3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

September 14, 2017 by  
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One major issue a lot of backyard farmers have to contend with is water . All plants need water in order to thrive, and that generally means people have to hose down their gardens twice a day to ensure a healthy, generous harvest. With droughts and water shortages becoming more frequent, we need to be innovative when it comes to harvesting and using this precious resource: read on to find out how you can capture water around your own home, for startlingly less cost than you might have guessed. Trashcan Barrels For about $20, you can make a rainwater collection barrel from a simple trash can. What you’ll need and how to make it: A 20-gallon plastic garbage can—make sure to get one with a domed lid Mosquito netting A drill with a small hole saw bit 1 valve spigot that has a bulkhead fitting Waterproof duct tape or plumbing tape Teflon tape to secure the spigot Step 1 : Use your drill to create several drainage holes in the center of the garbage can’s lid. Then drill an overflow hole into the side of the barrel, about 3 inches down from the top. Step 2 : Cut a piece of mosquito netting large enough to cover those holes, and use the duct or plumber’s tape to secure it on the convex side. You’ll be tipping the lid upside-down to create a bowl, so you want the netting facing downwards, into the barrel. Step 3 : Drill a hole about 3 inches from the barrel’s bottom, get your bulkhead into place, and then insert the spigot. It’s a good idea to use the teflon tape around the spigot first to make sure it’s watertight, and then twist it firmly into place to secure it. Step 4 : Secure that upside-down lid onto the barrel, and seal with duct tape. You’ll need to prop your barrel a foot or two above the ground, so stack up some cement masonry blocks or random bricks as a stand for it. Voila! It’ll catch rainwater when it falls, and the netting will prevent leaf detritus from falling into the water below. Related: Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments Earth Mounds Got a shovel? Then you can make these. Basically, this technique just involves moving soil around in your yard to create channels that direct rainwater to where you want it to collect. Pretty much every bit of land has naturally occurring microclimates : these are areas that are either higher or lower than the rest of the soil around them, or get more light (or more shade), or have different clay/sand/loam ratios. You can determine where the wetter microclimates in your own land are by doing a quick, heavy watering with your garden hose, and watching where the water runs. You can use your shovel to dig shallow trenches to divert water to where you want it to go, and use the soil you’ve removed to build up shallow walls on either side of that trench for reinforcement. You’re essentially creating mini streams that will flow towards the plants that require the most moisture, and away from those that prefer drier feet. Ideal areas that will benefit from this kind of diversion system are: Trees, especially those that produce fruit or nuts, as they require a lot of water Brassica beds: dedicated areas where you’ll grow kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on Lettuce beds: those greens are thirsty Corn rows: its shallow roots don’t hold water well, so it needs to drink often Legume patches: peas, snow peas, beans Related: DIY hugelkultur – how to build raised garden beds Mulch Say it out loud, just for fun: “mmmulch”. Satisfying little word, isn’t it? It’s also a tremendously effective way to collect (and keep) moisture in your garden. A lot of people end up watering their food gardens far more often than should be necessary because so much moisture is lost through evaporation, so the best way to combat that is with mulch . Grass clippings, trimmed leaves from plants like squash and comfrey, and bits of bark can all be lain atop your garden’s soil—just make sure to keep it about half an inch away from vegetable stems so that it doesn’t cause root rot. Here’s a tip: lay strips of copper coil around these mulchy mounds to keep slugs away, since they won’t cross the metal barrier. Those slugs may love moist mulch, but the copper will keep them away from your vegetables. As an aside, don’t be too overzealous with your weeding: those inedible plants may be “unsightly” as far as a traditional garden goes, but they help to keep water in the soil and prevent erosion. Additionally, if you let your chickens roam around freely, they can feed on those weeds instead of on your vegetables. Unless the unwanted plants are causing real harm, let them be. Photos via Pixabay, Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

September 14, 2017 by  
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Even those who despise arachnids can’t help but admire the gorgeous peacock spider . And now there are even more of them to admire. Researchers from Australia have just announced the discovery of four new species and one subspecies, bringing the total number of peacock spider varieties to 65. Dr. Jurgen Otto in Western Australia has been studying peacock spiders for about a decade. Reportedly, four of the species are completely new to science and one is believed to a be a sub-species. “Each new species is a complete surprise — the patterns and colours of each species are so different and so unpredictable, you never know what the next one and its display and courtship dance will look like,” Otto told ABC News . Otto and Hill named 39 of the species and sub-species that have been discovered. Reportedly, the latest species were found in Western Australia , but the peacock spiders are more native to the southern part of the continent. Related: First spider-silk garment to hit the market is this necktie from Bolt Threads To help people easily identify the spiders, Otto has shared incredibly detailed photographs on his YouTube channel . “In most peacock spider species — and the new ones are no exception — the males are strikingly coloured, and the patterns and colours are very distinctive, making it easy to distinguish one from another,” said Otto. “Cristatus has a pattern on its back that resembles the Union Jack and in addition has eight plumes of white setae (hairs) at its back that no other peacock spider has.” “Electricus stands out by its striking pattern of parallel red lines that make it look like a circuit board, and trigonus can be easily recognised by the white crown at the tip of its abdomen that is not present in any known species ,” Otto added. “One could think that the novelty of this would all have worn off by now, but people still get excited when they see them.” These findings were published in the journal Peckhamia . + Peckhamia Via ABC News Images via Dr. Jurgen Otto

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Scientists discover five new species of the beautiful Peacock spider

Clever GrowMore planter expands along with your garden

September 6, 2017 by  
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GrowMore is a clever planter that expands as your garden grows. Designed by Danish architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum of Husum Lindholm Architects , the modular gardening system can be bolted together in a variety of configurations to host everything from mini pocket gardens to large food-producing crops. The GrowMore modular system is comprised of just six main elements including planting boxes, shelves, and connectors. The plywood shelves and boxes can be arranged to create large circular pavilions and funky free-standing planters. The structures can also create small “urban nests” that enable people to reconnect with nature. Related: Prefabricated garden retreat snaps together in less than a week Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum wanted to create a system that would make it easy for anyone to build their own three-dimensional garden – and they plan to make GrowMore an open-source system so that anyone with a CNC machine can cut their own plywood components to arrange as they see fit. “As architects, we have to address new technologies,” said Lindholm. “We have to think about how can we build and produce designs that people can grasp, and that they can build themselves.” Lindholm and Husum recently showcased the system at the Seoul Architecture Biennale , an exhibition of designs created for the cities of the future. + Husum Lindholm Architects  

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Clever GrowMore planter expands along with your garden

6 Surprising uses for garlic you probably didnt know about

August 17, 2017 by  
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It’s garlic harvesting season, and those glorious, aromatic bulbs are now adorning farmer’s market stalls just about everywhere. Garlic isn’t just good for flavoring bread and warding off vampires: it has many great uses for your health, as well as around your home and garden. Read on to find out some of its more surprising uses, and develop an even greater love for this fine and fragrant bulb. 1. Ear Infection Remedy The ancient Egyptians used garlic for its many medicinal purposes, as did the Romans and Greeks, and it’s safe to assume that it was used for thousands of years before anyone decided to commit such knowledge to papyrus. Olive oil’s polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, while the allicin in garlic is anti-microbial, as well as anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, so they work well together to treat bacterial as well as viral infections… much like the type that likes to nestle inside damp ear canals. What you’ll need and how to prepare it: The ratio of garlic to olive oil is 1:2, being 1 clove of garlic, minced (organic is preferable), to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The allicin in garlic stabilizes best in a liquid, but loses its potency quickly: be sure to use this pretty much immediately after being made. Step 1: Heat the oil in a small saucepan on medium-low heat, and once warmed, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add the minced garlic. Keep this on low heat for 20-30 minutes to draw the garlic’s healing properties into the oil without cooking it. Step 2: Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. You should be able to dip a fingertip into it without flinching. Step 3: Strain through cheesecloth or muslin, then use an eyedropper to administer 2-3 drops in the affected ear. Stop up the ear with a cotton ball and ask the sufferer to remain lying down for a few minutes to allow the oil to seep down through the eustachian tube.* Note: Garlic olive oil is also an effective treatment for ear mites in pet cats and dogs. Dip a cotton swab into the oil and apply to the affected ear, wait about 10 minutes, then use a clean swab to clean it away. The mites and eggs will be sloshed out, and remaining oil will help to treat the inflammation caused by their bites. Related: Researchers discover how nature makes powerful antibiotics that defy resistance 2. Topical Treatment for Cold Sores and Acne Those anti-just-about-everything properties mentioned above also work wonders for skin issues like acne breakouts and cold sores. You can just take a raw garlic clove, slice it, and rub the cut side on the affected area a couple of times a day to speed its healing. Another approach is to crush a couple of cloves through a press, and mix the garlic juice with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar. Apply with a cotton ball and allow to dry on the skin. 3. Disinfecting Spray Cleaner Ideal for cleaning countertops in your kitchen or bathroom: fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar, and add 5 or 6 finely chopped garlic cloves. Let this steep for about an hour, then spray any surfaces you’d like disinfected. Feel free to add a few drops of grapefruit, orange, or lemon essential oil to both boost the cleansing properties and improve the scent overall. 4. Cough Syrup Garlic-infused honey is a startlingly effective cough syrup, especially for those dry, hacking coughs that can keep you up all night. Keeping in mind how quickly allicin’s potency dissipates, make this about 10 minutes before you’re ready to take it as a remedy. What you’ll need and how to make it: 3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional) 1/2 cup honey (raw is preferable) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Mix everything together and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain, and take a spoonful of it immediately. Related: DIY throat drops and cough syrup 5. Organic Pesticide for House and Garden Plants This wonderful allium’s anti-fungal and pesticidal properties means that it can work wonders as a wide-spectrum treatment for all kinds of plant-related issues. What you’ll need and how to make it: 1 large garlic bulb: remove the skins from all its cloves 2 liters of water 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap Step 1: Crush the garlic cloves well with a garlic press, and mix with the water. Let this steep for 8 to 12 hours. Step 2: Strain well, and then add the castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s unscented. Step 3: Pour into a spray bottle, and spray your affected plants. This should help to eliminate aphids, borers, caterpillars, white flies, and slugs, and deter them from returning. Repeat every couple of weeks as needed. 6. Glass Repair This only works if you have a tiny, thin crack in glass. Have you ever noticed how sticky garlic is? Well, it’s a natural adhesive! If you drop your iPad and it develops a thin crack, slice a piece of raw garlic and rub it into the break. It’s sticky enough that it’ll keep the broken sides together, at least until you can get the glass replaced properly. *As with any other home remedy, this is not guaranteed to cure advanced infections, and can possibly cause more damage if the eardrum is ruptured. If the infection seems serious, or if the sufferer is in a significant amount of pain, consult a healthcare professional. Images via Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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6 Surprising uses for garlic you probably didnt know about

Gorgeous solar-powered greenhouse home in Sweden hits the market

August 7, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking for a gorgeous home surrounded by an idyllic landscape, this greenhouse hybrid is currently on the market for a cool $864k. Located in Gothenburg, Sweden, the A-frame residence has three bedrooms and a large, daylit greenhouse tacked on to one side. Equipped with various energy-efficient features and solar panels , the space is the epitome of green luxury living. The home itself has a beautiful interior design with white walls and polished concrete floors that create an open and airy living space. The latter, kitchen, three bedrooms and bathrooms are spread over the first two floors. However, the star of the home is located on the top floor – a massive attic space clad entirely in glass panels with exposed wooden beams, where residents enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Related: Giant greenhouse in Rotterdam doubles as a light-filled family home The new tenants won’t have far to go to the garden thanks to the massive greenhouse attached to the home. Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass panels and exposed wooden beams, the greenhouse was designed to provide a perfect climate for growing a variety of fruits and veggies year-round. The affixed greenhouse is more than just a fun gardening space, however. The home’s living area benefits substantially from having the insulation provided by the light-filled space, which helps keep it warm during frigid Swedish winters. It also reduces energy usage and costs throughout the year. + Eklund Stockholm New York Via Dwell Images via Eklund Stockholm New York

