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The Incredible, Edible… Nasturtium!

Nasturtium Leaves

I’ve probably been saying this wrong, and I know that I have been spelling it wrong. Nastrium that’s how I say and spell it. Nas-tree-um

I never knew about the plant until a trip to the local Organic Garden, DeKamps Gardens, and Pam had us try a flower. I was shocked it was peppery and amazingly beautiful! The boys of course politely spit theirs out, but I was hooked. Something new to spice up salads and make it extra colorful. Heck yeah!!

Every year since I have grown nasturtium in out garden. Not only does it benefit the chickens, and our salads but it beautifies the garden as well. Mounts of green with little pops of color here and there make it an appealing plant in so many ways.

This was the first year that I learned even more about this incredible, edible! Youngest and I were looking for tea recipes and wondered if nasturtium was a good tea ingredient, and it is! I’ve also just begun dabbling with making my own tinctures and extracts so I researched more throughly about nasturtium.

Nasturtium has so many uses!!! Let’s review a few!!

Hair spray!!!

Boiling nasturtium leaves and then straining gives you an all natural hair product!!

Acne treatment and astringent

That’s right! Making a tincture from flowers you can make an astringent that is said to clear up acne!! Say whaaaat?! And it’s all natural!

Dandruff

Making a nasturtium tea and applying it to your hair at the end of your shower can help clear up dandruff!!

Edible

BOTH the leaves and flowers are edible!! I add leaves to salads and the flowers make a pretty peppery topping! The chickens love a nasturtium treat! When the vines get a little crazy I just cut it back with scissors and give to the girls. They gobble it up! Even the pig appreciates a little floral snack from time to time! The neighbor girls think it’s hilarious to give Honey flowers to eat.

Tea

Yep, even nasturtium tea is a thing!

I hope you’ve come to appreciate this easy to grow plant as much as we have! Next season get some nasturtium seeds and give it a whirl!

And always remember… live a simple life!!

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There’s a chill in the air…

Remember in the movie Mary Poppins the wind changes directions and the chimney sweep starts singing “Winds in the east, mist coming in. / Like somethin’ is brewin’ and ’bout to begin. / Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, / But I feel what’s to happen all happened before.” That song is stuck in my head this morning.

Why you may ask? Because this morning it is windy and chilly here in northern Indiana. To the point that I’m wearing jeans and a hoodie to do the morning chores! It seems a little early for the first of September to be chilly, but I guess what’s to happen all happened before.

So with the change of temperature today my goals have changed a little. I’ll be planting a fall crop of lettuce, picking tomatoes and anything in the garden. This batch of tomatoes I’m going to sun dry for a nice addition to soups. Herbs need taken in as they are looking a little wild lately. So they will go in the dehydrator to be saved for later savored flavor.

A little tip if you can’t spare a canning jar to store your dried herbs in Dollar Tree stores sell airtight jars, wait for it… FOR A DOLLAR!

Today I am also going to inventory what we have stocked up and maybe make some dry soup mixes later this week. Another tip… dry soup mixes make excellent holiday gifts!

This change in the weather has me thinking about what to make for homemade gifts… I’m thinking about quick quilts or blankets, and dry soup mixes maybe a loaf of artisan bread…. Sounds very cozy doesn’t it?

Speaking of cozy check out my pen to paper pal who makes cozy items from natural, undyed, pure sheep wool! http://www.hookinsheep.ca She’s located in Canada and would love some American customers!!!

Well off to the garden, friends! Remember when the wind changes it’s all happened before… and live a simple life.

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Oh-M-G BEES!

Earlier in the warm season the neighbors discovered a honey bee hive in the walls of their summer kitchen. Hundreds of thousands of bees had made walls of honey for probably a hundred years. I’m surprised it wasn’t oozing out of the joists.

They called a northern Indiana bee association volunteer to come and remove the bees. By the name I assumed that they would move the swarm to another hive, but they did not. They killed the bees! I was astonished as bees are on the verge of extinction and we rely heavily on them for pollination which in turn produces food for us to eat.

