24
Jul

The Great Cloth Diaper Debate

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

The Great Cloth Diaper Debate

Which is better…disposable or cloth? The diaper wars have begun and you must choose sides….muhawww.

New parents are faced with many decisions, one of them choosing whether to use cloth or disposable diapers. There are advantages and disadvantages for each diaper type. This issue can be a hot one among parents, a part of parenting politics so to speak, and it seems that you must choose sides. What side of the fence will you choose to be on? Either you’re gonna be a tree hugging, diaper-washing hippie or a landfill-filling, Pamper camper. You’re a pawn in the diaper war…it’s your move.

But perhaps you have decided to compromise and use a combination of both and maybe even throw in a third diaper type for kicks…the more environmentally friendly disposable diaper or the flushable diaper.

Cloth diapers are better for the environment as they don’t end up choking landfills. Deposits can be shaken out into the toilet and processed properly instead of leaking into the ground. There are styles with Velcro fastening diaper covers or snaps meaning more comfort and fewer leaks. Some are “all in one” and resemble a disposable in ease of getting on and off baby.

But, you’ve got to wash them. When you’re out and about, you’ll have to carry the soiled diaper with you instead of pitching them in the closest trash can. The initial cost can be expensive, though you’ll save money in the long run. If you elect to use a diaper service, that will cost you  money but there’s an environmental cost to consider as well with the use of bleach and detergents on such a grand scale.

In addition to being used as burp cloths and washcloths, prefold cloth diapers can be used for other things such as dust cloths, hand & kitchen towels, to wash windows and cars, and to polish silver when your baby is done using them for diapers. Obviously, get rid of the worst looking ones. Considering dyeing some of the others for variety or to match your décor.

You can’t beat disposable diapers for convenience. Use it. Toss it. If you’re visiting a new location and run out of diapers at midnight, most corner stores and gas stations will have them for sale. Though there are more and more options for local cloth diapers too. I heard that infamous big box store has them.

Disposable diapers use up space in landfills adding plastic, chemicals, and sewage often wrapped in another plastic bag. They are also expensive and since they are often purchased at grocery stores, the cost is hidden in the grocery bill. Children wearing disposable diapers often potty train later, which increases the amount of diapers the child will wear through infancy.

There are pros and cons for both but in the long run cloth comes out ahead if you care about saving money, living with simplicity, and protecting resources and planet. If you don’t care about any of those things you may be reading the wrong blog. Just sayin. ;)

The Great Cloth Diaper Debate

7
Jul

Extend the Growing Season Into Fall & Winter

by Tiffany in Gardening

Extending the Growing Season Into Fall and Winter

No matter where you live, there are crops and gardening techniques that allow you to enjoy homegrown produce year round.  Sure you can go to just about any supermarket, even in the dead of winter and buy all sorts of vegetables, but they won’t be as good as what comes right out of your own garden. Being more self reliant, independent, and living more sustainably also means trying to grow as much food as we can, all year long.  Here are some season extending ideas, as well as a discussion on which crops do well when days get short and temperatures dip low.

One simple technique for extending the season is the use of floating row covers.  At the beginning of your growing season as well as at the end, covers made of very thin lightweight fabric will protect your crops from cool weather damage, while still allowing 90% of sunlight to reach the plants.  This will add about two weeks of growing time at either end of the season and it is an affordable solution.

No matter where you live, succession planting is also really smart.  If you plant all your beans at the same time, they will all mature at the same time.  This is perfectly okay if you plan on canning most of your harvest, but if you want to eat your beans right after picking, it is best to spread out your harvest. New beans, greens, veggies, etc will mature with each week, making sure you have a steady harvest all summer long and even into fall.  With beans, carrots, lettuce, peas, etc. sow your seeds about a week apart from early spring to the beginning of July, and you will enjoying fresh produce well after summer has ended.

row cover for vegetable gardening in the winter

Photo Source: Agora Gardens

We always plant what we like to eat, but you should also consider what varieties do well in your particular area.  Leeks and brussels sprouts for instance, take a very long time to grow, but do really well in cooler climates because they actually sweeten a bit after enduring a late fall frost. Planting brussels in late summer means a yummy harvest for Thanksgiving and even Christmas. Carrots and potatoes can remain in the ground for months after maturity and harvested while the ground is still workable.  There are broccoli, lettuce and pea varieties that can be sown in mid summer for harvest in late fall. If frost or snow is a concern it is time to look into cold frames, a greenhouse, or grow hoops using supports and plastic covers. Supports and cover plastic can fit over your existing garden beds.

Finally, preserve your harvest.  Freezing vegetables is easy to do and allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the year.  Grow some herbs and they can be dried and saved for years. Learn about canning.  While you may not have the time or space to grow a variety of fruit,  canning peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, etc. from a local farmers market will supply you with healthy produce all year long.

You would be surprised at how long gardens will be produce, well into the fall and even early winter.  Some plants are delicate while others can be pretty tough!  Get those fall peas and lettuces going.  Plant some garlic and shallots in November for next summer’s harvest and watch leeks really thrive as the temperatures drop!

I recommend picking up a copy of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour. I absolutely lover her books and this one is especially awesome. She lives in Canada where she endures some of the harshest winters around and yet she grows food all year long. This book gives you an excellent step by step overview of how she does it and what she grows. It teaches you how to get a jump on spring, harvest warm weather crops well before you would normally, succession planting into fall, and harvesting throughout winter.

Happy gardening!

veggies in winter