It’s about thyme you considered growing an herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow and can be incorporated into almost any dish for a flavorful kick.
Heading to a party? Why not bring a dip with some fresh grown chives. Getting ready to grill some meat? Try rubbing it with thyme, first. Knowing what herbs go with what food can be tricky. This infographic will teach you which herbs to use when you cook, what their flavor is so you can try some experimenting and their proper growing conditions.
Fill a terra-cotta pot with builder’s sand (sold at hardware stores), then stir in some mineral oil—just enough to dampen the sand. The mixture will clean the tools and prevent corrosion and rust. (If the pot has a hole on the bottom, cover it with duct tape.)
A spare golf bag can carry unwieldy rakes, shovels, and hoes from the garage to your own green fairway (er, backyard).
Just flatten a banana peel and bury it under one inch of soil at the base of a rosebush. The peel’s potassium feeds the plant and helps it resist disease. Consider it a nutritional boost for you and your buds.
Add marbles to the bottom of a vase to keep your daisies in the drink and make arranging, well, child’s play.
For a handle you can comfortably handle: Snip off a section of an old garden hose, make a slit down its length, and put it over a skinny bucket wire.
Try this pretty display that isn’t just for the birds. Plant shallow-rooted succulents in the birdbath with soil. The lack of drainage will keep the soil moist, so you’ll need to water even less frequently than usual.
To get more bang for your bouquet, add a few drops of bleach to the water to prevent bacteria growth and keep stems from mildewing.
For cleaner cuts with less elbow grease, rub a little paste on the hinge of a pair of garden shears so they don’t get jammed.
A leftover backyard-party balloon will help keep freshly cut flowers from wilting when you’re bringing them to a friend’s house. Fill the balloon with a bit of water, then slip the opening over the stems.
Help hollow-stemmed blooms, like daffodils, delphiniums, and amaryllis, soak up water and stay hydrated longer with this fresh idea: Cut the bottom of each stem at a 45-degree angle, turn the stem upside down, fill it with water, and stuff it with a piece of cotton.
Make an arched pathway from the waterspout to the flower bed, then feed the hose through the wickets. Now the hose can’t migrate and crush your impatiens.
Coil strings of holiday lights round and round for knot-free hall decking. Your reward: You won’t blow a fuse trying to hang next year’s light show.
Candlestick as Bud Vase Cut stems short and add water to keep blooms upright for a night. (Alas, beauty is fleeting.)
To remove weeds, use the curved blade in container gardens or tight spaces where traditional tools are too big for the job.
To keep all types of flowers in place in a wide-mouth vase, stretch a clear hair elastic around the stems, then let the flowers fall naturally. Your beautiful blooms will be styled in a snap.
A seldom-used bread plate from your grandmother’s formal china set, placed under a small houseplant, will dress it up while serving the practical purpose of catching excess water.
Put your cake dome to good use as a terrarium. Covering small potted plants will help speed their growth. And when birthdays roll around you can remove the plants and use it for cake.
Once the little ones are potty-trained, give your changing table new life as a potting bench. A coat of semi-gloss or high-gloss paint will protect it from the elements. Stack pots on shelves and stash seeds in drawers. Fill an easy access hanging nylon or canvas diaper bag with shears and gloves.
Place one filter over a flowerpot’s drainage hole to prevent soil from leaking out.
Encourage green growth on your house plants by applying a solution of 2 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon water once a month.
Because it’s resilient, dental floss is ideal for training vines on a trellis. Be careful not to tie the floss too tightly or it will dig into the growing stem.
Attract new neighbors by nailing an old mailbox to a branch and watch house finches and wrens flock to feather their nests.
Add a few pops of color to the topsoil of a potted plant.
When autumn comes and the temperature dips, outdoor decorating becomes more challenging. Collect pinecones and pile them in an empty flower box for a pretty, no-maintenance display.
Insulate potted plants with a layer of decorative pebbles on top of the soil.
Grow herbs or other diminutive greens. Layer large shells with soil and plant seeds inside.
Funnel seed into a bird feeder through the top half of a bisected bottle.
A sweet flower vessel. Your (topless) sugar bowl is just the right size to hold a single head of hydrangea or a half-dozen sweetheart roses. Crop the stems very short so the bouquet is tight, full and spilling over the sides.
Keep your plants hydrated. If you’re going away for a week or so, place a towel in a bathtub or sink and fill with about two inches of water. Then thoroughly water the houseplants, and place them on top of the towel. They’ll soak up the water.
Assemble an herb garden. Fill the bottom of the vase with pebbles (for drainage) before transferring small potted greens.
Poke a few drainage holes in the bottom of a yogurt cup and start growing seeds there before transplanting them to larger pots or garden beds.
Dispense yarn or twine at a craft station by placing the spool inside the funnel and pulling the end through the hole.
