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How to Start Your Organic Garden



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.


Environmentally Sustainable Furniture for Dummies



eco-friendly sustainable furniture choices
Shutterstock / By |

We probably don’t think a great deal about our furniture choices. I know that I tend to just buy whatever looks pretty, seems functional and fits my budget. That usually means a trip to a few showrooms and big warehouse stores, like Ikea.

But we have a responsibility to the planet. We can do better. There are three major ways that our furniture can help the environment:

  1. Purchase used and/or recycled furniture and extends the lifecycle of precious materials.
  2. Source furniture that is free of environmentally unsustainable products.
  3. Choose furniture that doesn’t require electricity – opting for manual transitioning.

By investing in environmentally sustainable, high-qualify furniture, you’ll be able to pass down items from generation to generation. This will save your heirs on the cost of furnishing their own home, and help to protect the environment from wasteful fad furniture that only lasts a season or two.

Natural and Recycled Furniture Materials

If you absolutely love the look of wood furniture, search for environmentally sustainable products. For example, locally sourced wood or bamboo can easily be replenished without requiring excessive international harvesting of precious woods that harm the environment.

Sustainable wood products are only sourced from companies and locations that have the ability to quickly replace harvested wood – providing a responsible resource for generations of manufacturers and consumers.

Recycled furniture can either be a gently used item from someone else’s home, or a new piece of furniture that’s been used from reclaimed sources. You’ve probably seen examples of this at your local park – cities are increasingly using recycled materials to create benches and picnic tables.

But recycled materials don’t have to feel rough or rustic. Items made from recycled wood are readily available for order online or in-store. And believe it or not, electronic waste can be reclaimed and crafted into beautiful pieces of modern furniture.

The only limitation on recycled furniture design is the imagination of the creator. If you want to do it yourself, check out this DIY recycled furniture pinterest board!

Avoid Harsh Chemicals that Harm the Environment

Did you know that many cushions are made of highly-flammable polyurethane? Furniture manufacturers help keep our butts out of the hot seat by treating the materials in cushions with fire-retardant toxins. Unfortunately this padding breaks down overtime and the dust is both toxic to humans and the environment.

There are multiple lines of eco-friendly furniture that avoid the use of flammable polyurethane – often substituting with organic cotton. Just understand that you’re going to be in for a bit of sticker shock – eco-friendly furniture, when purchased new from major brands, gets pricey.

If you can’t afford the pricetag, I recommend finding used furniture from the same product line. There are a ton of websites dedicated to helping eco-friendly consumers find used organic, responsibly sourced products – and that includes furniture.

You’ll also want to stay away from faux leather. Furniture made from pleather and other leather substitutes are heavily treated with chemicals. That’s never a win.

Hypo-allergenic stuffing, combine with traditional leather might be a decent compromise if you have to have the leather look to tie a room together. But be conscious of the fact that tanning is not an environmentally friendly process, so try to limit these materials in your design.

In conclusion, it’s up to you how crazy you want to go. I think that as long as you stay with used furniture, you’re on the right track – even if it isn’t environmentally perfect, it’s at least a sunk cost for the environment – the damage has been done and you’re extending its useful life. But I think the most important takeaway here is buy quality items that you can pass down to your next generation – if that means spending more on higher quality new items that are sustainably sourced, so be it.

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Livery Services: Mother Nature Needs You to Invest in an Eco-Friendly Fleet



green fleets
Shutterstock Photos - By tostphoto |

In the United Kingdom, fleet vehicles make up most of the traffic traveling our roadways. If there’s one area of the transportation sector environmentalists should be focusing on, it’s the way we move goods, services and people around the empire.

Businesses that operate a fleet of vehicles need to realize the environmental impact of their service, and the opportunities available to help them lower their operating costs, while saving mother nature.

A green fleet is much cheaper to operate – both because of lower petrol consumption and government grants and tax benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at the things your company is unnecessarily spending money on every year due to an old, dirty fleet of polluters.

Vehicle Taxes on Polluters vs. Environmentally Friendly Fleets

If you want to operate your commercial van on public roads, you’re going to have to pay a VED, or Vehicle Excise Duty. The total fee assessed for this is based on the age of your vehicle, not how much you drive it. This is important, because an idle fleet of polluters can be just as costly as a fleet of green vehicles that produce value for your company.

Vans that were built after 1 March 2001 were taxed either £132 every six months, or £240 annually. This rate is effective per the TC39 VED tax code. There are exceptions to this rate.

For example, if your van is classified as a Euro 4 van, and was manufactured between 1 March 2003 and 31 December 2006, TC36 VED tax code applies to you. The six-month rate is £77, or £140 annually.

For older vans, manufactured prior to 1 March 2001, your tax rate is based on the size of the engine. Vans with engines less than 1549cc are charged £82.50 every six months, or £150 annually. Old vans with larger engines must pay £134.75 every six months, or £245 annually.

Euro 4 vans are the cheapest to operate from a tax perspective. Why? Because they were fitted with specialized filters that help to reduce the amount of dangerous pollutants that make it into earth’s atmosphere. You enjoy the tax savings year-after-year by operating these vehicles.

It really is economically more affordable to operate a green fleet.

Petrol Costs – Another Reason to Think Green to Save Green

The cost of petrol is heavily impacted by our environment. When Britain is thrashed by stormy weather due to global warming, or oil production is impacted by environmental disasters, the cost of filling up skyrockets.

At the time of this writing, petrol is £1.16 per liter, and diesel is £1.18 per liter. There are forecasts from reliable agencies that see the price continuing to rise in the near future, passing price points not seen since 2014.

Regardless of the speculative nature of future fuel prices, the fact remains that vehicles that use less fuel save their operators money every time the wheels turn.

As an alternative, many companies are heavily investigating and testing all-electric and hybrid alternatives for a greener, more economical fleet. As an example, the Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular all-electric vehicles – and it’s a fantastic choice for transporting people or smaller cargo payloads to residential destinations.  The total cost to charge a Nissan Leaf, using current electrical vehicle charging technology, is just £3.64 to go from empty to full charge.

That’s a HUGE savings over filling a petrol tank. And with the prevalence of fast-charge locations, it’s possible to go from zero to empty in just 30 minutes.

In conclusion, there are many ways to save on fleet operation costs. And by investing in a more efficient fleet, you’ll be doing your part to save the environment. Both tax incentives and lower operating costs make green fleets a no-brainier for serious fleet operators throughout the United Kingdom.

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