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12/20/2009 01:10:00 PM


It's been a while since I've posted. We moved back in October to what I hope is a more permanent home (one that we'll buy eventually I think). It doesn't have the huge track of land we wanted, but it has some and it will do for our purposes. Behind our property is a "green belt" which is more than an acre or trees separating us from the street behind us. It's actually quite nice and we are really enjoying out new home.

Anyway, with the move in October, then trying to get the house in order before Thanksgiving and now trying again to make sure it stays somewhat in order for Christmas, it's been challenging to say the least. I'm almost done unpacking, but I've been sort of stuck on the last 15 boxes since three days before Thanksgiving. I actually managed to unpack our entire lives in less than three weeks. Most everything has a home, thankfully and I have a few boxes that are in need of storage because I just don't have a practical place to put them right now. I came to the conclusion that we just have entirely too much stuff and it isn't frivolous junk. Camping gear alone takes up.. wow. And then the kitchen... double wow. You just never realize until you move.

So now I'm back on a limited basis through the holidays. I'm pleased to be able to sit down and actually not feel guilty for touching my computer with stuff standing around me in boxes waiting and pleading to be put away. And I've been very busy writing for Patti Moreno. Be looking forward to this coming year, I've sent many articles to her this month. Seven in total at this point!

I had a thought this past week about an inexpensive self watering container while talking to a rather handy fellow at work. We were talking about building my hydroponic system because he has the tools I'm missing and is interested in seeing how my first run at a full indoor system will work. I was showing him plans when I came across a set of plans using cut off two liter bottles screwed into PVC. It hit me at that point that I could just put the cut off top right back in the cut off bottom and fill it with water.

So I did. I poked my husband into finishing his Pepsi and then I proceeded to cut it in half, stuff some cotton into neck and filled the bottom part with water. The wicking process began. I didn't put the water in from the top because I wanted to see if the cotton would actually pull up enough moisture into the dry soil and it did. It only took a couple of hours but the bottom part of the soil started to intake the water so I felt it was a sound process. I put together three of these over last couple of days. I have lemon basil, sweet basil and garlic chives so far. Now that we're going to save our two liters (I had the kids dig through the recycling bin and grab a few others for me from the last month) I should have a few of these all over the house to see what plants respond well to this and which ones don't.

I'm very excited about this and hope it works. I'll get pictures posted of them as soon as I can.

8/29/2009 08:57:00 PM

Council for Responsible Genetics

I saw this over at Garden Girl's forum from another member there. The site is dedicated to a safe seed program where seed distributors can sign up saying that they are selling seeds that, to their knowledge, are not genetically modified.

It shows distributors not already taking the pledge how they, too, can pledge that their seeds are genetically safe.

It also has a list of seed distributors that have already taken the pledge for your seed shopping needs.

All in all, a definite 10 on the Greener Meter scale.

8/29/2009 02:07:00 AM


Ok, I know this is way off gardening topic, but Loch Ness is interrupting.

Apparently, someone thinks that she has been captured by Google Earth.

8/28/2009 09:42:00 PM

Strawberry Tip

For your first year of planting strawberries, pinch the blooms off to help build stronger, healthier plants and to also make bigger strawberries.

8/28/2009 01:24:00 PM

Really Cool Vegetable Database

Ever get the feeling that you just pick the wrong varieties? You try 4 different ones, they all suck but your neighbor seems to sniff out the goodies when you're stuck with stunted, half-dead plants that won't sustain themselves much less a family.

Welp, here is something to help you out. The University of Saskatchewan has this program where they are putting all the varities to the test and man, is it handy. I've been digging in there on and off and have found that several varieities I wanted to try probably wouldn't be too good of an idea for me to try without a back up.

The really awesome thing about this after I had time to really sit down and look is that it gives you a recommended list of stuff to grow based on their trials. Very handy indeed.

So, have a look at this thing and let me know what you think about it.

8/27/2009 09:04:00 PM

Honey Strawberry Preserves

6 cups sliced strawberries
2 packages (1 3/4-ounce size) powdered pectin
1 3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine strawberries and pectin in large saucepan; crush berries to blend completely. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in honey and lemon juice; return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Skim off foam. Ladle into clean, hot canning jars to within 1/4 inch of tops. Seal according to manufacturer's directions.

Place jars on rack in canner. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath with boiling water 2 inches above jar tops. Remove jars from canner. Place on thick cloth or wire rack; cool away from drafts.

After 12 hours test lids for proper seal; remove rings from sealed jars.

Makes 3 pints.

8/26/2009 08:31:00 PM

Red Magic Lily

I really like this flower. It's so lovely and unusual. I found it over at and they have a lot of very lovely and very unusual bulbs there. I'm looking forward to going back to the site, unfortunately, while I was browsing, I got a "Site Upgrade" message.

Oh well. There are other places to search.

Today was a really good day. Lots of sunshine and the mini dwarf orchard is doing very well. Hydroponic carrots are growing big and strong, too!

I have one great giant one, and a lot of sprouts. I was afraid of the rest being shaded so I turned the pot to help get them more sun. The growth on these little guys has improved. We're very excited! The kids think this is just fabulous and we're looking forward to a continued harvest down the road.

School has started, things are starting to calm down from all the chaos. The kids are excited about being back in school. We've had out little bumps in the road in the first days of school, but we seem to be straightening ourselves out. Happily, the bumps we small. I think the dog has taken this harder than anyone else. Everyone runs off and leaves him at home alone, the poor pathetic little thing.

Even with our busy schedules and our active lifestyles, we still manage to sit down to the dinner table and have a meal together. We may not cook elaborate meals every night, but we make it a point to have that family time together. It is amazing to me, and at first was quite novel. I think this is because of my generation.

Being of Generation X, I was a latch key kid. My generation was very self reliant because most of us only had one parent and they worked. At an early age I cooked full meals, I handled my own laundry, I took care of the house, animals and garden and my homework without being told because I had to grow up faster than the previous generation. I am teaching my children these traits (or at least I'm trying to teach them these values). I want them to handle their own cleaning and they help me cook. The older they get, the more they do. So it is family time the moment we walk in from school and work. We work together to get the meals made, the table set, and then dishes done when its over. We are trying to teach them to do as much of their homework as possible before they get home from the sitter so that we can have more family time (and work on that math problem we just couldn't quite solve on our own).

We are trying to instill face time. Where Traditionalists and Boomers need that face time, my generation is comfortable with face time or just an email. Generation Y doesn't do so well with face time as they are more dependent on technology than X. What will my little one's generation be about? Video conferencing? Face time in another manner, I guess. But that doesn't take the place of family face time. This is where we are trying to uphold the dinners together. If we do not have dinner together, everyone knows something is very wrong.

