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How To Set Up an Indoor Herb Garden in Your Kitchen

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best herbs for your kitchen

Whether it’s that you don’t have a backyard or you just want to add a little greenery to your kitchen, setting up an indoor herb garden has so many benefits. Growing your own herbs in your kitchen is a wonderful hobby, promotes healthy and creative cooking and spruces up your interior! 

Owning and caring for indoor plants has been proven to have a positive impact on your mental health and it doesn’t take much to set up an herb garden in your kitchen. All you need are pots or planters, potting mix and a few small pebbles, baby herbs from your local nursery or seeds to grow the herbs from scratch.

 

Indoor Herb Garden – The Basics

Pick a sunny spot, like a windowsill, in your kitchen so the herbs will get enough light to grow and develop their delicious aroma. If your kitchen is on the darker side, you can always invest in artificial, fluorescent lighting to help your herbs grow indoors.

Pick pots or planters that have drainage holes at the bottom and make sure to place a saucer or tray underneath so excess water and dirt don’t ruin your countertops. Adding small pebbles to the bottom of your pots before filling them with potting mix and planting the herbs of your choice will further help with airflow and root health. 

While herbs look pretty on a kitchen countertop, they may take up too much space in a smaller kitchen. You can always grow them on a windowsill or install a vertical garden where you hang the planters on the wall. If you opt for a hanging garden, cut up a sponge and add a piece of it below the pebbles. The sponge will soak up excess water so it won’t drip out the bottom and will also help with keeping the roots of your herbs healthy.

If you can’t wait to set up an indoor herb garden in your kitchen, check out the guide below. It illustrates the best herbs to grow as a beginner and how to care for them so they’ll thrive indoors. Consider what dishes you love to cook and that can be elevated with some fresh herbs.

Are you a fan of tacos? Some fresh cilantro will definitely be a wonderful herb to grow. If you’ve always wanted to make your own pesto from scratch, add a basil plant to your herb garden.

Picking herbs that you love will make this project one you’ll enjoy for a long time!

best herbs to grow in your kitchen

Awesome and Healthy Vegetables to Grow in the Winter

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It is challenging to decide which crops to grow during winter because most of them seem to wither. Most of the times, people don’t plant anything during the cold season; however, there are plants that love the cold and thrive in these temperatures.

If you love gardening, you can still practice your craft during winter.

 

When Should You Sow Vegetables for Winter Harvest?

When can you sow winter vegetables? The best time to sow for winter harvest is during spring or when summer is starting. This is because it takes more than a month for the vegetables to mature. Winter crops can withstand the low temperatures, and you can harvest them throughout the season.

 

Tips for Growing Vegetables to Harvest in Winter

Although many plants wither during winter, you don’t have to worry about your crops. You ought to plan appropriately to have adequate plants during this season. Although frost can add flavor to your winter crops, they still need protection from extreme cold. Reading labels helps.

Soil is a crucial factor when it comes to growing winter vegetables. You ought to keep the soil warm for the plants to thrive. If you live in a very cold environment, don’t let the soil freeze because growth slows as temperatures lower. There are also useful resources, such as homemakerguide.com  with excellent information.

 

Best Vegetables to Grow in Winter

Now that you know that plants can thrive in winter, you ought to understand which ones to grow. The following list contains vegetables that do well in the cold season:

 

Onions and Shallots

Did you know that onions and shallots are winter crops? Green onions and shallots thrive well in cold and rainy seasons. You can plant the onions from cuttings or seedlings. The good thing about onions is that you can grow all types and species during winter.

 

Kale

kale - best winter crops

Kale is an awesome winter vegetable, and some species have been known to withstand even more harsh conditions. This crop can grow in low-temperature soils as well as during the hot seasons. Kale is one of those vegetables which taste better after exposure to cold.

 

Parsley

Salad lovers know how much parsley makes the dish taste good. It can be tasteless to eat your favorite salad without parsley; however, this is a winter vegetable, and it thrives in the cold. In fact, it is an all year-round crop.

 

Garlic

Garlic tastes better in winter. Ensure that you sow your garlic during fall so the bulbs can grow during winter. You can plant any species of garlic because they all thrive in winter; that is why they are known as winter crops.

 

Lettuce

Which are the best vegetables to grow during winter? You ought to consider lettuce, which thrives when grown in the shade. It can also sprout in the ground or a pot. You can either plant the leafy varieties or focus on the butter crunch type. The leafy type thrives so well and produces large succulent leaves during winter.

 

Spinach

If you have are an expert in crops, you know that planting spinach can be quiet challenging because they attract a lot of pests. However, it is crucial to remember that most pests hide during winter, this means you can plant and enjoy your Spinach. All spinach species grow during winter.

 

Peas

Did you know that peas are also winter crops? You can grow a variety of peas species, and they grow well during this season. You can also sow during spring to enjoy your crops in winter or to harvest before others.

 

Carrots

carrots - best winter crops

Carrots taste better in winter because their flavor improves as the temperatures go down. Start planting your carrots in summer and practice mulching to prevent freezing. Remove the mulch when harvesting and enjoy your carrots.