13 bee facts you didn’t know

  • Bees have five eyes and six legs
  • Honey bees live in hives (or colonies). The members of the hive are divided into three types: Queen, Workers, and Drones.
  • There are more than 20,000 species of bees.
  • Bees can see all colors except red. That and their sense of smell help them find the flowers they need to collect pollen.
  • The average beehive can house around 50,000 bees.
  • Each bee has 170 odorant receptors, which means they have one serious sense of smell.
  • Worker bees go from one flower to another, collecting nectar. In one collection trip, a bee visits 50 to 100 flowers.
  • Carpenter bees create tunnels that usually look about one or two inches deep, but they can be up to 10 feet long.
  • The queen bee lays all of the eggs in a colony. At the height of the season, she may layover 2,500 eggs per day.
  • Honey bees are great flyers. They fly at a speed of around 25km per hour and beat their wings 200 times per second.
  • It takes 21 days for an egg to develop into an adult bee.
  • Honey bees pollinate more than 100 different crops in the U.S.
  • Over the past 15 years, colonies of bees have been disappearing, and the reason remains unknown. In some regions, up to 90% of bees have disappeared.

Amazing creatures aren’t they?

The buzz about bees for this blog topic is because we have a swarm of bees inhabiting the pig pen. Not the hundreds of thousands that the neighbors murdered, but a small gathering of bees. Whom “Honey”, ironically, likes to piss off by shaking the sunflower they are residing on.

I’m not worried about the bees per say until they bother someone. “Honey” seems to give two shakes about the buzzing things and really doesn’t mind them inhabiting the roof of his house either.

Minutes after taking this picture the swarm had tripled in size.

I called the northern Indiana bee association not knowing that was who the neighbor used as a contract killer, but quickly was informed of such.

I talked with a man named Rick who informed me of the following. At this point in the season removing a swarm of this size would do no good. The bees would not have enough time to create a hive before the impending weather change. Secondly he told me that these bees “shouldn’t” be aggressive as they have no Queen to protect. He’d sure be happy to come out and destroy them for us though… for seventy to one hundred dollars.

At this point in the conversation I am just completely baffled. You would think that this association would be geared more towards saving bees and not destroying them.

I’m dumbfounded really and truly. Maybe the decrease in the bee population has everything to do with us morons inhabiting the planet. Our pesticides we use to keep the crabgrass out of the sidewalk, the nuclear warfare can of Raid we use to deter ants and spiders all are killers of the one thing that will keep us from extinction. The bee. Not to mention if people have an unwanted swarm and they feel they are doing the right thing by calling the local bee association, but in turn end up murdering more bees that weren’t really even bothering anyone. We are all buffoons. Dumb dumbs. Cotton headed ninny muggins. Seriously.

When the swarm first showed up honestly I was excited! I consulted the great and powerful OZ we know as Pinterest to diy a bee box, how to get the bees in the box and all about making honey. All this and the powerful OZ crushed my dreams of a bee hive with the same explanation that the bee murderer gave me… rats!!!! I wanted to save the bees!!

I will however let them die a natural death rather than having them murdered. So remember when life sends you bees, save the bees, and live a simple life.

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A few days off…

I got 10 days off of work in which we dealt with e~learning and finishing some remodeling projects. Between classes youngest has been a big help playing handy manny. (For those of you that know youngest had an obsession with the show Handy Manny and we some times still holler “Come on tools!” whenever we are working).

So… we worked on putting up trim in the house.

Currently have a batch of tomatoes on the stove to turn into spaghetti sauce, and we need to make a run to the grocery store and hardware store. (We ran out of stain).

It’s been raining off and on today so I keep staring out to the garden thinking I need to grab the last of the summer harvest and plan on a big canning weekend. The fall plantings are doing well, and I even spied a few green beans this morning! Hopefully the impending doom of an early frost stays away. Farmers almanac is predicting an early fall this year, and a few of my homestead buddies out west are reporting the same! Noooooooooo I’m not ready!

I’m not ready for fall ESPECIALLY because we need our propane tank filled and when I called to check on the schedule they are delayed because… wait for it… THEY DO NOT HAVE ANYONE TO DELIVER THE PROPANE!!! This possibly made me hit my all time anxiety level panic button!!!! We heat and cook on propane!!

As the summer plantings slowly fade, and wither I can’t believe that it is almost September. Having just realized that Labor Day is fast approaching, and oldest made the VARSITY football team these are all signs of colder weather…

Oddly they are also panic triggers for me. Did I can enough? Freeze enough? Dehydrate enough? I don’t know why I always think that. Probably that fall hoarding anxiety kicking in full swing.

Another odd anxiety is if the kids have enough warm clothes? Do they still fit in their winter jackets? Bets are probably not. They grow like weeds, which reminds me… the mystery itching weed of death and destruction still is unidentified and I’m STILL getting more itchy spots of grossness.

