Saturday, 10 September 2011

Organic Gardening - A Speech for Teachers


Organic gardening has increasingly become an important part of the curriculum in schools around the world. Teachers at every grade level find themselves teaching it to students, and sometimes being called on to give a speech to a group of parents. As a career educator and principal, I know the difficulty of opening up time for speech preparation, and offer this organic gardening speech for your use. Feel free to edit it to fit your needs.
Organic Gardening Speech
How selfish are you? On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how selfish would you rate yourself? If you are the least bit selfish, you might be interested in organic gardening.
An organic gardening speech might seem more appropriate coming from a Home Economics teacher, but I am just selfish enough that I love organic gardening. I want to share that love with you and with your children.
I want you to come with me, in imagination, to a time and place before the Industrial Revolution. The year is 1707. It is late summer. We find ourselves walking the streets of a small town. Houses are spaced well apart for privacy. Land stretches out behind each house. As we look, we notice that much of that land is taken up by gardens. Here and there, we see both adults and children actively engaged in gardening. The plants are beautiful.
You call to one of the adults and ask what they use to make the garden so lush. A broad smile breaks, and through the smile come the words, "Feed the soil, and the soil will feed the plants."
You shake your head. Poor people. Too bad they don't know about that miracle combination of chemicals you saw advertised on TV last week. That's the easy way to grow spectacular plants!
The organic gardener invites us to join them for the evening meal, and we accept. At dinner, we join in the prayer of thanks, and then watch in amazement as the children, one after another, begin eating fresh vegetables.
You yourself are not that fond of vegetables, but you politely take a small serving of each. You bite into a leaf of steamed cabbage, and your eyes open wide in amazement. It is sweet - twice as sweet as the cabbage you buy at your local market! You watch a small child fill his mouth with dark green kale, and shudder. There's a small spoonful of the nasty vegetable on your own plate, and you pick at it, putting a single small leaf in your mouth. Amazing! It, too, is twice as sweet as any kale you ever ate. The same seems true of every vegetable on the table. You decide that if your supermarket vegetables were this good, you would eat a lot more of them.
Our imaginary trip ends at that dinner table, and we return to the present.
Organic Gardening's Benefits
Organic gardening has many benefits. If you are completely selfish, you will want those benefits for yourself. If you are unselfish, you will want those benefits for your family. Let me give you just three of organic gardening's benefits.
1. Taste: Organic gardening has been proven to produce tastier fruits and vegetables. A Hong Kong study measured Brix levels, the percentage of sugar in plant juices, using produce from organic gardening and from non-organic gardening. The results showed that organic gardening produced produce that was 2 to 4 times as sweet as that produced by non-organic gardening. Sweeter fruits and vegetables are tastier, and easier to eat, whether you are a young person or an adult. Organic gardening helps us eat better by providing tastier fruits and vegetables.
2. Nutrition: Organic gardening has also been found to provide nutritionally superior produce. Virginia Worthington, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, compared the composition of vegetables grown simultaneously under different farming conditions. Her work included 41 studies with 1,240 comparisons of 35 vitamins and minerals. Worthington found that organic gardening produced vegetables and fruits that were higher in most minerals and vitamins than those from non-organic gardening. Not only that, organic gardening produce was lower in potentially harmful nitrates, which result from nitrogen fertilizers. Dr. Worthington concluded that produce from organic gardening is nutritionally superior. You and your family will enjoy better health with fruits and vegetables from organic gardening. (Effect of Agricultural Methods on Nutritional Quality: A Comparison of Organic with Conventional Crops, Virginia Worthington MS, ScD, CNS, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1998, Alternative Therapies, Volume 4, 1998, pages 58-69)
3. Exercise: Finally, organic gardening offers you and your children regular daily exercise in the outdoors. Organic gardening helps you build muscles, especially important core muscles. Organic gardening gets you into the sunlight where you can absorb essential vitamin D. Organic gardening is a great stress management tool. Organic gardening gives you an outlet for creativity. It provides satisfaction as you see your work produce useful fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
We could talk about the aesthetic pleasures of organic gardening - how beautiful that garden might become. We could talk about how you can save money with organic gardening - growing your produce instead of purchasing.
Finally, we could talk about how important it is for our children to learn about organic gardening, to embrace it as the way to better health, and to practice it with school, home, and community gardens.
An organic gardening speech could go on for hours, but I'm going to stop here, hoping that I have whetted your appetite enough that you will seek out more information on organic gardening.
Helpful Tip for Speech-givers
A few large bowls of beautiful organic produce can be set on the platform or around the room to help visual learners picture organic gardening.
©2007, Anna Hart. Anna Hart invites you to read more of her articles about organic gardening at Anna is posting new articles regularly on that site, each one dealing with some facet of organic gardening. If you would like to get organic gardening tips, you will want to read Anna’s article with tips for the novice.
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Build a Rain Garden


