The Day Before July – Chicory and Damselflies

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A gallery highlighting a morning walk… A simply beautiful walk… plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Advertisements

Where the Sidewalk Meets the Road – The Earth Bleeds Orange

SidewalkRoad

“Where the Sidewalk Meets the Road” – Mulberry Street – Wilkinsburg, PA – Acid Mine Drainage discharging from the buried foundation of a now demolished building…

Western Pennsylvania shows the scars of one-hundred years of industry… Some are obvious… Abandoned steel mills… Communities left in ruins… Others are not so obvious…

Coal mining was a massive industry in this state… A direct result of a lack of environmental restrictions within the commonwealth was a lack of remediation obligations after the venture was completed… Spent mines were filled with the byproducts of coal processing… Iron pyrite happened to make up a large percentage of this waste… When the abandoned mines eventually flooded… The water mixed with the iron and rusted… Add oxygen and you now have sulphuric acid…

Sulphuric acid… Bleeding from the earth… Where the land will allow it is often hidden by the very people we expect to protect us… But in urban areas where land is at a premium… There is no hiding it… And sadly… There is no money to remediate it… It just continuously flows out of the ground and down the street side… Eventually running through a small hole drilled in the side of the storm sewer… And right down into Nine Mile Run… Which flows into the Monongahela River… Which becomes the Ohio River… And then the Mississippi River… And ultimately the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean…

Among the many colors the earth bleeds… One of the most destructive… And also the most common… Happens to be orange…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Frick Park to Front Yard

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plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello I sell prints of my photography here –http://www.society6/chriscondello… Or you can contact me directly atc.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.  

Frick Park Fireworks

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I now have prints available to purchase online… You can find them here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello – This site… And all the photographs and information presented within… Are provided free by the author… Me… At one time I had considered asking for donations… But that’s not me… So I have decided to sell prints of some of […]

Practical Permaculture – Water In Your Garden

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This is a screen shot from Google Earth… Forest County, PA… And all of those lines leading to the little dots… Well those are gas wells… Enough said… But wait… This is a State Park… And only a single county out of 67… Think about it for a minute… Then think about the impact this has on not only the water… But the entire ecosystem… This… To me… Is sacrilegious…

Water is probably the most valuable natural resource available on our planet, it is irreplaceable. Whiskey is worth drinking, but water is worth fighting for. It reminds me of a meme that was circulating around Facebook a while back… Basically a young shirtless boy standing in the desert with a completely disgusted look on his face… The caption was simply “You mean to tell me, you have so much clean water… That you shit in it!” My answer to this meme is simple… Yes… And not only do we shit in it… We mix it with noxious chemicals… Inject it into the ground under extreme pressure… And fracture equally noxious gasses out of the ground so we can burn them in order to heat our McMansions… We just have that much…

Now… I’m not saying you have to donate all of your money to your local water conservation non-profit in order to be eco-conscious… In fact… I think just the opposite… I actually believe that is the exact opposite of eco-conscious… Maybe… Executively-conscious… But not ecologically conscious… I don’t give a rats ass what anyone says… That is just how I see it… With that said… I believe awareness is key… An awareness of the resources available to us on this earth… An awareness of the delicate connections we have to the earth… And the connections the earth has to each and every element it contains… To think that the removal of one of those elements does not drastically effect all of the other elements in the system is a failure of paramount proportions… Respect people…

With that said… Water is an essential element in gardening, it is what makes our plants grow. Even plants that do not require you to physically irrigate, are getting water somehow. The most common mistake I see people make in their gardens is not watering often enough, or even more common, not deeply enough. Another common mistake is thinking your plants will benefit from a little drink every once in a while…

BleedingPuddle©

“Swimmers” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Dyed puddle, bleeding hearts and reflection – I have shot bleeding hearts from every angle imaginable… This has been my favorite angle so far…

You know… I could go on and on about my peeves… Lets get to the good stuff…

A plant does not benefit from a little drink every once in a while, you should always water your plants thoroughly. A plant grows roots partly for the purpose of attaining water from the ground, the reason you should water your plants deeply is to promote deep root growth. If you only give your plants light sprays with the hose, your plant will only be looking for water at the surface of your soil. If water is regularly available in the top 4″ of soil, your plants will have no reason to send roots deep into the ground. The idea behind watering your garden is to establish your plants, once they are established they will only need watered in the driest of times. You water in the beginning, so you don’t have to water in the future.

