Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticide

The following article and video will tell you what the National Pesticide Information Center has to say about Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

What is Bacillus thuringiensis? (Bt)?

Bt is a microbe naturally found in soil. It makes proteins that are toxic to immature insects (larvae). There are many types of Bt. Each targets different insect groups. Target insects include beetles, mosquitoes, black flies, caterpillars, and moths.

With Bt pesticides, routine testing is required to ensure that unwanted toxins and microbes are not present. Bt has been registered for use in pesticides by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1961.

What are some products that contain Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)?

Currently, Bt strains are found in over 180 registered pesticide products. Bt products are used on crops and ornamental plants. Others are used in and around buildings, in aquatic settings, and in aerial applications. These products are commonly sprays, dusts, granules, and pellets. Some of these products are approved for use in organic agriculture.

Commercial Bt insecticide

Some crops have been engineered to make the Bt toxin. These plant-incorporated protectants include corn, cotton, and soybeans. Photo is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) biological insecticide label. Douglas-fir tussock moth control test.

How does Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) work?

Bt makes toxins that target insect larvae when eaten. In their gut, the toxins are activated. The activated toxin breaks down their gut, and the insects die of infection and starvation. Death can occur within a few hours or weeks.

The different types of Bt create toxins that can only be activated by the target insect larvae. In contrast, when people eat the same toxins, the toxins are not activated and no harm occurs.

Each type of Bt toxin is highly specific to the target insect. For example, the ‘kurstaki’ type targets caterpillars. The ‘isrealensis’ type targets immature flies and mosquitoes. Little to no direct toxicity to non-target insects have been observed.

How might I be exposed to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)?

People are most commonly exposed to Bt through their diet, at very low levels. Exposure can also occur if you breathe it in or get it on your skin or eyes. For example, this can occur while applying sprays or dusts during windy conditions. You may also be exposed after using a product if you don’t wash your hands before eating or smoking. Since Bt is commonly found in soils, exposures not related to pesticides are also possible.

microscopic Bt

Pets might be exposed to this product in treated birdbaths or water fountains. You can limit your exposure and reduce the risk by carefully following the label instructions.

Photo depicts the colonial growth displayed by Gram-positive Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria, which were cultured on sheep blood agar (SBA) medium, for a 48 hour time period, at a temperature of 37°C.

What are some signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Bt is low in toxicity to people and other mammals. Several studies have found no evidence of sickness or infection as a result of exposure. However, some products with Bt have caused eye and skin irritation. In one study, rats breathed in very high doses of concentrated Bt. Some had runny noses, crusty eyes, and goosebumps. Others were less active or lost weight.

In another study, people were surveyed before and after aerial applications of Bt. Most people were not affected. However, some people with hay fever reported certain symptoms. These included difficulty with sleep and concentration, stomach upset, and nose/throat irritation. Seasonal factors, such as pollen, may have contributed to some of the effects.

Scientists also evaluated whether Bt can cause allergic reactions. Researchers found that farmworkers exposed for one to four months did not experience any problems related to their airways, nose, or skin. However, further exposure showed evidence of an immune response and the potential for skin allergies to develop.

What happens to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) when it enters the body?

When eaten, Bt is confined to the gut. It does not reproduce, and the toxin is broken down like other proteins in the diet. Bt leaves the body within 2 to 3 days.

If breathed in, Bt can move to the lungs, blood, lymph, and kidneys. Bt is then attacked by the immune system. Levels of Bt decrease quickly one day after exposure.

What happens to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in the environment?

with and without Bt

Toxins created by Bt are rapidly broken down by sunlight and in acidic soil. Other microbes in the soil can also break it down. Bt does not readily leach in soil. It typically remains in the top several inches of soil. Bt remains dormant in most natural soil conditions. However, there has been some reproduction in nutrient-rich soils. On the soil surface, dormant Bt cells last only a few days. However, below the soil surface, they can last for months or years. The half-life in unfavorable soil is about 4 months. Bt toxins break down much faster. In one study, 12% remained after 15 days.

The photo shows Top: Lesser cornstalk borer larvae extensively damaged the leaves of this unprotected peanut plant. Bottom: After only a few bites of peanut leaves of this genetically engineered plant with Bt.

In water, Bt does not readily reproduce. A study found Bt toxins in the air were broken down rapidly by sunlight. Forty-one percent (41%) of the toxin remained after 24 hours. On plant surfaces, sunlight breaks down Bt; the half-life of Bt toxins is 1-4 days.

Can Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) affect birds, fish, or other wildlife?