Sigh. When anxiety knocks at your door, make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce, and remember to live a simple life.

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Grow Where You’re Planted

There stands a tree that held some steps where young boys climbed and played. The steps led to a rope that held them up. The rope led to a swing that gave them smiles and laughter. The summer days were spent in and around this tree; climbing, laughing and learning. They pushed themselves higher, and reached for the sky. Urged to go higher by the other.

There stands a tree that gave a bird a home. The bird built her nest in the crook of this tree. Carefully constructing a nest piece by piece, trip after trip, and layer after layer. In this delicate nest laid a single blue egg that the tree held tenderly and protectively. One day the egg hatched and brought new life in the tree. He waited patiently for momma’s feedings in the comfort of the nest; in the crook of the tree. One day before he could fly a storm came that the tree couldn’t protect him from, and rain washed him away.

There stands a tree, with a crook, and a now empty nest. That for a while it held a sick bat that had landed near, and one day found the comfort of the nest to take a final rest.

There stands a tree, with a crook, an empty nest, and now something more. A sight unseen before. A little green sprout started peaking out, and soon it grew a few green leaves. Now growing so proudly in the tree, in the nest, in the crook of the tree grows new life and beauty. A sunflower, so proud and growing tall proclaiming loudly “Grow where you’re planted, that’s where you’re meant to be.

If you’re that tree and think about your life you’ll see… if we hold others up, give them comfort, a safe place and support the others they will learn and climb to where they’re meant to be.

If we think of the tree and that little bird… we remember the joy of birth and life, and the sorrow in death. If we hold others when they need it, and celebrate their victories, and share in their losses we become stronger for them and ourselves.

When we think of this new sprout in the crook of the tree we realize life is never empty. No matter the trial before, the loss, or the changes we didn’t control; there’s always something next. There’s always a tree waiting to hold you up, to support and comfort you, to show you amazing things. To show you how to be human so simply.

The tree is your friend you fight with, but always return to. The tree is your dad who guides and protects you. The tree is your spouse who holds you tight, and lifts you up. The tree is your sibling who taught you not to fall, but hold on and you’ll make it there. The tree is all of us together.

Living a simple life also means to think simply. So remember… live a simple life and keep climbing higher.

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Ye Ole Barbershop… part two

Since my previous blog rambled off into the shop local campaign I realized my intent of the blog and here’s part two… the real story behind the story.

While chatting about summer break I asked the barber if he had gone on his family vacation. Six weeks ago, the distance between haircuts, he had mentioned looking forward to the trip. Every summer his family, brothers, sisters, and parents get together at a remote cabin in Colorado. The family also meets back up between thanksgiving and Christmas.

He talked of long hikes in the mountains and the beauty of it all. Just finding a large rock to sit on and watch the world go by he said we so serene.

Last night I took his words to heart. I sat on the back steps (my local rock) and watched the world go by. I watched the pink tipped clouds become overwhelmed by the dark impending storm clouds only to emerge again. Once tipped in pink they were now more profound. Larger, brighter, and burnt orange and red by the setting sun’s rays. It was serene, soothing even; and very relaxing. So much beauty passes us by and most don’t even see it.

Today on my weekly Sunday drive I wandered down back roads that led to the unknown to me. It was forty miles from home that I found this amazing little park in the middle of nowhere…

The park had a calendar garden which I had never heard of… so I walked the path and took pictures of our birthdates….

The whole park was amazingly simple and calming. Not only was my drive full of calm, I had now stumbled upon a park that serenity seemed to have built. I sat down upon my rock and watched the world go by.

I took a moment to smile to myself and gave upon all of God’s glory, as I was indeed surrounded in nature herself.

Take the road less traveled.

Sit upon a rock and watch the world go by.

This….

This is the simple life.

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The battle with tomatoes

The weather has not been forgiving lately… rain, rain, and more rain. Temps have fallen to the 70s, and although humid it’s not great tomato weather.

The other day I noticed the dreaded early blight or septoria leaf blighting the tomato plants. For those of you unfamiliar with this menace to the garden you’ll be able to identify it easily. You’ll notice yellowing leaves towards the bottom of the plant. The leaves themselves are dotted in a blackish gray.

The menace of the garden… early blight

Early blight happens when spores are thrown up by splashing rain. This is a fungal spore that is always present in soil. When it is wet and cool the spores thrive.

Starting at the bottom the early blight will move upwards damaging leaves and the tomatoes themselves.

