Garden Update 4/1/18 to 4/14/18

 

April 1

I raided the garage for suitable planters for our ever growing seedlings. I found two from some of our past nursery acquisitions.

I filled the large one with soil, and using a teaspoon, transplanted the lettuces, leeks, onions, and spinaches. I made sure to select only the healthiest seedlings for transplanting.

I watered the transplants. Then I cut the vegetable names off of the egg cartons to use as markers.

The leeks, and to a lesser degree the onions, had taken root in the cardboard of the egg cartons. I’m worried that I may have damaged them when I separated their roots from the cardboard.

If the seedling leeks die I will have to plant the seeds directly into the garden itself. Our luck with growing onions that way has been pretty hit or miss so I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.

As I mentioned in the last update I have an emotional investment in the leeks. I have to admit I’m a bit anxious. I have yet to cry over a vegetable, but I’d be seriously bummed if my leeks died.

 

April 2

I hadn’t filled the black container all the way with dirt. I noticed that some of the transplanted seedlings were starting to shrink in the shadows that the sides of the container created.

I roughly folded a used piece of foil that was mostly clean but had a little too many burnt bits to recycle. I propped it under the planter so that the seedlings get more even sunlight.

 

April 3

I adjusted the black planter to little under a 45 degree angle. I manually adjusted some of the weaker plants so that they were directly in the sun.

The soil is still moist after 2 and a half days.

 

April 4

I watered the big planter for the first time in a couple days.

The more sickly plants were looking a bit perkier even before I actually watered them.

 

April 9

I’ve had to water the big planter less often than the egg crates. This means it’s a lot easier to forget to water the tomatoes as they are the serious only crops left in the crates.

I’ve left some extra lettuces in an egg crate because I feel weird about throwing out perfectly healthy plants.

I might donate it to one of the many churches near where I live or give them to a friend. I’m going to have to transplant them soon though if I’m going to do that. They are very tiny and sickly compared to the ones in the black container.

The transplanted lettuces look like proper little lettuce plants. The onions and leeks have looked like miniature onions and leeks for some time. Even the spinaches, which I admit are the weakest of my transplants are starting to develop into mini spinach plants.

I’m kind of really geeking.

The tomatoes are still very small but sturdy looking. I think a little transplanting may do them some good. I will have to do that some at some point this week.

If I can find some pots I’ll transplant the extra lettuces too.

 

April 10

I found some small plastic pots to transplant the extra lettuces into. They are a bit crowded but nowhere near as crowded as they were in the egg crate.

 

April 12

The extra lettuces are looking better.

I just got around to transplanting the tomatoes. We had seven plants and six spots in the pink planter. One had to go.

RIP Curly. You will be missed.

I think I’m getting better at thinning the seedlings but just barely. We were only planning on growing one tomato plant from seed.

We are thinking about adding experimenting with canning this year but we don’t know what yet. Jam seems like an easier place to start.

We could just plant all the tomato plants and make sauce. They are cherry tomatoes so that seems unlikely.

The onions are out growing the leeks again. The leeks look all crooked and bent. If I haven’t killed them I at the very least damaged them.

On the bright side the few spinaches that have made it are really starting to look like viable plants.

 

April 14

 

The leeks are starting to straighten out! They are healthy enough to heal the damage I caused them. These leeks just might make it to the garden yet.

The onions are getting so tall that they have completely fallen. The roots are most definitely not deep enough. I will have to replant them this upcoming week.

5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Waste not, want not. Here are five foods you thought went bad that you can still use

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1. Soft wrinkly apples, pears, peaches, plums, and nectarines: You put them in the crisper drawer to keep them fresh only to forget them. Now they are anything but crisp.

Don’t worry. They’re just letting you know that want to be made into a cobbler.

Try this super simple Rachael Ray recipe or use your own.

Cobblers are ridiculously easy to make. Once you have one in your back pocket you will be able to mix and match wilting fruits to make a homemade dessert any night of the week.

Next time:

Try displaying them in a fruit bowl in your line of sight. Don’t limit yourself to just the kitchen. Try putting a small bowl of fruit where you work, study, or watch TV.

Also consider if you should buy fresh fruit more frequently, but in smaller amounts.

2. Spoiled wine: It was a really nice bottle of wine. You just never had an occasion to open it. Now you’re too scared to.