I was quite ill not too long ago with a rather nasty virus that had me in bed for three days sipping every herbal concoction known to man trying to find the energy to just get out of bed. The first two days, our family meal was very much on hold because my husband didn't get off work until much later and I could hear the children at the table as their made their sandwiches for dinner talk about how much they wished we could all be at the table together. I managed to pull myself out of bed day two and my oldest son made me his best rendition of a PB & J and then helped me back to bed when I couldn't sit up anymore. He tucked me in and stayed around long enough for me to start dozing again before he went back out and took firm command of the clean up process. His sister made sure the pets were fed and cared for in those two days, periodically coming in to fetch my dog who rarely left my side while I was not well and took him out to do his business. My youngest child was in and out checking to make sure that I was comfortable and asking me if he could do anything and laying with me for long periods and telling me how miserable I looked. Hehe. Those moments made me very proud because even though I can't always see that what we are teaching is sinking in but it came through when it really counted. Family time means something.

8/25/2009 12:13:00 PM

Lilies and Tulips

I just love flowers. Tulips and lilies are perhaps the easiest to care for. Plant and go. The only real problem I've had with them is that the bulbs are eaten before I have a chance to do anything between the deer and squirrels diging them up. But there are ways around that!

Biltmore Estate Lily Bulbs: Landini

The Original Big Orange Tiger Lily

Red Tiger Lily

Stargazer Lily

Darwin Hybrid Tulip Bulbs: Design Impression

Biltmore Estate Tulip Bulbs: Prairy Fire

Lily Flowered Tulip Bulbs: West Point

Lily Flowered Tulip Bulb: Pretty Woman

Tulip: Virichic

8/24/2009 10:55:00 PM

Candied Ginger and Garlic

Candied Ginger and Garlic

You can make this recipe dry with just the sugar and spice (the sugar
will form a thin glaze itself) or add water for a thicker syrup which
can itself be added to coffee or a particularly strong tea (it's really sweet). This is wonderful for treating the common cold.

Cut off a hunk of ginger root about half the size of your thumb (or
however much you want to eat). Slice it thin. You can leave the skin on
or peel it. The skin softens in the pan, especially if you use water, so it's no big deal. Slice a clove or two of garlic in similar fashion (but removing all peelings). Place the garlic and ginger in a small saucepan and add a few tablespoons of sugar. You can also add generous helpings of cinnamon and allspice to enhance the ginger's flavor and decongestant property. If you want to make the syrup, also add some water (enough to dissolve the sugar in). Start on medium heat and move to low once the sugar has started to dissolve.

8/23/2009 07:35:00 PM

Cold and Fever

Cold, Fever
1 ounce dried Elder Flowers
1 ounce dried Peppermint Leaves
½ pint distilled water

Mix the herbs. Place in a quart saucepan. Pour 1/2 pints of distilled boiling water over it. Cover and allow to steep in a hot place for 10 to 15 minutes (do not boil). When ready, strain into another saucepan. Sweeten with honey if desired.

Note: Once covered for steeping, do not raise the lid, as this will cause it to lose some of its strength.

Recommended Dose:

Take this in bed, well covered with blankets to retain the heat.

For severe colds and fevers, drink one pint as hot as possible, and remain in bed, well covered.

For children: one half to one cup.

After taking this remedy, stay in bed well covered for at least 12 hours to promote free perspiration.

Please note: This remedy is quite harmless and safe. It will induce perspiration 20 to 40 minutes after taking, and sometimes sooner. This will soothe you to sleep, and the perspiration will continue for several hours.

In some cases, the temperature has been reduced from 104 to 99 degrees within two hours!!

According to Dr. Dr. Edward E. Shook, well known herbalist, "there is no remedy for colds and fevers of any description equal to this simple life-saving formula."

The next morning, if the fever or cold is completely broken, take a sponge bath with warm water. Change linens in bed. Take some light nourishment such as fruit juices, (pineapple, orange or prune juices). Keep your body warm and away from all drafts for a day or two.

If one dose does not completely break up the cold or fever, take another dose after 24 hours.

8/22/2009 10:31:00 PM

Free Green Can

Ok, this is cool. I stumbled across the Free Green Can today and I am clapping happy for it. It's a trash can and a recycle bin in one and it is free to anyone that wants to get started or wants to compliment their current program. And according the the website, one is paid to use the free green can which would get anyone jumping. They have video about it, too. Very 10 on the greener meter!

You know the City of Knoxville must hate me. I am always sending them this stuff.

8/22/2009 08:29:00 PM

Lots of Flowers and a bit of a rant

I found this really awesome blog, A Garden of Grace and Whimsy. It is just beautiful. This lady loves her flowers and she has tons of pictures to prove it!

I also swung by Garden Rant to see a news clip that just pissed me off. It wasn't the warning that the segment was trying to convey, it was at the very beginning where the woman who has this flower in her garden actually had the audacity to say she couldn't believe that such a plant was legal because it was so deadly. The news anchor chimes in "especially since it has been used to commit murder." They go on to talk about another plant and then she says it. "Later on this morning... Plants with evil intent."

I just about dropped my laptop.

Are you kidding me? Plants with evil intent? Oh yes, that's right, they get up, walk over to someone's food and hop in of their on volition. Arrest that flower. Your honor, this flower is guilty of murder! No. The woman that plucked it and used it to murder her husband is guilty. She could have done it with a sledge hammer or a bottle of drano, an injection she picked up from a carelessly unattended cart at the hospital and none of those items would have been accused of evil intent. Its disgusting.

The idiocy is astounding. A grown woman standing in front of a camera talking about plants as if they have the will or ability to do something... what did she get her triple dose of cartoons before she filmed that?

The fact of the matter here and now is that these plants are to be respected. Respected. Not accused as if it were a court room. Respect the plant. Grow up. Quit trying to terrify people. And for the love of all things sacred, don't be so hypocritical to say it should be illegal and have the damn thing growing in your yard. That is just stupid because when they do make it illegal (thanks in no small part to you), your house is the first one they'll come to.

Sheeple. Please understand that these people are blowing things out of proportion. You do not have to worry about a stray petal of whatever flower strolling into your kitchen when you aren't looking to kill you. If you put some time and effort into researching what the media feeds you, you'd find out that 95% of it is bullshit. Can the plant kill you? Yep. Which is exactly why you shouldn't eat it. Would you have been tempted before that segment? Probably not.

Disgusting, I say.

8/21/2009 09:08:00 PM

Horehound for Colds and Coughs

I was out shopping for school and realized that the autumn decorations are already out. And then it hit me that next month marks the beginning of fall and it is only a few days away. Jeez, next week it will be Christmas at this rate!

That also got me pulling out my goodie folder of cold remedies. Lots and lots of advice from a lot of different websites, books and ahem, herbalists.

Aside from drinking herbal infusions for colds and flu, there are additional things that homemakers can whip up and create that are less likely to be filled with.. well unpronounceable 12 syllable words. I'd much rather prefer that my ingredient list be as monosyllabic as possible, thank you.

Horehound Drops
published on alt.folklore.herbs 1995

4 ounces of fresh horehound leaves
1/2 tsp crushed aniseed,
3 crushed cardamon seed
2 1/2 c of water, simmer this for 20 minutes then strain

Dissolve 2 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 c of brown sugar in the tea liquid. Boil until reaches hard crack stage pour into oiled try. Score when partially cooled.

