Grass Free Garden

There is no easy way to break this to you guys but the only way your gonna keep grass out of your garden is to hoe! 

BUT, there is good news…if you hoe consistently at the beginning of the growing season, you probably wont have to break your back all summer long. 

Here’s how I did it:

First things first, I tilled up a plot.  I went through the dirt and got out any large clumps of grass root.  I have a yard full of centipede grass (roots run really deep).  I planted all my veggies, watered really good and the next day went out with the hoe. 

My grandmother, an experienced gardener, taught me how to hoe properly.  You use your blade to turn up the soil.  When you spot grass coming up, hack at it and try to pull the root and blades out.  When you hoe around your veggies, mound up some of the soil around the base of the plant. 

This serves many purposes in the garden: 1) your going to aerate the soil, 2) you will prevent your veggies from becoming root bound (the roots will not grow and your plant will become stunted), 3) you will prevent water from just running off your row by directing water to flow down around the root and 4) you will get rid of the grass. 

For the first month or so of gardening this season, I hoed every other day.  You should wear gloves so you don’t get blisters.  I will warn you, this is hard, back breaking work.  My best advice is to enlist your husband, wife, child or anyone willing to help.  The good new is I don’t have to hoe every other day now.  I haven’t hoed in a week and a half. 

I do turn up the soil periodically around the base of my veggies with a small trowel for purposes 1-3 but I don’t have grass in my garden.  My diligence payed off and I successfully removed all roots and seeds.  Occasionally I will see a blade pop up and I just pull it out. 

We have a lot of green tomatoes, we have eaten squash and cucumbers, there are 4 cantaloupes growing, the corn is about 5′ tall and my peas and butter beans are all blooming.  I see bees every morning.  I do have to water some but I let the ground get dry before I get out the hose, you can over water. 

I hope this info helps and I’m sorry about the bad news.  It will pay off though.  This is my first garden and it is a success.  If I can do it you can too, it’s not too late.  Good luck and I look forward to hearing your success stories!

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Gardening Offsets Carbon Emissions

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how my garden might be offsetting my carbon emissions and decided to do some research about it. 

 

As you all know, we all leave a carbon footprint.  Someone out there had a capital idea and started a business of offering offsets for businesses and individuals’ footprints.  These offset businesses take your money and invest it in renewable energy, conservation and so on.  This investment in the environment is supposed to offset your carbon emissions leaving you with a neutral footprint. 

 

Al Gore offsets his $1300 a month electric bill for his Tennessee mansion through one of these businesses. 

 

Buying offsets is a booming business for Corporate America, Hollywood and the like but, is it a realistic choice for individuals. 

 

With the economy in it’s current dire straights how, besides buying offsets, can the average individual, or family, offset some of their carbon emissions with out choosing between that and the mortgage?  So first thing you would need to know is your carbon footprint, right? 

 

There are a lot of calculators on the web and most of them are from offset co. but I did find a rather fun one that is set up like a game, called Consumer Consequences.  It’s not too detailed but you can get the jest of where you are emitting the most carbon. 

 

So you’ve played the game and now know how many Earths we would need if everyone lived your lifestyle.  You’re probably feeling pretty sick and frightened now.  This is what these offset co. are banking on, now they have you primed to spend some money. 

 

My primary problem with this, besides the fact that I think they are using shock and awe tactics, is that if your expecting someone else to put your heart into their work your buying fool’s gold. 

 

Here is an analogy for you: who takes better care of your kids than you?  No one right?  Well, your kids are your life and your carbon footprint is your life too.  No one is going to do as good of a job as you of cleaning it up. 

 

So you’re on board; where to start?   Before you start thinking of offsets, think of reduction.

 

Everything we buy leaves a footprint, think of your groceries: all that packaging created a lot of carbon emissions to create it, not too mention the shipping, the emissions of the people who had to get to work to get it to the store, on the shelf and eventually to you. 

