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4/28/2008 10:42:00 PM

Growing Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes isn't too difficult, you can do it in a 5 gallon bucket if you're in a pinch. But there are some finer lines when it comes to growing them. Tomatoes are a warm season crop and they are very tender to light freezes. Plan an average of two plants per person. All parts of the plant but the fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit) are poisonous. You don't want to plant them near walnut trees because their sensitive to walnut root acid.

Start seedlings an average of 6 weeks from your last frost date. The young plants will need 12 to 14 hours of light per day. Once the seedlings have 4 leaves, you can transfer them to a deeper pot and then again when their 8 to 10 inches tall. Harden off for about 10 days. Stake downwind when you transplant. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilize 1 week before and on the day of planting. Medium an deep watering until harvest and even moisture helps prevent blossom-end rot.

There is a long list of pests, most of which will succumb to green pest control methods. Aphids, beet leafhopper, cabbage looper, Coloado potato beetle, corn borer, corn earworm, cucumber beetle, cutworm, flea bettle, fruit worm, garden centipede, gopher, Japanese beetle, lace bug, leaf-footed bug, mite, nematode, slug, snail, stinkbug, thrips, tobacco budworm, tomato hornworm, and whitefly.

Diseases: Alternaria, anthracnose, bacterial canker, bacterial spot, bacterial wilt, botrytis fruit rot, curly top, damping off, early blight, fusarium wilt, late blight, nematode, psyllid yellows, septoria leaf spot, soft rot, southern blight, spotted wilt, sunscald, tobacco mosaic, verticillium wilt.

Environmental disorders: Blossom-end rot, sunscald.

Do not plant around corn, dill, fennel, kohlrabi, potato and,of course,walnut.

4/28/2008 01:07:00 PM

Mary, Mary Quite Contemporary, How Do Your Tomatoes Grow?

My father has 75 tomato plants. That is a lot. And is planning to buy more. More importantly, he is going to grow some hanging upside down. I'd made the suggestion to him a few months ago after I saw the commercial for it, you know the one, space age technology! Yea, ok. But the idea here is that it will save room for those of us that don't live on 5 acres, or even an acre for that matter. So you hang these up on your back porch and you grow some tomatoes hanging upside down and you have room to grow everything else... like eggplant and okra and ten different lettuces for a real good salad and four different kinds of carrot to really kick that salad! But we'll see what happens, I've demanded that he take pictures for me.

4/27/2008 07:02:00 PM

Diatomes For The Win

It's a hard thing to control pests inside and outside the house. It's even harder to control them without doing harm to the environment. The cool thing is Diatomaceous Earth, its a fossil that is fine as talc and shreds the insides of pests after they walk through it and then ingest it while preening. You can't beat it, its a powder that doesn't harm pets or children as long as they aren't breathing the dust long term. But its good for outside and inside and controls a wide range of critters that might move in and start chewing on your garden or get into the house and take root so you seem to never get rid of them. Best of all, its chemical free. A 10 on the Greener Meter.

4/27/2008 06:58:00 PM

Living Homes

I found this while wondering around the web. It's too cool! But its damn expensive. A prefab that takes 8 hours to assemble but is almost completely self sustainable. Solar panels, water recycling, rainwater harvesting, all the materials are made from environment friendly substances. A very serious 7 on the Greener Meter. 3 point loss due to expensiveness.

4/26/2008 10:19:00 PM

What's That Smell?

You know its a good thing to get rid of all those cleaners under your kitchen sink. Use in a well ventilated area. Umm, ok, here let me open the roof. We've seen the good uses of Baking Soda so one step further, we'll look at another abundant and cheap every day household item. Vinegar! I was surfin the web and came across this site where they have a nice organized way to talk about 131 uses for vinegarincluding:

Cleaning sinks, bathtubs, irons and coffee pots or anything else that uses water on a regular basis that may end up with build up.

Unclog drains and shower heads.

Taking the sting out of insect bites.

Eliminating odors in jars, litter pans, and laundry.

Deodorize lunch boxes, carpets, pet bedding, refrigerators, and freezers.

Prevents eggshells from breaking while boiling.

Kill bacteria in meat and take the edge off the gamey taste.

