Sunday, January 29, 2012

Please Step Away...

From the science kit.
My children and I recently took a trip to the San Jose Tech Museum. We had a great time. Of course one of their favorite parts was the gift store. All those cool toys I can't blame them. Nasir, with birthday money, purchased a few rocket type toys for himself and I took down the names and prices of science kits that interested them all so that maybe at a later date and proper planning we can get them.
Well, as I was driving solo down a very scenic route I began to reflect on that portion of the trip and all  the supplies we already have. I had to tell myself... "Please Step Away From the Science Kits." Tho they may be handy and get the children excited about learning they never have the same effect as when we gather the materials and do the experiments ourselves. I guess it is kind of like a box cake, pre-made cookie dough, or a frozen dinner. Hence, I'm cool. I won't say that I will never purchase one but we have a lot of materials already that make great science projects and not have to buy much of anything or spend very little.
There were some things that caught their eyes that are worth getting and we will work on those some way some how. But if not, that is ok too.

Monday, January 23, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Make Lemon Sorbet. Or Lemon Water.

Faith has become our resident sorbet maker. She has quite an assortment of flavors: cherry, pear, peach, orange, pineapple, and lemon. She says that lemon is her favorite.
I have tried, on numerous occasions,to get pictures from beginning to end. But I have yet to get the finished product. But here are some of her and her helpers in action.

Lemon Sorbet
(She tweaked it slightly by reducing the sugar)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice (3-5 lemons)

Blend fruit, sugar, and salt until combined. While machine is still running, pour in the remaining ingredients, keeping blending until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Strain the mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 1 hour.
Pour the chilled mixture into the ice cream machine and churn until the mixture resembles a soft-serve ice cream. Transfer the the sorbet to an airtight container and press plastic wrap flush against the surface. Cover the container and freeze the sorbet until firm, about 3 hours.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wood Ash

 God is Amazing! The more I learn about gardening or just nature in general the more I am impressed with THE CREATOR and better able to understand "waste not want not." (I can't tell you the amount of times I heard my grandmother telling us this as children).

Anyway, to get to the point. I have learned that ash is a great amendment to add to the soil, Unless you plan to grow potatoes in that spot. So, If you are burning wood to keep your home warm this winter you can add those ashes to your garden bed, preferably after the rainy season. I have included two links that can help to explain in a more scientific manner on why ashes are good for your garden. (But not too scientific-y, but enough, for me at least).

Where I am in the process? My first batch I just put in my compost bin. This next batch will be saved until the rainy season is over and I plan to do the following:
  • I will be storing the ashes until then in a metal container with a secure lid
  • Adding to my garden beds. Mixing it into the soil
  • As a snail and slug repellant
I hope this info helps. It has helped me.

A Master Gardener on Wood Ash in Your Garden

Wood Ash-How to Use in Your Garden

Sunday, January 15, 2012

How To Make A Raised Bed

Salaam (Peace),
I hope this finds you all well and thanks for taking the time to read the blog.
A few folks asked how to make raised beds so here goes:
  • 2x8 untreated (this size only required one. $6 at Home Depot, including tax)
  • 3 inch screws (12)
  • drill
*This is so easy I literally took the picture while doing this all by myself. The children were playing and the husband was at work. 
    This a 2x8.

    Visualizing Before I Screw Together

    I pre-drill holes.

    Those are the 3 screws that will hold these two pieces together

    My help. They were all in my personal space.
    I just eyeballed but if you want to be more precise that will work too.

    Finished product. The chickens were going through it while i put drill away. It was like they were playing London Bridges.

    Future home of the raised bed. Started clearing then thought about taking a picture. From the various things I have read you do not have to clear a space if you are putting cardboard down but I chose to.
    All Clear

    Cardboard down. Scraps. I had saved a good amount but they went to the other beds. This was the last of it.

    Put some other kind of paper on top too because the cardboard didn't cover the entire area. And this will break down fast.
    Oh I watered the bottom cardboard and paper. You can begin to fill it up with your soil of choice. Everybody seems to have their miracle soil. Or a recipe to make one. But I will leave that part up to you.
    Square Foot Gardening
    I first heard of the above concept in June of 2011 because a neighbor was doing it. She had the boxes the grid and a good amount of food. So I asked what her method was and she recommended the book. I wasn't surprised by the proximity of her plants because I was already packing stuff in in our garden. Nonetheless I wanted to know more about it. So I read it. I happened to be at Outdoor School when reading it and a few other folks there had tried it, some with success and others without. After reading and speaking with a few folks I saw a way that I can do it with my twist. So we shall see. Oh, my favorite part of the book is when he gives you examples and guides to how much you can plant in a square.
    Last three thoughts on this book:
    1.Would I recommend reading it. Sure why not? But not a must. I have never read his site. But found it when I was looking for a link to the book. I may check it out. I do want to check out the book again so I can see his space requirements one more time. Maybe it is on the website.
    2. I will probably do a yarn grid while planting then take it down or leave it up. we will see. But def not buying wood to put across it.
    3.You can check it out from your local library

    Random picture. As I was finishing up in the yard I saw him; and thought it would make a great picture.

