Tag Archives: Gardening

Growing Herbs – Book review for Medicinal Herbs

medicinalherbsThere are times that I look around and ask myself “why don’t you just take a tylenol like everyone else… and then I remember all of the side effects and that I hate the fact that everything in medicines are so processed. 

We picked up this book about a year ago and I was so fascinated that we are now grown 80% of the plants from this book because we want to learn to use these plants rather than running to over-the-counter medicines. 

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs book is a fantastic starter guide for anyone looking at growing their own medicinal herbs.   This book not only has a list of different herbs and their uses, but also how to make tinctures, herbal teas, poultices, salves, infused oils, syrups, decoctions, etc. When reading through the book, I noticed that there are several herbs that I already use for our family including garlic, elderberries and turmeric for colds as well as yarrow and mint teas for fevers. But there were recipes for other herb combinations that I knew that I needed… so I began ordering seeds to get our garden growing. 

The books include the following herbs: 

  • basil
  • cayenne
  • cinnamon
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • thyme
  • turmeric
  • aloe vera
  • burdock
  • calendula
  • chamomile
  • chickweed
  • dandelion
  • echinacea
  • elder
  • goldenseal
  • hawthorn
  • lavender
  • lemon balm
  • licorice
  • marsh mallow
  • mullein
  • nettle
  • oats
  • peppermint
  • plantain
  • red clover
  • st. john’s wart
  • spearmint
  • valerian
  • yarrow

June 19th Aquaponics & Turkeys on homestead

krisandlarry.com - lettuce from aquaponics
krisandlarry.com – lettuce from aquaponics

I love what our family has built from the ground up. We are finally harvesting from our aquaponics grow beds. Our baby turkeys are now outside and beginning to gobble. Our homestead is a dream come true for us.

Check out our videos below. (made on a REALLY hot day in northern AZ. We actually have a heat warning today.)

 

Quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

It’s been several weeks since we posted any progress on our garden and I am pleased to announce that we are growing right along.

Of the seeds that we planted directly in the ground, the peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes, and turnips are all doing GREAT. The munchkins can’t wait to eat right from the garden. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that one single pea pod made it into the house last season… GREEN CANDY for the littles.

howdoesyourgardengrow

We also have a whole greenhouse FULL of tomatoes, brussel sprouts, peppers, kale, swiss chard, watermelon, squash and more!

Tip for your growing season: Tomatoes seeds start GREAT in red solo cups!

 

Summertime Foods – Saving your herbs

Summertime is such a great time to not only grow your own gardens with vegetables but also herbs to use in your kitchen! I have a pretty large herb selection in my garden as well. I store all of my bulk herb that I dehydrated in quart sized mason jars. I have them each labeled with chalkboard labels so that I can change them out… Then this year, I found the new BALL Herb Jars… (I found mine at my local ALCO store – But they are also online at AMAZON – link to the left)

I FELL I LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN! 😉

I still have all of my bulk herb jars in my pantry, but now, I have my little jars filled and labeled by my stove in a drawer. This makes it so much easier than searching for the big jars!

 

blog-herbjar

Herbs are REALLY easy to dehydrate (And you DO NOT need a dehydrator to do it) If you live where there is low humidity, you can lay your herbs out on trays and they should be dried out within about 24 hours. You can also use your oven set to the LOWEST temperature. You will need to flip the herbs over at least once while they are in the oven. 

So, You want to have fresh and/or dried herbs from your garden for your cooking? What herbs do I have in my garden?

  • Dill – I use in my potato salad, on fish and when I can my pickles
  • Cilantro – Think Mexican food – Cilantro is a staple here – in my guacamole, hummus, mixed with re-fried beans, taco meat and I even have a cilantro lime dressing that I make every week.
  • Parsley – I use mostly fresh to bring out the flavors and meld together other herbs. Tastes great with fish, chicken and veggies.
  • Lemon Balm – Use in my tea, to season my green salads, poultry and fish . The herb has a lemon taste with a hint of mint.
  • Chives – I use chives in my salads and on veggies. They have a slight onion taste.
  • Basil – this is another herb that I CAN NOT live without – Brescetta with tomato/basil, pesto and I love when I mix it with butter for toast with dinner!
  • Oregano – My basic Italian seasoning – oregano is best in italian dishes, in chili, with vegetables, soups.
  • Mint – in yogurt, with fresh fruit and dried for teas.
  • Rosemary – in potatoes, with roast

I do mix all of my herbs in my bread doughs for an added artisan flavor.

Summertime Activities for Kids… Gardening

I have several friends who are always asking me, “Kris, what do you do with your kids in the summer time. You have so many, how do you keep them entertained?? ”

garden-blogpeasFirst off, if the Sun is out… then the TV is OFF!This is something that I implemented years ago. I don’ t want my children to turn into couch potatoes. I have 4 that I homeschool and 3 that are in public school. We homeschool to the school year and take time off in the summer of formal school. That doesn’t mean that we are not schooling.  There are so many different things that you can do with your kiddlings that I am going to touch on different around the house activities and projects throughout the summer.

START A GARDEN!

Gardening  what we can eat is a major thing in our house. We have 3 acres where we live and I know that many people don’t have land like that that, but, why not try a container garden if you don’t have room for a larger one in your yard. Gardens do NOT have to be big, and they are REALLY REWARDING. Kids LOVE to eat the food that you grow.  

