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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Water Saving Tips

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...
When you lose your water supply, you quickly assess what water needs are most important. First off, it’s important to have drinking water. After that, cooking probably takes a close second. Laundry and personal hygiene can take the back burner for a few days, but after that – you need to start figuring out how to make the most out of your stored water.
When we did the 7 Day Challenge we learned a lot from our readers about how they saved, or stretched their water supply. Here are some of the great suggestions we received. If you have any others, make sure to leave a comment.

  • First off, FILL YOUR WATER CONTAINERS. We heard from SO many people they had containers they just hadn’t gotten around to filling yet. The challenge has been over for a couple weeks, quit procrastinating and get to it TODAY!
  • Bathe in a large bucket, and use bottles that have the types of tops that squirt (refillable condiment containers) when pressure is applied. This will help with faster rinsing. Use the remaining bath water in the bucket for flushing toilets.
  • Use coralite bath wipes, for quick bathing.
  • Store some no rinse shampoo and conditioner for hair.
  • Have paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable tableware to use to allow you to cut back on dish water.
  • Use recipes that mix most ingredients in one dish, or pan that you serve straight from to cut back on dishes.
  • Store wet wipes, and hand sanitizer to help clean up messes, and wash hands.
  • Tap into your water heater for water if you run out of stored water.
  • Wear your hair in ponytails, or wear hats when you can’t wash your hair as frequently during prolonged times with no water.
  • If you have a swamp cooler that runs on water, make sure you have back up cooling methods such as fans, or wet rags to cool your body off during hotter weather.
  • Fill liquid soap/detergent bottles with water. You have water for washing small load of dishes. Soapy water for hands, and the bottles squirt out better then soda or juice containers.
  • Save water from cooking noodles, or boiling water. Use water from canned vegetables.
  • Don’t wait until you are out of clean clothes to do laundry!
  • If you have to do laundry get a bucket, put a little baking soda, a tad of water, plunge by hand or with plunger. No need to rinse with baking soda. Baking soda will eradicate smell too.
  • If you’re water has a funny taste, store drink flavoring to improve the taste. You can also aerate the water by pouring it back and forth between two containers. It adds oxygen to the water and gets rid of the stale taste.
  • Flush conservatively. Use water you previously used for bathing to flush the toilets.

Saving Vegetable Seeds

Wouldn't it be really cool if you didn't have to buy vegetable seeds ever again?  Well, you can, with a little bit of knowledge and practice.  Seed saving for the crop next season is fun and very cheap, and the beauty of it is that you can begin to adapt plant varieties to become conditioned to your climate.

I have tried seed saving with mixed success, so in this post I will try and explain how I have achieved at least a few successes and what I have learned along the way.  So far I have managed to save quite a few types of vegetables using a few different methods.

The first type of seed that I tried to save was purple podded peas.  It was simple enough to decide which plant was the largest and had the biggest pods. So after I harvested the other plants, I left this one to dry out so that I could collect the seeds.  If you are expecting lots of rain, it is probably best if you pull the plant when it is just going dry and hang it upside down out of the weather.  Once the pods were dry, I took out the seeds and stored them in an airtight glass jar.  I have been successfully growing purple podded peas using this method for 3 years now.  Looking back, it is hard to believe that I only bought a $2.50 packet of 25 seeds in the first place and besides the seeds I have saved, we have had many pea feasts as well!  This drying on the bush method is also good for all types of beans, and I have collected Daikon radish seeds in this manner as well.



For smaller, more delicate seeds, I have let the desired plant flower and set seed.  Just before it begins to dry out, I put a brown paper bag over the seed head and tied it off with a rubber band.  When the seed heads dry the seeds fall into the bag, and all you have to do is label and store them in a dry, cool place for next seasons planting.  I have used this method with lettuce, silverbeet, rainbow chard, onions, leeks, radishes, carrots, parsnips, parsley, dill, and basil.  All of these types of plants usually self pollinate so you will not have too many problems with cross pollination.   These vegetables will usually stay 'true to type', that is, this generation of the plant you harvested seed from will be mostly the same as you will get in the next generation.

Another method of saving seed are by tuber.  For example potatoes, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke and yacon to name a few.  You harvest the best looking tubers and store them in a hessian bag in a dark, dry place for sowing in the next season.

