Cabbage in your Bra

Photo Credit EdithCereal

Last month Dear Hubs and I drug (dragged?  Sorry, grammar is not my strong suit…) our 5 little ones out of bed around 4am (I should say early one morning, but seriously, 4am is the middle of the night!) to board a plane to Houston to visit our favorite Texans.  I had planned this endeavor and rehearsed it in my head over and over.  I had terrible dreams of what could go wrong… AHHH! WHERE’S GABRIEL!?!?! Oh there he is on the plane to Acapulco…  I even practiced my belligerent   “HELL NO!  TSA agent on a power trip, you can keep your hands OFF my daughter!”

What I did not plan for, was a raging breast infection at 4am the morning I’m supposed to shuffle my little herd through security and onto a 3hr plane ride…

When I went to bed around 11, it was only slightly achy, not even enough to really think about.  But when the alarm went off at 3:50am, I was shaking so hard from the fever that my teeth were chattering, and it felt like someone took a sledge-hammer to my chest!  It brought tears to my eyes, just nursing my little one that morning.

Then in the back of my mind, I recalled a nugget of info that I read a while back, and tucked away in my brain for a moment such as this…  Cabbage!! I always try a natural remedy before heading to the Doctors office.  Mostly, it works out and we get better on our own.  Even so,  I had little faith that stuffing my bra with cabbage would do much, but at 4am, there were no other options!

So on our way to the airport, (thank God for 24hr grocery stores) I purchased a head of green cabbage.  Immediately the cool leaves relieved some discomfort and within 5 minutes, I could feel the pain draining out of my body and the fever lifting.  I was shocked!  I should have a little more faith in mother nature though 😉

And in case you wondered, no, you cannot bring a bottle of water through security, but a head of cabbage is no problem!

“Here’s your purse ma’am, your shoes…and… your head of cabbage?”

I’ve been trying to do a little research to see why cabbage helps with a breast infection.  I have an Herbal PDR, but it didn’t have any info on cabbage relating to breast health.  I know cabbage is a storehouse of nutrients, but couldn’t pin point exactly what it does in your bra.

I did find some info on cabbage and weaning.  Some claim a connection between cabbage and decreasing your milk supply, so I guess I would do your own research, and only use cabbage short-term.  And of course, you should always consult your doctor with any medical condition or treatment.

What home remedies have you used to help with mastitis?

10 Uses for Baking Soda

Baking soda

photo credit: rowdykittens

The steps to living a “cleaner” and “greener” life seem monumental when you’re just beginning. I remember after I started reading a few books on the subject, my head was spinning. I kept wondering what to tackle first, trying to make it work within my budget, trying to stay sane.

What I found was that changing over the cleaners we use in our home first, made the most sense. Not only for the air quality in our house, but also because it began saving me money immediately which left me money to save for the changes that would cost me more. I began to find “recipes” using common kitchen ingredients that helped me keep my home clean, one of which was baking soda. That little used box in the back of the cupboard came out of hibernation and has been a help in my cleaning box ever since.

10 Ways to use Baking Soda

  1. Sprinkle in the bottom of greasy or dirty pans, spray on a few squirts of vinegar, soak for a couple of minutes, and apply a little elbow grease. Safe for scrubbing all sorts of pans
  2. Use it to clean your showers and sinks. Sprinkle in and scrub away! Can also use a bit of vinegar for those extra tough spots.
  3. Deodorizes those disposable diaper pails – just place some in the bottom of the pail, replace as necessary.
  4. Also deodorizes cloth diapers when you add 1/2 cup to the 1st rinse cycle. Always do a second rinse.
  5. Keeps the carpets smelling fresh. You can even add a few drops of essential oil to give your home a wonderful scent.  If you’re freshening up after a mess, let the carpet dry, sprinkle it in and let sit for a few minutes. Vacuum away.
  6. You can also use it to clean toys and baby equipment. Just put a bit on a wet sponge and wipe everything down. Rinse it off with another damp towel or put it in the sink and rinse.
  7. You can give stuffed animals a dry bath by sprinkling with baking soda, let set for 15 minutes and brush off.
  8. Use it to put out fires on the stove top. (of course use your head – if it’s too bad call 911)
  9. You can even use it to clean off fruits and veggies. Sprinkle on , wipe, and rinse or fill a sink with water and a bit of baking soda, soak momentarily, and rinse.
  10. A half a cup mixed into warm water makes a great floor cleaner.

