Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Herb Fairies is here again!

HF-meme-herbfairies13

With Spring comes one of my favorite things to the Homestead Project blog….

Herb Fairies!

 

You may remember last year I introduced you to Herb Fairies and I’m delighted that so many of you took advantage of this great resource from John and Kimberly at LearningHerbs.  They gave me some great free stuff to share with you here on the blog and I can’t wait to show you what they have in store this year! 

You are gonna love it!

 
An Herbal Cookbook…

HF-meme-cookbook13Let’s kick this party off right with a free Herb Fairies cookbook!

  You will find 13 fun herbal recipes your kids will have a great time making and sharing with others.  This is a great way to help your kids learn about the herbs and remember their uses. 

Your kids will gain confidence in their ability to use herbs with each recipe and gain priceless knowledge about these wonderful healing plants.

I have long been a fan of Learning Herbs and the wonderful tools they produce such as the Wildcraft! board game and the Herb Mentor community.  They have taught me almost everything I know about herbs. 

This is going to be a great week of freebies and fun things to get us ready for Herb Fairies so stick around to see what it’s all about!  =)

Herb knowledge…

We are finally starting to get some glimpses of spring around here which immediately makes me think of gardening and dirt and seeds and of course, herbs.

I love growing fresh herbs and there’s a few that I can’t do without.  There’s nothing like the sweet smell of chamomile hanging thickly in the air on a humid summer day.  Or the smell of lemonbalm on your hands when you loosely grasp it as you walk by.  Some herbs are just meant to be touched.  Lemonbalm, chamomile, sage, basil – these are a few of the staples I need in my garden every year.

If you’ve never grown fresh herbs, I am encouraging you to give them a try this year.  Most are fairly easy to grow and can be contained in pots if you’re short on room.  I guarantee though, what you lose in room you’ll make up for in cold hard cash by growing your own rather than buying them at the supermarket.

Here’s a great basic guide to understanding herbs and how they work from Mountain Rose Herbs.      This is a great place to start if you’re interested in using herbs for more than just seasoning your potatoes and chicken.

You can do so many things with herbs!  Get a good feel for them at the link above and we’ll talk a little more later this week.

–knittingprose

 

Garden planning begins…

It’s snowing like mad today but I’m inside thinking about seeds.  I’ve spent the last hour pouring over my Baker Creek catalog and paring down the list for this year’s plantings.  It’s always so difficult to not go overboard.  They have such wonderful heirloom varieties to choose from.

After looking over the results of last year’s efforts, we’re making a few changes.  For the most part, everything grew well.  Our biggest mistakes were of our own making.  The plants were wonderful!  For instance, the cucumbers – oh my word.  They grew so abundantly we couldn’t keep up.  The Pink German Tree tomatoes – well, there’s a reason they’re called trees.  The plants grew so large we couldn’t get to the fruit.  I had planted them at a pretty normal distance from each other, but that’s not far enough for a tree. 

Our other big challenge was the rabbit and groundhog community.  Apparently, they assumed I planted the broccoli and calendula for their personal feast.  Um, no, Mr. Groundhog.  I didn’t. 

The black giant tomatoes were definitely dark but not quite giant.  They also cracked at the tops badly.  I may do one plant this year but that’s it.  Garden space is too precious. 

amish paste

We’re adding a couple new varieties of tomatoes – Amish Paste and Bonny Best.  I’m thinking the Amish Paste will be good for making ketchup.  The Bonny Best are supposed to be a top notch canning tomato.  I really hope so.  We use a ton of canned tomatoes throughout the year.  We ran out well before Christmas!  Between these two varieties there should be plenty for canning.

 

Celery will be a new crop for us.  I’ve never grown celery so this will be a whole new experience.  Watermelons and Pumpkins are on the list – mainly for fun, for the kids.  We don’t have a really great place for them to be planted but I’ve got one spot in mind that might work.  There’s a small mound of dirt piled up next to the shed.  It’s leftovers from digging out the raised beds.  I think this little hill is our best bet for getting the melons to grow. 

Just for kicks, I ordered some gourds.  With the new farmer’s market across the street, the gourds could be a source of pocket money for the kids.  They will be able to make dippers from the dipping gourds and little tops with the Tennessee Dancing gourds. 

Speaking of the market, we hope to make a decent showing this year with some of our homemade goods.  Gardener’s salve, liniment, lip balms.  Of course, we’ll offer produce we grow in the garden.  I’m thinking this could be a great homeschool experience for the children.  My plan is for each of them to find something they can make and market.  We’ll see how that turns out though.  Plans are often as fragile as a pie crust around here! 

Either way it all turns out, I’m ready to start planting. 

