Monday, December 29, 2008

check out the beginnings of my chicken coop

I was going to wait to upload a picture but I couldnt stand it anymore. Yesterday Rob and I finally found some time to start on my chicken coop. I hope to have chickens by the end of January. I am so proud to say that everything so far has been re-used. We have not spent a dime. The fence posts were left over from 5 years ago when we moved here and fenced in our backyard. I was using them as landscape timbers in the meantime. Suprisingly they were still in perfect condition. The wood for the supports was left overs from a job sight that Rob's brother gave us. The fence (it is not on yet) that we are going to us is also left over from 5 years ago. We are going to have to buy 1 sheet of plywood for the roof but it doesnt look like we will have to buy anything else. All in all it looks like it will only cost us about $10.00. I am going to build the gate myself with 2x4 and fencing. We already have hinges from a couple of rotten gates my grandfather gave me years ago and for the back hatch of the coop (So I can collect eggs without going inside) we are going to make using left over board on board fence panels my grandfather gave us years ago. An old neighbor was getting rid of them and he paid $20.00 for 8 panels. We used 3 of them already when we built our dog house. I am so excited. We hope to work on it some more this weekend. It will be a few months before we have eggs but it will be nice to have our own supply. I will post more pictures soon once we do more work.

find a new use for that shredded paper

If your like me you shred every bill or piece of mail that comes in with your personal info on it. Be sure and separate anything that does not have your info on it (insert, envelope etc...) and put that stuff in your recycle bin. Once your shredder fills up the shredded paper is a great alternative for bedding for rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils & mice. I had a guinea pig and a rabbit and did this all the time. You'll want to make sure you avoid shredding credit cards or CD's or at least pull them out. If you dont have a small pet ask around your neighborhood or childs classroom. You'd be surprised at how thankful the parent will be to be able to save money on the bedding. The paper, once wet, tends to clump together which actually makes it easier to clean the tray out. Also those toilet paper tubes are great for gerbils and other small rodents. They love to chew on them.

avoid wasting paper... use E-vites instead

This is something I have done for years. Go to for electronic invitations. It works great. Guests can rsvp online and it even sends a reminder out 2 days before your party. You can include directions and even a food list if you are asking your guests to bring a dish. Best of all it is free. I love doing this. Of course if you have a few people who do not use e-mail you will need to send paper invitations but still think of all the paper you have saved!

Friday, December 19, 2008

be creative with your Christmas gifts...

I have to share this. My wonderful secret santa (thanks Michelle) at work, wrapped my Christmas gifts to cleverly for me. First off my bag was a reusable grocery bag. Then inside each of my gifts, instead of tissue paper, were wrapped with beautiful Rooster kitchen hand towels. I loved it. She also shared with me that most of the little gifts she left on my desk these past weeks leading up to the big exchange today, were purchased at area thrift stores. Now if you know me, you know how much I love buying used versus new. I have to say Michelle knows me pretty well. Just thought I would share this unique idea with you all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Try a natural alternative for a cold

Many people know about echinicea but did you know that ginger is also great for reducing cold symptoms? Boil some freshly grated ginger in water and drink 3-4 times a day. This will help with cough and headache and I have even been told it even increases libido.

Vitamin C is also a great alternative to allergy medicine. Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine. If you suffer from seasonal allergies try drinking a glass of OJ a day. See what it does for you. Another good addition is a spoon full of honey. This helps with coughs especially those caused by post nasal drip. Be sure and buy local honey though made from honey bees in your area.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sending your holiday greetings electronically this year

A few years ago I started an annual holiday newsletter. What started out as an attempt to give friends and family an update on what my then newly-wed husband and I were up to has now turned into something I love to do every year. 3 years later I not only realize how much I enjoy writing (and think that our friends and family enjoy reading) the newsletter but I also realize what an environmentally conscience choice I made. I try to make it very personal and include pictures from trips and events through out the year. I do print a few copies for close family (like grandparents and parents) and a few copies for the few non computer savy people in my life, bust mostly our holiday greetings are now sent electronically. Newsletters are easy to do. Go online and search for Microsoft word newsletter templates. You can make all kinds of changes but at least it gives you a starting point.

