What No One Tells You About Growing

No one tells you it sucks. No one tells you that it is more work physically and mentally anything else in this world. They don’t tell you how time intensive it is to grow.

Grow what you ask? Anything, plants, animals, tiny humans, and most of all they don’t tell you about growing yourself. Or maybe regrowing yourself. I am not going to claim to be an expert on anything but I might have everything down pat except myself.

I am working or rather reworking myself. The last three years have been total hell from the word go. Watching my dad’s health decline and his final days. Adjusting to life without him. Helping my children do the same. Trying to get my daughter help for mental health issues, her story to tell if she wants to share details. Job changes and health issues. Some really life altering health issues. Life has just given me a lot to consider.

I have been told that I am strong and how most people would have given up already. I really do appreciate the sentiments. Most have not seen the dark parts of this journey. There are still some dark days ahead but they are getting fewer. What it has lead me to is the belief that I am strong enough to be weak and ask for help. It has shown me how precious life can be and how fragile.

The goals for now are to explore the world from a different perspective. Not new really but a better understanding of permaculture as not only a function of healing the earth but of healing myself.

One of the reasons I think that my gardens have struggled is that I have been struggling. As if they have been a mirror image of my inner turmoil. That and clay soil just simply sucks.

The three ethics of permaculture are what I am choosing to live my life by.

1. Earth Care

2. People Care

3. Future Care

Out of those three principles will come the self care that I need. That is the tough part. I am regenerating myself, mentally, spiritua6l, and physically.

Today is a brand new day and it is ok to struggle and to misstep. Just pick yourself up, learn, and forge ahead.

Let’s forge ahead together and make a new beginning today.

Light, Love, and Peace
Tammy~SSM~

A Real Update

Farm life can ruff.

So much has happened since my last post. I started a new job and I an learning to be a dialysis nurse. I have had a heart attack and triple bypass, and a few other health mishaps we shall call them. But I am still here, kicking and finally getting the farm, though only as a supervisor because of a health mishap, fully underway.

Going in the right direction.

Our current projects include modifying the new barn to accommodate the chickens and goats. Getting fencing up around the new field. Which includes a pond for our silly ducks. And getting our garden beds prepared. We also have seed starts in the greenhouse.

It’s a hen party.

For those of you that get our not so monthly, monthly newsletter, or on one of our customer emails may have seen that after last year’s abysmal garden we decided not to do a CSA program. We keep tossing it around, especially of late. What we will do is send out an email when we have a surplus of produce. The same with eggs. I will be setting up forms on our Contact page so that you can let us know which list you would like to be on.

I will attempt to post more often and get the newsletter out in a more timely fashion.

Tammy ~SSM~

Creating a Culture of Change

I am not looking to change a business, society, etc. I am looking to change the way I live personally. That includes how I eat, think, buy and sell. Do I hope that others will join me? Of course, but this is really about my personal journey to live a quiet, peaceful life.

What do I want to change?

A lot of things I would love to change about myself. I want my body to be about 15 years younger. I want my brain to not feel quite so bogged down. I want my spirit to be lighter. I want the energy I used to have. This where I started this new part of my journey. I made a list of what I wanted to see happen in my life. The question really has become how do I make these changes more than just what I want to do.

I am a list person, including putting my goals down on paper. So I have set out to make these changes happen by creating a culture in my home that accepts change. There is no reason to keep doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. So I made of lists of who, what, when, where, and how I want those changes to happen.

Where do I begin?

I began with searching for a job that would bring me closer to home. It has been a drawn out search but a friend stepped in and helped me find what appears to be a perfect match. We will see, honeymoon phase begins in that but I have a feeling becoming a dialysis nurse is what I have been looking for.

I also I have had to step back and look at things that stress me. Finances is a big one. So how do I change from spending and living pay check to pay check. I have to look at expenses that can be cut. Look at the items I buy and become more conscientious about whether or not I really need them. This includes chickens and ducks, I really need to do a 12 step program of some sort.