Bt is practically non-toxic and non-pathogenic to birds, fish, and shrimp. No adverse effect or infection was found in rats given large doses of two different Bt strains. There is no evidence that Bt can cause a disease outbreak among wild animals.

Little to no direct toxicity to non-target insects and other shelled invertebrates has been observed. Bt does not seem to hurt earthworms. However, the aizawai strain is highly toxic to honeybees. Other strains have minimal toxicity to honeybees.

Water fleas exposed to the kurstaki and israelensis strains showed moderate toxicity. The aizawai strains are highly toxic to water fleas. However, evidence suggests that toxicity to these non-targets may be related to impurities from the production of Bt.

Always follow label instructions and take steps to minimize exposure. If any exposures occur, be sure to follow the First Aid instructions on the product label carefully. For additional treatment advice, contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If you wish to discuss a pesticide problem, please call 1-800-858-7378.

Related How To article: 3 Ways to Buy Organic Insecticides

At Amazon: Monterey B.T. Insecticide Ready-to-Spray 32oz
I will receive compensation if you click and buy this product from Amazon.

List of Organic Fertilizers

Do you want to help the environment and grow those big tomatoes?

tomatoes

I believe the key to a favorable outcome of organic fertilizers is to be loyal to its application and use. Know that when you use plant food and organic fertilizers that the results will take a little longer but the lasting results are much longer and more healthy. The list here is not all there is but what has worked for me. They represent materials found all around us and have been there for many centuries.

Alfalfa Meal— A plant food growth regulator, rich in vitamins and minerals. NPK is 3-2-2. A green manure crop made from alfalfa that has a plant growth regulator hormone. It starts or re-starts vigorously millions of microbes that will then trigger soil organisms that convert the bordering nutrients into an useable form to plants.

For more information about alfalfa meal please watch my VIDEO

Azomite— NPK is 0-0-2.5 and 5% Calcium. A natural volcanic mineral-rich in trace elements. Azomite may be used with potting soil, indoor plants, gardens and mix in with compost and your favorite organic fertilizer.

Bat Guano— Bat excretions or bat guano, a natural fertilizer containing nitrogen and lots of trace minerals.

Blood Meal— A dried blood material with nitrogen of around 12%. One of the highest non-synthetic sources of nitrogen. Use in the compost pile. Blood meal is a slow-release source of calcium and phosphorus used to increase phosphorus levels. NPK is approximately 12-1-1.

Bone Meal, steamed— The NPK is 1-13-0. Bone Meal is the best source of phosphorus and also has calcium and some trace minerals. It is a slow-release therefore, it is a safe fertilizer when potting young or new plants.

Coffee Grounds— The world is finding out that a tossed material is rich in nitrogen and should be added in the garden and compost piles. Ask your local coffee shop for their supply of coffee grounds.

Compost— Considered the best organic fertilizer because it is high in microorganisms, humic acid, enzymes, vitamins, and humus. Make your own compost.

Corn Gluten Meal— A natural fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide. Apply Corn Gluten Meal at the right time of year – before spring growth.

Cottonseed Meal— Made from cottonseed. Compost 1st to rid toxic chemicals. Use in the compost pile. NPK is 6-1-1 considered by many to be the second-best source of nitrogen after blood meal. It is a slow-release fertilizer. It also adds acidity to the soil.

Cover Crops— They are leguminous plants like clover, grains, rye, and oats. Cover Crops are planted for use as a green manure.

Crab Meal— NPK is 5-2-0.5. A soil improver which is a by-product of the crab industry. Once kiln dried they are ground up into the meal. Crab Meal will add life to the soil by furnishing a protein chitin food for microorganisms.

Earthworm Castings— (vermicompost, vermiculture, vermicompost) An organic fertilizer high in useable minerals and bacteria. The NPK is high with over 60 trace minerals, considered an ideal additive to soil. Earthworm Castings is made from worms digesting organic matter and passes the castings. Ammonium sulfate is toxic to earthworms.

Epsom Salt— Hydrated magnesium sulfate, used as a quick-acting reservoir of magnesium and sulfur. These are elements that are required in the soil. Epsom Salt is an outstanding fertilizer.

Feather Meal— NPK is 12-0-0. Feathers are ground up into a meal. Nitrogen is released over a long period of time. Feather Meal is used to enhance green leaf growth, initiate compost decomposition and get better soil structure.

Fish Emulsion— An organic fertilizer produced from fish or fish by-products. Add seaweed to it and it will make an excellent fertilizer. Fish Emulsion‘s NPK is approx. 4-1-1 to 7-2-2.

