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  • Vegetable Shortage in Great Britain: Time to Get Gardening

    Vegetable shortage

    In a throwback to World War II, many British supermarkets have been rationing lettuce.

    Zucchini and satsuma (Mandarin orange) supplies have also been limited. And now, market experts are predicting a global olive oil shortage.

    It’s all due to poor growing conditions in southern Europe.

    In southern Spain, which supplies half of Europe’s vegetables and a quarter of Britain’s, freezing temperatures and flooding decimated crops. At the same time, unseasonably hot temperatures in Greece and Italy damaged olive groves.

    Your food comes from everywhere. One interest group estimated the average meal in the United States travels 1,500 miles from farms to your plate. A disruption anywhere along the route – poor weather or shipping problems, for example – can cause anything from a price hike to rationing.

    Canned or dried food storage can ensure a long-term supply of many fruits and vegetables. But let’s face it, you can’t can lettuce. And other produce just tastes better fresh.

    So consider growing a garden. This time of year is the best time to plan one. In some places, you can actually start sprouting early season seeds at the end of February.

    Happy man amidst vegetable shortage

    Start by identifying a space. It can even be your porch, if you want to use a garden box or straw bales. Think about using flower beds. I grow garlic chives between my rose bushes. They have a mild garlic flavor that I use in salads and cooking. And the plants may prevent some pests in the roses.

    Consider factors like light, soil, and water. I have a fairly large space for a vegetable garden. But it’s far away from my household water sources. Every year, I have to stretch hoses across my yard to my garden and fight the corresponding loss of water pressure.

    Next, figure out what you want to grow and how much to plant. Think about what your family will eat. Consider what grows best in your area.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture produces hardiness zone maps that tell the average minimum temperature in your area. The American Horticultural Society produces heat zone maps that tell the average of number of days the temperature in your area reaches 86 degrees. You need both of those, plus the frost-free dates for your area, to know what to grow and when to plant.

    If you glance at a seed catalog, you’ll realize there are numerous varieties of each plant. They can be divided into two types of seeds: heirloom and hybrid. Heirloom seeds are nice because if you save the seeds from your plants year after year, they’ll produce the same types of plants. If you collect the seeds from hybrid plants, their genetic traits will be scrambled so they won’t work as well the next year. However, hybrid seeds can be bred for different traits like flavor, disease resistance, and quick growth. So in some areas they’re the better option.

    We sell canned heirloom garden seeds and heirloom herb seeds. Normally, most seeds are good for only a year. These seeds will last longer because they’re packed to keep moisture out. They’re recommended for climates with shorter growing seasons but are adaptable to other temperature hardiness zones. Do your research, however, because there’s a huge difference in soil type and garden pests between, say, a USDA hardiness zone 6 in Utah versus a zone 6 in Virginia.

    To get the best varieties of plants for your area, check your state university’s agriculture extension service. It will give you a few varieties that grow best in your state. (Here’s Utah State University Extension’s vegetable page.) Then, go to a nursery that grows its plants locally. Employees there can help pick the best type for your town or city or yard’s climate.

    This is only a beginning. You can find reams of information online about sprouting seeds, companion planting, and composting and soil preparation, among other topics. To get the best garden, you’ll need to do a lot of research. That’s why now is a good time to start.

    In most places, you don’t have be a great gardener to get some results. I’m a terrible gardener, living in an area where the soil is clay and rock, but last year one of my cherry tomato plants grew to 7 feet tall and produced a pint’s worth every other day for months. (I couldn’t get zucchini to grow, however, unlike about everybody else.)

    Try growing something. Then add something else. Over time, you can develop a great garden that can help tide you over in case a food supply problem elsewhere causes a shortage in your area.

     

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  • Top 15 Pest Control Methods that are Natural and Effective

    For some time now, many people have sent me messages through email and Facebook asking how to stay pest free during summer. So I decided it was high time that I gave those people some answers.

