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Soil Prep 101 for a Better Garden Next Spring

Soil Prep 101 for a Better Garden Next Spring

Franklin D. Roosevelt soil quote

Did you know that Fall is a great time to get your soil* ready for next year’s garden?

Listen to this Green Divas in the Garden segment for some soil prep tips that can ensure a better garden next Spring. Then read on for more…

Invest in soil prep now

We have time to devote to soil prep now—the frenzied activity focused on flowers and fruits is finished.

We can have our soil tested, put all those falling leaves to good use, and plant cover crops to our gardens’ advantage. These steps will result in an ever-improving healthy soil.  

Be aware that we can only change the make-up of a soil to a limited extent. For example, it’s not going to matter how much mulching and amending I do in the high desert of Arizona—those soils are not going to be hospitable in the long term for plants that want to live in moist acid peat bogs!

Knowing what will grow best in your area, for your soil type, light conditions, gardening zone and exposure (wind, humidity, etc.) is important for plant selection. Putting that knowledge together with optimal soil preparation will supercharge your results! 

5 reasons for soil testing

According to the University of Massachusetts, (which has other great info, by the way) there are five good reasons for getting a soil test.  You will…

1. know what fertilizer you need to add

2. know what your soil pH is and what you can do to adjust it if necessary 

3. have an economic benefit since you only need to buy what you need and you won’t be spending money on excess amendments,

4. be environmentally responsible since you won’t be polluting waterways with excess nutrients that runoff or pollute the soil since they aren’t used by the plants.

5. be alerted to elevated levels of lead or other toxic heavy metals.  (if you request those results in your test—if in the inner city, I would request it.)  

Taking a soil sample is an easy process

Basically you decide what you’re going to plant, choose the area (keeping in mind the sun/shade/wind/other factors like black walnut trees!), gather soil samples from a few sites in the area, mix them in a bucket, put a small sample of the mix in a plastic bag and label it. Send it in with the lab’s form and a check and, for example, for around $20, receive a report telling you what should be added to the soil, if anything, in order to best prepare the area to grow the types of plants you want to grow. (The $20 version does not include a heavy metal test at my lab.)

If you’re going to grow vegetables, the requirements will be VERY different than if you are planting a perennial border. The soil reports I order tell me the pH of the soil in the area and the amount of amendment to be added to adjust the pH. They also tell me the amount of organic matter in the soil and the levels of plant nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium. 

There are detailed instructions at the University of Massachusetts, and other soil science lab sites like algreatlakes.com.

Beneficial cover crops 

Planting cover crops is another way to add beneficial organic matter and nutrients to soil. As an added benefit, fall cover crops can be useful to reduce weeds in open beds, reduce the amount of soil lost to water or wind erosion in the winter if the area is not planted (such as in a vegetable bed) and improve the amount of organic matter in the soil if the crop is tilled in as green manure.

Cover crops can even be sown in between rows of vegetables during the summer to reduce weeds and reduce soil compaction. We are sowing annual rye in raised garden beds that held tomatoes and peppers that will be finished in the next few weeks. It will germinate at low temperature and can be planted later than other cover crops.

Highmowingseeds.com and groworganic.com are good organic cover crop seed sources that also provide excellent resources for calculating what types of cover crops will work best for your garden needs. 

Leaf mulch is free

Every year we look forward to leaves falling from the trees since they’re “free” mulch we can use in our garden for the winter and in years to come.

We usually mow the leaves that fall at least three times to break them up, then apply them in our mixed borders (small flowering trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers) at the depth of 2″ if we have enough. If we ever had enough, we would add some to our compost piles. When we do have some stragglers at the end of the season, we rake them into the borders whole.

Don’t leave them on the lawn, since they’ll smother the grass. But otherwise, they’ll break down over the winter and provide food and cover for the plants and animals that are living in your gardens! 

Fall is a great time for soil prep! Make your garden’s soil healthier and ready for 2016 gardening through soil testing, cover crops and mulching with leaves. A little investment of time and effort now will result in a richer soil that is easier to work in, has better yields and is better for the environment than one that is over-fertilized with synthetic compounds. Your plants will thank you! 

The difference between dirt and soil? Dirt is dead soil.  


Listen to the latest full episode of the Green Divas Radio Show …

Catch the latest Green Divas Radio Show—and other green, healthy and free radio shows—daily on GDGDRadio.com (or get the GDGD Radio app)!

Main image via ShutterStock

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GVK: Learning To Trust Yourself

GVK: Learning To Trust Yourself
trust yourself in life

Image by Katarina Silva

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. ~ Goethe

We come into the world trusting ourselves.

But… life happens and we start to lose ground.

Jennifer Urezzio and I explored the topic of trusting one’s self.  

Trusting yourself takes practice.

I’ve got a gazillion experiences around not trusting myself and all the trouble I got into because of it. The inner voice is the Truth, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Or, in my case when I was younger, I simply didn’t care about the consequences and moved forward anyway.

I have definitely explored the dark side of life to see what it held, even though my inner voice—or my Self— was screaming NO!!

Seriously, sometimes my life played out like a scary movie, sans the monsters (although I’ve met some humans along my journey that could double as monsters). And it was those experiences that left me wondering how I could ever make a sane choice and trust it again.

The key is sane. Most of the time that I was meeting and having uncomfortable experiences, I wasn’t grounded. I wasn’t caring for myself in a healthy way—emotionally or physically. So, when the voice came in to move me in a different direction, I was too fuzzy to truly hear it. Now, on a few occasions, that voice has screamed at me to wake me up, which is how I met my husband, Jeff (hooray Voice!).

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Regardless of where you are in your process, know that your inner self wants your highest good.

You are not being “tested” (a term that I despise) by some outside force! You are here to thrive, so take a deep breath. Get a meditation practice underway, and learn to pick up the signals that are all around you to guide you into well being and love. Unless of course, you still want to wander around in the murkiness of uncertainty and fear. Want is the operative word here.

Jennifer has created a language of the soul to help you know who you are at your core which helps you maneuver in this world a lot more easily! Who doesn’t want more ease? I pick up every tool available to me and try it on for a while to see if it helps me be in the world in a more profound way. I have found Jennifer’s tool to be a worthwhile investment!


Listen to this more of my stories about following your inner guidance in this GVK episode—I’m sure you’ll be able to relate!

Catch the latest Good Vibrations with Kristin—and other green, healthy and free radio shows—daily on GDGDRadio.com (or get the GDGD Radio app)! 

Image via ShutterStock

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Eco Fashion: Why Recycled Plastic Clothing Is Not Sustainable

Eco Fashion: Why Recycled Plastic Clothing Is Not Sustainable


~ Written by Alyssa Couture

There’s a new fashion trend creating recycled polyester from recycled plastic bottles.

This polyester resin by-product of petroleum is considered sustainable because we’re recycling the bottles and reusing them to keep them out of the landfills.

Recycled polyester may appear sustainable, yet it’s not the case. Listen to this Green Divas Eco Style radio show segment to learn more…

Fashion industry manufacturing is one of the top most pollutant industries on Earth.

The workers of textile manufacturing are being exposed to hazardous chemicals like antimony from polyester. We’re being exposed, too, when we wear those fibers. These same toxins are being emitted into the air and water.

Sustainability is preservation of the ecology of our earth. We are part of that eco-system. We are not a wasteland. If plastic doesn’t belong in a landfill, it shouldn’t belong on our bodies. The recycled polyester garment is going to end up in the landfills anyway, and this makes an unsustainable product.

The concept of keeping plastic bottles out of landfills and wearing them instead doesn’t make sense.

There’s currently a demand of plastic bottles for the creation of recycled polyester. Manufacturers have even used new plastic bottles to produce new fiber which is completely besides the point of it being recycled. Due to the hazard plastic has in general to our earth, wearing them is not the solution.

Polyester fiber is dominating our fashion industry. Every section of the fashion industry: Outerwear, swimwear, activewear, formal wear, lingerie and hosiery, etc. All are significantly contributing to synthetic textile manufacturing. Many of them are introducing recycled polyester from plastic bottles.

Many eco-friendly brands are championing the use of recycled polyester, considering this product safe and sustainably engineered. It’s not sustainable. When we continue to manufacture plastic bottles, we’re validating the production by re-creating them as fibers. We’re making an effort to keep a material that takes over 700 years to biodegrade. 

Due to this boom of recycled polyester, manufacturers are creating tech fibers that attempt to mimic natural fibers. Even with fiber wicking technology, these fabrics—no matter how advanced they appear—are not supporting your body.

eco style, woman in green clothing

Synthetic material does not allow skin to breathe.

