Friday, March 24, 2017

Garden Friday

We are working slowly but steadily
on getting our veggies sown.
Although the weather has been less than cooperative,
we've managed to get a few things going.

Our tomato starts are looking pretty good.
We have two varieties growing,
San Marzano and Arkansas Traveler.
Too bad it's still too cold to put them outside.
They've spent a  lot of time on our southwest-facing window,
being teased by the sunshine that streams in around lunchtime.
Whenever the temperature reaches about 70, 
they get to visit their friends outside.

The leek don't seem to mind the temperature fluctuations.
They spend time inside overnight,
but get plenty of outdoor exposure during daylight hours.
I will most likely be starting some more of these this weekend.
Leek is a delightfully mild alternative to onions.

We are making do with the pots we've collected.
Sister was kind enough to bring these buckets by
(they had even already been washed!).
They seemed like the perfect vessel to grow lettuce in,
as it doesn't need a very deep pot.
Holes were drilled in the bottoms for drainage.

These Romaine starts had been purchased from a farmer 
out at the local Saturday market.

It had been a few weeks, and I thought they would appreciate
having a little more room to stretch out.
Three to a pot should fill it out nicely.
There's no need to wait until these plants fully mature.
Tender, baby leaves can be picked and used while they are still growing.

With a freeze coming overnight, I needed a cover that would work,
as these are already spilling over the top of the containers,
and the lids would have crushed them.

I simply inverted a few more of the buckets without holes
and used heavy branches to weigh them down.
It did a great job of keeping the worst of the cold out.

The cauliflower out front (facing southeast) is doing great!
These starts were picked up from the same farmer at the Denver (NC) market.

Upon close inspection, small lime-green bugs were found on them.
I decided to try using collars to keep them at bay.
These are just toilet paper tubes cut in half
and sunk into the soil.
Hopefully, they'll do the trick,
as we believe in growing pesticide-free
and prefer not to use anything harmful.

I'm not sure if I shared this,
but I'm taking a course through the local Extension Center 
to become certified as an Advanced Gardener.
The learning never ends...

What's growing on in your garden?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Beneficial Bone Broth

About a year and a half ago,
I started having health issues.
Having been an active person my whole life,
this came as quite a shock.
I've always exercised (I actually enjoy it),
ate pretty cleanly, and kept a positive attitude.
This recent bout of malaise didn't sit too well with me.
It completely transformed my day-to-day life.
There were times when I needed help getting from one room to the next,
and many days when all I could do was sleep.
The worst part of that is that it didn't seem to help.
I never felt rested. 
The weakness in my limbs was unreal,
sometimes not even being able to support myself.
I hadn't experienced such fatigue 
since I worked overtime after Hurricane Andrew.
A few days of R & R had me right back to my typical energy.

But this, this, was something that I never expected and couldn't seem to resolve.
I've been to doctor after doctor, had test after test,
even traveled to a specialist at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida to get answers.
No one could figure out what was going on.
After ruling many things out,
my PCP tagged it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
That seems a catchall diagnosis, 
but nothing else really added up.
It's been a frustrating experience,
as I am the type who likes closure.
So I decided to look for answers myself.

That's when I started researching bone broth.
I'd heard about it, read about it,
but wasn't sure about the efficacy for my situation.
I tried it anyway.
Since I don't eat meat, I decided to begin with fish broth.
I've been making a few quarts of it each week for a few months now.
My dear friends Faye & Lynn have kept me in bones,
thanks to their fishing endeavors.
I haven't made any other types of intervention.
it seems to have made a massive difference.
I'm able to get my chores done, gone back to regular exercise,
and wake feeling more rested than I have in months.
Without the renewed energy I have,
I never would have gotten through an interstate move and all its trappings.
I can't say for certain that this is the reason that I'm feeling so much better,
but I can't think of a single other thing to which it can be attributed.
The bonus is that it may help with my osteoporosis.
If someone you know has lingering health issues
that can't be explained, it's worth a try.
I'm a believer.

This recipe comes from the book, 
Bone Broth by Quinn Farrar Wilson.
I altered the ingredients just a bit to my own taste.
It's the process that's important. 
There are also recipes in the book for beef and chicken broths, 
if that better suits your needs.

Fish Bone Broth  
2 fish heads
1 lb. fish bones
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 white onion, sliced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and sliced (I omitted)
1 garlic clove, cut in half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roast bones in pan on parchment paper for 10-20 minutes.
Transfer bones to slow cooker and fill with water and add vinegar.
Allow bones to steep in crockpot for 15-20 minutes (turned off).
Skim off any scum that surfaces.
Add remaining ingredients to crockpot.

Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 4-6 hours.
Skim off any scum that forms on top several times while cooking
(I haven't had to do this).

Remove bones from slow cooker and compost or discard.
Let broth cool at least an hour.
Pour strained broth into containers and refrigerate.
Use as needed.

Here's a great article about this amazing healer.

Homestead Blog Hop will take place every Wednesday featuring real food recipes, natural health remedies, DIY, crafts, Gardening Tips, and more...

Friday, March 17, 2017

Garden Friday

Thanks to scenes like this...

 not much happened in the garden this week.
The broccoli had barely come up
when the snow decided to come back for a visit.
Fortunately, these plastic buckets have lids,
so it was just a matter of covering them up during the coldest parts of the day.

 Most of the time, the newbies have been living in the utility sink
inside the house.
It's only a little warmer there.

 The seedlings that had germinated a few weeks ago
have been taken in and out to catch what sun we've had.

curly kale

The cauliflower pot was covered with a pillowcase
and doesn't seem to have minded the frosty weather. 
It's still growing well.

A few leek are trying to make their way out of the soil.
They are looking forward to warmer temperatures.

We've recently ventured into growing microgreens.
These broccoli sprouts were started a week ago.
They should be ready for pickin' today.

 Here are the alfalfa sprouts we grew a few weeks back.
They were rinsed and dried and made ready for...

a tasty lunch.
The flavor is so vibrant, you just know it's good for you.
Hopefully, with warmer weather looming,
we will have more goodies to plant.
What's going on in your garden?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

They Live Among Us

When we moved into this 100-year old rental property,
we knew we were in for somewhat of an adventure.
It's been an experience, for sure.
We've had visitations.

Strange occurrences taking place rose our suspicions.
The green paper had once been a long ago love note
from my sweet lil' C.
I had saved it all these years and was using it as a bookmark.
Shredded beyond recognition.
That hurts.

In another night table were found stray peanuts.
A few weeks ago, 
we noticed that the bag containing the peanuts we keep for the birds
had had holes chewed in the bottom.
We've had visitors, alright.

And here's one of the culprits.
It took only a day with this "Mouse Hotel" to capture the critter.

So far, we've caught two.
This simple little contraption works quite well.
It's been almost a week since we last baited the trap,
and no signs of tampering have since been found.

It's kind of hard to get upset about it
when you see how cute they are.
We don't want to live with them,
but we don't want them harmed either.

A nearby field (hopefully, not TOO nearby) was happy to oblige them.
C had a bit of trouble getting them to leave the hotel, but once they did,
they scurried off without looking back. 
Here's hoping that they have long, happy lives,
and don't make it into another home.
And no, 
we won't leave the light on for ya


Homestead Blog Hop will take place every Wednesday featuring real food recipes, natural health remedies, DIY, crafts, Gardening Tips, and more...