 

Asparagus

Asparagus are the ideal winter vegetables to grow, especially if you have adequate space. You can create a permanent Asparagus bed during autumn. An asparagus crown produces around 25 buds a year, and they continue to sprout for 25 years.

 

Issues that can Arise

Although not all plants do well during winter, the ones that do might not flourish when neglected. Some leafy crops might start bolting when under stress. You also need to protect your cabbages from pests such as caterpillars.

Some vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts can easily develop club roots. Flea beetles love leafy vegetables. Also, be aware of snails and slugs which destroy seedlings and leaves.

 

Conclusion

Winter is a time when most plants stop growing or whither; however, some crops withstand this climate and even taste better. You can start growing your winter crops in autumn or summer. The best thing about winter vegetables is that you can grow a variety of species, and they will all flourish. Although these plants do well in the cold climate, you ought to care for them.

The Complete Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens

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raising backyard chickens

In recent years, keeping a chicken coop in the backyard has risen from the realm of the bizarre, through the slightly eccentric, and into the almost banal. Concurrent with the proliferation of the chickens themselves has been the proliferation of online articles about keeping them, a cavalcade of information that ranges from the genuinely helpful to the overwhelmingly technical to the downright false.

While it’s easy to get lost in the weeds, the actual must-know information needed to start a successful flock is delightfully straightforward, and is detailed below.    

Choosing Your Chickens

backyard chickens

Probably the first (and most important) decision any prospective chicken owner needs to make is what breed(s) of backyard chickens they’re going to raise. At first glance, this might seem like a fairly simple, binary choice between layers (for eggs) or broilers (for meat), but chickens have actually been bred into a dizzying array of options, which vary by purpose, productivity, personality, breed history, size, color, and hardiness, as well as a variety of other characteristics.

Most first-timers, though, only really need to worry about a few of these potential variables; considerations like finding a rare or historic breed or building a particularly striking flock can come in later – the same way parents teach their teens to drive in the family station wagon before they get behind the wheel of a vintage sports car. 

People looking to build their first, “station wagon” flock will need to consider first and foremost the purpose and productivity of their backyard chickens: Are they building a flock of layers or broilers? Or do they want dual-purpose birds – productive egg layers that are also good meat birds if needed? How many eggs a week do they want from their birds?

Although egg production varies by individual and can be influenced by factors like diet and living conditions, some breeds tend to be more productive than others; some average two eggs a week, others six.

“Production” strains, bred, as the name suggests, for high egg production, will tend to be at the higher end of this spectrum, while historic heritage breeds are more likely to lay eggs less frequently, but over a longer period of time.

As a general rule, birds will produce (and live) longer if they’re producing eggs at a lower volume. 

Coops and Runs 

After choosing what kind of birds they want, chicken keepers will have to think about where they want to house them. The chicken coop, as a concept, should be familiar from Foghorn Leghorn, and while there are now a lot more choices in materials and appearance beyond “small wooden house with a gabled roof,” the design specs of the interior have remained pretty constant.

If the chickens have a run or other place to move around outside, they’ll need four square feet of space per bird; if they don’t get their exercise outside, they’ll need 10 square feet apiece. (Of course, these specs vary by breed as well: Brahmas are the Great Danes of the chicken world and will definitely need extra space, while small bantam birds can get by with less.) 

Building the chicken coop

In terms of furniture, the main requirements for a chicken coop are perches – high places where the birds can sit and sleep for the night – and nesting boxes – boxes full of straw, wood shavings, or another soft material where the birds can lay their eggs.

The perches, which can be as simple as a 2×4 nailed to some posts, should always be higher up than the nesting boxes, because chickens will always sleep in the highest available spot – a defense against predators – and hens sleeping in nesting boxes is a recipe for a nasty cleaning job.

Luckily, perches and nesting boxes are often included with the coop, but feeders and waterers are not. There are a variety of different kinds of these, all with their own benefits and drawbacks; trough feeders, for instance, are ideal for chicks and bantam birds. The rule of thumb for feeders and waterers is to have at least one for every eight birds in the flock.  

Besides the coop, most chicken owners will also want a run, a fenced-in outdoor area where the chickens can move around and get their exercise. Here again, the space requirements will vary by breed, but a flock of standard birds will likely need 15 square feet of space each.

Many pre-fab coops come with their own run attachments, but for people who want to build their own, it’s usually as simple as calculating how much space the birds need and enclosing it with a fence.  

Mistakes to Avoid 

Of course, keeping backyard chickens requires more than just purchasing the necessary equipment, and once the initial serotonin rush of cradling adorable chicks is over, there are a number of pitfalls first-timers might stumble into. 

The first is failing to account for predators; this is particularly common amongst urban and suburban chicken keepers, who tend to forget they share their space with wild animals. To keep out skunks and other burrowers, all fences and walls around the backyard chickens should be sunk at least 12 inches into the ground.

Aerial predators – mostly hawks – can be deterred with commercial predator deterrents, but also by hanging something shiny around the coop that will move in the wind, like old CDs or reflective tape. 

Another thing first-timers tend to forget is that their birds need more than just chicken feed; they also have nutritional needs that can only be met by supplements.

