Coronavirus on surfaces- How we’re handling it and what you need to know

It seems like our world is changing every day with the Coronavirus.  One day we’re told face masks aren’t necessary, the next we’re told we need to wear them (I vote for wearing them.) One day we’re told not to take extra precautions with items we buy, the next we’re told to quarantine or wash everything.

Kasper Corona Blog

I don’t know about you but it feels confusing and overwhelming. I’m finding it easy to get frustrated with how rapidly everything changes.  Taking a calming breath and refocusing helps. None of us have done this before. None of our public health officials have done this before.  Nobody knows what this virus is going to do exactly or how it is going to play out. We are learning right alongside you.

It may seem now that the worst is behind us, but this may be the best time to err on the side of caution. If we really are moving past this, then let’s not make a false step and relapse.

What we’re doing at Kasper Organics

Like many companies, we’ve decided to be extremely careful and cautious with our shipments. Not only is this a respectful practice in the days of social distancing, but many of our customers also have chronic health problems.  Many of our customers are chemically sensitive or use green products. They can’t use the stronger cleaning products often recommended. We’re always careful with our products because we have those customers in mind always.

Here are the steps we are taking in our shop:

  • Quarantine new inventory
    • Before we open new inventory, we are leaving it packaged for several days
  • Air out
    • After the box is opened we are allowing it to air out for a week before we even touch it
  • Loose storage
    • Inventory is stored in breathable storage which is not conducive to the growth of viruses.
  • Cleaning frequently
    • We are washing the surfaces we use to make our handmade items as well as what we use for packaging and shipping more often.

o    We’re using hydrogen peroxide which is still tolerable for folks with MCS and gentle on the Earth.
o    Pens, markers, the desk, sewing machines and tools, and even our glasses are being cleaned!

In addition to these steps, we can accept custom requests for anything you’d like done when you place an order.  Let us know in the comments of your order if there’s anything specific you’d like us to do when you place your order.  Also, we are allowing an extra 15 days (for a total of 45) for returns to give you time for quarantine of a package before opening it should you feel you need it.

How long does Coronavirus last on surfaces and how can I clean orders?

Customers have been asking if they should quarantine their items when they arrive.  We usually shipping in recycled plastic envelopes unless customers request otherwise. We also sometimes use recycled crafts paper envelopes. The plastic envelopes are easier to clean, but the virus doesn’t last as long on the Kraft envelopes. So each has their advantages. What you decide to do with your orders is, of course, up to you.

Initial testing shows the virus lasts for up to three days on plastic, up to two days on cardboard, and up to five days on paper items. We could not find any information on how long it can last on fabric, except that it probably won’t last long because of the lack of moisture.

Cleaning orders after they arrive-

Again, none of us have done this before.  Health officials are split on what to do and we’re all learning together.  Here are a few options we’ve seen that are still gentle on the Earth-

Sun- The sun is an excellent disinfectant. There are folks getting mail and packages, placing them in a sunny location, washing their hands, and then leaving them alone for a couple of days. After opening, several more days of sun is an option, but remember not to let the contents become sun-damaged. Fading can occur, especially when fabrics are dyed with low-impact die. And even undyed unbleached natural colored cotton can bleach in the sun, creating lines or streaks, because it’s not bright white.

Soap and water- Our good friends soap and water are still one of the best bets for cleaning with this virus. Some are washing packaging with soap and water before opening as well as washing anything washable inside well with soap and water. just remember that closing is not returnable after it’s been washed. So quarantine may be a better option if you’re not sure you’re going to keep everything.

Peroxide- As we mentioned above, peroxide seems to be effective against this virus.  Dilution amounts vary depending on what you’re cleaning so do your homework before you use it.

We hope this is helpful information as you navigate life in the days of Coronavirus. Please let us know if you have any questions- and let us know if you’ve done anything creative with how you’re handling your mail these days!

Stay Home – Stay Safe – Wear a Mask!

We are all experiencing our own personal trials during this difficult time. The Covid_19 pandemic is not something we could foresee being a part of our lives, let alone something that would affect our lives to such a great degree. We continually look to our elected leaders and their expert advisors for guidance. And though that guidance has been evolving, we seem to be at a place where there is much agreement on the important points of getting the virus under control, as far as the general public, and how we live, is concerned.

The way I see it, the protocol we have been advised to follow by most of the leadership is basically designed to “starve the beast.” We don’t have a vaccine, and our healthcare workers and medical facilities have been strained beyond imagination.

It is my belief that we have a responsibility, not only to ourselves and our loved ones, and to our healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and others who are still out there in very vulnerable positions everyday, but to society on whole. We all must give our fullest cooperation in the effort. The better we starve the beast, the sooner it will die.

