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BrookeChaplan posted a blog entry in Brooke Chaplan's Green BlogGrowing an organic garden is not as arduous as some people think it is. Indeed, it may be easier than growing one that depends on lots of commercial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides in an attempt to wrestle nature into producing perfect fruit and veggies. Organic gardeners believe that their garden can be healthy and grow abundantly with some guided help from nature. With this in mind, here are three tips for growing organic for the first time: Cultivate the Earthworms The sight of an earthworm in the soil brings joy to the organic gardener’s heart, for they are a gardener’s best friend. Their tunneling through the soil aerates it, breaks it up and homogenizes and loosens it, which helps the plant’s roots reach deep. Their burrowing also raises important minerals from the subsoil to the topsoil where they are available to your plants. They neutralize soil that is too alkaline or acid for your plants, and they liberate essential nutrients and help the soil retain water. Use Compost and Other Natural Fertilizers Compost is any organic material that has been broken down into simpler forms through the action of bacteria. When used as fertilizer, it feeds both plants and other creatures who live in the soil. This is in contrast to artificial fertilizers, which can kill such beneficial beasties as earthworms if they are not used in just the right way. Compost also lasts a long time because its components are broken down slowly. Chemical fertilizers give the plants a boost then they’ll peter out quickly. You can purchase Nature Safe organic fertilizer as an alternative to harmful chemicals if you can’t compost. Another great thing about compost is that you can make your own out of kitchen scraps and other waste products. These can include the scraped skins and ends of vegetables, grass clippings, paper as long as it doesn’t have colored ink and autumn leaves. The few things to avoid include meat, the manure of carnivorous animals, charcoal and wood ashes. Getting Rid of Pests Even the most loved-up organic garden is going to attract pests, though probably not as many as you think. Ways to discourage pests without organic remedies include: · Encouraging earthworms · Composting · Planting varieties of plants that are resistant to diseases and pests · Using row covers before the pests or diseases can attack · Encourage insect-eating birds to show up by building birdhouses · Plant in the fall when pests and diseases are less common These are only three tips for a first time organic gardener. With time, care and patience, you won’t believe how beautiful, healthy and fertile your garden will be.
LizzieWeakley posted a blog entry in Lizzie Weakley's Green BlogMaking your home eco-friendly doesn't need to be an expensive or time-consuming chore. In fact, most families only need to make a few small changes around their house in order to cut down on their carbon footprint. Here is a look at five simple steps that you can take today to lower energy bills and potentially remove some toxins within your own home. Switch to Plant-Based Cleaners There is a long list of unhealthy chemicals sitting under the kitchen sink in most homes. Some of these common cleaners are effective when it comes to removing grime, but they are often quite toxic and can be replaced with much safer products. Next time any of your cleaners are running low, consider switching over to alternatives such as vinegar-based cleaners. Create a Compost Station Within many homes, food scraps make up nearly 50 percent of all waste. Instead of letting this go to the landfill, creating a simple compost station is a great way to put leftover scraps to work. A compost station can turn practically any organic material into nutrient-rich compost for a garden or to improve the health of your lawn during the spring. Air Seal Your Home Whenever a home is not sealed properly, homeowners are going to be looking at higher energy bills and lower air quality. A simple way to start air sealing a home is to use gaskets and seals from companies like Phoenix Specialty for ducts and vents. Other areas that may need to be sealed include gaps around doors and old pipes leading into or out of the home. Give Up Bottled Water There are few items that have become as problematic for our environment as plastic water bottles. These products are especially difficult to recycle and some even contaminate water with chemicals such as BPAs. Buying a dozen BPA-free bottles, filling them with water, and putting them in the fridge will ensure that your family has constant access to refreshing water without the need for creating more waste. Stop Dumping and Donate Almost anything that is used in a home can either be recycled or donated, and taking a little extra time to separate your trash could make quite a difference at a local dump. Some items throughout the home that are easy to donate include clothing, electronics, toys, and old kitchenware. Homes now consume around 40 percent of all energy within the United States, and families that take the time to make their home more eco-friendly can help make a difference while saving some extra money.
