Saturday, July 6, 2013

Green Appliances Buying Guide

Environmentally friendly clothes washer in a green grassy field
If you want to go green, having an environmentally friendly home is important; but with the choices out there, how do you really know if you are buying the most eco-friendly appliances and housewares? Sure, they may advertise themselves as green, but there are some things to keep in mind before simply believing them. This green appliances buying guide will help you know what to look for in your washers, refrigerators and other large appliances.

Green Washers and Dryers:

  1. Washers: Energy and water consumption in the home can be greatly reduced by using energy-efficient washers and dryers. There are a few things to look for in your future washers.

    Features of Green Washers:

    • Front-load washers: With a horizontal or tumble-axis basket, front-load washers lift and drop clothes into water instead of using a central agitator. This means that front-load washers use less water and less energy to heat it.
    • Redesigned top-load washers: These redesigned washers use a different washing action to clean clothes. Look for washers with sensors to monitor incoming water temperature and washers that use repeated high-pressure spraying instead of soaking clothes in a tub of water.
    • High spin speeds: The faster your washer can spin the clothes dry, the less moisture will remain in them, which means less energy spent to dry them in the dryer.
  2. Dryers: When online shopping for dryers, look for these features:

    Features of Green Dryers:

    • Moisture sensor: This will prevent you from over-drying your clothes and wasting energy.
    • Removable lint filter: Make sure you can get to the lint filter for cleaning. Clean your lint filter after every load to maximize the dryer's efficiency.
    • Variable temperatures: Switching from hot to warm or cold can reduce a load's energy use by half.

    Green Dishwashers:

  3. Updated dishwashers: An easy way to save at least $30 a year in utility costs is to replace a dishwasher that was made before 1994 with a more energy-efficient model. Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is used to heat water. When looking around for a new dishwasher, check out Energy Star-rated dishwashers. They use less water and 25 percent less energy than, making them a very eco-friendly home appliance.

    Features of Green Dishwashers:

    • Let dishes air-dry: Many dishwashers have an air-dry switch. If your dishwasher doesn't, turn off your dishwasher after the final rinse and prop open the door to let your dishes dry without heat.
    • Avoid soaking or prewashing: Soaking or prewashing is really only recommended for dried-on or burned-on foods. You can save water and energy by soaking and prewashing dishes by hand in the sink.
    • Avoid using the "rinse hold" switch: Using the rinse hold switch, especially on just a few dishes, can waste several gallons of hot water.
    • Wash full loads: Make sure your dishwasher is full but not overloaded. Washing full loads will maximize your washing while minimizing the amount of water you use. Overloading usually results in dishes that aren't clean, and this means another cycle through the dishwasher.

    Eco-friendly Refrigerators and Freezers:

  4. Energy-efficient fridges: As far as energy consumption goes, your refrigerator uses the most energy in your home. Increase your home's energy efficiency with a new refrigerator or freezer with an Energy Star rating and other green qualities.

    Features of Green Refrigerators and Freezers:

    • The right size for your kitchen: The larger the model, the more energy it will use. The most efficient refrigerator models usually have a capacity of 16 to 20 cubic feet, and the most energy-efficient freezers are chest freezers.
    • Top-freezer models: Refrigerators with top-freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than side-by-side refrigerators.
    • Automatic moisture control: This feature is designed to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. Automatic moisture control is not the same thing as an "anti-sweat" heater, which uses five to ten percent more energy.
    • Manual defrost: Can you defrost your refrigerator or freezer by yourself? How about when you find out that manual defrost models use half the energy of automatic defrost models? (Frost buildup raises the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running, so don't let frost build up more than one-quarter of an inch.)
    • Avoid extras: Consider buying a refrigerator without an ice-maker and through-the-door dispenser. Those extras cause the unit to use 14 to 20 percent more energy and raise the cost of your refrigerator by $75 to $250.

    Energy-efficient Heaters and Air Conditioners:

  5. Heaters: Keeping your home properly heated or cooled is a concern for just about everyone. Here are some things to look for in your heaters.

