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Basic Gardening

How to Make Growing Your Own Vegetables as Earth-Friendly as Possible!

(ARA) – There was a time when it was the norm to go out in the yard and pull fresh vegetables up from the soil. At some point over the years, we moved from the goodness of home-grown vegetables toward processed foods and microwave dinners. Now consumers are becoming more aware of the financial value of growing their own vegetables, and how doing so can bolster the health of their families and of the earth.

Vegetable gardening might sound intimidating, but new technologies can make your thumb greener than ever. Combined with good old-fashioned growing techniques, your garden can be healthy and yield a good crop with less effort than you’d imagine – all while being good for the earth. Here are some tips for a garden that is doubly green.

Water, water everywhere, but not too much 
A fine balance needs to be struck when it comes to watering your vegetable garden, especially during drought conditions. You want your plants to get adequate moisture, but overwatering can be bad for plants and a wasteful use of a precious natural resource. Because it’s better for both your crops and the environment, careful water usage is essential to being a truly green gardener.

Installing an irrigation system is a good way to keep water usage at the ideal levels. Plus, you don’t have to plan a schedule around when you need to water. There are user-friendly, affordable solutions like Mister Landscaper’s new Drip Irrigation Vegetable Kit, which connects to your outdoor spigot. It’s a great way to ensure that your plants get the water they need, without wasting or over watering. The kit is drought approved in most areas and available at Lowe’s in the plumbing department. Watering timers can also make the job of watering even easier. Keep in mind that it’s best to water in the early morning, when the sun is lower in the sky, for 30 to 60 minutes, every other day. For more information about watering vegetable gardens, go to www.misterlandscaper.com.

One man’s garbage is another’s fertilizer
Ever feel guilty about throwing out vegetable and fruit peelings, rinds or scraps? Your intuition might just be telling you that there’s a better way to handle those leftovers. Composting is a great way to make use of organic matter that might otherwise just get thrown away.

Building a compost heap is relatively easy, and it will keep on giving back to your garden and the environment. The four necessary ingredients for composting, according to California’s “CalRecycle” program, are nitrogen (from sources like grass clippings or those throwaway veggie scraps), carbon (from sources like sawdust or twigs), water and air. Once your compost is at the ideal level of decomposition (it will be uniformly dark brown and crumbly), spread it on your garden to give plants a nutrient boost.

Get growing – Organically 

From the moment you start planning a garden, think organic. The most basic – and fun – choice of all is deciding which plants you’ll grow. Choose organic seeds and starters so that you know you’re buying into an earth-friendly business venture. There’s the added bonus of knowing that your plants won’t be tainted with harmful chemicals.

When it comes to maintaining your garden, you’ll probably need things other than just compost. Look for products that are recognized as organic by respected organizations like the USDA or the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) – you’ll be able to find an ever-growing supply of products like pest repellent or soil amendments.

Growing your own vegetables at home has many benefits: it saves money, allows you to control what your food is exposed to and provides a fun and easy activity that the whole family can participate in. And when you follow these green gardening principles, you’ll be doing something good for the earth, too.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

How to Store Bulk Grain

Storing Your Own Bulk Grains: Tips & Tools

While I was processing about 500 lbs of grains in my food storage the other day, I thought it would be beneficial to document the process. These bulk whole grain storage techniques can be used for all sorts of dry goods.

First – the basics. I’m using the following materials:

  • sealed mylar bag
  • oxygen absorbers
  • food grade plastic bucket
  • iron
  • some baseboard trim

The mylar bag does the job of protecting the grain, the oxygen absorbers help to preserve the grain and prevent bugs from eating it all, while the bucket protects the bag from the environment. Mylar bags are very strong by themselves, but are easily punctured. I’m also using gasket lids.
1. So, first, get some grain. Here is 100 lbs of Hard Red Wheat, which is high in protein and great for bread. I found mine from a local co-operative.

 

2. Second, find some food grade pails, lids, and mylar bags. Food grade pails are plentiful at beekeeping supply stores or even ice cream shops. The mylar bags are 20X30 inches. They are great grain bag storage containers.

 

3. Next, fill the bag inside the bucket. Vibrate the bucket by hitting it against the floor a few times to make sure the grain is settled. By volume, a 5 gallon pail will hold 80 cups, and in wheat, with a bag, that translates to about 27 lbs.


Here, I’m topping up 2 buckets of corn.

 

4. Oxygen absorbers, come in many sizes. These are 300 CC each, and I’m putting 3 or 4 per bucket. Be sure to keep them sealed up and only expose them to air when you are about to use them. I’m using a mason jar with a sealer lid to keep them while I am processing.

5. I used a piece of trim I had laying around and after making sure the bag is more or less straight in the bucket, I fold the bag flat over the wood.

6. A regular clothing iron on the hottest setting does a great job of sealing the mylar with a medium speed pass. I leave 10% of the seam open at this point.

 

7. Next, I fold the bag into the bucket and press down to remove as much air as possible.

 

8. Then I use the iron to seal up the remaining seam.

 

9. A small note goes inside the bucket listing the contents in case the outer labeling is damaged or erased.

 

10. Pre-label the lids, and use a rubber mallet to seal the gasket lid in place.

 

11. FINAL PRODUCT…Here on the floor and shelf to the side are 500 lbs of wheat, 50 lbs of corn, 25 lbs of red lentils, 200 lbs of sugar, 100 lbs of rice. It all fits on a few sections of ikea shelving.

Thanks to Dean from Calgary, Alberta for this information about bulk grain storage.

Bio Wipes for your Emergency or Survival Kit

If you are looking for a biodegradable wipe that can be stored in your emergency supplies (or hunting gear, bug out bag etc…), you may have a use for Wysi Wipes.

Essentially, they are a compressed cloth tablet (the size of an oversize Rolaids or Tums), and to use them you just add a few drops of water, and then unravel them into a usable cloth (about the size of a normal facecloth). They store dry, so there is no issue with long term storage, and they are light so you can pack them  anywhere. They are also extremely durable. You may want to store them in your:

  • backpack gear for use on the trail
  • emergency preparedness kit
  • bug out bag
  • hunting equipment
  • camping gear
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