Curried Chicken, Green Bean and Almond Salad
12 oz fresh green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise
2 cups shredded roasted chicken
1 cup sliced red onion
4 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds
Cook beans in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water.   
Transfer beans to bowl, add chicken, onion, and cilantro.
Wisk curry power, lime juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, cilantro and salt.  
Add dressing to chicken mixture. Sprinkle with almonds

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place 
When faced with the choice of whether to use rock or hardwood mulch in garden beds, here are some reasons why hardwood is best.
  • Nature makes soil out of leaf/twig/seed litter. If you put rock down, the leaf litter will accumulate on top. It will create a layer of soil on top of your rock. Over time, the rock layer and soil layers will become a single unit, or 'hardwood' anyway.

  • Rock is more expensive than hardwood, it takes an enormous amount of effort to install. It is even harder (and virtually impossible) to remove.
  • Plant roots grow on top of and into the landscape fabric under rock. Why? Because plants are not getting the nutrients and water they need under the plastic fabric weed barrier. This makes plants less able to tolerate drought, stress and more likely to die.
  • When landscaping with rock, you better be sure you wanted your plants there. Once plants are installed with rock and fabric, they are impossible to move around. Much of gardening is trial and error and figuring if it doesn't do great you'll try it someplace else? Or shifting plants a couple feet to the right when they overgrow your pathway?
  • Not all plants tolerate the harsh environment of rock and fabric. You are left with limited plant choices. Your landscape looks very much like gas stations or parking lots islands with same old spiraea, daylilies and juniper. Boring.
  • Sooner or later you will end up with weeds. This is because weed seeds come in from the air, not the soil. The weeds will find a small patch of organic material between rocks. All it takes is a few leaves drifting in and sticking in your rock to give weeds something to grow in. Often these type of weeds grow where nothing else will; buckthorn, cottonwoods, dandelions. They usually have deep tap roots and will break if you try to pull them through the rock/fabric, only to grow back.
  • Your soil is the happy home of billions and trillions of micro-organisms which work to break down organic and mineral matter into usable nutrients for your plants. Soil biology underneath rock and fabric is dead. No earthworms, no organic layer, compacted like cement, no micro-biome.
What I recommend:
Pine bark is a nice choice, but any hardwood will do. Do not use a landscape fabric/weed barrier under wood mulch, as it blocks the natural decomposition and suffocates and kills the soil (why add more plastic to the earth?). A four-inch layer of shredded hardwood mulch will need replenishing about every three years and provides the best weed barrier and soil biology for a healthy, beautiful, and diverse plant palette.  

Leaves, twigs and debris collect on top of rock mulch. 

BEFORE: The homeowners wanted a garden here but found it difficult to grow anything in the rock mulch.
DURING: During the landscape renovation, rocks and fabric were removed and compost laid down.     
AFTER: plants thriving in healthy soil with hardwood mulch.
For more information on mulching trees and shrubs. 
Using Trees to Reduce Stormwater Runoff
Have you ever been caught out in the rain and rushed to stand under a tree to stay dry? Unlike us, trees don't complain about raging blizzards and torrential rains. Trees can hold vast amounts of water   that would otherwise stream down hills and surge along rivers into towns. Stormwater is the rainfall that accumulates on the ground during and immediately after a rain storm. Stormwater pollution is created when rain and melting snow run off impervious surfaces like roof tops, yards, parking lots and streets. The water that runs off picks up heavy metals, fertilizers, bacteria, pesticides, trash, and transports them to nearby lakes and rivers, causing big problems. That's why trees are such an important part of stormwater management for many cities.
How do they do this? Tree canopies intercept rain, snow and other forms of precipitation. In so doing, they both decrease the impact velocity of a rain drop hitting the ground, and reduce the overall amount of precipitation that eventually reaches the ground. The faster the moving water, the larger the particles are that can be carried away and the more severe the erosion.
Water that is stored in the tree canopy is returned to the air by evaporation or transmitted to the ground for root absorption. The tree uses some of the absorbed rainfall and eventually releases the unused portion back into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration. In addition, leaf litter under the tree serves as a sponge for the water. The result of this moderating effect on precipitation is a reduction in runoff and soil erosion.
Here are some examples of how trees pay us back:
  • Urban forest can reduce annual stormwater
    runoff by 2-7%.
  • Green streets, rain barrels, and tree planting are estimated to be 3-6 times more effective in managing stormwater per $1,000 invested than conventional methods. 
  • Implementing green infrastructure practices in Detroit's sewage and water department will reduce combined sewer overflow volumes by 10-20% and reduce annual costs by $159 million a year. 
  • Portland, OR, is saving 43% ($64 million) by integrating green infrastructure - including planting 4,000 trees - into a combined gray-green stormwater management solution rather than the standard man-made approach. 
  • Street trees in Minneapolis saves the city $9.1 million in stormwater treatments annually. 
  • Philadelphia's $1.5 billion stormwater management plan focuses almost exclusively on eco-friendly solutions - bioswales, permeable pavement, street trees - as a way of reducing the city's 15 billion gallons of annual water overflow. 
  • The stormwater management value of Philadelphia's parkland and trees is $5.9 million annually 
  • Trees on UC San Diego's 1,200-acre campus trap and filter nearly 140 million gallons of storm water runoff each year at a value of $250,000. 
  • Urban greening in Washington, DC, prevents over 1.2 billion gallons of stormwater from entering the sewer system, 10% of the total volume. This represents a savings of $4.74 billion in gray infrastructure costs per 30-year construction cycle. 
  • Trees in Houston, TX, provide $1.3 billion in stormwater benefits (based on $0.66 /cubic foot of storage).
  • Each urban tree in Modesto, CA, reduces stormwater runoff by 845 gallons annually, with a benefit valued at $7 per tree.
  • Street trees in New York City intercept 890 million gallons of stormwater annually: 1,525 gallons per tree on average, with a total value of over $35 million each year.
What can you do?
  • Maximize the amount of growing space and understory vegetation around a tree.
  • Preserve established trees and minimize soil compaction, displacement, and erosion around a tree.
  • Minimize clearing of trees and vegetation to preserve their benefits and minimize soil compaction.
  • Do not over fertilize or over irrigate your trees or lawns.
  • Route excess stormwater to bioretention areas made of a vegetated buffer and a soil bed to filter pollutants, store water and prevent erosion.
  • Include tree and vegetative strips in parking lots to collect, store and treat the runoff.
  • Maintain and increase the amount and width of urban forest buffers around urban streams, lakes and wetlands.
A canopy of trees over a highway helps reduce stormwater runoff to nearby ponds, streams, lakes and rivers.

Tree function as a natural flood plain, slowing water flow.

Trees can also absorb water in the soil by root uptake. Together, the roots and leaf litter stabilize soil and reduce erosion.   

Studies have shown that a mature tree can intercept 500-700 gallons of water per year.
For more information on the benefits of trees and the urban forest.

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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