The first of these is insoluble grit, which takes the place of the dirt and small pebbles a bird would digest in the wild to help grind up and digest their food. The second is calcium carbonate, which gives hens the nutrients they need to put strong shells on their eggs

While these aren’t the only things a prospective chicken keeper needs to know, they’re a good first step on the long, delightful, sometimes exhausting, ultimately rewarding adventure of chicken keeping. 

The Future of Cleaning the Ocean

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The ocean is a beautiful place that houses a lot of the world’s wildlife and crucial to our everyday lives. Unfortunately, our ocean has long been a victim of pollution and waste. Plastics and microplastics are major contaminants in the ocean. Animals mistake plastic and other waste as food and this ocean trash takes a long time to break down. When they do, they release toxic chemicals into the ocean.

Improper waste removal is another culprit of our polluted oceans and communities. For example, cooking oil can cause a lot of damage if it isn’t properly disposed. Tossing it down the sink can ruin local sewage. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites many other awful side effects like forming toxic products and clogging water treatment plants.

There are many ways to combat ocean pollution at home. We can look for creative ways to reuse packaging instead of throwing it away. If we’re able to, we can try to go zero-waste (or, as zero-waste as possible!) to minimize the garbage we produce.

Slowing and eventually stopping the flow of trash into the ocean makes a big difference. However, there’s still much to do about the waste already floating in the ocean. Many inventors have come up with inventive ways to tackle our ocean’s trash problem. Florida Panhandle rounded up a list of amazing ways we’re cleaning the ocean.

Take a look at their infographic below to learn more.

ocean-cleanup-compressed

 

How to Compost at Home

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Nearly 25% of all solid waste in U.S. households come from the kitchen. Composting allows you to reuse some of those kitchen scraps and transform them into healthy soil feeder for your plants and garden. 

Starting a compost pile is a great at-home project, especially now that we are all spending more time at home. You can fully customize your compost pile or bin to meet your home’s needs. If you live in an apartment with no yard, an indoor vermicomposting bin may be for you. If you do have a yard with extra space or access to a community garden, you can set up a compost pile in six easy steps! 

Below, we’ll walk you through how to set up a compost pile and detail what materials you can use in your compost, and which you should skip. 

Compost this, not that 

Even dirt can be picky about its food. While tossing scraps into a compost pile is a great alternative to the trash can, not every piece of waste in your kitchen should head in that direction. 

There are two types of ingredients that make for great compost: browns and greens. Brown ingredients are those that are rich in carbon whereas green ingredients are those that are rich in nitrogen. You’ll want a greater ratio of browns to greens in your compost (3:1). 

If you aren’t careful with what you compost, a rotten egg smell may appear. This is a sign that decomposition is being slowed down. Even worse, if you add diseased plants and weeds you run the risk of poisoning your compost and the future plants and yard you sprinkle it on. 

Our free printable details what you can and can’t compost. Follow this link to print this at home and hang it above your compost bin in your kitchen. 

compost at home

Brown compost materials:

  • Dead leaves
  • Egg shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Branches and twigs 

Green compost materials:

  • Loose tea and tea bags
  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Old flowers
  • Coffee grounds and filters

Materials to avoid

  • Cooking oils
  • Diseased plants and weeds
  • Meat and dairy
  • Citrus fruit peels
  • Coal or charcoal ash

Setting up an outdoor compost pile  

While you can compost indoors, the most popular way to compost is by setting up an outdoor pile. This keeps all the smells and decomposition out of your home and in the outdoors! 

Start an outdoor compost pile today with these simple steps: 

Decide where to put your compost pile: 

Whether you plan to set up your compost pile in your own yard or in a community garden, you’ll want to choose a spot that gets natural shade. Bonus points if you can find a space that is close to a water source so you can easily add moisture to your pile with a hose. 

You can start your compost pile directly on the earth or build a compost bin using pallets to contain it. There are also compost tumblers available for purchase. 

Collect your scraps: 

In order to have organic materials to add to your compost, you’ll need to collect your scraps over a series of days or weeks. Set up a small compost bin, similar to a trash can, with a lid in your home to save your scraps in. Don’t keep this inside for more than 5-7 days or it may start to smell! 

Add brown and green layers: 

Once you’ve collected your scraps, you’ll need to organize them into brown and green layers. Most of your kitchen scraps will be green layers, whereas brown layers are traditionally made up of things you find in your yard such as leaves and sticks. 

Start with your brown layer first. Remember that your carbon-to-nitrogen ratio should be 3:1, so your brown layers should be 3x every green layer. Begin layering your compost materials. 

Use water in your compost: 

Another ingredient for a thriving compost is water! You’ll want to add moisture to your pile but you don’t want to make your pile soggy, so just a few hose sprays should do. A soggy pile can slow down decomposition and start to smell like rotten eggs. 

Aerate your compost: 

Every four to seven days you’ll want to turn your pile to aerate your compost. You can do this easily with a shovel, or a compost tumbler lets you turn it. After a few weeks of aeration your compost should begin to feel warm and steamy–this is a sign that decomposition is taking place! 

Use your compost as soil feeder

Once your compost has been decomposing for two to four months, it should be ready for use! Most of the organic material should be broken down into a crumbly and earthy smelling compost that looks like topsoil. Now it’s time to sprinkle it on your yard as soil feeder or in nearby pots and plants to help them grow! 

