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7 Tips For Growing a Greenhouse based Organic Vegetable Garden

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Vegetable garden by Nick Saltmarsh via Flickr

How would you like to grow healthy and delicious organic fruits and vegetables in your own kitchen garden? Here are some tips to get you started with your own greenhouse.

1. Avoid Greenhouses Made with Synthetic Materials.

Many greenhouses have side panels made from various types of plastics and polycarbonates. For a truly organic garden, you should opt for a glass greenhouse. They come in all styles from self-standing to the lean to greenhouse style The material the panels are made from are important because moisture will accumulate on the panel’s surface and will drip on your plants.

2. Plan Your Garden Layout in Advance

Use graph paper to plot where each plant will be placed. “Companion planting” is not a new concept, and its use in your greenhouse can not be overemphasized. You will encounter a fair share of pest issues in your greenhouse and many of them can be avoided naturally by using companion planting.

– Onions and leeks can deter carrot fly.

– Nasturtiums chase away aphids.

– French Marigolds can keep blackfly and greenfly away from tomatoes.

– An Elder shrub deters mice.

Planting directly in the ground can lead to a problem with ants. Use peppermint, bay leaf, spearmint, or garlic to keep them away.

If you have a problem with slugs and snails, you can use a beer trap. They are attracted to the beer fragrance which leads them to take a sip, they get drunk and drown.

While you want to eliminate the harmful bugs, you want to attract the beneficial insects. Plants like Achillea and Buddleia, as well as flowering herbs like Rosemary, Dill and Lavender will help to attract hoverflies, lacewings, and ladybirds which are known pest devourers.

3. Start with Organic Soil

Don’t try to save money and risk the quality of the soil or organic material you add to your soil, including manure, sea products or compost. These additives act like fertilizer. They can increase the health of your soil and help to create a better environment for your plants to grow. But remember, different plants have different needs.

Be careful when starting your garden. If you’re planting directly in the soil, make sure the soil does not contain dangerous organisms or toxins. If you’re not sure, you can use a soil test kit which is available from most seed suppliers.

You can also sterilize the soil by putting the oil in an oven roasting bag and adding enough water to dampen the soil shut the bag and insert a meat thermometer into the soil. Heat the bag in a 200-degree oven and keep the soil at a temperature close to 170 degrees for 30 minutes.

The soil temperature should not reach the temperature of the oven within 30 minutes, however, it’s best to keep an eye on the thermometer, just in case. If the soil gets too warm, turn the oven temperature down or off if it’s near the end of the 30-minute cycle. Place the cooled, sterilized soil into the planters, pots, or directly in the ground.

4. Compost

Composting is one of the most important and affordable methods of fertilizing your garden. But you must remember to keep your compost organic. That means the items you toss in your compost should be organic. If anything in your compost contains chemicals, so will your compost.

5. Control the Weeds Before They Start to Grow

Place 1 to 2 inches of newspaper on top of the soil, covering it with the same quantity of soil. Don’t worry about getting the measurements exact, this is not an exact science. Just remember the thicker the paper, the more it will deter weeds.

Most newspapers use soy-based inks so they do not pose a danger to your plants. Do not use the glossy inserts because they are toxic and water cannot penetrate their glossy surface. Use a regular old newspaper. In time, it will decompose ad become a healthy additive to your soil.

6. Learn About Natural Herbicides

If you are ever hit with a massive bug infestation and you need an herbicide, one of the most tried and true methods is an organic soap mixture. Cheap lemon dish soap is the best to use for this since cheap brands use less of the costly toxic additives that costly brands use.

Mix one tablespoon of the soap into 1 gallon of water and pour it into your spray bottle or a sprayer. Apply to the top and bottom of the leaves. Reapply this mixture every week or two. This mixture also reduces the risk of some plant diseases. Here is a good piece on herbicides.

7. Pull Spent Plants From the Soil

After you’ve harvested your vegetables and fruit, don’t leave the plants in the garden. Pull them out as soon as possible and toss their remains in the compost bin for next year’s garden. Removing these plants will allow the soil to replenish itself and will discourage pests that will feed on the spent plant.

 

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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