Friday, May 30, 2008

L.A. River Ride

The Bicycle Coalition is sponsoring its 8th Annual L.A. River Ride in a couple of weeks.

June 8th is the big day to join a couple thousand people--including honorary bike chairman Ed Begley, Jr. himself--and spend some time exploring the river in our backyard, on two wheels of course.

You can go 10 miles, 50 miles, or 100 miles, or just hang out for the other happenings like bike safety lessons for kids, face painting, crafts, a raffle, healthy snacks, and an international food fair. 

$15.00 and it starts Sunday, June 8th at 10:00 a.m.

Get the details, register, form a group, or volunteer to help here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Million Trees LA

You've probably heard about the initiative to plant one million trees in our city.  

Million Trees LA is a partnership between the City of Los Angeles, its corporate and community partners, and some of the tree-planting gurus we've got in our area like TreePeople, North East Trees, and L.A. Conservation Corps.

And while planting season is mostly over, there are plenty of tree care events throughout June and beyond. After all, those new trees need to be tended until they've taken root and are flourishing all on their own.  So, tree care is just as, if not more important than getting saplings in the ground in the first place.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CobraHead All-In-One Garden Tool

This garden tool is good for practically everything.  The CobraHead weeds.  It digs.  And it cultivates, edges, scalps plants, plows, harvests, transplants, and furrows.

And, you'll find it on our gardening table in the store now (26.50).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Non-Toxic Home Workshop Tomorrow Evening

Please join us for our Non-Toxic Home Workshop tomorrow evening at which Sustainability Coach Deborah will help you cultivate a healthy, non-toxic life, starting in your own home.

The Environmental Protection Agency confirms that indoor air is often more polluted than the air outdoors. And, as many of us spend up to 90% of our time indoors, addressing the air we breathe there is paramount, especially for little ones or people with breathing conditions or allergies.

In her signature supportive, positive, mindful style, Deborah explores indoor air quality and how to clean up the air we breathe inside.  Along with that, she'll teach participants how to address the most dangerous toxins in their homes and put you on the path to a safe, healthy, healing space for you and your loved ones.

The Non-Toxic Home
Wednesday, May 28th
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
@ All Shades of Green
Price: $25

Please call the store at (323) 665 -7454 or email for more information or to reserve a space.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indoor Gardening Kit for Kids

If you know a budding gardener, this indoor gardening kit from Green Toys that we've got in the store now is a great way to get him or her started with growing things.

Made from recycled plastic, the kit comes with a planting tray, three pots, a trowel, soil, planting instructions, and three packs of seeds--sunflowers, zinnia, and basil.

Green Toys is a great, green California company that makes its wares from recycled milk jugs right here in CA.  So, their toy-making process is local and energy-saving, and the products themselves are tested for safety and wrapped in recycled packaging.  You can read more about the backstory of Green Toys here. 

From planting to growing to enjoying basil and tomato sandwiches, this empowering toy is sure to please.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Healthy Kids Workshop in Review

Here are two tips from our "Raising Healthy Kids in a Toxic World" Workshop last weekend led by Sustainability Coach Deborah and Shelley of Green to Grow.   

There are so many toxins coming at us and our families that it's easy to feel bogged down and anxious. With that in mind, it's crucial to cultivate an empowered approach by knowing the facts and then making informed, calm, healthy decisions you can feel good about.

1. It's super important to stay away from plastics, as we're hearing more and more about how they can leach into our food and bodies.  So, take a look at the bottles, food storage containers, and toys your little ones come in contact with and consider ways to change or eliminate those with plastic.

All Shades carries Green To Grow bottles that are Bisphenol-A and Phthatlate free.  Here is Green to Grow's reading list of books and sites for creating healthy, green nurseries.  

We've also got Plan Toys, an excellent option for parents looking for safe, environmentally-sound playthings.  Plan Toys are made from untreated, recycled rubberwood and are manufactured in such a way that honors the world and the worker.

2. You can actually help clean the air in your child's nursery by adding indoor plants to his/her room.  Look for ivy and plants in those in the helix family as they're especially good collectors of toxins.

