Environmental Lawn Care – What a large and confusing subject

We have over the past 3 or 4 years talked about getting animals to trim our grass. We live in the city, it is true but we have only talked about getting 2 animals. We think the village will be OK with it. So far we have talked about alpacas, goats and sheep. Now being small town kids, we assumed that they would roam the yard eating the grass and we would have a level and fertilized yard for free. But that is massively wrong. They require special feeds as supplements, they all require hoof care and must have a vet, and they can not tolerate the Illinois winters, so they have to be sheltered. The long and the short of it is that if you sell their hair to people who use it to make things (you do have to shear them for summer) then you can get close to break even but with only 2 animals it would be tough. So mow we shall for now.

Natural Lawn Care

Lawns do more than make your yard look good.

Lawns absorb water, which helps reduce storm runoff and improve water quality. Lawns also have a significant cooling effect, provide oxygen, trap dust and dirt, promote healthful micro-organisms, prevent erosion and filter rainwater contaminants.

Lawn care, however, has come at a high cost to the environment. According to the U.S. National Wildlife Federation:
  • 30% of water used on the East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60% on the West Coast.
  • 18% of municipal solid waste is composed of yard waste.
  • The average suburban lawn received 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland.
  • Over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually. (Read Healthy lawns, healthy lungs)
  • Per hour of operation, a gas lawn mower emits 10-12 times as much hydrocarbon as a typical auto. A weedeater emits 21 times more and a leaf blower 34 times more.

Where pesticides are used, 60 – 90% of earthworms are killed. Earthworms are important for soil health.

Much of the environmental cost associated with lawn care can be avoided.
Healthy Lawn Basics   

The only way to reduce a dependence on chemical fertilizers is to develop a healthy lawn, which is naturally resistant to weeds, insects and diseases. If you need to fertilize your lawn more than once a year, consider these ways of improving the natural health of your lawn:


Go there and read more then I frankly could. More tomorrow.


Next Week Is Earth Week – Actually Sunday is the day

Might as well end the week with a kick off for the next. Earth Day is Sunday, but Springfield can’t seem to get its act together on the actual day. But at least people celebrate it. Happy weekend everyone.


April 19, 2012

10 Things We’ve Learned About the Earth Since Last Earth Day

Sunday is the 42nd celebration of Earth Day, which was started in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to help educate people about environmental issues and demonstrate public support for a conservationist agenda. With that in mind, we decided it was the right time to recap the most surprising, awe-inspiring and alarming things that we have learned about the Earth and the environment since last year’s holiday:

1. Undiscovered species are still out there: Countless discoveries over the past year reminded us that, despite centuries of research, the planet still has plenty of surprise species in store. Among the many finds include seven new forest mice species in the Philippines, a “psychedelic” gecko in Vietnam and a new type of dolphin in AustraliaA new analysis released last August, billed as the most accurate ever, estimated that a total of 8.7 million different species of life exist on earth.

2. Global warming is already driving up food prices: While many fear that climate change will someday reduce crop yields and cause food prices to rise, a study published last May in Science indicates that this troubling trend has already gotten started. The models used suggest that reduced global yields of wheat and corn are related to global warming. Although the effects are relatively small so far, they may cause severe problems in the future, as climate patterns continue to change and food demand increases.


Go there and read. More next week.


More Spring Energy Tips – But the freeze just put an end to our nice weather

We were having a great weird spring with temperatures consistently above 60 degrees. Then last night we got 4 hours of freezing and tonight we get 5 more. Coral Bells, Pawpaws and some bushes took a hit. Still, here are more Spring tips.

As a couple, my husband and I were naturals to become part of the green movement: We already used mass transportation, spent considerable time camping in national parks and recycled obsessively (rinsing foil and all). But it was the birth of our daughter that deepened our commitment to making easy household changes — the idea of leaving the world better for her and her generation.