There's a new garden in town. It is (mostly) easy to install, looks good year-round, requires almost no maintenance and has a terrifically upbeat impact on the environment. No wonder rain gardens are such a great new gardening trend!
Storm water runoff can be a big problem in summer during heavy thunderstorms. As the water rushes across roofs and driveways, it picks up oil and other pollutants. Municipal storm water treatment plants often can't handle the deluge of water, and in many locations the untreated water ends up in natural waterways. The EPA estimates as much as 70 percent of the pollution in our streams, rivers, and lakes is carried there by storm water! By taking responsibility for the rainwater that falls on your own roof and driveway, you'll be helping to protect our rivers, streams and lakes from stormwater pollution.
To reduce the excess water runoff, many towns are encouraging businesses and homeowners to install rain gardens in their yards. Rain gardens are specially constructed gardens located in low areas of a yard where storm water can collect. The idea is to have the water naturally funnel to this garden. The rain garden collects water runoff and stores and filters it until it can be slowly absorbed by the soil. Rather than rushing off into a storm sewer or a local waterway, the rainwater can collect in a garden where it will be naturally filtered by plants and soil.
Installing a rain garden is easy.
You simply dig a shallow depression in your yard and plant it with native grasses and wildflowers; things that are easy to grow and maintain in your area.
What makes a garden a rain garden?
First, the garden will be designed with a low spot in the middle to collect and absorb rain water and snow melt. This depression can range from a few inches in a small garden, to an excavated trough that's several feet deep. Second, rain gardens are usually located where they'll catch the runoff from impermeable surfaces like sidewalks and driveways, or from gutters and roof valleys. Third, rain gardens are usually planted with native wildflowers and grasses that will thrive in tough growing conditions. Finally, rain gardens are designed to channel heavy rains to another rain garden or to another part of the garden.
Your rain garden should be located at least 10 feet from the house. The garden's size and location depends on the yard. The ideal situation would be to locate the garden in a natural depression. You also can funnel water from downspouts on gutters into the garden. The soil should be well drained so the water doesn't sit in the garden for more than two days. A special "rain garden" soil mix of 50 to 60 percent sand, 20 to 30 percent topsoil, and 20 to 30 percent compost is recommended. You can dig this mixture into the soil to depth of 2 feet before planting.
Once you've identified the new garden's location, remove the sod and dig a shallow depression approximately 6-inches deep. Slope the sides gradually from the outside edge to the deepest area. Use the soil that you remove to build up a slightly raised area on the lowest side of the garden. This berm will help contain the stormwater and allow it to percolate slowly through the rain garden.
If your rain garden is no more than about 6-inches deep, stormwater will usually be absorbed within a one- to seven-day period. Because mosquitoes require seven to 10 days to lay and hatch their eggs, this will help you avoid mosquito problems.
Your downspout or sump pump outlet should be directed toward your rain garden depression. This can be accomplished by a natural slope, by digging a shallow swale, or by piping the runoff directly to the garden through a buried 4" diameter plastic drain tile.
Plant Selection... The final touch.
The most difficult part of building a rain garden (if it can even be called that) can be plant selection. Plants need to be tough enough to withstand periodic flooding, yet attractive enough to look good in the garden. Deep-rooted, low-care native plants, such as asters, and tough non-natives, such as daylilies, are best. If properly designed, the rain garden can consist of a blend of attractive shrubs, perennials, trees, and ground covers. Planting strips of grass around the garden and using mulch also can help filter the water.
New plants should be watered every other day for the first two weeks or so. Once they are well established, your garden should thrive without additional watering. Fertilizers will not be necessary, and only minimal weeding will be needed after the first summer of growth.
Our goal at Garden Simply is to make your organic garden work sustainable; be more productive, and ultimately more fun! Jodi Reichenberger provides education about enhancing you and your family's health through good eating, organic gardening techniques, organic gardening tips, and an all around sustainable lifestyle; providing helpful organic pest control tips (Integrated Pest Managment or IPM)to help you make the most of your effort, and the lastest community gardening and sustainable gardening news out there. Join us! Sustainability is a community effort!
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Friday, 9 September 2011

