Get Ready for Earth Month! – Giveaways and Actions

It’s been over 50 years since the first Earth Day movement began. April 22 marks the official Earth Day, but people around the world are starting early in the month of April, and so can you.

What’s so special about Earth Day and Earth Month? It is an especially important movement where we must do all that we can to protect and preserve our precious planet. Think of Earth as your body. You do what you can to protect your body and your health. The same should be for our planet.

Whether you believe in science or just figuring things out yourself, it’s pretty evident with the drastic climate changes happening throughout the years. We live in the world of convenience and the need to have things conveniently at our fingertips threaten the future of a healthy environment.

But how do we help the planet? First, by acknowledging that we all live on Earth and it’s not a “someone else can save the environment”. Yes, other people certainly can, but if you do just one small step to help the environment, what harm can that cause you?

During Earth Month, please join me with activities that we can do to better understand the environment crisis. I’ll also showcase brands and companies that are doing good for the environment and offer some great giveaways! Today, let’s start with how you can learn more about earth-friendly activities.

EASY EARTH-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS:

  • Join or host a local cleanup. This is one of the easiest way to help the environment and your community. You can do it by yourself or with some friends. Make sure you do it safely by wearing personal protection equipment such as gloves and masks. Visit earthday.org for cleanup activities in your area: https://cleanup.earthday.org/

  • Plant an edible garden. Being in nature connects us to a feeling of serenity and peace. When you give your children their own little spot in the yard to grow some food, you’re giving them lifelong skills. Try planting carrots, strawberries, herbs, and anything that are in season. Try to buy organic or Non-GMO seeds/plants when possible.

  • Plant a pollinator garden. Pollinators such as bees and butterflies help pollinate our food. More than 35% of our food are provided by bees. And flowering plants are a delightful treat for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

  • Show your love and support for our planet by coloring in the Earth template below. Place your colored Earth on your windows and show the world how much you care about our planet.

  • Donate to charity. Gather your kids and decide on what you want to donate.  Donating your gently used items such as clothing and toys help keep the circular recycling going. You can donate either to a local donation center, church, or a school clothing program.

  • Nature walk. If you’re fortunate to live near forests and parks, then take your kids out on a nature walk. Appreciate the natural air, the voluminous trees, and the beautiful plants around you.

Follow me along this Earth Month journey this year! My next post will be a fabulous eco-friendly gift prize! Be sure to subscribe and stay tuned!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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Get Ready. Set. Plant – 10 Ways to Get Kids to Enjoy Gardening

It seems like I’ve been gardening all my life. And teaching children the skills and love for gardening are what brings me joy in the gardening world. If you can see their huge smiles and excitement as they watch their plants grow, then you know you have instilled a love for nature.

I still remember as a young child, my parents would bring me out to their backyard to help plant pumpkin seeds. I then graduated to planting tree saplings to learning how to transplant, divide plants, and propagate. While not every child desires to learn about plants, most of them do however enjoy being outdoors and digging their fingers in the soil.

There are health benefits to growing your own garden or planting your own food. You get to be outside in fresh air, you decide on what you want to grow, you can see pollinators visit your garden, and you can enjoy the bounty of your fresh fruits and vegetables! And there are many easy to grow plants for children no matter their skill level.

With spring just around the corner, now is the best time to prepare for your spring planting. If you like to start with seeds, get them ready as most seeds take about 7-10 days to sprout and then 2-3 months for the plants to be fully grown. If you can’t wait for the seeds to sprout and transplant, then seedlings or small established plants might be a better choice.

Below are 10 ways of getting your child to grow their own garden. These are fairly easy steps and you can start small with just a few plants.

1 – Start off with easy to grow plants: beans, beets, carrots, peas, radishes, and tomatoes. Beans, carrots, and tomatoes can be easily grown in planters. Be sure to purchase organic whenever possible as these are edible plants.

2 – Decide on whether you want to grow in a planter or directly in ground. Planters are great for beginners or if you have a small space. Make sure planters have good drainage holes.

3 – Do you or your child have a favorite flower? Research whether the flower is in season. Check out planting seasons here: https://www.highcountrygardens.com/plant-finder/easy-to-grow-perennials

4 – Decide if you want to grow from seeds or seedlings. Most seeds take about 7-10 days to sprout. Seedlings are usually about 2-3 inches tall and can be planted directly into the ground or in a planter that can accommodate the size of a fully grown plant. Growing from seeds are particularly fun because your child can track the growth of the seed as it germinates into a seedling!

5 – Take your child to a garden center. Walk around the garden center to see what’s in season and get inspiration. Talk to a horticulturist while there to get some insider tips on growing a bountiful garden! And while you’re there, pick up some plants and start planting!

6 – Purchase basic garden tools: thick gloves, garden spade, garden hand trowel, small rake, garden shears, and watering can. Get either child size tools or smaller adult size so they’ll grow with your child.

7 – Go on a nature walk at a local park or arboretum. This will inspire both you and your child to appreciate and discover various plants. Many arboretums also sell native plants so it’s a great time for your kiddos to pick out some on their own.

8 – A plant journal. Depending on the age of your child, you can have them start a plant journal where they can draw or cut out pictures of what they’re planting. Then record the start date of planting and the growth period. This also helps develop good recording skills for future planting and gardening techniques.

9 – Grow specific plants for pollinators. Great plants to grow for butterflies and bees are native flowers or all-inclusive plants such as herbs, sunflowers, and daisies. Pollinators help increase the growth of your own plants as well as help them pollinate other plants. I love growing Milkweed for Monarch butterflies. These unique and beautiful pollinators are particularly attracted to this specific plant.

10 – Plant a hummingbird habitat garden. Once in awhile I will grow plants that hummingbirds love right in front of my front door. It’s so delightful to hear their little wings flap as they drink the nectar from my plants. Hummingbird plants include Butterfly Bush, Trumpet Vine, and Honeysuckles. Just think of anything in a tubular flower shape where their long beaks can reach into the flowers.

See below to print out a Spring Planting Calendar so you’ll know the best times to plant and harvest.

KidsGardening Interactive Spring Planting Calender

Click to access interactive-planting-calendar.pdf

Instill the love of gardening and being in nature when your child is young. Teach them basic gardening skills and they’ll soon want to grow a garden for you!

Happy gardening!

*photos courtesy of High Country Gardens and KidsGardening

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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Eco-Friendly February Tasks

Can you believe it’s already February? Last year seemed like the longest year and yet it also flew by so quickly! With February already in full swing, there are lots of things we can do this month to kick start our goals for an environmentally friendly New Year!

VALENTINE’S DAY– Yes, yes, I know most people think this holiday is a marketing ploy, and I gotta admit, brands probably make tons of money for this holiday. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, I think it’s a fun tradition to begin or continue with your children. The colors of Valentine’s Day is quite festive – reds, pinks, lavenders, and even blues. But how do we make this holiday more eco-friendly? Candy wrappers are bound to be thrown into the trash along with other plastic and not so easily recyclable items. Here are some tips to keep it eco-friendly:

  • Send e-gift cards. This might seem less sentimental, but you don’t have to send gift cards to only your significant other. You can send them to your friends, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, teachers, and the list goes on! Electronic gift cards are fast and don’t require any shipping via mail or using those pesky unrecyclable plastic cards.

  • Purchase locally grown flowers or from family-owned farms. Locally grown flowers require less carbon footprint to ship and flower farms owned by small families usually have more unique and fresher varieties.

  • Try making a vegetarian feast for Valentine’s Day with these dishes: – Exotic mushroom pasta by using oyster mushrooms, Shitake mushrooms, or Enoki mushrooms. You can find the more exotic versions at Asian grocery stores and natural grocery stores. – Heavenly Layer Dip, which uses red tomatoes, red bell peppers, sour cream, light shredded cheese, olives, and strawberry jam (or any berry flavored jam). – Chocolate covered fruits such as chocolate-covered strawberries, peaches, mangoes, or any other unique fruits.

  • Most children love to be spoiled on Valentine’s Day! Gift them with homemade heart shaped cookies, chocolate-covered strawberries and mangoes, and a special trip to a local zoo or museum (if they are open in your area).

CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR – This year is the Year of the Ox so it’s important for those born under the Ox sign to be especially aware. Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is a huge celebration every year. But with the pandemic and safety concerns in mind, families might have to celebrate with only their immediate household. Traditionally, there are parades, firecrackers, and huge family and friends gatherings, so you would have to see what your state, country, and city have restrictions on. To make it eco-friendly this year, here are some tips:

  • Red envelopes are traditionally given to children or unmarried young folks. It’s still okay to give cash as cash is a recyclable and reusable commodity.

  • Celebrate the traditions of Chinese Lunar New Year by reading books. There are some great books that children can read to learn all about this holiday. Include books with pictures to make them more festive.

  • Decorate with paper decorations. Red is the traditional good luck color for the new year. You can find paper decorations at specialty Asian stores to decorate your house with.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH – During Black History Month, it’s a great way to teach children about historical and iconic leaders who helped change the world. Purchase books with pictures that can be read every year.

VEGANUARY – The month of January was to celebrate Vegetarians and Vegans. But we could still continue with this tradition through February. Try to include at least one vegan or vegetarian meal during the week. Vegetarian dishes are fairly easy to make and don’t have to be just salads. You can make vegetarian pasta, vegetarian soup, and vegetarian tacos. Reduce the amount of animal protein to up to 3 times a week. Meat production is one of the largest polluters in the world and one of the biggest hidden pitfalls in carbon dioxide consuming our planet.

CAMPUS CLEAN UP – Depending on where you live and the safety protocols at your school, you can host a campus cleanup day. With the permission of the school principal, teacher, or an environmental club, pick a day where students can go around the school campus to pick up trash and or/pick weeds. A campus cleanup day promotes environmental awareness of trash and how students can help keep our schools and communities clean. Be sure to wear gloves while doing the cleanup.

SPRING PLANTING – With the spring season sneaking upon us, now is the best time to start your indoor seed planting. When you plant your own vegetables and fruits you get the full quality of your bounty and children can learn the growing process from seed to harvest to eating them! Easy plants for children to grow include: Peas, beans, beets, carrots, radishes, and sunflowers. Planting your own garden also helps with cleaning the atmosphere, reduces carbon footprint, and promotes healthier eating. Start by planting the seeds indoors and then transplant them outdoors when it’s warmer.

Start off the year with a goal to be more environmentally conscious in everything you do and buy. Take small steps if you’re just starting out and soon you’ll become an advocate for the planet!

*photo courtesy of Arbor Day Foundation, Food&Wine magazine, KidsGardenNews

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Organic Gardening For Life

ORGANIC GARDENING

My dad grew up on a farm and learned the trade as a means of necessity. What they grew on their farm were mostly what they ate. He always had a green thumb where everything he planted grew and flourished. My siblings and I were pretty lucky growing up in my parents house and our backyard was always abundant with fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables. As I grew older I got to appreciate the scrumptious bounty and I told myself that once I have my own house, I would indeed need to grow my own garden.

Now, as a volunteer at my son’s school I was given the opportunity to run a garden club at his school. With only a handful of experience based on what I learned from my parents, I built an organic garden for the students at his school.  And what a delight it has been learning and teaching at the same time, watching the kids run excitedly to the garden center during the meetings and enjoying the harvest at peak picking times. Just as much as the kids love to pluck off a sweet fresh strawberry, I too love tending to these plants, nurturing them and helping them flourish into something delicious and rewarding.

Gardening doesn’t have to be intimidating or time-consuming. In fact, it can be one of the most relaxing ways of spending time with yourself or with your kids. Teaching your children the wonderful benefits of gardening can help them flourish and learn to appreciate nature and a healthy lifestyle. With the idea of Farm to Table, we can teach our kids that what we grow is what we eat. Similar theory applies to grocery shopping in stores but when you grow your own produce, it is much healthier and the flavor indeed better than the store bought versions!

VEGGIE GARDEN - NEW

Start with an organic garden where it’s healthier for you and for the environment. Organic means not using any type of toxic pesticides or herbicides in your plants and ensuring that the soil is organic as well.

Here are some easy and basic tips to help you start your own organic garden:

Step One:

Decide where you are going to have your organic garden. If you’re a novice, start small whether it’s in a raised garden bed or a few larger-sized planters. Use only organic soil and have proper drainage such as hole on the bottom of the planters and soil that’s a good blend of nutrients. Go to your local nursery and pick up a few bags of organic soil and mix them in the planters thoroughly. If you’re planting directly into the ground, be sure to test your soil as original soil may not have enough nutrients or the proper amount. Amend the soil if necessary.

Step Two:

Choose your plants by deciding first what you want to grow and the purpose of growing them. Do you want an abundant garden of fresh vegetables? Or fresh herbs? Or a mixture of herbs and vegetables? Do you want to grow easy fruits such as strawberries and citrus? Write down what you think you would like to eat on a regular basis and visit the local nursery for seasonal ideas. Make sure that what you grow is actually right for your region. If you’re buying seedling plants from the store, they are most likely ready for your region. If growing from seeds, read the packet to determine if the plants are appropriate for your region and the season. Oftentimes stores will have year-round seeds as it’s most cost effective for them, but can be a headache for the consumer who doesn’t understand the exact growing season. And when buying seedlings or seeds, make sure they are organic.

veggiegarden-250_2

Step Three:

Proper fertilization is necessary for a healthy bounty of fresh plants. You can either buy the necessary compost at your local nursery or make your own. For homemade compost, check out this article: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home. Organic compost, the most popular type of fertilizer, enriches the soil, retains moisture and suppresses pests and diseases.

Step Four:

Pest control is probably the most time-consuming process of growing and maintaining a healthy garden. At first when we grew lettuce and cabbage at my son’s garden center, we saw aphids and ants practically taking over the plants. I was so frustrated as I didn’t devote enough time during growing season to properly prevent and get rid of these pesky plant eaters. Later I learned that not only do natural pest controllers such as ladybugs can benefit the garden, but that planting certain types of “companion planting” and “ally planting” can help prevent or reduce pests. Companion planting is planting certain vegetables next to each other. The plants enhance each other’s flavor and growth, and healthy plants are less susceptible to pests. Conversely, there are certain plants that should never be grouped together. For instance if you’re growing beans,  good companions are cucumber, celery, carrot and radish, but never plant beans near garlic or onion or you’ll stunt the beans’ growth.

Ally planting is planting specific herbs or flowers near vegetables to repel or confuse insects. Plant summer savory near your beans to discourage bean beetles. Chives deter aphids on peas, and basil repels flies and mosquitoes on tomatoes, while also improving growth and flavor. Marigolds deter beetles on cucumbers, and mint and sage deter cabbage moth.

Step Five:

Controlling weeds are a necessity in maintaining a good garden. Weeds are a hassle for any type of gardening but you don’t have to let them run your life or your garden’s life. To stop weeds before they start, you can cover the garden’s surface with an organic mulch; not only will it reduce weed-seed germination and suppress weeds trying to emerge, the right mulch can also retain moisture and act as an insulator, keeping the soil cooler in warm weather and warmer in cool weather. Popular organic mulches include hardwood and softwood barks, crushed corncobs, spent hops from local breweries, peat moss and pine needles. You can also pull weeds with your hands but make sure you pull out the entire root.

Step Six:

Now it’s time to enjoy your harvest! Pick your plants at the peak of their ripeness so that you’re getting the freshest, sweetest, and juiciest plants. Once the plants are past their peak, plants can be tougher and drier on the inside. You can still eat them but they won’t taste as fresh. If you’ve grown too much to eat, try giving them to your neighbors or freezing them, canning, or fermenting.

For more info and helpful tips on growing your own organic garden, please visit the Delicious Living website: http://deliciousliving.com/green-living/how-start-your-own-organic-vegetable-garden?cid=nhbc.

Organic Consumers Association: https://www.organicconsumers.org/, Organic Trade Association: https://www.ota.com/

HAPPY GARDENING!