Granite meal— Ground from soft granite into rock powder. Good potassium to help produce starch and sugar for the plants. Granite meal‘s job is to furnish trace mineral content where the soil has been used too much and deficient in trace minerals.

Greensand— An organic fertilizer which is a good source of iron, potassium, and trace minerals. Greensand is mined from ancient seabeds.

Gypsum— An excellent source of the micronutrients sulfur and calcium. Because of Gypsum‘s draining capabilities and provides aeration it is added to clay soils.

Humates— (Humic substances) A source of humic acid which is a natural organic lawn fertilizer with trace minerals and is the result of nature successful compost. Humates smells like the forest decayed leaves.

Kelp Meal— Ground-up dried seaweed. A good source of copper and boron. Abundant in plant food growth hormones. Kelp Meal is a natural source of chelated trace elements that enhances the health of the soil and plants.

Lava Sand— Ground up lava, rich with trace minerals, Lava Sand has a water-holding ability.

Lime— Gives soil an adjustment of the pH, reduces acidity, Lime contains calcium that keeps magnesium low.

Manure— Not human’s in this country. Manure is rich in nitrogen and can be obtained from many different animals, even horses. It should be composted before using because it’s nitrogen and ammonia can burn plants.

Molasses— A food for soil microorganisms. It contains trace minerals, sulfur, and potash. Molasses is a very important part of the complete organic program.

Potash— A material containing potassium. It can be potassium carbonate from wood ashes. Where potassium is deficient in the soil, potash fertilizers can correct the problem and boost crop yields and quality.

Rock Phosphate— A dry organic fertilizer. NPK is 0-25-0. A natural source of phosphorus, calcium and essential trace elements. It gets to build phosphate fertility, increase root activity in seedlings and transplants. Rock Phosphate enriches the soil and quality of the crops.

Seaweed— A saltwater plant that will accelerate root growth and has more than 60 trace minerals demanded by plants. This organic fertilizer, Seaweed, if added with fish emulsion will make the best complete fertilizer.

Soft Rock Phosphate– Aka Colloidal Rock Phosphate. A soft, natural colloidal clay releases its nutrients slowly. Unlike other phosphates, it has colloidal clay that can tie up sandy soils and contribute to their nutrient holding volume.

Sulfate of Potash— NPK is 0-0-52. A natural potash that is 51% soluble. Sulfate of Potash is second only to nitrogen in the amount required for plants. It can be applied as a supplement or mixed with other materials. Do an accurate soil test before applying.

Sul-po-mag— Natural fertilizer. Sul-po-mag is a source of 22% sulfur, 22% potash and 11% magnesium.

Sustane, aka composted turkey manure.– A very fast acting 100% composted organic fertilizer. NPK is 5-2-4. Made from real turkeys.

Related How To article: 3 Ways to Choose Organic Fertilizer

Are You Living Green, Natural, Or Organic?

cleaning organically
cleaning organically, are they really?

As consumers demand healthier options in all areas of their lives, companies go out of their way to promote their products in an appealing manner. Natural, green, and organic products, which were previously limited to distribution in health food and specialty stores, are now widely available in regular grocery and department stores.

Unfortunately

So, when consumers reach for products labeled as, green, natural, or organic, how do they know they are really buying a safe and better health choice? Unfortunately, in many cases, they don’t. Household cleaners are a perfect example of this. “Green” cleaners often contain some naturally derived ingredients as well as toxins consumers wish to avoid.

To further complicate matters, the ingredient list on these types of products is often incomplete. For example, the Green Works line includes some products, which received a grade of F as evaluated by the Environmental Working Group, an environmental and consumer protection agency.

USDA Organic Label

USDA organic seal
USDA organic seal is our protector

Consumers can protect themselves from misleading and incorrect labeling by purchasing products, which carry the USDA organic label. The USDA organic label requires products and distributors to meet stringent guidelines and third-party certification to carry the label. They can also use resources like those provided by the EWG to verify the safety and quality of products.

Get more comprehensive and detailed information about living organically. Your personal manual that covers the most important things you need to know about organic food, organic living and how you can avoid the various chemicals we encounter every day to eat and live clean.

How Do You Know If Something Is Organic?

If you’re a health-conscious consumer in search of organic products, foods, cosmetics, produce or household supplies, locating valid options may sometimes seem like an overwhelming task. Many products carry labels describing them as organic, green, or natural. On face value, you may assume those products are the same as certified organic products. This is not the case.

