HOW TO SAVE ON YOUR WATER BILL

When trying to save money on your household bills you may come to a point when you feel like you cannot save anymore. Look again and think about trying to save on your water bill. There are many little tricks that you can do to help you save when you feel like there is no room for improvement. Try these helpful hints and come back in a month or two and let me know if your water bill has dropped.

In The Kitchen

  1. When cleaning fruits and veggies save your water and use to water your houseplants.
  2. Run the dishwasher only when it is completely full.
  3. Let your frozen foods defrost in the fridge overnight instead of using the running cold water method.
  4. When washing the dishes fill your first sink half full with hot soapy water and your second sink half full with hot rinse water. Do not stand there and leave the water running full blast the whole time you are washing dishes. This uses more water than you think.
  5. Keep a pitcher filled with water in your refrigerator for drinking water instead of running the tap every time you need a drink.
  6. Use the least amount of water when boiling something in the kitchen. Drain and reserve this water and use it to water your houseplants or outdoor potted plants.
  7. The garbage disposal in the kitchen can use a ton of water. Use it sparingly or better yet start composting!

In the Bathroom

  1. Take shorter showers…shortening them even by a few minutes can help you save on your water bill.
  2. Check your toilet for leaks by adding food coloring to the toilet tank. If a leak is present you should see it in the bowl within 30 minutes. Fixing these leaks is fairly simple; just ask your local hardware store for help.
  3. Don’t let your water run down the drain while waiting for the water to get hot. Put the stopper in immediately and adjust the hot water after it starts filling up a bit. Filling the bath up only 1/3 of the way will make a big difference when trying to save on your water bill.
  4. Partially fill the sink instead of letting the water run while shaving or washing your face.
  5. Cut down on the number of times that you flush the toilet. Use the trash can for toilet paper that is used for blowing your nose or wiping up spills instead of flushing them.

In the Laundry Room

  1. Consider buying a water-conserving front loading washing machine.
  2. Make sure you adjust the water level to the amount of clothes you have in the washing machine or better yet only wash clothes when you have a full load.
  3. Try re-using your towels when bathing. Keep a different color for each member of your household and have them hang it to dry in between uses.
  4. Keep your hot water heater on a little cooler setting. This may not save you in the water department but can drastically cut down on your energy bill.

Outside

  1. Collect rainwater to water your plants. Use a barrel or bucket under your downspout or gutter.
  2. Water your grass in the evening to cut down on evaporation from the hot sun.
  3. Use soaker hoses to water your flower gardens and plants. This gets the water directly on the spot where needed.
  4. Put mulch around your plants to help hold the moisture in and cut down on the number of times your plants will need watering.
  5. When the heat is high and your kids MUST play in water outside to keep cool. Try only filling there wading pool halfway and turning the hose down on low with the sprinkler to help save on your water bill.

4 REASONS TO GROW MINT

Mint Attracts Beneficial Insects (& Repels the Bad Ones)

Let your mint go to flower and it will attract bees, beneficial wasps, hoverflies (aphid eaters), and tachinid flies (parasitic on nasty bugs).

The smell of the mint plant will also repel houseflies, cabbage moths, ants, aphids, squash bugs, fleas, mosquitoes, and even mice.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me!

Mint is Good for Your Pets

Chickens love fresh herbs and mint is no exception.  The best part is that it’s also great for them and their coop.  It keeps bugs, flies, and parasites at bay, as well as being an antioxidant and digestive aid for your flock.

Be sure to plant lots of mint (as well as other herbs) in and around the coop and run for chickens to nibble on daily.

cosmo mint

Mint is also great for cats and dogs.  Catnip is actually in the mint family and is a favorite herb for kitties as well as humans.

While cats and dogs probably shouldn’t eat a whole lot of mint in one sitting, a little bit is great for them.  It is a natural flea repellent, and I often see Cosmo the kitty rubbing up against the mint plant.

Mint is Good Food

Of course, mint is an awesome culinary herb!  Cut it from the garden without abandon to make all kinds of delicious treats.  I particularly like to make tea with it, hot or iced!

mint iced tea 2

Turn it into mint pesto or add it to your favorite homemade cookies, brownies, or this decadent sounding fresh mint cake with dark chocolate mint frosting.

Get creative and make mint infused honey, a gallon of mint wine, or chocolate mint extract.

