GMO Kick: Part 2

Genetically Modified Organisms won’t feed the world because as I’ve pointed out, they’re killing the world. They’re creating superweeds and tumors, but killing insects, which we would absolutely have to have if we ever woke up and went back to our old ways, (find out why they’re important here) and they’re killing diversity in crops, animals and in the end they will be killing us in a way where it will be impossible to deny the reason behind it. And just for my own curiosity, I did a quick search to see what the trends were for some diseases and conditions. Autism, obesity, stillbirths, diabetes, depression are all things with growing numbers on or within a few years after 1990. It may be a coincidence, I didn’t spend too much time on it, just a quick glance at a few graphs, but it’s not a good sign. Sadly, there are people and it would seem that the majority of the people who even know about GMOs think that they’re helpful and it is what will save the world from dying of hunger. Africa seems like the poster child for world hunger, so I did some digging to see what they’re current situation is.There is a lot of conflicting statements In July 2011, there was this article and it says that most parts of Africa have resisted GMOs since the very beginning and Monsanto has been bullying them into trying them. Ethiopia tried to grow flour once, but refused to try it ever again. Ethiopia is accepting cotton, but with precaution we’re not seeing anywhere in America, and all other GMO products are illegal EVEN IN A CRISIS. The problem for them “is its unpredictability. There is no guarantee as to what is going to happen. What if it kills insects which are very important? Gene’s has evolutionary characteristics. So what if it changes the original characteristics permanently after years?” But even if they’re in one of the poorest countries in the world, they’re still pushing for the right to have to know what they’re eating. It’s amazing. This article goes on and on about how GMOs are not the solution to Africa’s problems. They know what GMOs have done to the farmers in India and what the health effects supposedly are.

I want to point out one more thing. I’ve struggled my whole life not to be this overly pessimistic, conspiracy theorist person that people always laugh at and gets called crazy. There were times when I heard someone say something about it being a conspiracy and I could actually see it being true. It seemed so black and white. Maybe I am crazy. I’ll let you decide, but this problem to me is black and white when I see who is and who is not eating this stuff.

Now, I’m looking from the point of view of the company and people who are trying to sell the stuff, so try not take what I’m saying the wrong way. The primary people who are buying GMOs are usually considered to be poor, unhealthy and considered a burden on the rest of the society. There are several articles I’ve read throughout my research for this post that suggest that elites are more knowledgeable about the difference between organic and non-organic then they’re letting on. Here are the links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/food-politics-white-house_b_543798.html

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/report-monsanto-man-mitt-romney-eats-organic

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/09/ge-food-supporters-insist-organic-foods.aspx

And then we have this: Up until 5:40 or so there isn’t a whole lot happening. They’re just chasing around Bill Gates, but after that is a little interesting. Also, the audio was a little hard for me to understand what they were saying, but they’re talking about the doomsday seedvault.  And definitely stick around till around 8 minutes. And then you can think about all that you know about Bill Gates and what he promotes and it might give you a bit of a different perspective.

Luffa Sponges DIY

Luffa pads/ Loopha sponges/whatever you call them can be found in just about every corner of the great Interweb, most of them fairly cheap. But I’m here to tell you that you can grow them yourself, for almost free. It’s pretty amazing actually.

There are a couple of things you should know about growing luffas. One, patience, which is needed for growing most things, is a must. It takes a while for the seeds to germinated, for the things to grow, but once they do they really, really do.

Two, it’s a vine. It needs a trellis.

Three, I’m no luffa growing expert, so I’ll leave the rest to someone else.

I do fancy myself somewhat of an expert in luffa harvesting and I have the amazingly soft hands to prove it.

You can tell when they’re ready to be picked because they have a yellowish color instead of green and the skin feels loose and soft. It took us a good few months before we got to this point and when we did they were pretty large.

Almost ready luffas.

Once your darlings are ready to be picked, carefully twist or cut it off the vine.

