Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Green Year - A book review (and giveaway)

"The Green Year: 365 small things you can do to make a big difference," by Jodi Helmer was about an easy a read at you can get. Divided into (you guessed it) 365 1-page ideas, Helmer's book is perfect for the green newbie, although were a few things I picked up myself. My favorite tips?
  • Use beer to get slugs out of your garden - Beer is a surefire way to keep slugs from munching on your favorite plants. Best of all, it won't harm your plants or other garden critters. Pour an inch of beer into a small bowl and place it in the garden, level with the soil. Slugs will make their way to the edge and fall in. Add the dead slugs to your compost pile and refill the bowl.

  • Make a solution to keep dogs from digging in your garden - A mixture of Tabasco sauce, garlic, onion, and cayenne pepper in a bucket of water will deter dogs. Let it sit for several hours and then sprinkle it over the areas of the garden where dogs have been digging.

  • Toss lemon peels in the garden to keep cats from using your soil as a litter box - Citrus scents make the cats cower and sneeze, so toss a few lemon peels or orange peels in the garden and your cat problem will be solved. The peels are not harmful to other plants in the garden and are completely biodegradable so you can put them in the garden and forget about them. Aphids are also repelled by citrus. Mix the grated rind from a lemon with water and spray it on any plants that are being attacked by the little bugs.
As you can tell, I'm in a place in my life where "pests" are a problem. Actually, I'm mostly concerned at this point with keeping my dog away from our compost bin, not the garden. Thankfully, she has not yet associated the garden with food, however, the bits that fall out of the compost bin are her favorite meal supplement. 

And the lemon peels? Well, we don't have an outdoor cat problem as of yet, but knowing they don't like citrus could come in handy for our indoor cats. We have one that's notorious for peeing outside the litter box. Maybe if we covered the house in peel, except for the litter box...

Anyway, the point is that even a dark green, earth loving, hippy chick like me pulled some wonderful tips from this gem of a book. 

Here's the good part, I won this book from Crunchy Chicken (thanks, Crunchy!) in a give-away and to share the love, I'll also be offering up this book in a give-away. Interested? You  know I'm going to make you work for it, don't you?

Give-Away Rule:

If you'd like your name submitted to win "The Green Year," tell me the most recent change you've made in your life to become more environmentally friendly.

I'll randomly select one name on Saturday, March 7. Good luck!

21 comments:

Seraphim said...

Citrus peels! Genius!

I won't enter though, I think the postage to England would be a little unfair ;)

But just for fun, the lastest change I have made is to start knitting pan scrubbers out of old carrier bags - really easy and inspired by a comment on your blog no less ;)

Michelle @ Leaving Excess said...

Notice how all of your favorite tips are about gardening :>)

My latest change is using reusable snack bags for the kiddos instead of using disposable zip-type baggies.

Theresa said...

Hm..that citrus peel idea sounds like just the ticket to deal with the neighbors' cats' fondness for my herb garden!

The latest sustainable/green thing I've done is learning to grow sprouts in a jar for purposes of nutrition and food security.

Karen said...

My latest "green" change has been keeping our heat set at 62 most of the day and turning it down to 50 at night. It's saved us a bundle of money here in Iowa!

blondeoverboard said...

the newest thing we've done is add an additional rabbit and started rotational grazing them in the front yard. they nibble up the "weeds" and the too tall bits of grass leaving behind their contribution to the health of the yard. now the yard man comes once a month to tidy up with a rake and broom rather than mowing weekly.

Green Resolutions said...

How fun!

My latest change has been the focus on reducing plastic at the grocery store & even ordering recycled content toilet paper that isn't wrapped in plastic from amazon.

sharli said...

My most recent change is converting to cloth napkins....which is a challenge on spaghetti night with two little boys!

Colin said...

My latest change is cycling to the grocery store. With two panniers on the back I can get a weeks worth of grocery shopping.

Over Coffee - the green edition said...

I love that you are regiving…very green indeed. We also spread used coffee grounds around our yard to keep the kitties out. I am new to living green. I recently started a blog, joined the Green and Clean Mom forum, and am slowly replacing my traditional items with greener healthier ones. The most recent green thing I did was use baking soda and vinegar to help make the water in our bathtub flow more quickly. It worked like a charm too! Thanks for the giveaway!

Condo Blues said...

My big green project last year was to reduce the amount of electricity my 1500 sq. ft. home used by 20% without replacing all of my current appliances w/ Energy Star equivalents because they were all less than 4 years old. I did it! I didn't quite make the 20% mark - we reduced our consumption by 32% and only spent $500 on electricty for the year. We did it by changing habits and less than $200 of home improvements.

Pamela said...

Ooh, I didn't know the citrus peel one! That's great to know, as we have indoor-outdoor cats, and I would have a cow if they started fertilizing our raised beds.

If you don't want to waste beer on slugs, you can also edge your beds with copper strips. The copper gives the slugs a little jolt. (I haven't tried this yet, just read about it.)

