Saturday, March 31, 2012

Papaya Jam

So I bought a HUGE ripe papaya to use for the seeds so I cut it open harvested the many seeds but what to do with all the papaya?

**Papaya Jam**

~ 5 cups mashed ripe papaya
~ 1/4 cup orange juice
~ 2 tablespoons lime juice
~ 1 package powdered pectin
~ 5 cups white sugar

~ Stir together papaya, orange juice, lime juice, and pectin in a very large pot over medium-high heat until it begins to boil.
~ Stir constantly as the mixture heats.
~ Once boiling, stir in the sugar, and return to a boil, stirring constantly.
~ Once the jam has returned to a boil, start a timer, and boil for exactly 1 minute.
~ Ladle the hot jam into the hot, sterilized canning jars and seal with lids and rings.
~ Allow to cool to room temperature, and refrigerate any jars that do not seal.

These recipes do not call for water bath canning but I think I will for 10 minutes like a papaya recipe calls for in my ball canning book... Im not sure which I will do yet.. I guess it depends on if I can find a ripe mango :)

Reading List

My current reading list...

Re-read the Backyard Homestead (thanks to a friend I now own a copy)
~ The Urban Homestead
~ The Quarter-acre Farm
~ Still Life with Chickens
~ My Empire of Dirt
~ Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
~ Fifty Acres and a Poodle
~ My new Mother Earth News mag

Friday, March 30, 2012

How to Organically Care for Fire Ant Bites

Fire ants are awful little insects and swarm onto you giving many little painful bites.. so how can you treat yourself and your children safely and organically?

First you want to make sure you knock off every single ant, they cling.. dont wipe off on your clothing unless you remove right away and leave outside... they will find your skin under the clothes and BITE...

RIGHT AWAY.. make a paste from baking soda and water (a thick paste) and spread this on all the bites... this minimizes the venom they inject... let the paste sit for about 10 minutes or so then wash of with warm water

Apply a coat of Vaseline and DO NOT ITCH.. if its very itchy you can use a anti-itch cream

For any pain soak in Epsom salts for as long as you can.. then take that magnesium rich water and water some plants!!! :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Homemade Garden Markers

With it being spring and so many people planting things this is a good time to make your own garden markers..

I scoured the internet looking for my favorites and inspiration, these are the ones i rounded up!!

Picture Courtesy of Google

Picture Courtesy of Crafty Couple Blog

Picture Courtesy of Google

Picture Courtesy of In my own style

Picture Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Picture Courtesy of Woof Nanny Blog

I hope this gave you all some instantiation cause it sure did me!! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Weekends Harvest

While shopping at greenfest and listening to presentations at the sustainable living conference my garden was being transformed in between. While doing all this wonderful planting we also harvested :)

Above: Red Pontiac potatoes harvested from a stunted grasshopper ridden plant

Below: Peas pulled from the dying plants, and 2 violet jasper tomatoes

Sustainable Living Conference

On my 50 minute drive I passed rows of dead strawberry plants, handmade signs that rad cows 4 sale or chicken eggs, and even a goats for sale, tree formed together at the top to make a shady tree tunnel to drive through, and we saw many animals grazing along the fences. as we approached I even saw some wild chickens pecking along the road.

I was greeted by 2 large signs one reading All World Acres, and the other SL conference. As I drove down the long rocky driveway I felt right at home, people wearing tye dye, long skirts, or dirty tattered t shirts, dirt caked their hands and feet, the fences were covered in wild grapes and blackberries. Perfection.

I parked next to a row of cars covered in bumper stickers with all the same message, save the earth, grow your own, etc.

As I walked up to the group I saw a facebook world come to life, everyone I knew on the virtual space was there to hug, and meet, and speak to.. Some people I have met before but many new and wonderful faces to put to the names.

We watched a hugelkultur mound be built, People speak about gardening, health through food, cooking, permaculture, and life. It was inspiring watching all these people gather for 1 cause to work on improving the earth and our way of living.