Here’s how we created a greener home:

1. To Market, to Market
Our vast collection of reusable market bags started with two cute canvas totes I’d purchased at a thrift store. Now we have about 14 totes, which we grab as readily as we grab our keys on our way out the door for groceries. We’re keeping plastic bags out of landfills, and as a bonus, the totes’ sturdy shoulder straps make schlepping goods up the stairs to our front door less back-breaking.

2. What Good Things Grow
Through my husband’s involvement with the local community garden, we learned about a massive composting initiative, which takes neighborhood compostable waste and transforms it into dark, nutrient-rich dirt. Now, after dinner, we take a bowl of our unwanted onionskins, carrot peels and eggshells and leave them in the bin at the garden gate. Less waste in our kitchen means that our garbage bags go further too.


3. Seeing the Light
When compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) first became available (and the U.S. government announced that if every home replaced one regular bulb with a CFL bulb, we could prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year), it was a no-brainer. We made the switch, socket by socket. But we were concerned when we learned that the mercury in these bulbs made proper disposal an imperative. Fortunately, Home Depot has signed on as a nationwide recycler, so all we have to do is to bring our used bulbs there and look for the big orange bin just for CFLs.

4. Second Lives
Living on a tight budget through college is probably what ratcheted up my resourcefulness. As a result, I’m always looking for the next use of an item before throwing it away. The pink sheets that are now too scratchy for sleeping? With a little time and effort, they became a doll, with eyes made from old buttons and hair from my abandoned knitting-project yarn. The old album covers collecting dust on the shelves? A couple of ready-made frames transformed them into instant wall art.

5. Off With It!
Hot out? Line dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. Not actively on the computer? Power down and unplug it. Bored? Reach for that huge pile of been-meaning-to-read books instead of grabbing the remote. There are hundreds of alternatives to the old electronic habits. And once you’re committed to changing your habits, it’s easy not to look bac


More tomorrow.


Gardening Is Good For Your Soul – If you believe you have one

I find gardening to be very spiritual in a way. Nothing like getting back to mother nature where there are no media devices and the birds are singing. The sun is warm and there is a breeze. It feels like life can go on forever.


Growing Organic Vegetables

By Eric Vinje, Planet Natural

If the thought of a ripe, juicy tomato makes your mouth water, or imagining snapping a crisp pea makes your fingers itch, then growing organic vegetables is for you. Everyone knows that home grown veggies and fruits taste a million times better than the varieties purchased at the grocery store. So, go ahead, grow your own — it’s easy to do.

Planning Your Garden
Whether you are starting a new garden or improving an existing one, it’s best to start with a plan. A well-planned garden will not only be more successful, it will be better organized and easier to manage. Consider the following:

Face South
Make sure your garden site gets plenty of sun by situating it facing south. 6 hours of sunlight is the minimum your garden will need. Also, be sure there aren’t any trees, hedges or other obstacles (like your house) shading your potential plot.

Avoid Weeds
If the area you’d like to garden is full of weeds, be sure to get rid of them before you start preparing your garden site.

Start small — or don’t
Most experts recommend starting small so that you don’t become overwhelmed. On the other hand who wants to do more prep work each year enlarging their garden? If you feel pretty certain you’ll want a lot of beds one day, go ahead and go big right from the start.

Of course, you’ll need access to water.

Try to find a spot with 1.5% or less slope. Otherwise, plan to terrace your garden to prevent the soil from washing away with the rain.

Garden Design
There are countless ways to design your garden — from the practical to the fanciful. Consider the following to determine your design.

Row Gardens
Row gardens are what most people picture when they think of a garden. Crops are planted in parallel lines, with space between each row. Easily organized, row gardens can have lower yield than bed gardens and can sprout more weeds.

Raised Bed Gardens
Raised beds are just what they sound like — plots that are higher than the surrounding land. In these gardens, all plants are grown together without rows. The bed must be small enough that you can reach into it to pull weeds and harvest your veggies.


This is a huge site. Go there and read and read and read. More next week.