The next steps will only get messier. Seeds and sap will be flying, so do this outside or in the kitchen.

Step 1- take your luffa and bang it on the edge of the table. This will knock some of the seeds loose.

Step 2- at the opposite end from the vine there is a weak spot in the skin, dig your thumb into and pull that piece of skin off. This will make it easier to get the rest of the skin off. It’s very sappy.

Step 3- cut the luffa into sections. Depending on how long it is, you may be able to get two or three sections from it.

Step 4- Next you’ll shake the seeds from the luffa. You’ll probably want to do this into a bowl. This part is a bit time consuming at least. Again, banging it against something helps make the seeds come out.

Step 5- Take your seedless luffas and soak them in water for a couple of hours.

Next, take each luffa put a spot of soap on it and hand scrub the rest of the sap off. When you can squeeze the water from the luffa against the sink without any soapy type residue that usually means you got the sap off.

Once you’ve got that done, let the luffas dry out for a couple of days.

And that’s it. You got yourself some new luffas and some amazingly soft hands.

If you want some seeds, check out my mom’s etsy page.

And if you don’t want to do all the work but still want luffa sponges then you may check her page out because have the sponges for sale as well.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.

Getting Connected 3: Birds and Spiders

As I said last time, I’m pretty much terrified of spiders. I knew that they were important in keeping the bug population down, but it wasn’t until my mom got her garden that it hit me. They really are important.

Squash beetles and cucumber beetles are destroying squash and cucumber plants in my mom’s beloved garden. I’d like to point out that my mom hasn’t used any pesticides since she got her garden. She uses other plants and nature’s method aka the natural ecosystem to keep pests in check. She got several vegetables from those plants before they died, but they still died before their time so it’s still irritating and she would appreciate it if it would stop happening.  Spiders she has noticed, she’s slightly unnerved by them too, seem to play a role in keeping plant life suckers at bay.

Because they use a web to catch their prey, spiders aren’t too choosy about what they eat, so they end up getting some of the good guys too.

Surprisingly I couldn’t find that much information about their role in the ecosystem that was a huge book or dissertation of some sort.  Or wikipedia, which certainly isn’t a source to be relied on. So with that being the case I’ll add birds to this post.

Birds are great and I totally love the hummingbird feeder that I made. We watch the hummingbirds while we eat and we have the most enjoyable time. If birds serve no other ecological purpose then I think they should get a fair amount of credit for bring delight into the world. How much worse off would humanity be if we didn’t have these amazing creatures to keep some people’s soul so harmonious? How much lonelier would we feel?

In any case luckily I don’t have to listen people’s opinions on how illogical that is because they do, in fact, have practical purposes.

Like most smaller creatures, birds are sensitive to their environment and therefore, help us to know when there is a problem. They help pollinate, control insect and rodent populations the natural way. Birds eat up to 98% of budworms and up to 40% of all non-outbreak insect species in eastern forests. These services have been valued at as much as $5000/year/square mile of forest (Robinson, 1997). Research in agricultural settings confirms what many farmers already know-birds help control agricultural pests. In orchards, birds seek out and destroy up to 98% of over-wintering codling moth larvae, a major pest of apples worldwide.

http://www.epa.gov/owow/birds/basics.html

On farms, birds are especially important. Cow manure contains seven essential enzymes necessary for bird digestion. On a real farm, a natural farm (the only natural thing we can do nowadays because we bred chickens and cows so much they became dependent on humans and most would die without us) the relationship between birds and herbivores, in this case chickens and cows, is essential because birds eat bugs. Bugs and parasites that come to eat the manure, are already in the manure and that bother the cows themselves.

Birds feed on other birds as is usually the case with predators. Reptiles, large cats if in the wild and small cats in community type settings.

