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Archive for June, 2016

I have decided that I have outgrown this blog.  I will be switching over to the new one very soon.  The plan is to reveal the new one the first week of July. I can’t quite guarantee a date with my lack of consistent internet, but the plan is for the fourth.  This new setup I am working on should allow me to do far more than I can right now.  I can bring my blogging to the next level.  I hope that you will join me at the new site, and thank you for following me this far. 
A sneak peak at the first project at the new location:

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An outdoor kitchen equipped with rainwater collection and a rocket stove.  I will also be building a cobb solar oven, a play place for the kids, an outdoor shower,  and lots of other fun projects.   Hope to see you there.  
I’ll post the new web address soon.

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I just wanted to check in.  I’ve been busy with a big project lately, which is why I haven’t kept up posting.  I’ll be sharing in another week or so….

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I had always been interested in carving gourds. You can make beautiful works of art including gorgeous jewelry and birdhouses. This is just the beginning. The man recently brought home a book for me on gourd carving and now he wants to do it to. The only problem with this is that I now have to plant a million gourds in hope that we have enough for both of us.

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I have a long hugel bed that I have not even come close to being finished preparing. Eventually, this bed will be home to rows and rows of all sorts of herbs and vegetables, but right now, it is home to all kinds of critters. I think I can make it work, I don’t really have a better option.

My plan is to plant the gourds all along the base of the mound after laying a thick pile of leaves there to help mulch the gourds. As I have the chance throughout the rest of the spring and summer, I will continue to add leaves to the back half of the mound so as not to squish my gourds. As the leaves settle, they will rot and finish off my hugel for later use. I hope that the leaves will deter the critters before they get to eating my gourds. I don’t really have any idea what will happen. I figure it’s worth a shot.

Check out these links for some gourd sculpting ideas:

Gourd Art

Gourd Carving Gallery

Next planting project we will be working on is seed bombs.

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We all know that if you want a beautiful crop of root vegetables, that the soil has to be in perfect condition for the roots to grow. This means double digging, spending money on moss and compost, and otherwise using too many resources for the crops. This is why I never have carrots in my garden. We do not have a good relationship. The one year I had good luck with carrots was the one year I spent hours and hours preparing the beds and spent money to buy dirt that was soft enough for the carrots. I have no interest in spending hours of my non existent time on preparing a bed this year and I surely can’t afford much. I spent a little bit of time looking on the internet and found what seems to be a good solution.

First, I made the outline of a raised bed with rocks I found laying around. Then I went around picking up rotting logs and sticks and I haphazardly piled them in the raised bed. I buried the logs and sticks loosely with leaves. The tractor scooped up some topsoil and dumped it in the raised bed. With the logs, sticks, and leaves being piled up loosely, the heavier rocks and clay should have room to fall down into the spaces left. The light, fluffy soil would be more likely to stay on top. This is not an exact science and won’t be perfect, but I am going to try it and see what happens. Worst case would be the root crops failing and then having a bed full of rich soil next year. Once there is plenty of top soil built up on the bed, I grabbed the rake and try to get the leaves mixed in to the soil. This encourages the heavier bits to drop and the leaves will compost to make the soil more rich. If you don’t mix leaves up, they stick together as they rot and form a layer that the root crops may not be able to grow through. I’ll put a couple tomato or pepper plants in the bed so that there is no monoculture and to shade the root crops that like it cooler.

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When it came time to plant, I pretty much just scattered the seeds around the bed. The soil was fluffy enough that the seeds dropped nicely in to place. I scattered beets, carrots, turnip and then some marigolds for beneficial bugs. Along the front I planted onions and parsnips along the back. The onions seeds came from this years seed swap!

Here is a link on making amendments to the soil and another one all about carrots.

Here is my recent post on growing potatoes.

Next planting project: planting gourds for crafting!

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Mosquitoes are the first thing to ruin a nice, peaceful evening of relaxing and watching the sun set. Sure, there are other annoying bugs, but the mosquitos are, in my opinion, the very worst of all. Buzzing in your ears then dodging your strike and sucking your blood covering you in itchy red bumps from head to toe. There are plenty of bug repellents that you can spray or rub all over you if you want to be covered in greasy, chemically, smelly oils that help keep them away. There are also plenty of gadgets you can hang around you patio to catch the mosquitoes and candles you can light. I am trying something different that doesn’t involve constantly spending money on commercial products that still leave me annoyed and running for the house.

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I plan to grow herbs all over the place, each with their own benefits. There are plenty of these herbs that are deterrents to mosquitos and other pests in addition to the other benefits they provide. Why not plant the pest deterrents in areas where we will be spending time? Maybe if I plant enough of these plants around the outside cook and play areas, I won’t have to spend so much time and money spraying bug spray.

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My list of mosquito repellent plants that I bought from the herb farm:

Spearmint

Peppermint

Bee Balm

Basil

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Thyme

Lavender

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Lemon Balm

Catmint

This is a short list of plants that are easy for me to grow. I bet you can come up with use for most of these herbs without even thinking about it. These herbs will be spread around the property in various places. I will make tire planters near the kids play area and plant the lemon balm and spearmint. These plants hopefully will handle the beating the kids may give them when I’m not looking. Peppermint and thyme will go in tire planters near the outdoor kitchen, where I can pick them often. The basil and rosemary will also go with the kitchen garden, among the tomatoes. The lavender, bee balm, and catmint will go in the butterfly garden.

Click these links for some more information on mosquito and pest repelling plants.

Homestead Survival

Pioneer Settler

 

My next project for the kids will be putting up swings, just next to this path.

streamwalk

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Knotweed Jam

We have decided to start delving into some wild foraging.  If you know what you are looking for, places like where I live surround you with free food.  We don’t know all of the foods around us yet, but one that is particularly easy to find is Japanese Knotweed.  There aren’t a huge amount of recipes that are easy to find, but there are some for sure.  The recipe I decided to try was Knotweed Fruit Preserves, since I am also working on putting food up for the winter.

If you don’t know what Japanese Knotweed is, check out the post I did last year.  The plant is actually an invasive species that we see growing all over the side of the road.  Apparently no one knows that it is edible because the knotweed groves are huge.  Next year, I will get a better start and I should be able to make massive amounts of preserves.

The recipe is very simple.  First you harvest the stalks of knotweed before they start to branch and they become fibrous.  There is about a two week span when the stalks are perfect.  Remove the leaves and chop the stalks up into small pieces.  I added enough honey to the pieces just to coat them.

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After the pieces sit in the honey for about 20 minutes to pull out the liquids, cook them up until they are soft.  At this point, the sauce is amazing with biscuits and whip cream or vanilla ice cream.  I can’t decide if it tastes like asparagus or rhubarb.  I think it depends on how you prepare it.  Good either way.

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Finally, I added pectin according to the recipe on the jar and processed in the hot water bath for 10 minutes.

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Here are some links to recipes:

Eat the Weeds

Eat the Invaders

Foraged Foodie

 

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