We have a ton of house plants, they just make us happy. So we tend to do a lot of transplanting. And just like anyone else, where do we keep our soil…
Outside of course.
But do you know what happens to soil when it sits outside long enough?
Little tiny gnats like to lay their eggs in the soil.
You know, those damn little fruit fly things that will do anything in their little power to try and fly into your mouth. If you are thinking eww gross, then I guess you have never experienced one of these little bastards.
They multiply faster then you can say, “yoga with goats.” I mean, yoga with goats, I love goats but doing yoga with them….I don’t get it. Oh wait, I was talking about gnats, back to gnats. So, needless to say they can infest a house super fast.
So here is a little story; a while back I redid our bathroom. I was very proud, if I do say so myself. Well, in that little redo, I hung a plant, in an awesome purple pot that just fit the bathroom perfectly but what kind of soil did I use?
You guessed it y’all, soil from outside.
A few weeks later, we were infested. It was so bad that the walls had little tiny gnats everywhere. I was done. I had enough. These little F-ers had to go and they had to go now.
So I did a little research and came up with this gnat spray.
Let’s make some shall we.
Whatcha need is:
Glass spray bottle (plastic works too, whatever floats your boat yo)
Fill spray bottle with 1 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup water
Add 10 drops of each oil.
Boom Son you’re done!
I mean, how simple is that.
I literally sprayed my entire bathroom. I sprayed the walls, the gnats, the bottom of the pot the plant was in, the rim. I was careful not to actually get the plant, I didn’t want kill it.
But what I also did was I took the plant outside and sprayed it down with our neem oil spray that kills gnats, aphids, and all sorts of other nasty little plant critters. I sprayed this little plant probably about 4-5 times over two days.
We are living gnat free right now people, gnat free. All thanks to this little spray.
Got a Gnat problem? Leave a comment below let me know how it works for you. I’d love to hear from y’all.
So you went ahead on got your some some fancy little ladies did ya?! There has been nothing better, in our homesteading journey, than our sweet little ladies. They provide us with food for our family and in return we provide them love and a wonderful life.
See y’all, the circle must go round and round or we lose the entire meaning of this whole thing.
When deciding to get yourself some chickens, there is so much valuable information out there to learn from. We did a crap ton of research from what to feed them, to how to keep them quite, to how to take care of their coop.
I’d like to share the method we chose to go with. A method that has worked beautifully for almost about a year now. And that is…..
The deep litter method.
This method keeps it super simple. And super low maintenance. Because if y’all are anything like us, we have to keep things easy and to the point. Working 40 hours a week doesn’t leave us enough time to clean out a coop once a week. And really who the hell wants to clean out a coop once a week.
This method requires crap ton of straw and………
You spread a bunch of straw in your coop and just keep layering it on when you see it getting low and starting to smell like ammonia.
What is the benefit of this method?
Low maintenance, most importantly. But it is a proven way to help build your soil and helps to create beautifully rich compost. You see, your chickens will poop. A LOT. And your chickens will love to scratch through the straw and find little surprises to eat. These two things, poop and scratching, go hand in hand. The poop is what is going to give your compost nitrogen and the straw is your carbon. By your chickens scratching, they are essentially turning your “compost” for you.
Wait, isn’t that the two main ingredients to build compost? Yup! And my chickens are doing all the work for me? Yup! So I don’t have to go out and turn my compost as often as I am? Nope!
I know, right! Now about once a year you actually clear out all the straw and compost and either allow it to continue to break down in a pile or trash can or use it in your garden.
Homesteading is a laborious life style. An extremely fulfilling life style but laborious none the less. Finding ways to keep things as simple as possible and as low maintenance as possible is the key that we have found to be successful. Maybe you have time to clean out your coop once a week, why you would want to, is beyond me. But when you have a method that works and provides for you AND your chickens, I say that is two thumbs up yo!
Well it is time to start sprucing up the front yard. It has been about 5 years now and all our energy has gone to making a food forest in the back yard for our family to enjoy. But now everything is established and pretty much taking care of itself.
So on to the front!
When we first moved in to our home, we made a small little planter in front of the house and to be honest, we were quite proud of ourselves. I mean, it did make a difference in our eyes and that is all that matters, right?! But as we sat and thought about what we wanted for the front yard, we realized we barely made a dent.
We knew what we wanted, but had no idea how to get there. We knew that we were about to embark on a whole new project with fun new challenges but again, didn’t know how to exactly get there.
What we did know was…..
We wanted to create not a food forest like the back yard but a medicinal herb forest for the front.
We went to visit Diane’s herbs in Fallbrook ca, to get all of our herbs and plants and to gain a little inspiration because holy moly is she an incredible lady. I mean, when she talks you just get sucked into her. She is this amazing wealth of knowledge that you just want to absorb like none other. The first time we went we ended up staying two hours just talking with her and picking her brain. She showed us her little “shed” filled with dried herbs hanging from the ceiling, jars and jars of beautiful dried herbs, salves, and honey sticks. I was in absolute heaven.
For this project she helped us lay out where all theses incredible plants need to live in order to be happy. She just knew exactly where to place every. single. one.
And let me tell ya, these plants are HAPPY!
We now have this beautiful medicinal herb forest filled with varieties of medicinal herbs that will continue to nurture our family, as well as, those around us. These herbs were placed on this earth for a purpose and by golly, we will use them as intended.
A little bit about the process we took to plant these beauties.
As you can see in some of the pictures we had this incredibly big bush as you walked up to our front door. We just got kind of tired of looking at it, so away it went. Not easily, let me tell ya, but it went alright! Then we and by we I mean, solely my husband, dug out the beautiful, thick, healthy grass that was just seeded And we created the new shape of the planter.
Then we, again just husband, laid compost over the whole area. Then we got to planting. The fun part!
The mixture we used for the planting soil was perlite, sand, and a soil mixture. We mixed that up and placed in the hole where plants were going to go. BUT we also added…This to our mixture as well. Bone meal,garden tone, greensand and ground up egg shells, We used just a small amount of each of the plant foods and a palm size of egg shells in each hole before planting.
Then we planted all our new friends.
I mean how can your heart not just fall in love with all these colors. We cannot wait until they all grow in and bloom. Oh did you want to see more, here you go.
Oh wait and here is more…
We, (husband), added drip line to all the plants to keep them extra happy and healthy with out us having to go water them by hand.
I just need to say that none of this would’ve come to life if it weren’t for my better half. He did every single part of this project and I couldn’t be more grateful. First he gave us our food forest in our back yard and now he gave us a medicinal herb forest in our front. Thank you my sweets, it came out absolutely beautiful.
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So I guess when we do something day in and day out, we don’t realize that it could be completely foreign to someone else. Let’s take composting for example, well not for example because this whole post is going to be about composting but you get it. Anyway, for composting, we have a bucket under the sink, we throw our kitchen scraps in it without thinking anymore because it’s now apart of who we are. We take it out to the compost bin or to the chickens, again without thinking. Then someone asks as question like, can I put moldy fruit in my compost? My response is, um duh! Then I realize it may not be part of everyone’s daily routine and I should stop being a dick when I respond! So here it is, let’s get down and dirty about composting, I won’t be a dick I promise.
What is compost?
Composting is a way of recycling organic matter such as kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and leaves using an aerobic environment, which means the presence of oxygen is needed to thrive. Compost is used to fertilize plants and brings much needed good bacteria back to the soil.
What do you do with it?
Compost is made up of two parts, nitrogen and carbon. The ratio between these two elements really make a difference wth the way your compost will react. Most times when you set out to build a compost pile you think of this big pile of steamy beautiful goodness. But in reality you are wondering what in the world you did wrong. Don’t worry, we will talk about a sure way to get that steamy pile of goodness. There are a few methods to composting. I am going to talk about one here but first let’s find out what we can put in compost shall we.
What the F goes in compost?
Avocado peels and seed
Fruit (All except citrus fruits)
…I mean the list can really go on.
Here is what NOT to put in your compost:
Dairy (besides the egg shells)
Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes….)
Can moldy foods go in the compost bin?
That is what the food is going to be doing anyhow so throw it on in there yo!
But what about the flies?
One trick you can use is throw some shredded paper on top. Or lay some newspaper on top of each layer. This will not only keep the fly issue down but also the smell.
So, let’s move on to how we actually make this beautiful stuff for our garden. I am going to talk about, “Quick Method Composting” Are you ready?
Quick Method Composting
With this method we are going to make a mixture called Drunken Compost! Why is it called that? Because it’s fun, thats why!
First thing is first, find yourself a pile of compost. Preferably a 3 foot high pile. If you are impatient like we are, gather yourself up some leaves and some coffee grounds. This is really the basics of what you need. Now I am sure you may be thinking to yourself, “where do I find that many leaves and that much coffee grounds?” Well, start a raking yo! Rake your yard, rake your neighbors yard, rake the whole damn neighborhood. Don’t shake your head and giggle, this is how we acquired ours. My husband, after working his buns off all day, went around the neighborhood and gathered us up some leaves. Hey man, if you want it, you find a way.
