terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Spring is Coming pt. 2 March 31, 2008

Filed under: garden, local — terra @ 7:00 am

I gave some spring garden tips a few weeks ago, but I forgot to mention these posts. I’ve shared a few of them in the past, but I thought they were worth revisiting.

Reel Mower

We love our reel mower because it’s quiet, smells good, and I can actually use it. We have a nice sized yard, but I can’t work a regular lawn mower – it’s too hard to start! Our reel mower is light, and so easy to use. The whirring sound of the blades is kind of hypnotic. I saw two last year at yard sales, or you could get one at your local hardware store.

Pop Bottle Irrigation

To provide a good flow of water to your plants, you can set up pop bottle irrigation. I’m sure most of us have stopped drinking bottled water by now, after learning how bad it is for our health and the planet (not to mention it costs more than gas!). If you don’t have a pop bottle, just head down to your local park or river. Water bottles are everywhere!

Peat Pellets

Instead of starting your seed with peat pellets, find a renewable source, like compost or odor-free manure. Ancient peat bogs are mined to make peat, and the process is destroying this old habitat. The good news is that peat isn’t necessary, and it’s often not the best choice anyway. Look for

tree bark, cocoa shells, shredded prunings, straw, and mushroom compost serve the same purpose, without drying out and blowing away, which peat often does. In terms of soil improvement, animal manure, leaf mold, and compost are just as effective, if not better, since peat has little nutrient value.

Once again, composting is a great alternative, and the best way to get happy, healthy plants.

Rain Garden

Rain gardens are a fantastic way to absorb rain water and have a beautiful garden at the same time. Wikipedia offers a great definition. Remember to use native plants for the most benefit. Rain Gardens of West Michigan is a wonderful resource for how to start your rain garden, suggestions for what to plant and other valuable ideas.

Rain Barrels

Have I mentioned rain barrels? :) There are a few workshops at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, or you could buy one online. You could even make it yourself with this fantastic Instructable! Michelle at Instructables shows us how to stack two barrels, wrap some chicken wire around them, and plant vines for a beautiful Green Rainwater system.

 

Earth Hour March 29, 2008

Filed under: conserve, energy, local — terra @ 12:51 pm

Join Earth Hour and turn off your lights from 8-9 pm in your local timezone. Light some candles and celebrate the earth tonight!

 

Earth Day for the enviROOment March 27, 2008

Filed under: education, local — terra @ 12:00 am

The University of Akron is celebrating Earth Day on April 16th. This year’s celebration promises to be bigger and better than last year’s. UA students will learn about how to preserve the enviROOment. (Another great slogan!)

Don’t miss the electric cars, solar panels, a solar stage, live music and art, speakers, and a green fair. Several fine organizations will be represented, including Green Energy Ohio, Great Lakes Brewing Company (promoting the Burning River Fest), Metro RTA, and Environmental Akron – UA’s student group committed to the environment.

April 16th 10-3
Student Union

 

Metro Parks Earth Day March 26, 2008

Filed under: education, local — terra @ 7:00 am

The Metro Parks Serving Summit County is having an Earth Day Celebration with a hike and other earth-valuing activities.

The event offers you a chance to recycle items you hadn’t previously thought about… batteries, cell phones, computers, VCRs and radios, infant car seats, phone books, etc. The first 100 families who bring a recyclable item will receive a reusable shopping bag.

Learn about hiking and “Leave No Trace” practices and then hike through the park.

April 22nd, 5-7 pm
Firestone/Coventry Parks

 

I’m back March 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — terra @ 4:00 am

Actually, I’ve been here all along. The airlines cancelled our trip. They didn’t give a reason, so I’ll assume weather. In the grand scheme of world events, it’s no big deal, but it was frustrating. On top of being cancelled, the airline provided the worst customer service I have ever seen. Ever.

I’ll continue posting about Earth Day events. I just thought I’d let you all know. Our trip has been rescheduled for June. I think we’ll have nicer weather then.

 

Who’s Your Mama March 25, 2008

Filed under: education, local — terra @ 7:00 am

Kent’s Earth Day festival has perhaps the best slogan ever – “Who’s Your Mama?”

Who’s Your Mama takes place April 16 – 20 in downtown Kent. This action-packed Earth Day event features a block party,  films, fashion show, art and poetry, a green building tour, and a chance to learn about sustainable agriculture and conservation.

There will be speakers and panel discussions, along with demonstrations of renewable or alternative energy for homes and cars. Don’t miss the windmill demonstration, the Bio Bus and the Grease Machine!

Who’s Your Mama
April 16-20
Main St.,  Downtown Kent
$10 one-day , $15 weekend pass

 

Rain barrel Workshops March 24, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education, local, reduce, water — terra @ 7:00 am

IMG_7811The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes is having 3 rain barrel workshops in April.

If I had to choose my favorite “gardening” thing, it would be my rain barrel (with my reel mower being a close 2nd). Rain barrels gather rain from your roof and store it so you can use rainwater to water your lawn and garden. It saves your water bill, saves the city water plant, and helps your plants. Grass and plants don’t need cold, treated water. They love rainwater! So, head up to Shaker Lakes and build your own rain barrel. You can have a lush, green, healthy lawn all summer.

