Saturday, May 18, 2013

Berry List

Now that the move is close, I both have free time to think plus I have yet to lose my excitement over moving. I will have a tiny backyard, perhaps 12 feet by 35 feet.

For a long time I looked over descriptions of forest gardening. I like the idea of growing lots of perennial plants since I will almost certainly be too lazy to replant more than a couple plants every summer. I don't have room for many fruit trees though. I will probably plant some perennial vegetables and herbs but I have decided to settle on berries.

Berries have an unusual distinction of being comparatively easy to grow and expensive to buy. There is also a huge diversity of them many of which are not commonly available in stores.

I am starting with a mulberry tree. This is one troublesome tree however. They are about the messiest tree you can find and get huge. If I was to plant one of the larger varieties I would end up with a tree taller than my three story house covering the whole area with fallen berries. So I settled on a dwarf mulberry tree. So far I have found a decent dwarf black mulberry, dwarf red mulberry, and dwarf weeping mulberry. Probably I will just go with the black mulberry, but if I find I have room perhaps I will get a red as well. They fruit in different months so they work well together.

Then I want a few native berries. The best choices I seem to have are golden currants, and nevin's barberry.

At least the first year I will try a couple annual berries: cape gooseberry, green grape tomato, strawberry spinach, chinese 5 color pepper. OK, so I stretch the definition of berries pretty far. Once the larger perennial berries have a few years to grow I expect to not have much room for annuals, but in my climate the hot peppers will probably live for several years and may be able to compete for space.

Strawberries seem like they would also fit in well. I will probably plant a half dozen varieties and just see what grows best. Perhaps I will try some of the smaller varieties. Smaller strawberries sound like they might be a fun way to go. I am not sure they can match the productivity of newer varieties though.

Raspberries work reasonably well in Southern California. I haven't picked a variety and will probably just grab one at random from a nursery I trust.

Blueberries may or may not work well in my area. I have heard that they are starting to have some varieties which work well in California so I will at least have to try.

Goji berries are another interesting berry which I will try. It sounds a bit fussy though so I am not sure how likely I am to succeed.
Goumi is another possibility. There are not a whole lot of Nitrogen fixing shrubs. I haven't heard very good reviews of the berries though.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tallest Building in the Hemisphere

Speaking of big buildings, I just saw a recent picture of lower Manhattan. Somehow I missed just how close the new world trade center is to completion. It just reached its full height when a 408 foot tower was placed on top. Even before that, it towered over nearby buildings:
Four World Trade Center, under construction in that picture, is also quite impressive. Since it replaces a nine story building this building represents a real increase in density within the city.

Everything in Manhattan seemed so huge to me during the few weeks I lived there. At that time though the world trade center was mostly just a hole in the ground. So it is all the tiny looking buildings next to these towers which seemed so impressive.

It is also impressive how far America has fallen behind the Middle East and Asia when it comes to tall buildings. From 1870 to 1998 America was home to the tallest building in the world. Now, not even close. The tallest building in the world is nearly a thousand feet taller than One World Trade Center.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Population Density and the Environment

Somehow I have started reading too much of The Atlantic Cities, and books like Green Metropolis, or Triumph of the City. I have been quite convinced that higher population density is the easiest way to make cities more green.

This chart of average yearly electricity usage in kilowatt hours is pretty impressive:

So I am glad there is a building boom of towers going on at the moment. Still, I don't see a good way to fight the NIMBY's who block the construction of these buildings and make them useless by forcing cities to have lower population density. If cities like New York City and San Francisco were to pull out the stops and go on a building spree, they could easily suck a few million people from states like Texas which is about the best thing anyone could do for the environment.