Wish your new houseplant’s container was as pretty as the plush green leaves on top? Upgrade the nursery pot’s standard green or terra-cotta vessel by swapping it for a brightly colored mixing bowl or coffee mug. Here’s how to do it: Step 1: Choose a vessel that is taller than it is wide and a plant, such as a fern or a philodendron, that flourishes in damp soil. Step 2: Unless you want to break out the drill, fill the bottom third of the container with pebbles to allow for drainage. Step 3: Spread a layer of potting soil on the pebbles so the roots won’t touch rock. Set the plant and top off with more soil.
Hang unbreakable ornaments on tomato plants early in the season. When pesky sparrows or blue jays come to peck, they’ll find the hard bulbs (instead of juicy treats) and abandon their attacks by the time the real fruits ripen.
Supplement your assortment of occasional tables by bringing a tall planter indoors and topping it with a piece of glass.
Need to kneel in your garden to pull weeds, or on the street to change a tire, but don’t want to preserve the memory eternally on your pant legs? Grab a couple of plastic bags and tie one around each knee, covering the area that will be exposed to dirt and grime.
Crumple bags to fill the bottom of a large pot that’s too deep for your plant (but be sure not to cover the drainage hole, if it has one). You can cut down on the amount of potting soil needed, and since plastic packs less heft than dirt, you’ll be able to move a big planter around with a bit less grunting.
Fact: There are some things you’d just as soon not touch with your bare hands. Use bags as gloves to handle what’s messy (say, chicken carcasses) or just plain gross (like the little “presents” the dog leaves in the front yard), then turn them inside out to trap the offending matter within for easy disposal.
Keep nails clean when gardening by scraping your fingers along a bar of soap before digging in. The soap stays under the nail and keeps everything else out. Wash with a nailbrush to remove.
Supplement potting mix by filling the bottom of a planter with leftover packing peanuts. They are lightweight and improve drainage, which promotes healthy roots.
Bail out a waterlogged plant by suctioning excess water from the pot’s base.
Keep your houseplants well–hydrated. Most club soda contains a phosphate, which promotes growth—but be sure it’s flat.
Save your coffee can’s lid from the recycling bin and use it to dispense twine. Simply poke a hole in the lid and run the twine through.
Keep soil contained in a planter by lining the bottom of the pot with a sponge.
Using a pin, poke a hole in the bottom of an empty eggshell half, put it in an egg carton (for stability), and fill with soil and seeds. Once your seedling appears, plant the whole thing in the ground. The eggshell will disintegrate and nourish the soil.
Hello again and a happy Friday to everyone! It’s the end of another week and I’ll continue here our series on Green Labs. This time we’ll have a look at the other side of the world, i.e. at the Green Labs Program at the University of Queensland in Australia. It’s part of a larger initiative of the university promoting “sustainability across all aspects of learning, discovery, engagement and operations” and features a nice collection of Green Labs Fact Sheets, which contain lots of tips for running a lab more environment friendly. Especially one of them caught my attention and that’s the fact sheet on water consumption.
Let’s assume that you haven’t read the UQ’s fact sheet yet (or just pretend that’s still the case) and imagine that you’re asked, “where in the laboratory do you use water?”. Of course, there are the activities, which everyone does: washing you hands, cleaning lab equipment, using water to dilute or prepare solutions. That’s what came to my mind. Now looking at the UQ’s study (see picture below), this does indeed account for 25% of the water consumption. But would you have guessed that the air conditioning system uses much more water, i.e. 42%?!? Well, I guess the fact that Brisbane has a humid subtropical climate might contribute to that and it might look different for universities with a more moderate climate. And even if one might not be able to do much about it (in this case, it’s up to the Property & Facilities Division … unless you can adjust the air conditioning in your room? If someone’s working at the UQ and could comment on this, please do so!), it’s good to be aware of this.
And one can definitely try to do something about the remaining 68%, i.e. the use of water for sanitary purposes and for the usual lab processes. For example, when you clean the labware, run the dishwasher only once it’s fully loaded or don’t let the tap water run all the time. Or at least not at full throttle – usually a reduced flow rate is still more than enough. Look at the example given in the fact sheet, where a test with reduced flow rates for autoclaves indicated a possible reduction of 62%, which translates into savings per autoclave of over $2,000 a year. Not bad at all, isn’t it?
Also, some of your cooling lab equipment might work with much less water. Again, the fact sheet give a nice example here: instead of letting the water run through the cooling apparatus just once, it’s possible to circulate it a few times before the water becomes to hot and goes down the drain.
Besides all the helpful tips, this fact sheet taught me that there might be some equipment using water that I wasn’t even aware of. And awareness is the first step, isn’t it? So, let’s be more aware about when and where we’re using water. And then let’s take the next step and take actions to reduce our water consumption!
Pickle juice works in place of vinegar in salad dressing, soups, or virtually any recipe. It is basically just a souped-up version of vinegar.