Garlic is another of my favourites and easy to save for planting in the next season.  Keep a few bulbs from your crop (the larger the better), and when it is time to plant garlic in your part of the world, simply pull apart the bulb and plant single large cloves, pointy end upwards about 20cm appart.  A new bulb will grow around the clove and you will never be without garlic ever again!  Use the smaller inner cloves for cooking as you will end up with very tiny bulbs of garlic at the end of the season.




Sometimes you don't even need seeds to grow another plant.  You can take a cutting and stick it into some moist seed raising mix or some loamy soil and most of the time it will strike roots and continue to grow a clone of the parent plant.  I have successfully propagated tomatoes, all types of mint, eggplants (aubergine), and capsicum (bell peppers) using this method.  You can buy root hormone powder to enhance your success rate, however I find that most cuttings usually strike roots and I have about a 80-90% success rate.

Sweet corn or maize is another easy vegetable to save seeds from.  Let the cob dry out on the plant and then remove the outer husk and then with a twisting motion with your hands around the cob, the seeds usually just fall off.  I make sure that I have a large bowl or tea towel underneath to catch the kernels when I husk corn cobs.  I then store them in a glass jar in a dark place until required.  I have only saved popping corn using this method, but I dare say it would work with any type of corn.  Remember that corn is pollinated by the wind and I read that to keep the strain pure you need at least 500 metres between varieties.  Let hope your neighbour isn't growing corn at the same time!

Collecting seeds from the cucurbit family may look as easy as scooping the seeds out of a cucumber, pumpkin, squash or zucchini, and letting them dry on paper towel, however there are a few things you must know so that you get true to type seeds for next season.  The cucurbit family readily cross pollinate when nearby, and each variety does not care where the pollen comes from as long it is from its own family.  Each plant also has a male flower and a female flower.  You can identify the female flower because it has a small swelling at the base which when pollinated becomes a fruit.  The flowers only live for one or two days and open at down so that the bees can spread the pollen from male to female.  One book I read recommends that you plant each variety of cucurbit at least 400 metres apart to stop cross pollination, but you can also hand pollinate to control the exchange of pollen.  This is done by protecting the flowers from insects or wind whilst the female flower is receptive.



  • Firstly select male and female flowers the evening before they are due to open.  You can tell this because they will be rigid and have some yellow on the seams of the closed bud.  
  • Close each flower with a rubber band or some masking tape or wrap the entire flower in some pantyhose and tie it at the stem so no insects will be able to get at the flower at first light.
  • In the morning cut the male flower off at the base of its stalk and take off the petals to expose the male part.  Open the flower and rub the male part into the female part.  You could use a few different male flowers from the same species to imitate the way a bee pollinates, but I have found that this was not necessary when I did it..  
  • After the pollen is well coated on the female part, shut or cover the female with pantyhose again until the flower withers.  
  • Make sure you put a tag around the stem of the plant so that as it grows bigger you know that it is a keeper.  You could also write on the skin with a waterproof maker pen as I did.  Tell everyone in your family not to pick it either or you may end up loosing your carefully hand pollinated treasure.  
  • Before harvesting the fruit, make sure it is a big as it can possibly be so that it will ensure that you have very plump seeds.  
  • Store the ripe fruit for a few weeks before opening and collecting the seeds.  Dry and store in a brown paper bag in a dry, cool position.

Tomatoes don't cross pollinate readily and are self pollinating, however to almost guarantee (there are no full guarantees in gardening) a true to type seed keep each row of different varieties at least 3 metres apart.  Allow the fruit to ripen to just beyond eating and then cut them open and squeeze the seeds and pulp into a jar.  Add a little water and label the jar and leave in a warm place for a few days.  A foam will form on top so scoop it off, add more water and pour the mixture through a sieve.  Wash until the seeds are clean.  Spread them on sheets of kitchen towel and let dry.  I then peel them off the towel and put in envelopes for next season.  I have been using the original tigerella seeds I collected in 2007 for two years now and they still germinate quite well.

Of all the seed saving methods, the simplest is what I call the 'volunteer' method.  I usually find that as the weather warms up in spring, I get so many tomato seedlings growing in the beds that I had tomatoes planted in them in the year before.  I just scoop out the seedling with a bit of soil still around the roots and then re-pot so that they grow a bit stronger before transplanting them into a different bed for crop rotation.  It is a bit of a lucky dip, but if you use heirloom seeds each year or collect your own, then there is no reason you can't liberate these volunteers so that they provide you with a bumper harvest.  Last year ever single tomato plant that I grew was a volunteer as the seeds I tried to grow got waterlogged in a downpour and I lost the lot.  I had a massive crop of all different types of tomatoes.