    Features of Green Heaters:

    • Ceramic-element space heater: This space heater can be operated at a lower temperature, releasing the same amount of energy, which will spread over a larger area. Ceramic heaters are able to maintain higher temperatures for longer periods of time than electric heaters.
    • Oil-filled radiators: The heating element is contained inside the heater, and once the oil is heated, it will continue to give off heat even after the inner element has been turned off. Because these heaters do not have a fan, they run quietly.
    • Infrared-based space heaters: Using the energy from infrared, air is passed through coils, which then heat a room. These portable heaters can be moved from room to room or wherever a little extra heat is needed.
    • Halogen space heaters: These heaters are also known as reflective heaters. They use an energy-efficient halogen bulb, but instead of heating a room, they heat nearby people and objects. These portable heaters are usually housed in cool-touch cases, have a double safety grill and feature automatic tip-over protection, which makes them perfect for homes with kids, animals or the elderly.
  6. Air conditioners: Central air units can be expensive to run, especially if you only need to cool a few rooms. Consider using an energy-efficient room air conditioner. When you are shopping for a room air conditioner, look for the following features.

    Features of a Green Air Conditioner:

    • Energy Efficient Ratio (EER): The highest EER will provide the greatest savings. EER is the cooling capacity of your air conditioner in British Thermal Units (BTUs) divided by the watts.
    • Special circuits: The standard home outlet has a connection for a 115-volt branch unit circuit. Any AC units rated at 115 volts may need a dedicated circuit, and any room units rated at 230 volts will need a special circuit.
    • Easy-to-clean filters: Filters that slide out are easier to clean regularly, which will keep your air conditioner working efficiently.
    • Controls: Air conditioning units with controls, such as digital readout thermostat settings and built-in timers, will help you adjust your air conditioner to use less energy.

Tip from

  1. Proper maintenance will go a long way toward keeping your energy-efficient home appliances working like new. Always remember to clean filters regularly and perform standard upkeep on your new housewares. The money you'll save in utility bills will more than offset the little bit of maintenance you do, as well as the initial cost of these more eco-friendly home appliances.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Safe Way to Eliminate Pests

Enjoy your summer!

For those of you looking for safe ways to be pest free see this link

Beats chemicals and keeps your family and friends safe.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Help all of us!


Organic Pest Control Series: Beneficial Insects

Day and night, pesticide-free organic gardens are abuzz with activity, much of it a life-and-death struggle between predators and prey. We seldom see much of this natural pest control, in which tiny assassins patrol their surroundings in pursuit of their next meal. Assassin bugs aren’t picky: They will stab, poison and devour a wide range of garden pests, including caterpillars, leafhoppers and bean beetles. Soldier and ground beetles work the night shift, emerging after dark from beneath rocks, mulch and other daytime hiding places to feast upon soft-bodied insects and the eggs of Colorado potato beetles. Aphid lions (the larvae of the lacewing) have a hooked jaw that helps them dispatch huge numbers of aphids, caterpillars, mites and other pests.
Learning about the beneficial insects in your garden will make it a more fascinating place, and help you tweak it in ways that intensify the work done by wild garden allies. This is often a simple matter of avoiding the use of pesticides (including organic ones) and growing plenty of flowers to provide beneficial insects with pollen and nectar. In greenhouses or other special situations, you may even decide to purchase and release certain lab-raised beneficial insects. This will not be necessary with the beneficial insects described here, because all will naturally gravitate toward a diversified organic garden.
Below we feature the best beneficial insects for your garden, each one beautifully illustrated. Get to know these garden helpers individually and make a plan for how you can incorporate them into your garden as part of your natural pest control strategy.
Check out the other sections of our our Organic Pest Control Series: Using Organic Pesticides and Common Garden Pests.

Braconid Wasp

Braconid wasps play an important role in controlling insect pests. Braconids are beneficial insects that lay their eggs inside or on host insects, and then the maggot-like wasp larvae weaken the host pest.

Read more.   

Ground Beetle

The busy ground beetles' diet can help control slugs, asparagus beetles, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworms, cutworms, squash vine borers and tobacco budworms.

Read more


Have you ever wondered, "What do honeybees eat?" If so, and if you'd like to attract these beneficial insects to your garden, this piece crammed full of honeybee information is a good place to start.

