Tag Archive

Revive the Victory Garden!

ByGroovy Green Jan 24, 2007

I am obsessed with food. Of all of things that we can purchase, food is the one thing that nourishes us. Yes, items can nourish our soul, but food is what nourishes our bodies – – it provides us with energy so that we can live. I think this is why so many of my posts are about food. We cannot go without.

60 years ago we were at war. We were fighting an enemy at faraway lands. Our government encouraged us to plant gardens at home. People came together to fight this enemy by planting gardens in their backyards. These gardens could help us fight the enemy from home and gave our citizens a sense of national purpose. Magazines told people how to plant and tend to a garden. Co-ops were developed. This community effort brought together families and neighbors to provide their own food so that more was available for the war effort.

Today we are again at war. This enemy does not have a face. It is not an enemy that we can see. However, this enemy can threaten the nature of our lives and planet. This enemy is global warming. Let’s fight is by planting a garden. A victory garden over global warming.

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Eco Fashion Q&A: Denim Repair and Cheap Style

ByGroovy Green Jan 24, 2007

It’s that time again! Question four comes from Mallory: I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the company Denim Therapy. Basically the revive old jeans by sort of reweaving the fabric where it’s torn or ripped. They estimate the cost at $7 per inch. I love the idea, but to me it seems like more than most people would be willing to pay. I think most people would just go buy a new pair of jeans. I was wondering if you have any other leads on other similar companies? This is the only one I know of quite like this. It’s one of those things that, as with so many green products and services, I think people would be interested in but they’re most worried about the immediate cost and it’s hard to think about long term costs when you’re trying to make ends meet, etc. What are some other cheap but green fashion alternatives?

It’s official Mallory – you win the award for the longest question :) There are two inquiries mixed in with all that, but answering them in one post should be no problem.

For denim repair, I don’t know of any companies that focus on that service, besides Denim Therapy of course. This leaves you with a host of other options:

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The Human Car: Street Legal Mass Transport Flintstones-Style

ByGroovy Green Jan 24, 2007

I always appreciated the efforts of Barney and Fred in The Flintstones to push around their apparently heave stone vehicles with only their legs for power. And let’s get one thing straight, regardless of Fred’s eating habits, the guy must have been in excellent shape.

These days, we’re all fat-fat-fattys in our vehicles, relying on millions of years of ‘ancient sunglight’ to get us to our destinations. Sure, we can bike it, but if you’ve got a family to move, biking sometimes isn’t the safest option. Enter The Human Powered Car. This street-legal four passenger vehicle relies on human energy (think: rowing machine exercise) to get you where you’re going. Apparently, there is also a human/electric hybrid available, which would dramatically help in those steep up-hill climbs. Priced at $7K, the company has 750 units available for this year. Take a look at the video below for more details. Your legs might not look like Fred’s after using this ‘car’, but you arms may look more like Arnold’s.

Burpee now owned by Monsanto? (updated)

ByGroovy Green Jan 7, 2007

Thanks to some fact checkers, I need to update. Burpee is not owned by Monsanto. Burpee is privately owned. Burpee DOES carry some Seminis seeds, and Seminis is now owned by Monsanto.

Angela posted a comment blogged about her findings.

From her article:

“A spokeperson for Seminis, Mica Veihman spoke with me this morning and answered all my questions. Veihman said Seminis has “no intent to purchase Burpee” and this supposed email message was a complete rumor.

Burpee is a dealer of Seminis garden products which is probably how this rumor originated. They have been a customer of Seminis for over 20 years. Other familiar seed catalog companies that purchase from Seminis are Jung Seed, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Park Seed. A full list of current distributors is available here.”

Thankfully this was just a nasty rumor.

How To Grow (and make) Your Own Tea!

ByGroovy Green Jan 2, 2007

When the world goes to hell, and you no longer have ample supplies of crappy Linton tea bags lying around (but you really don’t have those do you?), it will be refreshing to know that you’re not powerless. Granted, growing tea is not something out of the realm of thought (like growing your own shower Luffa), but did you ever really consider it? Maybe I’m alone, but a great article I found today has inspired me to grow tea leaves, as well as a shower luffa for the coming season. Perhaps you’ll had them to your list as well?