Store a vinegar soaked cloth with cheese to make it to last longer.

Clean food stained pots and pans, glass surfaces, keep spots from forming on glasses, clean reading glasses.

Relieve sore throats, colds and coughs, arthitis, sunburns and tummy aches.

Relieve itching, dandriff, acne and dissolve warts and corns.

Skin softener and to aid in the treatment of dry skin.

Appetite supressant

Prevent yeast infections.

Increase the life span of your panty hose, soften clothing and prevent lint from hanging onto clothing.

Kill weeds, and increase the acid level in soil.

Remove wall paper.

Prolong the life of flowers in a vase.

Repel ants.

Tons of uses, which means this little multi-tasker will save you $$. Just another way we're sticking it to the man. Buy large jugs of this stuff for cheaper than the crap-ton of other stuff thats *bad for you* and far more expensive. Definately a 9.5 on the Greener Meter (.5 point deducted for the inital smell).

4/26/2008 06:15:00 PM

It's The Great Pumpkin!

My son brought pumpkin seeds home this spring from school and has been pestering me to no end about planting them. I found some good advice from George Levenson concerning everything from when, where and how to science behind the whole pumpkin making process.

So we planted one seed because really its just too early to plant them (way way way too early), but we'll see what happens with our single pumpkin seed as they need 110 to 140 days to mature, according to Mr. Levenson, and we want them to be ready to ripen as fall sets in instead of becoming mush.

4/26/2008 03:23:00 PM

A Pinch of...

A friend of mine wanted to start cooking with herbs (at my frantic urgings) so we went to the grocery store and she spent over $70 on the beginnings of a good spice collection. Rosemary, basil, bay, marjoram, savory, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, thyme, chinese five spice, allspice, cream of tartar, parsley, coriander seed, mustard seed, cayenne, dill and perhaps a couple of others.


I told her that perhaps it was too spendy to buy in such small quantities, but she shrugged me off wanting to dive in. After taking care of her mother that had no use of her kidneys, she just never put any spices of any kind into her food. I freaked out when I saw no spices at all in her house other than some basic salt and pepper. Now, she thanks me a lot for introducing her to the chart that tells you what to cook with what. But I'm still sorrowful that she wasted all that money on pretty jars with hardly enough to get my family through six months of regular cooking. For what she paid for a half ounce, she could have bought a pound from my favorite bulk herb internet store.

Beans (dried)
cumin, cayenne, chili, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme

basil, bay, chili, cilantro, curry, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme

anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme

basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chili, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme

allspice, basil, bay, cinnamon, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger lemongrass, mustard, paprika, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme

chili, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme

basil, chervil, chili, chives, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme

anise, basil, bay, cayenne, celery seed, chives, curry, dill fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, marjoram

allspice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint

basil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

Salad Dressings
basil, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme

basil, caraway, chives, dill, garlic, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme

basil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme

allspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary

basil, bay , celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, gumbo file, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

4/26/2008 12:36:00 PM

More Tomatoes

You know, I talked to my father from 9 until almost 3 this morning and what did we talk about? Other than the side of beef I'm gonna purchase, we talked about tomatoes. My father, being a man who grew up on garden fresh food, loves his Arkansas Traveller, Big Boy, Better Boy and Early Girl tomato varities and he's been growing them for years. But unlike my father, I plan to save my seeds instead of paying $2.50 a plant every spring. My father guided me into a seed saving conversation saying "..take your tomato, cut it in half, get the seeds out, dry them in the sun, then stick them in the freezer.." to which my response was "If its that easy, why are you paying $2.50 a plant for them?" He actually said because he supposed he was lazy. Uh-huh.

But I did get something out of it other than sarcasm. I learned about how important the varity of the tomato is and once you find that perfect one for your purpose, you'll never use anything else and swear by it until your dying breath. My father grows several different kinds because he uses them for different things, all for eating, but each of them will add their own distinct textures, sweetnesses, acid content, flavors and aroma to whatever it is that you're cooking up or canning. He also doesn't save the seeds from these delicious tomatoes because they are all hybrids and the seeds don't do anything for him.