National Organic Program (NOP)
National Organic Program (NOP)

Only products meeting guidelines defined and implemented by National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the National Organic Program (NOP) can carry the USDA organic label or the seals of USDA organic certifying agencies. USDA certified agencies monitor producers and distributors for compliance with the guidelines.

 nbsp;

70 Percent Organic Ingredients

organic seal for Japan
organic seal for Japan

There are also different types of organic labels: 100 Percent Organic, Organic, and Made with Organic. Only products containing up to 70 percent organic ingredients may carry the USDA certified organic label. They are also the only products, which can legally make organic claims on their labeling. When in doubt, look for the green and white USDA organic certified label to ensure your purchase is organic.

European Union Organic Logo
European Union Organic Logo

Or Number 9

Organic produce can be recognized in two ways. They may be labeled with the USDA organic label. If you do not see the green and white label, you can check the item’s distribution code. All fruits and vegetables carry coding labels. Organic produce always carries codes beginning with the number, 9.

What I Will Be Gardening This Year

vegetable harvest
vegetable harvest a result of our garden, maybe

Every spring I get really excited about everything I will be gardening for the year. I like to plant different vegetables because I really like the variety. I am hoping to have a big harvest this year.

raised garden bed
raised garden bed – photo from David Hawgood Raised vegetable beds for disabled access

I decided to build some raised beds this year. I am hoping that it will be easier for me. I won’t have to bend down as far and I can control the soil. I have a good friend who has had a lot of success with them.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a favorite of mine

I will be growing a lot of tomatoes this year. I love to eat them. I will be planting six of them. I will have two cherry tomato and the rest of them will be bigger for sandwiches and to make sauces with. I also plan to give some to my friends as I am hoping to have a large harvest.

colorful bell peppers
colorful bell peppers shows you there are many varities

I will also be growing bell peppers. I plan to have four of these plants. We like to use bell peppers in our salads or when making salsa. It will be nice to have our own in the backyard. We will have fun watching these plants grow.

Carrots
Carrots are good for our eyes

We will be planting carrots this year. We have never done carrots but hear they can bring a wonderful harvest. We will be planting quite a few of them as we are a big carrot eating family. All of my kids love them and we tend to eat them 3-4 times during the week.

peas in pod
peas are used in tuna salad, yum

We will also be planting peas. I love peas and I have always wanted to grow my own. I plan to plant about eight of them as I know we will eat them all. I grew up on home-grown peas and can’t wait to try them myself.

green bean plant and blooms
green bean plant and blooms

We would also like to try green beans and we enjoy eating those throughout the season. We tried those last year and they were a big hit. We are excited about having more this summer. Everyone but my youngest son loves them.

marigolds
marigolds will repel many harmful pests

We will also be trying to grow some flowers to add some color to the garden. We will be planting Sunflowers, Marigolds and Cosmos. I have never grown them before but hopefully they will grow nicely.

kids learning gardening
kids gardening now is the best time to learn.

Next Saturday we plan to get started on the garden. My kids are going to help. They love gardening as much as I do. It is a lot of fun to garden with them. They get so excited when something new starts to grow.

My Mom always loved to garden and I think that is why I do too. She taught me the basics early on. For a long time I always kept a pretty small garden but this year I plan to grow a lot more.

I just feel so good when I grow my own food. My kids will eat it and I can share it with my friends. I enjoy the whole process and will continue to do it year after year.

Why Use Green Manure Cover Crops

cover crop
cover crop is a worthwhile crop to grow

Gardening is not just about having a green thumb. While it looks like a fun hobby, behind this aspect of agriculture is a science that should be dealt with care and knowledge. The soil is, of course, an essential component of gardening. And as well as the plant itself, the soil should get special treatment. We’ve heard of fertilizers doing amazing things to improve soil, but there’s another alternative: green manure cover crops.

What is Green Manure?

First of all, no. it’s not the mental picture you just got. It’s not green poo. Green manure comes from cover crops— temporary crops that are planted during or at the end of the growing season to retain the viability of the soil for the next planting. While green (hence the name), they are incorporated into the soil by plowing, thus not only adding to the biomass (organic matter) of the pre-imposed soil but also increasing the nutrients that can be made available for the next generation of crops.

Used by Ancient Greeks and Chinese

Green manure has been used for centuries. Broad bean plants were used by Ancient Greeks while the agriculturally-inclined Chinese used grasses for improvement of farm soil. It’s not such a very modern thing after all. Today, many alternatives can be used, and remember: take into account the season in which these alternatives can be grown. Winter cover crops, or fall or late-summer green manure crops are typically legumes, such as Fava beans, cowpea, alfalfa, Sunn hemp, and soybean. Non-leguminous crops, like wheat, rye, radish, sunflower, Sorghum, Tyfon (a plant of the genus Brassica; a relative of mustard), and also mustard itself.

