Aphids, energy and forest preserves

June 23, 2013

Got aphids? LaManda Joy has your organic fix

Sometimes I feel as though I’m just one small step behind pretty much everything that’s going on in the world. For example, just the other day I was talking to my friend LaManda Joy, whom you might know as one of the movers and shakers behind The Peterson Garden Project. She is currently writing a book on the subject of community gardens and was just voted Best Urban Farmer in the Chicago Reader Best of Chicago 2013 poll.

Anyway, when I asked, “Wassup?” she said, “Aphids.” I replied, “Huh” and she told me that they had arrived in huge numbers. I told her that I hadn’t noticed. Of course, the next day, as I was passing a couple of my cup plants (Silphium perfoliatum) in my yard, I saw that the newest leaves were COVERED in aphids. Oops.

So, I asked LaManda to make a quick stop on my show today to offer some organic help for folks who might be dealing with this problem. In fact, I had a listener write to me to say, ” I have aphids on my apple trees on which I already tried insecticidal soap and it worked just a bit. I don’t want to use chemicals because I don’t the fruits to absorb them.”

LaManda has an answer to that question and perhaps others. Meanwhile, here are a couple of sites that should help if you’re trying to control aphids:

Frank Felka covers the MREA Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin

Speaking of listeners who have contacted me recently, one of them is Frank Frelka, who wrote to ask if I was going to be covering an annual event in Wisconsin that has been going on for a couple of days and finishes today. It’s called the MREA Energy Fair and, according to their own website, it “transforms rural Central Wisconsin into the global hot spot for renewable energy education.”

In fact, the Energy Fair apparently attracts 20,000 people from just about every state in the U.S., as well as numerous countries around the world, and is our nation’s longest running energy education event of its kind.

Sounds pretty good to me. In fact, energy expert Lisa Albrecht confirmed that it’s a pretty special event. The problem is that it’s in Custer, WI and, having spoken in nearby Point Stevens in the past, I know that it’s a little farther than I could comfortably travel to and get back to Chicago to do my show.

Since I was obviously not going to be able to attend, I just told Frank that he would have to handle the job of Roving Green Reporter for today’s show…to which he agreed.

So Frank will be reporting on some of the features at the Energy Fair, which features

  • More than 250 exhibitors – featuring sustainable living and clean energy products
  • More than 200 workshops – including introductory level to advanced hands-on education: solar, wind, green building, local sustainable food, and more
  • Clean Transportation Show – featuring demonstration vehicles and exhibitors
  • Green Home Pavilion – emphasizing building and remodeling in a sustainable way
  • Green Building Demos – displaying sustainable building techniques in action
  • Sustainable Tables – including workshops, chef demos, and a farmers’ market to bring sustainability to your dinner table

…and more. Please welcome Frank Frelka to The Mike Nowak Show.

A three-year celebration of Cook County’s Forest Preserves

In case you missed the kickoff, the Forest Preserves of Cook County are celebrating their Centennial. But if you didn’t already bake a cake and put 100 candles on it, don’t worry–the celebration, which started on June 12 of this year, extends into next year…and the year after that.

If you know anything about the history of the Cook County Forest Preserves, you can understand why there is no rush to nail down a specific date for the party. Technically, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County came into being on November 30, 1914. However, the battle to save natural areas in and around Chicago for future generations had already been going on for decades. The Forest Preserve District Act of 1913 didn’t pass until November of 1914, and it wasn’t until April 20, 1916 that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the law was indeed constitutional.

However, the fight to establish what was then a remarkably progressive law had already been going on for decades and even after establishment of the governing body, and that fight would continue into the future. Today, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County manages more than 68,000 acres of public land—about 11 percent of Cook County. Those lands are among the most geologically and biologically rich natural areas in the United States, with wetlands, tallgrass prairies, oak woodlands, savannas and more.

As part of the Centennial Campaign Plan, the Forest Preserves are rolling out a number of new programs. They include

· Developing a Next Century Conservation Plan with Openlands and Metropolis Strategies

· Planning for the long-term protection and growth of the Preserves by implementing recommendations from the recently completed recreation and camping master plans, and the in-progress trails and habitat restoration master plans

· Implementing innovative interpretive experiences with Openlands at two sites (Tinley Creek and Deer Grove) to serve as new models for people to experience, explore and understand natural diversity. The sites will contain interpretive elements, including artistic features, innovative signage, apps or mobile-optimized websites, and other new technology.

