7 Ways to Control Weeds Without Chemicals

Weeds are frustrating to have and are sometimes even more frustrating to prevent. And though chemicals could sometimes seem like a great option in killing those pests once and for all, it may not be the most environmentally or safest option. Also, chemicals can be far more expensive than other safer methods (and some chemicals aren’t even as effective as non-chemical solutions). Therefore, the following are a few easy and effective methods in controlling and killing weeds.

1. Maintain your Soil

A healthy garden is a well protected garden, and this is especially true when it comes to deterring weeds from invading your backyard. A major factor in a healthy garden is obviously the soil quality, whether or not there are enough nutrients in them, whether or not the soil is able to retain enough water for plant use but not so much that the soil becomes overly moist. Though weeds can grow in practically any soil condition, regardless if the soil is filled with nutrients or not, ensuring that your soil is well maintained can ensure that the plants you do want surviving are able to grow and hopefully push out or even prevent weeds from growing in the first place. However, do keep in mind that over fertilizing your soil can be a huge invitation for weeds to come in, so use fertilizer sparingly and only when needed to help your pre-existing plants grow strong.

2. Use Mulch and Fabric

Like any other plant, weeds require sunlight to thrive, but if you’re able to make this precious resource less accessible, weeds will ultimately start dying off. If you do see a patch of soil that has an abundance of weeds, putting down some mulch can effectively prevent sunlight from reaching them. However, before buying mulch, ensure that there are no weed seeds present, as this can just lead to a re-emergence of weeds pretty quickly.

Cover Fabrics, much like mulch, is placed over weeds to smother them and prevent sunlight from penetrating down. Depending on the material used, the soil also can still have access to water and air to keep it healthy.

3. Limit Available Space

Weeds love to grow anywhere that has appropriate space. Therefore, growing thick lawns and numerous plants can help crowd out weeds from growing. Using appropriate amounts of fertilizer can also help in maintaining thick, lush lawns.

4. Use Flames or High Temperatures

Flame guns are extremely effective in scorching weeds that may be growing into between pavement or slabs or bricks. Though it does use propane gas, scorching can quickly destroy the weed and any seeds that may be found on ground level.

Also, if you intend on using destroyed weeds for compost, it is important to make sure that there are no live seeds mixed in with the weeds. To safely use dead weeds as compost, heating them up in a crock-pot or other heatable container can safely destroy any live seeds, allowing you to use the weeds for compost or even fertilizer.

5. Use Plastic Sheeting

Much like mulch and fabric, plastic sheeting can effectively prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds, as well as preventing water from seeping down to the root structures. However, one disadvantage of using plastic sheeting is that a few chemicals may end up seeping out of the plastic and into the soil, so only use this if absolutely needed. But if you’re trying to be truly chemical free, avoiding plastic sheeting may be best.

6. Hoeing and Tilling

Smaller weeds that are truly relegated to the top layers of soil can be easily dislodged and taken care of with gentle strokes. However, attempting to hoe into the deeper levels of soil may only cause more problems than you originally intended. Seeds that are dormant normally reside in the deeper levels of soil, and hoeing these parts may only bring them up to the surface, causing more weeds to grow.
Much like hoeing, tilling is also able to manage small weed populations but should be done so with extreme care. In an attempt to push seeds further into the soil, tilling may cycle dormant seeds up to the surface, making your efforts a frustrating time waster. Regardless if you attempt to hoe or till your soil, do so carefully so as to not bring out dormant seeds.

7. Vinegar

Vinegar is great in drying out weeds if applied over the course of two weeks. Mixing a bit with dish soap and using a spray bottle to apply the mixture onto weeds is extremely effective, regardless of how hot it is outside. However, make sure to not accidentally spray the solution onto plants that you want, as it can potentially kill any plant that it comes in contact with.

Killing Specific Weeds

If you want to kill weeds, you have to do a bit of research to figure out what conditions are favorable for weed growth. For example, a common and extremely frustrating weed to have in one’s garden is the Creeping Charlie. Unlike most weeds, the creeping charlie preferentially grows in areas of shade and extremely moist soils. Therefore, to prevent such a weed, getting rid of shady areas is a must and having a good way to re-direct excess rainwater away from your garden is also a good idea.

Final Thoughts

Getting rid of weeds can certainly be a headache, so much so that it may often seem like a good idea to just use a few chemicals to get rid of the problem. However, these chemicals could permanently damage your soil. Luckily, there are many natural, non-chemical methods in safely and quickly removing weeds. Also, if you have a specific weed problem, do a bit of research to understand what conditions the weeds prefer to grow in. Having some knowledge before tackling weeds will definitely save a lot of time and energy in the long run.