What are the Uses and Benefits of Green Manure?

Aside from the apparent increase in organic material in the soil, green manure crops improve the soil’s aeration (letting the air seep into it; basically, letting the soil breathe), its water filtration and retention, granulation, and it also protects the soil from water and wind erosion. All are beneficial for the growth of the plant. Green manure contributes a lot to the improvement of the soil, unlike chemical fertilizers, which only refurbish certain nutrients.

A Macronutrient

Legume crops, from atmospheric nitrogen, can manufacture fertilizing nitrogen. Along with phosphorus and potassium, nitrogen is a macronutrient that is important for the plants that must be consumed in large amounts. Green manure also suppresses the growth of weeds and lessens the need for pesticides and fertilizers.

Acidifies Soil

Green manure also acidifies alkali (basic) soil. A pH that is more than 6.5 to 6.8 disables the plants from absorbing macronutrients. Unlike composting, green manure adds over 40 tons of organic matter per 1 hectare or 2.47105 acres. While composting requires a water supply nearby, rainwater will make do for green manure crops. Moreover, they are used where they planted; compared to compost, which must first be transported onto the plant field.

Don’t Go To Seed

soybean seed that has sprouted
soybean seed that has sprouted

One thing that the gardener must be cautious about is sowing cover crops. The gardener should not let it go to seed, else the cover crop will be invasive, spreading throughout the field and will cause damage to the field. Mind you, you’d have a hard time raking them out.

A Win-Win Deal

Before resorting immediately to fertilizers and other mainstream solutions in the gardening industries, look for alternatives first. Green manure for the field will, of course, also incur expenses; but the benefits that it yields outweigh that of chemical solutions. Besides, the cover crops that come before green manure can also be used for human consumption, so it’s a win-win deal.

Crimson Clover is a wonderful cover crop video( 2:36 min) by covercropdave

Related How To article: How to Use Green Manure Crops

Gardening When You Have A Chronic Illness

Don’t let chronic illness prevent you from your love of gardening. These tips and tricks will make it easy for you to continue your favorite hobby in spite of your illness.

Container Gardening

container gardening
container gardening is easily accessible

Get some containers and have them on a table or railing. Even if you’re confined to a wheelchair you can reach them to plant seeds or plant starts. Weeding will be simple because container gardening doesn’t leave much room for weeds. Ideal plants for container gardening are strawberries, tomatoes (consider upside-down hanging tomato plants), radishes, lettuces, herbs, cucumbers, garlic, celery, bok choy, and other similar vegetables.

Raised Gardening Beds

Raised gardening beds
raised garden bed helps with bending and reaching

Raised gardening beds can be built to any height. These are ideal for arthritis sufferers who find it painful to bend over and weed a garden. If you’re in a wheelchair they can work well as well. Ideal if you’re suffering from back pain, raised gardening beds aren’t new to the circle of gardening. Any plants that are planted in a regular garden can be planted in a raised garden bed. Raised garden beds are similar to container gardening in that they require minimal maintenance for weeding. Build them 2 feet by 2 feet and you have an ideal garden plot that is easy to keep weeded and grow your favorite veggies.

Dwarf Fruit Trees

Dwarf fruit trees
Dwarf Orange Tree is an example to harvest fruit at any level

Dwarf fruit trees are designed to not grow past a specific height. In most cases, this can be between five and eight feet. If they are kept pruned they can remain at the lower elevation which means it’s easier to harvest the fruit. Ideal for those who have an illness and can’t commit a lot of time to their gardening, the fruit can often be picked while standing flat on the ground. Minimal maintenance makes this an ideal way to garden. Dwarf Fruit Trees
 
 
 
 
 
 

Consider Smaller Gardens

small garden
small garden makes it easy to take care of

If you can’t do raised garden beds and don’t have containers, you can still garden on a smaller scale. Reduce the size of your garden into 2 foot by 2-foot plots and arrange them in a few different areas of the yard. Don’t spend more than one hour per day on your gardening and you can break that up into 4 fifteen minute intervals. If you have 4 different plots you can spend a few minutes throughout the day gardening and still yield a very profitable vegetable crop.

Potatoes

Gardening potatoes, when you’re suffering from a chronic illness, is easy. Here are two fun ways to plant potatoes.