I took Andy Firk's nature walk where he picked out items we think of weeds, or scrub trees and point out their usefulness, We nibbled 2 types of lemony weeds which i adored. I walked ahead taking picture of nature, which right after gardening is my favorite thing to do.

I was really thrilled with the whole thing and glad I was able to attend, Next year I think I will attend as well! :)

To see what others were up to this weekend, Barnhop!

Pictures from this Weekend

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Realization and a Garden Fest

So for the first time in many years I slept in a tent... my back ached, i couldn't fall asleep, and I was generally unhappy, realizing that as I get older I dont enjoy or am able to do the things i did as a child. Humph. My daughter on the other hand bounced around the tent for a hour then laid down and passed out, snoring happily away while her mother suffered next to her.

This morning we left early to get to GreenFest a once a year plant fest in plant park (the park connected to the University of Tampa), it gives a beautiful backdrop to a wonderful event which I have attended for the past 3 years always scoring some awesome goods.
This year as I meandered around the park being engulfed in bright blooms, and happily buzzing bees I noticed my favorite plant vendor Fruit of the Bloom was missing, I guess from talking to other vendors they went out of business (so sad) so I went around looking for other edible plant vendors, row after row of roses, native flowers, and orchids I found 3 vendors Thompson's, B&B, and Crowley's.. at Thompson's I got a rhubarb plant, french sorrel, arugula, and lemon balm. At B&B I got a pineapple and a loquat tree. I didn't get anything at Crowley's but almost fell for a purple passion fruit vine that I am kicking myself for not getting now (though I think they go to the USF spring fest in April that I'll be attending). Brooke and I snacked on homemade ice cream (they were making it in a churn right there in front of us, how cool) and kettlecorn while walking around and around for about 3 hours. We sat on the bank of a little stream and watched the crabs fun themselves on the muddy sides, scurrying to their holes anytime we spoke to loud.

I think I am plant addicted but with the way my backyard is coming along... can you blame me?? Some people use retail shopping as a therapy, I use plant shopping, but I only attend maybe 2 or 3 a year so its really NOT that bad!! :)

Friday, March 23, 2012


I have green dreams every night, me out in a field surrounded by thousands of types of plants, edibles I have never even heard of... aw yes. but that isnt the type of Green Dreams I am talking about, instead I am talking about a wonderful company.

You may have noticed my sidebar had a new banner added, a sponsor (ick, yack, oh no) but this company is worth that space and space inside your brain. They design a paradise garden for you in your own backyard, complete with yummy edibles. I am happy to say they are owned by a wonderful pair who I would like to say are friends. Instead of paying money for that spot in the sidebar they are contributing to this ever growing urban farm, a perfect win win!

So let me give you the down low (hehehehe):
Green Dreams began as a lawn & landscape company in the Tampa Bay area over 10 years ago. Due to the rise of chemically-based product companies (such as the creators of Round-Up & Miracle Grow) & science's genetically modified mess they have chosen to take the path of nature's evolution instead.
They are also in the beginning stages of utilizing sustainable methods of growing to develop their own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture/Co-Op). They believe that the future of our health is directly related to the food on the table. Typical monoculture farming has left the beautiful planet & the health of our children in a heap of trouble so this great company is working to change all that starting with bringing the victory garden to you!

Join me in welcoming them to a wonderful growing movement, and its family!!!

We need more sustainable "green" companies around since the others keep seeming to be bought out and destroyed!! Go Green... GreenDreams

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to fix your sandy soil

So you live somewhere where your soil is almost pure sand? You take a big handful and it runs through your hands and blows away in the wind..

Well I have learned the supposed fix: calcium bentonite clay

It is a natural occurring organic amendment used mostly in Australia (from what I can see), most articles are from their but filled with good info.

