Tuesday, March 31, 2015

All-Purpose Insect Pest Spray

A homemade spray for all-purpose garden pest control.
This all-purpose garden insect pest control spray combines the repellent effects of garlic, onion, and hot pepper with the insecticidal properties of soap.
For decades the editors of Organic Gardening magazine have collected pest-control remedies and recipes from readers. Several ideas were repeatedly offered as safe, effective insect controls. The editors combined several of these home remedies to make an all-purpose spray out of ingredients found in most kitchens. This spray combines the repellent effects of garlic, onion, and hot pepper with the insecticidal and surfactant properties of soap. Keep in mind that sprays that contain soap may harm natural enemies and pollinating insects. Apply it only to prevent or ease a specific pest problem.
Nowadays, there are also commercial organic sprays that list garlic oil and/or hot pepper as the active ingredient.
Protection Offered
Home gardeners can try homemade all-purpose spray against any leaf-eating pests in the garden, and make a note of what pests are successfully controlled. Certified organic producers should check regulations before using this type of homemade spray.
The ingredients can cause painful skin and eye irritation. When preparing and applying, wear rubber gloves and keep the mixture well away from your eyes and nose.
How to Use
·          Chop, grind, or liquefy one garlic bulb and one small onion.
·          Add 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper and mix with 1 quart of water.
·          Steep 1 hour, strain through cheesecloth, then add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap
            to the strained liquid; mix well.
·          Spray your plants thoroughly, including leaf undersides.
·          Store the mixture for up to 1 week in a labeled, covered container in the refrigerator.

Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Be Green: Make Smarter Purchasing Decisions (or None at All!)

I know it’s the end of March but this article contains advice that’s good for any time of year! – Gene
By The Green Divas on January 25, 2015
It happens every year. You resolve to do something when the calendar turns onto a brand new year. Maybe 2015 can be your greenest year yet—and not just by donating that box in the basement, or your old torn-up clothes…

When we turned the corner in years past, there was a movement called "The Compact", which meant joining this pact to not buy anything new in the new year. Pretty simple, right? Use what you have, or find a way to do without. Well, for most people, this really doesn’t work. It’s an easy idea to get behind—who doesn’t want to spend less?—but we all know that unless you are a super planner and stocked up on every little thing already, there will come a time when you need something.

My resolution is a bit more realistic…
Quality matters
For the purchases I will be making, I want them to be the healthiest for my home, and friendliest to the earth. For me, this means splurging on an organic twin mattress (sans flame retardants) for my daughter, even though it costs at least four times as much as a conventional one.

If you truly cannot afford to buy a reasonably good choice for an item, and cannot wait until the time comes that you will, consider buying used—in these days of excess, so many things go barely used, that buying used can be just like buying new, except the item has been aired out a bit. If you need a new sweater, consider paying a bit more for a good quality one, instead of a cheaply made one that isn’t going to hold up past a few washes and wears. When a $50 sweater lasts 8 years without mending, it’s a far better value than having to buy a new $15 sweater every year.
Take some time with your trash
Many people donate by filling garbage bags with torn or outdated clothing, knick-knacks they’ve always hated, or chipped dishes. While these things certainly need to be purged from your home, consider a few other things when you want to clear things out: repurposing, rehoming, and recycling.

If you have an item that works, is good quality, but just doesn’t work for what you wanted it—consider what it might be used for somewhere else. I actually have old tape cartridge storage drawers in my kitchen cabinets to store food cans! Perhaps that old nightstand or entertainment center could be an adorable kitchen for a child in your life, or that knick-knack shelf you took down years ago could be a nice little shoe rack. Broken pots and dishes make cute, whimsical fairy gardens for kids, or a nice new mosaic top for an old table.

Of course, many of the things we no longer need would serve a much better purpose in another home. This can be achieved by donating, but you may also find a home for things by thinking about them a bit. Perhaps your nephew just moved out for college, and might just love your old futon, or your cousin just lost a ton of weight but might not have a big budget to go shopping for all new right-size-clothing, and she might really appreciate a few gently used items from your closet.
Read more about organic clothing

We all seem to have hesitation when offering people our used things, but you just never know until you ask or offer. When you recognize a specific need that someone may have, the item might be better received than an offer blasted out to all of your friends and family or a plea to take things off your hands. Being a parent, I have tons of children’s clothing and items, and I make a habit of asking around to see if there are friends of a friend who might be in need. I love making care packages with new or gently used clothing, nursing accessories, a cozy blanket and some small toys. Rehoming these things to someone in need certainly makes me feel better than dumping them into a collection box.