We wish you and yours good health, and if you missed this workshop, check back for future forums for parents.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Personal Action: Planting

Sometimes news about climate change and environmental demise can bring a person down. At All Shades, our Sustainability Coach takes a completely positive approach, reminding us that given the state of things, we have the incredibly fun and adventurous opportunity to create well-being for ourselves and the planet with our everyday choices.

One huge impact we can make with a simple, daily act is to plant something, anything (well, almost anything).

One thing he propounds we bother doing is growing edibles:

"But the act I want to talk about is growing some — even just a little — of your own food. Rip out your lawn, if you have one, and if you don’t — if you live in a high-rise, or have a yard shrouded in shade — look into getting a plot in a community garden. Measured against the Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign, I know, but in fact it’s one of the most powerful things an individual can do — to reduce your carbon footprint, sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind."

And, as it's organic gardening month, we're here to help (all year long, actually).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Marilyn's Own Soil Conditioner

If you're looking for an easy, earth-friendly way to help your garden grow, let us introduce you to Marilyn from Chino and her Marilyn's Own Perfect Garden Soil Conditioner.

It contains only naturally occurring materials that give plants the nutrients they need.

We've got My Perfect Garden at the store for you to try for yourself.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beyond Shelter

Mother's Day has come and gone, but we want to continue honoring the work that Beyond Shelter does all month.   It helps single, homeless moms in L.A. to move into permanent housing with their children.  

The mission of Beyond Shelter is to combat poverty and homelessness in L.A. County through its initiatives like "Housing First," Rental Assistance, Employment Services, and a Family Shelter, among others.  You can read more about their important work here.

Sun Hats

Every gardener needs a sun hat.  And really, so does every head on a sunny day.

Livity is a Topanga-based company committed to eco-fashion.  The folks there have been making hats, accessories, and clothing from sustainable materials like straw, hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton since 2001.

We've got some fireball brown sun hats (and other accessories) from Livity in the store for spring and summer to protect you from any blazing rays that abound.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Organic Gardener's Bookshelf

We invite you to come by and browse our bookshelves should you be interested in cultivating a library that will help you as you cultivate your garden.

Here are a number of invaluable titles for Los Angeles area organic gardeners:

Care and Maintenance of Southern California Native Plant Gardens
Produced by the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, this covers the basics of irrigation, soil, planting, weeding, and pest control, all for our neck of the woods.  (English-Spanish edition.)

This is the book from the man who helped pioneer permaculture, David Holmgren. Permaculture, in a nutshell, is about taking care in creating landscapes and lives that follow the principles and relationships in nature.  Read more about it here.

Perennial Vegetables
A so-called "socially engaged plant geek" tells all in the realm of how and what to grow that you can eat.  He even includes the antioxidant powerhouse from Nepal, goji berries in here!

California Native Plants for the Garden
500 plants with pictures and know-how on how to plant them and what will make them thrive.

Food Not Lawns
Heather Flores will help you start a revolution in your yard by following her nine steps of permaculture design that lead to a garden of food not grass. This is a great place to to start if you're ready to leave mowing behind and get growing instead.  Planting and reaping the fruits of your labor is a welcome revolution indeed.

The New Organic Grower
If you're well on your way as an organic vegetable grower already, or even want to pursue expanding your plot of soil or selling some of your produce, this book is for you.  Topics include sustainable growing practices, soil health, and marketing your produce.

All New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
The subtitle says it all: "The Indispensable Resource for Every Gardener."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pot Maker

We can do so much good by planting native plants and edible goodies in our gardens. Unfortunately though, the norm is for starter plants to be grown by nurseries or individuals in plastic pots.

Here's a way to get around that.

The Pot Maker helps you make old newspapers into pots for your plants--they're compostable so when your seedling is ready to go into the ground, you can plant your pot along with it.

It's incredibly easy to use and doesn't require any glue to make perfect little pots for starters or transplants, just the palm of your hand and Sunday's paper.

We've got Pot Makers in the store now (19.99). 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seeds of Change

If you walk in the store this month, you'll notice that we're focusing on Organic Gardening--our table is filled with things to help you forge your way toward organic and beautiful shrubs, bushes, fruits and veggies. 

