Regulars and Shorts

Green Bits: March 2013

By Pax Rasmussen

News & ideas for a healthier, more sustainable future. PLUS: Conversation with a gardener (this month, Jonathan Krausert).
—by Pax Rasmussen

Plant a tree

Sounds easy, right? The right tree in the right place can have all sorts of benefits (including dramatically lowering your cooling costs in the summer), but the wrong tree in the wrong place can cause lots of problems—from littering your yard with seeds to endangering your house (cottonwoods apparently have a tendency to fall over in high winds). That’s why TreeUtah has hand-picked five trees for their spring tree catalog. These are trees that have been overlooked or perhaps not planted enough in the valley (chosen from research done by Utah State University). By planting these trees, you help diversify the urban forest canopy with trees that grow well and are resistant to disease and other problems in our area. The catalog (available through their website ( and at events around town this spring) also gives tips on where to plant these trees. Proceeds from tree sales go to help support TreeUtah in their efforts of tree planting and tree education. See for more information on getting the catalog.

The five trees in the catalog are:

Lacebark Pine (pinus bungeana): Originated in Asia. Slow growing, with beautiful peeling bark.

Bristlecone Pine (pinus longaeva): Native to Western U.S. Slow growing, dense and resinous wood that is highly resistant to insects and disease. Tends not to be available in most nurseries. Beautiful, twisty-looking tree that can live at least 5,000 years (although in urban environments, probably much shorter-lived).

Ginko (ginko biloba): Native to Asia. Unique tree with no close relatives (270 million-year-old fossilized ginko leaves have been found that are similar to those of today’s trees). Deep-rooted and resistant to wind and snow damage, as well as to most insects. Tolerates pollution and confined-soil spaces well. Nuts are a traditional Chinese delicacy, and leaves are a traditional medicine for memory and mental conditions.

Kentucky Coffeetree (gymnocladus dioicus): Native to Midwest U.S. Fast growing, attractive shade tree. Resistant to heat, cold, drought, insects, disease, salt and poor soil (basically it’s invincible). Seeds can be roasted as a (poor) substitute for coffee (unroasted seeds are mildly toxic!).

Wireless Zelkova (zelkova serrata): Native to Japan. Fast-growing tree in the elm family, this variety grows to no more than about 25 feet (keeping it under most power lines, hence the name “wireless”). Highly resistant to Dutch Elm Disease. Short and stubby, this tree turns a beautiful bronze-orange in fall.

Year of the Bike

Last month, Salt Lake City, along with Salt Lake County, the University of Utah, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Transit Authority and the Wasatch Front Regional Council announced that 2013 will be the Year of the Bike. This is a collaborative, regional effort to highlight a number of bicycle-related projects and outreach efforts throughout the year, including educating residents on safe, responsible cycling habits, celebrating new additions to bicycle infrastructure and promoting bicycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly commuting option.

Check out these neat upcoming events on the Year of the Bike calendar: GREENbike, SLC Bike Share program debut in April; Utah Bike Summit in April; Open Streets Salt Lake City in May; UTA Bike Bonanza in May; Road Respect Bicycle Tour in June; New bikeway openings in June and July; a Salt Lake County Bicycle Ambassador program.

Conversation with a gardener

This month: Jonathan Krausert

Each month we’ll ask a Salt Lake area food-and-garden fanatic what he or she plans to do during the month at hand. For March, we spoke to westside permaculturist Jonathan Krausert, who has hens, bees, fruit trees, an extensive water catchment system, a small greenhouse and edible plants everywhere else, grown in succession all summer.DSCF2139

“This week is warm enough to feed bees: I’ll feed them every 10 days up until we start getting a good pollen and nectar flow. I’m planting all kinds of brassica in the greenhouse, I started tomatoes last weekend and peppers the week before that.

“Spring chickens are in at the IFA: I picked some up three weeks ago. They’re feathering out nicely in the cardboard box on our dresser. They’ll soon go to the brooder box for another couple of weeks. When the snow melts in the front yard I’ll start pruning fruit trees: I usually prune in last week of February through the first week of March. Mid-march I’ll be planting cauliflower, broccoli and peas.”
— Adele Flail

This article was originally published on March 1, 2013.