Think about how many Christmas cards you have accumulated (or thrown away) over the years. I for one love receiving the cards with pictures and notes inside. But many cards just have a name signed to them. An alternative to just tossing these away each year is to keep them and cut out cute pictures on the fronts. These pictures can be used next year to make handmade cards or gift tags. You can do this with birthday cards too. Its a lot of fun and of course it keeps them out of the trash.

I'd love to hear any other ideas anyone has.


Why not use the Sunday Comics to wrap your Christmas gifts this year? I put an employee classified on our city employee website and asked that people send me their comics from the Sunday paper. They have started rolling in and I have started wrapping my gifts with them. It feels so nostalgic. I love it. Best of all it is saving me money. I am going to attempt to post a picture with this post. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

dont forget the forgettables....

I have to say that when I first started becoming more environmentally conscious I had no idea what road it would lead me down. I realize now that my biggest concerns are with waste. I hate seeing things go to a landfill when they can be reused or recycled. When it comes to recycling there are a lot of things that people forget can be recycled. Cereal boxes are a great example. They are cardboard. Remember to remove the plastic bag from inside first, then break the box down and put it in your recycle bin. Oh yah and dont forget to look for those Box Tops points too. Cut them out and give them to someone for their school. Each one is worth .10. The plastic bags that bread comes in is another example of a forgettable. Look at the bag and you should see the infamous triangle. There will be a number inside the triangle and as long as your recycling company accepts that # the bag can be recycled. If your not sure what your company accepts give them a call and they should be able to give you a list. If your company can recycle styrofoam (ours does) a lot of the containers that meat comes in are recyclable too. Another example is your mail. If you pay online and dont use the envelopes that come with your bill, those as well as the inserts can be recycled. This goes for the magazines, catalogs and various other junk mail you get. Dont forget to shred anything with personal information on it. I keep a bin under my desk and when it fills up I pull out the paper and put it in my recycle bin. Be sure and wedge it between something so that if it is a windy day you are not picking it up later from the neighbors yard. The cardboard rolls from toilet paper are recyclable too. Keep a bag in the bathroom for them to make it easier to separate from the rest of your trash. Also check with your local schools to see if they would be interested in them for various projects with the kids. Especially around Christmas time. They work great for reindeer ornaments. I have a few courtesy of my nephews.

As I mentioned earlier, I realize now how passionate I am about reducing waste. Seriously think about what you are putting in your trash and alternative solutions for disposing of them that way. I continue to reduce my waste. I put out 2-3 recycle bins a week while only having 1 bag of trash every 1-2 weeks. It makes me feeling pretty good to know that there is something I can do to help ensure a "trash-free" future my daughter and her cousins. Not to mention that when things are recycled it reduces the need for non-renewable resources to be used to make more of those items.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

what to buy organic when you cant afford to buy it all

One of my biggest hurdles is that I cant always afford to buy organic. I dont buy organic just to protect the earth I do it mostly because I do not want to subject my family to pesticides and preservatives. Here is some information about the dirty dozen from Sara Snow. If you cant afford to buy all your produce organic at least try to buy these:

There have been a couple of studies done on fruits and vegetables to determine which are the cleanest (without pesticide and chemical residues) and which fall the other way. The Environmental Working Group did one such study and it resulted in a list they call the Dirty Dozen. It makes sense to buy organic for the items that fall into their dirty category; and that you might be able to save some money by sticking with conventional varieties of their cleanest twelve. According to the EWG list the following fruits and vegetables are the dirtiest twelve: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. On the other hand, onions, avocado, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mango, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya are the cleanest.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

green update

Well besides my efforts with the pig sanctuary I have been busy around the yard. I have peppers and cherry tomatoes growing wonderfully and organically. I continue to reduce my waste and am proud to say that I fill up about 3 recycle bins a week.

My most exciting news to share is that we are getting chickens. Rob grew up with them and its something I have wanted to do for a long time. With all of the scary stuff going on in this world I want more and more to be able to have more control over the food I eat. We plan to keep them for eggs but eventually for meat as well. I plan to feed them organically and give them my food scraps too. Eventually I plan to sell their eggs too and already have a few interested buyers! Right now we are working on the coop and once it is complete then we will get our chickens. Rob's mom and dad have a few so we may get some babies from them and raise them from chicks or we may rescue some full growns from the sanctuary. We'll see what happens.

I have set my rain barrell up and I tell you it quit raining as soon as I did. I have not officially gotten to use it yet but either way I am still excited about it.