For even more ways to compost at home and ideas for how to use your compost check out out this visual from The Zebra below! 

how-to-compost-at-home

10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

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Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Home Cool

Summertime is here, and you’re ready for sun and fun.  Wait — was that an audible groan from the “Great, here comes the insane AC bills” crowd? It’s not amusing when you see your utility bills creep upward, and all that energy use doesn’t do the planet any favors. 

What are some Eco-friendly ways you can keep your home cool this summer? Here are ten ideas that will help you save money and the planet without getting too steamy. 

 

Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Home Cool

Install Ceiling Fans

Have you ever uttered an audible “ahh” when the breeze picks up on a sultry summer day? Everyone has. Ceiling fans keep the air circulating in your home if you get the right variety.

In general, the bigger, the better when it comes to blades. That’s because these devices only work if you can feel the air on your skin. Otherwise, the motor heats the room a negligible amount. 

 

Hang Blackout Curtains

If you’ve returned to working outside the home, sunlight streams through uncovered windows all day. This solar heat makes your air conditioner run double duty to keep your pet goldfish comfortable. Buy blackout curtains for the windows that receive the most sunlight and close them before you leave each morning to save money and the planet.

 

Apply Reflective Film

Maybe you plan to continue working from home, and you don’t want your office to resemble a cave. Reflective window tinting lets you see out while preventing miscreants from viewing your home’s interior — meaning they can’t case your joint to scope out your new cache of equipment. As a bonus, this substance helps prevent fading and sun damage to furniture, fabrics and flooring. 

 

Go for Awnings

If you have windows that receive full sun for most of the day, even the best protective coatings won’t mitigate the entire solar effect. However, you can install awnings over these windows to cut down on the glare. Another option? You can build that wraparound porch of your dreams and include a roof that keeps the glass shaded. 

 

Plant Some Shade 

Another way to cool your home naturally is to plant bushes or trees for shades, but you must do so strategically. Safety experts recommend keeping shrubbery near your home trimmed to no higher than two to three feet to deter thieves who seek cover to break-in. You can plant shade trees, but cut the bottom seven feet of branches as they grow to keep miscreants from climbing to a second-story window. 

 

Insulate Your Attic

Attics are known for getting hot— heat rises, after all. Temperatures are considered dangerous, though, once they rise above 90 degrees. It is very likely that on a hot day, your attic will be 90 degrees or higher, so installing insulation in your attic can help make your attic safer to enter. Insulation keeps out excess heat, as well as cold. It costs relatively little to install, plus, you’ll also save money on your winter heating bills. Talk about a win-win. 

 

Close Windows During the Day 

Maybe you think, “If I leave the windows open, the breeze will blow through. On temperate days with low humidity, this trick works. However, if you live in a humid area or the thermometer tops 90 degrees, you are letting all that ickiness in, which then taxes your AC unit when you get home. Instead, keep your windows closed, as it will keep the inside of your home somewhat temperate like a cave. 

 

Cook Outdoors

Running the oven and even using the stove can heat your kitchen quickly. If you have a smaller apartment, it could raise the temperature of your indoors significantly. Since summer is the grilling season, take your cooking outside. You don’t have to eat a burger if you’re a vegan — you can make a grilled romaine salad with the help of propane.

 

Dehumidify the Air 

If you live in a coastal region, you know the meaning of the saying, “It’s not the heat — it’s the humidity.” A dehumidifier sucks excess water out of the air, making you feel several degrees cooler. As a bonus, these devices help to combat mold and mildew growth making this one of the most effective Eco-friendly ways to keep your home cool.

 

Add a Gentle Mist 

On the other hand, if you live in the desert southwest, you see mister systems on outdoor patios everywhere for a good reason. When the outdoor air is plain old hot, water does the trick to cool you. Installing such a system on your patio can make barbecues much more comfortable. For indoor use, a small aromatherapy diffuser can provide a refreshing mist. 

 

Keep Your Home Cool the Eco-Friendly Way This Summer

If you want to keep your home cool without running up giant energy bills and destroying the planet, look no further than these ten tips. You’ll breeze through your summer while barely breaking a sweat.

10 Ways to Lower Your Energy Use While Working from Home

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how to lower energy use

Working from home is a great way to use less energy daily. No commute, no food waste after going out to lunch and less time spent getting ready in the morning. However, remote work can still use a significant amount of energy, even if you never leave your home office for the majority of the day.

From being aware of phantom power to hanging your laundry on a clothesline, here are ten ways to lower your energy use while working from home. 

 

Shorten Your Morning Routine

Most people tend to work better if they prepare for working at home in the same way they would for going into the office. While wearing your pajamas all day might be tempting, odds are it won’t help your productivity.

However, if you aren’t required to be in any meetings, you can spend less time getting ready. Your hair dryer alone uses 1440 watts of power. In comparison, your computer only uses around 92.

 

Prep Your Meals

Meal prep not only saves you time and money, but it’s also energy efficient. Cutting down on the amount of time you use the oven saves electricity, and can lead to a lower energy bill. By planning meals in advance, you’ll have enough food for the week and use less power.

