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6/29/2008 06:48:00 PM

Happiness in Slavery

I got the vegetable soup, beef stew and meatballs made. The meatballs did not make it to the freezer. This whirlwind of Tasmanian Devils swirled through the kitchen like miniature tornados and devoured the first and most of the second batch of meatballs. I have three left.

It wasn't a bad day. I accomplished my goals for the weekend except for the Italian meatballs which probably wouldn't have made it to the freezer anyway. It was fairly easy, it wasn't as much work so much as timing. But if anyone asks, I slaved.

6/28/2008 11:29:00 PM

Go Go Gadget Carrots

Ten more sprouted! I know its silly to keep up with exact numbers but we were all out there surrounding the container jabbing our fingers at the tiny leaves and contradicting each other on how many there were really in there. At least it was a family event.

It's amazing, though. I was worried that my green thumb had truly turned black, but the carrots have sprouted, now we'll see if we get nice straight carrots. I'm certainly keeping my fingers crossed.

Something I've learned from container gardening is that it is limitless. If the place I've chosen to put my crop turns out to be less than ideal after the plant is actually put there, I can move it. If there is a threat of extreme weather, I can bring them onto the covered deck until the threat has past. There are a few disadvantages, however. More attention must be given. Ants tried to move into the nice loose, moist soil that my carrots were planted in. I had to stop that, they killed my mums last year that I had set out front by moving in. I wasn't paying enough attention.

The pumpkins are taking over my kitchen! We had a severe thunderstorm today so I couldn't put them out or else the wind would have pulled a Wizard of Oz on my plants. I was mildly disappointed, but the cooler weather when the storm first rolled up more than made up for it. It was hot out there today until the storm showed cooling everything down. We lost power. Again. For the hundredth time. This time it wasn't for hours so that was pleasing. But once again, it came while I was washing dishes and dealing with food on the stove and in the oven. It didn't happen when the worse of the storm rolled in, oh no, it waited until after the major chaos was over and it was merely sprinkling.

But I will run off on that tangent for page after page. I'm going to get off that soap box now before I get out of control.

We finished our shopping today. It was so bright out, the sky clear but we could see the black on the horizon and just wished for the relief that we knew was coming. But before we got that, we all stopped and bought sunglasses. It's funny to watch kids fuss over which ones look the coolest. We all preened over our chosen sunglasses and then the serious shopping started. I was out of spray bottles for my kelp solution so we hunted everywhere and walked by them twice before we realized. So we got some nice big spray bottles for the kitchen and the garden. I made up a batch of the kelp solution and got to work on the plants and the kids felt pretty good about helping out with that.

I got the rice all sealed up with no major disasters. I'm looking forward to getting my meatballs made tomorrow and probably some stew, too. I'm worn out so the rest may have to wait until a little later in the week. I have back problems so I'm battling some pretty serious pain at the moment. That is what I get for stomping around on concrete for the evening Friday. I've had just the worst leg cramps, too. So my husband has demanded that I relax, even going so far as to massage the knotted muscles into submission, something he rarely does. So my hopes of mass meal preparation have been thwarted by a man that will physically pick me up, put me in bed, then tie me to it without thinking twice. He has threatened to do this in the past and feed me through a straw that runs from the kitchen so he doesn't have to listen to me whine. I believe him.

6/27/2008 11:13:00 PM

Shop Til You Drop

Some days it just pays to get out of bed. This is one of the carrot seedlings that sprouted. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get carrots, but after I saw them yesterday, I was very pleased with our work. We've counted 16 so far, which is double from yesterday, with hopes that more will pop up. I certainly hope so, 16 carrots wouldn't see us through a dinner.
After checking our carrots out and giving them a healthy drink, we went shopping.
I have my weekend cut out for me. We're going to bag up 25 pounds of jasmine rice this weekend. That is one big thing our shopping trip yielded. I say we... but it will probably be... me. My husband wants it in 1 1/2 cup bags. I frowned and handed him the vacuum sealer. Later he changed his mind to 2 cup bags. Well, that will cut down on the time it will take for me to get it done. The sarcasm in my voice when I made that statement wasn't missed.
With all the bulk buying we've been doing, I've not had a chance to get everything sealed up with the vacuum sealer. Thankfully, the beef came vacuumed sealed and already frozen when it was delivered. But I still have the rice.
We also went to a kitchen supply store. I love this place but it is very easy for me to spend way too much in one of these places. We went for a injection kit and left with one... and a honey pot for the single serving french press and two sizes of the plunger measuring cups... I almost left with an entirely new tea service (as if I need another one). My husband distracted me with... well... everything else and managed to get me out of the store before I spent $100.
One of my serious weaknesses is tea. I love tea. Iced, hot, with or without cream, honey or sugar. It doesn't matter. I'm a black tea kind of girl, but I'm not above drinking green or white, I just prefer black. One of my favorites teas is Lavender Earl Grey. And I like Spiced Chai. When I do drink green tea, I like the flowering kind. It's just cool to watch it unfurl in the cup.
Another weakness is chocolate. I like this chocolate because they make a blueberry lavender chocolate bar. I love blueberries and I love lavender. What's not to love? My first bar of this chocolate was the chai and that was excellent stuff.
Another vice of mine is incense and Shoyeido and Airs are my favorite incense sites.
Tea, chocolate and incense. You would think they would be relatively inexpensive items but uhh you'd be wrong. Add in gardening and it's a good day.

6/26/2008 09:45:00 PM

A Beautiful Sight

I went out to water my carrots (yes, I know, I need to water in the morning instead of the evening but I was in a hurry this morning) and discovered there are several sprouts! Our multi-color carrot expedition is starting to yield its rewards. I discovered this during the twilight so it was pointless to take pictures, the flash just made things horribly bright so the tiny green leaves didn't show up. I'll be sure to take some tomorrow and get them posted.

Still only one bell pepper sprouted and we have four pumpkins that now have true leaves on them. We're going to be busy all this week getting these guys hardened off.

I bought some seaweed extract and made up a batch to water all my little sprouts, it seems that it was well worth it from what I've read about it. We'll see what happens when we get it to the table.

Tomorrow is another day.

6/26/2008 08:59:00 PM


Mold. It causes allergies, smells and is the culprit that is causing the no-paper drywall craze. It has been the bane of existence to women everywhere in the bathroom, when disasters strike and there is standing water from flooding or leaks, or in the basement. Luckily there are a couple of easy ways to get rid of it.

Tea Tree: not only is this stuff great for dandruff but it also kills mold and it kills the smell, too. This essential oil used to be fairly expensive, but now that its well known it is far more affordable than it used to be. A little of this strong smelling oil goes a long way and the smell sticks around for days at at time. The great thing is that its easily applied. A teaspoon to a cup of water in a spray bottle and a good shake and you're set. Spray the affected areas liberally but make sure to wear those rubber gloves because it can burn the skin and you don't even want to get this stuff in your eyes.

Lavender is another good essential oil that is a good mold buster. In general, lavender is anti-microbial so it will not only kill the mold, but just about any other household microscopic critter.

Vinegar kills a good portion of mold. Use it neat or mix a half and half spray depending on the severity of the mold problem.

6/26/2008 02:44:00 PM

Homemade Travel Hand Wipes

Homemade Travel Hand Wipes

Materials Needed:
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Paper Towels (use a thick, sturdy towel)Large Ziploc Bag


Fold the paper towels in half and lay them in a shallow dish in a single layer.

Mix the liquid ingredients together then pour over top the towels. Repeat as needed until you have the amount of wipes you require.

Stack the saturated towels in a large Ziploc bag, make as many as you like. Store the sealed bag in your vehicle while traveling.

Store any unused liquid in an airtight container to use next time.

Note: You can use strips of flannelette if you prefer (then launder and reuse), as well as paper towels cut in half.

I just make amounts that I would use during a road trip, I haven’t made big batches of wipes at a time so I’m not sure how long they would last. These are very nice on road trips to keep your hands clean–think: public washroom sink taps and door handles, yuck!

From Tip Nut

6/25/2008 11:37:00 PM

A Birds Revenge

My cat, Velvet is a sweet kitty... right up until she's not.

Firstly, Tanis, the new addition, had some upset when we first took him in. He did not like the dogs down from us leaving their mark on their fence so he bolted. Jake, my husband, tore after him because he obviously ran away from one place and he didn't want him to run away from us. He finally catches him with the help of the kids. Now caught, Tanis wiggles and slips his collar which traumatizes him more when he is caught again and brought into the house. Jake attempts to get the collar on him and all Tanis wants to do is run and hide. Welp, right as Tanis slunk under the bed, Jake caught him and Tanis turned around and bit him. It was a minor bite, but a bite none-the-less. Velvet witnessed this and as soon as Jake was able to catch the wiggling wiggler to get his collar back on him, Velvet came out to defend her owner's honor.

