Sourdough Starter Made Simple – Create Your Own Heirloom Culture

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Sourdough bread is the oldest form of leavened bread in the world.

Sourdough Starter Made Simple

Sourdough bread is the oldest form of leavened bread in the world, dating back to ancient Egypt. Sourdough uses a lactobacillus and yeast culture rather than cultivated yeasts as a leavening agent. The lactic acid created as a by-product of the lactobacilli gives sourdough bread its distinctive tangy flavor, while the yeast provides the leavening and digests the byproducts of the lactobacilli.

Unlike cultivated yeasts, sourdough “starters” with homegrown lactobacilli are very easy to start and maintain at home. Once begun, sourdough starters can live for years or even for generations. Many bakeries or other restaurants that bake their own bread keep the same sourdough starter for as long as the restaurant remains open to ensure that their bread keeps the same unique flavor. Sourdough starters have even been passed down from grandparents to parents to children as family heirlooms.

How Does It Work?

While it may sound off-putting, the truth is that all sorts of microorganisms naturally live in flour, including the two that are important to a sourdough starter. When a starter is nurtured properly, the yeast and lactobacilli will eventually grow a strong symbiotic colony and kill off any other bacteria in the process. It can take several days for the right bacteria to take hold, and until that time your starter may give off an unpleasant smell and generally resemble something you don’t particularly want to use for cooking.

Your skin also contributes some bacteria to the process. This is one cooking activity for which you do not want the most sterile ingredients and tools possible. Whole grain flours are better since they naturally contain more bacteria, and you do not want to sterilize your flour before you begin or your starter will not go anywhere.

Growing Your Sourdough Starter

There is both a simple way and a more complicated way to grow a sourdough starter, although in truth neither way is immensely difficult. The complicated method mostly involves a great deal of time and patience, and possibly some trial and error.

The first method involves taking a small amount of unbaked sourdough for your base since this dough will already contain live cultures of lactobacilli and yeast. This dough can come from a sourdough that you purchase, or from a starter or dough that you snitch from an acquaintance. With healthy cultures already at home in this dough, all you have to do is keep feeding it.

To start a new culture you will need to make a brand-new dough out of a flour and water base and wait for a culture to begin to form. You should be able to grow a good culture in about a week’s time if you keep your dough under the right conditions.

While there are many different methods of beginning a sourdough starter, I have found that this method detailed on the website Sourdough Home is a great resource. The website also has a couple of other methods that sourdough bakers can try, but the Professor Calvel recipe is a tasty and reliable place to start.

This method takes about two and a half days to grow a sourdough starter, and bakers will need wheat flour, rye flour, salt, water, and dried malt extract. Do not use distilled water for your starter, since the minerals naturally found in water are important for helping your starter to grow. If your tap water smells or tastes funny, use bottled water for your starter.

This particular recipe uses both whole wheat and rye flour, and most starter recipes you will find also opt for rye, wheat, or a combination rather than white flour. However, you do not need to use the same type of flour to bake your bread as you used for your starter; for example, you can make a white sourdough loaf using a starter fed with rye.

Starters need time to grow and to eliminate unwanted bacteria, so you should only bake with starters that are at least one week old – preferably older. Starters should also be healthy, as demonstrated by their ability to more or less double in size each time you feed them.

Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter

Keeping a sourdough starter is not unlike keeping a very low maintenance pet. In fact, your lactobacilli culture is alive and needs some of the same care that you would give to a more traditional pet. It may seem bizarre to carefully cultivate a strain of bacteria when we work so hard to eradicate bacteria in most areas of our homes, but these little cultures are special. Keep them healthy and happy, and you will have the key to great bread for as long as you choose!

Your sourdough starter needs food and water and must be kept at an appropriate temperature. There are a couple of options for your starter during the first few months: it can be kept in a relatively warm place and fed twice a day, or you can choose to start keeping your culture in the refrigerator after the first week, in which case you only need to feed it once every two to four weeks. Keeping the culture warm at first is the recommended method, but those who can’t or won’t put that much time toward their starter should still be able to create a decent starter in the refrigerator.