These can be wrapped in wax paper and then dropped in a ziplock. They will store for a long time but mine have never lasted long enough for me to test the length of time they will keep.

This is a pretty easy thing to do especially if you've ever made your own candy before. It takes a little time but the effort is worth it.

8/19/2009 08:55:00 PM

Good Fungicide

If you need a good safe organic fungicide simply mix 2 tablespoons of Baking Soda per gallon of water, spay the plants liberally. This puts an alkaline coating on the plants which doesn't allow the fungus to grow and is completely safe for both plants and animals.

8/16/2009 11:21:00 PM

More Spotted Wilt

It would seem that I am not the only victim of the spotted wilt. I was asked how my tomatoes were doing by someone at work and wouldn't you know it, he too had the same problem. And his mother. And their neighbor. And the two gardens I was working on with friends, they were also victims of the spotted wilt. What we all thought was blight, turned out to be a virus and their complaints were the same as mine. No pest management when it rains every evening at the same time.


It's just so disheartening. The good that came from all of this is that it really has given food for thought. That aeroponic system looks really good now, so I went down to the lone hydroponic shop in town and started really getting serious about pricing. I talked with the owner for a good long while and we shared some gardening tidbits. He liked my tums for blossom end rot (as we know most blossom end rot is caused by cal or mag deficiency, pick one, tums is nothing but cal and mag) and actually seemed thoughtful about it for a moment and even more surprised when I told him that I have not had problems with it. But I was in the presence of a giant. Hydroponic gardener for 20+ years. I sooo bow down to the master. His vast knowledge will definitely see me through.

So, between helping other customers that came in, he was coaching me on what a starting hydroponic gardener really needs and he kept it very simple. I asked lots of questions about nutrients and lighting and supplements and he was more than happy to really dish out the goodies on all of that. And strangely, the nutes he uses are actually not the stuff that I thought he'd use. I mean, there is Advanced Nutrients (loved that million dollar challenge Big Mike put out), General Hydroponics, Foxfarm and all the other giants, but he actually uses a more obscure brand of nutrient and sticks to it. Fairly amazing to me.

On top of that, he loaded me down with freebies. I have literature coming out of the yin yang. Lots of magazines and pamphlets and just a ton of really awesome advice.

I got home and went through his product catalog and my husband and I started taking inventory of hardware we don't have to build our own system (like that 3 and 4 inch hole attachment for the drill, who has that lying around anyway?) and went on a price check. Everything was reasonable that we'd need to purchase. I looked at flo tubes for a grow room, too. So, we've come to the conclusion that we're looking forward to having a hydro system set up outside for seasonal growing, but we really want to have an indoor one growing stuff all year round as well. Like the tomatoes that we've failed to actually get to eat for the past couple of years due to disaster after disaster.

This winter we'll be rather busy with raised beds, chicken tractors, greenhouse and hydroponic/aeroponic systems to be built. I'm looking forward to keeping busy. I'm thinking of trying to get first indoor system built here shortly. Nothing huge, just a 4 or 6 plant system that will be capable of handing a couple of tomatoes and peppers and maybe some basil. With the start of the school year next week for us, that might have to go on hold until things calm down.

Wish me luck!

8/08/2009 06:01:00 PM

Milk it

One way to give your tomatoes a nice boost to help fight off fungus diseases is to spray them down with milk. This also helps give calcium to them which helps them fight off disease as well. Any milk will do, just make it a 1:10 milk to water ratio and spray away. You can use other dairy products besides milk or chocolate milk, sour cream and yogurt works, too!

8/04/2009 09:54:00 PM

Curry Pickles

Curry Pickles
Family recipe from Steve Hougland

36 med. pickling cukes-thinly sliced

pour boiling water over slices and let stand 3 hours
mix together in large kettle:

  • 1 qt. vinegar
  • 6 TB. Salt
  • 6 cup sugar
  • 2 TB. mustard seed
  • 1 TB. Celery seed
  • 1 TB. curry powder
Let come to a boil & add pickle slices - simmer until they turn translucent - do not boil.

Pack into pint jars and seal and process in waterbath canner for time recommended in your area.

Makes 14 pints.

8/01/2009 11:27:00 PM

Ok, this is sad

The next craze. :(

7/26/2009 04:46:00 PM

Back to Basics - Herbs

Digging through my library, I found one of my most used tomes. I tucked it away because the poor thing is just falling apart, its in 3 pieces now from use and research. When I bought it ages ago, I had no idea how valuable it would be. It's Jeanne Rose's Herbs and Things. The book is laid out first by the herbs themselves and it takes up the first half of the book. There is history, lore, some growing information, uses, preparations and a lot of other very useful information listed. She has sections with recipes and how to prepare. I have several books by Jeanne Rose including Kitchen Cosmetics. She is a wonderful author.

I have enjoyed growing an array of herbs. I've had many challenges here in Tennessee with growing herbs and vegetables, like any place, there are unique principles that one must learn to be successful. I think my favorite ones to grow are basil and parsley. Both are easy, quick growing and have thrived every time I've grown them. Another favorite, but it has always been a challenge, has been lavender. It seems to be the pickiest of plants. I really like growing echinacea, as well. The last one I had planted was quite tall, coming past my waist (I'm tall for a woman so the plant was amazingly tall). It eventually had a birds nest in it which was amazing in an of itself, too!

Harvesting the herbs is something else I really enjoy. There is nothing like a fresh cup of chamomile tea that you harvested yourself. Or a fresh tincture of immunity boosting goldenseal and echinacea for colds. Or that fresh basil, rosemary, thyme right out of the garden for your dinner.

I have a big list of herbs that I want to get planted and am excited about trying some new ones I've never had before (like lime basil, that just sounds good) and to help get me back into the swing of things, I found an old site with a new face that I hadn't thought about in a long time in a bookmark folder I'd forgotten. Its been a day for going back over sites I've not seen in a while and finding books that I've tucked away. I'm really feeling a little lost as so many places I used to frequent seem to no longer exist. Such a pity so many resources are gone. But Henriette's Herbal is still alive and kicking and larger than ever.

I like her site because she has a lot of good contributors, she has some seriously sarcastic wit and genuinely loves her herbs. Her site has been around for years and is one of the largest, if not the largest, herbal informational websites out there, not to mention its in several different languages.

With everything so close at hand, I'm getting acquainted with things that I have long since stopped doing and getting back into habits that I have long missed. All the new projects that we have scheduled for kick off after we purchase our new home and all the old projects we plan to pick back up seem overwhelming but we're all looking forward to the trials and work involved in becoming a little bit more self reliable. We have the fall and winter to prepare the property for all that we plan. We have set out a schedule for the next couple of years so that we can get things really moving and be where we want to be in five years or so. Time and money well spent.