Well that is about all I have achieved in my seed saving, but I am quite proud of the types of plants I have continued to save seeds from especially the cucurbits.  It certainly has saved me a lot of money, and I feel that these plants are beginning to adapt to our dryer climate.  Humans have been saving seeds for thousands of years, so why not give it a go.  I am sure you will reap a bumper harvest from the seeds you collect!

Improvised Arc Welder



Simple Enough?

The farmer & the little old lady...

A farmer stopped by the local mechanic shop to have his truck fixed. They couldn't do it while he waited, so he said he didn't live far and would just walk home.

On the way home he stopped at the hardware store and bought a bucket and a gallon of paint. He then stopped by the feed store and picked up a couple of chickens and a goose. However, struggling outside the store he now had a problem how to carry his purchases home.

While he was scratching his head he was approached by a little old lady who told him she was lost. She asked, "Can you tell me how to get to 1603 Mockingbird Lane ?" The farmer said, "Well, as a matter of fact, my farm is very close to that house. I would walk you there but I can't carry this lot."

The old lady suggested, "Why don't you put the can of paint in the bucket. Carry the bucket in one hand; put a chicken under each arm and carry the goose in your other hand?"

"Why thank you very much," he said and proceeded to walk the old gal home.

On the way he says "Let's take my short cut and go down this alley. We'll be there in no time."

The little old lady looked him over cautiously then said, "I am a lonely widow without a husband to defend me. How do I know that when we get in the alley you won't hold me up against the wall, pull up my skirt, and have your way with me?"

The farmer said, "Holy smokes lady! I'm carrying a bucket, and a gallon of paint, two chickens, and a goose. How in the world could I possibly hold you up against the wall and do that?"

The old lady replied, "Set the goose down, cover him with the bucket, put the paint on top of the bucket, and I'll hold the chickens.

:taped: :D: :eek:
 
 

Grow a Rosemary Herb Shrub

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rosemary-herbs-shrub


Save money, and experience a healthful and potent flavor by growing your own Rosemary herb shrub.
I have had two Rosemary shrubs growing outdoors for a few years now, and it has been a simple process to get a final product “herb”. I decided to grow Rosemary because I really enjoy the flavor on foods, especially when sprinkled on chicken. When I eat meat, I eat lots more chicken than beef (being health conscious) and therefore I normally go through a fair amount of Rosemary. At the grocery store, Rosemary might cost around $4 for a spice jar, so growing your own does save money. When I dried my first batch of Rosemary and tried it out, I was very surprised at how much better the flavor was than grocery store. Really, it is a lot better!
Rosemary is a great additive flavor for chicken, pork, lamb, and salmon as well as many soups and sauces. Rosemary actually grows on a small evergreen shrub and the leaves look like flat tiny pine needles. The Rosemary leaves offer a great health benefit because they are a highly effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, and also increases blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration. This book, Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking With Herbs, will be a great addition to your library and will help you with all things herbal from growing tips to usage.
The Rosemary shrub branches or sprigs can be cut and then used “fresh” by removing the individual leaves, or use the entire branch for things like tossing into a soup to extract the flavor, etc… Rosemary can also be dried, after which the little leaves are easily removed from the branch by simply running your hand down the length of the branch. They can then be crushed into smaller pieces (if you want them smaller) and kept in a sealed container for use at any time.
So if you like Rosemary herb, I highly encourage you to go buy yourself a little Rosemary shrub (or two) and enjoy the wonderful flavor of fresh grown Rosemary. You will be shocked how good it is.
If your winter temperature drops below 30 degrees F, then you will need to grow it in a pot so you can bring it indoors for the winter. If you do that, be sure to keep the Rosemary pot near a sunny window because it will need a good 6 to 8 hours of sun per day.


Hang the Rosemary branch to dry. First rinse the freshly cut branches in cool water. Then, tie several together with a string and hang indoors for several weeks. I love the initial aroma in the room when I hang the branches.
hang-rosemary-to-dry


Remove the leaves from the branch or sprig. After the leaves are dry and brittle, hold the tip of the branch with one hand, and then with the other hand loosely wrap it around the branch and slide down from top to bottom. Most of the little leaves will come right off.
dried-rosemary-leaves


Crush the leaves smaller. After the leaves are removed, you can crush them smaller by simply picking up a handful and crushing in the palm of your hands until they are as small as you want. Store in an airtight container.
dried-crushed-rosemary-leaves



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