300,000 People Are Joining This Online Event—Are You?

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The modern diet is making billions of people sick and fat.

If you’re fed up with toxic food, and hungry for a change, then I have wonderful news. My friends John and Ocean Robbins are getting ready to bring YOU one of the most powerful free events in the history of food. Have you signed up yet?

Learn the truth about food at the 2018 Food Revolution Summit.

Our current diet is leading to heart disease, dementia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases.

But the truth is, you can beat disease, and step into great health — starting with the food on your plate!

From April 28-May 6, John and Ocean are interviewing 24 of the world’s top medical and food experts you can trust, including Joel Fuhrman, MD; Kris Carr; Michael Greger, MD; Vani Hari; Neal Barnard, MD; Dale Bredesen, MD; Mark Hyman, MD; David Perlmutter, MD; and many more.

During this weeklong, online event, you’ll gain the latest insights on food and nutrition. And you’ll learn about specific foods that can enhance brain health, prevent cancer, and put you solidly on the path to lasting wellness.

This isn’t time for fewer pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, added sugars, additives, colorings, and processing. If we truly want health, now is the time for a food revolution.

If you know that food matters, and you want to do the best for your body and your planet, then this is THE place to be.

Join the Food Revolution Summit and get the resources you need to stand up for real food.

I’ll see you there!

 

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What Do YOU Think? (3-Minute Survey)

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The Grow Network is already the premier online Community for people who produce their own food and medicine — and we’re looking for ways to get even better!

Your feedback is really important to me and our team as we decide how The Grow Network can be most useful to you. Would you be willing to take a brief survey to let us know?

There are only 7 short questions which should take you about 3 minutes to complete. Just answer and click —  it’s easy!

Click Here To Take The Survey:
 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CX2JR3N

Thank you so much for participating in this survey!

Big hug,

Marjory

 

 

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Growing Turmeric in My Favorite Container Gardening System

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Today, I want to show you a unique container planting system that I use to grow turmeric—one of my favorite home medicines.

This container gardening system is called the Urbin Grower, and it’s a small bed that has a trough bottom for water, creating its own self-watering system.

I’ve been growing turmeric in this Urbin Grower for several months now. I simply planted some turmeric root that I picked up from the grocery store. Turmeric is an amazing medicinal plant!

I have to say that I love this container. I just check to make sure that it’s always got water in the bottom. That water acts as a natural moat that keeps ants and other insects out. It’s also a buffer, so if I’m gone for a week, the planter is going to be fine.

If you’re growing in small spaces or on patios, or for those precious plants (like turmeric!) that you want to have by your house, the Urbin Grower is really working out well for me.

Want to read another article about how to grow turmeric? Check out Learning to Grow Ginger and Turmeric in the Midwest.

(This article was originally published on February 27, 2017.)

 

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‘The Antidote to Waking Up’

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In my recent interview with Dylan Charles of Waking Times, I explain that you really only need 2 acres to produce all the food you need for a large family … and you can produce half of the calories your family needs in an average backyard.

You can listen to the interview, titled “How Growing Food Can Diminish Stress and Evoke a True Sense of Security,” here: http://www.wakingtimes.com/interview-how-growing-food-can-diminish-stress-evoke-true-sense-security/

So, since my Texas homestead is quite a bit bigger than 2 acres, I cultivate the equivalent of a half-dozen backyards where I just try things out.

I test various growing methods, compare the usefulness of different products in the same category (self-watering planters or game cameras, anyone?), and strive for high-efficiency, low-work methods for food production. (I mean, I travel a LOT—my food supply has to be at least partially self-sustaining!)

In the interview, I also joke that growing your own food is the “antidote to waking up” in a country that’s bankrupt and still teetering on the verge of economic collapse.

I’m sure you agree—gardening provides such a sense of security and relief!

In fact, growing your own really nutritious food with as little work as possible is the focus of my new video, “Grow Half Your Own Food (in your own backyard in just an hour a day).” We actually just did a free 72-hour screening of the film this week, but if you missed it, or want to be able to refer back to the information in it, you can still buy the video here: http://thegrownetwork.pages.ontraport.net/growhalf

Then, let me know in the comments below: What benefits have you gained from growing your own food?

 

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Want a healthy body? Start with a healthy mouth!

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As you may know, I’ve dealt with a lot of dental issues over the course of my life because of a sugar addiction that started when I was very young. (Thankfully, I’ve been able to get this under control over the past few years….)

I learned a lot as I searched for holistic solutions to heal my teeth from the disease and decay brought about by years of constant exposure to sugar.

And, through my research, I came to realize not only how important the wellness of the body is to the health of the mouth …

… but also how important the wellness of the mouth is to the health of the body.

That’s why I was really thrilled when my friend and colleague Jonathan Landsman invited me to speak next Saturday, March 17, at his upcoming Holistic Oral Health Summit. The fact that you can so improve your general health by taking proper care of your mouth is something that people often overlook or misunderstand.

Holistic Oral Health Summit

For example, did you know:

  • It’s possible to reverse cancer by properly eliminating oral infections.
  • 90% of all heart attacks are caused by oral pathogens.
  • It’s possible to resolve some autoimmune disorders by getting rid of toxic dental materials.
  • Reversing gum disease can help you get rid of digestive problems.
  • Root canal procedures increase your risk of cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Pretty interesting information, right? And there’s a lot more where that comes from in the upcoming Holistic Oral Health Summit.

It’s completely free to register and watch, and what you’ll learn really could change your life.

Click on this link to register for FREE today. 

 

 

 

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Simple & Effective Worm Composting (VIDEO)

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While traveling in the Pacific Northwest, I met Peter Paul, who showed me the most amazing—and amazingly simple—idea for an outdoor worm composting bin. Using the help of worms to break down food matter (even meats!), Peter shows you a couple of simple methods for making great homemade compost.

Not only that, this method creates a vibrant compost tea that gave Peter 7-foot-tall tomato plants! He also sometimes trades his “worm juice” for different items … even once for iPhone (LOL).

This is a sample of the kinds of things you’ll learn when you take The Grow Network’s “Instant Master Gardener” certification class. Chock full of useful, doable information for taking your garden to the next level, “Instant Master Gardener” is available to our Honors Lab members as part of their monthly subscription. Click here to learn more!

(This article was originally published on May 19, 2015.)

 

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Underground Walipini Pit Greenhouse Construction

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Here is an excellently written PDF document on how to build an underground Walipini pit greenhouse. These greenhouses are an excellent technique to use in arid Southwestern climates.

Click here to download the 29-page PDF document on “Constructing A Walipini Pit Underground Greenhouse.”

Deep appreciation is extended to the Benson Institute, which created the document. The Benson Institute was founded in 1975 at Brigham Young University as part of the College of Biological and Agricultural Sciences. It was named in honor of Ezra Taft Benson’s service as Secretary of Agriculture during the administration of United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Benson Institute strives to teach families in developing countries how to become nutritionally self-sufficient and how to improve their economic circumstances. Participants learn techniques for food production, nutrition, diet, and home food storage. Families learn to grow vegetables and fruits or raise small animals appropriate to their circumstances in order to better provide for themselves.

Find out more about the Benson Institute here.

(This article was originally published on August 26, 2014.)

 

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WOW! Ultra-clean, ultra-efficient, ultra-sustainable winter heat!

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So I was going through some of my old YouTube videos and came across this video of me talking with Paul Wheaton about rocket mass heaters:

I had honestly forgotten some of the statistics on this thing, but it’s pretty incredible:

  • If you use a rocket mass heater instead of a wood-burning stove or fireplace to heat your home this winter, you’ll use 1/10th the amount of firewood.
  • Since the rocket mass heater captures smoke and uses it to produce heat, you’ll be releasing 1/100th to 1/1000th the amount of smoke into the atmosphere.
  • The core of this thing reaches about 3,000°F, versus the 600°F or so generated by a fireplace.
  • This is the perfect DIY project. You can build it yourself in a weekend.
  • It’s inexpensive to make. In fact, some folks build theirs out of cob, discarded pieces of ducting, and old 55-gallon steel drums … for less than $20!
  • And–here’s the kicker–many people heat their homes with a rocket mass heater using nothing but the branches that naturally fall off the trees in their yard. (In fact, one guy made it through the winter on just junk mail!)

Rocket Mass Heater 1

Because rocket mass heaters are so awesome in so many ways, I got in touch with Paul and worked out a special deal for you on the 4-DVD set you hear about in the video:

Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heaters
(Click here to buy now.)

In this 4-DVD set, Paul shows you:

  • DVD 1: “Building a Cob-Style Rocket Mass Heater”—Two separate designs using cob (one in a log structure, and one in a teepee)
  • DVD 2: “Building a Pebble-Style Rocket Mass Heater”—Three pebble-style rocket mass heater designs, including information on building on a conventional wooden floor
  • DVD 3: “Building a Rocket Mass Heater Shippable Core”—Covers building several different styles of shippable cores
  • DVD 4: 2014 Rocket Mass Heater Innovator’s Event—Covers the most difficult part of any rocket mass heater build (the manifold) and shows several new designs from the Innovator’s Event, including a rocket mass heater that doubles as a cooker and smoker; the cleanest rocket mass heater design ever; and an indoor rocket griddle, oven, and water heater

Rocket Mass Heater 2

As part of this special offer, Paul has agreed to give you instant online access to streaming of the 4-DVD set in HD

… plus access to 20 hours of presentations from the 2017 Wheaton Labs Permaculture Design Course (including the 5-hour tour of Wheaton Labs)!

If you’re ready to learn how to put this extremely efficient, ultra-clean, highly sustainable heating method to work for you, click here to buy the 4-DVD set (and get your bonuses!) for just $79, including domestic shipping. (This link will take you straight to PayPal, which is Wheaton Labs’ preferred payment method.)

Rocket Mass Heater: "Better Wood Heat" 4-DVD Set

Look what just arrived in the mail!

(And yes, I bought this set for myself … and actually for several of my team members, too! The information in it is just too good to pass up!)

 

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Is It Raining? Get Outside and Do THIS!

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Those of you who know me know I love to play outside in the rain … barefoot, preferably. 😉

But there’s another reason rain draws me outside.

Beyond just irrigation, rainstorms serve another incredibly valuable purpose on the homestead: They show you where the water flows on your property—and where you might be having some problems.

In this new edition of Homesteading Basics, watch as I walk my property during a storm (after making sure all the hatches were battened down first, of course!) and glean some really valuable information—from clogged gutters to the best natural location for a new pond.

You’ll also see a little part of my property that’s almost magical. When my kids were young, we built a gabion with rocks and chicken wire to help slow the flow of water in an eroded spot. We never did anything else to that area, but we still had something pretty cool happen there. You’ll see what I’m talking about when you watch the video.

Then, I’d love to know: What’s your favorite way to slow the flow of water on your property? Share your tips in the comments!

 

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The Kidney Wrap: Prepare Your Body For Winter

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Have you ever heard of a kidney wrap? It’s a simple but powerful technique to take care of your body during the winter months.

It soothes the adrenals and ensures your body will be ready to have a fabulous spring. This amazing health technique used to be well known by folks who lived in cold climates, and you’ll recognize the truth of it when looking at the fashions people wore in old photos.

Learn how to protect your own body with a kidney wrap in this video featuring Doug Simons (the master herbalist who teaches “Treating Infections Without Antibiotics”).

(This is an updated version of an article originally published in October 2013.) 

 

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Using Essential Oils: An Interesting Resource

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I came across an interesting resource the other day and thought I would share: If you have an interest in using essential oils, you may enjoy the site Oil-Testimonials.com.

It’s strictly an information resource—no sales pitches or multi-level marketing (although, of course, some people do mention particular products or brands in their stories). And it provides some pretty interesting anecdotal information about how people are using essential oils and which oils they’ve found successful in various treatments.

In fact, Oil-Testimonials has been compiling stories related to essential oils since 2004, and the site claims to have the most comprehensive list of these anecdotes on the Internet. After taking a look at the numbers, I’m betting that’s accurate. If I’m doing my math right, there are nearly 10,000 testimonials on the site (!).

Here’s a brief sampling of some of the site’s most popular posts:

  • Calming a Hyperactive Child: “A friend and coworker of my husband’s sent me some samples of Lavender, Cedarwood, Peppermint, and Peace & Calming essential oils. I was skeptical about how they would work, but after battling it out with a child with ADHD (and no medication because I had run out), I decided it couldn’t hurt anything. I put a couple drops of each essential oil in my son’s hands and had him rub them on his head and neck. Within the next few minutes it was as if I had given my son his usual remedy. This oil application completely changed the way my child acted within a matter of minutes. These essential oils worked better than anything else we have tried. My son now would rather have his oils than the side-effect-laden alternatives.” —Cassandra, Oklahoma
  • Lowering High Blood Pressure: “A friend in his 70s had a physical several weeks ago and discovered that he had high blood pressure (HBP). His blood pressure (BP) had been hovering in the 160/98 range. The doctor suggested monitoring it daily for a month and recording the reading. If it did not come down in a month with better food choices and exercise, medication might be recommended. Meanwhile, I suggested that my friend start using OmegaGize, Essentialzyme, and the NingXia Red juice. After a couple of days on this protocol, I was to meet my friend, but he was late in arriving. It turns out that he had been going from grocery-store pharmacy to grocery-store pharmacy getting his BP checked because he just could not believe the readings. He thought that the blood pressure machines must be broken. After two days on the three products that I had suggested, my friend’s BP was down to 138/78. Needless to say, he is very happy and confident that, by the time he returns to his doctor, his BP will be well within the normal range.” —Rebecca, Colorado
  • Alleviating PMS Symptoms: “My entire life I have had horrible cramps, breast tenderness, and bloating 2 to 3 days before my cycle would start, followed by very heavy, very long bleeding. I could not stand up straight! My mother had read that all of the commercial bath products we use have hormone disrupting chemicals in them. So she sent me Young Living’s shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash. When I received them, I literally grabbed everything else in my shower in one fell swoop and dropped it in the trash. After replacing all of the chemical-laden products with Young Living products, I have not had a trace of any of those symptoms related to my cycle. My periods are shorter and not as heavy, too! In fact, most of the time I forget that I am even on my period.” —Katy, Texas
  • Restoring Feeling in Feet: “My mother-in-law has suffered with the loss of sensation in her feet for MANY years. She is very seldom without her walker. I asked if she would be open to trying something different, and she agreed. I mixed up a blend of Frankincense and Lemongrass essential oils in a base bottle of Ortho Ease Massage Oil and sent it down to her. (NOTE: I added about 35 drops of each to the bottle of Ortho Ease. When mixing up an additional batch, I also added 30 drops of Cypress essential oil.) After applying it twice a day regularly to her feet and calves—about 2 weeks in—she was in the grocery store with her walker. About halfway through, she said she had awful pain in her feet … AND SHE WAS SOOOO EXCITED! She has not had feeling in her feet in so long. The next day she brought her walker into the kitchen with her in the morning and left it there the rest of the day. Her feet felt so wonderful she didn’t feel she needed it!” —Kris, Wisconsin

Again, the Oil-Testimonials site is completely brand neutral, and if you’re interested in using essential oils, I do second its recommendation to “do your own research or ask a trusted friend to find a brand that is reputable.”

Let me know what you think about the site!

 

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No Till Gardening: Homesteading Basics (VIDEO)

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Should You Till Your Garden?

In this episode of our ongoing video series Homesteading Basics, Marjory goes into some detail on the basics of no till gardening. Cultivating the earth, working the land, putting your hand to the plow … it’s a time-honored tradition, alright. But is it always the best thing to do?

If you’re a no-till evangelist, please don’t freak out when you see Marjory standing in front of this big John Deere tractor. Give her a chance to explain, because, as she puts it, “I’m a pretty low-tech wheelbarrow and shovels type of gal.”

The One Straw Revolution Viewpoint

If you’ve never read The One Straw Revolution, you might consider checking that out. Masanobu Fukuoka was a Japanese gentleman who passed away back in 2008. He studied plant pathology at university, and then worked for the Japanese customs office as a produce inspector for several years.

While he was studying and practicing in state-of-the-art facilities, he was also developing an understanding that nature is a force so large and powerful that all of man’s efforts to control and subdue her are futile. He decided to prove his theories by taking over his father’s citrus farm in the countryside.

What happened next is very telling. When he initially discontinued the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that had been used on the farm … well, it fizzled. The trees grew crowded, they fruited little, and then they died. They had been dependent on synthetic inputs—and when Fukuoka cut those synthetic inputs off, the weak plants couldn’t survive.

He took steps to begin healing the soil and started another orchard from scratch. In his fields, he had found that if he rotated his crops with care, he could use each season’s chaff to mulch and fertilize the field for the next season. He used excess mulch from his fields and nitrogen-fixing weeds like white clover, and his new orchard thrived without synthetic inputs. Fukuoka believed that never tilling the soil was a key factor in his success.

Read More: Microbes 2.0 – A Tiny Manifesto

No Till Gardening

Since The One Straw Revolution was published in 1978, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge about why tilling the soil is sometimes a very bad idea. The microscopic life in the soil is concentrated in the top few inches of soil. When we till, we destroy the sensitive soil microbiome in those top few inches.

Elaine Ingham provides a great guide to understanding the complexity of soil life in her Soil Biology Primer. I also really enjoyed Jeff Lowenfels’ Teaming With Microbes. As Marjory mentioned, John Jeavons’ Grow Biointensive® method is one popular vegetable gardening philosophy that has really embraced the importance of a strong soil microbiome.

Modern gardeners have taken the hint pretty well. While seasonal tilling is still commonplace in industrial growing operations, more and more gardeners are leaving the tiller in the shed each spring, and relying on natural tools like microbes, worms, and roots to keep their soil from compacting.

As Marjory mentions, sometimes you really can’t get around tilling if you want to grow vegetables in raw ground that has never been worked. But after your garden has been established, there’s really no need for tilling in a backyard setting. Give no till gardening a try and your soil microbiome will thank you!

(This article was originally published on July 13, 2016. We had a couple of questions on no-till gardening in heavy clay soils during last week’s Ask Me Anything! podcast, so we thought it was a good time to bring this oldie but goodie out of the archives!) 

 

Simple and Effective Watering Systems for Small Livestock

 

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Your Questions, Answered!

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Okay, so I’m not going to lie—I had a blast a couple of nights ago at TGN’s Ask Me Anything! podcast. This is the first time we’ve used this format (think homesteading meets Car Talk), and it really went well.

David the Good and I answered questions on no-till gardening solutions for heavy clay soils, what to look for in a permaculture design course, how to deal with underground hornets’ nests, what exactly you should and shouldn’t add to your compost pile (are all those rules really necessary?!) … the list goes on and on!

Being able to connect with David and me like this every month is a perk of our Honors Lab subscription, but there were so many good questions (and … dare I say it … so many good answers!!! 😉 ) that I thought you might enjoy reading the transcript!

Read the Ask Me Anything! Podcast Transcript Here

(Oh, and if you want to join the Honors Lab and get it on the fun next month, you can subscribe here. It’s just $9.95 a month … and you get so, so much more than just an invitation to each month’s Ask Me Anything! podcast!)

 

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Is This Organic Chicken Feed Good or Evil?

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A Funny Thing Happened at the Fair

A couple of years ago, I was invited to speak at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka, Kansas. I gave my talk about “How to Grow Half of Your Own Food in an Hour a Day.” The talk was really great and several people in the audience came up to me afterward to tell me how excited they were about starting to grow some of their own food and medicine.

I just love that energy when someone gets excited about working toward real food independence!

After my talk was over, I was walking around the aisles at the fair and chatting with all of the people there. There were some pretty cool products on display—heritage crafts and folk art, these awesome modular livestock fodder systems, local organic seed companies . . . you name it.

If it’s about sustainable living or traditional organic foods, it was there.

So I was walking around, taking in the sites and soaking up as much info as I could retain, when I had a chance encounter that I want to tell you about . . .

Read more: Grow Your Own Chicken Feed the Easy Way

Raising Meat Chickens_336x280

Strangers in the Crowd

This encounter didn’t exactly start out on a positive note.

To tell you the truth, we were in each others’ way. I was trying to round the corner on a crowded aisle, and I had identified a tiny little narrow pathway where I could just squeeze through.

But about halfway through, I realized that there was someone else coming from the other direction who was also trying to squeeze through the same narrow opening in the crowd.

We met in the middle and started trying to shimmy around each other, but the space was too tight. We were stuck there together, caught in the crowd face to face, and neither of us could get to where we were trying to go.

We were both a little embarrassed, and we both gave each other a slightly sheepish smile when our eyes finally met.

“It’s pretty crowded today,” I said, in an attempt to break the ice and relieve the awkward vibe that was going on.

“Yeah,” she said, “I can’t believe how many people came out.”

The crowd started to thin around us, but we had already struck up a conversation, so I decided to stick with it. “I’m Marjory Wildcraft. I just did a presentation over there at the stage in the back corner. Did you see it?”

“No, I’ve been in the booth all morning long,” she said. As she spoke, she pointed to a big booth across the aisle.

I had to do a double take, because the booth she pointed to had a huge logo on the banner that I recognized instantly. It was the infamous red-and-white checkerboard of Purina.

Read more: Ferment Your Feed for Happier and Healthier Chickens

A Fox in the Hen House?

I was a little bit shocked . . . .

There I was, surrounded by all of the latest and greatest products in the organic, sustainable, traditional living marketplace.

Purina was one name I definitely had not expected to see in this crowd.

I looked around a little bit to see if maybe she had pointed at the wrong booth.

And that’s when I noticed her name tag.

There it was, right in front of me the whole time—that same red-and-white checkerboard right above her name, “Jodi.” I tried not to be rude, but I simply had to ask…

“What are you doing here?”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry,” I said, trying to take a step backward in the conversation. “I, uh, I’m surprised to see that Purina is here at the Mother Earth News Fair.”

“Oh. Ha, ha, yeah, a lot of people have said that to me today.” She smiled, and I knew that she wasn’t too offended by my surprise.

Read more: Are You Prepared for Peak Chicken?

Making a New Friendship

When Jodi laughed, we both relaxed. I could tell that she was used to getting responses like mine, and she could tell that I was happy I hadn’t offended her.

But I still had to know. I gave Jodi a gentle smile and took a second try at asking the same question . . . .

“So, really, what are you doing here?”

Jodi explained that Purina sees a lot of value in small-scale family farms. They recognize that homesteading is a growing movement; they think it’s important; and they want to make sure that they’re listening to those customers about what they need and want from the products they buy to feed their animals.

“Huh,” I said, still a little surprised. I was trying to tread lightly so I wouldn’t offend her again. “Have you gotten a pretty good response from the people here?”

Jodi lit up, “We have! We’re just here to listen to people, and I think that people really appreciate that.”

“I see,” I said.

My first instinct had been that the people at this fair would be somewhat hostile toward a company like Purina. But for a company like Purina to show up at a Mother Earth News Fair, just to listen to the people . . . well . . . you can’t really get too upset about that.

I looked over at her booth again, and sure enough, it didn’t look like they were trying to sell any products that day. I noticed that there was a small group of homesteader-type families standing around and talking to the Purina representatives, who were listening intently to what the people had to say.

All of a sudden it started to make sense to me.

“What are people saying to you?” I asked.

Jodi thought it over for a second and then replied, “Organic.”

Raising Meat Chickens_650x341_2

Is Organic Enough?

We talked for a while longer. Jodi explained that she had talked to lots of people with lots of opinions. Some of the people at the fair already purchased Purina feed regularly from their local farm supply stores. Others, like me, were just surprised to see Purina there at all.

But, one common thread that she heard a lot that day was that people want to give their chickens organic feed. It was a big deal.

And Jodi explained that Purina was already working hard to get a line of organic chicken feeds out on the market. It wasn’t a small task for them—they had to source all new suppliers, create a new production process, and find new distributors who were willing to stock the product.

I could see that Jodi knew all of the ins and outs of the project, and it sounded to me like Purina was serious about creating this new line of organic chicken feeds.

But still, even as Jodi was speaking, my mind kept wondering off. I was thinking about the Purina company that I already knew. The Purina company that supplies food to all of those big industrial chicken farms . . . . The Purina that formulated chemical changes in animal food to make eggs come out bigger and make hogs grow faster . . . . The Purina that has been passed around over the years—owned and operated by huge global conglomerates like BP, Koch Industries, and Nestle . . . . The Purina that has been blamed for poisoning thousands of cats and dogs with low-quality pet foods…

I was pretty confused.

Read more: Would You Eat Chicken-less Eggs?

The Benefit of the Doubt

After we had talked for a few minutes, I decided to give Jodi the benefit of the doubt.

“Well, I’m impressed that you’re here listening to people. And I’ll tell you what . . . If you ever get that organic chicken feed on the market, I’m going to buy a bag of it.”

Jodi laughed, “Oh, I hope you will!”

We parted ways, and I kept walking to take in the rest of the fair.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t even think about it again for the next few years. That is, until I bumped into Jodi again at the Mother Earth News Fair in Texas this past spring. This time, I was lucky enough to have Anthony—the Grow Network’s videographer—there with me:

I’m A Woman of My Word

Well, I’ve never been one to break a promise. After we shot this video, I asked Jodi where I could find Purina’s new organic chicken feed, so that I could buy a bag and let my chickens try it.

She said that my local farm supply should have it—if it wasn’t there, I should just wait a month or two and try again. Sure enough, I found it in stock at my local store.

I have been raising a big flock of meat birds for a project we’re working on for The Grow Network this summer. I gave this food to those chickens for a couple of weeks, as a test. Come to think of it, it wasn’t much of a test. I think these chickens would have eaten anything. But they did seem to like the organic Purina feed. They ate the whole bag and I didn’t notice any changes in their health or behavior while they were eating it.

But I’m dying to know. . . .

Would you buy organic chicken feed from Purina?