On a side note, I went out to check my plants right before the storm hit and I noticed two tiny little carrot sprouts. The hydroponic idea I got from the Aerogarden Mastery site is taking off. In a few weeks, we'll have baby carrots to munch down on. Another very exciting moment. This time, we'll keep the rabbits from cleaning us out!

7/26/2009 01:16:00 AM

The Unthinkable!

My really healthy tomatoes are at this point no so healthy anymore. What I thought was fungus from everyday late afternoon rains for a while has turned out not to be a fungus at all. It isn't even the late blight that Barbara commented on (though I do thank you for the comment, Barbara). Over the past couple of days I've watched really great looking plants start withering at the base with spotted wilt virus. It's actually taken me most of the day researching to figure this one out as I've never seen it before.

I was treating the plants for fungus but that wasn't the problem at all and now the disease is spreading so quickly. Luckily, my neighbor's tomatoes and peppers are not being effected and none of the rest of the plants and trees I have in containers currently have any signs whatsoever. So far so good on that. But my beautiful heirloom tomatoes... so sad. This just strengthens my resolve for a hydroponics room. I've not really seen any signs of thirps, which is the usual carrier for this virus. The rain made it very difficult to keep any DE on the plants so I had little to no pest management at all for several weeks. This was a very serious learning experience.

Luckily, I found a lot of really awesome tools that helped me diagnose the problem, even thought I didn't want to believe it because there's just no saving my plants.

The rest of the garden is doing well. I've not lost anything else. My carrots haven't sprouted yet, but there will be a few more days before that can be expected. This method I'm using seems as if it will be a good way to do it. I skipped the clear plastic wrap part because it has been so mild lately and the self watering container keeps the mixture very evenly moist without it being wet. So we'll see if my instincts are correct.

Spotted wilt virus. *sigh*

7/20/2009 08:28:00 PM

Garden Update

Aside from running around and helping to tend to other gardens, my little container garden is doing well. I'm excited that I've been able to start a new project. I got the idea to do this from the archives of Aerogarden Mastery page. It is very easy and very basic so I hunted down a self watering pot, a big one, the one I have is 20" around and perlite and vermiculite. I thoroughly mixed the two bags of medium together, watered it thoroughly and then planted my carrot seeds straight into the moist medium and then gave it a nice spray of water with a spray bottle.

The medium and the bottom reservoir held nearly two gallons of water without overflowing. The reservoir was only about 1/2 full. It will be very interesting to see if this little experiment will work. The link above actually have pictures of how it worked out over several weeks and so I thought I'd give it a shot.

The kids had a great time!

My tomatoes are doing fantastic!

The sauce tomato came up first, but isn't producing as fast as the black plum tomato below. Both are doing very well except for some expected fungal problems that I expected after it rained nearly every day in the late afternoon for three weeks. I handled the fungus problems and we've been doing pretty good ever since. Though, there are just a ton of suckers that I'm having to remove.

Black plum tomatoes are a lot larger than I thought they would be. They are actually a nice good size. I've see blushes of color on the sauce tomatoes, but nothing as of yet on the plums. But very excited because there are just a ton of flowers.

But they will be red and ripe.

The tiny little banana's I got have exploded into these beautiful long wide leaves. It's amazing how much growth they have! Right next to them is the orange and it has tripled in size itself.

The blueberry (left right beneath the orange) took a pretty serious hit in a storm, losing half the plant to hard winds, but it has finally come out of the shock and is starting to grow again. The lemon is the only one that doesn't seem to have bushed out, the very light green one in the middle, but the leaves are just growing large. The pomegrante in the red container, has a lot of blooms and has long branches. The lime on the other side of the large carrot container, has also tripled in size and has a lot of new growth.

Everything is growing so well and there have been no set backs so far. I'm just waiting for my cherry tree to come in this fall so that the last empty pot that doesn't seem to want to stay up right anywhere can be filled with its own tree, too!

7/16/2009 07:45:00 PM

Labor of Love

It's exhausting! I've been helping a couple of friends out with their gardens due to circumstance and it is amazing how much work goes into large gardens. While one friend is down with a broken leg and grumbles about only being able to sit an observe and not do all that much and the other is out of town, I've got my hands full! Both declined to have photos of their properties posted on the blog, but that is ok, I'm having fun anyway.

I've learned a lot of what not to do from these two vastly different garden plots. At one, there is a tangle of hoses and plots that do not allow for easy watering. Not that it is bad garden design, just poor garden position. On the flip side, the other garden I'm helping to tend has the T-tape type soaker hose. Very nice stuff, very easy to maintain.

Raised beds are your friend. But we knew that already. I've noticed there is less soil borne disease, even with beds that are a few years old. And if disease does take a foothold, it is more difficult to spread. In ground gardens do not necessarily have that benefit. Its easier on the back, too, at least once it is installed.

Make sure you keep a good schedule. I didn't know when to fertilize. When were they all watered last? How much tomato food did you give these guys last time?

The vast differences in techniques and set ups from two close friends that have the same ideas is just amazing. Both are good set ups, and both have good yields, but the small problems that each combats are vastly different.

Anyway, I'm off to go pick some peas and tomatoes.

Happy gardening!

7/08/2009 07:50:00 PM

Birthday Present

I went out to look at my tomatoes today, my birthday, and found just tons of little tomatoes everywhere on both plants. Couldn't have gotten a better present. I'm looking forward to the ripe red tomatoes right off the vine. Provided the make it that far. My husband and children are threatening to go right out there with a salt shaker and demolish the lot!

I like the fencing I put up around them instead of the cages. They seem much more stable and there isn't a problem with reaching the berries. Very good buy on the fencing.

The fruit trees are doing very well. The blueberry took a serious hit in one of the very serious storms that we had. Half of the plant was ripped off, but the rest of it survived and there is new growth. The banana's have tripled in size and all the citrus has a lot of new growth. Very awesome to see it.

I do have one fear. The citrus greening disease and the insects that carry them are spreading. South Carolina and Georgia both have recently been put on the infected list. Keep your eye out on that for your area. There is a link at the top!

6/29/2009 08:15:00 PM

One Step Closer

We're moving in the right direction. I am close to meeting the stipulations that the lender wants to see before we get our prequalification letter for the mortgage. We very excited! We have our eye on 7 acres with a nice spacious house and already fenced with a barn. So we'll see if it is on the market when we're ready. If not, there are plenty of others!

Most of my plants have doubled in size since the last pictures and are doing very well. The banana's seem to have some problems with the heat, but I'm learning that if I keep a contain of water near it keeps their leaves from curling in the hot days here in Tennessee.

The tomatoes are massive! Even though I got a late start on them, they are blooming a week a little earlier than I expected so we should have black plum tomatoes and Heinz sauce tomatoes very soon! We've already decided that our excess, aside from what we're giving to neighbors that want some, that we'll donate to a local church that does canning.

Its been very beautiful here over the past month, much better than the drought we went though in the previous few years. Steady rain and good amounts of warm, clear days has been a blessing this year. We're hoping our luck holds for the next few seasons so that we can get ourselves established in our new place.

