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Bob shares his thoughts on landscaping and the environment

Home Solar Energy Update

Solar energy provided 44% of our home electricity AND car charging needs during the month of November 2021. TESLA APP SCREEN SHOTS – SOLAR PANEL PRODUCTION FROM 8.97kW SYSTEM(left) 5.67kW solar system on Front roof (right) 3.3kW solar system on Back roof Home solar energy production in November 2021 = 396.8 kWh Home electricity usage and…

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence – MLK

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a courageous and poignant speech on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City. It was long before very many Americans were speaking out against the Vietnam War. I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you…

Snow Days

With the potential for heavy snow from winter storm ‘IZZY’ in some parts of Pennsylvania tonight, I’m reminded of the winter of 1992-1993, when we provided snow removal service for 23 residential clients. What a winter! Photo: Snow-covered Weeping Beech It’s not the depth of snow that ever worried me as much as the moisture content,…

All Charged Up

Winter cold will reduce an EV’s maximum charge level, on a lithium-ion battery, by as much as 15-percent. Screen shots above: BOLT FULL CHARGE LEVELS(left) Warmer December 22, 2021 232 miles vs. (right) Colder January 12, 2022 199 miles Lessons Learned driving an electric vehicle (EV) Cold weather in western Pennsylvania can result in a…

Planet Earth is Hot Stuff

The headlines keep repeating themselves, like Bill Murray’s GROUNDHOG DAY movie, except this isn’t funny. “Despite a La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to cool the planet, 2021 was roughly tied for sixth-hottest year ever observed, scientists say. All of the seven hottest years on record have happened in the last…

Solar Energy from Greenhouses

Considering all the greenhouses that have to use shade cloth to reduce the intensity of sunshine, semi-transparent solar modules would be a win-win! “Researchers at the University of Jaén in Spain have looked at the potential of agrivoltaics for greenhouses in areas with high crop cultivation in greenhouses. They have developed a dual model that they claim enables a proper project…

Huge Markups on F-150 Lightning

While it’s not exactly clear what local Ford dealers are going to do with final pricing of the new F-150 Lightnings they sell, it’s now clear that some east coast Ford dealers are planning to tack $10,000 (or more) onto the MSRP ‘sticker price.’ That would raise the cost of the base F-150 from around…

Hey Ford, Cancel My Order

After reading today’s story in the Detroit Free Press, I emailed Ford and my local Ford dealer to cancel my reservation for a new F-150 Lightning. Photo: 1988 F-350 4×4 dump truck I owned during my landscape contracting career. I saw something like this coming a while ago, after learning that dealerships can mark-up the…

Big Ben’s Last Hurrah

Monday Night Football at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh vs the Cleveland Browns was the perfect stage for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game! The weather was ‘Pittsburgh January’ clear and cold, with temperatures hovering in the low 20’s. The Steelers defense was hot, recording 9 sacks of Baker Mayfield, 4 of those at the hands…

DON’T LOOK UP Washington County

We watched the new NetFlix movie “Don’t Look Up” on New Years Eve, the night before returning from our holiday trip New Years Day. While catching up on neighborhood events in our absence, a neighbor asked, “Did you hear we had space aliens in Washington County while you were gone?” Turns out there was a…

49th Anniversary of ‘The Immaculate Reception’

Mayor Bill Peduto awarded former Steelers running back Franco Harris the Key to the City of Pittsburgh yesterday. He’s a hero to everyone in the city of Pittsburgh that needs a little bit of help, and for how he exemplifies everything that’s good about Pittsburgh. MAYOR BILL PEDUTO I was in attendance to video the…

Our Bolt is Back!

General Motors completed their battery recall on our 2019 Chevy Bolt EV today. By following all previous recall guidelines, that reduced the maximum battery charge level to 90% and then 80%, we never had any issues with our Bolt, other than having a slightly shorter driving range and charging more often. Over 21,000 miles of…

Vaxed to the Max

Last night’s evening news reported that 73% of new Covid cases are the super-fast moving Omicron variant. It was only 3% one week ago! Someone sent me this image recently, which basically speaks for itself: Bob More: Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know – CDC MAYO CLINIC: Reinfection rates of omicron and why people…

Two Turtle Doves

While our local inhabitants are Mourning Doves, seeing this pair on our shed roof this morning reminded me of the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” On the second day of ChristmasMy true love sent to meTwo turtle dovesAnd a partridge in a pear tree! TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS SONG What exactly is a Turtle…