 

Do you use baking soda other than in baked goods?



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Father’s Day Ideas, part one

photo credit: the cocoacakery

As a Daughter, Granddaughter and Wife I feel like I have a big responsibility with Father’s Day right around the corner.  I just bought, signed and stamped 7 Father’s Day cards (I am trying to plan ahead this year).  Now I have to decide which special guy do I celebrate this year, my loving Husband, my wonderful Dad or my sweet old Grandpa.  I am so over the “go out to eat” gig, I want to do something special.  So I set out on a search for something that will make the special men in my life feel as important as they should.

Here are my ideas.

  • Golfing, every guy loves golf right?  Well my Husband does and he would LOVE for us all to go golfing together.
  • Letters for Grandpa, I think it would be awesome for each child and grandchild to write a letter to Grandpa and we can present them in a nice folder or binder.
  • Game night, since guys tend to be gamers, we could invite over all the special guys and do a night of poker, apples to apples, guitar hero, or whatever their favorites are.
  • Craig’s Cruisers, this is an idea from my 13-year-old Son, but it is a good one. My Husband loves to drive the go carts and play laser tag.
  • Baseball game, going to a game is a very manly thing to do, and something I personally would never want to do, so it shows I really love them if we go!
  • DIY gifts, all parents and grandparents love gifts made by hand, so have your crafty kids make a baseball paperweight, a cool key chain or a bedazzled tool belt!

 

A couple of things going on locally in the Grand Rapids area  on Father’s Day weekend are:

The Walker festival is a fun, family friendly event and very friendly to your wallet as well.   Walker Festival

Field of Green festival is a fun event at the Blandford nature center, one of my favorite places! Field of Green Festival

All day with the arts, for only $3 at the GRAM – A day with the arts

The West Michigan Chalk Art Festival looks like it will be loads of fun for all! Chalk Festival

Here is the baseball game I was talking about, go support the Whitecaps.  Whitecaps game

All Dads get in free to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, can’t beat free.  Childrens Museum

 

So make sure you treat your special guy to something a little different this year. What do you have planned so far?

How to Make Toddlers Pants Fit

I have skinny little kids.

My son was barely on the charts at two years old and my daughter (though I haven’t checked the charts for her in awhile) is built exactly the same. They’re just little and thin!

Back when my son was two and potty trained, he couldn’t keep his pants up for anything. I saw an ad online for these cute little snappers that acted like a belt, but only in the back. While super cute,they were pretty pricey, so I began to brainstorm to find something else that would be just as useful.

Back when I used to ride and show horses, we had to wear clips on the bottom of our pants (strapped under the boots) to keep our pants from riding up, and they were adjustable. I knew they were at least a few bucks a pair, but better than paying $15 for a “belt”.

Before I was able to get to the store to pick up a pair, my mom did me one better.

She found these little clips (advertised for keeping mittens on coats) at the dollar store – two of them for just a buck. And they worked great! Even on his pants that don’t have loops, I can just clip them onto the extra fabric. At four years old, we still use these for my son. And hopefully very soon my two year old daughter won’t be wearing cloth diapers that keep her pants up. 😉


*this post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday


All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Simple Cleaners You Can Make at Home

Guest post by Jenny of the Southern Institute for Domestic Arts

One area of the home that is a huge market for companies that make cleaning products is the kitchen.  We do so much in the kitchen and very often have to make sure that we are disinfecting extremely well after handling certain foods.  There are the countertops, the sinks, the dishes, the floors… all need to be kept clean in order to avoid falling prey to what can be some pretty nasty viruses and bacteria (salmonella anyone?).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily feel comfortable using harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals to clean my kitchen, especially with little ones in our family. It seems like a battle between the two evils, nasty germs or potential side effects from harsh chemicals.  Why does it have to be a choice between the two?

Quite awhile back I attended a workshop on having a healthy home and came out of it with some great ideas for cleaning naturally.  I have been incorporating several of these ideas into my cleaning routine ever since.  One thing that I do now is make some of my own cleaners.

All-Purpose Cleaner
I use this in the kitchen all of the time!  On the counters, on the stove, around the sink, even on the teapot (that always seems to be gunked up with grease).  It cleans well and leaves a great scent too.  Here’s what you’ll need (I normally double this recipe):

A spray bottle
white vinegar
borax (you’ll find this in the cleaners section of your local grocery)
distilled water
liquid vegetable soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s unscented castille soap)
essential oils

Mix 1 T vinegar and 1 t borax together well in your bottle.  To that, add 3/4 cup of warm distilled water and mix well.  Add 2 T liquid vegetable soap and 10 drops of essential oils.  Put the cap on your bottle and shake well.  Mark your bottle well, including which oils you used.



Carpet Freshen-Upper
1 cup of baking soda
10-12 drops of essential oils
an airtight container (I store mine in an old jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid)

Simply mix the essential oils into the baking soda!  That’s it.  Sprinkle it on your carpet  and vacuum it up.  It will leave the whole room smelling fresh!



During the cold and flu season (which seems to get longer and longer each year) I use Thieves Essential Oil Blend as my main oil in my cleaners and here’s why:
The proprietary Thieves oil blend was created based on research into the concoction used by the thieves of the 15th century. In 1997, studies conducted at Weber State University showed it to have a 99.96% success rate against airborne bacteria. The bacteria cultures were sprayed in an enclosed area, and Thieves oil blend was diffused for a given amount of time.  (Taken from www.secretofthieves.com)
I use Thieves in my all-purpose cleaner and my carpet freshen-upper.  I also use it as a preventative measure with the kids during sickie season.  We no longer get flu shots so I’m big on supplements and natural remedies.  To use the Thieves, I dilute several drops in extra virgin olive oil and  rub it into the kids skin around the neck and chest area.  If it’s well-diluted it doesn’t cause skin irritation, but if your child has sensitive skin I would test a tiny patch of skin first.

Another little kitchen tip is to use distilled white vinegar in place of your dishwasher rinse aid!  That rinse aid is scary stuff… so toxic! Vinegar works like a charm.

If making your own cleaners isn’t your thing there are plenty of natural cleaners for sale online and in stores. Ecostore makes one of my favorite dish detergents and I just got a whole kit of natural cleaners from Better Life that I can’t wait to try out.

Jenny is a stay at home mom with three children and blogs at The Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts – a blog of sharing, learning, and creativity.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

*this post is also linked to Frugal Fridays.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Up-cycled Tees

In the spirit of transformation and the renewal of spring I bring to you a re-purposing project that will turn that stack of old t-shirts with good intentions of being brought to a resale shop into a new shirt for that toddler in your life.

I had a step by step tutorial ready just for this until my computer gave the blue screen of death.  Adding to the awesomeness that can come with relying on technology, my Ipod has decided not to transfer photos. Plan B is to offer you some great links to women who have already figured out how awesome it is to re-purpose old T’s and have had the cooperation of technology to publish what they’ve done. Why reinvent the wheel? Right?

To create the pattern for mine I was inspired by Dana at Made. Her 90 minute shirt tutorial is easy to use and produces a great tee for your little guy (or gal). I took apart a reglan onsie that fit Cedar and copied the pieces with a bit of a seam allowance onto a brown grocery bag.

After my pattern was finished I cut out pieces from old t-shirts I had gathered. Since mine was a raglan shirt and not an envelope I opted to use instructions on putting together this style tee from this  raglan sleeve dress tutorial (excluding the elastic and girly touches).  I left the bottom hem unfinished on two of the shirts a la Tee for Two by Patterns by Figgy’s. In about 2 1/2 hours Cedar had 4 more new summer shirts that he can refuse to wear in favor of his birthday suit.

Three of the shirts I made for my son by re-purposing old t-shirts:

I love Rae’s tips and advice on patterns for sewing knit t-shirts. Her creativity with  embellishments makes me smile 😀

Here are a few other recycled t-shirt links for your browsing pleasure.

  • A cute dress from Create and Delegate. I also think I need to make quite a few of these for a certain little girl.
  • I made a few of upcycled t-shirt dresses from I Am Momma-Hear me Roar for Willow in the fall. I had so much fun I couldn’t stop until I ran out of t-shirts! LOVE the t-shirt to cardigan idea and I think that Willow’s wardrobe is beckoning for one. Or two.

There are so many fantastic ideas out there for up-cycling the knit shirts in your giveaway box or those hiding in the corners of your dresser. It’s one of my favorite ways to give my kids something that is re-used, non-toxic, inexpensive, and mama-made.

Before long you’ll find yourself in your husbands closet convincing him that he only needs 7 shirts and the rest could find better uses supplying you with lots of material to work with!

How do you re-purpose your clothes?