 

Unplug Unnecessary Devices

Devices and appliances that are always plugged in use more power than we may think. Household electronics account for 25% of total energy usage in the average American household. Televisions, stereos, microwaves and air conditioners continue to draw power when they’re off. To save energy, only plug in necessary devices during the day and leave the rest unplugged.

 

Open the Windows

Lower Your Energy Use - windows

Depending on your local climate, opening the windows can be an excellent way to regulate temperature and purify stale indoor air. Inside air quality can be surprisingly unhealthy, where average Americans spend 90% of their lives. Weather- and temperature-dependent, opening the windows may be an easy way to see a lower electric bill.

 

Work More Efficiently

If your work schedule allows, boosting productivity may save you money. Unless you have a certain number of hours required in your daily schedule, increasing efficiency results in less time spent on the computer, which saves energy. If you rely on high-quality internet, working during certain hours may cut down on your electricity bills, too.

 

Use Energy Savers

Check out energy-saving apps, use sleep mode when possible and turn off devices when they’re not in use. Be aware that screensavers often use energy, and you may need to adjust some settings so that your computer powers off instead of continuing to drain energy.

 

Turn Down the Thermostat

Studies show you can save 6% of your energy bill by turning down the thermostat by one degree. If you live in an environment with different seasons, wear a warm sweater during the colder months and set up space fans during the hotter ones. If your work from home employment doesn’t require a dress code, dressing for your climate can be an easy way to save energy. 

 

Air Dry Your Clothes

Lower Your Energy Use - clothes

Air drying your clothes is a fantastic way to reduce energy use. If you work from home, you may have a little extra time to set up a new system.

Whether you opt for an outside clothesline or an indoor clothes rack, there are several options available to fit your needs. If you commit to only running the dryer for necessities, you may be surprised how much money you’ll save.

 

Run a Full Load of Laundry

On the topic of laundry, be efficient with each load. If you work from home, you’re probably less inclined to wash one pair of pants for an important networking event or a company meeting. Remote work may allow you more time to plan when you do laundry and structure your schedule accordingly. Running a full load not only reduces energy use but also saves water, making it eco-friendly. 

 

Invest in a Smart Power Strip

If you have a home office setup, you may already use a power strip to connect all of your devices. Investing in a smart power strip that’s programmed to lower power based on usage might be a great idea to save energy that you don’t even realize you’re losing.

 

Making Remote Work Eco-Friendly

Working from home is a great way to save energy, lower transportation costs and reduce pollution. Taking a few extra steps towards decreasing energy use at home can save money on utility bills, too. With a few easy changes, you can lower your power usage without needing to make any major investments.

Small Garden Design Ideas

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small garden designs

Small gardens might be compact but they’re also cozy and inspiring. You can make the most of your available outdoor space with nothing more than some minor small garden design tricks. Tiny patios, backyards, and balconies can be creatively transformed into lush-green leisure retreats and modern plant growing areas. 

Discover some visionary ideas on how to design your own mini paradise and allow it to become the favorite part of your home! Whether you plan on cultivating edibles, growing flowers and herbs, or shrubs and trees, your limited garden capacity should not be an issue. 

In this article, we have gathered and listed some creative design ideas & solutions for small gardens that would freshen up and improve your outdoor space:

 

Choose a Purpose

Before you start rearranging your open garden, you need to consider its potential. Make sure to evaluate its area coverage and mind available environmental conditions. Factors like sunlight, humidity, heat, airflow, and seasonal changes in the local climate are vital not only when choosing the greenery for your mini garden. They also need to be taken into account in regards to the type of outdoor space you want to create and maintain.

 

Leisure

small garden design

Small leisure areas surely spice up your life, because you basically have a hideaway spot surrounded by nature at your own house/apartment. It’s a place where you can relax, chill, read a book and just have a break after a stressful day. You can also spend quality time with your family or invite your friends over for a hangout. Make the most of a tiny outdoor space by adding the entertainment factor in it. 

Such a leisure design includes furniture like lounges, benches, hammocks, as well as homey decorations, vertical garden installments, evergreen crops, potted plants, vine walls taking minimum space. To make it even better, you can introduce certain activity amusements into the concept.

 

Food Growing

If your general idea is to grow your own food, do not hesitate to freely use the open area as a farming ground. A lot of edibles could develop perfectly healthy in a pot. Just make sure you provide the greens with enough water, heat, nutrition, and lighting – and your garden would thrive

There are many ways to make a mini home-grown plantation work, without overcrowding and suffocating the plants. In fact, tiny balconies and compact backyards are the perfect set up for an impressive fruit or vegetable garden. Considering the small available space, you can start growing edibles in vertical containers, arrange your pots on shelves or situate them on the window sills to cultivate herbs and berries.

 

How to Design a Small Garden Beautifully?

small garden design ideas

It’s safe to say that small gardens come with lots of advantages. They can unleash your creative spirit, inspire new arrangements, and the best part is tiny spaces are simply low maintenance.

The possibilities for an impressive design are endless. The furniture, plant choice, and decor enhancement are playing a big role in setting up the vibe of the place. Make sure to decorate the open area depending on the style goal you have set for your garden.