According to the author, it’s really not that difficult. However, one hindrance to interested readers might be the Zone 8 region (mid-west to southern USA) requirement for outdoor success. For people living above this zone, it’s worth giving it a shot indoors or in a greenhouse. From the article,

” The Camellia sinensis plant is a small shrub about 1-2 meters in height, though it will grow taller if you don’t prune it. In the fall, your tea shrub will flower with small white blossoms that have a delightful scent. These plants are often grown as ornamentals. For planting, Camellia sinensis likes well-drained and sandy soil that is on the acidic side. If you are going to grow your tea in a container, add some sphagnum moss to the potting mix. You’ll need some patience, too. Your plant should be around 3 years old before you start harvesting leaves.”

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How To Build A Hobbit House (That You’d Actually Want To Live In!)

ByGroovy Green Dec 31, 2006

Just found this link to a beautiful ‘How-To’ that takes you through the steps of building your very own low-impact woodland home. It’s appearance is very similar to the Hobbit homes featured in Lord of the Rings, but the aesthetics of the design also make it a piece you might find in Better Homes and Gardens. The cost? The author estimates total expenditures of about $6,000. This, and about 1000-1500 labor hours to put everything together. From the site,

“Take one baby, a toddler and a building site. Mix well with a generous helping of mud, combine with 6 weeks of solid welsh rain whilst living under canvas. Do this in candle light without a bathroom or electricity for three months. Chuck in living with your father for good measure. Top with an assortment of large slugs. The result a hand crafted home of beauty, warmth and health for about 3,000.”

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EcoForms

ByGroovy Green Dec 18, 2006

Wow, here’s another West Coast only first! In Santa Rosa, CA (just north of San Francisco) there is a company that makes pots for your plants, flowers, herbs, and such out of sustainable crops, mainly grain husks. They’re called EcoForms.

Now from what I understand, such a product already exists in Canada, the UK, and Australia. EcoForms is the first here in the US (but correct me if I’m wrong). They are a husband wife team who run an organic nursery called Sweetwater Nursery. Like most things borne out of necessity; they wanted an alternative to the plastic pots. They had already converted their greenhouses to solar power and their trucks to biofuels, but the plastic containers for their organic plants just seems contradictory, hence an idea was borne!

They are designed to last 5 years in all climates. and come in a variety of earthy colors and different sizes. If you decide to discard it into a landfill, it will breakdown into a nutrient-rich organic matter with a PH value of 7.0. You can find them at Whole Foods or contact them directly for wholesale orders, or custom designs.

Tell all your green thumb friends,

Arcadia

Slow Clothing

ByGroovy Green Dec 4, 2006

In conversations about social justice, energy, and our environment clothing doesn’t get a lot of attention.   This is in part because individually, clothing items don’t carry that big an embodied energy cost.  Another reason is that shirts aren’t as spectacular as cars, or houses or even dinner.  It is also kind of a girl thing – although male clothing is just as expensive, men, on average, shop less often and buy less when they do.  Women tend to buy the household’s clothing as well as their own, and to engage in recreational clothing shopping.  Clothing the household has been women’s work from time immemorial.  And because the clothes we wear are tied intimately into how we feel about ourselves, and how others view us, clothing as a subject is somewhat fraught.

And yet, I think there are a number of really good reasons to find and learn ways to make clothing, to prioritize homemade, or locally made clothing (including learning to find it beautiful), and perhaps to create a “Slow Clothing” movement rather like the ”Slow Food” movement currently picking up speed.  Maybe it’s as simple as creating a campaign in which each of us would have at least one daily wearable outfit that we’ve made ourselves.

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How To Pick (and take care of) A Live Christmas Tree

ByGroovy Green Nov 28, 2006

When selecting a tree “go live”. When the holidays are over it can be habitat for small mammals and birds. They provide shelter and beauty not to mention clean air. It is a green choice for sure.

