We’re just into mid-February and I can almost start to sense the days getting longer again. And while a die-hard gardener in a southern climate could probably keep some amount of food growing throughout the year, I, for one, seem to be getting more particular about the kind of weather I subject myself to.
And then there’s the issue of day length — day length fluctuation becomes more negligible the closer we get to the equator. Even in sub-tropical Maui, where the difference between summer and winter solstice is less than 2 hours, you can’t fool the plants. It’s the daily increase or decrease that affects them, not the length of the day. Whether or not the weather is cooperative, vegetative growth will slow nearly to a standstill around the winter solstice, regardless of where you’re growing.
Monkies love composting! Really, since we are guzzling green juice all day long, we end up with a ton of semi dry veggie fiber. Each day we have over 4 pounds of waste from our Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Apples and Beets. So, we could trash it all and let it trap gas in a land fill, or we could give it to the worms and turn it into super compost. We decided to get some worms. We will make a video about that soon. But until we do, here is a very funny video by the Enviromentals (Hal Brindley and Leigh Ramsdell) show you how they built their worm bin. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
The first step in starting a garden is taking the first step. Simply and easily.
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
When people say “I’ve always wanted to grow my own food,” the most commonly stated obstacles that follow are “but I don’t own my own place” or “I don’t want to bother in a rental,” or “I don’t have the time” or “the space” or “the money.”
And while these considerations are valid, they’re not insurmountable. I’ve started nine gardens in the last 13 years – at times growing as much as 90% of my own food – and I haven’t owned any of the properties I planted and beautified. Starting a garden is not like building an addition onto your apartment. And yes, it can be difficult to leave your work behind when you move, but the rewards of initiating the project are more than worth the effort. We all leave things behind, whether it be garbage, junk cars or trails of gossip. I prefer to leave abundant food gardens, beautiful flowers or promising fruit trees.
You’ve selected your site and prepped your soil. A bag of all purpose organic vegetable fertilizer sits quietly in your garage. Don’t worry about the soil stains on those designer jeans you thought would make forking more fun — it’s nothing a little soap won’t take care of. Dirt under the fingernails? A quick manicure will fix that. (And if you haven’t checked out how stylish garden gloves have become recently, you should. Mine are hot pink and make me look like a race car driver.)
Revved up and raring to go?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to apply soil amendments, I want to take a moment to reflect on why it’s important to grow organically. Let’s move past the obvious and overstated issues of health, clean water, lowering fossil fuel dependency and cutting the pharmaceutical companies out of our food. I’d like to explore the more subtle, underlying aspects of this important consumer choice.
I got into organic farming and gardening to make a difference, knowing how miniscule and relatively insignificant my contributions were likely to be. While I may not be able to move the mountains I want to — not by myself, anyway — at the end of the day… of the decade… of my life, I want to know that I did my part to make this place more beautiful than it was. That I spread the spark of imagination and demonstrated the possibilities of how beautiful and abundantly we can live.
What’s that black thing crawling along your neighbor’s lawn? It looks like an enormous bug or Darth Vader after an unfortunate encounter in the trash compactor. But it’s not. It’s the Automower Solar Hybrid.
Yes, the lawnmower has gone the way of the Prius. Sort of. A Prius with a brain and an agenda.
Believe it or not, this is the world’s first ever automatic lawn mower. Not only does it cut your lawn while you’re at the office or inside helping the kids with their math homework, it has a solar panel that at least partly powers it. (For extended or night mows, you’ll need to have charged it with some AC.)
Solar power. That’s great. But are they kidding about it cutting the lawn by itself?!?
I do my best to keep my foodscraps out of the landfill, but I’m not sure there’s enough space in my composter for my sofa and my dining room table. That’s why I’m a bit confused about the new products – including sofas, tables, chairs, glasses, etc. – that are touting as completely biodegradable.
For an example, check out looolo textiles, whose products are designed to disintegrate after a year of composting.
Lightening the footprint of consumer culture is noble and certainly has a place in this world. I’d love to have a few couch pillows that I can throw in the back yard and let nature do its work. And the more we produce that we can reuse rather than discard is the right direction for the future.
I love hanging my clothes out to dry. It just feels right to let the sun and wind do the work rather than good old Mr. Electron. Unfortunately, considering where I live, I can only hang my clothes outside for about three months a year — unless I can figure out how to freeze-dry my wardrobe. Which means I’m destined to feel pangs of guilt in the winter when I fire up the dryer.
Urban farmers isn’t the name of a hot new musical act (though it should be), or a euphemism for teenagers handy with da hydroponics — it’s a real and revolutionary movement that’s taking place all over America. Forget cold comfort farm, city dwellers can now enjoy this agrarian pastime from the comfort of their own apartments.
Just ask Denniston and Marlene Wilks, who grow scallions and bitter watermelons “in the shadows of the elevated tracks toward the end of the No. 3 line in East New York, Brooklyn.” (via the New York Times) They set up their urban farm with the help of the Parks Department gardening program, GreenThumb, who assisted them in building raised beds of compost as “heavy metals are common contaminants in city soil because of vehicle exhaust and remnants of old construction”.
That the Italians know a thing or two about design is an understatement. After all, this is the nation that brought us Alessi, Prada and Ferrari. Italy is also at the forefront of gastronomic world. Where would we be without grilled eggplant, mushroom risotto and frothy soy cappuccinos? Not bulging out of our Prada pencil skirts probably, but that’s by the bye. Given the country’s two great loves, it comes as no surprise that the Italians have created the perfect kitchen…apparently just for us.
No one wants to use ammonia anymore, right? No one except my non-“G” coworker, who just leaned over to me and said, “If it doesn’t stink, it isn’t clean!” Here are a couple of solutions that can save you from the nasty toxins of ammonia, some of which might even be stinky enough for my friend.
Vinegar is a great (and stinky) alternative to ammonia-based cleaners. Heinz purports that their vinegar can clean an amazing amount of things in your home: microwaves, coffeemakers, wine stains, ceiling fans, windows, showers, curtains — even salt stains off of shoes. Vinegar is actually a weak acid, so it’s quite effective and much better for your lungs.
I’m stoked to learn that my aversion to buying “dry clean only” clothing serves more than just my personal laziness — it’s actually beneficial to the planet. We all know that all too familiar dry cleaner smell, right? Well, it turns out that the sweet yet sour, steamy aroma has a name: “perc”. Which sounds kinda cute until you find out it’s short for perchloroethylene. According to the EPA (as quoted by Plenty): “Perc is a nervous system toxin and probable human carcinogen [which] has been linked to headaches, nausea and reproductive problems.” Apparently 85% of dry cleaning shops use this chemical solvent. And it doesn’t end at the cleaners. The toxins then exude from the clothes that are bound in plastic dry cleaning bags and find their way into our homes. Scary, huh?
Many people think the best way to keep teenagers out of danger is through avoidance or abject fear, whereas I’ve always thought informative discussion was a more effective way to go. And what better way to spark a dialogue about the environmental repercussions of excessive bottled water consumption than through green sneaks? Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos