Versatile Vinegar

At the beginning of the year I made an orange-infused vinegar cleaner solution to use around the house.  I love it!  It cuts dirt, grime and grease and leaves a nice aroma after its use.  To investigate the uses of vinegar, I decided to poke around on the internet for a comprehensive site; click here.  It’s not fancy or flashy but lists in detail uses for vinegar in the garden, the home, pets, health, laundry, automotive, and cooking.  It also offers easy recipes to meet your needs.

Here’s fun video from Olivia Cleans Green on how to make a vinegar multi-purpose cleanser for your home.  Not sure if you’ll have more delight in watching her or in the fact that using vinegar to clean will reduce to toxic load at your homestead.

  • 1/2 cup distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 tsp dish detergent
  • 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice

Put all into a spray bottle, specifically in this order.  If you add the dish detergent first, you’ll have a new kind of party.  =)

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Home Composting

A benefit of gardening is that it can incorporate home composting.  Composting closes a loop in the food chain and is a huge step towards increasing personal and family sustainability practices.  Making leftovers useful by giving nutrients back to the earth.  Ready-made systems are available so home gardeners only need to decide which system is best suited to their eating habits and space.

Composted material, also known as humus, is dark, nutrient rich and earthy smelling.  Humus is perfect for soil amendment because it enhances soil structure.  humus enables sandy soil to hold more water, and clay soil to drain more water.  Improved soil provides a home for bacteria, fungi, and earthworms, allows for better breakdown of its components and carbon sequestration.

Common home composting systems include worm bins, food digesters, tumblers and bins of various other configurations.  Once gardeners begin using a system, they will quickly begin to receive the benefits of home composting with nominal effort.

weekend with permaculture now!

Last weekend Jenny Pell of Permaculture Now! http://www.permaculturenow.com/

sought out individuals to work with her to start an urban homestead.  The yard was in stage 2 of the transformation when 3 thrill seekers joined her.  Our tasks was to prep 3 areas for sheet mulching and then sheet mulch.

Q:  What is sheet mulching?

A:   Is a composting method used directly on the planned planting ground as a way to improve the condition of the soil.  Layers of nitrogen and carbon are added and both oxygen and water as well to help growing bacteria to breakdown the layers.

Here is a complete description of the process:  http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/sites/default/files/documents/Lasagna.pdf

We added: layers of cardboard, manure, compost, and fertile mulch.  We soaked each layer with water.  I’ve also sheet mulched with newspaper and leaves.  Use whatever organic materials you have at hand.

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5 doable things

Media is a buzz with the word ‘sustainable’.  Simple actions on a regular basis is all it takes. 

Here is a song to inspire.  Music tunes the heart, mind and spirit…re-center, re-focus, re-mind, re-form, re-generate what was there all along.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzvI-AX3zPQ

Alexi Murdoch, Slow Revolution

5 doable things:

1.  Run errands in your neighborhood and walk as you do them.  Don’t forget to smile, to share the sidewalk, and to say hello to people you pass.

2.  Have conversations with friends to come up with new ideas.

3.  Coveting your friends kickin’ jeans, have a clothing swap cocktail hour.  They may be up for trading. 

4.  Food dying in your refrigerator?  Ask a neighbor if they’d like your carrots, give them to the guy living down the block on the corner, ask someone over for dinner, figure out a situation that works for you. 

5.  Compost food at home.  It is free, no payment for the service required.

starts: begin NOW.

ooo…there are some capital letters in the title.  See, I’m not against making a strong impression.

Starting your own starts.  Good idea, go for it, you’ve nothing to lose!  You could say the time it takes to prep the starts BUT really!  That takes less than 15 minutes (after assembling all your materials). 

What do you need?  Seeds, compost, container, water.

What to do?

I have a stack of egg cartons and I’ve used the plastic start containers before.  I, Nedra, had trouble with the plastic containers.  I found it difficult getting the starts out with the dirt intact.  But maybe that’s just me.  I’m a bit uncoordinated sometimes.  I figure the egg cartons are made from recycled paper and will mulch nicely with the starts once they are put into the ground. 

Add compost.  I used Gardner and Bloom Potting soil purchased from City Peoples.  Make a hole to nestle in your seed.  Cover with dirt.  Place in a sunny warm spot for the seed to germinate.  The seed package will tell you how long the germination process will take.  Once the seeds sprout and a ready to transplant into the soil, Go for it!!  remember to  follow directions on the seed package.  Just like people, plants are particular to what helps them to grow strong and healthy.  (We just don’t come with instructions).  So follow the given instructions!

The next time I will  use a plastic, flexible cutting board for my working area.  Easy clean up, just have to shake the board into the bag holding the compost.  I also recommend lining the top of the egg carton with wax paper.  This keeps the flat, rectangular top from absorbing the water from the egg-shaped partitions that are now holding the seeds.

I’ll see how this goes and report back in a bit.  Super-duper…let me know if you have success.