The time of day that you water can have some differing effects, but as a general rule of thumb watering your garden during the hottest part of the day is probably the least efficient use of your water. Water at a time of the day that will allow the water to penetrate the soil before it has a chance to evaporate, as long as the sun is not baking the earth around your plant… you should be fine… Just remember your plants do not immediately absorb the water you apply, it takes time. Evening is also a good time to water, but you can run the risk of disease or mildew. I personally prefer early morning because it tends to give my plants that added energy they need to make it through the sunniest of days with as little stress as possible… But that is just my preference…

But Chris, how long do I water my garden for? I mean… Exactly how long?.. I was worried you would ask me that… Ok… As a basic guideline… Water your plants directly at the base of the plant, do not soak the plant as a whole as this will promote disease. Annuals should be watered every day for the first week after planting, count to 5 for each plant. After the first week, water 2 to 3 times a week for the next two weeks. If your annuals survive the first month in the ground, you will only have to water once a week if it doesn’t rain.

© chriscondello 2013

“Evening Storm” – © chriscondello 2013 – Conceptual Composition – My Backyard – Wilkinsburg, PA – Call this what you will… But to me… This photograph is like a painting… Blue Salvia as my canvas… And Golden Heuchera my medium… Taken in the evening light accompanying a storm…

Perennials, shrubs and trees do not need watered nearly as much, a week or two of regular watering is often enough to get the plant off to a good start… These types of plants typically have bigger roots stuffed into bigger pots, accordingly they require a bit more water, think along the lines of 10 to 20 seconds of direct watering per plant… Newly planted trees can often require a little more water, I will leave the water on them for up to a minute… Again, once a perennial or tree has resumed natural growth, you are not doing it any favors by watering it… You really want the plant to learn to take care of itself… We don’t breastfeed indefinitely… So don’t water indefinitely… You should be working to water your garden less… Not more…

Slope can greatly decrease water absorption, the faster the water moves down hill the less the soil can absorb. One solution is to slow the rate of speed at which your water flows downhill, think miniature swale. If slowing the rate at which your water flows downhill is not an option, water very slowly by applying water a little at a time directly above your target plant. You should be able to watch the water slowly absorb into the earth, any excess will be evident by the stream running away from your plants. This may seem like a lot of work, it is important to remember that once your plants are established and growing normally… You can quit watering…

Sourcing water is another question I am commonly asked, usually along the lines of rain water vs. city water. Without going into science stuff… And based on common sense alone… What do you think?.. To me, the obvious answer is rain water is better. City water is filtered using chlorine among many other chemicals, rain water is filtered by nature… That’s a “no brainer” as far as I am concerned… But I’m also a realist, rain water is not always available. I can run my single rain barrel dry in a few days when the weather is dry, at that point I will switch over to city water… I mean… I drink the stuff… And bathe in it… If it’s good enough for me… Then it’s good enough for my plants…

NineMileRun

“Nine Mile Run” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Nine Mile Run in Frick Park… Basically a collection of storm water from 3 communities… Storm water does not get treated in any way… It is released into your favorite creek… And typically flows right back into our drinking water supply…

Rainwater collection is a massive topic that has warranted entire books to be written about the subject, I’m going to give it a paragraph or two. Rain barrels have recently come into style, they can be cheaply purchased at just about any big box store in the world. I see them all over my neighborhood thanks to a local non-profit working to restore Frick Park’s Nine Mile Run… Which happens to be a place I regularly work in, and is the location of many of the photographs contained within this website… Anyway… The Nine Mile Run Watershed Association made them very cheap and readily available through a program they offer… I consider this non-profit one of the good guys, I feel we play for the same team.

https://chriscondello.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/stone-sculptures-in-frick-park/

