Category Archives: Home Grown

The New Chicks on the Block

Baby ChicksWe got four little, soft, baby chicks this weekend! It’s very exciting. We’re hoping to have our own fresh egg supply in 5 to 6 months. For now they’re staying warm under a heat lamp in the garage. In 6 weeks they’ll move out to the grand coop I’ve been building for the past several weeks. I’m still working on building the fence for their chicken run.

My kids are so excited about their new pets. They all had names before we even got home from the feed store.  Snowey, Blackfeather, Aiden and Dixie. Aiden might need to be renamed since we’re hoping they’re all girls. We got Dixie the day after the first three because they didn’t have her kind at the first store we went to. I had to call around to find her. She’s an Ameraucana and she’ll lay greenish or bluish eggs…we hope. Her name is Dixie and she’s the first pet I’ve ever voluntarily gotten. I’m not an animal person at all, so this is a big deal for me. My eldest is smitten with Snowey.

I’ve been thinking about getting chickens for years. I always thought it would be so fun for the kids to go out in the mornings and collect the eggs. I’ve read up on the subject and finally took the plunge. It will be a learning experience I’m sure. But more and more neighbors have their own chickens.  I’m excited to join them.  Our little farm is expanding. Fresh, home-grown eggs and produce. Woo Hoo!

I also tried making my own almond milk last week. It wasn’t hard. I need to figure out a better way of straining the milk through cheesecloth. That part was a bit messy. Other than the straining, it was really quick and easy. Soak the almonds for a couple hours, blend with milk, strain and done. I added vanilla and too much stevia, so it was really sweet. I’ll probably keep buying the stuff at the store for awhile, but it’s pretty cool to have that little skill in my bag of tricks. I can make milk at home.

Seedlings

SeedlingsIt took two tries, but I have officially started my spring garden. Why two tries already? It’s only February. Well, I filled my little seed tray with dirt from my garden. Big mistake. Particularly from the potato patch. I planted about 60 seeds only to find the next day that little potato bugs had planted their own little eggs in that soil. So there was an infestation. I had to dump the entire two trays and start over. I only lost a couple days, and I probably started too early anyway. So no big deal. Lesson learned. Use clean, fresh starter soil from the bag.

My little broccoli, onions and cabbage seedlings grow a little each day. It’s fun watching new life pop out of the dirt. It’s like magic. They all turn toward the slider from whence the sun shines in.

Houseplants for clean air

Golden PothosIn an effort to breathe cleaner air and rid our lives of asthma and allergies, I recently put little houseplants in each room of my house. After two weeks, they are all still alive. Well, almost all. There is one in my office not looking too good, but I think it might pull through.

Did you know that NASA has done studies on which plants clean indoor air the best? How else are you going to keep a nice space station living space? These plants take carcinogens and other harmful toxins out of the air you’re breathing at home. I think that’s spectacular. Over the years, I’ve tried having a couple flowering plants inside. They don’t last long. Apparently they need sunlight and fresh air. There is a good list of plants that will survive inside, even in some low light situations with only occasional watering. This is great for me.

 I paid attention to how much light each plant would need and planned which room to put it in accordingly. The living room is my darkest room, so it got the snake plant, which also needs the least amount of attention in regards to regular watering. So I have high hopes for that.

Ivy

 There are plenty of websites that list various plants and their benefits. Here is a short list of what I found and have managed to keep alive so far:

Aloe Vera– It cleans formaldehyde from the air in addition to being a great natural remedy for burns and scrapes.

Baby Rubber Plant– It purifies & cleans formaldehyde and other toxins from the air by giving off high oxygen content.

English Ivy– “It’s known for removing the chemical benzene, a known carcinogen found in cigarette smoke, detergents, pesticides, and the off-gassing of other synthetic materials, is said to be fantastic for asthma and allergies and also removes formaldehyde” According to sustainablebabysteps.com. The allergies and asthma are my main reasons for making these changes. I’m still looking for this one. Until I find it, I got a different kind of ivy for the bedrooms.

Gerbera DaisyGerbera Daisy– According to NASA, this beautiful flower removes benzene which is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). In addition, it absorbs carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen. This beauty sits on my kitchen window sill and makes me happy. It needs bright light.

Golden Pothos– This is one of the top 3 types of houseplants that effectively remove formaldehyde according to NASA. It also increases general indoor air quality and removes carbon monoxide.

Snake Plant– NASA found this hearty plant to absorb toxins like nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde. It tolerates low light levels and irregular watering which is just perfect for my living room.