When you feed your starter, you want to give it the same amount of flour as you have starter. In other words, one cup of starter should be fed one cup of flour. At the same time, you want to add approximately two-thirds that amount of water: 2/3 cup for one cup of starter. If you are using weight measurements instead of volume measurements, add equal parts flour and water.

Since the goal is for the starter to double in size after you have already doubled it with the feeding, you can imagine how quickly a starter would grow in size if left unchecked. To avoid an exponential explosion of starter, it is best to discard a portion of your starter each time you feed it. You may choose to keep one or two cups of starter at a time.

If there are periods of time when you will not be using your starter, or if you are wary of the amount of flour it takes to feed a hungry starter twice a day, it is possible to store your starter in the refrigerator, or even in the freezer. As we have already discussed, it is highly recommended that you do not refrigerate your starter until it has had time to mature over a period of one to three months.

Before you use your starter again, you will need to remove it from the refrigerator and revive it. Feed the starter and allow it to return to room temperature. Once it has reached that temperature, resume the twice-a-day feeding schedule until the starter had regained the ability to double its size after a feeding. Keep in mind that you do not need to revive your entire starter in order to have some to use. You can take a relatively small amount of starter – say, one teaspoon – from your starter container while leaving the rest in the refrigerator. You can continue to feed the bulk of the starter on the two-to-four-week refrigeration schedule.

You may also like to read How to Make Butter in an Emergency!

 

 

©2018  Off the Grid News

The post Sourdough Starter Made Simple – Create Your Own Heirloom Culture appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Grow Lavender This Summer And Harvest Some Amazing Benefits

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The intoxicating smell is just one of the reasons to grow lavender this summer.

There are many reasons to grow lavender. Lavender is a beautiful plant, most often known for its intoxicating smell. The small purple flowers and the leaves both emit the fragrant perfume that the plant is famous for. With lavender in your garden, you can expect to catch the scent on a breeze as long as the plants are flowering. But is lavender as easy to grow as other herbs? And what can you do with it aside from enjoying its perfume in the garden? Armed with the right knowledge, you can successfully grow lavender in your garden and put it to good use as a scent, in foods, and for medicinal purposes.

How To Grow Lavender

Lavender is the common name for an entire genus of perennial plants called Lavandula. The name comes from the Latin for “to wash,” probably because lavender has long been used in baths as a way to purify the spirit and to scent the body. Lavender is native to the Mediterranean mountain zones. There it grows in the hot, dry sun and in rocky soils. All species of lavender plants are small to medium woody shrubs with silvery-green, narrow leaves. The flowers appear on tall spikes and are small and usually purple.

In spite of lavender’s origins in the desert-like climate of the Mediterranean, it can be grown in a range of areas. In fact, lavender is well known as a garden element in England, with a cool, wet climate that is the opposite of the southern homeland of the plant. Select a spot in your garden that gets the most warmth and sun. Full sun is best. Lavender can grow in many soil conditions, but to get the most oil in the flowers, which is the origin of the scent, the soil should be well-drained, poor, slightly alkaline, and chalky.

Lavender plants are very hardy after you have gotten them established. In fact, if you live in a drought-prone area, plant plenty of lavender. You can expect it to survive and even thrive in your harsh conditions. Until the plants are established, however, give them a little compost and a regular watering. After one year, you should have hardy shrubs that can be given less attention.

You can grow lavender as far north as zone 5. What is more deadly to a lavender plant than cold is dampness and moisture. Having soil that drains well is very important to the success of your plants. If your lavender will be staying outside for the winter and you are in a cold climate, a layer of mulch will help. You might also consider growing lavender in containers and bring it inside for the winter. The roots of the lavender actually prefer a tight space.

Pruning in the spring is a good idea for lavender shrubs. For the taller varieties, take them back to about a third of the original height. For smaller species, trim back a couple of inches. Whatever you do, though, do not prune until you see new growth developing in the spring. If you prune too early, the plant may not come back to life.

New “Survival Herb Bank” Gives You Access to God’s Amazing Medicine Chest.

Types Of Lavender

There are hundreds of varieties of lavender out there from which to choose, so the options can get a little overwhelming when you first make your decision to grow lavender. They are roughly categorized as English, Spanish, and French, but there are also plenty of other varieties not included in these groups.

