Garden Update

It’s been almost 1 full month since everything was transplanted outside and we are finally getting some consistent sun. Everything that is growing is mostly green. Green veggies (kale, lettuce and spinach) are full enough to eat daily, the broccoli is almost ready, and everything else is just green leaves/branches with no veggies growing yet.

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Delicious Kale

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It seems like the corn grows a few inches everyday.

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Scrub-A-Dub Dub

If you know me, you know I am frugal. Some may say cheap but I just hate wasting money. I’d been wanting to make this detergent for a long time. A few friends of mine have used this recipe for a while now and swear by it. I had a few days off this past October where I was stuck in the house, so it was the perfect time to mix up a batch.
Laundry Detergent
Ingredients: You should be able to find all of these items at your grocery store
  • (1) 4 lb 12 oz box Borax found in the detergent aisle
  • (1) 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda found in the cooking aisle
  • (1)  box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz found in the detergent aisle
  • 3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, found in the detergent aisle (I used Zote bars instead and used 2 bars. I found my Zote at Kmart)
  • 2 small containers of Oxy Clean or store brand Oxy Clean (try to get about 3.5 lbs total, found in the detergent aisle. This is optional but I added it into mine because I have a pretty messy, farmer husband)

Start out by grating your Fels-Naptha/Zote soap just like cheese. You can use a food processor or a hand-held grater, whatever you have. For those of you with a HE washer, you may want to run the mix through the grater again to get an even finer mix. I cut the bar of soap with a knife into slivers the short way and then used the food processor. I don’t know if this is necessarily better than a hand grater, as I didn’t have one to try out. Once the soap is grated, toss all the ingredients in a 5-gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag and mix them together with a paint-stick-stirrer thing (free anywhere that sells paint).

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This recipe makes about 2 gallons of laundry detergent and is fairly mild smelling; it is not over powering. I added some lavender essential oils to this batch but it wasn’t very strong. I am going to try lemon essential oils for the next batch.  Once everything is mixed, store the soap however you like. I left the bulk in the 5-gallon bucket and stored it under my sink. I bought a smaller glass jar with a lid (from Home Goods for around $8) for daily use and a cheap plastic tablespoon from the dollar store. **I use 1 Tablespoon per load. I know that does not seem like enough but this recipe does not have fillers like the store-bought detergent so you only need 1-2 Tablespoons.**
  • This detergent is safe for HE washers. Just make sure to great your bar soap very fine.
  • The detergent should be added to the barrel instead of the dispenser.

From Garbage to Garden

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We have chosen to have a 100% organic garden without the use of fertilizers so composting is our natural alternative. Although it can take some time, it is one of the most nutrient rich ways to cultivate your garden. You can start to compost in the kitchen by saving common kitchen scraps. You are making healthy compost and reducing your waste at the same time. It’s a win win.

In the winter months, when there is no produce to harvest, we buy organic lettuce from the store. An organic spring mix (pic above) normally comes in a plastic bag inside of a plastic box. Once you take out the lettuce, this box becomes the perfect spot to store your kitchen compost scraps. I normally go through one box of lettuce a week during the colder months and stockpile the containers for when our current one gets gross. I keep this under the kitchen sink or on a shelf in the pantry until it is full and ready to be emptied (usually twice a week).

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Common kitchen scraps you can use for compost (cutting/crushing first will help them to breakdown faster):

  • All your vegetable and fruit waste, (including rinds and cores) even if they are gross and moldy. Corn cobs and husks. All leftover pulp from juicing.
  • Coffee grinds, tea bags and paper filters
  • Egg shells, crushed well
  • Most anything made with flour. Stale bread, cookies, crackers, pasta as long as they haven’t been mixed with meat, oils or dairy.

Things to leave out:

  • Meat, fish and bones
  • Dairy
  • Oils

Time to Find these seeds a home

Over the past week we have been moving our seeds started indoors, to the garden outside. Up until late April/early May, we were still getting frost overnight so we are hoping these fragile plants do ok.

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The soil we initially put in the boxes had settled well and turned a nice, rich black color.

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Greg uses small strips of wood to make a temporary layout. This ensures that each plant will have enough room to grow without taking over the one next to it.

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The process takes a while because each plant is still so young and delicate. Since they are still so tiny, using a shovel can damage the adjacent plants. In the picture above, Greg uses an alternative by digging the small holes with a teaspoon.

Homemade Compost Bins

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You can buy compost bins from your local home improvement store. They range in cost from $50-$300. Or you can build them and they’re completely free…woohoo! This is the first of many things Greg made from used palettes. Most commercial businesses will have a pile of these every week after receiving deliveries. They may keep a few, but the majority get thrown away. All we do is ask and most times they are happy that we are helping them get rid of their garbage.

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To make this bin he took three standard palettes and assembled them in a “U” shape using standard screws.  The slots that are already built in to the palettes are perfect for holding the rake you’ll need to turn your compost.

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The pic above shows two bins side by side.  We started with one and now we have four across. Greg will keep one bin empty to make it easier to rotate the compost from one bin to another. If you don’t have the space for that many bins, you can simply use one and rotate the soil within the bin.

We initially set these up in the far corner of the yard thinking that when the temperature rose we would smell anything that may be “composting”. It turns out the slots in the palette provide good enough air flow to allow the compost to properly decompose.

Realistic, organic living