Green Living

Blending Edible Plants with Ornamentals

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Herbs | 29 comments

Blending Edible Plants with Ornamentals

Designing a beautiful landscape can feel overwhelming to non-gardening experts. But designing a landscape that seamlessly integrates edible plants? That may seem unrealistic—but it’s not. Here’s a great place to start: Understanding the basics of line and form in your outdoor spaces. There are different types of lines—curves, straight, vertical, horizontal—as well as forms. Those work with structures and plants to create pleasing visuals. And while many people assume that most fruits and vegetables must be planted every year, there are edibles that grow multiple years in a row. That can help when designing a landscape that has consistency from year to year. Although many people plant edibles for the harvest, there are considerations of height, color, leaf structure, and more to consider, and how those can accent the plants you have already in the landscape. In addition, many edible have flowering times, which can be a great complement to other blooms in the yard. Whatever your approach to landscaping, this graphic can help you integrate more plants to harvest in your yard.   Source: Fix.com Blog When I was asked to publish this infographic on my post I was delighted to comply. It’s exactly the kind of information that’s great to share. Instead of adding it to the sidebar I decided that the infographic would be the post. Attractive, colourful and loaded with useful information to make blending edible plants and ornamentals easy. What’s more, we all know the cost of fruits and vegetables have gone way up and from all reports, will continue to increase. Isn’t this a beautiful way to control those costs? Talk to you again next week, Lenie If you liked this post, others will too. Please share. Save Save...

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Compost Tea – Perfect for Suburban Gardens

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living | 25 comments

Compost Tea  – Perfect for Suburban Gardens

Compost tea is an inexpensive, easy-to-make, fast-working plant food that results in nutrient rich soil and strong, healthy plants. Every book or article written about organic gardening includes the need for adding compost to the soil. Easy enough to understand why since compost truly is a marvelous soil amendment – it improves nutrient retention of the soil while adding many beneficial organisms making for a more productive garden. However, most municipalities have bylaws that prohibit homeowners from having compost piles in suburban areas which makes compost tea such a great alternative.  A compost pile isn’t required. With compost tea only one or two purchased bags of top quality compost will do. Add non-chlorinated water (rain water is free and perfect for this) and the right size pail and you’re set to go. Before getting to the Compost Tea recipe, there are a few things to know: Compost Tea does not keep – when it’s ready you need to use all of it so make it in batches small enough to meet your immediate needs. There’s no sense wasting any. The finished tea should not bubble or have a foul odour. That may mean it could be anaerobic and not much good can survive in that. If it has become anaerobic, throw it out and try again. Make a test batch. A large coffee can or similar size container is ideal. Fill the can 1/3 full of compost, then fill the container with non-chlorinated water. Stir well with a stick, really move all the ingredients around. The stirring is extremely important as it aerates the tea and adds oxygen. Stir well several times a day for a week. After 5 days to a week strain through a cheesecloth or strainer, rake the solids into the garden and pour a cup of the tea around each of the plants you want to feed. To Make the Compost Tea: Work only with clean materials. You can use any size container depending on the size of your garden although a five gallon pail or garbage bucket is used most often. As in the test batch, fill the container 1/3 full with compost, then fill the pail/bucket with non-chlorinated water. Stir well. Place in a handy location so you don’t forget about it. The compost will settle on the bottom of the pail so stir 3 or 4 times the first day, making sure to move all the compost around, it needs to be well-mixed, then stir several times a day for the next week. Check often. After 5 days to a week, strain the tea. The easiest way is to line a cheap colander with cheese cloth and just empty the tea into a very clean pail or bucket. Dump and rake the solids into the garden. Use all of the tea to feed your plants, about 1 cup per plant. Strain some of the compost tea into a spray bottle, add 1/2 teaspoon of dish detergent and spray on plant leaves to deter foliar disease. Feed your plants and leaves every couple of weeks all summer long. This can also be used once a month on houseplants. Note:  You can increase the nutrient value of the tea even more by adding powdered seaweed or worm castings to the finished tea. Start a new batch brewing a week before you need more or better yet, split the garden up, feed half one week and the second half the second week and keep a continuous batch of compost tea brewing. Both the finished compost tea and the discarded solids will add valuable nutrients to your...

