Friday, December 31, 2010

Record Setting Temps

Here in central FL we have already had 2 deep freezes and a number of other freezes. This is very rare of FL and we have broken all the December temp records.

Today though the high is in the lower 70's and is bright & sunny. The chickens are out shaking their feathers and enjoying soaking up the sun.

Yesterday I enjoyed a picnic on the beach with my mom who is in town from IL.
Today is payday so I will be ordering a bunch of seeds so I can start them next month..

I also will be hitting up our local produce stand so I can test out my new canning kit!! : )

Have a great new years eve everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In my prevous post....

I gave you all a challenge to transform a grassy space in your yard (front or back) into a garden bed at least 4 x 8.. take a before and after pic and send to me at bjaukett@gmail.com

you will each be given a post on my blog featuring your pics and you are asked if you like to write a short #escription about yourself your life and why you garden!!

I hope you all take this challenge upon yourself and I can't wait to see your pictures!!!

Send Pictures and a short story to bjaukett@gmail.com or bj_aukett@yahoo.com

Bad Soil and a Reader Challenge!


So today as I water my garden with collected water from the rain barrel I relize my goodness florida soil is awful. With my treatments of compost, bone meal, kelp meal... the sand keep rising to the top. Its time for drastic measures!!

In my non used beds I have piled straw bales to rot and decompose.. I also have compost almost ready to spread over top the straw. I have more kelp meal and am looking for a good price on worm castings as well as fish fertilizer.

I am scouring my seed catalogs for a green manure crop to sow during the hot months here in FL. I will no longer be turning soil each season just areating it and adding new organic matter to the top. After a couple years I should have about a foot or two of rich organic matter that will hopefully block this awful sand from rising to the top!

In the new beds I am planning (Coming this Winter/ Spring) I will set fire to chicken poop covered straw as well as rotted food parts (bio char)... the charred remains will be spread on top covered with straw and topped with newspaper and compost. Come Fall it should be rich decomposed earth that my plants will feast upon!

I am giving you all a challenge this winter season. Plan a new garden bed for your spring season.. make it at least a 4 x 8... take a picture of the before and after. Plant 2 veggies you use a lot and plan to use this bed as your putting by bed! (Freeze or can everything you get from this garden. Its a great way to start stocking up and a great reason to transform some of the wasted grass space into a beautful productive oasis!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kitchen Goodies!

Aw Christmas the most wonderful time of the year!

Well its now past and I sure have a lot of goodies to show from it!

I Got:
A hot cocoa maker
A roating waffle maker
A cast iron dutch oven
A huge cast iron skillet
A set of pots
New cookie sheets, muffin pan, and pie dishes

And my most awesome (yes I know that's incorrect grammer) is...
A canning set!

Up to this point I would blanch and freeze all my veggies/ fruits now I'm lucky enough to be the proud owner of all the goodies you need to water bath can!! The huge pot, rack, jars, and accesories! Plus a ball complete perserving book!!!

I'm ready for spring and the harvest!! Now that I have 2 ways of putting our food by I have even more reason to plant way more of everything this year!

So next time I have some extra cash its time to slap on a sweater and start making some new garden beds!!!

Hope you all had a very merry christmas!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All...


And a Happy New Year!!!

I will be on vacation from my job for the next week to spend time with family! Moms in from IL, Other family is in from Cali...

Busy Busy Season!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bok Choy

Today I harvested my first bok choy from the garden.. I cooked it lightly with ginger, onion, garlic, and soy sauce!
I served it with teryaki chicken and mashed potatoes. It was sooo yummy.


I also built our first fire of the season and turned on the candles and oil lamps. It was a wonderful mood setter for my seed searching!

I went through all my old seeds to find ones I wasn't going to use anymore and gave them to my friend that for a early christmas gift from her husband got a garden set (everything she needs to start her own garden arbor and all!!!

I can't wait to buy all new seeds and make more garden space!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas is coming!!

I always get nervous around the holidays.. is so and so going to like what I'm giving them, how many people are coming, is the house clean enough, is the little one unwrapping gifts, and so on... this year it seems worse!!

I'm hosting and expecting 2 grandmas, 2 moms, and us... yes I know a small family but a very important family that I don't want to dissapoint!!

Wonderful Ronnie cleaned the kicthen spotless and mopped the floors till they sparkled!! He is also helping me with my rearannging project!! I'm moving out dining room out of the carpeted fireplace room and into the tile.. moving the current living room into the fireplace room... its a lot of work but in my head its the right move!

My lettuce is still just a couple inchs tall but seems to be growing at a quicker pace now that the cold has settled in ( or not today was 70)... I think one of my turnips are ready to pick, ill be harvesting 2 beautiful looking bok choi anyday now and its time to thin out my carrots!

I am also waiting on my second planting of veggies to sprout!! Its very dry here as we enter the offcial dry season and the temps have been way below normal almost all month now.

The birdfeeders are filled but the birdbath either freezes or disapates to fast to keep filled..

The chickens are happy.. we let them out to range for around a hour a day right now bringing them in before the sun goes down. After the harsh part of winter is over they will be moving outside to their real coop and be allowed to range from morning till dusk!

Wishing a happy weekend to ya from sunny FL!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A special christmas gift!!!

So here's a brief story.

I have been working at Walgreens here in Tampa for a little over a year. Every night a homeless man sets up his chair and surrounds himself with his bags. This goes on everynight.. he appears around 8 and leaves around 9... the managers and workers all now him and the police don't bother him. He never asks for anything he just says hello how are you then minds his own business.

This year as I was leaving one brisk windy night I noticed he was sleeping but had nothing more then his big jacket to keep him warm.

So for the last week I went around my work and collected a dollor from each person willing to donate (some even donated more).. today we had enough and I bought him the warmest blanket we had and a $25 gift card to Walgreens so he could buy food, drinks, or whatever else he needed!
I had the manager invite him to come inside and I gave him the gift and a card I had everyone in the store sign with a little note.
He teared up and said this was the nicest thing anybody had done for him in a long time, he said he would treasure it all, and how kind and thoughtful we were...

I even teared up and gave him a hug!! This is what christmas is about bringing happiness to those with less!! I was very touched and won't soon forget him! His name is Julius!

Baby its cold outside!

Geez its cold... wind blowing over everything it can... making my door knocker bang on the door... gusts of over 40 mph cloudy and a drizzle following the pouring rain that filled my rain barrel yesterday!

Over the next 2 nights it going to be in the 20's here which means I better get outside tonight and make sure everything I can is covered! Geez!

Stay warm my friends!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Plans and Ideas for this coming spring


Yes its that time time to play with the little one and.. to dream of spring planting! Corn, tomatoes, beans, melons... its a wonderful dream on this cold wet windy day!

I have now recived my bakers creek, johnnys, pinetree, seeds of change and a couple more seed catalogs as well as midwest brewing (which has me intrigued about brewing my own wine)...

My bakers creek has been poured over once already and it seems at least half the book I want but only marked maybe a quarter ; )

I have also reimagined my backyard from a mostly grass (weed) land to a lush veggie, fruit, and tree paradise!
I want at least 3 banana trees, I want to build a large trelis against the fence for cukes and jicama... I want to build many little teepees for my crops of dry beans I want to plant, as well as tall wood towers for the cowpeas to climb... 2 narrow beds of wonderful juicy plump red strawberries... a small sitting covered area crawling with grape vines, a small pond with fish and water flowers... a huge sunflower patch that allows me to feed all the birds, I imagine rows of tomatoes that will produce baskets full of large small orange, purple, yellow, white, and of course red yummy tomatoes...

This of course is just my dreaming but darn it I will work my tail end off to make this a reality!!