This is a situation where if we are not part of the solution, we are truly part of the problem! I see this virus as an evil genius of the virus world. I am not a doctor, and I am not public health expert. But when I think about how this virus infects its victims by way of carriers who have no symptoms, how it can be passed so easily thru innumerable means of contamination – well, I just have to call it the evil genius of viruses. This may sound tongue-in-cheek, but I hope it will help you remember just how devious this virus really is.

Just think of a meme that “goes viral” on the internet, and how fast and furiously a meme can spread. We don’t like to share memes on social media that we know to be false or harmful. Sharing that meme just one time can spread that meme at lightening speed. This is what has been happening with Covid_19.

So let’s not share this deadly Covid_19 “meme.”  According to all the experts social distancing is working! Also extra attention to hand washing, and other cleanliness measures. And now it is being advised that when we really need to go out, such as buying groceries – wear a mask! Now, home-made masks may not be perfect. But they do provide a barrier. And if everyone in public spaces is making a real effort to keep 6 feet apart, AND wearing a face covering of some kind, it’s just common sense that this is going to help protect us and others, in combination with other measures.

So, thank you to my daughter, Noelle, for a link to a page on the CDC website with instructions on how to make and wear a simple cloth face mask. One requires simple sewing, but one does not require sewing at all. Here is a link for you:
Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19  (if the link does not work, please let me know)

So, I am wishing you all good health and good spirits – always,  Aleta – Kasper Organics.

You can follow us on Instagram, @kasperorganics or
Kasper Organics on Face Book

Side view of an individual wearing a cloth face covering, which conceals their mouth and nose areas and has a string looped behind the visible ear to hold the covering in place. The top of the covering is positioned just below the eyes and the bottom extends down to cover the chin. The visible side of the covering extends to cover approximately half of the individual’s cheek.

Gaardening with Native Plants DIY Guide

The DIY Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants

Last month we shared with you the benefits of gardening with native plants.  This month we’re happy to introduce a basic “how to” for getting started. Choosing to landscape local will take a bit of time.  The rewards will be many as local critters find a comfortable spot to live, the water bill goes down, and your yard flourishes.

Don’t feel like you have to overhaul your entire yard either.  You don’t have to go tear out your beautiful Japanese Maple or majestic Redwood because they’re not local. Even making the switch with a couple of plants or one small section will have an impact.

Gaardening with Native Plants DIY Guide

The DIY Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants

Pick Your Plot

What you choose to use will depend on the area of the yard you’re working in.  Select the area first of all. If you’ll be converting the entire yard, work in zones.  Consider th sunshine, soil quality, water drainage, and traffic through the area. If it’s a space kids or the dog will trample through often- make sure to keep that in mind.

Also, think about a way to make it unique.  Perhaps you can include a bee sanctuary in the back corner of the yard no one uses.  It’ll keep the family safe from any stings and provide a needed home for your bees. Or a butterfly habitat outside the family’s favorite reading window or in front of your bedroom.  Then you can enjoy it indoors and outdoors.


Consider Color, Maintenance, Critters, and Food

Before researching, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want specific colors in my plot?
    • How many colors?  
    • What shades of green do I like?
    • What might add or, or detract from, the curb appeal of my home?
    • Are there colors I’m always commenting on when I see plants and flowers in nature and other’s homes?
  • How much maintenance do I want to do?  
    • Do I want my yard to take care of itself or can I spend extra time in the garden?
  • What critters do I want to attract to the yard?
    • Should I build an entire section to attract bees?
    • Do I want to bring in butterflies, birds, bees, or a specific species?
    • Am I ok with deer, rabbits, and squirrels coming around?  
    • Where is the best shade and water availability for critters?
    • Can I bring in water or food somehow for them?
    • How will I protect my garden if I’m bringing in more critters to my yard?
  • Should I include local and wild edibles?
    • Is there a specific food from the Farmer’s Market I’m always finding myself buying that I could include?
    • What are some unique native edible options in my area?
    • Do I want to include fresh herbs or greens?
  • Do I want any medicinal herbs or remedies?
    • During your research phase, think about any medicinal and healing herbs you use.  Are any of them local to your area?

Research Phase

There are thousands of native plants to North America.  Take time to research what is local to the country, the region, the state, and hyper-local to your community.  We’ve provided resources below to help you with this. With so many options available, it could be easy to get sucked in.  As you research, make sure to narrow it down to what works well in the specific growing conditions and desires outlined above. 

Additional Considerations: 

Gardening With Kids

If you have children, make sure to take them into consideration.  Perhaps include something they can climb, hang a hammock from, or make into a fort.  Think about including local berries, a local veggie, or a fruit tree. That way they can grab a snack while they’re outdoors and keep on playing! 