Solar Garden Lights For Inexpensive Lighting


Using solar garden lights in remote areas of your backyard garden is a wonderful way to shed light to those areas without the use of electricity. Solar garden lights are inexpensive and simple to install; they just need to be placed in areas that receive ample sunlight during the day. Solar lighting can be used in many different ways such as accent lighting, path lighting and spotlighting.
Solar yard lights need to be accessible to the sun during day-time hours to absorb the energy from the sun in order to light-up during the evening hours. Before you actually install the solar lights place them in the areas you would like to have lit up and place them equal distance apart but make sure those areas get enough sunlight during the day. Most solar lights will need approximately 8 hours of sun; some may need more in order to give off light during the night.
There are a number of motives for utilizing solar-powered lights in the garden: because they do not use electricity but the sun's energy they are considered environmentally friendly; they are simple to install since you will not need to dig ruts for wiring because they do have any; they are easily moved from one spot to another; they are less expensive than any other type of lighting; the upkeep is almost non-existent except to replace a rechargeable battery every so often; the LED bulbs rarely burn out; they add beauty and highlights to your garden during the evening hours; and they you have more of an opportunity to spend time in your garden during spring and summer.
Installing solar patio lights is one way to change the appearance of your landscape, yard, or garden. Because they are inexpensive and easy to install they can give you an array of ways to use them. These garden lights are available in numerous shapes and sizes and some have the ability to change light colors. These lights give you a way to highlight outdoor decorations, lounge areas, or dining areas. When solar lights first emerged on the scene they came mounted on stakes and most people used them for path lighting. Now you can find them for hanging on tall poles that look like lanterns to light up a pathway, they can also be mounted on walls, railings, or inserted into a deck for safety. The lights on tall poles will lead your guests across a grassy area of your garden without stumbling into something on their way to an outdoor living area.
Solar spotlights are much brighter than accent lights or pathway lights. They are mostly used to highlight an outdoor decoration, an unusual landscape or a prize-winning flower garden. Many spotlights are available with the solar panel attached to the light with a wire; this allows you to place the spotlight on a particular area to highlight and place the solar panel where it will receive the direct sunlight. There are other types of spotlights that are specifically designed to be security lights; these are classified as motion sensor lights, they only light up if movement is detected.
The holidays are coming and Halloween is the first. Solar lighting is so popular now that solar string lighting and solar tube lighting is now available for holiday decorating. Some stand along outdoor displays for the yard have gone to solar power. Since these lights are now solar-powered your electricity bill will be a lot lower during the holidays. Many of us have tube lighting and string lighting in the backyard all year but they use electricity and now since they have gone solar we do not need to worry about wasting electricity because we will not be using it.
Solar lights are made of the same materials as most traditional fixtures which make them quite durable; some consist of resistant plastic and others are made of aluminum, copper, or bronze. They come in many different sizes and shapes, are quick to install and easy to move around. Solar garden lights do not cost a penny to operate since they get their power from the sun.
Barbara is using solar garden lights in her backyard garden and finds her garden enchanting. Her website Gardeners Garden Supplies has several articles regarding garden decorations and outdoor lighting.
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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Types of Garden Arbors ( garden )

By Zane Horton

For centuries, garden arbors have been a fixture in homes and gardens from the most expensive mansions to the most humble villa and everything in between. The garden arbor originated in Italy, but they can be found all over the world bringing fragrant smells and character to any garden area. There are many different types of arbors and trellises to meet every personal taste.
( home and garden )
Archway Arbor

The archway arbor is best used to divide a large lawn by stacking the arbors behind each other in a row to make an arbor tunnel. This line will divide the expanse and allow the archway arbors to give a clean break to plant different plants on either side and make the area cohesive.

Traditional Arbor

The traditional arbor has trellis sides to allow flowering plants or vine vegetables to grow upwards toward the top of the arbor. The design for the traditional arbor has a flat roof and has a clean line for a garden entrance. The traditional garden arbor can also have a wooden seat installed to in the summer afternoon shade.

Metal Arbors
( home and garden )
All arbors look amazing when they are first built and installed. But as time and weather take its toll, an alternative to the wooden garden arbor is a metal arbor. Steel, bronze and iron are just a few of the options to make your garden come to life without having the maintenance required for wooden garden arbors.

Vinyl Arbors

If the upkeep of a wooden garden arbor or the heaviness of a metal garden arbor is not the arbor of choice, consider the ultimate maintenance-free garden arbor, vinyl. The vinyl material can give a look of wood and the durability of metal without having to paint and re-paint each season. Vinyl garden arbors come in many colors and styles and are easily installed to make the garden or yard more attractive and add character to a large space.

Garden arbors enhance any garden whether it be a small vegetable garden or a large flower garden. Place a garden arbor for vine plants to crawl up and make a home for many seasons to come.
( home and garden )
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Thailand water garden.