Wednesday, April 29, 2015

5 Gardening Questions Answered by a local Master Gardener

I'm no gardening genius and most of what I know comes from fails- that is why I was excited to ask my burning questions to The Lindsay and District Master Gardeners at Seedy Saturday a few weeks ago in Lindsay.

"Master Gardeners in the Province of Ontario are experienced gardeners who have studied horticulture extensively and continue to upgrade their skills through technical training. With this training and continuing education, Master Gardeners provide expert horticultural advice to the general public."-Master gardeners of Ontario

Answers from Master Gardener Richard Evans- Lindsay ON

Q- What can I add to my garden this spring to enhance the soil?
A- Broadcast bone meal into your garden, unless your garden is extremely depleted (most soil is average) you don't need to worry to much about adding to it.

Q- What are the top tips for growing tomatoes?
A- Water soil (not the plants) intensely and regularly, about every 3 days.
Dig a hole where the tomatoe plant is to be planted large enough for a big bucket to be set in it (with the bottom cut off or holes in it to drain) , leave an inch or so to poke out above the ground, place some bone meal on the bottom, and than good soil and or compost to fill it up, than plant your seedling/seed. This retains water for the tomato plants and keeps bugs out, because they are apparently too lazy to climb over the lip of the bucket sticking out of the ground.

Stake your tomatoes as soon as you put them in the ground.

Trim leaves off of the bottom of the plant regularly.

Harden seedlings off in spring, start putting them outside as early as April (if it is warm) in the sun for an hour a day.

Q- What is the best thing I can add to my soil in the fall?
A-straw- again he mentions that you don't need to add to much to average soil.

Q- Onion seed's or set's?
A- Sets! Our growing season is too short for seed. Plant your sets, cover them with straw and pick them in the fall, do nothing else with them.

Q- Other tips?
A- Hill your greens. ( I had to google this- it basically means mound dirt up about 6" or so and than plant seeds)

Richard also said that he does not till his garden but loosens the soil with a pitch fork because some per annual weeds can grow from chopped up pieces, and they reach far down into the soil, steeling valuable nutrients. He also mentioned that for annual weeds you do not need to pull them, just scrape them off with a sharp ho, unless you really want to get down on your hands and knees and pick them- welcome advice!

Im going to try not tilling my garden this year. Because of this I have already been able to plant my onion sets and some greens- usually I wait until it has been tilled after the soil has dried out a little, also these things can take a little bit of cold, and if they cant- well I still have time to try again. I'm not sure if I can withhold picking weeds, is that weird, something about it looking neat and tidy makes me feel good. Im also going to try a few of my tomatoes with the bucket set up and see how it goes!

Happy spring!
Thanks for reading my blog!
Julia Taylor

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How To Green your Grocery Shop on a Budget in Lindsay

The top three things we can do to shop green is buy local, organic, and seasonal. Easier said than done.

If it was easy and affordable I would buy all my produce at the farm stand, all my pantry items at the bulk food store, all my health items at the health food store, and dairy products at the dairy barn, but let's be honest there is restrictions to doing that. Timing- the farmers market is only open Saturday mornings and in the summer months. I'm lucky enough to live close to a farm stand that is open 6 days a week in the summer months, but that doesn't help in the winter. Money- I'm all for organic but sometimes it is too expensive. Stopping 5 times isn't easy either, especially with children. So I have stream lined my grocery shops to Food Basics, Nesbitt's, Kawartha Whole Sale Bakery, and Jo Anne's and Burns Bulk Foods once in a while for specialty items. Here is why I love shopping where I do, and below some other tips to reduce your waste and footprint while protecting your health and wallet.

Food Basics
It is a Canadian Company.
It supplies local jobs.
It composts is produce waste.
It always has the most Ontario grown produce, every season.
It is the cheapest place to shop in town.
It has boxes if you forget your cloth bags.
It has a small organic produce section.
It has a great international section with natural products.
It carries these eco/organic products at the lowest prices around...
  • Organic Butter
  • Organic Bananas
  • Organic Cooking Oils
  • Organic Sugar
  • Organic Ketchup
  • Organic fair trade coffee
  • Organic yogurt
  • Organic Apple Juice/Sauce
  • Eco Friendly Dish Soap and dishwasher tabs/rinse aid
  • Eco Friendly Toilette Paper
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Quinoa
  • Natural Bacon , Hot Dogs, and Sandwich Meats
  • Organic/Natural Cereals
  • Organic Canned Tomatoes
  • Almond Milk
  • Organic Baby Snacks
Kawartha Whole Sale Bakery
After Food Basics I head over to the bakery, conveniently located right behind food basics for easy access. I buy bread here because I cannot seem to find a brand name bread that is soft and fluffy without allot of random ingredients, plus it is always fresh and the prices are great. I still have not come up with a way to eliminate the plastic bags for bread, but give me some time...