I bet most of you already sort your plastics, cardboard and newspapers from your normal trash to recycle them (I surely hope your town offers recycling—but if not, please speak up about it and make it happen!) but did you know that almost everything can be recycled? Baby car seats (which are turned away from donation centers since they cannot verify safety and condition) can be recycled piece by piece, but you do need to work for it. There are recycling centers and companies available for almost everything, from textiles, wood, plastic, foam, metal and glass.
Do you really need a new one? And do you need to buy it?
It’s certainly not a new idea to ask yourself if a purchase is a need or a want, but take it a step further…and think if there is something else you already own, that you can repurpose as in the suggestion above.

Do you really need a new kitchen table, or could you refinish yours, put a tablecloth on it, or maybe even barter with someone for a new one? Do you really need to buy new doll clothes for your daughter’s doll, or could you try to make some with old clothes or scraps of fabric? I made a wrap dress with only two cuts in an old cloth napkin, and about a dozen hand stitches for the strap and closure!
Read more about repurposing and 'upcycling'

I know we discussed buying used above, and I’ll say it again—if you can’t fix it, make it yourself, or make do without, perhaps you can buy it or trade for it with someone else. There are thrift stores just about everywhere (The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers, etc) and community yard sale websites like Freecycle, Craigslist, or buy and sell groups/pages on Facebook.

This also goes for food, whether it’s items like produce, which you might just be able to grow yourself, or convenience items like mac and cheese, or other boxed foods. Consider taking a weekend to learn how to make them, and if you happen to have the freezer space—make large batches to make your own convenience items at a much lower cost (not to mention better health.)

How will you make 2015 more green?
Written by Green Diva Christine (Christine Zadykovich) for The Green Divas.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Help us Participate in Earth Hour

Help create a more sustainable world simply by turning off your lights before you go home this weekend!  
The City of Fort Lauderdale will join more than 7,000 cities across the globe for Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. 
Earth Hour unites communities around the world to celebrate a commitment to the planet by switching off lights for one hour.
We ask employees to help Fort Lauderdale participate in Earth Hour by turning off non-essential lighting,
including individual office lights and computer monitors, when you leave today. 
For more information on Earth Hour, please visit www.earthhour.org.  

Friday Funny


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Green Cities Key to Creating Oasis for Wildlife

Los Angeles, CA (March 13, 2015) – While cities are not ideal wildlife habitat, they are increasingly the only habitat. What is needed to make room for wildlife in an increasingly urbanized world? A recent column by author Richard Conniff shares seven ways to make cities more livable for people–and wildlife. No surprise, most of these involve more trees and greenspace.

According to Conniff, “The rapid urbanization of the Earth is the dominant movement of this century, and the sprawling, unplanned growth of cities and suburbs tends to leave behind patches of greenery only by accident—a few neglected parks, some street trees here and there, and the occasional sliver of protected land.”
Here are his seven ways to create an urban oasis for wildlife:
Plan for Green Space
Add some trees along a street, and you’ve got someplace where birds can rest or roost. Add a park at the end of that street, even a small one, and now you’ve got a spot where migrating birds can stop and eat on their way to or from their breeding grounds. Even adding just 150 square meters of green space—that’s 10 parking spaces—will bring one additional bird species into a neighborhood, according to a 2013 study by urban greening specialist Paige Warren at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst.
Make those Green Spaces Connect
Multiple parks or gardens that are connected make for exponentially better habitat. Connectivity is important for green spaces at the neighborhood scale, according to Madhusudan Katti, an ecologist at California State University, Fresno. For instance, “canopy corridors” created by street trees help squirrels to move safely from one park to another. For animals that can fly, like birds and bees, connectivity may be less about physical connection than the proximity of green spaces, Warren said.
Plant for Wildlife
If you’ve got a local species you’re worried about, plant the species it needs to breed or feed. Monarch butterflies, for instance, require milkweed. Birds love oak trees (because they’re home to so many juicy caterpillars). Wherever you live, native plants are the key ingredient for native species. Avoid the exotics, especially the ones, such as barberry and purple loosestrife, that spread rapidly and wreak havoc on surrounding ecosystems. “Cities are a nexus for introduction” of invasive species, said Paige.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Which food companies don't use BPA-lined cans?