Coffee grounds, seriously, any coffee shop should be cool enough to save their grounds for you to pick up at the end of the day. Just give them a call the day before or that morning. Make sure you give them plenty of time to gather some up. They won’t just have a plethora for you at a moments notice. Now on to the mixture.
Drunken Compost Mixture:
1 12oz can coca cola (yes that is right coca cola, the kind you drink)
1 12oz can beer ( and you are right again my friend, BEER)
Yes, yes I am. Let’s break each of these ingredients down shall we.
Coca Cola: The sugar in the soda will attract much needed micro- organisms that help break down the materials in the compost. The acidity in the soda helps with this process as well.
Ammonia: Is a super high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is what helps heat up the carbon material within the compost pile. So this is where your heat will come from.
Beer: The yeast in beer helps to break down organic materials, particularly wood materials.
On with the mixture…
Mix this weird concoction in a sprayer. You do not want to just dump the ingredients listed above on your compost, you want a spray of evenly mixed ingredients.
Once you have your pile and you mixture made, start spraying your pile with the drunken mixture as you turn your compost. What does turning your compost mean?
I gotcha, see I told you I wasn’t going to be a dick!
Turning means you are going to use a shovel or a pitchfork and shovel your compost into a new pile. You want to start with the outsides of your compost, that way they are now on the inside of your new pile. You want each part of your compost to experience the warmth that is being created so that it breaks down properly. With composting you want to make sure you have enough room for two piles. Throughout this process you will be moving your pile back and forth.
Now leave it to sit for four days.
After four days you are going to make this mixture again and turn your pile once more, spraying each turn with the mixture. Now let it sit for two days.
After two days make your mixture, turn your compost and spray each layer.
Repeat every two days for a total of 20 days.
This spray is considered nitrogen. While you turn your pile, you have to add a nitrogenous material in between. This is what keeps it hot. And heat is what you need to create good pile of compost. If you would like a ratio, which many of us need. You need 80:20 ratio carbon to nitrogen. To put things into perspective, the leaves are carbon and the coffee grounds are nitrogen. Newspaper is carbon. Kitchen scraps are nitrogen.
As you turn your compost and as you get closer to 20 days, your pile will begin to steam. And BAM son, you just made yourself a pile of steamy goodness that all your plants are going to thrive with.
A little note before we go…
Sometimes your pile is not broken down 100%. It’s cool yo, just sift it out over a wheelbarrow or bucket before you use it and throw the chunks back into a new compost pile to further decompose.
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We have been dying to build an herb spiral for about 4 years now. About 3 years ago we got all the bricks we needed for this project but then life happened and our bricks just sat and stared at us. But after being patient, two kids and a puppy later we did it Y’all. We built our muther f-ing herb spiral and it is beautiful.
Are you wondering what an herb spiral is?
An herb spiral is an incredible way to utilize one space for multiple plants. Not only are you utilizing a circumference space but you are utilizing vertical space as well. An herb spiral is a spiral shaped planter built out of bricks, stone, rocks, whatever tickles your fancy. You build the spiral up, fill it with sticks, compost and straw and then plant your ass off. With an herb spiral you can plant, plants that don’t need a lot of water but a lot of sun at the top of your spiral and plants that love to stay moist and need shade, all in the same area! Let’s dive a little deeper so you know what I am talking about.
First things first, find yourself a crap ton of bricks, stone, or rocks.
Find a spot in your yard that will allow you to build a 3-5 ft. circumference.
Level out the spot as best as you can. Take a 2×4 place over the circumference and use a level to even out the spot.
Lay down cardboard and newspaper. This is going to prevent weeds from growing.
DON’T SKIP THAT STEP!
Now, find your spiral by placing your bricks (or your choice) accordingly. You want to make sure that the opening of the spiral faces north.
In order to build up, you want to count 3 1/2 bricks from the bottom, that’s where you’ll start your next brick layer. Once you’re done with the second layer, again you will count 3 1/2 bricks (from your second layer) and start your next layer. So on until you reach desired height.
As you build your layers some bricks may feel unstable and move, place some straw under the bricks until they become secure.
Once you finish the spiral, fill in the middle with sticks or large rocks. Then fill it in with straw. Wet it all down once filled.
To plant, just open up a spot by moving the straw, fill it with soil, place the plant inside and cover with straw. Plants that need sun will go towards the top. Plants that like shade will go on the back side of the spiral closer to the north side.
Boom son, you just built yourself an herbs spiral. Fill that sucker with whatever herbs you choose. Originally we planned on kitchen herbs but our time at this incredible nursery, called Diane’s nursery in Fallbrook Ca, lead us down a medicinal herb path. So we filled our spiral with: Insulin, feverfew, dandelion, lemon balm, dill, chamomile, ashwaganda, rue and lemongrass.
The looks of an herb spiral could feel a little more intimidating than it really it. Just dive in and have fun with it. Once we stopped thinking so hard about how the hell to build the spiral, everything just started flowing.
Oh my, let’s talk lavender for a second shall we. I mean there is nothing quite like it. The fragrance just fills the air with this delicate aroma. The flowers stand tall and proud. The deep purple color just pops against the muted green leaves. It is just a heavenly plant that is filled with medicinal properties that you should not be without. Let’s do it to it.
Lavender, or lavendula angustifolia, part of the mint family. It is a drought tolerant plant that loves full sun. Allowing for adequate soil drainage can help keep this plant happy and thriving. Lavender is a bush that grows best in zones 5-9.
Sleep Aid: Lavender is a fantastic sleep aid. It helps rest the mind from the daily chatter. It allows the body to fall into a restful sleep, as well as, fall back to sleep easier when awaken.
Reduces anxiety and stress: Lavender helps relax the mind and body during times of high stress and anxiety. Lavender is a grounding herb that allows one to stay centered.
Used for minor cuts and burns: Lavender is an antibacterial, antimicrobial and an antiseptic. Rub some lavender Essential oil on minor scraps and burns to help relieve the pain almost immediately.
Reduces headaches: Diffusing lavender oil or taking Lavender internally can help decrease headaches.
Anti-depressant: Lavender helps increase the serotonin levels in the brain that give us that “happy feeling.” By diffusing lavender or by taking it internally one can lower the feelings of depression. This is a great go to for mamas that are dealing with baby blues or postpartum.
Skin care: Lavender is used in a lot of skin care products. It helps rebuild the cells within the skin allowing for a beautiful peaceful glow.
How to use lavender
Essential oils are a fantastic way to get all the benefits of lavender. Essential oils can be used topically with a carrier oil if needed. Rubs some on the temples, chest, neck and or bottoms of feet. It can be taken internally by placing a drop in 4oz of water and drinking. Or it can be used aromatically through a diffuser.
Tinctures are our go to. Tinctures are to be taken internally by placing a dropperful under the tongue and holding for 30 seconds. This allows all those beautiful properties of this herb that we just talked about to enter into your blood stream faster.
Lavender salves can be used on the bottoms of feet or on chest to help promote sleep and reduce anxiety.
Lavender tea is a great way to relax the body after a long day or to be sipped on while sick.
Lavender is one of those herbs that can be found everywhere. Please do your research on the product you are using. You want your essential oils to be distilled in the purest form, especially if you are going to take it internally. Remember the FDA does not regulate essential oils, so what you buy from the store may not be lavender. The bottle can read “therapeutic grade, organic, 100% pure” as long as it contains at least 5% essential oil. The remaining 95% can be chemicals, carrier oil, or synthetic oil. So buy from a reputable company that provides third party testing.
Tinctures are available in our shop for purchase. It is one of more popular tinctures and for a good reason. There is not a night that we don’t take a dropperful to help us relax before bed. In fact I took two dropperful today when both the kids were driving me to the point of ripping all my eyelashes out! Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do right?!
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Let’s talk about Echinacea for a second shall we. So we all have most likely heard of this herb. We take it when we are about to get sick, yea yea. But what you probably don’t know is that this little herb is one of the most important herbs that can go into your natural medicine cabinet. It is packed with so many uses and you can grow it in your back yard. Let’s dive into it.
Echinacea, also known as, coneflower thrive in prairies and open areas. It loves moist soil and full sun. Echinacea has deep tap roots that store water for times of drought. It blooms during summer but stays attractive during fall and winter.
Immune booster: Echinacea can reduce the duration of the common cold by 60%. It boosts the immune system giving your body a fighting chance against colds and flus.
Helps fight cancer: The biological compounds of the plant give it this superpower that helps fight cancerous cells. I encourage you to do deeper research, but the Natural Institute of Health (NIH) put this herb to the test and it came back with tremendous results.
Pain reliever: This herb can be used to relieve pain from, headaches, toothaches, stomach aches, sore throats, herpes or sores and wounds. Just to name a few.