-knittingprose

Garden planning begins…

It’s snowing like mad today but I’m inside thinking about seeds.  I’ve spent the last hour pouring over my Baker Creek catalog and paring down the list for this year’s plantings.  It’s always so difficult to not go overboard.  They have such wonderful heirloom varieties to choose from.

After looking over the results of last year’s efforts, we’re making a few changes.  For the most part, everything grew well.  Our biggest mistakes were of our own making.  The plants were wonderful!  For instance, the cucumbers – oh my word.  They grew so abundantly we couldn’t keep up.  The Pink German Tree tomatoes – well, there’s a reason they’re called trees.  The plants grew so large we couldn’t get to the fruit.  I had planted them at a pretty normal distance from each other, but that’s not far enough for a tree. 

Our other big challenge was the rabbit and groundhog community.  Apparently, they assumed I planted the broccoli and calendula for their personal feast.  Um, no, Mr. Groundhog.  I didn’t. 

The black giant tomatoes were definitely dark but not quite giant.  They also cracked at the tops badly.  I may do one plant this year but that’s it.  Garden space is too precious. 

amish paste

We’re adding a couple new varieties of tomatoes – Amish Paste and Bonny Best.  I’m thinking the Amish Paste will be good for making ketchup.  The Bonny Best are supposed to be a top notch canning tomato.  I really hope so.  We use a ton of canned tomatoes throughout the year.  We ran out well before Christmas!  Between these two varieties there should be plenty for canning.

 

Celery will be a new crop for us.  I’ve never grown celery so this will be a whole new experience.  Watermelons and Pumpkins are on the list – mainly for fun, for the kids.  We don’t have a really great place for them to be planted but I’ve got one spot in mind that might work.  There’s a small mound of dirt piled up next to the shed.  It’s leftovers from digging out the raised beds.  I think this little hill is our best bet for getting the melons to grow. 

Just for kicks, I ordered some gourds.  With the new farmer’s market across the street, the gourds could be a source of pocket money for the kids.  They will be able to make dippers from the dipping gourds and little tops with the Tennessee Dancing gourds. 

Speaking of the market, we hope to make a decent showing this year with some of our homemade goods.  Gardener’s salve, liniment, lip balms.  Of course, we’ll offer produce we grow in the garden.  I’m thinking this could be a great homeschool experience for the children.  My plan is for each of them to find something they can make and market.  We’ll see how that turns out though.  Plans are often as fragile as a pie crust around here! 

Either way it all turns out, I’m ready to start planting. 

-knittingprose

sweet corn!

Sweet corn!  I love sweet corn.  In fact, my husband calls me Sweet Corn as a pet name.  (I don’t know.  He’s odd.)  There are certain foods that drum up warm fuzzy feelings of being a kid and enjoying dirt and sun and everything that makes summer magical.  Every time I bite into a juicy cob of corn, I am instantly brought back to childhood.  Summer days spent in the bed of a pickup truck overflowing with ears of corn.  My dad at the bed of the truck with a cutting board and a huge knife, slicing corn off the cob.  We’d all be shucking corn and tossing it over to him.  Those were the days.

We’ve enjoyed some yummy corn this summer, though none of our own yet.  I’ll get to that bit later.  But for now, I thought I would share my favorite way to prepare corn on the cob.  If you want juicy, I mean really juicy corn, then this is recipe for you.  It’s so simple, you don’t even need a recipe. 

photo by Sanoop Juicy Corn on the Cob

*What you will need:

lots of corn on the cob

a large stock pot

water

butter and salt (optional unless you’re from the south)

I told you this was ridiculously simple.  Shuck your corn and if you have littles break the cobs in half.  It’s easier for them to manage a small cob.  Place the corn in the pot and fill the pot with water – enough to cover the corn by a few inches so it has plenty of room to move around.  Cover the pot, heat on high and wait for it to boil.  Don’t just stand there though.  Go do something because a watched pot never boils.  Trust me, I know this from experience.

Once you get a good boil going turn off the pot and let the corn sit for up to three hours or so.  The longer the corn sits the juicier it is.  Drain it just before dinner and serve slathered in butter and salt.  Mmmm, now I want some corn.

 

photo by Kia Abell So about our corn.  It’s actually growing.  I didn’t really think it would do much but it is.  Only one problem – ants.  And as I’ve done a little digging, it’s actually two problems – ant and aphids.  Yep, the corn actually grows and we get ants and aphids.  Yay.  After some more digging, I’ve come up with mixture to hopefully get rid of them. 

Corn spray -  warm water, vegetable oil and a little bit of eco-friendly liquid soap.   

 

 

Well, right away the ants died. lol  We’ll see what happens with the aphids.  Knowing ants, they’ll probably have a fresh crew out there come tomorrow morning. 

-knittingprose