local food blog

Green Living

5 Ways to Collect Water for Your Garden – Planet Green

 

I am always looking for creative ways to water my garden with out wasting valuable drinking water, this article has some great tips!

article from http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/5-ways-to-collect-water-for-your-garden.html

how to conserve water in the garden

fireballsedai/Flickr Creative Commons

Conserving water is an important aspect of growing a "green" garden. The fewer resources we have to use, the better. And since water is an important part of most gardens (and also the most egregiously wasted — it drives me crazy to watch people put their sprinklers on and let the water all run down their driveway!) it’s a good idea to try to find alternative ways of watering than solely depending on tap water. Here are five that I’ve used for my own garden.

1. Rain Barrel
This is kind of a no-brainer, but I know that many people don’t have them because ready-made rain barrels can be pretty pricey. Luckily, there are very good instructions online for making your own, inexpensively:

2. Buckets Under Downspouts and Eaves
This is a good option for those who don’t want to go all out with a rain barrel, or who, for one reason or another, can’t have one where they live. If you’re an apartment dweller with a balcony or patio — you can use this tip, too. Simply set five gallon buckets or whichever watering cans you have under your downspouts, at the edges of roof eaves or overhangs, or just out in the open to collect the rain water. You won’t get as much as you would with a rain barrel, but some is better than none, right?

3. Kid-Size Swimming Pool
If you have kids and find yourself filling up a little pool for them to splash around in during hot weather, don’t just let that water flow out onto the lawn when you empty the pool! Use buckets or watering cans to get the water out, and use the water for your garden instead. Even if you don’t have kids, a small kid’s pool is another excellent way to capture rainwater as described in #2, above.

4. Buckets in the Shower
One of the easiest ways to capture water that would otherwise be wasted is to take a shower with a bucket or two. You’ll be surprised by how quickly the buckets fill (even if you do take short showers) and you can use the water for your houseplants or garden.

5. Cooking Water
If you’ve boiled a bunch of vegetables or pasta, don’t just pour that water down the drain when you’re done with it! Let it cool completely, then use it to water plants in your garden. It’s perfectly safe for them, and actually contains a bit of nutrition for your plants, especially if you’ve boiled vegetables.

These are just a few ways to gather otherwise "wasted" water and put it to use in your garden instead.

Advertisements

MOWERCYCLE! Human powered lawn-mower | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

I found this online and I want one!! I know you will too!

MOWERCYCLE! Human powered lawn-mower, bike lawn mower, bike mower, bicycle lawnmower, human powered lawn mower, DIY design

Behold the mowercycle! Is this an awesome DIY design or what? This ingenious bicycle-lawnmower fashioned by an unknown suburban lawn owner out of an old bicycle and a broken lawnmower, is a testament to the creativity of the human spirit. Spotted in dot dream’s flickr stream, we have no idea who the original photographer was, nor do we know anything about the owner/designer of the MOWERCYCLE. All we know is that it is awesome and should be an inspiration to sustainable design fans and DIY tinkerers everywhere.

If any of you readers have any knowledge about this fabulous DIY design – please get in touch and let us know!

MOWERCYCLE! Human powered lawn-mower | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World


If this is true I will be a genius in no time!!!

Loved this article, all the more reason for me to spend more time in the garden!!!

Breathing soil bacteria makes you smarter

Scientists have observed that ingesting or breathing in a common soil bacterium found in nature reduces anxiety and improves learning.

By Bryan Nelson

Photo: Shawn Perez/Flickr

Spending time outdoors has always offered health benefits for the body and the mind: fresh air, clean water, awe-inspiring vistas, peaceful quietude. Now, it turns out, even the dirt is good for you.

Scientists at the Sage Colleges of Troy, N.Y., have discovered that exposure to certain kinds of soil bacteria can reduce anxiety and increase learning capabilities when ingested or inhaled, reports Physorg.com. Hippies everywhere can rejoice: dirt may actually make you smarter.

The amazing bacterium in question is Mycobacterium vaccae, which occurs naturally in soil and is often breathed in innocuously when people spend time in nature. Previous studies had revealed that when the bacteria is injected into mice, it stimulates neuron growth and causes serotonin levels to increase. Because increased serotonin levels are known to decrease anxiety, researchers already suspected that the bacteria could have antidepressant benefits.

But decreased anxiety isn’t the only effect of increased serotonin, and researchers wanted to investigate further. "Since serotonin plays a role in learning, we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice," said Dorothy Matthews, who conducted the research.