The point I want to make is that these rain barrels do nothing if you do not utilize the sweet rainwater that they collect, I can’t begin to tell you how many of these barrels become nothing more than an intermediate reservoir between your gutter, and the very drain the barrel was intended to bypass in the first place. Think about it like this… 1 inch of rainfall… Falling on an area of 1000 square feet… Will produce 600 gallons of water… Most commercial rain barrels are around 100 gallons, everything beyond that 100 gallons is expelled out of the overflow system. Rain barrels need to be used…

A good rain barrel tip I can offer from experience… Do not place a rain barrel directly on the ground, it needs to be elevated by as much as you safely can. The water level of your barrel needs to at least be higher than the height of the hose in your hand, while standing, just to give you enough pressure to get a trickle. Even if you placed your rain barrel on your roof, you would not get water pressure anywhere close to what you get out of your faucet or garden hose. I have no idea what the math for this one is, I just know someone much smarter than me explained it… And it sounded good… So… Just don’t expect to blast the bird crap off your car with your rain barrel, unless you get a pump…

So if you have replaced all of your down spouts with rain barrels… And you are watering your gardens as much as possible… After all… You just have a tiny urban garden… Well then you might as well dig a rain garden… Route all of your overflow valves to the garden… And let the rain garden do the rest of the work… I have written about rain gardens before… And will be writing more about them in the coming months… But for now… Check out this link…

https://chriscondello.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/practical-urban-permaculture-rain-gardens/

To sum this article up… Water your plants thoroughly… And deeply… The idea of watering your plants is to stimulate deep root growth… If water is regularly available at the surface… It won’t stimulate deep root growth… Water from the base of your plants because unlike us… Plants do not require showers… Use rainwater as long as you have it… But don’t be afraid if your only other option is tap water… And experimentation with rain water collection and dispersal is a good thing… People should consider rain water one of the great yield possibilities of the garden…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Stone Sculptures in Frick Park

"Man Made Militia" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA - Installation - Sculpture of stone -

“Man Made Militia” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – I guess you could consider this an installation… Placed on the bank of Nine Mile Run… This spot just felt right… So I sat and played… They are roughly 4′ tall…

 

"Friends" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA - Installation of Stacked Stones

“Friends” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – These stones were carved out of the cliffs that flank the creek… Transported here in a destructive flood… Only to be organized into what I believe is art… Temporary… But art…

"Group Shot" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“Group Shot” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – During creation… I found myself questioning if what I was doing was illegal… I wasn’t removing anything… And I wasn’t vandalizing… Just organizing…

"Pawn" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“Pawns” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – As I was playing in the stones… I met a few people… One of them had a curious dog that got a little too close to one of the sculptures… And knocked it over… The woman was extremely apologetic… I found this odd…

"Double Take" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“Double Take” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – These stones were placed here by the destructive forces of a flood… That is also how they will be destroyed… To me… That is part of the beauty… Dogs share the park with humans… To witness a tower be destroyed by a tiny dog… Well that is also beautiful… Curiosity killed the stack…

"Pot Belly" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“Pot Belly” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – Part of the beauty to me is the fact that the forces that gave me my canvas and medium… Will also erase them… The dog… Was simply an extension of those forces… That is fucking beautiful to me… Seriously…

"Leaner" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“Leaner” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – I always thought of art as having to be something that lasted a long time… These sculptures… They might not even be here tomorrow… But that is beautiful to me… Claimed by nature… The very thing I draw inspiration from… Fucking beautiful… I don’t know what else to say…

"Stack" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“Patiently Waiting” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – Although I gather the stones from all around me… The base stone is always left as is… I do not move it… I do not alter it… I just figure… That is where my stack was intended to go…

"Behind" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“Behind” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – If you have any interest in seeing this installation… Follow the trail next to Nine Mile Run down towards the bottom… It is on the stream bank…

"Backlight" - © chriscondello 2013 - Frick Park - Pittsburgh, PA

“In The Shadow” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of Stone – This was the first “sculpture” photo I took in the morning… So I figured I would close with it… Hope you enjoyed my little journey…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Nature Over Man

AssToMouth

“Ass to Mouth” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – If you have taken a shit in the East End of Pittsburgh during the last 100 years, there’s a chance it flowed through here. From the ass of the East End… To the mouth of Nine Mile Run…

Have you ever wondered, where do the storm drains on my street go? If you live in the east end of Pittsburgh, they most likely end up here. Nine Mile Run ran through Wilkinsburg before they culverted it over and built the borough on top of it. The sewer lines that run over this culvert are a hundred years old, seapage from these sewers regularly contaminates this water. This sewage, coupled with industrial wast has wreaked havoc on this ecosystem.

