Archive for the ‘Keith Bancroft’ Category

by Keith Bancroft

Last December, I bought and moved into my first house (my first house!). When I moved, I brought with me a large assortment of container plantings I’d accumulated over the past dozen years or so—pineapple sage, ferns, agastache, salvia, fuchsia, honeysuckle, penstemon, bee balm, and various succulents. Now that I was in my own home and had a “real” yard to work with, I was eager to get my collection of potted plants into the ground where they belonged. But it was mid-winter, I had a seemingly never-ending list of DIY projects inside the house to keep me occupied (which, amazingly, continues to grow), and I knew the plants would be fine until I could find the time to give them a permanent in-ground home.

Save Our Water logoA few months later, just as I was starting to think about digging planting holes and getting the garden in order, a co-worker forwarded me a link to the Save Our Water website. Of particular interest to me was the section “Water-Wise Landscaping Basics,” which provides information on things to keep in mind when creating or maintaining a low water-use landscape. Even though I felt like I had a pretty good handle on water-wise gardening (based on almost 20 years working in water conservation), I found reviewing the site’s list of simple basic principles to be an excellent refresher. It’s easy to overlook the importance of mulch in reducing water use in the garden or to forget to adjust the irrigation schedule as often as one should. However, considering the record low rainfall we received last year, and the annual uncertainty of what future rain may fall, it’s a good idea for each of us to look at what we’re doing in our own gardens and make sure we’re following the basic framework of water-wise gardening.

The following is a slightly abbreviated version of the basic principles from the Save Our Water website:

Appropriate plant selection: Select trees, shrubs, and groundcovers based on their adaptability to your region’s soil and climate.

The right plants for the right soil: Knowing your soil and selecting the right kind of plants for your area is an important part of a water-wise landscape.

Limit your grass: Consider cutting back or eliminating the amount of turf you have at your house.

Efficient irrigation: The greatest waste of outdoor water is applying too much too often.

Mulch is good: Use mulch wherever possible. Mulch conserves water by significantly reducing moisture evaporation from the soil, reduces weed populations, prevents soil compaction, and moderates soil temperatures.

Appropriate maintenance: A well-designed landscape can decrease maintenance by as much as 50% through reduced mowing, once-a-year mulching, elimination of non-California-friendly plants, and more efficient watering techniques.

Read Full Post »

by Keith Bancroft

Fix a Leak Week 2013MMWD and water agencies across the country are teaming up with U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program to promote the fifth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 18 – 24, 2013. This is to remind everyone to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation system for leaks that, collectively, waste more than one trillion gallons of water from U.S. homes every year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami combined!

The Water Research Foundation conducted a study of the end uses of water in the average home and found that water leaks account for 14 percent of overall indoor water use. What does this mean, exactly? Considering that the study found the largest end uses of water in the average home are the toilet (26 percent), followed by the clothes washer (22 percent) and shower (17 percent), the water lost to leaks (14 percent) is almost equal to the amount used for showering! So, next time you’re taking a shower, imagine that the same volume of water running down the drain is being lost to leaks—every day! And if you’re in the shower, you won’t have to look very far to find the most common source of household leaks: your toilet.

Our Conservation staff has conducted over 3,600 site visits to homes over the past five years, testing over 7,500 toilets for leaks during this time, and found a leak in almost 20 percent of all toilets tested. Yikes! So, there’s good news and bad news here. The bad news is that about 20 percent of toilets in our service area are leaking, and each leak can waste hundreds of gallons per day. The good news is these leaks are often fairly easy and inexpensive to repair.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s “Home Water Works” website offers several helpful videos on how to test your toilet for leaks and how to make repairs if you do find a leak.

If you’re thinking of taking it one step further and replacing your old toilet (or faucet or showerhead) with a new high-efficiency WaterSense model, the “Home Water Works” web site also offers several helpful do-it-yourself videos on fixture replacements.

Now that you know where to look, what to look for, and how to stop it from happening, get out there and Fix a Leak!