She tagged him, full claws, both paws and had Tanis just terrified! Tanis, unable to get away because Jake has a hold on him trying to keep his collar from choking him finally had to let go because Velvet was making him cry. Tanis runs for the bedroom, Velvet behind him tagging him every other step in the rear with five little pointy things. Tanis cries and hides in the closet were Velvet exerts her dominance over him. It was interesting to watch and I know I laughed until I couldn't breath. Her tail had to be three inches around all puffed out and she had that Halloween cat look. Hence the title "Vicious Attack Cat".

Well, little miss vicious was strolling in the yard a few weeks ago and is suddenly faced with a terrifying foe. Mocking birds. Her plan was to go relax in the shade but it was disrupted by three mocking birds. They batted and dive bombed and hissed and chirped but nothing came of it. Velvet made an extraditous retreat. This happened a couple of days in a row and we through it was done where it was.

Well, that was before the live bird fluttered across my foot as I was getting ready for work. Not thinking, I wondered how in the hell a bird got into my house and called Jake to handle the poor dear on my way out the door. I vaguely registered that it was a mocking bird but didn't have time to be pensive, I had to get to work.

A week later, Velvet and Majere are playing Keep-Away with a mocking bird in the house, feathers are just going everywhere. Jake rescued the poor thing but wings and legs were broken and that poor bird was on the verge of having a heart attack. Poor thing.

Well.. Velvet not wanting confrontation in the daylight hours gets them while they are in their nests. She has caused the mocking bird population to sharply decline in our yard. We were down to one lone mocking bird who split like a banana on ice cream. Things were quiet. It was nice. Then the bird shows back up with reinforcements. There are like eight of them now. So Velvet knowing that her rob the nest trick works ends up getting ambushed one night.

I didn't realize. I just couldn't figure out where her collar was. And why is there all this Velvet fur in the yard? Tuffs and tuffs and tuffs of it just fluttering across the grass in the breeze. Jake found her collar hanging in the tree.

So now we've got the Mocking Bird Mafia moving in and they mean business, shaving off her fur and leaving her collar behind as a message to Velvet's family.

Well.. that just won't do. Velvet shredded their nest. It was all over the yard. She means business herself and where did that little mocking bird go? The Don's youngest fledgling? Where did he go? Well, he was brought to Don Majere and they had a chat about where the fledglings future is going as he is being flung across my house and his feathers are being pulled out when he didn't give the answer Majere wanted to hear.

What a mess.

But this takes the cake. Velvet, always careful and always protective, got her butt handed to her. She is missing a good size chunk of flesh right behind her ear (which I've been keeping clean and disinfected).

See what these senseless acts of violence turn into?

Though, I feel kinda sorry for the bird. Velvet was seen sharpening my butcher knife not long ago and she has a pot of water on to boil. I'm thinking that the Don's fledgling is going to be dinner soon.

6/25/2008 10:18:00 PM

La la la la la, Potato in a Barrel

Planning the freezer meals was easy and the list made out, we're ready to do that thing we do tomorrow evening. Man, I'm going to be exhausted by the time the weekend is over. I'm going to end up going to work to rest from all the cooking.

I was catching up on some reading when I came across this post from Garden Desk. I look forward to doing this one next year. Potatoes grown in a 55 gallon trash bin. That solves the problem I was having. I did not want old used tires stacked up in my yard. Do not. It's bad enough my husband has a spare sitting in plain sight. It drives me nuts.

But the bins can be painted, or even buried after they get so much in them to keep them from looking like a trash bin. You can't hide a stack of used tires no matter how much paint you slap on them. It then just looks like a tire that's been painted. Yuck.

I realized as the sound was pumping out of my Altec Lansing's that I have been remiss. I have Jackie's (formerly of Clann an Drumma) Albannach posted on the right but I have nothing else. I love music to put it simply and I have a lot of it. I'm rather eclectic when it comes to my musical tastes. I have full operas like Don Giovanni and full scores and the entire Moonlight Sonata. I like Enya and Enigma. I am a huge Tool fan. I absolutely adore Seether, Saliva, Chevelle, Finger Eleven... well, I guess you can see where I'm going with this. Be prepared for music links.

6/25/2008 07:41:00 PM

Yum, Smell that Beef

Our half a cow arrived today, thankfully. Our yearling only dressed at 900 pounds which is small. It's amazing how much meat it is and at the same time, how much it isn't. 250 pounds of beef is nothing to sniff at. Really. But when we're looking at it from the perspective of how long will it keep me from buying beef at the grocery store.. it isn't all that much.

This weekend is going to have me in the kitchen, making and freezing meals. I'd planned on doing three different kinds of meatballs, meatloaf, beef stew and tomato base vegetable soup, so that on nights that we just don't want to cook, its a matter of heating up something out of the freezer instead of slaving over a stove or worse, eating out. I love to cook so I'm looking forward to spending the time in the kitchen with the kids, tripping over dogs and messing up dishes!

I suppose this is a good time for me to share my recipes... if I actually followed any when it comes to stuff I cooked in my grandma's kitchen or I just know how to make. Jake is getting there but is still surprised that I can say I want to make something and I make it with no recipe. I did this with meatballs a couple of months ago. I saw a package of them in the frozen food section, had to jump start my heart when I saw the price and just bought the hamburger to make them myself. It's the same principal as meatloaf (and I make a fantastic meatloaf) so I just made them and added what I wanted to give them the texture and flavor I wanted.

I have no idea what the measurements are. I just know what goes in and eyeball it. Not everything I do this with works perfectly and sometimes it doesn't work out at all, but for the most part, I just decide I want to make something and if I need some help from the internet, I look it up.

I'm trying to get away from this mentality now that I understand what my family will miss when I am no longer able to cook for them. A friend of mine just dies every time she sees certain foods because her grandmother cooked like mine does, like I do. Those little secrets have become very important to me over the past few years as my children grow up and ask me how this works or why I make things a certain way with a certain ingredient.

And I'm not talking Food TV Network here, with that, I do follow the recipes until I figure out how I want it to taste, then that recipe goes straight out the window. I'm talking about the pat of butter my father puts in every single jar of jelly he makes and how much of a difference that little pat of butter makes in the flavor between his jelly and someone else's or the specific way my grandmother chokes off her biscuits. I can't make them any other way, if I do, they are never as fluffy and light and my husband even noticed a difference when I put it to the challenge without saying anything to him about it.

These things, little as they may be, make a big difference and they are lost when they are not shared and past down. I still call my grandmother and father and ask them how they do whatever and I'm a fairly proficient cook, but I don't have their experience. Strangely, half the time, I'm doing the "I could have had a V8" routine because it's so obvious.

Tonight's dinner was excellent. The steak was flavorful with a minimum amount of seasoning and we could really taste the difference in the meat we have now and the meat we buy at the store. This is good stuff!

What I'm really looking forward to is the fresh vegetables to go with it. With my husband being the grandson of a butcher and me from a farm where we slaughtered our own, it's really taking us both back to our roots.

I'm pleased that I've met one of my goals. When gas prices started creeping upwards towards $3, I started setting goals to cut spending in our household. In most cases, it meant cutting something that saved us time or it meant cutting something that we could just do ourselves. Such as buying the half a cow and making some of the things from scratch that we'd normally buy prepackaged and growing our own vegetables with the eventual chickens, quail and a warren of rabbits after we've bought our own place. But there is a certain good feeling that comes with setting that sort of goal and then reaching it.

Speaking of growing your own. We've added bell pepper to our little garden. I had one sprout yesterday so I'm scrounging for a container big enough to put it in once it's ready to go out. I'm not cutting it too close with it, I've actually got til the end of the month to get some of this stuff out that I've just started to sow with plenty of time for germination. Not to mention that here lately, our cooler weather has been coming much later in October than usual. I'm gambling that I'll be able to squeeze a couple of extra weeks worth of ripening time for some of my garden. And if not, I'll be able to pick up the slack next year.

But for now, I'm going to get to meal planning and making a list of stuff I need to purchase for this weekend. If I'm scarce, then you know I'm hip deep in hamburger meat.

6/25/2008 01:32:00 AM

Good News for the Rain

We got the call for the rest of our rain barrels. There is a local car wash that uses eco friendly soap by the 55 gallon drum so we asked if the guy could save us a few. He called and we picked them up. I have 4 rain barrels now. And we're going to be working out how to get them set up now that we spent the better part of the day running water through them to get them cleaned up. I know that a lot of folks say to use food grade barrels but I see no reason why this won't work. We have no plans to drink out of these barrels, we are going to water the garden with them and all the eco friendly car washing soap has been thoroughly rinsed out. If my carrots come out tasting like a car wash we'll get the food grade stuff. But for now, we've got free barrels and a weekend project.

