Sunday, March 20, 2011

on Green it Yourself segments

Ok these sets of videos kinda annoy me.  So their tips for Green it yourself is replace the everything in the family room, well maybe not the furniture, cause that can be re-used.

Re-paint, at least one wall with the whiteboard wall paint (uber cool: yes, necessary: no)
Replace your carpet with sustainable wooden flooring maybe with an area rug.
several issues here:  not everyone is dealing with allergy issues, although I can appreciate the VOC's that are supposedly  Have you looked at the prices of flooring recently? If you add in the eco-freindly wood/material, often you double the price.  We're getting some interesting Mohawk Smartstrand installed in our house, in a planned re-carepeting. Cool indeed! Price-wise, however, we were only really able to do this due to a couple of deals that were happening and a mislabeled price in the show room. Else, all the environmentally friendly carpeting/flooring would have been placed out of our range.
The site's advice for air purification was to remove all possible allergens. (the carpet, and the furniture etc.)
No mention of mitigating factors. No verbal mention was made that many house plants improve air quality and act as filters.   The end of the segment, however,  had the host, sitting in a completely cleared room surrounded by houseplants.
Not that these things aren’t worth considering if you are planning on re-doing the room. I guess as well in a DIY for a room you are talking about an entire room, it just seems to me a little all or nothing.  Not much room for varying shades.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Planting

A little over a week ago, I had quite a scene in my kitchen.  Robyn was over with her husband and another friend and there was dirt and packets everywhere!

No my friends didn’t trash my kitchen – I can do that well enough my self.  The kitchen just happened to be the best place, and easiest to clean up – to plant seeds.  The kitchen, and its adjoining sunroom/extension, is also the seeds temporary living space until they grow further, the weather warms, the swing set comes down, and we are able to plant them outside.

Here’s a sampling of what we planted:

·        Carrots
·        Pansies
·        Beans
·        Marigolds
·        Cucumbers
·        Bachelor buttons
·        Zucchini
·        Snapdragons
·        Beefsteak tomatoes
·        And more!
·        Tomatoes
·        Yellow pear tomatoes
·        Rosemary
·        Green peppers
·        Basil
·        Pie pumpkins
·        Catnip
·        Butternut squash
·        Cilantro

·        Thyme

·        Oregano

·        Parsley

We went a little overboard I know.  We even had to run back out and get some additional supplies so that we had enough starter trays.  We had a homemade dinner and they went home for the evening.

I made sure to water them the next day, waiting anxiously for the first signs of growth.  Knowing that the beans would likely be the first to grow I had keen interest in the progress. A day or so later I noticed that the beans were indeed growing, but not in the way I expected.  Instead of green shoots, they were fuzzy.  I apparently over watered the poor beans, and will have to re-start them.

On the other hand, although it’s a mixed showing to an extent, I’m excited about the progress they have shown.  

I have sprouts in:

  • Cucumbers
  • Yellow pear tomatoes
  •  Pumpkins
  • Rosemary
  •  Squash
  • Catnip

  •  Zucchini

Exciting indeed!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Color of Souls

I've often joked that black is the color of my soul. If nothing else, it's definately the dominant color in my wardrobe. But it's not the only color vying for my attention. Even when I was very young, green was making itself known to me, hovering at the edges of my awareness.

When I was a child, my mother stayed home with my sister and I, but she felt the quite natural desire to do something more. And so she created Planetwise Products, a small, in-home business to sell eco friendly products. She also gave talks to various school groups and Girl Scout troops to teach them of the importance of taking care of the planet. As with most of her schemes, it fizzled out and now all that remains are a bundle of envelopes with the company logo, and the knowledge that it's important to care for the planet- firmly entrenched in the mind of her eldest child. And hopefully in the minds of a few of the other children she spoke to. Hopefully.

Despite that early lesson, I never really learned the practical aspects of being green. I understood recycling, and that was the extent. And not even recycling everything. I'd carry around an empty plastic bottle all day to take it home and recycle it, but I burned papers and envelopes with mindless glee. It was life with my Dad that really expanded my recycling horizons. Even though he has never openly mentioned pursuing a green lifestyle, Dad is so thorough in his recycling that he actually cuts the plastic windows out of envelopes so that he can recycle the rest, and he sighs when he sees the bag of shredded documents he can't safely recycle. About once a week, he drives the boxes to a central location and dumps his recycling into the bin- no curb side pick-up for him!

