Tag Archives: sustainable

Green Spring Cleaning

Has Spring truly sprung in your region yet? Throwing open the windows on the first warm day of the year is one of life’s true and great simple pleasures — until, of course, all that sunlight and warm breezes makes you realize how dusty and cluttered your house has become over the winter.

But traditional home cleaning products aren’t always the greenest option for getting your home clean. Products heavy on fragrances and harsh cleansing agents like bleach, ammonia and acids can produce indoor air pollution with the fumes — pets and children can be particularly sensitive to these.   Look for eco-friendly cleaners or make your own. Even big messes or toughest stains can be tackled effectively with baking soda, borax, lemon juice and other simple ingredients that you may have around the house already.

Vinegar: A mix of equal parts of white vinegar with water in a spray bottle is great for cleaning windows.

Baking Soda: Baking soda makes an effective cleanser for your sink, countertops or tub.  Mix about a quarter cup of water with three cups of baking soda so that it forms a paste, then scrub away. Baking soda is also great for deodorizing  fabrics.  Sprinkle it on your carpet or furniture, let it sit for at least half an hour, then vacuum it up.

Club soda: To clean caked on grease on your stovetop or soap scum in your shower or in your laundry, fill a clean spray bottle with club soda, spray it onto the area you want to clean and let it sit for ten minutes.  Then wipe with a sponge.

Coca Cola: Strange but true, Coke makes a great toilet cleaner.  Just dump one can of Coke into the bowl, let it sit for 15 minutes and then use a toilet brush to scrub.  Voila!  Totally clean.

 

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Blog Roundup: Some Great Gardening Blogs For Spring

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It’s the first full day of Spring and gardening season is coming up quickly. We’re on the lookout for outdoor inspiration of all kinds. Here are a few favorite gardening blogs. What are YOU reading to get into the growing groove?

Gardenista: Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

Kitchen Gardeners International

Seasonal Wisdom

The Yarden

You Grow Girl

 

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Water Conservation Tip

Water conservation is so important for so many reasons, and it’s especially important to reduce our consumption and reuse used water when we can. Here are two really easy ways to save and reuse water in the kitchen you may not have thought of:

When you are draining pasta or vegetables that you have boiled, place your colander over a bowl in the sink when draining and save the starchy water. You can use some of it to make the sauce or as a base for a soup.

Do you clean your vegetables by scrubbing them under a running tap? An alternate way is to wash them in a bowl of water. You can then reuse that water later to water your houseplants or garden.

What are your favorite water conservation tricks?

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Planning Your Summer Garden

The wintery weather that hit much of the U.S. over the past two weeks may be making it seem like planting a garden should be the furthest thing from your mind, but it’s actually the perfect time to start thinking about the plants, flowers and vegetables that you want to be growing this year so that you are ready when warm weather arrives. So sit yourself down with a cup of hot chocolate and start making lists. Things to consider:

Assess your space. Look at where your garden will grow. Think about what you planted last year and what worked and what didn’t. Did you grow too much tarragon, but not enough sage? Do you want more tomatoes than you were able to harvest last year? Do you want more brightly colored flowers closer to the house? This is the time to figure out where things will go and what changes to make.

Map it out and plan your pairings. Create a sketch of your growing space and don’t forget to assess what kind of sun each area gets. Then decide what will go where. Keep in mind compatible pairing. For ornamental plants and flowers, think about what colors will complement each other. And pair tall sun-loving plants with shorter shade craving plants to maximize your ground space. But compatible pairing can alsobe key to a sustainable garden and help your garden grow without pesticides. Plating marigolds throughout your garden helps confuse and repel pests. Onions will disguise the smell of carrots from the white fly which is a natural predator for them. Tomato leaves contain a substance called solanine, which repels the pests of certain other vegetables like carrots and asparagus. And if you plant daikon radishes next to broccoli, black flea beetles will munch on the leaves of the radish instead of your broccoli. Both the broccoli and the radish itself will survive to harvest. Figure out which plants are beneficial for your favorite plants and plot your garden plots accordingly.

Order your seeds. It may seem weird, but this is the proper time to be ordering your seeds. Go through seed catalogs with your list and order your seeds and plants to be delivered in spring.

Now sit back and enjoy the rest of winter, while dreaming of the summer’s bounty.

 

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Wine Wednesdays — Natural Wines

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about natural wines, but what does that really mean? There are many aspects and definitions to what makes a wine “natural” but what they all have in common is that they strive to be as close to nature and chemical-free as possible, both in agricultural and wine making practices. That means no pesticides or fungicides used in the vineyard. And usually it means that the land is tilled by hand, not with machinery. The resulting grapes are not necessarily certified organic, but they are farmed in using organic and sustainable methods.

Natural winemakers also use different methods than traditional winemakers when making the actual wines — they use natural yeasts for fermentation, rather than yeasts that have been cultivated. They also don’t use any technology to shape the wine into any predetermined taste, preferring to let the wine evolve into what nature intended each vintage. And some winemakers don’t filter the wine either, so the cloudiness can take some getting used to. Being natural doesn’t necessarily make a wine better — but it certainly makes them interesting.  — but there are some beautiful ones out there —Have you tried any natural wines?

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