Container Gardening: My Favorite Resources

My herb garden: basil, sage, thyme & chamomile

My herb garden: basil, sage, thyme & chamomile

I have been enthralled in the world of container gardening. I am in my second year of gardening, trying to put to good use the limited space I have right now on my back patio deck. I have had failures and successes…but it definitely requires some perseverance and patience. Gardening is such a rewarding experience. Being out in nature, digging in the dirt, watering, and seeing food growing for our nourishment is delightful. I also love watering the garden with my little Karis. She loves helping me pour the watering can into the pots. What a fun way to get her involved in valuing the production of our own food. I wanted to share a few pictures of my garden to date with a few resources I have found very helpful this year.

Topsy Turvy Tomato Plant

Topsy Turvy Tomato Plant

Hanging Tomatoes - So far I am delighted to see the success of my Topsy Turvy hanging tomato plant. It is growing an abundance of cherry tomatoes right now. I can’t wait to enjoy them! My tips: water daily as it is quickly evaporates compared to a potted plant. Cut the bottom off a plastic milk jug and puncture small holes in it. Place in the top of the turvy to allow for slow drainage when watering. Keep in full sun. Use water retaining granules.

What else is in my garden this year? Several varieties of lettuce, a herb garden, stevia, cucumber, and three varieties of pepper plants.

IMG_6148

Cucumber & Pepper Plants

Why I love container gardening?

1. You rarely have to deal with various pests. In my experience, I have not had a single bug problem to deal with.
2. You rarely have to do any weeding!
3. Your crops are nicely contained and will not take over. Since some crops can easily dominate your fields, container gardening is nicely self-contained. The crops can only grow as big as the container you supply them for their abode.

A few books that I have found extremely beneficial for container gardening:

The Bountiful Container – this resource is the definitive guide on container gardening. It gives detailed instructions on how to grow all varieties of vegetables and flowers in containers. It lacks good pictures or very clear planting instructions, but offers ongoing tips for successful gardening in pots.

Organic Crops in Pots - this book is awesome! It provides you with easy step by step pictorial instructions on how to plant many different varieties of vegetables in containers. It details what are the best crops to grow in pots with beautiful pictures. This is the best book I have found for beginners that guides you through the potting process so simply. I also love how the author supplies you with creative container ideas. You don’t have to invest in expensive containers. Find old wine barrels, washtubs, baskets, olive oil metal jars, metal buckets, and even canvas bags to do your planting.

Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener’s Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More by Miranda Smith – a very helpful guide for growing herbs! This book describes growing herbs both in the ground or containers. I love the helpful pictures and specific details for growing over 50 herbs and their nutritional and culinary benefits. Also includes details on preparing herbal vinegars and teas for health and healing. Love this book!

For more ideas and tips for gardening in small spaces, visit here.

Do you have a container garden? What tips do you have to share?

Comments { 9 }

Dijon Chicken Sandwiches

IMG_5934I love this simple alternative to hamburgers with a honey dijon flavored chicken. The marinade imparts a sweet and sour flavor making it scrumptious! This is a family favorite summer meal.

4-5 Chicken breasts, boneless, halved
1/2 cup honey, raw is preferred
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup liquid aminos or soy sauce (Bragg’s liquid aminos is non-GMO and full of amino acids – my favorite natural substitute for soy sauce!)
2 tsp dijon mustard
Lettuce
Tomato
Onions & Mushrooms, grilled
Pickles
Mayonnaise & Dijon Mustard, as desired (homemade coconut mayo is delightful with these sandwiches!)
4-5 Hamburger buns (we love the sprouted wheat burger buns from Alvardo Street bakery, making them free of phytates and easily digestible!)

Place chicken in an ungreased 8×8 casserole dish. Combine honey, lemon juice, liquid aminos, and dijon mustard and pour over chicken. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for several hours (6-8 hours is best). Rotate chicken several times to allow them to absorb as much marinade as possible. Remove from fridge and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Combine marinade with mayonnaise and more dijon mustard for a yummy spread. You can also BBQ then on the grill for about 15 minutes. If you BBQ the chicken, bring the liquid marinade to a boil on the stove before combining with mayo and dijon as described above. Lather up your hamburger bun with desired toppings and enjoy!

