The drought in the US: What it means to you

Where does US corn go? www.palmatlanticlandscape.com

Where does US corn go?

Last weekend I traveled to St Louis. It rained for about an hour and I swear you could see the grass dancing, at least what was left of the grass. This year’s drought is the worst in at least half a century. Crops of corn and soybeans are the worst hit, with predictions listing the worst crop in six years.

But that’s just corn, right? No big deal unless you love you some corn on the barbie, right? Wrong! Very, very wrong!
Only 12% of the corn produced ends up directly in food (corn in cans, flours, baked goods, etc.)

The US is by far the largest producer of corn in the world. 20% of the corn produced here gets exported, largely to China, so, as a nation, we stand to lose a LOT of money.

Corn also feeds our livestock, so as the cost of corn rises, so will the cost of chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and even farm raised fish. Right now we may see a drop in prices as farmers push their livestock to slaughter so they don’t have to feed any extra mouths, but soon there will be a shortage of meat and that means costs will rise.

And then there’s gas. The EPA requires that gasoline includes renewable energy in order to look after our precious earth. So, 40%, yes 40%, of all corn grown goes into gas… guess what? Gas prices will go up.

So, how can you and I help our earth and ourselves without going broke?

Here’s three quick ways:

1. Grow your own.

Prices will start to go up now, but next year is when we’ll see the largest hike as the shortage really hits home.

Start growing your own vegetables now for harvesting throughout the year. Read our blog for what to plant right now.

2. Install a rain barrel

To grow your own, you need water. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. To help keep the country’s water levels at a decent height, install a rain barrel. Read our blog for instructions.

3. Eat sustainable foods

Tilapia is a great example of a sustainable food. It can be farm raised safely and efficiently almost anywhere and it doesn’t require corn.

 

Have any ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them in our comments section.

 

Sources:
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/fds-feed-outlook/fds12f-01.aspx
http://bonfirehealth.com/fresh-fish-farm-raised-fish-overfishing/
http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/corn.aspx
http://www.4x4truckstrailers.com/choosing-between-synthetic-or-conventional-motor-oil

 

Rain Barrels: The What, Where, When, Why and How?

A Rain Barrel from Plow+hearth

Image Courtesy of Plow+Hearth


What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.

Usually a rain barrel is composed of a 55 gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout. Put very simply, a rain barrel catches water that is usually lost so that you can use that water for plants and grass.

Why use one?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40% of household water is used on lawn and yard watering. A rain barrel will save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. Beyond the obvious cost savings on your water bill, a rain barrel also provides water that is better for your landscaping. According to JDNews from North Carolina, “Salt is not good for your plants. Salt will start to build up in the soil and make it harder for plants to grow and it becomes harder for the plants to take the moisture out of the soil. There is very little salt in rainwater.”  In addition, water in South Florida can contain high levels of chlorine and/ or limestone which can damage your plants and, in the case of the chlorine, damage fish and wildlife as part of the run off.

Where do I get one?

You can make one yourself quite simply. But, if you’re not feeling handy, there are many places selling them, both locally and online, including:

•      Ace Hardware: 866-290-5334

•      Gaiam produces the Great American Rain Barrel, 877-989-6321

•      Plow & Hearth: 800-494-7544

•      Rain Barrel Source: 866-912-9719

How do I install it?

The rain barrel is quite simple to install, the more important part of installation is ensuring the water has a run off spot in case the barrel fills up.

1. Place the barrel on a secure flat surface (a concrete slab rather than soil) next to your gutter run off. You may need to install or remove a piece of piping in case the spout doesn’t run off directly above the barrel. Here are instructions for doing just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel

2. Make sure the spout sits directly above the barrel.

3. Finish the installation by diverting the run off away from your house. This is most important as the run off could damage your foundations if it’s a constant source of water sitting in one spot. Here is a video on how to do just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel2

When should I use it?

In South Florida, we can use rain barrels almost all year round. You will need to take care that the barrel doesn’t freeze and crack in truly cold times, but this is South Florida, so that might be only one or two days a year! Considering installation is simple, cost to purchase is minimal and the fact that a rain barrel can preserve your lawn with no additional cost to you year round AND help to save our environment, a rain barrel is a worthwhile investment and one we fully recommend.

Have any questions? Our landscape experts love to show off!
Ask us a landscaping question, if we can’t answer it, we’ll track down the answer.

Palm Atlantic Landscape Maintenance is currently revamping their website. Please contact us at (954) 938-1999

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