Here is your mix:
~ a heavy sprinkle of bentonite
~ Rich Compost
~ Blood Meal
~ Bone Meal

Mix that into the top layer of your sand soil and water in very well, repeat this application once a week for 3 weeks at this point you should see the difference in water holding ability, as time progress the clay will continue to work its magic turning the water repellant sand into water holding soil

You can also make a water mix by taking some and making a thick past with water, let sit overnight then add more water making a yogurt type thickness (let sit overnight again) then add more water like orange juice (mix VERY VERY well) pour into a watering can and water your soil!!!

I got a large bag of bentonite today for $14.50 which will be added to all my garden beds and future food forest area.

Ill report back with my personal findings in 3 weeks!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to keep your soil from washing away

So today we had our first rain in something like 2 months, I was very very excited until it kept coming, and coming, and coming... We ended up with over 3 inches and my newly added compost and soil was washed away.

So how do we keep the soil from washing away?

This should be done anyway but if you haven't its just another reason to get going.
Soil has a certain amount of air, and peat, and other stuff in it that makes it lighter (compacting down does not change this so do not try it) and easily washed away in a heavy rain, so as soon as that soil goes down add your mulch.. Leaves, straw, wood chips, anything.. add at least 2 inches preferably 4. Done now much less if any will be washed away

plants like clover, thyme, oregano, mint, strawberries any of those low growing shallow rooted plants work well because as soon as they get going they grip all their roots into that topsoil and hold on for dear life not letting it go anywhere

**If its washing away due to being on a hill, add bricks to make it level then add all the soil creating a even surface vs a hilled surface.. in fact you can make many level terraces all the way down a hill allowing a couple holes in your bricks to let some water through and you have a self watering system by letting the excess water drain to lower levels**

Experiment: Seed Scattering~ Sprouts!

Since I have such a assortment of seeds scattered I don't know exactly whats sprouting but there are many sprouts all over!!! :)

This is a hugely exciting for me!! Now grow baby grow!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The start of our food forest and our spring garden

They were a inspriration, Now I am sad

So they have something SO very beautiful and have become hungry for something more, they lost my respect when they tried to copyright the term "urban homestead, and urban homesteading". Why take a wonderful example of what should be done in every backyard and stamp your muddy shoes all over it blocking out the true message. Damn... :(

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Lorax

Want a movie all about loving earth and nature but don't want to force your kids to sit through another documentary? Go see The Lorax. Not only will you love it but so will your kids!!

It starts with a young man who moves to the forest bursting with great ideas but with a lack of knowledge about anything really.. He proceeds to make money using what the forest provides destroying it in the process and losing a dear friendship, when he finally looks at what he has done it is to late, many years later he must help another young boy make the right choices and learn from his past mistakes.

A wonderful take on things that are going on in our daily lives and how 1 choice can make all the difference!

Originally based off the Lorax the book by Dr. Seuss it uses those bright colors and lots of fun animation to make this such a wonderful movie and at 70 some minutes its not super long and drawn out!!!

Please garden lovers, nature lovers, animal lovers, Dr. Seuss lovers, ANYBODY.. go see this movie, and laugh and smile then go plant a tree (or a whole garden)

Let it grow
Let it grow
Let the love inside ya show
Plant a seed inside the earth
Just one way to know it's worth
Let's celebrate the world's rebirth

We say let it grow
Let it grow
Let it grow
You can't reap what you don't sow
It's just one tiny seed
But it's all we really need
It's time to banish all your greed
Imagine Thneedville flowered and treed
Let this be our solemn creed
We say let it grow

Experiment: Seed Scattering

So last night I got half of my food forest covered with compost and rich soil (this is on top a layer of branches and leaves)

Then this morning I made a seed mix of a HUGE variety of plants

Seed Mix:
~ sweet basil
~ dill
~ parsley
~ marigold
~ anise hyssop
~ peppers
~ lemon squash
~ borage
~ violet jasper tomato
~ orach
~ malabar spniach
~ love in a mist
~ tobacco
~ camomile
~ oregano
~ amaranth
~ sorghum
~ echinacea
~ daisies
~ tomatillo
~ kentucky wonder beans
~ mystery tomato
~ blanket flower
~ Unknown native flower
~ nutmeg melon
~ okra
~ flax
~ Roselle
~ oats
~ Im sure I am forgetting a couple

I wet the compost/soil mix VERY well and let soak in, then i sprinkled with a mix of organic fertilizers like blood meal, kelp meal, bone meal, etc, and then the seed was sprinkled by hand as evenly as I could get.