After feeding the live bacteria to a group of mice, Matthews and her colleague Susan Jenks subjected the mice to a test of wits with a control group by having them run a maze.

"We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice," said Matthews.

Two subsequent experiments revealed that the mice fed the bacteria still ran the maze slightly faster than the control group once the bacteria was withheld from their diet, but the effect did not last for long — meaning the effect was a result of the presence of M. vaccae. If the bacteria had a similar effect on humans, it could mean that spending periods of time outdoors would need to be part of a regular routine for maximum neurological benefit.

"It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks," noted Matthews.

 


Mother Nature’s Best Fertilizers and Bug Repellents

Article by Debra Frick @ http://www.thriftyfun.com 

Natural Fertilizers

I am going to start with some easy fertilizers that you might not have thought of.

Coffee Fertilizer

Put into an old plastic bottle what is left of your morning coffee. Add to 2 gallons of water and spray it in your garden once a week.Your plants will get magnesium, potassium and nitrogen from the coffee waste. Rose Food can be made from coffee grounds also, you will need to dry the coffee grounds on a cookie sheet on paper towelling or newspaper. Sprinkle the grounds around the base of your acid-loving plants. Azaleas, roses, rhododendrons and blueberries are just some of the plants that will benefit from this treatment. Be careful not to overdo it with the grounds. Even acid-loving plants can get too much acid.

Fish Tank Water

When doing a tank cleaning, save all the water to go into your garden. Used fish tank water is full of nitrogen and other nutrients that plants need to thrive.

Manure Tea or Top Dressing

Do your kids have a bunny or guinea pig? Have them clean the cage into a big bucket and add water. Use this to spray directly on your garden or use with your houseplants. Yes, it is going to stink but as the bedding breaks down, it will become rich with nitrogen and other needed elements for your plants. Rabbit manure is considered a cold manure so it can also be use directly on your garden. The old soiled bedding will act as a mulch. Your plants will benefit from the extra water retention and all the nitrogen in the manure.

Eggshell Top dressing

Save all those egg shells from your big Sunday breakfasts. Wash thoroughly and let dry for a day or two. Grind in your food processor or in your blender to a fine powder. Apply to your plants. Eggs shells are made up almost entirely of calcium carbonate, the main ingredient in agricultural lime.

Fireplace Ashes

Fireplace ashes can be used to replace garden fertilizer and lime. They are also high in potassium. Sprinkle your fireplace ash over your garden beds, and work into the soil.

Note: Fireplace ash should not be used if your soil is alkaline, or be used around acid-loving plants.

Banana Peels

Do not throw away your banana peels. Use these peels for your rose plants and see them flourish. These are also full of potassium and help roses to grow.

Tea Waste

Tea waste is especially useful for orchids. You can use your tea bags and tea waste, in summer and spring, to nourish all the plants in your garden.

Milk

Milk, mixed with water in the ratio 1 to 4, will give your plants nitrogen building protein. You can feed your plants with milk once every week. Great way to use that old milk that is starting to spoil.

Epsom Salt

Epsom salts contains sulphate and magnesium, which are good for plants like potatoes, tomatoes, roses, etc. One tablespoon of Epsom salt should be mixed with a gallon of water. Use Epsom salt once a month for your plants.

Garden Pest Sprays

These are recipes for getting rid of the pests in your garden:

Ants

They can be killed safely by pouring boiling hot water down into the nest in the ground. Fire Ants can be nasty and a real hazard to small children and pets. The only way to get rid of an infestation is to kill the queen. Wait until right before the next rainstorm. Sprinkle instant grits on the fire ant hill. The workers will carry the grits to the queen for her to eat. She’ll eat the grits and when it rains, she’ll drink. The grits will expand in her stomach and she’ll "bloat" to death. Once she’s out of the way, the leaderless ants will die off.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth kills earwigs, ants and box elder bugs. It can kill beneficial bugs too so be sure to only apply it just to the ground surface where you think insects at their worst.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies can be killed with cheap wine left out in a small container.

Easy Insect Spray

Combine 1 Tbsp. of dishwashing detergent and 1 cup cooking oil into a gallon jug or plastic bottle. This is your master mix as this will make more than one batch of insect killer. Add 5 Tbsp. of the detergent and oil mixture into a gallon jug of warm water. Shake the jug to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a garden sprayer and apply to your plants.

Vinegar Fungicide

Mix 3 Tbsp. of natural apple cider vinegar in one gallon of water. Spray during the cool part of the day for black spot on roses and other fungal diseases. Adding molasses at 1 Tbsp. per gallon will again help.