Nesbitt's Meat Market
Nesbitts' has an organic frozen section and the organic ground beef is very near regular prices. The rest of the regular meat is the same price as buying regularly priced grocery store meat. I think there is a misconception that buying at the butcher is more expensive, but I have not found that to be true.

Other tips for wallet and planet friendly grocery shopping...

Meal Planning
Right down 7 dinners/lunches/breakfasts and their ingredients, add your usual's if you need to and voila- you will waste less food and be more prepared for the week. When I first started this I saved
almost 50% off my bill! Another eco and cash saver is to add a few vegetarian meals to your list.

Trip Planning
Do it all at once and in a way that doesn't zig zag you all over town, saving you gas, money and time. You could always walk or bike too!

Reusable Bags and Containers/No produce Bags
Reduce your waste and your footprint by remembering your cloth shopping bags, ditching produce bags, and buying bulk and counter items in reusable containers. You can also ditch the single serving items.

Buy Whole Foods
The resources that go into processed food adds allot of waste and Co2 to the environment, not to mention the questionable ingredients. Cook from scratch with whole foods.

Thanks for reading my blog.
Julia Taylor

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hydro One donates 200 trees to be planted in Kawartha Lakes!

Ask and you shall receive!

Recently Hydro One has been cutting down and trimming trees in my neighborhood, I appreciate their efforts to protect the lines and keep my hydro on, however it is sad to see so many healthy trees chopped down.

So I asked them (actually I tweeted at them) if they would replace lost tree cover and they replied that they worked with communities every year to plant trees. Excellent answer! I followed up with an email asking if they had any plans of planting trees in our neighborhood, or city, and offered to help: or if they would purchase some trees for our community to plant. Well what do ya know they said yes!

Hydro One purchased 200 native seedlings from Richardson's Pine Needle Farm for us to plant at Gamiing Nature Centre, and we even get them in time for they're Earth Day Celebration this Saturday!

Come out and plant a tree! It is one of the easiest, funnest, and best ways to take care of our environment! Gamiing offers great educational walking trails and they are committed to protecting our local eco systems.

"As always, our native sisters and brothers will teach us to give thanks to Mother Earth for the bounty provided to us in the tradional native way. "- Gamiing

Check out some more details on the event here

UPDATE-- Communication mix up- Gamiing never planned on planting these on Earth Day-oops:) Most were planted on May 9th but there is still some that need to be planted if you need something to do  head over and talk to Steve or Meike. (May 25th 2015)

Julia Taylor

Thanks to Rusty at Hydro One for getting the trees for us, and Meike at Gamiing for the property to plant them on!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Saying 'grace' to this earth

Inspired by a family member at Easter who always delivers well spoken thanks for our meal, I thought I would say grace for this earth, although I'm not religious per se, I am thankful for this place we call home.

Thank you for this earth, your creation. Thank you for the food you provide to nourish myself and the community. Thank you for the water that provides so much life to thrive. You provide everything we need to live healthy lives, and so much more, you provide us with joy, leisure, culture, religion, and love.

May we be thankfull for all that you give and may we learn to give back to you. May we teach those to be thankfull for all that you provide and show them how to give back. May we protect and provide nourishment for you as you do for us.

I grew up in a society, on an earth, that when I am hungry I can go to the fridge or the grocery store to get food. To the tap to get water. To a building constructed of materials given to us by this earth, heated by resources form this earth. I am thankful for all that this earth gives us and I want to give back to it. I want my children to enjoy this same luxury, this same life-and better. We must protect this earth.

Thank you for life. Amen.

Julia Taylor

PS- Next week is Earth Week, lot's of events going on in CKL!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Join the Green Living Challenge!

The first module of The Queen of Green Coaching program is waste. I presented my 'families' with this small blurb (below) about why reducing our waste is important, asked them a few questions written by the Queen of Green, and through those questions picked from the list of goals; one goal to improve on something they are already doing to reduce waste, and a second goal that is new to the family.

Everybody was very interested and we had great conversations about boring waste! We even picked some really big goals!

