Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spring Gardening...starting your seeds indoors!

Spring has sprung and gardening time has begun! Since the start of May and spring sunshine, I’ve been so excited to start planting my vegetable garden! But my husband keeps reminding me that those cold nights that bring frost are not quite over. If I want my garden to be successful, I’ll have to wait just a few more days! Typically we wait until May 15th to begin planting to make sure that no seedlings die if a frost hits.

*A mild frost is considered at or around freezing. A hard frost is occurs when temperatures fall below freezing. Some plants can survive a mild frost, but usually they cannot survive a hard frost. Check with the seed packet instructions or search it online.

One great way to get started gardening in early spring is by starting your seeds inside! I like reusing egg cartons to plant my seeds because they hold the moisture well and I am recycling at the same time. The great thing about starting your own seeds inside is you can grow a larger variety than the seedlings you can find at your local nursery. Plus you can get your plants going before the cold is completely gone!

First things first, follow the instructions on the back of your seed packet. These instructions will give you the best information to grow that particular plant in the zone in which you live. Following instructions can make a big difference, especially if you aren’t very familiar with gardening.

Second, you need to make sure your seeds can get enough sunlight. Most seeds require 12 hours of sunlight a day, so you’ll most likely need to supplement sunlight with artificial light. If it gets really cold outside at night, make sure your seeds aren’t against a window (on a window still) at night. Rotating seed containers in the direction of the sun will also keep your seedlings growing straight.

The final key to germinating seeds indoors is to water them, but not too much. If you stick your finger in the soil and it is dry, it is time to water. Seeds are delicate, so try watering your seeds from the bottom, instead of the top. If the top of the soil is very dry, you can mist the top with a spray bottle.

Tips taken from:,,hqnj,00.html
Photo: DrStarbuck

Monday, May 3, 2010

Green Gifts for Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! Here are some of my favorite ideas that your family can do for green Mother's Day gifts:

1. Give mom locally grown flowers: Most cut flowers are grown abroad (typically in South America) and therefore require more energy, for both transportation and refrigeration. Local flowers mean a shorter distance between producer and consumer and less greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. Plus, the flowers will be fresher and last longer. Seek out a florist in your area that sells locally grown flowers or try the farmer’s market for a local selection. And better yet, buy organic ones!

2. Plant a tree or garden with mom: Planting seeds, flowers, veggies or trees is a fun activity to do with mom on Mother’s day. Your plants will continue to grow over the next several months (or years if it’s a tree) and every time mom looks at them she’ll be reminded of her special day.

3. Get mom some organic chocolate: Check out your local natural foods store for a selection of organic and fair trade chocolate. Mom will love it and everyone will feel good about supporting sustainable chocolate. For something a little fancier than a chocolate bar, check out organic chocolate gift boxes like those sold by Sweet Earth Chocolates.

4. Find a unique eco-friendly gift online: There are lots of websites, like World of Good, that sell eco-friendly products. You never know what you might find!

5. Recycled Jewelry: The jewelry industry really takes a toll on the environment. Mining metals requires a massive amount of water and it creates a lot of waste. Try finding mom jewelry made from green materials such as glass, shells or recycled metals or even pre-owned jewelry. If you want to give mom diamonds, choose conflict free diamonds which are guaranteed not to be obtained through the use of human rights abuses, child labor, or violence. Try finding a socially responsible jeweler in your community.

6. Natural Cosmetics: Find mom cosmetics made from all natural and organic ingredients. Conventional cosmetics contain an array of chemicals that end up in your body or being flushed down the drain and later pollute the environment. Look for ingredients based on plant materials, like olive oil. You can usually find all sorts of natural cosmetics at a natural food store, like Whole Foods.

7. Make a charitable donation in Mom’s name: Donate money to an environmental or human rights organization (or other organization of your choice)! Or volunteer your time at an organization for a day!

8. Make mom art: Dig through your recycling and create an art project for mom made out of recycled materials. You could make a collage out of old magazines, paint a frame out of cardboard…be creative!

With these green gifts you’ll be able to honor Mom and Mother Nature!