Anti inflammatory: Echinacea is a high anti inflammatory herb, it it suggested that individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis take it daily to help reduce inflammation. It can help with back pain, caused by inflammation, as well.
Mental health: Echinacea is highly regarded when it comes to mental health. It is one of the first herbs that was used to help treat symptoms of ADD/ADHD. It also helps reduce anxiety, depression and mental stress. It helps clear the mind of clutter.
While echinacea is an herb that you must always have on hand, high doses of echinacea can result in some side effects such as nausea and dizziness. The proper dosage of echinacea is around 20 milligrams a day.
How to use Echinacea
You can take echinacea daily by capsule, tea, or tinctures. The best form of any herb is a liquid form such as a tincture. A tincture allows the medicinal properties of the herb to enter your blood stream faster, allowing it work more efficiently.
I struggle with ADD and since using this herb on a daily basis, I have found that I become a little more clearer everyday. Sure, I still get so busy that I forget things, but there was one day where I thought to myself, man I can actual keep a thought. Since then I have been sold on this herb.
A higher power put these herbs on the earth for a reason. To help guide us and keep us healthy. Use them!
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Lets talk fish fertilizer for a bit. Fish fertilizer is an organic option to have when wanting to replenish your soil with much needed nutrients. Unlike chemical fertilizers, all natural fish fertilizers continually provide nutrients into the soil through different stages. Chemical fertilizers are quick release fertilizers which means, it will act quickly but will not be able to sustain past a certain point after use. Fish fertilizer is a slow release fertilizer. That means there are different stages to the release of nutrients or beneficial properties. Fish fertilizer need to be digested by bacteria, fungi and earthworms before they can provide the soil and the plant with much needed nutrients. This system not only gives the soil nutrients but as the bacteria, fungi and earthworms move through the soil to eat the fish fertilizer, they are also aerating the soil. This gives the plant room to grow and thrive. Fish fertilizer has a balance of burn free nitrogen as well as potassium and phosphorus and a slow release of calcium. This balance of nutrients is a sure way to provide your plant and soil with all necessities to grow and thrive time after time.
Let’s dive into how to make this stuff up and how to use it.
How you make it?
What you are going to do is take an empty 1 gallon container, fill it with water and add 2 tablespoons of the fish fertilizer to it.
How you use it?
Use every 3 weeks during growing season by watering your plants with this mixture.
And that is it my friends. Now go out and fertilize your plants the natural healthy way. Utilizing Kelp fertilizer the same way as you would fish fertilizer can add more beneficial properties to your soil and plants. Mix the kelp concentrate with water and water your plants. It’s that easy.
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Man, it’s been a while since we’ve done a medicinal herb series but hey, we are here now so let’s get down and dirty. Let’s talk about the ever so popular herb ROSEMARY. Everyone has heard of it. Everyone loves it. It grows by the bush along most side walks. It’s everywhere and it is one of the most important herbs out there. We use fresh rosemary in a lot of our dishes. It adds such a beautiful taste without compromising the whole dish. It was not until my husband got sick with a nasty flu that we found just how important this herb is. Let’s discuss why you want this herb in your life.
Rosemary also known as Rosemarinus Officinalis is a woody herb that has small needle like leaves. It grows small purple, pink or white flowers. It is part of the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region. While any form of rosemary is useful, fresh is by far the best way to utilize it’s fragrance and medicinal properties.
Rosemary is best grown in zones 8 or higher and will reach 3-5 feet in height. It will grow in zones 7 and lower but the plant will be just smaller in size. If you’re not sure what your growing zone is click here. Start seedlings in the spring and plant 2-3 inches apart. In hotter zones, you can chance planting it in the fall. Plant in full sun. However, ours is not in the sunniest part of our yard and it is just loving life, so pay attention to what makes your plant happy and move it around if necessary. As with any plant, mulch, mulch, mulch. By mulching with something like straw or wood chips, you are allowing the moisture to stay in the soil during summer when it is the hottest. In the winter when it is the coldest, mulch insulates the plants roots and keeps them warm. Can I say it again…..mulch, mulch, mulch.
Rosemary is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are what rids our bodies of free radicals. Free radicals are Molecules that have an odd number of electrons. So when they enter the body they begin stealing electrons from healthy molecules. Which in turn leaves that molecule with an odd number of electrons. And so the chain reaction begins and soon enough all sorts of bad stuff is accumulating in the body. Antioxidants are so important because they go into the body and essential give electrons to the free radicals. This stabilizes the free radical so that it does not attack good molecules in the body. The more antioxidants you put in your body the better. Free radicals are inevitable. They are in the air, the grass, your car. Give your body the right army. Increase antioxidants.
Rosemary helps strengthen memory. By utilizing rosemary aromatically, one can stimulate cognitive function. Resulting in enhanced memory and focus. There are some indications that rosemary is an alternative supplement to Alzheimer’s disease.
It is known to reduce upset stomachs. Rosemary is also an anti inflammatory which is a huge part of relieving gastrointestinal issues. It can help with bloating, gas, indigestion, cramping and so on.
Rosemary can help reduce pain. It has been widely known to help reduce migraines, headaches and menstrual cramping. You can also apply it topically to minor scrapes to relieve pain.
It can help detoxify the body. Rosemary has diuretic properties which help Flush out nasty toxins from the body mostly through urination. So increase that water intake as well.
Mood stabilizer. When inhaled, consumed or applied topically, rosemary has been known to increase mood, lessen stress and reduce symptoms of depression.
Helps reduce symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Rosemary has so many properties that can have a direct effect on lessening symptoms of ADD/ADHD. It can help reduce stress, increase focus and memory. It’s high antioxidant properties can help remove free radicals within the body that cause harm. It’s diuretic properties help flush out toxins. It’s anti inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation which can cause most symptoms to rise.
How to use rosemary
You can diffuse rosemary using essential oils.
Use rosemary oil in salves. By steeping rosemary dried or fresh in a carrier oil for 6 weeks. Then making a salve.
You can use it as a tincture. My favorite way to utilize any herbs medicinal properties. Also available for purchase in our shop.
Rosemary should be part of your medicinal herb cabinet hands down.
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All information provided are for educational purposes only. They are in no way to treat, diagnose or cure any diseases.
So, I am going to be honest here. I tend to kill plants. I don’t mean to, I really love them. But holy moly I’ve killed more than I’d really like to say. I am sure my husband is shaking his head right now as he reads this. Possibly even rubbing his face with exhaustion. But you love me hunny, remember that. Anyway, the odd thing is that I have been able to keep orchids alive. Which I hear are ones that can feel close to impossible to keep alive. For whatever reason I have been able to hang on to three little plants.
Well these three little ladies have been yelling at me to give them more space. So I did a little research and found some very interesting things.
Orchids do not grow in soil. They need ample space to grow so by using “medium” such as bark, moss and/or perlite, it gives the orchids exactly what they need to thrive. Enough coverage to stay protected but enough space and air to grow.
Orchids grow in the air. Their seeds are made to float in the air. However, they need a fungus called mycorrhiza in order to actually germinate. Once germinated they eventually land on trees and continue to grow. Their long roots will grab much needed nutrients from the tree they attached themselves to.
They do not need to be watered often. They do not like to be wet constantly. This is why soil is not needed for them to thrive. They need air flow and room.
With all this in mind, let repot ourselves some orchids, shall we.
First thing to do is water your plant the day before so that all the roots are rehydrated but not soggy.
Then you want to build your “medium” which is essentially what protects the orchids root system, like what soil does for plants. I used a mixture of moss and tree mulch. Fill a bucket with however much needed and fill with water. Let the mixture soak for 15-30 minutes.
While your mixture is soaking, take your orchid out of its pot carefully. My roots were so overgrown that it took some massaging to get them loose. Once you have your orchid free, cut all roots that are black, hollow, or over grown. You want to use clean scissors or cutting shears, you do not want to transfer any diseases to the plant.
After you trim all the roots, sprinkle some cinnamon over the roots you cut. Cinnamon is a anti fungal. It will prohibit fungus or bacteria to enter the plant through the root system. After I put a little of my medium mixture on the bottom of the new pot, I sprinkled a little cinnamon on that to.
Place your orchid as high as the rim of the pot and fill the pot with your mixture. You want your plant to be stable. So if you think your are done filling it, take your pot and gently move the plant back and forth. If your plant does not move, then you are good to go. If it moves then pack more mixture in your pot.
There is no need to water your plant after repotting because your mixture had been soaking already. The plant will pull moisture from the bark, moss or perlite that you used. Over the next two weeks you will need to water a little more then usual but after that return to your normal watering schedule.
I have to admit, the thought of repotting my orchids scared me. I didn’t want to mess with them and chance killing my little beauties. I was nervous of the process until I actually researched it. But I have to say, it was super easy and my plants, fingers crossed, seem very happy in their new little homes.