April 5th from 10-noon
April 27th from 12-2 and 3-5

 

Carbon Offsetting March 21, 2008

Filed under: energy — terra @ 7:00 am

I’m going out of town for a week. My husband and I are flying to Europe to visit my friend and see the world! I have thought about it, and decided to offset the emissions that we create on our trip. Carbon offsetting means that we will contribute some money based on our consumption to offset the emissions.

Honestly, I have mixed feelings about carbon offsetting. Like recycling, it allows us to consume more or create more emissions because “I’ll just recycle” or “offset my carbons.” The other reason I don’t like carbon offsetting is because we don’t have choices – we don’t have renewable energy. If I could choose a cleaner airplane, I would. Oddly enough, that brings me to why I have decided to offset the emissions of this trip, and all other flights I take.

Flying generates harmful emissions. So, I have chosen Carbonfund.org to offset my emissions for this trip. Carbonfund has 3 projects: Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Reforestation.

My “offset” contribution will go toward research and development of renewable energy. I want to see more energy choices, and I hope that my contribution will add to that ideal. It really doesn’t cost a lot to offset a trip to Europe.

If more people do it, perhaps some alternative fuel will emerge at prices regular consumers can afford. Next time to you take a trip, or if you don’t want to reduce your energy consumption, consider offsetting your carbons. There are many companies that can help you do this – just Google it.

While I’m gone, I’ll have a few posts about some exciting events in April. So, keep checking back. Also, if you comment, it will take while to be published, so I thank you for your patience.

 

USPS offers Free Recycling through the mail March 20, 2008

Filed under: local, recycle, reduce, reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

The USPS is offering free shipping of small electronics. Consumers can pick up a mailing envelope at one of 1,500 post offices and mail their electronics to Clover Technologies Group, who is paying for the postage, and who will recycle or refurbish the electronics into reusable materials. The stuff that can’t be refurbished will be broken down so that as many parts as possible can be reused.

Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.

Clover Technologies Group won the bid for this recycling program, based on it’s commitment to the environment.

The Post Office is environmentally responsible, and their actions have “generated more than $7.5 million in savings through recycling and waste prevention programs.”

The Postal Service recycles 1 million tons of paper, plastic and other materials annually.

USPS is the only shipping or mailing company in the nation to receive Cradle to CradleSM Certification from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for human and environmental health. More than half a billion packages and envelopes provided by the Postal Service annually are nearly 100 percent recyclable and are produced with the least harmful materials. Based on the recycled content of these envelopes and packages, more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions (climate change gases) now are prevented annually.

So, when your cell phone breaks or your PDA quits, head to the post office to send it back to be reused. It’s free for you, and saves a lot of waste!

 

2008 Year of the Frog March 19, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education — terra @ 7:00 am

I know that 2008 is supposedly the year of the rat. But, thousands of scientists world-wide have declared 2008 the year of the frog. Why? Here are a few reasons, from the Amphibian Ark website.

1. Amphibian species are becoming extinct at a pace faster that anything we have experienced.
2. Nearly one third of all amphibian species are threatened.
3. Many people do not know that amphibians are declining and how threatened they are.
4. Amphibians are indicators of environmental health, important components of ecosystems.
6. Amphibians are suitable for captive breeding programs and if every zoo in the world rescues one species, the goal can be achieved.
7. This is a unique challenge to prove that zoos and aquariums and botanical gardens are valid conservation partners. Zoos in particular play an important role in providing ex-situ breeding grounds for immediate conservation action

Amphibians are an important component of the global ecosystem, as indicators of environmental health and contributors to human health. They watched the dinosaurs come and go, but today almost half of them are themselves threatened with extinction. Addressing the amphibian extinction crisis represents the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity.

Visit Amphibian Ark to learn more about frogs, or to find fun activities, sign a petition, watch Jeff Corwin’s “thank you” to science teachers, or buy a calendar for $5.

Click here to watch the Panamanian Golden Frog wave goodbye. This frog is now extinct.

 

Spring is Coming March 18, 2008

Filed under: environment, garden, organic, pets — terra @ 7:00 am

IMG_5147Spring is just around the corner – after all this snow melts! This week and next are the ideal time to start seedlings indoors, to transfer to their outside home in 6 weeks. We also have to plan for grass restoration and other gardening activities. Let’s prepare for those Japanese Beetles before they eat all our roses this year! Here are a few tips I’ve gathered throughout the winter.

Grass

The best way to grow and thicken your lawn is to aerate and overseed. NaturaLawn of America is a company that can help you grow a thick, beautiful lawn with no harsh chemicals. They use effective and safe organic products and Integrated Pest Management program to help you grow a healthier lawn, naturally. If your grass is thick, you are less likely to have a weed problem because there’s no room for weeds to grow. Natural approaches like this are better for kids and pets too.

Pest Control

Beneficial nematodes are microorganisms that live 7″ deep in the soil and they kill pests like fleas, grubs (Japanese beetles), several kinds of flies and worms, weevils, ticks, and wood borers.
Pettiti Gardens
in Ohio offers some organic spray pesticides, as I’m sure many local garden stores do. Pettiti was a featured presenter at the Akron Home and Garden Show a few weeks ago, and they did a nice presentation on the Green Stage, highlighting some organic ways to fertilize and control pests. I prefer methods that are safe for me, my pets, and the environment, and I’m glad there are so many options available. I’m going to stick with natural, spray-free remedies this spring and summer, and see how it goes.
Here’s the post about Japanese beetles from last summer. Since you can’t put nematodes in your neighbor’s yard (to prevent Japanese beetles), it might be a good idea to have some plants that repel Japanese beetles – see the post for links and more info.

Plant and Flower Fertilizer

This year, I’m going to grow herbs and hanging tomatoes. (Sadly, we can’t grow vegetables in our yard.) I hope you’re able to grow vegetables where you are. That’s the best local food you can get! If you’re planning to have a vegetable garden, you may want to start a compost pile for yard waste, newspapers, and other compostable materials. Composts produce the best organic fertilizer you can find. It makes your plants healthier and more productive. If you don’t want to compost, look for TerraCycle Plant Food (that’s the name, I’m serious!). They make “worm tea” that you can spray on your plants to give them a great organic fertilizer. No worms are harmed in the making of worm tea.

The company’s flagship product, TerraCycle Plant Food™, is an all-natural, all-organic, ‘goof-proof’ liquid plant food made from waste (worm poop) and packaged in waste (reused soda bottles)!

You should be able to find TerraCycle products at Target, WalMart, and Home Depot.

Water

Don’t forget rain barrels! They save water and rain water is better for your plants.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day March 17, 2008

Filed under: conserve, environment, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Oil for ape scandal - report imagesLooking for something fun and out-of-the-ordinary to do on St. Patrick’s Day, besides drinking green beer?

Here’s an idea from Planet Greenadopt an orangutan! Orangutans are truly beautiful apes that live in SE Asia, and we share 96.4% of our DNA with them. Their habitat is threatened by clear cutting and other sprawl. One reason their rain forests are being destroyed is to plant palm plantations for use in food, etc. A Girl Scout troop in Texas learned that palm oil is used in Girl Scout Cookies, so they are petitioning to have palm oil removed and replaced by something that doesn’t destroy habitat. Good job, Girls!

Orangutan Outreach can help you adopt an orangutan.

On Friday nights at 9 pm ET, check out Orangutan Island on Animal Planet.

 

Friday Recipe: Polenta Lasagna with Creamy Mushroom Sauce March 14, 2008

Filed under: food — terra @ 7:00 am

Aren’t we all glad it’s Friday?!
We made this earlier this week and it is delicious!

Polenta Lasagna with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Ingredient List

Serves 8

  • 1 medium-size onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise (1 cup)
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. low-fat milk (or Soymilk)
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or low-sodium vegetable broth (we used water and it was fine)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 17-oz. tubes polenta, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cook onion in large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 3 minutes, stirring often. Add all mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion is tender. Add 3/4 cup milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  2. Mix cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbs. milk, and stir into mushroom mixture. Add cream cheese and wine, and cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth and blended. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  3. Coat 10×10-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 3 Tbs. mushroom sauce in bottom of dish. Layer 1/3 of polenta slices over sauce. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over polenta. Top with half of remaining mushroom sauce. Layer with 1/3 of polenta slices and remaining sauce, and top with remaining polenta.
  4. Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Broil 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned. Remove from heat. Cover loosely with foil, and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information

Per SERVING: Calories: 176, Protein: 8g, Total fat: 3g, Carbs: 28g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 732mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 4g

 

Freegans Reuse to the max March 13, 2008

Filed under: alternative, local, reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

For the ultimate in “reuse” activities, many people are choosing to find perfectly good products and even food in the least appealing of places… the dumpster. They’re called Freegans, and they go dumpster diving, back alley lurking, and network online, and they find some true treasures.

Freegans say our culture’s emphasis on buying the newest products—and throwing away perfectly fine older things—is a waste of the world’s resources. Instead, they focus on buying less and use only what they need. One of the main ways freegans do this is by salvaging food and other goods from the trash.

Oprah featured some Freegans on her show. Most of the stuff Freegans find is still in its original packaging. Driven by consumerism and the perceived need to have the newest, shiniest stuff, people throw away perfectly good products. Freegans come along and rescue them from the landfill and put them to good use. Freegans save money, and reduce waste by reusing perfectly good products. Hint: college move-out time is coming up – great time to score some cool stuff. (dumpster diving might be illegal – check your local laws)

The Goddess of Garbage has made a living out of turning discarded items into designer home furnishings. She makes things from scratch and turns scrap materials into art.

If dumpster diving is too extreme for you, check out Freecycle. Freecycle is an “entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns.” Craigslist also lists “free” stuff, or inexpensive things that still have some life in them.