Yard and Garden
November 19, 2009
Snow season is upon us, and often neighbors are envious of each others gas-powered, polluting snow blowers that ease the burden of shoveling sidewalks and driveways. An eco-friendly version is now available that will be the envy of those competing to be the greenest on their street: the Sno Wovel Wheeled Snow Shovel.
The Sno Wovel™ is the only non-combustion alternative snow removal device performing equal to or better than a snow blower...Shoveling and snow blower injuries result in approximately 100,000 serious emergency room visits annually in North America. Cumulative injuries affect millions, resulting in lost time and productivity for recovery - all of which are now preventable without sacrificing performance. The University of Massachusetts, one of the top U.S. ergonomic research centers, has released the results of an independent study verifying that use of the patented Sno Wovel wheel-based shovel results in a 3-4 times reduction in lower back stress and cardio exertion. The innovative wheeled design allows for effortless snow clearing on all types of surfaces while avoiding twisting, bending and post snowstorm muscle aches.
I do not personally own a Sno Wovel, nor have I tried one, but I think this is an ingenious invention. According to Eco Cycle
, snow blowers "send 30 percent of the unburned fuel out with the exhaust." From noise pollution to greenhouse gas emission, traditional snow blowers are not good for the earth.
June 18, 2009
is a favorite amongst gardeners for its fuchsia fruit, but this native plant to the Southeast US is also a powerful insect repellent. According to Mother Earth News
In 2006, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, Miss., found that extracts from beautyberry leaves could match DEET for repelling mosquitoes. The next year, experiments showed that the active ingredients from the leaves (callicarpenal and intermedeol) provided 100-percent repellency of black-legged ticks for three hours. In 2008, the four-person research team, headed by chemist Charles Cantrell in Mississippi and entomologist Jerome Klun in Maryland, published research that added fire ants to the list of pests repelled by essential oil distilled from beautyberry leaves.
I have not been able to find any beautyberry insect repellent, so instead I will have to find a plant for my garden.
May 11, 2009
Written by Douglas W. Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded
explains how you can bring more wildlife into your backyard by planting native plants. Even just a few native plants can help you become a backyard ecologist. This book contains extensive lists of native plants for regional habitats, as well as incredible photographs.
But now, for the first time in its history, gardening has taken on a role that transcends the needs of the gardener. Like it or not, gardeners have become important players in the management of our nation's wildlife. It is now with-in the power of individual gardeners to do something that we all dream of doing: to make a difference. In this case, the "difference" will be to the future of biodiversity, to the native plants and animals of North America and the ecosystems that sustain them.
The Bringing Nature Home website
has a lot of information like "What should I plant where I live?", including an interactive map, and "The vital role of native plants." From suburbia to rural america, we can help promote biodiversity by planting native plants in our yards.
December 15, 2008
Every house should be equipped with rain barrels off of its gutters. It's free water that most likely would just run off into the sewer, so why not save it for irrigation? The Deluxe Rain Barrel with Screen Lid - 55-Gallon
is made from a UV protected food-grade barrel that was previously used and has been upcycled into a rain collection barrel. You could probably do this yourself from any food-grade barrel. This one comes with two spigots for easy hook up and a screen to keep out debris.
November 25, 2008
Ever wondered what plants will grow in your yard? Zone maps aren't very site specific, and they keep changing due to global warming
. The EasyBloom Plant Sensor
solves all these problems. Just place this gadget in a growing location, whether inside or out, for 24 hours. It will collect data on light, temperature, humidity, and soil moisture. Then plug your Easy Bloom into the USB port on your computer, and it will recommend plants that are perfect for your specific microclimate. The Easy Bloom also can diagnose why certain plants are failing to thrive in your garden or home. The EasyBloom Plant Sensor
makes growing plants easy!
November 11, 2008
It is almost officially winter time, so most people living in the Northern Hemisphere are not mowing their lawns frequently if at all. Even so, this new Husqvarna's
Solar-Powered Robot is so cool I had to share it! Capable of mowing 3/4 acre, the 18 volt, 4 amp Auto Mower 230 runs 90 minutes on a single charge and cuts 1300 square feet per hour. The Auto Mower even returns to its own charging station when its power is running low! That's one smart, eco-friendly lawn mower!
July 10, 2008
Americans spend a lot of time, energy, fertilizer, and water on their lawns
, but for what benefit? Now, the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore seeks to bring the garden from the backyard to the front with their "Edible Estate" project. Clarence Ridgley transformed his neat front yard into a garden full of tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, lettuce, beets and herbs. This front yard garden is visible and available to all passersby. He explains:
People will come to my yard and pick up an onion sprout and start eating it on the spot. I've met more people in the past two months than I have the past 22 years of living here.