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Gorgeous solar-powered greenhouse home in Sweden hits the market

Antarctica plants show potential as natural sunscreen ingredients

July 28, 2017 by  
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Antarctica may be the last place you’d expect to find sunscreen ingredients, but scientists from Chile have a hunch the molecules that shield two species of Antarctic flowers from the harsh effects of the sun could also protect people and crops from the same. Researchers from Universidad de Santiago de Chile studying Colobanthus quitensis (a.k.a pearlwort) and Deschampsia antarctica (hair grass) under controlled conditions found that the plants were able to withstand high levels of ultraviolet radiation. A group of molecules in the flowers— Colobanthus in particular—act as a kind of solar filter to circumvent radiation damage, according to project leader Gustavo Zuniga. The only two that flower on the frosty continent, the plants typically grow in milder zones along its edges. Climate change is expanding their range, however, researchers said. Related: 40% of the top sunscreens don’t meet official guidelines for sun protection The university is on the lookout for partners who are able to use its findings to develop commercial products, such as natural sunscreen or human skin or gene therapy for agriculture. Testing could begin in earnest then. “It could be used in the not too distant future,” Zuniga told Reuters . “For example, for a crop that doesn’t tolerate increasing levels of radiation, that genetic information could be used to make the crop respond better.” + Universidad de Santiago de Chile Photos by Herson Rodriguez and Cassie Matias on Unsplash [Via Reuters ]

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Antarctica plants show potential as natural sunscreen ingredients

Rotating indoor garden grows up to 100 herbs and vegetables every month

July 14, 2017 by  
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Growing your own home garden has never been easier or more beautiful. The innovative Ogarden is a spherical indoor garden with a rotating circular wheel that provides an optimal growing environment for leafy vegetable and herbs. The compact, clutter-free home gardening system allows virtually anyone to grow up to 100 herbs and vegetables a month, with very little maintenance. Ogarden is a soundless, odorless growing system that was designed for any home environment and it comes with its own storage space inside the unit, making it an attractive garden space with little-to-no clutter. The system comes with a small bag of organic soil , and owners can choose from a catalogue of seedlings including lettuces, basil, brocolette, onions, cabbage, chives, etc. The first step is to plant the seeds in the soil provided and place under the neon lamp in the storage shelf. When the seedlings are ready, they should be transplanted into the growing tubes and placed in the individual slots inside the wheel. Related: Chic, minimalist hydroponic garden makes growing your own veggies a snap Once the plants are in place, the wheel slowly begins to rotate around a central lamp. A programmable bulb inside the lamp turns on and off depending on the plants’ cycles, providing consistent light to each plant. The greenery should be watered once to twice a week and – voilà – a variety of organic, home-grown veggies right at your fingertips. + Ogarden Via Uncrate Images via Ogarden  

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Rotating indoor garden grows up to 100 herbs and vegetables every month