I have also been working with our P.R. person at work and we are now including a green tip in our utility bill newsletter.

Hope all is well!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Ok, so everyone knows that I am an animal lover. That is no secret. I have often been asked if I am such an animal lover why arent I a vegetarian. Well the answer is that I believe in the circle of life. I am against abuse and any form of cruelty to animals. I dont have a problem with eating meat or animals being hunted for food. Yesterday I had the most amazing day. I volunteered for Make a Difference Day at Pig Tales pig sanctuary not far from my house.

This is a sanctuary that started years ago by a paralyzed woman with a heart of gold. She IS a vegetarian and had gotten a couple of pigs as pets many years ago. Before you knew it people were asking her to take their pet pigs that they could no longer care for, for one reason or another. She vowed to protect these animals from the slaughterhouse and many years later, from her wheel chair, she runs Pig Tales. She has pot bellied pigs among many others including offspring of wild pigs that ventured over to her sanctuary. Because the first pigs were brought to her as pets she will not slaughter or give these pigs away to be slaughtered. She is a vegetarian and does not believe in killing animals even for food. She will however give them to you as pets.

I was told that she was going through some financial hardship since she spends her whole disability check on these pigs and the 20 acre sanctuary. There are hundreds of pigs there from 3 weeks old and up. I have to admit when I got there yesterday, me as well as the others who were there with me, were very overwhelmed by what we saw. By the end of the day I could not wait to go back. We walked through the sanctuary with what seemed like over 400 pigs. They were all friendly and some, like WILD HOG who was dropped off by a man who had found him as a baby on a job site, raised him but could no longer care for him, were just absolute sweeties.

I have actually been thinking about getting a pig myself to feed my scraps to. I hate waste and have been researching caring for a pig and the amount of food that they would eat. Rob seems ok with it but I promised not to make any rash decisions.

Since visiting on Saturday I have so many ideas running through my head. Lory's goal is to clean up the sanctuary entrance so that she can eventually reach out to the public and allow schools and other groups to visit. Me and some people from work are planning to go back out in a couple of weeks and do a cleanup for them. We are going to be discarding misc trash that they have accumulated from people thinking they could sell things for cash. I have also been in touch with a friend who scraps. I am hoping he will come out and pick up some of the larger items. I am also working on getting a deal on a dumpster and possibly some concrete wash for their drive way.

My next thought is to try to start up a "SCRAP DAY" where once a week (Sat. mornings maybe) the public is invited to come by with their collected scraps for the week and feed the pigs. This would be a huge help to Lory to off set the cost of some of the feed she is buying but would also encourage people to look for other options rather than discarding their food scraps. I have also thought about helping them build some type of collection containers where donations could be dropped off at their front gate. Maybe one for dry items like bags of feed, wood etc.. and another like a 55 gallon drum where people could deposit their scraps and it could be emptied daily and fed to the pigs.

It is easy to walk in to the sanctuary and think... I have to do something... I have to save these pigs. But unfortunatly in life we cant save every one or every thing. Because of this I know when I look at these animals and at Lory, I have think reasonably and decide what I can truly do to help her. The truth is we cant save all those pigs. Some will die from old age, sickness or survival of the fittest. This is the cycle of life. But the problem is as long as they continue to reproduce she will never be able to care for those pigs properly. With that being said my last idea (so far) is to sponsor some type of fundraiser to go towards the cost of spaying the females. I am sure a reduced price could be arranged with a vet and we could continue to work towards spaying more and more to eventually reduce the number of new additions to her herd. I say spay the females only because it makes the most sense financially to fix one sex or the other only. My suggestion is the females because the wild pigs have been known to join the herds on their own by breaking into the fence so spaying the females would prevent them from reproducing regardless.

I plan to continue volunteering my time to Lory and her amazing Pig Sanctuary. I met her mom and sister and some of her friends this weekend and they are amazing people too. They care for Lory and it shows. I hope eventually we can help Lory fix up her house too. Because she spends her disability check on the pigs and the sanctuary there is not much left for her.

I am also looking into composting pig manure. I have read that it is great for potato crops and lord knows we have a lot of those out here. Many of the area farms bring her their left overs to feed to the pigs. She may be able to give back to them and test out her knew pig manure compost to see if it will be beneficial to other farmers as well.

