Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

WELCOME TO OUR ALMANAC! READ ABOUT ALL THINGS ECO FROM ORGANIC VEGGIE
GARDEN TIPS TO GREEN FAMILY ACTIVITIES.

GOOD QUESTIONS

Why do you grow organic?

I go organic because I feel it is the best option for my family and the Earth. Eating and using organic products puts my mind at ease, I never have to worry about what I am putting into my body or the body of my family and I feel wonderful knowing that I am purchasing products that are best for our Earth.

What is your best organic tip?

My best organic tip is buy local organic foods from your farmer's market, CSA, food co-op or local grocery store or better yet, plant your own organic garden. Also, if you are unable to purchase all organic produce, avoid EWG's dirty dozen. I also think purchasing organic personal care products is essential for heathly living, since what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it.

What is your favorite book on organics?

My favorite book on organics is The Omnivore's Dilemma.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is "The Earth is what we all have in common." Wendall Berry.

If you had to decide, what would you be: animal, plant, or mineral?

I would be an animal, because I would still be able to venture out to explore the world around me. Also, I think it would be a great experience to live in the wild and have to catch my own food.

Kids love to be involved in the Earth friendly decisions that you are making at home. My son is currently very interested in the process of decomposition. I thought that creating a see through composter would be the perfect way to feed his interest, while learning the real way that composting works.

With Earth Day right around the corner, my see through composter would be the perfect project to help you teach your children the importance of composting.  Since this composter is see through,  it makes it easy for your child to see the different levels of decomposition. A composter is an excellent way for children to see what happens to different organic and non organic material once they are placed in a compost bin.

 What you will need:

 

 * A large clear plastic container. (We used an organic animal crackers container, but you can use any style plastic container.)

* Dirt

* Grass or Straw

* Different colors and types of plastic.(We used a bread bag and a plastic grocery bags.)

* Coffee grounds.

* Sawdust or pellets. 

* Old leaves or plant debris.

* Shredded newspaper or regular paper.

* fruit and veggie scraps.

  Did you know that you can start your own vegetable garden from seeds in your home? Not only is it true, but it is super budget friendly, green and fun for the entire family. When choosing the vegetables that you want to grow, remember that plants such as tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and peppers need a longer period of time to grow. Starting them from seeds in your home is a great way to grow plants that will produce a full harvest throughout the season.

What you will need to start growing at home:

* Assorted Organic Seeds.

* Reusable Plastic Greenhouses, Trays, Flats or Pots.

* Expandable Peat Pellets or Soil.

How to get started:

1. Place a pre-soaked peat pellet or moistened soil inside each container. Make a small hole in the center of the peat pellet or soil and sprinkle seeds into the holes. To determine the planting depth, consult the seed packet.

2. Cover the seeds with the recommended amount of moistened soil. Cover the seeds and place them in a sunny south facing windowsill. Label the containers with the name of each plant and the date that the seeds were planted.

3. In 7-10 days the seeds will sprout, at this time thin them until just one plant is remaining. Using a pair of tweezers will give you expert precision when thinning the seedlings.

How to transplant:

1. When the seedlings develop their adult leaves (usually within 4-8 weeks), it is time to transplant them into larger pots. 

2. My family uses 4" reusable pots that are filled with potting soil that has been moistened. Choose a warm and sunny spot in your home for the plants to continue to grow. If you do not have somewhere for the larger potted plants to grow, you may want to consider growing them under fluorescent lights. My family has started our garden in our basement for many years using this method.

3. Once the plants are large enough to be moved outside, you will need to harden them off. Hardening them off means that you are getting the seedlings ready to be planted outside. In Springtime, to harden the seedlings off, you will need to sit them outside in a shady spot during the day and them bring them back into the warmth of your home at night. Gradually, move the seedlings to a sunny spot in your yard during the day. After 7-10 days of hardening, your seedlings will be ready for planting in your garden.

Keeping your veggies happy in the garden:

Once your vegetables are planted in your garden, you will want to provide them with a regular supply of water, keeping the soil moist, at least until the seedlings put down their roots. Using mulch in your garden is an excellent way to keep the soil moist. Remember to weed your garden on a regular basis and to use natural pest control remedies to keep the creepy critters at bay.

Do you start your vegetable plants from seed?

Which are your favorite vegetables?

 

 

Hey Friends!

This is the last of my DIY art supplies posts. If you haven't checked them out already, check out the Finger Paint, Colored Glue, and Homemade Crayons. (Psst - some of these links haven't been working in Facebook, but you can view these posts at: http://blog.cascadianfarm.com)


 
Ingredients:
1 c. flour
1 tbsp. veggie oil
1 c. water
1/2 c. salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
natural food coloring

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly until ball forms. Divide into smaller balls, knead in natural colorants and form into balls.