After everything was sprinkled out I went back through and scratched the seeds into the dirt by hand leaving a display of hidden seeds, half hidden seeds, and uncovered seeds

After everything was scratched in I topped with leaves to hopefully keep the animals from eating the seeds and to help keep the soil moist while they germ (like a real forest)

My goal is to have a large variety of plants growing with different root depths and purposes, herbs for cooking & healing, veggies & fruits for fresh eating and kitchen use, flowers for eating and bringing pollinators, grains for nitrogen fixing abilities and for grain of course, there is also a mix of annuals, perennials, and self seeders to keep the forest constantly alive and growing.

This is a test to see how well the scatter seed method goes and what grows and what doesn't, I am very excited to see how it progresses through out the next month and months as things germ and grow. :) I will continually post of this experiment though the stages. Send your growing energy to those little seeds!!

Wanna see whats going on at other homesteads??? BarnHop!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Get your ducks in a row

So our cute little ducks have now become teen sized ducks! Its amazing to me how quickly they grow, much faster then chickens! They have grown around 4 times the size they were just mere weeks ago!!!

Today we took them out to there first Garden walk, they enjoyed themselves and as we watered they followed us all around trailing by maybe a foot or two. SO SWEET!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Healthy Eating

There comes a time when its important to take another look at your eating/ exercise habits, I take notice after looking at old pictures and seeing my 100 pound weight gain since I got pregnant consume my health, this combined with the fact they ordered my wedding dress 1 size to small..

Well I downloaded a app onto my phone that tracks starting weight, food consumed daily, and exercise.. you do a once a week weigh in and put how much you would like to lose a week, I want to lose 2 pounds a week so I am on a 1700 calorie plan + exercise 5 times a week for 10 minutes each.. My goal is to lose 24 pounds in 3 months. I am working in 3 month periods, until I reach my goal amount which is 78 pounds.

78 pounds lighter I will be healthier and happier.

Less soda will be consumed since that is my weakness, as well as less red meats and more fish. More veggies both raw and cooked will be eaten, and processed sugars will be replaced with fruits. Only healthy snacking will be done, no chips, candy, or other junk.

I think this will be interesting to watch progress and since we grow our own healthy foods that's easy, its just getting rid of the cravings for the bad crap that will take some work.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Potato Adventure

Potatoes are the the second most consumed item in the united states. So every gardener should grow a small batch in the garden.

This is my first year growing and I planted a 4 ft by 18 ft section which held 20 potatoes "seeds". I don't know what I expect as a harvest or how to harvest them exactly. All I know is I am excited.

I planted Red Pontiac Potatoes
80-100 days till maturity
First batch was planted Jan 5th (only 5 came up)~ Harvest April 5th, second batch was planted March 5th (to fill in empty areas)~ Harvest June 5th

Also at the start of April I get sweet potato starts to plant out front!!

YAY for potatoes... And a brand new Barnhop!! :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I have recently become infatuated with roses. They add such a classic beauty to the garden, and the scent that comes from some of them are better then any perfume I have smelled before.. I Have 4 rose bushes as of right now, all babies and have scouted out other plants that I like :)

Above: A rose I found for sale in Plant City, looking back I should have got it

Below: A unknown rose that has a wonderful smell

Below: Gold Medal Rose, with its first bloom I could smell it 2 ft away, its kinda fruity

Pictures around Sunny Spot Garden (March 10th, 2012)

Violer Jasper


Part of the up and coming food forest

Baby Banana


Wild Mulberry(popped up in the yard)

Bananas coming back


Brookes Garden

Potato Blooms

Mustard Greens

Okra popping up

Chocolate Habenero and tomatoes

Peppers and Eggplants

Chicken Yard Art