They’re a healthy alternative to processed dog treats
First, and most importantly from your dog’s point of view, they taste delicious! Carrots not only provide a significant amount of nutritional benefits, they also taste good to your pets. They are slightly high in naturally occurring sugars so they’re viewed as a treat of sorts by your animals. It’s important to mention that in order for your dog to enjoy the nutritional benefits of carrots (which will be discussed below), the carrots must first be slightly cooked or steamed because the wall of cellulose within carrots is not digestible by dogs.
They’re good for their teeth
Chew toys are commonly used for the sake of “scraping” pets’ teeth in order to clean them. Carrots, in regards to their natural texture, could be considered a mini chew toy on steroids in that they are a tasty treat as well as a natural tooth brush.
They’re good for cholesterol
These treats are good for your animals’ cholesterol due to the low-fat and low-calorie nature of carrots. If an owner wants to treat their dogs with a “good behavior” snack, carrots are a great choice when trying to limit the amount of high-calorie doggie treats their pets receive.
The Beta-Carotene is good for their eyesight
Just as the old common adage might suggest, carrots are good for people’s eyesight as well as for dog’s eyesight. The Beta-Carotene prevalent in carrots in a natural anti-oxidant and a natural eyesight enhancer for your pet.
They’re rich in Vitamin A
Vitamin A, along with Beta-Carotene, can help your dog’s eyesight, improve their skin, and also foster a healthier and shinier coat. Vitamin A, as a general rule, is good for the overall health of your pet and is a great immune system booster. Keep in mind not to overdo allowances of Vitamin A as it could become toxic in extremely large quantities. That being said, it would take a significant amount of carrots to reach that point. So as long as you don’t give your animal an entire bag of cooked or raw carrots, you won’t run into this problem.
They’re a good source of Fiber
Because carrots are naturally high in fiber, they can be a good “regulator” for you pet if he or she is suffering from constipation or loose/irregular stools. Adding some additional fiber to your pet’s diet can help add consistency to your dog’s “business.”
Remember, treat your dogs to these tasty, healthy snacks in moderation, and unless the purpose of you feeding your dogs carrots is for cleaning their teeth, remember to always slightly cook or steam your carrots so that your animal can reap the nutritional benefits from their goodies!
Nobel-prize winning author John Steinbeck once wrote, “There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.” From spading the soil to planting the seeds, to nurturing the plants, to harvesting the resulting fruits, vegetables or flowers, the process of starting and maintaining your own garden can have immeasurable benefits for the mind, body, and soul.
Learn a New Skill
So maybe you don’t exactly have a green thumb; maybe you always forget to water that desk plant you bought last spring, or the flowerbed in your front yard is overrun with weeds. That doesn’t mean you can’t acquire the skills needed to tend a garden. Like anything else in life, it just requires a little practice and dedication and that thumb of yours will start changing colors before you know it.
Although startup expenses can be a deterrent, a longtime commitment to growing your own fruits and vegetables can make its mark on your grocery bill. Freezing or canning your harvest can help extend the shelf life of your produce to help you save year-round.
There’s a certain peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly where your food came from and how it was treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 29 pesticides in the average American’s body. Growing your own produce is one way to help yourself come in below that average.
Don’t tell me you’re going to grow all these beautiful fruits and vegetables and not eat them. Studies have shown that people who grow their own produce are more likely to eat healthier. After all, once you’ve had a perfectly ripe tomato fresh off the vine, greasy fast food just doesn’t have the same appeal.
Locally Grown is Better For You
Produce begins to lose its nutritional value the second it’s picked. That’s not to say store-bought produce has no nutritional value, but broccoli can lose up to half it’s vitamin C on the journey from truck to store shelf to fridge than it does when it goes straight from the garden to your kitchen table.
Share the Love
You’d be surprised how much your friends, neighbors, and coworkers might appreciate some spare peppers. Sharing your harvest doesn’t only improve your relationships with these people, but also encourages them to eat healthier and try new dishes that feature your ingredients.
It’s pretty difficult to grow a garden from the couch in the living room. Not only does gardening get you more sun exposure for some much-needed vitamin D, but three hours of gardening can burn as many calories as an hour at the gym. Why pump iron when you could be aerating a garden?