Our most recent changes. Well, I switched from tampons to the Diva Cup, and we are ditching paper napkins and paper towels, and using the cloth versions of each. Plus, I started a worm farm, and almost all our kitchen waste goes to feed those guys. Oh, and just today, I started my first sprouts for eating! Lots of changes afoot, and more to come. Getting greener is fun!

Heather @ SGF said...

Sera - Those pan scrubbers sound pretty cool! Do you make them just for yourself or gift them to friends and family as well?

Michelle - Yeah, I'm definitely into the gardening lately! There will be some big changes in the back yard - coming to a blog post near you :) What kind of reusable bags are you using instead of zip bags?

Theresa - Those sprouts sounds super cool. I'm definitely going to try those one of these days. You make it seem so easy!

Karen - I'm guessing that's a serious challenge for you in the midwest. Brr! Good for you!

BlondOverboard - Do you raise bunnies for sale or are they pets? What a great way to save money and go green! We've joked around about getting a goat, but it would no longer work since we're filing the backyard with veggies :)

Green Resolutions - It's amazing how hard it is to reduce plastic use until you give it a try. It really takes some dedication. Way to be green!

Sharli - I have this great mental image of the boys' hands and face covered in pasta sauce :) I think I'm gonna need pictures... Cloth napkins are a great way to go. And ESPECIALLY with little ones and their messes - just think about all the paper towels you won't need to buy!

Colin - That's awesome! And I love that not only do you get your errands done, but you get a nice dose of health exercise in the meantime!

Over Coffee - I've read that bit about the baking soda and vinegar, but haven't had a chance to give it a go. I'm glad to know it works! Cleaners made of baking soda, vinegar, etc are great green tips too. I started making my own window cleaner. Talk about cheap and easy!

Condo Blues - Wow! Way to go! That's a huge difference for very little input. Have you found that the effort in changing your habits ends up being natural after a little while?

Pamela - Another great tip about the copper. Thanks! Sounds like you are making a lot of great changes and are enjoying the results. I have to agree - going green really IS fun!

Green Bean said...

No need to add me to the list but I am so using the citrus idea for our neighbor's cats who love to do their business under the boys' swing set.

Glenda said...

Love the citrus peel tip -- the cat across the street drives us (and our dogs!) crazy by using our front yard flowerbeds as litter boxes -- I'll be tossing some citrus peels out there in the coming weeks.

Our most recent green change is doing totally away with kleenex. I bought a couple yards of flannel at half price and made hankies out of them. Even when my son and I are both suffering from allergies, we've managed to not run out of cloth hankies. (But just in case, I do have some other flannel that can be used to make more hankies.) This one change has made a huge impact on our grocery budget, as well as in the amount of trash we generate.

I would love to be entered in the drawing for this book. I was tickled when I saw on Crunchy's blog that you won it, and I had put it on my library book list at that. If I win your giveaway, I'll read the book then pass it along to someone else via a giveaway on my blog!

KLund said...

Over the last 6 months we've made many changes-recycling, composting, reducing our consumption of energy, cloth napkins, more local organic food, push mower, clothes line, reusable shopping bags, one car, more bicycling, and many more....

But the most recent are...I have asked my mom to knit us some more washcloths for the kitchen (no more sponges) and eating all veggie meals (was vegetarian for about 9 years and sorta fell off the wagon), but with my son going vegan recently, and learning more about factory farming and the environmental impact of meat animals (there is more of an impact of animals raised for food on the environment than there are all the cars, trains, planes buses, etc.)it has really helped us to change our perspective.

Chile said...

Most recent green change would be using retained heat cooking when it's too cloudy to cook with the sun.

The book sounds like it would be good for a read through or two and then passing on again to someone else. :)

blondeoverboard said...

the rabbits are just for poop :) oh, and the neighborhood kids love to come play with them. it gives me an opportuity to talk to them about gardening, closed systems and using what you have. i try to send each kid home with something they've helped picked out of the garden. it's neat to see a 5 yr old get excited about brussel sprouts.

Heather @ SGF said...

Green Bean - Eew. Good luck!

Glenda - Yeah for cloth hankies! I always have a cloth napkin with me that I use both as a hanky when I need it or a napkin. It comes in so handy and I just keep tossing it in the wash with everything else. I'm super impressed you made your own. Sewing is one of those things I've never learned - unless you include 8th grade home ec, but I'm kinda 20 years past that...

KLund - You have been a busy little bee! Good for you! Those knitted cloths will be great in the kitchen! We still use a sponge. Maybe it's time for a change!

Chile - Does it ever get cloudy there? Just kidding. What kinds of stuff have you made so far using retained heat?

BlondeOverboard - What a great way to spread the word. I know what you mean about watching the kids get excited. I love watching to see what the kids will pick out at our farmers' market each week.

The Cooking Lady said...

WE have started composting. Woo Hoo! And we are using our grey water from the shower to water our garden. Another Woo Hoo!

Misty said...

Hi,
I've starting making LOTS more foods and meals from scratch to cut out packaging and additives. I take a lot of pride in this effort!

Heather @ SGF said...

Cooking lady - it's amazing how much water you save by saving it from the shower isn't it? Good for you!

Misty - That's wonderful! It can be hard at first, if you aren't used to it, but the food is SO much better...