Gail of Green Living


Houston Farmers’ Markets
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A recent take-home from Eastside Farmers’ Market

Urban Harvest has just announced that the Eastside Farmers’ Market will be expanded as of this weekend.  You will have the choice to attend on Saturday from 8-12 or Sunday from 12-4!

If you would like to view homes within walking distance or a short drive from this market, I know this area and would love to help you find your dream home in Upper Kirby!

I get the impression that the vendors for Sunday will be different.  The Houston Chronicle featured this news in the Flavor Section yesterday.  Evidently there has been a waiting list of vendors wanting to work the Eastside Market, and Sunday will be their breakout day.  Dont’ miss this opportunity to check the new farms and vendors on Sunday, April 28.   And don’t forget to check out the homes in this area that are for sale!

 



Kill Junk Mail, Not Trees!
January 23, 2013, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Green Business, Green Living | Tags: , , , , ,

Paper KarmaThis past fall, we were covered in catalogs and junk mail!  My daughter told me about an app for the iPhone called Paper Karma.  It is quite simple to use; once it is set up, it takes maybe 15 seconds to put several catalogs or junk mail into its system.

You touch “Scan Mail” and it tells you to “take a photo”.  Make sure you get a clear photo of the return address on the mail you want to end.  Next time you get in Paper Karma, you can touch “Request Status” to find out if they were successful in contacting the company.  The companies sending the mail don’t really want to send mail to people who don’t read it, so they are grateful to Paper Karma, for letting them know who doesn’t want it.

As a Realtor, I have the option to send mailings of all kinds to people I know and don’t know, but I don’t send advertising by mail at all.  If I don’t like to receive junk mail, I don’t send it to anyone else.

Paper Karma says that each US household receives about 850 pieces of unwanted mail per year!  One day last fall, I promise we got 20 catalogs in one day!  I felt so sorry for our mail carrier!  And then, I thought about the trees, and the waste in ink and energy of human beings who worked to get all that junk mail to me…it’s a sad thing.

Two young techies in Seattle created Paper Karma because of their distaste of junk mail.  Thank you, guys!  You are making a difference in our world!

Tell me your solution to junk mail



“GREEN” Christmas Gifts

Green Christmas gifts

I went in the car today for only my second Christmas shopping trip.  This time it was a short trip to the Museum District to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Gift Shop.  They always have the best stocking stuffers for all ages and interests.  From left to right, I found shopping bags that will easily pack in the corner of a handbag or it has a clip on it to attach to your belt loop or key chain.  The crayons are made from old crayons and they are large and easy for young hands to hold.  They remind me of the candles I used to make from old crayons in Girl Scouts.  The MFAH has many other items made from recycled products, and of course, the design is always clever.  The little white rolls on the right are produce bags I picked up at HEB while food shopping, and they are great to replace the plastic bags at the supermarket.  I find them to be strong and easy to wash in between shopping trips.

Wrapping paper and ribbon are the most difficult to re-use.  But this wrapping paper from Target is 100% recyclable.  I don’t try to re-use it.  It is a little fragile, but the colors are vibrant and you can’t see through the paper. One year many years ago, I used newspaper to wrap gifts, and several years, I used craft paper, but it is so sturdy and heavy now, it’s not so easy to use.   The ribbons I buy are usually the wired ribbons, and they are easy to save and re-use without having to iron them.

We have saved time, energy and a lot of gasoline using online shopping this year.  FedEx, USPS and UPS are coming down our street every day anyway.  Many businesses did not even charge for shipping, and we were able to take advantage of sales online, too.  I highly recommend it!

How are you greening your Christmas?



What’s New in My Organic Garden?
Blueberries in December!

Blueberries in December!

What’s new in my garden?  Blueberry blooms and blueberries; that’s what!  Never mind it is December, but we have had few cool days in Houston, and I guess these bushes are really happy.  If we have a threat of freeze, you know I will take care of them!

Ripe tomatoes in December!

Ripe tomatoes in December!

The Better Bush tomato vines never died in the summer.  With blooms all over them, I didn’t have the heart to get rid of them.  And now in December, we have a few really nice tomatoes to enjoy!

Kale

Siberian Kale

This is a very tender-leafed variety and it is quite delicious steamed or stir-fried in olive oil with a little garlic.

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens

I only planted three small plants, which grow quickly, so I can pick enough each week to enjoy.

Buttercrunch Lettuce and Black-seeded Simpson lettuce

Buttercrunch Lettuce and Black-seeded Simpson Lettuce

I have never grown lettuce before, and it is so easy, I am kicking myself for not doing it earlier!  The seeds sprout in just a few days, and the leaves are very tender and tasty.  The plants do not like our warm days; I have to cool them with water when the temperature rises in the 80′s.  But for a winter vegetable, it is a winner!