We need oxygen to survive. Wearing fabrics that suffocate our skin naturally make us more acidic. Studies show disease is affiliated with an acidic body from lack of oxygen. Synthetic fibers take away oxygen, blocking the oxygen flow of the body. It also disrupts circulation, and depletes our nutrients. Due to the polyester resin trapping in and locking moisture, the body not only loses its ability to breathe, the moisture supports bacterial growth.

Similar to nutrition, if we eat foods that are rich of oxygen—rather than deadening foods that are oxygen—this is going to alter our health positively. It’s the same for the fabrics we wear. We’re literally feeding our body every day with fabrics, dyes and treatments of the fibers. Whether we notice this or not, it is a significant contribution to our health.

Toxins from fabric treatments and chemicals latch onto sweat and enter through the pores making their way into the blood stream. When chemicals and toxins get through the skin, our largest organ, it bypasses the liver. The liver helps filter and remove toxins. When chemicals and toxins enter through the skin, there is no filter, which results in a worse reaction and chemical disposition.  

If we want to create a green planet (and be healthy) one of the most important things we need to work with are plant fibers. We must focus on limiting and even eliminating the production of synthetic clothing. If we want to create a harmonious balance within a sustainable earth and our system we must wear natural fibers.

Natural fibers are of the earth.

Chemically made fibers are a repercussion of a synthetic world. If we wear plastic we are supporting the creation of more plastic. This is not sustainable, it hurts our bodies and it destroys our Earth. 


Listen to the latest Green Divas Radio Show …

Catch the latest Green Divas Radio Show—and other green, healthy and free radio shows—daily on GDGDRadio.com (or get the GDGD Radio app)!

Image via ShutterStock

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alyssa coutureAlyssa Couture is Founder/Owner of her brand Alternative Fashion, an eco and ethical womenswear label launched in Spring 2015. Alternative fashion supports a healthy lifestyle.

She’s also Founder/Owner of Alternative Fashion Media, a news/media platform focused on educating both the consumer and fashion industry professionals.

You can connect with Alyssa on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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Lawsuit Asks For Regulations To Address Underwater Oil Pipeline Spills

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National Wildlife Federation says federal agency has allowed pipelines to operate illegally for two decades.

North Charleston South Carolina floods Hurricane Joaquin flooded street stormwater

Photo courtesy Christopher M. Yaw / U.S. Coast Guard via Flickr Creative Commons
Line 5, a 62-year-old oil pipeline, crosses underneath the Straits of Mackinac, a band of water connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Concern about an oil spill in the Straits contributed to a lawsuit this week that asks the U.S. Department of Transportation to require oil spill response plans for the underwater portions of pipelines across the country. Click image to enlarge.

By Codi Kozacek
Circle of Blue

Spurred by concern over an oil pipeline crossing beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the National Wildlife Federation on Thursday filed a lawsuit claiming that the federal agency responsible for regulating pipelines has failed to comply with the Clean Water Act.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court for Eastern Michigan, says the U.S. Department of Transportation has not reviewed or approved response plans for oil spills from pipelines that cross rivers and lakes. Currently, pipeline operators are required to submit response plans for oil spills occurring along the portion of the line that crosses land, but are not required to complete separate plans for spills that occur in areas where the line travels through or under inland waterways. According to the lawsuit, this is a violation of the Clean Water Act and a 1990 Oil Pollution Act directive to regulate spill plans for “transportation-related inland offshore facilities”.

“This lawsuit is based on the Department of Transportation’s failure to perform a duty imposed by the Clean Water Act to make sure oil pipelines in navigable waters landward of the coast have adequate resources to respond to a worst-case oil spill,” Neil Kagan, senior counsel for the NWF, told reporters during a press conference Thursday. “DOT has never fulfilled this duty, even though it was imposed more than 20 years ago.”

This lawsuit is based on the Department of Transportation’s failure to perform a duty imposed by the Clean Water Act.”

