It can sometimes be difficult to visualize the importance and direct effect that simple conservation efforts can have when we are bombarded with negative information regularly. Lets take a look at what a few changes in the activities around the kitchen sink can do.
Rather than running the tap when cleaning vegetables, use a bowl of water. Later, reuse it to water outdoor plants. Reusing water from rinsing out the coffeepot for outdoor plants, the compost or lawn is something we do all the time. Rich in nitrogen as well as some trace minerals, coffeepots should be diluted with water before using. Choose a different group of plants every day and you may find you no longer have to water or fertilize them very often at all. Cooking water (pasta, steamed vegetables, boiled potatoes etc.) can be used in the same way just let it cool first. All of these water sources contain extra nutrients that will aid your gardens immensely. Very hot cooking water can be used to kill weeds simply pour it directly on the weed and around its roots.
After meals, scrape your dishes into the compost bucket before rinsing. While rinsing, place other soiled dishes, jars and utensils underneath while you work; it will begin the presoaking process reducing labor and water use. Anything caught in the sink basket can be contributed to the compost, too.
Save about 5 gallons of water per washing by doing dishes in a few inches of hot soapy water. It may seem funny to do this – but by turning the hot water tap on to rinse the dishes into the sink the level will slowly increase and will maintain a hot temperature. This way, another sink full of water solely for rinsing is no longer necessary. We sometimes use rinse water to pre-soak stuck on dishes as well.
In the winter, the water from washing or soaking dishes should be left to cool. This way it releases its valuable heat into the home, rather than the sewer. Dishwashers, that are not built-in, allow reuse of the water for pre-rinsing heavily soiled dishes because they drain into the sink. The water can be trapped in the sink, or a soiled pot, where the heat is slowly released into the home, saving energy costs in the winter. Of course, the opposite applies in the summer, when extra heat is not desirable.
Very hot water is not always necessary for all washing and rinsing needs. Usually, by the time we are finished washing our hands, the water is just beginning to warm up so really, all we have done is heat up our pipes. We can conserve water easily by turning off the tap while lathering hands. The running water is really only necessary for initial wetting, then rinsing so running water in between is really a waste.
Now, if you measured the amount of water saved each day by those simple methods we just described – there would be dozens of gallons of pure, drinkable water left untouched in the reservoir. By reducing hot water consumption, our energy bills are a little bit smaller. All this, just from the kitchen sink!
Plastic lumber, poly-wood, permawood, envirowood, poly lumber and eco-lumber are all names for the same great product – no matter what you call it – it all still refers to the revolutionary material that is transforming the casual and patio furniture industry. Poly wood is both environmentally friendly and economically viable.
Constructed from recycled milk jugs and plastic containers, recycled plastic lumber is formed into many of the profiles you would expect from traditional lumber. This feature allows it to be sawed, cut and screwed much the same as wood lumber. It is now being used for decking, railings, picnic tables, benches, patio furniture and even childrens playground equipment. Consumers can rest assured that the use of recycled poly lumber helps to keep billions of pounds of recyclable plastics from entering our every growing landfills. Due to increased environmental awareness post consumer plastic bottle recycling has dramatically increased over the past ten years from 234 million pounds to over a staggering 1.5 billion pounds.
Traditional hardwood lumber is often treated with hazardous chemicals to ward off possible insect attacks. It also will over time need sanding and some type of refinishing and will also start to rot if left out in the elements for prolonged periods of time. On the contrary, plastic lumber contains no hazardous chemicals and can not leak or contaminate the soil nor does it require any maintenance beyond cleaning as needed which usually just requires hosing off.
Recycled plastic lumber is built to withstand all of the elements from frosty winters, to tropical sun and salty, windy coastal weather. This plastic lumber is weighty and not to be confused with a thin plastic product that his formed and molded into chairs that you find at many home supply stores. Poly lumber is actually formed into 2x4s, 2x6s and the like to then be cut, screwed and assembled into furniture that will adorn your patio, deck, poolside or garden. New applications for this product are being thought up every day. The most recent suggestion was for an artificial reef which would have a life span of 60 years submerged in the ocean.
Recycled plastic lumber is an economically viable alternative to traditional hardwood lumber. It is built to last a lifetime so there will be no replacing your splintering, bug infested or rotting patio furniture in a matter of years. Recycled plastic lumber is a friend to numerous environmental issues such as deforestation. By using recycled products for furniture you are helping to reduce the use of our forests and precious air filtering trees for our day to day needs! We all know that our forests and trees play a major role in helping prevent global warming.