If you are interested in donating items for the sanctuary please let me know. They are in need of items to build shelters mostly. Wood, fence panels or wire fencing, nails, blankets, car toppers, kennels, and things of that sort. They are also greatly in need of feed. A large bag of feed can be purchased around $8-10. She uses 24 bags of feed per day. That is why my main focus is on reducing the # of pigs and helping her find other means of food for the pigs. She also needs hay. Lastly, but not least, she needs help. If you are ever interested in volunteering your time please let me know. She needs help building shelters and right now for trash clean up. Eventually we would like to put up a sign for her so if you have any artistic talents please let me know. Also if you have ideas... I am all ears.

Hope all is well! Thanks for reading.

rain barrell

I am so excited that I finally got my rain barrell. It is a 55 gallon drum but has a rain basket up top that will keep debris from getting inside and has an overflow as well as a spicket. I cant wait to start using it! I have directions on how to build one if anyone is interested. As soon as I figure out how... I will put some pics up of it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

join a food co-op

If your like me you like to buy organic but find it gets expensive. I buy organic not only for the way it benefits the environment but mostly for the benefit to my body. I dont want to expose myself to preservatives and chemicals if I can help it. By joining a food co-op you can buy organic produce at much more affordable prices. I joined one. If you live in Flagler county check out If you need help or more info let me know. Every other week you have the oppurtunity to place your "partial orders" for produce that you would be willing to purchase. If there is enough interest in the particaular item(s) then the case is ordered and you are able to purchase it at the reduced rate. The downfall is you dont always receive everything you'd like if there is not enough people willing to purchase some as well. I picked up my first order today and bought the freshest strawberries I have ever gotten. The woman, Natalia who runs the co-op inspects the food and also will reject it if it is not a good quality so you dont have to worry about getting stuck with bad produce. Everything I got looked great and I am very pleased. The prices who just pennies over the store cost for non-organic produce. You definitely need to know your prices before ordering to prevent yourself from buying something you could get cheaper at the store. If you have any questions let me know. She also sells (and stocks some) teas, juices and other products. Check out the website when you get a chance.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

my green update

Since starting this blog I am happy to report that I have reduced my household trash to less than 1 - 13 gallon trash bag per week. This does not include diapers which we have about 1 small bag every couple of weeks (remember that my parents watch her during the day). I really have to thank my husband for all his help and taking my desires to live "greener" so serious. With his help we have managed to really step up our recycling efforts but most of all we have decreased our waste. We were big time food wasters. I dont even know why. Left overs would sit in the fridge and I would buy things and never end up cooking or eating them. I have actually cut back the amount I am spending on groceries big time. I buy about 90% fresh food too so I am pretty proud of us for cutting back our waste. I hope to lower the amount of trash even more once I get my worm composter up and going. Its amazing when you stop and think about what your putting in your trash. The kitchen trash maybe not so much but think about your bathroom and office. Think about the cardboard toilet paper rolls, the junk mail and magazines you receive. Once you are more aware its amazing how you find yourself looking at the bottom of every package for that universal recycling symbol.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A few years ago I found this company called terracycle that reused soda bottles (both large and small) to package their fertilizers (worm poop). Now you all know how excited I get about worm poop so imagine how excited I was to find this company. Well I have bought their products (since I have not yet built my worm composter) and it worked great and of course is all natural. So yesterday I was at Home Depot and guess what? They sell their product! In recycled bottles and all!!!! They were on a shelf right at the checkout counter. I was so excited I decided to check out their website and I was shocked to see how many more things they are collecting and recycling now from juice pouches to yogurt containers. Please check out their website!

Biodegradable Peatpots

So I was shopping at Home Depot for some vegetable plants and saw that they are now using Bonnie Biodegradable Peatpots. I have read about these before but was not sure how readily available they were going to be and I am thrilled to see that Home Depot is selling their products with them. These pots are biodegradable and can be put right into the ground when you are planting your plant (sounds funny). No more unnecessary garbage and most importantly no more unnecessary resources being wasted to make that plastic pot. Be sure and look for them the next time you are shopping for something for your garden. You can also visit www.bonnieplants. com to learn more about them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

recycling electronics

In 2005, used or unwanted electronics amounted to approximately 1.9 to 2.2 million tons. Of that, a whopping 1.5 to 1.9 million tons were chucked into landfills, meaning that only 345,000 to 379,000 tons were recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But it doesn't have to be that way.