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Earth Day Awareness Leads April Sales

Posted by on Mar 28, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living | 30 comments

Earth Day Awareness Leads April Sales

Earth Day, which this year falls on April 22, sets the stage for month-long sales of energy-savers and conservation products. This makes it an excellent time to find great bargains on anything ‘environmental’, including garden and landscape items of all kinds. Look for great savings on: Energy Saver Products: Energy Star Appliances:  Air Conditions, Ceiling Fans, Microwave, Refrigerator, Toaster Oven, Washer/Dryer, Water Heater Energy Saver Devices: Power Bars, Night Lights, Thermostats Other Energy Savers: LED lights, Solar Phone/Tablet Chargers, Solar Yard Lights **** Earth Day Activities – Conservation: Many Conservation Groups will be offering trees and plants for sale to promote Earth Day Activities. You may need to pre-order to get the best deals. If you can’t find any Conservation Groups in your area, call your Municipal Office and they should be able to help out. **** Patio, Lawn and Garden: Clearance of last year’s models which need to go before the new models arrive. This could mean some really great prices for the consumer on: Barbecues and Accessories Lawnmowers and other Garden Equipment Patio Furniture Planters Composters ****     Spring Cleaning Supplies: Vacuum Cleaners Cleaning Supplies – in keeping with Earth Day, look for EcoLogo, Green Seal or EPA Safer Choice or  Make Your Own Paint and Wallpaper, Home Improvement Products Organizing Products   **** To stay with the environmental theme of the month, April Sales will also include Organic Foods and Soybean Products. Other Food Items: Eggs and Olive Oil Produce: Asparagus, Broccoli, Rhubarb, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes. Avocado, Citrus Fruit, Kiwi, Lemons, Pineapples. Earth Day, April 22,  does prompt some really great bargains, but it is also the day when everyone is asked to participate in an ‘Act of Green”.  Let’s celebrate Earth Day – plant a tree, clean a roadside, turn off the lights, or contribute in any other way that matters to you. Make it fun and think of the environmental benefits – totally Win, Win. Talk to you again next week, Lenie If you enjoyed this post – others will too. Please share. Would love to have you follow me on Pinterest  or  Twitter or browse my Etsy Store        ...

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Save the Bees – Those Little Buzzers Keep Us Fed.

Posted by on Mar 20, 2016 in Bookshare, Green Living | 41 comments

Save the Bees – Those Little Buzzers Keep Us Fed.

