Homemade laundry detergent is all the rage these days but do you ever wonder if it really works? I love the idea of homemade laundry detergent, that costs a fraction of the price but I
want to know that my clothes are actually getting clean, before I jump on the bandwagon!
The 4 basic ingredients of homemade laundry detergent are Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Fels-Naptha bar soap. I also added Oxi Clean and doTERRA Wild Orange essential oil, to give it a little extra cleaning power, and a delicious citrus scent. Check out my full post to see how/why each of the ingredients work to create the best, most effective laundry detergent. Click here: http://askannamoseley.com/2013/05/the-best-h...
Edit: This detergent can be used in a front loading washing machine, there are instructions if you click on the link above. It is also safe to use if you have a septic system, I researched all of the individual ingredients and they are all safe to use. My sister has been using this for years on her septic system and she has never had any problems.
Who says you can't get something for nothing? I just finished two raised beds made from my neighbor's old shutters and odds and ends of left over wood, then painted them with surplus deck
paint! ZERO COST!!
For quite a while, I have admired all sorts of wonderful homemade and commercial raised beds seen on Pinterest and Hometalk. Because I couldn't justify the cost of buying the lumber and didn't want to tackle disassembling pallets, raised beds did not seem to be in my future. But then, our neighbors replaced their shutters and were nice enough to give them to me when I asked. They know by now that a repurposing project is about to get underway.
You could do other configurations, but I used two shutters on each side and one-half a shutter for the ends. That used up all ten of the free shutters. Odds and ends of lumber stored in the garage rafters came down and became corner, end and middle supports. I even had enough wood screws from another project to use for this one!
See more pictures and all the details on Our Fairfield Home and Garden's latest post
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Without a doubt - tomatoes are the most important crop we grow in our garden.
In fact, we use ourhome-grown tomatoes and tomato based products nearly 365 days a year.
In thesummertime - we eat them right off the vine, in salads, hamburgers, sauces andmore. In the fall and winter months, we enjoy the tomato juice, vegetable soup,chili, salsa, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and ketchup that we have canned orfrozen from the summer's bounty.
Here are some valuablehints, tips and tricks we have learned over the years to grow a bumper crop oftomatoes:
1. The When, HowAnd Where Of Planting Tomatoes:
WHEN TO PLANT: Tomatoes are just about the last thing that getplanted in our garden. Tomatoes love warm soil and warm weather. Ifyou plant them too early in your growing season, they can really struggle. It'snot just about preventing frost. Cold, damp spring temperatures can make themmore susceptible to disease, rot and lethargic growth. Here in this partof Ohio, most of our garden goes in around the 15th of May. If its niceand warm out - the tomatoes go in too. But if it's still a little chilly anddamp - we wait until late May to allow the soil to warm up!
HOW TO PLANT: Tomatoes benefitfrom rich, fertile soil. When you plant - make sure to add a few cupsof good compost in the hole along with the plant. And start saving youreggs shells now! Crushed egg shells are an excellent supplement to add to yourplanting hole. They add calcium to the soil as they break down - helpingto prevent the all-too common blossom rot; those black spots on the ends oftomatoes that can decimate a garden. We drop in a few crushed egg shellsper planting hole.
WHERE TO PLANT: Plant yourtomatoes in the sunniest location you can find. It can't be said enough -tomatoes love sun and heat. The more you give them - the better your crop willbe! And remember to rotate where you plant them from year to year - ifyou keep planting those tomatoes in the same spot, they will rob the soil ofall the nutrients needed for great yields and become more prone to disease.
Mulching and Weeds:
We mulch our tomato plants with a 1to 2" thick layer of compost - creating a 6 to 8" compost circlearound each stalk. It helps to regulate soil temperature, keep weeds to aminimum, and soil from eroding during strong rains. Of more importance,it acts as a slow-release fertilizer as it strains through nutrients duringwatering or rainfalls. Mulching also helps keep weeds at bay. Don't let weeds compete for the same nutrients your tomatoesneed. Just a few minutes of daily maintenance pulling small weeds aroundyour plants will keep your garden productive and neat! Make sure as you work in your garden to stay off the ground directly around yourplants - stepping on and around your plan'ts root zone compacts the soil andkeeps them from fully developing.