Opportunities and resources for electronics recycling are often closer than you think. Most big box stores, for example, where many of us get our electronics in the first place, have some recycling initiatives, and several are even quite extensive. Here's the scoop on five of the biggest.

Your cellphones can be donated at most City facilities including City Hall, Utility and the Community Center.


Apple's iPod recycling program offers free recycling of any iPod or cell phone. After filling out an online form, you'll get a prepaid mailing label to attach to your package, or you can request a free mailer. For U.S. customers, Apple also offers free recycling of old computers, displays, and peripheralscables, mice, keyboards, speakers, printers, scanners, hard drives, etc.when you purchase a new Mac or monitor. Whether you buy a computer or monitor online or at an Apple store, the company will send you an e-mail with a shipping code. Pack up your old gear and drop it off at any FedEx location and a-recycling it goes.

Best Buy

Best Buy has a pretty comprehensive recycling program that covers everything from TVs to refrigerators. You can drop off old cellphones, rechargeable batteries, and printer cartridges at no cost at the handy kiosks inside all of its U.S. stores. When you buy a cellphone at Best Buy, the company gives you a free, postage-paid envelope to mail old phones to ReCellular, their partner for reuse and/or recycling. If your electronics still have some good use left in them, you can trade 'em in and get some money back; just go to the online trade-in estimator, fill out the details and condition of your device, and it'll give you an instant quote; about a week after your gadget arrives at the trade-in center, you'll get a Best Buy gift card for your trade. And, if you buy a large appliance or TV, Best Buy will deliver it and haul away your existing unit, then evaluate it (and its parts) for recycling or reuse. The company also offers grants to help increase the recycling opportunities available in communities across the country. Ranging from $500 to $1,500 per event, the grants depend on the size of and scope of the program, which can be hosted by nonprofit organizations, cities, counties, or public-private partnerships.

Circuit City

Circuit City also uses a trade-in program as an incentive to recycle your aging (but still functioning) tech devices. The company uses as a hub for this service, taking all kinds of home and portable electronics in exchange for a Circuit City gift card (when your electronics are still worth something); it's similar to the process at Best Buy, where you give the details to their trade-in calculator, it gives you a quote and then a gift card when your gadget arrives at their trade-in facility. Circuit City is also a partner in the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation's (RBRC's) Call2Recycle program, which recycles rechargeable batteries and old cell phones; Circuit City also offer collection bags for their online customers to make it easier to recycle the phone when you're done with it. One caveat: if you still have a boxy CRT computer monitor, Circuit City won't take them because of their weight.

Office Depot

Office Depot's recycling program is perhaps the simplest and easiest of all the big boxes. The company offers boxes of three different sizes that you can load up with a variety of tech gadgets and drop off at any Office Depot store; the small, medium and large boxes go for $5, $10 and $15, respectively. The devices are then sent off to a recycling plant, where they are separated, sorted and recycled. Office Depot also provides free in-store recycling for cell phones, rechargeable batteries and ink & toner cartridges. And, as a nice bonus, Office Depot will open its first green store in Austin, Texas this summer, featuring energy-efficient lighting and water fixtures, and recycled and other green building materials.


No matter the brand or where the equipment was purchased, Staples' recycling program covers everything from desktops, laptops and printers to peripherals like keyboards, mice and speakers; each piece of large equipment (e.g. computer, monitor, printer) will cost you $10. You can take equipment to a Staples customer-service desk, and the company sends it to a recycler that disassembles the equipment into its component parts. For personal electronics such as cellphones, PDAs, pagers, digital cameras, chargers, and batteries, Staples has recycling partners, including RBRC's Call2Recycle. The company will also give you prepaid shipping materials to send in old printer cartridges. And, in the do-gooding category, Staples is also a member of the EPA's WasteWise program, which helps companies implement solid and industrial waste reduction measures.

None of these are perfect solutions, of course, and e-waste and electronics recycling itself is often dangerous for those who physically take the electronics apart, and potentially very dangerous to the planet. Still, between them, these programs offer the opportunity to insure that just about all of your old electronics don't end up in the landfill where they don't belong.

forgot to mention...

