Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Water Wise from the Organic Gardener

6 Tips for Watering the Garden Use these smart techniques to conserve water without leaving your garden thirsty. Designing a Drought-Resistant Garden A garden that's lush and drought-tolerant at the same time? It's doable. Water Wiser Don’t let this precious resource go down the drain. By Lori Ball
As an organic gardener, you know that water is as vital to life—yours and your garden’s—as sunshine and fresh air. But while you revere its life-giving properties, you may be letting this precious resource go down the drain. Literally. It’s easy to think when you turn on the faucet that water is naturally pure and endlessly plentiful. But even on a planet that is three-fourths water, the supply of fresh water is diminishing.
Americans extract 3,700 billion gallons per year more than is returned to aquifers and other freshwater sources. That’s the reason at least 36 states are projecting water shortages by 2013. The average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. You can make a difference and reduce your own water use by 30 percent, lightening demand on your local water system and giving groundwater sources a chance to recharge. Start with simple changes that will have an even more significant impact—they'll be as satisfying as a cool drink on a hot summer day. Let it flow only when necessary. Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving. Sounds basic, we know, but at ordinary household pressure, a running faucet can pour out 6 gallons of water in 3 minutes. Same goes for washing the dishes. Use a basin when hand-washing dishes. Wash all of the dishes and then rinse them all together. Pass on the prerinse. Using your dishwashing machine when it's full can be more efficient than washing by hand, but prerinsing dilutes the savings. Instead, wipe dishes with a wet sponge before they go in the dishwasher.
Compost, not garbage disposal. Your kitchen-sink garbage grinder requires lots of water to operate properly. Put all vegetable-based food scraps in a compost pile instead. Learn all about compost here. Keep cool. Refrigerate a pitcher of water for cool drinks rather than letting the faucet flow until it gets cool. Shorten your shower. The average shower lasts 8.2 minutes, and the average showerhead dispenses 2.5 gallons per minute. That’s about 20 gallons per shower. Reuse and Recycle. Put a bucket in your shower to catch water while you wait for it to warm up. Use the bucket of water for houseplants or in your garden.
Ready to make more dramatic cuts in your water use—and utility bill? These steps will really stem the tide. Audit your usage. If you get water from the public system, check your bill for the total water used and figure out daily use by dividing total water used by the number of days in the billing cycle. (An online conversion calculator will help you convert from cubic meters, cubic feet, or liters to gallons.) If you draw water from a well, you’ll need to check your water meter at 24 hour intervals to get your daily household water use. Do this for several days so you can get an average. Look for leaks. Read your water meter before and after a 2-hour period during which no water is used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, start searching for the leak. It’s worth the effort: A faucet dripping just once per second wastes 2,700 gallons per year—the equivalent of 135 showers.
Test the toilet. Take the time to check for leaks in your toilet, where they are common and not always obvious. Get dye specifically for this purpose at a hardware store—if there is a leak, color will appear in the bowl 30 minutes after you put dye in the tank. Toilets leak 1 gallon of water every 24 minutes, or 60 gallons per day. Update the fixtures. Federal legislation passed in 1992 raised efficiency standards on faucets, toilets, and showerheads. Look for low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads, which use half (or even less) of the water needed to operate models manufactured before 1992. Dual-flush toilets offer you the option of a half flush (no solids) or a full flush (solids). Replace appliances.
The EPA’s labeling programs make it easy for you to identify efficient products when buying dish- and clothes-washing machines. The EnergyStar label has been used for years. New for 2007 is the Watersense label, for which the EPA has established even greater efficiency criteria. Water use in laundry machines is identified by the Water Factor or “WF,” a measure of water used per cycle. The lower the WF rating, the higher the efficiency. New front-loading washing machines use about 40 percent less water than top-loading machines.
Save the rain. Attach a rain barrel to your downspout to gather water to use in your garden. Go one step further and direct rainwater into a cistern for indoor use. You’ll need to check local regulations and building codes and at least consult with an engineer experienced with such systems. But what a difference you’ll make.

Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program Consortium for Energy Efficiency California Urban Water Conservation Council U.S. Green Building Council Check with your local water utility to see what programs it offers. Many areas, such as Charlottesville, Virginia; Santa Cruz, California; and Albequerque, New Mexico, offer homeowners rebates for water-conservation measures. Lori Ball gardens and writes at her home in Philadelphia. ADVERTISMENT ADVERTISEMENT Sections Connect Learn & Grow Cook Biome Store Services Magazine Subscriptions Gift Subscriptions Renew Subscription Newsletter Customer Service Contact Us Site Map Corporate Copyright Notice Email Preferences Rodale Inc Advertising Your Privacy Rights Community Terms of Use Amazon Affiliate Other Rodale Sites Bicycling.com Runners World Running Times Womens Health Prevention Mens Health Rodale News Fitbie.com Rodale Grow Rodale's To make a payment, cancel or renew your subscription for Organic Gardening, contact customer service at: 400 South Tenth Street • Emmaus, PA 18098-0099 (800) 666-2206 • www.organicgardening.com/customer-service • E-mail: ogdcustserv@rodale.com • Your Privacy Rights ©2014 Rodale Inc.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Getting the canning jars ready

Each year several thousands of people, women, men and children alike, begin to prepare, plan and then plant their gardens to help soften the blow to their family's bank account. Each year our family does the same, but not only to soften the blow to the wallet but to have better foods for or family.

We love fresh fruits and veggies from our garden and yard. Actually, this year we have planted 9 different fruit trees along with a mixture of fruit vines and bushes. I am so syked to get the garden planted and for all the veggies to pop up and supply our family with tasty, nutritious foods.

Now back to the canning part. For 2 days I have been washing and storing our canning jars. Washing? You may ask. Well, we had over 200 jars stored in our outdoor shed for about 2 years. Medical reasons. So, having clean jars, and I mean clean jars is important to home canning. Even when you purchase jars new, you should and it is recommended by the manufacturer that you wash your jars thoroughly.

So, I washed all the jars in soapy water with a little bleach. Don't worry, our jars get washed a second time and the boiled individually before being filled with all those fresh veggies we spoke of earlier. I had a delima on how to store all the jars as I hate keeping cardboard boxes in the house. Yuk!!! My reasoning is because those pesky little bugs get in the grooves and lay egg after egg after egg...well you get the point. Anyways, I have to fight off ants in the Spring, so out with the boxes.

So, after giving it much thought, for now I am openly storing them by lying them on their sides and stacking them on my shelving units. On the 3 shelves combined there is over 200 jars and I have about that same amount filled throughout the kitchen and pantry. This seems to work, but I do know that my husband will have to come in and put a thin board with pre-drilled holes, and use bolts and washers across the open end to keep them from falling when I need jars (right now I am using small strips of cardboard) but as before that will have to go.

And lastly, I love going through my jars and finding those little "gem" jars, those oldie but goodie jars, those jars that you know have many stories they could tell and I still use those jars, no need to shelf them because they're old, they were made to be used for a long time and that's what this family is going to do.

Hope you enjoy the pics I have added of the shelved jars and those "gems".

Have a Safe & Happy Canning Season!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pole Bean T Pee.....

Seen a cool tp o Facebook, found some old PVC pipes and went to work with Heavens help, she held them while I tied. Had fun!!!
All seeded up and ready to grow. Grow pole beans, grow.