Category Archives: Gardening

Fall Madness, Projects, and Cleanup

Hello Lovelies,

I haven’t written in what feels like an eternity!  A lot has been going on here at our little homestead and a few projects are in full swing.  I’m pretty much the only one who does most of our homesteading and among daily research, I’m always adding to the “to do” list.  Needless to say, Babydoll has been a trooper!  Did I mention that I work a 9-5 job too?? Amidst all of the chaos, Fall is here!  I love everything about Fall and even though Texas doesn’t have the beautifully colored leaves or the crisp, fireplace aroma in the air, I’ve come to enjoy the little things. From the seasonal food, the Yankee Candles I have an addiction too, down to the way the air smells.  Being born and raised in New England, I love the smallest things about the season and it just makes me happy.  It also makes the perfect season for projects!

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So much has changed over the past month or two.  Babydoll changed jobs and went back into the oilfield. After all, we have a future homestead to save for! With this decision, some big projects were left on hold.  I don’t think I will ever get used to him being away for weeks on end, but that is the life we chose.  For the first time in our lives, we have goals.  Those goals are at the forefront of our minds in everything we set out to do and or purchase.  Having that common ground is what makes a homestead successful.  Many times you hear about families that homestead where it is very one-sided.  We have been blessed with a common mindset and it makes things much easier.  With more free time on my part lately,  many projects are able to get started nonetheless.

The Garden: The garden needed some attention such as harvesting, getting plants to grow, weeding, and transitioning from Summer to Fall plantings. The garden was coming along perfect when all of a sudden, we had no more fruit! It was as if “POOF!” they were gone. With a fenced in backyard, I couldn’t figure out what was eating them.  It ended up being squirrels and baby rabbits. We came up with a quick remedy of stapling chicken wire around the perimeter of the raised bed and covering the top with a bird cover mesh.  This did the trick nicely although made it tricky to harvest and weed.  After tackling this twice, it finally worked and we now have fruit! Now if only the butterflies would leave my brussel sprouts alone.

Harvest: Our harvest was much smaller than anticipated, but when compared to all of our mistakes in the past, we finally have more of a grasp on it.  Jalapenos and green bell peppers were what we got the most of.  Our tomato plants were falling over and really big, however didn’t produce much because by the time we caged the bed, it was already September.  Besides cooking with our harvest and the fact that it was small, we also made flavored vinegar’s, as well as used other techniques such as pickling, fermenting and dehydrating.

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Greenhouse: We desperately needed a greenhouse not only for seed starting, but to grow plants over the winter in an effort to grow year round.  In Texas, summers are hot and winters are cold, but they are still doable.  In researching greenhouses, we definitely have one in mind for our future homestead, but for now we’ve decided to opt for a smaller one in the meantime.  It wasn’t that expensive at around $30 shipped, so it was affordable because we are still learning.  We then needed to create a space for seed starting and growing winter plants.  To do this, we reused what we already had.  This is the best kind of shopping and saves a ton of money.  Reusing things such as tables and bins, made it easy to create a potting table and an old bin now used for amending soil.  Our seed order has been placed  from Baker Creek and now we wait.  I apologize for the dark pictures.  They were taken inside of a garage, but you get the idea.

Compost: Our compost that was started late last year and is just about broken down.  We used grass clippings, shredded paper from our shredder, and kitchen scraps such as food, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags.  It is such a beautiful dark brown color.  This will help get seeds get started for spring.  A new bin has been started and will take another year to break down.  We just don’t have the space to create the compost pile we are hoping for, but this does the trick.

Cooking:  Food storage has been on the agenda most of this year.  Buying in bulk, growing what we can, and saving what we can , further enabled us to grow our canned food stock.  This year, we added fermented food like Kombucha, sour dough starter, vinegar, carrots, pickles, and sauerkraut.  We are still not where we need to be, but next year will be even more than this year.

It has been quite a busy start to the season and so much more to accomplish with the holidays coming.  It feel like an endless process, but it is so very rewarding.

What goals and projects have you set for Fall?  I’d love to hear about what you have going.  Inspire me! and who knows, you may inspire someone else!

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Make Your Own Homemade Flavored Vinegar From Fresh Herbs

Hello Lovelies,

It has been a long time!  Our family has been dealing with some health issues, but God is great! We are healing and on the up and up.  About a month ago, I started drying most all of the herbs that we grew in our garden.  I couldn’t let them to go to waste, but couldn’t use the fresh version up in enough time.  Due to lacking freezer space, I tried another alternative such as making flavored vinegar.  After the herbs were cut down to just stems, the purple basil started regrowing leaves and eventually flowered.  But what I didn’t know, was that you can use the entire plant and make flavored vinegar!  I had heard about it in books and online, but never gave it a try.  It is a great way to use most all of the plant to get the most out of it.  Here is how to make it.

Purple Basil Vinegar

-Cleaned and drained basil leaves and flowers

-Sterilized Mason jar

-White Distilled Vinegar

20170729_190942Fill the bottom of the mason jar with freshly cut leaves and flowers of whatever herb you are wanting.  In this post, it is purple basil.

20170729_191210_001Pour over white distilled vinegar and cover tightly.  Shake gently and put in the refrigerator.  Let it sit in the refrigerator and in two weeks you will have flavored vinegar.  Simply strain the leaves and flowers and keep in the fridge.

