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16 posts from September 2013

September 30, 2013

Seeds To Sow TODAY

Rows of young garlicPlanting in the fall may seem like a dumb idea, but there are plenty of fast growing, hardy, perennial plants to put in the ground right now. The one thing that might hold you back from growing any of these plants is the climate in your area. Consult the USDA's Plant Hardiness Zone Map or ask an experienced grower to determine which of these plants will flourish.

For those living in warmer areas, the climate may allow you to grow all of the plants on our list as well as other hardy winter plants like kale, lettuce, and cauliflower.

Sprouting garlic bulb

Spicy little bulbs of garlic do exceptionally well in cool climates, like in the Pacific Northwest, and right now is the time to dig. Make sure to put the hard base of the garlic bulb down a few inches into the ground to yield the largest clusters. Get ready for lots of garlic in spring.

A tulip flower

Flower Bulbs

Many varieties of flowering bulbs like tulips can be planted now for beautiful garden in the spring. Make sure to give the bulbs adequate space when planting. 3-4 inches should do. Some bulbs can grow well perennially in areas with cool climates like the Northeast.

Continue reading "Seeds To Sow TODAY" »

September 24, 2013

Fall Delicacies for the Locavore

Ripe Heirloom TomatoesFall is a season of harvest, but you don't have to be a farmer to reap the nation's most exotic and fresh foods and the bodily benefits they bring. Buying food from sustainable farms not only encourages fair competition between local producers, but also empowers small farming businesses, all the while promoting a little hometown pride. And though much of autumn's trademark foods grow in almost every corner of the country — garlic, blackberries, pumpkins, pomegranates, to name a few — each region boasts a tasty piece of the country. Covering the coasts, corners, plains, and deserts of the US, we've listed the in-season attractions, some of which are more unique than expected.

Southwest: Big Jim green peppers, also known as the Numex Big Jims, are big sellers in the Southwestern regions like New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Usually growing 10-12 inches, Big Jims are considerably mild (500-2,000 scoville units), and the pepper's volume makes it perfect for stuffing.

Southeast: Dragon fruit, also known as Pitaya, ripen right about now in Florida's fall months, growing from a vining cactus. With a thick, hot pink skin and flamboyant appearance, the dragon fruit surprisingly tastes more like a kiwi mild and subtly sweet. 

Continue reading "Fall Delicacies for the Locavore" »

September 20, 2013

How Could You Say No to this Face?

Ian_with_logo01-520d4646833ddYou may know him as irresistible bad boy Damon Salvatore, but unlike the undead cad he plays on the Vampire Diaries, actor Ian Somerhalder just wants to compel people to protect the planet.

As part of the #STARTARYOT Challenge, the eco-minded thespian is asking fans to compete for a good cause. Here's where you come in: If Somerholder can help the Sierra Club Foundation raise the most funds on CrowdRise, RYOT will donate an additional $75,000 to the organization. That money would help the Club protect more wild places, get more kids outdoors, fight more pollution, and build a cleaner, healthier future.

Somerhalder, who has always had a connection to the outdoors, was inspired to take his eco-activism to the next level when he saw how the BP oil spill devastated his home state of Louisiana. An lest you think he's just lending his gorgeous face to the environmental movement, rest assured that Somerhalder also has his hiking boots on the ground — he recently took the stage at a Beyond Coal rally in North Carolina, where his strong words inspired a more than a few young fans to think differently about dirty energy.

The #STARTARYOT Challenge ends on Tuesday, September 24, so visit the site soon to help Somerhalder help the Sierra Club. Every donation — no matter how small — moves the Foundation closer to its goal. But first, take a moment to look into those dreamy, vampy eyes. You just can't resist doing a little good today.

--Photo by Renee Scott

September 17, 2013

Android Apps for Autumn

Leaf App icon

From chasing orange leaves to tasting golden brews, apps can inform your autumn adventures. And even if you're not headed to a maple forest or a beer festival, you can follow the fall remotely through the window of your phone with these cutting-edge applications for Android. (But don't forget to turn those screens off and get outside, too.)