There are a few important considerations when dealing with a live tree.A live tree comes with roots and therefore is heaver than a cut tree, obvious huh? Well don’t let a little extra weight get in your way. I use a wooden furniture dolly to wheel our tree around. Your local nursery will bring in live trees and often take the balled & burlapped trees and pot them up for easier handling. Some nurseries will just grow the trees in containers. Once you have chosen the perfect tree and you have brought it home you can’t just place it in the corner of the room right away. Follow these steps for best success:

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More On How To Grow A Luffa

ByGroovy Green Nov 28, 2006

Quite a few people were interested in my recent harvest of Luffa shower sponges. I thought I’d explain a bit more about the plant and the process of growing it. Luffa aegyptiaca Mill. or as it is commonly called, the Loofah, is a vegetable native to South America. It can be eaten when it is smaller. I have stir fried them but only up to a size of about 4 inches. After that they become tough like an over ripe squash. Left to fully mature each fruit produces an excellent sponge. Seeds for this plant are readily available through vegetable catalogs and you’ll only have to buy seeds your first year- one mature Luffa sponge will produce at least 30 seeds. Some will produce many more.

Frost kills the plant and it needs 4 to 5 months of growth to produce sponges. Here in North Carolina I can plant seeds directly in the ground near the date of the last frost and then harvest a modest number of sponges later in autumn. If I wanted a better yield or if I lived further north I would start them indoors several weeks, maybe even a month before the date of the last frost and transplant them outdoors after frost danger has passed. Planting them on the sunny, southern side of your property will help. They are natural climbers and are happiest running up the sides of a trellis or even the outer walls of your home. I sprinkle a few seeds near, but not in front of, one of my south facing gutter downspouts. When the plant sprouts it climbs up the downspout and along my gutters. It doesn’t impede the flow of water and in the fall when the plant dies I easily pull it off of my home. The large Luffa leaves help to shade the hottest side of my house in the summer. I am certain they could be grown just as well on a large trellis. They can get quite long. I’ve grown vines that exceeded 15 feet in length.

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How To Make (and grow) A Luffa!

ByGroovy Green Nov 26, 2006

For the third autumn in a row I am pleased to be harvesting my shower sponge for next year. Now I know that must sound like a strange statement but it’s true. Many people are surprised when they find out I grow my own Luffa sponges. “Don’t those come from the sea?”, is the standard question to which I respond that the Luffa is a vegetable you can grow in your very own garden.

This annual requires a long growing season of frost free weather. But for those of you in colder climates it is possible to start seedlings indoors and then transplant them outside allowing you to grow your own sponges. The vine can grow to great lengths producing beautiful yellow flowers all summer. Next spring I will be sure to remind you to start your sponges. Right now though I am focused on the harvest. I almost waited too late to get my Luffa started this spring so I was lucky to get a hand full of mature sponges. This one grew right outside my bedroom window.

 

 

 

 

 

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DIY :: Strawbale Coldframe

ByGroovy Green Oct 18, 2006

I recently overheard Albert Bates of The Farm make mention of using strawbale walls in greenhouses. Typically strawbale construction treats the straw walls with a lime and clay plaster to create a breathable, weather and bug resistant barrier. If not the bales rot. However when the bales begin to breakdown the process gives off heat. Mr. Bates leaves the strawbale greenhouse walls untreated so that they will decompose over the winter and give off heat to keep the plants warm. The following spring the partially decomposed walls are used to mulch the garden. I scaled down the idea a bit and built myself a strawbale cold frame. Here’s how to do it.

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Groovy Challenge :: Stealing Soil

ByGroovy Green Oct 14, 2006

On our own, nongroovy websites Matt and I have been talking about the great autumn resource of fallen leaves from deciduous trees. Sure you can rake the leaves from your yard and use them as mulch or add them to your compost pile but what about all those bags of leaves you see on the side of the road piled up as other people’s trash? The process by which trees produce leaves that then fall and decompose is how soil is created. Those people are throwing away soil. Are they crazy!?!? Every year 25 billion tons of topsoil is lost to the world. The way I see it I have a duty to stop and pick up those bags and make sure that they are indeed turned into life supporting soil. Sure they’ll rot wherever they end up but why not in my garden helping me to grow yummy, superlocal food?