  • Tires: put an old tire on the ground and throw in some soil. Plant 5 potatoes in the tire. Stack another tire on top and repeat. You can stack this as high as you desire. Water from the top down. At the end of the summer, you can simply tip the tires over and harvest potatoes. the following video shows exactly how it is done.
  • Washtub: You can take that old washtub of grandma’s and throw some potting soil inside. Throw in your potato starts and add a bit more of soil. Water as needed. At the end of the season, you’ll have huge potatoes.

A quick video to show a potato tower only 55 seconds

Gardening doesn’t have to be a chore, these methods make it fun and easy even if you’re suffering from a chronic illness.

20 Ways To Make Your Home Organic And Eco Friendly

Organic homes can give you and your family many benefits—from health benefits, financial benefits, and environmental benefits. Organic homes can help you reduce your electric bill and can decrease your carbon footprint in the world.

Organic homes can also keep you and your family healthier by cleaning up the air and by decreasing the number of pathogens your family comes in contact with.

Here are some tips to creating a green, organic home:

1. Plant More Trees as they create an ecosystem that provides a habitat for birds and other animals. Trees also reduce a load of carbon dioxide and harmful gasses, including, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide from the air, and instead release oxygen. One large tree supplies enough oxygen for four people.

2. Plant bamboo in your yard and gardens, which produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than trees, both of which help to prevent global warming.

3. Keep your home insulated: Insulation can make your home more energy-efficient so you don’t lose cold air in the summer or heated air in the winter. To look for areas where you could use more insulation, get access to a thermal radiometer or to an infrared scanner. This will show you the areas where your home is losing heat. You can even purchase a cheap radiometer from Black and Decker to see where you are letting perfectly good air out of your home.

  • Good organic insulation includes blown-in cellulose, which is shredded newspaper. There is also a soy-based insulation spray called BioBased that can provide organic insulation for your home. Wool insulation and bonded recycled denim insulation works well, too, but not as well as BioBased and shredded newspaper.

4. Energy Efficient Windows: A lot of heat is lost through the windows. Buy energy-efficient windows if you can. They should be double-paned if you live in a cold climate but super-insulated windows made from three layers of glass and argon between the pains is the best for super-cold climates.

5. Go Solar: Solar roofs generate their own energy using the power of the sun to provide energy for your home. Most states offer a tax break for solar installation.

6. Start a compost heap in your backyard for all-natural organic gardening.

7. Organic Bedding: Organic grown without pesticides 100% cotton bedding and mattresses create a non-toxic sleep environment for you and your family

8. Green Cleaning: Use or make your own organic cleaning products to avoid petroleum-based chemicals found in conventional products like chlorine that harm ecosystems. These chemicals have also been linked to allergies, asthma, cancers, and certain heart problems.

9. Use Energy Star-qualified appliances, they cost more but will save big on electricity bills in the long run.

10. Recycled Glassware and Tableware – Recycled products make less of an impact on the earth and help reduce the burden on landfills

11. Use a thermostat and stick to its guidelines. Ideally, you should have a programmable thermostat that turns down the temperature when you aren’t at home. Try different thermostatic settings in different parts of the house that you don’t have to heat or cool areas of the house that aren’t used as much. You can even use a smartphone app that will make it easier to heat and cool your house from a distance.

12. Conserve water. Install low flow shower heads and toilets that save water with every flush. Conserving water also applies to the water you use in your yard. Instead of forcing lush greenery in dry climates, put in plants that thrive well in your environment without watering or an excessive amount of landscaping. This is known as xeriscaping.

13. Rake or use a battery powered leaf blower instead to cut down on emissions that can harm the air.

14. Consider your roof: If you have to replace your roof, use white, reflective tiles, green tiles or photovoltaic tiles that will help decrease your carbon footprint. White roofs reflect heat and keep cooling costs down. This can save on cooling bills by nearly 40 percent. Green roofs or living roofs do the same thing as white roofs and produce oxygen as well. Green roofs can be very heavy so take that into account when deciding what kind of roof to choose from.

15. Use energy-efficient lighting. Lighting can take up a third of your entire electric bill. Use energy-efficient LED lights or make headway in using natural lighting so you don’t need to have lights in your home during the day. The LED lighting is found to be more energy-efficient and doesn’t contain mercury in the bulbs. Put windows or skylights in your home to keep it light during the day. There are solar tubes and fiber optic sunlight transportation systems that can allow natural light to lighten your home and lessen your energy bill.

16. Manage air quality: Use air filters to keep your family from breathing in dust and mites that are ever-present in the air. Have plenty of plants around that can lead to increased oxygen production and decreased carbon dioxide in your home.

