1. Green Garden Hack

    Posted on July 2, 2012 by Jody

    The Greenists are on vacation.  Please enjoy this recycled post!

    Well, it’s the middle of July again and if your garden is anything like mine, you just can’t water enough.  And even if you do keep up with watering, it only takes one very hot day to destroy months of progress as your garden wilts in the sun.

    Of course, someone is always willing to sell you something to solve your problems, but why purchase something when you can simply re-purpose something you already have?

    What You’ll Need:

    1. wine bottle
    2. thirsty plants

    Simply fill the wine bottle with water, quickly flip it upside down and push the open end of the bottle into the dirt.  Depending on how hot it is, and how much your plants like water, this simple trick can save you a few (and sometimes several) days of watering.

    This trick works especially well with patio plants and seedlings you are trying to establish- I don’t think my tomato plants would have ever survived without it- but it also works well as a supplement for especially sunny areas that might need just a little more water than other areas in your garden.

    So okay, your garden may look like you hosted a wine party, but the bottles are often small enough to be hidden behind larger plants or you can pick only the green and brown wine bottles to better blend into your garden landscape.

    Wine bottles not your thing? If you are working on getting seeds started, check out this handy irrigation technique (scroll down near the bottom of the post)- I might have to start collecting 2 liter bottles for this very purpose!

    Happy Gardening!

  2. The State of My Garden

    Posted on June 29, 2012 by Allie

    In 2007, as a new green blogger, I became a container gardening enthusiast.  I grew tomatoes and cucumbers in whisky barrels on the back patio.  It was small and manageable, and brought me great joy.  Argo stole cucumbers off the vine and would lie in the yard to eat them.

    In 2008, I was just a girl with a shovel and a dream.  I (rather impulsively) dug up a quarter of our yard to start a vegetable garden.  I read as much as I could about planting vegetables and composting and for all my digging and planting and weeding I was handsomely rewarded with tons of peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, and a tomato infestation. It was a bountiful garden, but the damn tomatoes stressed me out.

    In 2009, I started off strong, but by the end of the summer I’d had enough.  I’d sold STAY and spent the whole summer working on my novel.  Gardening made me feel like I was pulled in too many directions. Blight hit my tomatoes, I spent way more money than I got back in crops, and I started to think I should give up gardening.

    So what’s happened since then?  I prioritized.  There’s no real need for me to grow veggies.  Local veggies are cheap and plentiful around here in the summer.  You know what’s not cheap?  Berries.


    So now my garden consists of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.


    They happen to be low maintenance and easy to grow.  And what’s better than waking up in the morning and running out to the garden to pick some berries for cereal?

    Blackberry Bloom

    The birds are thrilled to eat what I don’t harvest, and they’re super easy to freeze if I have time to think about food storage.

    Apple Blossoms

    I also planted a pair of apple.  We haven’t gotten any apples worth eating yet, but J’s grandfather was an apple farmer and it feels like a nice tribute to him.  The blooms are gorgeous in the spring, and the trees are beautiful.

    We also have mint and lavender and a few other herbs growing around the yard as well, but it’s all very simple and easy to care for.


    I have a spot for a lawn chair in the garden.  I like to sit out there and read while the dogs play in the yard, and now the space feels like a sanctuary.  I’m not stressed about tomatoes.  I enjoy what we harvest.  We don’t need to water anything unless we have a heatwave.  Our yard is a pretty and productive place.

    What I’ve learned from gardening is what I’ve learned from going green in general: the most sustainable lifestyle comes from a place of balance.

  3. No Yard? No Problem — You Can Still Grow a Great Garden

    Posted on June 20, 2012 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jessi.

    There is something to be said about growing, picking, cooking and eating something from your own garden. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of having a full garden in their back yard. A lack of a back yard does not mean you cannot have a garden; a lack of a back yard means your garden is on a much smaller scale. Small gardens are also a great way to get kids involved in the cycle of growing plants, learning responsibility and healthy eating.

    Commercially, there are several containers for growing your own herbs that are designed for growing in a small, controlled environment. These containers will fit on an average windowsill and herbs growing in these containers need very little care outside of water and sunlight. Herbs also grow continually so you can have fresh herbs all year long; however, be sure to take caution with them in winter especially if you live in an area where snow is prevalent.

    Gardeners interested in growing something larger than herbs should think smarter, not bigger. Various vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers can grow in relatively small areas. While you may need large buckets for adequate space, you can still manage to grow vegetables easily. Small vegetables such as carrots and peppers can grow in cut and well-cleaned bleach jugs. Read more…

  4. Uses for Leftover Coffee

    Posted on June 15, 2012 by Allie

    We’re pretty good at not wasting coffee around here. We make the same amount every day and most of the time, there’s only a teeny little splash left in the pot by the next morning. But, occasionally our coffee drinking habits shift slightly and we end up with extra coffee. Then I usually  run out to the garden with the coffee pot and water my sad little blueberry plants.

    Blueberries like acid, our soil isn’t very acidic, and our blueberry plants look a bit humiliated. They always perk up considerably after a cup of joe.