I always talk about buying used clothing and things like that so I thought I would share this with you... did you know it takes 1/3 lb of chemicals including pesticides and fertilizers to grow enough cotton for 1 t-shirt? Think about that... kind of scary isnt it?

host a swap party!

Ever heard of a swap party? I heard about it today on Get Fresh with Sara Snow and think it is such a great idea. You invite a group of friends over and ask them to bring some old things they want to get rid of. Every one rummages through everything and takes home things brought by others. You feel like you just went shopping only you dont spend a thing. If you and your friends are similar sizes you can just have a clothes swap otherwise leave it open and recommend your friends bring any items they'd like. For example, books, cd's, movies, clothes, kitchen gadgets or even holiday decorations. Remind your friends to bring a couple of bags to take home their items and if you'd like, donate anything left over to a charity or your guests can take their own things back home if they'd like. Think of how much fun it would be do this. I am seriously thinking about trying it out. If you have friends with kids close in age to your own you could even swap "kid things" like clothes and toys. Be sure and share your guest list with everyone so that they'll have a better idea what to bring based on the like and dislikes of the others who will be attending. If anyone has tried this let me know. I'd love to hear details about how it went. There are other kinds of swap parties too that involve food, especially cookies, around the holidays. Each person makes a specific amount of 1 type of cookie but divides it and packages it by the # of guests. Each guests leaves the party with all different types of cookies from each other guest attending. I have thought about doing this too but am not really a baking guru. I guess we'll see what happens!

Monday, June 30, 2008

reuse - dont throw away that old stuff

Ever wonder what to with that all that old stuff? Find a new use or a new home for it. Whatever you do dont throw it away. Donate it to charity or bring it to a consignment shop. I buy tons of stuff from consignment shops for the baby. It is so much cheaper but most importanly I know that I am putting something (clothes, books, toys etc...) to good "re-use." When I am done it goes right back to the consignment shop and even better it gives me credit towards more stuff for her. I love Classy Kids Consignment on SR 100 in Bunnell. The store is huge, the owner is wonderful (Rochelle) and the prices are great. Whatever doesnt sell they donate to a charity in St. Augustine that helps pregnant teens. If your not interested in store credit you can still donate your items.

Another great thrift store is the Habitat for Humanity store in Bunnell. They have all kinds of great stuff (no clothes) from furniture, appliances, sinks, toilets, beds to kitchen gadgets and holiday stuff. You are not only saving money when you buy from a thrift store but you are also helping a great cause and keeping things from going to the landfill.

I hope you'll check one out.

recycling - what do those number mean?

What Do Those Numbers Mean?

Do you know what the numbers on the bottom of the plastic containers mean? They identify the type of plastic the container is made of. There are seven types of consumer plastics, but only certain types of plastics are currently recyclable. It is important for us to know what each container is made of.

Below describes what the number stands for and some common uses of the container.
#1 PETE: Polythylene Terephthalate Commonly used in soft drink, juice and cough syrup containers and microwave trays.
#2 HDPE: High Density PolythyleneCommonly used in milk jugs and detergent and shampoo bottles.
#3 V: Polyvinyl ChlorideCommonly used in film for meat packaging and some rigid plastic containers.
#4 LDPE: Low Density PolythyleneCommonly used in newspaper and grocery bags and butter cup lids.
#5 PP: PolypropyleneCommonly used in yogurt and pancake syrup containers and deli trays.
#6 PS: PolystyreneCommonly used in plastic.
#7: Everything that does not fall into the above categories.

Waste Pro currently accepts recyclables with the numbers 1-7 stamped on the item, as well as plastic shopping bags. In this decade, it is projected that Americans will throw away over 1 million tons of aluminum cans and foil, more than 11 million tons of glass bottles and jars, over 4 and a half million tons of office paper and nearly 10 million tons of newspaper. Almost all of this material could be recycled.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

make your own rain barrel

One of the things I am excited to do is build my own rain barrel. Rain water is much softer than water from your tap and it is great for washing your car, your dogs or even just watering your plants. If you live in Palm Coast be careful not to get yourself in trouble with code enforcement. Put the barrel in your backyard or paint it to match your house.

organic, homemade weed killer

For those of us who do not want our kids exposed to harmful chemicals this homemade weed killer works out great. I have tried it out and it really does work. Be careful to avoid spraying it too close to anything you dont want to kill. Here is the recipe.