One last note on mulching. Ifthe season and soil are still a little cool - wait a few weeks for it to warmup before applying the mulch. If the soil is still cool, mulching canactually prolong the soil from heating up.
Whether you use cages, stakes, or ahybrid system like we do (See Stake a Cage), it's critical to provide great support for yourtomato plants! It keeps them off the ground - away from pests and foottraffic, allowing tomatoes to ripen with good circulation and exposure tosunlight.
As the plants grow during the firstmonth - we like to prune out the bottom 3 to 4" of stems andshoots. Why? It makes plants easier to water, and once again allowsthat all important air and light to circulate through the plants and rows. It also makes it a little more difficult for garden bugs and pests tofind their way onto your plants.
Watering tomatoes (and for that fact,your entire garden), is as much about when to water, as it is how much. Never water during the heat of the day. Not only do you lose muchof it to evaporation, but you also can easily burn the foliage of the plants. The absolute best time to water is in the early hours between sunrise andmid-morning. Not only is it cooler and easier on the gardener, but yourplants are not stressing from the heat of the day either. Eveningwatering is your next best choice if you can't water in the morning, althoughit can create mildew if the water sits on leaves through the cool nights.
How Much Water? This is a bigone. When the plants are very young and for the first week or so, youmay need to water daily to get them established. After that - wateringevery day is a no-no. Established tomatoes need about 1 inch of water a week. If mother nature can't supply that - then you need to supplement. If you are experiencing a prolonged dry spell – water every two to threedays with about a 1/2″ of water to the plant at a time. This allowsenough water to go deep into the soil and create longer roots. Why notevery day? Plants that get a little water every day never send theirroots deeper to look for moisture and nutrients - and you end up with a weakroot system, leading to a weak plant.
Soil Fertility andFertilizing
Tomatoes need fertile soil to growstrong and healthy. If you follow along with our blog, you know we're notbig fans of man-made fertilizers - so what is the answer when it comes tofertilizing? Well, if you use compost in your planting holes and as a topdressing, work in green manure and cover crops to your soil in the fall orspring, and practice plant rotation - there really is no need for syntheticfertilizers to get a great crop of tomatoes.
If you want to give your plants anall natural boost - you can apply compost tea - a simple solution of watersoaked and steeped in fresh compost. The water absorbs the naturalnutrients from the compost and becomes an "all natural" liquidfertilizer. We apply it to the soil around the base of our plants (notthe leaves - it can burn them) a couple of times early in the growing season toget our plants off to a great start. Well, truth be told, we also do itso our plants can look a little bigger and brighter green than mybrother-in-laws :)
- Jim and Mary
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No matter how healthy your vegetable plants start off in the spring - no matter how carefully you water - how perfectly it rains, or how much of the sun's rays find their way to your
garden – your plants are only going to turn out as good as the soil you plant them in. Period.
Vegetable crops like tomatoes, peppers, corn and cucumbers take a heavy toll on the soil' structure and make-up. They devour valuable nutrients as they grow to produce the very fruits and vegetables we love to eat. Eventually, after a few years - even the best of soils will begin to break down and weaken if not replenished and re-energized. Soil that becomes weak in nutrients will result in successively weaker crop yields that are also increasingly prone to disease and pests.
So what is the best way to keep your garden strong? Feed your soil!
And no - we're not talking about heaping on generous amounts of expensive synthetic fertilizers. Those are temporary fixes to a problem that can leave your soil weak, unstable, and full of excess salts and chemicals.
The real answer lies in adding back natural nutrients to the soil - and one of the best ways to do that is with a "green manure crop" in the spring - before you plant your garden or raised beds.