Don’t worry! Wine doesn’t spoil the same way meat does. It simply turns into flavorful cooking vinegar. It might not be drinkable, but add a splash to enhance sauces, main and side dishes.

Next time:

Don’t save fancy wines for “fancy” occasions. Instead, use it to make an average day a little more special.

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3. Moldy pitas: You bought a pack of fresh pitas from a little independent grocer. (Woo-hoo!) They even are preservative free. (Yay!) Two days later they’re sprouting blue fuzz. (Oops…)

The moldy parts do have to go, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Remove and toss the technicolor bits. Cut up the rest and toast in a dry pan on the stove. Now you have pita chips!

Next time:

Pitas, like many kinds of bread, freeze and thaw extremely well. Freeze unused pitas until you plan on using them.

To thaw, wrap pitas and leave them on the counter overnight.

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4. Stale baguettes (sourdough loaves, cinnamon bread, etc.): With a bakery in every megamart how could you not enjoy fresh baked bread? Unfortunately you forgot to store it properly and you now have fossilized bread that would make any archaeologist proud.

Congratulations! You have the making of french toast. Mix a little milk with a beaten egg. Dip the thick slices of bread into the batter and fry them in a pan. Add a little powdered sugar or jam. Boom! You’ve got an easy/fancy breakfast.

Next time:

    There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Reuse an old plastic bread bag, from mass produced sliced bread, to protect fresh bread overnight. Not only are you reducing food waste, you’re also keeping that bag out of landfills.

For long term storage many breads freeze well.


5. Wrinkled  grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes: You bought a pint as a healthy snack but you didn’t snack as healthy as you planned to.

They’re not bad, they just have a bit more life experience than smooth tomatoes.

Cut the them in half and add them to store bought spaghetti sauce. Heat them together until the tomatoes soften. Serve with pasta for a dinner that tastes farm fresh.

 

Or if you want to get pseudo fancy:

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Cut them in half.

Sauteed with olive oil, a diced small onion and some garlic.  (Fresh garlic, powdered garlic: it doesn’t matter.)

Add a splash of wine or a flavorful vinegar (like from that spoiled wine).

Cook until liquids thicken.

Season to taste

Put over pasta, poultry, meat, or whatever floats your boat.

(Looks purdy, don’t it?)

Next time:

Get that (massively relatable) trait of laziness to work for you instead of against you.

As soon as you get them home from the store, wash them and divide them into single serving sized bowls. Then put those servings in the places where you snack the most.

Instead of having to get up and going to the refrigerator or cupboard, where you’ll be more likely to grab an unhealthy snack, you can just sit in your comfy little chair and eat what many gardeners refer to as “nature’s candy.”

These tips will save you money and but food waste isn’t just a money issue. Expanding and creating new landfills uses up natural habitat. Their runoff pollutes both ground and ocean water. They also emit carbon dioxide, methane, and volatile organic compounds.

While some food waste is produced by modern farming and supermarkets, as you can see, you can still make an impact at home.

Can you think of another food that can be saved from being tossed? Tweet me or post your thoughts in the comments section.

And remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.

Biweekly Garden Update: 3/18/18 to 3/31/18

March 20

I couldn’t get to the lettuces in the clear clamshell that got bumped until today. Half of the seedlings in question were thriving; the other half was dead.

I’m just going to count my blessings that they aren’t all dead.

The lettuce seedlings growing outside of a clamshell are all pretty much doing fine. There are a couple empty spaces, but I’ll have the 6 plants that I planned on for planting.

The spinaches aren’t hardening as well as I was hoping. This is one of the many reasons why you’re supposed to plant more seedlings than you plan on planting.

I’m still not sure how many more that is supposed to be. I fear the 48 seeds I started isn’t enough to grow the 18 plants I planned on growing in our garden.

This is a proof of concept year for both growing our garden from seedlings and growing spinach in our garden. As you can imagine a lot can go wrong with this vegetable.

I really want them to work out but I have to be realistic about my abilities as a gardener. I’ve grown lettuce seedlings in a pot before and I’ve sewn some seeds outside, but that is the sum and total of my experience with growing from seed.

I seriously can’t wait until everything is in the ground and in my comfort zone!

In more positive news, the onions are doing awesome. So there is always that to cheer me up.

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What’s the lesson here? Don’t under estimate the power the Green House Effect.