So, if you have some orchids that have roots saying good morning to you everyday, get them into a bigger home yo!
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Is it time for an update on the garden? I think so.
It amazes me how fast everything blooms. How fast it takes off and thrives. I caught a nasty flu this past weekend and was in bed. But what brought me peace was being able to look outside our sliding door into a world of pure beauty.
As the wind blew, the delicate leaves of the peach tree swayed back and forth. As the leaves danced I caught a glimpse of perfectly round peaches and my heart filled with happiness. Mmm peaches…..
Each time I got out of bed I saw something new. Like how incredibly happy the comfrey was.
Or how bright and full the beet leaves were….
As I stare closely I see more apples blooming then I could imagine.
And what just made my heart smile more than anything, was when I saw beautiful flowers blooming on my little honey crisp apple tree. This little trees life has been threatened more times than I’d like to count due to the lack of growth. But I just felt it in my bones,
Husband: “This tree has to go, it’s not doing anything.”
Me: “Give it time, please. It will grow.”
Husband: “You and this tree.”
Me: “I want honey crisps.”
Then BAM two years later, look at these perfect little flowers.
Carrots that we cannot wait to sink our teeth into.
A grapevine that is seriously loving life.
And how perfect is this hibiscus flower…….
I am just so thankful everyday that I get to be apart of all this.
What are you growing? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what fills your heart with happiness.
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You plant this awesome garden. This awesome garden starts to produce awesome things like, tomatoes, basil, strawberries, peaches. You see the beautiful flower blossom. Then you see the flower turn into the fruit you have always wanted. You get excited that you finally, after years of picking off the fruit so it can stabilize, finally get to taste the fruit of your labor. Then BAM, that beautiful round tomato got taken out by some damn pests. Or that beautiful basil of yours has little holes on every single leaf. I think that when you have a garden these inevitable challenges occur. Just like weeds, but we now know that we let the weeds live, right? If you are not nodding your head yes like you should be, please head on over to here. Back to the pests. If you are attempting to grow an organic garden, which I highly encourage you to, sometimes you are left scratching your head not knowing what to do. Let’s talk about a way that can possibly help. Two words, NEEM OIL.
Neem is an evergreen tree. Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruit and seeds. Neem oil contains Azadirachtin, which is a very effective chemical that is non-toxic. The oil coats the leaves and also acts as a fungicide. It prevents fungus from starting and also smothers soft bodied insects. This dandy little oil takes care of up to 200 insects in the garden. Now I need to stress one point here about neem oil. It has to be 100% pure. Many store bought brands contain other unnecessary chemicals that are going to do more harm than good. I suggest buying this brand, it has worked beautifully for us and my husband, (who is the garden guru of our family) gives it two thumbs up.
So that little bastard that keeps eating your perfectly sized tomatoes, GONE. Those tiny little bugs that you can’t even see eating your gorgeous basil leaves, GONE. That army that took down your beautiful looking zucchini that you were so excited about, GONE.
Are you pumped up now? Are you thinking, lets do this! Okay, Okay I hear ya. Lets talk about how to make this magical potion.
Mix all ingredients listed above in your spray bottle. It is that simple. Well let me explain a little.
You want to put your oil in first. Then add your water then add your dish soap. If you add your oil and dish soap together, when you add your water you’ll end up with a bubbly mess. Then slowly turn your bottle side to side to gently mix the solution.
You want to spray your plants early in the morning. You want to spray the top side of the leaves and the underside of the leaves as well. You also want to spray the soil around your plant. This is usually where those little bugs like to lay their eggs. So make sure you wipe them out before they even have a chance. Now you don’t want to drench the leaves or the soil, just enough to coat everything.
Spray plants as needed or once every two weeks for prevention.
This mixture is only good for about 24 hours then as time goes on it becomes weaker and weaker so make sure you go on a mission after making this stuff.
Happy pest killing!
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Mother Nature is an incredible mysterious being. She brings energy, life, questions, answers, beauty and everything in between to this world. She can be loud and intense. She can be peaceful and serene. She is everywhere and the more you accept and work with her, the more you feel connected and grounded. When you do right by her, she sends this energy toward you that allows you to feel, see and love. It is when you fight against her that you feel disconnected and confused. There is no rhyme or reason to her but if you allow yourself to be open and accepting, she shows you the answers you seek.
When gardening, or even just having a yard, there are so many factors that play into feeling “successful.” You want that perfect looking tomato with no blemishes. You want strawberries that don’t have any holes from bugs. You want the brightest most green grass on the block. Sometimes you go to any extent to have these things. Sometimes that involves using pesticides or other chemicals to achieve it. But what that can do is disrupt mother natures plan to keep everything in order.
Weeds in the garden feel like you’re going into war. You knock a couple out and feel like you have won. Then BAM, ten more follow in its place. But if you just stop for a second and allow Mother Nature to really speak to you, you will find that those weeds are there for a reason. Weeds are Mother Natures way of restoring balance to the earths soil. So we are here to say it loud and say it proud, “LET THE WEEDS LIVE YO!” Change that image in your head of that picture perfect garden. The garden with a white picket fence and perfect garden beds that stay neat and orderly. Having that image can really bum you out when reality hits. Weeds are here for a reason. To restore balance. To restore nutrients. To restore life. Each weed brings something different. Something that your soil is lacking.
I want you to stop and take a deep breath and look at the weeds that surround you. Are they all the same weed? Are they different? Is there the same weed in the same area? Do you see a pattern to the weeds? Do you notice that the same weed pops up at the same time of year? Do you notice that when you pull it this really long root comes up with it?
These are all questions that can lead into some really good reasons as to why your should let your weeds thrive. In permaculture, you allow nature to play its role and trust that she is providing exactly what is needed to create harmony and balance. Permaculture is the development of tiny little escosystems that allow the growth of sustainability and self sufficiency. Allowing the weeds to do what they were intended to do, creates this system that requires less and less work on your end in the long run.
Each weed brings something beneficial to your soil. Let’s take a few common weeds and discuss why you want to let them live.
Dandelions (taraxacum officinale)
Besides having multiple medicinal properties and being edible, dandelions show up in gardens that have hardened clay soil. They have large tap roots that draw up nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, Iron and calcium. Having a large root system also helps break up that hardened soil creating a much more desirable growing area.
Oxalis strict (aka sour grass)
I think we all have experienced this weed as kids. Did you not stick this little bad boy in your mouth and find out it’s sour? Come on, admit it. My grandma use to tell me they were sour because dogs peed on them!?! That’s grandma for you. This little weed is actually edible and packed with vitamin C. It is also a nitrogen fixer for your soil. It helps pull nitrogen out of the air and bring it down into the soil by storing it in its roots. So instead of killing it off, enjoy a refreshingly sour treat and allow the magic to take place in your soil.
White clover (trifolium Repens)
Those clover like pedals and those little white flowers actually bring so many benefits to your garden. The white flowers attract bees, which help pollinate. The plant can be used as a ground cover, which helps retain moisture in the ground. It can also be used a nitrogen fixer.
Plantain (plantago major)
This little bad boy pops up where you have compaction in your soil. It has a tap root that allows air and other nutrients to go deep into the soil. Plantain is also a highly use medicinal herb. It is a great antibacterial and anti inflammatory. It helps speed up the recover process of wounds and insect bites.
Shepherds purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
This little weed takes care of the bugs. It has a sappy substance that attracts and traps insects. So if you are having some trouble with little bugs in the garden and you happen to notice this little weed around, it might be helping. Shepherds purse is actually edible, in moderation, and helps with reducing internal bleeding. It was also used during childbirth due to its ability to contact the uterus. Do not eat while pregnant.
Mallow (Malta neglecta)
This lovely little weed is found in moist soil. It is edible and quite delicious in salads. Mallow has a single tap root, which helps draw up nutrients from down below in the soil. Nutrients that you forgot you even had!
So what have you learned? LET THE WEEDS LIVE YO! There is nothing wrong with having life in your garden, no matter what kind. So take a deep breath in and allow Mother Nature to share her wisdom with you. She was here first, we just have to learn how to work with her and life will be alright.
Share your weed story with me. No, not that kind of weed story, a garden weed story silly. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
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Everyday I find something new in the garden. Something that has bloomed or sprouted. Something that says life is here. Our garden is slightly on hold due to our new little ladies, the chickens. We are waiting for a fence to be broken down just to be rebuilt back up in a different area. We are waiting for a new space to speak to us. A new canvas to be loved. But we still have all this life popping up. Every time I am out there I see more and more bees. Spreading pollen and love as they go from flower to flower. I see the few seedlings we have, starting to poke their life leaves through the straw they are under. I say it every time, it is the most peaceful place on earth.
This is a succulent, can you believe it. It is just the most vibrant shade of red you have ever seen. I see this every time I stand at my kitchen sink and it makes my heart smile.
