Hot weather can wreak havoc on your garden. Here’s how to protect your plants during a heatwave.
High temperatures can dehydrate your garden, so apply a liberal layer of mulch to reduce evaporation. Opt for light-colored mulch such as dry grass clippings, as this will reflect sunlight and help keep the ground cool.
If you water your plants early in the morning, you’ll give them more time to absorb the water before it evaporates. This will help protect shallow roots from dehydration and reduce the risk of heat stress, which is essentially a plant sunburn.
Install shade cloth over your plants to protect them from the sun during periods of extreme heat. You can find this product in various sizes at your local garden center. Just be sure not to enclose the plants, as this will trap heat and reduce air circulation.
Finally, remember to protect yourself as well. Wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat when you garden, and avoid strenuous outdoor work during heat waves.
7 books to reflect on
Are you looking to expand your reading list? Here’s a selection of literary works that’ll encourage you to contemplate a variety of social issues and what it means to be human.
1. 1984 by George Orwell
This seminal dystopian social science fiction novel depicts a future characterized by totalitarian rule, mass surveillance and the persecution of independent thinking.
2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
In a dystopian society where books are outlawed, a fireman tasked with burning any volume he finds begins to question his role in censoring literature and destroying knowledge.
3. King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes
Originally published in French, this book is a series of essays that combine the stylings of a memoir and a feminist manifesto to denounce the subjugation of women.
4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Set in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, this novella recounts the year-long friendship of a struggling writer and a young woman who rejects social conventions.
5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
With the help of simple yet elegant illustrations, this beloved classic explores friendship, love, and the things that are lost when children grow up.
6. Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
The author explores themes of vanity and technological advancement in a story about the creation of a monster that’s rejected by society due to its grotesque appearance.
7. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
This absurdist tale, in which a man struggles to adjust after he inexplicably transforms into a giant insect, alludes to the alienation experienced by those who are different.
Look for these and other intriguing titles at the Royal Oak bookstore.
What you need for a butterfly garden
Many plants rely on butterflies to pollinate them. Here’s what you’ll need to create a habitat for these beautiful insects in your backyard.
• Sunshine. Choose a site that gets plenty of sunlight and is sheltered from the wind. Add a few flat rocks, so butterflies can warm up.
• Host plants. Adult butterflies need to lay their eggs on plants that caterpillars can eat such as dill, fennel, milkweed, and parsley.
• Mud puddles. Some butterflies get their nutrients from the water in damp soil and sand, so leave a few areas free of mulch and keep them moist.
• Nectar plants. Asters, coneflowers, milkweed, phlox, and zinnias are just some of the flowering plants that attract butterflies. Choose species native to your region.
• Varied blooms. To provide butterflies with a viable home, you’ll need a variety of plants, so there are flowers in your garden from spring until fall.
In the fall, let leaves accumulate in your garden so that caterpillars, chrysalises, and dormant adults have a warm place to overwinter.
7 tips to make spring cleaning more
Are you ready to freshen up your home after a long winter cooped up inside? Here are seven ways to give your house the deep clean it needs while also helping to protect the environment.
1. Air-dry your laundry
Since dryers use a massive amount of energy, take advantage of nice weather by hanging your clothes and linens outside or use a drying rack.
2. Opt for natural cleaners
Choose biodegradable products rather than harsh chemicals that harm the environment. You can also use white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice to get the job done.
3. Use water sparingly
Fill a bucket rather than repeatedly opening the tap to rinse your cloth. When possible, use a broom instead of a mop.
4. Switch to reusable rags
Give up paper towels for good. Buy washable cloths, or better yet, use cut-up towels and old T-shirts that would otherwise be thrown out.
5. Donate unwanted clothes
If they’re in good condition, you can give old clothes to a local charity. Items that can’t be worn anymore should be recycled. Look for a garment collection program in your area.
6. Reduce paper waste
If an accumulation of bank statements and other mail is creating clutter in your home, switch over to receiving notifications by email instead.
7. Choose a natural scent
Rather than rely on aerosol air fresheners, fill your home with the natural fragrances of cut flowers, essential oils, reed diffusers, or stovetop potpourri.
Lastly, make sure to schedule maintenance calls for all your appliances. This will ensure they continue to run optimally and are as energy-efficient as possible.
4 challenging vegetables to grow
With enough sunlight and water, most vegetables are easy to grow. However, if you’re looking for a challenge, here are four crops that gardeners tend to struggle with.
• Carrots need to be consistently watered and weeded. They also require soil that has the right nutrients and temperature to avoid coming out skinny, cracked, deformed, or bitter.
• Cauliflower heads can turn brown in boron-deficient soil or develop a yellow tint if the plant gets too much sun. Additionally, exposure to temperature fluctuations early in the season can stunt its growth.
• Celery stalks may go to seed too soon or not grow at all if exposed to cold temperatures. They also need soil with just the right amount of calcium and boron.
• Head lettuce requires more time to mature than leaf lettuce. This increases the likelihood that the plant will go to seed too soon and give the leaves a bitter taste.
If you need advice about growing vegetables, speak with the experts at your local farmers market, nursery, or garden center.
An overview of ‘eco-design’ and ‘eco-friendly’ products
Do you want to be a more eco-conscious consumer? Here’s what you need to know about ecological design and eco-friendly products, so you can use your purchasing power for the good of the planet.
An “eco-design” product or service is one that’s created using methods of production that limit its environmental impact. This approach requires companies to take various factors into consideration, including the environmental and financial costs, the lifespan of the product, and the ways the manufacturing process can be optimized. In some cases, eco-certification standards must also be considered.
Additionally, when a company develops a product in accordance with ecological design principles, it takes into account the environmental impact of every step in the manufacturing process, from sourcing materials to product distribution. This includes the potential depletion of natural resources, pollution, greenhouse gas emission, and energy consumption.
By creating products in this manner, companies can meet both the expectations of increasingly eco-conscious consumers and the requirements of local environmental protection regulations.
Products and services are considered eco-friendly if they provide the same or better results compared to the generic version, while also creating considerably less air, water, or land pollution. These products are generally manufactured using eco-design principles, but they also have little to no impact on the environment during their lifespan. Additionally, eco-friendly products are either biodegradable or can be recycled or repurposed as part of a circular economy.
If you want to use your purchasing power to help protect the environment, find out which local businesses have eco-friendly initiatives and practices, and be sure to buy their products or services.
4 activities to teach kids about the environment
Do you want to teach your children about the importance of protecting the planet? Here are four fun activities you can do as a family.
1. Gardening. Whether you grow herbs on a windowsill or plant a vegetable garden in your backyard, this is a hands-on way for children to learn about responsibility and how food grows.
2. Planting a tree. Once it’s in the ground, encourage your kids to observe how their tree changes with the seasons and provides a home for animals. They can even give it a name.
3. Crafting. Challenge your kids to make art out of cardboard boxes, bottle caps, plastic bottles, toilet paper rolls, and other recyclable materials. A quick online search will provide plenty of inspiration.
4. Exploring. Children can learn a lot simply by getting close to nature on a hike or bike ride. Alternatively, you can visit a local farm, botanical garden, or wildlife refuge. Many places also offer virtual tours.
Regardless of which activity you do, make sure to use the opportunity to start a conversation with your kids. Depending on their age, you can talk about how the environment affects their lives, why it’s important to respect nature, and the ways they can help protect the planet.
Mark your calendar!
On April 22, celebrate Earth Day as a family by coming up with ways you can be more eco-friendly at home and in your daily lives.