· Dedicating the first new campgrounds, with the goal of including bunkhouses, tent cabins and tent pads by the time the centennial celebration concludes in 2015.

· Establishing “Gateways to Nature” sites, including redesigned entrances, trail signage and enhanced visitor information at highly visible locations throughout the county to encourage people to enter into the Forest Preserves.

· Introducing key Conservation Months aimed at increasing the volunteer stewardship force that focuses on the eradication of invasive species, a pressing threat to native plants and animals and healthy habitats.

Of course, as the Friends of the Forest Preserves points out, there are issues that need to be addressed, such as

  • Stormwater Management Policy – Forest Preserve District of Cook County staff and Commissioners are being bombarded by municipalities that do not want to have to adhere to the new stormwater policy, even though it will actually result in better protection for their communities. They fear added costs will suppress development.
  • Quentin Road Expansion – The county wants to re-build Quentin Road, which cuts through Deer Grove Forest Preserve between Lake Cook Road and Dundee Road in Cook County. The Cook County Highway Department proposes a five lane expansion but the majority of people who live off Quentin Road oppose the five lane expansion and favor a three lane solution.
  • Board Separation – The sponsors of legislation to separate the Forest Preserve District and Cook County boards put the legislation on pause after being asked to do so by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. However, FOTFP still believes (and I agree) that separation is a necessary step to truly keep the interests of the Forest Preserves from being compromised by overall board policies and intrigue.

It’s a pleasure to have Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County back in the studio this morning to talk about as much of the above as we can fit in about half an hour.

Tree Talk with The Care of Trees – vascular diseases

It’s time for another conversation with a certified arborist, courtesy of my loyal sponsor, The Care of Trees, A Davey Company . Once each month, an arborist from The Care of Trees is on the show to discuss tree issues and how to deal with them.

This month, it’s Paul Hollingsworth, who addresses the issue of vascular diseases. I’m talking about diseases that affect the trees “plumbing” system, interfering with the transport of water within the tree.What diseases are we talking about?  There are numerous vascular diseases of trees, but these are the three most common in our region.

  • Dutch Elm Disease:  Responsible for loss of vast majority of North American elms. Spread by elm bark beetles or through root grafts between trees.
  • Oak Wilt:  Affects all oaks, but much more serious on members of the red oak group compared to members of the white oak group.  Spread by root grafts between trees and by certain types of insects.
  • Verticillium Wilt: Can affect many different species of trees (and many herbaceous plants) but most common on maple, elm, magnolia, and redbud.  Infection occurs through root contact with a common, soil-borne fungus.

If you’re looking for symptoms of vascular diseases, the symptoms are similar to water stress:

  • Leaves begin to wilt, often turning yellow or brown and drying up.
  • Affected leaves may drop from the tree or remain attached.
  • Discoloration of the water conducting tissues beneath the bark (vascular streaking) is commonly present.

If you’re concerned that your tree might be a victim of vascular disease, the best way to find out is to get a certified expert from The Care of Trees to stop by. Depending on how the symptoms manifest themselves, some vascular diseases can be reliably confirmed in the field. The only positive identification method involves collecting samples and having them lab tested for the presence of the causal pathogen.

Call The Care of Trees at 800-508-9466 for a free consultation. If you call on a Sunday, leave a message and your call will be returned tomorrow. Or go to www.thecareoftree.com.

Bring Your Bag Chicago rally Tuesday at City Hall

Just a quick follow up on the hearing about the Chicago Checkout Bag Ordinance introduced by 1st Ward Alderman Proco Joe Moreno before the Committee and Health and Environmental Protection of the Chicago City Council last Tuesday. You might have caught the coverage on the local news, which was impressive if only because environmental issues rarely make the evening news.

Here’s just a sampling of how the proposed ordinance was covered:

The short version is that the ordinance is likely to come up for a vote sometime this summer. However, everybody is waitng to see what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has to say. As you can see above, not much so far.

Which is why it’s more important than ever to make your voice heard. Go to Bring Your Bag Chicago and like the page. Then sign this petition.Then call your alderman and make sure he or she knows that you expect them to support the Chicago Checkout Bag Ordinance.

Then stay tuned. This is a long way from over.