 

*this post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday

Controlling the Grocery Budget

guest author Jana Christian

Late last year, I made the difficult decision to quit my part-time job to devote more time and energy to my family who, at the time, showed signs of needing my undivided attention. So, with my husband’s encouragement, I typed up the resignation letter and, as of January 1, began a new career as a stay-at-home mom.

Suddenly, my full-time job became controlling costs and my first order of business was tackling the monthly grocery bill. This is a serious task for anyone, but as a parent of two children with potentially life-threatening food allergies, my job was even more difficult. Over the past few months, I have made vast improvements to our budget, despite my desire to maintain serving my family very high quality food. Here is some of what I have learned:

 

1. Cook at Home

I know, this is a no-brainer, but it really is worth repeating. Not only is it cheaper, it is healthier since you can control both portion sizes and quality. It doesn’t have to be gourmet; it simply needs to fulfill your basic needs. In fact, my children love “Funny Dinner” when they get to choose their own meal from what is available in the fridge. They may end up with air-popped popcorn sometimes and leftover chicken and carrot sticks, but it’s still better than fast food!

And while I’m on the topic, you can make more than just dinner in your kitchen. You could be saving hundreds of dollars a year (honestly) by making your own side dishes (oven fries are a cinch), snacks (who needs potato chips when you have homemade bagels or chocolate chip cookies?), nut butters, breakfast cereal, spice mixes, salad dressings, broth and even frozen yogurt. Since starting this cost cutting adventure several months ago, I have cut down our breakfast costs considerably by mastering the art of making bagels, waffles and muffins, granola and yogurt.

meal planning

photo credit: perspicacious

 

2. Meal Plan

There are thousands of books, websites and even entire organizations devoted to meal planning and there are as many methods to meal planning as there are families. My first introduction to meal planning was rather unsuccessful as I used a technique that was too structured for our lifestyle. Now, instead of planning a rigid calendar-based menu weeks in advance, I keep staples on hand for several quick meals (when everyone is tired and hungry) and purchase other fresh foods for more involved meals that will provide leftovers for lunches. This way, I am not frustrated when no one is in the mood for pizza or a sudden heat wave motivates me to get out of the kitchen!

 

3. Shop Smarter

Couponing has never worked for our family. Typical foods that can be purchased with a coupon are not safe for food allergies and many of them are devoid of nutritional value. In addition, the only supermarket in my area has been listed in Consumer Reports as the highest priced grocery chain in the US so I have not shopped there in years. Instead, I shop at small health food and specialty stores and remain vigilant about prices. I simply keep the cost comparison in my head, but it may be necessary to create an actual price notebook in which the product name, size and the per unit cost of the item is listed. More major companies are decreasing the amount of product in a package to help defray rising costs.

SALES/DISCOUNTS/INCENTIVES

  • I take advantage of sale items and case/bulk discounts and have been known to combine the two when the sale is good! For example, when the health food store put organic oats on sale for 79 cents a pound, I purchased an entire 25 lb. bag to take advantage of the added discount for bulk purchases.
  • Sign up for preferred customer cards if they help you earn discount coupons or other incentives.
  • Several local stores also provide motivation for bringing your own bags in the form of percentage savings off your total purchase or instant cash back.

PRIORITIZE

I keep a list of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” in my purse and purchase those items organic, but opt for conventional when purchasing produce that is rated lowest in pesticides (the “Clean 15”). Also, I keep one dozen organic eggs in the fridge at all times, but I will buy cheaper eggs for making my protein pancakes that only use the whites. I will also prioritize my organic purchases based on what my family consumes most often… my son drinks a LOT of milk so that is purchased organic, but he doesn’t eat cauliflower as often so I buy that conventional.

View over Gaias Ängar

photo credit: mattiasostmar

 

4. Get Out of the Store

Although typical CSAs (community sustained agriculture) can be pricey, there are many different options for purchasing produce directly from the farmer. Obviously, farmers markets are a viable option. We also have access to a year-round indoor/outdoor market with more than 100 vendors specializing in meats, cheeses, produce, baked goods, pasta and spices. Some vendors provide frequent shopper savings and will even email you an update on what produce will be available that week.

CO-OPs

To lower costs even more, get together with several friends and start a mini co-op by agreeing to purchase a large amount of produce directly from a farmer for a reduced rate and then splitting the bounty between participants.

Another option is purchasing from an existing cooperative. Most major cities have a freestanding cooperative store from which you can purchase all your grocery items. Invest in the cooperative financially or with volunteer hours and you can get a reduced rate. Smaller co-ops do not have the added cost of overhead, they may simply be run out of a family home, but may require more work on your part for order placement and dividing up purchased goods. Check out coopdirectory.org to see what is offered in your area or information about how to start your own.

