Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Garden Progress!

Well friends, this is our third year with a vegetable garden, and let me tell you, there is no better feeling than sowing seeds, nurturing and watching them grow, and harvesting the product of all your hard work! No food tastes as good as that which you grow yourself!

Now we are by no means experts, but every year we learn a little more and the garden gets bigger and better than the last year! The biggest thing I have learned over the past three years is the importance of weeding. I know that seems obvious but until put into practice I hadn't realized how big of a difference it makes. :) This year I am weeding more than ever and we added straw to the aisles and around some of the plants to help cut back on the weeds. It isn't a complete barricade against the weeds, but every little bit helps!

Also this year we created a tripod support system for our climbing plants. We tied three posts together and wound cord around them to give the peas and other climbers some support and room to grow!

We also used the waste from our chicken coop as a fertilizer around the plants. While adding nutrients it also helps hold moisture into the soil underneath it.

We have many different varieties of plants, some we have grown before, and some we have never tried.  We run on the philosophy that if we don't know what we are doing, now is the perfect time to learn!

This year we are growing 2 different types of tomatoes, cabbage, brussel sprouts, 4 varieties of lettuce, onions, snap peas, shelling peas, wax beans, purple beans, green beans, broccoli,  cauliflower,  parsnips, carrots, corn, peppers, cucumbers, cantaloupe,  watermelons and pumpkins!

It is certainly a lot of work but it is absolutely worth it in the end. We love producing our own food and not having to rely on someone else for it, such as a grocery store. In addition to feeding us for the summer I also preserve as much as I can for the winter. It is nice having a full pantry as the harsh weather sets in!

We love our garden and I have even come to love going out to weed it hehe! :) Tell us about your favorite thing to grow and harvest from your garden!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dryer Ball Tutorial!

Hey there friends! Well it has been about a year since we have last posted! We will have to get better about that. Spring is on its way  here on our little homestead, meaning lots of projects for us! We will certainly keep you posted.

Today I thought I would share with you a project that I have been working on. Have you ever heard of "dryer balls?" I hadn't until the other day. These little woolen balls are intended to replace dryer sheets and fabric softener as a greener alternative. It has also been said that they reduce drying time, conserving energy. Well, that all sounds great right?! I thought so until I looked around to buy them! Apparently these little gems are expensive! Some of the sites we looked at had them listed for around 20 dollars a pair(you want to use 4 to 6 balls per load)!


So we decided to make our own. For WAYYYYY cheaper! Here's how it goes:

1. 100% Wool sweater(we found some at Goodwill for just a few dollars)
2. 100% Wool Yarn (I used 1 skein to make about 4 balls)
3. Essential oils for scenting (we used Lavender, Orange, and Tangerine)
4. Yarn Needle
5. Panty hose (old ones that you mever wear perhaps? Or just the cheapest ones you can find)
6. Sting or floss

So first, I cut out a square from the wool sweater(which I washed first). It is about 4 inches x 6 inches. I chose a scent and dabbed the oil on the sweater piece, about 10 drops should do. I rolled it into as close of a ball shape as I could make and then used my yarn needle to start the yarn through the flap of sweater on the outside of the ball and through another part of the ball. No need to tie it, it just gives you a place to start your yarn.

From there I just started wrapping the yarn around and around.

Keep wrapping until your ball is about the size of a tennis ball. I went for a textured look with mine, the way you wrap the yarn doesn't matter since it will all bind together during the felting process.

Once you have it approximately the right size, snip your yarn a few inches from the ball and thread the loose end onto your needle. Using the needle, sew the end into the ball until you cant see it anymore. The longer the end  you sew in, the less likely it will unravel.

Add a few more drops of your essential oils to the ball and then you are ready for the felting process!

This is where those old panty hose come in handy. To bind the ball together and make it solid rather than string, you need to felt it. This was totally new to me but easy to do.

Put the ball all the way into the toe of the panty hose, and pull the hose tight around it. Tie it off with the string or dental floss. The first time I did I just knotted the hose between each ball, which worked great until I had to untie them! Apparently they tighten up a bit in the wash!

Now you just have to wash them and dry them in the hose (no soap necessary) on the hottest cycles you have! That will felt them together and tighten them up, and that's it! Fairly simple to make and they last for ages apparently!

I was surprised at how easy they were to make and that they still smelled like the oil after I washed them(I was pretty skeptical)

The most expensive part of this project were the oils. Considering how little of it you use though, you will have tons left over for future use. So it cost about $25 for me to make 12 balls, and how much money is that going to save me  in dryer sheets, softener and maybe even some drying time?!
Also, they would be cute and easy gifts......which is always a plus!