Our Green Baby

We decided that we would have a green baby the day we found out I was expecting. When I say green baby I am not talking about an alien or plant. But to nurse and care for our baby in a conscious way. Minimizing the exposure of harmful substances and making as wise choices (economical, social and environmental) as possible. Letting her grow up with awareness of the environment and learn to care for the nature. To give our girl a chance to a future on a healthier planet. Can you think of a better reason to devote to a more sustainable lifestyle than becoming a parent?

Green baby. Our Green Baby | My Green Nook

Plant baby. Photo: daily sunny ©

One of the downsides not breastfeeding is the environmental issue. No food can be greener than your own milk. And sadly eco-labeled supplements are hard or even impossible to find. For instance many include palm oil which are grown on plantations known to be one cause of deforestation of rainforests. Being a threat to biodiversity and species like orangutans. This of course broke my heart to realize. Sometimes ignorance is a bliss. There are even brands which use aggressive marketing in developing countries. Promoting mothers to stop breastfeeding and give supplements instead. This in areas where clean freshwater is not available. Causing illnesses and death among newborn babies. This, sadly, makes many supplements far from sustainable.

As you may have noticed in my earlier post s and presentation I am striving for a greener living. Now I am more eager than ever but have less time and energy for research. So I am quite happy I got guidance from my sister-in-law A, other blogs and my previous findings. My green choices are hands on and not difficult to apply in the daily life with a newborn.

Cloth diapers there are several kinds and brands of them and you may choose one that suits your needs. All-in-one, two-part diapers or a hybrid between the two (aka snap-in one or AIO2). We had the opportunity to buy second-hand which made us able to try different alternatives and brands. Our favorite for now is a snap-in one diaper with a lower waist. It is very trim and comes in three sizes S, M or L. The second-hand market, via Facebook groups etc, have much to offer. And you can make real bargains. I have to confess when we got home from the hospital and during the first weeks we used disposable diapers. No one is perfect…

Cuddly diaper. Our Green Baby |My Green Nook

Cuddly Diaper. Photo: Charlotte, My Green Nook

Glass bottles for feeding instead of plastic. It reduces the risk of leakage of unhealthy chemicals. Though, I have to mention, most plastic bottles of today are free of BPA and other debated compounds. Glass bottles are user-friendly in many ways but not unbreakable. We chose a bottle with a protective sleeve which also gives a better grip. It is dishwasher safe and resist fast temperature changes. It can be sterilized by boiling it for five minutes. Spare parts as well as nipples with different flow are available. The bottle can be customized as our baby grows to adjust to change in needs.

Second-hand clothes are often softer and eventual chemicals have been washed away. We got a lot of clothes of my sister-in-law L. Her girls had worn them and she was happy to see them get used again. Since newborns grow fast and do not get too dirty the clothes look like new.

Second-hand gear allows you to save a lot of money. We got the baby carriage from my cousin in exchange for a computer screen. It was a bit worn but works and fills its purpose. He on the other hand bought it on eBay. The baby safe, for the car, we also got from my sister-in-law A. It was well used so the cover was pretty worn out but we bought a new cover. Now it looks fine.

Organic baby care is gentle to the skin and eco-labeled. Newborns do not need many products a good oil is all at start. You may even use an oil made for cooking. Avoid fragrance since it may cause allergies and asthma. And don’t you agree that the scent of baby is the best there is? I love to ‘sniff’ on my daughters head and get tickled by her soft baby hair. Use washable cloth wipes these are easy to make from used towels.

As our baby grows I have to find new ways to stay green. This progress I would be happy to share with you. Do you have any experiences from daily life with a green baby? What do you do to let your children grow up in a greener world?


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U as in Urtica

U as in Urtica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Urticaceae

Genus: Urtica

Species: Urtica dioica

Common names: stinging nettles, bull nettle Swedish name: brännässla

Urtica is a genus of flowering annual or perennial herbaceous plants. The perennial species have underground rhizomes giving them a weed-like growth. Many species have stinging hairs on their green parts and are often called nettles. Thanks to the stinging hairs, Urtica species are rarely eaten by herbivores, so they provide long-term shelter for insects, such as aphids, caterpillars and moths. The insects, in turn, provide food for small birds, such as tits. This makes Urtica valuable wildlife plants.

Urtica dioica is a perennial native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America. The species epithet dioica means di (two) and oikos (house) which indicates that the male flowers and the female flowers grow on different plants. Urtica dioica has a long history of use as a medicine, as a food source and as a source of fibre. In Europe nettles are associated with human habitation. The presence of nettles may indicate human and animal influence. Being responsible for elevated levels of phosphate and nitrogen in the soil, providing an ideal environment for nettles. Nettles are the exclusive larval food plant for several species of butterfly.