Some of the people I’ve talked to swear that they’d never touch anything made by Purina. Other people don’t have a problem with it, and they say their decision would just be made based on the price.

So, what do you think? Is Purina’s organic chicken feed good or evil? Drop a comment down below to let me know what you think…

Raising Meat Chickens_1200x6301

(This post is an updated version of an article originally published on August 9, 2016.)

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Health Care Alternatives: A DIRE Need

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Remember last year when I ended up in the hospital due to an abscessed salivary duct?

I had tried treating it with home medicine, and finally got to the point where I knew I was out of my depth.

I was weak, in pain, and having more and more difficulty swallowing.

It was time to go to the hospital.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, my hospital experience wasn’t the best. (You can read about it in previous Inside Editions here and here … and if you’re not a sponsor yet, but want to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in spreading the word about the power of backyard food and medicine production to improve health and heal the planet, click here.)

The abscess was caused by a small stone that was stuck in the duct, blocking the flow of saliva. The hospital treated the infection, but wasn’t able to remove the stone while I was there because the inflammation was so intense.

My ear, nose, and throat doctor said I should give it a few months, then get the stone surgically removed.

I was about to start the process of scheduling the surgery this spring when, in the midst of prepping my garden beds and shoveling a bunch of compost, the same salivary duct got infected and abscessed. Again.

When it happened last fall, I had wanted to visit Shifu, a Chinese doctor who’s a genius with alternative medicine and who offices out in the forest near me.

He wasn’t available at the time—but thankfully, he was able to see me this spring. I told him I needed him to lance the abscess. Shifu examined me, and shook his head.

“No. Not going to lance,” he said. “I do acupuncture.” (His English is not nearly as good as his medicine!)

Well, my hospital stay was no picnic, and I wasn’t eager to repeat the experience later when the still-present stone decided to act up again. So, I argued with him.

“No. No. It needs to be lanced.”

But he insisted.

The long and short of it is that, 15 minutes and 10 acupuncture needles later, he sent me home with some herbs. Three days later, the whole abscess had just dissipated. It was gone.

My hospital stay was super-expensive. We have a high deductible insurance plan, so it was $5,000 out of pocket for me. And, honestly, I’m still paying those hospital bills. (Not to mention all the time it took me to recover my good gut flora after they killed it all off with antibiotics—and who knows what else they did to my body with that toxic, radioactive injection prior to the CT scan!)

Then, this time, I was able to visit this old Chinese man out in the woods. He charged me $95 … the abscess cleared up … and my gut flora are still intact!

Even more remarkable was what happened a few days later … .

I tell the whole story in my next video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground.

Bottom line? Industrial medicine has its place, but alternative forms of treatment can be just as effective nine times out of ten.

And the world needs access to them in a serious way.

What if you could provide them with that access, and achieve financial freedom at the same time?

You’ll learn more about that in this video, too.

Then, I’d love to hear about your experiences with alternative medicine, and your perspectives on the issue of redeveloping health care.

Would you leave me a comment below?

Huge thanks!

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The Key To Reinventing Our Food System … Is YOU!

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When you need to clear thick brush or tackle masses of stubborn weeds, you can pull out the harsh chemicals, attack them with your brush knife … or rent a herd of goats.

That last option is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the ingenuity of Tammy Dunakin, founder and self-proclaimed chief goat wrangler at Rent-A-Ruminant LLC.

Unfulfilled at work?

Tammy founded her business after a career in emergency medicine left her feeling unfulfilled. She had some pet goats, noticed they looked bored … and decided to do something about it.

The goat-as-land-clearers idea has been catching on. Not only is Tammy making a decent living and franchising her business, she’s also built her flock almost entirely from goats she’s rescued.

By offering goats as an alternative to heavy machinery or noxious chemicals, she is helping to reduce the use of fossil fuels and the presence of toxins in our air, soil, and water.

And since her goats fertilize as they go, they also leave the soil in better shape than they found it.

As you might imagine, Tammy finds her work meaningful and enjoys running a business that promotes sustainability and the health of our planet.

She is happy to be making a living and a difference.

And our world needs many, many more businesses like Tammy’s.

Why?

Middle class malnutrition

We’ve got a lot of “middle class malnutrition” on our planet, in large part due to the centralization of agriculture. Crops have been bred for durability rather than flavor or nutrition, and they lose a lot of their vitamins and minerals during transport. People don’t want to eat them because they don’t taste good … and their bodies don’t crave them because they lack nutrition.

Then you have livestock, which have been bred and raised to produce unnatural quantities of eggs, milk—you name it—using unnatural feed in unnatural environments. The result, of course, is much less nutritious food.

For these reasons and more, our entire food system needs to be reimagined, redesigned, and rebuilt.

What’s the solution?

YOU are!

Making a living can be making a difference. Our food system is in a sorry state. The upside is that there are tons of opportunities for people like Tammy Dunakin, you, and me to create a living doing work we find meaningful.

If you’re not sure how to get started, you’ll want to check out my next video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground.

Then, leave me a comment. How do you earn money doing meaningful work? What advice would you give to people who want to make a living making a difference?

Did you see the last chapter? Click here to watch My Biggest Financial Mistake Will Make You Wealthy!

 

Click here to get your FREE pass!

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My Biggest Financial Mistake Will Make You Wealthy

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If you’ve heard me say this once, you’ve heard me say it a thousand times:

True wealth has nothing to do with money.

Which is all good until you need to pay your mortgage, put gas in your car, or buy some groceries, right?

Because the cold, hard fact is …

… that we live in a world dominated by an economic system that runs on money. Dollars (or pesos, or yen, or pounds … you know what I mean) are the currency of transactions for almost everything. They’re how you buy and sell and get things done.

But what if you could improve your quality of life without spending more money … in fact, while spending less?

I show you how in this next video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From The Ground.

In it, I reveal:

  • Money—Good Or Evil?
  • How To Love What You Do And Still Pay The Mortgage
  • The BIGGEST Financial Mistake Of My Life

Then, would you leave me a comment below?

How has producing your own food and medicine saved you money?

What’s your advice to someone who wants to love what they do for a living?

Did you see the last Grow Book Chapter? Click here to read How To Leave A More Powerful Legacy!

Thank you so much!

 

Click here to get your FREE pass!

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How To Make The Perfect Batch of Homemade Sauerkraut

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What I love about fermenting cabbage is that you start with a raw, sort of bland cabbage head and end up with a crunchy, salty taste without cooking or adding a bunch of other ingredients. And making the perfect batch of homemade sauerkraut is so EASY!

If you’re thinking about making sauerkraut but are hesitating because you think it’s difficult, let me guide you through the process. Simple, basic kitchenware is involved. It’s not complicated, takes just a few steps, and there is nothing to fear.

There’s one basic ingredient: Cabbage!

You’re chopping cabbage, adding salt and an optional spice or vegetable, and letting it sit to ferment. That’s it.

If you’re worried that you might mess up your batch and get food poisoning, don’t be. Fermented vegetables are safer than raw vegetables, according to the experts. Wild-fermented vegetables (as opposed to using vinegar) kills bad pathogens you might otherwise find with vegetables in their original state.

This technique has been used since ancient times to preserve food.

What’s so great about homemade sauerkraut?

Homemade sauerkraut is mouthwatering, sour, and crunchy. Use it as a condiment to jazz up a sandwich or make it a go-to side dish for dinner. Sauerkraut is there waiting in the fridge. It also satisfies that craving for salt that you sometimes get. You know the feeling … where you go looking for a bag of chips or tortillas. Okay … it’s not exactly the same as chip munching, but it’s a good substitute.

Fermenting helps protect your body against disease

Sauerkraut is a natural probiotic, teaming with live, healthy bacteria cultures that promote a healthy gut, improve digestion, allow you to absorb nutrients better, and retain vitamins and enzymes.

Regarding vitamins, sauerkraut preserves the Vitamin C in cabbage, and makes the Vitamin C more bioavailable. The fermentation breaks down proteins into amino acids, creating a kind of predigested food, making it easy for the body to use.

Bubble and Fizz

The fermentation process is what creates sauerkraut’s gut-friendly bacteria—and its saltiness. For that to happen, the cabbage needs to be starved of air. That’s the reason you pack the shredded cabbage tightly and cover it. As the cabbage ferments, aided by the salt, it becomes acidic. This encourages the lactic acid in the cabbage to produce certain strains of good bacteria to thrive, namely lactobacillus.

Billions and Billions

Other types of disease-causing bacteria and microorganisms don’t like the acidic condition and die off. And we’re talking lots of good bacteria … billions or even trillions. Bacteria outnumber the cells in our body by 90 percent, so good bacteria is necessary.

A few words about starter cultures

When you become more experienced, you may want to play around with starter cultures and add other vegetables, seeds, and spices. I’ve read about a batch of sauerkraut using a starter culture that was sent to a lab. The report came back with a phenomenal number of friendly bacteria … in the trillions.

homemade-sauerkraut

Buy Fresh, Local Cabbage

Your best bet for delicious, healthy, homemade sauerkraut is your own fresh-picked harvest or locally sourced cabbage. If either of those isn’t possible, at least buy organic. If you live in a cool climate, you may be harvesting cabbage from your garden right about now. In warmer climates like South Texas, you may be expecting a harvest in late fall.

Does the type of cabbage matter?

It’s whatever you like. Sometimes, I mix a little red cabbage in with the green. It gives sauerkraut a pretty bright-pink color.

Cutting the cabbage

There’s nothing magical about how you cut the cabbage. The easiest way to cut the head is into quarters or eighths and then slice. Shred it any thickness you desire. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference.

Other ingredients

Add other ingredients to your batch of homemade sauerkraut for some interesting tastes.

Some options include: Herbs, seeds, spices or other vegetables. Some common ones are caraway seeds, dill, garlic, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, carrot, radish, beet, ginger, hot pepper, apple, or green leafy vegetable (spinach, Swiss chard, kale).

Go easy on the added vegetables—particularly the dark green ones

The fermentation process brings out strong flavors. You don’t want those strong flavors to overpower your cabbage … or maybe you do. If so, that’s okay. Some people like to kick up the heat with peppers. I prefer additions as subtle accents.
My favorite combo is carrots and caraway seeds.

homemade-sauerkraut

How To Make The Brine

Salt

The salt performs several functions. It helps draw the water out of the cabbage to create the brine, helps prevent surface mold, and slows down the fermentation process. In the summer, fermentation takes place more quickly. If you want your sauerkraut to be firmer longer, use a bit more salt in summer and less in winter. Also, if you want to lessen the saltiness of the sauerkraut, use less salt.

Salt isn’t a requirement for fermentation, so feel free to experiment to reach the salt level that tastes great for you or don’t use it at all.

I prefer using salt because it quickly draws out the cabbage juices (brine). And I like it on the saltier side. Use kosher salt or sea salt, not table salt. Minimize the use of any salt containing preservatives.

What You Need to Start

Don’t let the “fermenting cabbage” supply list that you’ve read in other places intimidate you. You don’t need a sauerkraut crock with water sealing systems, special airlock lids, or utensils. When you’re making large batches, crocks are handy, but there’s nothing special about a crock. Don’t bother buying a tamper either. Use your fist to push down on the cabbage. We’re going for the simple version.

After packing and covering, add pebbles to a glass jelly jar for the necessary weight. Push down once or twice a day, compacting the cabbage and drawing more brine to the top. You want to keep the cabbage submerged under the brine at all times.

Container Options

A glass mason jar is just one type of container you can use to make sauerkraut. If you’re just starting out, it’s the easiest. Use either a one- or two-quart size. You’ll be able to fit a medium head of shredded cabbage in a one-quart jar. Go for the container that will tightly pack your cabbage.

Fill as much of the jar as possible to crowd out any empty spaces that could fill with air. Fermentation likes an anaerobic environment.

A word of caution on containers: Never use plastic or metal containers. Plastic can leach chemicals and metal can give the cabbage a metallic taste.

 

homemade-sauerkraut

Why you need a cover

Use a covered glass jelly jar or a small inverted plate that will fit inside the mouth of the jar if your jar is packed to the rim. Before adding the weighted jar, cover the top of the sauerkraut with a piece of discarded outer cabbage leaf—it helps keep the cabbage covered below the brine and protects it from direct contact with the weighted container. Put a small kitchen hand towel on top and secure with a rubber band.

Under pressure

Fermenting is going to release pressure the first few days or so. During this time, don’t screw on a lid. The brine will bubble, and you may even hear it fizz. When I first made sauerkraut, I was thrilled to see bubbles. That’s how I knew I was on the right track.

homemade-sauerkraut

How You Know When It’s Ready

There’s no set number of days until your sauerkraut is ready. Taste test it every so often. It’s ready when it tastes good to you. As soon as you put it in the refrigerator, the fermentation will slow down significantly.

This is such a great fall and winter food, especially if you like your sauerkraut on the salty side. You can let it ferment longer, as it does, it will taste saltier.

What Could Go Wrong?

Very little can go wrong.

Some of the reasons for rancid or moldy sauerkraut are:

  • Unclean containers or tools
  • Air allowed to enter cabbage
  • Cabbage not packed below the brine
  • Salt contains additives

Rancid?

If the sauerkraut goes rancid, your sense of smell will tip you off. Toss it out if that happens. Your jar, utensils, or other materials that come in contact with the cabbage need to be washed well in hot soapy water, and the cabbage must be packed tight and covered.

Mold?

If a little bit of mold forms on top, you’re ok. Skim it off and make sure the cabbage stays under the brine. After a few days or whenever the bubbling stops, make the jar airtight by adding a lid. This will reduce the chance of mold forming. If mold starts growing down inside with the cabbage, throw it out.

Bad taste?

Push down on the weighted container to prevent the cabbage from turning bad. It’s also possible that additives in your salt might affect your batch. When in doubt, take a sample taste.

The Recipe

SUPPLIES

  • Big pot
  • Large sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • 1 or 2 qt. wide mouth canning jar (Mason jar), sterilized
  • Small glass jelly jar and lid, sterilized
  • Pebbles (for weights)
  • Small kitchen cloth
  • Rubber band

INGREDIENTS

  • One head green cabbage (or part green, part red)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tbsp. kosher or sea salt (or to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut cabbage into quarters. Remove the white core, and cut into thin slices. Keep a piece of the outer leaves and compost the rest.
  2. If adding other vegetables, peel and slice thinly.
  3. Place in large bowl or pot. Add salt. “Massage” the shreds for about 7 to 10 minutes. The cabbage will start releasing moisture. It will become limp and more translucent when ready. Save this liquid. It’s your brine.
  4. Add seeds, herbs, spices, or any other vegetables, if desired.
  5. Pack cabbage and brine tightly into Mason jar.
  6. Snugly place a piece of the saved outer cabbage leaf on top of the shredded cabbage, below the brine.
  7. Add small pebbles to a jelly jar or use another container with weights that will fit into the mouth of the jar, pushing down as far as possible to remove any air pockets.
  8. Cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band.
  9. Set jar in a cool, dark place away from direct sun.
  10. Each day, or even twice-a-day, push down on the weighted container to keep any stray cabbage down below the top of brine and to keep the air out. Be sure to put the cloth cover back on.

Your cabbage will bubble, and might even fizz (or it might not). That’s great! It’s working.

After about three to five days, give it a taste. If it tastes right, it’s done. Screw the mason jar lid on and refrigerate. If it’s not to your liking, let it sit for another few days before you taste it. It could take a couple weeks or more, depending on the time of year and the room’s temperature.

Enjoy your homemade sauerkraut as an appetizer, snack, side dish, or as a condiment in a sandwich. It will keep in the refrigerator for a year or more.

Smelling, tasting, and looking to see if anything is growing in the cabbage will be your tip-offs to its expiration.

Have fun! Experiment with different flavors. You’re doing your digestion and overall health a big favor making nature’s super probiotic!

Looking for more Probiotic recipes? Click here for 5 More DIY Probiotics

Have you made sauerkraut before? Tell us your yummy story in the comments below.

Resources:

“Lactobacillus Effectiveness, How It Works, and Drug Interactions on EMedicineHealth.” EMedicineHealth, WebMD, www.emedicinehealth.com/lactobacillus/vitamins-supplements.htm.

Ducrotté, Philippe, et al. “Clinical Trial: Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v (DSM 9843) Improves Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, Baishideng Publishing Group Co., Limited, 14 Aug. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3419998/.

LaBorde, Luke. “Sauerkraut (Home Food Preservation).” Home Food Preservation (Penn State Extension), Pennsylvania State University, http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/safe-methods/sauerkraut/extension_publication_file

Sarah. “The Crucial Difference Between Pickled and Fermented.” The Healthy Home Economist, The Healthy Home Economist, 7 July 2017, www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-crucial-difference-between-pickled-and-fermented/.

Henry, Derek. “Lab Results Reveal This Truly Superior Source of Probiotics.” NaturalNews, NaturalNews, 25 June 2014, www.naturalnews.com/045720_probiotics_digestive_health_sauerkraut.html.

Mercola, Joseph. “Fermented Foods Contain 100 TIMES More Probiotics than a Supplement.” Mercola.com, 12 May 2012, articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/12/dr-campbell-mcbride-on-gaps.aspx.

Mercola, Joseph. “Dr. Mercola Interviews Sandor Katz about Fermentation.” YouTube, YouTube, 28 Aug. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkXT-XgyzkI.

Gould, S E. “Sauerkraut: Bacteria Making Food.” Scientific American Blog Network, Scientific American, 26 July 2014, blogs.scientificamerican.com/lab-rat/the-science-of-sauerkraut-bacterial-fermentation-yum/.

 

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Take The Plunge Into Apartment Homesteading

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With everything happening in the world right now, including politics, climate change, natural disasters, a lifestyle of grotesque wastefulness, and our reliance on technology and fossil fuels, you might have cause to worry. As someone who lives in an apartment or condo, what do you do? Apartment homesteading is the way to go!

The movement toward small, single-family farms and gardens, growing and raising one’s own food, and learning the skills of our ancestors shines as a little glimmer of hope for all of us.

My Story

I rent a one-bedroom apartment in a moderate-sized city. This apartment has a small patio, limited kitchen space and storage, and is located off of a state highway in a huge complex with tons of college students. There is very little I can do in the way of serious “survival” or “old-world” skills.

If I can homestead, so can you!

How?

Let’s take a look.

What is Homesteading?

“Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs … Modern homesteaders often use renewable energy options, including solar electricity and wind power. Many also choose to plant and grow heirloom vegetables and raise heritage livestock. Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.”

There are some very important words for us Apartment Dwellers!

  • Self-sufficiency
  • Subsistence agriculture
  • Home preservation of foodstuffs
  • Renewable energy
  • Plant and grow
  • Raise
  • Lifestyle choices

When you think of modern homesteading, do you picture a large plot of land in a rural area with a house that runs on solar power, a few acres of vegetables, a working well, a mature orchard, a stocked pond, sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits? Does the picture include a homesteader who makes his or her own clothing, cans his or her own food, and could pretty much survive off the grid without too much trouble?

The Homesteader’s Philosophy

The most important words on that list is “lifestyle choices.” The entire homesteading philosophy is built around the quest for changing or altering your lifestyle in ways that promote self-sufficiency, sustainability, and positive change.

A Homesteader …

  • … educates and trains himself or herself to grow, make, raise, or cultivate everything he or she needs to survive.
  • … gets to know his or her surroundings so that he or she can work with it to do what he or she needs to survive.
  • … uses, reuses, mends, creates, and remakes the resources he or she has so that he or she can sustain his or her lifestyle.
  • … is an agent of change in a society that relies too heavily on mass production and technology to survive.
  • … learns how to survive by his or her own means, and perhaps, to teach the skills and lifestyle to others.

It’s not where you live. It’s how you live.

Even now, in my tiny apartment, I consider myself a homesteader.

I am an Apartment Homesteader, and you can be, too!

  1. I could do everything to save money, read and learn about homesteading during my apartment tenure, and dream about my future homestead. But I would not be acting as an agent of change. I want to promote change NOW.
  2. My homestead looks a lot different from the ideal of a “modern homestead” that you might have pictured.
  3. There are herbs and potted vegetable plants are on the patio and kitchen counter.
  4. Conserve as much energy as possible, and use as little as possible.
  5. There isn’t an option for a gray water system, so conserve water use in your apartment.
  6. The thought of raising livestock in an apartment is very funny! Seek out homesteaders and organic farmers in your region who sell at the farmer’s markets or who are willing to trade labor for goods.
  7. It isn’t about where you live … homesteading is about how you live TODAY.

The methods may be different, but the philosophies are the same:

  • Educate yourself on how to grow as much food as you can.
  • Learn where to find everything you need to survive. Make a list of the things you will need to survive.
  • Get to know your region to find gardeners who share your ideals and desire change.
  • Purchase from companies who have sustainable practices and business models.
  • Get to know the energy and resource systems that are connected with your apartment.
  • Find ways to conserve water and electricity, and implement more sustainable energy practices.
  • Use, reuse, mend, create, and remake all of your clothing, gear, cleaning supplies, and personal care products. This lifestyle choice helps conserve resources and promotes sustainability.
  • As much as you can, end your personal reliance on mass production and technology for survival.
  • Learn and do everything you can to survive on your own means as much as is possible, where you are now.

Are you ready to take the “Apartment Homesteader” plunge?

Why be an Apartment Homesteader?

It isn’t easy. Becoming an apartment homesteader takes work—intentional work.

But the benefits are amazing!

First, write down why you want to be an apartment homesteader. When times get tough, your big WHY will help you get through. It’s super-easy to cave into buying that mass-produced item or slipping out to grab a cheap burger when you can make it healthier at home.

Putting Down Roots

The first true benefit in Apartment Homesteading is the way in which a temporary home feels more permanent with a few acts of conservation and sustainable living.

Apartment Homesteading gives those of us in “temporary” living situations a sense of place and the ability to put down literal roots. It gives us a sense of permanency and a sense of being home, which makes it feel less transient.

Through the acts of growing our own food, being present in your environment through conservation and sustainable acts, and living within your means in preparation for the future, we feel as though we belong to the earth, the land, our communities, and ourselves.

Our identity is bound to that belonging.

Community

The idea of belonging leads to a truly beautiful benefit of apartment homesteading: community.

As an apartment or condo dweller, it is impossible to be a subsistence gardener. It is impossible to grow all of your own food, raise animals for meat, milk, cheese, or eggs, or get “off the grid” through the use of sustainable solar and wind energy.

Like-minded Individuals

However, connecting with like-minded people to trade goods, resources, and talents to get all of the food you need is a great idea. You can learn the skills you need from modern homesteaders and work with your community in a garden space that benefits everyone.

It is mutually beneficial to help homesteaders operate by trading labor for goods, which allows you to get your hands dirty and be a part of the production of all of your food.

Apartment homesteading gives you the opportunity to reach out to people around you who have the same goals, ideas, and concerns.

It provides a community connection for those of us living in what is typically a solitary life.

Broadening the Sustainable Living Reach

Finally, one of the best benefits of apartment homesteading is its ability to bring the move toward sustainable living into the most unsustainable lifestyles and locations.

We literally live on top of one another in our apartment complexes. We don’t live in places known for sustainability practices. Many of us live in cities whose carbon footprints are off the charts, and most of us don’t know what to do about it.

As apartment homesteaders, we make the choice to live sustainably and lessen our reliance on big-ag and big-pharm.

As we plant and use our herbs for medicinal purposes, make chemical-free cleaning supplies, and conserve our use of natural resources in our apartments or condos, we demonstrate to the people around us that sustainability is a choice we make for ourselves—not a decision dictated by where we live.

If I can do it, you can do it. And if we can do it, they can do it.

Apartment Homesteader Goals

Every homesteader needs to set some goals. In order to make a difference with your apartment homestead, create goals that are specific, manageable, and easily accomplished.

We want to promote change! That means you have to be the change.

What goals can you implement in your apartment to move toward self-sufficiency, lessen your reliance on big-ag, preserve food and resources, conserve energy and natural resources, and make sustainable lifestyle choices?

Look to these major categories for the changes you can make:

  • Conservation – Water and Electricity
  • DIY – Do as much as you can for yourself, or learn how
  • Chemical-free living – make your own cleaning supplies and beauty products
  • Gardening – container gardening is perfect, even in small spaces
  • Home Medicine – growing herbs on your kitchen counter is a good place to start
  • Community – reach out to like-minded community members

Here are 12 first-year goals for your apartment homestead, one for each month:

  1. Unplug appliances when not in use
  2. Replace all chemicals in your home with natural, sustainable products that you make yourself
  3. Plant two vegetables in pots for indoor or patio growing
  4. Experiment with Instant Pot and traditional canning techniques to preserve food for cold months
  5. Grow at least 5 different herbs in a mason jar herb garden
  6. Learn the basics of herbal medicine and implement herbal remedies for common maladies
  7. Find and inquire about volunteering for two modern homesteaders in your region
  8. Find a co-op, CSA, or community garden in your area
  9. Cook all of your own meals from scratch
  10. Take a basic living skills class in your area, such as baking bread, growing food, sewing basics, canning, home repairs, emergency preparedness)
  11. Learn basic first aid and CPR
  12. Hang your laundry out to dry (even inside!)

None of these goals are too big or cost a ton of money. As a matter of fact, they may save you money! All of your goals should be somewhat flexible to account for life happenings. Start small, because those small steps will make a big difference in the long run. Celebrate each goal as you accomplish it. If you have already accomplished some of these goals, choose another one?

What skill do you need to add for your apartment homesteading success?

We are defined by the lifestyle choices we make

There is one trap that every homesteader risks falling into—unrealistic expectations.

When it doesn’t work

Sometimes sustainable living projects that you attempt in your apartment simply won’t work.

You may discover that some of the modern homesteaders you hope to work with don’t practice what they preach.

Relying on the systems may be something you have to do, meaning you may not reach all of your goals. Be kind to yourself. You tried. Be curious. Is there another way to accomplish that goal?