BUYING CLUBS

Buying clubs are also growing in popularity. Generally, a group of families work together to place a large order with one of these national distributors and the completed order is then be delivered to a local drop-site or one participant’s home. There is some coordination of time and goods involved, but it can be cost effective if you do not have access to a reasonable health food store.

 

5. Don’t Waste

On average, Americans waste about one pound of food per day. Eliminate this waste and you could be saving yourself a great deal of money each month. You can cut down or even eliminate waste using several techniques:

First, use more delicate produce quickly, but keep some vegetables and fruits that can be stored for longer periods of time as well. This same concept can be applied by purchasing some produce fresh and others frozen. There is little difference in nutrient density between the two and frozen can be a better option if it is either cheaper or you know you will be unable to use up fresh fruits or vegetables before they go to waste.

If I notice I have an abundance of something (milk was on sale or the broccoli is past its prime) or need to use up a leftover (Thanksgiving turkey, anyone?), I will do an internet search for recipes using that ingredient. Allrecipes.com goes one step further by allowing you to choose the ingredients you do not want to include. This allows me to narrow my search by eliminating any recipes that include one of the potentially allergenic foods.

 

To be honest, I had no idea what my new job as stay-at-home mom would entail and how it would change my perspective on a great many parenting issues, including budgeting. I welcome you into this community of like-minded moms who share a passion for healthy eating on a budget and invite you to learn more about the topic (and yourself) every day!

natural living momsJana Christian, mother of two, recently transitioned to full-time stay-at-home mom. Her extensive knowledge about and passion for health and nutrition have helped her resolve her own personal health issues (including a life-threatening eating disorder and severe postpartum depression) and adjust her family’s diet to accommodate multiple food allergies and environmental sensitivities. Jana takes her job very seriously and can unusually either be found at the library researching new theories or in the kitchen baking bread.

 

 

How to do control your grocery budget?

*This post is linked to Frugal Friday



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Adventures in Gardening

My family and I just moved to our ‘soon to be’ hobby farm last fall.

We moved so we could do things like raise livestock and grow a great big garden. When we lived in a neighborhood, we always turned a little earth and plopped a few garden center veggie seedlings in the ground around mid May.  That never yielded much success… …….as soon as my squash would start to flower and it would look like our patience was about to pay off, a grub would come along and hollow out the stalk of my little plant, or when the green tomatoes were just starting to turn a beautiful shade of red, I’d forget to water them, then to make up for the self-inflicted drought, I’d water the heck out of them and cause them all to split.

Sob stories of my unsuccessful gardening like these are many!  I joke about having a black thumb, but that was really just my excuse not to learn the art of organic gardening.Rhode Island Red

When we moved to the country,  we knew that it was time to get serious about developing a supply of food that our family could depend on. Last fall we started out with chickens!  (That’s been a learning curve!  But perhaps a good story for another post……)

And all winter long, we’ve been dreaming of spring! Reading every gardening book I can get my hands on, mapping out my veggie plot, and pouring over seed catalogs, waiting for the moment that first little green leaf would poke itself through the earth and sing promises of summer abundance!

We began in early February…  My husband built this set up in our furnace room.

Starting Seeds Indoors

Within a few days, our tomato plants of varying variety began to emerge!!  Followed shortly by the cabbage.  And after giving up on the pepper plants (notice them stacked up on top of each other at the back.  I didn’t water them for WEEKS), about 6 weeks after planting them, they began to sprout!

We figure that half(or less) of our seedlings won’t make it to maturity.  So we’ve planted enough to give us some replacements when the inevitable happens.

After further reading, I’m not convinced that starting seeds early is going to be worth the trouble.  Sounds like you really have to baby the transplants.  I learned new vocabulary like ‘hardening off’ which is the process of getting little seedlings used to being outdoors a few hours at a time.  Sounds like a lot of work to me!  Transplanted seedlings are the vegetable equivalent of a Mama’s Boy……..  Maybe the extra attention will pay off and I’ll end up with the Bill Gates of tomato plants, but I’m wondering if all this hand holding and coddling with be worth my time {shrug} Time will tell!