So here’s the challenge. Matt, I bet I can pick up more bags of leaves (soil) than you can. If you accept my challenge and I do pick up more bags, you will have to do something. But if you happen to collect more bags of leaves from the side of the road then I will have to do something. And we’ll let the readers decide what that something is. What do you say?

DIY Compost Bin

ByGroovy Green Oct 14, 2006

In the spirit of this newly announced competition, I put together a larger compost bin to collect our (and yes, possibly our neighbor’s) leaves this fall. This will supplement our smaller secure bin that we use for kitchen scraps – It keeps the skunks out.

Killing two birds with one stone, I got rid of a good portion of my “reclaimed wood pile” (that was not Mrs. B’s favorite), and built myself a fine compost bin.

A picture is worth a 1000 words, so without further ado: (click more to see pics and for dimensions)

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0.1 kWh/day Refrigerator

ByGroovy Green Oct 4, 2006

I guess that this “hack” from a chest freezer to a super-efficient refrigerator has been around for a year or so (2005). This just proves that you have to poke around to find something good, and when you do share it with others. (I wonder if the folks from path to freedom have seen this one yet.)

I found Mt. Best via farmlet, 2 great new sites to bookmark (new to me anyways), both out of NZ.

Here’s what they have to say about their fridge:

” My chest fridge (Vestfrost freezer turned into a fridge) consumes about 0.1 kWh a day. It works only about 2 minutes per hour. At all other times it is perfectly quiet and consumes no power whatsoever. My wind/solar system batteries and power-sensing inverter simply love it.

It is obvious that a truly energy efficient fridge does not cost any more money than a mediocre one. It actually costs less. It also has extra features, such as digital temperature display that gives you full control on the temperature settings inside.”

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When Will the Peak Perk?

ByGroovy Green Aug 23, 2006

Jeffery Brown throws out a challenge to the main stream media.

“Who among you is going to have the courage to step forward and “break” the story that the lifeblood of the world economy–net oil export capacity–is now declining?”

Mr. Brown says, “I estimate that oil exports from the top 10 net oil exporters are probably now falling at a double digit annual rate.”

He’s an independent petroleum geologist from Dallas by the way; not one of them economists that thinks you can put dollar bills in your gas tank and drive to work. I once told two smart friends of mine, an engineer and a medical student, that physics trumps economics and they said I didn’t understand how the world works. I don’t. But I do think that as oil is physically less available “laws” of economics are going to spin on their heads. Just a little prediction for you this afternoon. Here’s one more. It will be obvious that we’ve peaked in oil production by the end of 2006. It’ll take a few more years, two maybe, for the most optimistic of oil cheerleaders to admit so (read up on the history of the peak in production in the U.S. – 1971). Then, suddenly everyone will be saying, “Yeah, of course we’ve peaked. That’s what oil fields do- Duh!” But by then the scurry to find the next source of fuel for our mobile lifestyles and our transportation dependent economy will be on in full force. My favorite are the news headlines that read, “How Will We Fuel The Cars of Tomorrow?”, or, “Is Ethanol The Answer?” No ethanol isn’t the answer. It’s only suggested as a part of the solution because Iowa is the first stop on the road to the White House. It seems very few people are stopping to consider ways of living that require less driving. Supply-side solutions will not solve the problem of the declining rate of petroleum production.

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Passing on Progress in Search of Perfection?

ByGroovy Green Aug 19, 2006

This morning I fed my daughter Keaton carrots. Not yet six months old and I am already learning from her. The task of introducing solid foods to our baby has fallen mostly to my wife. Today is was my turn. After a few successful bites I started to think to myself, “Maybe I can feed her all these carrots without getting any on her face.” What an impossible goal! As she first began to get dirty I felt a twinge of disappointment. I wanted to feed her perfectly without any mess. The goal was not achieved. I had failed. But wait; I stopped myself and realized that I was successfully teaching another human being to eat carrots. She was learning a skill she’ll use for the rest of her life. I was introducing a healthy food and even went to the trouble of preparing it myself. I boiled the carrots and mechanically smashed them with my own two hands (I did use a masher). I was raising a daughter. Not all at once and not with individual burst of perfection but I was making progress on the road towards a happy, healthy human. What a success.