None of these “shortcomings,” mean your apartment homestead has or will fail. Keep moving forward!

Remember that any change toward sustainable living is a good change.

Set realistic, manageable, and sustainable goals in your apartment homestead projects, but remember you may experience setbacks and have to alter your original plans.

Find or Create Community

And most importantly, find or create a community you can count on for support.

Share your ideas and goals and your testimony of change with your apartment- or condo-dwelling friends.

Seek out leaders and guides in sustainable and self-sufficient living practices and glean all that you can from them, and offer your support, too.

A tribe of apartment homesteaders can make real, measurable waves in the urban housing world.

Next in this series, follow along as we explore each apartment homesteading goal. Then, implement your own apartment homesteading goals where you live.

You’ll get the REAL story of this apartment homesteading adventure…

… remember, it’s not about where you live; it’s about how you live.

We—the apartment homesteaders—are defined by the lifestyle choices we make, not where we live.

Need some small space composting ideas? Check out this article: 5 Cheap And Easy Solutions For Small-Space Composting.

Are you Apartment Homesteading? Tell us your story in the comments below.

 

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15 Foods That Are Tooth Pain Triggers

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Sharon had tooth pain that wouldn’t go away, so she went to the dentist. Her dentist asked if she had been indulging in the tomato harvest. Sharon smiled and nodded her head. The dentist told her that tomatoes are one of those foods that can erode the enamel of your teeth and cause tooth pain or sensitivity.

Nobody looks forward to his or her bi-annual visit to the dentist. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to lower your chances of needing expensive dental work with some eating strategies?

How food damages your teeth?

There are two main food ingredients that harm your pearly whites: sugar and acid.

Sugar

The millions of bacteria already in your mouth are super-happy when you eat Sugars, especially sucrose (table sugar). The bacteria feast on plaque buildup and produce lactic acid, which erodes tooth enamel. Sucrose is the worst form of sugar because it sticks to teeth making it (and the bacteria) difficult to remove even with brushing.

Acids

Acidic foods, including some fruit, eat away at the tooth enamel and directly break down your teeth. In this case, the bacteria aren’t necessarily producing acid and causing tooth decay.

Wash away natural acids by drinking water. Ironically, brushing after consuming acidic foods or beverages causes more damage. Teeth are porous and acid softens them. If you brush immediately afterward, it breaks down the enamel even further. After consuming acidic foods, rinse your mouth with water and wait at least an hour before brushing.

If you want to keep your teeth in good shape, there are a lot of foods to avoid or consume in moderation.

Avoid these foods for Tooth Pain Relief

1. Soda.

No surprise here. Soda is one of the top foods to avoid for sensitive teeth. There are two ingredients in soda that irritate teeth and cause pain: sugar and acid. It’s a double whammy.

2. Ice cream.

Sad, but true. Ice cream is cold, and it has sugar that causes teeth to be even more sensitive. People who have sensitive teeth lack the enamel layer that acts as a protective barrier.

3. Coffee.

Coffee is also a double whammy. Not only is coffee a hot food, which can cause your teeth to hurt. The caffeine in coffee is very acidic, especially when consumed in large amounts, which can make your tooth pain even worse. You’ll want to limit your consumption.

4. Hard candy and cough drops.

Lollipop, peppermints, and cough drops. Oh, my! When you have sensitive teeth, skip the hard candy and cough drops. They are full of sugar and could also cause teeth to chip or break.

5. Citrus fruits.

Pineapple, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes are all highly acidic fruits. The acid makes your teeth more sensitive because it eats away the tooth enamel. While highly nutritious, eating these fruits and drinking the fruit juice is a cause of tooth sensitivity and pain. Moderation is key with citrus fruits.

6. Tomatoes & Tomato-based pasta sauces

When the tomato harvest is in full swing, many dentists report higher instances of tooth pain. Although tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, they’re also highly acidic. Note that tomato sauce, as well as raw tomatoes, trigger tooth sensitivity. Again, moderation is key!

7.  Sticky candy.

Toffee, caramel, gummy bears, and licorice are especially bad for people with tooth sensitivity. They are full of sugar and stick to your teeth. Extremely sweet and sticky foods stimulate the nerves in the Dentin, the layer below the Enamel. This is what causes the pain.

8. Dried Fruits.

There are several sticky foods, such as raisins, figs, and dried apricots that are packed with nutrition but can cause tooth sensitivity. Dried fruits and fruit leathers are high in sugar and can do a number on your teeth. The sugars in the fruits, even though it’s minimal, stay on your teeth and feed the plaque bacteria. Rinse your mouth with water right after consuming and brush your teeth about an hour afterward.

9. Pickles.

The vinegar used to make pickles is highly acidic. They are often made with sugar as well. While the cucumbers are healthy, the brine damages your teeth. Drinking water with your meal helps wash away acid and sugar, but remember to brush an hour later.

10. Wine.

Alcohol causes a dry mouth, which reduces your saliva production. The sugars are deposited on your teeth and cause tooth pain. White wine and sweeter reds do the most damage. If you have sensitive teeth, consume wine in moderation.

11. Potato chips.

Oh, these crunchy, salty flats of addiction. The texture of chips, which gets gummy as you chew, tends to linger in your mouth and get stuck in the biting surface of your teeth. No one can eat just one, so it is a non-stop snack of acid production. The acid-producing bacteria indulge in your snack and up your risk of tooth decay.

12. White bread.

There are a number of reasons why refined carbohydrates, like sandwich bread, aren’t good for you. For one, they are full of simple sugars that quickly dissolve in your mouth. As you chew it, white bread gets a gummy consistency. This means those sticky particles get trapped on the biting surface and in between your teeth. The dissolving sugars cause a surge of acid that erodes tooth enamel.

13. Sports drinks.

Isn’t a sports drink a nutritious re-hydrator after your morning workout? Nope! Sports drinks are packed with sugar and acid. Cavities, erosion, and tooth sensitivity are heightened because we tend to swish these drinks around our mouth to rehydrate.

14. Vinegar.

Vinegar is in a variety of foods from salad dressings to sauces. However, vinegar can trigger tooth decay. There is a bit of good news: Lettuce combats the damaging effects of vinegar, so keep enjoying your favorite balsamic vinaigrette on your salad.

15. Apples.

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but the acid in this fruit may have you at the dentist. Apples are full of nutrition, but they are high in acid and surprisingly hard on your enamel. Eating apples is fine, but be sure to rinse your mouth with water shortly after, and brush your teeth an hour later.

Taking Care of Your Tooth Enamel

What do you eat to take care of your teeth?

If you have sensitive teeth, it’s possible that some of your enamel has worn away.

To prevent further damage

Eat acidic and sugary foods in moderation, or if your teeth are extra-sensitive avoid these foods for a while.

Don’t brush too hard. If you brush your teeth with a heavy hand, stop! You’re taking off more than just plaque. Side-to-side brushing right at the gum line takes your enamel away faster. Use a soft-bristled brush and work at a 45-degree angle to your gum to keep enamel clean and strong.

Snack on these foods:

These treats moisten your mouth and fight acid and bacteria that eat away at your tooth enamel. Your saliva is a natural way to deal with acid, plaque, and the bacteria.

  • Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Plain yogurt

Drink green or black tea. 

Chew xylitol gum.

Rinse your mouth with water after consuming an acidic food. Wait an hour or so before you brush your teeth.

Read more about how to care for your teeth naturally here.

If you have sensitive teeth, and the symptoms last for more than a few weeks, be sure to talk to your dentist. Sensitive teeth may be a sign of a cavity that needs to be treated.

Do you have tooth pain due to eating acidic foods? Tell us your story in the comments below. We’re all here to help each other.

 

 

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Let’s Go To The Fair! The Mother Earth News Fair

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Let’s go to the fair!

Remember the excitement of going to the State Fair? This is no different! At the Mother Earth News Fair, you’ll find amazing workshops and lectures to help you on your path to independence and self-reliance.  

So many things to do and see

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build a root cellar, create a green dream homestead, or see what new products are on the market, this is the fair for you. 

There is a whole selection of vendors and a bunch of hands-on workshops. There were too many great booths and exhibitions to list. The place was buzzing with alternative energy vehicles, traditional folk arts and crafts, heritage and landrace livestock, homestead-scale saw mills, and so much more.

Would you like to test drive a tractor? I think I could do some damage with the front-end loader.

Sawmill? If you want to fell trees from you land, the sawmill area is the place for you!

Livestock area

In the livestock area, you’ll find heritage breeds, like Rosie and her calf. They are Dexter cows, which are miniature cattle. I love this breed!

Inside there were hundreds of vendors with all kinds of things to see and do. It’s a great place to do a lot of shopping!

Expert Speakers

The speaker lineup is awesome, and I’m sure everyone who attended will agree that there wasn’t enough time to take in all of the information that was flying around. There were great talks on sustainability, herbal medicine, vegetable gardening, raising and processing livestock, alternative energy… you name it.

Joel Salatin was there talking about chickens, pigs, and cattle and how to create the deepest and best soil by choreographing the movement of ancient herds.

You even get to talk with these experts!

There is so much going on at these amazing events. I really encourage you to visit one.

These fairs are all over the U.S., so there should be one near you. If not, it is well worth the drive.

See you at a Mother Earth News Fair.

Did you see this Homesteading Basics? Keep your special plants close!

Have you been to a Mother Earth News Fair? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

 

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5 Cheap and Easy Solutions For Small-Space Composting

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Whether you live in an apartment, condo, or tiny house, here are some easy and practical ways to combat your small-space composting dilemma.

Growing your own food is important to your overall health, as well as the planet’s. You want to do as much as you can, but you live in an apartment or condo with rules about what you can and cannot do on your balcony or patio. You barely have enough room to grow anything much less have some sort of compost pile.

There are a number of challenges you face as a Small-Space Composter

Space.

You barely have enough room for growing your own food. Where in the world are you going to put a compost been?

Ease of set up and easy-to-use.

A compost pile is daunting. You want the composting solution to be easy-to-set-up and easy-to-use.

Won’t attract bugs.

There is nothing worse than bugs in a small space. No bugs in the compost bin!

Works as fast as possible

Do you want to use the compost as soon as possible? There are solutions for that, too!

Small-Space Composting Solutions

There are many solutions for your small space composting. It all depends on what is important to you from the above list. What is your priority?

Here are some solutions to consider for your small-space situation:

Worm Bin

The easiest way to compost indoors cheaply, easily, and quickly is to use a worm bin. Vermiculture (or worm composting) produces worm castings that make worm tea that is perfect for feeding the soil of your container plants.

Read more about vermiculture is small spaces here.

Plastic Storage Bins

These are an excellent choice because they’re fairly inexpensive and easy-to-find. They come in a variety of sizes so that you can get the right size bin for your space. Ten to eighteen gallons is a good size. You can even stack the bins to save space. Make sure you drill aeration holes near the top to allow air into your bin.

Five-gallon buckets

Another option is very inexpensive and stackable. You can find 5-gallon buckets with lids at home centers and big-box stores. Also, large kitty litter containers work great, too! Be sure to drill aeration holes near the top of the bucket.

Boxes

Old wooden boxes or wine crates can be turned into an indoor composter. Add a plastic bag stapled to the inside and cover with hinges or painters’ canvas.

Bokashi (Japanese term meaning “Fermented Organic Matter”)

The Bokashi method is easy and composts everything—from kitchen scraps to meat and dairy. You mix an inoculated bran filled with microbes into the Bokashi bucket and tightly cover it. When the bucket is full, seal it shut and set it to the side for 10 to 12 days. Every other day, drain the bucket (which also makes a nice compost tea). You’ll have a pre-compost, which can be put in worm bins or leave it for a month to let it break down further.

Where do you put a compost bin?

  • Under the Sink
  • Under a plant stand
  • In a hall closet
  • Out in the open (it’s a great conversation starter!)

How much do you put in?

Two types of material make composting work. They are nitrogen materials, such as food scraps and grass clippings, and carbon materials, such as leaves, shredded paper, and corrugated cardboard.

What to put in your compost bin:

  • Fruit & Veggie scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags (If the bag is slippery, don’t put it in your compost)
  • Shredded paper
  • Trimmings from houseplants
  • Hair (yours and your pets)
  • Toilet paper rolls torn into small pieces
  • Dryer lint

What not to put in your bin

An indoor compost bin, doesn’t heat up as much as a hot outdoor bin, so there is less microbial action happening (except for the Bokashi method). This means that the kitchen scraps won’t break down very quickly, especially if you add in:

  • meat
  • dairy
  • fats
  • large chunks of anything

It’s also probably a good idea to avoid composting very smelly items, such as onion peels. You may smell it in the rest of your house. Try to avoid watery items, such as melons or squash. They might make your bin too soggy.

Tips for Success

If you want to be successful with indoor composting and get a bit of compost, too, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Have shredded paper or dry leaves handy. Every time you add food scraps or coffee grounds, plop in a handful of the shredded paper or leaves. This will keep your bin from getting too wet. Note: Junk mail works perfectly for this purpose as long as it is not the slick-coated advertisements.
  • The contents of your bin need to be turned often. Turning the contents of your bin warms it up and microbes very happy. It also mixes the contents, so they don’t get too wet or too dry. Move everything around with a hand trowel. An advantage to the round bucket method is that you can roll it back and forth a few times to mix it.
  • No matter what kind of bin you have, add small pieces. Pulp from your juicer will breakdown much faster than chunks of vegetables. Chop up your food scraps or put them through a blender, and be sure to shred your paper or cardboard.

It is possible to compost in small spaces, such as apartments, condos, or tiny houses. After a while, you’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t with your chosen composting method. It will be a great feeling to know that you’re saving waste from the landfill and making compost for your container garden.

What is your favorite composting method? The comments are waiting for you.

 

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Small-Space Vermiculture, Step-by-Step

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According to the EPA, 20 to 30 percent of what is thrown away should be composted. If you’re the type of person who hates to throw out kitchen scraps, but don’t have room for a compost pile in your small apartment, small-space vermiculture is for you!

What is vermiculture?

Vermiculture, or Vermicomposting is the breakdown of organic material by vermis, which is the Latin word for “Worms.” The worms take that waste and turn it into nutrient-rich “castings” or worm poo that helps build the soil. It is the most efficient way to compost most of your household waste.

Steps to your Vermicomposting happiness

Let’s bypass the trash collector and have your worms “eat” your garbage!

Make your worm bin

Start out with a cheap bin to get started. A $10 system works just as well. A 5-gallon bucket, large kitty litter bucket, or 16 in. X 24 in. X 8 in. (or 10-gallon) plastic bin will work just fine.

Next prepare the bedding

Shred about 50 sheets of newspaper into 1/2 in. to 1 in. strips. Avoid color print. It is toxic to worms.

Place the shredded newspaper into the bin. Add water to the newspaper until the bedding feels moist like a damp sponge. Add more dry strips if it gets too wet.

Sprinkle two to four cups of potting soil or soil from your yard into the bin. This introduces the beneficial microorganisms.

Get Your worms

Red Wigglers, or Eisenia fetida, are the worms you want for your worm bin. You don’t want Earthworms because they are large soil movers, and don’t do well in worm bins.

Get worms from a local source (if possible), because they are acclimatized to conditions in your area. Ask around, look on Craigslist, aquaponics or hydroponic stores, or ask other vermicomposters in your area.

How many worms do you need?

Say you bought a pound of worms. A pound of worms will eat half to their full eight every day. They are the best recyclers in the world! Think about how much waste you have.

Feed your new friends

Worms are vegan, but they can eat quite a bit. You’ll want to feed them a balanced diet, not just coffee grounds! As your bin gets going, you’ll feed those worms about half-a-pound to a pound of food in 24 hours.

Fun Fact: The worms don’t actually eat the scraps. They eat the bacteria that is breaking down the food scraps.

What to feed?

Feed your worms veggie and fruit scraps, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, tea and tea bags (the ones that aren’t shiny), such as peels, rinds, cores, etc. Cut or break the food up into smaller pieces. If you run it through a blender, that would be even better! For instance, juicing pulp is fantastic!

What not to feed?

Limit or eliminate citrus fruits and onion peels in your worm bin. Also, do not add meats, bones, oils or dairy products.

How to feed your worms?

  1. Feed your 1 lbs. of worms about three times their weight each week. So, for one pound of worms, you’ll feed 3-lbs of food each week, or slightly less than half-a-pound.
  2. Bury the food in the bin.
  3. Lift up the bedding. Add the food scraps. Then, cover the food with the bedding again.

Check the bin every week to make sure the worms are eating all of the food. Adjust the amount accordingly.

Harvesting the black gold

There are many methods to harvest the worm castings. These two techniques  work great.

  1. Try a melon. Place a piece of melon in one area of your bin. The worms really love musk melon or watermelon, because they don’t get it very often. Put that little piece of melon in the corner of the bin, and the worms will herd over there. Then, scoop out the castings from the other side of the bin.
  2. Vertical migration system. The whole point of a vertical migration system is to let a layer finish out and put a new layer on top with new paper and new food. The worms migrate up into a new layer where the food is. They don’t want to live in the lower layers that is filled with their poop. Essentially the system separates the casting for you, but in a much slower way. The lower bins still may have a few worms, but you can hand pick them. It’s not bad to get worms in your finished compost either. They’re going to end up living in the soil in your garden.

Tips for success

  • Place a full sheet of dry newspaper on top of the bedding. This will help maintain the moisture of the bin. It also keeps odor problems in the bin and prevents fruit flies.
  • If you find fruit flies or the bin is too wet, replace that top layer of dry newspaper.
  • Cover your bin and choose a place for your worms. Worms like it dark and between 55°F and 75°F. Under a sink, in a closet, or wherever is convenient for you, so you remember to feed and check on them.
  • Castings are high in nutrients and micronutrients, so make worm tea in a 5-gallon bucket. Or add it to your potted plants for a healthy boost.
  • We don’t always produce a pound of kitchen scraps in a day, or we’re on vacation or busy. You don’t need to micromanage your worms. You don’t have to feed them a pound of food every day.
  • Sometimes we produce more than a pound of kitchen scraps, or your worms aren’t eating as fast. If this happens, simple put the scraps in a container or baggie and put that in the refrigerator until it’s time for a feeding.
  • Worms don’t like light, so be sure to keep your bin in a quiet out-of-the-way place. They like warm, dark places.
  • If your bedding dries up, spray it with a bit of water. Fluff the bedding once-a-week to give the worms some air.
  • If you live in a cold climate and have your bin outside, be sure to bring it inside.
  • Rotting food will produce a strong odor. Stop adding food until your worms have caught up. Adding air by stirring the contents will help.
  • If the worms are crawling out of the bedding or onto the sides or lid, they may need more air, the bedding is too wet, or the bin is too acidic. Did you put too many orange peels in there?

Need other ways to compost in a small space? Check out this article!

Now we want to hear your wormy stories! Do you practice small-space vermiculture? Tell us in the comment below.

Resources:

EPA. Composting At Home.

 

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5 Inexpensive And Homemade Natural Cleaning Products

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We live in a toxic world, but we can choose to step out of that world and create our own natural cleaning products that work just as well. Going completely chemical-free has been a goal of mine for a while now.

Going Chemical-free

I moved into an apartment (insert your sympathetic groan here). I’m working hard to establish my potted plants in my patio garden and implement my chemical-free lifestyle as quickly as possible in the transition.

Commercial products

There is a lot to like about chemical-free cleaning products on the market, but holy-moly, that stuff is expensive. Did you hear the whole, “I had to move into an apartment,” thing? I’m not exactly raking in the dough.

D.I.Y. cleaning products

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars to get every single chemical-free cleaning product on the market, I decided to find natural recipes for making them myself, or developing my own recipes.

Adding therapeutic-grade essential oils (EOs) in my cleaning supplies gives an extra-boost of bacteria-killing and cleaning-oomph to my cleaners.

Essential Oils for cleaning products

Before we get to the recipes, let’s talk about how EOs add to the power of cleaning supplies without the chemical yuck.

EOs are distilled from plants (woo, natural). Think of it as “plant blood”—they oxygenate and move nutrients through the plant, so it can grow and flourish.

When EOs enter your body through inhalation, absorption, or digestion, the essential oils oxygenate your blood and move nutrients through your body. The oils improve your immunity and help support every system in your body, from muscular to endocrine.

They keep our families and ourselves healthy!

Chemical Cleaning Supply Hazards

We know the dangers of inhaling bleach.

We have heard the horror stories of harsh chemicals that get splashed and irritate or burn the skin or cause rashes.

You probably have the local poison control number posted on your refrigerator. It’s in case you know someone who accidentally ingests poison in the form of laundry detergent or all-purpose cleaner.

Typical cleaning supplies …

… like bleach or laundry detergent, contain chemicals that fall into three categories:

  • carcinogens
  • endocrine disruptors
  • neurotoxins

Look at the label to see if the cleaning product has a warning.

If the label says:

  1. Protective clothing should be worn while using this product
  2. Says “proprietary blend of” anything as an ingredient, but doesn’t list the actual ingredients in that blend
  3. Warnings against major skin irritation
  4. Contact poison control in any occasion of use other than the intended use

The product probably has a nasty chemical that may be shown to cause cancer, mimic human hormones in the body, or disrupt brain activity.

Let’s stay away from those.

Stick with natural cleaning supplies that are cheap, easy-to-make, easy-to-use, and reasonably inexpensive.

Benefits of Natural Cleaning Supplies

With EOs, you get cleaning power and peace-of-mind, without having poison control on speed dial.

Not all EOs are created equally. Most essential oils on the market fall into one of three categories:

  • Aromatic
  • Perfume
  • Food Grade

Only the pure form of essential oil—the only one without chemical fillers or carrier oils added—is Therapeutic Grade.

How can you tell that an essential oil company sells only therapeutic grade essential oils?

Find out if the company owns and operates their own farm and has a promise of purity. If their standards are high, they grow their own plants, build their own distilleries, and are open about their processes and systems, you can bet that they are honest about the purity of their essential oils.

Using Essential Oils

I use essential oils in my cleaning supplies, but also in my food, in my fitness supplements, and in my personal care products. A lot of the same oils blend across the board, so cleaning with the same substances that I put on my skin is not a problem.

I won’t break out in hives from a laundry detergent I made with lemon, citronella, rosemary, and lavender essential oils. When I make my all-purpose surface cleaner with cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils, I know my skin isn’t going to burn when I touch residue left behind from cleaning the counters.

5 Inexpensive and natural cleaning products

Here are my recipes, equipment, and methods for making and using chemical-free cleaning supplies!

Chemical-free, Laundry detergent

Supplies: Glass Jar, Food Processor or Cheese Grater, Measuring Cups, Mixing Utensil

  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing soda
  • 1 Natural Bar Soap (Dr. Bronner’s, Lavender is great), grated into fine shavings
  • 15 drops EO, 3-4 drops each of Lemon, Citronella, Rosemary, and Lavender (whatever smells best to you will work!)

How to make and use:

  1. Grate the natural bar soap of your choice (bonus points if you make your own!) with a cheese grater or food processor.
  2. Stir in Borax and Washing Soda.
  3. As you stir, add drops of EOs to distribute the oil in the mixture evenly. Store in an air-tight glass jar. A large canning jar works great.
  4. Add 1 TBSP of the mixture to your laundry. Use warm or hot water—especially if you don’t grate the bar soap small enough. If the soap pieces are too big, cold water doesn’t dissolve the soap very well. Also, add a couple of drops of EOs directly to your laundry for added freshness (Extra drops of lavender when you wash bedding is heavenly).

Note: I’ve had great results using Lemon EO for stain remover in the laundry. Apply a couple of drops and rub it into a stain (common stains like dirty knee stains from garden) before washing it with the laundry detergent above.

Chemical-free, All-purpose cleaner

Supplies: Amber Glass Spray Bottle, Measuring Cups, Funnel

  • 1 cup Distilled water
  • 1 cup Hydrogen peroxide
  • 15 Drops of EO, 3 drops each of Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary

How to make and use:

  1. Use a funnel to pour all ingredients into an amber or brown glass spray bottle.
  2. Shake gently to combine.
  3. Spray to clean counters, appliances, and other surfaces. Wipe down with a rag.

Degreaser Variation

Add extra-lemon EO and a little lemon juice to the all-purpose cleaner above.

Window and Glass Cleaner Variation

Use less EO, and cut the Hydrogen peroxide amount in half for window or glass cleaner. Try white vinegar as another window and glass cleaner alternative.

Chemical Free, EO Dishwasher Detergent

The ingredient amounts are in “parts,” so you can make large batches. It’s easier to measure the ingredients into a large container in general amounts.

Supplies: Glass Container, Funnel

  • 2 parts Borax
  • 2 parts Washing soda
  • 1 part Kosher salt
  • 20 drops or so Lemon EO

How to make and use:

  1. Fill the container with equal parts Borax and Washing soda.
  2. Add half of that amount of Kosher Salt.
  3. Add the EO, so it smells the way you want it to. It will depend on how much detergent you make.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients in a large canning jar. Stir while adding drops of the EO to distribute it equally.
  5. Scoop 1 TBSP of this mixture into the soap chamber of your dishwasher, and add 1 tsp of Citric Acid to each load. (I use LemiShine, but you can find citric acid at natural grocery stores in bulk, or on Amazon).

Note: For hard water, add more citric acid in each load and increase the Lemon EO amount in the recipe.

These are just a few of the natural cleaning products that you can make for your healthy home.

Do you make your own cleaning products? Share your ideas below.

 

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What It Takes To Homestead As A Working Retirement

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What are your plans for retirement? Are you looking forward to watching more TV, playing golf, or traveling? And when you aren’t doing those things, then what? This is why I’m looking forward to a “Working Retirement.”