Perhaps edible front yards is the solution to bringing a sense of community back into our neighborhoods that has been lost to suburban sprawl
June 11, 2008
Father's Day is this Sunday, and if you feel compelled to give Dad a gift, make it eco-friendly. Most dads I know take pride in their lawns. My own dad doesn't obsess over his green grass, but he definitely keeps it neatly mowed. I think the perfect eco-friendly gift for a lawn loving father is a classic push reel lawn mower
Not all push lawn mowers are created equal. Many of them contain Proposition 65 warnings, meaning:
WARNING:This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.
The Gilmour Reel Mower reel lawn mower does not contain any of these chemicals. It comes with a grass catcher, is 20 inches wide, and has self-sharpening reels. Push reel lawn mowers are perfect for small yards, but they work in large yards too. It is best not to let your grass grow too long between cuttings with a push reel mower, but it certainly cuts down on noise and air pollution. Push reel lawn mowers are more pleasant to use in comparison to their gas counterparts. With the cost of gasoline skyrocketing and climate change eminent, a push reel lawn mower offers Dad a chance to use less fuel and make mowing more enjoyable.
April 21, 2008
In honor of Earth Day
, Amazon is having a sale on green goods
. For example, this Black & Decker Cordless Mulching Lawn Mower
is being offered at a reduced price. Did you know that gas-powered lawn equipment is a major source of greenhouse gases? Operating your gas mower for one hour will produce the same pollution as driving a car 1300 miles
! Depending on your source of electric power, the Black & Decker Cordless Mulching Lawn Mower
may be an ideal item for lessening your carbon footprint. This is the only cordless mower to receive an Energy Star rating.
December 4, 2007
Considering buying a kitchen composter, but worried about the amount of work it will require? Concerned you don't have the yard space for an outdoor composter? Concerned about the smell? Consider the Porsche of composters -- NatureMill's automatic kitchen composter.
To use it, add your organic waste -- food scraps (including meat and dairy), coffee grinds, and even pet waste (yuck!), close the lid, and voila. NauralMill's composter uses the hot composting method -- mixing, air flow, heat and moisture -- to create compost without icky odors. The compost gets transferred via a trap door to a lower chamber so you can keep adding new waste and making more compost in the top chamber. Remove fresh compost every two weeks.
Worried about the energy such a composter might consume? From the NatureMill website:
A NatureMill automatic composter recycles its weight in waste every 10 days, diverting over two tons of waste from landfills over its life. This reduces emissions of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas produced when organic matter decomposes in oxygen-starved landfills. Compost returns nutrients to the environment, reducing our need for chemical fertilizers. NatureMill uses 5 kwh / month of energy - or about $0.50/month - less than a garbage truck would burn in diesel fuel to haul the same waste. It is made from recycled and recyclable materials.
Available at Greenfeet.
Looking for something smaller and simpler? How about a stainless steel compost pail?
Other composters stories:
Finding the Best Composter for You
Natural Urban Composter
Envirocycle Backyard Composter
November 30, 2007
A quick update to our earlier entry on solar-powered LED holiday lights. Looks like Sportsman's Guide is sold out of their stock. But Get Organized has 26' strings of 60 lights available for $20 a string on Amazon.
The lights don't need to be plugged in. They charge up by day, turn on automatically at dusk, and last for approximately eight hours.
Buy them at Get Organized.
November 5, 2007
Update: Sportsman's Guide appears to be sold out of their solar-powered LED lights, but Get Organized is carrying them for $20 for a 26' string of 60 lights. Buy them at Get Organized LED holiday lights.
We've switched our clocks for Daylight Savings Time. And what better use is there for that extra daylight than....solar powered LED holiday lights?
Sportsman's Guide is stocking these lights, available in strings of 50 or 100 bulbs, and in white or colored lights. Place these lights anywhere outside - cover your house, string them on a tree, deck the front bumper of your hybrid SUV - and the sunlight will recharge the battery. When the sun goes down, the lights turn on automatically. Voila! Twinkle, twinkle, without the high electric bills or eco-guilt.
Continue reading: "Solar Powered LED Holiday Lights"
July 20, 2007
Spice up your patio or hot tub area with these solar powered lanterns, The Soji solar powered lanterns are perfect for placing around your outdoor living area while entertaining guests or just enjoying a private evening on your deck or patio. The Soji Lanterns are available in four vibrant colours and can be hung or used as a tabletop display, the choice is yours.
During the day the solar panel collects sunlight and charges the AAA battery, then as daylight turns to dusk a photo sensor automatically turns on the lantern. The Soji Lantern will continue to glow for hours into the night and will then recharge itself the next day. Each Soji Lantern is 12 in diameter and is constructed of sturdy nylon for year round use.
At Soji Lantern
July 19, 2007
In keeping with our "solar powered garden" theory, this Solar powered Floating Pond Lily made from resin includes panel and pump kit and anchoring net for use in ponds or fountains. You just have to wait for a Sunny day and the water will shoot out from the floating lily.
At Smart Solar Floating Pond Lily