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How to build greenhouse or hoop house

When deciding whether to purchase a greenhouse or a hoop house two factors need to be considered, budget and the size of the structure you want to build. The biggest difference is cost. If space is limited and only a small structure is possible, than a green house is the better choice. They are more pleasing to look at and require less maintenance, and give the best light transmission. With larger structures over 200 sqft. (20 sq meters) a hoop house is the best choice for cost-effective food production.

Glass is transparent and admits more light than plastic, warms the house more quickly and retains heat longer. Plants, particularly those with high light requirements such as tomatoes, grow better under glass than plastic. Glass lasts indefinitely, while plastic becomes brittle and breaks down with age.

What Size Greenhouse – A popular size is 6ft. (1.8 meter) wide by 8ft(2.4 meter) long. A path 2 ft (60cm) wide down the middle allows 2 ft. (60cm) on each side for plants.. A better size is 8ft(2.4meter) wide by 6ft(1.8 meter) long. This arrangement allows for 3 ft(90 cm) on either side of a shorter path, giving additional plant space.

Where space is limited, a lean-to greenhouse maybe an option. The problem of lack of light on one side can be generally alleviated by painting the wall of the inside of the greenhouse white. A sunny wall is best for a general purpose greenhouse. A lean-to greenhouse on a wall that does not get direct sunlight is good for cuttings, ferns or plants whose natural habitat is the forest floor.

Materials for Greenhouse Frames – The most commonly used materials are wood and aluminum. Aluminum is light and strong and is low maintenance. Aluminum greenhouses vary considerably in quality. In poorer quality greenhouses the glazing bars consist of T-sections. The better quality aluminum greenhouses consist of H-sections.

If you are considering a wooden greenhouse the best choice is cedar. Cedar is very durable and does not require toxic wood preservatives. It is a good choice if you can be sure it comes from sustainable, managed source. Wood is a better insulator than aluminum, but the thicker glazing bars required block more light.

Greenhouse Glazing- Glass is the most common glazing material, tempered for safety, if necessary. An alternative is polycarbonate plastic- a twin walled, lightweight, tough material that provides good insulation. The biggest negative of this material is it is not see-through, and only allows 85% light transmission as opposed to 97% for glass.

Adequate vents– for good air circulation and temperature control are vital. An automatic vent opening system is a worth while investment. Unexpected sun, even in spring can cause a rapid temperature rise if vents are closed, and plants can suffer. With the spiraling costs of produce a greenhouse is a great way to grow produce or fruit year around.

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Ways to Make Your Kitchen Green and Eco-Friendly

The kitchen can easily be a person’s favorite place to be; it’s where the magic happens. Delicious foods are created and creativity can go wild. However, with this power come many unwanted consequences that can affect both the environment and your family’s health. Therefore, converting your kitchen into one that is more earth-friendly can help save money, protect the environment, and create foods that are much healthier for the entire family. Taking minor steps early can make this a very easy and doable feat that you can certainly be proud of.

Use Non-Toxic Cookware

Many consumers are afraid of added chemicals in their food and so opt for organic produce. However, this is useless if the cookware you use has chemicals that can potentially leach into the foods you are cooking. That is why it is a good idea to do some research and look for non-toxic, safe cookware. Some cooking ware that is not so safe include those made of aluminum or non-stick materials such as Teflon. To avoid toxic chemical in your cookware, buy those that are made from materials such as stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic as these are less likely to flake into your food or leach chemicals due to high heat or acidity.

Energy Efficient Appliances

Many old appliances such as microwaves, blenders, and fridges can be both inefficient and waste a lot of electricity in the process. If you notice your appliances are outdated, it may be time to have them replaced with newer, more energy-saving models. Newer models are also being made to be more compact, saving valuable space in the kitchen as well.

Do Away With Toxic Cleaning Agents

Let’s be honest: accidents can and will happen. If you spill something on your countertop or drop food on the floor, try to avoid the regular cleaning agents and instead use what you may already have in your kitchen. Lemon juice and baking soda are great, nontoxic agents that can be used to clean up kitchen stains or countertops (and are also highly inexpensive). When buying cleaning products, always stay away from products that have labels such as: DANGER, TOXIC, or HARMFUL; the FDA requires companies have these labels if ingredients in their products have been tested to cause chronic illnesses.