Another big stressor for me is clutter and disorganization. For so long I have lived in organized chaos. The chaos has to go. This goes with every part of my daily life. I need to find a system that works for me. Including getting my children on board with how things need to be done to create a peaceful household. I am not talking about the energy that kids bring into a home. I love that actually but I cannot enjoy it when things are helter skelter.

Making a plan

I am making a map of my life. I am taking all of the lists I have made and setting goals. These goals include health changes, organizing time, organizing my home, and organizing my finances.

Health goals include keeping my diabetes under control. Working on rebuilding my health and energy through meditation, yoga, and exercise. They also include gardening and creating a landscape that is productive.

Organizing goals are a little more difficult. I am great at making a plan but sticking to it can be hard. So instead of making big huge changes in how things will get done I am making mini goals that are easy to accomplish and will make a more permanent change in the life I live.

Finances are undergoing a change as well. I should be able to live off of the money I earn at work. It is a matter of getting other spending under control. This is going to be one of the biggest challenges on board for me.

Changing with the seasons

Maybe it is the influence of the changing of the seasons. I have always felt a draw to the sun, moon, earth, and stars. We are heading into autumn. My goals seem to be following the path of the seasons as I create this culture of change in my life. As the Earth changes with the passing of seasons so must we.

 

Water Bath Canning vs Pressure Canning

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There really is no debate on which you should choose. There are somethings are safe to water bath can but everything can be pressure canned. Why can’t I water bath can low acid foods? My grandma only ever water bath canned. I have heard pressure canners can explode. Tons of reasons to avoid pressure canning. But one big one to use it. BOTULISM!! A silent, odorless killer. Other things can happen as well but this is the big one.

What is botulism?

Picture courtesy of the CDC.

Botulism is a bacteria that can kill you. If nothing else it will make you feel sick enough you want to die.

It is a rare, potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin. The toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The disease begins with weakness, blurred vision, feeling tired, and trouble speaking.

It is a nasty illness that we can avoid by properly preserving our food bounty.

 

What can I water bath can?

Things that are considered high acid foods. Tomatoes are a big one, unless of you are growing low acid tomatoes, those varieties are a story for another time. Jams and jellies, pickled anything. Fruit preserves and most anything that you add lemon juice, vinegar, or are fermented.

Some fruits are considered naturally high in acid:

 

  • apples
  • berries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • peaches
  • pears
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

What should I pressure can?

Anything that is not on the above list. Those things can also be pressure canned. There are no safe ways to can fresh squash, including pumpkins. Those need to be prepared how you want them and then pressure canned. Or simply frozen.

Other items, not produce related, that you should pressure can are meats, soups, and broths. Your other option is to freeze them. All of this will prevent you, your family, friends, and customers from being poisoned.

Did You Know?

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Did you know that you can start your garden even if you are on food stamps?

Yes, any seeds or plants that are edible can be purchased with your EBT card. You can use containers and such you have to start your seeds. Compost and newsprint to start your no-till garden.

What seeds to buy to start

Some things are easier to grow from seeds than others. For the beginner I recommend peas, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, squash and melons from seed. They will grow in anything. And are great for direct sowing.

I recommend bush varieties so that they are easier to care for and take up less space. A few well tended plants will provide enough for your family.

Herbs that grow well from seed are basil, parsley, dill, and coriander. If you are feeling adventurous you can pot a few peppercorns to grow indoors. This is one of my experiments this year. We will see how it goes. My family just loves fresh ground pepper.

What plants to buy

Tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, and cabbages all do best for beginners if purchased as started plants. They will give you a bit of a headstart on your summer garden.

Many grocers offer a limited selection of plants. Go with what you can find. It is money well spent since vegetables are so expensive in the grocery store and there have been so many recalls recently. Another option is to use some vegetables that are in the store already.