Learning from previous generations

In my 50’s, I watched my mom succumb to Alzheimer’s, and later, my dad to heart medications. They both lived a long time. In particular, my father lived to be 92 years old. For me, that was a strong indication that I would also be long-lived. If I could do something about it, I didn’t necessarily want to end up in the same condition.

Why a working retirement?

At 60 years old, I still work full-time, which I enjoy. So why am I looking at homesteading as a “working retirement?” The last thing I want to do is spend all day watching television in an easy chair. This is what I watched my parents do, and it killed them. They both got to the point where they could barely do anything else.

On the other hand, regular activity has been proven to keep people young. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that even low levels of activity could increase life expectancy 4.5 years, regardless of body weight.[1] For an excellent example of this, look to Jack Lalanne, who was active from his teens until he died at the age of 96 years old.

A Permaculture Design Course opened my eyes

The other change that happened quite recently was taking a Permaculture Design Course (PDC). The information I received opened my eyes to the possibilities for using land, except I didn’t have land at the time. Instead, I lived in a townhome, which had restrictions against doing anything that didn’t stay on my back patio. Naturally, you can’t raise goats, chickens, or enough food to feed two people on a 4 ft. x 8 ft. concrete slab.

Our Working Retirement

Finding the land

Shortly before I finished the PDC, my husband and I decided to buy land and figure out how to grow our own food. We found four acres for sale in an area where the land prices were within our budget and not too far away from our current location.

While creating an initial planting of perennial edibles, we researched energy efficient housing possibilities. Once the house is built, we will further implement our design for the land, which will include ducks, goats, donkeys, bees, a straw-bale garden, and a variety of fruit trees.

Limited Time

Until then, working on our property is limited to the weekends. It is hard work, but also an excellent way to get away from sitting in front of a computer all day. When we go to the land, we move wheelbarrows full of wood chips onto our driveway, water all of our plants from the water collection system, clear weeds on our access road, and enjoy being in the sunshine and fresh air.

Reduce current monthly expenses

We know our current jobs won’t last forever, so we have been reducing our expenses and improving our quality of living at the same time.

Groceries

First, growing our own food reduces one of our biggest monthly expenses—buying groceries. Also, we know what went into growing the food. I believe this is the biggest benefit of raising and growing your own food.

Utilities

Second, we designed our new house to be energy efficient, using much less electricity than we currently use in our townhome. Eventually, we hope to provide our electricity with solar power. The solar power and the water well that we have on the property will significantly affect another big monthly expense—utilities. Also, we plan to use the sun for some of our cooking and drying clothes to make the most of this abundant Florida resource, sunshine.

Finally, we plan to use our current townhome and the new house as sources of income. I don’t think it is a good idea to rely on the government, so the more self-sufficient we can make ourselves, the easier our “retirement” will be financially.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?
What’s the reality of this scenario?

Financially, there is the investment in the land and a new house. We don’t have unlimited funds, so this is an important consideration. The biggest reason we chose the land was because the price was low, about 1/10 of what we would have paid for the same lot where we currently live.

The house

The house is an even bigger expense that had to be managed so we finish without using all of our reserves. If we were living in a house with land, we probably would have worked with that.

There is also some frustration in waiting for things to happen. Permits, plans, and designs all take time to create. We sometimes feel at the mercy of our general contractor, but we know the time will be worth it once the house is completed.

Friends & Community

Our property is about an hour away from where we currently live, go to church, and have most of our family and acquaintances. This was a sacrifice that may not be easy for others to make. In our case, we feel that it gives us an opportunity to meet new people and experience new things, so there is a trade-off. We also plan to invite friends and family to visit our new place, which will be a good experience for them, too.

Pests

The biggest drawback of our four acres in the country is the number of biting and stinging insects that live there. I have been researching what we can do about this and have found mosquito-repelling plants and smells, which won’t harm beneficial insects. We also plan to increase the bat population, so we can comfortably co-exist.

The Work

It’s true that there is a lot of work to be done. Thankfully, many people have done these things before us. There are a lot of videos and blogs covering the skills we have learned. We have reached out to like-minded people in the community, who have given us the benefit of their experience. The bottom line is that we are not alone.

In the meantime, we are putting a lot of sweat-equity into our property. It may not be the same amount as a younger person might put into it. However, when we look down a road we have just cleared of weeds or squash coming up where we buried our kitchen scraps, it’s a great feeling!

A little TV isn’t so bad

This is what we look forward to in our “working retirement”—better food and water, plenty of time outdoors, lots of exercise, accomplishments in new and varied areas, and making lots of new friends. And yes, when we watch some Netflix we won’t feel like couch potatoes.

Are you preparing a homestead? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Resources:

[1] Wein, Harrison, Ph.D., “A Little Exercise Might Lengthen Life” Web Post, National Institutes of Health/NIH Research Matters, Published December 3, 2012, Accessed July 26, 2017, https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/little-exercise-might-lengthen-life

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Pueblo Farming Methods For Your Resilient Garden

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I spent the morning in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s Resilience Garden learning about the history of Pueblo Farming Methods. There are 19 Pueblos of New Mexico represented at the center.

The Resilience Garden tells the story of pre-contact foods and traditional farming methods all the way to modern plants and gardening methods for urban communities.

Watch the Interview (15:49 minutes):

Irrigation

The Zuni Pueblo is highly represented in the Resilience Garden because of its unique irrigation method, called a waffle garden. It is a brilliant technique to harvest and conserve water and is several thousand years old.

Zuni Pueblo Waffle Garden

Without a permanent water source, you can’t water a large area of crops. The waffle garden acts like a puddle. You hand-carry water to the beds and make sure the water stays concentrated where you put it.

The walls of the waffle bed are hand formed to catch any rainfall and focus that precious water around seeds and the roots of plants. It keeps the soil damp during the weeks of the dry season.

Water is a vital, life-giving element, especially in this desert climate. Pueblo cultures honor water through sustainable practices, as well as seasonal dances praying for generous rains, healthy plants, and a bountiful harvest.

pueblo-farming-methods

Acoma and Laguna Flood Garden

Seasonal rains were crucial in Pueblo agriculture. Many of the Pueblos are located near plateaus. When the seasonal rains come, the rain runs off of the plateaus and into the flood gardens.

A wall around the flood garden holds the water in a particular area to water their crops. There were often multiple flooding areas, so if one area filled up with water, a wall would be removed so the water flowed into the next area and so on.

Pueblo crops planted in these types of gardens

The waffle and flood gardens were planted with melons and squash. The heavy amount of water would undermine a corn plant’s root system causing it to fall over.

Plants

The Pueblos are scattered throughout the state of New Mexico with a wide-variety of climates, from mountains to desert and plateaus to scrub. However, the Pueblo People concentrate their gardening around the Three Sisters (Corn, Beans, and Squash).

Community food production

Most of the crops grow in communal plots. Land was not owned, making it easy to move your garden each year. You weren’t planting in the same place (preventing pest and disease issues, and giving the land time to rest). By the time you got back to your original growing space, nature had time to rebuild healthy soil.

Want to know more about community food production? Click here to watch I Don’t Want to Grow All My Own Food. 

Prior to European Contact

Prior to contact with Europeans, there were many berries and different types of shrubs that were wild harvested.

Other pre-contact plants:

  • Mint
  • Cotton
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Wild Spinach
  • Yucca
  • Wild Celery
  • Tea (a tall grass)
  • Chokecherries
  • Wild plums
  • Wild mushrooms

Traditional herbs and many plants were not cultivated but harvested where they grew naturally.

Learning through history

Lessons were learned throughout history in places like Mesa Verde and Bandolier. These sites were built into cliffs with little or no space for agriculture to support such a larger community.

Corn is one of the oldest plants, which came from Mexico. The Pueblos have had corn for many thousands of years.

It is unknown when or how Beans and Squash came into Pueblo agriculture. There isn’t an exact story of where these plants came from.

The stories that have been handed down through the history of Pueblo culture speak to why they garden as they do and the way plants are cultivated or not.

When the Spanish came to the New Mexico, the pueblos were thriving. They had seven years-worth of food stored. The stored food kept the Spanish from conquering the Pueblos. It was the generosity of the Pueblo people that helped the Spanish survive in this harsh environment.

The Spanish, in turn, brought sheep, horses, chickens, and even the fruit trees that are grown today.

There are still families at the Pueblos who grow in the traditional methods and incorporate modern plants. Even the younger generations are becoming interested in the agricultural traditions once again.

Pueblo Ceremonies

Pueblos have many ceremonies throughout the year. The dances and songs vary from Pueblo to Pueblo. The reason many dances are not open to the public is because they are sacred. The dance and song are prayers to the soil, the plants, the pollinators, and gratitude for the harvest.

The season starts in the spring with ceremonies for preparing the soil and starting seeds. The ceremonies also bless the land with songs and dances.

Then throughout the summer, there are many dances that bless the field and crops, bring in the pollinators like the butterflies, and for a good harvest.

All of the dances, songs, preparations, plantings, and seasons lend themselves to the story of living life close to nature and gardening in a sustainable way.

Your Resilient Garden

At the Resilience Garden, they’re inspiring modern gardeners. Their methods are thousands of years of trial and error.

If you got out in your garden for the first time today, you would still come up with these methods on your own. Learning some of the best methods right away and adapting them to where you live will only help you create an abundant harvest.

The Resilience garden shows what gardeners have learned over the years:

  1. Preparing the soil is the foundation to sustainable gardening
  2. Planting the right plant in the right place
  3. Harvesting with gratitude
  4. Sharing knowledge with others

Resilience is a common theme for the Pueblos throughout history. They have survived contact with many nations and still remain humble, loving, and incredibly generous. The Pueblo agricultural methods and seeds are still alive after thousands of years. That’s pretty amazing!

The name of the garden is powerful and inspiring for the Indigenous people of the area, and anyone who comes to this space. There is even a Seed Bank, where the Pueblo people drop off seeds that have been in their family for many generations. That’s better than money!

If you’re in Albuquerque, please stop by and learn more about Pueblo Culture and the Resilience Garden. Click here for more information.

Resources:
Historic Images: Library of Congress
Dance footage courtesy of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

 

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I Don’t WANT To Grow All My Own Food. Here’s Why.

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Would it surprise you to learn that I don’t grow all of my family’s food?

(Well, maybe if I could get my teenagers to work a little harder … then I would? 😉 )

But the truth is, I don’t even want to.

I’d rather live in a gift economy—a core community of like-minded people who are so interconnected that they support, help, and give to one another … without any expectation of getting something in return.

It’s a joyful, stable economy—and it’s ancient for some wonderful reasons.

In fact, really, the deep satisfaction it brings is what we’re all aiming for when we talk about growing a community.

But how do we get there?

How do you go from no or little community to living in a gift economy?

That’s the topic of my next video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground.

In it, I talk about:

  • One Of The BEST Ways To Start Producing Food As A Community
  • 5 Ways To Give — And Which Offer The Most True Wealth
  • What’s In It For You? The No. 1 Reason To Pursue A Gift Economy

Did you see last week’s video Chapter of GROW? Click here to watch Build Community In 9 Easy steps!

After you watch it, I’d love to hear your story.

What type of giving brings you the most satisfaction?

How has giving created community for you?

I can’t wait to read your comments!

 

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6 Homesteading Skills You Need To Know—And Where To Get Them

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In this edition of Homesteading Basics, let’s talk about learning homesteading skills you need if you’re going to be a modern-homesteader, and where the best place is to get those skills.

Watch the video here: (video length: 2:38 minutes)

A True Story

My son was using the mower the other day and ran out of gas. 

He left it in the south pasture with the key turned on, and the battery died.

Now he’s off on a trip, and I’m stuck with a dead battery.

This got me thinking about all of the skills you need to be a modern-day homesteader.

Do you have the skills you need?

Here are some basic skills that you’re definitely going to need on your homestead:

  • Basic electrical knowledge
  • Carpentry skills
  • Plumbing knowledge
  • Animal husbandry
  • Gardening methods and techniques
  • Home Medicine

If you don’t already possess this knowledge, these skills can take a while to acquire.

Where to gain homesteading knowledge

One of the best places to get the knowledge you need is to attend a Mother Earth News Fair. They are held all over the U.S. There are a lot of different workshops in a two-to-three-day period. They offer the basic skills you’ll need for your homestead.

Here are a few other suggestions to help you improve your homesteading skills:

Your local farmer
See if he or she will give you a few tips or pointers on something specific, like animal husbandry. Offer to pay him or trade him something that he needs, maybe even your labor.

Big Box Stores
A lot of the big box supply stores offer Saturday morning classes in home improvement skills, including basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry.

Local Community College
Many community colleges offer nighttime and weekend classes in auto repair, small engine repair, carpentry, basic plumbing, and electrical.

Online Classes
There are thousands of online classes from home medicine to gardening. Choose the one that gives you the knowledge you need and works with your schedule.

County Extension Master Gardeners
Master Gardeners are a community of volunteers trained in horticulture by the County Extension Office. You can become a Master Gardener by learning valuable plant and soil information. Then volunteer 40 hours during the year and give your knowledge back to your community. Check your local or state extension office for more information, or call your local Master Gardener hotline for more information on the public classes they offer.

Local Master Classes
In many places, there are local classes offered by specialty groups. For instance, Master beekeepers, Master composters, and others often offer classes for free or a small fee to attend. Look online for groups near you.

YouTube videos
There are hundreds of thousands of videos online to help you gain the skills you need in just about any area of homesteading.

Let’s improve our skills together.

Where are you getting the homesteading skills you need? In the comments below, let us know what skills you have and which ones you need.

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Kids and Gardening: Fertilizing Our Future

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As a mother and a gardener, I cannot avoid children in my garden. Luckily, kids are natural helpers. They question everything and want to take part in what we are doing. These little “helpers” can frustrate us when we are short on time and NEED to get our chores done. Truthfully, kids and gardening go hand-in-hand!

While it is tempting to say, “you are too little” or “maybe when you get older,” we must remember that our mindset and actions as adults determine how much (or little) kids will continue to want to help. As adults, we have:

  1. The power to provide an environment where kids can learn and explore the wonders of the natural world.
  2. Responsibility to show them how to be good helpers, teachers, and productive members of society.
  3. A duty to teach them how to share the abundance in their lives—whether it be knowledge, compassion, or food—with others.

Outside in the garden is perhaps the best place to teach kids how to be good helpers, get them excited about food, and become closer as a family.

The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.
– Bill Mollison, Co-founder of Permaculture

Can I Help?

Our children want to help, but what can they do?

There are many kid-sized activities in and around the garden.  Some of the things they can tackle include:

  • Planting
  • Weeding
  • Watering
  • Controlling pests
  • Harvesting

Planting starts with seed selection. Children love to pick out their favorite foods from the seed aisle or catalog. They love to imagine what the fruits of their labor look and taste like. A child’s interest begins here, and their patience ends.

Be sure to help them pick out some quick growing crops such as lettuce, baby carrots, and bush beans. Having your child choose quick-growing crops ensures they can continue to be excited during the early and slow parts of the season.

Teaching them about succession planting is also useful, so they are constantly thinking about what to harvest and plant next.

 

kids-gardening-boysindirt1

Weeding, the chore everyone loves to hate

Luckily, pulling plants apart and out of the ground is a natural pastime for little hands. We need only guide their enthusiasm to ensure some of our crops remain to maturity. The time is perfect to discuss each plant that grows and answer some important questions such as:

  • What “weeds” are in the wrong place?
  • Which plants provide for us and each other?
  • Some plants can hurt us.
  • How do plant friends help each other?
  • What types of plants don’t get along with “this plant?”

Watering provides plants with their essential element of moisture and children their key element of playing and splashing. Just try and keep a 4-year-old out of a mud puddle.

Controlling pests combines two forces of nature: bugs and bug squishers

Bugs are some of the most fascinating and terrifying creatures in the lives of our children. Introducing them to harmful as well as beneficial insects sets the tone for their relationship with these creatures for the rest of their lives, ask someone who had a spider put on them at a young age.

Point out the pollinators, and tell the kids how bees and butterflies help fruit and vegetables grow. Talk about the life cycle of a butterfly. Tell them how bees work together to make honey.

Tell them about beneficial predators such as the praying mantis, ninja of the bug world, and the Braconid wasp, killer of hornworms.

Get them a bug house. It will always be full.

kids-gardening-mantis

Bonding as a family

Working together outside in the sunshine and growing food for the table will also strengthen family bonds. It’s a way to build responsibility, excitement, and self-esteem in both child and adult.

Let the kids help in the garden, in the house, and in your life. Just like plants work together to improve the soil and protect each other, families work together to strengthen bonds.

Despite our urges to simply get stuff done, we must have patience with our children and take time to teach them. No matter our gardening successes and failures, they are always watching and learning.

Our most important crop is our children. Every experience and lesson are fertilizer to help them grow strong and wild into the best version of the individual. Of all the things we teach them, the most important lessons are how to be human.

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.
Masanobu Fukuoka, Farmer and author

 

kids-gardening-dadandboys

Do your kids help in the garden? What is their favorite chore? Let us know in the comments below.

Sources

Mollison, Bill, Permaculture: A Designers Manual

 

 

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Prepare For A Natural Disaster – Your Family And Your Homestead

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Natural disasters happen all the time all over the world, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. There is pandemonium and chaos, fear and heartbreak each time. Is it preventable? Most of the time, no. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature. But there are some things you can do to prepare for a natural disaster. Do you know how to prepare you, your family, home, pets, and livestock?

Right now, Marjory and her family are preparing for Hurricane Harvey, which is going to hit the Texas coast today.

Her homestead is expecting 20+ inches of rain and sustained winds of 40 mph. She says that is 2/3 of their annual rainfall.

Marjory knows how to prepare for a natural disaster. They’ve been to the grocery store, cleaned up the homestead, boarded up the windows, and scattered cover crop seeds in the pasture. In her words, “We’ve been broadcasting seed for the fall planting of pasture cover crops. Yes, the time to plant is before the rains or your likelihood of germination goes way down—you never know if/when it will rain again.”

Look for updates on Marjory right here on this blog post!

UPDATE August 25, 2017, 8:03pm CST: Hurricane Harvey has intensified. It is now a Category 4 storm as it makes landfall. Marjory has “battened down the hatches.” They are as prepared as they can be.

Prepare your family for a natural disaster

In 2004, my family and I were living in Florida. We went through 4 hurricanes back-to-back. Two boys, two cats, and I were huddled in the inner bathroom of our house. I lost three refrigerators full of food, and we lost power for weeks each time. It was the tornadoes spawned by the storm that finally got us. A 100 ft. pine tree with a 6-ft. diameter missed my car by inches. Our neighbors were not so lucky.

Make a plan

It’s better to prepare for an emergency or a disaster long before it happens. Choose reliable information sources, and know the warning systems in your area. Talk with your family about your plan, even young children will understand and not be so frightened. Be sure to include your pets and even neighbors in your plans.

  • Choose a safe place to meet.
  • Decide how you will contact each other (if cell service or electricity are out)
  • How will you find each other?
  • What will you do in different situations (fire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, zombie apocalypse)?

Okay that last one was a bit of a joke, but all joking aside … what is your family’s disaster plan?

Create a disaster kit or bug out bag

Your emergency kit should be stocked and restocked regularly. Be sure to consider all of your needs and don’t forget your pets! You and your family may need to survive on your own for several days. You’ll need to be prepared with food, water, and other supplies for at least 72 hours.

Basic Disaster Supply Kit, or Bug Out Bag

Store everything in airtight plastic bags or put your entire disaster supply kit in one or two easy-to-carry plastic bins or duffel bags. Check the items regularly to make sure they work and have not expired.

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. This is for drinking and sanitation.
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio or NOAA Weather radio with tone alert. (Don’t forget extra batteries in your kit.)
  • Flashlight – battery-powered, solar-powered, or hand-crank (Personally, I prefer the hand-crank. I know it will work)
  • First Aid Kit – Check it regularly to make sure it is stocked.
  • Extra batteries – make sure you replace these regularly or use rechargables that get charged regularly.
  • Whistle to signal for help – A whistle is much easier to use than your voice and carries over a longer distance. Make sure that each family member has one.
  • Dust mask – in case there is debris in the air
  • Plastic sheeting – makes a great impromptu shelter
  • Duct tape- I never go anywhere without duct tape!
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Manual can opener for your food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with solar charger or a battery backup

Personal Emergency Supplies

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications (pain-relievers, anti-diarrhea, antacids, and laxatives)
  • Glasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet supplies – Crate or carrier, pet food, and extra water for your pet
  • Cash
  • Way to cook food
  • Family documents (copies of insurance policies, identifications and bank account records, saved in a waterproof, portable container)
  • Sleeping bag and warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
  • Mess kit, cup
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles, cards, or other activities for children

After you create your disaster kit, remember to check it regularly.

Keep your canned food in a cool, dry place and replace expired items as needed. Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic containers. Rethink your needs each year.

Prepare your homestead for a natural disaster

Now that your family, pets, and you are safe during a natural disaster. Do you know how to prepare your homestead so it stays running?

  • Remove any debris that could become a dangerous flying object. This includes tomato cages!
  • Generator – if you have solar or wind power, it’s still a good idea to have a backup generator in case your alternative energy sources are damaged or destroyed by the natural disaster.
  • Reliable water source
  • Secure your livestock and small animals – have extra food, water, and bedding ready for at least a week. Have your halters and leads ready.
  • Stock up on vet supplies, including bandages, antibiotics, supplements
  • Make sure housing, food, and supplies for small animals (chickens, ducks, rabbits) are ready to withstand high winds or rising water. Create a make-shift pen in your garage, if necessary.
  • Put heavy farm equipment under cover and tie it down.
  • Tools & gloves – There will be a lot of mending after a natural disaster.
  • Keep a written inventory of all livestock, including breeding and expense records, with your other important family documents.
  • Make sure all animal branding, tagging, and other identification information are up-to-date.

Are you prepared? Tell us in the comments below.

Resources:

Ready.gov. Be Informed
Tractor Supply. Storm preparedness on the farm.

 

 

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How To Choose A Natural Dentist

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You are taking control of your dental health. Now it’s time to choose a natural dentist. But where do you even begin?

As the evidence grows, it’s becoming clear that more and more people around the world are fed up with their treatment for oral health. It’s not just about a beautiful smile—it’s much bigger than that! Your overall health depends on a healthy mouth.

Finding out about the dentist’s beliefs and practices should be a top priority. You’re looking for the best match for your individual health needs, values, and priorities.

First be clear on your needs, values, and priorities where your oral health is concerned. Why are you considering holistic dentistry? This one question helps you come up with other questions that are relevant to your dental care.

Choose several holistic dentists in your area to meet and interview. Yes, you can do that!

Do an Internet search for “Holistic Dentistry” or “Natural Dentists” in your area. Check out there website for your values and priorities that you’ve already listed. Then, dial the phone!

Ask the receptionist … “May I talk to you about my dental health situation over the phone or should I make an appointment to visit your office?”

At your meeting whether on the phone or in person, ask some questions that are important to you.

Here are some questions you might want to ask the dentist:

Why did you decide to practice natural dentistry?
This will tell you whether the dentist is in it for profit or because he really cares of about his or her patient’s oral health.

What are your diet and lifestyle like?
You want your dentist to have similar values as you. If you have decided that oil pulling is one way that you will take care of you teeth, does your dentist understand and accept this practice?

Don’t know about oil pulling? Check out this article on 10 Ways To Take Care of Your Teeth … Naturally!

How much training and education have you had with the issues of toxic dental practices and materials?
You want to make sure that your new dentist understands and is knowledgeable about the latest toxic dental practices and materials.

Do you use bio-compatibility testing?
These tests tell whether various materials used in dentistry are compatible with your immune system and how sensitive you are to the different dental materials. A bio-compatibility report tells your dentist which materials are safest for you for each particular dental procedure.

During the initial exam and consultation, what can I expect?
Your initial exam should be longer than normal. It should include a thorough cleaning, a look at both hard (teeth) and soft (gums, neck areas) tissues, and x-rays to see what is happening below the surface.

Ask if the X-rays are low-dose radiation and if they use a neck guard to protect your thyroid.
The x-rays should show problems with your teeth, like fillings, missing teeth, cavities, root canal, and dead teeth. The neck guard will protect your thyroid from an overdose of radiation.

Want to know more about toxic dental practices? Click here to read The Hidden Dangers Of Commercial Dentistry.

Do you do microscopic analysis?
The microscopic analysis tells the dentist which types of bacteria are under your gums. It allows him or her to tailor a particular treatment regimen for you.

What training do you have in nutritional support supplements?
A well-trained holistic dentist will have a good foundational knowledge of nutrition, herbs, homeopathy, vitamins, and supplements. Ask about his or her background in these areas.

Does the dentist keep up with advances in technology and the latest studies about toxins in dental procedures and material?
Studies and reports in the toxins related to dentistry come out often. Is your potential dentist up-to-date on the latest studies?

What are the procedures for mercury or amalgam removal and replacement?
If you have fillings to replace, it is imperative that your new holistic dentist knows exactly how to take them out and replace them.

Asking these questions will put your mind at ease and ensure that you are getting the best dental care possible.

Will you be calling some Holistic Dentists in your area? Let us know your results in the comments below.

 

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Planting by the Moon and Stars: Great Idea or Hogwash?

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This method of gardening might be right up your alley, or it might be so far out there that it leaves you scratching your head. Let’s look at “planting by the stars.”

Farmers and Gardener have been planting by the stars and celestial bodies for centuries.

To add another layer to your garden planning: According to legends and stories, each sign has something to offer a gardener and his or her garden. Let’s take a look at some gardening tasks and the best signs to do them.

The moon moves through the various signs of the Zodiac every couple of days. Each of the signs is associated with different elements, which are suitable for different tasks in your garden, like watering, planting, harvesting, fertilizing, and cultivating the soil depending on which sign the moon is in.

The Elements

One premise of gardening by the stars is that the Universe is made up of four elementsEarth, Air, Fire, and Water.