And while we were out, I bought a cage for holding two suet cakes. We got that set up to encourage birds. We've got our hummingbird feeder out and we've seen the hummer from last year only twice and she hasn't been back. When I took the feeder down to change the water out for her I found out why. A small spider capped off one of the drinking flowers and had an egg sac in there. This will not do. I got it cleaned up and I'm going to get it all straightened out and put it back out for her with some nice yellow ribbons flowing off the edges. We had high traffic last year, but the bugs are moving in and so that means more spiders and if they are living in the food source of our favorite hummer, that means she'll go find easy food somewhere else.

The squirrels destroyed our bird feeder project. We didn't get a chance to even fill it back up before the critters ripped it out of the tree, tore it open and ate what they wanted leaving it ruined on the ground. So we currently only have seed in a small box on the back fence. The birds aren't as frequent now, unfortunately because they have to fight the squirrel. I'm going to have to get squirrel food so it or they will leave the bird seed alone. I really want them to be around because of the pest problems we're having even before the garden got started. Earwigs and centipedes, carpenter bees, palmetto bugs, mosquito eaters, ants and black flies have all but taken over and it was kinda scary how quickly they just moved in and started making things difficult.

Then they started coming in the house and that was when I started getting a little pissed off. I like keeping my doors open, but I can't do that with these insects walking right on in. I'm trying to refrain from going to the store and just spraying the entire yard with something not so healthy. The DE isn't working as quickly as I'd like. I'm seeing a sharp decline in the earwig population out back, but now I'm seeing them up front. It's like they just decided to move. I doused that area with a healthy layer of DE and they moved up onto the deck. So I doused the entire area around the deck, the trees, under the deck and I started at the entrance to the house if they thought they were going to get cute and walk in while I wasn't there. We'll see what happens.

6/24/2008 11:25:00 PM

Think Green

I did post a few things on green cleaning while between projects one day. And I fully intend to continue that entire line. Like now.

There is really no need to purchase the hundreds of chemicals whose sole purpose on this planet are to create plastic for land fills and to give everyone in the house a headache among other far worse ailments. The shelves overflow with items that need ventilation while using. I don't know about you but I don't have a vent to turn on in every room and not all messes happen near the hood at the stove.

Remember the commercials from the 50's? Almost every woman that was witnessed cleaning wore yellow gloves that came virtually up to the shoulder when the boom of bleach and ammonia products hit the market full force. I'm sure it occurred to these women that wrapping their hands and arms in a thick yellow rubber plastic wrap was to protect their delicate skin and nails from harm. And while it did that job just fine, it didn't protect their lungs, their cells, the rest of their body from harmful cancer causing agents and other bad stuff.

So lets face it. If you eat it, its probably fairly safe to use around the house, right? Say.. vinegar. Baking soda. Cornstarch. Borax. Castile and veggie based soaps. Lemon juice. Essential oils. Salt. Toothpaste! Mouthwash (I hated this particular one as a kid). These offer a host of home remedies. And this is where I got my start after I gardened with my father. I learned from my grandmother.

For my grandmother there is nothing that sulfur, rubbing alcohol and vics salve couldn't treat. And she was mostly right. When my child's first major injury spontaneously manifested in the form of a screech, a horrible breath stealing thud and then the moment that hung between "Am I ok?" and "No I AM NOT, MOM!!!" came to me, I knew exactly what to do to handle it. And it wasn't a trip to the emergency room. It was a trip to the kitchen table. And I fixed it. Not with everything my grandmother taught me. But some of it mixed with a new idea that has come about since she was a young lady. I got my son wrapped up with some liquid band aid after I cleaned him up in the shower (head wound you know, they bleed and bleed and BlEeD). Bleeding at a manageable trickle saw me drying him up and putting on some liquid band aid. He was right as rain as soon as the last sniffle subsided. Once he was ready, because it takes 3 year olds a chance to get right again after having their head gushing blood, I dabbed on the lavender and started the healing process. Nothing more complicated than that. No staples (he didn't need one, it was a small gash), no stitches, no needles poking into his scalp to numb it. No, I've got a quarter inch rip in his scalp under control here with basic home remedies.

Aloe for burns! That has taken off. I visit seed and plant swaps at some one's house and I see it in the kitchen window in nearly all those homes. Didn't used to though. Glad to see it coming back.

Essential oils for the win. Fragrant, calming and just plain lovely and antibacterial on the homefront graces my medicine cabinet. Lavender for antimicrobial properties. Tea Tree for similar uses. Great for dandruff and ailments of the scalp. Cloves for tooth aches. Ginger for nausea. Cinnamon to settle the upset stomach and if that doesn't work, a teaspoon of baking soda in a tall glass of cool water was around long before fizzy tablets out of paper packages.

We're over run with insect critters this year. When I was a kid and I would find myself eaten alive by the various blood sucking bugs and whatnot. At the end of the day and I've showered, I would scratch until I bled. So what is the remedy for this? Mouthwash on the bite. I know that sounds kinda silly but it works. Listerine works well. A dab of that stuff on the bite leaves it calmed. No more itching. But one must be careful because if it is an open sore, it inflames the open sore and it burns. And while after a while, the angry pounding in the affected area will go down, one has no desire to scratch at it again for fear that the bottle of mouthwash will come back out of the bathroom to give a second round of treatment. Just watch that they are no open sores and save yourself some pain.

For bee and wasp stings, tobacco right on the sting helps to draw out the poison. And then a damp cake of baking soda slathered on the affected area to help out even more. During the summers when I was 4 and 5 I remember that my mother would leave a cup of the stuff sitting on the counter by the phone so that all she'd have to do is just add water.

Such things were used for such simple every day injuries. They can be used in the house, too.

Cleaning solutions that have lavender and clove and cinnamon based on the time of the year that you're cleaning can not only clean but set mood far better than Pine Sol or 409.

Vinegar can destroy virtually any smell. My husband emptied the cat litter and didn't realize there was a hairline crack in the bottom of the pan. So over a weekend where we had the air off and the doors all open, the house heated up a bit and then there was this smell. We tried to follow our nose and we kept ending up in a clean bathroom. I look at my husband, he looks at me and we both look at the cat pan. "I just emptied that not long ago," he warned. "I am smelling it now," I replied. "It must be broken," I say after several long moments of us eyeing the enemy. "Maybe, it was dark, I could have done something to it," I take this in and wonder if he knew exactly what he did but didn't think the results would mean a difference. Bet he won't be doing that again. We bought a new pan and new litter and came back home. When he picked it all the way up, the culprit reveled himself. A line of red liquid. The smell was overwhelming.

I whipped out a quart of white vinegar from under the bathroom sink and a small tub. I poured the vinegar into the tub, filled it up the rest of the way with water and my husband who was considering why I didn't just whip out a bottle of bleach or something went with it like a champ and decided that it was rather nice. The bathroom as a whole didn't get unbearable. He could breath and with his breathing problems, there was no need to torture him with harsh chemicals. In about half the time it would have taken to clean with the other because it would chase him out for an hour until the fumes went down a bit, we got it mopped up, mop cleaned up, tub rinsed out and replaced, new box in place and litter in. That simple. No coughing fits that bring scarlet to the lips which has happened in the past with him.

We're at that point in our relationship where he actually listens to what I say and will accept that sometimes I might have a better idea. He is a city child. I am a country child. We learn from each other. He was amazed at how well it worked and how quickly it worked. Neutralized without a single gag or cough. The cool thing is that the vinegar mixed with a little water is great for fixtures and for cleaning tile and such. I noticed the tub hasn't been scrubbed down recently so I broke out a cloth and the baking soda, made a paste right on the cloth and got the ring of crap that my sons leave on there like daily completely off of there. It took a couple of minutes and I didn't have to get into a biohazard suit to do it and I didn't need to step out of the bathroom to get fresh air either and the tub is just as clean as if I had used a product that is caustic to humans. The coolest thing is that it won't hurt the kids so that cheap slave labor we have is going to be in high use because they can scrub every bit as well as I can and they do. Rack one up for me, they scrub, I garden. Even trade off I think. Considering most of the dirt gets in the tub when they garden.

My husband complained that I cook too much with smelling plants. Onions, garlic, and very aromatic fresh herbs like basil and such. With all that smell being washed off cutting boards and down the sink, it was smelling pretty bad. It was time to freshen up. I whipped out my baking soda and dumped a generous portion down the drain. My husband eyed me as if I were out of my mind. I used the old box out of the refrigerator so that I wasn't tapping into the good stuff in the cabinet. He waited to see how I was going to make this happen. When I motioned to him to watch as I poured the vinegar, he laughed. I made my own foaming snake to get all those smells right out of the sink. Haven't had that problem since.

