designed openings of 1 nanometer, a one-atom thick membrane.

Graphene sheets can be produced with precisely-sized holes as small as 1 nanometer, or a billionth of a meter (0.000000001, or 10-9 meters). Lockheed eventually plans on also applying this technology to desalination. The methodology has proven successful, but further refinement  is needed to make the solution cost effective.

Filtering carbon from the atmosphere and removing salt and contaminants from ocean water are critical uses of graphene, an incredibly versatile nano material vital to solving some of the earth’s most pressing problems.

Linda Kaidan

Invest for success – Maximize your Herkimer investment!

indexNow is the time to invest for success. Herkimer  real estate is still available at rock bottom prices as billions of dollars in local investment are being made.

 

Strong indication of economic transformation

Governor Cuomo’s Nano Utica initiative, a distance of 17.3 miles from Herkimer, is expected to create in excess of 4,000 world-class jobs over the next 10 years. It will contribute to New York State’s goal as a technology hub for nano-tech, education and economic development.

The long-depressed Herkimer economy has left a glut of low cost, rundown homes dating back to the 19th century. It appears prices have finally reached rock bottom. Unimproved homes on our street are for sale starting as low as 35K . A lovely garden and outstanding accessibility to country lanes, excellent shopping and medical services are within a 10 minute walk. When you buy an unimproved home, you can create just the space you want. It can be distinctive or neutral and you stand to increase your profit potential substantially.

History repeats itself

picture-uh=938bf6754657fa871855a8bf41ac2-ps=b18724e3b83e89Walnut-St.Brookline-MA.afterIn 1999, I renovated a 3-family home on Walnut St. in Brookline, MA. I was very charmed to find such an affordable home in upscale Brookline Village. I purchased the building for $210,000 in the mid 90s from an architect who needed to cash out. At that time it looked like a tenement, with rusty bathroom fixtures and walls coated in grime. The back hall stairs were sagging and the basement had a dirt floor. The roof itself alerted me to its need for immediate replacement dripping water into my morning coffee just after I moved in.

I spent about $90,000 on renovations executed by a general contractor and converted the 3 rental units legally to condominiums. Today – 16 years later – the property is worth a total of about $1.35 million. While I sold each unit after completing renovations, some of the condo buyers may have ended up profiting more than I did. For example, I sold the bottom unit for under $200,000. It is now worth close to $480,000 which is still a deal for this area where the average home is valued at $800,000.

Technology driving economy

Technology companies, historic charm and lovely landscapes are great contributors to a healthy local economy. The ingredients for investment success are the same as those in Boston and neighboring Brookline back in the mid to late 90’s.

  • a depressed real estate market –  Buying low means easy buy in with numerous choices.
  • a good location – I-90 accessibility, walk to commerce and nature, all within a 15 mile proximity to the burgeoning Marcy Tech area.
  • a healthy economy on the horizon – with billions of dollars being invested nearby it’s likely that the local property values will reflect new investment. What helped bring Boston back was the massive infusion of cash from expanding high tech and biotech firms.
  • Timing – Those who are on the scene first will likely reap the greatest rewards. If you wait too long, your chances will decline. And with the huge publicity and massive investment rolling into the Marcy Tech, I wouldn’t be surprised if groups of investors soon began quietly snapping up properties in Otsego and Herkimer counties.

New York City and San Francisco Bay have long been US high tech Leaders. New York is now extending its technology leadership to our Mohawk Valley. Consider being part of this success story.

Time for Herkimer Makeover

 The power of one can make an amazing difference. So many times people say “There’s nothing I can do about it – there’s only one of me.” But it’s been proven over and over again that with just one person seeing a problem and thinking about a solution, rapid achievements  can be made.

house_oregon_paint_finish

One example recently in the news is the story of a man in Oregon who transformed an old man’s dilapidated home into a smart looking well maintained residence by doing the following:

1)      The Problem – He realized that an old man was unhappy because he did not have the resources to fix his home which was dilapidated and the object of ridicule.