This rhubarb mint jam sounds delicious, so does this traditional mint sauce for lamb. You can also just simply chop it up and add to salads or use it as a garnish.

Have a mint julep or mojito party, you deserve it!

Mint is Good Medicine

Mint is also an amazing medicinal herb.  It is well known as a digestive aid and breath freshener and is also good for an upset stomach.

Peppermint is especially great for headaches, and the essential oil can be rubbed on the temples for relief.  It can be helpful for seasonal allergies, and can also be added to body care products like salves and lip balms, soaps, shampoo bars, and lotions.

Top 10: Greatest Bonsai trees

 

(#1) An 800 year-old Bonsai tree at Shunkaen, by Kunio Kobayashi

Kunio Kobayashi Bonsai Shunkaen

A remarkable tree which is well known for its extremely high age; the tree is reported to be over 800 years old, one of the most expensive Bonsai trees! Its owner, master Kobayashi, is one of the most well known Bonsai artists in the world and has won the prestigious Prime Minister award in Japan 4 times.

(#2) Goshin “protector of the spirits”, by John Naka

Goshin Bonsai by John Naka

Goshin (“protector of the spirit”) is a Bonsai created by John Y. Naka. It is a forest planting of eleven Foemina Junipers, the earliest of which Naka began training into Bonsai in 1948. Naka donated it to the National Bonsai Foundation in 1984, to be displayed at the United States National Arboretum; it has been there ever since.

(#3) Small Bonsai; a Shohin tree by Morten Albek

Shohin by Morten Albek

A gorgeous Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horisontalis). This is a picture taken in spring; the tree flowers in summer and has small red berries in wintertime. The tree is only 9,5 cm (4 inches) high and is planted on a miniature rock. The pot is made by John Pitt, a famous potter. The tree is about 20 years old on the picture and has been in training for about a decade.

(#4) Pinus Silvestris, by Stefano Frisoni

Pinus Silvestris

This tree is remarkably realistic, a character highly valued for Bonsai trees. As you can see, the foliage pads are very dense, as if it were clouds in the sky.

(#5) Chinese styled trees; a Penjing landscape by Yee-sun Wu

Chinese penjing landscape

This wonderful Chinese landscape belongs to the Man Lung collection in Hong Kong. The trees are Chinese Bird Plums (Sageretia Theezans) and together make up a very realistic scenery. In the collection Ficus Bonsai are also popular. In this landscape, the trees, rock and miniature figurines are placed on a shallow rectangular pot (made of marble), which in turn is displayed on an antique table.

 

(#6) Flowering Bonsai, by Wolfgang Putz

Flowering bonsai tree

This tree is an Azalea species of only 14 cm (5 inches) high. The picture is taken in late spring / early summer, the moment when Azalea trees bloom (shortly, but very vividly!). The tree is planted in a Japanese pot.

(#7) Brazilian rain tree, by Budi Sulistyo

Pithecellobium, brazilian rain tree Bonsai

This tree is grown from a small cutting and the result above is a picture taken 12 years later. A native of Central- and South America the Brazilian Rain tree is considered one of the tropical world’s most beautiful and also one of the most popular Bonsai subjects.

 

(#8) Mame Bonsai display, by Morten Albek

Shohin display

A Bonsai display (or in this case, a Mame display) normally consist of a central tree, a scroll and an accent plant. Together these objects create a powerful image, often a celebration of the current season.

(#9) Famous Bonsai; a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), by Walter Pall

Acer Bonsai by Walter Pall

One of the most famous Bonsai trees that belongs to the collection of an European Bonsai artist (Walter Pall), this tree is incredibly fine and realistic. The maple is big (almost a meter high, which is the maximum to be called a Bonsai tree) and over a hundred years old. A masterpiece without doubt, styled by an inspiring artist!

(#10) Bonsai master Kimura

Kimura Bonsai

Last but not least, Bonsai sensei Masahiko Kimura. His varied collection of Bonsai trees is world famous. Started at age 15, Kimura was an apprentice to master Hamano in Omiya Bonsai village. For more of his fascinating and sometimes unconventional work, visit Kimura’s Bonsai garden! Or read his Bonsai artist profile

THE BENEFITS OF ARTIFICIAL HOUSE PLANTS & FLOWERS FOR THE HOME

Nothing beats fresh green foliage or bright sprays of flowers in the home, but the upkeep and expense of real house plants and flowers can put many people off displaying them. The greenery interior trend is only going from strength to strength and whilst there are many varieties that are easy to care for, many people are turning to artificial house plants and flowers to ensure their foliage is always looking fresh. Historically frowned upon for looking too fake, the interior industry has upped its artificial flower game in recent years and there are now wonderfully realistic options for those that want to welcome a touch of greenery into their home. But why should you opt for artificial house plants and flowers over the real thing?