Those little delicate purple buds are about to bloom delicate little flowers that are going to turn into the most deliciously sweet Meyer lemons.
Chard that seriously just melts in your mouth. We have been making salads with these chard leaves, beet leaves and kale and man oh man…..
Our little strawberry patch that is just loving life right now.
Can’t wait until this gets a little bigger to add to our salads.
Kale……I mean come on.
Yellow yarrow blooming like crazy.
Remember this little guy…..
It’s actually becoming a peppermint plant.
And do you remember this little branch…..
It’s actually got peaches growing on it.
It’s a full on tree, people.
And that big ol’ bush to the right of our little apple tree, is our goji berry bush that is seriously taking over the world. It is popping up everywhere.
That bout does it for my little walk through the garden. I continues to amaze me how this whole thing works. I feel so blessed every day that I get to experience the beauty that surrounds me.
As we began our journey we constantly talked about how we had to get out of here. We talked about Australia, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and landed on Oregon. We felt like we couldn’t do what we truly wanted to do unless we were somewhere else, on a huge piece of land. But then I look around and see what we have created and we are in it. Right here right now and to see that, I feel is a blessing. Sometimes I find myself longing to get out of here still. Then as I am talking about a story or sharing what we do, I get a comment like you are able to do all that where you are, you must have land? That is when it hits me, we don’t have land but yes we are doing it. And it feels amazing. I remember reading my homesteading blogs in the beginning wishing we had more so that we can live that kind of life. I am sure those thoughts might have popped into your head as well. But you can be living in an apartment in the city and still create this kind of life. It is all about how you utilize what you have to make it happen.
I am very proud of how far we have come and where we plan on going. No matter how small or big your homestead is, remember to stop and take it all in.
I would love to hear your journey, leave a comment below or email me and share.
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Oh man, was today a delightfully pleasant day. A day where the kids just went with the flow and there was no bickering involved with anyone. A day where you just feel like you utilized and appreciated every second. I’m sure my Arborvitae essential oil and chamomile tincture didn’t hurt the situation either. Oh more to come on that, for sure. But for now let’s do a short post on drying lavender.
Oh lavender, how I love you so. I mean, who doesn’t love the sweet delicate smell of a beautiful lavender bush. I looked out into our back yard and all the flowers were just blooming all over the place. So, time to do a little cutting and make some magic out of these little beauties. Alrighty, grab your scissors and let’s roll.
The best time to cut any flower or herb is in the morning before the sun hits them. You want them to be perky and still full of life. You don’t want any that have died. Cut the dead ones off and throw in your compost.
On any plant there is what you call the node. It is the part where you have two leaves coming out to the sides and a stem in the middle. When cutting your flowers, you want to cut the stem in the middle of the node.
Once you have all the flowers that tickle your fancy, go ahead and bundle them at the stems. Take some twine and tie the bundle up. At the end of your twine you want to make a loop, where you can hang your bundle to dry.
Find a spot that you can hang your lavender for about 4 to 6 weeks. Once you are able to touch the flowers and hear a slight crunch to it, those bad boys are done.
After it is done drying, take a bowl and lay down a piece of cardboard or newspaper, something that can catch all the little flowers that come off on their own. Something I don’t do and regret every time. Now softly just twist at the flowers and they will fall right off. There it is, beautiful smelling home grown lavender.
You got all this lavender, now what in the world do you do with it? Go ahead and read on here.
And if propagating tickles your fancy and you want more lavender then you know what to do with, read here.
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Lets do a little DIY project shall we. Let’s take some old tree branches and make ourselves a roost. Heck yes! This is pretty simple and to the point. Chickens need to be lifted off the ground to help them feel safe. So giving them this option builds happy secure chickens from the beginning. But they are still being kept in a box because it is to cold for them to go out so, we felt like they needed a little something. That little something was a bad ass little roost for them that they absolutely love. Let’s get down to the niddy griddy.
Tools you will need:
Marker or pencil
Whatever in the world you want it to be.
We did a 2′ long roost that was 4″ off the ground. The concept is the same no matter what dimensions you plan on using, so have fun with it and don’t take it to seriously. It’s a chicken roost for goodness sake.
First measure out how long you want the roost to be. Using a saw cut to that length. Next measure how high you want the roost off the ground. Again, using a saw cut two the same size. You are also going to want to measure out the leg supports. We did 4″ leg supports, as well as, 4″ high.
Using a marker, mark where you would like your legs to be on the underside of the roost. Take your hand saw and score the bottom of the roost. If you are unfamiliar with what scoring is. That means you are going to run the saw through just enough to break through the surface.You might have to go over it a couple of times. You do not want to go all the way through. You are going to do the same with the leg supports. Then you’re going to take your fancy chisel and chisel out those areas you marked off. On both the bottom of the roost and leg supports.
Then you are going to want to apply some wood glue and attach the legs to the roost where you chiseled out, and glue the supports to the legs, where you chiseled out.
Once everything is dry, or not whatever, take a drill bit and make a small hole where you are going to drive a nail in on top where the legs are. Don’t drill all the way down, just enough to hold your nail in place. Drilling a hole just makes it easier for the nail to go in. Make sure the nail is flush with the top of the roost. Now, do the same on the underside of the leg supports.
BAM, I do believe you just made yourself a handsome looking roost. All while repurposing some branches you pruned off your trees. Double BAM.
Happy Roost Building!
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Let’s propagate some stuff up, man. Taking cuttings from plants to make more plants is super duper easy. Did I just say super duper? Yes, yes I did. When you have plants thriving all around you, all you want is more and more to grace your presence. So what do you do? Cut a piece off a plant and make some more. You can literally do this with any plant. Do what exactly? Well, let me show you.
First thing first, find the plant that you would like to propagate. Well, first things first, what does propagate mean? Propagate means to breed specimens of a plant from a parent plant using a natural method. So back to our first things first, pick a parent plant that you would like more of. Here we took passion fruit, goji berry, two different lavenders, Sage and pineapple sage.
Once you have an idea of what you would like to propagate. Get your trays ready. We took any shallow container that we had on hand and burned little holes in it using a wood burning tool. This way we made drainage holes. Next, fill those little bad boys with sand. Yup you heard me, sand. Damp the sand a bit that way it retains the holes you dig in it. We took a plastic spackle tool and made straight lines through the sand.
You want to make sure the plant you are taking cuttings from has matured and is stable. What you want to do is fine the new growth within the plant. When taking from the passion fruit the new growth was shooting directly out. The leaves were shiny. The leaves were a little smaller then the rest. You can tell right away what new growth was. However, with sage seeing the new growth was a tad bit harder to depict. I had to kind of pull the more mature leaves and stems back and look deeper. The leaves were a deeper green then the rest. The lavendar had a softer stem as opposed to a more hard barky stem. Every plant is going to be different, so make sure you spend some time with the plant and really be mindful of your cuttings.
When making your cut, you want to cut right below a node. A node is the area on a plant where the leaves grow. You want to cut a 45 degree angle right below that node.
Once you have gathered your cuttings, you are going to remove all leaves except for the very top two leaves. Or in the case of the passion fruit, the top little bunch. What this does is allows all the energy to now go to building the roots for this new little plant.
Dip this little beauty in some water and then dip it in some rooting hormone. And place in your holes. For cuttings like the passion fruit, we took wooden skewers and tied the cutting to the skewer. That way they were a little more stable.
Place a plastic bag over your cutting and keep a little eye on them. The plastic bag acts like a little green house for the cuttings. Place in a spot that gets some sun but stays mostly shady. Now just let those little bad rides do their thing.
How easy was that. And in a few weeks you have that many more plants to grace your garden or share with a friend. Get crazy and go for it homie.
I would love to hear about which plants you plan on propagating. Leave a comment below.
We got some fun stuff happening around weeds. WEEDS? Yup! So hit the follow button to receive an email when new post are available.
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It doesn’t ever seem like we have a winter where we live. We still have flowers blooming, peppers growing, life still in our garden. I took an extra second today to just walk around our yard and saw all this life. I get so busy doing stuff inside the house that I forget to stop and soak in outside. Well today I soaked it in and man, I love what surrounds me. We are hoping to share some exciting gardening posts soon. We are gearing up for baby chicks here over the next couple of weeks. That means reconfiguring our whole garden to make room. Which is super exciting and so overwhelming in the same breath. We have a fence to break down (oh and by we I mean my husband, don’t worry hunny I’m giving you total credit here) planters to move, seeds to buy, and chickens to love. We are planning on getting four hens, two Rhode Island Reds and two Barred Plymouth Rock. We have been waiting so long for this step in our journey, so stay tuned for all that fun stuff. Here I just wanted to share a few things happening in the garden right now. To share pure peace that surrounds us.
A peach tree with so many beautiful baby buds.
Goji berry bush thriving.
Yellow yarrow blooming delicate flowers already.
White yarrow seedling.