No Dig Gardening – An approach I have never heard of

I love their use of compost. I hate their use of fertilizer. I can not attest to this approach because I have never tried it, but it seemed interesting.


Building a Vegetable Garden
Your Complete Instructions for Natural Gardening Success

The No Dig Garden is built on top of the ground, so you can start building a vegetable garden anywhere. This is natural organic gardening at its simplest and best.

Preparing a vegetable garden of this sort is extremely attractive for those sites that have poor soil or invasive weeds.

It’s also a great way to build a garden for those that can’t, or don’t want to, dig a good size vegetable garden!

Follow the natural gardening no dig diagram below, but first thing of course is to choose the site. Make sure it is roughly level and ideally most of the area gets at least 5 hours of sun a day.

If it’s not as level as you’d like it, roughly smooth out the humps and bumps, then fill the gaps and any lower edges with soil, sand or whatever organic material is at hand, such as bark, leaves, twigs, washed seaweed, paper, jute, wool carpet or similar. As this rots down, you will need to add more compost to these low areas and gradually build them up.

If the ground is on too much of a slope, build some terraces for easy maintenance. Get your creative juices flowing… you can make a grand affair with formal retaining walls or just shore levels up with branches, bricks, rocks, planks, corrugated iron or other obtainable materials.


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


I Tried Gardening By The Square Foot – It was pretty cool

They say it is an easier way to garden and more efficient as well. I actually thought it was a little more work. Well anyway more work initially what with creating the raised beds and stuff. Not sure I like it for sweet corn or vining squash or even tomatoes but for the small stuff it is definitely worth it.


Welcome to Square Foot Gardening


The Square Foot Gardening Foundation

We are a nonprofit, so every single dollar spent on our products funds our nonprofit foundation, the Square Foot Gardening Foundation, so we can teach this method to as many families and communities as possible. On our Foundation website you can find educational material as well as information about our humanitarian projects around the globe.

Mel’s Blog

Our Founder, Mel Bartholomew, has just launched his own website. He’ll be sharing blog posts, videos, pictures and humorous colums, along with a special column called Mel’s Soap Box! He would love it if you would visit and leave him a comment!

The Forum

We also have one of the most active and popular gardening forums filled with plenty of helpful members.

The Store

We have put together some great products that will help you kick start your Square Foot Garden. Whether you want to learn more about the SFG method or buy boxes and get started right away, we have what you need!

Upcoming Engagements

You Can Make a Difference
You Can Make A Change

Join SFGF in changing the world one square foot at a time by hosting a certification study group or a three day symposium!

And don’t forget to tweet and share on Facebook, or even “pin” your favorite product with pinterest!


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


Composting Saves A Huge Amount Of Energy – But generates methane

So it could be a net wash for the environment.


Help the Environment and yourself, Recycle your Food Waste

March 26th, 2012

MikeTheGardener MikeTheGardener, member

Billions upon billions of pounds of food waste every year are thrown away with the regular garbage pick up. This puts a tremendous strain on not only our environment but our wallets to pay people to come pick it up and hail it off to a local landfill.

All is not lost though. You can do your part and solve this problem by recycling your food waste. By recycling your food waste you are create what is called compost. Compost is the end result of organic matter that decomposes.

Your food waste doesn’t simply sit in your kitchen and rot away, which wouldn’t be too pleasant, you actually do something with it and that is you bury it. I will get to more on that in a moment.

The first step is to get yourself a giant Tupperware bowl that, from now on, you can put your food scraps into. Everytime you have leftovers that would normally go into the garbage you redirect that food waste to your Tupperware bowl.

When the Tupperware bowl gets full you will bury it in your backyard. Dig a hole about one to two feet deep and empty the contents of the Tupperware bowl into the hole. Now cover the hole with the dirt. That is it you are now done. You have just recycled food waste.

Now comes the exciting part that you don’t actually see, but trust me it is happening. There is an entire ecosystem that lives underneath that top layer of soil. When you bury food they work hard decomposing that food and give back to you compost.