Creative mom explores how to live a sustainable life with a focus on food.
Jan 06, 2015
Cans lined with bisphenol-A are still the norm, but some companies are working to remove it.
Unless this can of peas came from one of the companies listed here, chances are there's BPA in the lining. (Photo: LSaloni/Shutterstock)
There are many reasons to be concerned about the chemical bisphenol-A or BPA. The Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe low levels, but other countries take a more cautious approach: Austria, Denmark, Belgium, France and China limit the chemical's contact with food. The FDA continues to study the issue.
Studies have shown that BPA, a plastic-stiffening chemical and synthetic female hormone, can be a contributing factor to asthma, sexual dysfunction, breast cancer, obesity and other health issues. The material is so widely used in in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins that it's difficult to avoid. The resin is commonly used as a lining in many canned foods, even though BPA can seep out if it comes in contact with heat or acid.
In response, several companies have removed BPA from their cans, and others have moved away from using it in the cans of specific foods. Here's a list of national brands that produce canned foods that do no have BPA in the lining:
Amy’s: According to a 2012 blog post on BPA and canned food, Amy’s confirmed that it had transitioned out of BPA-lined cans. The company website doesn’t have any information about BPA.
Bionaturae: This company produces mostly bottled foods, but it does have a few varieties of canned tomatoes. None of its tomatoes are in BPA-lined cans.
Crown Prince Seafood: A list of the canned tunas, salmons, sardines and more that are available in BPA-free cans from Crown Prince is on the company’s website.
Eden Foods: The company's canned beans, rice & beans, refried bean, and chili all come in BPA-free cans, but the company doesn't feel there is a suitable can for high acidic foods like tomatoes. It has moved one-third of its tomato products to amber glass, but the rest of the tomatoes continue to be in BPA-lined cans.
Farmer’s Market: Organic canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes and butternut squash are this company’s specialties.  The company's cans have been BPA-free since 2011.
Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s has finally put its BPA information on its website. Here’s what the website says:
Most canned fish, chicken & beef (Except sardines, crabs, Cherrystone clams & oysters)
Most canned fruits & vegetables (Except mandarins, hatch chilies, artichokes & olives)
All canned coconut milk and coconut cream
All pet food
Select canned soups & stews: Organic Black Bean Soup, Organic Lentil Soup, Organic Split Pea Soup, and Organic Vegetarian Chili
Trader Joe’s also puts its tomato products and some other products in tetra packs or glass jars to avoid BPA, although the lids of the glass jars do contain BPA that never comes in contact with the food.
Muir Glen: The company doesn’t have any information on its website, but according to a representative from the company who responded to a question on Chowhound, all Muir Glen canned tomato products are packaged using a lining that's made without BPA.
Westbrae Natural: Vegetarian products from Westbrae come in cans that are lined with “food grade epoxy,” not BPA.
Wild Planet Foods: Many of Wild Planet’s sustainably caught seafood items come in cans that do not contain BPA. The cans are not labeled, but the company’s website identifies which of its products come in BPA-free cans.
There's one additional point that should be mentioned. Here, we've focused on BPA-lined cans that contain food, but many beverage cans are also lined with BPA. Beverages like soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and even canned beer can be overlooked sources of BPA. If you're concerned about BPA in beverage cans, drink your beverages out of glass bottles, plastic bottles with the recycling symbols #1, #2, #4 or #5 on the bottom, or from tetra packs. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Earth Hour 2015

Join the global community
March 28, 8:30 p.m.
We proudly support Earth Hour 2015 and its mission to create a sustainable world.  On Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m., communities everywhere will switch off lights for one hour to celebrate a commitment to the planet by leading a more sustainable lifestyle.
The City of Fort Lauderdale plans to participate by turning off non-essential lighting at City Hall. Where possible, we invite our neighbors to join us in an effort to preserve our planet for future generations.