Buying these things in bulk isn't difficult. Huge containers of baking soda and vinegar can be bought at the local club shop. It doesn't take much borax to go far unless you use it in all your laundry, which I do so I'm buying a box once a paycheck.

These are just the basics. There are a host of ways to use what I have listed here and there are also a host of other things that can be used as well. I plan on exploring this more because it is getting very expensive to buy the cleaners for $5+ a bottle when I can get a box of borax, a box of baking soda and a box of cornstarch for much less.

My cabinet used to be crammed with all sorts of cleaners. Bleach, ammonia, glass cleaner, brass polish, silver polish, all purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner, tile cleaner, toilet cleaner, wipes for the house, wipes for the car, wipes for just about everything else... Now that has all been replaced with Baking soda, Borax, cornstarch, Diatomaceous Earth, white distilled vinegar, essential oils, lemon juice, washing soda, vegetable based soaps, and some other non-toxic cleaners.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't given up everything. I have the dish washing liquid still. The phosphates are not so good from an article I read a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't let that go just yet. And I use shampoo's that are probably on the chopping block next. As I get it all sorted, I'll transition completely and with luck, this article will get out there and get someone else. If it gets one person to make even a partial change, I'll be satisfied. For the moment...

6/23/2008 10:19:00 PM

Funky Luck

The storm that blew through yesterday with cracks of thunder so close to us that you didn't register the flash of lightning before the thunder was shaking the house, managed to knock out the electricity. Again. And once again, our neighbors on all sides had electricity but we, of course, did not because our power is run from a different pole from everyone elses. We called and they told us the truck that came out to fix it when it first happened (an hour before) was in a horrendous accident and they sent another truck. Last time, the truck they sent out broke down. The time before that, the truck they sent had a flat. The time before that... *sigh*

While I don't mind being in the dark and we found ways to amuse ourselves after the hour long storm past, like cleaning up the ashes where the grill was blown over (yes, I'm serious, a 75 pound grill that is behind a tall cedar tree on our deck was blown over), its annoying that we lose power like every month for hours and hours. And hours. And it is always in the middle of cooking dinner or washing clothes or me taking a shower. I was burning a disc off when this storm just hit from out of no where and the thunder was on us while the sun was still shining through the living room window. Luckily, I have a laptop so my system just kept right on burning. I'd just started preparing for laundry and dinner was in the oven when all of a sudden...


We were without power for just over six hours along with 2.3 other people behind us somewhere in the bushes. Everyone else up and down the street had electricity...

Dinner was served at midnight. Laundry wasn't done until 2 in the morning and the electric company that provides our power (occasionally) was out a few hours of power from 3.3 people on the back lot of... whatever.

Amazingly, my light bill will probably be higher because of this outage.

My carrots survived it would seem. The soil doesn't seem to be too hard on the top, still moist from yesterday's downpour. I hope that they will be able to break through. I topped them with a good layer of peat moss so they would be able to pop right up. We're eager to see some green poking through!

I'm looking at my upside down tomato plant and don't know if it plans to produce much of anything or not. I talked to my father about it and we were wondering if it is because I only have one, but I looked it up and the variety I have self pollinates so that shouldn't be an issue. I've had blooms on it for weeks but not one tomato. I'm at a loss and, strangely, so is my father, who has been growing tomatoes since he was my youngest child's age. We'll see what happens. As long as it is blooming and still green, we have a chance!

My neighbor looks like he'll fair better than I. His plants are large and bushy. And my landlord came out and planted some in the field out back. His are looking a lot like mine. This is strange because when we moved in three years ago, he had a thriving garden back there with tomatoes, beans, corn, squash and a bunch of other stuff that wouldn't stop producing at the end of the growing season. The field has been fallow up until this year when I planted a pumpkin plant and he planted six tomatoes. There is still a lot of field to be filled but it doesn't appear that our plants are going to do much of anything.

It pains me but I know that my neighbor will be hanging shopping bags full of tomatoes on my door this year like he did last year (he loved my tomato relish) while my own tomato stubbornly refuses to produce not a single berry.

Such is life. There is always next year. You can't win them all. *insert your favorite cliche here*

I heard sad news as I write. George Carlin past away peacefully in his sleep today. It is a pity, I grew up listening to his comedy. I certainly will miss him.

I have the day off tomorrow so we're going to plant some of our salad mix and see how that goes. We've been slowly working our way up to having a small but respectable garden and I'm hoping that next year will see us doing better than this year. After all the reading and research and phone calls to my father asking questions about everything, we've learned a lot. And I hope that my sons will be geared up to make it all happen next year.

We are going to spend this winter purchasing seeds, choosing our favorite local garden shops, saving and purchasing containers for our garden and reading up on gardening techniques all over the web and in books. I was considering trying a cold frame to get a jump on the season, but there is a possibility that we may be moving so until I know for sure, that is on hold. But it will give me a chance to make a decision on what type of cold frame I want.

So many projects, so little time!

6/22/2008 03:54:00 AM

Container Garden Mistakes and Solutions

From Kerry Michaels wrote this article: Container Garden Mistakes and Solutions I did have it posted here originally but she wrote to me and asked me to change it to a link. Sorry Kerry!

6/22/2008 12:24:00 AM

Growing Vegetables in Containers

I found a really cool article from the Ohio Extension. It gives container measurements for different plants.

Peppers, chard and dwarf tomatoes: soil volume of 1-2 gallons per plant
Full-sized tomato plants, cucumbers: soil volume of 4-5 gallons per plant
Lettuce, radish, onions, and beets: 6"-10" diameter pots
Most herbs: 4"-6" diameter pots

Estimating soil mix to use:
4" pot: 1 pint soil
6" pot: 3 pints soil
8" pot: 11/2 gallons soil
10" pot: 21/2 gallons soil
12" pot: 31/2 gallons soil
14" pot: 41/2 gallons soil
16" pot: 51/2 gallons soil
20" pot: 61/2 gallons soil

Beans, Lima Bush Baby, Fordhook Bush Lima, Fordhook 242 12" wide, 8-10" deep

Beans, Snap Bush Romano, Contender, Provider, Tendercrop Stringless, Bush Blue Lake 8" wide, 8-10" deep

Beets Baby Canning, Spinel Little Ball, Red Ace Hybrid, Burpee Golden 6"-12" deep

Broccoli Any variety but Crusader 20" deep

Brussels Sprouts All varieties 12" wide, 12" deep

Cabbage Baby Head, Dwarf Morden, Minicole, Fast Ball, Flash 8"-10" wide, 12" deep

Carrots Short root or round, Nantes, Gold Nugget, Best of the Bunch, Little Finger, Baby Spike, Short & Sweet, Thumbelina 10" wide, 10" deep

Chard Any variety 8-12" deep

Chinese Cabbage Bok Choy, Michihli, Wong Bok 20" deep

Collards Any variety 12" deep

Corn Space saving varieties, F-M Cross, Golden Bantam, Kandy Korn, Precocious 21" wide, 8" deep. Need 3 plants per container to assure pollination.

Cucumber Salad Bush, Burpee Hybrid II, Bush Crop, Spacemaster, Burpee Pickler, Bush Champion, Fanfare, Pickalot, Picklebush, Pot Luck 20" wide, 16" deep

Eggplant Dusky, Morden Midget, Bambino, Millionaire 16" deep

Horseradish Maliner Kren 5 gallon or larger

Kale Any variety 8" wide, 8" deep

Kohlrabi Grand Duke 12" deep

Lettuce Black-seeded Simpson, Red Sails, Salad Bowl, Tom Thumb, Green Ice, Little Gem 8" wide, 6-8" deep

Onion Bunching types work best: White Pear, Japanese Bunching, Beltsville Bunching, Crystal Wax Pickling PBR 10-12" deep

Peas Little Marvel, Sugar Bon, Sugar Mel, Laxton’s Progress, Sugar Rae, Melting Sugar, Burpee’s Blue Bantam, Early Patio, Snowbird 12" deep

Peppers Any variety 16" deep

Potatoes Charlotte, Kennebec, Red Pontiac, Irish Cobbler, Epicure 1-20 gallon containers

Pumpkins Autumn Gold Hybrid, Bushkin, Jack Be Little, Small Sugar, Baby Boo 5 gallon tub

Radish Cherry Belle, Early Scarlet, French Breakfast, Sparkler, Burpee White, Comet. Avoid winter radishes.4-6" deep

Spinach Any variety 4-6" deep

Squash, Summer Early Yellow Summer, Crookneck, Goldbar, Park’s Creamy Hybrid, Scallopine, Peter Pan, Gold Rush, Pic-N-Pic Hybrid, Richgreen Hybrid, SunburstStraightneck, 24" deep

Squash, Winter Butterbush, Bush Acorn, Table King, Cream of the Crop 24" deep

Tomatoes Patio VF, Pixie, Small Fry VFN, Yellow Pear, Sweet 100, Tumbling Tom, Container Choice, Rutgers, Tiny Tim, Husky Red, Husky Gold, Yellow Canary, Whippersnapper, Basket Pak, Red Cherry, Gardener’s Delight, Sundrop Dwarf—12" deep Standard—24" deep

Turnips Any variety 10-12" deep

6/21/2008 07:03:00 PM

Yep, My Dog Needs Help

Friday was an interesting day. Daddy had to pull a really loose tooth so we're excitedly putting our tooth under our pillow tonight. My oldest is shedding teeth faster than the tooth fairy can beat her wings. My youngest is looking at him waiting patiently for when he'll make his fortune. Now if I can get them to pay more attention to their teeth with a brush as they do when it comes to some change under the pillow, I'd be sitting pretty.

