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How to Start Your Organic Garden

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Vegetable garden by Nick Saltmarsh via Flickr

Organic vegetables are healthy and have a wonderful taste. If you would like to grow your own, here are some tips that can help.

Don’t compare your first organic gardening efforts to those of your neighbour’s, or the ones you see in book, TV shows or magazines. Do the best you can do in the space you have. Start with a few types of vegetables and don’t overwhelm yourself.

How to Start Your Organic Garden

Pros advise new gardeners to start by picking the size of the garden space. The ideal size for a beginner is 10-by-16 feet. If your space is smaller you can create shorter rows and use fewer plants. The plots should run from north to south for ideal sun exposure.

After choosing the size and location for your garden, look for easy-to-grow organic vegetables. Growing Plants 101: The Complete Guide to Getting Started, suggests growing vegetables that you eat such as potatoes, cucumbers, peas, peppers and tomatoes. If you find that you don’t have space for these vegetables in your garden area, consider container gardens which are ideal for smaller spaces. Just make sure the plants you place in the container require a similar pH level.

You can use companion planting in your garden and work with nature instead of against it. Some plants have a symbiotic relationship that can help each plant survive. This is the type of relationship that carrots and tomatoes have, which can lead to higher yields and heartier plants when grown together.

Vegetables require ammonia, which is a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen. By planting legumes, such as peas and beans, near nitrogen loving plants such as kale and broccoli, you should see an improvement in growth.

Clothing and Tools

There are a few basic tools the beginning gardener needs. These include a trowel, steel rake, shovel, and watering can or hose. If you plan on planting tomatoes you may need cages. If you’re going to do a container gardening you need pots. You can use the shovel to move or till the soil and cut through weeds. The trowel is used to manage small amounts of soil, tackle small seeds and transplant seedlings. The rake is used to compact and grade soil.

When gardening, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy. You should use sunblock to protect your skin and insect repellent to avoid bug bites. Gloves will protect your hand and nails. You can keep your gardening clothes and shoes in the garage or storage area, in order to save time when going out to your garden.

Preparing the Plot

According to Wellness Mama, sunshine and water are the most important element necessary for a successful organic garden. Your plot should get at least six to eight hours of daily sunlight in the summer. The organic soil should be high quality and include compost. The soil is extremely important if you are building a raised bed garden or using containers. To have a supply of high-quality soil on hand for future gardening projects, start a compost bin in your yard. Until the compost in your bin is ready, you can purchase compost to mix with your soil at your local garden center.

You should start preparing your plot in early spring. Make sure there are no tree roots encroaching in your plot, remove all grass and create a garden border. If you have pets or if there is local wildlife in the area, a small fence surrounding the garden should be useful.

Dig the soil to loosen clumps. Go at least a foot deep into the soil, to allow air to enter, using a shovel or rototiller? Then, rake to smooth the soil’s surface.

Draw a diagram showing where you want to place your vegetables. Purchase organic seeds, organic seedlings, and the other gardening supplies and get ready to plant.

Planting and Maintenance

For each plant, dig a depression and add water until the soil is moist to a depth of 1 inch. If the soil on top appears dry, water again. Add old newspapers or pine needles around the plant to help with water retention. If you’re planting during the high-temperature days, water daily.

Organic fertilizers are available in several types including microbial growth promoters. These fertilizers are made from organic ingredients such as bat guano or fish meal. The packages show the amount of nitrogen, potash and phosphorous in each item. Consult with an associate at your local garden centre to choose the right fertilizer for your local climate and soil conditions.

Weeds are a fact of life for organic gardeners. Pulling weeds can be effective, however, you must check the garden regularly so that it does not become overgrown.

Pests are the biggest problem for organic gardeners. Plants are often able to fight off pests without assistance, especially if you’re using companion planting techniques. However, if you need additional help eliminating pests use organic bug killers.

Now that you have this information, you can get started on your new organic garden.

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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