Urtica dioica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Urtica dioica – stinging nettle

Description: Urtica dioica has widely spreading rhizomes and stolons, which are bright yellow, as are the roots. It bears small greenish or brownish numerous flowers. The leaves and stems have stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that will inject several chemicals causing a painful sting.

How to grow: Nettles are not usually grown rather seen as a weed. But you may purchase seeds from companies that sell herbal and medicinal plants. Before planting, think twice and chose a patch where you can keep it under control. It needs full sun or partial shade. A moist and nutritious soil. Tilling is the best way to keep it in place.

A weed with many uses

In folk medicine the stinging nettle was used to treat anemia, oedema, diabetes and arthritis. The whole plant was used but the green parts was said to be diuretic, blood building, and a weak lower of the blood sugar. The circulation in the skin was thought to be improved. The active substances are vitamin C, iron and in fresh plants histamine, acetylcholine and formid acid. The stinging nettle is also used to improve the appearance of the hair, and is said to be a remedy against oily hair and dandruff.

The neat spring sprouts can be harvest to eat. The stem can be use to make fibers reminding of the process making flax. Of the fibers a fine fabric was made, called nettle cloth. The root can be used as a natural dye for textiles.

In the garden it is a useful companion plant. Stinging nettles can be used to make nettle water which is used as nourishment feeding it to plants and vegetables.

Recipes:

Stinging nettle pizza. U as in Urtica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Stinging nettle pizza. Photo: Theresa Carle-Sanders ©


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Disclaimer: Be careful when using herbal remedies since the effects may be uncertain. I don´t recommend herbal medicine as a substitute for school medicine in any way. Always consult the professional health care.

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S as in Sedum

S as in Sedum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Crassulaceae

Genus: Sedum

Species: Sedum acre

Common names: goldmoss stonecrop, mossy stonecrop, goldmoss sedum, biting stonecrop, wallpepper Swedish name: gul fetknopp

Sedum is a large genus of flowering plants commonly known as stonecrop. The genus has up to 600 species of leaf succulents, varying from annual and creeping herbs to shrubs. The plants have water-storing leaves. Sedum species are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Many sedums are cultivated as garden plants, due to their interesting and attractive appearance and hardiness. The various species differ in their requirements; some are cold-hardy but do not tolerate heat, some require heat but do not tolerate cold. Numerous hybrid cultivars have been developed. Sedum can be used to provide a roof covering in green roofs.

The leaves of most stonecrop are edible. But the ones of Sedum acre are somewhat toxic. The leaves contain an acrid fluid that also can cause skin rashes. It is native to Europe, but also naturalised in North America and New Zealand. In the wild Sedum acre grows in thin dry soils and can be found on shingle, beaches, dry-stone walls, dry banks, seashore rocks, roadside verges, wasteland and in sandy meadows near the sea. It can survive half a year without soil and water.

Sedum acre. S as in Sedum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Sedum acre. Photo: Dick Culbert ©

Description: Sedum acre is a tufted perennial herb that forms mat-like stands. The stems are short and densely covered in leaves. At the flowering time in early summer (June-July), the stems lengthen and often gets pinkish-brown with the leaves further apart. The leaves are fleshy and shortly cylindrical with a rounded tip, like a sausage. Sometimes they have a touch of red. The starry flowers have bright yellow petals.

How to grow: Sedum acre is used in hanging baskets and container gardens, as a trailing accent, in borders, or as groundcover. It spreads when allowed to do so, but is easily controlled, being shallow-rooted. It grows as a creeping ground cover, often in dry sandy soil, but also in the cracks of masonry. It grows well in poor soils, sand, rock gardens, and rich garden soil, under a variety of light levels. With one exception it does not thrive in dense shade with limited water.

Living Roof – Sedum roof covering

Living roofs are not a new thing. It has a long history and due to its many advantages it has made a come back in todays societies. Green roofing reduces the heat radiation, cleans the air from carbon dioxide and pollutants. It also reduces the load on the stormwater system and conserves energy. Green roofs also provide habitats for plants, insects, and animals that otherwise have limited natural space in cities. All this makes green roofing a sustainable alternative to traditional roofs. And I think it is beautiful to see a living roof instead of a dead flat space. What do you think about green roofing?