Makes 4-5 servings.

Comments { 7 }

Soap Nuts Liquid Detergent – Extreme 18X Giveaway!

Just compare Extreme18X to other detergents! What a significant waste difference!

Just compare Extreme18X to other detergents! What a significant waste difference!

I am a huge fan of the simplicity and safety without excess waste of using soap nuts for all my laundry needs (including those cloth diapers)! Soap nuts grow on trees! We have discussed all the wonderful benefits of using soap nuts here and from our previous giveaway here, and now we want to introduce you to the liquid version! As I shared before, Soap Nuts are the only laundry soap that grows on trees, thus giving us the most sustainable and natural option out there. It is 100% safe and natural for the most sensitive skin. Soap nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree. They contain saponin, a natural cleaner. They are simply harvested, de-seeded, and then dried in the sun. Great for hard water and high efficiency machines. It is biodegradable, hypo-allergenic, brightens colors, low sudsing, and contains a natural fabric softener.

Now NaturOli offers another product that makes it even more simple and convenient to use soap nuts – enter Extreme 18X liquid detergent! You only have to use 1/2 teaspoon per load of laundry as it is a highly concentrated 18x potency. I have been experimenting with the Extreme 18X liquid detergent and I really love it. It cleans well, smells fresh and produces soft clothing. My tip: make sure to use a measuring spoon to measure it out per load. It is so easy to use too much when you simply squirt it into your washer. Extreme 18X works in your dishwasher as well! Simply squirt about 1/2 teaspoon in your dishwasher dispenser and away you go! I have also diluted it with water in a spray bottle for a gentle and effective household all-purpose cleaner with great success. This is a multi-purpose all natural alternative that avoids excess waste. See that picture on the left? Compare that weight and packaging and see how much better soap nuts are for our environment.

Now, you can win a sample of the Extreme18X liquid detergent! This sample offers you 1 ounce of

This is the sample you could win!

This is the sample you could win!

liquid detergent that will yield 12 high efficiency (HE) loads or 6 standard loads – or more! If you have been skeptical of the wonders of soap nuts, this is your opportunity to sample the most concentrated, effective, green laundry detergent on the market.

We have 20 sample trial bottles to give away today! So there will be 20 lucky winners of the Soap Nuts Extreme 18X laundry detergent!

To Enter:

1. Simply leave a comment below and tell us what you think about Soap nuts. Have you tried them yet? If you haven’t, just leave a comment and tell us you want to be entered in the giveaway.

2. If you want to be entered twice, post about this giveaway (linking directly to it) on your blog!

Giveaway ends: Monday, August 3, 2009, 5:00 pm PST.

Giveaway limited to US participants.

Extreme 18X can be purchased in a variety of sizes from NaturOli as the more you buy the more you save. Highly recommend this company as they provide the highest quality soap nuts I have tried! Full disclosure: I am an affiliate of this company and receive a small amount per sale of their products.

If you have any specific question about soap nuts, please first check out our Soap Nuts FAQ post.

Comments are closed

Potty Time!

We are potty training at our house, thus I have been a little occupied. ;) Karis is actually doing very well. I love the nice weather to allow her to run around naked. Now that you know a little too much of the events at our home…Stay tuned for another fun giveaway!

Comments { 24 }

The Creative Family: Encouraging Simplicity & Creativity in Your Home

I have been delighted to stumble upon The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nuture Family Connections by Amanda Blake Soule recently. What a fun read it has been. I have been inspired by this author’s creativity and desire to build family relationships through simple enjoyment of nature. Although not written from a Christian perspective, I was inspired to see in a new light how we are all designed to be creative beings made in the image of a Creative God.

Amanda shares, “We don’t have to ‘teach’ our children to be creative – inherent in the very core of children’s beings is the embodiment of creativity…A large part of nurturing a spirit of creativity comes from being mindful, slowing down, observing, and looking around you at the beauty and inspiration all around…The joyful act of creating together can be positively magical and truly a gift for everyone. Much of our cultural energy is spent filling our minds, hearts, and time with things outside our families, as is evident in the smaller amount of time that families spent together at home…The experience of turning inward toward your family for creative fulfillment can be an amazing and powerful experience for the entire family -young and old.”