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


Growing Vegetables Is A Great Way To Exercise – But mainly it is good food

Here is a site with the basics.


Growing Your Own Food: Small Vegetable Garden Ideas

Growing your own food has its advantages. It’s a low-cost source of fresh vegetables, herbs, and legumes. You retain control over whether chemically-laden and potentially dangerous pesticides and fertilizers are sprayed on your food. Plus you get the satisfaction of chopping and sautéing food you personally planted and harvested with your own hands.

The sense of self-reliance that comes from growing your own food in a small vegetable garden can be exhilarating. The task appeals to primal, survivalist instincts. Furthermore, many nature lovers regard organic home vegetable gardening as good for sustaining the environment.



Go there and read. More tomorrow.


Vegetable Gardenig The Oprah Winfrey Way – Well she did the interview

I suppose if she has a vegetable garden her “people” do it for her. Michael Pollan says some interesting things but besides becoming a vegetarian he does not have many answers. Who knows how good a gardener he is. But you can find more here.


Eating Green
Healthy Vegetable Garden
The Oprah Winfrey Show | April 22, 2009

Michael says eating vegetables you grow yourself is the “single greenest thing you can do” and can save money as well. “An investment of $60 can save you $200 in fresh produce,” he says.

Gardening can break your kids’ love of junk food too. “You will find your kids eating vegetables from your garden that they would not eat any other way,” Michael says. “How my son discovered vegetables was from growing them in the garden.”

Looking to develop a green thumb? Join our


Go there and read. More tomorrow.


Balance Your Vegetable Garden – Some things grow together

My wife is a big believer in the idea that some things grow well together and some things actually inhibit each others growth. Her example is onions and potatoes. She believes that from growing to storing onions and potatoes should never be together. Here is a site that agrees with her.



Many plants have natural substances in their roots, flowers, leaves etc. that can alternately repel (anti-feedants) and/or attract insects depending on your needs. In some situations they can also help enhance the growth rate and flavor of other varieties. Experience shows us that using companion planting through out the landscape is an important part of integrated pest management. In essence companion planting helps bring a balanced eco-system to your landscape, allowing nature to do its’ job. Nature integrates a diversity of plants, insects, animals, and other organisms into every ecosystem so there is no waste. The death of one organism can create food for another, meaning symbiotic relationships all around. We consider companion planting  to be a holistic concept due to the many intricate levels in which it works with the ecology.

By using companion planting, many gardeners find that they can discourage harmful pests without losing the beneficial allies. There are many varieties of herbs, flowers, etc. that can be used for companion plants. Be open to experimenting and find what works for you. Some possibilities would be using certain plants as a border, backdrop or interplanting in your flower or vegetable beds where you have specific needs. Use plants that are native to your area so the insects you want to attract already know what to look for! Plants with open cup shaped flowers are the most popular with beneficial insects.

Companion planting can combine beauty and purpose to give you an enjoyable, healthy environment. Have fun, let your imagination soar. There are many ways you can find to incorporate these useful plants in your garden, orchard, flower beds etc.


Following is a our plant guide (with some tips) to help you “work in harmony with nature.” Yes- we do practice companion planting at Golden Harvest Organics LLC. We always have.

Note: This guide is not intended to solve garden problems as the suggestions may work differently in various situations or perhaps not at all. Don’t let that discourage you from giving the ideas a try! What works for some may not work for others and vice versa. Experimenting is the only way we can gain new insight for our own individual gardens.

This page is Copyright © Golden Harvest Organics LLC and the information may not be physically or electronically copied, printed or otherwise distributed without specific permission from our company.


ALFALFA: Perennial that roots deeply. Fixes the soil with nitrogen, accumulates iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Withstands droughts with it’s long taproot and can improve just about any soil! Alfalfa has the ability to break up hard clay soil and can even send its’ roots through rocks! Now that is a tenacious plant! Alfalfa is practically pest and disease free. It


The plant guide is huge. Go there and read. More tomorrow.