This presents an interesting delima for the self sustaining life I want to lead. I don't want to be bound to put more money in the pockets of "the man" so that I can have my tomatoes every year. I'm trying to get away from that. So I told my father that I'd split heirloom seeds with him. I'll buy them, I'll send them to him and he can grow them and save the seeds. With luck, he'll get addicted to an heirloom varity of tomato instead.

Interestingly enough, he talked about a 2 pound tomato that the plant grew to be 18 feet tall. I'd like to see that one myself. I'll try to find out the name and post it.

4/26/2008 09:44:00 AM

Homemade Carpet Freshener

20 drops lavender
20 drops sage
1 cup baking soda

Mix well in a plastic bag, sprinkle on carpet, vaccum as normal.

*Note: amounts of essential oils can change according to taste!

Replace the backing soda with talc and you've got a good shoe dust to prevent athletes foot. Dust the inside of the show and also the feet.

CAUTION: Using essential oils neat on the skin can cause serious conditions such as minor rash to burns. When using essential oils it is imperative that you make safety a priority.

4/26/2008 03:17:00 AM

Sixty Uses Of Baking Soda

Sixty Uses Of Baking Soda
Bicarbonate of soda or baking soda has many different uses in the household. Although much more expensive products have been developed over the years to do the same jobs, baking soda can work for you just as well, if not better. Use it in the following ways:

1. To make your own baking powder, stir and sift together 2 parts of Cream of Tartar to 1 part baking soda and 1 part cornstarch.

2. Be sure to keep an extra box of baking soda by your stove in case of grease or electrical fire. Scatter the powder by the handful to safely put it out.

3. Keep a container of baking soda in your garage as well as in your car to put out a fire. It won't damage anything it touches.

4. Baking soda will also put out fires in clothing, fuel, wood, upholstery and rugs.

5. Clean vegetables and fruit with baking soda. Sprinkle in water, soak and rise the produce.

6. Wash garbage cans with baking soda.

7. Soak and wash diapers with baking soda.

8. Oil and grease - stained clothing washes out better with soda added to the washing water.

9. Clean your fridge and freezer with dry soda sprinkled on a damp cloth. rinse with clear water.
10. Deodorize your fridge and freezer by putting in an open container of baking soda to absorb odors. Stir and turn over the soda from time to time. Replace every 2 months.

11. Soda absorbs kitty litter odors. Cover the bottom of the kitty box with 1 part soda; then add a layer of 3 parts kitty litter on top.

12. Always add 1/2 cup soda to your washing machine load.

13. Clean combs and brushes in a soda solution.

14. Wash food and drink containers with soda and water.

15. Wash marble-topped furniture with a solution of 3 tablespoons of soda in 1 quart of warm water. Let stand awhile, then rinse.

16. Clean formica counter tops with baking soda on a damp sponge.

17. Wash out thermos bottles and cooling containers with soda and water to get rid of stale smells.

18. To remove stubborn stains from marble, formica or plastic surfaces, scour with a paste of soda and water.

19. Wash glass or stainless steel coffee pots (but not aluminum) in a soda solution ( 3 tbsp. soda to 1 quart water).

20. Run you coffee maker through its cycle with a soda solution. Rinse.

21. Give baby bottles a good cleaning with soda and hot water.

22. Sprinkle soda on barbecue grills, let soak, then rinse off.

23. Sprinkle soda on greasy garage floor. Let stand, scrub and rinse.

24. Polish silverware with dry soda on a damp cloth. Rub, rinse and dry.

25. For silver pieces without raised patterns or cemented-on handles: place the silver on aluminum foil in an enamel pot. Add boiling water and 4 tbsp. baking soda. Let stand, rinse and dry.

26. Reduce odor build-up in your dishwasher by sprinkling some soda on the bottom.

27. Run your dishwasher through its cycle with soda in it instead of soap to give it a good cleaning.

28. To remove burned-on food from a pan: let the pan soak in soda and water for 10 minutes before washing. Or scrub the pot with dry soda and a moist scouring pad.

29. For a badly-burned pan with a thick layer of burned-on food: pour a thick layer of soda directly onto the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle on just enough water so as to moisten the soda. Leave the pot overnight, then scrub it clean next day.

