Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tips for the Lazy Gardener: Composting in Place

Probably one of my most favorite realizations- that I could just layer compost and leave it rather than actively have to combine it. Guess I'm just lazy at heart!

An Easier Way to Compost and Build Nutrient-Rich Planting Beds

Composting food scraps that would otherwise end up in the landfill is a great way to become more environmentally friendly. Not only does it break down biodegradable vegetative waste, but it provides you with a fantastic organic soil amendment that will make your flowers and vegetables grow well and be more productive. Sometimes, however, setting up a composting system can be time-consuming and frustrating. Remembering to turn the composting pile every so often to aerate it and trying to keep critters away from the tasty treats you add to the pile are two examples. 

If you're lazy like me, finding an easier way to compost just makes sense. It gives you a sense of accomplishment without all the work. One of the easiest ways to compost is to compost in place. In other words, add the scrap material to the area where the compost will eventually be used. This method works well for building new planting beds, amending vegetable beds not currently in use, and larger planters. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to Turn Your Stale Bread into Delicious Meals

I make almost all of my own bread and I invariably have little ends and crusts left over in the refrigerator. My chickens are now the beneficiary of all of this grainy goodness, but here are some ways to use up bread if you don't happen to have feathered friends:

Everyone has stale bread of some description in their refrigerator. It's either the heels of a loaf of bread long since finished, a couple of biscuits that didn't get eaten at dinner last night, or that loaf of French bread, now hard as a bullet, that you meant to serve with the spaghetti last week. These remnants of meals past stay in your refrigerator because you don't want to be wasteful and throw them out. 

Well, you don't have to. Cooks have been finding inventive ways to use up stale bread since bread was born. If you want to "save up" your stale bread for a time, keep a bag in the freezer with all of your bread ends. Here are some of my favorite uses for stale bread:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Make Your Own Herbal Vinegars: Do-It-Yourself Gifts for the Kitchen

Using herbal vinegars in the kitchen is one of my favorite secrets. They provide a really bright note to many dishes. Here are some tips on making your own using the herbs from your garden:

Gourmet chefs have used herb-infused vinegars for decades to give dishes a deep, rich note or a bright finishing touch. The price of store-bought herbal vinegars is steadily increasing as it is considered a "gourmet" item. 

Luckily, it's easy to make your own herbal vinegar at home. Herbal vinegars make wonderful hostess and holiday gifts but are also indispensable in your own kitchen.


Friday, August 20, 2010

How to Survive an Impending Famine

One common reason for wanting to grow your own food is to ensure that your family can feed itself in the face of an emergency or food shortage. Here are some tips for making sure that you are prepared for the much-reported wheat and rice shortages to come:

Tips to Protecting Yourself and Your Family

It may seem alarmist to be discussing famine in America in 2008, but economists, agricultural experts and politicians alike are watching the markers. The safety and security of our food crops is taken for granted although it takes only a few disasters, either natural or man-made, to upset the balance and availability of crops. 

In March 2008, spring flooding has all but eradicated Arkansas' spring wheat crop and Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri all are reporting similar conditions. Much of the remaining U.S. wheat crop has been pre-sold to foreign countries, therefore it will be domestic supplies that run out first. 


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tips for the Lazy Gardener: Propagating Your Plants

I'm a big fan of getting something for nothing, and I propagate most of my own (and friends') plants this way:

How to Get More Plants with Less Effort

One way to increase the number of plants is through vegetative propagation. Depending on the type of plant, you can vegetatively propagate through the rooting of tip cuttings or by dividing the clump. Each cutting or new division becomes a new plant that you've acquired for free. 


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Make Your Own Fish Fertilizer - Turn Your Fish Scraps into Garden Gold

Fish fertilizer is one of the best for your vegetable garden. If you fish, you can make your own.

If you are a fisherman (or fisherwoman, as the case may be), you are used to having buckets of fish parts left over after cleaning your fish. Instead of throwing them out, try making your own fish fertilizer. Commercial fish fertilizer available in stores can cost more than $30 per gallon. You can make your own for free. Homemade fish fertilizer has the added benefit of using fresh fish which improves the levels of enzymes and other beneficial elements. Although the process is a bit smelly, once you see how your plants react to the fish fertilizer, you will be hooked. 


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Planting an Herbal Tea Garden

You can grow all of the most popular herbs for tea right on your patio!

If you are a fan of herbal teas, you know how expensive they can be to buy in grocery stores. Fortunately, the most common herbs that go into herbal teas are easy to grow and fast to spread. You can make your own custom tea blends every morning with nothing more than a pair of scissors and a teapot. Follow these tips to grow all of your favorite tea herbs:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Growing Strawberries in Hanging Baskets

Improve Your Strawberry Yield and Beautify Your Patio

Eating fresh strawberries is one of my favorite spring rituals. I'm not talking about those cellophane-boxed giant red cardboard-tasting strawberries shipped from California. I mean my own strawberries picked fresh every morning in my pajamas from my patio. 

Growing strawberries is an easy gardening project and very economical as strawberries will create their own babies to replace them in two to three years. Growing strawberries in hanging baskets is not only visually stunning, but keeps strawberries from rotting on the soil and helps keep squirrels and other strawberry-lovers away. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to Make Your Own Marinated Olives

Rather than paying exorbitant amounts for gourmet marinated olives in the grocery store, make your own starting with regular canned olives.

Marinated olives are a particularly welcome treat on an appetizer platter. There are as many kinds of olives as there are palates. Both green (unripe) and black (ripe) olives come from Italy, Spain, Morocco and California. 

Marinated olives in the deli section of your local grocery store can cost upwards of $12 per pint. The good news is that it is easy to make your own gourmet, marinated olives from a can of 99-cent olives and a few simple ingredients. 


Monday, August 2, 2010

The Penny-Wise Gourmet: Make Your Own Gourmet Potato Chips

You can make better (and healthier!) potato chips than anything you can buy in the store!

Easy Microwave Method Saves Money and Calories

Gourmet potato chips in the grocery store are tempting with so many flavor combinations not found in your regular bag of Lay's. Flavors such as malt vinegar & sea salt, spring onion & cilantro and basil & garlic. 

But they can also be very expensive; costing as much as $6 per bag. Fortunately, it is easy and very inexpensive to make your own custom gourmet potato chips at home without the mess of deep frying. This is not only good news for your pocketbook but for your bathroom scale as well.