Category Archives: Green Gardens

Going Green By Growing Green

In the never-ending quest to find the best food possible–healthy for both people and planet–it seems like there’s a pitfall around every corner. Farmers’ market or supermarket? Buy organic, or not? Is buying local always better? What if the farmers bringing food to the market use unsustainable practices, or dump loads of herbicides and pesticides on their crops? What if they have driven a hundred miles to bring those fat bell peppers to the stall?

Of course, you can always do research, or ask the vendors questions. Some markets have standards in place governing vendors’ growing practices or limiting the distance they can drive to bring their wares to the table.

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Green Groceries: 9 Reasons To Eat Local

If I were to ask you how eco-friendly the food you buy at the grocery store is, you would probably dutifully point out the “organic” label on the fruits and vegetables and perhaps even some cereals and crackers.

For argument’s sake though, let’s examine the reality of how green and even (gasp!) nutritious these foods really are.

Is it environmentally friendly to buy organic oranges from Florida in the middle of a Minnesota winter? What about the shipping costs (and fuel expended) and the extra shelf time? By the time it reaches you, it’s passed through the many stages of handling that has decreased its nutrient value greatly.

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It’s Almost Time!

tulipsThere is nothing that makes winter more bearable for me than hope.

The hope of spring, of budding flowers, of green again. Since November, Michigan has gotten less than 20% of actual sunshine, and let me tell you, we’re feeling it. If it were economically feasible, I would start heading to the tanning booths for a shot of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, it’s probably not the best for my skin anyway.

I like to make preparations in the fall to give myself and my household a little boost in the middle of February. Being that my thumbs are mildly green and I have an obsessive need to fill my house with all manner of growing plants, I started looking into ways to get flowers out of the ground a little earlier each year.

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Going Green for Special Needs

A few years ago I lived my life in 20 minute increments. Then I had to rest. Fibromyalgia and Asthma ruled my life. With 3 children, a husband and all the normal mess that life assures, my brain constantly told me that I wasn’t doing enough. But I simply did NOT have the energy to spare; it needed to go to things that HAD to be done, not things that I wanted to do like living a greener lifestyle.

I’ve since been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and eating a gluten-free diet has improved my quality of life massively. But I still remember the dreams I had, the ones that seemed so far away from my reality.

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Fall Cleanup With A Little Elbow Grease And Manpower

Leaves blowing around the yard may be a discouraging sight to the tidy landscaper, but with the right lens, leaves covering the ground can be seen as ample opportunities.

Many outdoorsy folks look forward to the fall as an opportunity to work in their yards during comfortable weather and to get outside and play. Last week, Amy, also known as the Crunchy Domestic Goddess, shared a few tips on how gardeners and composters may make use of fallen brown leaves to create a nutrient-rich compost throughout the year.

When it comes to managing fall leaves, you may also wonder how to remove leaves from your yard in an environmentally friendly way, and whether or not it makes sense to remove leaves at all.

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What’s on Your Reading List this Winter?

If you’re a homesteader like I am, or even just a beginner or veteran gardener, chances are, you’ve got some books on your list to dive into now that the outdoor growing, harvest and preservation season is just about over. (Of course, I am speaking for those of us who live in climates where we cannot outdoor garden year round!) It’s important to find new ways of doing things on your homestead, or just refining what you already know. This is why I’ve got quite a few books on my list and my night stand to read during these long winter months.

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All The Brown Material You’ll Ever Need For Your Compost Bin

At my house there is never a shortage of green material (also known as wet or nitrogen-rich matter) – orange peels, corn husks, dinner food scraps, yard waste, etc. – for my compost bin, but when it comes to finding brown (also known as dry or carbon-rich) material, in the past I’ve often ended up coming up short. The trick, of course, to getting compost to work and breakdown into that coveted nutrient-rich soil is to have the right combination of both green and brown matter.

About a year ago, however, I posted my first Green Tip of the Week suggesting that my readers keep a bag or two (or three) of their dry fall leaves to use throughout the coming year as brown material to add to their compost pile or bin.

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A Certifiable Backyard

I never know what to do with my backyard. I don’t have a huge yard…it’s just under an acre…but it’s big enough for a small garden, a dozen or so trees, and a handful of flower beds. I want my yard to be as natural as possible, so we never use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides and we try to minimize mowing and watering. But I’m just never quite sure which vegetables, tree, and flowers are most well-suited to my yard and which plants will provide the maximum benefit to the surrounding natural environment.

Until now.

I recently when I came across a website that is going to walk me through the process of making my yard not only green, but critter-friendly to the birds, bees, butterflies, and toads that stop on by.

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Pick a winner – of the fruit and veggie variety, that is!

For the past few years, my family and I have gone to a local farm each fall to pick some of our own vegetables. For $10 per person (for anyone older than 3; babies and toddlers are free of charge), you go on a hayride to various vegetable fields (carrots, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, pie pumpkins, etc.) where you can pick to your heart’s content. We usually only pick enough to last us a couple of weeks, but not this year. Oh no. This is the year I’m getting serious about local food preservation.

Pick Your Own fruits and vegetablesThat won’t be the only farm I will visit this year.

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Urban Gardening: Green Without The Green

Got a green thumb but don’t have the green space? You don’t have to live on a farm or have acres of yard in order to add some green to your scene. Here’s how to go green without the green:

Contain Yourself: Bring the garden to you with indoor plants and window boxes that surround you in green without taking up any outdoor real estate. Container gardens can be used to grow your favorite plants and trees…and even a whole garden of vegetables. Check out Garden Guides for tips on growing veggies indoors.

Scratch It Out: Grow flowers in your sidewalk!

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