17. Cancel your newspaper subscription and read the news online instead.

18. Swap the paper napkins for cloth napkins to save the trees used to make them and to reduce the burden on landfills.

19. Choose paperless billing for your bills to save trees used to make the paper and reduce the load on landfills.

20. Recycle!

Related How To article: How to Be Eco Friendly

Organic Versus Non-Organic Whole Food

Organic vs Non Organic
Organic vs Non Organic

We will show here organic vs non-organic facts on food and then you can decide for yourself what is best. Organic food is renowned for having lower levels of toxic substances compared to non-organic food, which is why it is so attractive to consumers and is better for your health.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification that is:

  • 100% Organic— Made entirely from organic materials has the organic seal.

    USDA organic seal
    USDA organic seal

  • Organic— At least 95% organic materials, with remaining ingredients that are approved by USDA, can have the organic seal.
  • Made With Organic Ingredients— At least 70% organic ingredients and can display 3 organic ingredients on the label. Cannot use the organic seal.
  • Non-Organic— If less than 70% organic ingredients, cannot be labeled as organic or use the USDA organic seal.

In fact, when walking past the fruit and vegetable aisle, you may notice that the non-organic fruit and vegetables almost look identical and uniform in appearance. However, when you look at the various organic offerings, you may notice that each vegetable or piece of fruit is quirky in their own right, with different imperfections, and this actually comes down to the fact that non-organic food is processed and often enhanced with growth substances – subsequently it is a debate that is currently raging in many countries.

Organic food has minimal enhancers present in the food and is strictly regulated which means that you are buying a better quality product compared to the non-organic range on offer.

However, there are other differences, which, include the level of pesticides used on non-organic food compared to the much healthier organic range, although this is heavily regulated and restricted.

The fact that any of these unhealthy substances can be used on the fruit and vegetables that we eat, only serves as a reminder that organic food is much healthier for us thanks to the strict procedures that have to be undertaken in ensuring that we get a quality product.

Not Just Fruit and Vegetables

organic milk
organic milk also is included as organic

Organic food isn’t just restricted to fruit and vegetables – indeed organic dairy, eggs, and meat have exploded in popularity in recent times. Organic meat for example, often means that the animals have to be fed exclusively on organic feed, which usually means none of the growth-enhancing hormones, artificial substances, and even antibiotics that are so prevalent in non-organic foods are used.

Organic food, unfortunately, it may not be within the reach of many consumers because of the marked difference in cost, compared to non-organic produce.

One downside to organic produce is that you may not be able to store it as long, which means it is unlikely to retain its freshness for as long as non-organic produce. This is due to the lack of preservatives on the food which is found in so much of the non-organic produce that we buy.

What If You Can’t Afford It

Organic food should be applauded, however, those who cannot afford to buy it will still receive the important nutrients that are so fundamental to our well-being from non-organic produce.

There are things that consumers can do to ensure that they are getting the best non-organic food, simply by looking out for a few things when buying and consuming produce.

For example, thoroughly washing fruit and vegetables will help to get rid of bacteria and even some of the pesticides which have been used on the food. While it won’t necessarily get rid of all trace elements, it will certainly help minimize the risk to health.

Provided that you always aim for your five a day, wash and clean vegetables, and try to buy non-organic food which is within the season, non-organic food is still healthy and will still provide essential nutrients.

eco friendly seal
eco friendly helps all of us

However, if you can afford to buy organic produce, not only will you be consuming something that is spared from additives, you will also be helping the environment thanks to the focus on sustainability and stricter farming practices.

My Personal Opinion

In my personal opinion, the healthiest option is organic – the question, however, is whether it will be more accessible to those who presently cannot afford in, in the future.
How do you know if something is organic Video

Is it important to mulch your gardens?

Red cedar mulch
Red cedar mulch

The soil’s health is key to a productive garden. To ensure a healthy soil a good mulch has to be used. The following items can be used as mulch, they decompose and become part of the soil over time.

The ingredients to use as mulch:

  • cardboard
  • old newspapers
  • straw
  • alfalfa
  • sawdust – “not my favorite”
  • chips of wood
  • grass clippings
  • shredded leaves

As soon as the garden space has been prepared, put a layer of mulch of about 2 inches. To plant your crops, seeds, flowers, and seedlings just push the mulch aside and place.

10 key things that mulch performs are:

1. It stops evaporation of the valuable water.

To avoid watering too much and too frequent a good layer of mulch is needed. The conservation of water is something all of us need to start taking heed of. Most of all states have a drought sooner or later and water will be rationed. We are beginning to understand the value of conserving water. Collect rainwater. Mulching is definitely a way of conserving water.

