Sunday, November 17, 2013

Diversity is beautiful!

This summer I went on a trip to Mendocino. My partner and I went on a number of hikes, including one in particular that went from the ocean to the top of a nearby mountain (Russian Gulch State Park). The diversity of the plant life was amazing to me -- each zone had a rainbow of colors (and even more amazing, almost no invasive plants!). I documented the plants I could identify and grouped them into three zones. To me, this was a reminder that diversity is key to a thriving ecosystem, something humans need to keep in mind!

Coastal Zone
Lupin -- top right
Seaside daisy -- top left
Indian paintbrush -- middle left
California Poppy -- bottom left
Queen Anne's lace -- bottom right

Foothill Zone
Wild cucumber -- far left
Red columbine (not sure of this identification) -- top middle
Buttercups (not sure of this identification) -- top right
Forget me nots -- bottom right

Mountain Zone
Giant rhododendron -- top
Sorrel -- bottom left
Mountain iris -- bottom right

Indoor air safety: Creating a safe and beautiful home environment

The Question

"I've been reading about indoor air pollution, particularly from plastic. I guess you don't even have to touch it or put it in your mouth for it to be dangerous -- it's just the dust that comes off of it. What do I do?!?"

The Answer

Yes, indoor air pollution is a growing concern, particularly with the prevalence of plastics in our everyday lives. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are off gassed from a variety of sources, including fresh paint, new appliances, new carpeting, and many varieties of soft plastics (including some children's toys!).

One of the ways to deal with this is to have indoor plants. A while back, NASA conducted a study to see which common indoor plants are best at filtering pollution out of the air. The recommendation was that the average household should have one plant per 100 square feet (read, one per room).

Many of my friends have pets or babies, so I cross-referenced this list with non-toxic plants as listed on the APSCA website. Here is a short list of plants that are both non-toxic when chewed on and will help make your home non-toxic too!

Safe for dogs, cats, and babies

Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii) -- far left

Cast iron plant (aspidistra elatior) -- middle
Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) -- upper right

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) -- lower right

If you do not need to worry about pets or babies, here is a list of plants that I found easy to care for (read: water once a month and otherwise neglect) and easy to find at the local hardware store (I prefer Osh).

Plants that are easy to find and care for

Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) -- far right

Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium) -- upper middle

Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum) -- lower middle

Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii') -- far right

I've also had good luck with the spider plant and cast iron plant listed above. Most of these plants are medium sized and thus relatively inexpensive (exceptions are the rubber plant and bamboo palm, both of which can get very big). Be warned though, nice pots will set you back a bit.

Happy planting!