One thing we've got on that table is a basket of seed packets from Seeds of Change.

Seeds of Change produces over 600 kinds of organically grown seeds on its farm, preserving organic agriculture and plant biodiversity for all of us to enjoy.  This is such important work as many seed varieties are threatened by the monoculture farming methods that prevail in our times. If nobody preserves the seeds, those varieties of tomatoes, yams, and peas will disappear.

Here's what the folks there have to say:

"So, by us and you growing gardens rich in diversity, we improve our own health and that of the environment while doing our part to conserve our planet's and gardeners' genetic legacy for future generations. With diverse plantings, we provide habitat for beneficial insects and critical pollinators and give ourselves varied diets which provide more complete nutrition."

And as for growing your own organic produce, there's just nothing quite so satisfying.  Whether it's a Barbara Kingsolver-style garden, one container of zucchinis this summer, or a pot of basil on a windowsill, everyone can get in on the action in his/her own way. 

And, give us a ring at the store to find out more about our Organic Gardening Workshop this Sunday at a private home in Los Feliz. (323) 665 -7454.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How To Raise Healthy Kids in a Toxic World

In honor of Mother's Day and our new efforts to help families in Los Angeles live more sustainably, All Shades will be holding a very special workshop this Saturday for moms and moms-to-be.

Please join 
sustainability coach, Deborah Tull along with 
mother and founder of Green to Grow, Shelley Aronoff for:

How to Raise Healthy Kids in a Toxic World: A Workshop for Moms and Moms to Be
Saturday, May 17th
10:00 a.m. to noon

Questions the workshop will address:
Which toys, clothes, and fabrics are healthy and safe?
Which bottles and containers are easy on the earth and safe for my child?
What is the environmental impact of my home products and practices?
How do I find clarity in those tricky areas, such as choosing which diapers to use and finding affordable sustainable food options?

You or a mother you know may pre-register at (323) 665-7454 or

It's Bike To Work Week

This week is California's Bike Commute Week, and with gas prices what they are, it couldn't have come at a better time.

If you've wanted to explore a two-wheeled, active commute for a while, here's a chance to experiment and get comfortable with getting there on your own two wheels by choosing one or a few days this week to don a helmet, pack a snack, and get cruising.

L.A. County's Bike to Work Day is this Thursday (the 15th).  The more bikers on that day, the bigger the statement made.

And as always, if you bike to All Shades, we'll give you a 5% discount on your purchases.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Local Flowers Available on Sunday

Sunday, for Mother's Day, we're thrilled to offer fresh, local bouquets from Tara, the Garden and Grower Guru at Silver Lake Farms!

You  may have seen the amazing shocks of colorful blooms she sells at area farmers' markets. Now, you can stop by All Shades on Sunday and bring some hand-picked lovelies to Mom--no pesticides, no air travel, no delivery trucks, grown a hop, skip, and a jump from Downtown L.A. 

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Grocer's Daughter Chocolate

We've got a variety of packages of Grocer's Daughter Confections in the store right now.

The Michigan chocolatier behind the brand uses herbs grown from her own garden for her chocolate creations along with organic cream, local, organic fruits, and mostly Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa.

Just looking at these photos is enough to induce drooling.

We've got a few to choose from including Pecans drizzled with maple syrup, chile, and thyme, Maple Nibs, Zen Bars with 65% cocoa (right), and Chocolate Turtles with caramel filling (above).

Smart Gardening Composting Program

As it's Organic Gardening month at All Shades, we want to share with you an excellent COMPOSTING resource in L.A. County.

We all have food scraps, no matter how much we lick the platter clean--banana peels, carrot tops, apple cores, egg shells, and the like, along with other waste like leaves and paper that go in the green or blue bin on pick up days.  Why send them away in the garbage truck when they can provide the optimum nutrition for your own backyard.

Smart Gardening is part of the Department of Public Works Environmental Programs Division. This program hosts a number of FREE composting workshops throughout the county for those who want to get their feet wet with composting or the very wormy and delightful, vermicomposting.

At the workshop I went to, there was even a raffle for one lucky participant to bring home a free bin.
(We've got worm bins at the store if you aren't so lucky.)

