Category Archives: Nature and Environment

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 5. Growing Success: Planning

mulch Planning: Now the fun part, Planning! If you read my previous Soil post to get here or the other three before it, congratulations! We are almost there! You will have the garden of your dreams in no time, I promise! But first you must have a plan! Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 4. Getting Started: Soil Building

So you read my last post about Bed Preparation and you are ready to get started! So now comes the most important part! Soil! IMG_20150317_143907_419 Soil Building Turning your soil into some of the best growing medium takes some effort usually. Very few areas have perfect soil for growing in. Regional differences can change your soil dramatically. Don't worry, you don't have to do it all in the first year. Improvements can be made every year, all year-long. There is no wrong time to fix your soil. Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 3. Getting Started: Bed Preparation

So once you have read the first posts in this series, about Site Selection, and asked yourself the questions and evaluated your yard, you are ready to start building your garden! If space is limited you can use pots for container gardening! Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 2. Getting Started: Site Selection

garden

Afternoon shadows will help on hot summer days!

  So my last Blog post,  Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 1. Why start a vegetable garden?, may have led you here. Or you just got lucky and found this on your own! Either way we are glad you have joined us. So you are ready to start a vegetable garden. I am going to walk you through step by step and make it real easy! Feel free to ask any questions along the way. Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 1. Why start a vegetable garden?

10406359_10201967407572940_1866439833946748287_nWhy? You may be asking yourself, "Why would I start a vegetable garden?" With all the grocery stores available to you these days, what is the point of growing your own food? Is it worth the effort of getting dirty and sweaty? You may be asking yourself, will I even succeed at growing anything? Some of my reasons are below. Yes, it is worth it and yes you will succeed, with me helping you along the way! Read more »

Cultivating Mushrooms at Home…Yes, it is possible!

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushroom slices ready to saute for dinner!

So yeah, we love mushrooms in this house! Almost as much as we love tomatoes! It only makes sense we start growing our own! I have done it in the past on a small level but now I want enough to share, barter, and sell to the chefs! My dad has a friend who propagates mushrooms in a lab and I have received the mushroom blocks like you get in kits from him. I grew them on my counter and they worked well but lets face it, I need more counter space for all my other projects! Growing the blocks is easy and fun but on a large-scale, I just don't have the room. I got to plug a log and bring it home at a class years ago and it was fun. I put it in a shady spot and watered it well... at first... Then I got busy and didn't water it all winter... In spring when we were cleaning up the yard I considered it a loss and just tossed it back by the compost pile and forgot about it. A year later there were mushrooms all over it! So I figure it has got to be easy if neglect created that many! So this time I'm going to really give it my all! A friend of ours placed a bulk order for mushroom plugs and we bartered some tomato plants for 100 Blue Oyster and 100 Shiitake plugs. We got too busy with the garden this spring to start our logs and summer is too hot so we finally got around to it in the fall. The plugs waited patiently in the fridge. So we got our logs cut and set up a work station on our front porch and made a fun evening of it. Pandora radio set to Blue Oyster Cult and a cold drink in hand we started out...here is how we did it... Ready to plug logs! Logs We researched up and down what would be the best wood to use and got a good list together. Soft wood and conifers are not recommended for mushrooms. Certain species of mushrooms do best with certain tree species so do your research for what you are growing. We planned on getting some of the highest recommended wood possible. But then the universe stepped in and steered our decision... A huge pecan limb fell in a storm and was the perfect age to cut when we were feeling motivated to do this project so pecan is what we went with, good or bad... One thing we try to do is, use what we have on hand and not waste resources. So the most sustainable option for us at this time is to use the pecan. We cut the huge limb into 3 to 4 foot sections and used the ones that were 3 to 6 inch diameter. At this point it was a couple of weeks old which is a good aging period for the wood. You don't want to use it too fresh or too old. A couple of weeks to a couple of months max. It has to still be holding some moisture inside so if it has been really dry you want it aged less. drill holes Drilling We charged the battery to our 18V drill and put our spare battery on to charge as well. A 5/16 drill bit is the right size for plugs to fit into. We used a Sharpie marker and drew a line on the bit at the one inch mark so we would go the right depth every time! Starting 2 inches from the end of the log I began drilling holes. I alternated about 6 inches apart in rows approximately 2 1/2 inches apart. Enough space for mushroom clusters to grow big and strong. Ryan took over the drilling because pecan was harder than I expected, lol! We got 20-30 plugs per log. It is recommended to cover each plug with a thin layer of wax. Waiting We put them in a shady location in reach of the hose and watered them in well. We just stacked them up checker style and if it hasn't rained we give them a good hose down! It's important to keep hydrated! Our friend just contacted us about another bulk order and we will be doing more varieties in spring!!! Can't wait for all the yummy mushrooms! Let us know if you are interested in ordering them in the future!