Getting Connected 2: Producers

Producers are at the very bottom of the food chain. They produce their own food, hence the word producer, by processing sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugar/glucose. The process is called photosynthesis. For this reason, they are the most essential thing on the planet. Without these humble life sustainers, there would be no other living thing on Earth. Everything we put in our mouth, in some form, came from a plant. Even totally carnivorous animals, such as lions, need plants because their prey are plant eaters.

Food isn’t the only reason why plants are vital. They act as filters for our soil, water and air. They give us air by converting the carbon dioxide that we breathe out into oxygen so we can breathe it back in. We couldn’t even breath with these things. They give us shelter. About 90 percent of homes today are made from wood whether for just the structure or the whole thing. Trees, even dead ones, can be homes for up to 1,000 different insect species. Small animals also make their homes in these trees.

http://continuingeducation.construction.com/article.php?L=5&C=645&P=1

Around one-fourth of our prescription medicine has some kind of plant origin. Native Americans used up to 2,000 plants species for medicine.

Ingredients for cosmetics often come from plants. As we also know corn has become an ingredient for everything. Aloe vera and jojaba are common ingredients in cosmetics as well.

Anytime humans are involved in any part of nature bad things happen.  Exotic species is a good example of this. Sometimes the species are introduced on purpose to help balance out the overpopulation of something else. This always ends badly. Sometimes they’re brought over by people who are traveling by boat or something. The rats that traveled by way of ship and brought the black plague with them is an example of this. Sometimes they’re introduced by idiots. Like the people who buy those exotic snakes and then they realize, like all living things, that snakes grow and then they release them into the wild. Even exotic species of plants are an overwhelming problem. Native species often don’t have the necessary strengths needed to compete with the exotic species so they’re overrun by them.

Habitat loss is the main problem. Animals and insects who mostly depend on plants for habitat, so if we cut it all down where are they supposed to go? It drives me nuts when people complain about animals in their yards or in their house because it’s like where else are they supposed to go? We’ve ruined just about every place they could go.

Recreational hobbies are a destructive force when it comes plant life. Bulldozing down the trees, digging up the grass to build a structure, even a small one, demolishes some kind of plant life. There is no way around it. Even something as insignificant as a blade of grass is important. Everything from football stadiums to a tennis court to the extra roads needed to get to that place will have an effect on the environment.

Why is grass so important? You’d be surprise. I know that I was when I learned that on a hot day a lawn of grass is 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil. Like other plants, it filters drain off, reduces erosion, absorbs noise, traps allergens and 2,500 square feet of lawn absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases enough oxygen daily for a family of four to survive.

http://www.floridalawn.com/greengrass.html

It is also the main component of the diet for grazing animals, which we tend to like to eat. We may want to keep something around to feed them.

The bottom line is producers are essential. We should do more to protect them. Our survival depends on it.

Garden Stepping Stones DIY

I do believe this will be my last garden related post for the time being. Sooner or later I’ll put photos of my mom’s garden up, but I probably won’t do that until next week.

Things you need:

Molds (one bag makes 13 or so 8×8 molds, so however many you want to make)

Sand Topped Quickcrete

A Bucket to mix in- we started out with a paint bucket and moved to a wheel barrel. (Make sure if you use something that you’ll need again to wash it out.

Something to mix with- we used with a shovel. (Again, make sure you wash this)

Creative medium- we used everything from glass to marbles to rocks to plastic. Most of the glass was broken at a thrift store so they gave it to us. The marble were given to us by a friend. Some rocks came from our yard or another friend. We did buy a couple of glass and plastic pieces from a thrift store, but we didn’t buy anything new. Don’t use metal, it will eventually rust.

If you decide that you want to make the patio you’ll need:

Sand-for our 10×10 block we need 20 bags of sand

Gravel-10 bags

Select an area, however big you want it. Mark it off and dig down four inches. Make sure that the area is as level as possible. Add your bags of gravel. They should be about one inch deep. Then add a few bags of sand. We needed 16. Lay out your stepping stones. Then cover the stones with sand. Take a broom (one that you don’t care if it gets ruined) and move the sand in between all the cracks. This is pretty hard work, so be prepared. Every few sweeps, spray it down with water. When it’s pretty spread out, you can continue to spray the sand in between the cracks.