1 gallon of white vinegar
1 cup of table salt
1 tablespoon of dish soap (like dawn)

Mix everything together making sure that the salt is completely disolved. You can pour this into a spray bottle or one of those larger sprayers like you'd use for fertilizer. Spray the solution directly onto the weeds and they will wilt quickly.

stop junk mail!

visit to stop your junk mail. On this website you will be able to choose what types of junk mail you want to continue receiving (coupons etc...) and what you want to stop. You can add multiple people from your household to the list and manage it on a regular basis. Youc an also choose to be notified every time your name is added to a mailing list. Check it out.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

checkout for a farmers market near you. going to farmers markets is great because you are not only supporting a local farmer but you are preventing those fruits and veggies from having to be transported. Not to mention how fresht he fruit and veggies are when you are not buying them off a store shelf.

worm composting

Why Compost?Recycling the organic waste of a household into compost allows us to return badly needed organic matter to the soil. In this way, we participate in nature's cycle, and cut down on garbage going into burgeoning landfills.

Why Compost With Worms? Worm composting is a method for recycling food waste into a rich, dark, earth-smelling soil conditioner. The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done indoors and outdoors, thus allowing year round composting. It also provides apartment dwellers with a means of composting. In a nutshell, worm compost is made in a container filled with moistened bedding and redworms. Add your food waste for a period of time, and the worms and micro-organisms will eventually convert the entire contents into rich compost.
The following information is based on the experiences of a network of worm composters linked to City Farmer, Vancouver, and the excellent and practical book: Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.
To buy directly on-line follow this link:Worms Eat My Garbage:How to Set up & Maintain a Worm Composting System This brief introduction to worm composting is only a basic guide, and while we have tried to include all the necessary information to get you and your worms started, we recommend that you also read the book - it is full of useful and fascinating details about this process. You can also make a visit to one of the Compost Demonstration Gardens in the Greater Vancouver to see worm compost bins actively working, and talk to experienced staff. Call the Compost Hotline, (604) 736-2250.

What Do I Need To Get Started?
A. CONTAINERWe use wood and plastic containers. Either build or buy, or use your imagination and recycle something like an old dresser drawer, trunk, or discarded barrel. We prefer wood because it is more absorbent and a better insulator for the worms. We use plastic containers but find that the compost tends to get quite wet. Experiment and find out what works for you and your worms.

Guide To Size Of ContainerIn Worms Eat My Garbage, Mary Appelhof suggests weighing your household food waste for one week (in pounds), and then provide one square foot of surface area per pound. The container depth should be between eight and twelve inches. Options to one large (and heavy) box are a number of smaller containers for easier lifting and moving and more choice of location. The book illustrates a variety of containers.
Depending on the size of the container, drill 8 to 12 holes (1/4 - l/2 inches) in the bottom for aeration and drainage. A plastic bin may need more drainage - if contents get too wet, drill more holes. Raise the bin on bricks or wooden blocks, and place a tray underneath to capture excess liquid which can be used as liquid plant fertilizer.
The bin needs a cover to conserve moisture and provide darkness for the worms. If the bin is indoors, a sheet of dark plastic or burlap sacking placed loosely on top of the bedding is sufficient as a cover. For outdoor bins, a solid lid is preferable, to keep out unwanted scavengers and rain. Like us, worms need air to live, so be sure to have your bin sufficiently ventilated.

B. BEDDINGIt is necessary to provide a damp bedding for the worms to live in, and to bury food waste in.
Suitable bedding materials are shredded newspaper and cardboard, shredded fall leaves, chopped up straw and other dead plants, seaweed, sawdust, compost and aged manure. Try to vary the bedding in the bin as much as possible, to provide more nutrients for the worms, and to create a richer compost. Add a couple of handfuls of sand or soil to provide necessary grit for the worm's digestion of food.
It is very important to moisten the dry bedding materials before putting them in the bin, so that the overall moisture level is like a wrung-out sponge. The bin should be about three-quarters full of moistened bedding. Lift the bedding gently to create air spaces which help to control odours, and give freer movement to the worms.

C. WORMSThe two types of earthworm best suited to worm composting are the redworms: Eisenia foetida (commonly known as red wiggler, brandling, or manure worm) and Lumbricus rubellus They are often found in aged manure and compost heaps. Please do not use dew-worms (large size worms found in soil and compost) as they are not likely to survive.