So, while the jury is still out on the topic of starting seedlings indoors, I found a few plants that I can actually plant outside now!  Here in West Michigan, our avg date of last frost is around mid May.  (Find last frost dates)

When to Plant

Plants are classified as very hardy, frost tolerant, tender, and hot weather.  Very hardy plants can be seeded directly in the ground 4-6 weeks before avg date of last frost and frost tolerant plants can go in 2-3 weeks before last frost date.  Tender plants go in the ground right around the last frost, and hot weather plants 2-3 weeks later.  Knowing what veggies to plant when will allow you to get started earlier than you thought, and also protect vulnerable plants from the colder weather.

I found a wonderful resource from Mother Earth News.  They have garden planning software that will tailor a planting calendar to your area.  And then it will even e-mail you when it’s time to plant or harvest something!  I’ve had a lot of fun playing with my 30 day free trial.  After that it’s only $25/yr, a steal for all the helpful tools that it has!!

Success with Succession Gardening

I also found a great book, ‘Starter Vegetable Gardens’ that includes plans for gardens of all sizes.   One thing I love about this book is, it gives you ideas of what to plant after your cool weather crops are finished.  That way there will never be an unproductive empty spot in my garden!

The idea behind succession gardening is that once a plant has been harvested for the season, you can plant something in it’s place that won’t need the same nutrients that the first plant has already depleted from the soil.  It’s a give and take relationship between the 2 plants!

Another form of succession gardening is crop rotation.  The idea is simple, by changing things up, pest and disease won’t have a chance to set in!  No need for nasty chemicals. Also, certain plants will deposit nutrients into the soil and you can follow it up with a plant that will need that nutrient.  No need for artificial fertilizer.

Found this neat chart while researching companion planting:

 

credit to http://robbinscabin.blogspot.com

 

Can’t we all just get along?- Companion Planting

While a ‘Spaghetti Sauce’ garden sounds cute, it doesn’t work well.  Suggestions to plant tomatoes and oregano together aren’t based on anything scientific.  Tomatoes and Oregano both need the same nutrients from the soil at the same time.  Neither one will be happy in a bed together.   Instead plant carrots with your tomatoes and watch how each plant thrives!

(Seeds of Change has a great chart that lists companions and their benefits)

A fun example of a companion garden is an ancient combination that was discovered by Native Americans called the ‘3 Sisters Garden’; corns, beans, and squash.

Corn becomes a natural trellis for the beans to climb.  Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall soil fertility by providing nitrogen that the corn will need in years to come.  The bean vines also help support the corn plants, making them less likely to fall over in a gust of strong wind.  Shallow-rooted squash vines become the ultimate organic mulch, choking out would be weeds and keeping the soil cool and moist. Spiny squash plants also help discourage insects from attacking your corn and beans.  At the end of the season, the left over stalks and vines can be turned into the soil to replenish lost nutrients and improve the overall quality of the turf.

Corn, beans and squash also work well together in your body!  Corn is great source of carbohydrates, the dried beans provide the protein, balancing the  corns lack of important amino acids.  Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds

And here’s one of those beautiful natural teachable moments!  With a little research online, you’ll come up with a treasure trove of ideas to dig a little deeper into this technique with your kids; a great segway into Native American history.  Your kids will love to grow an Indian Garden.  And then (maybe…..fingers crossed…) they’ll enjoy eating the beans and squash they grew.

photot credit: Mother Earth News

 

Feeling overwhelmed?  K.I.S.S.

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by all the gardening lingo and the millions of different things to consider!  But I think there’s really no such thing as failure in gardening. Any flop is a lesson learned. The important thing is that you dig in and learn a little something about providing something fresh and healthy for your family!  A great place to start is with something as simple as a “bag garden“.  Mother Earth News site has a simple plan to get you started.  All you’ll need is a few bags of organic topsoil and some seed packets!

My Mom has done this with great success for a few years in a row.  She works full time and would rather spend her free time chasing horses and Grandkids than pulling weeds.  And this works for her.

Here we go!

So, we’re off to a good start over here…  My seeds are sprouting (well, most of them).  And my garden tools are gathered up and ready to roll.  As soon as we get an afternoon with some sun, my 5 little monkeys and I will begin turning up the dirt!  We’ll start out with some very hardy seeds like broccoli, kale, lettuce, potatoes, and onions.  And gradually as the weather warms, we’ll add things to out plot one by one.  One thing is for certain, I’m going to learn A LOT more about gardening this summer and I’ll be certain to fill you in on what flops and what flourishes.

Now get off the computer and GET OUT AND GO PLAY IN THE DIRT!!