Make it a Family Affair
Working a garden together can be a great way to bond as a family. Plus, it’s a great way to get kids away from their electronic devices and connected with nature. Kids are also more likely to try more fruits and vegetables if they’ve been exposed to gardening.
Everybody has to deal with stress. Whether you need to reduce your road rage from your morning commute or calm your nerves for an upcoming presentation at work, stepping away from all the bells and whistles of modern technology to enjoy the great outdoors can work wonders for your mental well-being.
Reap What You Sow
There’s an unquantifiable satisfaction that comes with reaping the fruits of your own labor—especially when those fruits are literal fruits. Basking in the achievement of your own hard work is something we could all use a little more of.
As global citizens, we can all do our part in keeping the planet (and ourselves, for that matter,) as healthy as possible by living a more natural lifestyle. With billions of creatures relying on the same ecosystem, it’s imperative that we all make decisions which protect our most precious resource: this planet. This may seem like a big responsibility, and it is, but it’s often the smallest decisions you make that can have the largest impacts.
Tis the season, right? With a new year upon us, it’s a wonderful time to create new, and better better habits. Especially habits that your body, soul and mind will benefit from. (Not to mention, the planet.)
So, are you ready to start? Here’s over 30 ways you can live more naturally and love the planet more in 2017, starting with:
Stop Drinking Bottled Water
First of all, many bottled water sources quite literally use tap water. True story, and there’s more.
· Bottled water companies are not required to meet the same standards as municipal water.
Therefore it can be safer to drink water straight from the tap because you at least know what you’re getting. If that’s not enough, check out these facts:
· 30 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away each year.
· It takes roughly 1.5 million barrels of oil to produce that amount of plastic.
· It takes plastic bottles about 1,000 years to decompose.
That’s scary. What’s a better option?
· Invest in several stainless steel water bottles and use filtered water to fill them up.
It’s significantly healthier due to not being exposed to plastic-laden endocrine disruptors linked to cancer, diabetes, and neurological issues such as BPA (bisphenol A) and it’s much, much cheaper. Even though the initial investment is higher, using filtered water and stainless steel water bottles will very quickly pay for itself.
Reduce Your Amount of Waste
Recycling plastic, paper, metals, and anything else that can be recycled is a must if you’re going to go green.
· Reuse anything you can
Finding ways to reuse items is also a great way to make an impact. For example, use a reusable razor.
It’s estimated that 2 billion razors are disposed of each year by Americans alone.
That’s roughly 1 billion pounds of waste.
· Use alternative food storage as opposed to plastic containers.
Try using glass jars of varying sizes or stainless steel containers instead of plastics.
· Use reusable shopping bags instead of the plastic bags you get at the supermarket.
· Use fabrics to wrap your gifts instead of paper wrapping (it’s a great approach that’s gathering more and more converts).
In essence, find ways to reuse everything you can and recycle as often as possible. Plastic = No.
Stop Unwanted Junkmail
Stopping unwanted junk mail from being sent to your home is a giant step in the right direction in terms of going green. These numbers are scary:
· The average American household receives approximately 69 pounds of junk mail every single year.
· It takes roughly 24 trees to produce each pound of junk mail which adds up to approximately 96 million trees per year in America alone.
· It is estimated that about 50% of all junk mail is not recycled which suggests that about 48 million trees are carelessly discarded each year.
· Roughly 2,500 to 6,000 gallons of water are used for every ton of paper meaning that the junk mail industry is guilty of using anywhere from 10 to 24 billion gallons of water every year.
So, how do you help combat this atrocity? Opt out of receiving junk mail!
There are several ways to do this:
1) Go to the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) website which represents nearly 3,600 companies and use their opt-out service for a dollar (their website is very easy to navigate) and you can:
2) Visit www.OptOutPrescreen.com to be removed from the three major credit reporting agencies for 5-year terms.
An enormous amount of unwanted junk mail comes in the form of pre-approved credit card companies so visiting this website and opting out is a good move.
Find Ways to conserve energy
Conserving energy will not only reduce your carbon footprint but will also expand your pocketbook. Some simple ways to cut back are:
· Turn off your lights. When you’re not in a room, turn the lights off.
· Find ways to benefit from natural light and windows instead of having multiple lights on in every room.
· Switch to energy efficient bulbs. They’re more expensive at first, but they save you tons of money on your electrical bill, and they last much longer than conventional bulbs do.
· For those of you really wanting to cut energy usage, use an oil lantern instead of traditional lighting. It sets a great mood and is incredibly efficient. Just make sure you’re taking all the necessary safety precautions when using oil.
· Use appliances in the kitchen that are energy efficient.
· Keep the fridge closed.
· Use a programmable thermostat for the house and dress appropriately for the season.
· When washing laundry, wait until a full load can be washed before washing.
· Use cold water and find ways to air-dry your clothes.
Use Energy Efficient Transportation
Using your transportation more efficiently is a major step towards going green. Here are a few ways to keep Mother Earth smiling while traveling:
· Walk! Taking an extra few minutes and walking to the market can save significantly on gas and energy.
· Don’t be afraid to ride a bicycle when getting around in town.
· When driving, make sure your tires are properly inflated.
About 1/3 of vehicles are traveling the streets every day with under-inflated tires resulting in roughly a 10% decrease in their overall fuel economy.
· Use public transportation when possible.
· When driving, use hyper-milling techniques. Many people have increased their fuel economy significantly by using these techniques (I’ll be writing an entire article about these techniques soon).
· When traveling a longer distance, try to travel by train or bus instead of a plane for the sake of reducing CO2 emissions.
· Keep the oil changed in your car and do not drive aggressively. This combination will destroy gas mileage.
· Carpool when possible and partake in rideshares.
Support Your Local Farmers
· When possible, eat local organic foods. Most of our meals come from an average of 1,500 miles away. Eating locally will significantly cut down on pollutants caused by transportation.
· It helps keep plants healthy. Due to the fact there are no pesticides added, there are no superbug strains that come along and devastate a particular crop.
· It helps keep the animals healthy as there is no chemical exposure resulting from chemically engineered foods.
· It helps keep living conditions more natural and organic here on Earth by helping to minimize pollution, erosion, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and nutrient depletion.
Incorporate Green Into Your Personal Products and Routines
Going green with your personal care products is a huge part of an organic lifestyle.
· When using skin-care products, try and stick to natural products such as coconut oil. Our skin being the largest organ of our bodies plays a significant role in what we take it. Coconut oil is a wonderful, natural alternative to expensive creams and other products. It’s also great for your hair!
· When going out into the sun for extended periods of time, opt for a safe and natural sunscreen. This is very important because many popular sunscreens are chalked full of poisons for our bodies.
· It’s equally important to eat well! This is arguably the most important aspect of healthy skin.
· Using natural deodorants is becoming more and more popular among folks of all ages that are tired of poisoning their bodies with the increasing toxicity found in modern deodorants.
· Try natural shampoo recipes and try using natural mascaras and other all-natural makeup products as well.
Raise your children to be environmentally conscious
This is very important for all you parents, uncles, aunts, etc., out there. Adopting an all-natural way of life is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It’s a major step to a healthier lifestyle that will benefit you, your loved ones, and the planet itself. However, to make sure that the lifestyle continues down the road, you need to make sure your children are aware of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you’re doing it. Raising your children to be eco-conscious is a major player in the game of organic living. Talk about the choices you make with your kids. Lead by example and be a role model for your children. It’s important to remember not to lecture, but instead, to make it fun, interactive, and interesting.
Continuing Your Green Education
We’re always growing and evolving. Therefore, it’s important to be constantly learning. A green lifestyle is no different.
· Continue to learn more and more ways, search for more and more avenues, and become familiar as to why green living matters to you.
· Be open and honest about your choices. This plays a major role in the influence you have upon others regarding your lifestyle choices.
· Educate others through your actions and conversations without being judgmental or pushy. This is a powerful to expand awareness and education.
· Always be open to talking about the subject of organic living or answer questions from people on the subject happily and without scrutiny.
So, armed with this “starter-kit” of ways to go green and show the planet love, go ahead and dive right in and start incorporating these bullet points one by one into your daily lives for a more organic way of life. Your bodies will thank you. Your minds will thank you. The environment will thank you. The planet will thank you. And, let’s not forget the fact that the future will thank you.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for most people, however, it’s not always a wonderful time of the year for our planet. With all of the buzz around the holidays, it can be easy to forget about sustainability and put recycling on the back burner. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to easily start making recycling part of your holiday plans, starting with your Christmas tree! If you choose to use a real tree, that is.
Christmas trees are an excellent source of renewable resources that can benefit many, such as local wildlife, the soil, or local organizations. Just remember to remove all lights, ornaments, and hooks before donating or using it for any other purposes.
Donate your tree somewhere they can reuse it.
Many local non-profits take Christmas tree donations and then reuse them for projects in the community. If you can’t drop it off at one these, check with your city and see if they have a program in place for removal. Some cities have a tree pickup services available for two weeks following Christmas.
Make a natural fish habitat.
Have you thought about dropping your tree in a lake or pond? Christmas trees are perfect for fish because they promote algae growth (food) as well as provides them protection. Just make sure all hooks, lights, and decorations have been removed. Also, if your tree has any preservatives or chemicals on it, then it’s best not to use it for this purpose, as a safety precaution. Save the fishies!
Make a bird feeder
Are you a nature enthusiast? You might be a bird watcher in the making if you re-purpose your tree appropriately. Once you’ve removed all of the decorations you can then string out bird friendly food such as unsweetened popcorn, fruit, nuts and seeds. Birds and potentially other small critters will certainly be grateful for the extra food and shelter during the colder months.
Use it as Mulch
One of the easiest ways to reuse your Christmas tree is in the garden. The tree branches make an excellent mulch because they dry out quickly and decompose slowly. Their needlelike shape also allows them to bond together, making them less likely to wash away like other mulches. The needles is not all you can use of your tree, you can also take the stump and have it ground up into chips and spread it across your lawn for the same purpose.
Christmas trees make excellent firewood, but only for outdoor burning. Because the branches are highly flammable, it’s unsafe to burn them indoors. A mere spark sent across your home could quickly turn into a blaze. Also, remember to let the tree completely dry out before you burn it. Lastly, always be aware if your tree has been chemically treated it’s best not to use it for this purpose.
Make Wooden Coasters
It may sound odd, but why not use the stump of your tree to make coasters? If your tree is large enough, you can make several and even give them out as DIY gifts. There are many great tutorials online such as this one that take you through step by step how to make them yourself. Since they will be exposed to moisture from beverages, it’s a good idea to use a natural wood preserver to keep the water from damaging the wood over time.
Make wreaths and decorations
Ready to get crafty? Making a wreath or household decorations is also a simple way to extend the life and use of your tree.
Buy live, potted Christmas trees
Did you know that you can buy potted Christmas trees that can be replanted in your yard? I know, why are more people not doing this? Not only will it benefit your soil and provide safety for animals, it’s ads more natural beauty to your landscape. This could also be a great new tradition to start with your family, instead of cutting down a tree every year, you plant one. Everybody, including the environment wins that way.
The point is, there are dozens of ways that you can recycle your tree and benefit the planet. Why not start some new holiday traditions this year?
Cedar! What’s the first image that came to your mind? I’ll bet it was something along the lines of a small-to-medium sized piney tree that is quite plentiful in certain Southern and Central areas of the United States…or perhaps it wasn’t even an image at all. Perhaps it was the memory of the scent of the distinct, woodsy aroma that accompanies a trip to East Texas, especially during Christmas. It would have even been reasonable to presume that you may have thought of a sea of green needles covered in white as the winter snow sticks to the trees in these abundant cedar forests. All would have been justifiable.
I’ll bet you would not have imagined, however, a giant tree on the side of some of the tallest mountains in the world, reaching heights five times larger than that of the cedar trees we’re used to experiencing here at home and ages that are verifiably ancient. Additionally, I feel as though it would have been a safe bet to presume that you would not have thought of a vial of essential oil that would range in benefits from medicinal to psychological to cosmetic. That being said, all would have, again, been correct.
Thus, it could be deduced by that which is written above that there are indeed a variety of different types of cedars trees…and cedar oils for that matter. After all, with different sources come different results. Here I will concentrate on the differences (physical aspects, benefits, aromas, uses, etc.) between two of the most prevalent and dominant types of cedar: the Texas Cedar (Juniperus Ashei) which is part of Juniperus genus and the Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus Deodara) which is part of the Cedrus genus.
First of all, though both of these trees are “cedaresque” in nature, there are substantial differences in their physical nature and appearance. The Texas Cedar, a member of the Cupressaceae family, can grow to heights of 10 (average) to 15 (rare) meters tall with scale-like “leaves” ranging from 2 to 5 millimeters in length and sprouting in dense, feathery flares. They are located predominantly in Central Texas, the south-central parts of the United States and the Northeastern parts of Mexico. The tree itself is drought-tolerant and, due to its dense foliage, provides year-round shade and shelter for wildlife. The wood itself is rot-resistant thus making it a favorite for fence posts and the like.
The Himalayan Cedar, a member of the Pinaceae family, is much larger in stature reaching heights of up to 50 meters, occasionally even reaching heights of 60 meters, and has needle-like leaves ranging from 2.5 to 5 centimeters in length (sometimes even reaching lengths of up to 7 cm). The top of the tree crowns into a cone and has level branches with smaller drooping branches sprouting off of them. Its rot-resistant wood has fine, close grain and is often used in the construction of various buildings and basic structures due to its durable nature. Its timber is not, however, very strong, thus making its use in delicate work such as in chair making, for example, unfit and improper.
The Texas Cedar Oil is relatively yellow in color with a woodsy, clean, sweet balsamic scent while the Himalayan Cedar oil is a slightly viscous liquid with a somewhat yellow to brownish-yellow color and has an earthy, woodsy, clean balsamic odor. Both essential oils are used for various skin conditions including but not limited to acne, dandruff, oily skin, psoriasis, dermatitis and various skin eruptions as well as treating various respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, chronic congestion, and sinusitis. Additionally, both oils are believed to help promote sleep, improve mental clarity and focus, and relieve stress and tension while helping relieve pain and discomfort from arthritis and rheumatism. I’m also happy to note that both the Texas cedar and the Himalayan cedar are effective natural insect repellents and are used extensively for these purposes throughout the world.
It is widely believed that both oils contribute to one’s emotional health and emotional well-being as well. There are slight differences, however, as to how each oil improves one’s
emotions. The Himalayan cedar oil is said to combat the feelings of depression, alienation, paranoia, and feeling panicked while causing the individual to enjoy a sense of calmness, assuredness, confidence, and a sense of belonging while, at the same time, improving the enjoyment of one’s time spent alone. The Texas cedar oil is said to combat the feelings of powerlessness, lifelessness, fatigue, and feeling victimized while causing the individual to enjoy a sense of empowerment, joy, feeling in control, productivity, independence, and a state of being energized.
In regards to their different physical and emotional benefits, it would be advisable to make your selection based upon what it is you’re experiencing and what it is you’re wanting to assist in treating and alleviating. While many benefits are prevalent and apparent in both oils, the slight differences mentioned above may make your selection easier based on your specific interests and needs. That being said, it is, of course, ok to use both oils during any given period, though you may find that the benefits are enjoyed more correctly if each oil is used separately from the other during any one session/application.
There are a variety of different methods in terms of applying the essential oils and reaping their benefits. Traditionally, Himalayan oil has been used in baths, massages, soaps, as an aftershave, and even during meditations whereas the Texas oil has been used predominantly in baths, during massages, as a mist spray, and in steam inhalations. Now, let it be noted that either of these oils could technically be applied in any of the above-mentioned methods. I simply wanted to confer which methods were used more for each oil from a traditional standpoint. It is also worth mentioning that it is not advisable for women who are pregnant to use these oils even though they are both non-toxic. This is simply because cedar allergies do exist and voluntarily exposing yourself to a potential allergic reaction would be unpleasant or dangerous for anyone, especially for women who are pregnant and the little ones they’re carrying.
Ultimately, both the Texas essential cedar oil and the Himalayan essential cedar oil are astonishingly beneficial and are held in the highest of regard within the healing community. If you only have a place for one of these oils in your oil-aid kit, then I would advise assessing your needs and making your selection accordingly. That being said, if your oil-aid kit has enough room, having a vial of both of these oils is always going to be a sound choice. So, good luck and Happy Healing!
With the Holiday Season right around the corner, it’s time to start considering that all-important delicacy that most adults look forward to tempestuously (at least I do) during this time of year. I’m not talking about presents. I’m not talking about vacation. I’m not even talking about those ever-elusive and far-too-rare familial gatherings. No, sirs and madams, I’m talking about that month-and-a-half-long, no-holds-barred, home-cooked holiday food buffet!
Every family has recipes and traditions that manifest over the years and are continued with each passing season. And, speaking of seasons, the “seasoning” of such traditions has become all-important due to the signature nature of specific dishes. Therefore, taking notes of which spices and seasonings create the best dynamic flavors while taking into consideration the health benefits/consequences of these tasty additives can be paramount when cooking for your family, I’ll be concentrating on going over the specific health benefits of some of my favorite spices starting today with…wait for it…Cinnamon…the spice of kings.
Cinnamon is an incredible little spice! It’s tasty, powerful or faint (depending on the application) and hosts a whole slew of incredible health benefits. Of the two types of cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon is the one considered to be the healthiest, by far. It’s the one considered to be “true cinnamon.” The compound in cinnamon that is universally considered to be responsible for the benefits on health and metabolism is called cinnamaldehyde.
It can lower your blood pressure
Antioxidants run rampant in cinnamon. Antioxidants, such as the polyphenols found in cinnamon, protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. In fact, it is so rich
in antioxidants that it even eclipses known superfoods such as garlic and oregano. Additionally, cinnamon may help reduce the risk of heart disease due to the fact that it actively reduces blood pressure while lowering the levels of LDLs (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. It has even been shown to increase HDLs (good cholesterol) in studies where subjects were given just 120 milligrams per day.
It works as an anti-inflammatory
The anti-inflammatory properties in cinnamon are also a health staple. The antioxidants specific to cinnamon may have anti-inflammatory properties in them which help the fight against inflammation which, over the long term, can ultimately be dangerous due to the body turning on itself and attacking its own tissues. Cinnamon may help fight against these chronic forms of inflammation.
It can lower your blood sugar
In addition, cinnamon is known to have extremely beneficial effects on blood sugar levels. It lowers blood sugar levels by decreasing the amount of glucose that enters into the bloodstream after eating and by mimicking insulin. Furthermore, cinnamon has been shown to effectively increase the body’s sensitivity to its own hormonal insulin by reducing an individual’s “insulin resistance” which is a common trait for people with such conditions as Type 2 Diabetes.
It can prevent neurodegenerative diseases
Studies have recently shown that cinnamon may have an important role in fighting/preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Studies show that compounds found in cinnamon seem to help inhibit the build-up of the protein tau which is one of the tell-tell signs of Alzheimer’s Disease while, at the same time, help to improve motor functions and skills and neurotransmitter levels in mice.
Cinnamon fights cancer
There has been recent evidence to suggest that cinnamon may help in the fight against cancer. Certain test tube and animal studies have shown that certain cinnamon extracts can be toxic to cancer cells, resulting in overall cell death, and can be beneficial in the prevention of blood vessel formation in tumors thus slowing tumor growth. Furthermore, cinnamaldahyde, which is the active ingredient in cinnamon, has been shown to help fight other various bacterial and fungal infections ranging from respiratory tract infections and salmonella to tooth decay and bad breath!
It also fights HIV
Lastly, cinnamon from the Cassia strain has been found to fight against HIV-1 which is the most common form of the HIV virus found in humans. Human trials are needed to confirm these test-tube findings, but cinnamon was found to be the most effective treatment for HIV-1 out of almost 70 different medicinal plants.
The take-home message is that cinnamon is a delicious supplement to any meal with extraordinary health benefits on many different fronts. It is important to remember that the Ceylon strain is the more beneficial of the two strains and, as a result, may be a bit harder to find as it’s more expensive than the Cassia strain. Additionally, be sure to use cinnamon that is “Non-Irradiated” (it says so right on the container) for the sake of maintaining the integrity of all the medicinal benefits that cinnamon has to offer. Now, go enjoy your holiday meals with the “spice of the kings” and stay healthy!
While many people appreciate the clean lines and fresh aesthetics that a properly mulched garden bed creates, you might not know there are some big benefits to mulching your garden for the health of your plants, even in the colder months!
There are many benefits to mulching that make it a beneficial practice for every landscaper to follow.
1.) By providing a buffer between the soil and the sun, mulch helps to regulate the soil temperature, both by keeping plant roots cooler in the heat and insulating them in frosty conditions.
-2.) Mulch also prevents water from evaporating from the soil as quickly, keeping your plants hydrated.
3.) Young plants need light to fully germinate, so a thick layer of mulch around your established plants can help prevent weeds from growing through.
4.) As mulch breaks down over time, it adds nutrients to the soil and works to improve the soil structure of your garden bed.
Mulching your garden is a smart way to keep your plants healthy in the long run and ensure that the quality of your soil is constantly improving. With so many benefits, what do you have to lose?
Type of Mulch to Use
There is almost no limit to the types of mulch you can use in your garden. Here are some of our suggestions for experimenting with:
Aged Leaves: Leaves make a cheap, effective garden mulch, though be prepared to replace them more often than wood or bark as outdoor conditions make them harder to stay in place. Simply let a pile of leaves age for at least nine months before scattering the broken down material throughout your garden.
Cedar Mulch: Not only is cedar mulch good for the health of your soil, it also works as a natural repellent for insect pests, meaning your plants will benefit from better soil and fewer bugs. Also giving that fresh smell and clean look to your garden. You can buy cedar chips from most specialty gardening stores.
Seaweed: It may sound too weird to work, but many gardeners find that they have a lot of luck using seaweed in their garden. If you live near the water, you can gather your own and dry it out, or for the less beach-blessed of us, picking some up at a specialty gardening store is an option.
Best Practices for Mulching
To ensure that you have the best success with mulching, a few key steps should be followed.
Mulching can be done at any time of the year. Although it’s best not to mulch when soil temperatures are too cool, as layers of mulch will keep the soil at whatever temperature its applied at, at least for a while.
Before laying down mulch, prep the site by pulling out the weeds. Be sure to pull out all the roots or they will bounce right back and quickly turn your beautiful garden into a weedy mess. Adding a nitrogen rich fertilizer to your bed before laying on the mulch is also a good idea.
Next, simply scatter the mulch throughout the bed several inches thick, being mindful to leave about an inch of space at the base of each plant to prevent it from getting smothered. You can use a garden rake to make sure it is distributed evenly. Depending on the type of mulch you use, it should last between several months to several years before needing to be replaced. As the mulch gradually breaks down into the soil, you can add another layer to keep building it up.
Laying down mulch in your garden is an easy process, but it can have big benefits for the overall health of your soil. By working to suppress weeds and retain moisture, you’ll soon find that adding a layer of mulch to your flower beds makes gardening easier than ever!
There’s no avoiding the fact we are all exposed to far more toxic chemicals than our bodies are equipped to handle. Whether these chemicals come from the natural world or are created in a laboratory, is one factor that we can control. But what’s the difference? When it comes to fending off pesky bugs, does it matter whether you use natural or synthetic pesticides in your garden? As it turns out, it makes all the difference in the world in regards to your health and the health of the planet.
What are Natural and Synthetic Pesticides?
Natural pesticides are formed in nature. They exist in plants and animals as an evolutionary tactic to keep away predators. For example, the natural world knows to give brightly colored poison dart frogs plenty of space because of their deadly toxins.
In contrast, synthetic pesticides are made by humans in the lab. They haven’t evolved in the natural world and are typically designed to target a specific type of pest, rather than simply trying to keep them all away. This makes them more potent than natural pesticides and more likely to build up toxins in the environment.
The Dangers of Powerful Synthetic Pesticides
When used correctly, both natural and synthetic pesticides keep gardens productive and free from damaging insects. However, there are some real concerns with how all types of pesticides are used today.
While it would be easy to believe that all synthetic chemicals are bad and natural ones are good, the truth is more nuanced. Concentrated levels of any pesticide in the ecosystem can spell trouble. For example, excess levels can enter the water system and impact the reproductive systems of fish and amphibians to alarming levels, and there’s little telling what the long term impacts on humans could be.
“Natural” Isn’t Always Better- But it Usually Is
Many chemists will tell you that there is no difference between natural and synthetic pesticides and that the effect they have means it makes no difference where they originated from. Though too much of any pesticide can cause problems, the truth is that natural sources tend to be the best way to go for both the health of the environment and the health of your body.
As it turns out, there are many natural pesticides in the world that are simply healthier to be around than synthetic ones. They are less likely to build up in the environment, and natural biological systems like decomposition tend to do a better job of breaking them down. As an added benefit, natural-based pesticides won’t cause insects to develop resistance as fast as synthetic ones, meaning that they will be effective for far longer.
