Making Communal Use of Vacant Lots


Over the decades many cities have suffered from population loss. This degeneration may show in the staggering amount of vacant lots and houses. On average, 15 percent of a city’s land is vacant. The term ‘vacancy’ can pertain to many things in relation to a city. Some lands deemed vacant are abandoned houses, others brown fields or empty lots. Even though these areas are unoccupied, sometimes deemed unsuitable for occupation, they can still cost cities considerable amounts of money. There have been temporary fixes for these vacancies, including use as a pasture or for storage. It is a sad state… read more

Build A Backyard Grape Arbor

Build A Backyard Grape Arbor

Consuming grapes has several health benefits as they are high in many essential nutrients. Rich in manganese, they are potent antioxidants and have proven cardiovascular system benefits. Organically grown grapes, unlike conventional varieties, do not have the extra worry of contaminated soil and water runoff from pesticide residuals. Installing a grape arbor in the backyard can be done on a budget. With a little research, planning and building a main structural support system, establishing a successful start for a grapevine is a project that will pay off. Garden Guides has ideas for basic construction materials to use for a grape trellis. A… read more

Improving Produce Without Genetic Engineering

Improving Produce Without Genetic Engineering

A lot of focus on the food production and farming industries may seem to concentrate on genetically modified foods. However, some plant breeders are working to also bring focus to an age old way of growing premier foods, without using any genetically induced alterations. Rapid genetic analysis, or sometimes referred to as marker-assisted breeding, uses conventional farming techniques and plant breeding with quick ways of identifying alleles and DNA markers and how they are structured. Combining the more traditional forms of farming along with these processes can produce crops with more flavor and color, as well as a more appealing presence and shape. It… read more

Get Outside and Climb a Tree

Climb a Tree

When former US President Ronald Reagan said, “If you’ve seen one redwood tree, you’ve seen them all”, he spoke from a belief system rooted in his disconnection from the natural world. All human communication emerges from belief systems. In the case of environmental communication, beliefs (the complex fusion of feelings and attitudes) inform how we variously see ourselves in relation to the nonhuman world. In an age when environmental beliefs play a critical role in whether society shifts toward sustainability, it’s important to be mindful of our belief systems. Particularly important is the need to be watchful of the environmental… read more

Dip into Nature, Not Chlorine

natural pools

The next time you take a swim, consider what you are diving into. It is known that chlorine and other chemicals are commonly used to disinfect swimming pools. But with natural, chlorine free options available, why expose your health to these chemicals? Beyond turning hair green, chlorine also reacts to bodily fluids, including sweat and urine. When combined, toxic breakdown products, called chloramines, are formed. Another of chlorine’s most common effects is eye irritation. This isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that we continue to immerse ourselves, eyes open, into a pool of the stuff. You can cool off in a… read more

Grow Winter Greens

Grow Winter Greens

The cold winter months can actually lend to a versatile growing season for many hearty plants. A winter garden does not require too much space and many herbs and vegetables can also be grown in containers. However, many cold weather plants need to be rooted in the ground in order to flourish. Plants will need to be well covered under a protective barrier, such as cold frames or row covers, in the winter months. An encasing helps to shield delicate leaves from frosting and traps in heat. A good multipurpose herb to have around is wintergreen. Its oil, which also… read more

Naturally Effective Produce Washes

Naturally Effective Produce Washes

Many consumers are concerned about pesticides or sprays used in the production of fruit and vegetables. As a consequence, produce washes are available for purchase. Are they as effective as plain water, or do they leave a residue behind too, and money wasted? According to experts, specially developed fruit washes are not needed, and do not provide any benefits over rubbing foods under running water. Preparing produce with clean hands, utensils and at sanitary workstations helps to ensure contamination doesn’t sneak in also. Though thoroughly washing with running water provides effective cleansing, a Cook’s Illustrated study concurred that after examining different methods… read more

Yes Please, Rosemary

Right With Rosemary

Rosemary has many health benefits. It is a good source of calcium, iron and fiber. It aids in digestion and circulation, and can help heighten attention levels. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which can decrease some of the effects of an asthma attack. It is a stimulant though, so those that are pregnant, have heart conditions or epilepsy should not use it. Since it is an evergreen it can be grown all year under proper conditions. If you are lucky enough to get rosemary to flourish in an herb garden, it may spread wildly. It can be dried and stored… read more

Save Strawberry Seeds

Strawberry Seeds

Picked ripe and eaten alone or put in a luscious recipe, strawberries are a favorite of many. Beyond just eating the berry though, the strawberry’s seeds can be put to practical use, too. Harvesting strawberry seeds allows heirloom plants to be grown that will produce an abundance of strawberries. You can buy starter plants or packaged seeds, but the seeds can easily be removed from the berries’ skin just by gently scraping them off. The outside of a strawberry contains around 200 seeds. Some varieties of seeds need to be frozen first to encourage the germination process, and then they… read more

Indoor DIY Greenhouse

Countertop Greenhouses

Greenhouses have been put to use for centuries in order to provide extended growing seasons and for protective storage capabilities. By trapping sunlight inside and capturing warming energy they make ideal environments for starting seedlings and growing plants all year long. With a space-saving countertop greenhouse, the benefits of having a garden can be applied on a smaller-scale indoors providing a continual supply of greenery. These can be bought pre-made and can include glass or plastic frames. Kits can also be purchased, or you can construct your own with a bit of crafting skill and some basic materials. provides directions with… read more