Read more

Hover Fly

Hoverfly larvae eat mealybugs and small caterpillars, and are especially helpful with organic aphid control. Adult hoverflies feed on nectar and pollen, and you can attract them to your garden with flowering plants.
Read more.   


Beneficial lacewing larvae prey on aphids, cabbage worms, caterpillar eggs and more. Learn how to attract these garden helpers.

Read more. 

Lady Beetle

Lady beetles feed on all sorts of garden pests, including aphids, small caterpillars and insect eggs. They even feed on powdery mildew. Learn how to attract them to your organic garden for natural pest control. Read more. 

Mason Bee

The mason bee is a great pollinator and can work blossoms at a lower temperature than honeybees. Mason bees are so named because they pack mud into their nests, like brick masons. Read more.   

Praying Mantis

The praying mantis is a beneficial predatory insect that provides grasshopper control and more. Learn to create an inviting praying mantis habitat.

Read more. 

Predatory Bugs

If your goal is to squash garden pests naturally by attracting beneficial insects, then welcome assassin bugs with open, dirt-covered arms.

Read more. 

Soldier Beetle

Brush up on your soldier beetle facts, including what soldier beetles eat, where they live, and how to attract this beneficial insect to your organic garden.

Read more.   


Pest outbreaks could be rare if you have lots of beneficial insects and spiders in the garden. Learn how to attract various types of garden spiders.

Read more. 

Tachinid Fly

The Tachinid or “Diptera” species is well worth inviting to your organic garden because of its ferocious appetite for garden pests such as Japanese beetles and grasshoppers.

Read more. 

Trichogramma Wasp

Itty-bitty trichogramma wasp larvae develop inside of and eat insect eggs, especially those of cabbage worms, codling moths and European corn borers.

Read more.   

Yellow Jacket

Yellow jacket wasps feed their young liquefied insects, with caterpillars, flies and spiders comprising the largest food groups during most of the summer. The effect: Adios, garden pests!
Read more

Read more:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another natural remedy....the last one works! I tried it

Homemade Drain Cleaner
It happens to all of us.  At some point, the kitchen or bathroom drain clogs and water backs up. At times horribly unpleasant odors are unleashed. While standard practice calls for lye-based drain cleaners, these toxic products can damage the pipes as well as your lungs. If preventative measures have failed to keep your drains clear, there is a natural solution.
Instead of reaching for that bottle of caustic drain cleaner under the sink, keep our water clean by choosing this homemade drain cleaner.

Clear your drain naturally

A Simple Recipe for Homemade Drain Cleaner
You Will Need:
2 cups baking soda
4 cups boiling water
1 cup vinegar

Directions for Homemade Drain Cleaner:
1.    Remove all water from the sink or tub and pour about 1 cup of baking soda down the drain. Make sure that baking soda makes it down the drain.
2.    Next, pour about 2 Cups of boiling water down the drain. The baking soda mixed with boiling water dissolves the sludge and gunk in the pipe, even if you don’t see it happening. Wait a few minutes.
3.    Now, pour another cup baking soda down the drain then add 1 cup of white vinegar  and plug the drain immediately. If you’re unclogging a double sink, plug both drains. You’ll hear sizzling coming up from the drain and see bubbles foaming up.
4.    When the bubbles have died down, add the remaining boiling water down the drain.
5.    Repeat this process if necessary. This can be used as a monthly treatment helps prevent future clogs too; simply pour a cup of baking soda down the drains followed by boiling water.

If the Drain Remains Clogged:
If the drain remains clogged after using the homemade cleaner, you will need to use a small plunger for sinks. The baking soda and vinegar loosens the clogging material, freeing the gunk with the plunger’s pressure. Click here for a video about how this awesome trick works!
1.    Fill the sink with enough water to seal the plunger around the bottom against the sink.
2.    Push down fully and pull up quickly. Repeat if necessary.