Spent Grain

Spent Grain

My son and his friend brew craft beer, and he offered a bucket of “spent grain” for my compost pile.  It’s supposed to be an excellent addition to the mix.  It is the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients from the barley.  It certainly qualifies as a new addition to my winter garden!

 

 

 

 

 

 



Going GREEN on Lights
November 28, 2012, 11:33 am
Filed under: Green Living | Tags: , ,

After last year’s pitiful outdoor light display, I threw out those bad/not-working lights, and bought solar LED lights during the summer.  I have had trouble finding lights after Thanksgiving, seeing only empty shelves where they were in September, I guess!I felt brilliant, thinking of moving pots of Kalonchoes over where the spike needed to go in the ground.  But that area will not get the west sun until after noon in the winter.

This is another attempt at maximizing the sun’s rays.  This is a very narrow area between the garage and a fence on the west side of the house.  If the spike were in the ground, the sun would shine on the solar cell about an hour a day, I think, so I placed it in a brick that happens to have holes in it.  Putting it on the fence, brought the solar cell up about  6 feet and eliminated the shadow caused by the fence.

This solar cell is on the north side of the house, and if it were at ground level, would not see the sun until April.  So I have taped this on to the gutter, in hopes that it is receiving a good amount of sun during the day now.  And did this all work?

Although dim the first night, I think if I take 2 more solar cells and raise them to the roof level, they will receive enough sun to make the lights brighter and stay on longer.  I need to move 2 of them up higher, for sure.

Have you had challenges with outdoor solar lighting in the winter?  I realize in Houston, we have longer days than in the North.



Composting With More Experience

In July of 2009, I posted about compost, what it is and what you can do with it.  Now, I have more experience!  These are my current observations:

Pumpkin stem from 2011

Wine cork from 2009

Pumpkin stems and wine corks are not very good candidates for your compost pile.  From your kitchen, have a good mix of “kitchen greens” and “kitchen browns“.  It will be a natural process once you get started.

This is a typical kitchen waste container for the counter top.  I keep mine next to the sink, because that’s where I retrieve most of the kitchen waste from the disposal side.  The bags I use to line it are bio-bags, that are the same compost-able material as the yard waste bags required in the City of Houston.  They break down so quickly; you’d better empty the container every 2-3 days, or the bag will begin to break down from the liquids generated!  In the last couple of days, I have put in banana peels, coffee grounds with filter, paper napkins, dryer lint, apple core, ends of green beans, cucumber peel, acorn squash shell, and orange peel.  That’ all that I can remember anyway.

First, I used a child’s rake to stir the pot to aerate it.  Then I dropped the bag into the compostmachine“.

I covered it lightly, but completely, with fresh leaves and pine needles (brown yard waste).  I added pellets of compost booster to the mix and lightly watered the top, because it was very dry.  The lid is on and now the busy bugs can do their work.

Kitchen greens are vegetable and fruit scraps, rice and pasta, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags.  Kitchen browns are coffee filters, stale bread, paper napkins and towels, dryer lint and hair.  Pretty soon you won’t even have to think about it and you will have a good mix all the time

Yard greens are any fresh trimmings, flowers, etc. and yard browns are dried leaves, pine needles, small twigs and dried grass and weeds (no seeds!).

I started my compost machine on October 14.  How long do you think it will be before I realize good compost from the bottom?



Compost: A new way

My new Earth Machine Compost Bin

Thanks to my good friend, Jill, I have a new compost bin.  In the past 40 years, I have probably composted for 20 of them.  I have always just made a compost pile behind the garage.  But the City of Houston in its efforts to create a more green environment for our city, has been selling composting bins and rain-collection barrels for half the normal price, once a year.  Jill has several of each type and is expanding her efforts.  I’ll have to take a field trip to Jill’s garden and report back.

But meanwhile, I put my beast together easily.  The material is hard plastic and seems quite durable.  It appears to be the same material used for our recycling bins, which are made from recycled products.  There are long plastic screws that hold the frame in the ground.

Getting it started…

I put some unfinished compost in the bin to get it going.  Recently, a yard man put way too many grass clippings on the top of my compost pile, and it hasn’t been happy ever since.  Too much added at one time is not good.  The only grass I ever add is from sweeping the driveway or street gutters, so it’s not very much.  I use a mulching mower and never have to fertilize the yard…ever!

I am one of over 2 million users of the Earth Machine Composting Bin.  One family can divert over 500 pounds of kitchen scraps and yard waste a year.  The winners are the land fill and my garden!

This week I will share some new composting hints to inspire you to do this simple routine in your home.




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