The signs are connected to the elements like this:

Earth – Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn

Air – Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius

Fire – Aries, Libra, and Sagittarius

Water – Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces

The Earth signs are very fertile and good for planting. The root is the part of the plant that is associated with the Earth signs. Earth signs are particularly good for planting root crops or transplanting to encourage root development.

Air signs are primarily dry and barren, Libra is an exception, which is good for flowers and herbs. Melons like to be planted in Gemini and Onions do well if planted in Aquarius. It is a good time to harvest or cultivate the soil during an Air sign.

The water signs, Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio are great for planting above ground crops. These are the best signs to plant in general.

In the fire signs of Aries, Sagittarius, and Leo, harvest, pull weeds, or get rid of pests. Harvesting is a good idea during a fire sign as the crops won’t rot in storage.

Planting by the Signs

Fertilize

It is best to fertilize when the moon is in Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces. These are fruitful signs. Use Taurus or Capricorn if necessary. Apply your fertilizer during the moon’s waning phase, preferably in the third or fourth quarter.

Harvest

Root crops intended for food and fruits should be harvested during the waning moon in the third or fourth quarter in a dry sign of Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Aquarius. Harvest root crops like sweet potatoes at the full moon in one of the dry signs.

Watering

When the moon is in a watery sign, like Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces, it is a perfect time to water your garden. If that’s not possible, watering in Libra is good, too.

Mowing

Mow your lawn or meadows to increase growth during the first or second quarter of the waxing moon, or during the third or fourth quarter of the waning moon to decrease growth.

Pruning

It is best to prune during the third quarter waning moon in Scorpio to reduce branch growth and set better fruit.

Cultivating Soil

During the signs of Aries, Gemini, Virgo, and Sagittarius, cultivate your soil. To cultivate your soil, add organic matter, creating compost, improve soil texture, aerate, and mulch. During the first or second quarter waxing Moon in Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, or Libra, add cover crops to increase nitrogen and decrease erosion.

The Science

Ask a scientist, and they’ll give you a blank stare or laugh hysterically. And rightly so.

The nearest star is more than four light-years away (that’s four years traveling at the speed of light, which would be great if we could do it). The light from the stars would not affect plant life here on Earth.

However, first-rate farmers and gardeners follow the signs, and while they might do just as well if they didn’t garden by the signs, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to say whether it works or not. We only have experiences.

We do know that planting by the stars and moon phases does no harm, so why not try it as an experiment? Plant half your garden by the stars and the other half as you normally would and see for yourself which plot does best.

Be fair and let common sense make up your mind. Keep in mind everything you know about gardening, even the most devout “sign planters” take weather and temperature into account before undertaking a gardening project.

Quite frankly, Moon & Star Gardeners never asked why it works. The farmer who planted his homegrown food by the moon and stars has a bountiful harvest to show for it. Isn’t that really all that matters?

Did you see Part 1 of this series? Click here to read Planting by the Moon and Sun.

 

Do you plant by the moon or the signs? What are your results? We’d love to hear about your experiences below.

 

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10 Easy Ways To Take Care Of Your Teeth … Naturally!

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Are you taking care of your teeth? It is one of the single most important preventative measure that you can do yourself. Poor oral health leads to gum disease, facial pain, infections of the mouth, and more serious health problems, including stroke, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disease, diabetes, and oral cancer. According to the ADA, nearly 50% of Americans don’t go to the dentist because of fear, money, or the belief that their mouths are healthy. Here are some easy ways you can care for your teeth, naturally.

From the Inside-Out

A healthy mouth involves your entire body. Your body needs fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to keep your mouth healthy, too.

These minerals and vitamins support the body as a whole but also create more mineral-rich saliva, which is how your body protects your teeth.

Saliva and Oral Health

Saliva is how your body protects your teeth. On a practical level, teeth are remineralized as your saliva washes over your teeth. However, you must have appropriate nutrients in your body, or your saliva will lack the minerals needed to protect and strengthen your teeth.

Watch Your Diet

Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy provide you with all of the nutrients that you and your teeth need.

Keep in mind that acidic foods increase the risk of tooth decay because it breaks down the enamel of your teeth and allows bacteria to get into your teeth. You don’t have to avoid acidic foods altogether, but knowing which foods are acidic will help you take control of those portions.

Fruit and Vegetables

Munching on apples, celery sticks, carrots, and peppers make your teeth strong and healthy.

Sesame Seeds

Use sesame seeds as a oral scrub. They gently remove plaque and tartar and don’t damage your teeth. Chew them up, but don’t swallow them.

How to care for your teeth and gums—naturally!

1. Brushing

Your brushing routine is super-important for your overall mouth health. You should brush at least twice-a-day. If you do it properly, brushing should take about two minutes. Do you have problems brushing that long? Set a timer for two minutes to make sure you brush for the appropriate amount of time.

  • Start your brushing routine in the back of your mouth. If you follow the same routine each time, it will become a habit.
  • In order to loosen food debris and plaque that builds up around the gum line, brush in a circular motion downward from the gums.
  • Don’t forget the backsides of your teeth! The back surfaces of all your teeth are just as important as the front. Food and debris can build-up there just as easily.
  • Brushing the biting surface of your teeth will loosen food particles that settle into the indentations.
  • Bacteria builds up on your tongue and the inside of your cheeks. Be sure to brush these areas to promote fresh breath.

2. Floss

There is a lot of controversy over flossing right now. For years, it has been said that “flossing is the most important thing you can do to protect your teeth and gums.” However, many people overlook this simple task or don’t do it correctly.

Now, there is mounting evidence that flossing doesn’t help prevent gum disease.

With that said, there are minimal risks and a lot of potential rewards. So, go ahead and floss!

Use an unwaxed, natural floss to get between your teeth and below the gum line where plaque, food particles, and bacteria hang out.

Note: Petroleum byproduct are used in waxed floss. Also, check the package for the cruelty-free label. You’ll know that no animals were harmed in the production of that floss.

How to Floss

  1. Cut a length of floss that you can wrap around your fingers and still have enough to hold and work in between your teeth with an up-and-down motion.
  2. Curve the base of each tooth in a C-shape and work the floss beneath the gum line. As you move from tooth to tooth, use a clean part of the strand.

Make Your Own Toothpaste

This toothpaste recipe has no fluoride, is safe for children, and those with thyroid problems. Oh and it’s YUMMY, too!

Get the recipe here!

 

take-care-teeth-naturally

3. Drink water

The average American drinks only 2 1/2 cups of water a day. To help you stay hydrated, you need to drink at least 8-8 oz. cups of water each day.

If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Besides keeping your body hydrated, water helps wash away food and bacteria left in your mouth.

Your saliva is produced from water. It neutralizes the acidity in your mouth that erodes tooth enamel and weakens your teeth.

Make it a habit to rinse your mouth or swish with water after every meal. This will help eliminate leftover bits of food and speed up the remineralization process.

Make your own Mouth Wash

In a glass jar, mix 1/2 cup of filtered water, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 drops of tea tree oil, and 3 drops of peppermint essential oil. Shake well. Store in your bathroom cabinet.

To use: Swish 3 teaspoons in your mouth for a minute or two. Try to avoid swallowing it.

Note: Double the recipe if you need a larger batch.

4. Chew xylitol gum

Bacteria love the sugar alcohol in xylitol, but bacteria can’t break it down. The bacteria starve to death. Chewing xylitol gum reduces gum disease and tooth decay successfully. It also promotes saliva production, which increases the antibacterial forces in the mouth. It also promotes saliva production, which increases the antibacterial forces in the mouth.

5. Oil pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique to keep your mouth healthy. Both sesame and coconut oil have antibacterial properties that keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape. And you’ll also notice that oil pulling naturally whitens your teeth. Do this first thing in the morning.

How to oil pull:

  1. Put 1 tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth.
  2. Gently swish it around for 10 to 20 minutes.
  3. Spit it out into the garbage. Avoid gargling or swallowing the oil.
  4. Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  5. Brush your teeth as usual.
  6. Repeat daily, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.

You may have to build up to the 20 minutes. At first, I had so much saliva in my mouth along with the oil that I could only swish for a minute or two. Start where you can and build-up to 10 to 20 minutes.

What oil pulling does:

Oil pulling draws out toxins from your body. It is primarily used to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and improves your overall health.

6. Tongue scraping

Get yourself a tongue scraper. Stainless-steel tongue scrapers, which you can buy online, are much easier to clean.

What it does:

Tongue scraping reduces and removes the bacterial growth on your tongue that leads to bad breath. Removing bacterial growth is good for you because it reduces the likelihood of tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and other oral problems.

How to tongue scrape:

  • Do your tongue scraping first thing in the morning.
  • Watch in a mirror. Place the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue. Pull it to the front edge of your tongue, and discard the build up.
  • Repeat this motion twice.
  • Be gentle! You don’t want to hurt your taste buds.

7. Drink herbal tea

Herbal, red, white, and green tea are excellent after-dinner palate-cleansers. They also have the added benefit of keeping plaque from developing.

 

take-care-teeth-naturally

8. Herbs & Spices

Herbs and spices have long been favored to clean and freshen the breath. Many herbs have antibacterial properties, which help keep your teeth and gums from getting infected.

Cloves
Suck on a whole clove to lessen tooth pain.

Aloe vera
Apply aloe vera gel in small quantities if you have gum inflammation. Be warned, natural aloe gel is extremely bitter tasting.

Turmeric
Keep your gums and teeth healthy and infection-free with turmeric, which contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Mix a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and a little bit of water into a paste. Brush your teeth a few times a week to control plaque and prevent gingivitis.

Licorice
According to a 2011 study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products, scientists discovered that two important compounds in licorice helped kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.

Use a soft licorice stick like a toothbrush to remove plaque and tartar.

9. Add supplements

Minerals are very important to overall health, but especially for teeth and gums. Diet alone might be enough, but many foods lack nutrients from being grown in nutrient depleted soil, so supplements help fill the gaps. Check with a medical professional before adding supplements.

  • Vitamins A, C, D, K
  • Magnesium
  • Gelatin
  • Cod Liver Oil

10. Herbal breath fresheners

  • Chew on fresh parsley or mint leaves.
  • Rub your teeth with orange peel to help fight tartar build-up and whiten teeth.
  • Gargle with an old-fashioned solution
    1 cup of water and 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Combine and store in a glass jar. Shake well before use. Rinse and repeat every 2-3 days for maximum value.

Do you use any of these natural tooth care techniques? Tell us your story in the comment below.

Resources:

American Dental Association.
U.S. News & World Report. August 2, 2016. David Oliver. Health Buzz: Flossing Doesn’t Actually Work, Report Says. 

 

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Did You Know That 9 out of 10 Adults Have Gum Disease?

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“If you’re over 30 years old, chances are better than 90% that you have some form of gum disease.”
– David Kennedy, DDS – Past President of International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology

This is a pretty unsettling little fact, but it is a fact. Ninety percent of adults over 30 have active gum disease. That’s sad when you know that you can prevent gum disease. Signs range from swollen gums to bad breath and bleeding or receding gums to loose teeth. These symptoms are so common that most of us don’t even equate them with gum disease. We just think of it as business as usual in OUR mouth, and go about our daily brushing routines.  But if commercial toothpastes were really effective in preventing gum disease, would 90% of us be walking around with gum disease every day?  I don’t think so.

active-gum-disease

What is gum disease?

The bacteria in your mouth creates a sticky film called plaque that forms around your teeth and gums. If it isn’t removed daily, it will harden and become tartar. Plaque, tartar, and accumulating bacteria irritate and inflame the gums. This is known as gingivitis. When the plaque and tartar begin to form below the gumline your problem has progressed to periodontal disease. The bacterial infection spreads and destroys the gum, teeth, and bone structure. It could result in tooth loss.

Here is the path to prevent gum disease …

Your diet has a lot to do with your mouth health. If you eat acidic, junk, or sugary foods, your teeth and gums are going to have problems. When you eliminate processed foods and increase your oral health, your gums will begin to heal.

Some foods that cause acidity in the body:

  • grains (unsprouted or unfermented)
  • hydrogenated oils
  • sugar
  • some dairy products (low-fat yogurt, cheeses)
  • processed foods
  • Some fish (canned tuna, trout)
  • processed and fatty meats, salami, hot dogs, and corned beef
  • sodas, sweetened beverages, and fruit juices

Foods that help prevent gum disease:

  • Wild-caught fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines, fish that is high in omega-3s)
  • Fresh veggie juice (helps reduce the inflammation in your body)
  • Chewing gum with Xylitol (xylitol helps prevent the build-up of bacteria)
  • Raw Vegetables and Apples (naturally clean your teeth)
  • Foods high in fat soluble vitamins (raw milk, coconut, beef liver, bone broth, grass-fed animal meat)

Other lifestyle choices to help prevent gum disease:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Chew on garlic (put it in your salads
  • Check your gut.
  • Oil pulling
  • Flossing
  • Make your own Toothpaste or Powder

Simple and Natural Tooth Powder

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Bentonite Clay
  • 1 tablespoon Baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon Powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Xylitol powder
  • 2 tablespoon calcium and magnesium powder
  • 10 drops of thieves essential oil
  • 20 drops of peppermint essential oil

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl.
  2. Put your powder in a pint-size glass jar for storage. Use one jar per family member if you’re going to dip your toothbrush into it.

To use: Wet your toothbrush in hot water and dip it into your homemade powder. And BRUSH! Rinse with cool water. The powder can be used daily and is good for kids and adults.

If you’d rather have toothpaste, here is a Simple and Natural toothpaste Recipe.

 

What is your oral health regime? Do you use natural products, homemade, or commercial tooth care? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

 

Resources:

Gum Disease Natural Treatments & Causes. Dr. Axe.
Heal Gum Disease In A Week or Less. Natural News.

 

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7 Toxins Lurking In Your Toothpaste

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Over your lifetime, you’ll use about 20 gallons of toothpaste. The chemicals in that toothpaste can get into your bloodstream. Even though you don’t swallow it, your mouth can absorb it. Let’s take a look at what’s in your toxic toothpaste.

Toxins In Your Toothpaste

Look on the back of your toothpaste tube. What ingredients are listed? Can you even pronounce them? My thought: If you can’t or struggle to pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t put it in your body.

There are certain risks with a lot of common toothpaste ingredients, even though they are branded as “natural.” The chemicals in your toothpaste are known to cause mental and physical problems, inflammation, and cancer.

Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Sweeteners

Toothpaste often contains artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, especially toothpaste branded for children. These are linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems.

FD&C and D&C dyes are made from petroleum. The term “lake” is a colorant made by combining a pigment with metal salts, usually aluminum, zirconium, titanium, and others.

Aspartame and artificial sweeteners are added to toothpaste to make it taste good. Aspartame in the body breaks down to wood alcohol and formaldehyde. Both of these are stored in your liver or kidneys. They are not eliminated from the body.

Fluoride

I could write an entire article on the dangers of fluoride.

In a 2010 study, researchers found that a beneficial layer of fluorapatite was formed on your teeth from fluoride, but it was only 6 nanometers thick. Let’s put that into perspective—you’d need 10,000 of those layers to be the width of a human hair. The ultra-thin layer disappears as soon as you chew something.

Now consider the toxic nature of fluoride. It is a chemical that accumulates in your tissue over time. It can cause neurological, as well as endocrine system problems.

Triclosan

To fight plaque and gingivitis, Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical is added to toothpaste. However, it has been linked to antibiotic resistance, endocrine disruption, and thyroid dysfunction.

Its chemical makeup is similar to thyroid hormones. Triclosan causes a wide-range of health problems including breast, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancer, preterm and low birth weight babies, pre-puberty in girls, and undescended testicles in boys.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This harmful chemical is responsible for the foaming action of your toothpaste.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate has also been linked to skin irritation and canker sores. It is registered as an insecticide. The manufacturer sought approval to market Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as an organic pesticide. The application was denied because of the potential environmental hazard.

Studies have shown that it may have toxic effects on marine life.

Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives

Some of the chemicals in toothpaste release formaldehyde—a known carcinogen. These preservatives kill microbes that might grow in the toothpaste.

The preservatives are absorbed into your bloodstream through the lining of your mouth. It can also cause allergic skin reactions.

Here are 10 Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives to watch out for:

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Polyoxymethylene urea
  • Methenamine
  • Quaternium-15
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Bronopol
  • Bronidox
  • Glyoxal

Parabens

These chemicals are endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive issues. They act like the hormone, estrogen.

Keep an eye out for these chemicals in your toothpaste:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben

Carrageenan

This thickening agent is a suspected carcinogen. According to current research, food-grade carrageenan creates intestinal inflammation that can lead to cancer, even in small doses.

It has been linked to:

  • free radicals
  • inflammation
  • insulin resistance
  • glucose intolerance

Diethanolamine (DEA)

This foaming agent is a known hormone disrupter that reacts with other ingredients. It forms a potential carcinogen called N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), which is readily absorbed through the skin. It has been linked to stomach, esophagus, liver, and bladder cancers.

On another note …

Many kinds of toothpaste include ingredients that are genetically modified Organisms (GMOs). The only way to avoid these is to buy products that carry the USDA 100% Organic label.

So how do you brush your teeth with all of these toxins in your toothpaste?

There are several healthy and safer alternative products on the market. Look at your local health food store for some of their recommendations.

OR, with a few ingredients, you can make your own.

Simple and Natural Toothpaste

Brushing twice-a-day, this recipe lasts about a month.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Raw cacao powder (promotes remineralization) Or Calcium Carbonate Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Baking soda (it is alkaline, helps balance pH in the mouth)
  • 2 Tablespoons Xylitol Powder (natural sweetener, reduces cavity-causing bacteria, more is not better with this ingredient. If it is too sweet or if you get sweet cravings, reduce the amount.)
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Coconut oil (naturally prevents candida in the mouth, boosts the microbiome in your gut)
  • 15-20 drops Essential oils for flavor (cinnamon, orange, or peppermint) This is optional, but it does add to the taste. I tend to like the peppermint.

How to make it:

  1. Melt or slightly soften the coconut oil.
  2. Measure the dry ingredients into a glass measuring cup.
  3. Pour the coconut oil into the dry ingredients, and stir. Mix the ingredients really well. It should be the consistency of cookie dough, or if you prefer, cake batter.
  4. Put the mixture in a small glass jar to store.

To use: Dip your toothbrush and scrape a small amount onto the bristles.

Your Diet

Also, remember that your diet is essential as the foundation for healthy teeth and gums. Your oral health depends on:

  • Vitamins C, D, and K2
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

 

How do you take care of your teeth and gums? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Resources:

Is Your Toothpaste Toxic? Progressive Health.
Is Your Toothpaste Loaded With Toxins? Mercola.
Epoch Times August 26, 2015
Behind the Dazzling Smile: Toxic Ingredients in Your Toothpaste. Cornucopia report.

 

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Community And Friendship, With a Side of Sauce

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Good community gives life and wealth. In fact, when it comes to living a long, healthy life, some research counts community and friendship as more valuable than eating your veggies!

“Give me an hour.”

When I got the call asking whether I could find a use for a trailerful of vine-ripened organic tomatoes, that was my reply.

Once I hung up the phone, I picked it right back up again. I knew exactly who to call.

By the time that trailer pulled up, three families (including mine) were standing at the ready, armed with a slew of canning supplies.

Together, in one day, we processed that whole load of tomatoes. And each family went away with better than three dozen quart jars of thick, rich tomato sauce.

Honestly, though, the best thing about that day wasn’t the sauce.

It was the stories we told …

… The laughing we did …

… The turns we took cutting the tomatoes and holding the baby.

In a word, it was the community and friendship

And that’s the theme of my next few video chapters of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground.

In it, I reveal:

  • How Good Is Your Community? 4 Ways To Find Out
  • Why The Ideal Of The “Lone Survivor” Is A TOTAL Myth
  • Tempted To Isolate Yourself In A Survival Situation? Answer This Question FIRST!

Did you miss last week’s chapter of GROW? Click here to see it.

Then, let me know…

What’s your favorite way to develop community?

How has being part of a community enriched your life?

Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Access our growing selection of Downloadable eBooks…

… On topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

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How To Grow Equisetum Hyemale

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Equisetum hyemale is commonly called scouring rush or rough horsetail. Equisetum is not a rush, fern, or reed. This horsetail is a non-flowering, rush-like, perennial, which is native to Europe, North America, and Asia, and is invasive in most places. It is very easy to grow Equisetum Hymale!

It is a single surviving genus that dates back 350 million years. Its name comes from the Latin word equus meaning “a horse” and seta meaning “a bristle.”

The stems

It occurs in wet woods, moist hillsides, and the edges of lakes, rivers, and ponds. This species has rigid, rough, hollow, jointed-and-segmented, bamboo-like, dark green stems that are about 1/2 inch in diameter at the base.

Photosynthesis happens in the stems of this plant. Fertile stems bear pine cone-like fruiting heads about 1-inch long, which contain a lot of spores.

If you live in an area that is frost-free, the evergreen stems are pretty in winter.

The stems are also high in silica and were used by early Americans for polishing pots and pans. (1)

The leaves

Tiny, scale-like leaves attached to the stem and fuse into an ash-gray sheath, which is a 1/4-inch long. The leaves end in a fringe of teeth marks at each stem node (joint). During the growing season, these teeth shed.

grow-equisetum-hyemale

Grow Equisetum Hyemale

This ancient plant spreads by rhizomes (underground stem that acts like a root). It is commonly called horsetail or winter scouring rush, but there are several varieties. This particular species is one that has been used for centuries for tooth and gum care.

In your landscape

Horsetail reeds (Equisetum hyemale) is a great addition to the edges of backyard ponds and water features. The reeds thrive where soils are moist, but the plant remains above water. Depending on where you live, it can be invasive. This species of horsetail multiplies in a “thicket.”

The reeds may stay green where frost is not a concern. The reeds are typically grown only as a potted plant, because they spread quickly via underground rhizomes. It grows to a height of 2 feet to 4 feet.

Soil

Equisetum Hyemale tolerates a wide-range of moist soils It will even grow in up to 4 inches of standing water. A large colony of reeds forms in the wild. Equisetum Hyemale is a very aggressive plant, which needs to be restrained by a pot. Once established, it can be challenging to remove because the rhizomes spread wide and deep. Any small section of rhizome left behind will sprout a new plant. In water gardens, plant in pots, or it will choke out other plants.

This horsetail species likes a slightly acidic soil with a clay, loam, sand mix. It particularly likes wet sites. It is perfect for a bog garden, containers, or water gardens.

Light

Grow Equisetum Hyemale in full sun, partial sun, or partial shade depending on your particular climate.

Climate

This species of horsetail grows well in Zones 4 through 9.

Click here to find your hardiness zone.

Maintenance

Indoors or outside, be sure to cut off any rhizomes growing out of the pot. This will keep the horsetail from spreading into the pond or surrounding soil.

Place the pot so the rim is above the water surface, near the edge of a pond or water feature is perfect.

Prune the dead stems after they turn brown in winter. Provide some winter interest by leaving the stems in place until new stems emerge.

Watering

Water horsetail reeds twice-a-week or more, so the soil stays moist, almost wet. Pots sitting in water need less watering. Water pond plants only if the potting soil surface looks dry.

Pests

Equisetum Hyemale does not have any serious insect or disease problems. The only problem is its very aggressive and spreading nature.

Fertilizer

When the reed is actively growing in spring and summer or every two months, apply a fertilizer made for pond or bog plants. Follow the recommended applications on the fertilizer bag.

Here are 35 Homemade Organic Fertilizers to try!

Grow Equisetum Hyemale Indoors

Although a bog plant, horsetail reeds are low-maintenance and do well in pots on your patio, too. Plant Equisetum Hyemale in a non-perforated, 1-gallon pot with drainage holes.

Lift the pot once-a-month to examine the drainage holes. Cut back any rhizomes that are trying to escape.

Indoors, grow Equisetum Hyemale in moist soil and with a lot of light. A sunny window is perfect.

Use a potting soil that works best for bog and water garden plants. Set the pot in water that is no more than 4-inches deep.

Will you be growing Equisetum Hyemale? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Research:

1 Missouri Botanical Garden. [http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c670]

 

 

Beautiful, Squeaky Clean, HEALTHY Teeth
… Without Going To The Dentist!

Click here to get this holistic approach to caring for your teeth

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10 Benefits Of Growing Lavender At Home

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Growing lavender is fun, easy, and has a number of health and culinary benefits. Lavender is known for its versatility and numerous uses, especially its oils, which are extracted from the flower of the plant through steam distillation. It is a member of the mint family, and can be used for medicinal or culinary purposes.

The flowers of the lavender plant have a soothing fragrance when they are fresh or dry, which is one of the many reasons why they are so popular among those who grow herbs.

The calming scent of lavender makes it a regular ingredient in aromatherapy. Lavender oil combines beautifully with other herbs, such as cedarwood, pine, clary sage, geranium, and nutmeg. You’ll find lavender commonly used in many personal care products, including lotions, gels, and soaps, as well as in sweet and savory foods.

In addition to the calming effect of its aroma, lavender oil has many other benefits.

On a related note … Did you see this article on the benefits of Mugwort?

10 Benefits of Lavender and Lavender Oils

1 Bug Repellent

Lavender oil is the perfect natural alternative to harmful bug repellents. The scent of lavender oil is too strong for many types of insects including mosquitos, midges, and moths.

If you have been bitten by a bug, rub a few drops of lavender oil onto your skin. This should relieve the irritation caused by the bite. Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties.

Next time you go out in the woods, keep a bottle of lavender oil in your Natural First Aid Kit.

2 Insomnia

One in three adults has trouble sleeping, (1) which heavily affects his or her ability to do day-to-day activities. The lack of sleep affects mood and the immune system, too.

Prescription drugs that help you sleep can have severe side-effects, including addiction.

