Weeds: An Organic Strategy

weed_dandelion_300Learning to live with a few weeds is a gardener's mark of maturity, not unlike that moment when you suddenly stop fretting about the fact that you're too tall or too short and simply decide to get on with life. Weeds compete with your desired, cultivated plants for water, nutrients, sunlight, and growing space. Left alone, they will overrun your garden. If you doubt this, observe an empty lot or untended garden for just one growing season and watch the weeds take over.  (more…)

7 No-Cost Ways to Grow More Food From Your Garden

urban-garden-safety.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleCompost everything
First and foremost, if you want to build healthy, lively soils, you first have to add food for the soil microbes that inhabit it. That food comes in the form of compost and other organic matter. Whether you are making worm compost orcomposting cardboard boxes, creating your own soil amendments from materials that would otherwise go to waste is a no-brainer. Not only does it add plant nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to your soil, it also aids with both water retention and drainage and reduces the amount of crap you are sending to landfill too. (more…)

Before You Exercise, Check the Air Pollution Forecast

airpollutionWith a heat wave blanketing much of the U.S. this week, it's a good time to remind joggers, bikers, hikers and others who exercise outdoors that hot sunny summer afternoons, and evenings, are not good times to exert yourself outdoors. Ozone pollution, a major component of smog, forms when heat and sunlight interact with smokestack and tailpipe emissions. The result is ground-level ozone, which can damage lung tissue and even affect the heart and circulatory systems. Elevated air pollution levels can linger well into the evening, even past midnight during a heat wave. (more…)

A Dead Zone the Size of New Jersey Is Growing in the Gulf of Mexico

deadzoneEvery year, a massive "dead zone" blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. Inside its amorphous boundaries almost all life is extinguished. There's simply not enough oxygen for marine creatures to survive.

The phenomenon is caused by what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls "excessive nutrient pollution"—a surplus of nitrate-heavy fertilizer runoff produced by agricultural operations along the Mississippi River. That runoff bleeds out from farms and ranches across the south into the nation's mightiest—and dirtiest—river, and eventually winds its way into the Gulf. (more…)

How Long Should I Leave the Hose on?

watering-garden-300How do you convert "inches of water" to the flow of water that comes out of your hose?

1. Multiply the number of inches of water you need by 0.6. The result is the number of gallons per square foot you need to apply.

2. Multiply those "gallons per square foot" by the square footage of your garden to determine how many gallons you need to apply.

3. Compensate for the watering system's inefficiency by dividing the gallons needed by 0.85 for drip, or 0.70 for sprinkler. (more…)