    First off, a simple way to keep pests away is not to invite them to your living space. Most of these annoying pests need food and water for survival. So, maintain a clean kitchen, clear out the garbage frequently, and store food and drinks in airtight containers. These are a few tips on how to keep out troublesome insects and pests. Another way to avoid bug problems is by draining stagnated water and sealing off small cracks and holes. Also, NYCity Pest Control has a guide that has many homemade remedies to stay pest free.

    If the pests find their way in even after keeping the area clean, here are 15 natural remedies that you can follow to destroy the pests that trouble you.

     

    1. Ants

    Ants

    The pest that I’ve had the most trouble dealing with was ANTS! For such tiny creatures……boy they cause a lot of problems! Here are some tips that will help you to keep them away from your home as well as from picnic spots.

     

    • CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN

    The kitchen counters must be free of crumbs and sticky spots at all time. Always close the sugar and honey jar after using it. Wiping the surfaces will save your home from pest attacks.

     

    • Cucumber

    Place cucumber slices around the kitchen or at the ant’s entry points. Many ants dislike the smell of cucumber.

     

    • Mint

    Mint Leaves

    Place a few mint tea bags in the areas where the ants are active.

     

    • Stop their entry

    Completely search the area and find out where these ants are coming. Cayenne pepper, citrus oil (it can also be soaked in a string piece), lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds– place any one of the items in a small line near the entry points so that ants cannot cross.

     

    It is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton which is in talc-like format. If you sprinkle this powder on the ants, it will absorb the lipids from their exoskeleton (outer layer) and cause severe dehydration.

     

    1. Mosquitoes

    Mozzy

    • Block them

    Early morning and evening are the time when mosquitoes are the most active. They seek areas of still air as they are held back by the breeze. So always close the windows and doors that are opposite to the breeze.

     

    • Eliminate water

    By removing the standing water around your home, you can cut the breeding sources of the mosquitoes. Make sure to change birdbaths, wading pools and pet’s bowls twice a week. Clean the gutters in your house and keep them well-drained.

     

    • Candle

    Candle

    By mixing essential oils and melted wax you can make your candle to repel flies. Always remember to use ½-1 ounce of essential oils for 1 pound of wax. You can make the candles with any one of the following mixes.

     

    Mix 1-(Spicy)

    5 parts Citronella

    5 parts Lavender

    5 parts Clove

     

    Mix 2-(Bright)

    5 parts Citronella

    5 parts Lavender

    5 parts Peppermint

     

    Mix3-(Green)

    10 parts Citronella

    10 parts Cedarwood

    5 parts Eucalyptus

    5 parts Rosemary

     

    1. Flies

    Fly

    Make small sachets out of cheesecloth and fill them with crushed mint, bay leaf, clove or eucalyptus. Place these sachets around the house to repel flies.

     

    • Basil

    Plant basil in containers and keep them near doorways. Flies will stay far away from the area. While going for picnics, you can take a bunch of these leaves with you. You can also keep away mosquitoes by using these leaves.

     

    • Eucalyptus oil

    Oil

     

    To make a fly-free zone, dip some eucalyptus oil in a small cloth or rag and place it in the areas that are plagued by flies.

     

    1. Spiders
    • Peppermint

    Peppermint Plant

    Add a few drops of peppermint oil and a squirt of liquid nitrogen into a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with water. Spray the mixture around doors, windows, lawns, cobwebs and in any other place where spiders lurk around. Peppermint gives a pleasant aroma, and it is not harmful to children and pets.

     

    In addition to peppermint oil, they don’t like the taste of citrus oil that contains lemon, lime, tangerine and wild orange in it. This oil will not kill the spiders, but they will avoid the places that taste of citrus. Purchase real essential oils and not the synthetic version.

     

    • Eliminate hiding places

    Spiders are mostly seen in dark and messy places. So keep away debris, wood piles, and lush plants away from the sides of the house. They can be repelled if they have fewer places to hide.