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Telling Somebody

ByGroovy Green Aug 17, 2006

Please allow me this chance to reprint a letter from one friend to another.

Marcus,

It was good of you to write and ask about how Jenn and I have been doing since graduation. It’s been a while since you and I have been able to sit and talk on the front porch like we use to do in college. I don’t want to go getting all sentimental on you but I did enjoy those conversations. Everything’s going well here. Our daughter Kay is growing up fast (I hope you got the baby announcement- Jenn made me give her all the guys’ addresses). Sometimes it feels like if I blink she’ll be all grown up. Work’s fine and we like living in a small town. I never thought I’d say that but Atlanta just wore me out. All that driving made me feel like I was spending my whole life in the car. So we made the move. Jimmie and the NYC crowd make fun of me for living in Smalltown, USA but we like it. I can even bike to work. We’ve got a garden in the backyard and it’s been easy to meet neighbors, especially with such a cute baby girl (says the proud papa). We live in a small neighborhood on the edge of a pretty cool little historic town. There’s a tavern about a mile away and all the other stuff too that comes with a small town of course- an ice cream shop, a local grocery, the usual. Now I’m just babbling so I’ll get to the real reason I wanted to write.

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Northern Ireland Mandates Green Energy For New Buildings

ByGroovy Green Jul 31, 2006

Now this is a little more like it. It’s amazing what can occur when an actual government gets behind renewable energy. In a step that’s sure to please environmentalists while making RE investors salivate, the ‘Government is proposing changes to the Building Regulations which will make the use of renewable energy compulsory in all new builds from 2008′ The new changes will apply to all new homes, company, and public buildings making solar hot water, roof photovoltaics, and small wind generation madatory in under two years.

Almost four thousand households will benefit immediately from the new systems. Those families on low incomes will also receive 100% grant assistance to install solar hot water systems for more than 500 homes. From the article,

‘Launching an 8 million renewable energy Household Programme, Peter Hain said that Northern Ireland is leading the rest of the United Kingdom in green energy. I Am fully committed to the use of renewable energy and I know how effective it can be. In my home in Wales, I have installed PV panels on my roof and this has resulted in my energy bill being halved. As a Government, we are also moving forward in changes to the building regulations to help and encourage greater use of renewable energy.’

Chick Update :: Last Call

ByGroovy Green Jul 28, 2006

This is your last chance to submit names for the 10 urban chickens we’re raising here at Groovy Green. The winner of our contest to “Name That Chicken” will receive one of these sweet T-shirts. Reply below with one or more names you think we should use on our animal additions to my backyard.

The chicks themselves are doing fine. They’re growing with great speed and it’s becoming obvious which ones are roosters and which ones are hens. Can you tell the ladies from the gents? I’ve started to give them time outside of their enclosure when I get home from work. They stay close by. When I first started to raised backyard chickens I thought they would do their best to escape but in reality they never wander to far away. At the first sign of danger they take off towards the safety of their chicken house. They did eat several seedlings from the garden. I have to remember to keep them out of newly planted areas, but for the most part I like to let them wander through the garden. They eat bugs and deposit fertilizer and are just fun to watch.

Be sure to leave a few names in reply and who knows, maybe you’ll win the coveted chicken T-shirt for your efforts.

Bobolink

ByGroovy Green Jul 26, 2006

I’ve recently received a number of emails calling for me to Kick the Oil Habit by supporting E85 which is a liquid fuel made up of 85% ethanol and 15% regular gasoline.

Bobolink has the same email in his inbox starred and ready for comment, and has been wondering what to do with it.

It’s just his luck that James from the Alt-E blog took the words right out of his mouth…

Is Ethanol / E85 Fuel the Solution?