March 23

The clamshells act like terrariums so I try not to disturb them and just let the condensation do its work. They tend to fog over like a car windshield so you can’t see inside them without letting out some of the water. I thought I’d just take a peak at our little tomato plants just to see how they are doing. All but one was dead!

I underestimated the greenhouse effect that the thin plastic would have. If I had waited until it was time to transplant them I would have none at all.

I opened up all the other clamshells. With the exception of the lettuces, they were all either as bad or worse than the tomatoes.

I can’t wait for the last frost. I know what to do with mature plants!

I started 24 additional tomato seeds in an egg carton just in case the last one dies.

 

March 25

The last of my terrarium tomatoes is all but dead.

One terrarium spinach looks like he may or not make it. He does have a little buddy sprout up next to him so I don’t feel like a total black thumb.

The lettuces, terrarium and otherwise, look sort of healthy.

The best news though is that the onions look like miniature versions of their adult selves. This is great for two reasons:

1. Something is actually thriving in my nursery and

2. The leeks just sprouted.

I feel more confident in my abilities to grow the leeks knowing that their closest relative in my care is thriving.

March 27

The onions were leaning toward the window. The spinach looked like it was overheating. I turned around the tray that they were both on so that the spinaches were farther from the window and the onions were leaning toward the center of the room.

March 28

The onions are already leaning back toward the window. The spinaches are looking a lot healthier.

The leeks are growing quickly! I’m super excited.

I’m not completely sure, but a couple of the clamshell victims look like they are sprouting new plants. It’s probably just hopeful thinking.

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See that tiny little speck in the closest pod on the right? It’s a tomato sprout!

March 30

One tiny plant has sprouted from one of the clamshell spinaches. I thought we might have a survivor from the clamshell tomatoes but it was not to be.

A couple of the tomatoes from the second round of seed starting have just started sprouting. I’m not sure if they will be ready in time to plant outside but we could always use more indoor plants for the front window.

According to my maticulus researched planting schedule, today is the day I’m supposed to plant the lettuces and spinaches outside. Given the sickly demeanor of the spinach plants and the size of the letucces I don’t think that is going to happen.

This is my first time growing them in egg cartons. I need to transplant the lettuces into something larger than egg crates so they can grow. I probably should have done this a couple weeks ago.

As I have said before this is a proof of concept for the spinaches. I think the concept of starting them indoors has been proven. I will need to do more research next year if they prove viable in the ground.

That said, they are going to have to wait a little bit until they are big enough for the great outdoors.

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When crisis hits your garden, just keep gardening.

March 31

The leeks are as big as the onions. I’m very excited by this.        

According to Jacques Pépin leeks are the poor man’s asparagus. Given our track record with trying to grow asparagus at home, being able to grow something, however tenuously related, feels like a victory in a way.

The lettuces are getting too big for the little egg cartons. I will have to transplant them tomorrow.

This will be the next to final elimination round for the plants. Some garden layout reworking may be required. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Biweekly Garden Update: 3/4/18 to 3/17/18

March 4th :

The Garden Map is all but finalized.

We will need at least two buckets for carrots, four buckets for beans, plus three pots for herbs.

I’m leaning toward planting the tomatoes in the ground, as opposed to pots. This will save money and it’s good practice if we want to expand the number of tomato plants in the future.

I did a crud ton of research on the best time to start seeds indoors and plant plant outdoors. I even made a table to help keep us on schedule. By march 3rd we were already over two weeks behind.

Life happens. It’s better to be reminded of that earlier than later. At least now it won’t be a shock when other things go wrong later in the season. C’est la vie.

We spent $12.83 on seeds for bush beans, sugar peas, container carrots, lettuce, spinach, green onions, and cherry tomatoes.

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We started the tomatoes, onions, spinach, leaf lettuce and head lettuce on the 3rd.

I marked which containers held which seeds before I started planting.

I planted them in some compost in the bottoms of some cardboard egg crates lined up on rimmed baking sheet.

I watered them, encased the entire thing with a thin white garbage bag and put it on a small table in front of a southern facing window.

Some of them sprouted on the 5th and green was seen on the 6th.

March 8th:

I unwrapped the seedlings because all the seeds had finally sprouted.

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All of the leaf lettuces had mold as well as two spinaches. I removed the offending sprouts and set the rest in front of the window where they sprouted.

On further investigation, I found what was either mold or tiny roots on some of the other seedlings.