Editor’s note: Parts of this post were taken with permission from Delicious Living magazine. Sources are directly from Delicious Living magazine.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

The Wonders of Gardening – Teaching your kids to enjoy it.

Gardening should be enjoyed by everyone. It’s a lot of fun, you get to be creative, and you’re outside enjoying the fresh air. Children specifically should learn at an early age about gardening as it will teach them about life, creativity, and give them much needed Vitamin D from the beautiful sun. Any one of any age can garden as long as you have a love for something unique, beautiful, and exquisite. Young children can develop a love of gardening as early as they can crawl. When my son was an infant, I used to have him sit outside with me in his little infant chair while I tended my garden. Although he probably didn’t know exactly what I was doing, I’m sure the experience of sitting outside in a relaxed environment with the fragrant flowers surrounding him evoked some kind of calming sensation. And that’s exactly what a garden should do – help you relax, feel calm, and recharge.

Gardening can also help the environment if you use eco-friendly products including pest control. I try to limit my use of pest-control on my plants regardless of it’s non-toxic ingredients by simply being diligent around my plants. I pluck the dried leaves and keep an eye on pests regularly. Being diligent around your garden can prevent many unwanted garden insects and help keep your hard-earned plants beautiful and thriving. Being an eco-friendly gardner can also teach your children about our precious ecosystem and help them learn to be more environmentally responsible in the future when they have their own gardens to take care. A good way to start is by using organic soil (for both potted and ground plants), buying plants that are insect and mold resistant, and using natural, non-toxic pest control when necessary. A good company that makes non-toxic pest control is EcoSMART (http://www.ecosmart.com/). I have a gardening friend who also once suggested making my own non-toxic pest control formulas. She suggested natural, non-toxic dishwashing detergent diluted with water as an option as well as garlic spray and lavender blends. I also read that planting certain plants around your more pest-susceptible flowers such as marigolds and garlic can prevent pests from going near that designated area. But regardless of what you do to maintain your garden, keep one rule in mind: if you use toxic pest control on the plants you eat, then skip that step and use something non-toxic. And remember that children are endlessly curious – keep them safe around any toxic pest control and toxic plants as well.

If you do plan on teaching your kids all about gardening,  then organic gardening is really the best way to garden. It helps the plants live longer and healthier, it’s healthier for the planet, and it’s more humane to the pestering insects. You can also try making your own compost: http://ext.homedepot.com/community/blog/sustainable-gardening-composting-made-easy/ which is more time-consuming, but you have greater control and satisfaction. Organic gardening is also less worrisome should your ever curious kids and pets wander into the garden without your knowledge. Ofcourse you don’t have to use organic soil for your plants, but it wouldn’t hurt either way.

Just the other day, my son and I were at Home Depot looking at their latest plants for the season. Although they don’t have as great a bounty as say, nurseries, Home Depot does keep a good supply of your regular, easy-to-plant varieties and their prices are a lot better. We picked up a few plants including marigolds, freesias, verbenas, and it was delightful to have my son ask me what that plant was or what this plant is as we walked around. His curiosity and desire to learn and grow plants just made it even more fun for us when we took our newly purchased flower plants home. Now, as our little garden is starting to fill up with flowers and herbs, he takes great joy and pride in watering them every day and tending to them; carefully plucking the dried leaves and buds and talking to them. Where he learned to talk to his plants, I’m not sure of – probably from watching TV, but it’s cute, nevertheless.

Some great plants for kids to grow and start learning about are herbs such as thyme, basil, mint, and so forth. Flowers such as calendula, roses, and lavender are also great choices but just be wary of the thorns on roses. And vegetables of any kind would be perfect as your children can watch them grow from seeds to seedlings, to blooming plants! So no matter which plants you choose to begin your gardening, just remember to choose seasonly when starting and let your children pick out some of their own too. And even better, if your child is old enough, designate a special section in the garden for his/her plants only and allow them to take care of it the proper way. The result will be bountiful for both your children and you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

*Photo credit to Proven Winners(www.provenwinners.com).