 

Your table or kid’s lunch box is just a drop in the bucket of that bag of chip’s journey. 

 

Think small and start reducing your waste and reusing as much as you can.  Instead of buying individually warped chips, buy the big bag and a reusable plastic container (and if you’re going to be putting the same thing in that container everyday, don’t waste water washing it, just wipe it out with a dish rag, it’s just chips). 

 

Stop eating out, pack leftovers for work. 

 

Don’t wash your towels after every use, let them dry out between uses and use them 2-3 times. 

 

It’s all very small scale but if you start thinking like this, you will reduce your carbon emissions and not have to offset so much. 

 

Start buying locally.  Remember the further an item has to travel to get to you, the heavier its carbon footprint is.  There are farmer’s markets everywhere.  Look around in your area and start supporting your local growers.  The food taste better, your helping to support a real person’s life and your reducing your foot print. 

 

So your living a green life, you just bought a hybrid and installed some solar panels on the roof but your still emitting carbon, how can you offset some of those emissions with out padding the wallets of some offset co. CEO? 

 

Look no further than you own yard.  Plant trees, plant flowers, better yet, plant a garden; grow something to eat (a very short trip to the table). 

 

 

Put up a clothes line and offset the electricity you use to wash your clothes by drying them naturally. 

 

Once you start thinking like this you will come up with ideas that work for your life.  Please share them with others.  It may seem simple, and really it is; with a little extra work here and there you can get close to a neutral footprint without breaking the bank (you’ll actually end up saving money).        

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Fingers Crossed, 25 Ears of Corn

To my delight, I went out to the garden this morning and all of my corn had sprouted out of the ground!  I am most apprehensive about my corn because corn has special growing requirements.  My uncle explained to me last night that people typically plant corn in at least a 10×10 plot. 

 

I am a little discouraged.  I also learned that each stalk will only produce one ear of corn, two at the most.  If I’m lucky we will get 25 ears of corn! 

  

All of my other veggies are growing beautifully.  I’ve only spotted a few zinnias popping up out of the ground but I did plant a handful of mammoth sunflower seeds today.  I am also very worried about the bees.  I hope I get enough pollination action. 

  

I attached some lattice to a few stakes and drove them into the ground by the cantaloupes, they like to crawl.  The wind blew over one of the lattices so I had to drive it back into the ground.  I have to get some more lattice for my cucumbers.  I will dig around in the wood shed at my parents and try to find some more. 

 

It did not rain yesterday as I had hoped so I watered some this morning after hoeing and pulling out some grass that is starting to creep into the garden.  I have been toying around with the idea of extending the garden and planting a row of butterbeans and a row of string beans.  I’ve also wondered about putting up a scarecrow, maybe a weekend project to work on with the kids. 

 

My plan now is to have a garden every summer.  My mother has beautiful flower gardens and my grandmother has grown vegetables every summer.  She used to have huge gardens but as she has aged, her gardens have grown smaller.  The tradition and desire has been passed to me.  Now that I have children I want to make sure I pass the tradition down to them and also fill their bellies with the best stuff on earth. 

 

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Growing a Vegetable Garden

With the rising cost of food and gas I thought it would be fun, healthy and cost effective to plant a garden this year.  I have been successful in the past with container gardens but have never tilled up the ground and tried to grow vegetables.   

 

My grandparents plant a garden every year and usually grow enough to share some.  I love fresh, organic veggies so I am very excited and a little apprehensive about my venture.  My grandmother has showed me how to hoe to keep grass at bay (it can strangle the vegetables) and aerate the soil.  I tilled up a small plot and created four rows. 

 

I planted 10 tomato plants, 1 green bell pepper, 7 cantaloupes, 5 cucumbers, 4 yellow crook neck squash, and 2 rows of corn (my grandmother informed me you have to plant at least 2 rows of corn so that it will cross pollinate).  I also planted some zinnia seeds at the ends of the rows to attract the bees and butterflies to help with the pollination. 