After my last season of harvesting mostly dissapointment I relized one huge thing. I need to plant much more of each item.. it seems I'm only planting enough at this point to take care of our intial needs.. I want to store, can, and freeze my foods for future use!

So my goal is to turn my backyard into a true urban farm that can feed me and my family plus have enough to store and maybe some to share!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My clothing splurge!

I'm a thrift store junkie I will buy kitchen goodies, electronics, clothing, belts and toys (no stuffed animals though) from many thrift stores around the bay area I recived cash as a gift and splurged on myself. I'm a lover of the "hippie" style clothing its part of me but its hard to find that type of stuff in thrift stores as many don't seem to share my taste.

I went to soul-flower.com which is filled with goodies I can't help but fall in love with. Their prices though are a little high but many people spend $20 a shirt or $30 for a pair of good pants anyway!

A lot of their goodies are fair trade, and made with recycled fibers, organic cotton or hemp. At least the item I bought (Piece by peace long skirt) was very well made not to mention so comfy and beautiful I feel as if I could live in it!!
I have worn it out twice and have received over a dozen "I love your skirt"

If you have a urge to splurge and find yourself wanting a comfy good vibed outfit check out soul-flower.com!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Seed Catalog to Seed Catalog

Ahhh yes winter where my garden is alive with winter greens and other cold season goodies but where most of the country has put the garden beds to sleep and the seed catalogs for next seasons goodies start pouring in!!

I have already received 3 and am just waiting for bakers creek (which is my favorite and where most of our seeds will be purchased.) ..
on the homesteading group I'm a part of a couple people have already recived thier bakers creek so now I'm very excited and will be checking my mailbox faithfully every afternoon waiting for it!!!

Florida cold weather!

Yikes!

Here in central FL at night its been below freezing for over a hour each night sending waves of panic as the TV annoces "FREEZE WARNINGS" ... I took a drive around the neighborhood to see all the normally lush tropical plants brown, wilted, or covered in sheets, towels, and garbage bags... I myself was outside covering our hibiscus, fig, and guava and brought inside our container flowers, lemon tree, and blackberry bush

My chickens have been wrapped in a double layer of sheets on the sides to block the wind and have their red heat lamp turned on all day and night since our days aren't getting over 55 right now!
They are doing well in this cold.. they peck and play during the day and when the sun goes down the lay together under the heat lamp. They get warm water each night and fresh food since they sem to be eating more now as the temps go down!

So far I lost all the tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, amaranth, malabar spinach, and corn.. though my lettuce, turnips, carrots, and broccoli seem to be enjoying themselves.

Work has been crazy and I have come down with a ugly cold that has me stuck under the heated blanket when I'm not at work... luckily I had some homemade chicken stew in the freezer that I took out and thawed for dinner last night and tonight Ronnie made us spaghetti!

My little girl seems to like the cold but doesn't understand why she needs to stay bundled... she would much rather run around in just a diaper!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A update!

Ah yes another Saturday!

The chickens have lost almost all of their down now and have been replaced with beautiful feathers! They have prob gotten 15x the size they are when we got them and are approaching 2 months old! We now have a 2 room coop that can fit 6-8 chickens!! thanks to freecycle and a little creative genius!! So now as long as these continue to live happy lives we will be starting another 3 birds come feb/mar!!

Also today the L.E.C center had their art under the trees art sale! I bought my first original piece of artwork names country road! Very beautiful! Now just to find a spot for it!

Also went to the Ybor City Fresh Market and got a loaf of fresh baked sourdough bread, homemade blackberry jam, homemade beef jerky, a pint of yummy organic cherry tomatoes from a local grower, and some local honey!! YUMM

Over all its been a busy week since thanksgiving filled with cleaning, cooking, and a super busy week at work!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Strawberry Raspberry Kefir Smoothie


After receiving my kefir grains the day before thanksgiving I have been making kefir..

While I have sipped on it I am finding it hard to palate.. hoping as I get used to the flavor I will be able to drink it raw but as of now I have been making it into yummy smoothies!!

Here's my recipe feel free to tweak but I think this is amazing!

Brittany's Strawberry Raspberry Smoothie:

- 1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey (go local)
- 4 or 5 ice cubes
- 3/4 cup cold kefir
- 1/2 cup mixed strawberries and raspberries ( I do a couple more strawberries then raspberries)

Add everything to blender and blend well until everything is a smooth cremy texture

-Enjoy-

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving filled with love, family, and food!

Please take care and be safe!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To be one with nature

Have you ever buried your feet in the dirt?

Have you ever reached your hand into your soil and really looked at it?

When was the last time you sat on the ground and really just looked around?

Tomorrow after breakfast walk outside take a deep breathe of fresh air, walk to your garden stopping to smell the flowers as you pass them, the take a seat on one your walkways through the gardens and just deep breathe and look around.. the sun shining, the wind blowing, bees buzzing, the dew glistening on the leaves of your plants, maybe your animals walking around enjoying themself... then reach your hands into your soil feeling the moisture, seeing how it falls from your hand... then bury your feet in it... wriggle your toes around a little, feel its coolness...

Yes this will be the start to reunite you with nature, it seems we have all grown apart so much we don't appreciate her and her beauty that comes in the forms of trees, plants, flowers, weeds, wind, sun, water, almost everything you interact with daily that is not man made...

The next time you pick a fruit or vegetable thank the plant it came from... the next time you cut a tree apologize for its hurt... yes it may seem strange but it seems amazing how connected you will feel to the things around you when we stop taking advantage of it and start loving it again : )

Let's work together to unite the people with nature and stop abusing our planet.

Turkey day otherwise known as thanksgiving

Aw yes thanksgiving... a day of family, good food, giving thanks, and football.

This year I am hosting dinner well I guess a very early dinner or late lunch (2 or 3pm)

On the table:

Mashed potatoes
Turkey stuffed with celery, apples, garlic, and onions
Cranberry sauce
Green beans
Broccoli
Pumpkin pie (made from a real pumpkin) (see recipe in past post)
Stuffing
Salad
And fresh baked bread

Yummmmm.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nov 21st - Sweetwater Organic Farmers Market

Todays farmers market was a first of many for my family! Filled with good food, fun clothing, and great people!!

I loved today! Made a trip out to Sweetwater Organic Farm for their Sunday farmers market.
Booths of everything you could want. Handmade crafts like garden art, handmade purses, organic cotton and hemp clothing, lots of organic produce, and even some prepared foods like veggie burgers, smoothies, and yummy salsas!!

So today I bought a handstiched patchwork purse, yummy salsa (chipolte), and a dozen farm fresh eggs.

Ah yes there's nothing better then farm fresh eggs... it even encouraged me to make breakfast for dinner!
Bacon, over easy eggs, and some whole wheat toast! Both my daughter and I loved every bite especially the "eyes" (this is what my daughter calls eggs)

Now I'm relaxing before this work week and a busy thanksgiving since I'm hosting this year!

Homemade Laundry Soap

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap( you can use normal people soap like dove but use a whole bar)

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup borax powder

1 - 2 gallon bucket

1/2 oz of essential oil (optional)

Grate the soap into a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add 4 cups hot water and essential oil to the bucket. Now add your soap mixture. Stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel into something along the lines of egg white. You use 1/2 cup per load.

Today I am using lilac essential oil as my scent.. mmmmm : )

This floridian loves cool weather!

Ah such a nice breeze on this cool day! In about the 70's during the day but with a brisk night in the 50's and 60's I am loving this! Its cool enough to really enjoy the outside without breaking into sweat and warm enough to not have to wear a sweater! Here's what I have been up to this week!!

This past week has been wonderful we celebrated my birthday with a nice meal out, drinks, and a vacation!!