30. Rub stainless steel and chrome with a moist cloth and dry baking soda to shine it up. Rinse and dry. On stainless steel, scrub in the direction of the grain.

31. Clean plastic, porcelain and glass with dry soda on a damp cloth. Rinse and dry.

32. Remove that bad smell from ashtrays with soda and water.

33. Sprinkle a bit of dry soda in your ashtrays to prevent smoldering and reduce odor.

34. Clean your bathroom with dry soda on a moist sponge - sink, tub, tiles, shower stall, etc.

35. Keep your drains clean and free-flowing by putting 4 tablespoons of soda in them each week. Flush the soda down with hot water.

36. Soak your shower curtains in water and soda to clean them.

37. To remove strong odors from your hands, wet your hands and rub them hard with soda, then rinse.

38. Sprinkle baking soda on your wet toothbrush and brush your teeth and dentures with it.

39. Sprinkle soda in tennis shoes, socks, boots and slippers to eliminate odor.

40. Add 1/2 cups or more of baking soda to your bath water to soften your skin.

41. Putting 2 tbsp. of baking soda in your baby's bath water will help relieve diaper rash irritations.

42. Apply soda directly to insect bites, rashes and poison ivy to relieve discomfort. Make a paste with water.

43. Take a soda bath to relieve general skin irritations such as measles and chicken pox.

44. Take 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 glass of water to relieve acid indigestion or heartburn.

45. Gargle with 1/2 tsp. baking soda in 1/2 glass of water. Freshens and cleans your mouth.

46. Used as a mouthwash, baking soda will also relieve canker sore pain.

47. To relieve sunburn: use a paste of baking soda and water.

48. Bug bites: use a poultice of baking soda and vinegar.

49. Bee sting: use a poultice of baking soda and water.

50. Windburns: moisten some baking soda and apply directly.

51. Making Play Clay with baking soda: combine 1 1/4 cups water, 2 cups soda, 1 cup cornstarch.

52. Use soda as an underarm deodorant.

53. If your baby spits up on his shirt after feeding, moisten a cloth, dip it in baking soda and dab at the dribbled shirt. The odor will go away.

54. When scalding a chicken, add 1 tsp. of soda to the boiling water. The feathers will come off easier and flesh will be clean and white.

55. Repel rain from windshield. Put gobs of baking soda on a dampened cloth and wipe windows inside and out.

56. Add to water to soak dried beans to make them more digestible.

57. Add to water to remove the "gamey" taste from wild game.

58. Use to sweeten sour dishcloths.

59. Use dry with a small brush to rub canvas handbags clean.

60. Use to remove melted plastic bread wrapper from toaster. Dampen cloth and make a mild abrasive with baking soda.

Author: Harry Godwin Date: 1/15/1999

Good deal of uses there. And the guys over at Fat Wallet, have it right. Buy it by the 15 pound tub and you're good to go! Rating of 10 on the Greener Meter!

4/26/2008 02:38:00 AM

Help Your Tomato Plant

If you take a small spoonful of Epsom's salt and put it 3 or 4 inches below your tomato plant, it will help your plant become more disease resistant.

4/25/2008 09:29:00 PM

Solar Your Way Into A Paycheck

Well, not exactly, but close. You can find out about those pesky and elusive government grants for energy saving home improvements. Or if you like, a green mortgage. Yep, they actually have those. These are on a federal level, so do a search for your state and see what they may offer locally.

You can do solar or wind or both. You can get free consultations from big companies like Home Depot if you don't want to do a small DYI project and take advantage of the above government incentives to go green.

Oh yea, and that paycheck part... When your batteries are full, the energy you create must be (by federal mandate) sold back to the utility company. Wouldn't it be nice to get a check from them instead of a bill? You bet ya (sticking it to tha man). But they only pay you half what you get charged for a kilowatt hour. But hey, its better than nothing!

We're going to be doing the green mortgage when we buy a house... if I ever can decide on one.

So that solves the energy crisis. We'll tackle water later.

4/25/2008 08:02:00 PM

Moo, Cluck, Oink?

A discovery that wasn't so new hit me the other night and I went on a crusade but first, a little back ground history here...

