Latest posts in Queen of Green

A carpooler's etiquette list

February 17, 2017 | Leave a comment
Photo: A carpooler's etiquette list

Make ground rules about eating, drinking, music, phone calls etc. during the commute. (Credit: Washington State Department of Transportation via Flickr)

It's almost two decades since I was in a regular work carpool. Our commute was one hour each way. We were a group of five, so each person drove one day a week.

Carpooling is cost-effective and reduces carbon emissions. If you can carpool, here's an etiquette list to help you all have a smoother group ride:

  • Select a convenient meeting/pick-up spot that's safe and easy to get to by bike or public transit
  • Show up on time
  • Share a contact information sheet
  • Make group agreements or ground rules about eating, drinking, music, chatting, phone calls etc. during the commute
  • Keep a schedule and track driver turns
  • Go scent-free
  • Drive smart
  • Agree on a cost per trip for those without vehicles
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How to garden for butterflies year-round

February 15, 2017 | Leave a comment
Photo: How to garden for butterflies year-round

Some butterflies rarely visit flowers. They prefer mud, poop (a.k.a. "scat" or "dung"), sap and rotting fruit. (Credit: Annie Spratt)

Want to help butterflies? Think beyond providing flowers for nectar in the height of summer.

Many butterfly species we see in Canada don't migrate. You can provide habitat and food for their entire lifecycle — eggs, larvae, pupae AND adults — throughout the year. You'll need:

  • Host plants. Adults need a place to lay eggs where their caterpillars will forage. (Plant species that will get eaten and not just look pretty!)
  • Mud puddles. Some butterflies rarely visit flowers. They prefer mud, poop (a.k.a. "scat" or "dung"), sap and rotting fruit.
  • Blooms from spring through fall. Don't limit your garden to an end of July color extravaganza. You'll need a diversity of native nectar plants to flower over a few months.
  • Overwintering habitat. Consider not raking leaves to provide a butterfly nursery! Most butterflies in Canada overwinter as caterpillars, others as pupae. A few species winter as adults, hibernating in hollow trees, under bark and firewood piles, or in garden shed cracks and crevices. Few spend winter as eggs.
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How to save energy in the kitchen

February 8, 2017 | 1 comment
Photo: How to save energy in the kitchen

Once you heat up a burner and your dish is almost cooked, turn it off and coast on the stored heat. (Credit: Kenny Corbin via Flickr)

Large appliances — refrigerator, range and dishwasher — use the most energy in the kitchen. But there are lots of little ways to conserve.

Size matters

Match the cooking appliance to the job. Heating up a toaster oven uses less electricity than an entire conventional oven. Place big pots on big burners — and don't forget the lids.

Coast on waste heat

Once you heat up a burner and your dish is almost cooked, turn it off and coast on the heat stored in the pot. Keep the lid on to help conserve heat and continue the cooking process. (Cast iron does this well.)

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How to be a Butterfly Ranger

January 31, 2017 | 2 comments
Photo: How to be a Butterfly Ranger

Flower gardens are beautiful but what butterflies need most are "host" plants for their caterpillars to eat. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

You can help butterflies and bees!

Starting in February, the David Suzuki Foundation is recruiting residents from five cities across the country to join The Butterflyway Project. Keen volunteers will be trained as local Butterfly Rangers to help create patches of butterfly- and bee-friendly habitat throughout their neighbourhoods.

Join The Butterflyway Project in Victoria, Richmond, Montreal, Markham and Toronto. (Don't feel left out if your city isn't on the list. Subscribe to my digest for tips on creating a butterfly haven where you live!)

Applications for the Victoria troop will be accepted February 2 to 19.

After one or two inspiring days of training (duration depends on city), Rangers will go back to their neighbourhoods with a mission: Plant native wildflowers and shrubs in yards, schoolyards, boulevards and parks — and have fun!

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How to be a Bee City

January 25, 2017 | 1 comment
Photo: How to be a Bee City

Did you know that the third week in June is International Pollinator Week? (Credit: Penel Woods and mural by Nick Sweetman)

Did you know any Canadian city can be an official Bee City?

I quizzed Shelly Candel, director of Bee City Canada to get the buzz:

What is a Bee City?

A Bee City formally declares that it will conserve the places that pollinators already call home. It commits to planting more habitat in public places — municipal grounds, parks, ravines and river banks. It values habitat creation and conservation. It encourages residents to plant pollinator gardens. It celebrates citizens' efforts to share their love for all pollinator species.

What are the benefits?

Becoming a Bee City sends a powerful message that pollinators are important. Together, municipalities and residents can play a crucial role in reversing the alarming rate of their decline. Over time, Bee Cities become more beautiful with diverse native plants — flowers, shrubs and trees. Bee Cities are in bloom from early spring to late fall to provide food for thousands of pollinator species — bees, butterflies, other insects and birds.

Save the date: The third week in June is International Pollinator week!

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