Small-space Gardening

Having enough space for a garden is common in a small town in the south, but it’s very rare in the bigger cities. Farms, gardens and other local produce producers are such a huge asset and it would be a shame for people to miss out because of where they live. Gardening is one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting a good quality product and it would be a shame for people to miss out because of where they live.

While it isn’t impossible to garden in a small space, there are limitation and things you should consider before starting a garden. Choose wisely. When you don’t have a lot of space don’t grow plants that take up lots of space, have a long growing season or you don’t love to eat! Grow vegetables that are hard to find and not usually on the supermarket shelves, and select varieties for superior taste rather than crop size.

Choose plants suited to your small space. Some plants need more shade, some need more sun. ‘Dwarf’ varieties are ideal for small spaces because they produce a lot in a little space. Herbs are among the easiest categories of food plants to grow. And because fresh herbs can be rather expensive, these easy growers are cost-effective in a small-space garden. For individual advice, watch your gardening area for a full day and calculate how many hours of direct sunlight it gets, then read seed catalogs or visit a local garden center and ask for advice for your climate.

Grow fewer vegetables of each type. In a large garden 20 celery plants can be grown, in a small space garden you may want to grow only half a dozen, and in a balcony garden two or three plants will provide fresh stalks for cutting. In courtyards and against a warm wall you can often get planting long before the soil in a traditional garden has warmed enough for planting out and seed sowing.

Succession planting. Plant a few at a time, this avoids surpluses of produce and ensures that three is always something ready to eat in the garden.  Growing a few seeds in a propagator or on a windowsill means that you can jump-start the season. Avoid planting all the seeds at once so they won’t be ready all at once. Fold over the top of the seed packet and store in a cool, dry, dark place, the back of a kitchen cabinet is just fine. The seedling plants can then be introduced into the garden when they are a few inches high to grow to maturity.

Growing in containers is a great option. Even if you don’t have any soil you can still grow a few choice vegetables. There are many striking plants that make attractive and productive container plants.

Make sure the container is big enough for the plants root development.

Remember that plants in containers and with limited soil use up available nutrients more quickly, and shallower soil can’t hold as much water as the ground can. Make sure to regularly supplement your soil with organic compost, kelp meal, bone meal or organic cottonseed meal to give plants the nutrients they need to thrive. Also keep an eye on water. It’s important that plants receive the water they need, and also that containers drain well so plant roots don’t drown. Over- and underwatering have similar symptoms. The best way to make sure you’re providing proper water is to put your finger about 1 inch into the soil. If soil is moist, don’t water. If it’s dry, do.

Intercropping or interplanting is an ideal technique in the small garden. It involves planting two different vegetables, one fast maturing and the other slow maturing, in the same space. Radishes planted with celery can be harvested before the celery takes up space. Lettuce can frequently be placed between slower crops.

Plant the slow maturing veggies first, and then fill between with the fast maturing crop. By the time you have harvested the speedy veggies, the slower crop will have begun to fill out the spaces left by the earlier, harvested crop. Feeding the second crop with a liquid fertilizer of mulch with compost gives it a boost after the fast-maturing vegetables have been harvested.

Additonal Resources:

http://www.mastergardenproducts.com/gardenerscorner/smallspacevegetablegardening.htm

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/small-space-gardening-zm0z12fmzsto.aspx?page=4 This site has a lot of great, specific information.

http://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-grow-a-small-space-vegetable-garden/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-home-living/small-space-gardening-zb0z1203zglo.aspx#ixzz1wUAAH4i2

http://ohmyapt.apartmentratings.com/gardening.html

For small spaces, you basically have two options. Container plants and trellises. For container plants you want to be careful to make sure that their root system isn’t one that needs tons of room. Here is a list of plants that have fairly shallow root systems:

Beets

Carrots

Lettuce

Peppers

Scallions

Tomatoes

Herbs

Potatoes

Green Beans / Runner Beans

Turnips

Peppers and Chilli’s

Blueberry

Green Onions.