Keep Waste to a Minimum

If spills do happen, try to do away with paper towels and instead use dish towels. These are reusable, meaning less trips to the store to buy replacement paper towels. Also, avoid styrofoam plates or cups and instead use washable, reusable plates. Though you need to wash these plates and utensils, you will be saving more money in the long run.

Wasting food can also be an inconvenience for many homeowners. That’s why it’s best to make a list of items you need before going to the store and buying only the things you have written down. This can help keep you accountable and prevent the urge to look around the aisles to buy excess food you may not even need.

If you do have left over foods, keeping them contained in glass food containers rather than tin foil or plastic wrap can help reduce waste.

If you do in fact have excess, unusable food, it may be  a good idea to buy a composter; this can turn unused, unwanted  food into fertilizer for any plants you may have.

Grow Your Own Produce

This goes well with having a composter. If you have any space in your backyard, it is worthwhile to grow certain vegetables or fruit that you use often such as squash or tomatoes; this way you can insure your ingredients are fresh. Having a composter can also help turn spoiled produce into fertilizer that can be put straight back into your garden.

Use a Water Filter

Rather than going out and buying packs of water bottles, buying a moderately priced water filter can help save both money and waste that is produced in your kitchen. A good water filter placed on your tap can help eliminate excess minerals or metals and give you tap water a clean, refreshing taste.

Get Foot Pedals for your Sink

Installing sensitive foot pedals to your sink can help save water by allowing you to control the amount of water that flows through the faucet. Since these are hands free, it also helps prevent the spread of germs.

Along with this, make sure that your sink is properly draining water; avoid dumping grease or other food particles down the drain as it can lead to clogs that can impede efficiency. Always ensure that your kitchen pipes are leak free to conserve water.

Final Thoughts

Making your kitchen green can be easily done– and inexpensive at the same time. Buying a composter can help ensure that you keep waste generated from your kitchen at a minimum; also, invest in reusable cleaning products such as dish towels to reduce any unwanted waste.  Ultimately, there are a multitude  of ways of  creating food that is healthy and chemical free, save money on your utility bills, and reduce your carbon footprint substantially.

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Making Your Home Heating System Eco-Friendly

Heating is extremely important for any household, but can be a huge part of your monthly bills. The average homeowner believes that homes can only be heated through either gas or electricity. However, due to continual research regarding sustainable, green energy; there are a multitude of green ways to heat your home. Not only can “green heating” help in saving annual heating costs, but it can also help reduce pollution in the long term. The following are green alternatives to typical heating methods and ways to improve heat retention of already existing aspects of your home.

Double-Panned Windows

Older windows, especially ones not fitted properly, result in a lot of excess heat loss, leading to greater heating bills in an attempt to make up for the loss heat. However, installing newer, double-paned windows makes it harder for heat to be lost; many of these double-panned windows are filled with krypton or argon to help keep heat from dissipating through the glass.

Wood Pellet Stoves/Heating

Wood pellet stoves are highly eco-friendly as they typically use renewable materials such as grass and products like sawdust or woodchips. According to the EPA, any emissions that are released are normally negligible; every wood pellet stove under their certification should only release below 4.5 grams of emissions per hour. A single wood pellet stove can also heat up 1500 square with little to no problems. For these heaters to operate, however, they must have an electric source; having an independent energy source for the stove can be useful. Unlike conventional fireplaces, wood pellets have been approved as being the most environmentally friendly.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

These systems take advantage of the fact that the earth is normally warmer than the air that is above ground. Therefore, many coils are buried underground, and the heat stored in the earth is brought to your home through water flow. A separate compressor then uses the energy that is brought through the water and heats your warm according to the temperature set on your thermometer. The great thing about this system is that no emissions are released as a result of this process, and no electricity is needed to power the system.

Though the initial installation can run as high as $20,000, a homeowner’s annual utility bills can be reduced up to 40%, a great investment in the long term.

Solar Heating Systems

These systems utilize solar energy to heat water (or air), which the system then transports throughout your home to keep it nice and warm. If you do not need immediate heat, these systems also store the energy in water that can be released later when needed. Works in a similar fashion as Geothermal heating, but instead uses sunlight to operate the system.

Anything Else?

Installing some of these systems can be a bit costly than traditional methods; however, researchers agree that green energy can save a lot of money on your monthly utility bills. At the same time, your carbon footprint is also decreased, benefitting both your wallet and the planet.

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