Planting A Green Manure Crop In Your Garden Or Raised Beds In The Spring
We talk a lot about cover cropping in the fall - and for good reason. Fall cover crops plays a vital role in developing and keeping garden soil beds full of rich organic matter. They minimize soil erosion and hinder the establishment of weeds, and then feed your soil with organic matter when turned over in the early spring.
But in the spring - we add a green manure crop to put back even more organic material prior to the vegetable garden planting. It's quick, easy - and pays huge dividends!
A lot of people are confused by the term "green manure". First of all, it doesn't smell and it's certainly not a by-product from animals.
So why the name?
Green manure is the term given to a cover crop that is grown specifically to be turned right back into the soil to replenish valuable nutrients and organic matter. Much like a farmer spreads horse, cow or chicken manure on his fields to fertilize and replenish - growing and digging in a bright green cover crop has the same effect and benefits. It's the same concept as why fresh-cut green grass is great to add to a compost pile. In its fresh-cut green state, grass is a valuable nitrogen source that heats your compost pile up. Green manure crops do the same, releasing nitrogen back into the earth as they slowly decompose. Consider it almost a sacrificial offering to the soil :)
When a cover crop such as annual clover, rye or hairy-vetch are young, vibrant and bright green - they are at their absolute height of nutritional value. Their root nodules below the soil help to "fix" nitrogen levels - and the green matter that is turned back into the soil gives off additional nutrients and nitrogen as it decomposes during the summer months. All of which serves to replenish the soil and feed your summer crop of vegetables.
Green manure crops also provide many of the same benefits that fall cover crops give - helping to loosen the soil with their fast and deep growing roots and protecting the surface topsoil from heavy spring rains and erosion. All the more reason to incorporate them into your garden plan!
So when and how do you plant them?
We will turn our fall cover crop over in the soil beds about 4 to 6 weeks before we plan on planting our vegetables (about mid-march if the weather allows). At that point we will plant the spring "green manure" cover crop seed right into the soil, raking the soil out lightly after turning it over and spreading our seed. The new seedlings emerge in as little as 7 to 10 days, and by the time we are ready to plant our vegetables in Mid may – it has filled in with a strong thick stand of growth. Then, we simply turn them under again with the pitchfork – and plant our summer garden. As the green manure crop starts to break down – it releases its energy back into the soil and provides nutrients for the new crops. If you didn't plant a fall cover crop, a spring green manure crop can be even more valuable to getting your soil back on track!
Annual rye, annual clover and hairy vetch are all great choices as green manure crops - and can usually be found at your local feed store.
Will I get weeds from them later?
In short - no! These are annual varieties - so once you till them into the soil as young green plant material - they wont come back like stubborn weeds. Furthermore - you incorporate them back into the soil quickly - so the plants don't have the ability to establish seed heads or seeds that could become a problem. In fact - using cover crops in the fall and spring can greatly diminish your weed problems by keeping the soil from being barren and open to drifting weed seeds - and the thick, fast growing growth crowds out competing weeds.
Cover crops and green manure crops simply work. They keep your soil healthy and alive, let your plants thrive - and most importantly, are 100% natural.
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- Jim and Mary
Commented on Mar 29, 2013
By the time the snow melts here in Minnesota I hope I will have time to put a cover crop in.
Otherwise it will be to late for putting garden in. Our first Frosts come in Sept. So don't give much growing season. Should I wait till fall or should I still do it...Help!!!! I'm just a poor widow lady who wants some nutritious vegetables to eat. Thank you for your time....!
Typical crazy weekend here...but come see this quick and simple way I took a new footlocker and made it look like its been around for years using some paint and a free graphic for Karen - The Graphics Fairy ! http://arttisbeauty.blogspot.com/2013/03/how...
Commented on Mar 12, 2013
I could never do that to the foot locker I have. It was my husbands when he was in the Navy, I
will cherish his foot locker as long as I live. I have it displayed in my Family Room with all the things that he saved through out his years here on earth. From some of his Collectible Cars, to his service medals, his favorite pictures when growing up and so fourth,