Sunny Outlook for Solar

At the end of an article about the increased use of coal yesterday, I noticed a comment from a familiar and anonymous name… a troll who has continually spewed lies and misinformation in multiple newspapers over the years, making feeble attempts to support fossil fuels by dissing renewables. As the saying goes, “That dog won’t…

Vietnam War 1971 – LAM SON 719

A story published in the November/December 2021 issue of The VVA Veteran Online provides yet another disturbing look at the idiocy of the Vietnam war. The story “Lam Son 719 – No Surprises” by John Prados describes in detail, a failed operation that was pushed through toward the end of the war, despite warnings from…

Holiday Beauty & Fun

Model trains and flowers make people smile, and both are in abundance at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Pittsburgh! Bob More: 30 trains running on a 4-tier train layout Tour of 7 model train layouts at 5 locations in the Latrobe and Ligonier PA area

That Crazy Jetstream!

Our local weather forecast calls for a rainy December 11th Saturday with a high of 63°F (17°C). That warm streak could continue through mid-December, according to this story on Axios: “The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of…

Ditching Gasoline for Rechargeable Yard Tools

I got tired of messing around with gasoline, petrol as they call it outside the U.S., so it was time to convert our lawn and garden landscaping equipment to rechargeable units. It began with the snowthrower and has proceeded nicely from there! What I mean by “messing around with gasoline” Storing gasoline-powered snowthrowers over summer…

Renewable Energy News

Breaking news on solar energy, wind power, geothermal, tidal energy and other sources of renewable energy. CleanTechnica – “CleanTechnica is the world’s #1 source for cleantech news and analysis. It entertains and informs approximately 6 million monthly global readers along with hundreds of thousands of social media followers. It is followed by some of the biggest names in the…

Big Spill in Little Chartiers Creek

Less than five months after a ‘significant fish kill’ further downstream, from what was believed to be a turf fungicide, we read of yet another significant spill of 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of gasoline, where an estimated 1,000 fish and other aquatic species died in the spill. In that mid-July event, “waterways officers pinpointed the…

Wacky Weather

First came the report of super frigid weather in Europe, then reports of record breaking warmth in large portions of the U.S. and Canada, but 12-inches of snow in Hawaii? Here are the complete stories: Winter starts out frigid in Western Europe, squeezing natural gas supplies Scandinavia lies at the epicenter of the cold snap,…

Electric Rates and Voters Rising

Whether you own your own solar panels, or have a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement), one of the huge benefits of having solar is the absence of ongoing supply rate increases. Case in point would be our local electricity price increases around the Pittsburgh area. As reported by Anya Litvak in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pa. consumer…

Dual Fuel or All Electric?

When upgrading our home to a more efficient heating and cooling system, one that incorporates a heat pump, the issue of whether to use electricity or natural gas for back-up (alternate heat) during colder winter days, became the big question. If we lived further south in a more temperate zone, a heat pump would be…

Whack That Bradford Pear

A recent story in the New York Times created a new hubbub over Callery Pears, specifically the popular ornamental Bradford Pear. The Bradford Pear was one of the trees we avoided planting in home landscapes, primarily due to its weak branching structure — those ‘V-shaped’ crotches — that were infamous for splitting-out in ice or…

Christmas Tree Traditions

On Saturday, I drove up to the nearest Home Depot to see what the live Christmas tree market looked like this year. Here’s a short video of what I found: We actually sold cut Christmas trees for two seasons, back in the ’80’s. It was a fun time of year with fond memories! The wreaths…

Ditching Natural Gas

Those who have become all too familiar with the myriad of adverse effects from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or ‘unnatural gas’ as they sometimes call it, have become eager to move entirely away from using it. In addition to the many good reasons to hate fracking, is the skyrocketing price of natural gas that’s…

Vietnam War 1960’s Thanksgiving

During the Vietnam War, U.S. Army troops were treated to a special meal on Thanksgiving Day. Here we see a Thanksgiving menu from 1965 in Vietnam. Many thanks to Bill Van Eck of the ‘Proud Americans’ 2/32 Artillery for sharing that 1965 Thanksgiving menu. The Thanksgiving table was set at LZ Diamondhead in 1967, just…

Barberries Barred in Pennsylvania

Yesterday we got word the PA Dept. of Agriculture added Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) to their list of noxious weeds, meaning plants that can’t be legally sold or cultivated in Pennsylvania. The ban officially took effect on October 8, 2021 and will be phased-in at nurseries over 2 years. We remember one of the ornamental varieties…

