Newsy Notes: Growing Organic Veggies, Invasive IDs, an Artificial Leaf

Here’s a list of few opportunities for local gardeners and wanna-be gardeners to hone their organic veggie growing skills and for those seeking outdoor invasive plant ID training, plus there’s a peek into a new and very cool technology.

color from the gardenGrowing Organic Vegetables
Want to grow vegetables organically at home but don’t know where to start? Bill Duesing, the executive director of CT NOFA (Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association), will share his hands-on experience on April 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm at the Kellogg Environmental Center in Derby, Connecticut. Bill is an organic farmer when he is not advocating for healthy environmental land care practices. A CT DEP press release offers more information and registration contacts. With a $4 donation ($2 for students and children) you’ll learn organic gardening practices from one of the best, plus it’s hard not to catch Bill’s enthusiasm for organic growing.

Other Organic Gardening Sessions
Connecticut Organic Gardening Education Day – April 2, 2011 is a CT NOFA sponsored event at multiple locations, offering education on soils, compost and starting seeds. Growing Food in Small Spaces – April 9, 2011 in New Haven – offers tips on growing edible plants in a variety of containers.

Japanese barberry2-4-29-10Identifying Connecticut’s Invasive Plants
A few hardy souls will have the chance to attend either of two one-day, hands-on, in the woods sessions on identifying invasive plants. Why is it important to do this now rather than wait until everything leafs out? Clearing invasive plants is best done when the soil is no longer frozen and most plants and trees are still dormant. But knowing which plant is invasive takes some practice and training, information field botanist Bill Moorhead will impart on a limited number of attendees during the April 1 and April 8, 2011 workshops. Read more about these sessions at the CT NOFA blog.

I must admit when the headline Debut of the First Practical ‘Artificial Leaf’ caught my eye it conjured up something like the aluminum Christmas trees Charlie Brown and Linus passed by in their search for a real tree, but the artificial leaf this article refers to looks nothing like a real plant leaf. It’s actually a new type of solar cell, about the size of a playing card, that converts sunlight and water into energy much like a leaf does – it photosynthesizes. Lead researcher Daniel Nocera, PhD, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reports the current solar cell design built on lessons learned a decade ago during development of a similar solar cell. The beauty of the new version is its use of readily accessible and inexpensive materials. The solar cell produces electricity by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Extra energy is then saved in a fuel cell. Besides the coolness of this concept – it can be used in underdeveloped regions, works under simple conditions, and is stable – I’m particularly struck by Nocera’s quote, "Nature is powered by photosynthesis, and I think that the future world will be powered by photosynthesis as well …"

What a concept … since nature is powered by photosynthesis, we might learn and succeed by copying nature. Nocera et al follow this concept in creating their solar cell. Less technologically-inclined folk can copy nature simply by gardening organically.

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4 comments for “Newsy Notes: Growing Organic Veggies, Invasive IDs, an Artificial Leaf

  1. March 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Imagine the world run by photosynthesis! That is exciting research. Nature can teach us more than we can dream of, if we don’t destroy it first.

  2. joenesgarden
    March 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    You are so right, Deb.

  3. March 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    OK, I am hooked… that artificial leaf is incredible. I know we have so many obstacles to making solar energy affordable and widespread, but it’s just so darn intuitive to make it happen. As the article says, nature is powered by photosynthesis. The sun is there. No nuclear hazards or catastrophes or finite used-up resources….. it’s the sun! I am glad to see research continues to make solar work in the simplest and most interesting ways.

  4. joenesgarden
    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Laurrie, watching how the solar industry is progressing is so amazing and the artificial leaf is just one of the recent interesting breakthroughs. Imagine what the industry could do with the same amount of federal support big oil receives.

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