Saturday, May 13, 2023

Growing Pumpkins for Fall Decor

Growing Pumpkins for Fall Decor

If you've priced the cost of buying pumpkins and other winter squash for your Fall display lately, you've probably discovered that growing them from seed would definitely be worth your time. 

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Tomatoes - Determinate vs. Indeterminate

Tomatoes - Determinate or Indeterminate?

What are the basic differences between a determinate tomato plant and an indeterminate tomato plant and which one is right for your garden?  

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Growing Herbs for Chickens! Basil.



Chicken feed isn't cheep! Luckily, there are some ways you can reduce your bagged chicken feed bill.

Feeding your hens food scraps from your leftover meals is certainly one. But for putting a bigger dent in that feed bill, grow some healthy feed alternatives right there in your backyard or homestead.

Herbs are a wonderful choice to grow for your chickens. Not only do chickens like to eat many different herbs, but most herbs have some other uses you may want to try in the chicken coop and run.

Why Feed Chickens Basil?

  • Basil is a nutritionally-dense herb that is high in plant protein.

  • Basil has antibacterial properties and a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and immune system boosting antioxidants.

  • Basil supports a strong immune system and aids in improving digestion, which is very important for chicken health.

  • Basil promotes mucus membrane and respiratory system health.  This is important for chickens because they are particularly susceptible to respiratory issues, especially if the chicken run and coop aren’t large enough and/or aren’t cleaned often. 

  • Add some crushed Basil to your chicken feed and watch their egg yolks turn a radiant orange.

  • Basil contains vitamins A, B, C, and K which help maintain good eyesight and strong bones.

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How to Prepare Basil for Chickens

Add fresh, chopped basil to chicken feed.
Hang a gathering of fresh basil in reach of chickens to peck at.

How Much Basil is Safe for Chickens to Ingest?

As with all chicken feed alternatives, begin by feeding in moderation. Your chickens will let you know which alternatives are their favorites!

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Other Uses for Basil Besides For Food

Pests don’t like aromatic herbs, so adding Aasil throughout your chicken coops keeps many pests away.

In the nesting box, dried Basil acts as a pleasant odor control.

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Where to Grow Basil

You can grow some herbs like Basil inside your chicken run by sowing seeds inside a wire fence circle like the above picture. It will keep your chickens from digging the plants right out of the ground until it's time to remove the fencing and let them feast!

Herbs are great plants to grow in pots and containers which can easily be moved right into the chicken run when ready to feed.

You can also designate a few raised garden beds for growing great food for your chickens so there's always some healthy foods available to toss in and watch the show!

Quick Tip

Some herbs will spoil very quickly, especially in summer, so be sure to refresh them every three days to really harness their goodness.

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When you add herbs to other chicken food, you're assuring your chickens to maintain better overall health.

So save money on that ever-rising cost of chicken feed and grow some healthy alternatives for your hens and roosters.
 They will love you for it!


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Finding the Perfect Home for Your Homesteading Dreams


Finding the Perfect Home for Your Homesteading Dreams

By Lance Cody-Valdez

Your retirement years provide a perfect opportunity to slow down, find joy, and reconnect with nature. If you have ever dreamed of starting a homesteading hobby, you can get started by searching for the right house where you can live out your goals. 

Whether you want to live off the land, practice a new craft, or just create an atmosphere for your family to visit, the ideal home is out there waiting for you. With a few tips in mind, including those shared below by The Homestead Village Blog, you will be ready to start this next step.

Know What to Look For

Real estate publications propose the idea that most buyers are more interested in the location rather than the features of the house itself. This will likely ring true for you as well since you probably need a spacious property away from urban areas to practice your homesteading hobbies comfortably.

There are, however, certain key features to prioritize depending on your personal goals. If you want to live a minimalist lifestyle, you need a fireplace for heat and a woodlot for chopping your own firewood. You also need plenty of acreage if you would like to try your hand at growing your own food or ranching, as well as a workshop for any crafts you intend to practice.

Be Prepared When Buying

Unless this is your first outing as a homebuyer, you likely know what to expect from the transaction process. Work closely with your real estate agent to ensure that you have a resource for answering any questions that may arise.

When you find the home of your dreams, one issue to remember is that you may need to act quickly to seal the deal before another interested party comes along. This might even entail buying the new house before selling your old one. If you believe that you're close to finalizing the sale on your old home, you can request an extended closing on the new transaction to give yourself a little extra breathing room.