Most of the spinaches look good, but about half the head lettuces have this white hairs on their roots. I’m torn between trashing them and doing nothing until tomorrow. Honestly, unless I can find the answer to the question of if this is mold or roots quickly, I’ll probably wait.

The leaf lettuce seeds were about two or three years old. All the other seeds were brand new.

The leaf lettuces were stored in the same jar as some bean seeds that had gotten moldy. This may or may not account for the mold issue we had in the garden last year.

All our seeds are currently stored in this jar, so we will have to get all new seeds next year.

I will either get new carrots, pea pods and bush beans or separate this year’s carrots, peas and beans into a second jar and hope for the best. I may do a test sprouting to decide.

Either way, we will have to get all new seeds next year.

Later that day:

I removed the seeds from the one large jar and will look in the basement for smaller jars to hold individual seed packets.

I found a video on youtube that answered my mold or root question. The white hairs on the roots are most like baby roots.

They definitely look different than the stuff that covered the leaf lettuces. Very helpful to know. I’m much more hopeful that the new seeds have not been affected by fungus.

I may not do a sprouting test now that I know that the seedlings are ok.

March 10th:

The sprouts are thirsty and the air in my home is dry. I had to water the seedling multiple times today.

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I placed the head lettuces in a clear clamshell that used to contain donuts to see if that keeps them moist.

I need to place some more dirt on the spinches to harden their stems.

The tomatoes don’t look too good. I will put them in another a clear clamshell to warm them and keep and hydrated.

    March 11:

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The tomatoes are looking much better. The onions are also looking perky. I still have to water the spinach and onions more than once a day, but other than that the seedlings are doing quite well.

March 12th:

The spray bottle I used last year to mist plants for fungus was stored incorrectly. As a result the spraying mechanism is broken. I will have to get a better quality one this season.

March 14th:

I was super tired last night and went to bed without watering the seedlings. I slept in this morning and I think I may have killed the spinaches.

I watered them once but a few minutes later they were dry again. (I guess that’s a good sign?)  I watered them again 2 more times making sure the soil is dry first.

We need a more permanent solution.

The lettuces and tomatoes are doing great so we just need more clamshells. The only issue is we need four of them stat. Eventually we’ll need six more when I thin the lettuces, spinaches and onions.

I have one clamshell that just needs to be washed, but there is no way we’re eating three containers of donut holes today. 

I think I’ll have to test out the freezer bag hack just as soon as I know if any of the spinaches survived.

Later that day:

With a little TLC many of the spinaches are looking better.

I cleaned the clamshell and a salad container my mother donated to the cause. I put the healthiest looking spinaches in them and added a little water.

Hopefully this won’t backfire. They are cold weather plants after all. The lettuces seem to love their clamshell, so hopefully this will work out.

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March 16th:

We finally found leek seeds. Because it was so late in the season, they were on sale for $1.69 making the grand total $14.52 in gardening costs.

I planted them in a cardboard egg crate and put them with the seedlings to sprout.

Today is the day we were supposed to plant the peas and beans outside but the ground is still frozen.

This is why having a gardening journal is so helpful. We will adjust next year’s schedule accordingly.

March 17th:

I thinned and replanted some of the spinaches and lettuces.

I think I may have done more harm than good with the lettuces. They are much more delicate than the spinach seedlings. We will have to wait and see.

The small table where we are growing the seedlings is getting really crowded really fast. The various clear plastic containers are working great as little terrariums, but they take up a lot of space.

We may need to bring up a larger table from the basement.

Later that day:

I bumped the clamshell with some of the lettuce seedlings.

It is too late in the evening for my brain to assess the damage and come up with a solution. I will check on them first thing in the morning.

Worst case scenario: we toss the seedlings and sow the rest of the lettuce seeds directly in the ground.

We’ve had great luck with this style of sowing lettuce. We were trying to start them earlier as seedlings to extend the season but, we will see.

   

Changes to Our Garden 2018

In February our family started planning this year’s vegetable garden. We’ve finally finalized what to grow and where to grow it. Every year we make a few major changes.

The first is the moving of the potatoes to a dedicated plot behind the garage. This may be a traditional plot or a box. We have a lot to consider: cost, curb appeal, our neighbor’s view on that side of the property, etc.

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The potatoes overgrow pretty much anything they share a box with but we love them.

They are crazy easy to grow. They practically plant themselves. Unlike store bought potatoes they have a lot of flavor. And you can pick them over the course of a few weeks to extend your harvest of fresh potatoes.