Therefore, recycled plastic lumber is quickly becoming a resource that is sought out in all types of applications with both environmental advantages as well as economical advantages. Recycled plastic lumber is definitely a product worth looking into with virtually no maintenance the advantages of this environmentally friendly product is undeniable.
The word “organic” may appear on packages of meat, cartons of milk or eggs, cheese and other single-ingredient foods. Certified organic requires the rejection of synthetic agrochemicals, irradiation and genetically engineered foods or ingredients. Literally, of course, the term is a redundancy: all food is composed of organic chemicals (complex chemicals containing carbon). Any materials used in the production or processing of organic food must be proven safe. Awareness is growing about the value of organic foods. But, whether organic chicken or pesticide-free lettuce represents “healthier” alternatives has long been a subject for debate.
Organic farming is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. Gardening organically is much more than what you don’t do. In fact, sales of organics have surged more than 20 percent each year in the past decade. In terms of number of farms, acreage and value of production, the organic food industry is growing at a rate of 20-30% per year. As commodity programs are eliminated, more farmers have discovered that organic production is a legitimate and economically viable alternative enterprise. The growth in the number of organic farmers has increased steadily, similar to the growth of the U.S.
In current organic production systems, growers are not permitted to use conventional synthetic organic fungicides in their disease management program. Non-organic milk comes from farms that are allowed to use genetically modified cattle feed, along with routine antibiotic treatments and synthetic pesticides. Arguments have long raged as to the effects these hormones and chemicals have on the bioproducts. Growth hormones in cows, pesticides on produce and antibiotics in poultry are among the reasons many Americans are turning to organic foods.
Organically raised animals may not be given growth hormones to or antibiotics for any reason. Producers are required to feed livestock agricultural feed products that are 100 percent organic, but farmers may also provide allowed vitamin and mineral supplements.
The US Department of Agriculture finally put in place a national system for labeling organic food. The new federal rule guarantees you, the consumer, organic products that are grown without toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Pesticides derived from natural sources (such as biological pesticides) may be used in producing organically grown food. Limitations in relation to which pesticides may or may not be used, present the organic grower with some unique and very demanding challenges. Food that is at least 70 percent organic will list the organic ingredients on the front of the package. More than 40 private organizations and state agencies (certifiers) currently certify organic food, but their standards for growing and labeling organic food may differ. Even with these labeling rules in place, consumers should be prepared for some confusion when shopping for organic foods. For one thing, organic products are not uniformly labeled because many farmers using organic methods do not pursue certification at all. In addition, the language contained in seals, labels, and logos approved by organic certifiers may differ.
While consumers struggle with the fact that often, the availability of organic materials is limited when large quantities are needed. More and more people have come to appreciate the added dimensions of value and quality available in the organic marketplace.
Herbs are no doubt among the easiest plants to grow in your garden. Many of them are fairly drought tolerant and have a blooming period albeit short. In addition, herbs lend a delicious fragrance to the garden.
While most herbs are easily grown in containers which is a major plus, if you have space, consider planting an entire herb garden. It needn’t take that much space. A plot of land measuring approximate 200-400 square feet should do you quite nicely. Find out the diameter of a mature plant; obtain some graph paper and sketch out your garden before you dig a single hole. Remember to allow at least 1 foot of space between mature plants for ease of weeding and pruning.
One of the most fragrant herbs to add to your garden is lavender. The scent of lavender in bloom is heavenly and is wonderful for making scented sachets to hang in your closet or place in your dresser drawers. This is the only herb I would suggest you plant as many as you have space for as those sachets make wonderful gifts.
As the song goes, 4 great savory herbs to add to your garden are Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Fresh chopped parsley is a wonder addition to potato and pasta salads, not to mention a lovely garnish for many other dishes. Try drying sage leaves to add to many dishes including stuffing for turkey and chicken. And, both rosemary and thyme are excellent accents when roasting poultry and lamb among other savory dishes.
Tarragon is a wonderful addition to soups and vegetables. This herb is also good in tuna, egg, pasta and green salads. Add when making sauces for fish or chicken, it’s a must for barnaise sauce.
If you intend upon canning pickled vegetables from your garden or making pretty vinegars for gifts think about planting some dill. While its true you can purchase dried dill weed very cheaply, there is no way you can get a full stalk of dill unless you grow it or pay rather dearly for it when needed in quantity.
In my opinion, no herb garden is complete without chives. In fact, if I could plant only one herb, it would be chives because they are so very useful. While I love green onions, by the time I get around to using them, alas they all but lifeless. No problem with chives growing right outside my door. They not only add that touch of needed green, they also have that subtle onion flavor which is perfect for salads and potato toppings.
