December 30, 2013

2013 Garden Journal: the last entry of the year - self watering grow box

A garden journal entry in the middle of winter? Yes, of course... you see I just can not help my self. I love to garden, and I love fresh veggies and fruits. And I really don't like spending extra money at the local super market for salad greens...  so winter can sometimes be a real challenge for me. But not this year - because I have hope!

Meet my self watering grow box: it's not pretty, but its functional.

Actually I have two of them, and because we had the totes already the only purchase I had to make for the container itself was about four bucks worth of supplies. Everything else was lying around the house free for my taking. The filler would have been from my compost pile and worm bin, however I was a little slow on the up take and my weather turned to frozen rather quick. Therefore I did have to purchase organic soil as well, but really it was not that much.

I also made a light hut for the top to insure that the seedlings would have enough warmth and light to grow, this idea was inspired by the son of a dear friend, whom gave me a string bean about two weeks ago from his light hut... that green bean created my desire for a self watering heat hut for salad greens. Not to far from the kitchen table.

The above photo shows the original light I had used for my new endeavor... but trust me when I say DO NOT use this style of light. Instead use a 14 watt spiral light just like the young man said... because duck tape melts and your seedlings will fry. Trust me on this. It could have been pretty bad if I did not already have a healthy fear of electricity.

What you can't see real well in the photo, is the hard plastic socket protector made from a yogurt container, this help's the socket to stay put. You can see it a little in the top corner photo. And I am sorry I do not have plans or how to's as this was thrown together from memory and an online search for self containing grow containers. I am such a visual person so I winged it...

{Later I found out his idea came from his Botany home school curriculum ~ I love Apologia!}

Before planting my indoor garden I harvested my worm castings to add to my organic soil...

That was fun. Kinda gross. But fun.

 I just kept telling myself what lovely salad greens we will have in about a month.

Which will be when I hope to share my update on this, and start a new garden journal. Until then happy growing from my little corner of the urban agrarian lifestyle.

~ Blessings!

Shared with the: Homestead Barn Hop 

December 12, 2013

{Family Herbalist} my wellness philosophy revisited

I created my first wellness philosophy almost a year ago to the day. And now that I have spent a year in this healthier direction and have formally begun my Family Herbalist class, I have a chance to re-read and review what I had formulated a year ago.

Below you can find my updated version for project one, end of unit one:
A philosophy for wellness, for myself and for my family, primarily involves the Word of God. Using the entire bible to learn and grow towards better, biblical health. We believe that our Creator has given us words to live by, that help us to have a better understanding of things such as sustainable agriculture and natural medicine.

I also believe that with the practical application of biblical health laws, we were given ways to combat many microbial concerns that may lead to sickness. Such as the principle to wash ones self after an unclean act, thus giving some solid support for the germ theory in regards to the passing on of illness via the physical exchange of pathogens.
The terrain theory is also effected by biblical law, because when we eat those things that are not considered clean food items, we effect our terrains in a negative manner. This can also apply to the ingestion of genetically modified organisms, which taken literally, should not be considered as good food choices for us and once again we are finding that the Scriptures validate our science.
As a family, we also believe it is important to carefully consider the negative effects of various emotions and the role they have on our health. Issues such as anger, fear and bitterness, have been known to physically manifest themselves as an illness within our bodies. Again, our Creator addresses this concern in His Word and we see that He has not left us without knowledge.
But I also think it is important to mention that while I believe we need to be responsible, and accountable for our health as much as possible. We must not forget that the fall of man has truly effected our wellness, for by this sin and death enter the world.

I think it's pretty much the same point, just a little more concise. Anyway ~ I am very thankful to have the opportunity to take this course and my hope is to make the most of it for my family's sake.
~ Blessings!
Next Unit:  Macronutrients
*Please note that my posts are editorial in nature and are not meant to treat or diagnose any illness. Please practice personal health safety. I am currently enrolled in the course from Vintage Remedies called Family Herbalist by Jessie Hawkins, so please feel free to head over there if you are interested. ~ Blessings!

November 21, 2013

2013 Garden Journal: frost is free

It's been over a month {already} since I have posted anything new regarding our gardening adventures here in this semi-city agrarian wanna be life. So here it is!