I was pleasantly surprised that our seed purchase came in Friday. I was met by excited children jumping up and down, which means excited puppies jumping up and down. After we got everyone calmed down, we had a look at the already opened box and had to contain the excitement even more when we read the seed packages for the hundredth time that day for the kids, for the first time for me.

And while toiling away in the soil and sand today, my pup, Majere, decides that it is a good idea to yank a branch down on the plum tree. This, of course, snaps the tree limb. His reason for doing this? To pluck a single plum from the branch, bite into it, then promptly spit the unripe fruit out.


I got my carrots planted though. Unfortunately, Majere decided he was going to drink the water that my son was pouring in. I was trying to get him to stop and Seth was paying attention to me instead of to what he was doing, Seth drown one side of the tub. And so it is entirely possible that Majere drank my carrot seeds on one side. He spat out the peat moss that was covering the planted carrot seed all over the place.. including my leg.

Interestingly enough, my ten foot tall and bullet proof bodyguard has decided that I may not walk any inch of the yard without him. Ever watchful and always at heel, he is constantly protecting me from the dangers of our yard. Bugs, birds, the cat, other dogs are all hard pressed to harm me with Majere around! I'm just pleased that it is never hard to get him back if he wanders around checking stuff out. He comes when called, does as he is told. It isn't hard to train him to do what we want or need him to do. I'm blessed to have such an intelligent and loyal dog.

When we first brought him home, he was all attitude. This is December last year. I can scarcely remember him being this small. Thankfully, Jake picked the dog. I would have chosen the dumb as a box of rocks one. I'm not allowed to choose shopping carts either.

Now he is much much bigger. Thank god he doesn't have milk teeth anymore, those daggers are evil. I mean Dark Lord of the Sith evil. Though, his adult teeth are just as vicious if unchecked. Luckily, he understands "No bite".

6/20/2008 02:12:00 AM

Very Very Yay, Baby!

Chocolate Bell Pepper

Ivory Bell Pepper

Red, Green, Orange, Yellow and Purple

White Cucumbers

Solar Yellow Carrots

Cosmic Purple Carrots

Atomic Red Carrots

Lunar White Carrots

Black Cherry Tomatoes

Green Grape Tomato

White Cherry Tomato

Yellow Pear Tomato

And of course, Red Cherry Tomato

Not a bad little expansion from our tomato and pumpkin (plus herbs I'd been growing in the kitchen window for over a year). I have two different salad mixes, too. Man, this is going to be the best salad. We're looking forward to expanding on our salad year after next, too.

6/19/2008 06:39:00 PM

Very yay, baby!

We're going to go buy the material tonight to plant carrots in a couple of weeks. My son is so ecstatic he can hardly stand himself. We're just waiting for our seeds to come in at this point. We've got purple, red, yellow, white and orange. We're excited about growing them for the first time and look forward to learning from it.

We've decided to go with the trench and cover with sand and peat method we read about since carrots will never be able to break through the clay here. We're also looking forward to growing our pear (yellow), grape (red) and green tomatoes next year. Maybe we'll have better luck from them than we have our Better Boy this year. It just doesn't look like its going to produce. But we still have several weeks left before we'll discount it completely.

You have some successes and some failures. A man I work with says "You don't make mistakes, you have learning experiences." He is right, of course.

6/19/2008 05:23:00 PM

Oh. My. God.

Pringles tube creator dies, buried in potato chip can
by Sarah Gilbert Jun 2nd 2008

I swear this isn't the punchline to a joke. "Where do Pringles tube inventors go when they die??" "Their ashes are buried in a potato chip can!" When 89-year-old retired chemist Dr. Fredric J. Baur gathered his family members to discuss his eventual passing on into the great beyond, he told them he wanted to have his remains buried in the invention of which he was most proud: the Pringles tube.

Dr. Baur was working at Procter and Gamble when the iconic potato flake chip-type product was created, and he designed and obtained the patent for its tube-shaped can. According to his daughter Linda, he considered this his "proudest accomplishment."

The tube is buried (with what didn't fit in the can in a boring ordinary urn) at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio. Unfortunately, grave decorations at the cemetery are limited to fresh cut flowers placed in vases approved by Arlington, so you may not be able to leave Dr. Baur a bouquet of screamin' dill pickles in a Pringles can.

I was unable to discover which flavor of Pringles Dr. Baur's descendants emptied before filling it with his ashes. Which flavor do you think most represents eternal solitude?

6/16/2008 07:11:00 PM

New Take on Raised Beds

I was here looking at this guy's idea for doing raised beds and he has a fairly good idea I think. He put his bed down and then stacked used cardboard boxes on top of the existing grass, then applying wet newspaper, then a layer of Lucerne Hay, a layer of manure, then straw, then putting a handful of soil and your seeds. No dig garden.

And you know, I have plenty of cardboard available. I might just have to try this one out!

6/15/2008 10:51:00 PM

Happy Father's Day

Nothing better in the world than getting rid of sending the men off to go fishing for fun. The kids and I gave Jake a rod and reel and some lures for Father's Day and they strolled off to Stoney Head to get some fishing lessons in. They caught a tree. =(

But they had fun.

My youngest son also had his birthday party today. It was a lazy day of grilling out and munchin on homemade cake.

6/15/2008 02:16:00 AM

All In A Days Work

The cool cat (Connor the youngest son):


The warm cat (Velvet, the vicious attack cat):


Taking a moment to be cute (Tanis, the prissy one):


Taking over (Seth, the oldest):


Ahh the innocence (Majere, the puppy love)!


Inocence took the back seat on this one.. it's just flat out theivery. The poor poor kitty has been ejected with loud profuse, she had no intensions of backing down from this particular war. She opened a single eye, looked at him, yawned and then rolled over. All innocence was lost in the next two seconds. The big growl came and the cat rolled over and opened one eye and a single claw hooked into his chin. That started a ruckus. Speed demon fuzballs flying down my hallways (that were clean before they started and when they were done, all that work drained down the tubes (they knocked over a 4 shelf system, everything crashed to the floor). But when they made a second pass spit hissing and snarling then they hit the carpet. Once they picked themselves back up from not being used to the drag, they momentarily called truce so Majere could go pick on Tanis. Who'd also claimed Majere's bed when Velvet vacated. I watched this very closely. Majere went over to his bed and walked right in. It wasn't uncomfortable, but attack cat wasn't having it and she would win her bed!


Well... you can't win them all.

6/14/2008 12:07:00 PM

Yay Pictures!



Alyn was on me the other day for not getting pictures posted. I hadn't had the time and when I did finally get photobucket to load, it was time for new pictures. So I took some today!

The white stuff, before I get comments, is DE. I dusted and then it sprinkled like two hours later making it look like it has an infestation. Trust me, the plant is ok, it just is covered with DE dust. I am a little concerned, however, I pinched two dried dead leaves off the plant and it doesn't seem to be growing all that well. I gave it a good drink today since it hasn't rained in the last two, but I thought with all the storming we've had over the last two weeks that it would have plenty of moisture. My neighbor commented that she thought it could use a drink so we packed down some water and gave it a healthy dose. We'll see what happens.

I guess I've been container gardening for so long that I am ground gardening deficient. Having said that, we're going to watch this guy a lot closer and his siblings that are going to sprout any day now. I'll get pictures of them as soon as they do. We planted the last four pumpkin seeds we had so that we can be sure to have enough to share with our neighbors on both sides and in front. We're looking forward to carving them up with them! Not to mention we'll be giving something back to one of our neighbors that kept placing full grocery bags full of tomatoes and other stuff on our door last year. We just used the last frozen bag of those tomatoes last week and here we are going to probably inhereit a crapton more.

Everyone that I gave the tomato relish to last year has been silent about it but for one lady who said she loved it. This year I'll give her two jars...