Honoring veterans who marched before and after me

I do appreciate the occasional “Thank you” for having served in Vietnam. But those platitudes are often muted, since I was an unwilling participant in that war. Drafted you see, and at the age of 19, war was the last thing I wanted to have preoccupy my mind. For whatever reason, I passed on the…

Ridin’ that Train, High with Propane

Four years ago, this newspaper story caught my attention: ‘Railroad sues over millions of rail ties it calls defective‘ especially since it was about the Norfolk Southern Railway. Why? Because of that Norfolk Southern high trestle over the Parkway West near Pittsburgh, Pa. that has LPG railcars crossing it on a daily basis, and sometimes,…

Pennsylvania Taxpayers Are Getting Drilled

Without regulation changes that would require full-cost bonding to cover the costs of plugging conventional and unconventional shale gas and oil wells in Pennsylvania, taxpayers will continue ‘getting fracked’ big time! BOTTOM LINE: The bonding requirements for oil and gas producers in Pennsylvania are pitifully inadequate — only 7% of what they should be for…

Whitetail Deer with Covid

A Penn State study submitted for peer review found the SARS-CoV-2 virus present among deer in Iowa. Infections were the highest during periods of the greatest human-deer contact, when about 11,000 Iowa hunters were in the field from October – December 2020. Complete 23-page November 1, 2021 report: “Multiple spillovers and onward transmission of SARS-Cov-2…

Pennsylvania State Park War Games

For about 170 days a year (1 to 2 hours a day, 2 to 3 days per week) the Maryland Air National Guard is seeking permission to expand low level flights, with A-10 Warthogs on combat training missions over pristine Pennsylvania state parks like Elk State Park and the Hammersly Wild Area. Pretty crazy, eh?…

Fear This Insect Pennsylvania!

A new threat to Pennsylvania is the SPOTTED LANTERNFLY (Lycorma delicatula) which is a one-inch-long, red, black and white planthopper that’s native to Southeast Asia and was first identified in Berks County, PA in 2014. What’s at stake with Spotted Lanternfly (SLF)? Your Maple trees and “Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry and the quality of…

Gosh Josh

Environmentalists were thrilled when our Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, went after shale gas frackers and filed criminal charges that many felt were long overdue, yet didn’t go nearly far enough. It gave us the sense that he fully understood the health and environmental consequences related to fracking and fossil fuel extraction. That sense of…

Vietnam War Draft Lotteries

In the few years that Bobscaping.com has been online, my most popular pages have not been about flowers or trees, they have been about the draft lotteries that were held in the United States to select young men for the military draft during the final years of the Vietnam War. In fact, the 1969 draft…

Green to Halloween

Fall weather has both extended the life of potted flowers on our deck and muted a colorful fall foliage season. Yin and yang. As darkening days remind us that winter is just around the corner, it’s lovely to still see colorful and full-grown potted flowers adorning the perimeter of our deck. We’re already two weeks…

GOP Legislators Trying to Kill Clean Energy in Pennsylvania

In this day and age, with all we’ve learned about climate change and the disastrous effects it’s already having on our Commonwealth, it’s hard to believe there can be this kind of stone age thinking ‘under the dome’ in Harrisburg, Pa, led by none other than Gene Yaw and his backward thinking Republican cronies. From…

First Drive on the Southern Beltway

Pittsburgh’s long awaited Southern Beltway toll road opened yesterday, easing the trip to and from the Pittsburgh International Airport for many travelers. For those living south of Pittsburgh, this route will eliminate battling the traffic snarls that have become far more common in the vicinity of the I-79 / 376 interchange near Carnegie, as well…

Tesla Energy Production Exceeds Needs (Again)

September brought more positive results, with our solar panels producing enough energy to power our home and charge our electric vehicle, while also “banking” an excess that will be carried forward through net metering. Solar energy production for September = 844.2 kWh Home usage (including all EV charging) = 660.5 kWh “Banked” for the future…

New Tesla Powerwall App

The latest update to my iPhone apps included an all new Tesla Powerwall app. Our Powerwall2 is a 14kWh lithium-ion battery mounted in the garage, entirely charged by solar energy from 21 solar panels on the roof. It serves as a backup for most home electricity needs if the grid goes down, minus heavy draws…

First Frost

After years of observing the weather in our Pittsburgh area, October 10th became the average date for our first frost, marking the end of the growing season for frost-sensitive plants. It also marks the date to bring houseplants indoors. Recently, when I mentioned this date to Stephen Cropper, Chief Meteorologist for WPXI, he shared the…