  • English. The English lavenders are of the species L. angustifolia. The varieties of this species are hardier than others and are better suited to colder and wetter conditions. They grow to a height and width of approximately one and a half to two feet. They bloom twice in the growing season: in June and again in August. These plants are best started from cuttings rather than seeds. Varieties include Hidcote, Rebecca Kay, Munstead, Cedar Blue, Blue Cushion, Melissa, and Richard Grey. Another group of varieties called the lavandins are sometimes classified as English lavender, but they are really hybrids.
  • Spanish. Spanish lavender varieties are from the species L. stoechas. They originate in the hot, dry Mediterranean region and are not hardy. The Spanish varieties are very dense and can be thinned down in July to keep air circulating through the branches. There is a great deal of variety in the size of these plants.
  • French. The name is misleading, as French lavender is not necessarily from the country of France. They are varieties of the species L. dentata. The word dentata refers to the tooted nature of the leaves. These varieties are not very hardy and should be grown outside only in warm climates. Otherwise, the varieties, like Green Fringe, Grey Fringe, and Linda Ligon, can be grown in containers and brought inside for the winter. The plants are a little bit shorter than English lavender.

Harvesting Lavender

When harvesting the flowers, wait until they bloom. As soon as you see the full color of the flowers, you can cut the entire stalk off of the plant. Do this in the morning after the dew has dried. If it can be done, harvest on a dry day. If you are using the flowers fresh for their fragrance, get them to a cool location quickly. The cooler they are, the more fragrant oil they will release. If you want to dry the flowers for potpourri or cooking, you can hang bunches of flowers upside down in a dark location or you can lay them out flat in a sunny spot.

Uses For Lavender

The most obvious reason to grow lavender is to capture its intoxicating scent. You can set fresh flowers in water to enjoy the smell or dry the flowers to use in potpourri, wreaths, and other crafts. One of the unique aspects of lavender is that the flowers retain their fragrance even after they have been dried.

Lavender oil can also be used for its fragrance. It is made by extracting the oil from the flowers of the plant. The oil is also used medicinally. The scent is thought to help relax you and get you to sleep at night, so a sachet in your pillow is a great use for the flowers or the oil. Smelling lavender is also believed to be helpful for treating headaches, while the oil may help with skin issues such as fungal infections, eczema, wounds, and acne. It may help relieve pain as well as heal.

What surprises many people when they decide to grow lavender is that in addition to its delightful scent, you can eat it! Both the flowers and leaves are edible. If you use too much in a recipe, however, you can give your food a perfumy and bitter taste. In other words, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to lavender. English lavender varieties are the best for culinary uses. Other types can be overwhelming in flavor. Try some of these ideas with your lavender harvest.

  • Use the leaves of lavender, fresh or dried, in the same way you would use rosemary. The two plants are very similar, but you will get a nice surprise when you substitute lavender leaves for rosemary leaves when roasting meat, potatoes, or vegetables.
  • Toss a few fresh flowers in a salad for an interesting flavor twist. Just don’t use too many! If the flavor is overwhelming, take a few out.
  • Make a simple syrup by boiling lavender flowers and leaves with the sugar and water. Strain the herbs out before using. The syrup is especially tasty in lemonade and in tea.
  • You can also infuse your sugar or salt with the taste of lavender. Mix in lavender flowers and let the salt or sugar sit in a closed container for a week or two. Use the sugar or salt as you would normally.
  • Add dried flowers to recipes for cookies, breads, cakes, and practically any dessert. About one tablespoon of dried, crushed flowers per typical dessert recipe is appropriate.
  • When following a recipe that calls for lavender, you can use fresh or dried flowers. If the recipe calls for fresh flowers and you have dried, use one-third the amount.

You may also want to check out Companion Planting:  Vegetable “Buddies” That Actually Thrive Together!

©2018 Off the Grid News

The post Grow Lavender This Summer And Harvest Some Amazing Benefits appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Lots of Good Reasons To Plant Sunflowers This Year

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One reason to plant sunflowers is to help kids understand the beauty of God’s created world.