 

Bee populations have been on the decline but I did have a swarm of them earlier in the spring that stayed in a tree while it was in bloom.  The tree is about 5 yards from my garden so hopefully I will get enough bee action to provide a good crop. 

 

I have been working in the garden everyday since I planted everything (about a week now).  I have hoed twice and watered once.  We are forecasted to get some rain tomorrow, I’m keeping my fingers crossed; I don’t want to water all summer.  My corn hasn’t popped out of the ground yet but everything else is growing.  I am so excited; my mouth is watering just thinking about a tomato sandwich! 

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Did You Know the Sun Sanitizes Your Clothes Naturally?

Its summer time so I have been doing a lot around the yard.  Since I switched to cloth diapers, I’ve been doing a little bit more laundry.  To offset this increase in energy use, my husband and I put up a clothes line the other day. 

 

I really love getting out in the yard and laboring.  My dad is a cabinet maker and my mom is a yard bunny so I grew up working around the house with at least one of them.  I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. 

 

Anyway, we dug two holes adjacent to each other; about 20′ apart and 2′ deep (give or take a few inches).  I reused two old metal clothes line poles that were left on our property and had my dad drill a few more holes in them.  I held those steady in the ground while my husband, alternating between concrete and water, filled up the holes.  We let the concrete cure for about 24 hours and ran metal wiring encased in plastic through the holes, tightening and securing them at the ends.  I couldn’t wait to hang my first load of clothes.  The sun is a natural bleaching agent so it is good for your clothes to dry in the sun from time to time; especially the little one’s diapers. 

 

A note on laundering cloth diapers: do not use fabric softener as this reduces their absorbency.  Dreft has softener agents in it as well.  I use All Clear Free.  It is biodegradable, dye free and perfume free.  There are a lot of biodegradable laundry detergents out there now to choose from.  I use All because it is the most inexpensive and it gets our clothes really clean.  I don’t use softener on any of our laundry, it’s expensive, unnecessary, and its use puts more chemicals into the ground water supply.  I haven’t used softener in years and don’t miss it at all.  I urge you to try to wean yourself off if you haven’t already. 

 

Now, back to my clothes line…  I have been really surprised by how quickly a load of clothes dries in the sun; I do have my line in an area that gets full sun almost all day.  Just to give you an example.  My husband and I have a King Down Comforter.  When I dry it in our dryer it has to be turned periodically and the dryer usually has to run through at least 2 cycles before the comforter is dry; this takes upwards of 2.5 hours. 

 

I washed our comforter today and dried it in the sun on the line.  It was dry and back on the bed in 4 hours with minimum energy use; plus it was bleached bright white again naturally by the sun. 

 

My other favorite thing about the line is how it looks.  There is a nice breeze blowing and I have sheets and a load of the baby’s diapers on the line right now.  It conjures up an image that harkens back to a different time.  It just makes me feel good to look at it.  If you’ve got the space, put one up and don’t use your dryer all summer long! 

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How To Diaper Green

We just celebrated out son’s first birthday!  He is such a rascal.  He is starting to climb on everything. 

When he was first born, I enjoyed (cringe if you like) the convenience of disposable diapers.  On occasion I would put him in a cloth diaper, struggling with diaper pins.  Usually, I would end up with my fingers pricked and he would have a loose, droopy diaper.  I hated the look, sound and feel of the plastic pants Wal-Mart offered as a solution to our soaked clothes.  

I grew increasingly aware of the trash we were creating.  As he neared his first birthday, his diaper changes were becoming less and less of a mess.  I felt confident that I could make the transition to cloth diapers with ease but I didn’t like my options. 

So, I started researching and found a vast sea of cloth diapering products online.  I was overwhelmed to say the least but so excited to find that I had real options.  I looked at diapers for days.  My husband said I was obsessed.  I was; I had to find the perfect option for us. 