Day 1 (Nov 16th): Chilis dinner with drinks and friends to celebrate my birthday : )

Day 2: Downtown disney and a night at a hotel in orlando

Day 3: All day at Magic Kingdom Disney World

Day 4: Home with cleaning, organizing, and eating a pot of chili! Yummm

Day 5: A wonderful harvest of corn, long beans, amaranth, and malabar spinach!

Day 6 (Nov 21st): Cleaning up the backyard, turning the compost pile, cleaning the chicken mini coop, and a wonderful trip to the farmers market!!

Ah yes a wonderful filling vacation of adventure and family!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemade Household Cleaners

Shopping List:

Baking Soda and Washing Soda

Vinegar

Rubbing Alcohol

Borax (also near the laundry section)

Mild Dish Detergent (Dawn)

Ammonia
________________________________________

FOR RECIPES SCROLL UP AND CLICK THE TOP PAGE LINK FOR HOMEMADE HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS!!!


~~~DO NOT MIX AMMONIA WITH ANY TYPE OF BLEACH LIQUID... YOU WILL CREATE FUMES THAT CAN BE DEADLY!!!~~~

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BioChar-- Amazing?

After learning about the great power of Biochar I'm holding onto the veggie scraps, branchs, and leaves...

Biochar dates back to pre- cloumbian times where they relized that turning their plant and veggie matter into charcoal and adding it to their soils would great help productivity!

So here's the easiest way to start using biochar in your garden!

Dig foot wide trenchs and about 6 or 7 inchs deep... fill loosley with dry veggie matter and plant waste (dried branchs/leaves/sticks)... set on fire in multiple places using no fire starters (no gas, no lighter fluid, etc)... burn until smoke burns grey... cover with the mounded soil from the sides on trench to put out fire... let smolder until all pieces are small soap sized pieces.. douse with large amounts of water! Done... bio char complete!!!
Congrats

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kefir!

After much exploring and listening I have decided to try kefir.

What is kefir you ask? (From Dom)

Kefir is a refreshing cultured-milk beverage which originated in the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, believed to date back at least 1,000 years. The tribes-folk of this particular region who possibly developed kefir by shear accident consumed the nutritious beverage in large quantities. These people were renowned for longevity, living long, healthy lives with little to no known disease. An active life span of over one hundred years was common for folks living in the region where kefir was cultured and liberally consumed as part of a staple diet.
Kefir has a uniform, slightly creamy consistency, a sour refreshing flavor, with a slight subtle aroma of fresh yeast [or a very subtle beer-like aroma]. Kefir also has a slightest hint of a natural effervescent zesty tang. Rounding this off, kefir contains about .08 to .1% alcohol is a realistic figure for 1-day cultured kefir.

How to make: (instructions from a fellow homesteader)

What I do is put fresh milk and grains in a mason jar, cover with a
double layer of muslin that has a rubber band around it, and let it sit
24 hours on top of my fridge. The next night I take off the muslin, put
a water tight lid on, give the jar a good shaking, then use a slotted
spoon to fish the grains out of the milk. It takes a bit of fishing, as
they float all over, but I find it easier (less to clean up) than using
a strainer. The grains go directly into a clean jar - pour in milk,
cover and rubber band, put back on top of fridge. Repeat the next
night.

How to take a break! (instructions from a fellow homesteader)

You can take a rest from making kefir by putting the grains in milk and
putting the jar in the fridge. Replace the milk every week or so. You
can also keep back up grains in the freezer, for in case something
happens to your grains (I accidentally poured mine down the sink once, I
thought they were yogurt gone bad and didn't realize what it was until I
saw the bumpy grains in the drain - boy, was I glad I had some
backups!). Put what you want to use as backups in a freezable
container, add some milk, let it freeze, then add more milk and freeze.
The reason to add milk twice is because kefir grains often float, and if
you freeze it, then add more milk, it covers up any parts that might be
exposed. Both refrigerating and freezing will cause your grains to
"hibernate" and it will usually take a couple of 24 hours cycles before
you get nice, creamy kefir again. If it has been very cold when they
are mailed, it may take them a little while to wake up as well. As far
as I know, you can use the kefir that is made while they are waking up,
but it won't be as nice a texture.

So instead of buying those over priced online grains that may or may not be good, i found a fellow homesteader who had plenty to spare. I sent 5$ (just enough to cover express shipping) and i will be receiving my grains after my vacation around the 20th-25th! I'm excited!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A midweek adventure

As my birthday is fast approching (Nov 16th) I had some stuff I wanted to get done around the house.
I took today off work to spend with family and a breather... so around the house I cleaned and organized as well as started cleaning out my daughters toys and somehow everytime we go to a thrift store she ends up with something new.
I will be donating these to a shelter for christmas for kids who have nothing..

I also received a large metal dog crate from my dad that I placed on a tall table out on our porch lined with hay and moved the chickens in.. this will serve as a 2nd larger brooder before the final move out to the coop at about 6 - 8 weeks old. I'm doing this since as my readers know I lost my last 3 chicks to some predator. My last chicks were moved to the coop at 3 weks of age so now I want to wait doubly as long so they are bigger and it gives me more time to make sure their coop is very safe.

My neighbor in the back has decided on getting a big mean dog who loves to bark and growl. Using a temp fix I put up reed fencing to try to block some of the vision so maybe it won't scare my daughter as much..
It was awful we went out to harvest a corn and the stupid dog started jumping up on the fence, gnashing his teeth at us, and barking/ growling so loud my daughter ran screaming and crying inside... *sigh* oh the joys of urban city living...
As soon as christmas is over (currently taking all my extra $$) I will be buying plants the serve as hedges as I know the reed will last for about a year...

We then went to busch gardens theme park where my daughter met and hugged the seasme street cast and rode some rides...

Came home and ate dinner of italin sausage sandwhichs... now listening to the train in the distance as I finish up and head to bed... another 2 days of work before the wonderful weekend!

Hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Monday, November 8, 2010

do NOT toss out that milk..

Don't throw out that unused milk... maybe it was left over from dinner, or stuck in your fridge for to long?

Well feed it to your house plants, compost pile, or just pour into your garden... same thing with your left over whey from cheese making : )

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gardening by the moon Nov 7th-13th

Today's Moon Information
Date: 07 November 2010

Synodic:
Sow leafy vegetables and annuals that produce above ground. Lettuce, Spinach, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, Cucumber. Grains are also good to plant now. This is a good time to pick vegetables if they are to be stored.

Biodynamic:
Moon in Scorpio: This is a Water sign. It is a good time to sow Leaf plants like Cabbages, Lettuce, but it would not be a good time to sow Fruiting plants like Broad Beans (Fava), Peas, Fruits Harvested now will store for longer.

Sidereal:
Moon in Scorpio: An excellent time for planting, germination and strong sturdy growth will result.




Date: 08 November 2010
Synodic:
Sow leafy vegetables and annuals that produce above ground. Lettuce, Spinach, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, Cucumber. Grains are also good to plant now. This is a good time to pick vegetables if they are to be stored.

Biodynamic:
Moon in Scorpio: This is a Water sign. It is a good time to sow Leaf plants like Cabbages, Lettuce, but it would not be a good time to sow Fruiting plants like Broad Beans (Fava), Peas, Fruits Harvested now will store for longer.

Sidereal:
Moon in Scorpio: An excellent time for planting, germination and strong sturdy growth will result.



Date: 09 November 2010
Synodic:
Sow leafy vegetables and annuals that produce above ground. Lettuce, Spinach, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, Cucumber. Grains are also good to plant now. This is not a good time to pick vegetables if they are to be stored.

Biodynamic:
Moon in Scorpio: This is a Water sign. It is a good time to sow Leaf plants like Cabbages, Lettuce, but it would not be a good time to sow Fruiting plants like Broad Beans (Fava), Peas,