6/13/2008 12:09:00 PM

More on Kelp

Why good soil is so-o-o important

You'll want to share this bit of wisdom with all your friends: Healthy soil is the

How ocean plants help earth plants

Seaweed, which originates from the ocean's garden, is one of the best materials for an earth garden. For one thing, kelp helps stimulates soil bacteria. This, in turn increases fertility of the soil by humus formation (which feeds on the bacteria), aeration and moisture retention. Let's look at some other ways that kelp helps:

Seed germination is improved

Fruits and vegetable have a greater nutritional value

Plants develop more extensive root systems, which means healthier foliage, flowers and fruit

Plants have a greater resistance to nematodes, disease and pests.

Where, oh where to find seaweed

If you live near the ocean, then you have it made. By the truckload or bucket, any amount of kelp is a bonus.

Seaweed also comes in a variety of commercial products, as a liquid kelp extract, as a dried kelp meal or blend. Kelp, for example, is the main ingredient in PlanTea, the patented, organic plant food in tea bags. After brewing a batch of PlanTea, you can use it as a concentrate or diluted as a foliar spray. Each 3 x 4-inch tea bag makes 5 gallons of foliar spray.

How to apply seaweed

You can apply fresh kelp directly to the soil (some people suggest rinsing it to remove the sea salt, but for the past 20 years I've never found it necessary). Arrange it as a 2 to 4-inch mulch layer or include it in the compost pile. Seaweed decays quickly because it contains little cellulose. What's nice too, is that you don't introduce weed seeds with seaweed mulch.

You can also apply kelp as a liquid fertilizer at the base of plants to reach the root zone, add it to a drip irrigation system or as a dilute foliar spray. In recent tests at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, soil sprayed with a seaweed solution had 67 percent to 175 percent more roots than untreated soil.

To make your own liquid kelp, add a couple handfuls of seaweed to a 5-gallon bucket of water. Stir the concoction daily for a few days, then strain and dilute it using the ratio of 1 part kelp liquid to 2 parts water.

Any sprayer or mister will work, from hand-trigger units to backpack models. The best times to spray are early morning and early evening, when the liquids will be absorbed most quickly. Spray the tops and bottoms of leaves until the liquid drips off the leaves.

According to Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, sprays of seaweed extract can help prevent plant diseases. "They work by improving the overall health of the plant." Such foliar sprays (liquid fertilizers sprayed on plants) are up to 20 times more effective as a way to supply nutrients when the soil is poor quality or when roots are stressed from transplant shock or suffering from extreme heat and drought conditions.

As people become more sensitive to environmental issues, the need for organic gardening methods plays a critical role in our health and the health of the planet. The use of kelp--a natural, renewable gift from the ocean--helps us with our efforts in the garden. What could be nicer?


6/13/2008 12:05:00 PM

Vinegar in the Garden

Grow beautiful azaleas: Occasionally water plants with a mixture of two tablespoons vinegar to one quart water. Azaleas love acidic soil.

Kill grass on walks and driveways. Pour full strength on unwanted grass.

Kill weeds. Spray full strength on growth until plants have starved.

Increase soil acidity.

In hard water areas, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water for watering acid loving plants like rhododendrons,gardenias, or azaleas. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use.

Freshen cut flowers. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar for each quart of water.

Prolong the life of flowers in a vase. Add two tablespoons of vinegar plus three tablespoons of sugar per quart of warm water.Stems should be in three to four inches of water.

Neutralize garden lime. Rinse your hands liberally with vinegar after working with garden lime to avoid rough and flaking skin.Clean pots before re-potting, rinse with vinegar to remove excess lime.

6/13/2008 10:23:00 AM

Compost Continued

I've dug around the internet and built this list of compostable items:

Apple cores
Aquarium plants
Artichoke leaves
Bagasse (sugar cane residue)
Banana peels
Bat guano
BBQ'd fish skin
Bee droppings
Beet wastes
Bird cage cleanings
Bird guano
Blood meal
Bone meal
Bread crusts
Brewery wastes
Brown paper bags
Burlap coffee bags
Burned oatmeal (sorry, Mom)
Burned toast
Cardboard cereal boxes (shredded)
Cattail reeds
Cardboard (shredded)
Chicken manure
Chocolate cookies
Citrus wastes
Coconut hull fiber
Coffee grounds
Cooked rice
Cotton balls
Corncobs (takes a long time to decompose)
Cover crops
Cow manure
Crab shells
Date pits
Dead bees and flies
Dirt from soles of shoes, boots
Dolomite lime
Dried jellyfish
'Dust bunnies' from under the bed
Dryer lint
Egg shells
Electric razor trimmings
Elmer's glue
Expired flower arrangements
Feathers Animal fur
Felt waste
Fingernail and toenail clippings
Fish bones
Fish meal
Fish scraps
Flower petals
Freezer-burned fish
Freezer-burned fruit
Freezer-burned vegetables
Fruit salad
Garden soil
Garlic skins
Gin trash (wastes from cotton plants)
Goat manure
Granite dust
Grape wastes
Grapefruit rinds
Grass clippings
Greeting card envelopes
Grocery receipts
Guinea pig cage cleanings
Hair clippings from the barber
Harbor mud
Hog manure
Hoof and horn meal
Horse hair
Horse manure
Houseplant trimmings
Ice cream containers (cardboard)
Ivory soap scraps
Jell-o (gelatin)
Kitchen wastes
Kleenex tissues
Leather dust
Leather wallets
Leather watch bands
Lees from making wine
Lint from behind refrigerator
Lint from clothes dryer
Liquid from canned fruit
Liquid from canned vegetables
Lobster shells
Macaroni and cheese
Matches (paper or wood)
Melted ice cream
Milk (in small amounts)
Molasses residue
Moldy cheese
Moss from last year's hanging baskets
Nut shells
Old beer
Old leather gardening gloves
Old or outdated seeds
Old pasta
Old spices
Old, dried up and faded herbs
Olive pits
Onion skins
Outdated yogurt
Paper napkins
Paper towels
Pea vines
Peanut butter sandwiches
Peanut shells
Peat moss
Pencil shavings
Pet hair
Pie crust
Pine needles
Pizza boxes
Popcorn (unpopped, 'Old Maids,' too)
Post-it notes
Potash rock
Potato peelings
Powdered/ground phosphate rock
Produce trimmings from grocery store
Pumpkin seeds
Q-tips (cotton swabs: cardboard, not plastic sticks)
Quail eggs (OK, I needed a 'Q' word)
Rabbit manure
Rapeseed meal
Rhubarb stems
River mud
Seaweed and kelp
Shredded cardboard
Shredded newspapers
Shrimp shells
Smoke Chips (used)
Soggy Cheerios
Soy milk
Spanish moss
Spoiled canned fruits and vegetables
Stale bread
Stale breakfast cereal
Stale potato chips
Starfish (dead ones!)
Sunday comics
Tea bags (black and herbal)
Tea bags and grounds
Theater tickets
Tobacco wastes
Toenail clippings
Tossed salad
Tree bark
Unpaid bills
Vacuum cleaner bag contents
Watermelon rinds
Wedding bouquets
Wheat bran
Wheat straw
Wine gone bad
Winery wastes
Winter rye
Wood ashes
Wood chips
Wooden toothpicks
Wool socks

Most of this list came from this lady. Good site, nice newsletter.

6/13/2008 10:06:00 AM


In the world of growing sustainability making your own fertilizers is a good idea. Its a simple thing and much more fulfilling than running down to the local market and buying something that can actually burn your skin if you leave it in contact with it for too long.

I found this article on Kelp and Fish Emulsions:

How do you make homemade Fish/Seaweed Emulsion?

As you may know fish emulsion, fish meal, seaweed/kelp meal, and liquid seaweed/kelp are some of the most powerful natural fertilizers and soil amendments in the world.
NOTE: For those organic gardeners who prefer vegetarian soil amendments, you can skip the fishy ingredients, it's not necessary. There is plenty of NPK in alfalfa meal and other grains that you can use.

Most commercial fish emulsions are rated NPK = 5-1-1. Most commercial liquid seaweed sprays are rated NPK = 0-0-1.

Even though these NPK ratings to a novice may seem low, there are lots of important trace elements, growth hormones, disease control, and organic matter in these products.
Fish Emulsion is mainly used for its quick high organic nitrogen and available soluble P and K benefits as a foliar feed. Fish Meal is mainly a great soil conditioner and great bacterial food to help feed the soil microherd. Even though there may be 4-5% organic N, 1% soluble P, and 1% soluble K in fish emulsion, there may be up to 6-8% total N, and 2-3% total insoluble P or K in it, that gets broken down later by the soil microherd. Most commercial fish products are made from the trash products of the menhaden fish. This fish is a relative of the herring, sardine, and anchovy fishes. Most commercial fish emulsions contain up to 5% sulfuric acid in order to preserve the fertilizer on the shelf, but also it supplies needed sulfur to the plant and soil. Most economical fish products do not contain any fish oils in it, which supply extra beneficial soil fungi. Most also do not contain much fish bones which supply extra calcium.