This habitual behavior inspired in me a recycling mania. Anything that can be recycled, is recycled. Anything that has parts that can be recycled is torn apart so that as little goes into the trash as absolutely possible. Around this time, I also started cooking more, and lamented what I had to toss out for lack of compost. Sure, an apple core is better in a landfill than a plastic bottle, but it's even better biodegrading in garden soil. Still, trapped in a condo with no garden, I was stuck.

Enter Jackie. I'd known her for a few years, but it wasn't until she and her husband bought their first house that she started to really pay more attention to her green leanings, and, by talking to her, so did I. It didn't hurt that she introduced me to a company that delivered fresh local produce to your door, and the taste was so much better than anything else. Well, it made quite an impression!

Slowly, green is creeping into my life. I'm getting more green cleaning supplies. I'm browing green sites online to see what other waste I can recycle or reuse. What I can do and eat that is healthier for me, my family, and the planet.

And then, then... Jackie suggested planting an organic garden in her yard. A chance to use my kitchen waste! My coffee grounds! To get more fresh veggies than I can possibly cook before they spoil! But if they spoil, they just go back into the dirt to prepare for the next batch.

Even more than dietary rewards, gardening creates the need for the other part of being green- namely, being outside. It's one thing to care about the environment when you only go out in it to walk to your car. It's another when you can't get the dirt out from under your nails! Feeling the earth, smelling it, working with it and eating from it- that's what builds the connection that our modern society works so hard to disconnect us from.

I look good in black, but the fact is that I also look good in green. But... I think that everyone does, really. It's one of those colors, because it has so many different shades.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Plotting for a Garden

As spring is approaching, Robyn and I have been plotting.  It feels a bit like conspiring. In a month or so the swingset we inherited when we bought the house will come down.  This leaves a nice partitioned off area that, on the surface, looks perfect for a back yard garden.  
  • we don't have to pull up the grass
  • great sunlight
  • easy access and view from the house
Perfect right?

Unfortunately not. The problem we are encountering in our preparation is a dying black walnut tree.  Black walnut trees produce a chemical called juglone that is toxic to several plants, namely tomatoes and peppers. At the moment I could care less about eggplant, potatoes and a few others.   Squash, corn and a few others are tolerant. Although the tree is dying, I don't think that will help the plants that would be there, as the toxins stay in the ground well after the tree has been removed. 

Through a few different means, there are a few possibilities open to us: 
  • use a raised garden, we were planning on using/ adding some new soil anyway
  • re-use an old car-carrier as an embedded container to isolate the effected plants from the dangerous toxins
  • not plant anything that would be effected by it
We shall see.  I don't think I'll plot out how we will put the plants into the ground until after we decide how this will go.  Of course, we first need to start the seedlings.  Which will be soon.  Very soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Unfriendly Felines

We’ve recently had an issue with our two cats using unconventional relief facilities. – They’ve been peeing in my laundry; the brats.
 After finding out that it was not just the more cantankerous of our two cats acting out, but our more easy going cat as well (whom we caught in the act!), we started thinking of other causes.  My husband came to the conclusion that it is the litter.  What we are currently using isn’t clumping correctly. It’s too hard, and spreads out too far.  The cats can’t dig down the way they want to, and thus are displeased with us and finding more suitable facilities. 
            So this is now the second eco friendly litter that the cats have unanimously nixed.  We tried Yesterday’s News when we got the younger cat spayed and de-clawed.  They didn’t seem too pleased with it, and we weren’t terribly pleased with clean up.  This current attempt was a scooping clay litter from Cat Magic. The company replaces the topsoil and then re-seeds the area where they pulled up the clay from .   Still no go, the cats didn’t like it. I caved, I purchased another bin of Tidy Cat. 
            With the previous two failures I’m hesitant to attempt the wheat or pine based litters.  What do you do when your cats tell you, “Sorry, we don’t want to go green?” 

In today's search I also found this site that may potentially be helpful in the future. . . if the cats agree.