Please see the more comprehensive list with photos found on sustainablebabysteps.com for more info on each plant.

Three of the main household chemicals causing trouble for us are benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. These chemicals are carcinogens and they’re off-gassed from synthetic materials in your home. So having these plants clean up to 90% of these chemicals from your air in just 24 hours could decrease your risk of cancers, asthma, allergies, auto-immune disorders etc. That’s what I’m hoping for. Every little thing helps. Plus they look nice.

How to Sprout Lentils

Sprout your own sprouts!

These are so yummy and delicious. You won’t believe how easy it is to do. Mung Bean Sprouts

When I’d seen “sprouts” on a deli sandwich or sold at the grocery store, I think they’ve always been alfalfa sprouts. I never liked these much. But sprouts are super healthy, packed with way more vitamins and nutrients than just eating the thing un-sprouted…like lentil soup, whole wheat grain vs. sprouted wheat, etc.

Healthy enzyme, proteins, fiber, vitamin and essential fatty acid content increase dramatically during the sprouting process which takes a couple days on your counter top. Get a super boost of vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E.
As I type this, I’m enjoying a small bowl of mung bean sprouts with Italian dressing. It’s a fantastic healthy snack. Ready to learn how?

Red Lentil Sprouts1. Begin with a mason jar and the outer ring of the lid so the top can stay open.
2. Fill jar up less than 25% with your little red lentils, or whatever your grain/bean of choice is. They will nearly triple in size.
3. Fill the entire jar with water.  Cut out a square of cheesecloth and cover the top of the jar, screwing the lid ring over it to hold it in place. (Don’t put an airtight lid on.)
4. Allow beans to soak for 12 hours, (overnight) then…
5. Drain water & rinse thoroughly!  When rinsing, fill the jar, swirl water around beans vigorously and several times before draining. Drain thoroughly. Do all this with the cheesecloth still covering the top so water drains out and beans stay in.
6. Leave drained bean on the counter out of direct sunlight and repeat rinsing process 2-3 times daily.
7. When sprouts are desired length, spread them on a paper towel to dry, then refrigerate in airtight container.

Tah Dah!!

When you’re done, you can eat them plain, add them to a salad or use them however your would use unsprouted lentils. You’ll just get way more good, healthy stuff this time.

Read more here

Vegetable Garden- Seed Catalog

I just got 10 new packets of seeds in the mail. It’s more exciting than it sounds. There is so much potential in those little envelopes, unknown flavors or healthy veggies that I’ve never tasted. There is such a deep sense of accomplishment and reward plucking home grown veggies from my garden and tasting how much more flavorful, fresh and vitamin packed these home grown varieties are compared with what can be purchased at the store.Planting Seeds

I first started growing vegetables 11 years ago. I started with seeds and they almost all died. I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. So for my next attempt, I bought the seedlings and that worked out fairly well. Apparently you have to pay attention to things like when certain vegetables can grow and where in the world, what kind of soil they do well in, etc.

Now that I have more experience under my belt, I’ve started growing more veggies from seed. Part of the reason it’s so exciting is because I’m not just getting the hybrid packets from my local big box store. I pour over the seed catalog from my favorite heirloom seed company. There are dozens and dozens of varieties to choose from all with helpful descriptions about flavor, yield, the history of the particular kind of tomato or bean or melon. They come from all over the world. These seeds are alive and have a history all their own. I think this year I’ll make an attempt at saving my own. You can do that with these seeds. You’re not allowed to save many seeds these days. Large corporations are suing farmers for saving their seeds after they’ve been contaminated by their GMO products. The world is going crazy. I’ll try to stay sane in my little backyard garden and grow what I can to eat.

Have you ever tasted the difference between a home grown cucumber or tomato compared to the grocery store? I just didn’t think I liked them until I grew my own. After that, I was hooked.

For my veggie patch, I use something called the “Square Foot Gardening” method. I have four 4×8 raised beds with special square foot garden soil. This consists of one third each of peat moss, vermiculite & compost. There is no dirt in it. The soil is nutrient rich, light and airy and it retains moisture well. Weeds are a snap to pull out and there aren’t any besides what blows in from other parts of the yard. There are no rows, just 1 foot squares with vegetables packed in. A guy named Mel Bartholomew, a retired engineer, developed a different way of growing veggies which requires less seeds, less weeding and more vegetables in a smaller area. It works great for me. I’m excited to get started on this year’s planting.

I buy my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company at rareseeds.com.