Another thing I asked them to do was check out the rules about recycling and waste in their city (not all of my families are in CKL) You might be surprised at some things you thought you could recycle and you cant, or vise versa. At the very bottom of this post I will attach the Do's and Dont's for the City of Kawartha Lakes, although I will be taking a tour of the recycling plant in a few weeks and I would like to improve on that list and re post after.

Check out the small blurb and the goals, maybe
you want join in and pick a goal?

The City of Kawartha Lakes has a 38% waste diversion rate (diverted from being landfilled), and of that up to 1/5 is rejected at the recycling facility. We cannot solely rely on recycling, also it is not just the end result of the materials to be considered; it is also the natural resources that go into producing them, the energy that goes into manufacturing them, and the fuel used to ship that material around.  

When waste ends up in a landfill it breaks down and leaches into the environment, and although landfill sites are engineered to reduce, control, and monitor the levels of leachate, small amounts do end up in our water.

Waste is a waste! The average person produces 4.5lbs of garbage every single day (that is 1642.5 lbs a year). We pay for it when we purchase packaged products and then we pay for it to be land filled or recycled through property taxes.

Let’s help save the world and reduce our waste!
Possible Goals

o   Use cloth shopping bags

o   Stop using produce bags

o   Carry a travel coffee mug and re usable water bottle

o   Use reusable containers at meat counter and for bulk purchases

o   Stop buying disposable products (paper towels, dinner napkins, swiffer cloths, plastic cutlery, paper plates, saran wrap, tinfoil, ziplock bags, party favours, and feminie hygiene products)

o   Buy bio degradable disposable products (q tip, toothbrushes)

o   Buy products made from recycled materials (paper, garbage bags, toilette paper, tissues)

o   Reuse and return produce and egg containers from farmers stands

o   Compost

o   Make your own cleaning products (vinegar/water for everything)

o   Re sell, donate, and buy second hand

o   Stop buying single servings (Keurig, yogurt cups/tubes, pudding, cheese sticks, juice boxes)

o   Litterless lunches

o   Refuse straws (or anything disposable, taking your own containers for takeout or eat in)

o   Cloth diapers

o   Switch to paperless billing

o   Make your own yogurt

o   Re use plastic (cold storage only) and glass jars for tupperwear or storage

o   Print on both sides, or don’t print at all

These are the goals my 'families' and I picked
Compost x3
Recycle better x3
Purchase products made from recycled goods x2
Switch to cloth grocery bags
Switch to vinegar for cleaning x3
Cut back on throw away wipes/paper towels
Try homemade toothpaste x3
Switch to rechargeable batteries for business
Stop using produce bags x2
Switch to the diva cup x3
Make own beauty products
Reusing and up cycling items, recycling less

Kawartha Lakes Waste and Recycling Information

·         Containers must be rinsed and free of residue to recycle

·         Remove caps and lids (still recycle them)

·         Recycling in clear bags will not be collected

·         Cardboard needs to be broken down into manageable sized pieces

·         Remove tape, staples, and other material from boxes

·         2 bag weekly limit (40lbs max per bag)

·         No limit on recyclables



Blue Bin Yes

Glass jars • milk/juice polycoat containers • tetra packs • fibre coffee cups and fibre ice cream containers • cans • take out containers • foil baking pans • aluminum foil • plastic bags (sandwich, grocery, frozen food, milk, dry cleaning) • clean plastic wrap • empty aerosol cans • empty paint cans • plastic containers with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 on them • plant and flower pots • large plastic pails(up to 5g) • plant trays and cells • foam (cups, plates, take out containers, food trays, egg cartons)


Blue Bin No

Light bulbs • mirrors • dish or window glass • straws • metal pots/pans • coat hangers • vhs tapes • tarps • solar pool covers • plastic cutlery • motor oil or anti freeze jugs • toys or other large plastic items that do not fit in box • packing peanuts • dog food bags • bubble wrap • Keurig single serving cups • broken glass • plastic containers without numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7


Green Bin Yes

Newspapers • insert flyers • photographs • catalogues • magazines • phone books • mail • writing paper • envelopes (including window envelopes) • brown paper bags • fibre egg cartons • toilet/paper towel rolls • non-metallic wrapping paper • greeting cards • gift bags (rope, metal handles or other decals removed) • boxboard (cereal, cracker, detergent, drug, shoe, gift and tissue boxes) •  wax coated boxes (frozen food boxes and ice cream cartons) • cardboard • clean pizza boxes • soft cover books • telephone books

Green Bin No

shipping envelopes with bubble liner • polaroid’s • biodegradable paper products • pet food bags • peat pots • clementine boxes • paper towel/ facial tissue • fibre contaminated with motor oil or pet waste • paper coffee cups and ice cream containers (go in blue box) • metallic wrapping paper