Don’t Expect Protection

Pennsylvania Senator Katie Muth hosted a hearing last week, CLOSING THE HAZARDOUS WASTE LOOPHOLE IN PA, where we learned once again why citizens jokingly say the initials D.E.P. (short for Department of Environmental Protection) stand for “Don’t Expect Protection.” Of course it’s no laughing matter! If you can’t sit through the entire 4 hour, 44…

National Solar Tour this weekend

The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) national tour, both in-person and virtual, takes place Saturday and Sunday. Learn more here. US map of locations Established in 1954, ASES is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates for sustainable living and 100% renewable energy by sharing information, events and resources to cultivate community and power progress. ASES homepage…

PetroChem Pancakes with a dash of Nurdles

Apparently it wasn’t a 3-day pancake breakfast that had staff at a Beaver, Pa. childcare facility smelling pancake syrup last week. According to the September 28, 2021 story “DEP cites Shell for ‘malodors’ outside cracker plant construction site – ‘Strong’ smell ‘like pancake syrup’ reported for several days” by Reid Frazier in StateImpact Pennsylvania: “The…

Wildfire Worries for Ancient Trees

Photos of fire workers wrapping the ‘largest living tree on Earth’ in silver fire retardant foil got me thinking, and worrying, about the awe-inspiring trees we saw during our visit to the ‘Avenue of the Giants‘ in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California, six years ago this month. The old-growth coast redwood forest is…

Earth to Nick

Oblivious to toxic waste pollution and the devastation from climate change, Pennsylvania politicians continue to put frackers first! Washington County commissioners have never been shy about their diehard, all-in support of the oil and gas industry, even in the face of an endless stream of spills, fish kills and environmental destruction. There is even an…

Public Parks as Cash Cows (no more)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared earlier this year that “all proceeds from the sale of our public natural resources are part of the corpus of our environmental public trust” and that the environmental trustee obligations described in the state constitution apply to ALL levels and branches of government. I covered this same topic in my May…

Clean Energy Week

Looking at our regional electric grid, we have a lot of work to do if we are going to wean ourselves off fossil fuels by 2030, or even 2035! The PJM Interconnection grid, that delivers electricity to WV, PA, OH, NJ and parts of 5 more states, was showing these fuel mix statistics at 8:00pm…

1922 Tournament of Roses

Yesterday we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Washington & Jefferson College’s undefeated season that propelled the team to the game now known as the Rose Bowl. Yesterday, a few of the surviving family members were honored before the kickoff of W&J’s home opener versus Bethany College. Years ago, author and W&J alum E. Lee North…

Winter Weather Forecast

A woolly bear caterpillar crossed our path Sunday… The caterpillar was our annual reminder of folklore surrounding winter weather forecasting. Pennsylvania PrognosticatorsThe Woolly Bear is nearly as famous for its winter forecast, as Punxsutawney Phil is for his spring forecast. It’s also known as the “fuzzy bear” or “woolly worm” or even the “hedgehog caterpillar”…

Saving Vegetable Seeds for Next Year

Save money by storing this year’s vegetable and tomato seeds. Proper storage conditions will keep seeds viable for future vegetable gardens. By Sandy Feather ©2009 Penn State Extension Store your vegetable seed in airtight jars or containers in the refrigerator. Those silica gel packs that are shipped with shoes and electronic equipment can be placed in…

Old Growth Forest Destruction

Imagine going into an art museum full of old masterpieces and laying waste to them with a chainsaw. Unthinkable, right? Now imagine those same masterpieces are living, breathing things, the last stalwarts standing tall against climate change. Yesterday’s story in the Seattle Times, B.C. Government Continues Logging of Old Growth as Two Year Protest in…

Mike Tomlin Quotes

Being the great wordsmith that he is, I’ve been posting some of Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s most famous quotes for the past dozen years or more. Probably my favorite quote and nugget of wisdom is: “Be where you are.” MIKE TOMLIN You’ll find hundreds more of Coach Tomlin’s quotes here. Bob

I’ll Always Remember

My photos of the 2016 Remembrance events at the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville, Pa. with “I’ll Always Remember” soundtrack by singer/songwriter JoAnn Biviano. Why the passengers of Flight 93 had time to act Flight 93 was 41 minutes late leaving Newark Airport for its planned flight to San Francisco. This delay allowed time for…

Natural Gas Widowmaker

With an increasing dependence on natural gas for electricity generation, one has to ask what this will mean to future consumer prices. Simon Casey of Bloomberg posted a story and chart yesterday, ‘Widowmaker’ Natural Gas Spread Doubles as Traders Eye Winter – “Natural gas traders see tight winter supplies. Widowmaker spread hits record high.” “The…

O Deer!