Read Full Post »

by Keith Bancroft

According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on Groundhog Day (February 2—this Saturday!), then spring will come early; if it is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, it will retreat back into its burrow, signaling that winter weather will continue for six more weeks.

In many areas of the U.S., early morning celebrations are held where people gather to watch the groundhog emerge from its burrow. The most famous of these events is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (setting of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day), where “Punxsutawney Phil” is the resident rodent prognosticator. However, many areas have jumped on the furry bandwagon and have adopted their own marmot mascot—Dunkirk Dave, Susquehanna Sherman and Wiarton Willie to name just a few. And for those towns where alliteration just isn’t their thing, we have the likes of Gus, Uni, Spanish Joe and, of course, Jimmy the Groundhog.

Few people know that our local groundhog, Marin Mortimer, is the star of his own annual festival and proudly emerges from his burrow every February 2 under the watchful gaze of curious onlookers, eager for news of what weather the next six weeks will bring. His last appearance was, unfortunately, not his proudest moment. For just after Mortimer fully emerged from his burrow, he realized he’d left his “Save Your Green, Save Our Blue” coupons on the kitchen table, and hastily retreated into his burrow to retrieve them, inadvertently signaling to the collected crowd the advent of six more weeks of winter. By the time he’d re-emerged from his cozy den, coupons in hand (rather, in paw), the crowd had disbanded, leaving Mortimer alone to rejoice at his lack of shadow and the imminent arrival of spring.

Save Your Green Save Our BlueMoral of the story: Don’t forget to grab your coupons before leaving the house. Visit MMWD’s “Save Your Green, Save Our Blue” coupon page to get discount coupons from local retailers and plumbers on leak repair, high-efficiency toilets, smart irrigation controllers, rainwater harvesting tanks, mulch, native plants and more.

*          *          *

On a more somber note, we wish to extend our sympathy to our favorite retired gardener and blogger, Charlene Burgi, on the recent passing of her mother. Our thoughts are with Charlene and her family. We look forward to hearing from Charlene when she returns.

Read Full Post »

by Keith Bancroft

In 1999, the Secretary of Agriculture proclaimed October as National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, due to the popcorn harvest that takes place in the Midwest every fall. Now, you probably didn’t know October was Popcorn Poppin’ Month, and you probably had no idea that the Secretary of Agriculture had the authority to proclaim any month to be any thing. Well, I guess you learn something new every day.

Save Your Green Save Our BlueHere’s another new thing you should know: MMWD is partnering with 15 local businesses who are generously offering special discount coupons for a variety of water-saving materials, products and plants that will help reduce your water use both inside and outside your home.

You’ll find discounts on mulch, California native plants, irrigation supplies, high-efficiency toilets and showerheads, and more. Click here, check it out, print these valuable coupons (and remember to note the expiration dates).

So, next time you’re sitting there just waiting for that corn to finish poppin’, use the time to print yourself out some coupons and make plans to start saving yourself some green and saving our blue!

Read Full Post »

by Keith Bancroft

On Sunday mornings I generally follow the same routine. I head over to the Marin Farmers Market at the Civic Center and slowly weave my way through the rows of booths so I can load up with peaches (the O’Henry are in!) and strawberries from my favorite vendors. And I’ll often make room for a piece of fresh salmon, a tasty roasted chicken or a delicious baked good (from what I call “temptation row”), which I tuck into the top of my enviro-friendly reusable shopping bag (thanks MarinRecycle.org!).

But once in a while I like to mix things up, especially when there’s a good reason. And there’s a very good reason on Sunday, September 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. That’s when you’ll find the second annual EcoFair Marin at the Marin County Fairgrounds (Lagoon Park), just across the street from the Farmers Market.

This year’s EcoFair is the second annual community celebration to inspire a healthy and sustainable Marin. It brings together businesses, nonprofits and the community to celebrate and advance sustainability efforts and to honor Marin County’s rich heritage of innovative environmental stewardship.