The scent of this area can only be described as peculiar, both organic and chemical. Sharp rocks have snagged countless plastic grocery bags. The bags 15 feet above me in the branches of a tree tell me this is not always a smart place to stand. All around me lay trash that went down the sewer, a harsh reminder that trash does not just disappear.

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“Nine Mile Run” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Hard to believe this is the same creek as above… But it is… And it is beautiful…

Frick Parks watershed, Nine Mile Run flows into the Monongahela River via a 2 mile creek bed, at one time this was beautiful forest and meadow land destined to be an extension of Frick Park. Starting in 1922, the Duquesne Slag Company systematically, and questionably purchased the land on either side of the watershed. Over the next 50 years they would dump 200,000,000 tons of slag over an area roughly 200 acres, the slag is piled 120′ high in some places.

When you stand in the creek bed, the slag piles rise hundreds of feet on either side of the creek. The creek is now locked in place by concrete walls that run the entire length of the slag heap, they look like they have been in place for 50 years. A secret of this nasty wall is the sewage that spews from it when it rains, a tenth of an inch apparently creates a fountain from the manhole covers that secretly channel the sewage from several communities down the stream… Coupled with the toxic runoff from the slag heap, I am amazed that anything survives at all.

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“Pittsburgh Meteor” – © chriscondello 2013 – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Slag is a toxic byproduct of steel production, Pittsburgh has mountains of it.

As I climbed the slag pile, I couldn’t help but notice the pour lines on the side of the hill… They literally formed steps going up the side of the slope. Intermittently between layers, I noticed layers of brick and glass. Names like Pittsburgh Brick Co. and New Kensington adorn the faces of the bricks, I stopped to inspect whether they were manufacturing rejects, or the bones of buildings… I couldn’t find mortar on the bricks so I would assume they were rejects…

The color of the slag in some places is an otherworldly hue of baby blue, this material is sharp like glass and easily cuts skin. The red material is soft like sand, the wind would pick it up and move it like a dust cloud… I found signs of this red material clear down to the Monongahela River… In some places I found massive black glass deposits that reminded me of volcanic glass nodules, no matter what I tried, I could not free a piece to take home.

About 100 feet up from the creek is the newer trail built to the river, this two-mile trail was carved into the side of the slag pile. I followed this trail toward the river when I noticed what appeared to be a large landslide, technically it would be a slag slide… But who’s taking notes anyway… I’ll tell you who… This guy… – I pulled my way through some understory growth only to pop out directly under a crumbling cliff of slag and bricks, I could actually hear it crumbling as I stood underneath of it.

NatureOverMan

“Nature Over Man” – © chriscondello 2013 – Lower Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – This tree was growing on the edge of a massive slag pile, I have always thought that the trees just rooted in the shallow layer of soil on top of the slag. As you can see from this photo, the roots of the tree grew about 20′ through the slag; eventually splitting a massive chunk off exposing the root for me to find.

At the top of the landslide stood a single tree, its tap-root had grown 25 feet through the slag face in front of me into, and below the slag I was standing on. The tree had managed to crack through the man-made toxic crust to find the water below. I assume this tree found water, because the root grew to the point of splitting a massive chunk of slag off the heap.

As I stood in awe… I became in tune with the extremely powerful energy that was present all around me… The ground that I was standing on was ground zero of an epic battle between nature and man… I had goosebumps… A small victory for a brave soldier… A victory that will most likely cost this soldier its life… But it won’t be in vain… New life will sprout from the decaying tree and Split another chunk of slag from the heap… Repeating… Until it’s gone… Or burried…

Nature ALWAYS conquers man… That’s why I call perpetual dibs on natures team… Because she always wins…

peace – chriscondello

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