Green Burial

Green burial, or natural burial, ensure the burial site remains as natural as possible in all respects.  Interment of the bodies is done in a bio-degradable casket, shroud, or a favorite blanket. No embalming fluid, no concrete vaults.

It is clear that nature has intended that our bodies be reunited with the earth.  All organisms that have lived, have died and returned to the soil, only to be recycled into new life.  Constant microbial activity in the soil breaks everything down.  Nature creates no waste and everything is recycled.

In keeping with individual personal values, a natural burial site for you, family, even pets, promotes growth of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, in turn bringing birds and other wildlife to the area.  Water is not wasted, nor are pesticides and herbicides used in attempts to control nature.  Instead, a green cemetery allows nature take it’s course. Planting native trees, shrubs and flowers in your loved one’s honor promotes habitat restoration.  To encourage land preservation, a green cemetery grants a conservation easement for the burial site.

A green burial is a cremation alternative, and a viable alternative to  “traditional”  burial practices in the United States.  It is an earth friendly option when considering burial vs cremation.  Many families choose cremation because it’s seen as more environmentally friendly than traditional burial.  Embalming, expensive sealed caskets and burial vaults are not required by law.  Though traditional memorial parks may require them, a green cemetery or memorial nature preserve does not.  The simplicity of a green burial is in tune with nature.

Cardboard

We are constantly seeking ways to battle weeds and recycle materials in ways that are safe for the environment. Using cardboard as mulch to stop weeds combines these two obsessions into one, fine whole. While applying cardboard mulch is straightforward, it must be carefully monitored since cardboard doesn’t breathe well. Untended cardboard mulch can result in anaerobic conditions under the mulch that encourage the build-up of chemicals and an imbalance of soil bacteria.

Trim any grass or weeds close to the ground in the area to be mulched using a string trimmer or lawn mower. Take care around existing plantings to not injure the plants you wish to keep.

Lay cardboard directly on the ground in a single layer. Overlap the edges of each piece by at least 2 inches. Cut small openings to collar existing plants before sliding pieces in place.

Soak the cardboard with a garden hose. Weigh the cardboard down with a thin layer of organic mulch or well-placed rocks and bricks. Continue to water the cardboard regularly — if it dries out, it may become hydrophobic and future water penetration will be difficult.

Monitor the moisture levels under the cardboard to ensure that drainage is adequate. Spot check for pests and signs of rot on plants, including sudden browning, wilting or leaf drop. If problems are discovered, aerate the area by displacing the mulch, allowing the soil to dry.

Shrubs 4 Shade

Serviceberry (Amelanchier species)

With so many types of serviceberry on the market, you’re sure to find a good fit for your yard. Spring blooms, fall color, smooth gray bark and edible June berries make it a year-round winner. Popular choices include the Saskatoon serviceberry (A. alnifolia), developed for commercial fruit production, and the running serviceberry (A. stolonifera), a compact six foot shrub perfect for small landscapes.

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia species)

The white blooms on this five to six foot shrub change to a purplish-pink in late summer. Then the leaves take over and put on a spectacular fall show in shades of red, orange, brown and purple.

Dogwood (Cornus species)

While it steals the show in spring, this beauty has year-round appeal, sporting abundant foliage in summer, rich color in fall and berries in late fall and winter. The height varies greatly. For instance, the popular redtwig dogwood (C. alba) can be as low as eight feet, while the flowering dogwood (C. florida) reaches tree heights of forty feet.

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea Virginica)

A native shrub bursts with fragrant summer flowers and vibrant fall color. It generally grows five feet high. And since it doesn’t have many disease or insect problems, it works in any landscape. Look for the cultivar Henry’s Garnet, a popular choice especially for Illiana.

Red Chokeberry (Aronia Arbutifolia)

Growing 6 to 10 feet high, this resilient shrub does well even in poor soil, tolerating wet and dry conditions. It has small white or slightly reddish blooms in spring, glossy foliage in summer and bright-red berries from September through November.

Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus Parviflora species)

This unique shrub has abundant summer flowers, formed in panicles up to twelve inches long. It grows up to 12 feet tall and spreads another 15 feet. The medium- to dark-green leaves change to a yellow-green in fall.

More Slugs

Slugs are attracted to chemicals produced by many fermenting materials. These materials can be used to make attractant traps (pans of beer or sugar-water can attract, trap and drown slugs. A single baiting can remain effective for several days, as long as sufficient liquid remains. However, because the range of such traps is only a few feet, place them throughout the plant to reduce slug populations. Alcohol is not an attractant to slugs.

Selective use of trap boards or moistened newspaper placed on the soil surface also can be used to concentrate slugs that seek shelter under them. Check these shelters every morning and kill any slugs found.