Arboreal apps: Leaf chasers will love fall foliage apps like Peepr, which crowd sources leaf color reports. Because autumn leaves turn at slightly different times each year, foliage trackers can waste a lot of gas and time driving in search of the deciduous. On Peepr, users can file reports for the foliage in their area and view county-level data on a national map. The map shows what color the leaves are at that moment in a given location, allowing drivers to better plan their trips. North East Tree Identification helps outdoors enthusiasts identify trees year 'round, with a special focus on New England species. It walks you through visual taxonomy to help even the most amateur threehugger find precise species names in seconds. Knowing tree species and locations names will make you a more educated advocate for the environment and a more interesting hiking partner. 

Continue reading "Android Apps for Autumn" »

Beginner’s Guide to Home Brewing: Hard Cider

1 gallon of home brew with airlockIt's apple harvest season, which is a perfect time for the fledgling brewer to try making hard cider. Home brewing offers the chance to make your own fresh organic drink that's preservative-free and low on sulfites (some sulfites will naturally occur during fermentation). Bonus: This tasty beverage is gluten-free.

First Timer's Hard Cider

yield: one gallon

Ingredients and Supplies:

1 clean glass gallon jug
1 gallon of organic, unpasteurized, preservative-free apple juice with no added sugar
2 cups of sugar 
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 pinch whole cloves
1 balloon
1 rubber band
1 packet of bread yeast

Continue reading "Beginner’s Guide to Home Brewing: Hard Cider" »

September 16, 2013

Backyard Beekeeping 101

Bees on a honeycomb frameThere are a number of reasons Americans are taking up beekeeping — a backyard colony can help your garden produce more fruits and veggies, harvesting your own honey cuts down on your grocery bill, and honey bees continue to be threatened by colony collapse disorder. Take your pick, and join the growing ranks of urban apiarists.

Keepers of rooftop and backyard hives extol the spiritual benefits of beekeeping, as well as the tasty ones.

"It is a joy to have them around and observe their intricate dance with life," says Ruby Blume, a Bay Area beekeeper who teaches courses on the subject at The Institute of Urban Homesteading in Oakland. "When the bees come out in spring there's a huge uplifting feeling in my spirit, and I know it's time to start gardening and engaging with the outside world again." 

A single hive in an urban setting can produce as much as 60 pounds of honey, requires less management than a cat or dog, and has relatively low start-up costs, making it an appealing way for city folk to connect with their country roots. Here are a few things to consider when contemplating a hive of your very own:

You will need to do your research. "The more you know, the better beekeeper you'll be," advises Blume. There is a wealth of resources out there for aspiring beekeepers, from books to classes. Take several classes, says Blume, or find a mentor. Most cities have beekeepers associations full of enthusiasts who would be happy to help. 

But first, investigate your city's laws — you don't want to unintentionally become a fugitive while pursuing your apiarist dreams.

Continue reading "Backyard Beekeeping 101" »

5 Easy Ways to Green Your RV

This RV and tent are green on the outside but what about the insideAbout ten years ago, Ty Adams asked himself a question that became an obsession. How do you make RVs green? The question led him to quit his job at an RV magazine, sell his house, and build his first green RV, the biofueled BioTrekker. Adams now works as a freelance writer, but is still involved with green RVs. He volunteers as an adviser to SolTrekker, another biodiesel RV and environmental program on wheels. The non-profit that operates it, also called SolTrekker, uses the RV as a sustainable showroom, exhibiting solar systems and renewable materials. Adams’s projects are exciting because RVs are notorious for their carbon footprint. He found ways to turn this symbol of excess into one of sustainability.

The SolTrekker boasts some labor intensive projects like a biodiesel engine, a solid waste compost system, and a rainwater catchment/grey water collection unit. But what can RV owners do today, in a couple of hours, at minimal cost? We asked Adams to share some tips for RVers just starting to green up. It turns out you can do a lot of things without a huge expense or technical know-how.