1. They Stay Fresh All Year Round

The most obvious benefit of opting for artificial house plants and flowers in the home is that no matter the season, they will look as fresh as the day you bought them. Plants are not as susceptible to the climate and can be kept alive throughout the colder months, however, flowers are heavily dictated by the seasons so if you want to display your favorite blooms throughout the year, your only option is artificial versions. Fabulous finishing touches for any room, foliage and flowers add a vibrant and earthy feel wherever placed. Making sure these essential home accessories always look their best will ensure a cohesive look throughout the home.

2. Cost Effective

artificial house plants & flowers

Keeping your home filled with fresh flowers can be an expensive habit as they will need changing at least each fortnight, if not every week. Houseplants have more longevity but even these can be costly to replace if they aren’t looked after carefully. High-quality artificial house plants and flowers can be pricey to first buy, however, they are an investment which will see you through many years if cared for, therefore proving much more cost effective in the long run.

3. Hypoallergenic

artificial house plants & flowers

Hay fever is rife during the summer months, however many people suffer from plant allergies all year round which can put a damper on any indoor foliage plans. The only choice for plant allergy sufferers, artificial flowers will also ensure that any guests with allergies won’t get the sniffles when visiting.

4. Non-toxic to pets

artificial house plants & flowers

Another troublesome aspect of indoor plant keeping is that many varieties can be toxic to pets. From lilies to aloe vera plants, there is a large list of plants and flowers which can be harmful if consumed by animals and we all know a curious cat, dog or rabbit that will happily take a bite out of anything left unattended. Artificial flowers and house plants are the easiest and safest options for homeowners with pets and you also have less risk of arriving home to a destroyed bouquet.

5. Can Be Placed Anywhere in the Home

artificial house plants & flowers

The foliage trend has spread across every room of the home from bedrooms to bathrooms, however, many spaces in the home can be lacking in the key aspect which keeps plants thriving, sunlight. For darker or even windowless rooms as many bathrooms now are, artificial varieties are a must and the heat and steam from showers or cooking (if in the kitchen), has no effect on the stems. Artificial flowers and plants in bathrooms also give a beautifully fresh, clean and calming feel which make for a serene spa-like bathroom space.

6. Extremely Low Maintenance

artificial house plants & flowers

The key benefit of artificial house plants and flowers for the home is of course how low maintenance they are. Whilst real plants require constant care through careful watering schedules and direct or perfectly placed ‘indirect’ sunlight, faux plants are fabulously hassle-free. They can be easily styled with chic pots and vases and placed at will around the home to brighten any space. The only care required is light dusting and a wipe with a damp cloth if they are displayed in a particularly steamy environment to keep them looking fresh and full of life.

BEAUTIFUL ROUND GARDEN BED IDEAS THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR LANDSCAPE

The garden bed is a low-maintenance way to grow vegetables, fruits, and plants in your garden. In addition, to prevent the weeds, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage, it also decorates your landscape.

Vegetable Garden Design

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Raised garden beds are great for growing small plots of veggies and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from your garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage, and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails. The sides of the beds keep your valuable garden soil from eroding or washing away during heavy rains. In many regions, gardeners are able to plant earlier in the season because the soil is warmer and better drained when it is above ground level.

Veggie Garden without digging

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 Log Garden Bed

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Brick Garden Bed

Brick Garden Bed | Cool Round Garden Bed Ideas For Landscape Design - FarmFoodFamily.com #raisedgarden #raisedgardenbed #gardenbed

Raised beds are not the same as garden planters. Planters are elevated containers which have bottoms to prevent the soil from falling out. Planter bottoms usually are slatted, with some type of semi-permeable cloth barrier which permits drainage. Raised beds, however, do not have bottoms; they are open to the ground, which offers the benefit of permitting plant roots to go further into the ground for available nutrients.

How to Attract Toads to the Garden and Why You Want Them There!

