Summer doesn’t really get started in the Pacific Northwest until after the 4th of July; that’s what they say, anyway. As a result, I don’t usually water my garden until the first week in July when the rain dries up and the temperatures rise. After experimenting with various methods for a few years, I finally buckled down and bought two products (keep in mind that I hate pouring money into my garden when it’s supposed to be saving me money!): two soaker hoses and a simple electronic garden timer.
With the hoses wound around my plants and the garden timer, my vegetables receive the same amount of water every day. This seems to keep them happy. If you want to water every other day or on some other schedule, you’ll need a digital garden timer. Ed (as I like to call him) from The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible says that we can improve upon the way nature waters plants by directing the water right to the roots. This helps ward away mold, bugs, and disease—and of course it also saves quite a bit of water.
What I like the best about this system is that—once I’ve set everything up—I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the summer. If we go away for a trip, my garden still gets its daily dose of water.
How do you water your garden to conserve water and—another precious resource—your own time?
Two weeks ago I begged for your collective wisdom to help wean my two-year-old daughter. After implementing a few strategies from our readers, my daughter and I gently gave up nursing within just three days.
First I stopped the morning feedings, which did involve some screaming and sadness, but with a little distraction she quickly acclimated. The next day we nursed at nap again, but at bedtime we had a special discussion of how this would be her last time drinking my milk. We snuggled, talked and really enjoyed it. The next day, my husband put her down for nap and bedtime and she peacefully went to sleep. If I would have known it would be that easy, I might have started sooner!
For those of you still struggling with weaning, Kathleen Huggins’ book, Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning – Revised: How to Bring Breastfeeding to a Gentle Close, and How to Decide When the Time Is Right looks like an excellent choice. Does anyone else have a favorite resource to support weaning a toddler?
Over the years we’ve posted some of our favorite summer recipes–from vegetable popsicles to edible play-doh. Here’s the complete list:
Organic homemade popsicles (includes recipes for natural dripless popsicles and berry fudgcicles with silken tofu)
(Also–check out our recent BPA-free Popsicle Molds post.)
What do I do with all these tomatoes? (includes a link to a great gazpacho recipe)
Homemade non-toxic play dough (includes instructions for rubbery play-doh, edible play-doh, and nature’s play-doh)
Happy Fourth of July! It’s a great day to reflect on what independence means to our family. Making choices to reduce, reuse and recycle may make us feel good, but there are heaps of other benefits to consider.
This thrifty, green lifestyle leads brings financial freedom as we save by buying less and purchasing secondhand items. That allows for economic offsetting, or the ability to splurge on the things that really matter to us. Maybe for your crowd it’s organic strawberries, an Ergo carrier, or a weekend camping trip, but making conscious choices about consumption opens up options. Buying less stuff also provides us the independence of extra space (with less to trip over!) as we tend to our babies.
My ultimate independence dream would be to live off the grid. Who knows? Maybe in a few decades (or less) it will be more possible than it seems right now. What are the aspects of green living that lead to independence in your household?
A couple years ago, Joy asked our readers this question: What are the best summer slings? Toting a baby around in hot, summery weather calls for breathable, durable fabric. With that in mind, here’s what our readers recommended:
Maya wrap $67.46
They also suggested getting something in linen. I found the Snuggy Baby Linen Banded Ring Sling Baby Carrier for $85.
Two years have gone by since our last “summer sling” post, so we may be missing the latest and greatest in baby wearing fashion. What are your favorites?
As of yesterday, all new and used drop-side crib sales in the United States are banned. Crib manufacturers have already adapted, but what happens to every drop-side crib currently in use? Are they all destined for disposal?
The government ban states that no crib manufactured before July 23, 2010 can be sold or even donated. It extends to cribs sold at yard sales, resale shops, and on craigslist.
Honestly, it makes me feel ill. I know that more than 30 babies died in the past dozen years from drop side cribs, and obviously better standards needed to be enforced. Still, why can’t people use a crib immobilizer kit that will make any drop-side crib into a safe, stationary sleeping space for baby? People can buy it for ten dollars and install it in under an hour.
My solid maple Child Craft crib, with plenty of life left in it, will have to be dismantled and recycled, even though there are several families and charities in desperate need of a sturdy crib. The amount of waste that will be generated by this one act boggles my mind! Does anyone else have ideas about what to do with their used drop-side crib?
Another product I’ve been reconsidering—alongside wipes warmers and diaper sprayers—are recycled paper towels. If you are a faithful reader of the Green Baby Guide, you know how my proudest claim to greenness is that I’ve never bought paper towels in my life. However . . . I’m beginning to make room for some changes.
Would recycled paper towels improve my life at all? Could they possibly be better than washable rags sometimes, especially if I promised to compost them?
In exactly four weeks, we shall be moving and do not want to lug along a dozen cans of black beans and pound of bulk cashews. So for upcoming summer dinners I shall plan meals creatively around the provisions we already have. At this point my ideas include peach and pumpkin veggie-fruity popsicles, white bean soup with summer greens, and nut flour pancakes.
Half eaten bananas, overripe fruit, and unfinished bowls of yogurt will make their way into smoothies, homemade popsicles, and baked goods. Dried beans, pasta, rice and canned tomatoes will contribute to soups and goulashes. When the shelves of my fridge and cupboards are clean and bare, it shall be time to shop again. Until then, we shall think outside the recipe box.
How do you prepare foods you forage from your own cupboards? Marmalade mustard chicken? Dried fig and cranberry biscuits? While not always delicious or even edible, the possibilities for creative cooking are endless!
Packing up everything we own and shlepping it to a new address isn’t usually an orderly process for us, and it will be less so now that we’re moving with kids. It can become hugely wasteful as we could end up buying items that we can’t find, eating meals on paper plates, and just feeling overwhelmed by the quantity of stuff we have acquired over the years. We’re now four weeks away from our actual moving day and I think I should probably get packing soon. Do you have any tips that make moving with kids easier and maybe even greener? Have you been able to stay rooted in one spot for the last several years? If so, do you dread the potential of a future move?
In our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we talk about how we avoided buying a white, plastic monstrosity of a diaper pail by buying a classy five-gallon push-pedal garbage can in stainless steel. Not only would this work better for cloth diapers, with its removable bucket, but it would be a much greener option than the dreaded Diaper Genie. Why? Because after its diaper pail days ended, it could be reincarnated as a regular trash can.
That was the idea, anyway. I bought a no-name stainless steel trash can at a discount store, and guess what? It broke. After a couple years, the push-pedal stopped working and the top came off the hinges. Not even a trip to the workshop could restore it to its former diaper-containing glory. Now it stores scrap wood and the lid landed in the dump.
What could I have done instead? Perhaps a higher quality trash can would have lasted forever, like this Simplehuman Butterfly Step Recycler. But $159.99 for a diaper pail? In the The Complete Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyczyn recommends using a simple 5-gallon plastic bucket with a lid, found at any hardware store. This will set you back just $7–and you could probably recycle it if you couldn’t find a way to re-purpose it after your diaper days.
Do you have any green solutions to the diaper pail dilemma? Or is this something–like many things in life–I have put way too much time and energy thinking about?