Here are a few tips and tricks to make the task easier and make the most of your outdoor space:

 

Think Vertically

One of the most efficient ways to increase the capacity of your garden is to vertically implement shelves and ornaments on the nearby walls or fence panels. Optimal usage of vertical space ensures you would be able to enjoy lush surroundings and furnish your outdoor retreat without unnecessary area restriction.

The setting up of a vertical garden requires level shelving, smart usage of initial wall structures, or sometimes installment of vertical grow modules. With such decorative implementations, small pots, containers, and baskets could easily be stored on the wall or hang down from a shade ceiling.

Another vertical strategy encourages pot planting of climbing plants, situated under a bare balcony railing or yard fence. Such greens would get attached to the railed structure and would keep on growing alongside it, freeing up a lot of space in your garden and granting you some partial privacy.

living wall

Living walls of vines or trellises are also an amazing addition to any residential garden. These impressive textured plantings could freshen up any limited space and are perfect to cover-up old or cracked facades, as well as shabby outdated structures. Their modern and minimalist look makes an urban outdoor space homey and cozy, as it implies a sense of comfort and gives out a close-to-nature vibe. Make sure to set a good base for the plants to climb. For superb end results, the whole facade should be covered by climbing panels.

 

Keep the Furniture Along the Perimeter

Designing your outdoor area into a hangout location requires a few simple things. First, you have to keep the central parts of the garden clear, in order to have enough space for group entertainment. With that in mind, all furniture and greenery should be situated along the perimeter.

Arrangement of the furniture has an enormous impact on how the outdoor area is perceived. Objects of interest like grills, hammocks, dining spots, games, toys, pet houses, armchairs, and benches should be located at the edges of your garden. Place them against walls and railings, or simply put them alongside in between greenery.

In case your space is awfully limited, try to look for alternative furnishings like half-sized tables and foldable chairs. Another solution is zoning the garden out, separating it into tiny different sections. It’s easy to maintain a spacing illusion thanks to various decor options like rugs and plant ornaments. You can also achieve it if by placing light-colored furniture next to a brick wall or paved area.

 

Use the Corners

Optimization of garden space stands for utilizing the full lot potential. In order to do that, you have to apply the corner strategy of furniture placement. In simple words – situating the outdoor items on the edges of your garden. It not only creates more space in the central area but also visibility makes your yard or balcony look bigger.

The corner of an urban garden is a real gem. There are many amazing possibilities to transform it:

  • Turn it into a plant paradise. Corners work great with plant displays, shelves, and modules. You can create a green paradise that would improve your mood and leave your guests speechless;
  • Create a cozy pet retreat. Your pet would love to have their own kennel space, where it can chill and play with all its toys;
  • Make it a grill space. Utilize your corner by making it a fun place to hang out and make BBQ;
  • Situate corner seating and a dining table. Such a seating efficiently saves a lot of space and is very popular amongst interior enthusiasts who work on projects for small packed places;
  • Place a bench, sofa or armchair. Turn your garden corner into a place of relaxation, you can further decorate with cushions, lanterns, and blankets.

 

Get Creative with the Seating Places

Every private urban garden needs at least one zone for dining, entertainment or chill out. All these sectors always require relevant lounge and seat options, so why not get creative? We have a few seating ideas that could significantly improve the environment of your patio, yard or terrace.

Extra seats are always a plus, especially when you have guests. One of the best ways to always be ready to accommodate more people is investing in foldable chairs or stack up seating. Another option is to buy big floor cushions that could be piled up when you do not use them. They are easy to store as they do not take much space.

 

Plant in Pots

potted plant

A great garden does not always include ground planting or a lawn. Thanks to planters, concrete beds, and pots, it’s easy to maintain a lush healthy outdoor area at home. Almost every small and medium-sized plant could be cultivated and grown on your own balcony or deck (flowers, herbs, edibles, vines, trees, and shrubs). 

As most small gardens have free space issues, vertical installations are here to save the day. Consider placing your potted greenery on a ladder or windowsill to showcase them, or just mount some shelves on the walls to arrange them. With vertical placements, you can get as creative as you wish! 

How the Air is Getting Cleaner with People on Lockdown

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air is getting cleaner

It’s been pretty clear for some time that humans have been doing more harm to this planet than any other species. With the technological advances and our fast-paced lives, transportation has become a necessity of this era but also a huge factor contributing to pollution.

If we look at the first immediate consequences of the Covid19 pandemic, we’ll see that the air is getting cleaner, and so is the planet.

 

Why the Quality of Air Matters

According to the Health Effects Institute (HEI), the report of State of Global Air 2019 declared that air pollution is the fifth leading cause of deaths worldwide and it is no surprise that road transport has taken the lead in being its highest contributor. 

As people remain at home with reduced mobility, air quality keeps improving and finding a way back to normality. Strict global lockdowns result in reduced dependency on transport, less fuel combustion and drastic decrease in greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere.

If this situation lasts, we might experience an atmosphere as clean, or at least nearly as clean as the one that our forefathers used to live in.

People in every corner of the world continue to feel the ripples of the pandemic. Urban life has practically come to a standstill. Many roads that were once too busy to drive have now turned into empty vessels.

