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EcoFacts: Events of Note for 2011

A few environmental events of note for 2011:

Human population reached 7 billion.

As for other living populations, one can presume that the numbers of humans to wild animals, and certainly numbers of species, is in inverse proportion.

This was the most extreme weather year for the U.S. – tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, flooding, record-setting snowfalls and rains – since weather has been reliably recorded. The resultant financial losses were over $50 billion. Texas, the second largest state, had the most billion dollar disasters, including the recent heat and drought which has taken its toll on cattle, and so, less beef for us.

In Africa, widespread drought has caused famine among millions of people.

Australia’s floods covered an area the size of France and Germany combined. Also this year, the country imposed a carbon tax on the biggest polluters, second in size only to Europe’s. In its State of the Environment 2011 report, one of the headlines is “Australians cannot afford to see themselves as separate from the environment.”

Aside from the tremendous human loss from the quake and tsunami that hit Japan in March, as the tragedy unfolded, the world’s future reliance on nuclear power began being questioned by many governments, and then answered by some.

Investments in renewable energy grew 32% in 2010, more in developing countries, and were projected to double in the next several years. The cost of producing solar panels has dropped dramatically. India, for example, will be supplying millions of homes with power from the sun within the next few years.

Sea ice is still melting at alarming rates, but elsewhere, deforestation in the Amazon is at its lowest level in 23 years.

Americans’ gasoline use continues to decline.

Here’s to a better 2012!

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Santa Barbara Garden Post

January – the Gardening Delight of a New Year!

Harvest, Replant, Maintenance, Spring Preps, SEEDS!

Keep harvesting! Plant consideringly. That means, summer planting starts in March. January, February are generally cold, so slow growth though day length is getting longer. Keep in mind what space you want available in March for the March starts. If you are a winter plant lover gardener, one way to do this is to plant another round of your favorite winter plants, then in March designate a ‘nursery’ area, and start your summer seeds there. Transplant the babies to their permanent locations as the spaces become available. That in mind, plant more broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, kale, kohlrabi, potatoes. Plant an understory of all year favorites – beets, carrots, parsley, radish, and turnips, on the sunny sides of taller plants. And LETTUCES! They love January!

January IS bareroot month! Start bareroot artichokes, short day globe onions, strawberries, asparagus, horseradish (Be warned! Invasive). Depending on the weather, strawberry flowers may appear shortly after planting. Remove them so more energy goes into root development. Seascape, developed by UC Davis, is an everbearer strawberry that produces well in our moderate coastal climate. Sequoia is an large berried everbearer; Chandler is a June bearer. For those of you at home, plant bareroot cane berries, blueberries, roses, deciduous fruit trees! Visit Bay Laurel Nursery in Atascadero!

Clear overwintering pest habitat, debris; weed. Turn top soil to aerate and let the bad fungi die, pray for the good ones. Sidedress your producing plants lightly – add some fish emulsion with kelp. Sprinkle and lightly dig in cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal or fish meal. Keep a weather watch; keep those old sheets and coverings about in case of hard freezes. Farmers’ Almanac on Frost Frost Map Make this one your home page during cold winter months. No mulch this time of year; it keeps the soil cold. Rain Tips!

Make compost, start preparing your soil for spring planting. Make raised beds. Plan your spring garden; get seeds, wait until March to start planting your summer veggies. Wait for it. Plants planted out of season struggle with weather, day length, temps, and are susceptible to pests and diseases they aren’t naturally able to fend off. Now, if you have a greenhouse….

No greenhouse? Start Seeds Indoors – we are now the prerequisite six to eight weeks away from March! Start tomatoes, marigolds, peppers, cosmos, zucchini, impatiens, salvia, basil, and others. Especially start peppers! They take longer than other veggies. Otherwise, wait until all chance of freezing temperatures have passed and buy transplants at your favorite nursery. I’ve seen zucchini started in the ground in January thrive. If it doesn’t come up, no problem! Put some more seeds in soon again! Keep planting. I haven’t seen it work with tomatoes, but Marshall Chrostowski of Pacifica Institute’s Garden starts his toms in January for late March picking! He uses heat transmitting black row covers on the ground, and floating row covers above. That’s clear plastic with holes over hoops. They make the soil 15 degrees warmer, with 15-20% warmer air! You can buy floating row covers at your nursery. Give it a try! Eating garden fresh organic tomatoes late March?! Yum! Row covers will speed up your notorious slow-grower peppers too! Not only do floating row covers warm things up, but they keep flying pests away from your plants! Check out Digital Seed’s Planting Schedule!