2. It keeps weeds from growing.

weeds
A weed is a plant that is not wanted in our landscape

Mulch will keep weeds to a controllable chore. This chore can be backbreaking. Weeds will challenge our plants for water and nutrients.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. Mulch is Mother Nature’s blanket for the soil.

That blanket will keep the soil cooler.

Why cool soil? The importance of cool soil from applied mulch allows microscopic plants, bacteria, and earthworms to stay active. These microscopic plants, bacteria, and earthworms will not survive in hot dried up soil. Let’s make all these friends to healthy soil live comfortably.

4. Mulch is a regulator of soil temps.

Cold temperatures protect plants with mulch. Cold soil can destroy all your plants.

Remember, during the last heat stress how your plants looked? You will know that the plants are experiencing stress. This is how the plant is trying to survive.

5. Mulch is a provider of nutrients over time.

In a forest of trees, nature is providing those trees with mulch with the branches, twigs, and leaves falling to the ground. All of that will decompose and give food and habitat to grubs, worms, helpful insects, and beneficial microorganisms which will do their job making plenty of organic matter. See the similarity to mulch doing the same thing for your garden? After decomposition, this rich product brings a lot of beneficial insects to the site to improve the soil.

6. Mulch reduces erosion and protects the soil.

soil erosion
soil erosion will take all the good of a garden

Erosion is not anyone’s friend. It prevents the soil from keeping the nutrients that it needs and to keep water. Exposes the subsoil. If your garden is to survive and be healthy it needs your protection as the main priority.

 
 
 
 
7. Mulch makes the landscape look appealing and groomed.

Look at your garden after applying mulch, does it look more appealing? The garden is now ready to show off to friends and family. A neat and orderly layout of plants is accomplished. The whole garden is untidy if not mulched. Visit a botanical garden and see what a well-mulched garden will look like.

8. Mulch can be used as a garden path.

garden mulch path
garden mulch path makes it easy to visit your garden

You can now walk between the rows of flowers and vegetables with ease. After a good rain try walking thru the garden without mulch.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9. Mulch is eco-friendly and will save your energy, money, and time.

Imagine saving time not having to do a lot of weeding. Cuts back on water to save money. Cut back on buying products to feed the soil.

10. Mulch is a critical product to help with organic gardening.

Don’t start that garden for flowers or for vegetables without having a good amount of mulch on hand to apply.

mulched vegetable garden
mulched vegetable garden-beautiful

Related How To article: How to Prepare Garden Mulch

Diatomaceous Earth For Garden Use

Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth has the texture of talc.
Diatomaceous Earth is made of diatoms which are smashed fossilized algae from fresh water. Having a talc-like feeling, the sharp blade-like edges cut open and penetrate the pest’s exoskeleton and causes it to dehydrate on the outside. While on inside when the insect eats the powder, which is highly porous and dry, takes the moisture out of the insect. DE must be dry to be effective. In addition, insects will not become immune to DE. A big warning must be given, beneficial insects will be affected as well. So be careful with this powder.

Particles that are microscopic will kill both inside and outside the pest’s body.

Here is a list of pest’s that DE will kill. Place the powder in crevices and cracks around the home and this should catch them at their homes.

  • Grasshoppers
  • Carpet Beetles
  • Ants
  • Centipedes
  • Crickets
  • Bedbugs
  • Roaches
  • Silverfish
  • Earwigs
  • Millipedes
  • Fleas

Living Areas and Kitchens

A slight layer of the powder placed behind and underneath furniture, windowsills, appliances, and doorways should hit them in your home.

Garages, Basements, and Attics

To end their breeding make sure to place it anywhere they may nest.

Mattresses and Beds

Bedbugs can be eliminated if you spread the powder all over the mattress and bed area.

Patios and the Exterior of The House

Lets stop the pest’s before they enter the home by using around windows, outdoor areas, and entryways.

Added Information

  1. Do not heat this DE as it negates the effectiveness. To see how truly small these particles are the size is approximately 0.000472441 inches.
  2. It is also used for the storage of grain as it prevents the grain from caking. The FDA has given it OK to use in this area.
  3. Research cannot verify the rumor that is good for a dewormer in animals. However, farmers do add it to the animal feed to stop caking.
  4. Hydroponic gardens of some gardeners use it as a growing media.
  5. Bonsai growers are known to use it as a media. Some use it in pots at 100% media and some just add it as an additive. Within a garden for growing vegetables the added Diatomaceous Earth is good for water retention, holds nutrients, allows good oxygen circulation, and drains well.

Related How To article: How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth Outdoors