How Does It Work?
Baking soda is a base and when combined with vinegar, an acid, reacts to form carbon dioxide and sodium acetate (remember the volcano you built in science class back in school- same concept! This also works as a magic combination for vegan baked goods!). In drains, it works to create scrubby bubbles on the drain’s insides. Instead of rising up and out, as with the volcano, it is sent down into the drain dissolving the gunk. These natural, non-toxic ingredients get flushed further down ensuring a clog-free drain. Baking soda and vinegar are common, non-toxic ingredients posing no health dangers when used as discussed. They are natural ingredients preferable to the sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye, found in most drain cleaners. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, sodium hydroxide can burn skin. If swallowed, it can cause chest and abdominal pain, and has the potential to lead to death if it severely damages the lungs, tissue, or causes a loss of pulse or shock. Ewww

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mix your own non-toxic weed killer......Maybe worth a try

Thistles suck and they resprout from a piece of root 1/8 of an inch long.  Learn how to get rid of them without going to the dark side (i.e. chemical killers).

We re-graded the yard a year ago and its green pelt has sprouted a crop of thistles that would repel Norwegian invaders (which is exactly what happened in Scotland in the 13th century and that’s why Scots made the thistle their official plant.  I hope they’re happy.)

Is it possible to eradicate the thorny infestation?  

Before you answer, here’s some trivia about Canada thistle, the over-muscled cousin of Scottish thistle:
•    Its seeds remain viable for up to 21 years
•    Its taproot can travel to a depth of 5.5 meters (18 feet)
•    Lateral roots can extend as much as 6 meters (20 feet) in a single season
•    Those lateral roots produce colonies of clones
•    New plants can erupt from root pieces as small as 3 mm (1/8-inch)

Thistles are the zombies of the weed world.

Dandelions aren’t much better.  They’re poking through my heavily mulched flowerbeds as if to say, “Nice try, but a 10-inch thick layer of mulch is like a 4 SPF sunscreen for us piss-a-beds.”  (Dandelions used to be called 'piss-a-beds' because of their strong diuretic properties.)

I’ve found three effective, natural weed-disciplining techniques.  One is cheap, one is easy and one is so much fun you’ll squeal.

1. Cheap Homemade Solution: Boil 1 pound of salt in one gallon of white vinegar until the salt dissolves.  Add a squirt of dish soap.  Pour the cooled mixture into a spray bottle.  Apply to weed foliage.  This concoction kills anything green in about 24 hours and that includes grass, so watch your aim.  Cost: About $4

2. Scotts EcoSense Weed B Gon - The kid-and-pet-safe EcoSense formulation exposes weeds to excessive amounts of iron (absorbed through their leaves and roots when you spray it on).  Oxidation damages the interior cell walls and the weed turns black and shrivels to nothing over the next five days. The beauty of EcoSense Weed B Gon is that it only attacks broadleaf weeds, not grass (iron is actually a nutrient for turf), so you can spray it all over your lawn and only the weeds will die.  Suck it, weeds.  Cost: $20 for 2 litres, available at most hardware and gardening centers.
Weeds  062

3. Fiskars Stand-up Weed Puller - This is the squealy one. This tool rocks, literally and figuratively.  You don’t have to bend over at all to pull out weeds, even stubborn thistles.  At its business end, this lightweight implement has steel tines that grab the weed underneath the soil surface.  When you gently rock back on the handle (using the foot rest as a fulcrum) the weed comes out easily with roots intact.
Weeds  068
There are two Fiskars models - the basic model is $30 but it’s a bit short for good leverage, so if you can spend $50 on the extendable-handle model, it’s worth it for the extra length.  TIP:  The smaller the weed, the shallower you press the tines.  This will limit the size of the resulting soil divot.  Available at Canadian Tire.

I collected a heaping bushel basket of thistles in under an hour using my Stand-Up Weed Puller.  It’s the most fun you can have while naked from the ankles down.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dem darn mosquitoes.....

Get ready for summer

Plant lemongrass as a natural way to keep mosquitoes away

Eating Well in New England

It doesn't get any better than this!

Spring is finally here and all of us eagerly await the fresh foods and produce our gardens or in many cases local farmers cultivate.  A far cry from the cardboard tasting tomatoes and other produce sprayed with who knows what that we eat all year. 
Here is a list of some of great roadside stands and pick your own farms in Massachusetts.
We need to support these hard working people in order for them to survive and allow the “Green” “Organic” market continue to grow.  Besides, it’s healthy and taste great!

This may be a little early but who can wait!