Orange Box Yes

paint • solvents • batteries • pressurized cylinders • fertilizers and pesticides • anti freeze coolant • empty oil containers • oil filters • cleaners • shampoos • soaps • detergents • fire detectors • automotive products • swimming pool chemicals • fire extinguishers • photography chemicals • liquid glues • metal halide lamps • thermometers • thermostats • ultraviolet lamps • fluorescent tubes and bulbs (CFLs) • flea/tick products • rat poison • wood preservatives • hair dye • hairspray • hydrogen peroxide • jewellery cleaner • nail polish and remover • perm lotion or solution • rubbing alcohol • lighter fluid


Orange Box No

unknown materials • leaking or open containers

• fireworks • flares • ammunition • explosives


Other facts

Tires, hazardous waste, leaf and yard waste, scrap metal, and E Waste are free to dispose of at the Linsday/Ops Landfill

Anything 50% or more metal is considered scrap metal

Staples accepts empty print cartridges

Terra Cycle recycles cigarette butts
Thanks for reading my blog!
Julia Taylor


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Have a blessed and waste-less Easter!

Having a house full of family is so special, it also means tons of food and extra packaging waste.  

Happy Easter! What a great excuse to get together and have a delicious family dinner and extra desserts!

We have a big family, and that means a big clean up. A couple of years ago I was getting ready to take the garbage out, it was looking pretty explody and I knew there was all sorts of ooeey gooey runny stuff inside of it, but I ignored the warning signs, somehow I tied it together and went to heave it out to the garage- well I think you know what happened. It busted all over the floor.

While I was bitterly cleaning up the mess I wondered why we have so much extra garbage at family dinners? I starting take note of what was in the garbage bag, or on the floor rather. Paper plates, paper napkins, plastic cutlery, wrapping ect..and a bunch of recyclables because the recycle bin had already overflowed so people just started chucking it in the garbage.

I thought to myself- don’t we all have a set of reusable napkins? You know the fancy ones that you bought just for occasions like this? And can’t we use our own cutlery and plates and just wash them?

The answer is yes- we do and we can, so why don’t we? 

And why are we spending money on things to throw them away? But it’s easy, and it is paper so it will biodegrade, and we can recycle the plastic- but did you know that it takes allot of resources and energy to produce and ship these throw away items and then again to recycle them? 

I had never thought about it that way until this very messy day.

So bust out those fancy napkins, pull out that box of extra plates (or grab some at the thrift store for $5 bucks) and save some money and the environment. I also invested in an extra recycling bin to hold all of that extra recycling from having company ($5 at your local service centre) and if you are feeling extra green try your hand at back yard composting and reduce your waste by half!!

Now that is something Jesus will be happy to come back to!

Here is a list of wasteful items and there zero waste alternatives.

Paper plates/Plastic utensils- Use regular dishes and utensils, if you do not have enough, grab a set really cheap at the Salvation Army, and if you don't have room in the cupboard for sets of extra plates throw them in a box and stash them away until the next family dinner, even if you are not hosting next time you could offer to bring them, reducing waste over and over again!

Paper napkins/Paper towels- Use washable napkins and tea towels, you know the fancy napkins are sitting in the drawer for special events, well this is their time to shine!

Saran wrap/Tinfoil/Ziplock baggies- Use tupperwear and cooking dishes with lids, you could also invest in reusable cake/pie trays or bigger tupperwear pieces for these types of occasions. I grabbed a corning wear dish with a glass lid for roasting vegetables at the Salvation Army for $4!

Plastic trays from pre cooked foods- Use reusable containers and take them to shop at a local bakery/butcher. If you do end up buying some save them for next time or fill them with your own home cooked goods. The same goes for chocolate too, find a local chocolate maker- your gonna thank me for this one, you will never eat factory chocolate again!

Grocery and produce bags- Let's not forget our cloth bags just because we are not doing our regular grocery shop, and try to not use produce bags- I know that allot of people are uncomfortable with this idea, so just try it for produce that you cut the skin off to eat (squash, melons, bananas, ect..)

We might have allot of this stuff kicking around or we might have to invest a few bucks, but for every pound of plastic refused or reused we save a pound of climate pollution from entering our air!

Julia Taylor

" If current trends continue, the century will witness an unprecedented climate change and destruction of the eco system with tragic consequences"- Pope Francis, Patron Saint of the Environment and Animals.