Grow Your Own – Italian Seasoning (Completed)


You may have thought I forgot all about my project last year of growing my own Italian Seasoning… But I didn’t. At least not completely. I did get all the herbs dried and put away in individual bags. I just never got around to adding them all together into a seasoning mix. Or writing a post about drying the herbs here. So here we are, finally, with a wrap up on the Italian Seasoning I grew all by myself! (everything in the photo above came out of my garden!)

Continue reading “Grow Your Own – Italian Seasoning (Completed)”

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What I learned in 2015 (Gardening)

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I have taken away so many things from my first real year of trying to grow enough vegetables  to have more than just a nibble in our yard. In 2014 and 2013 I grew everything away from home, which meant that I left it all until it was ready, and I had my best friend to garden with, so It was more of a divide and conquer and have fun chucking seeds in the ground and seeing what we get. So in 2015, with my first JUST MINE garden, here is what I have discovered

  • It is easy to get lazy when Pinterest/YouTube/Netflix/My nice cozy bed are just steps away. By the middle of summer, I was a little gardened out, and still had a lot of time left to wait for anything harvest-able.
  • Where the shade actually is. Areas that I had thought were really sunny, actually got more shade than I thought. And vise-versa.
    • This is something I never would have noticed if I hadn’t grown things in 2 different spots in the yard!
  • It is easy to have grandiose plans in the dead of winter with pinterest and YouTube showing you all these beautiful things, Its an other to make yourself get out and grow them and be realistic about where you live and climate you are in. Especially with work and home stress creeping in, and the 18 other projects you started.
  • Ironically, the amount of tomatoes I grew, was just right! I learned a few things in their placement, but It was nice and refreshing to have a bunch of different kinds of tomatoes. In a few years time If I ever have my own real greenhouse I will scale up my tomato growing again because they really are so much fun to watch grow and take over everything.
  • I wont waste my time with dry-beans or Broad Beans this year. But I will use their space on more Green Beans. I also will just stick with climbing beans to save space. The slug population really liked my bush beans and got to most of them before I could.
  • I will stagger my Peas better in 2016. It was hard to keep up with them before they got too mature. We definitely prefer baby snow-peas, and the sugar snaps. So I will probably just stick to that kind… And the Alaska peas, because they grow so well in the cold here.
  • As much as I want I huge carrot harvest, It doesn’t seem like a possibility here. I have tried every year to grow carrots in my yard, and every year they are sad and tiny and pitiful. So I may just throw in the towel and just grow a few tiny patches of them and use the space for something that I know grows well here… If I can find the seed from a local garden centre again I will get those little round Paris Market carrots and grow them in a container. They are awesome and so much fun.

 

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So In 2016, I have plans to:

  • Have things that harvest quickly, and give a good push to keep going.
    • I won’t skip growing Potatoes, they are so easy and so satisfying to grow, and we definitely missed them this year.
  • I will be more realistic about what we will actually eat.
    • I love beets, but I don’t need 6 rows of them!
    • I will grow more lettuce and stagger plantings better, because I now know that I can grow heads of lettuce!
  • More Zucchini! and Cucumbers!
  • I’m going to scale back a bit and not over-challenge myself. When I go too hard into gardening, all my other projects start to fall by the wayside, and I get into an extreme rocking between the two. So I will be more realistic about my life and time management in 2016.
  • Tomato-wise in 2016, I want to legit-start saving my own seed. I have dabbled here and there, but I would like to actually perpetuate my own stash of heirloom seeds.
  • I still want to give Brussels Sprouts a go again… They grew tiny little sprouts, but nothing worth writing home about. I just need to put them somewhere sunnier I think. I plunked them in the shadiest spots, and they were pretty late going in the ground.
  • My herbs will be a go again, But I am going to be realistic and just buy them. I think I have their ideal location nailed down here, and I have a better way of drying them quickly now. I’m slowly learning what works for me. Also, cooking with your own home-grown herbs is so much more delicious, I don’t really want store bought again.
  • I want to grow more flowers this year. They definitely give a push to go out into the garden. They are pretty, and Its fun to watch the bees and butterflies enjoying them. Also, once I’m out there smelling the flowers, I usually get to work on the vegetables, so it’s a win-win.
  • I will be skipping Cauliflower in 2016. I grew 2 heads of it, but we weren’t ready to eat it, and then it went to flower so I missed out. So I’ll save it for a year when I have more time to keep up with time-sensitive stuff like that. I will have another go with the Broccoli though! They were fantastic.
  • I want to grow a few things with  the full intention of pickling them. I haven’t done much pickling, and I think that I will make that my kitchen-garden goal of 2016.
  • My major seed-to-mature-vegetable project this year is going to be Onions. I will be starting them from seed today! (Maybe some more strawberries too)

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Here is to a wonderful 2016 for everyone and their gardens!