Peppermint peaking through.
Lavender that is just loving life.
Pineapple sage that has the most vibrant red flowers.
Beets that have the most perfect looking leaves.
Chard that looks like it will melt in your mouth.
Delicate little kale leaves.
Pineapple strawberries that lay untouched.
Beautiful succulent flowers.
There is peace that surrounds you. You just have to take the time to stop and soak it in. Everyday I look out of my windows and see the garden but today I stopped marveled. I marveled at the life and beauty that surrrounds my family. I felt the peace that it exudes. There is nothing better.
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What in the world does one do with a crap ton of bananas? Eat them silly! Now what in the world does one do with a crap ton of banana peels? Use them in your garden silly! Let’s talk about that delicious piece of fruit that contains oh so many uses. Now you’re probably wondering why in the world do they have so many bananas. I know that’s what you’re thinking. We are banana eaters people. We freeze them and our kids mow on them like they are going out of style. Who am I kidding we do to. Frozen bananas are our ice cream. When we want something sweet we bust one of those frozen bad boys out and indulge. They are perfect. So needless to say we tend to buy a crap ton of bananas. This last trip to the store I bought two 5 lb bunches and then my husband came home with two bunches of marked down bananas. Hello crap ton of bananas. This was perfect because we needed to refill our fertilizer bag anyway. Wait, I thought we were talking about bananas? Oh yea, so what you do with all those banana peels is dry them, grind them and spread them as fertilizer in your garden. Let’s dive in shall we.
Bananas contain high amounts of:
Potassium which helps with root development. It also helps regulate water flow through the steam and leaves building a stronger plant that becomes disease and pest resistant.
Magnesium which helps photosynthesis to take place, which actually feed the plant the nutrients it needs.
Calcium which is another helper with root development. Calcium helps build your soil by helping breakdown nitrogen. Egg shells are another great way to add calcium to your soil.
While bananas contain many other nutrients, these three help a great deal with soil and plant development. Adding them to your garden in various ways can help build a beautiful strong garden. Doing some research I have found a few ways that we have not yet tried but may give it a go this year.
One way is by making a banana peel compost tea. All you do is cut up the banana peel throw it in a pitcher or bucket, depending on how many peels you have, with water and let it sit for a week. After a week you strain out the peels throw them in the compost. When ready to use mix one cup of tea with one gallon of water. This could be used to get rid of aphids, just spray your plants generously. Or water the base of your plants to add some extra nutrients.
The main way my husband uses our banana peels is by drying them out, grinding them up and mixing it in with the soil as an added fertilizer. To do this method we are going to either bust out our dehydrator or just turn the oven to the lowest setting. We are going to use the oven here. Let’s get a rollin’ shall we.
First things first, get a peelin’. Peel like you’ve never peeled before. Peel your little heart out. Peel like you just don’t give a f….. I mean…..
Next line a baking sheet, or in my case sheets, with foil. Turn your oven to the lowest setting. Lay out your peels, try and not let then touch each other to much. If they overlap it will just take that much longer for them to dry.
Don’t forget to freeze your bananas for a tasty treat later.
Let those bad boys dry for a good 6-8 hours. A funny smell will travel through your house, just get over it and let it happen. When you touch them you want them to be hard. Not squishy. Once they are ready, let them cool.
Bust out your food processor or blender, which ever tickles your fancy. Break those suckers up a bit and place in your chosen grinder. Boom, grind like you’ve never ground before. Grind it up good yo.
That’s it homie. Store them in a plastic storage bag or container of your choice and use at will. I do believe that’s it. Enjoy!
Happy banana peelin!
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Wooo let’s talk about an interesting little plant called Comfrey, or if you want to get fancy, Symphytum Officinale. This plant is one of those medicinal plants that you just want to have on hand. Because when sh!t hits the fan, this little bad boys going to come in handy and you’re going to think to yourself, “I am so glad I subscribed to Oh Sure I Can blog and learned about this!” Alright maybe that’s a little over board but seriously, if you’re building your holistic medicine cabinet, this is the herb for you. Okay enough with the babble let’s get down and dirty with this bad boy.
Comfrey, it grows about 3-4 feet high. It has bristle like hairs on the leaves. It grows these beautiful little delicate purple, white, or pink flowers. The roots grow deep and strong making it a very hard plant to get rid of. The roots are covered in a bark revealing a white center when cut. It is a strong beautiful plant when watered daily and loved. Ahhh yes I went there!
Comfrey is a wonderful plant to have to add extra nitrogen back into soil. It can be used as a chop and drop, you chop the leaves back and drop as a mulch and it composts back into the soil. A Comfrey tea is always a win for your lovely garden. You chop some leaves put them in a bucket. Cover leaves with water and allow to steep for about 3-6 weeks. Bing bang boom, you got a delicious comfrey tea your plants will delightfully drink up. Just mix about 15 parts water to one part comfrey tea. This method makes more of a concentrate so it can go a long way. Water away and your plants will say, ahhh thank you.
The medicinal properties of Comfrey are really what we are after when building our holistic medicine cabinet. Comfrey contains allantoin, rosmarinic acid and tannis all which help the skin rapidly grow cells back. Making this a great herb to have on hand when you have a minor scrape, burn or wound. Comfrey has also been known to help heal broken bones and sprains. WHAT! It’s true. It has anti inflammatory properties to it as well. I mean what other plant out there do you know can help heal a broken bone?! Let’s just say that Comfrey benefits are extraordinary!
Now how do you use comfrey, this interesting plant. You can use it in a salve by creating an oil with the plant and mixing it with beeswax. (Psst..Here’s the recipe for a lavender comfrey salve!) You can make a poultice, by blending up fresh leaves and spreading it out on a cheese cloth. Learn how to make comfrey poultice here. Or you can just use it fresh leaves, rub it a little in your hand to break the walls and lay it over the sprain or wound.
We had a really hard time finding this little miracle plant. But keep looking for it at farmers markets or reputable seed companies and get it growing in your garden already. You won’t be sorry and maybe one day you’ll be like holy moly, I have this amazing comfrey plant that I could use to help my back pain go away. I’m tellin’ ya, comfrey is an amazing plant with so many uses.
We are making a poultice here people. If you don’t know about Comfrey yet I suggest you mozy on over here and read about it. It’s an amazing plant to have on hand. When growing medicinal herbs finding ways to actually use them can be tricky. You have tinctures, salves, poultices, ointments, oils, teas…. I mean seriously, the list is long. Which is a really an incredible thing because no matter what ailment you are after there is a natural way to help cure it. So today we are venturing into the poultice world. If you have been wondering how to make a comfrey poultice, you have come to the right place!
What is a Poultice?
A poultice is a soft mass of material, such as herbs, that can be applied topically to skin. What a poultice does is comes in direct contact with the area that is needing attention and allows the medicinal properties of the plant to enter the blood stream. Poultices are incredibly easy to make and great to have stocked up in the freezer to always have on hand. While poultice can be made with almost any herb, we are making a Comfrey Poultice. Comfrey is an anti inflammatory, helps heal burns, scrapes and wounds, helps heal sprains and more. Comfrey poultice can even be used for broken bones! So needless to say we want this bad boy ready to rock when we need. Alright, let’s do this.
Making A Comfrey Poultice Step by Step…It’s Simple!
First off, gather up some leaves. We are going to be chopping and blending so make sure you gather quite a bit. Now you want to give these leaves a little rinse. Don’t go crazy, just rinse them enough.
Next, roughly chop up leaves. Just enough to where they fit in your blender.
Jam some in your blender or food processor add a little warm water, not too much just enough and blend up until a thick paste appears.
Lay out some cheese cloth and slap a little in the middle. Fold it up and really that’s it.
We laid some out on some wax paper and popped them in our freezer. That way if needed we can use it as a cold compress or thaw it out and use it accordingly. How easy was that. For a video of how we make this bad boy, check out Harvesting A Green Life on YouTube.
The day starts with a beautiful little voice yelling “daaaaddy, moooommy I’m awake.” Half eyed and still in a sleep daze he gets right out of bed to greet the beautiful soul we created. As I lay there waiting to cuddle with the sweetest thing in the world, I give my thanks to the higher energy that grants me this incredible life. Wild hair and all she climbs into bed with us. “How did you sleep baby?” “Like a princess!” She slides right under the covers and melts her little body in her mama and daddy’s bed. A place that she feels the safest, where nothing else in the world matters, where time literally stops and this moment is cherished. A little while later the sounds of little man stirring in his crib sound on the monitor. That’s our cue to get this day going.
We are greeted with the second most beautiful soul we created. These big blue eyes look up at you with the greatest smile. His whole 20 lb, dense little pound cake like body sinks into me as I pick him up and say good morning. Nothing else in the world matters.