We've been trying to decide where to start. So many projects! Aside from obvious starts such as compost and rain catchment systems, we're also trying to decide what critters we want to start off with next spring. Bees definitely come to mind. We don't want to go too fast with it, wanting to work one project at a time so that we don't end up with one disaster after another. We have tentatively decided that we will do bees first, then chickens, quail, rabbits and then the fish and shrimp. After those we'll work on cattle and whatever else we decide we want. I'm thinking its going to be easy to start the birds together, considering that their needs are similar (not the same!) and incubation can be done at the same time and while we're waiting for them to hatch, it gives us time to build housing for them. I'm not terribly keen on raising hogs, we're not pork people. Some sausage, bacon and the occasional roast and we're good, so we're thinking to trade.

Animals, gardening, solar and wind power, geothermal heating and cooling. The list is nearly endless, but we seem to be moving in the right direction to start living sustainably. The more reading we do, the more we realize that this is what we really want to do.

It is impressive how this movement is gaining momentum, not just in the US but in all the world. More and more people are beginning to realize that this is what we should be doing. Living more simply and producing more on our own instead of depending on a system that was doomed to fail eventually is the norm. Its in the news, more and more companies are going green. More and more people are demanding cleaner ways to live, healthier food to eat and easier ways to produce energy that are not harmful to the world. With more and more of us working towards these goals, the cheaper these things become. Eventually, it will be the norm, but with all change, this transition from mass production to self sufficiency will take time and effort.

6/11/2009 01:56:00 PM

Dwarf Obsession

Black Plum tomato.

Heinz 1439 tomato.

Dwarf Tophat blueberry.

Dwarf Pomegranate.
Dwarf Meyer Lemon and Dwarf Lime.

Dwarf orange.

One of two dwarf bananas.

I got them and they have been hardened off and are doing very well. The banana's were a challenge, but I met that challenge! My tomatoes are very far behind as these are replants. I've been very busy indeed. I looked over my previous posts and realized that I have been seriously neglecting the blog!

My fear today is that we have high winds and heavy rains with tornado warnings. My banana's are newly out without being in full sun for a full day yet this week from all the rain. But they seem to be ok. But the rolling thunder and constant lighting of the storm that just rolled in as I type, makes me wonder if all my plants will survive this. We shall see. I was cleaning and didn't realize the sun disappeared until I heard the wind, by the time I got to the door to see, the rain and wind were already beating down. This is a good test I think. While they are in pots, they will spend a good deal of time outside and I will not always be here to bring them in when we get these sudden violent storms.

Or maybe I should go ahead and invest in that greenhouse I want before I do anything else once we buy the house. Either way, we'll have to get some strength in on these plants. They have already survived a pea and marble sized hale in two different instances in the past month.

All I can do is hope the bananas will forgive me.

6/10/2009 08:15:00 PM


With my mini orchard started, I'm looking forward to the rewards of having fresh fruit at various times of the year. Like most people, I really enjoy fresh fruit, the satisfying crunch of an apple and the mellow flavors of blueberries. But, also like a lot of people, I also like the blends of juices that you can find at the grocery stores. I'm a huge fan of V8 fusion juices and others that are similar. I've found copy cat recipes all over for all sorts of juices but I came across this site on juice and the do's and don't's of it.

I never really knew that there were so many fruits and vegetables to be juiced! 38 fruits and 58 vegetables! I'm definitely looking forward to breaking out a juicer and trying out some of the recipes found on the site. There are quite a few and with the collection I already have from various places on the web, we'll be juicing like crazy. Which is not a bad thing. If it means the kids get their vegetables, then I'm all for it.

6/10/2009 07:54:00 PM

Lots of talk, now go do it

I've been talking since I began this blog about the plans of our little farm. Now it looks like it will become reality. Our plans to move to the PNW have been crushed, but that is ok, it appears that I'll be fine where I'm at. We've been mulling over what to do now that our little plan to escape back to where we thought home was has been deflated. It wasn't all for naught, just a little out of reach due to circumstance that I won't bore the blog with. Anyway. I spoke to a gentleman a couple of days ago and we've begun the process. Now it is just a matter of finding the right property. We've got time, so we're going to save as much as possible while we're hunting and then go with it.

It is exciting. This is what we've been working towards, it just wasn't the area we wanted to be in, but that is ok, we'll be happy with our own place and doing what we do. It is long over due. I've been rather busy trying to handle the different aspects of what we're attempting to accomplish hence my blog being so quiet so I apologize for my absence. Even my dwarf obsession took a back burner to the larger picture. But now it seems that things are calming and we're almost there. I have a couple of guidelines I have to meet before I can really get down to business with a loan officer but that will take just a couple of weeks and then it is finding out how much we qualify for and then plugging in a search. We're almost there, we're almost there, we're almost there.

My list of things to start is just jumbled! I suppose my first task is to buy it then unpack before I unroll the 3 mile long parchment of wish projects. My husband is so excited it can scarcely contain himself which just adds to my own giddiness. I'll be in and out for a while until we get it settled, but then I'll be back to posting and getting pictures up of each of our projects as we take them on!

Wish us luck!

6/08/2009 01:10:00 AM


All but one of my trees came in! The cherry will be shipped in September. I have been very scarce due to this. I've been observing and working with them. I never realized that shipping could shock a plant so. In the past two weeks I have learned this. I also discovered that I was fortunate to receive two banana trees tightly packed together in their little pot.

The pomegranate came out strongest. I actually have 5 buds on that little guy. The blueberry and pomegranate were transplanted and outside within a few days of them coming in. All of the citrus came out very strong as well. I was impressed at their ability to bounce back. Those went out day before yesterday. The only two left are the bananas.

I agonized on how to handle these. I gave them almost a full week before trying to decide on how best to separate them without killing them both. In the end, I washed the soil from their roots, detangled them as well as I could without ripping all of their roots off, then repotted. They both seem to be doing well, but when I started the hardening off process, the leaves on the biggest one started to curl even though it was in a shaded area.

I have big concerns about that. I'm starting with an open window and then I'm going to try again in the evening to go outside again for a few days. After a week I'm going to try shaded cool mornings and see what happens.

I had no idea bananas were so picky.

Until next time and maybe some pics, too!

5/13/2009 08:07:00 PM

Red Onions

As I munch down on my tuna sandwich as I write I can't but help thinking how under appreciated the red onion really is. I use it for so much but I can't remember when it was that I ultimately decided to start using it. I certainly didn't grow up with it in the food my mother cooked as my father is a green onion kind of man.

Whenever it was, I have at least discovered the wonderful flavor of this particular onion and I have one in my fridge at all times. I chop it finely to put in my smooth chicken salad. I have never liked chunky chicken salad sandwiches, I prefer for everything to hold together and it is only with my chicken, tuna can have chunks, but my chicken salad must be smooth. I had diced red onion to my tuna (like now, yum). I really enjoy it in a good salad and I made one not too long ago as a remake of a salad I had while visiting Atlanta.

I posted the recipe on Garden Girl's forum, but I never quite made it over here to post it and since I'm in a red onion mood, I'll post it now.