People have grown sunflowers for many different reasons over the years. Personally, I started to plant sunflowers for fun and continue growing them for practicality. They are easy to grow and a good way to teach children the fun, ease, and benefits of gardening. Also, due to their quick growth rate, height, and drought tolerance, they can provide a beautiful “wall” for “off the grid” privacy.

I was just starting to garden when I learned how easy it was to grow sunflowers. The man in charge of the local feed store said they were easy to grow, that “anyone can grow them because they are hard to kill.” He was so right! I planted a few seeds and when they grew up, they were beautiful. There were days that I would forget to water them, yet they still grew tall and strong, turning their beautiful faces toward the sun the whole summer and well into the fall. They were a true representation of God’s glory and His beautiful design.

Years ago I lived in a rural community. Our property was on the main roadway that went through the hills of the northern California gold fields of Yuba County. The garden area was visible from the road but up a steep, 20-foot embankment. We wanted to have a wall to block our garden from both the prying eyes of the local toughs and to block out the noise and exhaust of the passing cars. I remembered the sunflowers I had grown a few years before. I went into town and bought several varieties of sunflower seeds along with three different varieties of marigolds.

Plant Sunflowers Because They Are So Easy To Grow

I had an area four feet wide and twenty feet long to plant in, which would block our yard from the view of the highway. I grew sunflowers that ranged in height from 2 feet tall to better than 15 feet high in three rows. I planted them about eight inches apart, tallest varieties closest to the road, shortest towards the rest of the garden. Between the sunflowers I planted 18-inch tall marigolds in the back row, 12-inch tall marigolds in the center row, and dwarf marigolds – 6 to 8 inches tall – I the front row. It was the most brilliantly colored privacy wall I had ever seen, the colors ranged in hue from lemon yellow to brilliant oranges, deep russets to dark burgundies. That was the summer I fell in love with all the colors in God palette. The various different colors of orange were – and still are – my absolute favorite.

Put a little potting soil into a small pot, or even a large paper cup with a hole poked in the bottom, plant a seed or two an inch deep in the soil, and water well. Place the planted seed in a sunny spot and water when the soil feels dry an inch below the top of the soil. In seven to 10 days, a sprout will peek its head above the soil. In another week to ten days, the stalk will start to shoot up out of the pot. When the flowers appear, they will follow the sun across the sky from dawn to setting sun.

When you plant directly into the ground, you may want to cover the area with screens to keep birds and rodents from eating your seeds before they can grow up, or plant two seeds in each hole so they can have their share as well.

Don’t Forget To Fertilize When You Plant Sunflowers

When your plants have outgrown their pots, they should be planted in a sunny place. They will tolerate partial shade, but they do their best and grow to their full height in full sunlight and well-drained soil. When the blooms begin to develop, you should add extra phosphorus and potassium to promote bigger blooms. Organic phosphorus can be found in rock phosphate, bone meal, and various liquid organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion. Sources of organic potassium include sul-po-mag (sulfate of potash magnesia for quick release), greensand, and liquid fertilizers such as Earth Juice’s Meta-K.

The flowers will mature in 60 to 90 days. At this point, the seeds can be dried. The dried seeds can be fed to the birds and wild animals of your area, be ground into a spread similar to peanut butter, roasted for snacking, or ground into flour and baked into cakes or breads.

I still enjoy sunflowers and grow them whenever I can. Even when I was an apartment dweller, I planted them in large pots with a few marigolds. I loved their beauty and their shining faces, faces that were always looking into the sun. It was a constant reminder for me to also keep my face turned towards the Son, to keep my eyes trained on Christ.

I hope that you will grow sunflowers to teach your children the fun of growing things and the beauty of God’s creation.

Happy Planting!

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The post Lots of Good Reasons To Plant Sunflowers This Year appeared first on Off The Grid News.

How to Make Butter In An Emergency

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Many families are learning how to make butter as a “just In case” strategy as well as good ole fashion fun.

You’re proud and secure in the fact you’ve stored weeks’ or even months’ worth of food for the inevitable collapse. But what happens if the grocery stores don’t reopen, and you’re living indefinitely off your own resources? There are some things you’d miss quite a bit – including butter. Here’s how to make it, plain and simple.