Breakfast time is always entertaining. One side of the table is a screaming little chipmunk demanding more food before he starves. The other side you have a curly hair babes that has not touched a thing on her plate but is yelling “I’m done daddy, frozen yogurt please.” My God these frozen yogurts, every second of everyday it’s, “frozen yogurt?” Now little mans getting hooked on them. I guess it could be worse right?!
Then we travel outside to our backyard, a world that is only for us. A world where you feel life and love and everything else that matters. A world where you forget that there is an actual world beyond our fence. He goes straight to planting our fall/winter garden. Full of lettuce, spinach, carrots and kale. I go to planting my pineapple sage that finally rooted. The sounds of laughter fills the air. The sound of a bouncer rattling. The sound of daddy explaining how to plant seeds to our curly haired babes. The sound of Mia cat meowing and rubbing her face on my knee as I bend down. The sound of feet running and yelling “hi boy!” His response, the sweetest deep laugh followed by the rattle of his bouncer. It’s warm out but the breeze is cool and filled with energy that brings a calm over all of us. An energy that allows us to soak in the moment.
A moment is taken to, you guessed, have some frozen yogurt. We sit as three on the cool asphalt. Mia cat shortly joins in. He is still planting our soon to be food. After frozen yogurt, little man naps. I start to get a planter ready for planting. I pull up the old planter and dig out the grass. I lay cardboard down to help block the weeds. I fill two buckets with soil so that my area is flat. I hear,
“Mama, what’s that?”
“Oh, can I touch it?”
“Oh sure! Ok. Mama can I throw it?”
“ In the planter only.”
“ Planter only? Ok”
We catch each other’s eyes and smile. We both know the thought that’s in our heads, that we can’t believe we made her. We fill the planter with soil, together her and I. We plant, lettuce, arugula and kale. We water our new little seedling and send it good juju.
We move on to plant some more seedlings. Chamomile, peppermint, calendula, and white yarrow will soon fill our garden.
“Mama, can I pick apple?”
“Oh sure! Ok. Mama help.”
“Here you go honey.”
“Mama, wash it?”
“Yup we have to wash it.”
The sound of a crunch fills the air. A smile of pure delight is immediately followed from her innocent face.
A yawn happens, nap time. Oh but wait, little man wakes up. Time to fill his belly. He and I then share some time together and go to the store. He stays behind with her and makes fire starters using a rocket stove that he built.
As we return, she wakes up from her nap. “How did you sleep hunny?” “I slept tight.” We eat some burritos outside. And feel the cool air coming in. We con her into coming inside. I make toothpaste and lunches. I get coffee ready for tomorrow morning. I prepare dinner. We sit down to a screaming chipmunk demanding more food and to a curly haired babes yelling “I’m done! Frozen yogurt please.”
We finally find our way to the couch for a few minutes of relaxation. We all cuddle and laugh. Yell and play. Little man goes to sleep. We “brush ‘em” say good night to daddy and finally we get to hear one another speak. We talk, we share the parts of the day the other missed. I rub his back and type with one hand. And then I sink in and write.
This was our Sunday. A beautiful, blissful day that I could not be more thankful for.
Let’s talk lavender for a second. Who here loves lavender, anyone? I mean come on, how could you not. Am I right. Think about it, it is this gorgeous plant with these beautiful delicate purple flowers. When you run your hand through the soft willowy strands of leaves, this aroma consumes you. It brings you to a state of purity and peacefulness. You inhale the deep, rich scent of calmness. It is no wonder that this plant is used for so many things. Let’s dive into lavender itself shall we.
Why should lavender be apart of your life:
Umm well because it is down right amazing, that’s why. Not only does is smell so delicious, it has medicinal properties to it, making it a must for your natural medicine cabinet. Lavender promotes calmness to the nervous system making it a great remedy to help ease anxiety and relieve stress. It is a mild antidepressant, antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial. It is used to help treat headaches, heal minor burns and scraps and relieve tension in the body. Lavender is one of those plants that can do more then you ever imagined. You can use it in your bath to whisk away the stress of the day to disinfecting a door knob in a strange place.
How to use this delightful plant in your daily life: Here are 7 suggestions
1. Make a tea.
Boil a cup of water in a sauce pan on the stove. Turn off your water and add 1-2 tablespoons of lavender flowers, cover and steep for 10-15 minutes. Add a touch of honey and maybe a squeeze of lemon. There really is nothing more relaxing then sitting in your favorite place in your home and sipping on this delightfully fragrant calming tea. As your hands grip the warmth of the cup and you slowly raise it to your lips, you are transported to this place of absolute peace.
2. Lavender infused vinegar.
Whaaaat!?!? You heard me, lavender infused vinegar. As if vinegar wasn’t already awesome enough. Like mentioned above, lavender is an antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic, making it a perfect addictive to help keep your home clean and safe. No chemically induced products needed here. What you do is, for every cup of white vinegar you use add ¼ cup of lavender flowers. If you don’t have enough in your garden. The best place I have found to buy them is through Mountain Rose Herbs. They are organic and pure. Once you mix the lavender and vinegar cover with a lid and allow to sit on your sunny window for about 2 weeks. Everyday shake it and love it. I say a little prayer as I shake it everyday. For me, that just puts the good juju in and I believe that makes it work even more. After 2 weeks strain out the flowers and don’t forget to compost those bad boys. Now you want to dilute the lavender vinegar with water, making it a 1:1 ratio. Now spray away my friends, clean and disinfect that house of yours.
3. Make an air freshener.
This one is easy peasy. If you grow your own lavender, just cut some sprigs and some flowers and hang them to dry. In 2-4 weeks they will be nice and dry and all you do is scrap off all the leaves and flowers. Put then in some cheese cloth, tie it up and stick it in a drawer, closet or area needing a little pick me up. The smell is divine.
4. Make some linen spray.
Here, you can make some lavender tea to add to the solution or you can use lavender essential oil. I would suggest using essential oil because the tea is a deep purple and could, not always but could, stain something. So if your feeling brave enough tea it up yo. Now you’ll want to mix 2 cups of distilled, I repeat distilled water, ¼ cup of vodka or rubbing alcohol and about 30-35 drops of lavender essential oil or half a cup of tea. Mix it up and bam you’ve got some lovely linen spray.
5. Diffuse it up yo.
We LOVE our diffuser. It runs almost every night with all sorts of yummy scents. Most of the time it’s lavender mixed with a handful of other oils. This is the best way to get those tiny scent molecules running though the air and making a positive impact on the whole family.
6. Make a tea for the bath.
You heard me, tea for the bath. When our kids are a little extra crazy, I make a pot full of double strength tea and pour it in their bath and let them just sit and relax in it. They come out just a tad bit more relaxed and it helps them sleep. Not to mention they smell heavenly.
7. Make a tincture.
Oh my goodness I love tinctures. They are the best way to get direct results. A tincture is medicine made by infusing a plant with alcohol. When making a tincture for children you can also use vegetable glycerine or apple cider vinegar. It just has a shorter shelf lifelong, about a year. Generally, you use vodka 80-100 proof, which gives it a shelf life of about 5 years. What you do here is pretty simple and non formulated, take a mason jar and fill it with lavender, however much your little heart desires. Now pour your vodka, apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine until it covers the lavender. The lavender will rise to the top and float in most cases. That’s ok as long as there is enough liquid. Cover with a lid and let it sit on your sunny window. Make sure to touch it everyday and give it a little shake with a little prayer. A tincture is used to help relieve an ailment so you want your prayer and good juju to be apart of that healing. Allow to sit for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks strain out flowers and put in a dropper bottle. Take a dropperful under the tongue when needed. When placing it under the tongue, it actually enters the blood stream faster, making it more effective.
This list can go on and on but we really need to stop somewhere right. So dive in and start exploring the world of lavender, it really is amazing.
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Let’s root some things shall we. We have a ton of lavender plants that have blossomed like you have never seen. So I thought I would share that love and start rooting these bad boys. Lavender is just such a beautiful plant to have in your garden. It smells divine and the flowers are these delicate purple blooms that just make your heart smile.
Lavender is a wonderful medicinal plant to have around. It can be made into a tea to help relax the mind and soul or to help smooth an upset stomach. It can be used to bring down the swelling of a burn or bug bite. It can help reduce headaches and toothaches. It is an anti-inflammatory, as well as, purifying. It can be made into a salve, poultice, tea, it can be dried for an air freshener. You can make a linen spray with it and feel like you are in heaven every time you walk into your room. Seriously people, this plant is absolutely amazing. The one thing about the medicinal properties of any plant is you have to believe in it. You have to see it as medicine. Once you do a whole new world opens up! Now, you are probably thinking, “yea, whatever hippie!” You can think what you will homie, but seriously, a whole new world opens up. Anyway, let’s root some stuff.
You want to look for a stem of the plant that doesn’t have a flower on it and seems some what younger. When you feel the stem it will feel a tad bit softer then the others. You don’t want one that feels……woody. Now you want to cut right below a node. If you look at the picture above, the very end you can see sprouts on both sides, that’s a node and you want to cut right below it.
