Backyard Play ideas

11 Cheap Ideas to Revolutionize Backyard Play

Backyard play ideas - little girl on tire swing

It’s no secret that more and more of our kids are spending less time outdoors and more time in front of a screen on any given day. The sad news is, so are adults, and we should know better.

People are busy, there is more homework, and parents are afraid to let their kids roam around the neighborhood by themselves.

Why not kill two birds with one stone and create a dream space for the kids. Maybe when you are done, you will want to be out there more, too, and invite the neighbors over while you’re at it!

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Small vegetable garden

How to Create a Small Vegetable Garden With a Huge Impact

Tomatoes in small vegetable garden

The book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, is inspiring for anyone who has ever considered a vegetable garden.

Kingsolver recounts how she, her husband, and their two daughters moved from Arizona where growing your own food is much more difficult and uses up much precious water. The family settled in Virginia on a family property in order to grow their whole food supply.

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Carrageenan being harvested

Carrageenan Food Additive: What You Need to Know

Carrageenan being harvested

The first time I ever heard of carrageenan was when I was embarking on the Whole 30 for the first time. This is a diet – or more like a 30-day food challenge – designed to radically change your relationship to food and bring you back to a healthier place, physically.

It has become common to see pictures of people’s food on social media with a hashtag label for what Whole 30 day they are on as a mark of accomplishment. The challenge can get intense. You are not allowed to eat any grains, sugars or dairy.

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Winter Birding: Birds You Can Only See In Winter

Winter birding - the   Evening Grosbeak

Are you a fan of the Winter Olympics? It’s one of my favorite indoor pastimes in winter, even though it does only come around every four years.

One benefit of watching the Olympics is that it tends to remind you that people do have the ability to enjoy themselves outdoors in winter.

Let’s face it. Gardeners don’t always make the best winter lovers. However, here is a challenge. How can we get outside and enjoy the season despite the cold? Skiers do it. Hunters do it.

Gardeners can do it too! One pastime enjoyed by many gardeners in warm months is still available to you through the winter! Birding.

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Cobb houses By Benjahdrum CC BY-SA 3.0,via Wikimedia Commons

Cob Houses: The Greenest Way To Build

Example of cob houses example - photo by  Benjahdrum CC BY-SA 3.0,via Wikimedia Commons

The first time I heard about building with cob, it was from a relative who was planning to go off the grid. He was going to buy a piece of land with cash, move there in the early summer, and build his cob house with his own two hands before the cold weather hit.

What are cob houses, I wondered?

He told me it was basically mud.

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How To Start Your Own Orchard – Gardening Tips

Apples in an orchard

One of my favorite memories from childhood is of picking apples at my grandparents’ house. Neither of them would have considered themselves farmers. However, since they both grew up on a farm – in the midst of the depression – growing their own food was second nature.

Twenty or so years before I was born, they planted several kinds of apple trees in their large front yard. I can remember climbing a ladder to get to the very top branches with the sweetest apples and eating them straight from the tree.

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The Dire True Predictions of Climate Change

Landscape of wooden pathway with the changing environment showing climate change.

If you listened to a recent piece on NPR’s This American Life, or read National Geographic – or if you are paying attention at all to scientists’ newest predictions about sea level rise, you know that some of, or most of the biggest and most populated cities in the world are set to disappear in a permanent flood due to climate change.

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Ecological garden revolution

An Ecological Garden Revolution – The New Gardening Phenomenon

Ecological garden

There’s nothing more tragic to a lover of plants than the sight of several sad little plants languishing by themselves in a newly “landscaped” front yard or park. It may be on a small island amidst a sea of concrete, or even in a sea of grass.

I often see the beginning gardens of amateur gardener and wonder what’s going wrong with it.

Why doesn’t it please the eye? Why does it look stunted and sad?

After all, the gardener was most likely following the instructions that are given by the nursery about how best to cultivate the plant. Most instructions give placement requirements: “plant no closer than 2 inches from another plant.”

The Missing Ingredient

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