I’ve personally decided that growing potatoes in buckets just isn’t worth the effort. I actually find it easier to plop piles of dirt onto a large area with a garden spade than carefully scooping small amounts of dirt into several different containers with a small trowel. (Can anyone relate to this or is it just me?)

The second major change is we are going to put bush beans in raised beds to make them easier to pick.  Last year we let way too many beans go to seed.

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Kneeling on the wood chips hurts my knees even through denim and bending down makes me dizzy. These are small things but the cost of loss of crops from putting off picking beans “tomorrow” can really add up.

I can’t tell you what the raised beds will look like because we don’t know yet. We are still in the early design stage. For all I know we may just stick some buckets in the bed hidden from street view.

We might do a proper build but it would have to be portable. We try to rotate the plants every year.  That means the raised beds would have to move from spot to spot. So even if we build something it’s likely that it will only be a proof of concept.

We are combating the under-picked bush bean problem on two fronts. By happy happenstance the type of bean that we selected this year is an heirloom variety. Even if we miss some this year we can still harvest the seeds for next year.

This gives us a little flexibility because we’d have to let the beans go to seed at some point anyway. I say “a little” because obviously we only need so many seeds for next spring.

Bush beans, like pea pods, freeze well. This means we don’t have to eat them at the time we harvest them. They keep well for many, many months after the last harvest in the freezer, making them real money savers in the winter and early spring…assuming we can pick enough of them!

The third major change is that we’re going to try to grow a few seedlings indoors for transplanting.

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Growing two cherry tomato plants from starters (small young plants) can cost around $7 just for the plants. A packet of seeds, that will stay fertile for two years, costs around $2 to $4.

A $5 savings per year isn’t something to sneeze at. I know it looks like something to sneeze at but we’re planting a lot more than cherry tomatoes.

If we manage to successfully grow the seedlings, we will be looking at around $18 savings this year alone.

Again this doesn’t seem like much in the long run. I get it. What is $18 dollars out of a one year food budget?

Nothing really.

But this isn’t about the $18 that we might save this year (assuming that we’re even successful.) This isn’t even about the $42 per year that we will be saving once we nail down this skill.

This is about the potential to save hundreds per year on our grocery bill.

This is about being able to expand our garden while still making a profit from it.

This is about getting one step closer to harvesting the seeds in the fall so we can plant in the spring.

Mostly though, this is about being able to see green plants a month or two before we can actually put them in the ground and being able to casually work the fact that I grow vegetables from seed into random conversations. (Again, is that just me?)

Gardening is a skill. It takes time to develop. As you can see we are far from master gardeners. But we are much better gardeners than we started.

We started with just two tomato plants in pots. Now we’re going to have four plots with 15 different vegetables and 3 different herbs. I’ve barely begun working with this year’s plantings and I’m already thinking about starting a tea garden next year!

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If you had told me this when we started several years ago, I would have been overwhelmed by the idea. If you had told me that broccoli was one of the easiest vegetables that I’d be growing, I would have been positive that you were addressing the wrong person!

I grew more than 22 pounds of food last year. (Actually much more than that but google docs updated around mid season and I couldn’t keep track for a while so I stopped trying to keep track. I have a love hate relationship with google products.)

I’ve killed quite a few plants in my lifetime, too. If I, in any way, look like I’ve got my gardening stuff together please check out last year’s carrot “crop.”

Don’t worry where your gardening is going to take you. Don’t worry whether or not you’re even “good” at it. It’s a growing process, so to speak. 

And remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.

Eco Friendly Bridal Party Favors

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Eco friendly bridal party gifts can be sophisticated! No joke. The formula is actually quite simple:

First and foremost, instead of stamping your name and wedding date on some dust collector, give your wedding party something they will actually use day in and day out. (Remember that commemorative crystal thingy-ma-bob you got from the last three weddings you attended. Do you really think your friends and family will want another one?)

Next, buy vintage when ever possible. There is a fine line between vintage and secondhand. A vintage faux pearl necklace is beautifully knotted, with smooth lustrous beads. Second hand faux pearls are flaky plastic beads that look like they could come unstrung at any minute.

Vintage gifts are stylish and sophisticated.

Secondhand presents are just plain tacky.

Lastly, if a vintage version of an item is not appropriate, look for recycled and/or sustainably created option.