     

    An all-purpose homemade bug spray

    • 8 oz apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or vodka
    • 45 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
    • 15 drops Lemon or Wild Orange Essential Oil

    Mix all these ingredients in a spray bottle and apply it generously. It will last 2-3 months if it is stored in the fridge.

     

    What are the pest control practices that you follow?

     

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  • Greywater Can Save Water

    Let’s face it. Most of us can’t do much of anything about where we get our municipal water.

    However, we can do quite a bit about how much we use.

    By recycling some of the water used in their homes, called greywater, some homeowners in north-central California cut their water use by an average of 26 percent, according to a 2013 study by Greywater Action.

    Greywater Washing MachineGreywater is used water from bathroom sinks, tubs and washing machines. One writer described it as gently used. Greywater recycling systems collect at least some of this water for landscape irrigation or flushing the toilet.

    Collection is as simple as sticking a bucket in the shower or as complex as the NEXtreater, an installed system that washes greywater, sends it through two filters and a UV light and stores it so it comes out looking and smelling like tap water.

    The three most common types of greywater collections systems are laundry-to-landscape, branched drain, and pumped, according to Greywater Action.

    Laundry-to-landscape is the easiest and least expensive. In fact, plans and directions are free online. It simply takes water from the washing machine and, using the washing machine pump, sends it outside. Branched drain also takes water from sinks and showers and does the same thing. Both go out to a mulch basin, basically a hole in the ground filled with wood chips, and out to plants.

    A pump system takes greywater, stores it in a tank and pumps it to where you want it.

    Greywater pipes are separate from pipes that go to sewage.

    Greywater Action’s study found that laundry-to-landscape systems can cost $250 to $2,000, depending on installation and permit costs (in some states, no permit is necessary). Branched drain systems cost from $400 to $3,000, pumped systems cost $600 to $3,000 and high-tech systems like the NEXtreater that filter and clean water can cost $5,000 to $10,000.

    Homes can be retrofitted for greywater recycling, said Ralph Petroff, Executive chairman of Nexus eWater, the company that makes the NEXtreater.

    “We think that, nationally, maybe 50 percent of the homes could do a full-house gray-water retrofit relatively inexpensively, and the other 50 percent would be either challenging or you could do a partial retrofit,” he said in an interview with Water Deeply.

    Greywater can’t be used for everything, according to greywateraction.org.

    Greywater Drip IrrigationFor example, the water shouldn’t touch the edible parts of garden plants. Therefore, a drip irrigation system is necessary and greywater isn’t for root crops like carrots.

    Greywater should not pool or create runoff and, unless it’s a high tech system, should be used the day it’s produced so it doesn’t start to stink. It shouldn’t be touched or ingested. A system needs valves so greywater can’t backwash into regular water.

    Normal laundry detergent won’t work with greywater either. It contains salts and boron that accumulate in soil. A story in Mother Earth News said boron levels in detergent should be below 0.1 mg per liter and sodium below 40 mg per liter, which is about as much as in some tap water. Detergent shouldn’t contain bleach. Most bath products are OK because they’re used in such small amounts, according to Mother Earth News.

    Greywater codes differ between states. Look for them in the state’s plumbing codes in its building department or in its environmental health department, Laura Allen wrote in “The Water Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape.”

    “Florida bans outdoor greywater use but allows it for flushing toilets. Georgia allows you to carry greywater in buckets to the plants, but you can’t get a permit to build a simple greywater irrigation system. Washington State’s code allows very small systems built without a permit (following performance guidelines), but all other systems have quite stringent requirements. Oregon requires an annual permit fee,” Allen wrote.

    Even though greywater can come with difficulty, using it could produce extraordinary water savings, according to waternow.com.

    “If just 10 percent of California’s 12 million+ households captured and reused greywater, the state could save 373,000 acre-feet annually. Just for comparison: The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir holds about 300,000 acre-feet. The proposed expansion of Shasta Reservoir would yield about 76,000 acre-feet annually,” according to its California Graywater Factsheet.

     

    How are you recycling your water?

     

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