This salad isn't horribly complicated and if you're a vegetarian/vegan you can omit any offending ingredients. Another note is I made this for myself so I'm giving a list of what I did for a single plate.

1 small handful baby spinach leaves
3 romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite sized pieces
5 or 6 cherry or plum tomatoes of choice
1 small bunch of shredded carrots
1 complete sliced ring of red onion, separated and broken into pieces
5 or 6 strips yellow bell pepper, broken into pieces
5 or 6 Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon of crumbled feta cheese
1 strip of bacon, crumbled
1 grilled salmon fillet
Black pepper to taste

Wash and pat everything dry. Take the stems off the spinach and tear up larger leaves. I originally tried this with Greek vinaigrette but thought it was better with a balsamic vinaigrette.

That was an awesome salad. And that ring of red onion just set it off. I've discovered several things about red onion in different capacities. It is always crisp but in my tuna or chicken, it has a spicy flavor, in my salad it lent a sweet onion tang. It compliments instead of overpowering.

I'm looking forward to growing some in the future. I still haven't fathomed the idea of aeroponic root crops like potatoes, carrots and of course onions. I'm still working on that. But you can bet it will be in my raised beds when I finally get some!

5/13/2009 07:23:00 PM

So ship them already!

I placed an order for part of my orchard weeks ago. And to my amazement, the shipping dates keep getting pushed back. I've been watching for the past couple of weeks as they trees don't show up that the trees won't be shipped for another week or two. How depressing. In this case, I'm not very patient because the last minute changes keep occurring.

At any rate, things are slow. The destruction of my small garden last week is still disheartening and I don't think I'll have a chance to get another one really started before I have to leave. It would be a shame to take all that time and then never get a harvest off of it, so I'm resigned to reading and wishing.

I know there are many of you out there that are the same way and I feel your pain. I've been looking more and more into aeroponics because of this little disaster I have experienced. I'm sorely in need of something growing that I put together myself but it just isn't happening and it is driving me nuts. When the seed wish list is not longer a wish, the tools have been purchased and are just hanging out all shiny and new and you can do... nothing. I can start plenty but will never see it to it's end. I'm anxious to get this move over so I can finally have my home with my little garden.

5/03/2009 10:48:00 PM

Knoxville Permaculture Guild

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Knoxville has it's own Permaculture Guild. From the looks of the site it is still relatively young, but it is there none-the-less. I was slightly stricken that I should find this with my impending move to the PNW, but if nothing else, I can join in and have some fun before I go (if I go, the employment situation up there is looking a little grim, the hubby is threatening to return to Knoxville if this keeps up). I'm looking forward to snooping around the site and having a look at what the community is all about. With luck I will be able to attend some gatherings and workshops on various aspects of permaculture.

5/02/2009 04:30:00 PM

Sustainable Living

They are just springing up everywhere, the little Victory Garden now renamed by most people the Freedom Garden. From the White House to lovely backyards. But is it enough? A little vegetable garden will certainly help Americans get back to eating healthy and help everyone world wide lift some of the burden that is the food demand. But can a good tasty salad, some beans, peas and corn be enough?

Some say not.

There are many folks looking for alternative ways to sustain themselves without having to move out of their urban setting and more now than ever, they are looking not only for the garden, but for the meat supply. To know what is in it, what it was fed, how it was treated are becoming very important to folks these days. This is inevitably a follow up to such stories concerning antibiotics, hormonal treatments and lousy husbandry that has been drifting in and out of the news for the past several years.

A list of things to consider for urban and non-urban settings alike:

Chickens (urban and non-urban)
Quail (urban and non-urban)
Rabbit (urban and non-urban)
Goats (urban and non-urban)
Bees (non-urban and in specific circumstances urban)
Shrimp (urban and non-urban)
Fish (urban and non-urban)

When I say urban, I don't mean the 10 acres sitting on the edge of town, I'm talking about sub-divisions and residential areas that have small plots of land. Yes, you can have acreage in town, I know because I lived on 3 in Knoxville. But not everyone will have this land readily available. Hence bees being in specific circumstances. I don't think it would fly too well if someone in a 75 house subdivision with lot sizes of 10 by 40 for a back yard decided to start up a bee hive. Definitely not.

There are laws to consider. Licenses in some states, cities, counties. Neighbors to annoy. But once all that is worked out and you have decided what it is you can do, what is stopping you?

And it isn't just meat anymore:

Yogurt and other dairy staples
Grain growing and milling
Mead and alcohol and here

It doesn't really stop there either. Homemade wind generators and solar power are also becoming more popular due to the high costs associated with buying packages and having them professionally installed. And for those lucky enough to be near water, there is water generation to consider.

So depending on what you can do will depend on how many other things you can accomplish. For example: If you keep bees you have honey to make mead, you can potentially make vinegar from the alcohol from the mead, you can make candles from the wax, cosmetics from the wax and honey and have honey to use as a sweetener in lieu of sugar. The bees will in turn pollinate your vegetable and grain crops and orchard. Grains, vegetables and fruits mean food for you, food for beef, chicken, pork, game. Meat from any of these, eggs from chickens and quail, dairy from the cows and goats. You can see where all this is going.

A nice little package that is, no? While it does cost upfront to get started in land (providing you aren't paying for it already), supplies and labor, it pays off in the future. Once established, its maintained, and less work is involved. Less work, not no work but still less work all around. There are many testaments to this. Blogs are numerous that show examples of this type of urban sustainable living. Some of them are a little outside of town, some are smack dab in the middle.

One thing I learned growing up is the ability for a community to trade. Ok, so you can't have bees on your back 40 and you can have noisy chickens and there is just not enough room for goats. Gotcha. That doesn't stop you from making friends with a local bee keeper or farmer. Trade is good. Farmers markets are a priceless resource for such things. I was part of a small farmers market in Knoxville selling homemade soaps. I traded for potted herbs, fresh baked breads, other homemade soaps, fresh vegetables, locally produced honey, locally made salsas, jelly, jam, preserves. I still have contact with some of these folks, even if I don't get to make the homemade soap for the market anymore and I get discounts from these people for trading with them in the past for their locally produced wares and when I have something to trade, they know about it.

It didn't cost me anything but my own initiative, sweat, and time. I was already at the market for my own reasons, building the network was a bonus. Everything depends on how much time you want to put into this sort of life. It is a life style change. I dare say that once you start eating french fries from your own potatoes, it would be difficult to go back to fast food. There is nothing in the world like fresh beef.

Growing up, I moved from small town to big city and the transition was difficult. Everything tasted like plastic, fresh foods didn't seem to have the same textures, colors, flavors or even aromas that I knew. My husband is the grandson of a butcher so when we decided to buy a side of beef, the savings were a huge factor, but afterwards, we wouldn't have cared if we'd paid thousands of dollars. There is just no contest.