Work from home policies have diminished the need for public transport and transit systems, at the same time proving that there are ways for businesses to operate effectively and with reduced impact on the environment.

It may be a strong nudge which we needed to realize that our daily practices require a change. 

 

The Sky over the Dirtiest Cities Clearing Up

Many places around the globe are showing massive improvements in terms of lessening the levels of air pollutants. Wuhan, China, the alleged source of the novel coronavirus, saw a 49% decrease in air pollution. In South Korea, Seoul, the reduction was 54%.

India’s capital New Delhi can see clear skies after many years, with a drastic 60% drop in air pollution. Other major cities around the world like Los Angeles showed reduction by 31% in the month of March while London showed 50% reductions in nitrogen dioxide (N02) during their lock-down period.

Another uplifting fact for the environmentally-conscious is that this decrease in air pollution has led to 11% rise in ozone layer levels that haven’t been seen in decades. These results come from researchers around the San Francisco Bay Area after analysis of the ozone layer. Similar improvement in the ozone seems to occur in other countries too.

According to the study done by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people who are exposed to a particulate matter of air pollution called PM2.5, produced from the exhaust of transport and industries, are at higher risk of contracting Covid19. This means that places with high levels of air pollution are more prone to the disease than cleaner areas.

It is a major eye opener for all of us that if we want to control this global pandemic and prevent similar outbreaks in the future, we need to take stringent protective measures.

 

The Next Steps Towards Healthier Living

Now the question that emerges is what will happen after the pandemic is over. Will we go back to the same old practices? Will governments make efforts to keep the levels of pollution low? Can the environment still flourish with human activity?

Such issues should be addressed soon. Policy makers should find ways to implement cleaner transport solutions with minimum fuel consumption as well as look towards more eco-friendly solutions like renewable power sources

On our part, we can opt for simple options like walking, riding bicycles or electric scooters, switching to hybrid or electric cars or carpooling. There are many options to lower our carbon footprint individually. If we combine our efforts with responsible policies on a global level, sustainable living may become a reality and our future generations may get the healthy environment that they deserve.

Waste To Energy Technologies to Watch in 2020

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waste to energy

The worldwide waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies market is expected to grow by 6.54% by 2025. WTE can be described as a process of using organic waste material into heat or electricity, which is used to power vehicles while saving the environment at the same time. 

The primary reason that WTE technology is so popular is the fact that it converts solid waste substances – including paper and plastic – into energy, cost-effectively and sustainably. 

Improper waste removal negatively impacts the environment and has made it difficult for nations to meet the goals and objectives for sustainable urban living. Not only this, but high waste production also increases our dependence on non-fossil fuel energy sources is another leading factor responsible for the emergence of the WTE market. 

If you are an environmental enthusiast, here are the top 10 waste-to-energy technology trends that you should watch. 

 

Top 10 Waste-To-Energy Technology Trends 2020

Dominance Of Thermal-Based WTE

Mass burn combustion facilities have existed for decades and their demand is still high. Thermal WTE technologies dominate the market and expected to maintain position moving forward. In 2013, thermal-based waste-to-energy technologies accounted for 88.2% of total market revenue. The primary reason is the massive amount of waste generated each month.

Development in gasification and incineration technologies has made it possible to operate large-scale thermal combustion facilities while minimizing polluting emissions. The straightforward process makes the technology highly appropriate for producing energy. With over 100 facilities in the US and many more in Asia and Europe, thermal-based combustion is the top choice for companies. For example, the University of New Hemisphere recently launched the EcoLine waste-to-energy facility.

 

Threats From Renewable Energy Sources 

Well established renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro form a barrier to the development of WTE plants. Furthermore, the cost of setting up thermal waste-to-energy facilities is much higher. As such, it discourages new participants.

The primary thermal technologies are direct combustion, pyrolysis, plasma arc gasification, and conventional gasification. The cost varies for each facility based on the differences in the technology and the requirement of a unique design, features, equipment, and site space. Apart from this, other factors influence the cost of construction. 

 

High Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) 

All kinds of environmental pollution caused by the growing population and commercial activities in urban areas contribute to high municipal solid waste (MSW) driving the waste-to-energy market.

According to international environmental experts, thermal-based conversion of waste to energy will lead the growing economies, especially in Asia Pacific region were ecological protection concerns are more serious.

Factors such as heightened economic development, construction, and industrialization also support the production of municipal solid waste and influence the demand for thermal-based waste-to-energy technologies.  

 

Emergence Of Biological Technologies

Biological technologies convert waste to energy in more Eco-friendly way compared to thermal based ones. The market segment for biological techniques is growing at an estimated compound annual growth rate of 9.7% in the last six years.

Considering this background, biological technologies are more appreciated by environmental experts, and the segment is likely to penetrate the market. 

 

Asia-Pacific To Rule The Market

The amount of solid waste generation globally will increase to ten billion metric tons within the next ten years. Out of this, almost 25% of waste is estimated to be produced by the Asia-Pacific region only.

As mentioned earlier, the primary cause of high waste material production is high consumption by households, rising urban population, and industrialization activities making Asia-Pacific dominate the market.  

 

Advancements In Globalization 

Environmental pollution keeps growing at an unprecedented rate in both developing and developed countries.