We really don’t have to ‘teach’ our children to be creative! We just have to supply our children with the tools necessary to apply that creativity! This book is full of fun ideas for simple projects, games, and crafts to encourage imagination in your family. She shares about building your craft closet to have items ready to allow children to explore and draw. She invites you to build a dress up box full of items to inspire stories and performances.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 20 }

No-Cook Freezer Jam: Naturally Sweetened

IMG_6155I love preserving my own foods for the upcoming year and jam is a favorite! It is practically impossible to find good jam/jellies on the market that are made without sugar or HFCS, so homemade varieties are the best alternative. Plus, it is superior in flavor and nutrition. In the past I have made canned jam sweetened with rapadura/sucanat with good success, but this year I wanted to go all out and avoid the cooking process. If you are going to put the effort forth, why not preserve as much of the nutrition in the berries as possible right? Surprisingly enough, the no-cook freezer jam method is incredibly easy. It took me about 1 hour to prepare 23 half-pint jars of yummy marionberry jam for our freezer (4 batches of the recipe below from 1.5 flats of berries). They do not take up much space either, especially if you select good stackable containers. I chose to use glass jars and it worked beautifully! You don’t even need any special new canning jars or lids. I had an assortment of lids from various jars I had recycled and they all worked just fine. I prefer sweetening with rapadura/sucanut, but I tried a batch sweetened with honey and enjoyed it. You can use whatever your heart desires!

Pomona’s Universal Pectin is a perfect natural pectin to use, free of sugar or preservatives. It is a low mexthoxyl type pectin derived from citric peels and pulp. It provides you with the freedom to experiment with your own desired choice and quantity of sweetener. You can use whatever sweetener you desire or abandon the sugar altogether! It is available online or at a local health food store (Whole Foods, New Seasons, Fred Meyer Nutrition, Azure Standard, etc). One box made approximately 20 (8 oz) jars for me, so I used just over 1 box. The rest can be saved for another time. Each box includes easy to follow directions. Last year I made the recipe with just 1 cup of rapadura/sucanat and it definitely was not sweet enough, in our opinion. This time around I bumped it up a bit and it was delicious! The recipe is included in the box of pectin, but you can also download it from their website here. There are other recipes included as well for cooked canned jam.

Here is my personal preference:

4 cups berries – I love to use marionberries or blackberries because they are so cheap (if not free)!
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice (optional)
1 cup honey or 2 cups rapadura/sucanat
3/4 cup water
3 tsp pectin
4-12 tsp calcium water (each box of pectin includes the calcium package to make this)

The easiest way I found was to start by boiling the water. While you wait, mash the berries in a blender or food processor. Combine with lemon juice and sweetener, mixing thoroughly. Put berries aside while you pour the boiling water into your blender along with the pectin and blend for 1-2 minutes until thoroughly dissolved. Add the pectin and water to your berries and combine thoroughly. Gradually add calicum water until it gels. I found that about 6 tsp was perfect for marionberries. Transfer to your clean 8 oz jars and cover securely. Make sure to allow 1/2 inch room at the top of the jar for expansion. Freeze immediately. The instructions say that once opened you need to use within a week. I think that it definitely last longer than this. If concerned, simply put it back in your freezer to preserve it longer.

The total cost for me was about about $1 per 8 oz of jam. Not bad at all!

What kind of jam do you like?

Check out Kimi’s post where she shares about using less honey in her jam!

Comments { 28 }

Frugal & Natural Pest Control: Fruit Flies & Ants Be Gone!

IMG_6140We have been attacked by an abundance of fruit flies lately in my kitchen. AHH! Don’t you love those little flying insects that seem to find every bit of food in your kitchen and around your trash can? Here is our simple, frugal, and effective solution!