Anyone who is at all environmentally conscious is aware of the rapid decline of the bee population. Until I wrote a previous post Bring back the pollinators I was aware of it but didn’t really feel it was my problem. What weird thinking. Much of our food supply depends on being pollinated by bees therefore the problem definitely concerns all of us. Actually, while no one has pinpointed the cause(s), I believe we home gardeners are partially responsible for the decline with our insistence on manicured, weed-free lawns and flowerbeds. When we spray plants with pesticides/herbicides the pollen collected by the bees is poisonous. When they carry this back to the hive it either kills the developing bees or weakens their immune system making them more susceptible to disease and predators. Therefore if we’re part of the problem, it only makes sense that we become part of the solution. Please share this post with all your social media friends and help save the bees. Alone our efforts are limited. Together we can make a huge difference. Let’s do it. The bees thank you. The following Information is “Excerpted from The Bee Book – copyright Dorling Kindersley Inc. / Used With Permission”. How can we help to save the bees?   Bees have some kind of internal mapping system and will return to the most bee-friendly yards. Therefore a good place to start is to make your yard a place where bees want to hang out. Bees prefer yards with a variety of plants – trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables and herbs. By also providing them with plants that bloom at different times throughout the season they’ll be more than happy to stay around. They will need a water source and since they don’t like standing in water they should have shallow water dishes with a dry place for them to land. The dishes should be cleaned and filled with fresh water daily. And of course, no spraying of chemicals. 1.California Lilac; 2. Apple; 3. Orange-ball Tree; 4. Culver’s Root;  5. Bergamot; 6. New England Aster; 7. Giant Onion; 8. Anise Hyssop; 9. Meadow Cranesbill; 10. Lavandin; 11. Sea Holly; 12. Bowles’ Mauve Wallflower; 13. Orange Coneflower; 14. California Poppy; 15. Thyme; 16. Phacelia; 17. Field Poppy; 18. Lamb’s ears. Mid-height spring-flowering plant – Hellebore and Low-growing spring-flowering Crocus.   Not all bees live in hives. There are thousands of different species and some, like the Mason Bees (very effective pollinators), find other places to nest. Unfortunately, because of built-up areas and landscaped lawns they are having a difficult time finding suitable places. We can help them out by making nesting sites for them. The book displays a variety of them – a Clay Bee House, a Wood Block Bee House and even a Pallet Bee Hotel but I was mostly intrigued by the Bamboo Bee House below. It looks neat, is very simple and inexpensive to make, and can be hung anywhere out of the way. Bamboo Bee House – To Build: Measure and mark 8″ (200 mm) from one end of a piece of 4″ (110 mm) diameter PVC pipe – cut the pipe with a handsaw Cut bamboo 1/2″ – 5/8″ (10-15 mm) shorter than the PVC pipe. As you cut the bamboo make one of the cuts close to a ‘node’ (the knuckle-like joints found at intervals along bamboo canes) so that each piece has an open and closed end. Mark 2 points halfway along the PVC pipe at roughly the 10 o’clock and the 2 o’clock positions when viewing the pipe from its end. Drill holes at both...

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Are Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies Really Safer?

Posted by on Feb 28, 2016 in Green Living | 40 comments

Are Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies Really Safer?

Are the Eco-friendly cleaning supplies you buy safe enough to warrant extra cost? Probably not. Most commercial cleaners, including many carrying eco-friendly labels, contain hazardous ingredients believed to contribute to many of today’s diseases, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, ADHD, autism, and more. You can trust any product showing the Green Seal (USA) and EcoLogo (Can). More about them later in the article. Many ‘Eco-friendly’ terms used by manufacturers to promote their products are marketing words meant to mislead: Green – Unless the product carries the EcoLogo and/or the Green Seal, the only thing the wording is good for is to make you think you’re buying a safe product; Natural – Overused and totally meaningless – there is nothing regulating the use of this word; Non-Toxic – Same overuse as ‘natural’ and just as meaningless; Organic – Food and Herbs may receive Organic Certification – CLEANING SUPPLIES MAY NOT. Therefore the only purpose in applying organic to cleaning products is to mislead you; Biodegradable – Worthless wording – Does it tell you how long it takes to decompose? Eco-Friendly – When you saw Eco-friendly in the title, didn’t you think it meant products that were free from dangerous ingredients and safe for the environment? We’ve come to accept the term to mean that, but when it’s used on labels it’s misleading because it means zip – again, no regulation to govern use of this term.  Finally, how about this one? A certain product states “they are the leader in high-quality, environmentally “safer cleaning products”. ” What exactly does that mean – safer than what?   Look for the following certification seals to ensure the cleaning product you buy truly is green and safe for your family and the environment.   EcoLogo was founded in 1988 by the Government of Canada. The Canadian EcoLogo (also known as Environmental Choice) helps you identify products and services that have been independently certified to meet strict environmental standards that reflect their entire life cycle — from manufacturing to disposal. EcoLogo standards are designed so that only the top 20% of products available on the market can achieve certification. More than 7,000 products — from paint to paper — carry this logo. For more information, visit the Underwriters Laboratories website. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Green Seal – A cleaning product that contains this seal has gone through a certification program to ensure it is green. Green Seal is a United States not-for-profit organization devoted to environmental standard setting, product certification and public education. “Green Seal is a pioneer in promoting a sustainable economy. In 1989 there were no nonprofit environmental certification programs in the US. During this year, our founder had the foresight to recognize the need for a tool to help shoppers find truly green products. Green Seal was developed as a nonprofit to stand for absolute integrity. Over the years the reputation of the Green Seal brand has grown to symbolize environmental leadership, and it continues to represent proven-green products and services.”  Green Seal Products and Services ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The safest Eco-friendly cleaning supplies are still the ones you make yourself with vinegar, baking soda, lemons and lemon juice. They are also the least expensive of all cleaning solutions. Home-made Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies: Baking soda is a great all-purpose cleaner – it doesn’t scratch anything, naturally deodorizes and, combined with vinegar, does a superior job of keeping toilet bowls and drains clean and odour free.  To use as an all-purpose cleaner: Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda in 4 cups warm water. For tougher jobs mix baking soda with water to make a non-runny paste and apply with a...

