Saturday, November 23, 2013

Welcoming the Holiday Season

Outside the Dracut Public Library

The morning after Thanksgiving, several members of the Dracut Garden Club were out decorating the town for the holidays.  Each year we spruce up (pun intended : ) the Dracut Public Library and Town Hall with wreaths, garland, and fresh arrangements for the enjoyment of our community.  We hope you enjoy decorating your home & yard this holiday season too.  Whether it's finding items at a store or taking advantage of materials from your own yard, like Jill's arrangement above, have fun!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Successful Signature Drive to Update the Bottle Bill

On the heels of America Recycles Day (Nov. 15th), we just got word from our friends at the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) that the signature drive to Update the Bottle Bill was a success!  For over 10 years, organizations such as ELM,  the Sierra Club and of course, the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, have been urging the Mass. legislature to put the Update to a vote.  The legislature fails to do this each year, so a citizen's initiative to get the Update on the 2014 ballot was the next step.  This would be no easy task, however, since we needed to get 100,000 petition signatures in about 3 weeks.

The collaborative network of 100+ organizations did not get 100,000 signatures-- we got 130,000!  This great news means that the Bottle Bill initiative will proceed to another smaller and easier signature drive in May, then it will go on the Nov. 2014 ballot.  

Not sure what the Bottle Bill is?  Here's a summary from our friends at the Massachusetts Sierra Club:

"The Bottle Bill is the state's most successful recycling and litter prevention program. Since the Bottle Bill's passage in 1983, over 35 billion containers have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy.

An Updated Bottle Bill would expand our container deposit system to include "new age" drinks such as non-carbonated beverages, water, iced tea, juice, and sports drinks which are currently not covered. It would decrease litter and increase recycling. An estimated 3.3 Billion beverages are consumed annually in Massachusetts, of which 1/3 are "new-age" (e.g. water, sports drinks, flavored teas), and this number is only expected to increase. As consumers purchase more of these beverages, an increasing number of containers are finding their way to landfills and by the sides of our roads. To keep up with the times and consumers' tastes, the bottle bill must be updated.

Every year that we delay action, 1.5 BILLION containers litter our parks and our streets, or get trucked to our landfills -- more than enough to overflow Fenway Park.

Despite huge public support, the legislature has failed to act for over 10 years. We've therefore decided to put this on the ballot.

Read more about the Bottle Bill at"
Member communication authorized by the Massachusetts Sierra Club

Thanks to all our members who participated in the signature drive and to those who signed petitions.  The Dracut Garden Club helped collect almost 200 signatures!  It was as simple as asking family, friends, & neighbors, and a couple of us petitioned outside of Market Basket in Lowell : )  When 2014 rolls arounds, you can bet we'll be helping to "get out the vote" for next November's election.  To stay informed or get involved, please check out the Massachusetts Coalition to Update the Bottle Bill.


image credit:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What does a gardener do at this time of year in our climate?

Plant amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs for indoor display.  If you've never done that let me say, it's simple!  Typically I buy these at the supermarket.  They come complete with a pot, soil or planting medium, the bulb and instructions.  With an amaryllis bulb, you should leave about 1/3 of the bulb above the soil line.  Usually it takes 8-10 weeks for it to flower, but it's worth the wait.  A splash of color from a live plant in the middle of winter is so welcomed!

Paperwhite bulbs are smaller, bloom sooner, and usually come 3-5 in a package.  They can be set in a bed of river rocks if you wish, since they don't really need soil to grow.  The flowers are really fragrant.  Some people love that aroma while others find it off-putting, so perhaps it's not ideal for a dining room centerpiece, but great in the living room.  When they finish blooming, just toss them out as they will not rebloom next year.

Amaryllis bulbs can be kept and grown for another season, but I haven't had much luck with that. I've gotten new leaves, but no flower stalk. Perhaps those of you with a greener thumb than mine will have success. To me, it's just easier to buy a new bulb next fall.
If you have non-gardening friends, you could start a bulb now and give it as a holiday gift. I'm sure they will enjoy it.  


Amaryllis bulbs
Image credit:  easytogrowbulbs

Paperwhite accents
Image credit:  houzz

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Greening Our Cleaning

Just start.  Make a wiser choice.  Little changes.  Inspiring and motivational words heard at last night's event.  The Dracut Garden Club had a fun and enlightening meeting as we listened to guest speaker, Kristi Marsh, founder of Choose Wiser, and author of Little Changes:  Tales of a Reluctant Home Eco-momics Pioneer.  Kristi took us on a roller coaster ride of emotions as she told her story:  a busy stay-at-home-mom of three young children who suddenly finds herself battling breast cancer, the research she did while she was recovering, and the result of her findings-- choosing wiser.

An audible gasp was heard from the audience when she told us of the American Cancer Society's statistics:  

1 in 3 women will develop cancer in her lifetime

1 in 2 men will develop cancer in his lifetime

Kristi Marsh had no family history of breast cancer.  There are many reasons why one may develop cancer, and environmental exposure to carcinogens in our air, food, and many products we use, is certainly one of them.  When we expose ourselves to chemicals in large or small amounts, and in various types of products, we are creating a "toxic stew" as Kristi refers to it in her book.  "[Consisting of] repeated, cumulative, and interacting exposures."

Kristi and her organization encourage us to start making changes- no matter how small- and wiser choices when it comes to our cleaning products, personal care items, and the foods we consume.  She recommends choosing organic foods when possible, and personal care items that do not contain parabens, phthalates, or fragrance.  Many major retailers now sell items that are free of these harmful chemicals (e.g. Target, CVS,, & Look for household cleaners that are chlorine, ammonia, and fragrance-free as well.  Or better yet, make your own "green" cleaners-- you'll know exactly what's in them and you'll save money.  

After Kristi's inspiring presentation, we made 3 all-natural products to take home:  a household sink scrub, a window cleaner, and a (kind) weed killer.  These items were easy and fun to make plus they cost only pennies per jar of finished product.  We encourage you to try out these DIY recipes and see what you think!


For more information and inspiring content, please check out Choose Wiser, Women's Voices for the Earth, & Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Kristi Marsh sharing her journey with us

Simple & effective DIY cleaner ingredients:  baking soda, vinegar, castile soap & water

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Green and Clean

The Dracut Garden Club is honored to have Kristi Marsh, founder of and author of Little Changes: Tales of a Reluctant Home Eco-momics Pioneer, as our guest speaker at this month's meeting. Kristi's organization is dedicated to educating women about the interaction between environmental toxins and their health, and empowering them to become more conscious consumers.

Kristi's "Deliciously Green and Clean" presentation will show us why we want to "choose wiser", how to identify starting point ingredients to replace in our homes, and she'll show us how to make a natural Cream Scrub, Window Cleaner, and Weed Killer.  (Please bring 3 empty glass jars with lids if you wish to take home these products.)

The presentation will be on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 from 7 - 9 pm at the Parker Memorial Library, 28 Arlington Street, Dracut, MA.  Open to the public for a donation of $10.

We hope you can join us as we learn how to save money while protecting our health and that of our family & friends.