Top Natural Insecticides You Can Count On
When looked at from a case by case basis, some pesticides are simply better for your body to be exposed to than others. The three natural pesticides below have been thoroughly tested by scientists and have been found to be some of the best possible forms that you can use to keep insects in check while also keeping both your body and the environment as healthy as possible.
Neem Oil: As an oil that is extracted from the nut of the neem tree, neem oil has long been used in traditional medicine. It makes an effective pesticide because it stops insects from eating crops and has extremely low levels of toxicity to mammals, making it safe for you to use.
Cedar Oil: Cedar oil comes from distilling oil from the wood and needles of the cedar tree. It has a wide range of benefits, including the ability to keep insects out of your garden. To use this oil, you can simply buy a cedar-oil based insecticide and spray small amounts where you are having problems. Cedar oil is toxic to many insects, and the pungent odor of the oil is usually enough to keep bugs away.
Tobacco: Though it’s bad for your lungs, tobacco has a lot of benefits when it comes to stopping pests. Simply mix it into your soil, and you’ll kill root-damaging worms, fungus gnats, centipedes and more. So long as you stay away from the substance yourself, it can do wonders for the health of your plants!
Choosing the right kind of pesticide can be a tricky issue. Though some pesticides are worse for the environment than others, your smartest option is to stick with all natural pesticides that have been proven through extensive testing to be safe to use for both you and the environment.
Our modern lives are already dangerously filled with the harsh chemicals contained in household products, so why expose yourself to more? Instead of reaching for chemical products the next time you have a problem, try an all natural essential oil like cedar oil, instead.
Cedar oil is filled with beneficial properties that make it useful in a large number of ways. Whether you are struggling with insect pests, hair loss or general moodiness, aches and pains, cedar oil might be the perfect all natural solution to your problems.
Where Does Cedar Oil Come From?
Cedar oil comes from a species in the cypress family called Junipers, which grow in high elevations. The oil is extracted out from small pieces of wood or needles through a distillation process created by steam. The resulting oil contains beta-cedrene, cedrol, widdrol and other ingredients that have significant health benefits.
Top Uses For Cedar Oil
Though there are dozens of uses for cedar oil, the five with big potential for changing your life are listed below.
1. Keeping Your Head Healthy
Cedar oil can increase your scalp circulation and stimulate your hair follicles, which results in increased hair growth and slower hair loss. Adding a few drops of an essential oil like lavender to cedar oil and using the mixture as a scalp massage is a proven way to stop your hair loss problems before they get out of control.
Cedar oil can also be used to treat a dry, flaky scalp. Simply mix a few drops of oil in with coconut oil to make an anti-fungal scalp treatment. By letting the treatment sit on your scalp for thirty minutes before washing it out, you’ll be treating your scalp fungus right at the source.
2. Naturally Treat Your Wounds
Cedar oil is safe enough to be applied to wounds, and its chemical properties make it useful for fighting off toxins in the body while giving your immune system a break. Simply create an oil rub with cedar oil and coconut oil and dab the mixture on your injuries or infections for soothing relief.
3. Change Your Mental Mindset
The comforting, woodsy scent of cedar oil adds a warming tone to other essential oils, meaning that if you blend them you can lower the sharpness in other scents, making them easier to handle. It also helps you to relax and de-stress. Keeping a vial of cedar oil in your bedroom or purse makes it simple to pull out and give yourself an aromatherapy break whenever you need it.
4. Reduce Inflammation
Early tests have shown that cedar oil has tremendous potential for reducing inflammation caused by arthritis. To get these pain-relieving benefits for yourself, simply dilute cedar oil with another oil and massage the blend into the inflamed joint. You’ll soon feel the difference.
5. Insect Repellent
Perhaps most impressively, cedar oil is a natural insect repellent that has been used for thousands of years as an effective way to drive away mosquitoes, flies and other nasty insects. Simply use an organic insect repellent that has cedar oil as an active ingredient, and you’ll be able to keep disease-carrying insects at bay all day long.
The natural world is a treasure trove of beneficial healing products that are useful in more ways than we know. By learning to rely on natural alternatives like cedar oil, you will be keeping yourself safe from the damaging artificial chemicals contained in commercial products.