Bobolink (and Steve) think that Pocket Farm is one of the best green/local/sustainable/farming/simple living/…kitchen sink blogs out there. If you’re reading Groovy Green, you need to be reading Pocket Farm.

This post tackles frugality, and offers up some simple ways to save some dough:

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GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

ByGroovy Green Jul 12, 2006

Coming up this Sunday evening set aside some time to check out the Discovery Channel’s feature on global warming:

Discovery Channel visits global warming tipping points across the planet, talks to the world’s leading experts, and examines the latest evidence about global warming in GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. Produced by Discovery Channel, the BBC and NBC News Productions, and hosted by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw, the two-hour special presents the facts and leaves it up to viewers to determine their own opinion about global warming. GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW premieres Sunday, July 16, at 9 p.m. ET.

After the show come back to Groovy Green and share your review of the show in the comments of this post!

Amish Busted Over Raw Milk

ByGroovy Green Jun 29, 2006

A recent article on the illegality of selling raw milk caught my eye.

“Arlie Stutzman was busted in a rare sting when an undercover agent bought raw milk from the Amish dairy farmer in an unlabeled container.”

On the surface it would seem that the government agency responsible for this sting has way too much time on its hands. Further investigation into unpasteurized milk reveals that it can carry harmful bacteria. It is also true however that the pasteurization of milk does has negative effects that are seldom discussed in the press.

The pasteurization of milk:

  1. Can be used as an excuse to sell low quality milk
  2. Can be used to cover up unhealthy milk production practices
  3. Destroys beneficial bacteria
  4. Reduces the nutritional value of milk
  5. Reduces the vitamin content of milk
  6. Destroys valuable enzymes
  7. Provides an excuse for harmful animal husbandry practices
  8. Diminishes the taste of the milk
  9. Provides a false sense of security in this fallible practice

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Trade In Your Cell Phone or PDA, Receive A TerraPass Gift Certificate!

ByGroovy Green Jun 21, 2006

Cell phones are cool and all–but most people simply shove them in a drawer–or worse–chuck ‘em when they’re finished. In fact, almost 130 million surplus cellphones are created each year in America–weighing in at clost to 65,000 tons! Well, TerraPass has some up with a unique way of solving this problem by partnering up with RIPMobile. From the press release, “RIPMobile recycles used cell phones and PDAs. They also happen to be leaders in their industry for environmental best practices. Unlike many recyclers, RIPMobile will accept any used cell phone, regardless of economic value. They’ll even pay your postage. RIPMobile handles all materials according to EPA standards and in compliance with the stringent requirements of the Basel Action Network.” The great thing about this new partnership is that TerraPass will pay you in gift certificates for your old phones. So, if you’ve been delaying off-setting your SUV with some carbon credits, now’s your chance to kill two birds with one stone! Almost every phone will net you some type of value–from a lowly old Motorola for $2 to a new RAZR for $75. (My expired Samsung came in at $32–not too shabby!). Check it out at TerraPass and–while your’re there–get that car taken care of!

California: The Vampire Slayer (Act of 2006)

ByGroovy Green Jun 16, 2006

Anyone else here dig the TV Series, “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer“? Giles and the gang always foiled evil plots to destroy the world while Joss Whedon integrated humorous banter and creative twists to the storyline. Awesome show..but I digress. Anyways, apparently California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine is a fan of the show, since his aptly titled “The Vampire Slayer Act of 2006″ has recently been approved by the California Assembly. From the release, “AB1970 would force companies to put labels on devices that tell consumers how much energy is being used while the device is in standby mode. AB1970 supporters claim that the average household will pay an additional $200 per year due to electronics on standby.” In the other corner of the arena are the Vampire Sires, the Consumer Electronics Association, Electronic Industry Alliance, etc. They’re all claiming that such a move will simply confuse consumers; just like the early complaints issued by the Tobacco Industry when health warning stickers were placed on cigarettes. C’mon–anything to save a few bucks is worth it and I would love to know what’s eating from my outlet well after I’ve turned off the lights. If Assemblyman Levine has any trouble at least Buffy and the gang are a stones throw away in Sunnydale. Nice job, CA!