2)      The Solution

  •  He realized that he could make a change by recruiting volunteers from social media like Facebook.
  •  The home makeover could be done free of charge with the help of volunteers and with donations from local home repair stores.

3)      The Result

Community action and volunteerism leads to quick and substantial improvement at little or no cost.

If you see a problem that you think you can fix – post it publicly online and discuss it with friends and neighbors to plan a solution. Ask local organizations and merchants for contributions of materials and possibly time. Solving community problems can be far more rewarding than complaining. The results can fuel our creativity and contribute to self-esteem.

Mohawk Valley Water

mohawk river valley Mohawk River Mohawk Valley water will likely save us from experiencing events like the 134,000 acre wildfire in California, where 13,000 people are now being evacuated. Fueled by dry vegetation from a relentless drought, these fires seems to signal the start of an epoch dry period Northern CA must now address differently than in the past. It’s not just California’s problem, it’s a problem for the majority of the US residents–California’s Central Valley produces 2/3 of all the produce grown in the US. Northern California is home to a vital national resource, the Silicon Valley, where new technology is incubated and produced for worldwide use. Computer and biotech industries cluster about the San Francisco Bay area. Their vibrancy reflects that of the California economy, which in 2014 was the world’s eighth largest. With California’s ever-increasing droughts and with wildfires burning with only limited control, it seems reasonable to ask:

  • Why is California so dry, and is this trend likely to continue?
  • How can this precipitous state of instability be contained so that precious resources are not further endangered?

Too Dry

In 2014 the New York Times reported that 17 California rural communities providing water to 40,000 people were within four months of running out of water. The situation hasn’t improved. Agricultural demands, home consumption and landscaping requirements have increased even as water resources continue to diminish. And people have often proven unresponsive to conservation needs, allowing water guzzlers to grab more than their fair share. California’s 2014 rainfall year ended with one of the lowest rainfalls since the 1920’s.

A more stable California

Because California has limited water resources and a high population density, it makes sense to do things differently. Californians love their state, but they also need enough water for their needs and safety from dangerous and uncontrollable wild fires. On the upside, it seems desalination is coming to the fore to increase available fresh water. High tech materials like graphene may also make the production of abundant fresh water from the ocean possible on a broad scale. More effective waste water recycling is possible–Australia has shown us the way, with the largest recycling plant of its kind anywhere.

Moving to a greener place

Today’s industries have become adept at decentralizing, with workers telecommuting from anywhere on the planet. Mobile technology is widely and available to people and companies at reasonable cost. (Google, provider of the world’s most popular search engine, has decided to penalize website rankings for those who have mobile unfriendly layouts.)

A new beginning that works better

It makes sense for companies to be located where there’s excellent transportation, services and resources, including abundant water and natural beauty. Herkimer and other towns in the Mohawk Valley region can provide the safety of a water-rich geography, a technological backbone and a convenient location. One quarter of the total North American population is located within 300 miles of Herkimer County. Andrew Cuomo, Governor of NY, has initiated a $1.5 billion upstate economic development competition.

New York’s upstate regions are battling each other for one of three $500 million prizes. Proposals may be submitted until October 5, 2015. Rebuild and renew in New York’s Mohawk Valley where you’ll find New York’s resources, green energy, seemingly unlimited water supplies and the majestic Adirondack Forest – largest in the US. Embrace the serenity of nature and the resources you need to live well.

Can you get a better price on your home?

2014-04-19 18.39.25

Getting a better price on your home in Herkimer can be easy. The Village of Herkimer is fortunate to have so many historic homes. Most date from the early 20th century, when Herkimer boomed and craftsmen from Europe and America moved here. From the houses that cluster around King Street’s old Standard Desk Company factory in south Herkimer, to the elegant homes of prosperous merchants and company owners seen in north Herkimer, all were well built and each has its own unique history and charm. Herkimer’s irreplaceable housing stock is only going to increase in value as those to our south look increasingly to Upstate New York as a sound housing investment in the face of increasingly rapid climate change.

