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A beginner’s guide to growing your own food

Living sustainably is something that everyone should strive to do. More and more companies are producing and manufacturing food with high levels of chemicals and artificial colors and preservatives. These things are terrible for our bodies and for our children. To help prevent the terrible intake of these chemicals and to improve our overall health and well being, it is time that we all start thinking about growing our own food.

When you grow your own food you know exactly what you are putting into your body. You do not need to question if you sprayed it with chemicals or if there is a possible runoff in the water your crops are getting. While it may be a little challenging at first, it is well worth the effort to grow your own food. Here are some of the best tips to help you start growing your own food.

1) Think About What You Eat

One of the most important things you need to do before you start to grow your own food is to think about what you will actually eat. When you walk into a store you will likely become overwhelmed with the thought of all the different seeds you are able to purchase. Make a list of the different kinds of fruits and vegetables that you actually eat. Do not purchase things that you know you will not eat because this will likely be a waste of time and money.

2) Start Small

When most people think of growing their own food they may become overwhelmed. Try to avoid taking on too much at once. There is no reason that you need to try and grow everything in the first year. The key to having a successful yield is to start out small. Make sure you are able to manage the foods you want to grow. If you plant too much, you will be forced to do all the work or give up. If you start small, you will be more likely to follow through until the end of the season. Therefore, it is recommended that you pick about three foods you want to grow and then work your way up from there, year after year.

3) Decide Where To Plant

If you want to produce as much food as possible with a small number of seeds, it is critical that you understand where to plant. Pick a place in your yard that gets an adequate amount of sunlight. If you plant fruits and vegetables in the shade, they may not grow. And, if you plant them in the pure sun, they may get too much heat and will not be able to flourish either. Before you start to plant, you should observe your yard for about a week and determine which areas get the best amount of sun. Also, some fruits and vegetables require a different amount of sunlight so be sure to read the package or ask a professional.

Another thing to remember is that you do not need a yard to grow your own food. You can easily grow food from a balcony or entryway. Try using buckets or recycled plastics to grow a few fresh foods. The nice thing about growing on these types of containers is that you can bring them into your house during cold weather. This allows you to have fresh food all year long.

4) Find The Right Season

Another critical thing that you need to remember when you start growing your own food is knowing what time is best to grow. Some foods may need to be planted in May, while others can wait until June. Look at the packages of seed that you buy to find the optimal time to plant.

5) Get Others To Help

If you are unsure about what you are doing you can ask friends and family for help. The more people that you have to help, the more likely you are to have a successful season. More people means more help. While you will have to share your crops, you will also be able to share the work. This means you will have help with watering and wedding when you need it.

6) Consider A Raised Bed

One of the most underestimated ways to have a successful yield and reduced work is to put in some extra time up front. If you take a few days before planting season to build your own raised garden bed, it will pay off.

A raised garden bed allows you the ability to get the garden off the ground. This reduces the number of pests and wildlife that will enter your garden. It will also make planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting much easier. It allows you to get off your knees and prevents injuring your back and legs.

7) Keep Track of What Grows

If you are going to take the time to plant your own garden, you should take the time to keep track of what food actually grows. Record how many fruits and vegetables you get. Once the season is over you can refer back to this journal to decide which plants are worth trying again the next year and which ones you may not want to grow the following year.

8) Buy Reputable Seeds

While it may be tempting to buy cheap seeds from a dollar store, this may not be ideal. While they will likely grow into something, they may not produce the best tasting food possible. If you are going to take the time to grow your own food, make sure you get the best. You may even want to consider skipping seeds and purchasing a plant that is already in a mature stage. This will guarantee that you get food earlier and that it will likely be better tasting.

There are tremendous benefits to growing your own food and it is never too late to start. This year, try using some of these tips to help you get started on living a healthier lifestyle.

Easy Zero Waste Gift Ideas

In many people’s minds, presents and consumerism are the same. You can’t separate one from the other!

Actually, you can. Here are a few ways to do it.

Experiences

Experiences create memories that last a lifetime. Some experiences, like lessons, are useful for years to come.

  • Dance classes
  • Music lessons
  • Foreign language classes
  • Museum tickets
  • Concert tickets
  • Tickets to the ballet or orchestra
  • Ziplining gift cards
  • Massage gift cards

Charitable Donations

What cause does your loved one care about most? Whatever it is, there are bound to be numerous relevant non-profit organizations. Donate in your loved one’s name.

Research charities before giving. Try CharityNavigator.org to peruse each charity’s financials and see whether donations are being used appropriately.

Turtles and Trees

These gifts are charitable, but they have an added twist: The person you’re donating for can “adopt” and maybe even name something.

Sea Turtle Adoption

The Sea Turtle Conservancy allows each donor to “adopt” and name a sea turtle. The turtle will then be tagged. The STC posts online about beach sightings of adopted turtles.

Tree Adoption

The Orangutan Project will plant a tree in Sumatra and send a certificate of adoption. The trees help reforest the natural habitat of orangutans.

Adopt a Fish

The World Animal Foundation allows you to choose among a variety of sea life when you adopt. Whether you pick sea sponges, sharks, starfish, barnacles, or something else, the WAF sends an adoption certificate and in-depth information about the chosen species.

Food

For a more tangible—and delicious—gift, make something tasty.