Sidereal:
Moon in Sagittarius: Dry and barren. Good time to plant onion sets and bulbs.



Date: 10 November 2010
Synodic:
Sow leafy vegetables and annuals that produce above ground. Lettuce, Spinach, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, Cucumber. Grains are also good to plant now. This is a good time to pick vegetables if they are to be stored.

Biodynamic:
Moon in Scorpio: This is a Water sign. It is a good time to sow Leaf plants like Cabbages, Lettuce, but it would not be a good time to sow Fruiting plants like Broad Beans (Fava), Peas, Fruits Harvested now will store for longer.

Sidereal:
Moon in Scorpio: An excellent time for planting, germination and strong sturdy growth will result.



Date: 11 November 2010
Synodic:
Sow leafy vegetables and annuals that produce above ground. Lettuce, Spinach, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, Cucumber. Grains are also good to plant now. This is not a good time to pick vegetables if they are to be stored.

Biodynamic:
Moon in Sagittarius: This is a Fire sign. This is a good time to sow Fruiting plants like Broad Beans (Fava), Peas, but it would not be a good time to sow Leaf plants like Cabbages, Lettuce,

Sidereal:
Moon in Sagittarius: Dry and barren. Good time to plant onion sets and bulbs.



Date: 12 November 2010
Synodic:
This is a good time to sow vegetables that produce internal seed bearing fruits. Tomatoes, beans, peas, peppers, chillis, pumpkins, courgettes.

Biodynamic:
Moon in Capricorn: This is a Earth sign. It is a good time to sow Root plants like Garlic, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichokes, but it would not be a good time to sow Flower plants like

Sidereal:
Moon in Capricorn: Potatoes and tubers planted now will have a strong growth.




Date: 13 November 2010
Synodic:
This is a good time to sow vegetables that produce internal seed bearing fruits. Tomatoes, beans, peas, peppers, chills, pumpkins, courgettes.

Biodynamic:
Moon in Capricorn: This is a Earth sign. It is a good time to sow Root plants like Garlic, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichokes, but it would not be a good time to sow Flower plants like

Sidereal:
Moon in Capricorn: Potatoes and tubers planted now will have a strong growth.

Scary article on food inflation...

(NaturalNews) Within a decade, a loaf of wheat bread may cost $23 in a grocery store in the United States, and a 32-oz package of sugar might run $62. A 64-oz container of Minute Maid Orange Juice, meanwhile, could set you back $45.71. This is all according to a new report released Friday by the National Inflation Association which warns consumers about the coming wave of food price inflation that's about to strike the western world....

http://naturalnews.com/030309_food_inflation.html

Stocking up...


This weekend as a early birthday gift my grandmother and I went stock up shopping...

2 large packs of hot Italian sausage, a huge package of lean ground beef, a huge package of porkchops, beef stew meat, a large tub of ice cream, and a assortment of veggies like broccoli, Asian stir fry veggies, and soybeans.. also fresh fruits to freeze... my new floor freezer is 3/4 full with enough room for me to freeze to upcoming harvest!



The best way to freeze fresh fruit is the lay it all on a tray and freeze it flat before putting it in a bag.. this makes it so all the fruit freezes separately instead of a big fruit block : ) There is nothing like a smoothie of freshly frozen raspberries and strawberries!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First homegrown corn... and a cold snap...





Today I woke up to a chilly 49 degrees and got bundled in my skirt and comfy sweater made some hot cocoa and went out to the garden! My carrots and onions have sprouted, my beans and tomatoes are about 6 inches to 1 ft high, my broccoli has sprouted up and so has my rainbow chard!

My winter spaghetti squash plant has started to die off except for the vines that now have 3 spaghetti squashes on it... 1 large, 1 medium, and 1 small... the large one has started to turn yellow! Then was the corn where its just popping up on my dwarf 4 ft tall silver queen plants! Then I noticed on my first corn plant had a corn that had shriveled brown silks... it was time to pick!!! I broke it off and pulled down the husk about 2/3rds of the kernels were developed. I had read this means there was poor pollination which makes sense seeing how it was the first corn on the plant and a 2nd only developed about 2 weeks after this first..


Well I filled up a microwave safe container of water and cooked it for 13 min...
Stuck the corn holder in the sides and waited for it to cool.... yummmmm... it was sweet and crunchy packed full of flavor... its amazing just how much more flavor it had then the stuff in the store... I have fallen in love with corn : )

But now as I turn on the news and hear all the bad news while I was waiting for the weather
... but the weather is not good news.. dry and cold... cold meaning it can get into the 30's... now I'm wondering if I should cover my corn, squash, and tomatoes... hmmmm.... off to the thrift stores to get cheap sheets to work as covers!

*sigh* I love the cold weather for the hot cocoa and chance to use our fireplace but I want more corn and tomatoes darn it... : )

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gardening in FL Dirt

Florida dirt is more like... well sand!
The best bet for starting is to create a raised bed this works for gardening small spaces.

Raised Bed Gardening: Screw 4 pieces of wood together to make a box... please for yours and the earths sake use untreated landscape wood. The best size for a veggie garden bed is 4 x ?.. this is because you will need to be able to reach the middle of the bed from both sides and the average person can reach about 2 feet... the question mark is because really you can make this bed as long or short as you feel is right. most of my gardens are 8 or 10 ft long! After you make your secure bed dig all grass/ weed from in and around the area. Lay your wood in the perm position and fill with a mixture of garden soil and compost.... lots and lots of compost!!

In ground gardening.. will take some work as you must spread compost and work well into the soil... over and over and over... its takes years to get good rich soil and not the sand crap we have... spread manure and straw and newspapers and let rot for about a season... turn and work into the soil after 4-5 months and start again a thick layer of manure and straw and newspaper keep layering on (Bottom: Straw ~ Middle:Newspaper ~ Top: Manure) for about a year or 4 full cycles of rotting and adding and mixing... then plant... all around those plants add straw and already rotted and aged compost and newspaper when those plants die turn everything under and continue.. a couple years later you will start to have the rich soil the northern states are blessed with... though it will never be the same we must work with what we have!!!

Hope you enjoy and start gardening!! (Hint: Right now is peak growing season here in FL)

Monday, November 1, 2010

What it means to grow up in this day and age..

At work today I relized something scary...

It seems we are growing up and rasing children in a world that wants everything right now...

We don't want to cook dinner so we go grab some fast food
We don't want to wait for a veggie or fruit to grow so we head to the market
We don't want to know the animal that is our food so we buy pre packaged processed overly frozen meat
We don't want to admit our faults so we blame someone or something else
We would rather spend $4 on a gallon of tea instead of taking the 3 hours to make sun brewed tea that costs like what 50 cents a gallon??
We would rather buy fancy $5 coffees instead of getting a good nights sleep
We want a simple quick easy life...

Example: Today a patient came in asking what she should take for a upset stomach. When asked how long it has been going on she said about a month on and off, when asked why she thought this was happening she responded she gets terriable pains after eating greasy food. When she was told maybe she should think about changing her diet she sneered and laughed and said no I just need some pepto or prilosic.....

Excuse me but this seems just dumb but this is how life has become... we all just want a quick fix

Thank you for allowing me to rant today after my stressful day! And maybe we can take a step back and look at our own life...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...

That's the saying right?

Well lets see since I have started my compost pile, my 3 person family has cut our trash weekly from 3 bags to 2... but then we got our recycling bins!!

A simple bin made from blue plastic with a white arrow design.. how simple yet remarkable!!
We recycle all our 2 liters, cardboard paper(cereal boxes, fruit snack boxes, etc)..

WE ARE NOW DOWN TO 1 MAYBE 1 1/2 GARBAGE BAGS PER WEEK!!!

