Living Sustainably

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Archive for the ‘garden’

Is it illegal to trade saved seeds?

Apparently in Pennsylvania it is. The PA Dept of Ag has sent a cease and desist to a seed saving library. This organization would let you “borrow” seeds, if you saved your seeds and returned them at the end of the season. PA says that’s “selling” seeds without a license.


In early June, the Simpson Public Library in tiny Mechanicsburg—the population is just shy of 9,000—received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. It seems the library’s seed-exchange program is in violation of the state’s 2004 Seed Act, according to state agriculture officials who require all seed distributors to purchase a license, conduct germination tests on each seed distributed, and maintain copious records of each transaction. Their reasoning is that they want to prevent agroterrorism and the spread of invasive weeds.

Experts say the fallout at the Simpson Public Library is much more certain and immediate: the closure of the seed library altogether.

“Since the library is not able to provide testing services for seeds harvested by its library users, we will not be able to accept harvested seeds as we had originally planned,” reads a message on the library’s website.


This week’s podcast: Organic Gardening and Heirloom Seeds

This week’s podcast talks about various types of gardening, including hydroponics and square foot, and explains terms like heirloom, non-hybrid, non-gmo, and organic. As usual we include links for additional research. Check it out at


Installing the “Nature’s Head” Composting Toilet

100_1443We took some pictures, some video, and are working on a multimedia presentation on the installation and use of the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. This toilet is ideal for campers, boats and off grid homes where producing septic waste is not the goal, but producing compost is. You can see the pictures at

See your purchase, and checkout:

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet$900 (delivered, lower 48 states):


The Winter Garden

It’s 15F outside, and there’s a few feet of snow on the ground. Our hankerings are turning to fresh salads, as the stuff at the grocery store is very anemic and not very nutritious. Our good friend Nathaniel has been developing some very cool hydroponic growing systems for those in cold climates, or with out space for regular gardening. Even if you live in a temperate climate, and have garden space, this might be a good alternative. Check out his video and website at


Having an Environmentally and Resource Friendly Yard

So many Americans dump thousands of gallons of water on their yards every years, and many pounds of chemical fertilizers, trying to keep the “green”. These yards are not green, they are chemical facsimiles of nature.

The Texas Commission On Environmental Quality offers the following points (and associated solutions) in their “Green Guide to Yard Care“:

Every year more than 5 million tons of yard trimmings and other organic materials end up in Texas landfills instead of building up the soil.

Millions of gallons of city treated water are used to irrigate landscapes where native vegetation once grew in naturally mulched soil, sustained by rainfall.

Much of that water runs off the land, eroding depleted and unprotected soils that are unable to absorb it. The excess sediment from your lawn and many other yards can smother aquatic life in the receiving bodies of water. Excess sediment can also increase the cost of operating water supply reservoirs.

Costly synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are applied to compensate for the loss of nutrients and protection once provided by organic debris and rich soil life. Surprising as it may seem, residential users apply more pounds per acre of these chemicals than farmers do—often to the point of disrupting beneficial soil life.

As your soil loses its organic matter, it allows more of these chemicals to run off and wash through it—contributing to the pollution of lakes, streams, and underground water. In excess, these pollutants can harm aquatic life or contaminate the food chain.