Bugs Off All Purpose Spray

Take 1 garlic bulb and 1 small onion and chop in a blender. Add one 1 tsp. of powdered cayenne pepper and 1 quart water. Let steep for one hour. Strain through some cheesecloth. Add 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap to help your mixture to stick to the leaves of your plants. Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator. Always be careful when using on plants this mixture can cause leaf burn. Do a check beforehand.

Back off Jack Insect Spray

Puree 1/2 cup of hot peppers (the hotter the better) with 2 cups of water. Strain the liquid through some cheese cloth. Apply for 5 to 7 days or until the pests are gone.

 


Outdoor peeing could activate composting revolution

You won’t catch me trying this one at my place, for starters the compost bin is way to high, and my neighbours will begin to wonder if I lost my marbles. I found this article at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk, while searching for methods to break my own compost down faster, needless to say I am still searching for a good method!!

Gardeners at one National Trust property are urging the country to join them in peeing outdoors to help UK gardens grow greener.

A three metre long ‘pee bale’ has been installed within the walled gardens of the National Trust’s Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire.

Head Gardener, Philip Whaites, is encouraging his male colleagues to relieve themselves onto the straw bale when the call of nature occurs.

This helps activate the composting process on the estate’s compost heap – producing a free supply of compost material – and also cuts down on the estate’s water use.

‘For eight weeks now, male members of our garden and estate teams have been using the outdoor straw bale when nature calls, which all goes towards our eco-friendly composting system here at Wimpole,’ Philip explained.

‘The pee bale is excellent matter to add to our compost heap to stimulate the composting process; and with over 400 acres of gardens and parkland to utilise compost, we need all the help we can get.

Of course we’re very careful to make sure the pee bale is only in use out of visitor hours, as we don’t want to scare the public. And it doesn’t smell.

There are obvious logistical benefits to limiting it to male members of the team, but also male pee is preferable to women’s, as the male stuff is apparently less acidic.’

By the end of the year, it’s calculated that the ten men from the seventy strong garden and estates team will make over 1,000 individual trips to the pee bale, contributing towards the compost for the estate.

What’s more, the estate will have saved up to 30 per cent of its daily water use by not having to flush the loo so many times.

Rosemary Hooper, Wimpole estate’s in-house Master Composter, provides composting advice to visitors to help them compost whatever the size of their garden or outdoor space.

Rosemary said: ‘Most people can compost in some way in their own gardens.

Peeing on a compost heap activates the composting process and helps to produce a ready supply of lovely organic matter to add back to the garden.With the ready supply of fallen leaves at this time of year, it’s a great time to get composting. Adding a little pee just helps get it all going; it’s totally safe and a bit of fun too.’

Tamzin Phillips, the National Trust’s Compost Doctor, said: ‘An average flush of the toilet can use anything from four and a half to nine litres of water each time, but what people may not realise is that this water is treated to the same standard as drinking water and shouldn’t be wasted.

What’s so great about the pee bale is that it’s using a natural solution to help the garden whilst saving flushing the loo for only when it’s really necessary.’

The pee bale is part of the garden composting ‘zone’ on the Wimpole estate, where the gardening team has been showcasing its mass composting facilities and increasing visitor awareness of the importance of composting waste.

Other more unusual composting facilities on the estate include a ‘dagging’ tank into which the rear end trimmings from the fleeces from estate’s sheep are stirred up on a regular basis to produce a liquid feed.

After a few weeks of stirring, the feed is used to nourish Wimpole’s famous squash plants, tomatoes and even roses. A comfrey bed established nearby means the leaves can be added to the heap and stirred into the dagging tank, which, along with the fermented straw from the pee bale is added to Wimpole’s rich and healthy compost.

Philip added:’Whilst the use of outdoor bale may not be standard practice amongst all my National Trust gardening colleagues, here at Wimpole we’re taking inspiration from historic methods of making compost which aside of being part of our heritage, also have minimum impact on the environment.”

You don’t have to live near Wimpole Hall to see behind the scenes on how simple, environmentally friendly composting works; National Trust experts share their hints and tips on best composting practice, including a short and easy to follow film.

In the second of a series of six videos featuring National Trust gardeners sharing their secrets, head gardener Richard Todd from Anglesey Abbey shows how to make your own low-cost compost bin from scrap pallets, how to get the right mix of greens and browns in your compost and gives advice on how to make best use of your home made compost in the garden.