–Neil Kagan, senior counsel
National Wildlife Federation

High-profile oil spills and pipeline system expansions to accommodate an influx of heavy crude oil flowing into across the United States and Canada have focused attention on pipeline safety over the past five years. In 2010, a pipeline near Michigan’s Kalamazoo River ruptured and created the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. A pipeline spill in Arkansas in 2013 polluted a nearby lake. Earlier this year, a pipeline underneath the Yellowstone River in Montana spilled more than 113,000 liters (30,000 gallons) of oil into the water. On September 30, Canadian company Enbridge, which operated the pipeline that failed near Kalamazoo, cleared the final regulatory hurdle for a project to reverse and expand one of its oil pipelines that follows the northern shore of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Nationwide, pipelines carrying hazardous liquids cross inland water bodies greater than 30 meters wide (100 feet) at 5,110 locations, according to a 2012 inventory by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). In the report to Congress, the agency, a division of the DOT, recorded 20 pipeline accidents in inland waters between 1991 and 2012.

“Cleaning up oil when it is in the water is a different process than cleaning it up on the land,” Mike Shriberg, Regional Executive Director of the NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center, said at the press conference. “That’s the distinction in the law that we’re really trying to ensure that the DOT actually enforces.”

NWF’s campaign for more stringent pipeline safeguards kicked into gear following the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill, Shriberg said. Since then, the group has spearheaded efforts to highlight the spill risk from an 8-kilometer (5-mile) portion of pipeline that carries oil underneath the Straits of Mackinac, the fast-flowing band of water connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The pipeline, known as Line 5, is also operated by Enbridge.

We have had an emergency responses plan in place for decades and annually schedule exercises to test the plan.”

–Michael Barnes, senior manager of operations and project communications

A report issued in August by a special Michigan task force expressed significant unease about the Line 5 crossing. But the company insists the 62-year-old pipeline is safe and said it has a plan in place to respond to a spill in the Straits, which modelers predict could spread quickly due to strong currents. Last month, Enbridge completed a voluntary spill response drill that simulated a three-minute incident that would release 4,500 barrels of light crude oil.

“As far as I know the drill was not a requirement by the DOT,” Michael Barnes, senior manager of operations and project communications at Enbridge, wrote in an email to Circle of Blue. “We worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and PHMSA (which is part of the DOT) to drill together. We have had an emergency responses plan in place for decades and annually schedule exercises to test the plan. The DOT requires having a plan in place, which we do. We are always looking to improve and update our plans—it’s a continuous improvement process.”

The post Lawsuit Asks For Regulations To Address Underwater Oil Pipeline Spills appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News

The Stream, October 9: England’s Rivers Under Threat From Climate Change, Population Growth

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The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

Water scarcity is a growing concern in England, where climate change and population growth are putting pressure on rivers. Meteorologists expect southern Australia to get drier this month as an El Nino progresses, and rice farmers in Pakistan are experimenting with ways to conserve water. The leader of Canada’s Liberal Party promised to address boil water advisories in First Nation communities. California found flaws in its oversight of wastewater injection wells, and Flint, Michigan, decided to reconnect to Detroit’s water supply system following health concerns. A mine in Colombia plans to divert water to reach emerald deposits below the water table.

“A Canadian government led by me will address this as a top priority because it’s not right in a country like Canada that this has gone on for far too long.”–Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, on ending the 133 boil water advisories in First Nation communities, some of which have been in place for almost 20 years. (VICE News)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

70 percent Chance of a drier than normal October in southern Australia due to intensifying El Nino conditions, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology. Guardian

30 farmers Number taking part in a pilot project in Pakistan’s Punjab province to sow rice seeds directly in fields instead of transplanting seedlings from nurseries, a technique that saves water. Reuters


Science, Studies, And Reports

California injection wells used to dispose of wastewater produced during oil production are inconsistently permitted and monitored by the state, a review by the state’s Department of Conservation found. The review was ordered amid concerns that the wells could contaminate drinking water supplies. Reuters

On the Radar

On The Radar

A combination of climate change and population growth is threatening the existence of some English rivers and raising concerns about water scarcity in the country. Government agencies estimate river flows could decline 15 percent by 2050 while water demand could increase by 35 percent. Guardian

A mining company operating in Colombia is looking to divert water under its Coscuez mine after finding that deposits of emeralds exist below the water table. Colombia’s emerald mining industry, once a major global producer, has declined in recent years. Bloomberg

The city of Flint, Michigan, plans to reconnect its water system to supplies from Detroit just a year after it began sourcing water from the Flint River. Evidence that suggested the water could be linked to higher lead levels in children prompted the city’s decision. Reuters

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Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News