Nothing tastes better than fresh produce that you grew and harvested. With my kids, they know that their hard work will lead to a FANTASTIC meal. Last night we had swiss chard harvested less than an hour before to eat with dinner!!

garden-blog-TOMATILLOSI don’t have room for a garden! I hear that alot from friends – Guess what? You don’t need a ton of room if you want to have a garden. You can try a container garden right outside your front door! 

Tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos (green tomatoes) grow GREAT in larger pots on your patio. Remember that you do need 2 tomatillos for them to produce fruit. Your entire herb selection is great to grow in pots around your yard. Every year, we plant basil, chives, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, cilantro, parsley and dill in pots around the yard. Many of those pots I found at yard sales. Mint is also a really good grower – just make sure that you plant it in a pot if you don’t want it to spread!!! We use mint in our summertime-drinks (I have a kid mojito recipe that will be a hit – will post that soon)

If you have a wire fence, try planting seeding sunflowers (so that you can tie them up), green beans or sweet peas. Throughout the summer, I NEVER see peas come into the house. The kids will pick them right off of the vine and eat in the garden. Sunflowers are fun because after you harvest, you can feed all of those little birds in your yard with the seeds.

garden-blog-rowanandheronionsAre you worried about weeds???you are reading this post because you have kids right? They each have two little weed-picking hands. At our home, we make it into a GAME!!! Any weeds in our garden feeds our chickens. Even my 5 year-olds can both pick weeds!! We have a 15 minute timer that we use. 15 minutes a day gets all of those garden weeds down. If you are having a container garden, your weeds will be limited.We use the weed pulling time as family time and we ALL go out an pull!!!

So you have never planted a thing in your life? Guess what neither had I, until my parents moved to Arizona and started me on gardening. Now that this gift was introduced to me, I haven’t stopped. We have a LARGE garden that produces enough to feed my family of 9 in the summer and to can many items to use throughout the year like relish and salsas. But, remember to start SMALL! You have to have enough time to weed, water and tend your garden.

garden-blog-tomatoesFor a patio garden, you will need several larger pots…. no I am not talk 1Gallon… I am talking 5 gallon or larger! Potting soil and either plants or seeds. We start all of our plants by seeds but you can pick up plants at any hardware or discount store in your area.You will also need to fertilize your plants. I use GOATALYZER. (yep, goat poo is awesome and natural!) We try not to use any chemicals on our garden… Do I really want to eat things that kill bugs? I don’t want that in my body! Here is the website for goatalyzer – www.GOATALYZER.com

This year, I even invested in a greenhouse so that they seedlings weren’t taking over my kitchen and dining area. The greenhouse ran about $1000. It is 8’x6′ and has a sunshade, shelves and a ton of extras that we picked up. It took 2 days for Larry and I to put together. You can build your own or even just use your windowsill to start your seeds early in the season!

We started tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, brussel sprouts, tomatillos, butternut squash, cucumbers, zucchini all in the greenhouse this year.

garden-blog-sunflowersWe start our peas, onions, carrots, sunflowers, turnips, lettuce, radishes, chard, and spinach directly in the ground. We have them in a 4×4′ and 4×8′ plots in our garden. We have plots built from both railroad ties and from blocks.

Each garden can be built in order to fit your families needs.

The main bulk of seed that we are using, my dad’s shop is carrying. I am SO THRILLED with how many came up and are nearly ready to harvest.  I only buy non-GMO and and non-hybred so that I can use the seeds from year to year right out of my plants. Our watermelons and sunflowers from this year are off of watermelons that we grew last year and we saved their seeds!!

Here is the link to the seeds on MAZY’S

– http://mazys.com/emergency-preparedness/garden-seeds/40-000-garden-seeds

So, I want to end this with HAPPY GARDENING!!! I hope that you can have a successful summer with your kids outside together.

garden-blog-basil garden-blog-dill garden-blog-radishes

Revisiting Garlic

If you have been following our blog for a while, you know how important it is for us to have a garden. We love fresh produce and it helps off-set the cost in the summer, not to mention that we eat every night during the summer months with at least one thing from our garden on our table. This last summer, we bought a box full of Russian Red garlic (Here is the link!! CLICK ME!) We planted it in my “old bathtub” outside by the backyard patio. I was watering yesterday and LOOK!!! We have about 35 of them coming up now so far!!!!

 

Note to self – Do NOT let Berlyn help  water ANYTHING in the yard unless you want rocks in the flower bed. 🙂

And so it begins… the quest for less dirt in the yard!

I LOVE my house. It is big enough for everyone! We have a schoolroom, I have a studio. There are 4 bedrooms and a TON of land for us… however, the land is all dirt. I want plants and trees to bring birds and butterflies and bees…. My amazing husband has been put out on a quest to make that happen.

Lar and I have been collecting all of our landscaping goodies for months… and this weekend was BEAUTIFUL! So, outside we went… wrangling every kid, including my nephews for landscaping. My youngest nephew Jake looked at me and said… so we are doing yardwork then? I told him that “landscaping” can go on his resume but yardwork couldn’t!!!! LOL

OK… So here is our yard at the beginning… just dirt (I have new climbing roses in the red pot(there are 3 on the patio)

This weekend we managed to get the 9 fence posts in the ground cemented.  The new grapevines are in my greenhouse window staying warm for a few more weeks. The trellis to go on the fence posts is in the garage waiting for next weekend.

 

And, we have started our garden – yes I know that it is a bit early, but we needed to get the onion in the ground before it heats up or they may not take. So we have the first of the  raised beds filled and planted!!! Lar and I plan on added steps in the hill next weekend (as long as the weather agrees!)