Tuesday, February 19, 2008

sustainability here to stay

According to the Natural Marketing Institute's LOHAS consumer trends database for 2007, consumers see sustainability as a long term thing. In fact, those who believe this outnumber those who don't, 2-to-1. That means consumers expect to see sustainable/eco-friendly products. And expect themselves and others to pick up eco-friendly practices. Those who "get there" and "do that" will be seen as the experts.
Read more about it here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

spend money to save money

those rebate checks that are supposed to help jump-start the economy are in the mail. not yet, anyway, but they will be. every time you turn to a news station there are folks predicting what we will do with this windfall. the government's objective was for us to march down to the nearest store and spend it, and then some. the good angel sitting on our shoulders is telling us to pay down our debt. or, save it.

shall we spend it? or save it?

how about we spend some of it in order to save money over the course of time. let's say, over the course of a growing season. is it coincidence that the checks will arrive in the mail just when we are getting a great start to our gardens? it's perfect timing.

here are 10 ways to spend money in the garden to save money through the summer and beyond:
  • plant a vegetable garden and spend less in the grocery store
  • stretch your veggie garden season with row covers
  • plant a cutting flower garden and spend less for spontaneous hostess gifts
  • use soaker hoses and spend less on your water bill
  • use mulch and spend less on your water bill
  • plant a xeriscape garden and spend less on your water bill
  • plant a shade tree near your home to save cooling costs (ok, that'll take a couple years to kick in)
  • upgrade your hand tools so you don't have to re-purchase cheapo tools that continually break
  • buy a grill and patio furniture and enjoy your backyard and spend less on going out
  • buy perennials with three- or four-season beauty and spend less on seasonally changing your annuals

any other thoughts? i'm sure we can come up with something! happy spending!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

if it's thursday...

...then it must be houseplant watering day.

i live in a "garden level" condo (i.e. the rowhouse's basement) so my light levels are pretty dismal. don't get me wrong, i do have windows, but they are small and don't let in too much light.

i do manage to have a few houseplants, though. i position most of them under recessed lights that i leave on a good 14-15 hours each day. my african violets are in absolute heaven and flower constantly. my oldest african violet was a gift from my mom i think back in 1995, so it should be nearly 13 years old. i have had great success with an amaryllis positioned under my kitchen light.

i try to include other green things to enliven the space a bit - mostly philodendrons - and they seem to do ok in the low light. my 18 year old christmas cactus bides its time until it can go outside for the summer. poor thing, stuck inside all winter.

you're thinking, wow, her electric bill must be outlandish. not really, actually. and i'm making a point to swap out my indoor spot lights for compact fluorescent bulbs when they burn out.i replaced the spot light over my kitchen sink with a compact fluorescent and the light quality isn't as nice. i think it's because it's not a spot light, which is what i had lived with for four years. i haven't found a compact fluorescent indoor spot bulb yet, so if anyone knows of a brand, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

flour ink?

i was inspired in the kitchen today. while making curried butternut squash soup i was thought "wow, i gotta remember to do this instead of that. i should share this" what about...flour ink to complement flower ink? i invite you to check out my postings and my life with food.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

keeping up with it all

i'm somewhat old-fashioned in that my to-do list is written in pencil. i keep my list in an 8.5 x 11-ish spiral notebook ( i make sure it's made with recycled paper), and each day before i settle in to work, i write my to-do list on a new page. i've been doing this for almost 3 years, so i have quite a few notebooks filled cover to cover. i can go on about how particular i can be with it, but that's a blog for another day.

for about three months now i've had "update blog" and "update web site" on my list, toward the end. i've been posting off and on - mostly off - since last spring, and my web site hasn't been updated since last august. i finally got down to it today. i even checked out my analytics for both the blog and web site, just so i have some idea if anyone's checking in (you are!).

and one thing led to another. i just spent probably 5 hours figuring out rss feeds, checking out gardening and garden retail blogs, separately the wheat from the chaff when it comes to relevance. i'm tellin' ya, there's a lot of stuff to read out there. good stuff. i'm not kidding, i could spend another 5 hours reading and surfing and surfing and reading.

i'd love to but i don't dare. oh sure, we've all wasted perfectly fine time - perfectly sunny, beach-worthy days - lost among the reeds of the web. but these rss feeds, they can waste some serious time. reminds me of the first time i ever baby sat. the little 4-year old was in bed within an hour and i had several hours left before the parents came home. video games were one of my options, and i spent the next 3 hours glued to super mario brothers. this was back in the late 80s, so there's no thought about ergonomic joy sticks. the next day, i felt as if i had a guitar string strung from wrist to elbow, and it was being plucked to no end. ouch.

i learned my lesson. i've stayed away from video games pretty much ever since. will i stay away from rss feeds? probably not. i'll just have to put down the joystick a little sooner.

Monday, February 11, 2008

can the "green" in green marketing be backfiring?

a report from Getty Images thinks the "green" in green marketing may indeed be wearing out it's welcome. by "green" i mean the actual color green, not the "eco-friendly" or "money" aspect of it. here's a quote from Getty Image's second MAP Report (what Makes A Picture):

“Expect the future to be any color but green because right now everybody uses green (and darker shades are predominant). The environment comes in all colors, and visual clich├ęs do not compel interest. Expect to see a backlash on all familiar environmental iconography. Innovators will embrace the mucky, the messy, the colorful.”

Getty's MAP report had some other interesting "green" revelations, and you can find a link to the report on the Environmental Leader web site.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

eco-options for valentine's day

sustainability and organic are the latest buzz in gardening, and in everything else, for that matter. i wrote an article for today's Boston Globe Style Section to help the eco-sensitive find alternatives that would sit well with their conscious. check it out:
Love Me, Love the Earth

major point: organic & sustainably grown & fairly traded items are out there - yes, even for flowers - if you look for them. if more of us ask, they'll begin to be found more easily.