Invasive & Fast Growth

Unfortunately, some plants are invasive or rapid growers.  This is especially true of weeds- which are often valued as herbal remedies!  If you have a favorite weed such as purslane or nettle, consider using a container instead.

Cost

If you’re on a budget, be careful of what you pick.  Most local options should be inexpensive but rare or endangered plants might cost a pretty penny.  Try checking out Craiglist (or post a wanted ad yourself), locally owned garden centers, or the local farmer’s market.  Asking around to local farmers can be a great way to landscape for free or cheap.

This is NOT Xeriscaping

The xeriscaping trend has slowed down a bit.  It’s important to note using native plants is not xeriscaping.  In many climates, this particular gardening approach has proven to be harmful.  For most regions, this is not a beneficial way to landscape. It has killed countless lawns, sent away local critters, and caused a lot of other problems.  If you’re in a dry climate and want to xeriscape, make sure to do research with one of the suggested resources below first.

Get Gardening

Once you’ve decided what you want to include and where- it’s time to get started.  Take it slow and steady. Remember there will be more maintenance in the first few weeks as everything gets accustomed to its new space.  Don’t forget plenty of water for you and your new plants. Make sure to follow guidelines for depth, soil drainage, sun, and spacing. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with your beautiful yard.

Resources

Visit your local garden center to see if they have any courses available.  Local libraries, community centers, and community garden projects also offer these courses on occasion. 

For organizations, check out Wild Ones.  They have chapters in over a dozen states and are growing.  Wild Ones exists to educate the public on gardening with natives and native plant preservation.  

The American Horticultural Society has a native plant society in every state and Canadian province.

Last, The National Wildlife Feration has an entire “Garden for Wildlife” focus.  This includes a whole section on Native Plants with informational articles, regional examples, and a plant finder tool.

10+ Benefits to Gardening with Native Plants

10+ Benefits to Gardening with Native Plants

10+ Benefits to Gardening with Native Plants

Spring has finally arrived for most of us.  While the stray snow shower may fall on our mountain friends, most of us are thawed out!  Spring and early summer bring along the gardening season. A growing trend is landscaping with native plants.  This is a trend that’s beneficial not only for our planet. Your wallet, yard, local animals, and the bees all benefit when we choose to garden with local plants.  

What are native plants?

It may seem silly to include this section.  Stay with me. There’s an important difference here between natives and wild plants.  Native plants naturally occur in your area. Typically they’re not considered to be an invasive plant.  While there may be a specific plant that grows prolifically in your area, it may not necessarily be considered a native plant.  

How native you choose to go in your garden can vary.  Some gardeners prefer only local plants to their specific geographical region.  Others are ok with those naturally found in the ecosystem but from a different geographical area.  While other gardeners aim for a collection from throughout their state. In states with a wide variety of ecosystems, careful consideration should be taken into account when deciding what your goals are.
Do a bit of research before starting a new landscaping project.  Make sure you’re wanting to use non-invasive species. If you want to use an invasive plant, such as blackberry, you’ll want to plan your landscaping according to keep it from taking over.

Hint- Come back next month for our Guide to DIY Landscaping with Native Plants

What are the benefits of gardening with native plants?

Choosing to shop local, support farm-to-table food, and use native plants all go together.  We can support our local economy, ecosystem, air quality, water usage and more with these choices.  Dozens of benefits of “planting local” exist. A few of the benefits include:

  • Less water usage– After plants are established they typically require little water other than natural rain and snowfall.
    • Most are also be drought tolerant and able to survive much longer (in some cases months to years!)

  • Fire resistant– In areas where fires are common, these plants are sometimes fire resistant.  These can be used as a barrier around homes and property lines.
  • Nourishes the soil– Natives provide valuable nutrients to the soil of the region.
  • Deep roots– The roots are already adapted for your soil.  They’ll dig in deep and thrive.
  • Money savings– Typically these are cheap, or free.  You’ll also save money on your water bill!
  • Time-saving– You’ll be able to invest much less time in lawn maintenance.
  • Provides habitat to animals– Local critters were designed to live in harmony with what grows around them.

  • Enhance local scenery–  They’re already adapted for your area, they’ll be beautiful in your yard.
  • Easy to grow– These babies will thrive with a little bit of support- no green thumb required!
  • Helps birds and bugs– Local plants attract local bugs.  Local bugs attract and feed local birds.
    • You’ll get the added benefit of beautiful birds in your yard too!
  • No fertilizer required– in most cases, once a plant is established they’ll take little to no fertilizer.
  • Food for bees– Our bee populations are suffering worldwide.  Providing bees with a natural food source is incredibly beneficial.