Globalization and foreign direct investment have spurred the growth of transnational economic activities, including travel and tourism – two sectors that generate tonnes of waste. To make these industries sustainable, there’s need to leverage advanced waste to energy technologies.

Some of the leading names in the global waste-to-energy market include C&E Environmental Protection Holding Ltd., Foster Wheeler A.G., Suez Environment S.A., Babock & Wilcox Co., and Veolia Environment. All have improvised their operational processes with the help of technologies. Such innovative technologies enables them to reduce installation costs and achieve operational efficiency.

 

Upcoming Utility-Scale Plants 

Most of the utility-scale plants are based in the US, China, Europe, Abu Dhabi, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and India. In 2013, Europe accounted for a total of 47.6% of the total market revenue and labelled as the most prominent regional market.

Other than high industrial waste, a driving factor was the EU Waste Legislation. The characteristics on which local markets are identified is the adoption of waste-to-energy technology by countries such as the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. 

 

Hydrothermal Carbonization Waste-To-Energy Technology

Geothermal conversion of liquid waste is relatively a slow process, but upcoming waste-to-energy technologies. Emerging technology is Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC) specially designed for transformation of wet biomass feedstock through heat. Acid at high pressure is used as a catalyst to speed up the process and stimulate the generation of hydro-char. 

The significant benefit is its low processing time while the conditions and circumstances in which this process is executed are similar to older ones. The properties of hydro-char are identical to that of fossil fuels, and this technology produces the same amount of energy. The best thing about this waste-to-energy conversion technology is that it is not dependent on any kind of energy input. 

 

Emergence Of Dendro Liquid Energy (DLE) 

Experts consider Dendro Liquid Energy (DLE) four times more efficient in generating electricity than anaerobic digestion (AD). 

It’s an innovation in the global waste-to-energy technologies market because it produces zero waste. Additionally, zero-emission discharge makes the plant facilities contaminated and unfit for operations. With the adoption of this zero-waste technology innovation in Germany, market participants expect better opportunities in the future. 

 

Incineration as a waste-to-energy technology

Incineration is the oldest and well-known technique for treating and processing municipal solid waste. However, this waste-to-energy technology is not without limitations. It’s biggest drawback is the high cost of operation and maintenance, making it unfit for waste-to-energy conversion activities. There were 700 incinerators in 1930 in the US. 

But the number decreased to only 265 by 1996 due to the technical problems caused by air emissions. Furthermore, the emissions pose a threat to human health. Continuous exposure can cause severe respiratory problems and lung diseases. 

Ignorance and high-cost perception by the public inhibits the grow of this technology in the waste-to-energy market.

However, with the advancement of technologies, plant owners can adopt standard operating procedures for washing the flue gas stream. It is considered a significant improvement in environmental sustainability. 

 

Growing Environmental Issues

Waste incinerator technological interference disrupts the waste management and the entire waste stream. Instead of preventing waste generation, these systems continuously produce waste and inhibit waste prevention practices. The pollutants if trapped in the system, need particular landfills for proper disposal. 

If the machine handler attempts to recover the energy, heat exchanges would be required which operates at even higher temperatures and stimulate greater dioxin production. This intervention is against all the five waste management principles (e.g. reuse, recycle, reduce, waste minimization, and landfill). Environmental experts consider it a costly mechanism that creates fewer jobs compared to conventional recycling-based businesses. 

 

Negative Impact On Human Health 

While there are several advantages that humans can achieve from waste-to-energy, drawbacks abound. First, the incineration systems release several kinds of pollutants damaging to both humans and marine life. 

While new waste incineration systems are extremely expensive, they cannot control the emission of toxic metals and acidic gases completely. 

The most harmful Persistent Organic Pollutant (POPs) is dioxin which can cause malignant growth, neurological syndromes, reproductive issues, lung diseases, and thyroid damage. 

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), incinerators are the most significant source of dioxin. The toxins can affect different people in different ways:

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), incinerators are the most significant source of dioxin. The toxins can affect different people in different ways:

  1. By consuming the food or beverages from the street stalls that have been contaminated by the air pollutants.
  2. People who work in the plant or live are more vulnerable to inhale the air polluted by the waste incinerators.
  3. By eating a fish or any marine animal affected with pollutants. Waste incinerators have failed to eliminate the need for a landfill as they also produce ash and toxic residues which need to be dumped off properly.

 

Financial Impacts

In all the developed economies, more than half of the total waste-to-energy technology investment is used for control systems that reduce harmful emissions such as cadmium, dioxins, lead, mercury, and other volatile organic compounds. A single incinerator of 2000 MT capacity can cost up to $500 million.

Another factor that makes the combustion process uneconomical and polluting is the need for adding auxiliary fuel to convert massive amounts of garbage. On average, developing countries produce trash with a calorific value of 800 Cal per kg, which is not enough. Combustion technologies work perfectly with a minimum calorific value of 2500 Cal/kg fuel.

 

Conclusion

It is increasingly essential to adopt alternative methods like waste-to-energy technologies for the appropriate disposal of garbage and converting it into something useful like electricity or heat. We are in dire need of low-cost solutions, but it shouldn’t be based on compromising human health and environment safety.

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