Plan Out How to Use Your Space

Once you have moved into your ideal homestead, you will have the freedom to use the space for all manner of new hobbies. As one idea, you might try horseback riding. Raising horses is a fulfilling pastime, and riding can grant a sense of exhilaration and help you form a meaningful connection with nature. 

A few other homesteading hobbies you might try can include:

• Baking

• Beekeeping

• Gardening

• Farming

• Soapmaking

Consider Turning Your Homestead Hobby Into a Business

Creating beautiful crafts, preserving food, and raising animals are all hobbies that can be turned into successful businesses. You will need a functional business plan if you decide to make some extra money in your retirement by selling your products. Make sure to outline the goal of your new venture, your methods for selling products and services, and the funding you will need  to advertise and distribute. 

When registering, you will also need to settle on a business structure and maintain legal compliance with your state government.

Whatever vision you have for life after retirement, there is no denying that your home is an important part of it. You deserve to spend your golden years pursuing new experiences that make you feel fulfilled and independent. This does not mean that you have to shut yourself away from friends and family, though. You can enjoy a life that includes all of your loved ones by finding the perfect homestead to suit your dreams.


More articles from Lance Cody-Valdez


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Winter Sowing 101



What is it and Why is it So Popular?

In a nutshell, winter sowing, or winter seed sowing, is sowing seeds indoors in the winter in mini greenhouse-like containers, like milk jugs or other recycled containers, and setting the containers outside in the winter elements until Mother Nature germinates the seeds in the spring.  That basically is the winter sowing method.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Use Epsom Salt in the Veggie Garden

It's Organic and Economical!

Growing healthy, juicy vegetables is as much an art as it is a science. One of the most effective yet economical ways to ensure that you grow great vegetables, whether potted or in the vegetable garden, is to use Epsom Salt.

Rows of Healthy Vegetables Growing near Flowers

So what is Epsom Salt and why is it so popular among vegetable gardeners?

The main ingredient in Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate which is an important soil additive for healthy plant life. It allows plants to take in nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen and enhances the capability of the soil. It assists in the creation of chlorophyll which is used by the plant to convert sunlight into food.

Generally, the benefits of Epsom Salt on plants are many including that it’s organic, it’s gentle on plants and it’s inexpensive!

Epsom Salt for use in Vegetable Gardening

Here are some specific ways it helps with your vegetable plants:

  • Improves flower blooming.
  • It enhances a plant’s green color.
  • It helps plants grow bushier.
  • Greatly improves a plant’s ability to produce fruit and flowers.
  • Assists in seed germination and gives a stronger start to seedlings.
  • It’s safe, and there is little danger of problems from overuse.
  • It doesn’t build up in the soil and it won't have buildup that will clog the root cells of your plants. In fact, Epsom salt can be used for potted plants that have developed a salt accumulation.
  • It's organic!
Garden Sprayer used to Water Seedlings in Pot

Versatility in its Use!

Another big advantage of Epsom Salt is its versatility in the way it can be used. You can sprinkle Epsom Salt over a large garden area, you can use it to circle around plants or you can add a solution of Epsom Salt to a garden sprayer

Here are some specifics.

On a New Vegetable Garden Area

If you're just breaking ground on a new plot for a vegetable garden, just sprinkle up to one cup per 100 square feet and work it into the soil.

Person planting Seedling with Epsom Salt

To Help with Transplant Shock

Did you know that using Epsom Salt can reduce transplant shock? Plants can become weak and wither right after transplanting, and Epsom Salt can help reduce that transplant shock to the plant roots. The solution to use for this is one cup of Epsom Salt per 100 square feet.


Potted healthy pepper plant sprawling over sides

On Potted Vegetables

Epsom Salt can be safely used with all fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Water an area with a solution of 2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt per gallon of water and apply at least one time a month for more robust fruiting.

Tidy Rows of Vegetables growing in garden

For a Large Vegetable Garden

Fill your tank sprayer with one tablespoon of Epsom Salt per gallon of water. Use this mixture to spray your garden after the initial planting, when the plants start growing and when the vegetables begin to mature.

Garden Sprayer for spraying Epsom Salt


Vine Tomatoes, Green Onions and Uncooked Pasta


Since tomatoes are prone to magnesium deficiency, Epsom Salt is a great way to keep the plants healthy later into the season when the leaves of the plant can turn yellow. You may also have noticed a decreased production as the season wanes on.