Strawberries

Parsley

Basil

Radish

Cabbage

Here are some container ideas:

Container 1

http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2010/06/14/12-savvy-small-space-urban-gardening-designs-ideas/ has lots of ideas for small space gardening. There aren’t instructions for everything, it all looks pretty straightforward.

Container 2

http://www.restoredstyle.com/vertical-gardening-by-randy-raburn/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RestoredStyle+%28restored+style%29 This doesn’t say what kind of materials he is using, but I believe it’s wooly pockets. I would think that for some of these ideas you could use shoe organizers.

Container 3

http://www.brooklynlimestone.com/2012/04/diy-vertical-herb-garden_03.html#.T4gz8xz-tmw – I’m showing this idea because of the wall. You could go the more eco-friendly route and instead of buying new terracotta planters use some of the ideas from yesterday or come up with your own genius plan.

Container 4

http://www.squidoo.com/garden-crafts-projects – I like this idea too. You’ll have to scroll a while to find it on the site.

The key is to make sure that whatever you choose will work well in the environment you have. Make sure you do plenty of research before deciding.

Trellises are the other option. For this you want plants that grow on vines or have a tendency to grow up such as:

Zucchini (or Courgette)

Tomatoes

Peas

Cucumbers

Egg plant

Pole beans

Gourds

Melons

Squash

Grapes

Trellis 1

http://ecosalon.com/homesteading-chicken-coop-urban-gardening-bee-keeping/

Trellis 2

http://www.kvpermaculture.org/blog/permaculture/bike-wheel-trellis-hard-luffa/ – love this idea! No DIY, but it doesn’t look too hard.

Trellis 3

No DIY, but it talks about how to grow on a trellis. http://www.patiogardentips.com/vertical-gardening-on-the-patio/

Trellis 4

http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Organic-Vertical-Planter/

This guy has a lot of cool ideas for planters and he also talks about how to grow on balcony space and how to arrange everything.

So there you have it. Some ideas and tips for small-space gardening. Yesterday, also had some some ideas for vertical gardening, so don’t forget to check it out. Happy Gardening!

Garden Planter DIY

Planters, besides the plants obviously, are the essence of a garden. They help define the garden. If you guys are thinking the same thing I was when I started this little search then you’re probably thinking that there isn’t much exciting things to say about a bunch of terracotta planters. While terracotta plants are nice and it may be some people’s thing, it’s simple and minimalistic which I’m typically a fan of, but this is just one thing that I feel like gives me a chance to be creative and I want to take advantage of it. The world is our oyster people and it can be a free oyster.

That being said, all of these are meant to be upcycled ideas. The garden is meant to be a natural place and I think a rather eclectic place.  I picked ideas that were made out common things that can be found in dumpsters, in parking lots (I’ll let you know where they are usually common) without having to pay a dime. I didn’t make any of these myself, I’ll give credit where it’s due and if they require more than one step then I’ll make sure there is a tutorial to go with them.

Tires. Sometimes you can find these on the side on the road, but usually they’re too battered to use, but sometimes you can find a decent tire on the side of the road. Although, businesses are supposed to dispose of these properly, I have found one in a dumpster. If all else fails, there are used tire stores. We have one in town and it sells them for $8 or you may be able to go to a mechanic, tell them what your needing and why and they may give to you for free or at a price.

Tire 1

http://www.recapturedcharm.com/2010/06/ever-tire-of-flowers.html

Tire 2

http://media-cache2.pinterest.com/upload/252553491573770707_AqqWNaYO.jpg

Tire 3

http://www.craftylittlegnome.com/2011/08/how-to-make-inside-out-tire-planters.html

http://www.studiogblog.com/plants-natives/kitchen/diy-recycled-tire-garden-planters/

Shipping Pallets. They’re everywhere. Take a walk behind any store or in an alley behind strip mall or something and you can find them. If all else fails, walk in and ask for one.