Compost:
Coffee Filters
Tea Bags
Dryer Lint
Paper Towels/Napkins
Chicken Droppings
Fruit Scraps
Veggie Scraps
Egg Shells
Moldy Bread
Newspaper (shredded)
Junk Mail (no glossy or plastic pieces)
Dead Grass Clippings
Straw/ Hay
Stale Crackers
Cooked Pasta
Paper towel Rolls
Pizza Boxes Ripped Up
Wine corks
Stale Beer/Wine
Paper egg cartons
Paper Cupcake/ muffin cups
Hair (from hairbrush don't go and chop off the husbands hair in his sleep)
Cotton Balls
Urine
Nail Clippings
Pencil Shavings
Receipts
Matches
Ashes
Jack o lanterns

Whew there is of course more but I wanted to let people know there is SO much more stuff you can compost them most think! So stop tossing and compost!!

Gardening classes for hillsborough county

Nov 2nd~
Veggies in the Landscape, 6:30 PM
Austin Davis Library


4th~
Gourds in Florida Gardens, 6:30 PM
Town 'N Country Library



6th~
Pressure Canning Vegetables, 1:30-4:40pm
Extension Office


8th~
Backyard Wildlife Habitat, 6:30 PM
Lutz Library


Compost Happens, 7 PM
Bruton Memorial Library


9th~
Exterior Decoration: Gardening with Style, 10:30 AM
New Tampa Library


Florida Native Plants, 6:30 PM
Seffner-Mango Library


Florida Perennials, 7 PM
Jimmie B Keel Library



10th~
Topiary, 10:30 AM
Jan Platt Library

9 Steps to a Florida Yard, 6:30 PM
Bloomingdale Library


25 Palms Your Neighbors Don't Have, 7 PM
SouthShore Library


FNGLA Plants of the Year, 7 PM
Upper Tampa Bay Library


13th~
Compost Happens (8:30 AM), Water-Wise (9:30 AM), and Rain Barrel (10:30 AM) Workshops. Pre-registration required.
Extension Office
THIS WORKSHOP IS FULL.


16th~
Antique Roses, 10:30 AM
Charles Fendig Library


Water Gardens and Ponds, 6:30 PM
Temple Terrace Library


Florida-Friendly Landscaping, 6:30 PM
Riverview Library



19th~
Canning Jam and Fruit, 1:30 - 4:40pm
Extension Office


22nd~
Shade Gardening, 6:30 PM
Seminole Heights Library

Halloween Weekend!!!



Here are the Halloween goodies I am making for my family this wonderful Halloween weekend!!

Apple Bites: Quartered apples with the middles sliced out (it should look like a open mouth) stick slivered almonds into the tops and bottom of the inside (these are the teeth)
Enjoy your healthy scary bites!

Rotten Apple Punch: Take apple cider and freeze overnight in a small round dish (or cup)with 2 gummy worms sticking out over the side... on Halloween before serving take sprit or sierra mist and dump into a punch bowl... add a couple drops of green food dye. Remove frozen apple cider from bowls and drop into punch bowl.. they will float and look like rotten apples with worms... serve as it starts to melt

Ghost Meatloaf: Make meatloaf as normal but shape into a ghost or other Halloween spookable.. if made into a ghost or mummy ~ wrap in a white cheese to give a extra spooky effect!


Witch cakes: Chocolate cupcakes baked, mix cream cheese frosting with 3 drops or green food dye, spread over cooled cupcakes (skin), add a upside down waffle cone as the witch hat, chocolate shavings/sprinkles/ or chips as the witches hair, a candy corn nose and red hots as eyes.. Serve to spooky ghouls and goblins...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!



P.S~ About half my seedlings are up and i now have a HUGE spaghetti squash, 4 corn, and a bunch of long beans!! Also my new still not named chickens are 1 week old today (they were 4 days old when we got them)!!!


















making a pumpkin pie with REAL pumpkins

Directions for Making Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

Yield: It really depends on the size of the pumpkin and the size of your pie plate.

YOU WILL NEED!!...
* A sharp, large serrated knife
* an ice cream scoop
* a large microwaveable bowl or large pot
* 1 large (10 inch) deep-dish pie plate and pie crust

Ingredients

* a pie pumpkin
* 1 cup sugar
* 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs
* 3 cups sieved, cooked pumpkin
* 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk
If you can't get evaporated milk, just use milk.

Step 1 - Get your pie pumpkin

"Pie pumpkins" are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types.

Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or warm water, no soap.

Cut the pumpkin in half. A serrated knife and a sawing motion works best - a smooth knife is more likely to slip and hurt you!

Step 3 - Scoop out the seeds...

And scrape the insides use a heavy ice cream scoop


Step 4 - Cooking the pumpkin

Bake in the oven
Basically, you cut the pumpkin and place it cut side down into a covered oven container. Cover the ovenproof container (with a lid), and pop it in an 350 F oven. It normally takes about 45 minutes to 90 minutes (test it periodically by sticking it with a fork to see if it is soft!)It is DONE when soft





Step 5 - Scoop out the cooked pumpkin
It is easy to scoop out the guts with a broad, smooth spoon, (such as a tablespoon). Use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin. It should separate easily an in fairly large chucks, if the pumpkin is cooked enough.
Many times the skin or rind will simply lift off with your fingers



NOTE!!!: If your pumpkin puree has standing, free water, you may want to let it sit for 30 minutes and then pour off any free water. That will help prevent you pie from being too watery! Beyond, that, I have not found that the water makes a difference

Step 7 - Puree the pumpkin

To get a nice, smooth consistency blend it, you give the pie a smooth, satiny texture; rather than the rough graininess that is typical of cooked squashes.


Step 8 - Done with the pumpkin!

The pumpkin is now cooked and ready for the pie recipe.

Note: You may freeze the puree or pie filling to use it later!



Step 9 - Make the pie crust.. It is also time to start preheating the oven.
Turn it on and set it to 425 F


Step 10 - Mix the pie contents

All the hard work is behind you! Here's where it gets really easy. If you start with a fresh 8" pie pumpkin, you will get about 3 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. The right amount of ingredients for this is as follows:

* 1 cup sugar
* 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon ground allspice
* one half teaspoon ground ginger
* 4 large eggs
* 3 cups pumpkin puree
* 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk
* 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix well using a hand blender or mixer.



Step 11 - Pour into the pie crust

I like a deep, full pie, so I fill it right up to about one quarter to one half inch from the very top.

Don't be surprised if the mixture is very runny! It may start as a soupy liquid, but it will firm up nicely in the oven!


TIP: You may want to cover the exposed edges of the crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from burning!

Step 12 - Bake the pie

Bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Learnt from Pick Your Own

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now through Nov 8th hillsborough classes...

As I promised to one of my readers who emailed me I will post more events going on in the area so you don't miss a single thing...

Oct 29th - Pressure Canning Vegetables @ 130- 430 @ the extension office

Nov 2-- Veggies in the landscape @ 630 @ Austin Davis Library

Nov 4 -- Gourds in Florida @ 630 @ Town and Country Library

Nov 6 -- Pressure Canning Vegetables @ 130 - 430 @ The Extension Office

Nov 8 -- Backyard Wildlife @ 630 @ Lutz library

Nov 8 -- Compost Happens @ 7 @ Bruton Memorial Library

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Squash in FL

Here in Fl the past 2 years I have tried to grow summer squash.... unsuccesfully..

I get maybe 1 or 2 squash off the half dozen plants...

The Problem?? Every time I get a squash the flower opens (I'm sure gets polinated with the tons of bees flying around), the flower closes, falls off, the squash gets a little bigger then usally within a couple days I go out to find a neatly clipped off squash laying in the soil...

Ugh... although this year I tried winter squash (vegetable spaghetti) and that's growing fine and has 1 large fruit and 1 small fruit and a bunch of tiny still flowered fruit...

The bad news no luck growing summer squash good news winter squash is doing great!
Now winter squash seems easy I started a couple seedlings (3) had a 5x4 space filled with compost planted the seedings and man did they take off... huge monster plants the went over the sides of the bed into the grass and climbed into the 2nd half of the garden where I have corn growing.. every once in a while I have to uncurl its tendrils from my corn plants or they might get choked to death... I highly suggest anyone with a little space and a love for squash try the winter varieties.. next year I will def be growing lots more including pumpkins!!! : )

Bummer because I love zuccini bread and really wanted to bake my own...

Maybe ill try again and figure out what this pesky problem is... a animal? A pest? A diease?