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Organic Food Label – What’s Valid, What’s Not

Posted by on Jan 31, 2016 in Green Living | 38 comments

Organic Food Label – What’s Valid, What’s Not

Is it worth paying extra for products with an Organic, Natural, Farm Fresh or Premium Quality Organic Food label? The last time I was buying bananas at 57 cents a pound, organic bananas were priced at 97 cents a pound. Was this organic food label really worth paying an extra 40 cents a pound? Once I started looking into the labels I discovered that the one sure thing about having organic or similar wording on a label was that it instantly increased the price of the product. Many producers saw this as an opportunity to cash in by creating a variety of labels designed to make the consumer think they were paying more for better quality, organic products, when in fact they weren’t. Shown below are some of the labels used to market food products. It’s all very impressive but let’s just take a look at what the labels really mean. The Organic Food Label – What’s Valid, What’s Not: 100% Organic or Certified Organic – This is the real deal. A product with this label meets the standards for organic certification set by the country of origin. Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations. (Wikipedea). Organic – The label ‘organic’, without showing certification, can be applied to products that are 70-95% organic. Since the bananas only said organic – not certified organic – they would fall into this category.  Made with Organic Ingredients – This is pretty meaningless and not acceptable as it is not clear how much of the product is made with organic ingredients. Products with 70-95% organic content must declare the percentage of organic content on their label. Products with less than 70% organic content may only indicate which ingredients are organic in the ingredients list. Premium Quality Organic Food – Since it doesn’t claim certification, but does claim organic, means the product must contain 70-95% organic ingredients. Natural or All Natural – This means that nothing was changed in or added to the product itself – it does not say anything about the growing conditions or whether synthetic pesticides and/or herbicides were used. A good example here would be non-organic apples, which are all natural but on the EWG’s ‘dirty dozen’ list because they contain high levels of chemical residue. No Hormones/Steroids Added – This label may sometimes be found on poultry products where it is absolutely meaningless since the addition of hormones and/or steroids to poultry and pork has been prohibited in Canada for the past 30 years. Pure or 100% Pure – Can only be applied to one ingredient products. For instance, maple syrup can be 100% pure while peanut butter made with peanuts and oil (2 ingredients) can’t be. Farm Fresh or Farm Grown – This label doesn’t explain growing conditions and, in the case of animals, what additives were given. Grass Fed. Animals have access to outside where they graze or are fed hay. This leads to healthier, leaner animals resulting in better quality meat. Since this is not a certification we have no way of knowing what additional supplements or additives were given. Non-GMO. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been thought to increase serious allergies in children and may be the cause of many other serious health problems. Non-GMO means the products are free of these organisms. Thanks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for much of the above information. I have always considered myself to be knowledgeable about reading labels and deciphering what they really mean but seeing this in black and white was still an eye-opener. As for the bananas, they’re labeled organic, not certified, which means they...

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