Shipping Pallet 1

http://lifeonthebalcony.com/how-to-turn-a-pallet-into-a-garden/

http://themicrogardener.com/20-creative-ways-to-upcycle-pallets-in-your-garden/

This site has tons of ideas for pallets in a garden. Sometimes you can find the DIY’s by clicking the picture and sometimes there is a link.

Shoes. These aren’t technically everywhere, but they’re not hard to find. I’ve also found these behind store alleys, thrift store, apartment and dorm dumpsters. Your closet?

Shoe 1

http://mydamagedpostcard.blogspot.com/2011/05/upcycled-boot-planter.html Has steps that could be used for the rest of these.

Shoe 2

I find the fact that they’re using cacti as plants for these shoes ironic and somewhat symbolic.

http://www.greendiary.com/entry/hot-stilettos-upcycled-into-elegant-flower-planters/  I couldn’t find any DIY’s for this, but http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/recycled-tupperware-clock#fbIndex1 has the best description I could find.

Shoe 3

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cuttlefish/4494062162/

Shoe 4

http://instagr.am/p/K02FeoSBi_/

Books. I think obsession with books is becoming apparent. They’re very aesthetic.  Ruined books can be found at thrift stores or the discounted section at a book store, especially the dumpsters. Dorm dumpsters may also have them. Please don’t ruin good books to make these, I’ll be heart broken.

Book 1

http://greenweddingshoes.com/diy-book-planter-with-succulents/

Plastic Bottles. These aren’t always the cutest planters ever, but they can be and plastic almost never decomposes and they’re hard to recycle which makes these the environmentally friendly choice other than not using them to begin with. You can find these everywhere. If you don’t drink pop then they can found in work place, gas station, dorm and other trash cans and dumpsters of places like that.

Bottle 1

http://www.gardeningclan.com/hanging-garden-planters-recycled-soda-bottles.html

Bottle 2

http://www.rosenbaum.com.br/blog/rosenbaum-responde-ldl-48-horta-vertical/ (This isn’t in English, translate it here. Just copy and paste and it does all the work for you.)

There are many variations of these which you can google plastic bottle planters DIY images and look at them. The planters themselves aren’t that wowing, but the plants just seem to make it work.

Kitchenwares. These can often be found at thrift stores or apartment dumpsters.

Kitchen 1

http://www.inspirebohemia.com/2011/07/unique-garden-planters-and-displays.html This site has super cute ideas.

Kitchen 2

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/26877-homemade-mothers-day-gifts

Kitchen 3

http://urbancomfort.typepad.com/.a/6a01156f70f21e970c014e883874d6970d-popup

Kitchen 4

http://themicrogardener.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Colander-planter1.jpg

Lighting. Thrift stores would probably be a good place to find these, but any place remodeling would be a good place to ask. You may not be able to find these exact pieces, but that’s still not an excuse to go out and buy it. Be creative and make something your own.

Lighting 1

http://www.designsponge.com/2011/04/we-like-it-wild-recycled-fixture-planters.html

Lighting 2

http://www.modishblog.com/modish/2010/06/pretty-for-under-twenty.html

Lighting 3

There are some planters like this, but I was referring to old light sconces. I saw an awesome example of this, but then I lost it. Kind of like this, but with this Lighting 4

http://blog.build.com/lighting/wall-sconces-under-100 . It’s hard to explain because all of these elements were together that just made it perfect, but oh, well.

So, anyway, I clearly went a little overboard, and while these are not all new ideas, I do hope it got your wheels turning and I think it’s also safe to say that I may have a sickness and may need to be locked up. Don’t worry though, the world is your oyster, so be inspired.

Want more ideas? Check out my DIY page.