How to Build a Rain Garden

How to Build a Rain Garden

Sustainable Landscaping, Sustainable Living
There's a new garden in town. It is (mostly) easy to install, looks good year-round, requires almost no maintenance and has a terrifically upbeat impact on the environment. No wonder a rain garden is such a great new gardening trend! Storm water runoff can be a big problem in summer during heavy thunderstorms. As the water rushes across roofs and driveways, it picks up oil and other pollutants. Municipal storm water treatment plants often can’t handle the deluge of water, and in many locations the untreated water ends up in natural waterways. The EPA estimates as much as 70 percent of the pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes is carried there by storm water! By taking responsibility for the rainwater that falls on your own roof and driveway, you…
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Keep Plants Green with Gray Water

Keep Plants Green with Gray Water

Self Sufficiency, Sustainable Landscaping, Sustainable Living
In times of drought, most organic home gardeners must ration their water usage, watering vegetables and favorite flowers while watching their lawns and other plants wither. But across the country some intrepid gardeners are foregoing the tap and turning to another source: gray water. Gray water is commonly defined as any household waste-water except for toilet water. (That's called black water.) In arid communities with annual water problems, such as California, Florida and the Southwest, gray water systems have been in use since the 1980s. But in many other parts of the country, using gray water is actually illegal. [caption id="attachment_1562" align="alignleft" width="300"] There are many benefits to using gray water in the garden[/caption] The main concern about gray water is the potential for adverse health effects. Gray water can…
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Climbing the Green Ladder

Climbing the Green Ladder

Community, Gardening Humor, Sustainable Living
by Monica Roberts, marketing consultant, freelance writer, and mom Creating a way to feel superior to your neighbor is just human nature. In my grandparents' day, it was whether or not you ironed your bed sheets and tea towels coupled with how often you went to church. During my adolescent years, self-worth was often linked to how much a person weighed, namely me. This was ironic because my mother has always struggled with her weight. But, by golly, she had a daughter who wore a size 6, so that made everything OK. Plus we attended church every time the door opened. Self-esteem was at an all-time high. One of the great benefits of our day and age is that we have so many more ways to one-up the next guy.…
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Life is a Stage and We Are Stuntmen

Community, Our Homestead, Sustainable Living
... from the Natural Handyman Every now and then I wonder, "Will I be found out?" Ever have the sense that you are in the wrong place, or that you really aren't who everyone thinks you are? Perhaps you are a businessman, a nurse or postal worker. You get up every morning and do the best job you can. But in your mind's eye there is a nagging doubt that your success is not your own but an accident, and someone will see you for what you are... a fake! How is it possible that we could feel like stunt men in our own lives, stand-ins for our real selves who are much less confident and brave than the face we show to the world each day? I think it's…
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An Affair Worth Ending: Fuel and Food

Food Supply, Sustainable Living
Food. Lets face it, who doesn't love good food? We love to eat it, grill it, serve it and share it with love ones. Every thing from the famed Thanksgiving meal where the table is sagging with the weight of hot delicious foods, to summer picnics with cold salads and sandwiches, food in many ways defines our lives. But its not as simple as we would like it to be, once just a story about land and a farmer, it is now an epic tale dripping all along the way with oil. Not so long ago, food was grown just outside of town, often organically, picked by hand and delivered at the peak of freshness to small grocery stores. Today its a much different process for most of our foods.…
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Enrich Soil Naturally – How To Make Compost

Organic Gardening, Soil & Compost, Sustainable Living
Anyone who prefers to buy their vegetables and flowers from the local grocery store will have a difficult time understanding the gardener's delight digging into a smelly pile of compost, or having a truck load of manure dumped in their yard. Really, who in their right mind, would pay to have a substance excreted by animals brought to their home? A gardener. One who knows that good manure and compost can be the difference between a lush garden and a sparse, struggling one. And lets not forget the aroma, a gardener will describe the smell of compost or manure, as "sweet", or "rich", the average person, with no interest in gardening, is more likely to use the word "disgusting". An experienced gardener knows that compost and manure are the life-blood…
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Seed of Tomorrow

Seed of Tomorrow

Community, Food Supply, Organic Gardening, Seed Saving, Sustainable Living
There are many reasons to make open pollinated ["heirloom variety"] seeds an integral part of your gardening experience and food storage. If seeds are collected from F1 hybrids, the plants grown from those seeds will generally not have the characteristics that you desired in the parent plant. Open pollinated seeds allow the gardener the option of saving seed and growing the plants you like, year after year. In the April 1991 issue of National Geographic, in an article titled, "World Food Supply at Risk", the authors point out past failures of agriculture being based on only a few varieties. Such disasters include the 1970 corn blight that destroyed much of the US crop and the potato famine that killed over 1 million in Ireland. Such disasters are not new. The…
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Garden Art! from Trash?

Recycling, Self Sufficiency, Sustainable Living
April begs me to do something outdoors! How about you? The weather is about right all over the USA for gardening. Besides planning what to put into your garden as far as plants, you need to think of the special additions that make a garden unique. Gardens need "bones" to ground them. No pun intended! Garden sculptures, hedges, specimen trees, and shrubs all help make good bones! Now what about those extra touches that make your garden distinctively yours? Below is a list of ideas that you can use with your own twists to create all kinds of garden goodies for your own garden, or to give as gifts! Broken plates-don't throw away those chipped plates, especially the pretty ones! Stick them into the garden with the chipped parts hidden…
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Become an Urban Farmer

Community, Organic Gardening, Small Scale Farming, Sustainable Living
Anyone can be a farmer. Growing plants can be done almost anywhere. You don't have to have large fields and hundreds of acres. You have to have imagination. People who grow dope do it in cellars and in caves. Select plants to raise that that you see being sold in quantity by local nurseries or garden centers. In our area arborvitae are in hot demand. These plants can be started from cuttings or you can buy rooted cuttings. Thousands can be grown in a 20'x20' area in small containers. Arborvitae are not the only plants that you can choose. Dwarf conifers and bonsai are other avenues to consider. The first thing to consider is what plants you like. They make a nice starting point. I like arborvitae. Plus they are…
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Why you should consider organic gardening

Organic Gardening, Sustainable Living
Organic gardening is one of the fastest growing facets of gardening, and more and more people are discovering that it is possible to enjoy a beautiful, thriving garden while still keeping the use of chemicals and pesticides to a minimum. One reason to avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides is that long term use of such chemicals can deplete the soil and leave it unable to sustain further growth. In many cases beds of perennials suddenly stop blooming for no apparent reason, and the culprit is often found to be the overuse of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Concern for the health of the gardener's family members, pets and the environment as a whole is another reason many people choose organic gardening methods. Runoff from many commercial pesticides and…
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