Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gifts that keep on giving...for gardeners and homesteaders!

 I love the holidays but personally one can only take so much bath sets, chocolates, and fruit cake. So if you are looking into new ideas for gifts check out some of these gifts that keep on giving.

For people who love gardening/homesteading try some of these ideas~

~Green house~go small or big but this is one gift that will for sure keep giving as it continues to help grow food and flowers year after year.
~Seeds
~Soap making set
~Carrying baskets..I am not sure about anyone else but we go threw these often and there is some pretty cool ones out there.
~Gardening tools
~Bird feeders..Watching birds year around can be very peaceful
~Books...Anything from gardening for beginners to one of the books that is on my list this year "the weekend homesteader"  You can never learn to much
~Self watering system...you can find cheap ones out there and it is a great gift for anyone older or anyone that may loving gardening but is busy.
~Electric wheelbarrow..I have never used one and they are expensive but I imagine this can save some back pain
~Fruit or nut trees. For sure a gift that will keep giving even long after the person is gone.
~Rain collecting system. Again a gift you can find cheap but you get what you pay for in this one.
~Food dehydrator
~Starter solar panel kit..did you know they have solar powered Christmas lights!
~Compost barrel
~Warm clothing
~Crock pot
~Animals but make sure they are wanted first!
~Cold frames ....can be expensive, probably can be home made cheaper but helps prolong the growing season
~Fire wood rack...you can go big or small but in winter I love having one of these near the house ready to go with wood
~Wood...I now realize if you have to buy wood how expansive that can be and giving the gift of a warm home is nice.
~Chicken coop
~Canning items
~Sewing items
~Hand salve
~Cast iron items...This is also something you get what you pay for
~Tools but make sure you know what they need before buying
BUT
Most of all do not forget home made gifts are the best! When you put work into something it makes it that much more meaningful!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Growing Ghost peppers in PA! here is my experience with it

This was my first year growing ghost peppers, I was a little scared because I herd they are really hard to grow here in PA, but we ended up with a big healthy plant and many peppers to harvest. I do not know tons about ghost peppers plants but here is what I did, what I used and a little of what I do know.


~My ghost pepper plant was bought as a sprout from a local store. I was so surprised to see them I quickly grabbed one. It was about 5 inches high when bought.
~It was planted in May but for the first few months it did not grow really because a huge tomato  plant was blocking it from the sun. I did not know the tomato plant was going to get that big but the little sprout never died and once I pulled the tomato plant it grew quick.
~ I use old soil, soil for raised garden beds, and this was the first year I used compost from my bin. Other then that I threw in a little fertilizer every now and then.
~To be honest it wasn't a plant I expected to grow so I gave it little attention :/
~ I did not have any pest problems and never used any bug spray on this plant.

What I learned threw this growing season~
~Ghost peppers are great repellent, any peppers that  started to rot I just threw back into the garden. So far...no squirrels digging this fall...
~They love heat and humidity...some people grow these plants in containers so they can easily move them around but that can easily kill a plant....a green house would be perfect but sadly  I do not own one :/
~Plant as early as you can or start indoors. These plants take a long time to grow peppers and then the peppers take a long time to turn red on vine.
~From my experience with my peppers is that no matter the color all are hot BUT the hottest ones are the ones left one the plant to turn red.
~WEAR gloves!! I can not express this enough, these peppers are hot and washing your hands after handling will not clean all the pepper oil off...trust me...
~A plant can grow to over 3 feet tall once full grown..make sure to check out my video linked at the end to see how big mines got this season.
~They are originally from India and are also called Bhut Jolokia.

Either way if you want to try to grow these then do it! You never know what can happen.~

Here is a short video of my ghost pepper plant and small harvest.




Friday, October 6, 2017

Using pine needles to freshen up dishes!

This is something I am very happy I tried. We have a dishwasher, a old dishwasher that most of the time doesn't work really well. I always end up having to go over many of the dishes and that is just a waste of time and money. My dishes wee starting to look old and stained and becoming hard to get clean. So instead of throwing them away I decided ...after collecting some pine cones... to try this idea. After  I was done soaking my dishes with some soap I put clean water in and added the pine needles. I let it sit while I brought my son to school and when I came back I used the pine needles to scrub down the dishes and then just rinsed them off. Yes it is a extra step but a step that doesn't take long and had great results! My dishes came out very clean and some even smelled of pine, witch I did not mind. Just keep in mind not to cut any branches that have sap or bugs. lol I do not use pine every time my dishes need to be done but when ever I have a pot to scrub or my dishes need a little extra tlc it has become my first go to thing.
Did you know pine needles can also be used for tea? and is even a antibacterial.