Lavender oil induces sleep without any side-effects; a few drops on your pillow, or a sachet of lavender under your pillow, is all you need.

3 Nervous system

Lavender’s soothing aroma is known to calm nerves and reduce anxiety. It helps provide symptom relief of migraines, depression, and emotional stress. The calming fragrance relaxes your nerves, while revitalizing your brain.

Studies found that people suffering from anxiety and stress before an exam had increased mental function after sniffing lavender oil. (2)

4 Skin Conditions

It is common for people to suffer from acne breakouts during puberty, but some adults also suffer from this bacterial outbreak.

Lavender oil reduces the growth of bacteria that cause infections and regulates the over-secretion of sebum (oil produced by the skin).

Scars left by acne can be reduced by the use of lavender oil. By adding a couple of drops to your moisturizer, or even some water splashed on your face, should reduce your acne and its scars.

5 Immune system

According to the Journal of Medical Microbiology, “lavender shows a potent antifungal effect against strains of fungi responsible for common skin and nail infections.” (3) Lavender has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which protect the body from diseases like TB, typhoid, and diphtheria.

6 Circulatory system

Research has found that aromatherapy using lavender promotes blood circulation, lowers elevated blood pressure, and reduces hypertension.

The increased blood flow leads to increased amounts of oxygen in the muscles and the brain. Your skin also glows due to better blood flow, and your body is better protected against heart disease. (4)

7 Digestive system

Lavender oil leads to better digestion by increasing the movement of food in the digestive track.

The oil stimulates your intestines and the production of bile and gastric juices. This helps with upset stomach, stomach pain, indigestion, gas, colic, vomiting, and diarrhea. (5)

8 Pain relief

It can help with sore or tight muscles, joint pain, sprains, backache, and menstrual cramps.

For menstrual cramps, massage a few drops of lavender oil on your lower abdomen and apply a warm towel. Also, applying the oil on the bottom of your feet will help.

9 Diabetes treatment

In 2014, Scientists in Tunisia tested the effects of lavender oil on blood sugar levels to see if it would help with diabetes.

During their study, they found that lavender oil treatments protected the body from increased blood glucose, weight gain, and liver and kidney function. Researchers were amazed to find that the radical antioxidant properties of lavender were more effective than Vitamin C. (6)

10 Healthy Hair

Lavender oil helps kill lice, lice eggs, and nits. There are some studies that show that lavender can possibly treat hair loss and boosts hair growth by up to 44 percent after seven months of treatment. (7)

 

growing-lavender

© maximkabb

 

Growing Lavender at home

Lavender is a very useful herb, it can be used for everything from taking care of you to cleaning your home. With these types of benefits, it would be great to grow your own lavender plants.

Here is one of the easiest way of growing lavender at home:

Grow Lavender in Pots

Growing lavender in a pot is easy, whether you use seeds, cuttings or bought plants.

If you’re going to use seeds, place them on top of sandy soil. Cover them lightly with a layer of perlite. In two to three weeks, your seeds should sprout.

If you’re going to use cuttings, make sure to take them below the node (the leafy part of the plant). Dip your cuttings in root hormone or an organic rooting hormone. Place them upright in warm, damp sandy soil.

Make your own Organic Rooting Hormone! Grab a small cup and cinnamon. Spit into the cup, or have your son do it. Dip your cutting in the saliva. Then, dip it into the cinnamon. Place your cutting into  your rooting medium. Saliva is a natural root enhancer, and cinnamon minimizes damping off of your cutting.

Whatever type of container you choose to hold your lavender plant, keep in mind that while lavender does need water, it does not like moisture. This means that you need a container with a good drainage system.

A container with plenty of drainage holes is perfect. If there are only a couple of holes, drill some more.

If your pot is going to be inside, then get a pot with a removable saucer at the bottom to catch the excess water. Do not get a pot with an attached saucer. You don’t want your lavender plant to be too damp.

Maintain your potted lavender

Once you’ve found the right amount of moisture in the sandy soil, maintaining your lavender becomes pretty easy. Ensure that the plant receives the right amount of sun exposure, water, soil pH, and temperature.

Sunlight

Place your lavender pot somewhere that it will get at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. Note: In places in the southwest and southeast where the sun is extremely strong, your lavender may need a bit of shade.

Water

Lavender does not require much water. Let the soil become dry in between watering, but do not let it get so dry that the plant wilts.

Soil pH

Lavender does not like acidic soils. It may look fine the first year, but it will start dying off. This member of the mint family loves an alkaline soil with a pH between 6.7 to 7.3.

Temperature

Depending on where you live, your lavender will grow best in the late spring to early summer. If you are in a cooler climate, you might want to look at varieties, like English Lavender, which will grow in your cooler temperatures.

French Lavender is at its healthiest when it is warm. There is a good chance it won’t survive a cold winter, which is why it is better to plant it in pots, so it can easily be moved when temperatures drop.

Harvesting Lavender

Lavender has many benefits in all its forms.

If you prune the first bloom in early spring, you may have a second harvest in the summer.

When re-flowering begins to slow, (after about a month of flowering), you’ll be ready for your final harvest. Remove the flower stems from the bush and gather the stems into a bunch.

Cut your lavender a few inches above the woody growth with a harvesting knife.

Drying Lavender

Dry lavender in bunches, on screens, with a dehydrator, or in a paper bag. Either dry in a cool, dark place hanging upside-down, or on a screen out in the sun. Note: The sun will change the color of the lavender.

Now use YOUR lavender for anything from crafts to cooking. However, the lavender oil, which you can extract through steam distillation, is lavender’s most popular use.

What is your favorite way to use lavender? The comment section is waiting for you below.

Resources:

  1. Trouble Sleeping? [https://centracare.org/florida/blog/2016/05/23/trouble-sleeping/]
  2. Lavender Oil Benefits: Reducing Stress and Depression [https://www.drwhitaker.com/lavender-oil-benefits-reducing-stress-and-depression]
  3. Lavender Oil Has Potent Antifungal Effect. Science News. [https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214201842.htm]
  4. Relaxation effects of lavender… [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17689755]
  5. Love Lavender? Try Lavender Oil. Mercola. [http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/lavender-oil.aspx]
  6. Lavender essential oils attenuate hyperglycemia… [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3880178/]
  7. What are the health benefits of lavender? Medical News Today. [http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265922.php]

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Your TEETH Are Alive

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Yes, you read that correctly—your teeth are alive.

Did you know that 92% of U.S. adults between the ages of 20 to 64 have the pleasure of experiencing a cavity in their permanent teeth. The “drill and fill” method is painful, expensive, and potentially toxic.

Check out this article about the Hidden Dangers of Commercial Dental Care!

It’s no wonder people are seeking alternatives to dentists.

You can repair cavities without a dentist and have squeaky clean teeth—just like coming out of the hygienists office—and not pay a cent?

Yup, its true.

The Adventure Began

A few years ago, I was on an adventure (and you know by now that I venture pretty far off the beaten path). I found this amazing healer who lives mostly out in the wilderness.

Doug had watched how the animals take care of their teeth, and he learned from primitive peoples (like the Tarahumara Indians), how they take care of their teeth.

So a few years ago, I got an abscessed tooth. And I healed it using Doug’s methods.

Amazing!

Doug is kinda different.

Uh, some folks have called him a tree hugger. He has that indigenous, earthy sort of vibe to him. But so many people from all walks of life have bought the video because the information is so good.

Now, let’s talk about your teeth being alive!

It might be difficult to believe that your teeth are alive because they are so hard, but it’s true. Nerves inside your teeth control blood flow and nourishment, so this makes your teeth another organ in your body.

Just like other organs in your body, it’s important to keep your teeth clean and healthy. If your teeth are unhealthy, it can affect the other organs, as well as your quality of life.

It’s not only about your smile!

There are two basic parts to your teeth: the crown and the root. Then, there is also the gum tissue and the bone, which are both very important.

Tooth Parts

The crown is what you see above the gumline.

The root is what is below the gumline. It is about 2/3rds the length of the entire tooth.

There are four different tissue types that make up each tooth.

Enamel is the white part of the tooth. It protects the tooth from wear and tear, and is very strong. It is also the hardest substance in your body.

Dentin supports the enamel. It’s a yellow bonelike material, slightly softer than enamel, that holds some of the nerve endings. These nerve endings let you know when there is something wrong with your teeth.

The Pulp is at the center of the tooth. It’s made up of soft tissue that contains blood vessels, lymph tissue, and nerves. Your teeth get nourishment and signals to and from your brain through the pulp.

Cementum covers the root of your tooth. It helps attach the tooth to the bones in your jaw.

The Periodontal Ligament is a cushioning layer that sits between the cementum and your jawbone. It helps connect the two.

Knowing your teeth is important, because if a tooth is alive, it can also die.

What is tooth decay?

You probably know tooth decay as cavities. Tooth decay happens when bacteria found in plaque coats your teeth and produces an acid, which erodes and destroys the tooth enamel. Once it destroys the tooth enamel, it begins to work toward the pulp.

This type of bacteria feeds on sugar and carbohydrates. If left untreated, this tooth erosion causes pain, infection, and eventually tooth death.

Poor oral hygiene, junk food, and acidic foods and drinks promote tooth decay, and the death of the tooth.

But there’s good news!

The hard tissue of your teeth can remineralize. But it’s not as easy as just taking a pill for it. You’ll need to maintain a diet that is good for your teeth and make sure that plaque and tartar are not left on your teeth.

10 things you can do to help remineralize your teeth

  1. Get off the sugar! This is what the plaque bacteria thrives on.
  2. Reduce your intake of grains, beans, lentils, soy, nuts, and seeds, but remember these are also important for a healthy balanced diet.
  3. Increase your vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A, C, and D, and Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, and Iron.
  4. Eat apples, pears, raw celery and carrots, and cucumber to dilute sugars and stimulate saliva production, which will protect your teeth.
  5. Kill the cavity causing bacteria with good oral hygiene.
  6. Fix dry mouth! Saliva is very important in protecting your teeth from decay.
  7. Make your own toothpaste, mouthwash, and practice oil pulling.

 

Do you need an alternative for your dental care?

Discover …

  • Dental hygiene without brushes, paste, or floss
  • Healing cavities with herbs
  • Treating abscesses with herbs and poultices
  • Treating cracked and chipped teeth

The post Your TEETH Are Alive appeared first on The Grow Network.

How To Make a Difference In Your Food Supply

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One online newsletter changed my food supply …

Most days, I’m on the Internet for work. I’m usually searching for information. There are a few online newsletters to which I subscribe in order to keep up with the issues of the day and general reports. I never thought my Internet searches would lead to my making a difference in my food supply.

It was through one of these online newsletters that I found a company who was canning high-quality beef and pork from a family farm. I checked out their website and looked for nutritional information.

It is always valuable, especially for someone like me who is sensitive to heavily salted foods. The nutrition information wasn’t available on their website, so I called.

The number seemed to be local to me, so I was intrigued. I like buying local.

However, the farm was located in Ohio. It turned out that one member of the family lived relatively close to me. I mentioned to him the missing nutrition information, and he promised to email it to me immediately.

food-supply

Is it really pasture-raised beef and pork?

I’ve purchased pastured beef through my local grocery stores for years. My next question to the son was about that. He confirmed that the beef and pork was raised on grass, but was finished on corn.

While I had him on the phone, I learned that it was a family farm. I inquired if the corn was organic. Most commercially grown corn is genetically modified (GMO).

The person I spoke with wasn’t certain, but promised to speak with his father to find out for sure.

Family farm becomes aware

Not too long after that phone call, I got a call from his father, the actual farmer!

We had a long conversation about his farm, the cows and pigs, and the corn that was used to finish the animals before slaughter. I was disappointed to discover that he didn’t know whether the corn was organic or GMO. He told me that it came from a silo that was filled by several of his neighbors, as well as his farm.

Alarm bells are ringing

I was especially concerned because it was very likely that the corn was GMO. I spoke with him about my concerns about food that is genetically modified. He was assured by the experts that GMOs were safe.

Rather than argue about it, I decided to praise all the things he told me that were sustainable: using cover crops, rotating pastures, and using manure for fertilizer. I could see that he was really trying to produce the best meat possible for his customers, and I told him as much.

We ended the call on a positive note, and I thought that was the end of it.

Have you read this article on Food Safety and Nutrition by Tasha Greer? Click here to read it.

The food supply changes

About a week later, I got an email from the farmer’s son.

Imagine my surprise and joy to read:

“I’d like to let you know that we have researched the GMO issue, and we have decided to switch our operation in Ohio to completely GMO-free grains and hay. We are starting the process next week and will keep our customers and potential customers in the loop as to when we are completely GMO-free!”

I really didn’t expect one phone call to make that big of a change!

The moral to the story is to communicate and ask questions!

Whether you get the same result that I did or not, every person who takes the time to look into a product and ask questions will cause the market to change … and hopefully improve it for others.

It is true that the food sold in the U.S. is changing. For those of us still dependent on grocery stores, more and more of them are selling organic produce, pasture-raised meats, dairy, and eggs.

If the largest distributors, like Wal-Mart are providing organic foods for their customers, organic and pasture-raised is a big deal.

According to the OTA (Organic Trade Association), Americans spend almost $50 billion on organic foods annually. (1)

Check out this chart by the Organic Trade Association: Organic: Big Results from Small Seeds

If there is a product you like, but it’s not organic—talk to the producer, especially a small farmer. Anyone who takes the time to do that is important to them. What these farmers realize is that one person represents potentially hundreds or thousands of their customers.

You can make a difference! Sometimes, it’s just a phone call away.

Have you made a difference in your food supply? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Resources:

  1. Organic Trade Association. [https://www.ota.com/resources/market-analysis]

 

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… On topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

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24 Injuries and Ailments You Can Treat With Home Remedies

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(Length: 27:30 min.)

Snake Bite!

Many of you know that I got bitten by a copperhead snake late last summer, treated it with home remedies for snake bites, and lived to tell the tale.

What you may not know is that this was the second copperhead bite in my family in the last few years.

(Yeah, we have a lot of copperheads here in Central Texas!)

The two experiences could not have been more different.

Last time, it was my husband who got bitten.

When it happened, he chose to head to the hospital. I respected his right to make that choice—and you’d better believe I went with him and stayed by his side as his advocate the entire time!

His whole experience was very painful, very disruptive, and very expensive. But, within about a week, all of the swelling had gone, and he was back to normal.

Contrast that with my own snakebite experience last summer. My husband knows me well enough that, after I got bitten, he didn’t even mention going to the hospital. Instead, he asked, “What do you want to poultice it with?”

I’m not going to lie—there was still a lot of pain involved.

But in every other way, my snakebite experience was completely different from my husband’s.

I was in the comfort of my own home, being treated by my husband and daughter. And, honestly, while that snake venom was working its way out of my system, I had the most amazing spiritual experience I’ve ever had.

It was absolutely life-changing.

You can read more about it on our website—the first part of my blog post is here and the second part is here.

Perhaps most telling of all was my husband’s comment to me when it was all over … .

I tell the rest of the story in my next video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground. (above)

In it, you’ll learn:

  • My #1 Favorite Home Remedy
  • 24+ Injuries and Ailments You Can Treat at Home
  • 7 Simple Steps to Mastering Home Remedies

I also reveal the fundamental difference between home and hospital treatments, what home remedies are (and what they’re not!), and why treating illness at home can be such an abundant source of family wealth.

After you watch, I’d love to know:

What are your favorite home remedies?

What’s your most memorable experience with treating illness at home?

I can’t wait to hear from you!

P.S. If you’d like to take the Antibiotics IQ quiz I mention in the video, click here!

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How To Recognize Copper Deficiency In Goats

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What you don’t know about copper deficiency, can hurt your goats

It all started with goat cheese more than 30 years ago.

When I had my first bite of goat cheese at a party, I was 19 years old. I wondered where this amazing food had been all my life. Why wasn’t everyone eating goat cheese? When we started our homestead in 2002, I wanted a couple of goats, so I could make that wonderful cheese, which was too expensive for me to buy as often as I wanted.

Making goat cheese, which I learned was called chévre, was incredibly easy.

However, raising goats wasn’t quite so easy…

…And I never expected the little darlings to steal my heart.

Then the problems started

My goats started having problems with infertility, losing babies at all stages of pregnancy, and even dying. I was determined to figure out why. About a third of our does were not getting pregnant. Some never came into heat. Some gave birth to babies too small to survive. For the first five years that we had goats, we never had a buck that lived past three years of age. I went to more than half a dozen vets, including the university vet hospital. I paid for necropsies and tests that told us nothing.

One day my teenage daughter said to me,
“Mom, I think our goats are copper deficient.”

She showed me the information she’d found online. The symptoms matched everything we saw with our goats. The suggestion was to get “injectable copper,” which was only available with a vet’s prescription. I called four different vets and asked for the prescription. They all said, if we were feeding a commercial goat feed and had loose minerals always available, copper deficiency was impossible.

Then one day…

…a doe died and left behind two scrawny looking doelings that were barely two-months-old.

Even though it was June, the doe had not shed her winter coat. She had not been pregnant the year before. I called the vet and asked for her liver to be tested for copper. He replied, “You’re wasting your money!” I said, “Well, it’s my money.”

A few days later…

…he called with the results. Normal copper levels in goats are 25 to 150 ppm.

My goat’s copper level was 4.8 ppm!

I again asked for the prescription copper and to my complete shock, he said “no.” He told me that just because her liver test showed low copper levels that didn’t mean that all of my goats were copper deficient. It was just a fluke.

So, I read and learned all I could…

…about using copper oxide wire particles (a supplement made for cattle) to increase the copper level of my goats. I purchased it and asked an experienced goat breeder how much to give my goats. The giant cattle boluses (a large pill) were ripped open and redistributed into smaller goat-sized capsules.

I only gave it to the goats that I thought had a deficiency.

Within two weeks, the goats that had the copper looked so much better than the goats that did not. It was an easy decision to give it to all of them. When the goats looked like they needed it (based on their coat conditions), I provided extra copper. The next fall all of my goats became pregnant. They all carried their pregnancies to term and gave birth to healthy babies. Our oldest buck celebrated his fourth birthday! He ultimately lived to be ten-years-old!

copper-deficiency

Causes of copper deficiency

Goats can have primary or secondary copper deficiency. Primary deficiency means they are not consuming enough copper. Secondary deficiency happens when they are consuming enough copper, but they are also consuming a copper antagonist that reduces how much copper they absorb. Providing a loose mineral may be all some goats need. On farms with well water that is high in minerals, the loose minerals may not be enough. Iron, sulfur, and calcium bind with copper and cause secondary copper deficiency. The well-water goats need even more copper.

Want to learn more?

Even though veterinary researchers and breeders have learned a lot about goats and copper in the last ten years, there is a lot of misinformation being passed around. Outdated websites are still shared on social media. I’m lucky that I teach college, so I have access to scholarly databases, which include published research studies in veterinary journals. However, most people can’t read the research unless they’re willing to spend $20 or more. A lot of the studies are hidden behind paywalls.

Unfortunately, most vets graduated from vet school more than ten years ago, which means they were taught that the risk of copper toxicity was the only thing they needed to know about copper. They were told that deficiency in goats was not a problem. Goats are also considered a “minor species,” not too many vets use their continuing education hours to update their goat knowledge. That means it’s tough to find reliable information.

If you are interested in keeping your goats happy and healthy, I’ve created a free online course about copper deficiency in goats.

No one else should have to learn the hard way like we did

Watching goats die or give birth to premature kids is heartbreaking. The symptoms and causes of copper deficiency are easy-to-recognize and easy-to-treat. But there is no one-size-fits-all dosage. It has to be customized to the goats on your farm. That means you have to be informed and empowered to recognize when you have a problem. Then, you’ll have the means to take action.

 

 

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Homegrown Spices and Seasonings For Your Living Spice Cabinet

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(Length: 1:16 minutes)

How old are the spices in your spice cabinet?

If you’re like me, some of spices and seasonings might be just slightly older than two to three years—the point at which they lose potency and should be discarded.
But what if you could have a continual supply of homegrown spices and seasonings that you use most, without having to worry about an expiration date?

In this quick video, I show you a quick solution—a living spice cabinet on your kitchen windowsill filled with homegrown spices and seasonings.

I grow basil, chives, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and sage.

These are all excellent choices for indoor container gardening. And you can add parsley, horehound, winter savory, dill, marjoram, coriander, and mint to that list.

Whether you’re a well-established gardener or your gardening skills are just starting to bloom (sorry, couldn’t resist! 😉 ), you’ll need a few things to get your living spice cabinet started.

Environment: Right Plant, Right Place

One of the most basic principles of successful gardening is “right plant, right place.”

Basically, if you grow a plant in an environment that meets its basic needs for sunlight, temperature, airflow, soil drainage, etc., you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor in the long run.

Your plant will be stronger, healthier, happier, and more productive; have fewer disease and pest issues; and create fewer headaches for you!

So, before you head to the garden center for pots and seedlings, take a few minutes to determine how you’ll provide the right environment for your herbs.

Here’s what you’ll need to consider:

  • Light Sources

Sunlight: Most herbs need six to eight hours of sunlight daily. You can usually provide this via an unobscured window with western or southern exposure. To ensure that the entire plant gets adequate sunlight, rotate it every three to four days.

Artificial Light: If you don’t have an indoor location that provides enough natural light, you can use two 40-watt cool white fluorescent bulbs. Place the plants 6 to 12 inches below the light source, and keep the bulbs lit for two hours per hour of required sunlight. For example, if your plants need eight hours of sunlight, expose them to 16 hours of artificial fluorescent light daily. And if you don’t want to mess with turning the lights on and off at certain times each day, consider buying a plug-in timer to handle the task for you. (Trust me, they’re awesome. Highly recommended!)

  • Temperatures

Herbs prefer moderate temperatures, so choose a location that reaches 65°F–70°F during the day and 55°F–60°F at night. Avoid temperature extremes by keeping your herb plants away from mechanical heat sources and out of chilly drafts.

  • Humidity

Herbs will grow best in a somewhat humid environment. So, if you live where it’s arid, you’ll need to get creative to provide supplemental humidity. You might fill a tray with stones, set your pots in it, and keep it filled with water just to the bottom of the herb containers. Alternately, you can keep a spray bottle handy and mist your herb plants with water as needed.

  • Airflow

Like many other plants, herbs do best with good air circulation. So be sure not to crowd your plants together, maintaining a bit of space between them. And, when possible, crack a window or turn on a fan to keep some air flowing in the area.

Materials: Four Essentials

Now that you’ve figured out the best spot in your house for your homegrown spices and seasonings, it’s time to go shopping—either in your potting shed or at your local garden center!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Fast-Draining Growing Medium

Look for a potting mix designed to drain fast and control moisture.

The main ingredient will be coir or sphagnum peat moss. These amendments have a large texture that helps the soil stay aerated and well drained, and their natural absorptive properties help keep the soil moist. (Interestingly, the more sustainable choice of the two, coir, is also the most useful. Not only is it a renewable resource produced from coconut husks, but it absorbs nearly a third more water than peat, is much easier to re-wet when it’s dry, is more alkaline, is slower to decompose … the list goes on.)

The ingredient list will also include some combination of water-holding minerals, such as vermiculite or perlite.

Many growing mediums will also include additions like compost, fertilizer, and wetting agents.

Or, you can be like Grow Network, Change Maker, David the Good and make your own!

Liquid Fertilizer

Think fish emulsion and seaweed. Make your own liquid fertilizers centered on these ingredients here, or find some premade options at your local garden center.

Recommendations vary on how often to feed your culinary herb plants. Some say to use low-dose liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks, while others recommend feeding them every four weeks, or even less often. If you’re concerned about overfeeding, let your plants be your guide. If they look lush but have poor flavor, it’s time to cut back on the fertilizer.

Plants

Many people prefer to plant seedlings because they get you to your goal of freshly harvested herbs that much faster. However, if you’re willing to wait a little longer, grow your herbs from seed. In either case, follow the planting directions provided on the pot or seed packet, and you’ll have homegrown spices and seasonings in no time.

Water: The Final Ingredient

Finally, remember to water your herbs—but just occasionally.

Almost all herbs grown indoors will do best if you let their soil dry out between waterings. You’ll know it’s time to water if, when you stick your finger into the soil to a depth of one-inch, the soil is dry. Rosemary is the exception to this rule. Its soil needs to be kept moist.

It’s Time to Spice Things Up!

With just a few simple materials, plus a careful choice of environment, you’ll have homegrown spices and seasonings in YOUR living spice cabinet, just like mine.

It will add visual and aromatic appeal to your home and your meals—and, perhaps best of all, help ensure that your favorite spices are always fresh and full of flavor!

 

What are your favorite spices to grow? Do you have a living spice cabinet? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Sam Coffman Top 25 Herbs Chart

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10 Most Cost-effective Garden Vegetables You Can Grow

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There are a lot of benefits to garden vegetables that you grow yourself, but saving money is not necessarily one of them.

Some vegetables are simply cheaper to buy at the grocery store. I know. I hate saying that, too!

Over the years, saving money is not always the main reason we grow garden vegetables. Am I right?

Sometimes the work needed to keep the soil happy, the beds weed free, with healthy plants discourages us from planting crops that are “dirt cheap” in season at the grocery store.

If you’re growing vegetables to save money, or want to make the most of your garden, here are ten garden vegetables that can put money back in your wallet.

Did you miss this article about the cost of grocery shopping versus home grown food?

The Big 10 Garden Vegetables!

These veggies are easy-to-grow in your vegetable garden big or small. Depending on your growing season, you may even be able to plant two or three times. (See succession planting below)

1. Lettuce

I don’t know about you, but I go through a bunch of lettuce each year. At almost $2 per head, that gets expensive. Here’s the great part: They are pretty easy to grow in any part of your garden. They even do well in flower boxes. A seed packet costs about $2.50 for the heirloom variety (which I highly recommend). If you harvest the outer leaves of the plant, it will easily last for several months. Lettuce is also a great vegetable to succession plant.