Next, you want to cut off all the leaves. All the way until the very top.
Now, you want to actually cut the leaves in half. By doing this you release some of that energy that the plant is putting towards those leaves. This let’s the plant put energy into producing new roots.
Place your stems in water and place in a sunny spot. Rooting takes about a week or two. You will see tiny little strings coming out from the bottoms of the stem. It’s all very exciting! Once you see roots you can plant that bad boy in a pot and put back in your garden or you can share the love and pass it along to some one else to enjoy.
Listen yo, you have got to save your egg shells. Your soil and your plants will thank you. Just like your soil and plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium it also may need calcium. Egg shells can help greatly with that. Saving your egg shells really is not that hard or inconvenient to do. They don’t smell and it’s just a behavior you make into a habit like composting. When my husband asked me to start saving them I thought, really? Now, it’s just second nature and our garden thanks us. Let’s get to it, shell we. Haha get it, shell we like egg shell, haha, ok no seriously let’s do this.
You want to find a container to keep your egg shells stored in everyday until you have enough to make a decent bags worth. The container is going to be stored on your counter, so pick one that’s decent looking. I didn’t want to go buy anything so we used an old dog vitamin container and I just arts it up a little.
Now, what you want to do before you dump these little shells of gold in your container, is microwave the shells for one minute and thirty seconds. This will kill of any bacteria left on the shell. It will also kill the odor that could form. After your done microwaving them, toss them in your container until full.
Now comes the fun part. Drop a little at a time in a food processor or high powered blender. The only thing I have against the blender is that some of the shells will get pushed against the sides of the bottom of the blender and tends to burn up the blender. So I just stick to the food processor. You want to process or blend until the shells become really fine, almost powder like.
Pour into a bag and label and your done homie. How easy was that!
You can mix them into your compost.
Pour into the bottoms of the hole when planting.
You can even use it for a light mulch on top of plants.
The beauty in life is learning how to be self sufficient. We have grown a deep passion for not relying on anyone or anything to keep us going. We have not mastered this homesteading journey, but strive to test our limits everyday. I have these moments when something just clicks and I think to myself, “hellooooo, YES, I’ve got this!” Then I have moments when I think, “man, I’m so far from the goal we have set.” But homesteading is just that, it’s a journey of learning and feeling and loving. We started our journey into homesteading 5 years ago. It started with a panic of “the worlds coming to an end!” Don’t laugh, it will hit you one day and then you’ll think oh shit I got to prepare! After a small breakdown due to pure panic, we stopped, looked at each other and said, what are we doing? We took a deep breath and found the journey of learning how to become self sufficient. Ahhh much better.
We learned how to make our own shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, lotion, toothpaste, laundry soap, cleaning products and …… He learned how to make a rocket stove out of cans, yes that’s right, cans. We sat in our backyard and learned how to start a fire without a match. We would go a day without electricity and use lanterns for light. We learned how to make a lantern and the how using olive oil works just as good as kerosene. We started our first garden and our second….and third. I learned how to can my first jar of jam. Man, that was exciting, that moment when my first jar sealed with the delicate sound of a “ping.” I learned what it meant to eat meat respectfully. To know where your food comes from and how that animal was treated really does make a difference.
Then we grew out of the tiny two bedroom apartment with a yard the size of a garage. Just when we started to think, how can we do this on a bigger scale? This energy circled us and a door to owning house opened, with a huge yard and freedom to live. A yard now filled with a peach, nectarine, lemon, lime, pomegranate, two apple and a mulberry tree. Filled with more Lavender and sage then you could imagine. A passion fruit bush fighting with purple pole beans for the right to the archway that they share. Blueberry, goji berry, strawberry, zucchini, tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes. Filled with best damn edamame you have ever tasted. A grape bush that will soon fill our bellies with deliciousness.
When we stop to think about where we were and where we are, we are completely thankful and humbled. When you watch a seed grow into a full on artichoke, it does something to you. You connect with this energy that brings you peace and you see and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Yes, there are times when we fall off and get jaded. But something always pulls us back into that beauty.
This is our journey. It is beautiful, fulfilling and brings us peace. It is the world we created and wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is our life. It is filled with beauty. It is filled with hard work. It is filled with the deepest sense of connection to the earth we walk on. Our passion is to give more back to the land then when we found it. Our goal is to make everything we use go full circle, nothing should leave our homestead. Everything we use has a purpose. Our life is filled with a love for being self sufficient. A love to grow our own food, to preserve that food, to use the scraps for the compost and to put that compost back into next years garden. We live a life were there are no gender roles but where we have found our place. He is out there in 100 degree weather day in and day out, weeding, watering, pruning, spraying, digging, thinking and loving to put food on our table. I spend an entire day prepping, chopping, boiling, sanitizing, waiting, thinking and loving to ensure that very food makes it to our dinner table. We have found our place and it works beautifully.
As we walk through the archway engulfed in passion fruit and beautiful purple pole beans your mind escapes for a moment. It escapes to the purest place, a place of bliss, a place of peace. As your hand grazes along the incredibly satisfied cherry tomato bush, it finds the most plump brightest red fruit. As you bite into that beautiful piece of fruit, the sweetest flavor bursts through your mouth and you can’t believe you get to experience this moment over and over again.
As you pass the flourishing apple tree with the most delicate white and pink flowers you have ever seen, to the most fragrant Lavender bush in the world, your heart smiles. It smiles because you cannot believe you get to inhale the most relaxing fragrance in the world. You witness bees devouring the sweet nectar that exudes from the long purple flowers that stand tall and proud.
You see the birds stopping by to grab a quick snack. Next to the island of sage that fills the air with a spiritual aroma that you will never experience anywhere else in the world.
You pass by our sweet Mia cat sleeping on the compost. You feel her appreciation for it all as she lays there in total peace.
There is a proud little lemon tree that is filled with hard green baby lemons that will soon find their way to the water that we drink everyday.
You admire the once potted grape plant that only stood a foot tall, now apart of the earth, extending its being along the wooden fence. You can literally hear the plant say, “ahhhhhhhhh thank you” while smiling. It is seriously the most happy little peaceful plant and right here in this moment, your heart smiles.
You stand in the middle of this area filled with life, filled with love, filled with peace and you cannot believe you get to be apart of it. I thank my husband for this world he has created. But I don’t think he really knows what this garden means to me. We find ourselves in the middle of screaming kids as we try to finish a sentence. I feel like I can never really express the deepest gratitude I have for everyday he spends outside after working all day in the middle of summer, so that we have food on our table. So that we have this incredible world to be apart of. So that our son and daughter know what it is to find connection to the earth. To know where food comes from and how to sustain it all. Thank you my sweet husband. Every morning that I open our bedroom door to do my yoga, I am connected with this world you created. I feel the energy you put in to each of those plants. I feel the love and respect you gave to every seed he planted and that feeling transcends through my body as I take a deep breath in.
This is our life in a garden. Our way to give back to the land through utmost respect and gratitude.
We are going to get down and sticky with the inside of a tomato today. We are harvesting tomato seeds for next years garden. This process is a tad bit lengthy, a whole lot messy, and totally worth it. So grab a jar, gloves if your girly and all your tomatoes. Let’s do this.
First things first, wash those bad boys.
Next you want to cut them length wise so that you are cutting the core all the way down, not just in half. Take your spoon and spoon out the seeds and its gelatin into a jar. Now if your are preserving these tomatoes, which most likely you are, take a knife and cut the core out. You’ll save yourself some time.
Next slap a lid on that puppy and let sit for three days. Make sure you stir it everyday. Do not add any additional water. What’s happening here is that a fermentation process starts and the seeds that are viable sink to the bottom. Stirring it helps release the seeds from the gelatin.
After three days, you are going to add three time the amount of water. So let’s say you have a cup of tomato juice goodness, you are going to add three cups of water. You are going to change the water everyday until your seeds are clean.
After seeds are clean, strain them out and lay them on a drying screen or paper towel. If laying them on a drying screen, you want to spread them out using water. If you try to use your hands all the seeds will just stick to your hand. If using a paper towel, try as best as you can to lay them out as much as possible. Every day for the next three to five days run your hands through the seed, breaking them up from each other. Once seeds are completely dry, drop in an envelope label, date and wait for the fruit of your labor to flourish in your garden next year.
Who doesn’t suffer from anxiety. I mean, it is so unbelievably common these days. When you step back, if you can step back, and look around there are so many factors that heighten anxiety ALL. DAY. LONG. We live in a world of go go go and it never stops. We constantly feel like we have to keep up to survive. But in reality none of the things we dwell on matter. And yet we are so consumed with that feeling of tightness and tension that it becomes our reality. I suffer from anxiety. I allow my mind to become consumed with unrealistic expectations. I get caught up in seeing on social media all the greatness others are doing […]