Plant-based water filtration system works like a small Amazon rainforest

July 12, 2017 by  
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We take water for granted far too often. Whole civilizations have fallen as a result of over-exploiting water sources, according to Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate student Pratik Ghosh , so it’s imperative that we treat what we have with care. So Ghosh designed Drop by Drop , a plant -based water filtration system that explores more sustainable methods of obtaining water. The system is capable of cleansing home wastewater , and growing herbs at the same time. Drop by Drop filters water much like transpiration processes in the Amazon rainforest . According to Ghosh, his prototype is a mini biosphere that operates by keeping four factors crucial for transpiration – humidity, light, heat and wind – at optimal levels. “The moisture-laden air is strategically pulled out of the system and condensed to form pure distilled water,” Ghosh said on his website. Related: 6 ways to purify water without expensive technology A glass dome covers a plant in Drop by Drop, and greywater can be added to the system via pipes. Then, purification is up to the plant itself: a light in the system sets off photosynthesis , and the plant gives off water vapor that can ultimately be condensed to become distilled water. A pump controls airflow and helps speed up the process. Added salt can turn the distilled water into drinking water. The system doesn’t require much maintenance. If the owner’s away, Drop by Drop becomes a self-sustaining biosphere after pipes are stoppered thanks to microbes in the soil and insects providing carbon dioxide. The system puts oxygen into the surrounding air. Right now, the prototype takes 12 hours to filter one glass of water. But Ghosh said the system could be scaled up to cover a typical home rooftop, and could then filter around 42 gallons in 12 hours. Ghosh told Dezeen, “The idea is to change the way we procure and consume water at a larger level. In order to do that, there needs to be a change in the value system and what better place to start than the home? One can pour dirty water collected from the kitchen or even the bathroom into the system and the plants help you filter it.” Drop by Drop is his final year project and was recently on display at the RCA Show 2017 in London. + Pratik Ghosh Via Dezeen Images via Pratik Ghosh

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Plant-based water filtration system works like a small Amazon rainforest

Chic, minimalist hydroponic garden makes growing your own veggies a snap

July 6, 2017 by  
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Hydroponic systems let you grow fresh produce indoors, but they can be a pain to set up. Fortunately, Seedo just unveiled a modern hydroponic garden that takes all the fuss out of harvesting your own fruits and vegetables. The device looks like a typical mini fridge, but don’t let its simple exterior fool you – the Seedo is an amazingly high-tech system that can help just about anyone grow the urban garden of their dreams. Especially useful for those who aren’t blessed with a green thumb, Seedo’s high tech system comes with a number of features that make urban gardening possible in just about any environment. The system comes with a sterile hermetic ecosystem that keeps insects away and built-in cartridges that automatically release CO2 during the photosynthesis phase. To create a healthy growing environment on the inside, a full spectrum LED system controls the lighting and an automated temperature control function keeps the interior temp and humidity at precise levels. Related: Start an Organic Garden Anywhere Using Fizzy Farms Compact Hydroponic Grower The Seedo is a great option for almost any type of plant profile , from veggies and herbs to flowers and medicinal plants. In order to monitor the system from the comforts of your own home or while on the road, the Seedo system also comes with its own app and an internal HD camera in order to closely monitor your garden. + Seedo Lab Via Geeky Gadgets Save

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Chic, minimalist hydroponic garden makes growing your own veggies a snap

This amazing farm in a box can pop up on any city street

June 26, 2017 by  
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It’s sometimes difficult to find fresh, local produce in urban environments. To solve this problem, Finnish enterprise Exsilio Oy has developed the EkoFARMER – an urban farm in a box. With a little bit of water and electricity, the EkoFARMER can sprout a flourishing veggie farm on any city block. Over the past decade, urban farming and community gardening have grown in popularity, with small gardens sprouting on top of skyscrapers – but they can be complicated and require elaborate supplies. EkoFarmer is a 13-meter long farming module that can be installed where there is a water and electrical supply. Containing ecological soil developed by Kekkilä, EkoFARMER was designed to produce optimal yields and be used for both commercial and scientific purposes. Related: Incredible rooftop farm takes over Israel’s oldest mall to grow thousands of organic vegetables Exsilio is currently on the lookout for co-creation partners that are interested in developing their own farming modules based on their own requirements. Restaurants and institutional kitchens can benefit from EkoFARMER, which can also function as an excellent complementary solution for farmers to expand their traditional greenhouses . Related: Boston’s Higher Ground Farm Will be the Second-Biggest Rooftop Farm in the World “EkoFARMER is an excellent option for business fields in need of salads, herbs, (edible) flowers or medicinal plants, for example. The social aspect of urban farming is also prominent. For this reason, our solution is suitable for associations wanting to earn some extra income, or societies wanting to offer meaningful activities for the unemployed, for example. This is an opportunity to create new micro-enterprises”, said Tapio. + Exsilio Oy

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This amazing farm in a box can pop up on any city street

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