Is it Time to Go Nuclear?

by Joanne Mullowney

iStock_000055421440MediumThe Ewing Green Team and Environmental Commission announce the latest entry in their Environmental Insights Series, environmental presentations designed to engage Ewing residents in a public conversation about critical environmental issues and to spark new ideas concerning sustainability.   Join us on Monday, April 20th at 7 pm for our program, Is it Time to Go Nuclear: Nuclear Power’s Role In A World Of Climate Change And Energy Needs with a presentation and discussion led by Joe Mirabella, Central Regional Supervisor for the NJDEP Hazardous Waste Enforcement program and member of the Ewing Green Team and Environmental Commission.

The Issues

The world’s atmosphere and climate are quickly undergoing dramatic changes. 2014 was the hottest year on record with records being routinely broken. These changes are not just going to affect future generations but are here today. How we deal with them may be the most important environmental issue we face.  A major question for our time is where how does nuclear power fit in?  Is it a savior for climate change or a catastrophic disaster waiting to happen?

In Is it Time to Go Nuclear the role of nuclear power now and in the future will be explored and discussed.  It is not pro or anti-nuclear energy. It is a fun fact-based entertaining exploration of the complex issues surrounding nuclear power. The specific topics include historical background, how nuclear power works, radiation, nuclear disasters, proliferation & terrorism, nuclear waste and advanced technologies. The presentation will be followed by a community discussion where all opinions are respected and welcome.

About Joe Mirabella

Joe Mirabella is the Central Regional Supervisor for the NJDEP Hazardous Waste Enforcement program. He has taught and lectured on environmental issues at NJ Colleges and Universities for the last 35 years. He is a Commissioner on the Ewing Township Redevelopment Agency and is a member of Ewing’s Environmental Commission & Green Team. Joe earned his Bachelor and Masters of Science in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and is a Certified Public Manager from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management.

Date: Monday, April 20th
Time: 7 pm
Location: Ewing Senior and Community Center [ESCC] – Community Room
Cost: This event is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

April Tree of the Month – White Fringe Tree

by Ann Farnham, LLA

whitefringetreeThe White Fringe Tree [Chionanthus virginicus] is a beautiful, deciduous tree sometimes known as Granny Gray-Beard or Old Man’s Beard. It is an enchanting sight in the Spring landscape.

Fringe Tree is dioecious, meaning that a tree is either male or female (it is not possible to know which until it first blooms, which is at 4 to 5 years old). The male tree has longer flower petals and thus is a little more eye catching. The flowers are pure white, lightly fragrant, in groups of four thin, drooping petals about ½ inch long, and they appear shortly before the leaves fully expand. The flowers, born  on fleecy, cottony panicles 6 to 8“  long, appear in the spring. They grow on the previous year’s growth, so if the tree is pruned, one must be aware of that fact. The female tree bears dark blue, fleshy, egg-shaped berries about 1/3 the size of an olive in August and September; birds, which can strip the entire tree of berries overnight, relish the fruit.

This tree is a native species and ranges from Maine to Minnesota, to Florida and Texas. It is native in southern New Jersey and is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9. Ewing is USDA Zone 6B. The growth rate is slow, averaging 8 to 16 inches a year, but the plant will attain a height of 25-30 feet  in the wild (where they can be found along stream beds and marshy areas) and 12-20 feet in the designed  landscape. The habit is open and spreading.

The leaves are opposite on the stem, 3-8 inches long and half as wide. They are medium to dark green, shiny and smooth-edged. In the fall the leaves become yellowish-green to golden yellow. The bark is grey and smooth on young branches but becomes slightly ridged as the tree matures. The branches, after about 15 years, take on a more irregular shape and the large limbs arch down sometimes to reach the ground.

A Fringe Tree should be transplanted balled and burlapped or from a container. They like deep, moist, acid, and fertile soil and need full sun.

There are few serious pests and diseases which affect the Fringe Tree. There is occasional scale, borers and leaf spots, but it is reported to be tolerant of air pollution. It rarely needs to be pruned.