Inside: everything is harvested and in the basement for our winter use. Currently, we are organizing our food storage and preparing for our final winter supply purchases. This year I can say we were definitely blessed with tomatoes and onions, however much of our green leaf crop is very much missed this fall. I was not as diligent as I use to be on making sure I had planted a fall crop, but I think that was mainly due to our desire to clear out the yard, remove the beds and prep for letting the ground rest.

Outside: our herbs and other plants are being effected by the frost, it's a free service you know, this gift of frost... it helps prepare our garden beds for a long winters nap. Although some of our most hardy herbs are hanging on and doing quite well.

And some I have brought in doors...

So What's New: momma is back in school again! Another heart desire come true, this is the winter I will begin my Family Herbalist course, with a hope to one day complete the Master Herbalist course too. But first I will be faithful in this and then when the time is right, Abba will open the door for the next step. I am so excited! Oh and we chose to sign back up for our cow share program, because some budget cuts just are not worth it... and this was one of them.

Family Resource: sharing this amazing and yet, challenging website... Beyond off Grid. I really could spend hours here, but that would not be a wise use of my time. So I pace myself. Although I am greatly encouraged by this site and much of what they share here.

He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, 
But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.
{Proverbs 12:11}

~ Until next time - Shalom & Blessings!

October 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Challenge: being a woman

"why are you thankful for being a woman?"

I am thankful to be a woman, because that means I have learned to be content in the form in which YHVH created me. This is not always easy in this modern feminized world. But thankfully, I have been able to shed most of the assumptions and opinions in how I perceive the world around me due to the workings of the Ruach (Holy Spirit) in my life.

This place in which I am today, has blessed me and tried me in much, but it has also given me a place to root my life and that is in the truth of the Written Word of God. He is real and He has taken me, redeemed me, given me a new life and He has restored much, both physically and spiritually.

I now love being a woman. I love knowing Him and trusting that His plan for women is not at all how it is portrayed before our eyes today. I love being content. I love being my husband's wife. I love being my children's mother and I love being a maidservant to the Almighty. 

This makes us royalty you know...

~ Blessings!

Shared with: Shining Stars - Thanksgiving Challenge: being a woman - week 4

October 2, 2013

2013 Garden Journal: fall is here

It's true for our neck of the woods anyway, just this last week we have had our first killing frost, snow on the mountain and sunshine days with temps up in the eighty's. Yep it's fall here. Time to bring in what needs to be brought in and clean up what needs cleaned up...

Inside: thankfully we are still canning tomatoes. This year we were able to can 26 quarts of tomatoes from our garden. This was our best year ever! Of course we ate and are still eating fresh ones too. I am so thankful and blessed by Abba's provisions.

I also picked and dried some more Jacob's cattle beans, and the onions are drying nicely in the basement. I believe we will have plenty to last through the winter. The rest of our shelves are filling up slowly, which will be a huge blessing as we 'plan' to pretty much eat solely out of our food storage through the winter months.

We chose to cancel our cow-share this month, and that was sad day indeed, but our family has a purpose and a plan and the money we will save from this sacrifice will be worth it in the long run. However this also means we are now on nut milks, except for the weekly times I make kefir, but using only nut milk has created a minor learning curve in my baking.

Challenges are meant to grow us a little...

Outside: again is in conflict with the work inside, but I think that happens every year for every gardener. We have removed every garden bed, yes - you read me correctly, every garden bed is gone because next year we will not be planting a garden.

It's been a hard month, emotionally and spiritually, but it also has been a good month for us...

I had wanted to share my opinion on using wood chips in our garden, as in the popular Back to Eden method, but I don't think I will have the time to write out my experience in detail. Although I will say, I do believe it depends on the crop grown, because my beans hated the experience but all of my salad greens loved it. And our potatoes loved it too!

So honestly, if it were given enough time, I do believe that using the wood chip method has wonderful potential and it's something I would keep trying for some crops. But straw bale gardening, through my experience, still remains my favorite. The amount of yield, soil life, and plant heath seemed to out shine anything that I had grown in my first year of using wood chips. This is the method I use with my tomatoes and I have never been disappointed.

With that, I will add that gardening is such a personal thing, and I think one really has to get into it to find what works for you and your family. I say trial and learn...

