Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Adventures in Container Gardening, ugh gardening!!!!! Time to plan for fall :)

So my beautiful organic garden was off to such a great start this year my strawberries had started to mature, my tomatoes were growing, and my lettuce was doing great, my flowers looked awesome!. Then the heatwave hit and my poor garden has been getting its butt kicked. My first problem is that we do not have a hose so we have to cart water out of the house to do all of our watering (for next year I am working on a rain collection system that I can use to irrigate).  Our second problem is that I did not anticipate the early heat that killed my lettuce and tomatoes I could've moved my tomatoes inside oh well lesson learned. So with all that said on to the good news my herbs are doing great and the tomatoes that did grow were awesome as well as the lettuce that we grew was great. Now I am working on planning my fall garden I am doing some container gardening but mostly planting in the back yard. This time I have plotted out my plan on graphing paper and thought more deeply about adding more compost and natural fertilizer to the soil whether it's through the use of fertilizer tea or my favorite low cost way watered down urine (1 part urine to 20 parts water works well for us) .  To assist in my planning my favorite resource is the from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture website in their publications page they have a produce availability and planting guide it breaks down each zone in the state and which plants should be planted when.  So that's where we are my kids are still having a blast they love eating everything we have grown and I am certainly NOT giving up.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Clean smarter, not harder, live longer

            To me it is only logical that if you are cleaning up the way you eat and getting healthier that you should also strive to limit the amount of chemicals you come into contact with each day. The best place to start is your house. Go through your house and look in every room and see how many chemicals you have in your house, seriously from the toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, air freshener, disinfectant spray, bleach, dusting spray, the list goes on.   
            My journey to using chemical free cleaners was not based on the environmental concerns I hold now.  I was only concerned in finding cleaners that would work without making my kids and I wheeze and giving me headache. I was at a homeschooling picnic when another mother introduced me to a mail order company that sold all natural cleaning products that she said had worked wonders in her house and stopped her family from getting sick after cleaning. This gave me pause I hadn't really thought about it before but every time I cleaned I got a headache if I did alot of cleaning all my kids needed breathing treatments, maybe she was on to something. So I started using those products and they worked great. She was right the headaches didn't occur after cleaning and no wheezing. My daughter's with eczema were even able to do dishes. As time went I found that I could use other products that were less costly and that I could simply make my own cleaners. So here are my favorite alternative money saving eco-friendly cleaners-
1) Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile Soap- this soap has soooooo many uses it doesn't even make sense but you can use it as a bodywash, shampoo, and in keeping with the purpose of this post you can use it to clean cabinets, counters, floors, walls, tables, toilets, tubs, just about anything even dishes (although IMHO Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds formula is a better dish liquid but it does contain sodium lauryl sulfate which is why it is so good at cutting grease). You can use it diluted half soap half water and it will still work effectively. You can make your own homemade soft scrub with water, baking soda, and Dr. B's and all purpose cleaning spray, as well as just adding a bit to a bowl or bucket of water and using it to do your cleaning of cabinets and whatever else.
           Castile Soap scrub recipe 
            1/4 cup soap
            1/8 cup water
            1/8-1/4 cup baking soda add until desired consistency
          All Purpose Spray
          32 oz bottle
           2oz Dr. B's
           30 oz water
           if you want you can add either a tsp of vinegar or baking soda to increase cleaning power
2) Vinegar- plain old white distilled vinegar is your friend! Not only can you make glass cleaner out of it but you can use it as a natural disinfectant. Yes some things may smell like pickles but at least it won't make you choke or sick like bleach.  Vinegar and water works good on sealed wood floors too. I use it in my laundry in place of fabric softener (I know its a bit much for some of you but if your chemical sensitive ya'll like it) it help get all the soap out of your clothes leaving them soft. I have a front load machine so I add a few drops of essential oil to the tray holding the vinegar if I want a scent (no I don't smell like pickles!)
           Window Cleaner
            32 oz spray bottle
            4-6 oz vineger
            fill with water
            *if you want a fragrance add 10-15 drops of lemon or orange essential oil*

3) If you are feeling truly advanturous you can make your own laundry soap I do! I started not only to save money but because y children have sensitive skin and eczema. Finding a good affordable fragrance free detergent was next to imposible. I started by using this woman's recipe  which now I have modified to my liking and to make it more concentrated. I use Kirk's Coco Castile Soap to make mine and it works great. We have been using it for over a year and love it!!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Adventures in container gardening part 4

So its basically spring time in Mississippi so it is time to start planting and that is exactly what we did. We planted our lettuce in litterbox pans, some carrots in a box I got from work, strawberries in a topsy turvy planter, started some seeds in a seed starter greenhouse, and potted mint and other herbs. Today maybe I will get my raised bed made with the help of my new drill (girl +power tools=awesome) so I can plant my broccoli, onions, more carrots, more lettuce, . I am looking forward to planting my potatoes in the tires at the beginning of the month. :-)