Slugs often avoid travelling over acid, alkali or abrasive materials. Diatomaceous earth, wood ashes and similar materials placed around plants provide some protection. However, moisture reduces the effect of these treatments.

Salt also is toxic to slugs and direct applications of table salt to a slug can kill it. This technique has limited usefulness because excessive salt can affect plants. Certain metal ions also are highly repellent to slugs. Barriers of copper foil exclude slugs from greenhouse benches and raised bed plantings. Other copper-based materials, such as copper sulfate, repel slugs.

Alternative bait that has become popular includes iron phosphate (ferric phosphate) as the active ingredient. Trade names include Sluggo, Slug Magic and Escar-Go!, and others. Data suggest iron phosphate generally is comparable in effectiveness to metaldehyde. Furthermore, iron phosphate products can be used around edible crops and do not pose special hazards to dogs.

Ammonia sprays make excellent contact molluscicides, but must be applied directly to exposed slugs. Because slugs normally feed at night, limit treatments to an overcast evening that follows a late, afternoon rain shower. Household ammonia, diluted to a 5 percent to 10 percent concentration, is effective for this purpose.

If all else fails, throw that morning cup of coffee on them. Other research from the USDA shows that a 2 percent solution of caffeine kills slugs, while a weaker solution takes away their appetite.

Prune, Cut, Clean & Prepare

Where tree or shrub branches have been damaged by cold, snow, and wind, prune back to live stems; use a handsaw for any larger than ½ inch in diameter. Shaping hedges with hand pruners, rather than electric shears, prevents a thick outer layer of growth that prohibits sunlight and air from reaching the shrub’s center. Prune summer-flowering shrubs, such as Rose of Sharon, before buds swell, but wait to prune spring bloomers, like forsythia, until after they flower. Trim overgrown evergreens back to a branch whose direction you want to encourage.

Prune flowering perennials to a height of four to five inches and ornamental grasses to three inches to allow new growth to shoot up. Now that the soil has thawed, dig up perennials, such as daylilies and hosta, to thin crowded beds; divide them, leaving at least three stems per clump, and transplant them to fill in sparse areas. Cut back winter-damaged rose canes to 1 inch below the blackened area. On climbers, keep younger green canes and remove older woody ones; neaten them up by bending the canes horizontally and tipping the buds downward. Use jute twine or gentle Velcro fasteners to hold the canes in place.

Rake out fallen leaves and dead foliage (which can smother plants and foster disease), pull up spent annuals, and toss in a wheelbarrow with other organic yard waste. Once the threat of frost has passed, remove existing mulch to set the stage for a new layer once spring planting is done. Push heaved plants back into flower beds and borders, tamping them down around the base with your foot. Or use a shovel to replant them. Now is a good time to spread a pelletized fertilizer tailored to existing plantings on the soil’s surface so that spring rains can carry it below to the roots.  Add a 5-10-10 fertilizer around bulbs as soon as they flower to maximize bloom time and feed next season’s growth.

Grass starts growing in our zone (5) in April, but early spring is a good time to test the soil’s pH so that you can assemble the right amendments. Remove turf damaged by salt, plows, or disease to prepare for the seeding that should follow in a few weeks. Work in a ½-inch layer of compost to keep the new seed moist, increasing the germination rate. Begin seeding once forsythia starts blooming in your area. Consider adding the first dose of fertilizer and crabgrass treatment. Remove dead turf with a square metal rake then flip it over to spread compost.

Molluscicides

Molluscicides are pesticides effective against slugs and snails, and are often different chemicals than those used to control insects and other garden pests. Slugs are not susceptible to poisoning by most insecticides.

Metaldehyde is the most commonly used and effective molluscicide. It is sold often in the form of granular baits (Bug-Geta, etc.) or as a paste or gel (Deadline, etc.). Metaldehyde is attractive to slugs and causes intense irritation to them upon contact. After contact, slugs often become immobile and secrete large amounts of mucous. Death usually results from loss of water. All metaldehyde products are labeled for use around flower gardens and ornamental plants. Currently available products do not allow direct application among vegetables and edible crops.

Successful use of metaldehyde baits requires careful application and favorable weather conditions. Slugs often can recover from metaldehyde poisoning if high moisture conditions occur. Also, control is poor during cool periods because slugs are relatively inactive. Apply metaldehyde when the evening is warm and the following-day forecast is hot and dry. Young slugs are more susceptible than older.

The range of metaldehyde attraction is limited, so spread it throughout the infested area. Use 10 or more pieces of bait (flakes, pellets, liquid drops) per square yard. The amount needed for effective control varies depending on the attractiveness of other food in the area. Metaldehyde is rapidly inactivated by sunlight so spread it underneath leaves late in the day. Please note that Metaldehyde is attractive and potentially hazardous to dogs. Do not allow dogs (and children) access to metaldehyde packages.