If you own one of these Herkimer gems, and are thinking of selling, some remodeling may be in order. Draw up a budget and a design to suit your resources and needs. When considering your options, focus on choosing the most rewarding possibilities. Perhaps it makes sense to add a skylight or upscale window to bring in natural light. You can often find used construction material sources that can bring the same rewards for a fraction of the retail cost.

When selecting materials, ensure they don’t contain unhealthy pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds. Rugs containing olefin can be especially harmful to your health. Martha Stewart has many suggestions for making healthy carpeting and rug choices.

Two high impact but relatively low cost design elements are lighting and art work. Even in an empty house they can create the inviting atmosphere that helps to sell it. Many local artists are typically delighted to exhibit their work for free. They can be found online or by visiting their shops and galleries.

Not everyone appreciates art, but most do. The more vibrant and intriguing of homes are likely to sell faster. Make certain that you price your home well, but don’t give it away. Herkimer’s located in the Mohawk Valley, part of New York’s growing Technology Corridor, far from coastal flooding and a refuge from persistently high temperatures.

If you’d like to do short term rentals while your home is listed for sale, take a look at AIRBNB.com. You can get a lot of design ideas for your home. My daughter’s renting a room in her Brooklyn apartment on Airbnb. The Airbnb lisitng fee is very low. She’s clearing at least $1300 per month for a single bedroom and is typically fully booked. Her furnishings are 100% used and most of the art is the original work of artists who are unknown, but talented and hopeful.

Be creative and enjoy yourself as you go about preparing your Herkimer home for sale. You’ll have fun and make more money.

Let’s Prevent Food Shortages in Herkimer

 

food shortage vezuala
Global Warming has wreaked havoc in national and international food markets  but we can prevent food shortages in our community. 

There have been wheat and corn shortages, chocolate and coffee shortages and, amazingly for us here in the Northeast, even egg shortages. Food shortages in Venezuela are an example of how catastrophic such conditions can become.

One clear example of the effects of a changing climate on food production is the prolonged drought in California’s Central Valley. It’s resulted in a loss of 5 percent of irrigated cropland, or $800 million in crop revenue, according to UC Davis. Central Valley has long been renowned for its abundant harvests of apricots, asparagus, almonds, cotton, tomatoes and grapes.

Another widespread loss is in eggs. The US used to export about 30 million eggs per day. Now we’re importing eggs to cover shortages resulting from Bird Flu. Our nationwide production is down by 28 million eggs per day.

Let’s face it – Living in Herkimer, a veritable agricultural Garden of Eden, we should not have food shortages.  Our fertile soil, abundant farmland and wealth of water resources are what first attracted settlers to the flats along the Mohawk, and have sustained our farm families for generations. We should be able to provide bountiful food locally for everyone and at a lower cost because it is grown here. There’s no necessity to import produce that can be locally grown from California or Florida. And soon, probably impossible, given the toll climate is taking on crop yields in formerly abundant agricultural regions. We need to begin cultivating our own food self-sufficiency now, in the thousands of fertile acres that abound in Herkimer and the Mohawk Valley. We’ll have fresher food that requires less energy to grow and distribute.

We can expand our expertise to include fish farming, and we can grow our crops all year long in such inexpensive structures as hoop houses that provide the warm sunlit environment plants need. We can try aquaponics and hydroponics for high density, organic indoor farming.

Community farming can be the opportunity we need to teach vital sustainability skills to our children even as we grow our farms to protect us from disaster by providing food security. Working together for the benefit of all also teaches us the social skills we need to foster a genuine, sustainable community. We might also petition our mayor to let us have chickens and a goat or two, even if we live within Herkimer Village.

Always keep in mind that just because you’re one person, you’re not incapable of making important changes. By growing your own food and joining others in making our community a sustainable one, you can make our planet healthier while bringing food security to your home and neighborhood.