Backyard Habitats

As Earth Day Approaches, we may think about our "larger backyard," and the ways in  which we can encourage a healthy, welcoming environment.  Try planting Native flowers that attract beneficial wildlife, are well-suited to the climate and soil, and require less intensive maintenance. In my own garden, I've started reducing my lawn in favor of ground cover, vegetable beds, and perennial borders that attract beneficial pollinators.    Backyard Wildlife Habitats 426-070 Greg Eaton, Department of Horticulture, Virginia Tech and Barbara Wright, Department of Horticulture, Virginia Tech Wildlife Habitat The area where an organism lives and meets its basic needs for food, water, cover, and space to survive is called its habitat. Each species of wildlife has different habitat requirements. Why consider creating a wildlife habitat in your yard? As residential and commercial development by humans continues to expand, wildlife habitats in the affected areas are altered and may become...
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Community Reuse and Recycle Event This Saturday!

I meant to post this info earlier, but it has been busy. A large Shred and Share event is planned for this Saturday, March 27th from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. It is a collaboration of the City of Alexandria, County of Fairfax, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Landmark Mall, ProShred and McEnerney Realtors. ProShred will have a shredding truck to shred and recycle your old personal documents and the ReStore in Alexandria will be accepting donations. Shredding Details: Shred up to 5 medium-sized boxes of personal documents per vehicle. Only documents with personal information such as tax documents, medical or financial records will be shredded. Junk mail, newspapers, magazines and other forms of paper will not be accepted, but can be recycled through your normal recycling system. Please remove all paper from binders and remove all paper clips, binder clips and rubber bands. This event is for paper shredding only,...
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The Critical Hub of A Home

A client friend of mine sent me a link to some good products for organizing the kitchen . We have been working on her kitchen recently, and like most of us, her kitchen serves many purposes beyond cooking. We have been working on streamlining her desk that is in the kitchen, reworking her cabinets so that the shelves and cabinets that are most accessible hold items that she uses most frequently, and purging items that don't work for her any longer. The kitchen is such a vital room for most families because it is the gathering room, entertaining room, homework room, and place for cooking and eating together. We redesigned our kitchen last year and it is so great to have a gathering place that now functions so well. One common issue that I see a lot of people have is where to store paper that is needed regularly...such as school...
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Seed Starting

Starting seeds indoors Starting seeds indoors is one of the greatest joys of the vegetable growing season. In the dead of winter, we witness the magical transformation of a seed into new life. Gardening with kids provides a unique opportunity to teach life cycle lessons, and if you play your cards right, nutritious eating habits. I've had success on both counts in my own backyard vegetable garden: www. Knowing when to start seeds indoors takes some backward thinking. Find out the average date of the last frost in your area and the number of weeks before that date you should start a particular seed (the number of weeks varies and is listed on the seed package). Then count backwards on the calendar from the average last frost date. Most seeds should be started six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Some seeds can be started a few weeks before...
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What is the Value of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program?

A Virginia Cooperative Extension - Master Gardener (VCE-MG) is an individual who acts on behalf of VCE as a volunteer educator within his or her community after receiving specialized training in environmental horticulture through cooperative programming with VCE. Master Gardeners are trained to provide environmental education that meets SOL's, assist schools in establishing and maintaining schoolyard gardens, counsel homeowners about proper lawn care, and conduct environmental outreach to the general community. For 2009, we reported more than 334,000 volunteer hours statewide (up from 269,000 hours in 2008) and more than 577,000 contacts (up from 547,000 in 2008). The economic value of that volunteer service exceeds $6.7 million dollars.   Master Gardeners are only one aspect of the Cooperative Extension Programs in Fairfax County. Extension programs have had a significant impact in our community and schools by providing: SOL supported Environmental Education for community schools Childhood Obesity Prevention programs (Healthy Weights for...
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Teach Our Children to Live Green

eco babies
  0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false         "Our children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way." I'll never forget these lyrics, and the more work I do in the green sector, the more powerful they become to me. Many of us are making changes as adults to have less impact on the earth and live healthier lives. But it is not always easy, especially when it requires making changes in our daily behavior when we are already used to do things a certain way.  What if you grew up being conscious of how your daily actions impact the earth? What if recycling and unplugging your electronics every day was as much a ritual as brushing your teeth? Most of us did not grow up living green because our parents didn't know the impact our daily lives have...
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Feels Like Spring

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4   I don't know about you, but yesterday with the sun shining so brightly and the temperature in the high 40s, it almost felt like spring was in the air.  Just as nature changes for the better (in my opinion) in the spring, many of us feel the urge to bring positive change to our homes, schedules and self.   With spring, comes the desire to make our homes lighter and brighter.  Additionally,  we look for ways we can free up time to enjoy the longer days and maybe make some positive self changes a long the way ...especially if we have long forgotten our New Years resolutions. Several new clients have reminded me of the amazing, uplifting power of letting go of clutter.   For one client in particular, we had two storage units to clean out and what I estimated would take several days, ended...
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Extend the Growing Season With a Cold Frame

Given the right conditions, a vegetable garden will yield a year-round supply of fresh produce. You can extend the growing season by sheltering plants from frost in early spring, late fall, and even winter.  There are several options for protecting crops against cool weather. Your choices depend on the amount of time and money you want to invest.    Cold frames and row covers are the simplest, least expensive structures for protection from the cold. Cold frames are raised beds that are covered with a glass, fiberglass, or plastic cover. They shelter plants from wind and use the sun’s heat to warm the soil. They’re also useful in hardening off seeds before Spring planting.    The ideal location for a cold frame is a south or southeastern exposure, against a North wall that will provide further protection from the elements. Placing the bed on a slight slope will help with drainage,...
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Snow and Donuts!!

I think it is safe to say that we all are going a little stir crazy! Having an unexpected snow day in the middle of the winter can be fun, and can break up our routines, but too much snow, and too many days off from school (and work) can wreck havoc with our over packed schedules, create stress and sometimes be very demotivating. Our neighborhood streets are still pretty bad since we haven't been plowed. I have been able to get out, but on a limited basis. Yesterday, I worked out at home and after my surge of endorphins kicked in, proceeded to organize my office closet, and knock out a few work to dos that I've delayed getting to. While I was busy doing my work, I told my kids, who were home from school again, that I'd take them to Krispy Kreme donuts if they got their rooms...
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Three Elements to Organizing

I am sometimes asked by a client why a room that we have worked on together still gets disorganized.  Sometimes it is because the system needs tweaking, or it may be time again for a good purge.  Though, sometimes it is because there are some habits or behaviors that if modified, could help support the system. Usually the first phase of organizing focuses on the physical space.  This is where the most change happens.  In order to organize a space, items need to be sorted and purged.  Once a client has identified the remaining objects in a room, then the room is zoned, items are grouped by type and then a home is found for each item and/or group of items.  We then talk about storage and strategize on ways to keep the system up. This is where we talk about types of behaviors or habits that help or hurt the...
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