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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Ugh! Slugs!!


Slug can do a lot of damage!

Slug can do a lot of damage!

I am growing the best garden of my life.  My raised beds have made a world of difference.  Adding to that the square foot method with companion planting, I’m seeing amazing results.  My plants are all healthy and strong.  I’ve been so proud of the flawless growth on all my plants!

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Signs of a slime trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I was mortified when I went out to check my garden today.  All was well until I got to my greenhouse which is where I am housing my potato containers.  I saw the unmistakable signs of slugs getting to my potatoes!  Eeek!  So what do I do?  Make a beeline to the kiddo’s piggy banks to swipe some pennies.  I needed copper and I needed it now!  I’m committed to not using herbicides or other chemical repellants.  Why would copper work?  Because the copper reacts to the slime and will actually shock the slug.  You can use copper tape, tubing or any other copper that you have laying around.

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Placing pennies around your plants deters slugs

I sprinkled the pennies strategically around each plant and around the containers.  In addition, slugs are deterred by pine needles because of their strong acidity.  Living in the Evergreen State, I have plenty of those around  and used them in and around the containers, too.  Those buggers will have to make certain sacrifices to eat my food!   I know there are other methods out there.  I just wanted to share this quick and inexpensive way in case you find slugs in your garden.

 

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Copper deters slugs

 

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As we all know, there are great tips and information about gardening, propagating and harvesting food from your garden.  A master gardener I am not.  I feel like I learn something new every day about growing my family’s food.  Watching the TV program, Through The Wormhole, I saw a doctor who is famous for cloning animals use honey as a growth hormone to start new plants in a demonstration for his approach to animal cloning.  I was fascinated because I know there are many uses for honey, but I did not know it was used in this way in the garden.

Lavender with cinnamon Cinnamon growth hormoneI’m sure many of you have seen this post going around Pinterest and FaceBook in using cinnamon as a growth hormone in starting new plants.  Well, I was excited and tried using it to propagate a new, beautiful lavender plant I got this year for Mother’s Day.  More than two weeks into it, I see nothing more than what I started with.  Clearly, the cinnamon will not work with lavender, at least not mine.  But this plant is so beautiful that I want to ensure to have plenty of it for years to come and having several copies of the same plant should help me meet that goal.

So, because the cinnamon is not working, I am trying honey.  Local and organic as it should offer the best local pollination in my opinion.  The uses for honey is vast.  I’ve seen many articles related to beauty, health and medicinal uses for it.  But I’ve not run across this purpose before I specifically started researching it.  From my research, I’ve decided to use the following recipe.

  • images-61 cup honey
    – Pure, or raw, honey is said to be better than regular store-bought honey (which has been processed) and yields the greatest results.
  • 3 cups boiling water
    – Mix the honey with your boiling water and allow to cool. Place this mixture in an airtight container (such as a mason jar) until ready to use, storing it somewhere away from light.

It sounds simple enough.  If you are interested in trying this method, click this link to find a well written article all about it.  I will let you know if and how this method works in comparison to the cinnamon method.

 

 

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Ball Canning Book

Spring is just a few days away.  You have your seeds inside sprouting, you may be assembling raised beds or turning your soil in great anticipation of high performing gardens.  If so, preserving that healthy and wonderful food will come next.  And to help you make the most of your canning, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a must in any kitchen.  Learning to can or canning even more food will help you to build and grow your own home store, save you money and allows you to feed your family much healthier food.  That’s why I’m offering to give one away.  Simply click on the graphic here.  Follow the steps and you will be entered.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

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garden-feb-lgLike me, so many of us are diligently planning our spring gardens.  We start our pen-to-paper plans, gather supplies to start our precious seeds, and wait for the weather to turn so we might start working and preparing our beds.  But in this idle time we have waiting, you really should be considering inventorying your canning supplies and planning your crop based on your families  need.

GETTING YOUR SUPPLIES IN ORDER

 

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It’s a good time to calculate how many jars of pickles, cans of jelly and jam your family typically needs to get you through winter months.  I learned this winter that I hadn’t actually canned enough dills to carry me through.  Same was for our tomatoes.  I’m down to only a few jars of my tomato’s and sauce not having realized how much our family of four would actually go through.  I’m a good canner, but my math needs to be honed.

I am now in the process of figuring out how many canning jars and sizes I have vs. what I will need.  Same for lids.  Since I have to replace dozens of lids, I have opted to invest in reusable Tattler lids after having decided they work beautifully and will save me money in the long run.  Another consideration I made was, as a committed prepper, I believe material may be hard to come by.  Having to replace my lids every time I can and believing there is even a remote possibility that they may be hard to come by would defeat all my seasonal garden planning.

How many quart jars did I use last year and how many more I need this year was a big question.  How much jelly or jam will I put up?  How much applesauce or peaches will I need?  Obviously, I could never lay out a formula for you, but you really should start planning and pre-planning.   And buying your canning supplies now, before the season hits will save you money.  Last season I found myself running around looking and buying jars when the prices were their highest.  Buy them out-of-season to get the best price.

HERBs, SPICEs AND OTHER INGREDIENTS

Spices

Salt, sugar and spices will also be needed.  Will you be planting the herbs you will need to can your harvest?  Dill is one that is vital to me.  Italian herbs are as important.