I bet you are asking yourself why in the world you want to attract toads to the garden, right?  If you love growing your own food, you really need to keep reading to find out!  We have a TON of toads in the garden and I am thrilled that they call my backyard home.  Toads eat garden pests like the dreaded hornworm caterpillar and squash beetles that like to attack my garden.  Learn how to attract toads and you will have significantly fewer garden pests!  But, can you just stick out a toad house with a for rent sign and hope they show up?  Not really!
How to Attract Toads to the Garden and Why You Want them there!

Garden Toads Everywhere!

Attracting toads is very beneficial because they eat slugs and snails, too. Slugs and snails are NEVER good for a garden! I spend a lot of time getting rid of snails and making homemade earwig traps so I am happy for the toads to eat them.

Are toads beneficial to a garden?

So, first off, let’s answer the question of WHY you want to attract toads to the garden. Are toads beneficial to a garden? Basically, YES! Because what do garden toads eat? BUGS!  Bugs are a gardener’s worst nightmare and toads like to eat them.  So, the more toads you have in your yard, the fewer garden pests you will have to deal with.  Sounds like a great plan to me!

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR GARDEN SOIL WITHOUT A COMPOST HEAP

A compost heap is a great way to recycle kitchen waste and improve your garden soil for free. However not everyone has the space needed and depending on where you live, you may want to deter any unwanted furry visitors.

It’s not always necessary to compost kitchen waste before adding it to your soil. So here are a few tips on how you can improve your garden soil without a compost heap using three kitchen scraps you’d normally throw away.

3 KITCHEN INGREDIENTS THAT IMPROVE YOUR GARDEN SOIL

EGG SHELLS

  • Rinse out any egg shells you have and allow them to dry for a few days in a bowl on a sunny window sill or by a radiator. When they are dry they crush very easily. This will help them to break down quickly when added to the soil.
  • Crushed eggshells improve drainage and the addition of  the calcium is excellent for promoting plant growth and preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes and squash plants. If you have an old coffee grinder or food processor this will make short work of it.
  • They are also a good deterrent for slugs and snails.  Scatter a generous barrier around any young seedlings to keep the pesky molluscs away. Apparently this is the human equivalent of walking barefoot on broken glass.

COFFEE GROUNDS

  • Coffee grounds can also be added directly to the soil. They act as a general fertiliser, adding organic matter, improving drainage, water retention and soil aeration. As they break down they will continue to add nitrogen which is so good for plant growth.
  • Used coffee grounds will not affect the PH level of your soil unless used in very concentrated amounts. However unused coffee grounds or leftover coffee is always such a wonderful pick-me-up for acid loving plants.
  • Coffee grounds also work very well as a mulch around plants. This keeps earthworms very happy as they seem partial to a little caffeine hit too!
  • Don’t worry if they look a bit mouldy, this is just part of the natural breaking down process and a sign that it’s working.
  • If you’re not a coffee drinker, tea bags are good for the soil too

 

  • BANANA SKINS 
  • Adding banana skins is another excellent way to improve your garden soil. They can also be added directly to the ground as long as they are cut up into very small pieces. They’ll break down faster and offer all the micro-organisms in the soil lots more surface area to work their magic.
  • This creates plenty of new organic matter resulting in a light, well drained soil which is full of lovely earthworms. Once the banana skins have broken down they will add a powerful cocktail of nutrients; calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphates, potassium and sodium, all of which help plants to grow well and develop their fruit.

8 Amazing Plants That’ll Repel Mosquitoes (And Other Pests!)

It’s almost summer which means mosquitoes will be coming out soon. And even when it’s not the warm season, some places can still get them year round, and any type of repellent will do.

But you don’t have to spray on toxic mosquito repellent to keep them away. In fact, there are plants that you can grow inside and out to make sure you don’t get bitten. And many of these plants produce essential oils, which means you can keep them repelled wherever you go.

So check out these low maintenance plants and start growing!



Citronella

Whether you’re using citronella candles, growing it in a pot, or making it a part of a centerpiece, this plant is definitely a great way to keep the mosquitoes away.

Lavender

Lavender is one of my favorites and is definitely a great way to repel mosquitoes. You can plant this around your entryways or put the lavender essential oil on for any nightly walk.

Rosemary

Mosquitoes are out in full force during summer, but thankfully rosemary can stand the heat. In fact, it prefers it.