Future videos offering priceless advice include composting, saving water, growing your own food, organic gardening and how to look after wildlife in the garden; all featuring National Trust experts in each area, passing on years of knowledge in a simple, easy to follow way. These videos will be on the website over the next few months.

 


Concord, MA to be First U.S. Town to Ban Bottled Water

Article that I found interesting

by Jerry James Stone, San Francisco, CA

060224_bottled_water_big.jpg

Last week residents of Concord, Massachusetts voted to ban the sale of all bottled water by next January, making it the first U.S. town to take such action.

The effort was lead by Jean Hill, an 82-year old activist, who lobbied neighbours and officials alike on the consequences of plastic bottles filling landfills and polluting local waters. "All these discarded bottles are damaging our planet, causing clumps of garbage in the oceans that hurt fish, and are creating more pollution on our streets,” says Hil. "This is a great achievement to be the first in the country to do this. This is about addressing an injustice.”
Of course, the $10 billion industry is less than thrilled with the news and has even threatened a legal challenge. They argue that singling out bottled water is unfair when "thousands of food, medicinal, beauty and cleaning products packaged in plastic." But this isn’t the first time bottled water has been targeted.

More than 100 towns across the United States already prohibit spending city dollars on the product.

bottledwaterinfo.pngClick to here to see the full info graphic.

"We obviously don’t think highly of the vote in Concord,” said Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, a trade association that represents bottlers, suppliers, and distributors. "Any efforts to discourage consumers from drinking water, whether tap water or bottled water, is not in the best interests of consumers. Bottled water is a very healthy, safe, convenient product that consumers use to stay hydrated.”

But bottled water is hardly safe. As the NRDC reports, water stored in plastic bottles for 10 weeks showed signs of phthalate-leaching. Phthalates block testosterone and other hormones! And keep in mind, while phthalates in tap water are regulated, no such regulations exist at all for bottled water. And as the info graphic above points out, bottled water costs 10,000 times more than tap water and 40-percent of it comes straight from the tap.

The Concord ordinance is part of a state-wide effort for a new bottle law. The state’s 29-year-old law only allows consumers to redeem bottles and cans from soda and beer. Bottles from non-carbonated water, iced tea, juices or energy drinks–which account for one-third of all beverages sold in Massachusetts–are not redeemable. The new law would raise the redemption fee to 10 cents and cover a larger variety of beverage bottles.

\


This Summer Go Waste-Free with Compostable Party Packs

Another great article I found at http://greenopolis.com, written by Trish Smith of the Green Groove. My Birthday BBQ is coming up and I already picked up some biodegradable dinnerware from London Drugs,  for the party. My only complaint is that you can’t get any colourful designs, it is all white or tan, not very pretty at all.

 

Leave more room for food and less for trash with 100% compostable dinnerware and utensils!

Summertime is the perfect time for grilling outside and inviting people over to share in the fun. Eating freshly grilled food outside while the weather is beautiful is one of my favourite things to do, but one of my least favourite things to do is to throw away all of waste from the big event. There just always seems to be leftover plastic utensils or stained paper plates that can’t be recycled, so they end up going into the oversized trash can.

Yes, I could use plates and utensils that can be washed and reused, but another great option that uses no water and creates no waste is the “compostable party pack!” These are basically picnic parties in a pack that have everything you need – including plates, cups, bowls, napkins and utensils. The best thing about them is that they’re completely compostable, so you won’t have to worry about adding to your local landfill waste stream once you’re dong gorging yourself with food.

Here are a few compostable party packs that you can purchase to make your outdoor grilling event clean and green:

Vegware Compostable Party Pack

Purchase on greenhome.com

This pack includes 50 compostable plates, bowls and cups, as well as 100% recycled napkins. Everything except the cutlery will compost in 21 days (the cutlery takes about 90 days to break down).

Ultra Green Picnic ‘n Party Pack

Purchase on drsoda.com

This set contains 12 compostable and biodegradable plates, utensils, cups and napkins.

Biodegradable Party Kit

Purchase on branchhome.com

This kit serves 50 guests and includes compostable papers, bowls, cups, trays and napkins. It even comes with 3 biodegradable waste bags for trash duty!

Eco My Party Tableware

Purchase from ecomyparty.myshopify.com

Eco My Party makes “100% biodegradable, compostable, ethically-made and sustainably-sourced” products for your party. The packs (which you can get for 10, 20 or 50 guests) include bowls and plates made from compostable sugarcane fibre, recycled napkins and biodegradable balloons. They even come in a recycled cardboard tote!

Now that you know about compostable party packs, it’s time to get down with your bad self and start grilling!