Thursday, June 26, 2014

DIY Weed Killer Spray

Weeding is back-breaking work and too often I spend hours weeding only to have the weeds sneak back in no time at all. Pre-made weed sprays can work wonders, but are expensive and who wants to spray chemicals all over the yard? Not me. I found a better solution that not only works faster and better, but is much cheaper.

DIY Weed Killer Spray
  • 1 gallon vinegar
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dawn liquid dish soap (used the basic blue type)
Mix all ingredients together. I just shaked to combine.
Pour solution in a spray bottle or into a pressurized sprayer. Now attack those weeds.

For best results: Apply when rain is not forecasted for a day or two. Keep in mind this solution will kill anything that is put on. So if you spray plants you want to keep, it will kill them. But on the bright side the spray will also kill off grass if you planning to make a new planting bed.

This a very Eco-friendly way to beat those weeds. We love that we can use this solution and not worry about the kids or the dog being by where we sprayed. We also live on the river and don't want to have dangerous run off adding to the pollution of the river. 

This solution created very quick surprising results. We have many thistles that we are fighting against in a bed we are trying to regain control of. I used this spray in only 4 hours the leaves were already brown and the weeds were on their way to wasting away. Victory! 

Before & 4 hours after application.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fruit Infused Sun Tea

Sunshine, check! Hot weather, check!

You can brew up a special treat by using God's own sunshine and warmth. We love to make this recipe and let it steep while we are working in the yard for a rewarding refreshing drink.

Fruit Infused Sun Tea
(makes 1/2 gallon)

Large Mason Jar, with metal cover (used 1/2 gallon size)
5 tea bags (fruit, black or green... you pick)
3/4 cup fruit (berries, oranges, lemon, limes)

Tea just starting to steep.
For the quickest and best results use a large glass jar with a metal lid. The metal lid attracts heat.

Place tea bags into the jar. We used Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion flavor. Yum!

Place chopped fruit into jar. We used a mixture of strawberries and garden fresh raspberries.

Fill the jar up with water, to about 1 inch head space (canner talk for 1 inch from the top rim). There are no special directions for temperature of the water, as the sun will heat the water all on its own.

Place cap on securely. Then place jar in direct, full sun for 4-6 hours.

Enjoy your sun tea over ice or place jar in refrigerator to cool.

Drink as soon as possible, after all this was made with fresh fruit. Refrigerate and drink within 2 days.

Enjoy your cup of summer!
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. - Psalm 113:3

Monday, June 2, 2014

Garden Update: Week of 5/25/14

Wow, what a busy week it has been at our house...
Memorial Day charity walk, dance rehearsals and recitals, last day of school, awards ceremony, gymnastics practice, a theater play, pine car derby and oh, yeah gardening.

Despite our busy schedules we were able to get some more of the garden planted...
Jalapeños, sweet corn, popcorn, decorative corn, sugar snap peas, green beans, spinach, broccoli, garlic, horseradish, onions, cucumbers, pickles, watermelons, carrots and quinoa.

And we planted the saddest tomato plants I have ever seen. We found 3 huge, but neglected tomato plants at Aldi's, for 50 cents total. The nurse in me is hoping to bring them back to health. Our tomato plant total is now at 32 (we may need some reinforcements when these are all ready to be harvested and preserved).

Our evenings are falling back into our summer routine, which brings Ron outside after dinner to water the garden. We are hoping to use mostly drip irrigation on the garden but there is a back corner that is getting the sprinkler treatment for the moment. Drip irrigation helps to create wider and deeper roots and makes your plants healthier. 

Here is a peak at the wildlife gracing our yard this past week:

Here is a recap of what else you might have missed from the week:

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Foraging and Preserving Ramps

There is such a wonderful feeling that comes with finding your own food out in the "wild". It is like you are so lucky to find this tasty treat out in the wilderness just waiting for you. I was not brought up foraging but I have quickly learned to love it. It brings together many things I love: frugality, nature and spending time with my family. Just recently our family had a great time foraging for ramps and here are a few tips to help guide your efforts.

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) go by the name ramsons, wild garlic, wild leeks or spring leeks and have become widely popular in the last few years. They have a wonderful flavor combination of garlic and onion. These plants offer a wide variety of uses from the bulbs to leaves.

Ramps have 1 to 2 broad, smooth, light green leaves that progress into deep purple or burgundy coloring down the stems into the white bulbs. The bulbs are similar to scallions or green onions. The bulbs are rooted in the dirt, just below the surface of the earth. If you are still not sure if you found a ramp, just rip into the leave and take a whiff. You should notice a strong onion scent.

Be warned that the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) can have a similar appearance and are poisonous. But the leaf of the lily of the valley does not smell of onions. Lily of the valley also has small white bell shaped flowers.

With the popularity of ramps, they are getting harder and harder to find. Here are a few ways you can get your harvest on and still keep the ramps growing for years to come too. You should only harvest a portion of any items you find foraging and only take what you will use. This will keep this plant growing in your favorite location year after year. You can also leave the roots behind by cutting the roots off of the bulb.

Ramps are very versatile. The bulbs and leaves can be used just like you would onions, green onions, chives and garlic. But the effects are much more flavorful.

After you have harvested the ramps, you should wash them in cold water, rinsing well. Lay them out to dry. Cut off the roots from the end of the bulb. (Tip: Save the rooty ends and plant them in a shady location within your yard for your own sustainable crop.)

Next, separate the white part from the green leaves. Slice up the white portion into sections for use in whatever recipe you choose. The green leaves can be chopped and added to a salad or even puréed into pesto. 

For long term storage:
The white portion of the ramp can be stored in a freezer, in a plastic storage bag for months. This portion can also be pickled. Or the entire harvest can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or so. The green portion does not freeze well, so use when freshly harvested.