Thanks for trying these out with us. I hope you enjoyed making these with your kids!

Photo Credit: Play Dough: eyeliam @ Flickr.
Thanks for all your great feedback on our DIY Glue and Make Your Own Crayons.  Have you tried them yet with your kids?
"This is either every teachers Joy or nightmare"
 I know these can be messy, but hopefully they are lots of fun for you and your kids! So now let's really make a mess! Here's a fun and easy way to make your own finger paints with your kids.
 
Ingredients:
1 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. grated organic soap
natural colorants

Directions:
Melt grated organic soap and 1/2 cup boiling water in pan over low heat. Add cornstarch, blend well, set aside and allow to thicken. Divide into small reusable containers and add natural colorants. (It would be great to use containers that you would otherwise recycle or throw away.)
Photo Credit:  Chrysaora @ Flickr.

Last week I showed you how to make crayons at home, here is another fun project you can do with your kids: making colored glue!

Let me know how it goes!
  

Ingredients:
1 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. water
1 tsp. vinegar
natural colorants

Directions:
Warm all ingredients together over a warm stove top until you get a thickened consistency. Remove from heat and let cool. This natural glue will keep for weeks in a refrigerated, airtight container.
Photo Credit: Glue: 1suisse @ Flickr.

Children love to have time to be creative, especially when it involves getting their hands dirty. Winter time is one of the best times to let your children spend a few hours getting their creative juices flowing. Did you know that making Eco friendly art supplies for your children is simple? Art supplies such as colored glue, recycled crayons, finger paints and play dough can be made with simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen cupboard.

You may also already have an endless supply of materials for your kids to use to create their masterpieces. Just check your recycling bin. There are many projects that can be made using recycled food and cereal boxes, milk and egg cartons as well as any paper products. Just add scissors, paints, crayons and glue and your children will be entertained for hours.

Over the next few posts I'm goign to share my personal recipes that my son and I have enjoyed over the years. You can combine these art supply recipes with the Eco friendly art materials that you will find in your recycling bin. This combination will keep your children entertained and will also give your recyclables new life, as fantastic art.

Instructions:

1. Gather all of the broken crayon pieces from your child's art drawer and remove the paper. Break into smaller pieces.
2. Spray a mini muffin tin with veggie oil (you could also use a candy or soap mold) and fill each spot to the top with different colored crayon pieces.
3. Bake at 275° for 8 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and swirl with a toothpick if you would like or leave them as is.
5. Let cool and pop them out.

 

Photo Credits:
Hands: Jillio @ Flickr.
Crayons: WoodenMask @ Flickr.

Has your family been looking for an environmental friendly way to spend the day or weekend without breaking the bank? There are many opportunities to explore and immerse yourself in the world around us in a quick day or two. Spending time together as a family in nature is as beneficial to your family bond as it is in bonding your family to nature. Here are some of my favorite day trips that will envelope your family in natural beauty and will you leave you with a greater appreciation for our Earth.

National Parks

You and your family can explore the natural world at more than 60 National Parks around the United States. National Parks are an excellent way to introduce your family to nature, history and culture. National Parks are usually centered around a specific topic. These topics include environmental topics such as; caves, coral reefs, endangered species, fossils and dinosaurs, hot springs, glaciers or volcanoes. Also, historical topics such as; American Presidents, Civil War, early explorers, human rights, invention and industry, Westward Expansion and Revolutionary War.

My favorite National Parks that my family has visited include; Mesa Verde National Park -Colorado, Dry Tortugas National Park - Florida, Yellowstone National Park -Montana, Wyoming and Oregon and Rocky Mountain National Park -Colorado. You can find state parks by name, location, topic or activity here. There are many ways to view a National Park, my favorites include; hiking, biking, rock climbing, swimming, snowshoeing, camping or on horseback. You can also view a National Park by guided tour, which is an fantastic way to learn about the park while viewing it.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, now is the time to start planning how you can make Valentine's Day lovely for your sweetheart and the environment. There are several ways to make Valentine's Day Eco friendly that are simple, affordable and that will let your sweetie know that you were thinking of them.


Valentine Cards:

Did you know that over 1 billion Valentine cards are exchanged worldwide every Valentine's Day? That is a lot of trees being used for cards, that in most cases are simple thrown away or recycled once the day is over. With this in mind, consider alternatives when shopping for Valentine's Day cards such as; tree free blooming cards, 100% recycled post consumer cards printed with soy or vegetable ink, sustainable wooden cards or e cards.