Seaweed/Kelp has a low NPK = 0-0-1. However, just like the fish products and all other natural fertilizers, there are more insoluble NPK nutrients and other trace elements in the product than meets the eyes. There may be up to 1-3% total N, 1-2% total insoluble P, 3-5% total insoluble K in seaweed products. The real benefit of seaweed is not in its NPK amounts. Seaweed/kelp can contain 60 trace elements, many growth hormones, and disease control properties in it! Basically every nutrient that any surface plant can ever need! If seaweed products are mixed with high N products like fish, you have an excellent complete natural fertilizer and soil amendment that will supply every NPK and trace element need of the soil and plant. Seaweed and other algae plants are some of the most powerful plants on earth, or should I say in the ocean. Seaweed is also an excellent food source for beneficial fungi in the soil.


A. It's cheaper to make most natural fertilizers and soil amendments in large quantities.

B. There are some nutrients that you get from homemade versions that are not in most commercial brands. For example, commercial fish emulsion since it is processed from trash fish, will have less fish oil, fish bones, and proteins than fresh fish parts or canned fish in a homemade brew.

C. Aerobic bacteria and fungi are essential to hot composting, disease control, and soil health. In commercial fish emulusions there no little to no aerobic bacteria in the containers. If there were any growing and living in the containers, the bottles would explode on the shelves! Homemade brews always will contain more beneficial microherd than most commercial brands.


You can use the following suggestions to the other suggestions in the Organic Gardening forum FAQ's on Compost Tea recipes when you brew these fish/seaweed foliar sprays or soil drenches.
You can use fresh fish parts or any cheap canned fish. The juices, sauces, or oils in the can can be used to breed beneficial microbes and supply extra proteins in the tea, so use it.

(NOTE: If you use canned fish products, you may want to let it decompose mixed with some finished compost, good garden soil, etc. in a separate closeable container for a few days before using. Since most canned meat products contain preservatives, this will guarantee that the good microbes in the tea will not be killed off or harmed in brew making.)

You can use any fresh or dried seaweed. Fresh seaweed has more N in it, but that really isn't important for seaweed teas. You can buy fresh or dried seaweed at most oriental grocery stores. Seaweed decomposes better if chopped up or liquified first in water before brewing.

If you are using fresh fish, you need to compost it separately in a 5 gallon closeable bucket. Fill bucket 1/2 full with extra browns like sawdust, leaves, or straw. You can add molasses to the fishy mixture in order to build up microbes in order to speed up decomposition. The sugars will also help control odors too. Open the bucket and stir the fishy paste daily or every other day in order to get air in the mix for better decomposition and better aerobic microbial growth in the emulsion. Let this paste rot for at least 1-2 weeks. The browns help control offensive odors and absorb organic nitrogen from the fish so that it is not leached out or evaporated.

Since commercial fish emulsions contain sulfur in the form of sulfuric acid, if you like you could add 1-2 tblsp of Epsom salt to the mix for extra magnesium and sulfur. Or to mimic the acidity of sulfuric acid and add extra trace elements you could add 1-2 tblsp of apple cider vinegar to the mix. NOTE: Recent studies have shown that unsulfured molasses or dry molasses powder is best for faster microbial growth in tea brewing.

You can now safely take the decomposed fish paste from the 5 gallon bucket and add it to your regular hot composting piles or add it to your special compost tea recipes. The more vegetable or fruity organic matter that you add to fishy compost the better you remove the offensive smells and the more trace elements you add to your compost and teas. This of course is optional.
You can add molasses or brown sugar to your teas also. Sugars are high carbon substances that not only can cause speedy microbial growth, but also sugars are an excellent natural deodorizer.
At this point you may want to decide whether you want to make a simple tea or an aerobic aerated tea for your needs.

When you make fishy tea, you need to add the seaweed at brewing time. Let it brew for at least 1 week, stirring every few days. If you decide to brew it aerobically with an air pump, try up to 3 days, or until the brew has a "yeasty" smell, or has a foamy top layer on the tea.

You can apply this fish/seaweed emulsion at a dilution rate from 1:1 to 1:5 ratio (5 gallons of tea to 25 gallons of water).

If you like, you can add a few drops of mild liquid soap per gallon as a wetting agent to get better coverage as a foliar feed at application time. (NOTE: If you are concerrned that using soaps may harm the beneficial microbes in your teas, you may want to just use liquid molasses, dry molasses powder, fish oil, or yucca extract as a spreader-sticker.)

You can use this tea as a foliar feed or as a soil drench or both. Soil drenches are best for building up the soil microbial activities and supplying lots of beneficial soluble NPK to the plant's root system and the topsoil texture. Foliar feeds are best for quick fixes of trace elements and small portions of other soluble nutrients into the plant through its leaves. Foliar feeds are also good for plant disease control. Foliar feeds work best when used with soil drenches or with lots of organic mulches around plants. You can poke holes in the soil around crop roots with your spade fork, to get more oxygen in the soil to further increase organic matter decomposition and increase microbial activity in the soil.

Remember all your homemade fertilizers and soil amendments can be as diverse and unique as you are. So have fun and keep composting!

Happy Gardening!

Entered by CaptainCompostAL

In conjunction with this, I've read that a lot of gardeners have huge successes with Comfrey tea. Just fill an empty water butt with comfrey leaves and let them decompose, topping off every 6 weeks or so. After a couple of months it produces a very dark, thick liquid which we dilute with water (about 40:1) and use as a feed. It also smells, but not quite as bad as the 'comfrey tea'.

6/12/2008 10:01:00 PM

Dwarf Crazy

I'm going dwarf crazy. I keep coming across dwarf varieties that are affordable, will never get so tall that I can't harvest from them, and I'll be able to either keep them in containers or plant them in the ground.

I found this dwarf cherry tree. The name cracks me up. Mighty Midget Cherry Tree.
And this Northpole Red Apple. It doesn't have branches, the fruit is on spurs.
Then there is this graphed tree, it has plums, peaches, apricot, nectarines on one trunk. Unfortunately, they will only sell to retailers.
And I struck gold when I found this site, they have dwarf varieties of lime, orange, lemon, tangerine, pomegranate, fig and banana. They also have an apple tree that produces four different types of apple at different times in the year. And they are very affordable.

The cool thing about the citrus varieties is that even if you don't live in Florida or California, you can still have fresh citrus (not that you can buy from a catalog and have the citrus trees sent to you in those states). You just must take care to get them in before a killing frost hits. I was thinking of a green house just for the citrus trees would be a good idea.

I found a dwarf variety of rosemary and seem to have misplaced the link. And then there is just the ton of dwarf varieties of all manner of flowers, gardenia and the like.

For the urban backyard gardener, space is everything. Fruit and nut trees tend to be tall and shade most of the yard. But that isn't a reason to not have fresh fruit every bit as much as fresh vegetables. The dwarf trees solve this problem if one can make the space inside during the winter so as to protect tender citrus trees.

6/12/2008 06:43:00 PM

Smooth skin

Use with water to create paste, apply to face, careful to avoid eyes and mouth, and leave on for 3 - 5 minutes, wash off. Your face will be noticeably softer.

6/12/2008 06:42:00 PM

Inexpensive Furinture Polish

Baking soda is a great polish for chrome, silver, marble furniture, piano keys.

6/12/2008 06:41:00 PM

Bug Bites

Apply baking soda to bug, bee, wasp, ant or any kind of bites for a quicker heal.

6/12/2008 06:40:00 PM

Sun-burn Solvent

To relieve minor burns (such as a sun burn), use baking soda and water.

6/12/2008 06:39:00 PM

Put Out Fires

A handful ofbaking soda can safely put out fires in many places; clothes, rugs, carpets etc

6/12/2008 06:37:00 PM

In the Garden

Occasionally, lightly sprinkle baking soda around flowerbeds to prevent rabbits from nibbling at your buds.

Sprinkle baking soda on slugs to get rid of them without having to resort to costly and toxic pesticides.

To sweeten your tomatoes by reducing their acidity, sprinkle baking soda lightly on the soil around your tomato plants. The soda from an old box used to absorb odors in the refrigerator is fine for this purpose.

6/12/2008 06:36:00 PM

Non-toxic pesticide

Put baking soda under sinks near pipe openings and along basement windows to repel ants, silver fish and roaches. Roaches will dehydrate and die after eating baking soda.

6/12/2008 06:35:00 PM

Paint Brushes

To restore brushes stiffened and hardened by paint, simply boil them in a solution of 1/2 gallon of water mixed with 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda.

6/12/2008 06:34:00 PM

For Dogs and Cats

Sprinkle baking soda on your pet's brush or comb to deodorize their skin and fur.
Adding 2 tablespoons of baking soda to your dog's bath water and rinse water will make their coat clean and shiny.
Using baking soda on pet stains will eliminate the odor and prevent the pet from returning to the same spot in the future for another accident.
Sprinkling the litter box with baking soda keeps it fresh and deodorized.