Just Remember it this way: Reduce the amount of waste giving your wedding party swag they’ll actually want. Reuse vintage items when you can. Recycle post consumer waste buying eco friendly versions of new items. In that order.

Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing!

Jewelry is the traditional option for bridesmaids gifts. You can green it up by picking timeless items tailored to each individual bridesmaid. Not only does this prevent wasting resources on the transport of these pieces to secondhand stores or landfills, it’ll better communicate your appreciation and love each of your friends.

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You might be a diamonds in platinum kind of person, but sometimes the classiest gift you can give are Batman studs or a Yankees keychain.

try to resist the urge to put you and your fiance’s names and wedding date on the gift bags. Giving them in a “Thank you from Bride(or Groom)zilla” embroidered reusable satin or velvet bag, in your color scheme, is a fun, regiftable way to help both you and your guests keep the festivities in prospective. A simple “Thank you so much!” pouch is even more likely to get regifted.

As tempting as robes with “Bridesmaid” and “Maid of Honor” embroidered on the back may be, unlabeled robes that coordinate with your bridesmaids’ dresses are a better choice. They will get worn again, and they’ll stand out more against all the noise on instagram.

Parents will appreciate cute reusable snack bags with fresh seasonal fruit, for the kids in the wedding party, much more than candies. Kids will appreciate kid powered toys like frisbees, jenga sets, crafts or science kits.

Vintage hankies for parents and grandparents of the happy couple are both cheeky and practical. Bonus points if you buy them locally.

If you’re looking for one-big-one-size-fits-all gift to replace all other bridal party gifts, try a small tablet. An Android operating system will be the most cost effective.

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Choose one that has both Nook and Kindle apps available. Ebooks and digital magazines don’t require nearly as many resources to produce, ship and store as traditional publishing.

Load some free literary classics to each tablet so that your friends and family don’t feel like they are obligated to buy something to enjoy their gift.

Again, try to tailor the books to the tastes of the person you’re giving it to. Give parents of young children a combination of grownup novels and children’s books.

A collection of highly rated free cookbooks will be appreciated by foodies and friends with special diets. Just be sure to add titles on other topics as well.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas for cool eco friendly wedding party swag? Comment below or tag me on twitter @ShiftsThinking.

As always have fun, and remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.

How To Save Grey Water In The Kitchen

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Saving “Grey Water” in the kitchen is an easy way to help maintain a garden during drought conditions or just save money on your water and sewer bills. Simply put grey water is dirty water that is still clean enough to be used for yet another task. Basically it is in the “grey” area between completely clean and completely dirty.

Completely dirty water is called “Black Water” and is the stuff you flush down the toilet, have used to dilute toxic chemicals, etc. Black water cannot be used again without being industrially sanitized.

As you can imagine most of the water that goes down the your kitchen sink can be reused.

There are a number of ways to use grey water but for the purpose of this article we are going to focus on using it to water house plants, gardens and small lawns.

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The water you use to wash produce is a perfect example of grey water. To utilize it fill a small bowl with fruits or vegetables and barely cover them with water. Use only this water to wash them.

The idea is not only to save the water for your gardening or house plants, but also to use as little water as possible in the first place. This can be very helpful if you live in an apartment and only have a few plants to water or if you have to use bottled water because your local water source isn’t safe for consumption.

Another alternative is to catch the rinse water in a bowl. You’ll end up using more fresh water this way but if you have a large garden or small lawn that might not matter as much.

Hot water isn’t necessary to clean produce. To save energy use cold tap water whenever possible. Dawn style dish soap is safe for both you and your garden if you feel you need more than just water to wash your veggies.

It’s important to note that any residual pesticides and synthetic fertilizers on vegetables and fruits you rinse will end up in the soil you use the water on.

On the bright side it will be much less concentrated than with regular produce. Commercial farms use these chemicals in such a high concentration that hazmat suits are often required for the workers applying them.

If the idea of adding any amount of synthetic pesticides to your garden bothers you, only use this type of grey water water on non edible potted plants.

Tubers (potatoes, yams, etc) have their own special chemical issues, namely sprout inhibitors. These types of agricultural products only affect tubers, so simply use their washing water to water your lawn, houseplants, other types vegetables, etc.

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The first step to save water while washing your hands or washing dishes in the sink is turning off the water while lathering and turning it back on only when you’re ready to rinse.

To step up the water savings place a bowl or tub underneath to catch the rinse water. Boom, you’ve got grey water for your lawn or garden. (Don’t worry, hand soaps are also safe for plants.)