Many times you can save the roots from bunching onions, celery, lettuce, tops of pineapples, etc. Place them in water to get the roots started again and you can then place them in pots.

Starting plants from seed

If you cannot find started plants then you will need to start from seeds. I have been lucky enough to have a small greenhouse. If this is not in your budget you can either purchase the seed starting kits or make your own.

The key is to find a sunny spot that you can leave the seeds in to grow. You also need to make sure that the growing medium stays moist. Too much water and mold will grow. Too little water and the seeds will dry out and no longer be viable. I love the self watering cells that come with starter pellets. They make it very easy and do come in window sill sizes as well.

A quick note on soil

Plants need healthy well drained soil to grow. A quick easy way to do this is to use newspaper and/or cardboard and compost. I like to layer with cardboard in the fall to kill weeds. I lay the cardboard down and cover with compost.

Spring I will use newspaper and compost. I can plant directly and weeds will be controlled at the same time. I do like to add straw over top when possible to help maintain moisture.

One tool that I have found invaluable when I am doing a no-till garden is a cultivator. It will help keep the soil loose and aerated throughout the growing season. It is a pricey investment but has saved my back, knees and hands in countless situations.

 

Calendula Flowers

Common Name

Standardized: calendula
Other: marigold, pot marigold

Latin name

Calendula officinalis L.
Plant Family: 
Asteraceae

Overview

Calendula is a well-known herb and garden plant that has been used topically, ceremonially, and as a dye. It is also used as a companion plant in many vegetable gardens. This is an edible flower used in teas, tinctures, and various other recipes. Used in home crafted skin care products it helps with dry skin.

Flower Background

This is a self sowing, annual that will come back year after year once you establish it in your garden. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and produces a daisy-like flower with orange or yellow petals and pale green leaves. Though it can now be found through out the world it was originally native to Europe, the Mediterranean, and Middle East.

Cultivation and Harvesting

There is no need to start this plant in a green house it has simple requirements and does well as part of a garden or a pot. Simple spread the seeds or mix with other wildflower seeds and cover lightly with soil. They require full sun and well draining soil. They bloom from early summer and until early fall. Mid summer is the best time for harvesting flower to dry. The middle of the day when the resins are high and the dew has evaporated, clip the flowers just below their base. Place them on a screen to dry, avoid high temperatures and direct sunlight when drying to keep the bright colors.

Common Uses

  • Dried
    • Teas
    • Tinctures
    • Infused Oil
    • Skin Care
  • Fresh
    • Salads and other dishes (was once known as the poor mans saffron)
    • Teas
    • Tinctures

Medicinal Uses:

  • Anti-inflammatory to skin and mucosa
  • Lymphagogue (moves lymph)
  • Vulnerary (promotes healing of damaged tissue)
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual flow)
  • Cholagogue (stimulates bile)

Indications:

  • Gastrointestinal: Purported to help with gastrointestinal disorders and discomfort. Use as a tea.
  • Lymphatic: Used for various infections of the respiratory system and localized infections. Also used to boost immunity by stimulating the lymphatic system. Use as a tea or topical salve.
  • Gums and mouth: Make a tea to gargle with for sore throats, periodontal disease, inflamed gums.
  • Emmenagogue: May help to stimulate menstrual flow.
  • Topical applications: rashes, stings, wounds, burns, sunburns, abrasions, swellings, eczema, acne, surgical wounds, scrapes, chicken pox, cold sores.

Disclaimer:

If you have a known allergy to other members of the Asteraceae family such as feverfew, chamomile, or Echinacea species be cautious when using calendula.

Always consult with a qualified healthcare practioner before using herbal products. If you are pregnant, nursing or have medical conditions and are on prescribed medications this is essential.

This information is for educational purposes only not to be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. None of this information has been evaluated by the FDA.

