Taking Care of Earth

How to be a good caretaker of Mother Earth

A.  Follow the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle:

  1. Recycle everything you can!
  2. Buy only what you need, avoid use-once and throw-away products
  3. Buy from environmentally conscience companies

In 50 years plastic use has doubled worldwide. Reports show that 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been manufactured since 1950. Currently only 9% of plastic is recycled, 12% is burned, leaving 79% in landfills and in the environment. 73% of beach litter is plastic, and according to the United Nations, ingested plastic kills an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year.

B. How to reduce plastic use:

  1. Don’t use plastic straws, buy a reusable metal straw.
  2. Don’t buy or use Styrofoam cups or packing materials
  3. Carry reusable refillable cup
  4. Buy glass containers for food storage
  5. E-cycle computers, monitors, keyboards, and other electronics
  6. Keep your cell phone for years, instead of buying the newest greatest model.

C. How to conserve water and energy resources:

  1. Monitor your thermostat at home to save money and resources
  2. Turn off water while brushing your teeth
  3. Catch shower water to water plants
  4. Fill you sink with water to wash dishes; don’t just let it run down the drain
  5. Load dishwashers and washing machines to capacity before washing
  6. Car pool, ride your bike and walk more

D. How to preserve wildlife:

  1. Avoid using chemicals in your house and your garden, even the smallest insect has worth and chemicals kill vital pollinators
  2. Do not disturb wild animals or birds. Leave nesting sites, eggs, dens and animal babies alone.
  3. Protect all fish, retrieve fishing hooks and fishing lines
  4. Leave wild animals in the wild and don’t buy pets taken illegally from the wild
  5. Protect plants by not picking wildflowers or trampling vegetation
  6. Respect wild trees, avoid chopping tree bark or cutting trees

E.  Be aware of pollutants:

  1. Keep rivers, lakes and waterways clean, remove all bottles, plastic and other pollutants
  2. Toss trash in trash cans, don’t throw any trash on the ground anywhere
  3. In natural area pack out your trash and dispose of properly
  4. Dispose hazardous materials properly. Call your local Fire or Police Department to find out how.

If we all do it,  then little steps can make a huge difference!

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas

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Re-potting a Christmas Cactus

After your Christmas cactus has bloomed, re-pot it into a pot slightly larger than its current container. Christmas cactus roots can easily rot if the soil is too wet, so the pot must have a drain hole and be planted in a lightweight, well-drained potting mix.   You can use potting mixes for cactus & succulents, which are readily available at garden centers, or you can make your own.

Commercially made potting soils can be used for Christmas cactus soil, if they are amended. Choose a balanced pH soil mix without added fertilizers. The soil’s pH should be neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, not too acid nor too alkaline.

Below are four suggested Christmas cactus soil recipes:

  • 1/2 potting soil, 1/4 horticultural perlite, 1/4 orchid bark.
  • 1/3 Coconut Coir, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 fine fir bark.
  • 1/3 soil-less potting soil, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 pine bark nuggets.
  • 2/3 potting balanced PH soil with perlite, 1/3 sand

Submitted by; Carlotta Lucas

Resolutions for Gardeners

Good read!

Article by Kier Holmes for Sunset Magazine

10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener

I really like #10 – Increase Gratitude: “…spend more time mingling with and appreciating the flora and fauna…”

https://www.sunset.com/home-garden/garden-basics/growing-gardens#non-toxic-garden-resolution

Hummingbirds Winter Care

Keep hummingbird feeders clean to prevent mold and fungus, which can be fatal to hummingbirds. Refill feeders frequently so there is always an adequate supply of nectar for overwintering hummingbirds.   Do not prune shrubs or trees near feeding areas in fall so hummingbirds have plenty of sheltered places to perch and rest between feedings. Bring feeders indoors to warm/ defrost and rotate out with other feeders.

Below are some methods to keep the nectar from freezing:

Hummingbird_feeding_in_winter

Photo by: Dan David Cook

  • Use a dome to protect from snow, sleet and ice.
  • Position the feeder to protect from cold winds and exposure.
  • Attach hand warmers to the feeder.
  • Heat tape such as used for preventing pipes from freezing.
  • Place a clamp-on/ clip-on shop/ work light adjacent to the feeder—about 12-24″ away would be as plumbers do when defrosting frozen pipes. Test the distance before you walk away. Try a 125 Watt infra-red light bulb, but not the red-glass type. Get an I.R. bulb with clear envelope, it casts a more natural light. Connect it all to a timer.
  • Place holiday lights around, above or below the feeder.
  • Insulate with any fabric.
  • Some say to alter the water:nectar ratio, but don’t do this! Keep ratio the same for hummingbird’s health and nutritional needs
  • Do not obstruct access to feeding ports. Use common sense and your best judgment.
Information from: hummingbirdmarket.com. http://www.hummingbirdmarket.com/hummingbird_articles/feeding_hummingbirds_in_the_cold.html
And, Seattle Audubon –  http://www.seattleaudubon.org/sas/Learn/SeasonalFacts/Hummingbirds.aspx