During the first decade of my life, I lived on several acres with livestock. We grew our own, well, just about everything. We rarely bought more than a couple of loaves of bread and some prepared canned goods like spagetti and such from the store. We ate fresh vegetables. We ate fresh meats. Beef, chicken, pork and others, too. My father was a hunter. Deer, rabbit, squirrel, alligator (yep, I'm from Louisiana), bull frog, goose, duck, pheasant, quail. We made our own jellies, jams, preserves, relishes... It was a lot of work. Most of the women that lived around us were widowed from the war. I say the war because I belive that several of them lost husbands from more than one. We gave them vegetables by the bussel. We sent over packages of freezer paper wrapped meats. We sent over new cobbler creations and homemade ice cream.

I miss that. When I decided I wanted to do an urban sustainable living type situation, I didn't know what to even call it. I found a really cool website in Patti Moreno's Garden Girl. She put a name to it. I want to be more healthy and live a better life for my children's sake and my own. And I found Green Tips. I didn't just sorta find these places. I hunted and searched, read through everything, I left no link unclicked.

So I have a plan. Buy a house. The backyard will be raised beds. I'll get chickens and have fresh eggs like I did when I was a child. I'll raise rabbits and quail. But you know, I can't raise a cow.

Herein lies the problem for carnivorous creatures such as my husband who won't eat green things if they're cooked (and most of the time if they're not, too) and a chicken barely gets him and our two son's started. Sorry Patti, you definately rate a 9 on the Greener Meter (heh, now I'll have to make a web award for that) but your life style is appealing only to me in my household. So what's a girl to do?


Buy a cow, that's what. But not a live one. I crusaded my way through the phone book and after using the excuse that I'd have to talk to my husband about those prices to more than one guy that was willing to think he could rip me off and that I couldn't make decisions on my very own, I finally found Laurel Creek. I was quoted a nice price for a side of beef. And for pigs. They have a variety of critters they'll sell to you, custom cut even.

I discussed it with my husband and he was all for it. But we'd have to buy a larger freezer, said the grandson of a butcher. I frowned. Then I smiled. Thank god the government is gonna stimulate the economy. Cause I'm going to use it to cut my grocery bill in half so that I can afford $4.00 a gallon.

4/25/2008 07:52:00 PM

The Start of a New Way

I've never blogged before. I've often thought I'd like to, but I never felt I had anything to say that would be profound enough to move someone into action. With the discovery of a few things in myself and my family and how we live and the things that are going on around us, I found something to say. It may be profound to some and not others. But at least, now, in a world where gas is going to hit $4.00 a gallon in a very short time from now and how we have to cut into the grocery bill or cut the entertainment back or even start limiting the activities our children do, )I think that is the one that hurts the most), I think its time that that greener way of life I kept promising myself should start. Better late than never.

How do we cope with these ever inflated changes? Whine and bitch that our current president must protect his families investment in the middle east? Complain that we're seeing the end of the crude oil era coming to an end and it just won't die? While we're stabbing away at it with a fork and knife because we spent so much of our grocery money to make sure we can keep filling up those tanks, we can come to our senses. Even if it is fun to take a stab at the prices and the all mighty.. which was it now? Money or oil? Apparently, they are interchangeable. Stabbing at that which you have no control will amount to nothing. Depending on how hard you stab, it may land you a fine or jail time, but I'll keep from giving you ideas on what to do to get into that kind of trouble.

No, no. It is much simpler than all of that. Hit them where it really hurts because that is what they are doing to us. Gas goes up, the amount of money to ship goods across the country goes up, food goes up... and up.. and up.Start not with the stabbing at the bloated walrus coated smugly in his slick, black gold coat. Start stabbing by cutting out your spending as much as possible in his world.It is my intention to introduce the ideas I've researched and read endlessly on, things that are simple, but yet, no one seems to be moving in this direction. Yet. Before I can unshackle myself from the grind stone, I must appease it for a little while longer by keeping a job. More later!

I'm Green Inside!

I'm Green Inside!
How green are you?

The Growing Challenge

The Growing Challenge
Just one more...

Fred's Fine Fowl

Fred's Fine Fowl
All things poultry