This year, the folks there are even offering advanced workshops for those interested in water-efficient irrigation, landscape design basics, California-friendly, and the nuances of soils and fertilizers.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mother's Day Gifts

What do moms love?  All Shades has a number of gifts for mom this Sunday.

One favorite is a box of Teaposy blooming teas, which make tea-drinking an art. When placed in boiling water, these orbs of tea bloom into lovely flowers.  It's a pretty amazing experience to witness.  And then you get to drink the tea!

Or, how about a useful, elegant recycled plastic bowl from The S.P.I.R.A.L. Foundation? You can provide a Mother's Day present and celebrate Fair Trade month at the same time because S.P.I.R.A.L. supports Vietnamese and Nepalese artisans who are paid fair wages to make their wares and, with the Foundation's help, are able to fund important health and educational projects in those countries. 

Sale Items

We've got some sale items in the store you may want to pop in and check out.

You'll find a number of 100% beeswax candles, select John Masters Organics natural beauty care delights, as well as shoes--some Campers and some Simples--on the sale table.

Monday, May 05, 2008

May Flowers

Since April Showers bring May Flowers, we'll be putting the spotlight on 

We'll be keeping you posted here with tools and tips to make your garden grow greener, along with gifts for gardeners (and moms) as well.

In the meantime, here's our May workshop schedule for you to peruse. We hope you'll join us for one.

Creative Green: A Guide to Sustainable Living in Los Angeles
Wednesday, May 7th
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
@ All Shades of Green

In honor of Mother's Day:
How to Raise Healthy Kids in a Toxic World: A Workshop for Moms and Moms to Be
With our Sustainability Coach, Deborah Tull and Shelley Aronoff of Green to Grow
Saturday, May 17th
10:00 a.m. to noon
@ All Shades of Green

Introduction to Organic Gardening
Sunday, May 18th
10:00 a.m. to noon
@ a private residence in Los Feliz

The Non-Toxic Home
Wednesday, May 28th
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
@ All Shades of Green
Price: $25

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"Slow It, Spread It, Sink It" Storm Water Workshops

Storm Water is a critical issue in Los Angeles (read our recent post about it here).

That's why we're so proud to be the hosting venue for an upcoming series of workshops that help home and business owners take water matters into their own hands through creative design solutions.

This May, through an alliance of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce and the City of Los Angeles, Silver Lake's Materials & Applications will hold Saturday workshops at All Shades aimed at slowing, spreading, and sinking storm water before it reaches our storm drain system and flows out, untreated, to the ocean. 

Topics covered will include green roofs, water catchment, storm water planters, permeable paving, and landscape swales – all practical ways properties can capture and use storm water wisely.

The first event is this Saturday, May 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with Rainwater Catchment: Storm Water Management. Jenna Didier, director of M & A and Fountainhead Water Systems Design will lead a hands-on installation of a rainwater catchment system, including a review of rainwater fountains and irrigation systems.

The following two workshops will focus on green roofs and landscaping strategies for parking lots and driveways, respectively. You can view all the details and sign up here (35.00 for each).

The Low Down on the Composting Workshop

We had a fantastic turnout yesterday evening for the Composting Workshop--22 people came out to join expert John Lyons of The Woven Garden.

For those who missed it, here are a few tidbits you can take to your own backyard.  And, if you want more help, stay tuned for an Organic Gardening Workshop next month with Deborah.

A couple of tips from Composting 101:

Forget the city green bin if you have a garden.  Everything that's going in there can go into your compost bin instead--it's part of the perfect recipe for nutritious soil.

Balance your greens (nitrogen-rich items like kitchen food scraps and grass clippings) with your browns (carbon-rich items like newspaper, wood shavings, and dried leaves). 

If you're looking to heat up your compost pile and don't have access to manure (no cows on your property?), just buy some alfalfa meal and add it to your compost--it'll do the job, too.

And, as you look ahead to next fall, you can collect all of the dead leaves that drape your property in a bag and tie it up.  Setting it aside for a year will create leaf mold, one of the most nutrient-rich soil amendments around that can be spread, sparingly, on your soil.  (Good things like leaf mold come to those who wait.) 

Best of luck!