EcoFair Event Map

EcoFair Event Map

There will be a wide variety of exhibitors as well as music, inspiring speakers and eco-activities throughout the day at the Local Music Vibe Main Stage, Organic Valley DIY Stage and UrbanSitter Kids’ Zone. MMWD will be in the iLive section, booth #8, near the main stage. We’ll have information on Bay Friendly Gardening practices and the Garden Walk program in collaboration with Marin Master Gardeners.

EcoFair Marin will feature Van Jones as the keynote speaker (3:00 – 4:00 p.m.) on the main stage. Author of the recently published Rebuild the Dream, Jones is a “globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean energy economy.”

And word on the street is that early birds get the…pancake breakfast! Those arriving between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. can enjoy a delicious Lion’s Club pancake breakfast.

General admission is $5 for adults; admission for children (under 17) is free. For more information visit the EcoFair Marin website.

Read Full Post »

by Keith Bancroft

Get FREE Gardening Advice from Marin Master Gardeners

MMWD customers can receive free, water-wise advice for their home gardens by scheduling a “Bay-Friendly Garden Walk.” The garden walks are offered through a partnership between Marin Master Gardeners and MMWD. Receive a personalized landscape assessment and learn about sustainable Bay-Friendly gardening practices such as water-efficient irrigation, healthy soil management and good plant choices to help conserve Marin’s precious water resources. The onsite visits usually take about one hour. To schedule, contact Marin Master Gardeners at (415) 473-4204.

Reminder: “Look for the Label” to Water Smart this Summer

MMWD has teamed up with The Urban Farmer Store in Mill Valley and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program to make it easier for MMWD customers to purchase water-efficient smart irrigation controllers. For a limited time, The Urban Farmer Store is generously offering a 20-percent discount coupon for any WaterSense labeled smart irrigation controller in stock. Just print your coupon and take it with you when you visit the store.

WaterSenseThe U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program helps consumers make smart water choices by offering a simple way to identify water-efficient products and services. This is the first summer that WaterSense labeled smart irrigation controllers are available. You can also “look for the label” on toilets, showerheads, bathroom faucets and other products and services.

Mark Your Calendars!

Sunday, September 9: Come celebrate Marin’s leadership in sustainability at EcoFair Marin, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Marin County Fairgrounds. Be sure to drop by MMWD’s table to say “hello!”

Thursday, September 13: Join local author and MMWD Director Jack Gibson for a presentation and book-signing for the new photo history book, Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Municipal Water District, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Marin History Museum.

Saturday, September 22“Walk into History” with the Marin Conservation League and learn how Mt. Tamalpais was conserved as public land on this 4½ mile hike. Jack Gibson will be a special guest. Meet 9:30 a.m. at Rock Spring Parking Lot.

Read Full Post »

by Keith Bancroft

My grandfather was a bit of a procrastinator. He would say things like, “If you wait long enough, things will take care of themselves” and “Why do today what you can do tomorrow?”

If he were around today, I’d tell him that, eventually, tomorrow becomes today, today becomes yesterday, and before you know it you’re turning the calendar from July to August and you’ve missed Smart Irrigation Month! But, even if you have a tendency to procrastinate, you still have the opportunity to celebrate this annual month-long event which focuses on increasing awareness of water-use efficiency. And what better way to celebrate than by getting 20 percent off a WaterSense labeled smart irrigation controller from The Urban Farmer Store in Mill Valley!

WaterSenseStudies show that a smart irrigation controller can reduce irrigation water use by 25 percent on average, which means you can save water, reduce your water bill and have happier plants. You will probably want to have a professional install and fine tune your controller, but once it’s up and running it’s simple and convenient.

And as my grandfather would say, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t get him to set the irrigation controller, what with his poor dexterity on account of his lack of fingers and such.”  So forget about any of your equine acquaintances, quit your procrastinating, print out a 20-percent-off coupon from our website, and visit The Urban Farmer Store in Mill Valley today, because it’s never too late to celebrate Smart Irrigation Month.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »