Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for December, 2007

Repurposing your Christmas Tree

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!! The Three R’s of Green Living–and you can practice all three with one simple step.  Instead of putting your live Christmas Tree onto the curb for the county to pick up, consider using it to start a brush pile in your backyard.  Brush piles are a great way to provide food and shelter for the wildlife that visit your yard.  The decomposing wood will attract beetles and other bugs which will in turn feed birds and other wildlife.  The shelter from the elements and protection from predators will benefit all types of birds and other animals this winter and will turn into a “places to raise young” in the spring.   It will be its on little ecosystem!

Rain, Glorious Rain!!!

Over the last couple of days here in the drought ravaged Southeast, we have been experiencing a rare occurrence……RAIN! And fortunately, its the best kind of rain: a nice, gentle rain that is soaking into the ground versus a “gully washer” that runs off before the plants have a chance to take a drink. Its also a great reminder to install a rain barrel to keep some of the water for use later on when we are back in a dry spell. Mecklenburg County’s annual rain barrel sale will be January 26th, so I hope you will consider buying one for your garden. Deadline for ordering is January 14, 2008. And in case you haven’t seen our video and how to install a rain barrel, here it is again!

Bye Bye Birdie

We’ve all heard about the declining population of songbirds around the world, but here’s a great video by the CBC that does a wonderful job of explaining the impact of suburban sprawl, industrial farming and logging/clear cutting on our bird population. If you’re on this site, your probably already concerned about environmental issues, but I hope this video will inspire you to take your concern to the next level. Wildlife needs more advocates! If not you, then who?

Smell Like Dirt on NPR Website!

We were notified that the Rattlesnake Rescue Video was selected to be posted on NPR’s Talk of the Nation/Science Friday website!  For those of you who are fans of the show (Friday’s at 2pm EST on WFAE 90.7 in Charlotte), you know that they often request “science related” videos from listeners for their website.  We weren’t sure the Rattlesnake Video qualified as a science vid, but we submitted it anyway and were thrilled when we were contacted by the show’s producer for permission to post the video.  Of course, in this day and age, nothing is that easy, so we had to contact Loye and Sam, the stars of the video to see if they would be willing to sign a release allowing NPR to use their images and names on their site.  Neither one of them hesitated and we all sent our releases in promptly!  Not only is it totally cool to have our video posted on a national, dare I say “international” site, but more importantly, we are hoping that the exposure will educate others on how important snakes are to the eco-system and will make people think twice before they kill one. You may have already seen the original video (at right in VodPod), but check out the video on the SciFri website. Its been edited for length and also has a “never before seen” shot of the snake for a different vantage point that wasn’t included in the first video.

Preparing the Garden for Winter

Here’s our latest video on putting the gardens to bed for the winter.  We shot this video a few weeks ago, right after our first killing frost.  Then summer made an unexpected, but much appreciated, return last week with temps in the 80’s.  But alas, it could not last forever and we were back into the 20’s last night, so I’m glad we prepared the gardens when we did.   If you haven’t given your garden a good cleaning and a layer of compost for the winter, I hope this video will inspire you to action!

The Tree Controversy

A Real TreeI’ve decided to wade into the controversy of real vs fake trees.  Being a diehard “real” tree consumer, I was a little afraid of what I was going to discover when I started my research on which kind of Christmas tree is more eco-friendly.   Was I ready to give up the tradition of a real tree if I found out that a fake (or “life-like” as one friend calls his plastic tree) tree was better for the environment?  Well, the answer is…..it depends on who you ask.  Like a lot of issues regarding the environment, there seems to be differing opinions.  One camp says that cutting down a tree to stick in your house for a couple of weeks is crazy.  Why, that tree was producing oxygen!  Why would anyone cut down a perfectly healthy tree?  Of course, the tree would not have been planted at all if it weren’t for customer demand.  Another group says that fake trees are plastic, which is a petroleum based product so you are supporting the big oil companies by buying a petroleum based product.  And then there’s all the other chemicals that are in the tree and used in the process of making the tree.  Then there’s the “China Syndrome”….most of the fake trees are made in China so who knows what’s really in them!  Back to real trees.  Not only are you cutting down an oxygen producer, but you also have the transportation costs of getting it to you.  But, fake trees ride around in trucks too, but overall the carbon footprint of a fake tree is bigger than the footprint of a real tree.  Then there’s disposal.  Fake trees can be used many years before they are disposed of, which is a good argument for the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra.  BUT, when they do end up in the landfill, it will take thousands of years to break down (if ever).  My real tree, on the other hand, will end up on the brushpile in my backyard to provide cover for wildlife and food for bugs until it turns into compost and replenishes the soil.    But next year, I will have to buy another tree.  So the answer is, I have NO idea which is better.   Another option is buying a live potted tree, enjoying it indoors until after the holidays and then planting it outside.  Which sounds GREAT in theory, but the trees won’t live everywhere in the country, and with the drought in the Southeast right now, planting anything is not a good idea because you will need to keep it watered to give it a fighting chance of survival.So, this controversy is not going to be solved here at Smell Like Dirt.  I would be interested in hearing how you feel about it and what you will be decorating in your home this year……Real or Fake?  

Rethink Your Wrapping Paper

In an effort to encourage everyone to have a really GREEN Holiday season, here’s our second installment of eco-friendly holiday ideas.  When the shopping is done and the wrapping starts, consider abandoning traditional wrapping paper for more environmentally-minded ideas.  Save the Sunday comics section and wrap your presents with the colorful paper.  Or cut up the brown bags you get from the grocery store and once the presents are wrapped, ask the kids to draw holiday-themed pictures on them.   If you have a large present, don’t waste a lot of paper to cover it up, use one of your holiday tablecloths to wrap it!  And if you feel you just have to buy paper, consider buying recycled wrapping paper.No matter what you use, when the presents are opened, collect all the paper and fold it up, put it in a brown grocery bag with your newspapers and put it at the curb on recycle pick up day.  Who knows, you might even be using the same paper next year!