RESOURCEs AND OTHER EQUIPMENT

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You may, like me, wish to scan all your recipes and determine which ingredients you can grow and what you will need to purchase.  Start planning now, watch for sales on items you will need to purchase and be sure to stock up on it when it’s most feasible.  And your canning books are as important as anything.  A few of the VERY best I could recommend are:

Ball Canning Book

Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving

Canning is just one aspect to preserving your food.  Dehydrating is another.  Do you have a dehydrator?  You can look on Craigslist or garage sales to find one, but if you are seriously planning on building a food supply, you really need to invest in one.  And because dehydrating is sometimes much more than slicing and drying, you will want a great cookbook.  The best on the market (by many standards and reviews) is Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook.

The same is true for a vacuum seal system.  I use and would recommend the FoodSaver which is a workhorse.  I use it nearly every day and much more in the summer months.   All these appliances which allows you to protect and preserve your food may not pay for themselves this season, but they will pay for themselves over time.

LONG TERM STORAGE

Also, if you plan on putting some of your foods into long-term storage, you will need oxygen absorbers and mylar bags.  Start asking your bakery and deli department for 5 gallon buckets now. You may also wish to purchase moisture absorbers as an added line of protection for your food.  You will need these if you plan to store food.  Many local businesses will give them away or sell them for $1 each.  But, be sure you get food-grade buckets.  You may also wish to invest in high quality gamma lids.

 

 

 

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pantryWhen MrPrepper and I built our home, we were both working professionals with successful career.  I wanted a home where I could entertain.  It was ~ and is ~ a lovely home that I am proud of.  That was 17 years ago.  To drive up to my home today, it presents itself much the same.  But cross the threshold and you will see the extreme change from that point back to the fence that surrounds a once picture-perfect landscaped backyard.  The room which once housed an antique dining room set now has no table.  The china hutch that use to display my beautiful ornate dishes, now is used for more practical purposes.  The antique cabinet beautifully displays a growing supply of my own canned and dehydrated food.  There is a set of industrial-style shelves that hold my canning supplies, bread machine and other food processing equipment.  There are two sets of Martha Stewart cabinets to hold the children’s toys and a computer which I use to teach my pre-schooler.

Walk further down the hall to the kitchen, and you will see an amazing set of even larger industrial shelves FULL of dehydrated and freeze-dried food that I use every day.  Things like powdered milk, eggs and sausage.  I won’t even go into all the things that are there, but it is one of the most impressive home stores you will ever see.  My once elegant kitchen is now filled with canning supplies, dehydrators, shelves and other supplies to support my new role.  You will notice the large antique crock fermenting cabbage or maybe a large batch of pickles I grew in the yard.White Pantry

Turn right and enter the family room where I took a very old TV cabinet and converted it into something cute and functional.  This cabinet has a strong sentimental value because it measures the growth of the children.  Inside, you see the valuable amount of storage it provides.  (Note the inside right door is where I keep inventory of these food supplies written in chalk)

Walk out to the patio to the once well-groomed flower-filled landscape and you realize you have just entered into another world.  My backyard chickens with their lovely coop and raised garden beds emphasize the seriousness and commitment I have to being as self-reliant as humanly possible.  There are containers that grow medicinal and culinary herbs dotting open spots on the large, covered patio.  Once in awhile, my little chaweenie, Gracie will be there romping with the chickens.  Here I stand in rubber boots, coveralls and a pair of leather gloves on.  I’m either working in the garden or cleaning the chicken coop.  I gather fresh, brown eggs and bring into the house.  I may be turning the compost heap I started last year or any number of other chores associated with a suburban home transitioning from a place where career professionals came home to unwind to a sanctuary filled with wonder and life.  My 3 year old girl and 5 year old boy play with toys on the patio or climb and play on the swing set.  Their playful giggles and sometimes spats are a joyous sound to my ears.  The BBQ or smoker will be fired up and cooking dinner that we will serve with fresh food from the garden and eat on the patio.

Go to the side of the house where MrPrepper erected a barn-style shed.  In there, you will find emergency supplies of equipment and food.  Things like fuel, generators and other equipment to

It is work.  More labor intensive than going to meetings and writing reports.  But this work is peaceful and rewarding.  Nothing like any job I have ever had.

This has become my life.  I’m so proud that I left my “career” in order to have this amazingly gratifying and rewarding life.  A life that is sure to keep my children balanced, regardless where life takes them.

Yes, MrPrepper still works.  I feel sorry for him that he misses much of these great days filled with serenity.  But we are a team.  He will retire in a couple of years and will slide right into his roll as my farm-hand.  I count my blessings every day having moved into this much better life.

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Aquaponics is combining fish cultivation with hydroponics, i.e. growing plants without soil.  This Barrelponics System is designed by Travis Hughley as in inexpensive introduction to aquaponics.  All the materials can be purchased locally at most hardware stores.

Download the plans by clicking on the graphic.
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Here are some great tips when laying out your new raised bed garden.

 

http://www.growingthehomegarden.com/2009/02/designing-raised-bed-vegetable-garden.html

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