  • Air purification– providing cleaner and healthier air for us all to breathe.
  • Fewer pests, diseases, and death– you’ll be planting something already used to all that comes its way in your region.  They’ll be able to stay strong and resist pests and disease much easier.
  • Decreased carbon footprint– The benefits of this are many.  We encourage you to learn more about this fascinating aspect.
  • Chemical-free gardening– No need for pesticides, fertilizers, or chemicals.

Restore balance- When we put all these benefits together, we restore balance.  Provide your local ecosystem with a renewed balance that traditional gardening practices have stolen away.  Even a couple of beautiful natives in your front-yard to boost curb appeal can have a huge impact.

Make sure to join us in July for a how-to guide on implementing this in your own garden.

Thinking about bunnies or chicks for Easter? Read these tips first!

The Top Considerations Before Giving a Bunny or Chick This Easter

Make no mistake about it, videos of children finding baby bunnies and chicks awaiting them on Easter morning are adorable.

Not much is cuter than a fluffy little chick or a bunny with big, floppy ears. Combine that with squealing children and you’ve got yourself a memory to last a lifetime…

basket of Easter eggs
This Easter, you may want to stick to hard boiled eggs instead of bunnies and chicks!

A memory to last a lifetime until that cute little critter starts to grow, stink, need attention, and is no longer new and exciting.  Then what? Unfortunately, thousands of bunnies and chickens die or are severely neglected as the result of a gift the family was not prepared for.  Most shelters report that 70-80% of their rabbits are abandoned Easter gifts. If this is a gift you’re considering giving, please take into consideration the long-term impact on the animal and your family.

The Top Considerations You MUST Take Into Account Before Giving a Bunny or Chick This Easter

 

  • Bonding- Both of these animals are social animals.  They do best with a strong bond to other animals like themselves, and to their caretakers.  This will mean an incredible amount of work on your end. You won’t be able to toss them in a crate in the yard and watch them thrive.  It’s also best to have at least two rabbits and at least 6+ chickens. This accounts for a lot of care over the years!

  • Housing- Rabbits and chickens have very specific housing needs.  In order to be cared for in a humane and ethical way, you’ll need to put in a lot of work.  Their homes require frequent cleaning which can be quite messy and time-consuming. Rabbits cannot be left outside all the time and chickens need coops.

  • Smell- Both these animals STINK.  There’s nothing that will turn up your nose quite like chicken droppings.  The smell goes along with housing, frequent and thorough cleaning is an absolute must to keep your animals healthy and well.

  • Salmonella- The trend of backyard chickens is growing.  While this is an excellent way to provide food for yourself, it can also come with a risk.  Proper care must be taken of the chickens, their diet, their water, their habitat, and even their social and emotional well-being.  Salmonella from backyard eggs is a real concern. It is especially present in their bowel movements and can easily get onto children’s hands while they’re holding the critters or gathering eggs.

baby chick sitting on a person's hand

  • Gentle Hands- These are delicate baby animals.  They need to be treated with great care.  It’s far too easy for young children to severely injure or even kill them.  This results in great trauma for the animal, and the child!

  • Travel- If you travel often this can disrupt your critters.  As we said above, they’re social animals. Chickens will sometimes go into great stress when their owners leave and may even stop laying eggs or get ill.

  • Normal critter behavior- Know what bunnies do?  Chew on things. Know what chickens do?  Peck things. And they both poop… a lot… Plus, chickens are loud!  Research adult chicken and rabbit behavior before making your purchase.

  • Length of care- These animals can live 6-12 years or longer.  The novelty of the cuteness on Easter morning will wear off well before this time.  Are you willing to commit to caring for this critter who will bond to you for its entire life?

  • Vet care- Rabbits need a good amount of vet care.  And chickens can get sick easily and need care themselves.  This accounts for cost and time for your family.

bunny in the grass

  • Cost- People are often surprised at the long-term cost of caring for their critters. They’ll cost you several hundreds of dollars a year to provide adequate food, shelter, and care.

  • Breeding practices- Most bunnies and chicks available for Easter have been inhumanely bred and hatched.  One of the most powerful ways to shop is with our dollar and purchasing these animals as gifts encourages this breeding practice.  If you are willing to commit to the animal, find one from a local farm you trust that has ethically raised the parents and cared for the young.

 

If you’re still interested in purchasing bunnies or chicks, do your research.  Visit local farms or animal shelters to find out all the care that’s required. Make sure your children are committed to helping out too.  It should be a full-family discussion before any purchase is made. Rabbits can make great friends and pets, and chickens love to snuggle and be cuddled.  Just ensure you’re committing to adding them in as members of the family for the next decade so that you can all bond and enjoy life together!