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R as in Rosa

R as in Rosa. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Rosa

Species: Rosa dumalis

Common names: glaucous dog-rose Swedish name: nyponros, törnros

The genus Rosa consists of about 200 species distributed from subtropical to cool temperate areas. I think most of you are familiar with the beautiful flowers often used as ornamental plants. They have a long history of being cultivated and hybridised. But there are also many wild forms growing in nature contributing to wildlife and foraging.

Rosa dumalis is a species of rose native to Europe and southwest Asia. It grows wild in Sweden and can be found in glades, forest edges, pastures and along roads. The epithet dumalis means shape like a bush and describes its way of growth. It is seldom used as an ornamental plant but it produces one of the best rose hips. Rose hips are common to the Rosa spp. and are false fruits or pseudocarps. Rosa dumalis is often mistaken for Rosa canina which is a rose used in gardens, for example in hedges. Rosa gallica is another species often used in perfume and beauty products.

The rose hips of Rosa dumalis is very rich in vitamin C and is widely used in cooking. The rosehips are dried and pitted to be stored for later. Or if to be used fresh boiled softly and mashed before adding them to the meal. Other uses for rose hips are tea, flour, herbal treatments.

R as in Rosa. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Rosa dumalis. Photo: Kari Pihlaviita ©

Description: Rosa dumalis has an erect and robust growth. It has rough, bent thorns which are blue-green, smooth or slightly hairy. It blooms in summer (in Sweden June-July), the flowers got dark or pale pink petals and a yellow center. The sepals are upright and remains during the season. The rose hips are smooth, oval and quite soft. Rosa dumalis is shifting in appearance between individuals.

How to grow: Since it is not cultivated there are no general advice how to grow it. But looking at its natural habitat gives us a glimpse. It prefers full sun or partial shade. A well-drained but moist soil. It requires low maintenance and is quite modest in its needs. Pruning may be done in spring. Cut a few twigs to the ground to make the bush more airy and encourage new growth. I do not recommend to use this species in a garden bed but rather in a wildlife patch.

Recipe – Rose Hip Soup

Rose hip soup is one of my favorites and have been that since I was a kid. You can buy it at the grocery store but I prefer it homemade. It is made of rose hips, water, sugar and potato flour. The soup can be eaten cold or warm. It can be served with small almond biscuits, sliced bananas, splinted almonds, whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.

Rose hip soup with with small biscuits made from almond, sugar and egg-whites. R as in Rosa. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Rose hip soup. Photo: Johan Jönsson ©

Ingredients:

  • 5 dl dried rose hips
  • 1,5 liter water
  • 1,3 dl sugar (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 1,5 tbsp potato flour
  • 1 cinnamon cane (optionally)

How to make:

  1. Soak the dried rose hips in the water over night or for a couple of hours
  2. Blend the rose hips with a mixer
  3. Put the mixed rose hips (with the water) in a saucepan
  4. Add the cinnamon cane (optionally)
  5. Let it boil on medium heath for about 3 hours. Stir every now and then
  6. Measure the rose hip soup and add 1,5 dl sugar to every 1,5 liter
  7. Mix 3-4 tbsp potato flour with 0,5 dl of water until it is solved. Add the mix to the soup.
  8. Heath the soup while stirring
  9. When it starts to boil it is ready
  10. Serve the soup or let it cool

You can use 7 dl fresh rose hips instead of the dried ones but then you have to prepare them before making the soup.


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I as in Impatiens

I as in Impatiens.  Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Balsaminaceae

Genus: Impatiens

Species: Impatiens hawkeri

Common names: New Guinea impatiens Swedish name: lyckliga lotta

 

Impatiens is a large genus of about 850 to 1000 species of flowering plants, widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere and the tropics. Some have a special dispersal mechanism where the mature seed capsules burst in an explosive way. The seeds are sent up to several meters away. The name Impatiens is derived from this mechanism since it is triggered when the capsules are touched. All Impatiens taste bitter and seem to be slightly toxic upon ingestion, causing symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Impatiens are popular to use in garden beds and containers. Hybrids of busy lizzie (Impatiens walleriana) and New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), have commercial importance as garden plants. Impatiens hawkeri was first collected in the Territory of Papua in 1884 and soon became popular as a greenhouse plant. The flowers are visited by bumblebees so it may be useful in a wildlife garden.