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You can make any flavor you’d like with any herb you’d like.  The vinegar has a pretty strong fragrance and can be used in so many recipes for a boost in flavor.  First thought that comes to mind is spaghetti sauce and chicken! Other ways to incorporate vinegar is in sauces, canning, or even in pickled vegetables.  The two pictures to the left and right are what the vinegar looks like after two weeks.  It smells soo good ya’ll!

 

Other Flavorful Ideas

  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemongrass
  • Combinations such as a sprig of rosemary, basil, and oregano

Total Cost:  An estimated .50 cents for the vinegar to fill a quart jar and my 3rd round of basil.  Store bought version on average for flavored vinegar is $5-$6 with no guarantee it is made from fresh herbs.

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Growing an Avocado Tree From an Avocado Seed

Hello Lovelies,

Fruit trees are amazing!  Especially, avocados.  I must say they taste a lot better than store bought and who can afford to eat solely organic?  It gets pricey.  No matter how you look at it, growing your own is best and it is so easy too. Simply save your seeds!

You Will Need:

  • One avocado seed
  • Small glass jar or glass
  • 3 tooth picks
  • Moderate sunlight
  • Water

You will need to first eat an avocado! I used organic so get the best seed. Save the seed and wash it really well, making sure to get off all the flesh. Dry thoroughly with a paper towel.  That brown skin around the seed needs to come off.  Using your nails or a knife, peel back the skin. It isn’t so easy to get off so a little bit will not hurt.  Next, locate the bottom which looks like a pucker or faint circle with a teensie nub in the middle.  This side you want submerged in the water as that is where the roots will come out.  Place 3 toothpicks to make a holder for the seed on top of the glass as seen below.

Avocado’s take a long time to root. Around day 10-14 the seed will start to crack.  Within this crack a small root will form from the center of the seed.  Around day 20-22, the root is seen growing from the bottom of the seed.

I mentioned day ranges because I started four different seeds at one time. Depending on the size of the seed, growth will differ. One of the seeds was rather small at around 1/2 inch in diameter did not do so well.  The bigger the seed, the better.

Day 1 May 1, 2017

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Day 31 June 1, 2017

It will take about 80 days or so to fully develop good roots before it is able to be transplanted into soil.  The colder the climate, the longer it may take as plants tend to slow down in colder weather.  Be sure to always keep the bottom of the seed submerged in water until it is ready to plant.  You can also replace the water when it starts to look cloudy.

I will post more pictures as the seed grows!  Stay Tuned…

DIY Worm Spray Home Remedy For Your Garden

Hello Lovelies,

Worms, pets, gnats, you name it, are quite bothersome and most annoying in a home garden.  After all, it takes effort and planning to garden and is not an easy feat to get rid of what ails it. Pests come and go and there is every chemical on the market to get rid of them.  What is hard to comprehend, is why put a chemical on your garden when if you are like me, your garden is organic and made with homemade compost.  It defeats the purpose.

Most recently, it was discovered that cabbage worms have made their beds among the baby brussel sprout plants.  Here is how to make your own inexpensive “Worm Spray”.

You will need:

  • Small plastic spray bottle (what is shown is travel size)
  • Fish Oil Capsules
  • A pin to pierce the capsules
  • Garlic Water/Juice
  • Water

20170427_084609Take an empty spray bottle and fill 3/4 with water.

With a teaspoon, measure two teaspoons of juice or water from your minced garlic jar. To make a homemade version if you don’t buy jarred garlic, mince a clove of garlic and add water letting it infuse in the fridge for a few days.  That garlic acts as a deterant for the butterfly so they don’t land on the leaves to lay eggs.  Pierce a few fish oil capsules and empty in the bottle. I would highly recommend wearing gloves for this because the fish oil smell lingers on the skin. Yuk! Two liberal applications emptied the spray bottle so there is no waste depending on the size of the area you are spraying.  I had just four plants.

Shake and spray!  It is that easy.  It smelled like fish, but was very effective.  It took about two applications within a week avoiding watering the leaves, but rather let the water run near the stem to not wash off the mixture.  It has been about two weeks and the plants show no signs of new eggs or new worms.  I’m not sure if this remedy will work on all plants.  But for brussel sprouts it worked like a charm.  Cabbage worms seem to love really green veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts.  Best part is most people already have the ingredients in their home making it a very affordable option.

Total cost for this little project was .50 for the travel size spray bottle.

Happy Thursday!

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Morning Coffee & Garden Update

Hello Lovelies,

During my morning coffee outside enjoying our beautiful garden, I discovered that I now have flowers!!  Oh…if you could see me jumping for joy and then spilling my coffee on my foot, you’d laugh like hell.  Seriously, it’s coffee abuse!  Coffee to me is like air.  Despite this little mishap and delay in admiring my garden, I realized that two plants have flowered.  I’m so incredibly happy!  I’ve been stalking my garden since planting hoping that by doing so I can catch anything that may go wrong and quickly fix it.  Or am I being paranoid?  I don’t know. But for now, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.  After so many failed attempts I’m determined to bear fruit.

My soil is doing well.  I see no bugs or insects crawling, no white spots on the leaves of my plants, no yellow leaves indicating that they are over watered, just happy and healthy plants! Phew!  I have noticed that they’ve grown taller too.  It’s amazing what a 5 days can do in regards to their growth.  Here’s a peek 🙂

everything seems more beautiful from a different view