2. Bell peppers

Bell peppers are fairly expensive, especially for organic. I’ve seen them as high as $2 each! If you start your little seedlings ($2.50 per packet) in small pots, you’ll be able to transplant them to your garden in a few weeks. Pick the peppers as soon as they get to full size.

3. Garlic

This popular plant has a lot of health benefits. Garlic is used in all kinds of recipes. This is a vegetable that I have on hand at all times. Plant the garlic clove in the soil before winter; six to eight weeks before your first frost date. You’ll have a bumper crop in late spring to early summer.

Find your first, and last frost dates here.

4. Winter Squash … including PUMPKIN!

Winter Squash is getting more and more expensive. Butternut squash (one of my favorites for winter soup!) is $1.69 per pound with the average being at least 2 pounds. Keep in mind that winter squash takes between 75 and 120 days to reach maturity, and sprawl 10 to 20 feet. Think vertically or try the bush or semi-bush cultivars in a small garden. And winter squash will store well in a root cellar.

5. Tomatoes (especially Heirloom)

These babies have multi-colored, scarred skin, and a high price tag. They are about $4.50 per pound or more, depending on where you live. Now, while the price may break the bank, the taste is amazing! Growing heirloom tomatoes can be a bit fussy. I lost all of my seedlings this year, but happily planted a friend’s transplants. One of the biggest problems you’ll face is disease. Now, if you don’t want to face the heirloom issues, try a cherry tomato that grows well in your area. You’ll have a plethora of tomatoes to can or dehydrate.

6. Carrots

While I didn’t have much luck with tomatoes this year, I did have success with carrots! These are a cool-season crop that takes 70 to 80 days to mature. Check your last and first frost dates, plant three weeks before the last expected frost date and two to three months before the first fall frost date. They are a delicious root vegetable that stores well in a root cellar and is usually resistant to diseases and pests. At $2.50 per seed packet, you’ll have more than enough of this vegetable to last you through the winter.

7. Potatoes

Welcome to the most popular vegetable in America! Growing potatoes is fairly easy, and the flavors of a freshly dug potato cannot be rivaled by the $5.00 a bag, grocery-store varieties. Choose a sunny spot with well-drained, loose soil, so the roots and tubers have room to grow. They do need a steady water supply to keep the plants happy. When the tops of the plants die off, the entire crop is ready to harvest. And some potato varieties store well in a root cellar.

8. Sweet potatoes

In my area, organic sweet potatoes run about $4 for a 3-pound bag. It costs about $21 for 1 pack of sweet potato slips (though I have found them cheaper locally, so check your local garden center). Plant them in the spring, and they’ll produce about 3 to 6 sweet potatoes per slip. They prefer a slightly acidic, well-drained, loose soil. If there is a possibility of frost, cover them. Harvest in 100 days. Sweet Potatoes store well in a root cellar.

Did you see David the Good’s article on Growing Sweet Potatoes? Check it out here.

9. Zucchini, and other summer squash

My grandmother would be proud that zucchini made the list. It was one of her favorite veggies to cook. However, she wouldn’t be excited about the $1.90 per pound sticker price. If your garden area is small, go vertical! At $2.25 to $2.50 per packet, the zucchini plant will yield between three and nine pounds of yummy summer delights. Harvest when they are about 4-inches long.

10. Green beans

At the grocery store, organic green beans cost about $2.50 per pound. A packet of seeds costs $2.50 per packet. You’ll get between three to five pounds of beans PER plant. That’s a lot of beans to freeze, can, and boy are they yummy, dehydrated!

BONUS: Herbs … Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Mint, Lavender

I didn’t want to leave out some herbs. All of these herbs are easy-to-grow. Each of them costs about $2.50 per plastic tub at the grocery store. Parsley is less at $1.00 per bundle. If you are considering your footprint on the Earth, the plastic containers and twist ties need to be taken into consideration. A seed packet of each will cost about $2.50 per packet. It’s well-worth having your own herb garden. I’d even suggest starting your gardening adventures here!

garden-vegetables

How to boost the abundance of your garden vegetables

Here are a few tricks to help you make the most of your vegetable garden, even if it’s small. It will save you money on food all-year-long.

Only Plant What You’ll Eat

This sounds may sound silly, but there is no point in planting green beans if you don’t like green beans. You’ll have pounds of garden vegetables that will just go to waste.

Also, take into consideration who in your family will eat the different veggies. If you’re the only one who will eat squash, don’t plant ten of them.

If you rarely eat something, it’s better to buy from your local farmer’s market.

Still confused? Here’s a downloadable interactive guide to help you decide what to plant. Print it out and keep it in your garden journal.

Succession Planting

Succession planting is after one crop is harvested, another is planted in the same space. The length of your growing season, climate, and crop selection will determine how you will replant your favorite garden vegetables. In warm climates, you’ll be able to do several plantings of favorite garden vegetables, like tomatoes. In cooler climates, you’ll be able to get a second planting of peas.

If you have a small vegetable garden space, extend your harvest by planting different varieties of the same vegetable. You’ll have a crop early in the Spring, mid-summer, and fall. For instance, salad greens do well if you plant seeds each week, rather than all-at-once. This gives you the ability to harvest the outside leaves, while the other plants keep growing. You’ll have a supply of lettuce all season long!

Use the downloadable sheet (above) to determine how much to plant, for one person, for the most commonly grown vegetables. Don’t forget to include your succession plantings.

Coming Soon! Look for more articles on succession planting right here on this blog!

Which is your favorite garden vegetable? Is it cost-effective to grow it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Does A Compost Pile Destroy Weed Seeds?

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Does a compost pile destroy weed seeds? Or more specifically, does YOUR compost pile destroy weed seeds?

We are regularly assured by composting experts that hot composting destroys seeds … yet I have some pumpkins that beg to differ.

composting destroy weed seeds

Those pumpkins grew as volunteers from a compost pile a few years ago. Granted, it wasn’t a regularly turned compost pile, meaning they probably missed the hottest part of the heap, but how many of you turn your compost regularly? And I’m going to bet that you still had little tomatoes or weeds pop up in it. Come on, admit it!

My bet is ALL of you.

Here’s an example of “hot composting kills weed seeds” advice from Aggie Horticulture:

“The composting process also naturally kills weed seeds. Properly managed, a compost pile should easily reach 140°F, which breaks down all organic matter, including weed seeds.”

They recognize the difficulty, though, as the next line reads:

“The keyword is properly.”

My bet is that few gardeners reach that lofty, “proper” status.

Why Our Backyard Compost Pile Doesn’t Kill Weed Seeds

compost destroy weed seeds

A typical backyard compost pile isn’t insulated or turned often enough to maintain heat. Those viable seeds in the compost don’t get rotated through the hot center of the pile.

Yes, the heat generated by thermophilic bacteria (an organism living at hot temperatures) is high enough to destroy weed seeds, but getting every bit of your compostable materials hot enough to kill the seeds takes very good compost management.

My old compost pile didn’t do it. It was built from reclaimed landscape logs with too many gaps to get everything hot. Plus, turning it was a pain.

I imagine if you owned a cement truck and packed the barrel of it with a proper mix of carboniferous and nitrogenous materials. Then you rotated it every day or so, and perhaps insulated the inside with foam. You could get that compost to heat up perfectly.

I’m joking. A bit.

My composting methods have gone from complicated to simple over the years. I’ve realized creating perfect compost doesn’t really matter.

Nature doesn’t create perfectly sifted, totally rotted, brown humus. No! She throws logs and leaves on the ground. There’s always some finished material and some fresh material, fungi eating at this, and some insect boring away at that.

But let me back up. What prompted today’s post?

This Viewer Asked a Question

There was a comment that prompted today’s great big post on weed seeds in a compost pile. Four words that led to 1,145 words (give or take):

weed-seeds-in-compost

Martha asked this question on this anaerobic compost tea video I posted:

My answer was:

“Good question. I try to avoid throwing plants with mature seeds into the tea. They never seem to get completely die in a hot compost pile, either. Even though we hear all the time that “hot composting kills weed seeds!” It’s probably true for the ones in the middle of the pile, but I’m always getting volunteer tomatoes, wheat from straw, weeds, and pumpkins popping up even from a hot compost pile. My guess is that this tea method will rot down most of the seeds, if it sits long enough … but not all of them.”

It takes a lot of faith in your compost to deliberately throw in weedy materials, no matter how you’re composting.

If you have spiny pigweed going to seed in your food forest, do you really think you’ll be able to throw that in your compost bin and use the resulting compost in your spring gardens without spiny pigweed popping up?

Do you want to take that risk?

I hear you, “But I Compost the Right Way!”

That’s fine—I appreciate the “thermometer and sifter” brigade.

To those about to compost, I salute you!

I am totally sure that I could destroy weed seeds by hot composting if I thought it out properly. However, my interest is more in gardening than in the processes that lead up to it. Making a “perfect” looking compost pile, or compost for that matter, isn’t as important to me as growing corn, pumpkins, beans, yams, and fruit trees. I also don’t like spending money to make perfect systems.

If you enjoy it, that’s fantastic. I love the smell, look and taste (well, maybe not taste) of finished compost. I made some nice-looking stuff myself this year and just sifted it the other day.

composting destroy weed seeds

I made that compost with almost no work, though. No thermometers, no turning, no measuring ratios of carbon/nitrogen to get that 25/1 mix. No, I just threw it all on the ground in one of my garden beds.

And—oh YES—LOTS of seeds came up in it! Enough to start my new fruit tree nursery.

I view this as a feature, not a bug. Sometimes I just let compost piles turn into garden beds since there are so many volunteer edibles coming up.

But What About Killing Weed Seeds???

Right – that’s what you all want to know, right? How CAN you compost those pesky weedy plants?

Weed_Bouquet_3

My favorite method is to keep them out of the compost pile and gardens altogether.

In my former food forest, I would chop down weeds and throw them on the ground around my fruit trees and other shrubs. If they self-seeded and came back, I’d chop them down again.

Unlike delicate annual garden plants such as lettuce and cabbage, trees and shrubs don’t need to be perfectly weeded in order to produce. I just knocked down the weeds again and again. Every time I did, guess what?

Those fallen weeds rotted into humus.

Nature does this all the time.

The winter freezes come once-a-year and kill all the weeds. They fall to the ground and rot into the soil, which improves it.

If you want to use weeds to feed your gardens, you’ll have much better luck in a no-till system where you throw a pile of seedy weeds on the ground. Then, cover them up with mulch … and then, DON’T TILL!

If you till, you’ll bring those seeds up to the light and warmth. They’ll go crazy in your eggplants. However, beneath a layer of mulch, they’ll eventually rot away safely.

That’s my two cents on composting and destroying weed seeds. Yes, a compost pile can destroy weed seeds … BUT … and it’s a big but … most of us aren’t doing it “properly.”

Don’t trust too much in the magic of compost to pile-drive your pesky pigweed problems.

Personally, I prefer cold composting anyhow! I believe it keeps more of the good stuff in the pile instead of steaming it away into the air. Nature almost always cold composts! While that process takes longer, I think it’s a simpler and gentler method. I wrote an entire book on composting (Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting) and many of the methods in that book are cold compost approaches.

You might also like these composting articles from David the Good:

How to Build a Super Simple Compost Pile From Local Materials

Back to Eden Chicken Run Composting: Easy and Productive!

Nature Is An Extreme Composter—You Can Be, Too!

Manure Tea—An Easy Way To Stretch Your Compost

So, tell us … have you had success hot-composting seedy weeds? The comments below are waiting for yours!

david-the-good-top-10-survival-crops

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The Simple Tricks To Regrow Onions

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(Length: 2:32 minutes)

On this edition of Homesteading Basics, I’m going to show you a really simple tip to regrow onions from the scraps.

Who doesn’t love onions?

I cook with onions, and we all know that when you’re getting ready to chop your onion, you cut the ends off. You cut off the top and the bottoms.

On that back end, where the roots are, you’ve got just a little bit of a scab. Here’s the tip: You can actually plant this, and it will regrow.

Take the scab of the onion. Put it in some dirt, and leave it there.

I’ve been doing this for the past couple of weeks. Look, you can see that some have already sprouted. Now, this is not going to make a whole new onion bulb, but rather beautifully small onion that looks a lot like a shallot. You can chop them up, and put them into soups and salads. They have that nice onion taste.

Another really great thing about this, they’ll become onion plants that sprout those big, beautiful allium flowers. They are very decorative.

This is a green that’s going to grow through the winter. The time to regrow onions is when it is moist and cool outside.

See…you’ll be able to get way more out of that onion than you first thought.

Other foods that you can grow from scabs

Simple and easy-to-regrow!

Place the root end in a jar of water and watch it regrow in a few days.  Just make sure to replace the water every couple of days or as needed.

  • Spring onions
  • Leeks
  • Scallions
  • Fennel

Smells so good!

  • Lemongrass

Regrow lemongrass exactly the same as the spring onions and leeks, but wait to harvest it until it is about 12 inches tall.

To the roots…

  • Turmeric
  • Ginger

Plant a small chunk of either ginger or turmeric in well-drained potting soil about two inches below the surface. Ginger and Turmeric like indirect sunlight in a warm, moist environment. The shoots and roots will begin to regrow in a few days. Once the plant is established, harvest by pulling up the whole plant, including the roots. Remove a piece off of that plant. Replant it to repeat the process or regrowing your ginger and turmeric.

  • Potatoes

Choose a potato that has a lot of good eyes. Cut it into 2-3 inch pieces. Each piece should have 1 to 2 eyes on it. Allow the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two. This will allow the cut areas to dry. Potato plants thrive on a high-nutrient environments, so be sure to add a lot of compost before planting your potatoes. Plant your potato pieces about 8 inches deep with the eye facing up. Cover the pieces with 4 inches of soil. Leave empty space above the 4 inches of soil. As your plant grows, you’ll add more soil.

Be aware! A lot of potatoes are Genetically Modified. Be sure you get your potatoes from a reputable source.

  • Sweet Potatoes

David the Good shows you how to grow and regrow sweet potatoes here.

How about some greens?

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Celery
  • Bok Choy
  • Cabbage

Cut the leaves or stalks off to about an inch above the roots. Place the root end in a shallow pot of well-drained soil. Make sure the roots are in the soil, but do not cover the rest of the plant.  Place the pot a sunny window and mist with water 1 to 2 times a week.

regrow-onions

Boost Your Immune System

  • Garlic

Break a bulb apart a few days before planting. Leave the papery husk on the clove. (You can also plant garlic cloves in the ground before the ground freezes.) Plant a garlic clove 2 inches deep with the root-end down in well-drained soil. Sit the plant in a sunny window.  Once established, cut back the scapes (green part) and use for cooking. This forces the plant to produce a garlic bulb.

And don’t forget the fruits…

  • Pineapple

Cut off the leafy top about half an inch below the leaves. Twist the leaf away from the base. You’ll be left with the leaves and a stub. Remove the lowest set of leaves until you see roots. The roots look like small, brown-colored bumps around the stem. Plant your pineapple crown in warm and well-drained soil. Water your plant regularly. Don’t be afraid to water the leaves. They are meant to catch water. The roots should be established in about a month or two. Put your pineapple plant in bright, indirect light.

Of course, you can always plant onions:

Here’s a great article from Farmer’s Almanac!

Do you grow or regrow onions? What about other fruits or vegetables? Tell us in the comments below!

 

 

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Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Home Grown Food

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Feeding a family isn’t cheap these days, and it only gets more expensive with each additional mouth. I’ve always wondered about the cost between Grocery Shopping and Fresh Food, but never really sat down to crunch the numbers … until now!

Eating healthy is also more expensive than eating processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients and sodium. In fact, following the government’s recommended dietary advice can add 10 percent to your monthly bill. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more expensive than processed, canned, or frozen foods. If you want to go completely organic, count on spending sometimes double that.

The Criteria for the”Food War:”

We have to compare apples-to-apples and … well you get the idea. So, we’ll look at:

  • Expense
  • Health – Mental and Physical
  • Waste
  • Time

In the expenses, we’ll compare certain food:

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Apples
  • Eggs

We’re also going to use $15 per hour for any labor costs or time spent.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Grocery Store!

According to the USDA 2017 Cost of Food Report, the average American spends between $100 to $300 per person per month on groceries. It may be higher or lower based on where you live. (1)

Grocery Store Expense (This is from your average local store, prices may vary in your area)

Lettuce

Organic Price: $1.69/head
Non-organic Price: $0.99/head

Carrots (3 lbs.)

Organic Price: $3.49
Non-organic Price: $2.99

Tomatoes (Heirloom)

Organic Price: No organics available when I went shopping
Non-organic Price: $2.99/lbs.

Basil

Organic Price: $2.99/pkg.
Non-organic Price: $1.99/pkg.

Apples

Organic Price: $1.99/lbs.
Non-organic Price: $0.99/lbs.

Eggs (1 dozen)

Organic Price: $5.69
Non-organic Price: $1.99

Most of the non-organic produce was from Mexico or Peru, and a lot of the organic produce was also.

On average, I spent about $125 per week for my family of three. I bought organic produce, grass-fed, free-range, no hormone meats and eggs (sometimes from the store, but usually from a local farmer).

Health – Mental and Physical

In 2016, the average American spent $10,345 annually on health care (insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, prescriptions, and medicines). (2)

According to a The Atlantic 2014 article, healthcare was the number one cause of personal bankruptcy and was responsible for more collections than credit cards. Forty percent of Americans owe money for times they were sick. (3)

More than 71 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 16 percent of children and adolescents are struggling with obesity (4)

There are four contributing factors: (5)

  1. Processed foods
  2. Portion size
  3. Fast food
  4. Being less active

Let’s not forget to add in the hassle and headache it can take to go to the grocery store. You might not be able to be quantify it, but just bear it in mind.

Can you be healthy eating from the grocery store? Check out this chapter of the Grow Book!

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Waste

The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash each day. The annual weight of trash from the entire country equals 254 million tons, that is the same as 1.2 million blue whales, and would reach to the moon and back 25 times, a journey of 11,534,090 miles. (6)

The sad thing is that you probably live closer to one of the 2,000 active landfills than you might think. Some inactive landfills have become public parks. (6)

Landfills also produce millions of cubic feet of methane gas each day. What impact does this have on our health?

Think of the waste from your groceries: food packaging, plastic produce bags, plastic bottles, twist ties, Styrofoam, and grocery bags that come along with buying groceries. This waste has to go somewhere. I kept track for several months of my grocery shopping days. Over half of my grocery list had some sort of packaging, which added up to about 10 lbs. a week.

Some cities are beginning to charge for every bag of garbage your put in the bin. The average cost is $2 per bag.

The good news is that 34.3 percent of garbage is being recycled or composted each year. That prevents 87.2 million tons of material from going into the landfill. (6)

Think about how much food you throw away because it spoiled in the refrigerator. Waste adds up!

Time

It takes me an hour to shop, but I also spend about 30 minutes to 45 minutes preparing to go grocery shopping, making my list, and seeing what needs to be bought. It takes about 15 minutes each way to get to and from the store. The parking lot is always a madhouse. Add the stress of that up in the Health section above.

Pros of going grocery shopping:

  • You can have your favorite food any time.
  • It’s convenient to run to the store if you need something.
  • Loyalty cards/Cash-back programs
  • Prepackaged, quick food

 

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Home Grown Food!

(And the crowd goes wild!)

Even a small garden plot, can yield an estimated 7 lbs. of fresh produce per square foot. (It depends on where you live and what you plant.)

Expense

You will have an initial investment, which includes soil conditioning, garden beds, and seeds or plants. Based on my own start-up costs, I’m saying $250 for the veggies and $300 for the chickens. You can certainly do it cheaper. We’ll have more on that in future posts. I’ll average this out over the year.

Lettuce

Seeds: $2.50/pkt
Watering: 1 hour/every 3 days.
Labor: Minimal. I was surprised how easy this was to grow.
Final Yield: I had continuous salad mix by harvesting the outside leaves every couple of days. Estimated 5 lbs. throughout the season. I had a cup of salad greens every day for four months. I can definitely extend the season and produce more.

Carrots

Heirloom Seeds: $3.00/pkt
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Minimal. Didn’t do much at all. They grew really well without much help.
Final yield: About 6 lbs. Plenty to eat raw and dehydrate, can, and freeze.

Tomatoes

Heirloom Seeds: $2.50 – $3.00/pkt  Heirloom Plants: $6.00 ea.
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Average. About 15 minutes every other day, nipping suckers, watching for signs of disease or pests. My first seedlings didn’t make it, so I replanted heirloom plants.
Final Yield: A little less than 80 lbs. of tomatoes from 4 plants, enough to eat fresh and preserve for later in the year.

Basil (It’s difficult to grow basil from seeds)

1 Plant: $3.00 – $5.95
Watering on system: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Labor: minimal. Harvest leaves every few days. Grew like a weed.
Yield: Off of 2 plants, I got enough for 12 pint jars of pesto and a 16 oz. container of dried.

Apples

Bare tree: $20-$25
Watering: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Fertilizer: $10
Kaolin clay: $12
Labor: Intensive. planting, pruning, training, thinning, treating, picking up fallen fruit. About 20 minutes every other day.

Eggs (only have 6 laying hens and no rooster)

Feed: $100/mo. (This can be reduced with a little planning and a more mature garden.)
Water: 1 gallon per day
Room: about 100 square feet, including the coop and run. They free-range, too!
Labor: I do the deep-litter method, so there isn’t a lot of maintenance. I spend on average 30 minutes every day, checking, gathering eggs, feeding, cleaning the roost, and giving love.
Yield: average 2 dozen eggs/week. We keep one and sell one.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Health – Mental and Physical

New studies are showing that the microbes in the soil actually work a lot like Prozac. (7)  They give you good feelings, well-being, and happiness.

The food is healthy, too. You know exactly what was used to grow your groceries.

And let’s not forget the exercise factor. You can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour gardening.

Waste

Growing your own groceries has minimal trash.

My family is still buying some food from the grocery store. Maybe one day, I’ll grow my own quinoa.

Now that I’m conscious of food packaging. I look for packaged food that can be recycled or composted. If not, I try not to buy it. My garbage went from one full bag of garbage every three days to a handful of recyclables, large bucketfuls of compostables, and less than 2 lbs. of actual garbage each month.

I’m still trying to minimize my footprint. The goal is zero-waste, or at least as close to it as possible!

Time

In my small garden (about 100 square feet, if you put it together), I spend an average of 20 hours each month in the garden on various chores during the growing season between February and November. I spend about five or so in the winter months on greens, looking through heirloom seed catalogs, and planning next year’s garden.

All of my beds are on a timed and water-regulated irrigation system. In other words, if it rains, the system doesn’t come on. This saves water and time.

The chickens take an average of 30 minutes-a-day winter and summer. They are quite the characters, so they provide entertainment as well.

I didn’t keep track of my preserving time (canning, drying, and freezing), so an estimate is about 10 to 20 hours total for the entire season.

Of course, I see this as time well spent. Twenty hours in the garden or 30 minutes for the chickens could easily be more, because I love it so much.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And the winner is…!

As far as cost goes, fresh food from the garden wins by a slim margin. However, it is difficult to quantify your health and happiness into this equation.

I know for me. I’m happier when I’m gardening. I know I’m healthier because of the exercise and eating good, clean food. The dollar amount is interesting, but almost inconsequential.

 grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Resources:

  1. [https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood]
  2. Department of Health and Human Services;[ https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/individual-market-premium-changes-2013-2017]
  3. The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/]
  4. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm]
  5. American Cancer Society: [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html]
  6. Save on Energy [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html ]
  7. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/is-dirt-the-new-prozac_b_256625.html]

Do you grow your own food and medicine? What savings have you seen? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Food War: Grocery Shopping Versus Fresh Food

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Feeding a family isn’t cheap these days, and it only gets more expensive with each additional mouth. I’ve always wondered about the cost between Grocery Shopping and Fresh Food, but never really sat down to crunch the numbers … until now!

Eating healthy is also more expensive than eating processed foods loaded with artificial ingredients and sodium. In fact, following the government’s recommended dietary advice can add 10 percent to your monthly bill. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more expensive than processed, canned, or frozen foods. If you want to go completely organic, count on spending sometimes double that.

The Criteria for the”Food War:”

We have to compare apples-to-apples and … well you get the idea. So, we’ll look at:

  • Expense
  • Health – Mental and Physical
  • Waste
  • Time

In the expenses, we’ll compare certain food:

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Apples
  • Eggs

We’re also going to use $15 per hour for any labor costs or time spent.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Grocery Store!

According to the USDA 2017 Cost of Food Report, the average American spends between $100 to $300 per person per month on groceries. It may be higher or lower based on where you live. (1)

Grocery Store Expense (This is from your average local store, prices may vary in your area)

Lettuce

Organic Price: $1.69/head
Non-organic Price: $0.99/head

Carrots (3 lbs.)

Organic Price: $3.49
Non-organic Price: $2.99

Tomatoes (Heirloom)

Organic Price: No organics available when I went shopping
Non-organic Price: $2.99/lbs.

Basil

Organic Price: $2.99/pkg.
Non-organic Price: $1.99/pkg.

Apples

Organic Price: $1.99/lbs.
Non-organic Price: $0.99/lbs.

Eggs (1 dozen)

Organic Price: $5.69
Non-organic Price: $1.99

Most of the non-organic produce was from Mexico or Peru, and a lot of the organic produce was also.

On average, I spent about $125 per week for my family of three. I bought organic produce, grass-fed, free-range, no hormone meats and eggs (sometimes from the store, but usually from a local farmer).