Fruit Fly Trap

1 quart jar
1 piece of paper, rolled up into a funnel
tape
apple cider vinegar
small slice of banana

Fill a quart jar with a 1/2 inch of apple cider vinegar and a small piece of banana. Roll up your paper into a funnel shape (larger at the top) and tape it in place. Place the funnel into your jar and make sure all the edges are secured shut with tape. You may have to adjust the size of your funnel to make sure it fits nicely into your jar. Place the jar where the fruit flies are flying around and let it go to work. You will be amazed at how well this trap works. The fruit flies will smell the fruit and climb inside, but for some odd reason they don’t fly back up the funnel to get out. When you have caught a good supply, place the entire jar in the freezer. After a short time that flies with die and you can remove the jar from the freezer and use it again without even removing the old contents. Use repeatedly until your fruit flies are eliminated.

As you can see in my picture, this easy trap is amazingly effective!

Ant Trap

We are often plagued with ants in the Spring time as well around here. We have various sorts of carpenter and sugar ants. This little concoction does the trick! Last year we had huge carpenter ants all around our kitchen. Many were coming out of our electrical saukets in our kitchen. We were blown away by how quickly they were eradicated with this recipe.

1 tsp. borax (borax is an natural laundry boosting powder available in the laundry section of the store, normally on the top shelf)
2 cups hot water
6 Tbsp sugar
folded paper towel
small shallow cup (like a creme burlee dish)

Disolve borax in hot water. Stir in sugar. Dip the folded paper towel, using tongs, in the solution till completely saturated with solution. Cram the paper towel in the dish. Place in location where you have seen the ants. This solution will be eaten by the ants and taken back to the nest to share with the other ants and thus eradicate the entire nest. Keep away from children by placing on a countertop or cupboard, if possible.

It’s Frugal Fridays!

Comments { 320 }

Increasing Milk Supply: Homemade Mother’s Milk Tea

IMG_6143-1I have personally struggled with keeping up a healthy and rich milk production for my babies. I have battled with discouragement and failure when not able to satisfy my child’s need. The Lord has done a good work in my heart, calling me to trust Him that He will provide my child with the nourishment required to grow healthy and strong. My responsibility is to do my best in eating nutritionally, nursing as frequently as my son needs it to increase my supply, but ultimately God is in control, to which I am thankful.

Here are a few resources and recipes I have found helpful in the journey of nourishing my babies…

Continue Reading →

Comments { 103 }

The Best Housecleaning Tip

Picture 5I read this comment today by a mother named Julia and thought she said it so well:

“Having alot of things–whether it’s furniture or knick-knacks or things you think you might need but never end up using–can make [home maintenaince] an overwhelming, or seemingly overwhelming, task. Clutter or crowded spaces can make even a clean house seem not so clean. When the  clutter is gone, cleaning is easier and the house actually looks clean when I’m done…A neat space is much more inviting than a clean, yet cluttered, place.”

So true! When I am regularly decluttering, housecleaning is so much easier and my home is a more refreshing and restful place to be. Clutter only builds tension in my home and takes so much more time to maintain. Join me in simplifying for the sake of our families, our envirorment, and in order to use our time wisely. As homemakers, let’s not waste our energy on excess clutter-it’s just not worth it! Be aggressive! Don’t hold on to anything you don’t need and think carefully and wisely before each new purchase or addition.

I am encouraged today with this wonderful tip!

Comments { 18 }

Blogging Break

We will be out of town for the greater part of this week, so I am using this oportunity to take a blogging break!
We’ll see you here next week for more recipes, tips and encouragement!

I will leave you with this lovely quote…

“Homemaking is an art, and you have the privilege of expressing and developing all your talents there in a little place called home. You get to build…beautify… organize…create…fuss…express yourself. You get to read and study and grow and master nutrition, finances, horticulture, design, wardrobe, etc. And you also get to shape your children, to give their precious lives a bent toward God. To nurture their souls with the good things of God. To pass on the truth about Jesus to one more generation. And to do so means you’ve got to be dedicated, organized, and a woman of purpose. And you’ve got to have the spunk and energy to follow through on all the dedication, organization, and purpose that answering God’s high calling to homemaking requires.”

–Elizabeth George, A Woman’s High Calling

Have a blessed week fulfilling you high calling of being a homemaker! It is an art that must be passionately pursued and patiently learned!

Comments { 9 }