Unfortunately, another one of my favorite herbs is not worth planting. Cilantro tends to bolt so quickly you would be lucky to retrieve a leaf or two. Obviously those that grow cilantro commercially know something we don’t know and they arent telling. If you figure it out please let me in on the secret. I will let you in on my secret for preserving store bought cilantro, however. Place the bunch of cilantro in a glass of water and cover with the plastic bag it came in. This way, the cilantro will stay fresh and crisp for up to 2 weeks in your fridge.
On a final note, let’s talk about mint. A favorite of mine is pineapple mint. It has a wonderful fragrance and taste and makes a lovely tea and garnish. However, there is a real problem with mint. It’s tangled roots go deep and it tends to try to take over every other plant in the garden. Spray it with Round-up and it comes right back again. Once planted, you simply can’t get rid of it! So, if you want to add mint to your garden, plant it in a container and move the container often enough to insure it does not take root in the ground through the drainage hole in the container.
Dating back to 7000 B. C., zucchini (Cucurbitapepo) is native to Central and South America. Sometimes called by the nickname Italian Squash, zucchini was brought to North America by its southern neighbors. Early European explorers introduced zucchini to Italy and other countries in Europe. Italians initially grew zucchini for their sweet, edible blossoms, later the hearty fruits were experimented with producing the delectable dishes that resulted in zucchini being dubbed Italian squash. Up until the 20th Century, most Americans considered zucchini a treat reserved for eating on special occasions and were store-bought instead of grown in gardens.
Part of the summer squash family, zucchini is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, iron, folate, copper, riboflavin, niacin, and phosphorous. Many of the nutrients have been shown to be helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Summer squashes magnesium has been shown to be helpful for reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Together with the potassium in summer squash, magnesium is also helpful for reducing high blood pressure. All summer squash are perfect diet foods – low in calories, sodium, fat-free, and provide a source of fiber. All parts of the zucchini are edible.
How To Grow
Zucchini is probably the best known of the summer squashes. It is a type of narrow squash that resembles a cucumber in size and shape. It has smooth, thin skin that is either yellow or green in color and can be striped or speckled. Its tender flesh is creamy white in color and features numerous seeds. Its edible flowers are often used in French and Italian cooking.
Zucchini can be planted by direct seeding or by transplanting young plants that have been started indoors. Seed directly into the ground as soon as the soil reaches temperatures of 60F/16C. for vines. Fill the holes with compost and mound slightly. Plant seeds 1in/2.5cm deep.
Zucchini is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family that includes cucumbers, melons, gourds, and squash, all particularly sensitive to frost. Select a sheltered spot, and prepare holes about 12in/30cm in diameter and 12in/30cm deep. Measuring from the centre, space the holes 36in/90cm apart for bush types, 6ft/1.8m apart for vines. To conserve space, squash can be trained over a sturdy trellis, in which case 2ft/60cm between plants is enough.
Zucchini grows best when exposed to 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Regular watering is essential for summer squash. Feed the plants with a high-potassium organic liquid feed to produce a higher yield. Thick mulch added after planting will preserve moisture and keep the fruits from touching the ground where they will become soiled and be exposed to insects and diseases.
The flavor of zucchini is best when it is less than six inches long. They should be firm, but not hard. Zucchini are prolific producers and regular harvesting will promote continued yield throughout the growing season. Harvest by cutting the stems from the plants gently with a paring knife. As they are composed mainly of water, summer squashes dehydrate rapidly. Harvest just before cooking and keep in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag until cooking. Don't forget that squash blossoms are delicious to eat.
Small summer squashes are used skin and all. Larger squash need their skin and seeds removed: slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Wash summer squash under cool running water and then cut off both ends. You can then proceed to cut it into the desired size and shape for the particular recipe.
In the kitchen, zucchini can be steamed, sauteed, boiled, baked, fried, grilled, and stuffed. Some ideas include: serve raw as an appetiser with a vegetable dip or salad dressing, grate and saute with thinly sliced garlic, add to breads, muffins, cakes, stews, casseroles, soups, sprinkle grated zucchini or other summer squash on salads or sandwiches. It can be preserved by canning, freezing, and drying.
In the garden, some gardeners let the squashes ramble through the corn patch, where their sand papery leaves deter raccoons. Good companion plants for zucchini are: corn, marjoram, and nasturtium. Don't grow zucchini and Irish potatoes together as they are incompatible.