Health – Mental and Physical

In 2016, the average American spent $10,345 annually on health care (insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments, prescriptions, and medicines). (2)

According to a The Atlantic 2014 article, healthcare was the number one cause of personal bankruptcy and was responsible for more collections than credit cards. Forty percent of Americans owe money for times they were sick. (3)

More than 71 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 16 percent of children and adolescents are struggling with obesity (4)

There are four contributing factors: (5)

  1. Processed foods
  2. Portion size
  3. Fast food
  4. Being less active

Let’s not forget to add in the hassle and headache it can take to go to the grocery store. You might not be able to be quantify it, but just bear it in mind.

Can you be healthy eating from the grocery store? Check out this chapter of the Grow Book!

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Waste

The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash each day. The annual weight of trash from the entire country equals 254 million tons, that is the same as 1.2 million blue whales, and would reach to the moon and back 25 times, a journey of 11,534,090 miles. (6)

The sad thing is that you probably live closer to one of the 2,000 active landfills than you might think. Some inactive landfills have become public parks. (6)

Landfills also produce millions of cubic feet of methane gas each day. What impact does this have on our health?

Think of the waste from your groceries: food packaging, plastic produce bags, plastic bottles, twist ties, Styrofoam, and grocery bags that come along with buying groceries. This waste has to go somewhere. I kept track for several months of my grocery shopping days. Over half of my grocery list had some sort of packaging, which added up to about 10 lbs. a week.

Some cities are beginning to charge for every bag of garbage your put in the bin. The average cost is $2 per bag.

The good news is that 34.3 percent of garbage is being recycled or composted each year. That prevents 87.2 million tons of material from going into the landfill. (6)

Think about how much food you throw away because it spoiled in the refrigerator. Waste adds up!

Time

It takes me an hour to shop, but I also spend about 30 minutes to 45 minutes preparing to go grocery shopping, making my list, and seeing what needs to be bought. It takes about 15 minutes each way to get to and from the store. The parking lot is always a madhouse. Add the stress of that up in the Health section above.

Pros of going grocery shopping:

  • You can have your favorite food any time.
  • It’s convenient to run to the store if you need something.
  • Loyalty cards/Cash-back programs
  • Prepackaged, quick food

 

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And in this corner … Fresh Food!

(And the crowd goes wild!)

Even a small garden plot, can yield an estimated 7 lbs. of fresh produce per square foot. (It depends on where you live and what you plant.)

Expense

You will have an initial investment, which includes soil conditioning, garden beds, and seeds or plants. Based on my own start-up costs, I’m saying $250 for the veggies and $300 for the chickens. You can certainly do it cheaper. We’ll have more on that in future posts. I’ll average this out over the year.

Lettuce

Seeds: $2.50/pkt
Watering: 1 hour/every 3 days.
Labor: Minimal. I was surprised how easy this was to grow.
Final Yield: I had continuous salad mix by harvesting the outside leaves every couple of days. Estimated 5 lbs. throughout the season. I had a cup of salad greens every day for four months. I can definitely extend the season and produce more.

Carrots

Heirloom Seeds: $3.00/pkt
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Minimal. Didn’t do much at all. They grew really well without much help.
Final yield: About 6 lbs. Plenty to eat raw and dehydrate, can, and freeze.

Tomatoes

Heirloom Seeds: $2.50 – $3.00/pkt  Heirloom Plants: $6.00 ea.
Watering on system: 1 hour/every 3 days
Labor: Average. About 15 minutes every other day, nipping suckers, watching for signs of disease or pests. My first seedlings didn’t make it, so I replanted heirloom plants.
Final Yield: A little less than 80 lbs. of tomatoes from 4 plants, enough to eat fresh and preserve for later in the year.

Basil (It’s difficult to grow basil from seeds)

1 Plant: $3.00 – $5.95
Watering on system: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Labor: minimal. Harvest leaves every few days. Grew like a weed.
Yield: Off of 2 plants, I got enough for 12 pint jars of pesto and a 16 oz. container of dried.

Apples

Bare tree: $20-$25
Watering: 1 hour/ every 3 days
Fertilizer: $10
Kaolin clay: $12
Labor: Intensive. planting, pruning, training, thinning, treating, picking up fallen fruit. About 20 minutes every other day.

Eggs (only have 6 laying hens and no rooster)

Feed: $100/mo. (This can be reduced with a little planning and a more mature garden.)
Water: 1 gallon per day
Room: about 100 square feet, including the coop and run. They free-range, too!
Labor: I do the deep-litter method, so there isn’t a lot of maintenance. I spend on average 30 minutes every day, checking, gathering eggs, feeding, cleaning the roost, and giving love.
Yield: average 2 dozen eggs/week. We keep one and sell one.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Health – Mental and Physical

New studies are showing that the microbes in the soil actually work a lot like Prozac. (7)  They give you good feelings, well-being, and happiness.

The food is healthy, too. You know exactly what was used to grow your groceries.

And let’s not forget the exercise factor. You can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour gardening.

Waste

Growing your own groceries has minimal trash.

My family is still buying some food from the grocery store. Maybe one day, I’ll grow my own quinoa.

Now that I’m conscious of food packaging. I look for packaged food that can be recycled or composted. If not, I try not to buy it. My garbage went from one full bag of garbage every three days to a handful of recyclables, large bucketfuls of compostables, and less than 2 lbs. of actual garbage each month.

I’m still trying to minimize my footprint. The goal is zero-waste, or at least as close to it as possible!

Time

In my small garden (about 100 square feet, if you put it together), I spend an average of 20 hours each month in the garden on various chores during the growing season between February and November. I spend about five or so in the winter months on greens, looking through heirloom seed catalogs, and planning next year’s garden.

All of my beds are on a timed and water-regulated irrigation system. In other words, if it rains, the system doesn’t come on. This saves water and time.

The chickens take an average of 30 minutes-a-day winter and summer. They are quite the characters, so they provide entertainment as well.

I didn’t keep track of my preserving time (canning, drying, and freezing), so an estimate is about 10 to 20 hours total for the entire season.

Of course, I see this as time well spent. Twenty hours in the garden or 30 minutes for the chickens could easily be more, because I love it so much.

grocery-shopping-fresh-food

And the winner is…!

As far as cost goes, fresh food from the garden wins by a slim margin. However, it is difficult to quantify your health and happiness into this equation.

I know for me. I’m happier when I’m gardening. I know I’m healthier because of the exercise and eating good, clean food. The dollar amount is interesting, but almost inconsequential.

 grocery-shopping-fresh-food

Resources:

  1. [https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood]
  2. Department of Health and Human Services;[ https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/individual-market-premium-changes-2013-2017]
  3. The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/]
  4. [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm]
  5. American Cancer Society: [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html]
  6. Save on Energy [ https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/body-weight-and-cancer-risk/health-issues.html ]
  7. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/is-dirt-the-new-prozac_b_256625.html]

Do you grow your own food and medicine? What savings have you seen? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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The Easiest Way To Prepare A Garden Bed

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In this short video, you’ll see the easiest way to prepare your garden beds.  Seriously, this is a way to take an area with grass and weeds, and turn it into a garden bed of your dreams.  This short, easy-to-watch video takes you step-by-step through the preparation process—from the very beginning when you fence off an area to the very last step, which is laying down the compost. Preparing your garden beds has never been easier!

This video is only one part of the “Instant Master Gardener Certification.”  If you like what you see, consider signing up for the full garden exploration! Click here to sign up for the Instant Master Gardener Certification.”

 

Learn to grow your own Food and Medicine!

 

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What To Do With A Bee Swarm!

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Have you ever come across a bee swarm? It can be scary, exciting, and overwhelming. What do you do?

All of us at The Grow Network do various kinds of homesteading. Nikki, our Director of Customer Success, is … among other things … a beekeeper. A few weeks ago, she shared with us that the bees from one of her hives had swarmed.

Nikki’s Story

bee-swarm

Those little brown specs are bees flying all over the place.

Nikki said, “We have 2 hives in the yard, and one decided it was going to swarm to the top of our sycamore tree in the backyard today.”

With the height of her tree and the size of the ladder, it was going to be quite an ordeal reaching them.

She decided to sacrifice her 13 year old, and sent him up the tree. She jokingly said, “I am officially okay with being shorter than my kids now!”

Her son had to rig the ladder with a tie down strap in the truck.

He used his body weight to hold the ladder straight. There wasn’t a branch to rest it on. Her other son took the cutters and took down the branches. They worked together on two separate branches.

There were so many bees that their weight broke one branch just before her son had a chance to fully cut through. This sent thousands of bees raining down on top of her.

“This hive has the potential to give us more than 100 pounds of honey this year, so we definitely didn’t want to see the bees relocate. Now, they are safe and sound in a new hive. We are re-queening the other two hives we have, and hoping to have 3 healthy and hard-working hives,” Nikki said.

It sounds like everyone is trying to settle down from the experience.

bee swarm

Nikki said she wishes she had seen Jacqueline Freeman’s presentation at the Home Grown Food Summit before she had a swarm of bees on her hands, but all worked out well.

What? You haven’t seen Jacqueline’s Home Grown Food Summit Presentation, “Gentle Ways to Collect Bee Swarms.”  She is so gentle with these little buzzing sweeties. You can still get in on this goodness, click here.

Why bees swarm

According to Jacqueline, it’s very natural for bees to swarm. Bees swarm because there is no more room for them. Their home is full of honey, pollen, and brood (baby bees).

The good thing is that healthy and successful colonies create more healthy Queens and new colonies, so it’s a good thing for a hive to swarm.

Before they swarm, the Queen is slimmed down. All of the bees have a feast and fill their bellies with honey. Two-thirds of the colony will suddenly fly into the air. One-third stays in the original hive and re-queen. Bees will only leave the hive if there are new queen cells in the hive.

The other reason that bees swarm is so the queen can increase her fertility, and sunlight does that for her.

When do bees swarm

Jacqueline says that a swarm is a big, bunch of chaos that typically takes flight in mid-spring, around mid-day. There needs to be a lot of pollen available. It also needs to be warm and windless. When they first leave the hive, they fly into the sky in a big, buzzing, whirling cloud of bees. Jacqueline’s amazed that they don’t bump into each other. The queen is hidden in the swarm, so she is well-protected.

Eventually, the bees land on some object, a branch, fence post, vine, or anything that looks like a good spot. The Queen directs the bees to gather and form a tight cluster on the object.  Jacqueline says it’s about the size of a football that is clasped to the branch. This is their resting spot for a few hours to a few days. Then, the scout bees roam around trying to find a suitable place to live.

Typically, bees that swarm are very gentle, according to Jacqueline. She said, in the hundreds of bee swarms that she has captured, she’s only been stung four times, and they were all her fault. A bee swarm is not likely to sting you.

How to catch a bee swarm

There is only one way to catch a bee swarm, according to Jacqueline…gently!

Here’s how she does it:

  1. First, take a deep breath and calm yourself. Be respectful. Let the bee swarm know what you are going to do, and how you’ll do it.
  2. Hold a catching box underneath the swarm.
  3. Give the branch a good shake. The swarm will regather in the box. Put the lid on and leave an opening, so bees can get in.
  4. Let the swarm rest for 10 to 30 minutes so as many bees as possible get in the box.

How to transfer a bee swarm to a new home

When you’re ready to transfer the bees, have your hive ready. Remove a couple of the frames to give you room. Hold the box over the new hive. Give the box a good shake so the swarm goes into their new home. Jacqueline shows you exactly how to do it in her video. Get access to it here.

 

More from Jacqueline Freeman:

Bees Need Water, Too!

 

 

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True Wealth In Your Crazy Family Life

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In these next few video chapters of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground, I talk about family life, its diversity, and reveal why it can be a source of tremendous wealth—and show you the keys to unlocking that wealth.

 

(Length: 14:21 minutes)

My Crazy Family Life

My brother-in-law, Keith, does a mean donkey impersonation. He’s one of the most outgoing, gregarious guys I know.

And he’s completely different from his brother—my husband—Dave.

Dave is the introvert of his family. Quiet. Thoughtful. And definitely no donkey impersonations.

Remind you of any family you know? Where one sibling is the smart one, one is the athletic one, and one is the life of the party?

I’m willing to bet your family life is a lot like ours: a lot of differences … and a little bit nuts. That’s the beauty—and the challenge—of families, whether they’re related by blood, marriage, or choice.

In fact, I believe there’s a divine principle at work that ensures all families are a little crazy.

Definition of Family

There are all kinds of configurations of family. As we’re talking about it in this section, let’s agree that a family is a group of people who are committed to journeying through this life together, whether by blood, marriage, or choice.

The diversity of your family life is a true key to your wealth.

Creating Family By Choice

There are people who are part of your family, but aren’t necessarily related by blood or marriage. These people can also be included in your family.

And if you did choose a family, I hope you chose some crazy characters.

In this video, you’ll also learn:

  • What To Talk About When There’s Tension In The Air
  • The SINGLE Most Important Reason To Embrace Family Diversity
  • What That Recurring Marital Argument Really Means

Did you also see last week’s Grow Book video on Stress Management? Click here to see it now.

Then, will you let me know?

How do you define “family?”

What’s your favorite way to keep your family group strong?

Thanks so much for leaving me a comment below!

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How To Express Garden Gratitude

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(length: 3:30 minutes)

One of my favorite wild plants is the Farkleberry, or Sparkleberry. They are a native blueberry. If you cut out sugar from your diet…like I have…the berries can be really sweet! I always offer this plant what I call “Garden Gratitude” or “Plant Gratitude,” if you prefer.

I know this might sound kind of woo-woo. When I leave offerings and give garden gratitude to the Farkleberry that I’m harvesting, I see more and more of them. It’s almost like they call to me.

We know that plants give us air, food, clothing, shelter, and medicine—but did you know that these living beings are able to communicate, too?

Think of a beautiful flower. The beauty is what calls to us. This is that plant’s particular way of communicating with us. If you want to take it one step further, ask it why it called you over.

The Basics of Garden Gratitude

We tend to walk through the world without acknowledging that plants, animals, the wind, etc, are living things. If you walk through your life with awareness, you’ll be surprised how often plants communicate with you, and how they respond to you. We can choose to deliberately engage.

What It Is: Giving gratitude to plants, the elements, and animals is based on the premise that everything is alive, and that we are all interconnected. It is a two-way street in which the plant and the person achieve mutual understanding, each communicating in their own language.

Who Can Do It: Garden gratitude is natural and simple. Everyone can do it. It comes quickly and naturally once a person understands and practices it.

How to Get Started: There are two tricks to having garden gratitude for plants. The first is to believe it enough—even skeptically—to try it. The second is to actually speak to the plant. Third is to leave it an offering.

Ways to Give Gratitude to Plants

Offerings have been around for thousands of years. It is a practice that is found all over the world. However, modern-day society has forgotten the old ways.

Anytime I’m harvesting something I’ve planted, or even a wild one, I want to express my gratitude. My gratitude is for the plant producing the fruit and letting me pick and eat it, so I leave an offering. Plants also  exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, helping us breathe, too! Some plants give us medicine, shade us, and clothe us.

There are many reasons to give garden gratitude!

garden gratitude

What Do You Have to Offer?

Anything can be used as an offering. I’m sure you’ll come up with a ton of them. Just make sure it comes from the heart.

Here are some offering ideas to get you started:

  • Hair (great source of protein, which turns into nitrogen)
  • Saliva (offers trace minerals and water)
  • Song (research has shown that plants grow larger with certain types of music)
  • Urinate beside them (it provides nitrogen for the soil)
  • Water (plants need water, too)
  • Tobacco (make sure it is additive and chemical-free, but is a source of decaying organic matter)
  • Cornmeal (stimulates and feeds beneficial micro-organisms)
  • Breathe on it (plants love carbon dioxide)

As you can see, there are some scientific reasons these offerings help the plant, too! Just making an offering of some sort is beneficial to your relationship with all wild plants.

Offerings do several things…

  1. It is an exchange of energy and a place of humility for you. We are all one and equal—You and the Plant.
  2. Offerings show you that we are all in the same world. All of us only get to be here for a short time, so be present and intentional with your time here.

It’s Not Magic!

Every couple of years, I grow tobacco. Tobacco is a plant that has been used for centuries by the Native People of the Americas.

It is believed that Tobacco offers its own gift of interpretation, which helps us with disputes.

Just a pinch, spread on the winds…with words of thanks and garden gratitude. Your words to the plant can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like.

Want to know more about working with nature spirits to grow more food? Check out this article.

Learning From Your Plants

What to Expect: Sometimes, in the same way that ingesting a plant affects our body, communicating with a plant will affect our minds. You can also communicate and have garden gratitude for plants when you’re dealing with strong emotions or difficulties. Different plants offer help in different ways. Which plant in your garden calls to you? Why has it called to you right now? What are you dealing with in your life that perhaps the plant is trying to remedy?

Why Some Plants Seem to Harm: Plants carry a level of energy that is very normal and safe for you to interact with. Even plants that can hurt you, don’t do it maliciously. In fact, once you accept that, you can work on understanding what else the plants are trying to communicate to you. For example, when people get a rash from poison ivy, often it is because there is an irritant or issue in that person’s life that they have chosen to ignore—something the plant is trying to get them to deal with. Once a person understands that, he or she can get a lot of help from that particular plant and others like it.

You can even give gratitude to animals domestic and wild. Here is a great article to get you started.

 

Be willing to communicate with your plants, animals, and the elements, means you say something and hear something in return.

Once you get over the doubt and skepticism, give it a try, and practice, it will become second nature.

Being in relationship means being nurtured by the plant and you nurturing the plant. Who doesn’t want that!

So tell us! Do you talk to your plants? Do you leave offerings? Inquiring minds want to know, so leave a comment below!

 

 

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Outdoor Kitchens For Sustainability

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Summer Kitchen Revival

Before the days of electricity in the house or the air conditioner cooling off the living spaces from the heat of summer and cooking, there were outdoor kitchens.

It was an effort to keep the house as cool as possible. They are also known as Summer Kitchens.

The summer kitchen’s purpose was for putting up food for the year, canning, preserving, pickling, and processing. It all took place on a wood-fired stove, which created enough heat to chase everyone out of the house.

Outdoor Kitchens Still in Use Today

When I lived on a small island in the Caribbean, our tiny beach cottage had a kitchen on the porch. Why? So cooking a meal wouldn’t heat up the entire 400 sq. ft. house. Unlike summer kitchens of North America, this little work space was our main kitchen year-round rather than seasonally.

In the past, the food was often prepped in the kitchen, but it wasn’t stored there. Herbs would dry in the attic, flour and vegetables were kept in a cool cellar. You would walk all over the house to gather the ingredients for a meal.

When electricity started making its way into homes, the summer kitchen was abandoned.

However, these outdoor kitchens are starting to make a comeback because people want to get closer to their food supply. There is no better way to get closer to nature and the food we eat than having a summer or outdoor kitchen.

What do you need for an outdoor kitchen?

When planning your outdoor/summer kitchen, think about function, efficiency, and comfort. What do you need and what can come later?

An efficient summer kitchen space could be as simple as you want it to be or as elaborate. Oh and that pizza oven you want, is it necessary or is it a luxury?

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your Summer Kitchen:

  1. Do you want it to be seasonal or permanent?
  2. Does it need to be enclosed, partially enclosed, or open to the elements?
  3. Does it need shade?
  4. Do you need seating? A table?
  5. What will you need to store? Food? Spices? Cutting boards? Silverware? Plates & Bowls? Cookware?
  6. Is there a nearby herb or veggie garden?
  7. Do you need running water?
  8. What about a greywater catchment system?
  9. Is a compost pile nearby?
  10. What will you cook on?
  11. Do you need an oven? A Sun Oven? A dehydrator?
  12. Is the ground level where you want to put the kitchen?
  13. Do you need refrigeration?
  14. What will you do when it rains? When it’s windy? When it’s blistering hot?
  15. Who will be using the kitchen?
  16. Who will be in the kitchen, particularly at the same time?
  17. How do you spend your time in the kitchen? Cooking or baking? Entertaining? Dishes? 

Think triangular work space

The triangle is a great shape when designing an efficient kitchen workflow. No matter the location of the kitchen.

How do you work in the kitchen when you prepare a meal?

You take the food out of the fridge. Then it is taken either to the sink or the stove area, cleanup goes from the stove and prep areas to the sink, and leftovers get put in the fridge.

Have a plan before you create your outdoor kitchen. Take a good look at what will fit in the space that you’ve allowed for your summer kitchen. Two ways into and out of the space will help with flow.

Start with the Sink. That’s where you’re going to spend a lot of your time, cleaning, prepping, and doing dishes. You’ll also want a beautiful view while you’re doing your work, right?

In the Cooking Area, you’ll want to be able to socialize with family and friends.

You’ll probably want between 18 in. to 36 in. for a comfortable prep area. There’s nothing worse than not having enough prep area. Am I right?

Think about walkways and flow into and through your summer kitchen, too.

Set the kitchen up into 5 zones:

  • Food storage (fridge, cabinets, or pantry)
  • Dishes
  • Clean up (sink area)
  • Prep area
  • Cooking

Store items as close to their zone as possible. For example, knives, mixing bowls, cutting boards, and wooden spoons should be in the prep area. Cooking and baking pans should be in the cooking area.

Store your dishes close to the sink. Having a cabinet above the sink where your dishes dry and store all in one place is amazing.

outdoor-kitchen

Food preservation in your summer kitchen

When my grandmother canned her summer vegetables, outdoor kitchens were the norm, not a luxury. She’d set up her outdoor kitchen under a giant poplar with the chickens running all around the yard. If grandma did it, so can you!

Preserving your harvest is wonderful in the cold, winter months. It may take time and effort right now, but it is well worth it.

Life slows down a little bit, so you can enjoy family and friends.

There are three ways of preserving food that can be done in your summer kitchen: storage, canning, and drying.

The important thing is to start where you are. Check out this video for more tip.

Storage

A handful of vegetables can be stored, but only for a limited amount of time. Here is a great article about storing fruits and vegetables from the University of Missouri Extension Office.

You can store:

  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • beets
  • turnips
  • parsnips
  • carrots
  • leeks
  • radishes
  • horseradish
  • rutabagas
  • garlic
  • onions

Make sure veggies are firm. Remove any dirt, but do not wash the veg. Place the veggies in a box or bin. Air should circulate around the veggies. Slatted wooden boxes and wire baskets work great for this.

Canning

If you’re going to be canning, make sure you have all of your supplies handy.

  • Canning jars and lids
  • Water bath canner
  • Pressure canner
  • Funnels
  • Ladles
  • Pectin
  • Spices
  • Salts
  • Jar Lifter

Here’s a recipe for “Canned corn that’s sweet every time.”

Know which fruits and vegetables need to be pressure canned versus water-bath canned. The book, Stocking Up is invaluable for this purpose.

Drying

It’s super-easy to dry fruits and vegetables. You can even do it in a Sun Oven! Dried foods can be stored indefinitely, as long as they are kept dry.

You can dry:

  • root vegetables
  • beans of all kinds
  • cereal and grains
  • celery
  • herbs
  • peas
  • peppers
  • berries
  • fruits with high sugar and low moisture

Here is a great article with dehydrator recipes.

If you’ve ever thought of having a summer or outdoor kitchen, perhaps now is the time. Share your thoughts on how you would set it up. We’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below!

 

Access our growing selection of Downloadable eBooks…

…on topics that include growing your own food, herbal medicine, homesteading, raising livestock, and more!

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The post Outdoor Kitchens For Sustainability appeared first on The Grow Network.

Stress Management: When Wildfires Threaten … Do This First

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The horizon around me was choked with dark smoke.

We were literally surrounded by five separate wildfires. I needed stress management and fast!

One of the longest, most respected scientific studies has shown that there is a STRONG correlation between proper breathing, stress management, and a long life.

According to that study, the No. 1 indicator of life expectancy is…

…well, you’d probably be better off just watching the latest video chapter of Grow: All True Wealth Comes From the Ground.  In it, I explain all that, give detailed how-tos on various breathing techniques—and a whole lot more.

Watch the video for more on my story and how I overcame the stress of the situation. (Length: 21:22 minutes)

And, as I sat on the roof of my barn, I knew we were one wind shift away from having our property engulfed in flames.

We were ready to evacuate if the fires started coming our way. But until then, I focused on the one thing that could help me maintain a clear head, stay calm, and avoid stressing out…stress management!

I breathed. Deeply. In through my nose, filling my belly, then my chest, counting strategically, and then exhaling through my mouth.

Despite the circumstances, I could feel the increased oxygen jump-starting my brain. Whatever came next, I was ready.

Thankfully, that wind never shifted. The wildfires didn’t destroy our homestead. Our family and livestock were safe.

But I still remember that rooftop moment as a great (maybe extreme?!) example of a time when deep breathing helped me manage stress in a healthy way.

Proper breathing really can save your life.

  • What do you think? 
  • What’s your go-to in times of stress?
  • What are your favorite breathing tips?

Have you seen the other Grow Book videos?

I’m talking it out as I write it, and I’d love to get your feedback. You can see them here:

Grow Book Overview

Be Wealthy – Even If You’re Not Rich

Can You Be Healthy Eating From The Grocery Store?

What Toxins Are Hiding In Your Home?

Staying Healthy and Free—Even into Old Age!

How I Almost Lost My Leg!

I so appreciate you watching these videos and giving your feedback. So, please leave a comment below.

The post Stress Management: When Wildfires Threaten … Do This First appeared first on The Grow Network.

Home Grown Food Summit 2017 – Starts Monday at 9 a.m. CST!

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We can’t wait … the clock is ticking and we’re now just hours away from the kick off of our 3rd annual Home Grown Food Summit.

Are you registered yet?  Click here to register to watch for FREE now!

Check out the schedule below.  Or click here to download a PDF copy for print – so you tape it to your fridge.  Don’t miss any of your favorites!

 

Sign up to watch at www.HomeGrownFoodSummit.com

The post Home Grown Food Summit 2017 – Starts Monday at 9 a.m. CST! appeared first on The Grow Network.