Memorial Day is a time to reflect on how lucky we are to be living in a country that allows us the freedom to do and say as we please - and to honor those men and women who lost their lives fighting for that right. For us northern gardeners Memorial Day also has a secondary significance. Generally speaking this is the point in the calendar where you can be 99% certain that we have no danger of an overnight frost. I say 99% because...well it's the weather...so check your weather app to make sure there are no low temperatures below 40 in the foreseeable future. If so, you're ready to go. Here is what should be on your to-do list:
Those of us lucky enough to live within driving distance of the great state of Maine are familiar with this sign that welcomes us as we cross the boarder. This week Maine added one more reason for us to believe the slogan is true: As of January 1, 2021 restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, and all other food service businesses will no longer be allowed to use Styrofoam to-go containers or plastic beverage stirrers.
Polystyrene (Styrofoam is the brand name) cannot be recycled, so while that cup of coffee may be finished, the Styrofoam cup it was in is not. In fact, it will be around for decades to come and eventually it will break down into particles, polluting our environment and hurting our wildlife. Foam also absorbs toxins faster than other plastics and is mistaken for food by marine life. And the toxins that wildlife consumes makes its way up the food chain into people.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine estimates more than 256 million pieces of disposable foam cups, plates, bowls, platters, and trays are used every year - just in Maine alone. Considering Maine is only the 42nd most populated state...just imagine what that number looks like nation-wide.
Maryland's legislature also has approved bills to ban polystyrene, but it's unclear whether Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will sign the legislation. Let's hope he does and we can keep the momentum rolling into other states. Want to see something similar happening in your state? Contact your local state representative. All of these bills start with a single rep proposing them, so find out if yours feels as strongly about this as you do. And if they don't - vote for someone who does next time you have the chance. These things don't happen overnight but they do happen eventually when enough people care.
Excerpts from this article were taken from the following article posted on CNN.com 5/1/19
I'm going to get right down to business today when talking about mosquito spraying. I understand that people hate mosquitoes for the annoying itchy bite they give and more so for the fact that they can transmit diseases. But widespread pesticide spraying is killing a lot more than just mosquitoes. With that being said, I want you to think for a minute about the effects of blanket pesticide spraying over entire areas (by truck and/or by helicopter) on our environment and our fragile ecosystem.
In April 2016, researchers reported that honeybee keepers lost 44 percent of their colonies in the prior 12 months. That's up from 42.1 percent in 2015 and 39 percent in 2014. 2015 was the first time in history that beekeepers lost more bees during the summer than in the winter. If colony collapse disorder continues at the current rate, managed honeybees will disappear by 2035. Colony collapse disorder was recognized as a serious threat in 2006. Scientists suspected viruses, pesticides, and fungicides made the bees vulnerable to mites.
Every day more and more people are switching over to a plant based diet. There are a number of different reasons why, but all of these people have one dilemma in common - How will I get enough protein in my diet? A lot of people will tell you things like nuts and seeds have protein in them, but you would probably wear out your jaw chewing all day to get enough of it, not to mention all the fat you would be eating to get yourself there. So what to do?
Cruising Into Spring
Did you miss us? More than likely you didn't know we were gone, but for the past week or so we have been MIA. For 8 days we were on a cruise with no access to internet or sanity. If anyone ever convinces you a cruise is a good idea, just imagine living in a room the size of your childhood bedroom with your entire family while continuously getting lost and being lied to about how much everything costs. Oh and did I mention you'll be nauseous most of the time? No better way to spend hard earned time off.
One nice thing about being gone that long was coming home to spring! Real spring - not that false hope we cling on to in March. We left a brown and gray yard to come home to life all over. Check out some signs from around our house that tells us Spring is finally here.
Truth be told we are probably a week late on this post. Most recommendations say to start pepper plants 8 weeks prior to the transplant date. Many of us in the north use the Memorial Day Weekend rule for when to plant our warm weather crops, which believe it or not is only 7 weeks away! Don't worry though, you still have plenty of time. 8 weeks from today is still only May 31st and you'll see a lot of places that recommend you don't transplant peppers until early June anyway.
The instructions on how to start pepper plants from seed are exactly the same as starting tomato plants, so read this article for all those details. Just like tomatoes, starting peppers from seed will save you a lot of money and give you many more options to try vs. buying started plants at a greenhouse. For the price of a single pepper plant you can buy 2 packets of seeds that would give you about 60. In fact, we had so many seeds left over from last year that we didn't even need to buy any this year (we did anyway because we can't help ourselves). Just keep in mind that even the smallest packet available is likely to be more than you need, so don't overdo it.
I wouldn't risk it on shipping at this point but you still have plenty of time to run out to the stores and grab some seed packets this weekend. If you're looking for some ideas on what varieties to plant, here is what we are going with this year:
Time to Start Your Tomato Seeds
When most people think of starting their own garden, tomatoes are probably the first thing that comes to mind. While anything you can grow yourself will be a better option than buying it at the grocery store for a number of reasons, you most likely won't be able to tell any big difference in taste. One major exception to that is tomatoes. There is no comparison between a home grown tomato and one purchased at a store. If you are like us you want a lot of tomato plants in the garden this year. We typically plant around 20 depending on how much space we have. Only problem is that can get pretty expensive. At Home Depot for example a tomato plant that comes already started in a 4.5" pot goes for $5, so for 20 plants we'd be dropping $100 on just tomatoes. That might be the best or only option for some, but for the rest of us that would probably be a little more than we were looking to spend on just tomatoes. So how can we have our tomato flavored cake and eat it too? Start from seeds. That means you would have to start them within the next week or so, but if you're willing to put in a little time and effort now you can have those same 20 tomato plants for $5. Here's how...
If it were up to our kids, they would eat peanut butter and jelly, McDonald's, and candy every second of every day. Actually, they probably wouldn't even eat meals, they would just snack on junk all day long. They want chips and cookies and sugary drinks and ice cream. Part of me gets it, but most of me knows I have to teach them to eat healthy every day.
Every night during the week we eat plant based meals in our house and our kids eat them too. I refuse to make separate meals for everyone. So how do we get our kids to eat LOTS of vegetables every night you ask? Possibly with torture tactics? Hahahaha! You'd think we'd have to but no! We finally decided to start thinking like kids (it wasn't too difficult for us) and we get them to eat healthy dinners every night. Let's be real, some nights are easier than others. Here are our tricks that the kids fall for most nights. We're going to save the best for last.
It is early Spring, the ground can finally be worked, and all across the northern hemisphere people are getting ready to rototill their gardens. What they don't know is they are actually decreasing the quality of the soil with all that hard work. Rototilling might be the best option when trying to break ground on a new garden plot, but if you're continuing to rototill the same dirt over and over again you are actually doing more harm than good. Here's why:
Growing Ambition Blog
We'll cover a number of topics here from environmental issues to plant based recipes and everything in-between