I was also suppose to share more about my sweet potato adventure, but again, I am lacking details... although I did receive a minor crop of small potatoes this year. I did not take pictures of the harvesting. Sorry. But my conclusion is this: one can grow sweet potatoes in a zone 4/5 if your extend your season using covers and mulch, and you give your taters some time.

This was such a great learning experience for our entire family!

And about those squash... they took over the place, and produced like mad! Wow! They love straw bale gardening too. And do not plant your sweet potatoes too close to the squash plants, it makes for and interesting jungle to crawl through. Lesson learned. :)

This (above) was the last photo I had taken of the garden just before our fall trip... as you can see it was quite full. I wanted to include here it for my own reflection, to see what had been before we removed everything... it's amazing what a vision will do.

So What's New? - besides the above, nothing really except our many trips to the landfill because we are down sizing, cleaning out the garage and removing yard waste.

Family Resource: okay, since Genesis was the beginning, and it shares with us the historical account of our Creation and the fall of man, the Garden of Eden and much more... you should check this out. It's a new film called Genesis Movie 3D and I would spend the time and money to go to the theater for this one!

~ Blessings & Shalom!

August 27, 2013

2013 Garden Journal: before we leave

Inside: we are canning, cleaning, packing and organizing in preparation of our fall trip to Michigan. We are looking forward to this trip for so many reasons, one of which is our daughters high school {homeschool} open house and family get together. The other is an opportunity to visit our family and friends, friends whom we have not seen since April... and family... we have not seen them in years. We will be able to spend Yom Teruah with them as well which makes the trip extra special.

Outside: there has been much work done outside too as we are still cleaning up our back yard, removing raised beds and prepping for the reseeding in the fall, and then there is the harvesting and although we have spotted quite a few leaves that have already turned in color, a glimpse of what is just around the corner, we are still having temps in the high nineties and that requires diligent watering.

Harvesting: this month we have been harvesting tomatoes, ok there has been some other things too, but this is what has been the favorite for this month. There is nothing like an organic, homegrown heirloom tomato and this year it's the “Black Krim”. Oh how I love the Krim...

What's New: one of the new crops for our family this year has been the Floriani Red Flint Corn, originally from Italy, and whose corn meal produces a red tint. Which I thought would be absolutely beautiful and a neat crop for a trial run... looking forward to harvesting those.

Winter Squash & Bee's - more on this next month

Family Resource: Check out From Scratch by Shaye Elliot, this is a new resource in our kitchen. I'm working on recipe trials as we speak. And I just love her photography too!

 The wicked man does deceptive work,
But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
Proverbs 11:18

~ This is about all I have for this month with everything else that has been happening, hope you are enjoying the last remnants of summer and many blessings!

P.S. Our sweet potatoes are in bloom! I discovered them one evening and about fell out of my watering shoes... honestly I didn't think they would make it this far... so I am just tickled that they have bloomed. 

August 7, 2013

2013 Garden Journal: july is long gone!

Inside: the air conditioner has been running through the nights so that each member of our family can sleep, but most importantly my beloved husband, who is often up at five in morning and truly needs restful sleep. We have also begun canning the fruits of this years garden.... green beans and carrots specifically.

Outside: weeding, watering and harvesting... and tearing down the growing beds and preparing the yard for reseeding come fall.

Harvesting: this month we have been harvesting string beans, those are purple podded pole beans above, lettuce, chard, beets, kale, onions, various herbs, tomatoes and carrots.

What's New: Miss has taken up bug collecting... well it's butterflies and moths right now, and we are planning and preparing for our fall trip to Michigan, and creating a fall knitting project list. I am suppose to be sewing, but honestly I have about as much time for sewing as I do for blogging, and neither is happening very often at this season in my life.

Family Resource: two things to share with you all before I run out the door to get tomatoes for homemade tomato soup and bread sticks... first the "Character Sketches" from IBLP. These are a wonderful family investment for all ages, and I would encourage you to check them out. Second, though not in home library just yet, but I would love to have it is "The Battle over Birth Control Set" from Vision Forum! I just watched the trailer and I am so thankful for the consistent fighters for truth in this day...

~ Blessings!