    Looking at it now makes me think I should have gotten a better picture of his shirt. It is funny. Maybe next time. Happy Gardening!

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    The Last Two Days

    The last two days I focused on getting garden beds in place. Here are a few pictures to tell a portion of the story.

    Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
    Thomas A. Edison

    Don't won't to miss this opportunity!
    Main Area I would like to get ready. I already cleared out the existing beds. Would like to add compost and leaves to those.

    Taking off the Wood Chips. Great to use for pathways or to keep weeds out but acidic.

    Chicken making sure I am doing it right. Chickens are hilarious. They provide hours of entertainment.
    Taking out more wood chips

    Boxes are assembled.

    Natural Born Tillers. Enough Said.
    The chickens sifting through what I put in.

    Although I appreciate their help I had to put up a makeshift fence because it was hard to watch them kick out what I put into the boxes. Our wheelbarrow is not here right now so i was carrying that in buckets. MANY MANY trips. And I didn't ask the children to help so it was just me.

    Almost complete. Well I want to add another smaller box and possibly some container plants.

    Making an entry way.

    Peace doing her thing.

    It was a joy to look up and see her enjoying herself. Playing her part in the garden. I had to stop working to take her picture.

     The Chickens
    I saw this box at Costco so got it to turn it into a nesting box. i use recycled boxes so I don't have to clean them. When they get used to the point of needing a new one I just recycle/compost it.

    I took the wire down in the coop so now the chicks and chickens are in same area. I left some wire in there so that it is already an area reserved for __________.

    I found this. The chickens used the straw to make their own nesting box. I like. Especially since still near egg door.

    Peace's art for the day.

    This was my compost staging area. I was trying to clear half of it so we could fit a crate back there but the chickens. Oh the chickens. They prefer it level I guess.
     Two More Areas



    I didn't get a picture of the leaf collectors (Faith and The Boy). That was their chore this morning, to rake the up the neighbor's leaves and bring them to the yard. They did a great job. The funny part was when the neighbor's son came in the backyard early evening and The Boy was telling him that all the leaves came from his yard. The boy said, "Wow!" The Boy was telling him how fun it was to rake the leaves and that he should have helped. The boy said, "I saw you out there raking leaves when I woke up." The Boy responded, "Why didn't you come help it was fun." And the conversation ended. Well they moved on to another topic. I am glad my children enjoy working (a good portion of the time).

    Check out this site on the many uses of leaves in the garden.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    A Dialogue Amongst Friends

    Going through older stuff I found this from Aug 2010 and wanted to share it on the blog

    (a friend and I had a conversation and this was a personal note to her. aminah wanted to read it, i allowed, then she suggested i share with more people. i could go back and edit/proofread but ummmm i'm not. hope you enjoy and are inspired.)

    Why you should buy a house, or at least live in one.As i was outside in what many say a much needed to be weeded yard toiling away. feeling overwhelmed by the weeds, mainly pesty crab grass, and realizing that they win. and the overgrown tomatoes, and just the overall look of lack of maintenance. my yard will not look like it belongs in Sunset Magazine. So i began to relax and enjoy it for what it is. i enjoyed all the bees buzzing around my limbs. surprisingly, i wasn't even scared. i need these bees. my zucchini has a better chance of growing with bees around. i began to hope maybe we will be blessed one day to live in a larger space so that i may try my hand at beekeeping. so the wildly growing tomatoes are a little bit better supported. ok lets check on the pole beans that look a mess due to the birds that have lost their minds and thanks to the chickens when they mysteriously get lose. wow! look at all these beans out here. i then began to thank God for the blessings of food. real food. and i began to think that this is how plants look in the wild. so let the foraging begin. i began to contemplate my last homegrown meal for at least a week. this is a beautiful feeling. it may not be much to all. the fixings might not mix well to others but tonight's dinner will be omelets, green beans and squash. all from the yard. as u would say, delish!
    i do not in anyway shape or form pretend to know what i am doing in the yard. plant a seed, and/or get a transplant, water it and let it grow. i guarantee it will taste better than store-brought and even farmer's market. while we still rely on both of those outlets it feels great to be able to produce some things on our own. a small step in the right direction. and maybe even one day we may get good at this. really science it up. Until then we will enjoy the wild untamed plants that give us hope and better nourishment.