Single Sustainable Mom vs Enchanted Farmstead

There has been some question as to why there are two different names floating around. I am Single Sustainable Mom and my farm name is Enchanted Farmstead. It really is that simple. I use SSM for Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest. For farm business I use the farm name.

Single Sustainable Mom

I have spent the last few years establishing an online presence as SSM. I talk about family life, farming, work, basically my entire life. The trials and tribulations of being a single mom, trying to be eco-friendly, and life as an adventure. I am a mom, nurse, farmer, crafter, and so much more. I want to inspire other people to look at life as a journey, adventure. I want people to realize that no matter the cards you are dealt you can always discard and pick up new cards and take off with it. That is Single Sustainable Mom.

 

Enchanted Farmstead

I own the farm. It is not a person but a place, my home. It is part of the lifestyle of sustainability that I am creating for my family. I am creating a home that is a sanctuary, a life that I do not need a vacation from. The end goal is that the land pays for itself by providing most of what my family needs. Whether it be food or products to sell. It is a business, escape from the world, and a place of peace all rolled into one.

 

Light, Love, and Peace
~Tammy~SSM

 

5 Tips for Garden Planning

 

 

Battle Cat says that he is ready for spring too! He has cat business to attend to and you just can’t do that when it is cold and wet out. If I haven’t introduced him yet to you all he is 1/3 of the Salt & Pepper Gang. The other two members are Koda and Blizzard.  I know such a mean looking gang aren’t they? The hole was the dogs’ contribution today to working around the house. They dug up freshly turned soil and layed down in it. But I digress, I did say 5 tips for garden planning didn’t I? Of course I did. Gardens are best planned out to offer the most success. Dream big when thinking about what you want to grow. You can narrow it down and then plan on expanding as time goes on.

Tip #1

Find the perfect spot. You want some where that gets 8 to 10 hours of sun per day. You will also it to have good natural drainage so that water doesn’t pool in any one area.

Tip #2

Test your soil! I cannot stress this one enough. You will need to take samples from the whole spot. It is a good idea to go through your local co-op extension office. They will test the sample for free and give you a good break down of what is needed in your soil. Often they have what you need to collect the samples. You can also purchases all kinds of soil testers in garden centers and on amazon.com.

Tip #3

Check your growing zone. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone will help you get a general idea of what your growing season looks like. There is even a function now that let’s you put in your zip code so you can get very specific.

Tip #4

Write a list of every vegetable you want to ever grow. Then narrow it down to what you think you can handle for the season. This may mean the basics such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, squash, etc. But don’t toss that list, you will get to it eventually.

Tip #5

Start amending your soil before you even think about doing anything. Based upon the

results of your soil testing of course. Some basic things to use that will help all gardens are compost, manure, lime, and potash (not grill left overs unless you are using wood, charcoal is a no go for the garden).

 

 

 

Light, Love, and Peace
~Tammy~SSM

Potato Soup

potato soup
Photo courtesy of Bing Search

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 whole onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 pound of cubed ham
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 potatoes peeled cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. In a heavy pan saute garlic, celery and onions in butter.
  2. Add in ham and potatoes, cover with water and bring to a boil, 10 minutes.
  3. Lower heat and allow to simmer, add in heavy cream.
  4. In separate pan boil the other potatoes. Once they are fork tender drain and mash.
  5. Slowly add mashed potatoes to the broth to thicken it.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Carrots cut to 1 inch pieces
  • 1 chopped sweet onion
  • 3 lbs butternut squash (or pumpkin) chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3 TBS White Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper (omit for pumpkin soup)
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (omit for pumpkin or if you do not like spicy food)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Saute carrots and onions in dutch oven (heavy stock pot will work as well) on medium high heat until lightly brown.
  2. Add squash, broth and orange zest and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and lower heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in cream and remaining ingredients. Allow to cool.
  5. Process with a handheld blender or put into a regular blender. Blend it all until smooth and creamy.
You can serve this cold or piping hot.
Light, Love and Peace!