Santa Barbara Year in ReView: December

Here are ten stories from Santa Barbara that made headlines in December, 2011:

  1. Nearly 60 “Tsunami Ready” signs went up around Santa Barbara’s waterfront.
  2. The interminable General Plan Update was finally approved unanimously.
  3. Public safety is an important part of a General Plan as is living within our resources.
  4. December 4th was a day to honor Saint Barbara.
  5. 225 years of Mission Santa Barbara.
  6. 2011 was a record year for cruise ships arriving in Santa Barbara.
  7. The DeNuzio arrest video.
  8. The City of Santa Barbara continued to ignore the possibility of the bankrupt Chapala One as a site to consider for a new police station.
  9. In 2003, Santa was unceremoniously evicted from his longtime home at Santa Claus Lane. Fortunately, Santa was relocated intact for new adventures and a whole new life.
  10. The City of Santa Barbara closed down for the holidays and will reopen on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.


Santa Barbara Year in ReView: November

Here are ten stories from Santa Barbara that made headlines in November, 2011:

  1. East Side Story: Graffiti marks the spot while street lights are hard to come by…
  2. Why Pearl Chase still matters.
  3. The 2011 City Council race was decided by a vote-by-mail election only.
  4. Your new SB City Councilmembers: Dale Francisco, Cathy Murillo, and Randy Rowse.
  5. A call to save Hot Springs Canyon.
  6. The parking lot adjacent to Dwight Murphy Park became SB’s new RV campground.
  7. REI: A great fit for Santa Barbara.
  8. Cheri Rae was recognized as one of our region’s most important residents.
  9. Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara: Pianos on State Street.
  10. Bill Heller captures the Palace Grill! (below)

Santa Barbara Year in Review: October

Here are ten stories from Santa Barbara that made headlines in October, 2011:

  1. Santa Barbara View co-sponsored a City Council Candidate Forum.
  2. No building permit no problem!
  3. Santa Barbara View proudly announced that Loretta Redd, PhD, joined the online magazine as a contributor and columnist.
  4. The City of Santa Barbara has a huge planning department, with substantial staff and administrative support.
  5. Another mixed-use monstrosity for Chapala St.
  6. Santa Barbara News-Press slung mud at Deborah Schwartz for her credit debt.
  7. When Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig came to play baseball in Santa Barbara.
  8. The proliferation of recreational vehicles on city streets.
  9. Santa Barbara’s Parks and Recreation Department’s organizational chart.
  10. The best way to spend 48 hours in Santa Barbara according to Viewers.

Santa Barbara Year in ReView: September

Here are ten stories from Santa Barbara that made headlines in September, 2011:

  1. SB Police Chief Cam Sanchez interviewed for a $20,000 month job in San Bernardino.
  2. The grand opening of the Carrillo Recreation Center.
  3. Clay Aurell resigned from his appointed position on SB’s Architectural Board of Review.
  4. Santa Barbara had endless funds for concrete curbs.
  5. Santa Barbara remembered the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
  6. The old Santa Barbara airport terminal was dismantled.
  7. Candidates for Santa Barbara City Council reported their sizable contributions.
  8. How does high-density housing improve the ability of families to live in Santa Barbara?
  9. The 30th anniversary of the Diablo Nuclear Plant protest.
  10. The Moving Wall came to Santa Barbara (below).

Santa Barbara Year in ReView: August

Here are ten stories from Santa Barbara that made headlines in August, 2011:

  1. SB’s Victoria Post Office was one of 3,000 on the list of those across the nation facing closure.
  2. A giant statue for De la Guerra Plaza?
  3. Residents on the Westside opposed a proposed modern industrial-style building they considered “radically incompatible with our charming older neighborhood.”
  4. Santa Barbara Police Station: $356,176 for a conceptual design.
  5. The $50 million proposal to replace the Santa Barbara Police Department headquarters.
  6. A pair of rattlers mating alongside a trail in the Mountains of Southern California.
  7. Towering story poles went up for a three-story, 99-room hotel on the site of the existing Hope Ranch Inn, at 4111 and 4119 State Street.
  8. A 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath penthouse in Paseo Chapala was discounted nearly $1 million.
  9. As part of their $2.2 million renovation of De la Guerra Plaza, the Santa Barbara City Council wanted to insert bollards throughout the historic plaza.
  10. Julia Child’s Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Year in ReView: July

Here are ten stories from Santa Barbara that made headlines in July, 2011:

  1. Environmentalists eyed a ban on fireworks.
  2. The world’s spotlight shined on Carpinteria as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate, arrived in town for a charity polo match.
  3. The supersizing of Coast Village Road continued.
  4. Santa Barbara Viewers weighed in on the most beautiful places in Santa Barbara.
  5.  The City suggested that a home owner add a second story to a small home, rather than putting a small bedroom and bathroom in the back.
  6. Last Festival Standing: The 38th Annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival at Oak Park.
  7. Peter Lance penned his five-part editorial series (pdf) for the Santa Barbara News-Press to expose alleged misconduct by the SBPD’s award winning DUI officer Kasi Beutel.
  8. Saving Goleta Valley South Little League.
  9. Andreea Serban, President of SB City College, was placed on paid leave of absence.
  10. Santa Barbara and a bullring in Seville.