Monday, February 22, 2010

Greener Produce bags

Photo from Gazette article here. This article states that the bags were to be available back in November but I have never noticed them in my local Metro grocery until this past week.
Well, I never did get around to making my produce bags and thus used way too many plastic produce bags at the fruiterie and grocery stores. The GUILT!!! Ugh. Well, I can now say good bye to a large portion of my plastic bag consumer guilt because I shelled out $5 and go 5 bags at my local grocery store. I will be buying another set ASAP too because 4 large and one teeny are not enough for our big produce days.

Pluses: They seem sturdily built and were very affordable for the Average green minded Canadian shopper. I used mine today and was well pleased with my purchase. They hold lots of apples and pears. They are machine washable so can go in with the laundry OR you could hand wash very easily in a sink with some soap and tea tree oil to disinfect. They will dry in about 5 seconds. Given the material they are made of, I would recommend air drying to prolong the life of the bags. I'm not sure but perhaps the fabric is made from recycled plastic fiber? If it was I'd feel better about the purchase. I tossed my cardboard package/lable thingy in the recycling before I fully absorbed the details. Will read more next time I grab a pack.

Minuses: Not made of a natural fiber and so not super duper uber green like something made of organic cotton or hemp would be. Smallest bag only good for a singl apple or garlics or something like that.

I am pleased.

Still on the reusable bags fence? Check out some of these findings from a 2008 Manitoban article.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Must See

If you're still on that environmental fence, making excuses to use chemicals to get the job done faster, better, cheaper, with less work, let me direct you to a series of documentary exposes that will not only make you cringe with disgust but also pry your eyes open to the realities of this chemical age.

This Is Our Planet, This Is Our Earth (Volume 1) is a series of 3 DVDs, 275 minutes in length, that describe environmental problems around the globe and right in your own neighbourhood.
DVD 1: Toxic Trespass
DVD 2: The Fight For True Farming
DVD 3: Bhopal: Search for Justice
Crapshoot: The Gamble with out Wastes

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Late Spring

Its late Spring here at my house. The garden is well and truly off and running and brings me great joy and back pain.
Yet it also brings me a pinch of guilt as well. Why? Well, when a raised bed is first built, it must be filled with a grwoing medium of some kind. In my case its been plastic (YUCK) bags loads of cheap black earth, perlite (last year) and compost. Also, a couple truck loads of "soil" and compost for the front gardens and raised beds in the last year. The running of the hose for new plants and the vegetable beds when the rain barrel runs dry or is not a viable option (there are issues with rain collection and its use on vegetable thanks to the leachates in the water from roofing materials..)Thats a lot of money, water, trash (bags), and exhaust(trucks) usedto create our wee oasis in suburbia.
But then I think of the benefits...the flowers that feed the soul and senses and a few insects as well (damn you sawfly and lily beetles). The fruits and vegetables that will hopefully feed our family (come on little seeds...grow). As time passes the costs will diminish..each harvest will bring us closer to balance between costs and benefits. As time passes the two composters (more money) will help turn garbage to black gold for the gardens. The new plants of last year have settled into their places and don't need the extra water from last year so much and the rain barrel will keep up with them in theory.
Today although the weather is not lovely I walked my garden path to see what was up out front: The FRAGRANT white irises that came with our back yard and have been divided and moved around are coming into bloom. The lilacs of the neighborhood are spreading their aroma as well, the baptisia that I moved last year is starting to bloom and its so gloriously BLUE! The soapwort groundcover is covered in teensy pink blossoms, the catmint with glorious violet little spires, the creeping speedwell has true blue wee flowers that I adore. Columbines of all the shade I planted are blooming and showing off and the rhododendrons and Magnolia are at the end of their show. I wander the path admiring the flowers, thanking those who have finished and anticipating who is next and wondering if I need still a few to fill in any blank spaces of time....
Another source of garden joy today: My alpine strawberry plants literally just arrived by post. What a great showery day project this will be, planting them into their awaiting bed and letting the rain showers do most of the watering in. I'm off to grab the organic fruit and veggies fertiliser, compost, and my box of beauties to get them into their new home, may they live long and prosper.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Love TipNut

LOVE LOVE LOVE that website. You want to know a way to do something domestic? Its probably there, and probably several ways to do something that you never even thought of.

Since Geeta did a segment on Be Green (see sidebar for link) about plastic bags and their impact, I have been trying lots harder to remember my reusable grocery sacks,. I have A LOT of them but manage to forget them at home or in the car or don't bring enough. Argh.
But Geeta brought up a thought that I really hadn't dwelled on. PRODUCE BAGS! We use our handy dandy good for the earth bags but what do we put in them? Plastic produce bags. DOH! (head smack moment) She featured a brand of reusable produce bags and also shared an idea she uses....she repurposes pillow cases for produce.
I have a dandy fabric in my stash that was earmarked about 7 years ago for an apron. It will now becom drawstring topped sacks for produce. BUT if i didn't have this I would totally use THIS idea. Repurposing sheer curtains from the thrift shop !! Bloody brilliant I say. I found the link on Tip Nut (see sidebar) under "35 reusable grocery bag ideas". There are plans for sewn, knit, and crochetted bags.
Do your part to reduce plastic waste NOW! And have fun while you are at it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

How Green Does My Garden Grow?