June 30, 2013

2013 Garden Journal: end of june update

It's the end of June already and in about two months we are expecting to make another fifteen hundred mile road trip back east, by then our first frost would not be too far off... the days seem to go by so fast now and this is time when I wonder if the garden is even growing.

Thank goodness for pictures!

Let's take a closer look...

The volunteer dill is in bloom and the sugar peas are almost ready for the picking...

Then we have the onions... those onions have survived moderate snow, heavy frost and two hail storms... Providence. Providence I say...

Below we have experimental beans... these plants are a result of my seed saving attempt from almost three years ago. This year I thought to plant some of them to see what would happen... again the hand of Providence, every seed sprouted.

The bed in which they are in is another experiment... wood shavings and dirt. {yes, I just used the very technical word for soil, dirt} I hope to post my thoughts on this method verses the straw bale method at the end of growing season.

Above we have the carrot bed, which is doing excellent... thanks to my daughter's very diligent hand at spacing.

The sweet potatoes have some new growth on them, encouraging, but to honest I will be surprised if they produce anything... we have too short a season, seriously wacky weather and well, I have never grown a sweet potato and I am feeling rather intimidated. 

Here is our first ripe tomato of the season, courtesy of one "Manni the Manitoba Mater"...


Which I did not start, this determinate tomato was a blessing from our past class on tomatoes, in the very early days of this years growing season. However, if your looking for a short season mater, this guy is tough... again two hail storms and he is loaded with tomatoes.

Red Romaine

Oak Leaf

Currently we are harvesting lettuce, Oak Leaf and Red Romaine, and our 'first of season' Black Seeded Simpson is done. Various herbs, Kale and Swiss Chard are filling our fridge as well...

So that is what is happening on the Outside, what about the Inside... actually I am planning my canning and preserving list, preparing for some food dehydration and creating herbal infused oils for my winter wellness supply.

This years pest challenge has been flea beetles... they rate right up there with slugs in my book, and there seems to be a million of them! And they eat more than I think a little bug should...

How is your garden growing? Any challenges or success's you care to share? Do you know how to wipe out flea beetles without harsh and toxic chemicals?

:) Just thought I would ask.

~ Hope your July is Blessed!

June 10, 2013

His Sunday Morning Crepes

Most Sunday mornings my hubby cooks breakfast for our family, he loves to cook and his momma taught him well. Personally I think his specialty is french cooking and of course 'the grill'... he can also make a mean Chinese dish too.

But this is my favorite Sunday breakfast... his crepes:

~ Crepes with strawberry sauce, raw cream and organic chocolate chips ~

Papa's Crepes for Momma: adapted from his Cooking Essentials cookbook

1 cup freshly ground whole wheat flour - kamut works great too!
2 farm fresh eggs
1 cup raw milk with thick cream

Add the ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk until smooth, let the batter stand for about a half hour, so the liquids are well absorbed. This is when Papa makes his famous strawberry sauce...

We use our round, cast iron, griddle to make our crepes on, first heating it thoroughly and coating it with coconut oil as needed. Cook the crepes over medium heat for one minute on the first side or until golden brown, then flip and cook for about thirty seconds on the other side... serve warm and enjoy them with your favorite toppings. Mine are shown above...

~ Blessings & Shalom

June 1, 2013

2013 Garden Journal: photos around

I figured if the next two weeks are as eventful as the last the two, I had better share the photo's I have already taken or I will never be able to keep up with the ever changing face of our back yard garden...

Some seedlings waiting to be planted

and preparing a home for sweet potatoes

squash too.

Needing to locate a place for the remaining woodchips

possibly two more vertical gardens like this one.

The lettuce bed before our backyard remodeling

and the corner herbs & flowers garden.

Then the hail came... thank Abba for burlap canopies

again I thank Abba for burlap canopies

replanting is going to be must for the beds without canopies.

I just love those poles... don't you?

After the storm and before the lawn mower

I think beauty is rarely found in the perfect lines and locations of our angles, but rather in the living lines of growth and change... and honestly change hurts. Because change keeps us humble and ever reminded of how fragile our life is and hopefully ever thankful for the Providence and Provision of our wonderful Creator.

~ to Him be the Glory!