The ingredients are simple:
1 pint of heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
Salt (to be added at the end of the process)

The equipment list is even more simple:
A glass jar

The directions:
1. Pour the heavy cream into the jar, tighten the lid, and shake! After about 7 minutes, the cream becomes whipped cream. After about 3 more minutes of shaking, the whipped cream begins to separate into butter and buttermilk.

2. Pour the buttermilk into a separate container. You can drink it or save it for cooking.

3. Now wash the remainder of the buttermilk off the butter by pouring enough clean water into the jar with the butter to cover it completely. Swish it around enough to rinse and then drain the water from the jar.

4. Place the butter in another container (such as a small bowl) and mix it around with a fork or knife to release any additional buttermilk and pour it off again.

5. Add salt to taste. You’re done! You’ve made your own butter. One pint of whipping cream yields almost exactly 1 cup of butter, equal to 2 sticks.

Interestingly, shaking works faster than a hand-held electric mixer, which can make whipped cream in about a minute, but take about 14 more minutes to turn it into butter.

One final consideration is where to get the cream, if the grid collapses. Heavy cream is simply the cream that floats to the top of the milk (straight from the cow, that is). If you’re lucky enough to live near a dairy farm, you’ve got that option. Or you could get your own cow and make butter truly from scratch!

Learn other tips including Tips For Canning Meat!

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A Tomato a Day Keeps You Healthy…and Full!

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When you’re living at the mercy of nature, (whose bounty can be very fickle), you need access to smart foods.  You’ll want to keep some foods around that are not only nutritious, but that will also make you feel full on a modest portion.  If it also happens to ward off a myriad of dread diseases, so much the better.  Say hello to what might be a survivor’s best friend: the tomato.

Evidence is emerging that suggests our plump red pal contains a mystery compound that suppresses hormones that trigger our appetite.  Preventing those pesky snack attacks has a lot of obvious advantages for us, whether we are living under normal circumstances or under the austerity of survival conditions.  Staying slim by not overeating may be a great benefit now, but think of those longs days and nights of rationing out a diminishing food supply, and nothing seems to satisfy your continual hunger.  A filling bite of a tomato to take the edge off would be heaven sent.

A French study compared the filling effect of sandwiches made with a tomato-enriched bread, carrot-enriched bread, and plain white bread.  Women of average weight between 18 and 35 were the subjects.  Amazingly, the fiber-rich carrots were not the winner.  Only the tomato bread kept the women satisfied and full.  So, if you only have a slice of cheese or a share of a can of tuna for today’s rations, a couple slices of tomato might be just the thing to turn those few precious bites into a fulfilling meal.

The results are incomplete, and it remains to be determined if tomatoes lower the level of the hunger-producing hormones, like ghrelin.  The part of the tomato that curbs the appetite has not been isolated yet either, though some suspect that it may be the red pigment, lycopene.

Regardless of lycopene’s connection to appetite, it is another reason to plant plenty of tomatoes in your survival garden.  Lycopene is linked to a reduction in a host of cancers including prostate, breast, cervical, skin, pancreatic, and even lung cancer—plus it slows down the progression of some cancers that have already occurred as well.

But wait!  There’s more…

Tomato juice and ketchup have been shown to significantly reduce levels of cholesterol, thus promoting heart health as well.  Tomatoes also keep skin healthy and looking young, and actually help to minimize sunburn.  They have a ton of vitamin C, which has healing, preventative, and nutritional properties—like warding off colds, promoting wounds to heal more quickly and completely, and allowing the body to absorb iron.  Tomatoes are rich in fiber, and they have lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep you young and energetic.

Tomatoes are easy to grow, and will grow under many diverse conditions. One plant yields many fruits, and one fruit has enough seeds for a hundred new plants.  They can stay on the vine for a long time; they can ripen and survive after picking for a long time; and they don’t require refrigeration.  With all of these benefits, I’m thinking that a good share of my garden will be dedicated to this versatile vegi-fruit.  You can eat it raw, on a sandwich, in a salad, grilled, boiled, or in soup.  You can juice it, make ketchup, salsa, tomato sauce for spaghetti sauce or chili, and it can be sundried too.  Is there anything I’m leaving out?  Oh…and it tastes pretty good too.