Also during the fall/summer harvest I had bad luck with tomatoes as a hornworm and prob some animals teamed up to eat holes in every single fruit before it turned and I could pick it. I eventually had to start picking them green and ripening them in my cabniet..

Soon I will have a yummy spaghetti squash and will post a picture.

Monday, October 25, 2010

and with every death comes life...


Rather then explain to my daughter what happened as she asks mommy and daddy where the chickens are I resorted to the easy but painful to me idea... we got 3 new chickens.

Currently without names I have a americuana, silver wyandotte, and jersey giant

I still am breaking down into tears but I want to replace those bad chicken thoughts with wonderful memories and new chicken life...

They are 4 days old and little fluff balls. I dread that I could go through this again but my daughter already loves them..

*sigh*

I cleaned out the brooder and got it ready for the new ones.. I also cleaned out the coop with tears streaming down my face as I found feathers left over from such a horrible death..

I am wrapping both the inside and outside top and bottom with 1/2 inch chicken wire. The door was lattice so I wrapped chicken wire around that and will be wrapping old bamboo type blinds around it as well..

These new cuties will go in steps from the inside small heated brooder to a porch large brooder and finally at 6-8 weeks will go to the newly renovated outdoor coop. Instead of my tie latch now I'm thinking of getting a actual latch lock.

I will be better prepared.. I will not let this happen again...

I am motivated.. powered by the mothering love I had for those little birds.

At 4 weeks old their life was cut short but they have taught me a valueable lesson never think your the exception..

Thank you to my wonderful husband for putting up with my chicken love cause I know its so soon to get new but my daughter is happy and I still can hear that happy content peeping that I have come to love..

Sunday, October 24, 2010

One of the saddest posts..

My chickens are dead....

at this point i cant post anything else.

RIP Henrietta, Nugget, and Bonnie
I'm so Sorry

Update:
Last night after their move i checked on them around 830 and they were fine. Between 830 and 830 this morning a predator (murderer) came and killed Bonnie and Henrietta. Nugget was left alive but barely (she had her wing torn off) it was up to me to put her out of misery. I cannot stop crying and I feel so dirty but even scrubbing my skin cant get this "dirt" off... I don't know how to explain this to my daughter luckily my husband wouldn't let her come outside so she didn't see anything just will no longer have chicken friends..

At this point I don't know if i am going to try again. This is my first time losing animals like this and 3 at once was to much..

I am going to clean out the coop and scout for the holes it may have used. I am covering the entire coop in chicken wire and then decide what we are going to do.

Maybe once my birthday vacation has passed I will try again... Maybe....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The day is here and a little earlier then I thought...



Well my earlier post I was counting down till the chicks went outside.... well ladies and gentlemen they have made the move!!

First I went and got them some treats kind of like a bribe.
I stopped at the local feed shop (feed depot on nebraska and bearss) and got them about 20 worms and 3 pounds of scratch!

They gobbled up the worms chasing each other all around my husband called it chicken football!

I lined their coop with some costal hay and brought them out..


They are eating and drinking as normal and walking and flying all over the coop.

Its supposed to be in the high 80's low 90's during the day and the upper 70's at night for the next week so I thought it was the perfect time. I put a old curtain around 2 of the sides so it would block the draft and am thinking about putting out their heat lamp.


I relized once they were in the coop I had put their feeder up to high so I had to lower it until they grow up a little more!
I raised their water dish off the bottom of the coop about 2-3 inches using some wood.

The coop will be shut for the first 2 days as they get used to the outdoors and then the door will be opened and they will be free to experince the free chicken life!
I will keep you updated on their progress.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Urban Farm Plans (End of 2010 Start of 2011)

I have a lot of work to get my urban farm in central florida caught up with the plans in my head..
Here is a list of work I am planning to do in the next 6 months!!!

- Fence in the front yard with a open fence not meant for privacy but instead meant to keep feet from tramping my plants

- Creating my final 3 garden beds

- Planting more fruit trees and bushes. ( banana, blueberry, papaya, grape, etc)

- digging out all grass/ weeds from around and in between the garden beds and mulching

- Creating a sitting area with a type of arbor thing overhead

- Getting my hands on enough compost to help my super sandy soil

- Planting a wildflower garden which will be allowed to go crazy and be wild!!

- Starting a outside water wise container herb garden

Whew... it was a lot to just write it!!!

Its a lot of work especially when its being done in my free time (aka the weekends) but I have the will power to pull it off. I will post oftan as I cross of items on this list!!!

Many Garden Blessings and Happy Adventures ahead!!

- Brittany

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

9 days and counting!

The smell is finally getting to me, the dust and spilled food...

Yes I am on a official countdown to the chickens move outside.. Nine days from now those now goofy ackward balls of fluff and feather will be moving to their outside home!!

Aw yes they are now more the 50% feathered out and I expect them to be around 80% when they go out.
I see pale ridges above their beaks which makes me believe their combs are starting to come in!

Its been fun watching them turn from small fluff balls to these tripled in size birds.

I have their outdoor feeder installed all I need is a thing of hay to line the bottom with and they are all set.
Here its around 85 during the day and high 60's at night...

Monday, October 18, 2010

40 hour work weeks...

Yes what a drag but a must for my young family.
As a 20 year old I believe I have found my calling in life.. to become a sustainable farmer and live happily and peacefully with and among nature.
Being in tune wth my surroundings and raising my daughter with morals and love.

But alas this dream job is in the distant future.. right now I like most americans work a 40 hour Mon-Fri job.
I have been called a rip off artist, a pill pusher, and simply a @$$hole. And its not even because I have done something wrong it is your insurance compaines. I am a pharmacy tech which means I take in your prescriptions, fill your medication, check to make sure your insurance is correct and most times call to resolve a issue and then sell your prescription to you. Yes it is a busy on your feet 8 hours a day type job but when I come home and see my family, my chickens, my garden, and taste the food I grew I feel pure joy. My day is behind me and now I have a couple hours to enjoy the finer more simple things life has to offer me.
And yes someday I might have my 3 bedroom cottage on a hill surrounded by 5 acres of farm and animals but for now its a dream to look forward and work hard to.

So my friends enjoy what you have and relize no matter how tough life is or what kind of lemons life throws at you you will get through it and become stronger and maybe even make lemonade from those lemons!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Around the house this weekend of Oct 15th



This weekend was fulfilling to me.

I cleaned out the kitchen.. i got rid of damaged pots, pans, and utensils.
I organized cupboards and stored the rarely used Christmas and holiday dishware on the top shelf and lowered the daily used items. I cleaned out the pantry to make sure there was no expired foods.

I also drug from behind the shed 2 parts of a wooden gate that used to shield our side of the house ( it will be going back up )..

I got the feeder hooked up in the coop for there soon to be life outside (only need the layer box, and straw.



Also I planted... bok choi, 2 types of spinach (giant noble and bloomsdale), 2 tomatillo plants, 3 tomato plants, some basil seeds, carrots, turnips, pole dry beans, and short day onions. As well as noticing 5 or 6 winter squash on my monster vine and now 2 silks on my corn!
..
Oh yes and got the compost pile really going as talked about in my last post!

The joys of composting..



Ah yes this weekend we set up the compost bin we got for FREE at the local garden class.

Already I am in love i think i have cut back about 50% of the items i normally toss in the trash.



Tea bags, food scraps, soiled food, freezer burned bread, grass clipping, moldy straw, chicken litter, and dead plants... this is great!