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Raw meat residue and grease can cause rotting in plants and can encourage the growth of pathogens on herbs and produce so be selective when saving the water.

As long as it doesn’t have any fatty or meaty chunks, toxic substances, or a high concentrations of salt, water used to wash dishes that held cooked meat are fine for most watering needs.

Save water for your veggie garden from washing your hands after gardening or washing the cutting board after chopping onions. Save water from washing skillets and plates to use on your lawn.

Let the washing water from fiddling with engines or cutting up raw chicken go down the drain to be processed by the sewage plant. It’s not ideal, but few things are.

Unsalted cooking water like the kind used for steaming vegetables, dumplings, etc. is grey water as well. Just salt the veggies after they’ve been cooked.

Dump old pet water into your lawn water bowl when you freshen up Fido’s or Snowball’s water dish. Just be sure to fish out any floaters first.

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And don’t forget the unfinished human beverages. As long as they are calorie free, that is free of all macro nutrients not counting fiber, they are safe enough to water the garden without risk of causing rot. Juices and other sugary drinks can be used to water the grass. Just remember that broth is not a beverage.

Can you think of any other types of grey water hiding in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments section. As always have fun, and remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.

Weekly Gardening Notes: July 29, 2017

7/23/17

Carrots are nowhere near maturity. I must have miss recorded the planting date for the carrots. The planning website I used is tricky to use. I’ll just include planting dates in my daily notes from now on.

The trick to harvesting the bush beans is to lift leaves and stems up and pick the beans from the underside. Cucumbers benefit from this technique as well.

Having chicken piccata tonight. The parsley will be getting used in that.

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7/23/17

West side pea plants in box B are dying. I don’t know why.

Need to let the parsley rest from harvesting, we’re out of hummus. Plant more next year?

Need to make something with basil. Pasta? Basil/watermelon salad? Pesto? Not enough for basil/chicken stir fry. Will try half a recipe of cucumber/basil/red onion salad. Hummus with basil instead of parsley? Sliders with basil onions.

Lettuces are almost done resting.

Need to make something with jalapenos in a few days.

Picked first green pepper. Not quite sure what to do with it. Make a grilled sandwich with peppers and onions? Wait for parsley to rest and dip in hummus? Make chili with it and some jalapenos?

 

Weekly Gardening Notes: August 5, 2017

8/3/17

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We had our first big haul today. Zooks, peas, eggplant, some small tomatoes, and a large jalapeno. Lo mein for dinner tonight, and for our next three lunches.

8/4/17

We’ve harvested a total of $24.22 (a smidge over 10 pounds) of veggies and $6.60 fresh herbs.

The herb plants cost $4.24 total making for $2.36 in savings so far. Basil plants have produced $5.70 on their own.

So far the big growers have been peapods, broccoli, and zucchini, with the zooks growing the most number of pounds and the peas (which we grew from seed) creating the highest roi.

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The more water the peas get the faster the pods grow. Must keep soaking them.

Another zook is growing on the fence side plant. Will pick tomorrow.

Beefsteaks are starting to turn red. Red grape tomatoes are still few in number but are increasing.

Counted three green peppers that need to be watched. They’re not quite ready but will be soon.

Will be making grandma’s cucumber and onion salad with the cukes that we’ve collected over the past few days. I’ll use yogurt we’re making instead of sour cream if it turns out.

Lettuces are still taste good in August.

 

 

Carrot Growing: Mistakes Were Made

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Well, carrot day was a bust.

We started to pick a few and stopped immediately. I actually thought one of the greens had snapped off the root.

Nope. The root was so small that at first my eyes didn’t register it.

I must have misrecorded the planting day. The planning site I used this spring, sfgplanner.com, was a bit temperamental. I couldn’t figure out how to input the propper planting days. (I’m not sure if it was even possible.

That said, I can’t give a website the all the credit for my carr-ettes. I haven’t been as consistent with watering as I should be. I remember to water the beds, but I often forget the buckets.

I’m on the intermediate side of novice when it comes to gardening so things like this still happen from time to time. We plan on watering more consistently and checking in on this batch of carrot again at the end of August.

Depending on how developed they are we’ll plant again for the fall/winter in hopes of raising edible size baby carrots.

What can I say? Mess up. Learn. Do better. Repeat.

As always have fun, and remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.