6/12/2008 06:33:00 PM

Baby Fever Reducer

Bathe the infant in a tub of lukewarm water with 1/2 cup of baking soda. Use less if you are using a plastic infant tub. This is also an effective remedy for diaper rash.

6/12/2008 06:33:00 PM

Clear Up a Stuffy Nose

Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your vaporizer. It will unblock nasal passages and keep the vaporizer clean as well!

6/12/2008 06:32:00 PM

An Inexpensive Sports Drink

For each quart of boiled water add 1 level tablespoon of salt, 1 rounded teaspoon of baking soda, 4 rounded teaspoons of sugar, and 1 package of sugar free Kool-Aid.
Stir until clear and refrigerate.

6/12/2008 06:31:00 PM

Denture and Retainer Cleaner

Combine 1 tablespoon of baking soda. 1 tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent and 1 cup of water. Soak the dentures or plastic retainer for 30 minutes and rinse well. If you prefer, you can use 1 cup of water and 2 teaspoons of baking soda in a glass.

6/12/2008 06:28:00 PM

Tooth Whitener

Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Using a cotton swab, apply it to your teeth, brush clean with water and rinse. Coffee and tea stains will disappear! (NOTE: This is an occasional treatment only. Lemon juice contains a lot of acid and shouldn't be overused, or used alone. Combined with baking soda, the acid is buffered and won't destroy the tooth's enamel).

6/12/2008 06:27:00 PM

Breath Freshener

Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water and rinse. It will eliminate even morning mouth, garlic and onion odors! Make your own mouthwash by combining 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 cup of water. Add a few drops of flavoring if desired. Like mint extract.

6/12/2008 06:26:00 PM

Clean Glasses

Hold your eyeglasses over a sink and sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on them. With wet fingers, gently rub the lenses. Rinse clean and dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.

6/12/2008 06:25:00 PM

Underarm Deodorant

Sprinkle under your arms, even after shaving. It won't irritate your skin. If you prefer a smoother textured deodorant, mix it with a little talcum powder.

6/12/2008 06:24:00 PM

Clean Brushes and Combs

Fill sink with hot water and 1/4 cup of baking soda. Watch the dirt and oil dissolve away!

6/12/2008 06:23:00 PM

Laundry Booster

Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the washing machine along with your usual amount of liquid laundry soap. It will make whites whiter and colors brighter. ( NOTE: It doesn't work with powdered laundry detergents! ).

The same can be said of Borax.

6/12/2008 06:20:00 PM

Economical Carpet Deodorizer

Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, and 15 drops of essential oil fragrance for scent. Sprinkle on the rugs before bedtime and let it sit overnight. If you like, you can work it into the carpet the next morning with a stiff bristle brush or broom. Then vacuum.

6/12/2008 06:18:00 PM

Economical Air Freshener

Simply mix equal parts of baking soda with your favorite perfumed bath salts or essential oil. Put it in a soap dish or in small sachet bags wherever you would like to freshen the air. This also works well as a bug repellant if used with essential oils. Lavender, Rosemary, Cedar are just a few of repellants that can be added into these sachets.

6/12/2008 06:18:00 PM

Easy Toilet Cleaner

Sprinkle 1/2 box of baking soda into the toilet tank once a month. Let it stand overnight before flushing. The tank and the bowl will be both clean and deodorized.

6/12/2008 06:12:00 PM


Sometimes it does pay to get out of bed. I came to work and one of the ladies who recently moved into an apartment out of a house gave me a stack of gardening books from Better Homes and Gardens. I got 5 books and they have just so much information in them with pictures of plants, lots and lots of identified pictures. I didn't know Venus Fly Traps could get so.. numerous. Very cool! I'm looking forward to getting home to start reading. I'm finding news articles tucked away in the books, too.

A treasure trove.

6/12/2008 06:11:00 PM

Unclog Gas Stoves

To unclog burners on a gas stove, simply add 1/4 box of baking soda to 2 quarts of water and boil for a few minutes.

6/12/2008 06:10:00 PM

Microwave Cleaning

Make a cleaning solution of 4 Tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of warm water. Use it to clean the inside surfaces of the oven.---or place a few spoonfuls of baking soda in water in a microwave safe cup. Boil the water 3-5 minutes. The walls of the microwave will be damp. Simply take a sponge or paper towel and wipe down the insides of the oven.

6/12/2008 06:08:00 PM

Teapot Cleaner

To remove rust stains and mineral deposits, fill the teapot with water and add 2 Tablespoons of baking soda and the juice of half a lemon. Boil gently for 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat if needed.

6/12/2008 04:55:00 PM

Drip Coffee Maker Cleaner

Mix 1 cup warm water and 1/4 cup baking soda. Let it drip through the coffee maker. Then drip a pot of plain water to rinse. It will keep your coffee maker clean and fresh.

6/12/2008 03:08:00 PM


Ever have one of those days? I'm back at work after being pretty much laid up yesterday (in case you couldn't tell by the growth of the side bar on my blog) and I'm finding something rather amusing. I have affectionately named one of my collegues "Chickenhawk". You know, Henrey Hawk from Looney Tunes? Always after Fog while he was flirtin with the ladies. But Henrey always kept a watchful eye and when he saw a chance, he took it!

Well, one of my collegues, if the person could be called that, chickenhawks my every move. It's actually bad enough that I don't leave my desk unless solicited because my professional reputation has been brought into question. My integrity, work ethic and performance have been brought into question. Albeit in a contradicting manner, but none-the-less in question.

I've considered finding a picture of Henrey and posting him on my filing cabnet in honor of my very own chickenhawk.

I suppose it wouldn't hurt anything if I did considering I no longer have a career, I have a job.

*sigh* I'm not looking forward to starting over somewhere else.

6/12/2008 03:07:00 PM

Automatic Dishwasher Powder

Use 2 Tablespoons baking soda and 2 Tablespoons borax per load.

6/12/2008 03:05:00 PM

Drain Cleaner

1 cup baking soda
Add 1 cup hot vinegar

Wait a few minutes, then flush the drain with 1 quart of very hot water.

For garbage disposals, use 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar.

6/12/2008 02:58:00 PM

Homemade Scouring Powder

1 cup baking soda
1 cup borax
1 cup salt

Or you can make a paste of the baking soda and use it in the same capacity.

6/11/2008 05:33:00 AM

The Growing Challenge

It's a dangerous thing having back problems. Mine happen to be minimal most of the time, mostly restricted to having a few bad days where I'm moving a little slower than normal. But when it isn't at that level, its debilitating enough to bring tears to the eyes of a woman that had two natural child births without sheding a single tear. It's also enough to eject a string of colorful language strong enough to make any sailor blush through gritted teeth. It was bad enough today to have me sent home from work. Yes, that's right, in a day and age where that sort of thing doesn't happen in large companies because of the legal reprecussions, I managed to get myself sent home. The sad thing is that it started because I coughed. Yea, that pissed me off, too. A perfectly good day in an airconditioned building with a fan blowing my hair as if I were on a sunny beach, ruined because I coughed. God. Is. Not. Funny.

The dangerous thing about my particular back problem is that my husband, who is a strong man only when I don't cry (because I rarely do), waits on me hand and foot, fetching laptops, having kids refresh iced drinks... the only thing missing here are leaf fans and bon bons and that is corrected by him having my children brush my hair (which sooths me, I know stupid, but I am what I am) and making them available to me whenever I need or want. This spoils me. I rarely allow such things. I'm not an idle person by nature so this is difficult for me to accept.

The other dangerous thing is that it gives me time to surf!

I know that I'm a little (ok a lot) late getting this posted here, but I felt that I needed to add it. The Growing Challenge is a challenge that this lady started when she threw down the glove to get people to grow a little more than they did last year. I support this way of thinking because it means less strain on dwendling resources and overworked land.

By overworked land I mean: In the 80's Spinach was found to have 75 mg of iron. Now it has 5.

The more you grow, the less you have to depend on the system.

And, of course, it's stickin it to da man.

I discovered this by accident and wanted to share it no matter how late in the challenge it may be. It doesn't matter if you live in an apartment or on 40 acres, have never grown anything in your life, or you think that your thumb is so black that you'd kill the seed by touching it. This challenge is something from which we can all learn.

You'll see the pic posted on the right.

Get off your duff and plant something!

I've also added a link to Square Foot Garden. I love Judy's site and her forums are starting to get filled back out after a nasty crash that left her with nearly nothing.

I discovered Garden Desk, too. The Soil Blocks are interesting and I'm still reading through it all. I'm looking forward to new ideas!

Patti Moreno, the Garden Girl, has new video's out!

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