Thursday, February 25, 2010

Get to work kid!

So what's the point of having kids unless you can make them do stuff for you?
Heehee, I'm just kidding. She *wanted* to push the applicator around so I let her. Lucky me. ;^)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Organic Lawn Care

And so ends our annual sunny week of February weather! Tomorrow it looks like the rain will be back with a vengeance. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. I did get a chance to mow the lawn this afternoon with one of Grandpa Jack's old push mowers and add my corn gluten. Good. Now hopefully the weeds will forget about growing and I can forget about weeding. Ha!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Well the garden is pretty quiet right now as we're coming to the end of winter, however we seem to always get a week of really beautiful weather in February. It's been great. I've been outside shoveling compost in to all the beds in preparation for planting in a few weeks. The only thing to come up so far, is a shoot of asparagus.
FEB 2010
The Forsythia are all in bloom right now too and that bright yellow color is Mother Nature's warning sign that weeds are right around the corner! ;^) So I went to pick up my annual giant bag 'o corn gluten which is an organic seed inhibitor. So yeah, sprinkle liberally in spring and you'll have a lot less weeds to pull.
I also picked up some more leek seeds (I was out) and some german camomile. I hear it can be tricky to start the latter from seed but I thought I'd like to give it a go before I run out and buy starts in a few months.
I've also really wanted the Organic Lawn Care book for a year now and since it's not been posted to in all that time and no one gifted it to me, I bought it for myself with some of my birthday money. Now I just need to find the time to read it. Heh. But still - I'm very happy!

And now for the standard monthly garden pictures... I guess you could consider these "before" shots. ;^)

FEB 2010
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...and the last bed we built. You can see my kiddo there with her sidewalk chalk and the new peach tree. I'm planning on putting in a ton of annuals that will attract pollinators to the garden this summer behind the peach. I'm excited to see a riot of color over there. Yay!
FEB 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

5 Plants That Clean Your Home Air

We spend up to 90 per cent of our time indoors, sealed tightly into our homes, trying to prevent costly energy loss and escape the chill of winter. But there’s a big looming cloud over the cozy picture. It’s inside air pollution.

The U.S. Environmental Agency labels indoor air one of the top five environmental health risks. Pollutants known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs are especially irritating to people with asthma or chemical sensitivities. And these gases are everywhere: they’re given off by new furniture, adhesives used in carpeting and cupboards, paint, drywall, a wide variety of personal-care products and dry cleaning.

But a whiff of good news on the home front: a study conducted by a University of Georgia team shows that at least five common houseplants cleanse the air of some nasty VOCs.

“I’m really excited,” said Dr. Stanley Kays, a professor in the department of horticulture and the lead author of the study. “I see a real potential positive health impact if we learn how to utilize plants to create a healthier environment,” he told Allergic Living.

The research team tested 28 common indoor plants for their ability to remove five toxic indoor pollutants: benzene (particularly found in drywall in Georgia), toluene, octane, trichloroethene (TCE) and alpha-pinene. “The VOCs tested in this study have a potential to seriously compromise the health of exposed individuals,” Kays said.

What floored him was the sheer volume of these compounds in the households. “When we started checking the air quality in some of the houses, it was shocking, unbelievable. We identified 179 VOCs in just two homes. It reiterated that we have a real problem here and most people have no idea about it.”

The Top 5
Of 28 plant species tested, five emerged as the best VOC eliminators.
Purple Waffle Plant (Hemigraphis alternata) This attractive plant has puckered, slightly curled leaves that show off a red underside. It’s professor Stanley Kays personal favourite, a VOC-eliminating powerhouse.

English Ivy (Hedera helix) The lush, fast-growing foliage makes for a nice hanging or climbing plant as ivy sucks up the UGA’s quintuplet of VOCs. Do keep out of reach of toddlers and pets, as the leaves are toxic if eaten.

Variegated Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa) This tropical develops beautiful blooms in the summer, and its exquisite two-tone foliage inhales your household pollutants all year long.

Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) The plant’s abundant greenery scrubs toxins right out of the air. Meantime, the elegant spikes will perk up a room in the dead of winter. Don’t eat the berries, which can irritate the intestines; the plant can be toxic to pets.

Purple Heart Plant (Tradescantia pallida) A favourite from the spiderwort family, this plant with its elongated, purple leaves out fills out to a full, beautiful hanging pot. Researchers rated it as superior for its ability to remove four of five VOCs – benzene, toluene, TCE and alpha-pinene.

On the Horizon
While this study is preliminary research, Kays is optimistic about being able to offer plant “prescriptions” in future. “I think we can really increase the health of people by the precise use of plants in interior spaces,” he says. A few pretty plants for much better breathing? Sounds like an idea that will blossom.

By Erin Stevenson for

Monday, February 15, 2010

A peak of spring!



Woo! Six yards of compost is here. Looks like I've got a lot of shoveling ahead of me. Heh. Thanks to Nature's Needs which makes organic compost. My daughter has dubbed the giant pile of "dirt", Mt. Kindergarden. She's been having a grand time climbing up to the top and "jumping" off.... or skittering down on her butt. Who ever said gardening wasn't fun?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

And now for a photo of the newly planted apple tree...

Apple Crisp

DH came in the house this morning and said, "Hey, there's no apples on your stick yet!" I lol'ed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blueberry Maintenance

It was a beautiful sunny (almost warm) day yesterday. Yes, we reached a high of 55*! It was the perfect day to prune the blueberry bushes. I was a little nervous about it having never done it before but after reading up and taking a whack at it, I think I did okay. Guess we'll see this summer...