City of Fort Lauderdale
100 N. Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

Friday, March 20, 2015

Family Fun Ride and Moonlight Movie in the Park

Family Fun Ride and Moonlight Movie in the Park
Looking for something fun to do this weekend with family and friends?  Want to get some much-needed, low-impact exercise followed by a free movie in the park with popcorn and shaved ice? Join us for the Family Fun Ride and Moonlight Movie in the Park event on Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 5:00-9:30 p.m. at Holiday Park (1150 G. Harold Martin Drive). 
For details, check out the Family Fun Ride and Moonlight Movie in the Park Facebook event page. While you're there, "share" and let us know you'll be coming. Information is also available on the City’s website at www.fortlauderdale.gov.
Family Fun Ride and
Moonlight Movie in the Park
Saturday, March 21, 2015 | 5:00 p.m.
Holiday Park | 1150 G. Harold Martin Drive
Looking for a way to spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy the great outdoors, get some much-needed, low-impact exercise followed by a free movie in the park with popcorn and shaved ice? Join the City of Fort Lauderdale for the Family Fun Ride and Moonlight Movie in the Park event on Saturday, March 21st from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Holiday Park.  
Event Highlights
  • A leisurely 5-mile bike ride from Holiday Park through the Victoria Park neighborhood led by Fort Lauderdale police officers. (Helmets and bicycle lights required)
  • Disney*Pixar's family-friendly movie "UP" on the outdoor big screen with free popcorn and shaved ice
  • Free bicycle registration and helmet fittings 
  • Kids Bike Rodeo and bicycle safety activities
  • Recycled bike and new helmet giveaway
Bike Collection for Local Kids in Need
Recyclable Bicycle Exchange will be collecting used, unwanted bikes at the event. Volunteers will fix up the bikes and donate them to local kids in need.
Facebook Event Page
Check out the Fun Ride Facebook event page for updates. While you're there "share," and let us know you'll be there. 
Our Generous Sponsors
The Family Fun Ride and Moonlight Movie in the Park is being presented with support from the following sponsors: Victoria Park and Lake Ridge Neighborhood Associations, Broward B-cycle, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (Walk/Bike Safe programs), Florida Department of Transportation, South Florida Commuter Services, Broward MPO, Urban Health Partnerships, and Recyclable Bicycle Exchange.


Starting from Sabal Pines Park (5005 Northwest 39th Avenue, Coconut Creek, FL 33073 -  Registration at the Soccer Field) to Tradewinds Park 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 
Click on this link www.browardMPO.org/letsgobiking or on the flyer below for more details…  Please see attached press release.
 Celebrate Florida Bike Month Let’s Go Biking on March 22
Coconut Creek – In celebration of March is Bike Month, the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (Broward MPO) joins several local organizations in hosting Let’s Go Biking. This is a fun morning of activities that will end with a leisurely group bike ride along the City of Coconut Creek Greenway to Tradewinds Park. The event will take place at Sabal Pines Park, 5005 NW 39th Ave, Coconut Creek, FL 33073. REGISTRATION AT THE SOCCER FIELD from 9:30 a.m. until 12 noon Sunday, March 22.
Activities scheduled for the morning include:
  • Bicycle helmet fitting – 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Bicycle Helmet giveaways
  • Bicycling giveaways
  • Group bike ride - 10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. 
  • Food Trucks - 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon
Fun for the whole family and there is no charge to participate.
Sponsors of the event include City of Coconut Creek, Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth (FLIPANY), Broward County, Broward B-cycle, South Florida Commuter Services, and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail.
For more information about Let’s Go Biking, call 1-800-234-RIDE (7433) or visit www.browardMPO.org/letsgobiking
Christopher Ryan, Public Information Officer/Title VI Coordinator

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Simple Steps for a Home Habitat

Follow these simple steps to create a habitat for creatures both great and small.
By Linda Lehmusvirta
Animals naturally head for the most comfortable place to live. Put out the welcome mat with food, water, shelter, and safety to raise their young.
  • Provide diverse food (and water) all year long. Animals eat different things. For a wildlife balance that naturally controls pests, include flowers, berries, fruits, seeds, and larval plants for butterflies and moths. Keep the crowds around with plants that multitask: flowering in one season for fruits, berries, or seeds in another. Add water! 
  • Cluster plants to attract more attention. A few plants work fine if that’s what the space allows. When possible, mass several similar ones, making a “food court” for wildlife, for the biggest draw.
  • Provide a mix of niches. Animals inhabit different spots. Attract the most diversity with a stair-step design, from tall trees down to understory trees and large shrubs. Pile up rocks for cozy ground-level hideouts. Avoid blowing out all the leaf litter, since it harbors ground creatures and improves the soil.
  • Don’t be too tidy. Leave the control-freak tendencies at the back door. After flowers feed the pollinators, let the seedheads go to the birds. In winter, avoid cleaning up too fast, since browned-up plants still offer shelter and seeds for resident birds.
  • Accept some chomping. Adopt a “hole” new perspective. Those springtime caterpillars feed baby birds. Plants recover after butterfly and moth caterpillars chew their way into pupating adults. There’s no reason to buy lady beetles and green lacewings if a few aphids invite them to dinner.
Go a Little Wild
Connecting plants and animals in your landscape is easy to do with these resources.

