Garden

Doing A Bit Better

5 Tips to make your Fall a little bit better

The heat is still upon us, but not for long! As fall is right around the corner, the days will... Read

The heat is still upon us, but not for long! As fall is right around the corner, the days will start to get shorter and the sidewalks will become littered with leaves. Here are some tips for your home and your family that will help you do a little bit better during the changing of the seasons:

  1. Check the furnace
    • One of the easiest ways to make sure your home is efficient is to test and make sure your furnace/fireplace is clean. Not only does this make winter stress free because you know that your furnace or chimney will work throughout winter, it’s also a money saver.
    • Cleaning around the furnace will allow it to run smoothly thus giving you more heat with less energy during the winter.
  2. Insulate the house
    • Check the windows around your house for proper caulking, make sure your windows are sealed tight and no breeze is coming through. Plastic film can sometimes work as an alternative.
    • Make sure doors are weather stripped and replace strips if necessary. If there’s a draft coming through replace the threshold of the door or use towels, blankets, or old sweaters (we will discuss these items further below) to place under the doors.
    • Hang a thick curtain or blanket in front of your doors to block cold air from entering the house.
  3. Create/purify air flow
    • If you have a ceiling fan, adjust the settings so that the fan is going in reverse. If you’re standing underneath the fan and can feel the breeze from it then make sure to turn it the opposite way. This maneuver allows for air to be pushed up against the ceiling and down the walls, allowing the air flow to re-circulate the warm air without causing a chilling effect.
    • Clean vents to ensure debris and dust aren’t getting into the air flow of your house. You’re going to essentially button up your house during the winter and you don’t want to have to open windows because your house is too stuffy.
    • Move objects away from vents, baseboard heaters, registers on the floor, or radiators so that air moves freely around your house. Also, as said above, make sure to clean around these areas.
  4. For the kids (Going back to school)
    • Buy clothes and materials from second hand stores/thrift shops. There’s chic thrift stores for all ages now!
    • Bring your own reusable bags to go shopping.
    • Avoid single use packaging food when preparing lunches. Also, try and reuse Ziploc bags for however long you can.
    • Make sure to not buy school materials in bulk.
    • Have a “Swap” party: invite families to exchange clothing and usable school supplies.
    • If you drive your kids to the bus stop, bundle them up and walk them to the bus stop as an alternative.
  5. Everyday Stuff
    • Clean the gutters and make sure that your downspouts are pointed away from your house will provide piece of mind when the weather is unfavorable. And while you’re up there, why not check out the roof’s condition to make sure it’ll last through the upcoming seasons?
    • Open blinds in the morning/during the day to attract heat and then close them at night to retain the heat. Honeycomb blinds are especially efficient.
    • Go through the family’s wardrobe and re-purpose items. For example, use old t-shirts as new kitchen rags for cleaning, or old sweaters and towels as a way to ventilate your house.
    • Organize the kitchen, the refrigerator should be checked to ensure it is sealed tight as to not let cold air into the house. And food that is old or not needed should be composted or thrown out. Room in the refrigerator is needed for ample air flow.
    • Get rid of cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals, especially triclosan. DIY cleaning products using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are highly accepted. If not able to make cleaning products yourself, Method and Seven Generations cleaning products are great alternatives to conventional cleaning products.
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Garden

Use Solar Lanterns to Light your Garden

As we are nearing the end of September (yikes!), it’s always nice to do a little sprucing up to the... Read

As we are nearing the end of September (yikes!), it’s always nice to do a little sprucing up to the yard as the weather starts turning. One things that we love about the fall are the early nights, and what better way to take advantage of them than by installing solar lanterns on a walk way or flower bed. They will be powered all day by the sun, and shine brightly as the sun goes down–you never have to worry about batteries or burying miles of extension cords. With solar lanterns you simply put them in your garden and let the sun do the work for you. Plus (and it’s a big plus) you’re doing a bit better for the earth, and your wallet–bye bye higher electric bills.

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Family

Earth Day Ideas for Everyone

“Before you start planning your Mother’s day festivities, it’s time to say “Thanks!” to your OTHER mom.  You know, Mother... Read

“Before you start planning your Mother’s day festivities, it’s time to say “Thanks!” to your OTHER mom.  You know, Mother Earth!  She’s been great and she’s done a lot for you.  Sure, she has temper tantrums once in a while, but if we don’t take care of her now, she won’t be around for too long (relatively speaking).

Okay, innuendo aside, it’s time to consider how you’ll celebrate Earth Day this Sunday!  Here are a few ideas (and just to prove we walk the walk, we’ll be doing these as well).

Walk, don’t drive
Plan ahead so that you don’t have to drive anywhere on Sunday. Spare the air your carbon emissions, just for one day!  If you have stores or coffee shops within walking distance, consider those instead.

Lose the Appliances
We rarely think about the chain of events that goes into something as simple as turning on the television – but chances are that at least some of your electricity comes from fossil fuels.  You’ll be surprised at everything you can get done without running appliances.

-Eat raw so that you don’t have to cook
-Use candles for lights (it’s romantic, and kind of like camping!)
-Skip the TV and read a book.  Storytelling is a great way to entertain even the little ones

Plant something
We understand that planting a tree doesn’t work for everyone (especially us urbanites).  That said, planting SOMETHING is still feasible.  Plants add much needed Oxygen to the atmosphere, and attract your friendly neighborhood bee for local pollination.