In the landscape Fringe Trees make beautiful specimens in groups or alone as a focal point. The British consider Chionanthus virginicus to be one of the finest introductions ever made to Great Britain from North America.

Reminder – MCIA Hazardous Waste Disposal Day This Saturday


The MCIA will be running its first  Household Waste and Electronics Disposal Day of the year on Saturday, March  21st from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.  It will be held at John T. Dempster Fire School, Lawrence Station Rd in Lawrence Twp.

Accepted for recycling are the following:

Aerosol Cans | Used Motor Oil |Propane Gas Tanks | Pesticides & Herbicides | Car Batteries | Paint Thinner | Oil Based Paint | Stains & Varnishes | Gasoline | Anti-Freeze | Driveway Sealer | Insect Repellents | Mercury | Fluorescent & CFL Bulbs | Computers | Printers | Copiers | Fax Machines | Stereos | Televisions | Microwaves

Materials Not Accepted:

NO LATEX PAINT | NO Heating Oil | NO Infectious Waste| NO Radioactive Materials NO Explosives or Munitions | NO Railroad Ties | NO Asbestos | NO Tires | NO Wood  | NO Fencing | NO Air Conditioners | NO Helium or Oxygen Tanks | NO Unknowns

For Mercer County Residents Only. Only Residential Waste will be accepted, i.e. no Commercial Business waste. Proof of Residency will be required (Driver’s License). For more information call 609-278-8086 or visit WWW.MCIANJ.ORG.

Ten Green Tips to Save Some “Green” as You As You Wear the Green

shamrocksWith St. Patty’s Day fast approaching it won’t be too long until you until are able to get outside to your own little patch of green.  Here are a few tips to make your green even greener.

  1. Tear out some lawn

    Help reduce some of our vast suburban monoculture by removing some of your lawn and planting a garden. Manicured, tended lawns, though beautiful, provide very little habitat for wildlife. And, BTW, your lawns don’t have to be perfect! (see #4 below) An array of green plants in your lawn is perfectly fine.

  2. Create a rain garden

    Plant a rain garden near a downspout to intercept roof runoff.   It will help to slow the flood of storm water, reduce erosion, and absorb pollutants.  Check out the Rutgers Rain Garden Manual or call the Master Gardeners of Mercer County for more info.

  3. Plant a native plant garden

    The birds, bees and butterflies will also repay your hard work by appearing regularly and pollinating your landscape.  And then enjoy the fun of watching wildlife up close. Doug Tallamy’s books are great resources: see The Living Landscape and Bringing Nature Home at Mercer County Library.

  4. Eliminate chemical usage in your yard

    Please, please, please eschew the chemical insecticides and pesticides and herbicides on your property. Not only are these practices lethal to wildlife but it also ends up in your drinking water and our oceans.

  5. Compost!!!

    Start a compost bin in your yard. This is a great way to recycle vegetable and fruit scraps, along with the yard debris. Compost is nature’s gold and you can use it to feed your property the natural way and eliminate those nasty chemicals in the environment.

  6. Apply mulch, more mulch and yet more mulch…

    Your gardens will benefit from the application of mulch in your beds. Lay mulch 2 – 3” deep and allow breathing room around the base of the plants. Mulch will help keep your plantings moist, so you won’t have to water as frequently in dry spells. It will also decompose and add nutrients to your soil.

  7. Tip for Mulching trees

    Although it might seem from Tip 6 that there is no such thing as too much mulch, in actuality, improper mulching can be harmful and you see it all the time around area trees.  Do NOT pile up mulch around the base of your trees. Mulch softens the bark. Mice, insects, and fungus then feed on the living parts of the tree, killing tissue, cutting off water and nutrient supply as well as causing other serious problems that can greatly damage and kill a tree.

  8. Plant a vegetable garden this year!

    Nothing is greener than growing your own healthy, chemical free vegetables. Start some seeds now if you haven’t already and you will soon be ready to move them outside when the snow finally melts and the weather warms.

