Composting – Better Than Rotting in Landfill

Clever Composting

You don’t need a farm to benefit from composting. You needn’t even a proper garden. Though composting is invaluable to both of these, providing soil amendment and enrichment, it has many beneficial attributes elsewhere. Beginning with its immediate surroundings, composting catches up to 99.5 percent of volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs, that may be present on the land. VOCs include heating fuels, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and even explosives. These can come from contaminated soil, for which compost acts as a remedy. Composting is a key component for fighting erosion as well as silting, protecting banks that run along lakes, creeks, and… read more

Out of The Ordinary Herb Gardens

Out of The Ordinary Herb Gardens

Herbs can be a favorite of many gardeners. Herbs can be grown any time of year indoors with proper lighting and growing conditions. Outdoor herb gardens are usually started once the fear of frost is gone. Some can be grown from seeds and others do best when started outside as rooted plants. Many are easy to grow and some varieties require only minimal upkeep with just occasional weeding and watering in drought conditions. For example, mint and many types of oregano will completely take over more than their share of garden space without much care. Themed herb gardens like pizza… read more

DIY Outdoor Space On A Budget

DIY Outdoor Space On A Budget

If you have a favorite outdoor spot, deck or patio but not a lot going on in the line of style and function, the following DIY projects will have you wanting to get your craft on. Reusing and upcycling can turn a bare spot into a lounge worthy space, great for a weekend project. The following tutorials have good, easy to follow images and videos, including a great compilation of ideas for making a fantastic homemade patio set. Break out your old broken lawn chairs and chaise lounges. Making a macramé lawn chair with an existing frame is a perfect… read more

When Scientific Research And Legos Collide

When Scientific Research And Legos Collide

To some children, Legos are a first primer to serious architecture. Though in the fun guise of play, most of us don’t recall the strategy, composing and hours of constructing, erecting and regrouping to begin again, that was involved in a serious afternoon of Lego assembly. Science, who is no stranger to hours of constructive exploration, often strays from the ordinary to investigate and find answers, and when searching for a solution to fill a laboratory need one team did just that. Researchers at Iowa State University wanted to investigate what effects the environment has on plant development. In order to… read more

Getting Kids Into Gardening

Getting Kids In The Garden

Teaching kids where their food comes from is a valuable lesson that will stay with them forever. Gardening fosters a sense of independence, models sustainability and encourages healthy eating. Match kid’s creativity by rethinking what a garden plot should be. If space is an issue, container gardens or vertical varieties are easier to maintain and can be done to scale in order to fit the child’s abilities and growing plans. A simple planter concept that also reuses plastic bottles can be seen in a product called the Petomato. By taking an ordinary empty water bottle and fitting on the special cap that contains… read more

The Lure Of A Courtyard

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Courtyards have been used in residences and businesses worldwide throughout history. Along with their inviting appeal, they can also be energy efficient spaces. One study examined how the use of courtyards in the Mediterranean area also serves a functional purpose as passive energy systems. The walls, placement and size of courtyards can lend to considerably cooler temperatures in warmer weather. Courtyards are popular in many regions where the weather is accommodating to outdoor living. From Klopf Architecture, this Eichler style remodel incorporated existing gables and a centrally located garden turning the home into an open and inviting place. The new enclosed courtyard… read more

The Quest for a Chemical Free Garden

The Quest for a Chemical Free Garden

A few summers back, I tried to have a completely organic garden…and failed. Miserably. My garden was free of all pesticides and chemicals, and the only protection was fencing to keep the wildlife out. Good cultivated earth, nutrient-rich topsoil, seeds, sun and water only. It’s amazing how these simple ingredients can invite a whole slew of little things, overnight even, that will take over your entire carefully tendered space. My organic experience ended up looking like, well, a science fiction experiment. Several strange creatures swarmed my garden, and at times my entire yard. The party had started, and it lasted… read more

The Beauty Of Impermanence

The Beauty Of Impermanence

Is it possible to make the beach even more beautiful? For artist Andres Amador, it is. Amador is a sand artist who creates surreal beach murals, also known as playa paintings, which he refers to as earthscape art. Taking advantage of the low tide, Amador rakes the sand into patterns and generates geometrical forms as he engraves intricate designs into the beach shore. He also uses a rope to help make the patterns. The raking reveals the wet sand underneath and creates a notable varied toned presentation in the appearance of the sand. The patterns take over the beachfront and observers… read more

DIY Patio Umbrella Ideas And Repairs

DIY Patio Umbrella And Repairs From Salvaged Parts

Adding shade to a patio makes it an instant outdoor gathering spot on sunny days. However, patio umbrellas can be pricey. Also, some are not made for durability and can’t make it through a windstorm, leaving a lopsided umbrella with ripped fabric and a less than perfect appearance. Making your own patio umbrella can be done by using salvaged pieces from a regular umbrella, or by reusing supplies and constructing your own. If you have an old umbrella that has seen better days but the frame is still together, it may be able to be repurposed into a bigger patio sized umbrella… read more

Quick and Easy Composting

Bokashi composting

Bokashi, which means “fermented organic matter” in Japanese, is an intensive composting method that uses microbes such as yeast, bacteria, and lactic acid to break organic matter down quickly, creating compost in as little as two weeks. The active Bokashi agent is a pleasant-smelling bran-based material fermented with an effective micro-organism (EM) liquid concentrate and subsequently dried. Bokashi composting requires only a bucket and the Bokashi material.   The method enables composting not only materials that can go into regular compost systems such as  fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg, shells, and plant clippings, but also breads and other… read more