    If I know early on in the day that we won’t be getting around to drinking all the coffee I’ve made, I pour it in a jar and store it in the refrigerator for iced coffee. Or, I pour it in an ice cube tray to make coffee ice cubes. Perfect for making iced coffee cold without watering it down.

    Way back in 2007, I gave you some suggestions for using coffee grounds for everything from deodorizing your hands after chopping onions to scrubbing pots and pans. And we’ve recommended coffee grounds as a room freshener.

    Care2 has many uses for coffee grounds and also recommends using coffee to make scuffs in dark furniture less noticeable. And while I don’t know if it’s bad for the leather in the long term, I once used coffee to hide scuffs on brown shoes when I was in a pinch.

    Lifehacker recommends using leftover coffee to clean the grate on your barbecue grill.

    Small Kitchen College has great ideas for extra coffee, including making kahlua and using it in marinades.

    And make sure you start with greener coffee choices.

  5. Our House is Literally Green, But That Doesn’t Count

    Posted on May 17, 2012 by Mickey

    We talk pretty big around here, even if we do tend to focus on the smaller things that each of us can do to minimize our impact on the planet, and I’ve always been bothered by an inability to actually do a lot of the things we encourage on these here electronic pages. You see, for basically all of our adult lives, the lady and I have been what you’d call renters, a species saddled with severe limitations on the influence they have over their immediate surroundings.

    That changed just this month, however, when we moved the detritus of our lives into a modest home in the suburbs. When the plumbing goes wrong, we get to fix it (a fact we’ve already confirmed.) But this also means we get to take a stab at turning our little slice of Georgia into an abode worthy of The Greenists. Read more…

  6. April Showers Bring Native Flowers

    Posted on April 3, 2012 by The Modern Gal

    April showers bring May flowers, as the old rhyme goes, but if the current warmer-than-usual temperatures that most of the country is experiencing are any indication, nature appears to be a bit ahead of schedule this season. Here in the South that means it’s time for me to finally start working on the flower beds in our front yard, which have mostly been empty in the two years we’ve lived in our house. Well, empty of decorative plants but full of weeds.

    My first inclination was to clean out the beds and then raid Home Depot of some pretty shrubbery like azaleas, rose bushes and maybe even some hydrangeas. But in the back of my mind, I knew that native plants were the better option. Jacob has mentioned the benefits of native grasses and plants before, but here’s a bit of a refresher on why they’re so much better than your average plant from the local large-box hardware store.

    Read more…

  7. I Like Seeds

    Posted on August 17, 2011 by Jacob

    Unless you’re like me and live somewhere the date of last frost is sometime in March, you’re probably at the peak of your garden’s life cycle. You’re hauling in buckets of fresh fruit and vegetables daily (more like truckloads if you planted zucchini) and in the process of serving these up for dinner, a lot of seeds probably end up in the compost bin.

    But what if you didn’t throw these seeds away? Is that even possible? Read more…

  8. Green Garden Hack

    Posted on July 21, 2011 by Jody

    Well, it’s the middle of July again and if your garden is anything like mine, you just can’t water enough.  And even if you do keep up with watering, it only takes one very hot day to destroy months of progress as your garden wilts in the sun.

    Read more…

  9. Use Dishsoap to Fight Beetles in the Garden

    Posted on July 8, 2011 by Allie

    This year, we’ve seen some mean green beetles around the yard (and making a meal of my beautiful apple trees!). Popillia japonica, otherwise known as the Japanese Beetle is non-indiginous to the U.S. and found along the east coast. These little buggers are frustrating, chewing big holes in leaves and fruit of plants in the garden. But there’s an easy way to reduce their numbers and protect your plants: Dish soap and a little manual labor.

    I’ve been using a chemical sprayer filled attached to my hose. I fill it with a mix of dish soap and water and spray it on the affected plants. I also pick off any beetles I find and dispose of them. If you’re squeamish about touching the beetles (I didn’t think I would be, but I am), wear garden gloves and dispose of them in a plastic baggie. Make sure to seal the bag tightly and dispose of them so they cannot come back.

    According to DK Mommy Spot, you can also add powdered garlic, cayenne pepper, and vegetable oil to the mix. Supposedly the garlic and pepper are deterrents, and the vegetable oil will coat and smother the beetles.

    If you have smaller areas to cover, you can put the mixture in a spray bottle instead of a hose sprayer. Japanese Beetles are a real problem in the north east, and anything you can do to decrease their numbers is a help to everyone.

    The good news is, when I went out this morning to take a beetle photo for you, I couldn’t find a single beetle!

  10. The Local Eating Challenge Begins!

    Posted on June 28, 2011 by Deborah

    An abundance of freshness from the farmers market


    My month of local eating begins on July 1, 2011. I’ll be posting regular updates on my blog, complete with recipes and tales of my search for local ingredients. Meanwhile, there’s still time for some of you to join me in this adventure. You don’t have to commit for the full month – try it for one week, one day, or even one meal.

    What’s the point of eating local? I hear some of you asking. Here are just a few of the reasons that persuaded me to try it. Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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