  9. Use water wisely

    There are a number of things that you can do to reduce your property’s water usage. These include mulching, planting natives, only irrigating when necessary, and harvesting rainwater with rain barrels. If you must irrigate, water your lawns and gardens in the morning to minimize evaporation.

  10. Join the Ewing Community Gardens

    Ewing residents, if you don’t have a large enough property or enough sun, don’t fret. Join the Ewing Community Gardens on Whitehead Rd. Extension. Each plot is approximately 20’ x 16’ and costs $5 for the season. Newcomers to the Gardens can purchase two beginning on March 16th at the Township Clerk’s office. The site boasts a number of amenities including deer fencing, a water supply, a port-a-john, and the companionship of like-minded gardening enthusiasts. For more information contact the Ewing Community Gardens Association at

Feel free to add to our suggestions!

Save the Dates – March 5th and 11th for TCNJ’s Environmental Justice Film Series

Semper Fi: Always Faithful

semperfi(Co-Producers Rachel Libert, Tony Hardmon, Editor Purcell Carson, 2011)

An award-winning documentary about one man’s fight to reveals a grave injustice at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune and a looming environmental crisis at military sites across the country.

Introduced and followed by Q & A with the film’s editor Purcell Carson

Date: Thursday March 5th
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: TCNJ Kendall Hall Screening Room

Chasing Ice

 chasingice(Dir. /Producer Jeff Orlowski, 2012)

Acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog travels to the Arctic to capture images telling the dramatic story of the Earth’s changing climate in this celebrated film on the impact of global warming.

Followed by panel discussion with Professors Diane Bates (Sociology) and Michael Nordquist (Political Science and the Bonner Center). Moderated by Professor Janet Morrison (Biology)

Date: Wednesday, March 11th
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: TCNJ Kendall Hall Screening Room

Sponsored by the Alan Dawley Center for the Study of Social Justice and the Department of Communication Studies at TCNJ

Eastern Redbud, the March 2015 Tree of the Month

by Ann Farnham, LLA

easternredbudThe Eastern Redbud, cercis canadensis, is among the first trees to bloom here. Blooming occurs in March-April when the buds turn into pink, white, or pink-purple legume-shaped flowers in clusters, depending on the variety, for up to three weeks. This tree is a breath of fresh air after a long and cold winter. The flowers are followed by bean-like seed pods several inches long, which drop from the tree when fully developed.

Redbud, a native deciduous tree, is found in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9, from New England and the middle Atlantic states, south to Georgia, and to Illinois and Wisconsin in the Middle West.  Ewing is in zone 6b.

The Redbud leaf, from three to five inches long, is heart-shaped and alternately arranged on a zig-zag branching habit, and is reddish-purple when new.  By summer the leaves turn shiny green, but gradually change to yellow in the fall. One variety, ‘Forest Pansy’, has purple leaves. There are, among more than 20 varieties of Eastern Redbud, some with variegated, green and white leaves.

The Eastern Redbud typically ranges from a mature height of 8’ to 20’, depending on the variety, with a spread of 6’-35’.  Some varieties have a weeping habit and this usually small-sized tree normally has multiple trunks. A specimen in Morris County has been documented as having a trunk 8’-2” in diameter, a true “Champion” Tree. Redbud does well in most soils, but not in very wet, poorly drained soil.  It likes full sun or light shade. This tree, used as an ornamental specimen, is best planted young as it does not transplant well.

Diseases do not seem to be a great problem for this beautiful tree, although Canker and Verticillium Wilt do occur. Some caterpillars enjoy the leaves as do Japanese beetles, borers and web-worms. Regular watering, pruning out dead branches, and fertilization help keep Eastern Redbud healthy.

Another name frequently used for Eastern Redbud is “Spicewood Tree”, because in the southeastern mountains of Appalachia the twigs were once used as seasoning for wild game such as venison.

In the past, the bark of the Redbud was used as an astringent in the treatment of dysentery. The flowers can be eaten in salads, or fried. Cardinals, rose-breasted grosbeaks and pheasants, deer and squirrels enjoy the seeds.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.