Give a Gift that Gives Back:

If you will be purchasing a lovely gift for your significant other, spouse, child or friend this Valentine's Day, think of gifts that give back. Organizations such Ten Thousand Villages and Novica work with artisan groups throughout the world to bring you fair trade jewelry, home decor and other lovely gift ideas. The best part, fair trade enables artisans in other countries to earn a fair wage and it provides them with the opportunity to live a better quality of life.

If your sweetie has a soft spot for animals or loves the great outdoors? You may want to consider making a donation to her favorite charity in her name. Some charities to consider would be the ASPCA, The Human Society or The Nature Conservancy.

Do you want to save gas, money and the environment when using your automobile? You don't have a drive a hybrid to be more Earth Friendly. There are several simple green steps that you can take to green your current automobile.  For instance, have you considered only having one automobile? My family is a one car family and has been so for almost 9 years.  Since, most of the work that I do, can be from home and my husband's work is only a few miles away, we are able to live quite happily with one car. At first it did seem a huge inconvenience but I soon found a lot of enjoyment out of walking, biking and busing my way around town. Also not having a car payment didn't hurt either and since our car has been paid off for several years, it has freed up alot of funs for other things in our budget.
 
If you are like my family and want to continue to use the car that you have, you can do so and help the environment at the same time. Here are my simple steps to keep your current car with minimal impact on the environment. Then, when your current car is on its last leg, you can consider one of the many fabulous hybrids and electric vehicles that are hitting the market.
 
1. Drive Less
Have you considered how many places that you may drive to every day that are within walking or biking distance? I prefer to walk or jump on my bike to run errands and get a great workout in the process. My bike has multiple baskets on the front and back so there is always room for groceries, library books or other goodies. In some areas, you may be able to get to work or your errands faster by bike or public transportation, since you can bypass the traffic congestion. How about carpooling? If you live near several of your co workers or friends, this is a fantastic way to catch up with each other, lower the number of cars on the road and save some money at the same time. I really love public transportation because it gives me an excuse to sit back, relax, catch up on the news or read that best seller. Since walking, biking, public transporation and carpooling is so affordable you will have extra funds in your budget. You will also save a lot of money on gasoline, car repairs and maintenance and need for two cars if you drive less.
 
2. Tune it Up
Getting your car tuned up when manufacturers recommends can save you 4-40% on your MPH. Also, when you keep all other auto functions in check and running smoothly will help to avoid untimely and expensive repairs all year long.
 
3. Get Inflated
Each month, check your tire's pressure with a tire pressure gauge. If your tires aren't properly inflated you are wasting hundreds of dollars worth of gasoline each year. It only takes a couple minutes and can save you and the environment big time. You should also have your tires rotated and aligned when the manufacturer recommends to avoid improper wear which can waste gasoline too.
 
4. Clean the Air {Filter}
Make sure your air filter is clean. A dirty and clogged filter will block the air your automobile needs to burn fuel efficiently. You don't have to replace the air filter every time you get an oil change, but you can ask the service attendant it to 'blow it out'.  They will use the air compressor to blow all of the dirt and gunk from the filter, allowing you to use the same air filter for much longer, which will save you money and the landfill in the long run.
 
5. Get A Mug
Do you stop for a morning Cup o Joe on the way to work or a soda pick me up at the end of the day? If so, always keep a reusable stainless steel mug in your car. This will keep you from purchasing a beverage in a cup, can or bottle that will end up in the recycling bin or landfill. Also, did you know that most gasoline stations will let you fill your mug with your choice of beverage for a fraction of the cost of a cup, can or bottle of your favorite beverage. Just ask how much it will cost to "refill" your mug, you will be pleasantly surprised. This little tip will save the environment from countless cups, bottles, lids and straws and will save you some money too.
 
6. Enjoy the Ride {Slow Down}
Did you know that every five miles per hour you go over 60 MPH, you lower your gas mileage? Waste gas by speeding will only cause you to pay for more for gasoline fill ups. Not to mention speeding tickets are bad on your wallet, your insurance rates and possibly your health. So, sit back, relax, listen to your favorite radio program and enjoy the ride. 
 
How do you get around?
What other tips do you use to green your automobile?
Photo Via:: Zach Heller Photography on Flickr

Winter is the perfect time to spend bonding together as a family. It seems like the colder it gets outside, the more time my family has to do things together. We like to pack our winter with activities that are both Earth friendly and fun and that can be done either at home or close to home. Staying at home or close to home, enjoying winter activities is much better on the environment and tons of fun too.

Here are my top favorites::

1. Make it a Snow Day: One of the greatest things about winter is waking up to a few inches of fresh powder on the ground. My son will look out the window with wide eyes and ask, "Can we play outside?" The snow brings all kinds of fun activities with it. You can pack a warm lunch and cocoa and spend the day sleigh riding or snow shoeing. You can even spend the entire day in your own backyard building a snow fort, snowman or having a snowball fight.

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