  • Cookies
  • Cookie mix or other baking mixes
  • Jarred tomato sauce
  • Jarred salsa
  • Custom spice blends
  • Sourdough starter

Handmade Fashion

Are you crafty? If so, try making the following gifts.

  • Knitted or crocheted mittens, scarves, or sweaters
  • Jewelry
  • Hand-sewn clothing

Handmade Everything

No need to limit it to fashion!

  • Candles
  • Quilts
  • Wall art
  • Lotion

Sentimental Gifts

If you want to make someone’s heart swell, a scrapbook is perfect. Stuff the pages full of memories, both photographic and written.

For a romantic partner, love letters are golden. Choose elegant stationery, use your best handwriting, and tell your partner why you adore them.

Conclusion

Giving a zero-waste present is simple. The ideas here are just a few examples.

Remember that the best no-waste gifts are ones the recipients enjoy and use. If someone doesn’t like scarves, any scarf you give them will be wasteful. If they don’t eat carbs, don’t give them cookies. Always keep the spirit of giving in mind: bringing someone else joy.

Easy Changes You Can Make Today To Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

You’ve decided you want to lower your carbon footprint. But how?

It can feel overwhelming—after all, you’re just one person. Reducing atmospheric carbon should be the entire world’s concern. Still, it starts with individual people doing their part. You can make a difference.

Eating

Changing the way you purchase and use food is one of the simplest ways to lower your carbon footprint.

Eat Local

Instead of heading to a chain grocery store, get your food from local sources as often as you can. While it’s true that you can’t find locally grown Pop-Tarts, you can probably find farms in your area that sell meat and produce.

Search for farms in your area. Go to local farmers’ markets. You might even find foods that surprise you, like local olive oil, jam, honey, and more. You’ll know that gas-guzzling trucks didn’t transport your food across the country (or from other countries).

Here’s another bonus: Since you purchase local produce when it’s in season, it tastes better.

Don’t Waste

Food waste is a problem that arose along with modern life. In the past, and in some places even today, it would have been unthinkable. Nowadays, it’s easy to let things rot in your fridge before you remember to eat them.

Keep track of the food you already have, and make a point to use it in creative ways before it goes bad. Meal planning can help in this area. And always eat your leftovers.

Clothing

Skip Cheap Trends

Inexpensive clothes that follow current trends aren’t made to last. Called fast fashion, they live up to their name: They deteriorate fast and often look dated within months. Classic, higher-priced clothing is a more significant investment but costs less over time.

Go Thrifting and Buy Vintage

The easiest, least expensive way to reduce your carbon footprint in the fashion realm is to buy used clothing. Some people worry that it’s dirty, but there’s a simple solution: Just wash it. Others fear that used clothing will already be worn out, but you’d be surprised what people get rid of. If you go thrifting regularly, you’ll find barely-used clothes that people donated after only a few wears.

Buying

Minimalism

Give minimalism a try. If you follow lifestyle trends, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo, an organization expert. She advises people to pare down their possessions. Her advice is to keep only items that are regularly used or spark joy.

Reusable Bags

Why collect or throw away hundreds of plastic bags a year when you can use the same cloth bags over and over again?

Packaging

Choose items that have less packaging instead of more. Buying in bulk often helps with this by reducing the proportion of packaging to product.

At Home

Light Bulbs

Use LED bulbs. They cost a bit more when you purchase them, but they last far longer than incandescent bulbs while using less energy.

Lights Off and Electronics Unplugged

When you were a kid, your parents probably chastised you if you left the lights on when leaving a room. They had a good reason! Even LED bulbs eat up energy. There’s no good reason to leave them on when you’ve left the room.

You should also unplug electronics when you aren’t using them—even if you’ve turned them off. Many people are surprised to learn that, even when you’ve pressed the off button, electronics still take up energy if you leave them plugged in.

Water

  • Turn your water heater down to 120 F°.
  • Install low-flow showerheads.
  • Shorten your showers.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.

Heating and Cooling

The human ability to control our environmental temperature is pretty new, and people survived long before we could do it.

  • Turn down your thermostat.
  • Don’t turn your air conditioning too low.
  • If you’re hot, use fans. They don’t gobble up much energy.

Driving

Drive Less

Depending on where you live, you might need to drive. But you can still cut down on how much. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, running all your errands at once will reduce driving time.

If you live in an area where you can take public transportation or walk to destinations, do so. As a bonus, walking might improve your health.

Cruise Control

Breaking and acceleration use more gas. Cruise control will allow you to keep at a steady speed without constant adjustments.

Car Care

Car care reduces your carbon footprint in multiple ways, but here are two:

  • You won’t have to get repairs as often—which means you won’t need to replace parts as often.
  • If your car uses gas, a car in tip-top shape will stay gas-efficient longer.

Steer Clear of Traffic

The longer you sit in traffic, the more gas your car wastes. Apps like Waze or Google Maps can often help you avoid traffic jams by directing you to alternate routes.

Flying

The simplest way to reduce your flight-related carbon footprint is to skip it entirely. However, if you can’t avoid flying, choose nonstop flights. Since they don’t divert to an unnecessary location before arriving at your final destination, they use less fuel.

Conclusion

Though there are complicated or expensive ways to lower your carbon footprint—like starting your own garden or buying an electric car—they’re not the easiest things to do. If you can’t manage huge steps, you can still do lots of little things. Taking even just some of the steps above will significantly lower your carbon footprint.