And even better is this kitchen temp compost bin. I throw my veggie and cooking scraps in this little trash bin i painted that sits on my kitchen counter. each night i go dump the contents in the bin! EASY!!!

I cannot wait to have fully finished compost to spread i think i might have to get another bin... or 2 : )

These are the simple joys of life!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hope comes through...





I have found it difficult to balance work, home, and farm life.

I have even been thinking maybe its to much and to cut down the farm life...
But today I walked outside to my garden beds and marveled at my plants and my love was reborn

My corn plants range from 6 inches to 3 ft and the 3 ft plant even has a baby corn plant with the silks just coming out.
Though this corn won't be pollinated as corn is wind pollinated and needs other silks to grow.

My squash has turned monster and 1 plant has taken over an entire 4 x 4 area covering almost every single inch and has started to produce little squash.

This was the wake up call I needed. I set up my new compost bin, cleared away the weeds spread some bagged compost over the top and got ready cause this weekend is going to be plant and family oriented!!

I started 4 types of lettuce that have popped up. And I have to get the broccoli, turnips, carrots, spinach and beans planted! I got so down I got behind and know its crunch time. With the temps getting into the low 60's at night now I need to get this into the soil while its still warm.

So just remember all my reader friends when life starts to get you down and your thinking you just can't do it anymore
Look at the simple wonders of life and be amazed : )

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stew and Caramel Apple Making!


Today I wanted to make some stew to freeze for future meals!

I made Chicken Stew with Carrots, Celery, Onions, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Basil, Thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper! I gave each of us a bowl full and am currently freezing the remainder for future winter meals!

For dessert tonight Brooke (my 2 yr old daughter) and I made caramel apples in honor of the fall season! Very easy the toughest part was unwrapping the individual pieces of caramel!


You Need:
6 apples~ Refrigerated
1 package caramels (14oz)
Craft Popsicle sticks or forks
2 TBSP milk

Unwrap caramels into a microwave safe bowl, add 2 TBSP milk microwave for 2 min stirring once after about 1 1/2 min.

Remove from microwave and stir well, wait about 1 min then roll sticked or forked apples in the caramel.

Set on wax paper on cookie sheet. Repeat for each apple then refrigerate. After 30 min roll in mixture of your choice or leave as is.

Enjoy (We will be)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5th Compost Happens Workshop

Our county here in Tampa FL offers diffirent gardening classes throughout the year. Tonight was the compost happens workshop/ class.

I was working overtime so I was not able to attend instead I sent my family

When I got home he was telling me about greens and browns, about watering the pile, about all the possibilites of worms and trash, and how amazing it is that trash, and waste can turn into this vitamin rich dirt like item "compost"
He was so cute about it, even though I guess our little one misbehaved.

Well not only did I have his wealth of speaking knowledge they also gave a folder full of info and handouts as well as a handful of compost happens bumber stickers, and a voucher for a FREE compost bin and compost thermometer!
What a deal for this wonderful hour long class!

The next one we will be attending is a Water Barrel class on the 26th as I have always wondered how that worked!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Making your Front Yard Into A Veggie Paradise!

Here are a couple youtube videos to inspire you!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljif3PjSCDU&NR=1&feature=fvwp
Transform your front yard into a edible landscape! ^^


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNI782zIpz4&NR=1
Designing you landscape! ^^

Facebook Gardening Page!

Just click the title and it will bring you to it! Please join and enjoy! Hoping to get more people interested in the homesteading way of life!

The weekend of Oct 8th 2010 at my house

Its only Monday but I'm already planning for this weekend.

I plan to hit a couple thrift stores looking for a rocking chair for my fireplace room. Yes my house is probley one of the few left that has a fireplace in Central Florida and I love it!!

I also plan to finish up my garden beds. Finish up meaning dig out grass in the new ones and weed out the old ones. Filling with compost, new soil, and some bone and kelp meal!

I plan of doing some planting!!! I need to start the onions, lettuce, spinach, carrots... and plant more corn seedlings and squash. I also have a couple tomato and tomatillo seedlings to plant!

Besides the planting I want to make so soups to freeze for quick winter meals, and maybe some other meals using are freezer meat before it gets total freezer burn

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Weekend of the 1st at My Up and Coming Urban Farm

Ah so this weekend was very exciting for me!

Watching my little chickens grow and grow. Only being maybe a week old they have already doubled in size and started losing their chick down and started feathering out. Half their wings now have actual feathers!
They are also getting personalites! Henrietta the Buff Orpington is more a laid back let the others step all over her.
Bonnie the Golden Laced Wyandotte is the loudmouth!
And Nugget the Ameracuana is the biggest and leader!

My squash in the garden is about 4 or 5 feet long with lots of flower buds just waiting to open and start producing. I also have a corn that's about 1 and 1/2 foot tall. It looks like there may even be a corn on it!
I'm amending my soil this next couple weeks so I can do some sowing right into the ground!

Also this weekend I got some more seeds. A excellent frying pepper, and lots of diffirent types of tomatoes!!

Oh I almost forgot I made 3 new small garden beds two 1x7 and a 2x2.
The 2x2 will house a banana tree, one of the 1x7 beds will house globe artichokes and the other 1x7 bed will house pineapple!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Chicks are Here!



Finally after lots of planning and reading and setting up I finally have my baby chicks all set and cozy in their brooder box in out living room! : ) set up high enough from the little one and noisy cat the chickens are warm safe and peeping away.



Two things i noticed in the first 2 days!

#1.. Feather Picking
They are all the time scratching and pulling out their little tuff of feather down. Im pretty sure this is normal cause they dont seem to be in pain by it.. happily cheeping but little tuffs in their beaks.. i think its do the the fast growing they are already going through.

#2.. Runny Poo
Today i noticed runny poop on the brooder box floor. Looking up chicken poop i soon found its prob nothing to worry about as long as there are no runny noses or cloudy eyes. They still seem to be happy so i imagine its just their different kinds of poop. Here is a great website i found that is both VERY helpful and chicken poo decoding and very gross. : )

http://www.chat.allotment.org.uk/index.php?topic=17568.0

The Cheese Results are In...



In my previous post i told you i was testing out non rennet homemade cheese for the first time. here are the results.

Problems:

#1.. I used a thrown together press. The circle part where the curds sit to do the pressing was about 2 times to big. This resulted in a thin layer of pressed curd instead of a brick. To solve before i try the second time i will be using a smaller circle area maybe with the diameter around 4 inches.

#2..The cloth i used was to tightly woven and did not allow proper draining of whey. To solve I will also be finding cloths that drain well and will be tested before pouring the curds and whey into it.

#3.. Not a strong flavor! Now don't get me wrong this had a nice but subtle flavor. To solve.. the addition of spices, herbs, maybe even some garlic?


The Goods:

#1.. I successfully made my own cheese. *pats self on back* This is a start to a wonderful adventure of many more to come.

#2.. My daughters first taste was simply put... "yummmmmmmmy mommy"

#3.. Though the hubby was scared to try it at first he ended up loving it, and added it to almost every meal he made especially salads!

#4.. It was made with store bought milk which a lot of people tell you in impossible.. I'm hear to say it is not.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My first adventure in cheese making..

I have been wanting to make cheese for awhile now but every recipe calls for rennet.

Rennet: Rennet contains many enzymes, including a proteolytic enzyme (protease) that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). The active enzyme in rennet is called chymosin or rennin but there are also other important enzymes in it, e.g., pepsin or lipase.

