Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Starting Older Seeds

You can see the tiny root sprouts
If you don't grow a full size garden, you usually end up with a good supply of seeds from year to year.  I purchase seeds instead of plants because I like to find rare and heirloom vegetables and the local garden centers only carry the "average" garden variety of plants.  One thing I like to do to see if they will grow before committing them to a peat pot is getting them to germinate first.

In order to do this, you will need a plastic container with a flat type bottom, similar to what you may place a sandwich in.  Place a folded damp paper towel in the bottom of the container and space your seeds in the bottom.  Dampen another folded paper towel and place on top of the seeds.  Place the lid on it and place in a warm location, like on your entertainment equipment, a coffee maker that has a continually heated water reserve, or on top of your refrigerator.  You need a warm location because you are trying to create a warm humid environment within the container to encourage the seeds to germinate.  If you germinate more than one type of seed this way, be sure to label the tops of the containers.  Check them after 2 days to see if there is any change in the seed.  Be sure to keep the paper towels damp but not soaked. Check the containers daily.

Once your seeds begin to sprout a little root, place them in prepared peat pots.  Gently remove the seed from the plastic container and drop in a peat pot filled 2/3 full of good quality potting soil or seed starter.  Be very careful not to damage the tiny sprout, or you will have to discard the seed.  Top with a half inch more soil, gently patting down.  Place your peat pots on a tray and add a little water to the tray so the peat pots can soak up the water from the bottom. Place in a warm, sunny location until time to transfer outside.

Making My Own Laundry Soap


Like many of us, I want to get the best value for my money with the items I need to purchase for my home.  Plus I want to know what is in them.  Same goes for my laundry soap.  Knowing that when I purchase liquid laundry detergent, I am paying for mostly water does not make me happy.  I have water.  Comes right out of the faucet in the kitchen.  So I looked around to see what homemade laundry soap recipes there were out there.  Most seemed to be the same ingredients, just a little different in the amount of each item added.  I experimented some and came up with what worked for me.  The ingredients are basically the same, just made it easier for myself to use whole boxes or containers of product instead of cups, like most of the recipes call for.

Homemade Laundry Soap

1 box (76 oz) 20 Mule Team Borax
1 box (55 oz) Washing Soda
2 box (16 oz ea) Baking Soda
2 tubs (16 oz ea) oxy boost
6 bars (grated) laundry soap (ie Fels-Napths, Zote or Colgate)

Grate the bars of laundry soap using a hand held grater or your food processor.  Put all the ingredients in something large enough to mix well and then transfer to a storage container.  Use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry.  From everything I have read, this can be used in a high efficiency washer, but check with the manufacturer if you are unsure.~

I live in an area where the ground water is not the best quality, being surrounded by swamp, sound and ocean water.  My towels were like sandpaper on my skin, even using fabric softener.  Using this homemade laundry soap, they are fluffier then ever and so soft.  I even quit using liquid fabric softener and only use dryer sheets and things are still softer and smell so much better.  In general, everything comes out cleaner than ever.

This lasted me 4 months.  I was only washing for myself, but I wash the animal blankets and pet beds once a week, in addition to washing the entire bed linens once a week also.  To make this, the ingredients cost me about $17, but this is going to depend on where you live and what stores you have available.  Where I live the cost of living is rather high, because the area is considered a vacation destination.  And the variety of stores is limited, in addition to the selection within the stores are limited.  I have to go to four different stores to get everything I need. 

I hope this works for you and your clothes come out as clean as mine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Is Here

Well, Spring is finally here.  And it's time to get the garden tools out again.  It is such an exciting time of year, the birth of new seeds and the beginning of regrowth from the established vegetation.  Time to pull the winter weeds and till up the garden plots to get ready for new plants. 

Soon, I will have to make final decisions what vegetables I want to set out this year.  I am already developing ideas for new small vegetable garden beds.  I am successful with small raised beds instead of one large plowed garden area.  Because of my health, such a traditional garden would overwhelm me and I may loose interest.  With the small beds, I can successfully take care of one at a time and feel successful.

I have reset my strawberries from a place I had them on the ground to a long planter set on the railing on the back porch.  This way, they can grow and the berries will hang over the planters and are easily accessible from the kitchen by way of the back door.  I got this inspiration from a picture of a strawberry farm where they had the plants in what appeared to be rain gutter in very long lengths, held up by polls and 3 rows up. 

I have also put out some cool weather greens; spinach, mesculin and kale.  Here in coastal North Carolina, these greens wilt like a delicate southern belle in the hot humid days.  I want to try my hand a brussel sprouts this year.  I remember them from my childhood and long rows in the family garden.  Frozen ones are not as enticing as fresh grown from your own garden. 

So time to get my garden journal out and look over last years successes and missteps, and plan for this years bountiful harvest.