Re-Pickle With It
Empty whatever leftovers you have in your vegetable drawer into a jar of leftover pickle juice. Let them sit for a few days and you have NEW PICKLES!
Place shredded or baby carrots into a jar of pickle juice for a tangy snack.
Slice some red onion very thinly and throw it in the pickle juice for perfect pickled onions! The “pickled” onions liven up turkey, chicken or ham sandwiches, as well as hamburgers.
Add cilantro and use the pickled carrots & onions as a topper for fajitas or tacos.
You can also pickle hard-boiled eggs in the leftover juice.
Meat & Poultry Tenderizer/Marinade
The acid in pickle juice acts as a tenderizer, resulting in super-succulent meats
Use it as a marinade for pork chops or steak. It will add a ton of flavor to your meats, without the extra calories in heavy sauces or marinades. Pickle juice, garlic, pepper, mustard mix to a thin paste, brush on meat. Leave for an hour up to overnight. BBQ, or broil. Works well for tougher cuts or wild meat.
You can also use pickle juice as a delicious marinade for chicken. Soak the chicken overnight in a resealable plastic bag and then cook on the grill. If it seems a little too strong, try adding a little milk to the marinade. Discard pickle juice when done.
Add garlic and your favorite spices and use it to baste ribs on the grill.
Add pickle juice to a pot of boiled potatoes to give them a nice little zing. The flavors absorb so perfectly you won’t feel the need to add as much salt, butter, sour cream, etc.
Soak potatoes in brine for 12 to 24 hours before you make french fries, etc. out of them.
Pickle liquid mixed in with mayonnaise can give a new twist to your favorite potato salad recipe.
Other Food Enhancers:
Liven up store-bought barbecue sauce by adding pickle juice to taste by the tablespoonful.
Try adding pickle juice to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.
Marinate soft white cheese in it.
Mixed with a little beef broth it makes a great broth for Korean style cold noodles.
If you are a juicer, add a bit of brine to your vegetable juice.
Elevate boring hummus to something more spicy with a few dashes of the salty brine.
Use pickle juice to perk up boring poached fish! You will never go back.
Throw some pickle juice into your meatloaf mix along with all the other condiments in it!
Try making pickled watermelon rind. Take off the skin, and then drop the pieces into some pickle juice.
Make your own Utah Fry Sauce!
Make “Jewish Deli Bread.” Use brine as the liquid portion of your bread. It also makes a great soaking agent.
Combine pickle brine, heavy cream, and diced pickles. Serve with a pickle slice for garnish. Surprisingly delicious!
Photo from Amy Bayliss
Pour some of the salty brine into pop molds, paper cups, or ice-cube trays and make your own savory summer snack.
Pickle Snow Cones
In Texas, pickle juice is a popular flavoring to pour over shaved ice. hmmmmmmm.
Put some pucker into your Bloody Mary with a tablespoon of pickle juice.
Bartenders claim pickle juice (referred to as a “pickleback shot”) is the perfect complement to whiskey, instantly soothing the taste buds and aftershock of a rough liquor.
Stir 1/8 cup dill pickle liquid into 12 ounces of your favorite beer and garnish with a pickle spear or baby dill. Even better with a “red beer” using tomato juice or a V-8 type.
Pickle juice is also a known folk remedy for hangovers. It replenishes your depleted sodium levels and helps to assist in rehydration.
Make blackened copper pans sparkle by cleaning them with pickle juice. It also works well as a grill cleaner, making those charred bits much easier to scrape off.
In The Garden
The high vinegar and salt content of pickle juice makes it a great weed killer. Dump it on dandelions, thistle, pretty much any weeds that crop up around your home. Bonus, it’s pet-friendly!
Some plants, such as hydrangeas and rhododendrons, need an acidic soil in order to thrive. Pickle juice will help acidify the soil. Pour the juice into the soil around the plants, or pour into a compost pile. Pouring it directly on the plants could damage them. Add to the soil around acid-loving plants at least once per season.
In The Medicine Cabinet
Post-Workout Drink – In a 2010 study, pickle juice halted post-workout muscle cramps in 85 seconds. It is an effective way to replace lost electrolytes and sodium which can cause serious cramping and dehydration.
PMS Remedy – For those same reasons above, pickle juice is a helpful remedy for menstrual pain and cramping.
Heartburn Cure – When heartburn strikes, try taking a few sips of pickle juice. Like apple cider vinegar, the juice helps balance the pH in the stomach, calming acid reflux. If heartburn comes back after a while, try drinking a little more.
Laxative – Drink a glass of pickle juice as an all natural laxative.
Upset Stomach – Treat tummy troubles with pickle juice. It helps by aiding the digestive process. Save some pickle juice in a small container for “medicinal” purposes. You will be happy you did.
Hiccup Stopper – Many people claim that the number-one cure for hiccups is a small glass of pickle juice. Given how well it seems to works on everything else, I am inclined to believe it!