HannahWhittenly posted a blog entry in HannahWhittenly's BlogComposting is the perfect way to replenish your garden with natural minerals and nutrients. It allows you to not only give back to the Earth, but to fertilize your garden without adding all those harmful chemicals. Here are some tips to help you get started. What Not To Compost What you don’t add to your compost pile is just as important as what you should add. One of the biggest things you want to avoid placing into your compost pile are fruit peels. Orange peels, banana peels, and peach peels may contain pesticides. Because it can be difficult to tell if any pesticides are on them, you should leave them out of your compost pile. Additionally, you want to avoid any meat, bones, or fish. These can attract pests and cause your compost to smell. Green Material When composting, you need a balance of green and brown material. Green material consists of grass clippings, table scraps, and manure. The nitrogen you need for your compost is found in the green material. If you do choose to add grass clippings to your compost pile, it is important you make sure there are no chemicals on the grass clippings. This can cause your plants to become diseased. Brown Material Just as you need green material in your compost, you also need brown material. Brown materials often include paper products, straw, wood chips, ash, and hay. Make sure there is no ink on your paper products when placing them into your compost pile. Brown materials are important because they contain carbon and make the soil more nutrient rich. Healthy Balance Now that you know what types of products and materials can be composted, it is important to understand the mixture of these two. Because all products decompose at a different rate, you want to make sure you have an even weight of brown materials and green materials. While storing your compost, you want to keep the green materials on the bottom and a layer of brown material on the top to keep the flies and insects away. It also helps control the odor surrounding the compost. You can also visit your local Central Farm and Garden store to get some soil to help mix in with your compost if needed. As the landfills fill up with recyclable materials, it is important to do your part in making the environment better. As you do this, you are also helping to condition your soil and help your plants grow healthier.
HannahWhittenly posted a blog entry in HannahWhittenly's BlogCreating a garden or flowerbed that can come back for a season or two is a talent that requires not only a green thumb but soil and compost rich in nutrients and minerals. For the gardener who wishes to create their own compost, the process is easy and can save money on mulch or other store bought soils. Creating Compost When creating a compost pile, choose a spot in the yard that will not be disturbed by animals or children. This spot should be near the waterspout, but not so close it gets washed away. It should be relatively dry, unless there is rain and it would be ideal if there were shade in this spot as well. It will keep the compost pile cool while completing the decomposition process. Some gardeners choose to create their compost in a wooden box to keep it separated from the dirt. The box makes stirring the compost easier because it is in a separate container. Compost Materials Once the spot and container for the compost is chosen and built, choose the materials that will be placed into the compost pile. Typically, these include any unused fruits, peels, vegetable left overs, lawn clippings, dry dead leaves, any tree waste, like branches and twigs, and leftover coffee beans. Some gardeners use the remains of stalks and husks to help with the decomposition. After all the materials are placed into the container, water is used to wet everything. Then the compost pile is left alone to decompose. Optional Covering Covering the compost pile is also a good idea. It will keep bugs and other animals out of the pile and will allow the water to keep the waste moist enough to continue the decomposition throughout the year. A tarp, which can be purchased at any farm or garden online store, can be used to keep the pile exactly the way the gardener wishes. It will also help keep the smell of the decomposition in the container and not disturbing the gardener. Time Frame The decomposition of the materials depends upon how much heat and water is used in the pile. It can take anywhere from three months to a few years for the pile to decompose. If the decomposition of the pile is needed quickly, placing a few items into the box will start the process, allowing the gardener to have some compost when they need it. You can also find products like fertilizers that can speed the process up at places like Nature Safe. Creating a compost pile does not need to be difficult or overly-complicated. Using these easy steps will help create compost that will nurture a garden for several seasons.