Month: March 2013

World Water Day 2013

Today marks the celebration of World Water Day, a day set apart by the United Nations to increase water awareness and promote sustainable management of freshwater resources. So, in honor of World Water Day, we’d like to share a few facts about water around the world.

World Water by Numbers

  • Water, energy, and food are intrinsically linked: water is needed to produce energy, energy is needed to deliver the water needed for food production [1]
  • In much of the world, water plays a role in gender inequality. Research in sub-Saharan Africa suggests that women and girls in low-income countries spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water. That’s time spent they could have used for education or other work and family care! [2]
  • In 60% of European cities with more than 100,000 people, groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can be replenished [3]
  • About every 19 seconds, a mother loses a child due to a water related illness [4]
  • 1.8 billion people around the world still lack access to fresh water [5]
  • The average American uses 100 to 176 gallons of water per day; in contrast, the average African family uses 5 gallons of water per day! [6]

For more about the world water crisis, check out this video produced by charity: water.

Whether it’s related to our personal hygiene, the food we eat, our yard and home care routine, the products we use, or the clothes we wear, water influences every aspect of our daily lives.

This year’s theme for World Water Day is cooperation. Here’s what the UN has to say about water cooperation:

“Water is a shared resource and its management need to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests. This provides opportunities for cooperation among users. . . . Promoting water cooperation implies an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, as well as religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions.”

Here at Orbit, much of our business revolves around water. We are dedicated to protecting and conserving this precious resource while helping homeowners around the world maintain beautiful landscapes. Please join us in using smart water management skills, heeding water regulations in your area, and doing your part to keep our water resources safe. You can visit our conservation resources pages on our website and on this blog.

We’re interested. Please share what you are doing to conserve water.

Tips for a Green Yard this Spring

When someone mentions green this time of year, you may think of St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns, four-leaf clover, or the green hills of Ireland. But this tradition goes beyond St. Patrick and his holiday.

The Irish Tradition of Green

Long before green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the ancient Celts wore green in celebration of the Vernal Equinox and the rebirth of the earth. And who could blame them? Known as the Emerald Island, Ireland’s principal color is green. Some even claim that the island boasts over 40 shades of that beloved color. As time passed, the wearing of green came to symbolize Irish nationalism. Today, people all over the world wear green once again to celebrate the coming of spring.

For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to enjoy the green hills of Ireland on a daily basis, here are some tips to help you bring that Irish green into your landscape this spring.

  1. Clear–rake up any leftover leaves from fall, pick up any broken branches from winter. If thatching is a problem, use a rake or a power thatcher to clear away the problem.
  2. Prune–trim back fruit trees and summer blooming bushes (including roses). Pruning encourages new growth and allows the plant to receive plenty of sunlight.
  3. Weed–it’s best to stop the weeds when they’re young. After removing new spring growth, take preventative measures (i.e. landscape fabric, mulch, pre-emergent herbicides, etc.) to limit weed growth throughout the season.
  4. Divide–make sure your perennials have plenty of room to grow. If things are getting a little tight, divide them up. Your neighbors would probably love some, or maybe there’s a spot in your yard that’s looking a little bare. Whatever the case, your plants will bloom better with that extra room to grow.
  5. Plant–bring color and new life to your yard by adding some new plants to the mix.
  6. Fertilize–if you have a well-established lawn, spring is a great time to fertilize. Pick a fertilizer with a slow-release nitrogen (nitrogen help keep your lawn green, but too much can cause damage to your lawn and the environment—especially water sources—so make sure you use it sparingly).
  7. Water–it’s important that you don’t over or under water your lawn, as both cause problems. At this time in the watering season, you will most likely not need to water your lawn every day. Rather, set your timer to water less frequently and allow the moisture to soak deep into the soil and establish a stronger root system.
  8. Grow–let your grass grow. Your lawn will be healthier if you don’t cut it too short. By letting your grass grow about 2 to 4 inches in length, you will protect the roots from the sun and disease, which will keep your lawn greener and healthier.

These tips will help keep your landscape lush and green this spring. So, here’s to wishing you the luck of the Irish!

 

Sources

Spring

Spring. There’s something about the re-birth of the earth that has captured the hearts of people all over the world. For centuries, poets have lauded spring in poems like this one, artists have immortalized spring scenes like this one, and musicians captured the feel of spring in music like this one.

We don’t know about you, but here at Orbit, we are starting to get Spring Fever. The snow is starting to melt in the valley, the temperature is climbing, and spirits are rising. Our spring probably feels more like this after being cooped up all winter.

        Spring makes me happy because . . .

When asked to finish this question, this is what some of our associates had to say:

  • There’s no more snow!
  • Color comes back into the world
  • Trees bloom with flowers
  • It’s warm enough to be outdoors
  • The world is fragrant
  • It brings a feeling of hope
  • You can exchange your coat for a jacket
  • There are more hours of daylight
  • School is almost out
  • It’s sprinkler season

Spring is almost here. So get those hands back in the dirt. Break out your gardening tools. Get your sprinkler systems ready.

And tell us, why do you love spring?

Sow Your Seeds Indoors

Winter may be digging its icy claws into the world, determined not to give up its hold. But we all know Spring will come . . . eventually. You can speed up the process in your own house by starting your vegetable seeds indoors. It’s fun. It’s easy. And it helps beat the late-winter blues.

Sowing your seeds indoors will not only bring you that little burst of life that you need, but it will also give your garden a kick-start. Starting your garden inside gives your plants plenty of time to sprout and establish themselves in a controlled environment. It also brings you a few weeks closer to fresh produce.

If you’re new to gardening, consult a guide for your area or talk to a garden specialist about what plants you should start and when. As a general rule, you should start your seeds at least 4 to 6 weeks before you want to transplant your plants into your garden.

Things you’ll need:

  • A space protected from the weather
  • Seeds
  • Seed starting soil, or other nutrient-rich, loosely packed soil for planting
  • Sunlight, or florescent lights if you don’t have a suitable window
  • Water
  • Containers—you can buy plastic trays from your local nursery or simply use an empty egg carton. for containers you can place right in the ground, try sugar cones (you know, the ones you use for ice cream?) because they stand on their own and slowly decompose as you place them in the ground.

Plants to Sow Inside

Remember to check planting guides or your local specialist for the most accurate sowing dates in your area.

  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Chilli
  • Chives
  • Collards
  • Eggplants
  • Lettuce
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Doesn’t this list make your mouth water in anticipation for summer produce? Mmm . . .

And when you’re ready to transplant your seedlings outside, our drip watering and hose tap timers will help you water areas that aren’t covered by your underground irrigation system.

So, get those hands in the dirt again and start planting!

 

Sources and Further Reading: