Loving Natures Garden

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: You don’t need to use commercial herbicides and pesticides to create a beautiful lawn.

We all want a beautiful lawn we can be proud of, but at what price? Is it really that important to have a perfect, weed-free lawn for a season or healthy children and pets for a lifetime?

As I was researching this topic, I came upon a study from the University of Minnesota that really hit home. In the study, 210,723 live births in Minnesota farming communities found that children of pesticide applicators have “significantly higher rates of birth defects than the average population.” Another study, this one from the University of Southern California found that young infants and toddlers exposed to weedkillers within their first year of life are four-and-a-half times more likely to develop asthma by the time they are five and almost two-and-a-half times more likely when exposed to insecticides. The studies go on and on that link childhood exposure to chemicals to cancer, asthma and learning and developmental disorders.

Lawn Fact: During a typical year in neighborhoods across the country, over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden. This figure, up from 90 million pounds in the year 2000, continues to grow despite the growing body scientific evidence of the public health and environmental consequences.

Source: Beyond Pesticides

Children and lawn chemicals don’t mix!

  • The National Academy of Sciences reports that children are more susceptible to chemicals than adults and estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life.
  • EPA concurs that children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors, including pesticides.
  • Studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.
  • A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that students and school employees are being poisoned by pesticide use at schools and from drift off of neighboring farmlands.

So, do you have to have an ugly, weedy lawn? Absolutely not. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn.

  • Make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches.
  • Some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region.
  • Many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Is an occasional dandelion, knotweed or clover cause for alarm? No! Dandelions’ deep roots return nutrients to the surface, crabgrass provides erosion control and I’ve already extolled the virtues of clover. And by not using chemicals on your lawn you are helping your children, pets, neighbors and our planet live a healthier life.

Need some non-toxic gardening tips?

  • Visit Loving Natures Garden. Alison Kerr will give you the inspiration you need to keep your garden green.
  • Another wonderful site is Ecosystem Gardening – Carole Brown is ready to help you Create Wildlife Habitats and Protect the Environment.

Know the health and environmental impacts of the products you’re using to improve your lawn and garden.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Beyond Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides (formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The founders, who established Beyond Pesticides as a nonprofit membership organization in 1981, felt that without the existence of such an organized, national network, local, state and national pesticide policy would become, under chemical industry pressure, increasingly unresponsive to public health and environmental concerns.

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Choose to eat sustainably. It’s better for you, your family and the environment.

We’ve talked many times about  avoiding genetically modified foods and the problems with our industrialized and unsustainable food system.

A few problems with unsustainable food: it relies on foreign oil, it denatures the soil and it contaminates and overuses water. Choosing not to support the industrial food system is the beginning of sustainable eating.

Growing Concerns:

  • Animal products are being raised for profit only, without regard for proper stewardship or health.
  • We are monocropping, and the government is subsidizing it.
  • Food is transported and processed using large amounts of non-renewable resources.
  • Food is being genetically modified, cloned, and patented.

Sustainable foods are:

  • Real, whole (organic) foods that our bodies were designed to eat and digest.
  • Healthy for us, the soil and the animals.
  • Do not harm the environment.
  • Are humane for both the workers and the animals.
  • Provide a fair wage to the farmer without the use of government subsidies.
  • Support the local economy instead of large corporations.

Sustainable food is what people ate for thousands of years, up until 20th century.

Here are some simple steps to becoming a more mindful eater.

1. Learn to Cook.

Learning to cook is fun and easy. It’s also healthier and less expensive then eating out.

2. Eat Locally.

Whenever possible support your local economy by sourcing out local ingredients. Check out the Eat Well Guide, it’s a database to help you locate local, sustainable food.

When eating out, select restaurants that also source out local ingredients. In Fargo, check out the Green Market Kitchen and the HoDo Lounge or Restaurant.

3. Eat Seasonally.

This goes hand-in-hand with eating locally. Eat root vegetables and hearty greens in the fall and winter. Eat salads, fruit, and tomatoes in the summer. Even milk and eggs are more abundant during certain times of the year.

4. Preserve the Harvest.

If you eat locally or seasonally then you’ll have to learn to preserve the harvest. Try canning, dehydrating, freezing, and lacto-fermentation.

5. Grow Something… Anything.

Start with herbs or lettuce. Radishes are really fast and fairly simple. Even if you’re renting you can create a container garden. Once you catch the gardening bug you will just want to grow more.

6. Give Up Store Bought Convenience Foods and Make Your Own.

You can make your own taco seasoning, yogurt, chicken stock, pesto, granola, tomato sauce… the list goes on and on. If you buy it from the store, do a quick recipe search and try making it at home.

7. Buy Fair-Trade.

When you don’t know your farmer because you’re buying from a foreign country look for the words “Fair-Trade.” TransFair USA ensures that farmers are treated justly and paid fairly for their work.

Eating mindfully may take a bit more effort, but the rewards – for your family and their future – are too big to pass up.

Source: Simple Bites

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Loving Nature’s Garden
Loving Nature’s Garden
is full of fabulous advice about gardening. You will find weekly tips and gardening inspiration. Also articles on how to:

  • Grow your own food – indoors and outdoors.
  • Invite nature into your garden.
  • Use simple, organic gardening methods.
  • Enjoy and benefit from your garden.
  • Choose earth-friendly and people-friendly tools, books, and accessories for your garden.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: You don’t need to use commercial herbicides and pesticides to create a beautiful lawn.

We all want a beautiful lawn we can be proud of, but at what price? Is it really that important to have a perfect, weed-free lawn for a season or healthy children and pets for a lifetime? Well, the answer is obvious so it mystifies me that people continue to dump chemicals on their yards and gardens not to mention the farmers who do the same.

As I was researching this topic, I came upon a study from the University of Minnesota that really hit home. In the study, 210,723 live births in Minnesota farming communities found that children of pesticide applicators have “significantly higher rates of birth defects than the average population.” Another study, this one from the University of Southern California found that young infants and toddlers exposed to weedkillers within their first year of life are four-and-a-half times more likely to develop asthma by the time they are five and almost two-and-a-half times more likely when exposed to insecticides. The studies go on and on that link childhood exposure to chemicals to cancer, asthma and learning and developmental disorders.

Lawn Fact: During a typical year in neighborhoods across the country, over 102 million pounds of toxic pesticides are applied in pursuit of a perfect lawn and garden. This figure, up from 90 million pounds in the year 2000, continues to grow despite the growing body scientific evidence of the public health and environmental consequences.

Source: Beyond Pesticides

Children and lawn chemicals don’t mix!

  • The National Academy of Sciences reports that children are more susceptible to chemicals than adults and estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life.
  • EPA concurs that children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that over 30% of the global burden of disease in children can be attributed to environmental factors, including pesticides.
  • Studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma.
  • A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that students and school employees are being poisoned by pesticide use at schools and from drift off of neighboring farmlands.

So, do you have to have an ugly, weedy lawn? Absolutely not. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn. They caution that bad mowing practices can cause many lawn problems so make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. Also, some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region. And remember many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.

Is an occasional dandelion, knotweed or clover cause for alarm? No! Dandelions’ deep roots return nutrients to the surface, crabgrass provides erosion control and I’ve already extolled the virtues of clover. And by not using chemicals on your lawn you are helping your children, pets, neighbors and our planet live a healthier life.

Need some non-toxic gardening tips?

  • Visit Loving Natures Garden. Alison Kerr will give you the inspiration you need to keep your garden green.
  • Another wonderful site is Ecosystem Gardening – Carole Brown is ready to help you Create Wildlife Habitats and Protect the Environment.

Know the health and environmental impacts of the products you’re using to improve your lawn and garden.

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

Beyond Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides (formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. The founders, who established Beyond Pesticides as a nonprofit membership organization in 1981, felt that without the existence of such an organized, national network, local, state and national pesticide policy would become, under chemical industry pressure, increasingly unresponsive to public health and environmental concerns.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com. UPDATED TIME: Wendy’s segment is now live at 1220pm (central) starting the Fall of 2010.

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by Wendy Gabriel

In honor of Earth Week, I decided to find out how spring looks to some of my favorite sites (and people) around the web. These are some amazing photos they were generous enough to share with me.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb 

Adam Shake is a Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Simple Earth Media and founded Twilight Earth and Eco Tech Daily. He is an environmental writer, advocate, entrepreneur, speaker and Washington DC based activist. His photos of cherry blossoms in Washington Dc are some of my favorite. [more]

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. ~Standing Bear

Alison Kerr is an American from Scotland who lives with her family in a leafy suburb in North East Kansas, within the Kansas City metro. She writes about our connections with nature and with each other and ways to grow greener kids, home, garden, and community at Loving Nature’s Garden. Alison kindly sent me this photo of her gorgeous red tulips. [more]

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Carole Brown is a Conservation Biologist with a passion for Ecosystem Gardening – giving a little back to wildlife by creating welcoming habitats in our gardens, conserving natural resources, and choosing sustainable landscaping practices. Carole has worked as a wildlife habitat landscaper for almost twenty years, designing, installing and maintaining Ecosystem Gardens for wildlife for homeowners, businesses, and other property managers. She is a consultant, educator, and author of Ecosystem Gardening. Avid birder, butterfly watcher, and lover of all wildlife. Carole is also an awesome photographer with an eye for nature. [more]

Marghanita Hughes is a children’s book author, illustrator and the creator of the award winning Little Humbugs. It was while observing her children revelling in the awesome wilderness of their new surroundings in British Columbia that the idea for the Little Humbugs was conceived. Marghanita is passionate about encouraging our children’s interest in the guardianship of The Earth we share. She strongly believes that children can influence change. Her Mission is to deliver this positive message to them through the delightful characters in her enchanting stories. Marghanita shares a Little Humbug and her beloved peach blossoms. [more]

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown

Melissa Hincha-Ownby is a lifelong writer. Her writing career started at 13 when she wrote a weekly column in her small town’s newspaper. For the past three years, Melissa has focused on blogging and other online writing venues. She is the Business Blogger at the Mother Nature Network and the owner of Raising Them Green, a blog dedicated to providing parents information to help them raise eco-conscious children. Melissa shared a photo of her two children taken by their Grandpa.

Take some time today to connect with nature. Take a walk, notice a budding leaf, marvel at a bird in flight and share the wonder and magic of the outdoors with a child.

Bethe Almeras is an award-winning author, web producer, and eLearning designer. A gifted speaker and trainer, Bethe prides herself on being a kid at heart and sharing the benefits of play with others. Bethe is The Grass Stain Guru and graciously provided this wonderful photo of a redwinged blackbird. [more]

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. cummings

How does spring look in your corner of the world?

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by Wendy Gabriel

I read an awesome article this week by Alison Kerr at Loving Nature’s Garden about When to Plant Vegetable Seeds. It’s really informative and got me excited about spring (and a little nostalgic about last spring).

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.
~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You 

Here are some photos I took last spring:

The goddesses hugging a tree

Spring 2009 at the farm

Spring 2009

Some of my favorite photos and photo blogs:
Twilight Earth’s Photo Sunday
Mother Nature Sunday Gallery: Beaming Flowers from Love Earth Always
Photo Terri

Sam Can Shoot

Twin Cities Photo Blog
 

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