To combat this menace I quickly got out my garden shears and began removing the lower non fruit bearing leaves and branches. By doing this you remove any leaves that could get splashed by rain, and give the plant a chance to dry up and fight this menace.

After using my garden shears on the removal of diseases leaves I wash them with rubbing alcohol. I believe that the cleaning will keep me from distributing the fungal spores to any other plant in the garden.

Hopefully my crop of tomatoes will survive and produce many jars of salsa and spaghetti sauce for the cold months ahead.

When Mother Nature gives you cool weather and rain, and produces early blight, and more work for you… remember to live a simple life.

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News from the garden

Live a simple life

It’s so exciting to see the yellow flowers popping up on the tomatoes, the jalapeños and pablanos growing already. I could go on and on… so I will.

The corn is coming along nicely surrounded by cucumbers and marigolds.

The garlic is reaching for the sky and just barely starting to yellow at the tips. Their neighbors the carrots seem to be doing well. Root veggies are never my favorite to grow because you can’t see the fruits of your labor.

Cantaloupe is making its way to the fence slowly but surely. Lettuce is beginning to take shape of lettuce rather than mystery weeds.

The sunflowers, oh the sunflowers!! They are almost knee high already! Their companion the provider green beans didn’t survive the heavy rains we had the day after planting.

The luffa or louffa guard plants are getting bigger. As you know I was very impatient on their sprouting, and am happy to finally see some development.

The trash can method potatoes are doing well, and hopefully producing a ton of red and Yukon potatoes!!

The butterfly flower patch has expanded to include two rose bushes and two butterfly plants. They are surrounded with sprouts of sweet peas, and other wild flowers and zinnias. I’m excited for some lovely bouquets from them all!

All in all it’s been a good start to the season. We only lost the green beans, one tomato plant to a bunny, the cucumbers and watermelon that didn’t sprout after the heavy rains; pretty sure I can call it a win so far.

Onion sets and broccoli seeds have been purchased for fall planting. I plan on planting garlic harvested from this years crop in the fall. There is also a reserve of carrots and lettuce seeds for the coming fall months.

This year will be the first year that I really made an effort to grow heirloom varieties of everything as well as an attempt at fall planting. It’s also the first year for companion planting.

Oh! I forgot about the herbs!!! Basil is bushing out nicely after the first cutting. Cilantro is emerging thick in their pot. Mint is contained in containers so it doesn’t overrun the garden. All in all I’m very pleased with everything.

So that’s the news from the garden! Next blog will be about mulching your garden, and yes pictures will be included LOL

Enjoy the lovely weather we are having, and remember… live simple.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor

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Signs of life

Aaaaahhhhh, the wonders of Mother Nature at her finest. Sprouting seeds emerging from the ground makes me soooooo happy!

The carrots are finally showing signs of life! I’m so excited because if you remember I’ve never grown carrots before.

Still impatiently waiting on the louffa to sprout. I’m honestly going to be pissed if once again they don’t sprout. My plan with them is to make Christmas gifts out of them but I can’t do that if they don’t grow!!!! Come on louffas don’t let me down!

The nasturtium and sunflowers are coming up great! I haven’t seen the green beans emerge yet… last night youngest and I planted black beans and lettuce. I love a good salad straight from the garden!

Last night oldest and Rooster made a new gate for the chicken run. Once again utilizing pallets and a bookcase the boys had for toys in the basement.

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Typically

When it comes to the garden I’m typically superstitious… potatoes need to be planted on Saint Paddy’s day with a healthy taste to pacify Mother Nature. Nothing else gets planted until Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate Mother Earth.

I say typically but don’t include this year. Typically I’d be chomping at the bit, but patiently awaiting Mother’s Day. This year cabin fever was pretty bad after Covid nonsense… so loofa gourds, green beans, carrots are in the ground along with zinnia and a nice hummingbird and butterfly mix. Oh, and the garlic I planted in the fall, but that one doesn’t count in my opinion.

Typically I have a Willy nilly garden planting method with if it fits it’ll grow. This year I am trying companion planting… we shall see how that boosts production and flavor. Everything I’ve read suggests companion planting boosts everything from flavor to bug fighting to production.

As things come in I’ll post pictures to see how it’s going.

For now it’s typically bed time. Oldest is watching tv too loud, rooster just went to bed and I’m soon to follow. Youngest was in bed by 815 after we read a chapter in one of his new books.

So good night world, I’m off to dream of the bumper crop garden! Wishes to you for the same weedless dreams.