How to get established:

First, give up on the idea of perfect looking vegetables. You want uniformed vegetables, go to the grocery store. They throw out enough odd looking food because it isn't desirable. Your garden is not a commercial grower. Your garden is a place of out of the norm shades of the rainbow, of dimpled tomatoes, crooked potatoes, pointy ears of corn. Food is misshaped, so what? You're likely to be cutting it into chunks and tossing it into something anyway, what does it matter what its exact shape was when it came out of the garden?

Second, mother nature giveth and she also taketh away. You will have losses. There will be bad years. There are going to be times where you seems as if nothing you've done amounts to a hill of beans. Literally. But this happens. Blight wiped out the American Chestnut trees to almost near extinction. The chestnuts we see now are Asian. Disease is threatening the main type of banana you see at the store today, we'll switch to another kind that is resistant to the disease. Disease is threatening our citrus, again, we'll stitch to a disease resistant kind. Large scale, these things are utterly devastating, it is a economic disturbance, etc. In the home garden, it means you get to find another tasty variety to grow that is resistant to whatever happens to be plaguing you. Do not see it as failure. See it as a learning experience that enables you to try something new that will dazzle the family, neighbors and friends at the dinner table.

You start small. In my mind there are musts. Rain barrels. Compost. Good soil. Start there and then work into the garden. A lot of beginners make the mistake of jumping in both feet and then are unable to continue when several disasters hit in rapid succession or all at once. The small ecosystem that is being established takes time. I was reading on one of the forums I enjoy and a new gardener was just freaking out. She'd started her garden that year, she had numerous plantings and had no experience with any of them. She was over run by pests and disease and she was losing heart. It is difficult to establish a proper area all at once. Start with a few items you wish to grow first - after you can maintain them with your rain barrels and ideally be able to supplement with your compost (not a requirement, but still handy). Think amendments, too, comfrey in the compost, comfrey tea, manure in the compost (you know from your chickens and cows), manure tea, kelp in the compost, kelp extract. Blood and bone meal.

After you've got some beneficial insects attracted to your garden with a few items, expand it. The beneficial insects will keep returning and will aid in balancing the destructive ones. Will you have pest problems? Yep, you surely will, if not, why do we have all the insecticides that we have on the market? Will there be disease problems? Absolutely. But it is easier to handle a couple of problems at a time instead of ten and it is all about the balance. The first time you plant something new, you might get lucky and never have a problem with that item, but that won't happen every time you plant something new or even things you've planted for five years in a row. Red wigglers, lady bugs, bees are all beneficial creatures for the garden and you can buy them online to be delivered. While bees take more effort, the worms and lady bugs are released and go to work.

As for adding critters. You can establish them first or second. If first, you'll have a feed bill. If second and you've decided to plant what they will eat and handle it yourself, it might take you a while to get there. Feed is getting more expensive, so consider what it is that your critter of choice will eat and then grow it in the first or second batch of gardening you do so if you plan to not have a feed bill, you're not blind sided by blight, mold, fungus, or insects the first year and end up with an expense you were not expecting. There are numerous sites that have recipes for home made feeds for all sorts of farm animals and game for proper nutrition. If you have enough area, let them forage for themselves. Most of the animals we eat have been around for a long time, they didn't always have us hanging out to feed them either and yet they survived.

Everything is a circle. Your garden feeds you and your critters, your critters will help clean up the garden when its done and help you to fertilize and aerate so you can garden again. The benefits of these things are that you can make your own foods and store them so that you are not depending on a hormonally grown, genetically altered, chemically treated system. The more you do, the better off you are. If you are unable to do as much, you can benefit from a network of trading. Its time and patience and most of all it's a choice.

4/30/2009 02:28:00 PM

Swine Flu

The WHO (World Health Organization) has been keeping up with this. While the flu in general can be dangerous, this Swine Flu is apparently not as dangerous. Just be careful and make sure to wash your hands frequently.

Which kind of brings me to a state of mind that too much sanitizers can be a bad thing. It helps to breed super bugs that could potentially be more dangerous. Food for thought.

4/26/2009 11:22:00 PM

Say Goodbye to Farmers

A sad day this is. This article rings true for more than just Americans.

In light of this, a way to contact a representative so that you can make your voice heard:

4/26/2009 10:45:00 PM

Monsanto Sues Germany

Unbelievable. They are going to take on a country that has made the decision to ban their GMO maize. This company is completely out of control.

4/01/2009 09:01:00 PM

Obama Gets In On the Act

Ok, so you know that everyone has been buzzing around about how there *should* be a Freedom Garden or Victory Garden on the White House lawn. Welp, the First Family is going to do just that. Amazingly, there will be children from a local school to help the First Lady dig up her lawn for her garden. Can't beat that.

Setting an example to the public is a good thing, but already we've begun to feel the crunch. Several seed websites and forums I have visited recently have already started talking about the seed crunch. They are already having problems coming up with the seed to meet demand of certain vegetable items. One such site in the UK, states that they are just not going to offer individual packets anymore, they are going to focus more on sets of seeds and this is due to the current state of the economy.

The people of the world have already begun to start focusing on where the crisis at hand is leading instead of living in the now. We've heard all the talk of future events due to peak oil, over urbanization and global warming. The disappearing polar ice and with it the polar critters comes to mind. The future has been shoved at the populace so much, it appears that it has taken effect and people are trying to at least begin to prepare for their future. I've also noticed that some of my favorite seed sites have run out of certain popular seeds much faster than I remember it in the past, so even if they have not posted to their site on that fact, it shows there, too.

With luck, the program that the Obama family has begun on their lawn, will spill into many more but I also can't help wondering where all of these people are going to get their seeds. Seeds are already becoming a precious commodity and the garden fever hasn't even really taken root just yet, the word of the impending White House lawn (the First Lawn?) food production only being out for a short period of time. While many gardeners save their seeds, it isn't practiced by everyone so next year the crunch will really be on. My father buys his tomato plants, the seed for beans and peas, and such, and has never in his life practiced seed saving for all the farming he has done and neither has any of our family. What is to become of them next year?

Save your seeds. It is more important now than it has ever been. The lessons we have learned from certain eras such as the famous failed crops of the past and also during the Great Depression, should be ringing true in the ears of every single person on this planet. Now it isn't just the idea of a failed crop it is the idea of countries that export their cash crops now holding in reserve. Rice is a good example of this.

With biofuels at the forefront, Thailand isn't producing rice like it once did, focusing more on biofuel materials than the tons of rice that it used to export has already begun to touch the market. Rice prices are already rising higher than historical averages as the Thai government holds in reserve to feed its own instead of the rest of the world. And Thailand isn't the only country, China stated last year that they would be raising the price bar. It also doesn't help that the idea of using rice as a biofuel took hold in Japan in 2007. And this is all mostly old news.

We can't even really feed the world much less save the seed as a species. So I ask again. Where is everyone going to get their seeds? I have a nice fat stock pile of my own and I share and swap with whomever I can nail down to get that one thing I have never tried to grow. While I have built my own network of really awesome people that I enjoy not only swapping with but chatting with, future gardeners may not be able to jump right into that clique - mine or anyone elses.