Continue reading "5 Easy Ways to Green Your RV" »

September 13, 2013

Why Jellyfish Might Rule the Future

Lisa Ann GershwinAre jellyfish taking over? Dr. Lisa-ann Gershwin, author of Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of our Oceans and the director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Sciences, has outlined how rising temperatures and the toxicity of the earth's oceans have resulted in an increase in jellyfish blooms. We recently asked the marine biologist about the rise of the jellies and whether humans are smarter than brainless invertebrates. 

Can you start of by telling me what Stung! is about?

It's about human impact on the oceans and the unexpected and unwanted consequences of jellyfish taking over. Nobody could have imagined that jellyfish could have done so well in damaged ecosystems.

There is a really powerful quote in your book: “Here we are at the dawn of a new millennium, in the age of cyberspace, and we are at the mercy of jellyfish.” What is the significance of that quote to you?

Despite all of our gadgets and all of our technologies and all of our good intentions and our good management models, despite our ability to do things right, nonetheless jellyfish are getting the best of us. We’re losing this battle to jellyfish. Mind you, it’s not their fault, we’re not losing the battle to ourselves because we want our cake and we want to eat it too. It’s our fault because we’re damaging the ecosystems to the point that they’re able to exploit that damage.

Continue reading "Why Jellyfish Might Rule the Future" »

Green Your Weekend: Organize a River Cleanup

Young blonde girl collecting trash alongside a riverYou may not want to believe it but the summer heat is dissipatingschool sessions are beginning, and fall is just around the corner. Whether you spent your summer white-water rafting, kayaking and canoeing, floating, fishing, or just plain ole' swimming, now's a great time do give back to your community by doing your part to keep America's bodies of water clean.

Make next weekend a green one by organizing a river cleanup with friends and family (it's easier than you'd think). And on the off chance organizing isn't your thing, just volunteer! You'll have a great time getting rid of rubbish, while helping keep our natural playgrounds in tip-top shape for next summer and making sure wildlife have safe wintering grounds

Watch the video below to learn more. 

Continue reading "Green Your Weekend: Organize a River Cleanup" »

September 12, 2013

Interview: HGTV Hunk Carter Oosterhouse Talks Green to Us

Carter OosterhousePhotos of former model Carter Oosterhouse plaster the walls of many a dorm room. His pinup looks notwithstanding, Oosterhouse's real talent lies in knowing how to swing a hammer. A carpenter by trade, he caught attention after appearing on TLC's redecorating show Trading Spaces. HGTV then nabbed him to host Red, Hot & Green and Carter Can, both of which emphasize eco-friendly design. He's a regular on Oprah, showing viewers how to gussy up their homes in the greenest of ways. His nonprofit, Carter's Kids, builds parks and playgrounds in low-income areas. Oosterhouse took some time to answer our questions. 

Q: How did you get into carpentry? 

A: It started out as a summer job in the town I grew up in, Traverse City, Michigan. It was just something to do to make some money. My two older brothers taught me, and a neighbor took me as his apprentice. I would have never guessed that what started as a summer job would take me so far.

Q: What made you an environmentalist?

A: I blame my dad. He was always preaching. Whenever we'd have to wash a car or boat, we had to use biodegradable soap. In Michigan we have such big bodies of freshwater—they're among the richest commodities we have—so that's why my dad was so adamant. We didn't realize that it would, but stuff like that got stuck in our heads.

Q: What’s the greenest thing people can do when remodeling a house?

A: Going to a secondhand store and repurposing something. People toss things out without a second thought, and there are so many great items at secondhand stores. It’s easy and fun and helps keep the cycle of life for inanimate objects going. Think about all the objects filling up our landfills—granite, for example. It takes a little more effort to get from a secondhand store, but we would save a ton on landfill consumption by using it secondhand, as well as a good amount of money.  

Q: What do you tell people who say that eco-remodeling is too expensive?

Continue reading "Interview: HGTV Hunk Carter Oosterhouse Talks Green to Us" »

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