Wellness Tea: a Delicious Way to Boost Immunity!

Wellness Tea to Boost Immunity

Wellness Tea to Boost Immunity

So it's winter but it has been 70 degrees out... El Nino, Climate Change, Global Warming, Indian Summer, whatever you want to call it, it confuses our bodies! So now we are left with a stuffy nose and occasional cough. Not too bad but enough that we are taking steps now to prevent it from getting worse. We always try to use natural remedies if possible! My first sign of a sniffle and I bust out my essential oils! DoTERRA (click this link if interested in learning more or placing an order with me) is my go to brand for many reasons, but that's a whole 'nother blog for a different day! The Breathe Respiratory Blend always helps us with clear breathing and On Guard Protection Blend helps us from catching anything else! Usually I have a batch of elderberry syrup made this time of year for daily consumption but haven't made it yet as winter hasn't really arrived. So I figured tea is always good! I grabbed elderberries, mullein, and a wellness tea blend my mommy made me. It has rose hips, nettle, herbs and who knows what else she threw in there!? Go ask her at Grammy's Potager! I boiled it all together and steeped it for over ten minutes. Ran it through my cup sized strainer as I pour and add some local raw honey! It smells and tastes so good my toddler is begging for more! You can add anything you like is the beauty! We are feeling better already! I'll keep adding more water and heating up again all day till it has no strength left to it. Then the spent berries and herbs will go to the chickens and help them stay strong! What are your tricks for staying healthy this warm winter!?

Tomato Tidbits: Saving Seed

Tomato seed saving!

Tomato seed saving!

Tomatoes have always been my favorite plant to grow! We grew them when I was a child and I have been growing them on my own for twenty years now! To say I'm obsessed with tomatoes is an understatement! The last five years Ryan and I have been actively saving the seed of our heirloom open pollinated tomatoes we grow. We grow more and more varieties and colors every year! I love saving seed because it saves me money on seed orders and I can trade with other seed savers and get even more variety! This year we grew over 40 varieties of heirlooms, next year will be even more! So to start, be sure the plant that you are saving from is an heirloom so the seed will be true to parent plant. Hybrid plant seeds can have all different results from their lineage. If you don't know you can just research the name of your tomato plant and find out easily. Next, choose your healthiest plant with the best fruit. Read more »

IPM: Integrated Pest Management

wpid-wp_20131001_010.jpg

Attract beneficial insects with flowers!

Integrated Pest Management or IPM is ...

an ecological approach to pest management that combines understanding the causes of pest outbreaks, manipulating the crop ecosystem for pest control, and monitoring pest populations and their life cycles to determine if and when the use of pesticides is indicated.

---dictionary.com

The basic idea is that if you really pay close attention to your garden you can prevent pest populations from getting out of control and if and when they do you can use the least toxic control methods first. The goal here is to impact our natural environment as little as possible and still feed our families. There will always be some pest in your garden and that is okay! They are the menu items to entice beneficial insects to come by for a snack! There is a certain balance in the pest community, that once achieved, is very effective! Mother nature balances things out if we allow her to. Not every leaf or fruit has to be unblemished to have a successful harvest! Monitoring: It's as simple as strolling through your garden on a daily basis! I do this in the morning with my coffee and find it to be my favorite activity of the day! Just walk through looking at your plants and notice any changes in them. Are they beginning to wilt? Turning brown or yellow? Are there holes or spots on leaves? If you catch the problem early you can take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy garden! Read more »

Asparagus and Strawberry: Perennial Match Made in Heaven

So we decided to start some perennial food beds at our new homestead as we plan to be here for quite some time! Two spring foods that our family loves but are hard to find local organic and when we do they are super expensive is Asparagus and Strawberries! We love them! So I was pretty confident it would be a worthwhile investment!
IMG_20150509_151523164

Asparagus roots.

When we did our big orchard order we got some bare-root dormant plants of both. We got 10 'Mary Washington', 10 'Jersey Giant', and 20 'UC 157' asparagus. We didn't know which variety we would like best or what would grow easily for us. This mix will help us decide which ones to buy next time we expand our asparagus beds! Read more »
« Older Entries