Now get out there and show “mom” (the older one) how much you love her!”

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Garden

A Greener, Easier Saturday

“When Saturday rolls around for many guys across America, there is one thing they can count on: mowing the lawn. ... Read

“When Saturday rolls around for many guys across America, there is one thing they can count on: mowing the lawn.  For some, rolling up the sleeves and gassing up the mower can be a stress-relieving ritual of good ol’ fashioned hard work.  But for many others, it’s just another item on a never-ending list of chores.  But either way you look at it, there’s still a good chance that you’re pouring carbon emissions into the planet with every rip-start of your gas powered lawn mower.  So, we at DAbB decided to do a little digging and found a solution.  What we found is a trick like man-toy to help make your Saturday less busy and more eco friendly.

Introducing, the Husqvarna Automower® Solar Hybrid: the world’s first fully automatic lawn mower that is partly powered by the sun.  Just turn it on, set the cutting schedule and let the Automower do the rest!  Think of it like a Roomba® for your lawn – you just lay down parameter wire and the Automower chomps everything else.

According to Husqvarna, the Automower® Solar Hybrid uses less energy than any conventional mower because, in addition to a charging station, the integrated solar panel extends its cutting periods before it needs recharging.  So you use less power and you do less work – who doesn’t like that?

Aside from being both quiet and good for the earth, it hosts a number of awesome additional features including:

-Remote text message that notifies you of any unscheduled disturbance

-Anti-theft alarm and pin code (which you’ll want with the hefty $3K price tag)

-Safety sensors to shut the mower off if it is lifted or tipped over

-A weather proof design that can handle terrain slopes up to 35 degrees

So if you’ve got a lawn up to ½ acre in size (and an extra three grand burning a hole in your pocket), the Husqvarna Automower® Solar Hybrid mower could be just the tool to make your Saturday a little bit better.”

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Garden

UpCycling a Mini-Greenhouse

“Now that April’s here, it’s time to start thinking about gardening again.  If you’re growing anything from seedlings, you’re going... Read

“Now that April’s here, it’s time to start thinking about gardening again.  If you’re growing anything from seedlings, you’re going to want to keep things warm in case the frost hits.

While you could spend a great deal of money on a mini-greenhouse kit, you’d be surprised how easy it is to make one from home from materials you already have!

The easiest and most common way to build a mini-greenhouse is with empty plastic bottles.  Simply peel the label off and cut into a shape that fits over the plant (we like to use the cap-end, so that you can vent the air on particularly sunny days).  Cold beverage cups from coffee shops can work equally as well, and sometimes better if you need a longer, more horizontal area.

If your plants are already a bit bigger, then you’re going to have a hard time finding a large enough Soda Bottle (don’t go rummaging around Costco trying to prove us wrong!).  Cellophane to the rescue!  Four ground-stakes at equal heights wrapped in cellophane will create the perfect greenhouse square.  Finally, wrap the cellophane over the top and watch nature take its course!  Oh, and did we mention that cellophane is eco-friendly?  It’s made from plant materials (regenerated cellulose) and is 100% biodegradable.

Before shelling out the big bucks next time you think about raising a seedling of your own, consider what’s around you and how you can UpCycle it!”

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Garden

Mulching the Funny Pages

“You know those times when you realize your parents were right about something? Sigh… this is one of those times.... Read

“You know those times when you realize your parents were right about something? Sigh… this is one of those times. Many staff members here remember using newspapers in their family’s garden as kids, but never really knew why. We all hate weeds. Using the good ole Sunday newspaper is incredibly useful for keeping weeds at bay, if not completely keeping them out of your garden. This method doesn’t involve chemicals that might harm your produce, damage your plants, or cause health problems for your family. It’s also cheap and super easy.

What You’ll Need
A large amount of newspapers (The size of the Sunday paper finally comes in handy!)
Organic mulching materials such as:

Grass clippings
Pine Bark
Leaves
Straw

Steps
Open up a section of the newspaper and place it right on top of the soil and tightly around your plants. We recommend you have at least 12 pages thick. Make sure you overlap the edges so light and weeds can’t pierce through the paper. (Make sure you don’t use glossy paper from coupons, inserts, etc! These typically contain mild toxins from the ink.)

As you lay the paper down, place 3-4 inches of mulch over the top. This amount of mulch will help to keep the newspaper down and it looks great. And now you’re done!

The newspaper mulch will not only keep the weeds down, it will also fertilize the soil, cool the roots of the plants in the summer heat, add organic material to the soil, and save water. Earthworms will be active underneath the mulch, tilling the ground for you and adding worm castings, which is pure gold for plants.

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Garden

Letting the Lawn Lay is the Best Way

“We all want the best looking lawn on the block- but it may be surprising that spending less time on... Read

“We all want the best looking lawn on the block- but it may be surprising that spending less time on your lawn will actually make it greener.  Most grass species are best kept at least 2.5 inches tall.  At this length, the lawn is able to absorb more sunlight into it’s overall surface than that with a shorter length.  With more sunlight absorption, you will get a thicker turf and deeper roots which also means you don’t have to water as often.

Another little lawn tip is let the lawn clippings lay.  Lawn clippings actually add nitrogen to the soil, and discourages weeds from germinating.  You will therefore use less fertilizer and herbicide.

So the next time you see “”Cut the Lawn”” on your honey-do list, you can tell your significant other that you’re Doing A bit Better by not cutting it.  You’re welcome!”

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