And on a random note, I love growing rosemary since it’s so convenient just to grab a few sprigs and throw them into a pan of fried potatoes.

Lemongrass

Being related to citronella, lemongrass can look similar, but it’s actually edible! It can grow pretty tall which can make for a great garden design when planned out.

Mint

I love the fact that so many of these mosquito repellent plants can be put into recipes. And with that note, feel free to grow some mint, put it in some ice tea, and relax on your back porch. Because you know… if you’re growing mint outside, no mosquitoes are going to be bothering you as you chill.

Basil

Now I like this one since it repels mosquitoes and houseflies. Feel free to grow it in a pot inside as well so you can break a few sprigs off every once in awhile for cooking.

Catnip

Catnip contains a strong repellent called nepetalactone, and that makes it a lot stronger than other types of mosquito repellent. So definitely try this one out in your yard.

Petunias

Repelling many different types of bugs, you won’t have any trouble with mosquitoes all summer long if this one’s in your yard and house. Not to mention they’re beautiful, so they make a great centerpiece.

11 Beautiful Lawn Edging Ideas

A nice clean garden edge gives your landscape definition and texture. Of course, we’d all love a professionally designed garden area, but the cost of materials alone can be astronomical. These lawn edging ideas are innovative and beautiful to give you the function and aesthetics without the high costs.

You can keep your lawn edging as basic or creative as you’d like based on your location, landscape, and budget. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Gabion Wall

I love this look, especially for raised beds. You can fill the wall with just about any size of rocks depending on what is available in your area.  Use a 12 gauge or thicker concrete mesh roll, for the walls. You can buy these at any hardware store. Using wire cutters, create boxes to your specific height and size.  Bury 6×6 treated wood posts evenly along your border.  Place the wire boxes between them and fill them with the smooth river stones.  Finally wrap the entire wall with one layer of mesh wire, tieing it to the existing boxes.

Wood Edging

This is a simple idea to create your own edging with cedar wood that is just over six inches high. You could easily make it higher if you need to.

Stone

Stone makes a good option if you want a more natural look. The idea is simple, but you may need some extra muscle help to carry the stones and place them in the right spots. Stones of universal size work best for this technique.

Terra Cotta

This is a beautiful sleek edging created with terracotta pieces, similar to brick, but with a smooth finish.

Tree Branches

If you live in an area with several fallen trees, use what you have and create a wall of your own. This is a natural, rustic, old-fashioned look.  This is great if your edging area is large.  This is by far the cheapest option.

    Raised Beds

Creating a raised garden bed is a great way to create a beautiful garden area and clear edging at the same time. If your wood is touching the soil, make sure it is treated wood, which prevents it from decay.  Raised beds also add variety in height, which helps flat yards look more appealing.

Metal Edging

This is one of the most inexpensive edging options. Flexible metal is easy to install in an afternoon and creates a clean line around flower beds, trees, and property lines.  Metal edging also takes up the least amount of space.  You can find this at your local hardware store.

 Gravel

Simply dig a ditch around the edge of your bedding area and fill it in with gravel. It may take a little weeding to keep stubborn weeds from popping up, but it’s easy to install and inexpensive.

Bricks

You can create a beautiful brick edging without the hassle of plaster or the expertise of a mason.  Be sure to add black yard fabric below your bricks to prevent grass and weeds from growing between your bricks.  A thin metal railing between the grass and bricks would also give an added stability to your edge.

 Plants

Sometimes you can actually use plants as a plant border. Natural grasses work as a beautiful natural border. This border take the most maintainance, but also is one of my favorites.

Wheels

It may take some time to gather old wheels from thrift stores or flea markets, but wired together they make absolutely stunning edging to your flower bed.

Want a More Colorful, Natural Garden? Try a Perennial Meadow

Perennial plants have been a favorite in gardens since the first days of the cottage garden, when the benefits of plants that were long lived, easily propagated and generally hardy due to their ability to survive winters by dying back to the ground were of importance to gardeners with little money to spend on gardening.

As our gardens evolved, so did our use of perennials. When I was a horticulture student in the 1960s, the traditional herbaceous border featured large in our garden design lectures. Today, no doubt, students learn more about the naturalistic prairie style of planting perennials, championed by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden. And now there is a third generation of perennial planting, best known by some garden designers — including Michael King, writer and perennials expert — as the “perennial meadow,” which uses the best parts of both the previous formats.