The post A Tomato a Day Keeps You Healthy…and Full! appeared first on Off The Grid News.

A Tomato a Day Keeps You Healthy… and Full!

Click here to view the original post.

When you’re living at the mercy of nature, (whose bounty can be very fickle), you need access to smart foods.  You’ll want to keep some foods around that are not only nutritious, but that will also make you feel full on a modest portion.  If it also happens to ward off a myriad of dread diseases, so much the better.  Say hello to what might be a survivor’s best friend: the tomato.

Evidence is emerging that suggests our plump red pal contains a mystery compound that suppresses hormones that trigger our appetite.  Preventing those pesky snack attacks has a lot of obvious advantages for us, whether we are living under normal circumstances or under the austerity of survival conditions.  Staying slim by not overeating may be a great benefit now, but think of those longs days and nights of rationing out a diminishing food supply, and nothing seems to satisfy your continual hunger.  A filling bite of a tomato to take the edge off would be heaven sent.

A French study compared the filling effect of sandwiches made with a tomato-enriched bread, carrot-enriched bread, and plain white bread.  Women of average weight between 18 and 35 were the subjects.  Amazingly, the fiber-rich carrots were not the winner.  Only the tomato bread kept the women satisfied and full.  So, if you only have a slice of cheese or a share of a can of tuna for today’s rations, a couple slices of tomato might be just the thing to turn those few precious bites into a fulfilling meal.

The results are incomplete, and it remains to be determined if tomatoes lower the level of the hunger-producing hormones, like ghrelin.  The part of the tomato that curbs the appetite has not been isolated yet either, though some suspect that it may be the red pigment, lycopene.

Regardless of lycopene’s connection to appetite, it is another reason to plant plenty of tomatoes in your survival garden.  Lycopene is linked to a reduction in a host of cancers including prostate, breast, cervical, skin, pancreatic, and even lung cancer—plus it slows down the progression of some cancers that have already occurred as well.

But wait!  There’s more…

Tomato juice and ketchup have been shown to significantly reduce levels of cholesterol, thus promoting heart health as well.  Tomatoes also keep skin healthy and looking young, and actually help to minimize sunburn.  They have a ton of vitamin C, which has healing, preventative, and nutritional properties—like warding off colds, promoting wounds to heal more quickly and completely, and allowing the body to absorb iron.  Tomatoes are rich in fiber, and they have lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep you young and energetic.

Tomatoes are easy to grow, and will grow under many diverse conditions. One plant yields many fruits, and one fruit has enough seeds for a hundred new plants.  They can stay on the vine for a long time; they can ripen and survive after picking for a long time; and they don’t require refrigeration.  With all of these benefits, I’m thinking that a good share of my garden will be dedicated to this versatile vegi-fruit.  You can eat it raw, on a sandwich, in a salad, grilled, boiled, or in soup.  You can juice it, make ketchup, salsa, tomato sauce for spaghetti sauce or chili, and it can be sundried too.  Is there anything I’m leaving out?  Oh…and it tastes pretty good too.

The post A Tomato a Day Keeps You Healthy… and Full! appeared first on Off The Grid News.

The Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth

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What, you ask, is diatomaceous earth? Isn’t all earth… well, earth? Of course, but diatomaceous earth is a particular type of earth. Okay, it’s basically dirt, but it has many benefits, both dietary, medicinally and as a garden resource. For the back-to-basics lifestyle, diatomaceous earth is a vital part of the formula.

Where does Diatomaceous Earth Come From?

You aren’t going to find diatomaceous earth in your backyard, or most likely anywhere on land, for that matter, regardless of how much you dig. The secret to diatomaceous earth is that it comes from the seabed. Diatomaceous earth finds its source far below the oceans waters, deep in streams and lakes. It is created when sea organisms, so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye, die and fossilize, mixing with the nutrient rich ground. You could say that the ocean and lake beds are God’s compost pile. Some diatomaceous earth is found where oceans, rivers and lakes once stood but have long since dried up. In those cases, the diatomaceous earth is often far below the earth’s surface, covered by eons of buildup, and impossible for anyone to reach without deep drilling and excavating tools.