Friday, September 22, 2017

I failed.....

Man this growing season has been a problem sense day 1...pest after pest after...yep you guessed it ..PEST! For awhile I was able to keep them at bay but once my corn started growing the pest problem went from handled to crazy in what seems like over night. I was very proud of my corn crop this year and was excited to have corn like last year. This year I planted a little over 80 seeds and most grew into full plants, but I guess it was my lack of attention that resulted in a outbreak of  sap beetles right after a outbreak of ear worms. After researching and trying different things I could not get rid of them as they moved from plant to plant and decided I would not feel OK feeding the corn to my kids after it was done growing.
So off I went with a knife cutting down every single corn plant...it was hard...all the time spent on growing it, to have to messed up by my lack of attention...sucked! Now I am left with my pumpkins witch have mildew(I am treating with milk )and 3 different kinds of peppers that are all growing good. Last year the growing season went so well, wish me luck as this one comes to a end, we go out with a bang and some hopefully big pumpkins!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dollar store fall wreathes and more!

These are all crafts made with things from the dollar tree. Hope you enjoy and become inspired to make our own.
Materials needed~
wire werath
red burlap
fake leaves
ribbion
picture (the card bored piece in the middle)
potpourri 
hot glue(I used hot glue in all of these, I found it holds better then he wore and tape)

Materials needed~
wire wreath
fake leaves
picture ( the piece at the bottom)
fake bird
burlap to hang it up
leaf lights
below is a picture of it lit up


Materials needed~
wreath
burlap(I hot glued this one to the back so I could easily lift it and move it without things falling)
fake pumpkins
straw
ribbion
little scare crows
fake leaves
pine cones(found outside, did not buy these)

Materials needed~
Something to decorate
candle
potpourri
fake corn
straw
fall decor balls


Friday, June 23, 2017

Growing baby broccoli

This was my first year with growing broccoli but man it was one heck of a experience. I planted my 5 plants in late March. I got them as sprouts from as local store mainly because my son who loves broccoli asked for it. As a first time grower I decided why not.....Anyway I never expected it to grow as well as it did. Our plants grew about two feet high and once  I started harvesting it grew back pretty quickly. Here is some things to remember when growing broccoli, some tips and tricks I learned. 
~They grow tall, though none of my plants needed support, I could see that happening growing this in the future.
~I grew baby broccoli because we like stir fry but there is different and bigger kinds of broccoli you can grow, each has different needs.
~They need full sun light(I read they can grow in shade but unsure how well, ours was in full sun) 
~They take about two months to mature, but again once they do they produce pretty quick.
~They need well drained soil, We added compost to ours that helped with keeping the soil well drained and gave the soil a extra boost for a healthy harvest.
~This is something I did not know before hand but found out as tempters reached 90 here...Broccoli does not like low temperatures or high heat. Our broccoli grew smaller and in time when  the soil got to hot it bolt.  I herd about laying straw down to keep the soil cool but it was to late for my plants.They grow best when temperatures are between 65-75.
~Keep your eyes open for pest like cabbage worms.
~A main head will form but also side shoots, both are of course edible. 
~ Harvest when heads are tight, size doesn't always means it is time to harvest. 
(in the picture above the bottom right shows heads that were not picked in time and most say they are not nice to eat after that but we still ate them with no problem, tasted fine.)
~Harvest with a clean sharp knife. Harvest the main head when it is about 2 inches and the side shoots when they are about 6 inches.
~Best when eaten fresh.
~If you do not harvest in time the broccoli will flower, I had one plant that really flowered. It looked so beautiful and once I removed it I become a great treat for our pup. 
~It can grow in both spring/fall, again just keep a eye out for temperatures. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Peach and nut pancakes!

One of the favorites here is these delicious peach and nut pancakes. They are simple to make and yes I do take one little short cut...I know, I know shame on me....The short cut I take when making these pancakes is using shake n pour pancake mix. Yes the one you simply add the water to, shake it and use it....with two little kids it makes breakfast easier BUT if you hand make your pancakes I give you credit this recipe would be even better with them!....did  I say recipe... I guess this is a recipe but really its as easy as just topping the pancakes you would normally make with peaches and nuts but remember some of these tips to style it your own...
Tips~
Try honey instead of maple syrup 
Try fresh peaches instead of canned but canned also saves time if it is a busy morning..believe me I understand just not having the time some mornings but still wanting a homemade breakfast 
Add the nuts into the pancake batter instead of on top (I like this for my kids who are kind of picky)
Add cinnamon to the pancake batter...not a lot is needed but sure is a good added 
Try different kinds of nuts and fruit