For tomatoes, it is important to use Epsom Salt at the beginning of the season and all through the season. Add one to two tablespoons of Epsom Salt before sowing seeds or planting a transplant. As the tomato plant matures, work in one tablespoon of Epsom Salt per foot of plant height around the base of the plant. An alternative is to create a spray of one tablespoon of Epsom Salt to a gallon of water and spray the plant every two weeks.


Closeup of Red and Purple Peppers Growing


Peppers, too, can benefit from using Epsom Salt the same way as tomatoes.


In Closing

With this many uses for Epsom Salt in the vegetable garden, you're sure to find several uses for it in yours.


Where to go next!

Great Garden Articles -- Full List!
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Monday, October 3, 2022

Already Growing your Veggies! Pressure Can Them!

If you're already growing your own food and haven't yet delved into the preserving world of pressure canning and water bath canning, you're really missing out on a great opportunity.

In addition to saving money by preserving your hard-earned harvest, a pantry full of jars of food will give you confidence that your family will stay safely fed through these current uncertain times.

Here is a great list of items you'll need to get you started.

First, to learn the basics of pressure canning, a good book like this one is very important.

There are some essential kitchen appliances that you will need to get started.  The cost of some of these items may seem a bit daunting at first, but the investment will be well worth it. 

First, you will need a pressure canner.  NOT a pressure cooker, but a pressure canner.  A pressure canner is used to cook, sterilize, and preserve low-acid foods that are to be canned for future use.

Pressure Canner

Another way to can food is by using a water bath canner.   This is a large pot with a jar rack. It is used with all high-acid foods. High-acid foods include all fruits, jams, jellies, pie fillings, pickles or condiments, and tomatoes with added lemon juice. 

Water Bath Canner

You will need a good supply of canning jars, lids, and rings.  These three items come together in a case of canning jars.

You cannot use just any jar in canning food. Canning jars are specially designed to withstand the high temperature of steam pressure processing and the low temperature of freezing. These jars will be labeled as canning and/or freezing jars.

Canning Jars

These jars come in a variety of sizes, most commonly found are:


Pint jars are great for just about anything you want to add to them for smaller portions.


Quarts are a great family-size jar. They are ideal for canning whole fruits and vegetables like peaches and green beans, or for just for canning larger portions.

Half Pint or Jelly Jars

Half Pints. This small size is great for creating gifts or small batches of jams, jellies, or preserves. Some smaller or cut vegetables may fit in these jars if using a wide-mouth canning jar.

Canning jars also come in what’s known as “regular mouth” and “wide mouth” jar openings. The only difference is the size of the jar opening.

You can sometimes find some canning jars at thrift stores, or maybe you have a relative that no longer does canning and has a stash of jars.  If you find some of these older canning jars, you may need to buy lids and rings to go with those jars.

Canning Jar Lids and Rings

There are reusable lids available now that are called “Tattler” lids that are made in the USA.  They also come in sizes suitable for both wide mouth and regular mouth jar sizes.  You can use these with pressure canners, water bath canners, and vacuum sealers.

Tattler Lids

There are also plastic lids for canning jars for use in storing the jars in the fridge after they've been unsealed.

Plastic lids that fit canning jars

You will need various kitchen utensils to make your canning projects easier.  You can buy a kit of items like the one below that has most if not all of the items you will need.

Utensil Kit

Or you can purchase items separately.  You will need:

Funnel that fits jar openings


Jar Lifter

Other supplies you may need, depending on the types of food that you intend to can, are:

Pickle Crisp (for pickling veggies and pickles)

Citric Acid, commonly used for home canning tomatoes

Canning Salt (Not regular salt)

Real Fruit Pectin for homemade Jam and Jelly recipes.

5% Vinegar  You will probably use large amounts of this.  Vinegar is used in the pressure canner to prevent minerals from hard water from building up on the jars or on the inside of your canner.  Vinegar is also used along with water to fill jars of some foods to be processed.

5% Vinegar

There are also seasoning packets available for use in canning like salsa tomato mixes, pickle mixes, potato seasonings, etc.  Mrs. Wagers' brand is very popular with canners.

Mrs. Wagers' Packets

So what are you waiting for?  Learn to pressure can and water bath can and start saving money on food and getting some much-needed food security!

Related Articles:
Canning Article List
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