Types of Diatomaceous Earth

Excavated diatomaceous earth is sold in two forms: industrial and food-grade. Industrial- grade diatomaceous earth is made for commercial products, and most often in pool filters. You need to buy food-grade diatomaceous earth for both dietary additive and pest control for pets and in gardens.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is an excellent cleansing additive for digestion and colon health. It helps get rid of parasites by gently scrubbing the intestines, and is extremely absorbent so it gathers up bacteria, virus, fungi and detoxifies the system by getting rid of buildups of pesticide, metals and drugs (prescription or otherwise) in the system.

Diatomaceous Earth Makeup

The largest component in diatomaceous earth is silica, the same natural product found in commercial fiber additives to help you regulate your digestive tract. Although diatomaceous earth contains up to 85% silica, it also has as many as 20 minerals for a very well-rounded health aide that is known to help reduce age spots, increase lung elasticity, and rejuvenate skin and digestion. It is easy to take by simply mixing a tablespoon or two with juice, water or right into foods as you prepare them. It is tasteless so it won’t change the composition of your meals.

Pest Remover

One of the biggest benefits of diatomaceous earth to homesteaders is its pest repellant capacities. Just rub it on your dogs, cats, horses and other livestock for a great way to ward off fleas, ticks and lice. It also works as a great natural and safe de-wormer when given internally. You can encourage your animals to eat it by mixing it in with their feeds.

It makes your fingernails stronger and healthier, your hair shinier, produces healthier teeth and gums as well as helping some conditions such as arthritis.

Where to Find Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth is easily found in health stores, the drug area of most department stores, and online. Diatomaceous earth can also be found in gardening catalogs. Do not buy industrial, or pool-grade diatomaceous earth. Although it comes from the same source, it has been leeched of its nutrient value in order to get a higher concentration of silica for pool filters.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth in your Garden

Mix it in water for a great spray-on insecticide, or sprinkle on or around plants to get rid of aphids, slugs, beetles, earwigs, flea beetles, thrips and other pests. You can also use diatomaceous earth sprinkled on the floor of your home, or on furniture to repel fleas if you end up with a flea problem.

Using the wet mix is best because it reduces the likelihood of inhalation, which can be very harmful to your lungs. Wear a dust mask when sprinkling dry diatomaceous earth in your home, on your animals or on your food.

Is There no Limit to the Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth?

Nope, not really. It’s an amazing product with lots of uses. You can even use it in baths, or mixed with water to form a paste for a delightful and refreshing facial scrub. Diatomaceous earth is truly one of God’s wonders.

The post The Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth appeared first on Off The Grid News.

Diatomaceous Earth Provides Many Benefits

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diatomaceous earthWhat, you ask, is diatomaceous earth? Isn’t all earth… well, earth? Of course, but diatomaceous earth is a particular type of earth. Okay, it’s basically dirt, but it has many benefits, both dietary, medicinally and as a garden resource. For the back-to-basics lifestyle, diatomaceous earth is a vital part of the formula.

Where does Diatomaceous Earth Come From?

You aren’t going to find diatomaceous earth in your backyard, or most likely anywhere on land, for that matter, regardless of how much you dig. The secret to diatomaceous earth is that it comes from the seabed. Diatomaceous earth finds its source far below the oceans waters, deep in streams and lakes. It is created when sea organisms, so small they can’t be seen with the naked eye, die and fossilize, mixing with the nutrient rich ground. You could say that the ocean and lake beds are God’s compost pile. Some diatomaceous earth is found where oceans, rivers and lakes once stood but have long since dried up. In those cases, the diatomaceous earth is often far below the earth’s surface, covered by eons of buildup, and impossible for anyone to reach without deep drilling and excavating tools.