I as in Impatiens.  Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Impatiens hawkeri. Photo: Forest and Kim Starr ©

Description: To most of you busy lizzie probably is more familiar than the New Guinea impatiens. So why am I not talking about it instead? During recent years buzy lizzie have been affected by a pest. It is a kind of mildew spreading in wet and rainy conditions causing the plants to wither leaving only a green soup. It seems like the New Guinea impatiens is resistant to this pest. That is why I use it instead. Impatiens hawkeri consists of plants with a great variety of flower and leaf colors sold in nurseries. Many are beautiful with dark ornamental foliage and vibrant flower colors, bright orange or pink.

How to grow: Impatiens hawkeri is both an indoor and an outdoor plant. It prefers light or partial shade, sometimes it is said to suit in dense shade. My experience is that it needs a few hours of sun/light to thrive. But keep it shaded from hot, direct sun in summer. It needs a moist but well draining soil and is a bit fussy about water. It does not like the soil to dry completely. So keep the soil evenly moist, but not over watered. Remember that flowering plants are thirsty, and they dry out quickly in containers. Propagation is by stem tip cuttings or by seed.  Many hybrids do not set seed or the flowers can be sterile. Some plants will not come true from seed.

Pest control

I am a green gardener. I think that environmental and nature care is part of being a gardener. I like to enjoy a living, thriving garden where wildlife is welcome. But of course I want my ornamental plants and veggies to be left alone. Not being affected by any pests or diseases. So how do I keep my green treasures safe? And if disaster strikes what do I do?

Wildlife garden. I as in Impatiens.  Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

There are a couple of ground rules to keep in mind

  1. Plant rotation – never plant the same species at the same spot year after year. Make a rotation scheme for the garden bed. This is of great importance in a veggie garden.
  2. Polycultures – diversity is crucial do not be too focused on one species learn to love variety and let wildflowers have a place in your garden
  3. The right plant in the right place – adapt to nature rather than work against it. Learn more about your plants. Just by looking on them you will understand how it works. Large thin leaves with no hair – commonly shade plants. Grey/silvery, hairy leaves or fleshy, waxy succulent leaves – commonly sun lovers. These are just a few features to look for.
  4. Garden patrol – take a daily stroll in the garden look at your plants. Any signs of something being wrong? Do they need water? How about weeds – time to make an effort?
  5. Correct composting – never put affected plant material or soil in your compost. Put them in the garbage or burn them. Some diseases are worse than others.
  6. The right care – plants are living and need proper care. They can not pull up their roots and move to get what they need. It is your job and responsibility.
Ladybug. Wildlife garden. I as in Impatiens.  Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Ladybug – the gardener´s friend.

And if a pest or disease get its grip anyway

  • Remove affected parts
  • Identify the pest and read about it
  • Use biological pest control – use predators or parasites preying on the pest to eliminate it. For example nematode against fungus gnats (Bardysia spp.)
  • Use mechanical pest control – simply remove the pest by hand. Pick larvae, squeeze lice
  • Use chemical pest control – make a mix of water, soap and alcohol to spray on your plants – works against lice among other things. Baking soda mixed with water may work on mildew. These are the only chemicals I use. Conventional pesticides and herbicides – never!

And if you do not manage to control it? Well, that is life and a part of gardening.

 


 

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Passion for Sustainability

As many of you already noticed I am all in for sustainability and it is a kind of passion. I love to interact with like-minded people, bloggers and organisations. One could think sustainability is a narrow niche but think again. What is sustainability? What does it mean?

When you have answered the questions you will know that it is applicable on everything and everywhere. The definition of sustainability is:

“…meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission, 1987)

Sustainability includes all areas of science and values. Arching between Economy, Environment and Society. It is only where the three pillars intersect that sustainability prevails. The concept of sustainability can be viewed like this:

Sustainability diagram - Sustainability concept | My Green Nook

This makes sustainability so challenging and sometimes hard to reach. You need to see the whole picture and at the same time break it down into details. Why am I telling you all this?

First, it is important to state what I mean when I write about sustainability. Second, I want to tell you about the Sustainability Living Blogs where you can add your blog and find like-minded bloggers. It is a great opportunity and a nice initiative by Kirsten at Sustainable Suburbia. I added my blog to the category General Slow, Sustainable or Simple Living Blogs since I write a bit of this and that. I suggest you take a peek by clicking the badge below.

Sustainable Suburbia: Striving for a lower impact lifestyle. Join the Sustainable Living Blogs Linky Lists

Did you find anything interesting or inspiring? I hope you did. Sustainability is fun and brain teasing. As a biologist and gardener I have the concept in the back of my head constantly. Trying to find new ways to think and act to solve old problems. Sometimes it goes easy and other times I get frustrated over the ignorance I occasionally meet. But I will not give up and I hope more will find the passion for sustainability.


 

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