I just can't stress enough the importance of saving your seeds. In a world where the economy is in shambles, the food production is going down in favor of finding the replacement to black gold, and people are popping out families faster than the polar ice caps are melting and food riots are expected by 2012, no one's got your back but you and if you aren't saving, you aren't watching your back very well.

So save your seeds and watch as the Obama's start their own garden setting examples to the country and hopefully the world, but be wary of the fact that we are not a small population any longer by any stretch of the imagination. Demand is much larger than supply and even with the massive amounts of seed companies out there, we still have to contend with the fact that Monsanto is destined to own patients on every genetic code for every seed out there and when they do, the home garden is finished. Moving into areas where lands have been farmed for generations and taking people to court so they can shut them down for infringement. I'm betting the price of grow lights will go up sooner than later in that case. I think I'd become an expert in hydroponics damn quick.

So I guess I answered my own question. We'll all be getting out seeds from Monsanto soon enough. I wonder if Obama will endorse that.

3/28/2009 08:48:00 PM

Destructive Insect Series - The Cabbage Leaf Miner

An import from Europe, this moth devastates more than its share of Brassicaceae. The adult lays eggs on the bottom of the leaves in a silk cocoon. Once ready, the miner emerges and then feasts on the leaf it was born on.

They appear in June or July and lay eggs on the tender young leaves and once again in September when the plants are more mature. The first round is more destructive than the second as the plants are not as mature. The result is a weakened and sickly plant.

They thrive in hot dry weather which enables them to multiply rapidly so one way to help deter this pest is to spray your plants with water. There are two species of spiders and a species of ichneumon fly, some wasps and birds that destroy them. And they also respond to chemical treatments (pyrethrum). The best way to control them is to practice good permaculture to attract predators.

3/23/2009 09:42:00 PM


Even though I'm not going to have a huge garden this year, I am, however, going to participate in the creation of a small one. We are going to grow Golden Nugget tomatoes, Roma sauce tomatoes, Black Plum, White Currant, and Heinz 1439.

I got everything started to night and 5 little cups filled with soil and seed are seated in the kitchen window waiting for sprouts. We'll know next week if any of them fail us!

3/22/2009 03:32:00 PM


One of my favorite things is a cherry lime-ade. I just adore the drink and we make them all throughout the summer. I found a couple of recipes for home made cherry syrup.

2 lb Sugar
2 c Water -- up to 3 cups
1 lb Sour cherries
1/4 ts Vanilla

Use only a porcelain or enamel pan. Boil the sugar and water together for
15 to 20 minutes. Add the sour cherries and boil again gently another 20 to
30 minutes or until the syrup thickens. Strain the liquid into a bowl
through a cheesecloth, squeezing the cherries to extract all of the liquid.
Add the vanilla extract. Bottle.

Dried sour cherries may be used instead of fresh ones. They should be
soaked in cold water 6 hours or longer.

Will kept at room temperature as long as the bottle is sealed. Refrigerate
after opening.

Can be used as a topping for ice cream, mousses, bavarians or frozen

To serve syrups, add a Tbsp to two to a glass, fill with cold or sparkling
water and ice.

MAKES: 1 bottle


6 1/2 lbs fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted or 4 1/2 lbs pitted unsweetened frozen sour cherries
11 cups sugar
5 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 6 limes)


Puree the cherries in a blender or food processor in small batches. Run juice through a fine sieve, pressing hard to extract all the juice.

In a large saucepan, mix cherry juice with sugar, water and lime juice and bring to a boil, stirring consistently, until sugar dissolves.

Cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes, skimming off the foam that rises to the top with a slotted spoon.

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring and skimming, until syrupy, about 1 hour.

Strain the syrup into jars and let cool completely before storing.

3/19/2009 09:20:00 PM


It is amazing to me, the turning of the seasons. Watching how the natural world progresses. When I was younger, I abhorred the fact that I had to spend so much time at work doing something that seemed so senseless as collecting more numbers for a bank account no matter what it was that I was collecting, selling or creating. It wasn't tangible to me. I never felt a sense of accomplishment. When I made mention of this once, and only once, an older woman chuckled at me and said that my job paid for my house, food, car and everything else. I was gently admonished, but it filled me with a since of pity because of the dependency I had on someone else to help me do what I needed to do. I accepted it, began a career and have been unhappy with it. While I know that I will never be able to get away from a need for employment because I will have to have money no matter how frugal, no matter how self sufficient and reliable I am, it doesn't mean that I have to slave to the system.

Spring is coming and all winter I have despaired over the fact that I will have no garden this year as I am moving north shortly. My family is already there, our lives are in a storage unit and I am stuck here until the end of my assignment staying with good friends. The closer my move comes, the more entertaining the ideas of what I will do to the property when I get there. While I have sat and pondered this while pouring through seed catalogs and looked endlessly at the species of orchard trees I will purchase, I can't help but be excited that I will get to do all of this and prepare for the first actually planting that I will get to do next year. The sting of having to spend most of my time in the service of someone else doesn't seem so difficult to bear when I weigh it against how much I'll not have to spend because I'm busy growing, making it and just doing the home chores myself.

I have taken my initiative from such people as Patti Moreno, Rhonda Hetzel, Fred Dunn, Gayla Trail, and so many more and I hope you can, too!

2/26/2009 09:08:00 PM

Good Read

2/21/2009 11:40:00 PM

Almost done

We're almost done. It has been a very hard last couple of weeks but we're nearly done with getting everything out. I'm just beat! But we're pleased even if we're sore, exhausted and ready to hit a spa and lounge in a jacuzzi (I so wish!).

I'm very pleased that we're nearly finished, not only could we all use a rest before I put the family on a plane, but we can all use some time together before they all fly off to the other side of the country. I'm looking forward to the time period between them leaving and me arriving passing by with lightning speed. I don't want to be away from my husband, children and pets.

On a very cool note, friends of ours that are putting me up so that I can save up as much fundage as possible, are considering taking their vacation around the time that I'm leaving so that I don't have to trek across country alone in a 24 foot truck with a mini van dangling off the back of it alone. Which I think is very cool. It also means that I won't have to get the biggest truck, I can get the smaller one and not have to pay as much. Which also means less open space and less damage to stuff.

Getting everything squared away is somehow very satisfying if not exhausting. This move came as a very difficult decision, there were many factors that played their hand in it. It is probably the worse possible time every in the world to move and start over but we're just not finding what we need where we are. The planning began before this nightmare that is our economy began to come into full swing, but we're going to march on and hopefully we'll come out on top for it.

Wish us luck!

2/13/2009 08:25:00 PM

Happy Valentine's Day!

2/11/2009 06:33:00 PM

Canning Butter

Canning Butter

Use any butter that is on sale. Lesser quality butter requires more shaking (see below), but the results are the same as with the expensive brands.

Heat pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars. A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.

While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.

Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4" of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.

Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids "ping," shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.

At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.

Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. Canned butter does not "melt" again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.

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