I have had trouble finding this product and am going to have to order it from a cheese making site in the near future for my other recipes but this one is a rennet free version.

You need a gallon of milk, 2 teaspoons salt, 3 eggs, and 2 cups of buttermilk.

Start by bringing your milk to a boil in a large pan.
Crack you eggs in a mixing bowl and add some of the boiling milk until you have a smooth even yellow mixture. This is called tempering.

Tempering: No it is not getting a item mad at you but instead..
Add a small amount of the hot liquid or substance to the egg,stirring vigorously.
Once the egg is well incorporated you can add a little more then stir some more.Then you can place the mixture back in the pot.
It is crucial that you add them very slowly to what ever you are cooking.

Stir in eggs for about a min.



Then cup by cup add in your buttermilk slowly stirring your mixture.



Within minutes you should see curds forming.



Continue stirring mixture for about 10 minutes, turn off heat and continue to stir for a additional 5 or so minutes. You should now have a cottage cheese like look in your pot with a large amount of semi clear liquid (whey).

Pour mixture into a strainer/ colander in the sink lined with a clean non terry dish towel/ pillow case/ cheese cloth/ etc..



Let whey drain away... once most of whey has drained, fold in corners of your towel and lift up... more whey will start the drain.. lightly squeeze to get rid of even more whey..
wait till you just have a drip drip drip left...

Set towel full of curds in bowl and stir in your 2 teaspoonfuls of salt.



Fold up and place in your cheese press.. I am pressing overnight in my homemade press. Tomorrow I will post how this turns out!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This coming week at my house...


Ah the fall plans I have.. my goal is to have my backyard paradise completed and ready to fully enjoy by the end of January 2011. This includes making 2 more veggie garden beds, as well as a yacon bed, jimaca bed, artichoke bed, asparagus bed, and pineapple bed. as well as planting a couple new fruiting trees including bananas and papayas!!!
I also need to find a way to cover my chain link fence in a cheap but somewhat attractive way!

Anyway enough about the distant future and more about this weeks future. It is Sunday today and my plans for the work week are about to be set in motion. I will be digging out my new fire pit area, weeding the old garden beds for planting, adding compost and planting seedlings and direct seeding!

BUT most importantly this is the week I get my chickens. I will be getting Wyandottes and maybe a Ameraucana ( Easter Egger). This should give me and my family an assortment of blue-green and brown eggs. I have their brooder box all set up and ready to house the chicks. Thursday is my day!... so until then I am on countdown!

Also I am seeing my first batch on yard long beans right now about a ft long. I hear they are more tender younger so tomorrow morning I will go and harvest the first batch (maybe 10 beans).. I also have about a foot tall corn now and more seedlings popping out of the ground.

This is the season of wonderful plantings in Florida and over the next week I will take advantage of it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Completed Weekend Project



This weekend I relearned to knit and started a project to make myself a winter scarf.
2 hours on day 1, and maybe 5 hours on day 2 and its completed. Mind you these hours are not in one sitting and are scattered through the day. Knitting is a portable craft. I knit while Ronnie drove us to St. Pete, I knit when my daughter was watching her favorite movie, and I knit when finally the little one was off to bed and I relaxed on the couch listening to NPR.

Its easy and I only made a handful of mistakes. Though this handful of mistakes included one that almost doomed my whole scarf.....
As I was binding off (casting off) I forgot how to do it. I looked it up you knit 1, 2 and pull over....
Ok well easy enough here I go...
Knit 1.. Knit 2... pull over... Knit 1, 2 pull over, knit 1,2 pull over... I was almost done.. knit 1,2 pull over yes! The last stich... I pulled it off my needle and admired it! Great Job Brittany I said to myself... but then it happened.... it started coming apart... first my bind off came out then 1 row came apart... then another... panic time! I picked up the phone at 12' o clock at night and called my mom who is on vacation in the wine country of calafornia...
"Mom, remember I was telling you I was knitting myself a scarf? Well..... I did something wrong when I was binding off and its unraviling.... HELP!!!!" She calmly told me to unravel another row myself stick my needle back in the loops that will show and reknit the unravled rows... so I did... knit 1, 2, 3, 4.... "ok mom I reknited my lost rows I'm ready to bind off what do I do? She knit 1,2 pull over... this sounds familiar.... knit 1,2 pull over... last stich? I don't want to through this again... then she said the key thing. This little thing that would make my scarf complete and not come apart... pull that last stich off you needle and pull the little bit of yarn that's leftover through the last stich to make a knot... *sigh* of course... how simple but perfect... and as I thanked her and hung up I held up my scarf and admired at how a ball of a pretty yarn and 2 bamboo needles can turn into this beautiful scarf that will keep this warm blooded floridian warm as the seasons I didn't think we had change....

To many more adventures in knitting...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today (Sept 19th) plants in the garden

Today I direct sowed my lettuce seeds. Bronze Arrow, Green Deertounge, Sunset, and Simpson Black Seeded! I also sowed my gold medal tomatoes and some more corn as only half of my seed corn ever has half a chance to make it ( I think the birds or squirrels have caught on)

Here are some pictures of garden plants already started on their way to produce..


Lemon Squash

My Bean plant growing up pvc pipe

A baby corn plant

Adventures in knitting!




Today I started my adventure into knitting! My mom and grandma both knit and love it so after a little basic training from my mom I had learned to cast on (start), do a basic knit, and bind off (end)! Sounded easy!

I cast on my size 9 knitting needles (who knew there were so many sizes) with a beautiful multi-colored yarn!
I started with 20 knits... and after a couple rows I had gotten the hang of it with only 1 or 2 mess ups!
Come 15 rows late I help up the starting of my winter scarf!..... it seemed to get thinner... so I counted.... well sure enough my 20 knits turned into 17. Not a huge difference but enough to be a little upsetting...
Oh well it is still very pretty and will be a very nice scarf.
I now have about 1/5 of the scarf complete and I think its coming along nicely!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pole Beans (the drying kind)




This is the very first year I have tried to grow the drying type of bean.
I started my seedlings transferred outside and have been keeping a eye on them.
Well my friends yesterday they started to bloom! They have on of the most beautiful blooms i have seen on my beans. A purple and white flower that's shape is most wonderful and i would love to always see growing!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Homemade rolls!



Last week while thinking about what i was going to fix for dinner I settled on herb chicken, mashed potatoes and homemade rolls.
I have never before made my own rolls and only once before made a basic white loaf of bread.
Well let me just say... AMAZING!!!!! I must say I impressed myself! I decided on dill rolls since i had dried dill from my garden left in my reused glass jars (my daughters love of applesauce provides us with many glass jars that I use to store various items including my dried herbs)

Dissolve one pack dry active yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons sugar(Beat after each addition), 1 tablespoon onion flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon softened butter, 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 tablespoon dried dill weed(or seed), 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 large egg. Slowly add a cup of flour and mix. Add another cup and mix, Add one more cup and mix. You will have a sticky dough so turn it out onto a well floured surface. Knead. once you have a well worked dough stick into a oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise! (Maybe about a hour to a hour and 1/2). Shape into a loaf if you prefer but I loved the easy to eat rolls! Let loaf or rolls rise again once shaped (they should double in size) about 45 min! Bake at 350 for about 15 min for rolls and 30-45 min for a loaf(loafs should sound hallow when knocked)! This makes 12 large rolls or one loaf!