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Backyard Conservation: Good for the Yard and Environment

April 26th, 2011

 

The word conservation has several meanings: 1. Prevention of injury, decay, waste, or loss. 2. Official supervision of rivers, forests, and other natural resources in order to preserve and protect them through prudent management. 3. A district, river, forest, etc., under such supervision. 4. The careful utilization of a natural resource in order to prevent depletion. 5. The restoration and preservation of works of art.

With backyard conservation each of these definitions can apply on some level, improving the environment, helping wildlife and making your outdoor living space beautiful and enjoyable.

Trees are great for backyard conservation for many reasons: they help reduce cooling costs by shading the home, they provide homes for different types of wildlife, they add beauty to the backyard, and they help clean the air. When selecting trees for your backyard take into consideration your geographical area, landscape, and native plant species. Wildlife love shrubs and trees that bloom and bear fruit or nuts, as these can provide food throughout the year.

Water is another important element in backyard conservation. Whether you incorporate a backyard pond with logs and rocks—for birds, butterflies, and turtles—or a bird bath, fresh water provides nourishment for wildlife. If you choose to incorporate a small backyard pond, it can create a relaxing and beautiful environment for you and your family to enjoy. Make sure to plant native plant species around the pond to provide habitat for birds, frogs, and other small animals.

Composting is very beneficial for backyard conservation. Composting provides important nutrients to your soil, encourages plants to thrive, and improves aeration, structure, and water-holding capacity. For more information on composting read our previous post: How to Make Your Own Compost.

And, finally, water conservation can be beneficial for the environment and your plants. Water conservation tips include: choosing native plant species, as they are acclimated to the soil and weather conditions in your area; collecting rainwater to water your plants via rain barrels; preventing water evaporation by deeply watering your plants early in the morning; and mulching around your plants to help retain moisture in the soil.

Backyard conservation is relatively easy, and with thoughtful planning you can help protect and sustain your backyard in beneficial ways. With backyard conservation, you can save money, nuture and protect your personal environment, and beautify your surroundings.

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Parsley Salad (Tabouli)

March 22nd, 2010

2 cups cracked wheat
2 cups very hot water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 medium-size cucumber, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
8 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
2 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced

Soak the cracked wheat in the hot water for about 30 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. Drain any excess water then squeeze cracked wheat dry. While cracked wheat soaks, prepare dressing by mixing the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside. When cracked wheat is ready, add cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, mint, parsley and garlic to a large bowl. Add cracked wheat and dressing; stir to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Bean Soup with Fennel

March 22nd, 2010

1 1/2 cups dried navy beans, soaked overnight
1 pound smoked ham hocks
8 cups water
2 large bunches of fennel leaves, stems snipped off
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons black pepper
3 large potatoes, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, white parts only
1 cup chopped cabbage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound ground pork sausage, browned and drained

Place beans, ham hocks and water in a large pot; bring to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer ingredients until beans can be mashed and pork is tender, about 1 hour. Chop fennel until you have about 2 cups; set aside. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf and pepper to pot; simmer 5 minutes. Add chopped fennel, potatoes, green onion, cabbage, olive oil and cooked sausage to pot. Return soup to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.

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