Where To Get Your Worms?If you feel adventurous, find a horse stable or farmer with a manure pile and collect a bagful of manure with worms. Check your own or a friend's compost bin for worms. You can also purchase worms. Call the Compost Hotline for more details on local (British Columbia) sources of redworms.

How Many Worms Do I Need?Mary Appelhof suggests that the correct ratio of worms to food waste should be: for one pound per day of food waste, use two pounds of worms (roughly 2000). If you are unable to get this many worms to start with, reduce the amount of food waste accordingly while the population steadily increases.

What Do I Feed My Worms?You can compost food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, pulverized egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds. It is advisable not to compost meats, dairy products, oily foods, and grains because of problems with smells, flies, and rodents. No glass. plastic or tin foil, please.
To avoid fly and smell problems, always bury the food waste by pulling aside some of the bedding, dumping the waste, and then cover it up with the bedding again. Bury successive loads in different locations in the bin.

Where Should I Locate My Worm Bin?Worm bins can be used indoors all year round, and outdoors during the milder months. The advantage of mobile bins is that they can be moved when weather conditions change. Indoors, basements are excellent locations (warm, dark and dry), but any spare space can be utilized, so long as temperatures are between 40-80 degrees F. We know dedicated worm composters who have convenient kitchen counter worm bins. Outdoors, bins can be kept in sheds and garages, on patios and balconies, or in the yard. They should be kept out of hot sun and heavy rain. If temperatures drop below 40 degrees F., bins should either be moved indoors, or well insulated outdoors.

How Do I Maintain My Bin?If you have the correct ratio of surface area to worms to food scraps, there is little to do, other than adding food, until about two and a half months have passed. By then, there should be little or no original bedding visible in the bin, and the contents will be brown and earthy looking worm castings. The contents will have substantially decreased in bulk too.
It is important to separate the worms from the finished compost, otherwise the worms will begin to die. There are several ways to do this. and you can discover which is best for you. The quickest is to simply move the finished compost over to one side of the bin, place new bedding in the space created, and put food waste in the new bedding. The worms will gradually move over and the finished compost can be skimmed off as needed.
If you have the time or want to use all the compost, you can dump the entire contents of the bin onto a large plastic sheet and separate the worms manually. Most children love to help with this process and you can turn it into a fun lesson about worms for them. Watch out for the tiny. lemon-shaped worm cocoons which contain between two and twenty baby worms! By separating the worms from the compost, you save more worms for your next bin. Mix a little of the finished compost in with the new bedding of the next bin, and store the rest in plastic bags for use as required.

Where Do I Use My Compost? The compost can be mixed with potting soil and used for houseplants and patio containers. It is an excellent mulch (spread in a layer on top of the soil) for potted plants. If it is screened, it can be added for potting mixes for seedlings, and finely sprinkled on a lawn as a conditioner. lt can be used directly in the garden, either dug into the soil or used as a mulch.

Common Problems And SolutionsThe most common problem is unpleasant, strong odours which are caused by lack of oxygen in the compost due to overloading with food waste so that the food sits around too long, and the bin contents become too wet. The solution is to stop adding food waste until the worms and micro-organisms have broken down what food is in there, and to gently stir up the entire contents to allow more air in. Check the drainage holes to make sure they are not blocked. Drill more holes if necessary. Worms will drown if their surroundings become too wet.
Worms have been known to crawl out of the bedding and onto the sides and lid if conditions are wrong for them. If the moisture level seems alright, the bedding may be too acidic. This can happen if you add a lot of citrus peels and other acidic foods. Adjust by adding a little garden lime and cutting down on acidic wastes.
Fruit flies can be an occasional nuisance. Discourage them by always burying the food waste and not overloading. Keep a plastic sheet or piece of old carpet or sacking on the surface of the compost in the bin. If flies are still persistent, move the bin to a location where flies will not be bothersome. A few friendly spiders nearby will help control fly problems!

The Final WordTaking worms out of their natural environment and placing them in containers creates a human responsibility. They are living creatures with their own unique needs, so it is important to create and maintain a healthy habitat for them to do their work. If you supply the right ingredients and care, your worms will thrive and make compost for you. Happy and successful composting!