When choosing cloth diapers you have a lot of options, there are the old fashion, Chinese prefold diapers (secured with pins), Pocket diapers, All-in-Ones, Fitted diapers, Contour diapers, and Diaper Covers. 

Diapering a child with a Chinese prefold usually consists of 2 diapers: one folded up as a soaker and placed in the other which is used to wrap around the baby’s bottom and secured.  You need a diaper cover (plastic pant) to keep leeks at bay.  You can get all this gear at Wal-Mart or you can find some cute diaper covers and closures online. 

I use Chinese prefolds with diaper covers when we are at home.  Instead of pins, I found this really cool closure device called a Snappi.  It takes half the time of pins and no one bleeds!  I will give you a link to a great site to get all this gear at the end of this post. 

Chinese prefolds are the most inexpensive diapering option.  You only need a few diaper covers since they don’t have to be washed every time you change the baby’s diaper, just wipe it off with a damp cloth and its clean (I throw them in the wash after a days use). 

Our little guy has some really cute diaper covers.  I like Thirsties and Bumkins‘ diaper covers.  They come in a wide range of colors and designs and are so cute.  I usually just let him run around the house in his diaper and cover now; he looks so cute. 

I also use Pocket diapers for outings and at night.  Pocket diapers consist of two layers, a waterproof outer and fleece or cotton inner with a pock in the middle.  You slide soaker inserts or Chinese prefolds into the pocket.  Pocket diapers dry faster than All-In-Ones (consisting of both layers with a soaker middle all in one) because you can essentially take the diaper apart and wash and dry the pieces separately. 

There are a lot of different brands of Pocket diapers and AIOs.  BumGenius is popular but they have velcro closures which my tike can get undone.  Since I like to let him run around the house in just a diaper (babies look so cute in just a diaper) this is not a viable option for me.  I found a great brand called Knicker Nappies

Knicker Nappies close with snaps, very convenient.  There is a row of snaps to adjust to my growing baby.  The size he is in now should fit him till he potty trains!  When folded up they take up about the same amount of room as a disposable diaper in the diaper bag.  I just toss a few in and take a wet bag when we go out.  You can buy fancy wet bags but I just reuse plastic bags for this. 

Knicker Nappies warranties their snaps and elastic for a year which is great.  Pocket diapers are more expensive up front but when compared to the cost disposable diapers, it’s a drop in the bucket.  The best thing about pocket diapers (AIO I suppose too) is that they are just a convenient as disposable.  If you have a baby, your going to have to be cleaning up messes when you change diapers, there is no getting around it; why not do something green in the process-that’s my theory.

You can find all of the products I mentioned at Nicki’s Diapers.  They offer free shipping on Pocket diapers and Diaper covers.  When you order Pocket diapers, they even give you a free insert, a great site.    

 

 

 

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Green Person Found in Rural Mississippi!

Yes, I really live in a place where it is more common than not to find a person who believes global warming is a myth!  So, where is this place?  Rural Mississippi, surprised?  Well, you need not be.  The Bible doesn’t mention global warming so it must not be true; most don’t believe in evolution either. 

I myself am not in any of the above categories.  I look no further than the polar bears for proof of global warming, I don’t believe the Bible is the answer to it all, and well, evolution is a fact, not a theory.  So you might be wondering why I, someone so different from her surroundings, stay in this backward place. 

For all of the cons I can list about rural Mississippi, its pros are hard to find elsewhere.  My family is here, we live in the country, surrounded by trees, and animals, there are forests for my children to explore, space to run, and fresh air to breath.  The cons… those are the motivation for my blog. 

I live in a place where recycling seems to be a four letter word, fried chicken is a staple and sweet tea is in baby’s sippy!  Living green is a challenge for me because I live in a place that doesn’t cater to that market.  I plan to share with you the obstacles I encounter and the ideas I have for making my family’s life a green life.   I also hope to learn from you too and find out how you live green. 

 

 

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