I think I am a pretty "green" gardener after all these years. The two store bought insecticides I use are Insectigone and a Neem Oil spray and these are for problem pests like lily beetles and sawfly larvae ( I also hand pick the bugs but they just don't get the hint!). For slugs and snails I use coffee.
Today was the day to pot up mt tomato seedlings. I had started the seeds in a repurposed container. You know those plastic case jobbies that a rotisserie chicken comes in from the supermarket? The ones with a black bottom and clear top? AWESOME for starting small amounts of seeds! Fill with appropriate potting mix, plant the packet of seeds (or less) water and pop that cover on...VOILA miniature greenhouse conditions and no extra cash out of pocket. As soon as you have sprouts you remove the top. Turn your greenhouse and its contents as often as possible so they don't get too leggy.
So, there are my lovely seedlings at about 3 inches tall or less and they are getting nice true leaves so its time to pot. I took a demi sized wine bottle, some tabloid sized newspaper (hello Journal De Montreal), some tape, and I was ready. I folded my newspaper sheets in half across the width then wrapped them around the bottle, pulled the bottle up a bit by the neck so that I had paper at the bottom to fold over generously, folded said bottom, taped it, and taped the side seam. BOOM there it is. A soda can sized pot . Filled with moistened potting mix, it was ready for planting. In each pottling's soil, I used a chopstick and bored a hole down the center to make the planting hole. It needs to be as deep as your seedling's stems are long from root ball to leaves and wide enough to pop that delicate baby in there without trauma. Now to harvest the strongest seedlings in the flat: I looked the plants over and started selecting the ones that looked the farthest along and strongest. Look for sturdy stems and well developed true leaves. Gently grasping each selection by a seed leaf, I then prised it out of its shallow soils bed with the chopstick, being very careful not to hurt the roots or stem. Then the seedling is guided into its new planting hole with the chopstick while I still gently hold that seed leaf. Burying the stem up to the leaves give the seeedling a chance to make more roots along the stem and thus have a larger feeding network and this will make it stronger. I gently squeezed each pot to tamp the soil around the roots and stem and tamped the top of the soils around the stem as well. Using this method I now have 16 little seedlings on the window sill. I only need 4 for this years garden plans and I have some friends that will take a few more off my hands. If the seedlings get to tall again before its time to plant them out in the beds I will repot them using this same pot type only in a larger form.
Now that my rotisserie green house is empty I planted peppers, which were a gift from a friend otherwise I would have started them sooner. For the peppers I made smaller newpaper pots and planted the seed directly into the soil in them. I put the wee pots into the contatiner and will continue as before. If more than one seed germinates in the mini pots I will pinch off the weakest seedlings leaving the strongest to grow. Nature ain't always pretty, as I always say. Sometimes things have to be disposed of and planting more seeds than plants required is the only sure way to get the number of plants you need since not all seedlings are up to snuff and not all seeds grow.

There are lots of websites and books with green gardening informations like how to make your own pots. Its not always easy to see that you don't need to spend on garden gadgets like window sill green house kits and plastic or peat pots etc. Invest that cash instead into good quality seed and soil.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


What will you do for our Mother on Her day?

Monday, March 30, 2009


Do you ever do this? Take something and make it useful in another way rather than go out and buy something new or throw out the repurposed item? I LOVE repurposing but am not highly creative to always think of how to use something. Not this weekend however...I was repurpose Queen of my house.
Saturday was incredible Chez Nous...sunshine and 18 degrees. It was amazing and called for some puttering in the not so snowy yard. Hman started tearing down that ^&^%$ing metal gazebo frame on a cement pad in our back yard. This came with our hoiuse and the canvas cover is no more. The pad and the gazebo are plunked square in the middle of the yard, making navigation tricky by times and making my clothes line useless. This has driven me crazy. I love hanging out our laundry and being lineless for 4 years has been hard. In my excitement at the prospect of line hung laundry, I went out and purchased proper line for it, so that when the mood hits Hman to put it up, its here and ready. Yay.
As he disassembled the metal frame, the roof part was standing on the cement pad, looking very like a tee pee frame since it was folded a bit from its former expanded shape. i didn't think about the fact that those screws could work like hinges, and now that roofy bit will become a bean tee pee for the garden's pole beans FOREVER! Its not going to break anytuime soon like dowelling or bamboo sticks and its very light and easily moved from bed to bed each year. Sweet.
Then we looked at the upright segments and repurposed 4 of them as strong trellises for the viscious untrellised climbing rose in the back yard and for the clematises by the front steps. The older wooden trellises are rotted and breaking. They are made so crappy nowadays and are kinda pricey in my opinion. Voila, my metal trellises are rot proof and not gonna fall apart! I think I will give them a coat of paint before putting them semi-permanently in place.
Another couple of up right supports are becomeing t-poles for reining in the raspberry patch and the fencey bits that were the bottom portion of the frame will be used in various way (blocking old Blossom's escape routes out of the "inescapable" back yard for instance. Hman swears he will not bail her out of doggie jail again.)
Now all we have left to put out by the curb are the parts that the curtains hung from. All else has been repurposed in the yard and garden and if I could think of a way to utilise those last parts, I would. My garden is gonna look awesome!