Say No To GMO
GMO (aka GEO, GM, or GE) seeds are seeds that have been genetically modified. In other words, tampered with until they no longer behave the way they once did, such as the ability to withstand large amounts of toxic herbicides and pesticides. Most of these seeds have been engineered so that they only bare sterile seeds forcing farmers to buy new seeds every year. Genetically modified foods have been proven to have a negative impact on our bodies and on the environment around us. Recent research shows that GMO corn has caused high mortality rates in caterpillars of the already declining monarch butterfly. Luckily there are still places out there that sell non-GMO seeds, such as Seeds of Change. Non-GMO seeds and plants are relatively inexpensive once you consider the fact that they will produce fertile seeds again and again and they will not harm the environment or you.
If you haven't already made the switch from chemical fertilizers to compost, now is the time. Soon it will be time to plant new seeds and you'll want to have your plant food ready. To make your own compost bin simply drill lots of air holes into a large, dark colored bucket or garbage can with a tight fitting lid. Add a layer of loose soil (any old dirt will do), a layer of dry leaves, left over fruit and veggie peels, used coffee grounds, and earthworms. Add water, make sure the lid is on tight, and roll it around or use a pitch fork to mix. It will take a few weeks to a month before it is ready to use depending on how full the bin is.
Did you know that 40% of water used during the summer is used outdoors? That is where having a rainwater harvesting system comes in handy. It sounds complicated but in reality it can be as simple as a bucket under a drain spout. The best systems are sealed air tight so that mosquitoes can't use the standing water as a breeding ground. You can make a simple system by attaching a spigot near the bottom of a large garbage can or barrel (facing down), then cutting a hole in the lid and fixing it onto a gutter (preferably the one that receives the most rain). Use duct tape to seal the openings around the gutter. It is important that you don't let the bin over fill. If you want something a little sophisticated there are diverters and pre-made systems available that do the work for you. One of my favorites is the Garden Watersaver Diverter.