Types of Diatomaceous Earth

Excavated diatomaceous earth is sold in two forms: industrial and food-grade. Industrial- grade diatomaceous earth is made for commercial products, and most often in pool filters. You need to buy food-grade diatomaceous earth for both dietary additive and pest control for pets and in gardens.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is an excellent cleansing additive for digestion and colon health. It helps get rid of parasites by gently scrubbing the intestines, and is extremely absorbent so it gathers up bacteria, virus, fungi and detoxifies the system by getting rid of buildups of pesticide, metals and drugs (prescription or otherwise) in the system.

Diatomaceous Earth Makeup

The largest component in diatomaceous earth is silica, the same natural product found in commercial fiber additives to help you regulate your digestive tract. Although diatomaceous earth contains up to 85% silica, it also has as many as 20 minerals for a very well-rounded health aide that is known to help reduce age spots, increase lung elasticity, and rejuvenate skin and digestion. It is easy to take by simply mixing a tablespoon or two with juice, water or right into foods as you prepare them. It is tasteless so it won’t change the composition of your meals.

Pest Remover

One of the biggest benefits of diatomaceous earth to homesteaders is its pest repellant capacities. Just rub it on your dogs, cats, horses and other livestock for a great way to ward off fleas, ticks and lice. It also works as a great natural and safe de-wormer when given internally. You can encourage your animals to eat it by mixing it in with their feeds.

It makes your fingernails stronger and healthier, your hair shinier, produces healthier teeth and gums as well as helping some conditions such as arthritis.

Where to Find Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth is easily found in health stores, the drug area of most department stores, and online. Diatomaceous earth can also be found in gardening catalogs. Do not buy industrial, or pool-grade diatomaceous earth. Although it comes from the same source, it has been leeched of its nutrient value in order to get a higher concentration of silica for pool filters.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth in your Garden

Mix it in water for a great spray-on insecticide, or sprinkle on or around plants to get rid of aphids, slugs, beetles, earwigs, flea beetles, thrips and other pests. You can also use diatomaceous earth sprinkled on the floor of your home, or on furniture to repel fleas if you end up with a flea problem.

Using the wet mix is best because it reduces the likelihood of inhalation, which can be very harmful to your lungs. Wear a dust mask when sprinkling dry diatomaceous earth in your home, on your animals or on your food.

Is There no Limit to the Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth?

Nope, not really. It’s an amazing product with lots of uses. You can even use it in baths, or mixed with water to form a paste for a delightful and refreshing facial scrub. Diatomaceous earth is truly one of God’s wonders.

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How Do I Get Started With a Container Garden?

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container garden

Container garden is a perfect solution for limited growing space.

Nearly all types of vegetables that you grow in a backyard garden can be grown in a container. A window sill, a patio, a balcony, or a well-lit area of the house are all well-suited areas for container gardening. Some plants that have vining properties (such as pole beans and cucumbers) will require more space than others, but good candidates are listed below:

  • Tomatoes
  • Green Onions
  • Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Eggplants
  • Radishes
  • Squash
  • Parsley (or any herbs)
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Cucumbers

The first thing you’ll need is a good soil or growing medium. Synthetic soils are much better because they’re composed of sawdust, wood chips, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite or any other medium free of disease and weeds. The superiority of this type soil for container gardening is that it is light weight, holds moisture, but also drains well.

You can make your own synthetic soil by mixing the following ratios:

  • 1 bushel of vermiculite
  • 10 Tablespoons of lime
  • 1 cup of a garden fertilizer (such as 6-12-12 or 5-10-10)
  • 1 bushel peat moss
  • 5 Tablespoons of 0-20-0 (superphosphate)

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and wet the soil down before planting any transplants or seeds. When planting transplants from seeds you’ve started, make the transition from the starter pots to the larger container when there are two or three true leaves on the plant.

Fertilize your plants with a growing solution or time-release pellets like Osmocote®. It’s very easy to burn your tender plants with too much fertilizer, but container plants need fertilizer on a more regular basis than those out in a garden bed.  Watering your plants once a day should be sufficient, but if they’re in a fast-growing cycle, twice a day may be necessary. Monitor and adjust as needed. Remember, all vegetables need full sun for growth (although leafy vegetables tolerate a little shade better than other crops).

Next time we’ll discuss some of the common problems that you may run up against in container gardening. Until then, get started and see what kind of bounty you can grow in a limited space!

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