One important job in the home landscape should never wait. Over the years, I’ve seen whitetail deer cause severe, life threatening damage to young trees. Damage to the main trunk of a tree occurs during deer mating season, which is commonly known as “the rut.” I’ve dedicated part of my DEER DAMAGE webpage to this…

Flooding

“A storm like this would have been exceptionally rare 20 or 50 years ago, but we have to start thinking about it becoming the norm as the climate warms.” Tripti Bhattacharya, Syracuse University Hurricane Ida put a new emphasis on climate change, and why it was another harbinger to those who never expected their homes…

Love Your Lawn… Now!

My web page title says it best, “SEPTEMBER IS LAWN MONTH” See all the reasons why: https://bobscaping.com/september-is-lawn-month/ There are two seasons of the year in the midwest and northeastern United States (and similar climate zones) when your odds of lawn seeding success greatly improve: Spring and Fall. Spring is second best. Fall is also the…

One Step Forward

In a hard-fought bid to make Pennsylvania the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy, Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to fight climate change passed its last regulatory hurdle yesterday with the IRRC (Independent Regulatory Review Commission). The 3-2 party-line vote allows Pennsylvania to join a multistate consortium, the Regional Greenhouse Gas…

Smart Choice In Ohio

Good news out of Columbus, Ohio on Monday, concerning the decision to quit using radioactive de-icer on state roads The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is finally acting, following lab tests that were done by the ODNR just over 4 years ago, that included one test result where there were 9,602 picocuries per liter of combined…

Five Dollar Electric Bill

While that sounds good, especially with heavy air conditioning use during humid 90-degree weather, it’s even better than that! We were finally able to do a full 12-month “look back” at our cost savings with solar energy, since upping our game to 29 solar panels. Our recent $5.77 electric bill only tells part of the…

Lungs Of The Globe

“While most of the climate crisis attention is focused on land, many of the best fixes are offshore.” A new post by Ian Urbina, “Saving the Planet While Ignoring Two Thirds of It” puts an interesting twist on what our planet Earth faces as it relates to our oceans… “…companies on land have been allowed…

Barium, Chloride and Strontium, Oh My!

A study published in SCIENCE last week is said to be the first linking surface water contamination to fracking, the layman’s term for hydraulic fracturing, which is used to produce oil and gas from shale, like the Marcellus Shale which underlies a large portion of western and northeastern Pennsylvania. In yesterday’s blog “America’s Radioactive Secret”…

America’s Radioactive Secret

Justin Nobel, Science Journalist for ROLLING STONE, DeSmog, and other US magazines and investigative sites, presents his findings on the radioactivity found in oil and gas development during a Delaware Riverkeeper webinar. Begins at the 11:20 mark of video: More: TENORM: Stories on Fracking’s Radioactive Waste by Joshua Boaz Pribanic and the newsCOUP team at…

Are Green Lawns Really Green?

Sometime in the late-70’s we saw the widespread emergence and acceptance of home lawn care featuring “blanket spray” treatments for home lawns, using a steady dose of fertilizer and insecticides. Keeping up with the Joneses next door became the standard. A lush green lawn, without a single weed or brown spot, became the goal. So…

Vietnam War Deja Vu

The events unfolding in Afghanistan take Vietnam War veterans back to 1975, when that country fell quickly, in just 55-days. The fall of this country, in which we invested so much blood and gold over the past 20-years, has fallen even faster. 11-days! One Vietnam veteran I emailed said it had reignited his PTSD (post…

Finches Return

The “all clear” was sounded at the end of last week for putting birdfeeders back up, so the first to go up was the thistle seed feeder that Finches favor so much, as well as the occasional Chickadee. Last update I read indicated that while wildlife authorities weren’t certain what was ailing songbirds, they did…

Skunk Assist

In my battle against a yellowjacket nest that was dangerously close to our front sidewalk, a skunk (or raccoon) intervened to help clean-out the nest. I waited until well after dark the first night to spray the area under this ‘Little Gem’ Spruce with Wasp & Hornet Spray. The aerosol had a long range spray…

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