 

How NOT to make an End Grain Cutting Board

Last year around this time, I had a burning desire to make everyone in our families some homemade cutting boards. But 2 weeks wasn’t enough time, so it got thrown onto the “things to make for next year” pile of ideas.

This year around September, I figured I should get started. In my naivety, I thought I could make this and write about how to make it without any more tools than a saw, some glue and clamps, and a sander. Which I guess I did prove is possible. It is very possible.

I did do it after all.

I wouldn’t recommend it.

At least not the way I did it.

  • Do not do it with a hard wood. (Even though that is what is recommended for a long lasting cutting board.)
  • Expect to buy A LOT of sandpaper
  • And spend A LOT of time with your sander
  • Be precise with your cuts. Originally, Before I realized how much sanding this thing would take, I didn’t think I had to measure every cut. I just lined up the previous cut piece with the laser line on the saw. Don’t do that. Measure everything. Seriously. Its important.
  • Buy a planer if you don’t feel like making precise cuts. The $800 will probably save you money in the hours you spend sanding and the amount of sand paper you will end up buying.

Okay, so this is totally possible. I learned a lot of lessons and the next one I make will probably be better. And I am pretty impressed and stoked at this cutting board.

Word to the wise, if someone makes you an end grain cutting board from scratch, (And they don’t own fancy tools like a planer, or even a belt sander) They Love You. Seriously.

All jokes aside, now that I am finally finished this thing, I am in love with it. I don’t know if I could have finished it if I was as stubborn as I am, because I sanded forever. Also, the top isn’t super level: there is kind of a dip in it where I sanded down all the super high points to get to the low points, and some of my sections that I glued together are a little spaced out. But I am kind of obsessed with this thing. Also, I learned that the Red Oak I used is actually NOT ideal for cutting boards, because it has a pretty open grain. I am not too worried about it, as the beeswax in the home-made wood butter I made (and am giving with this cutting board) will help to keep the open grain sealed; And my parents probably wont use this as a regular cutting board, and I will advise them to not use it for anything really juicy to help keep this in good shape.

Here are some in-the-making photos… You’ll see what I mean about learning to make more precise cuts… and maybe you can appreciate how much sanding I actually did to make this thing level and smooth on top!

I sanded for hours and hours with MANY sheets of 40 grit sand paper, then worked from 60, to 80 to 120, and a final sand with a 220 grit. Then about 5 coats of wood butter to moisturise and naturally seal the wood. Then buffed with a soft cloth. Only step left is to wrap it and put it under the Christmas Tree.

   

If you do this, make sure that you use a waterproof AND non-toxic wood glue.

(had to move the glueing and clamping inside once we hit low temperatures, since the glue isn’t supposed to freeze)

This is probably halfway through the sanding… That is an almost-worn out sheet of 40 grit sandpaper on my palm sander… Yes,  I only have a palm sander…

How to get FREE Strawberry Plants

One of my long term gardening goals is to grow enough strawberries to make a whole batch of jam.

This means I need to step up the number of plants I have.

Part of that involves growing some from seed. Which involves waiting for seeds to germinate, if they ever do, and then waiting for a year until the plants go into full production, and also keeping fingers crossed that they survive whatever kind of winter we get.

However, Strawberry plants send out runners to take over the ground they are in. Infact, most of the plants I currently have are from runners that I dug out of all the weeds when I took back my garden beds in the spring. 

You can just let the runners root themselves in the garden soil, letting nature have its way. However, I want to move these plants for next year, and I want them to grow where I put them, so that is how I will be showing you today.

Step 1: You need small containers, potting soil, some rocks and you will also need to have strawberry plants that are sending out runners.

Step 2: Find where the runner is starting to grow a plant, and dig a hole the size of the container you are using. 

Step 3: Place the runner onto the potting soil in the container, and use a rock to hold the runner down so it can root.

Step 4: Keep the soil watered and in about 6-8 weeks, we can cut the cord from the mother plant.

   
            

Quick Update in Pictures (July 24/2015)

Sorry for the lack of actual updates lately. Work has been a little short staffed which means some Ovetime for me. I have also gone a little crazy on some DIY projects, which I will also try to post about soon.

I just wanted to give a quick update on how everything is growing right now. I’ll try to get more in-depth updates as soon as possible!

   
           

(The red on that pepper is actually the reflection of my red shirt in the pepper)