Monday, March 16, 2015

They're here!

From one of our local businesses --
They're here!
They're here!
The Black Swallowtail Butterfly is back in town, and their pretty larvae are munching on parsleys, dill, fennel and rue. Don't panic or poison them... Just plant more!

Spring is really here and now is a good time to start pruning while branches are more sparse and it's easier to see what you are doing. It's also time to fertilize. Stick to organic to nourish the soil and make plants strong.

With the Spring holidays around the corner, The Garden Gate is brimming with color and variety. New orchids are in this week, including Cattleyas and the fragrant Dendrobium nobile.

Enjoy the beautiful weather and try to catch spring fever. It's definitely going around!

"Live dirty, eat clean."

Happy Gardening,

The Garden Gate 2251 N Federal Hwy Pompano Beach, FL 33062 USA

Eco-Kids - Creative Play the Natural Way

For all you parents (grandparents, aunts and uncles), here’s a website that might interest you – eco-kids
From the site “eco-kids® is a line of art supplies that gives children the tools to create using non-toxic, natural ingredients and environmentally friendly packaging.  All products made in the USA.
eco-kids® about us
Meet Cammie, Kip & their kids Jack, Maggie and Gus. They are eco-kids® — a family run business that produces all natural art supplies. It began simply, as all good things do, with the molding dough recipe Cammie's mom made for her as a child. After incorporating natural ingredients into the recipe, the dough was transformed into eco-dough, rich in color, soft in texture, with a delicate aroma like no other. In 2008 Cammie and Kip began selling it at farmers markets. From there, eco-kids® evolved.

This family business lives by their mantra — creative play the natural way. Products are developed with this belief in mind. From using non-toxic, natural ingredients to the unique packaging, eco-kids® works with environmentally friendly companies from around the United States to bring you fresh ideas in the world of art supplies.
The kids test and ensure the art supplies are fun to play with — after all, that's what it's all about.
And for the upcoming Easter Holiday - eco-egg coloring kit™ ($14):  Sticking to the basics is natural for us. eco-eggs coloring kit™ is an original in the market of made in the USA natural egg coloring kits. Comes with 3 primary color powder packs and a color chart to create 6 custom colors, a crayon for texturing your eggs and a custom egg dipper made right here in Maine. Under the exterior wrap you’ll find our exclusive creature cut outs to dress up your eggs. Please visit fun stuff on our website for printable activity sheets, more creature cutouts and how-to videos. Made with natural and organic fruit, plant and vegetable extracts from annatto seed, curcumin, purple sweet potato and red cabbage. Includes color chart and instructions.  Please visit fun stuff on our website for printable activity sheets, eco-eggs creature cutouts and how-to videos.  3 natural dyes (orange, blue and purple), a color chart for creating 6 colors
Please let me know of any sites that you might now about – Gdempsey@fortlauderdale.gov

Friday, March 13, 2015

Butterfly Heroes

Help the Monarch Butterfly
PLEDGE TODAY! Upload a photo of you, making the American Sign Language sign for butterfly, as your pledge to help the Monarch butterfly. The sign for butterfly is made by linking your thumbs and crossing your two hands in front of you at the wrists with your palms facing you. After taking the pledge, you will receive a Butterfly Garden Starter Kit, while supplies last. Once you have your kit, learn how to garden and watch your wildlife garden bloom!
Win a trip for 4 to Walt Disney World by pledging by May 15, 2015!
Note: Only individuals and families are eligible to be entered in the sweepstakes. See official rules for Butterfly Heroes and Disney Sweepstakes