Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Learning to 'put up' food for the winter

As you know, I have been changing my diet, and researching ways to preserve food, so I will eventually be able to live entirely on what I grow here on the farm. That day is getting closer sooner than I thought! I just signed up for an online (FREE!!) course on how to preserve food. I have always wanted to learn to can, but it just seems like so much WORK! I've just discovered there is an easier way. Yesterday, I harvested all my beets. The greens went into salads, but what to do with all those beets? I wanted to can, but all that work seemed daunting. Then I remembered you can ferment all sorts of veggies. Sounds a bit gross, but the flora it creates is super-healthy for you, and helps to keep your colon clean and you digesting well. So, I filled 2 jars with sliced up beets, added sea salt and water, and in three days... voila! Preserved beets. How easy is that? I'm going to do a couple more jars, and add apple cider vinegar... that sounds delicious!
Over the last few years, I have spent a fortune on juice and drinks. I just get tired of drinking plain water all the time. This week, however, I am learning to make my own pop - Ginger Beer - the old fashioned way. No chemicals, no additives, no preservitives. My friend made some last week, and was it ever delicious! I am going to try making blueberry flavoured. Then maybe raspberry. Then, something else. I will have endless yummy, healthy drinks for just pennies a gallon. No more store bought stuff for me!

If you are interested in learning about preserving food the old, OLD fashioned way (before canners) try this link:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Panic averted... for the moment

Well, it took about an hour, but water started coming out of my hose again. I didn't put my head under the covers like I threatened to do, but was it ever tempting! Instead, I started looking at Craigslist, UsedNanaimo and Kijiji. Low and behold, a guy just over in Chemainus (about 10 minutes from here) was selling some used 100 gallon water tanks! So, I ran right over and bought the 2 he had left. They aren't the full solution, but they will help! I go over tomorrow to pay him and help him load them up... he is going to deliver them for me. I am going to arrange them under the rainspout, so they will fill up (IF we ever get rain again) or if the worst was to happen, and I run out of water, at least if I have to get some trucked in, I will have somewhere for the delivery guy to put it!!

I decided not to give up on the gardening thing. Last year, I panicked, and started harvesting everything early, afraid I was going to run out of water. This year, I am just going to be very frugal with the water, and hope it lasts until the rains come again. I planted 3 beds of kale, some kohlrabi and some beets this morning - hand watered everything, so not a drop was wasted. It will take alot of my time, but I will continue to hand water until the bitter end...

I am also starting more seeds for my fall/ spring crops. I wish I had more seed trays, but I am just making do with what I have right now. I have been using my EM and my mycchroizzal fungi with everything I have planted, so we'll see how big of a difference that makes! I also went around the entire garden the other nite, and sprayed EVERYTHING with the EM. We shall see!

While I was having my panic attack yesterday, I saw the coolest thing... a snake zooming away with a huge slug in it's mouth! I ran in to grab my camera, but of course when I got out, the snake was gone. No wonder there are so many big, fat snakes around this year... easy pickings with all the slugs around here! It would've made a great picture, though.

A few days ago, I suddenly remembered I had planted a grape plant last fall. I had completely forgotten about it... bad farmer! Expecting the worst, I went to check on it. It was completely covered with weeds and grass, but I think that's what saved it - shaded it from the worst of the heat. It was alive! And looking healthy, to boot! Amazing. I watered it, and talked to it for a while, telling it it was a good little grape plant, and hopefully it will continue to flourish, and I'll get some grapes in a year or two!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Panic Attack

Well, I am sitting here having a total panic attack. The rain we had last week wasn't enough to help much. Last night, my well ran low, so this morning I have been very, very careful with it. I just went out to fill a watering can, and NO WATER CAME OUT. I never seriously entertained the idea that my well would run competely dry... I thought I would just have to be very, very careful with it. Now I feel a bit frozen. I don't know what to do! Where do you get water? I know you can get it trucked in (at great expense) but I don't have a holding tank. If anyone has any bright ideas, I'd love to hear them. I am FREAKING OUT.

I spent the morning transplanting seedlings... how do I water them? It had better rain very, very soon. A good, heavy, soaking rain.

Think I'm going to go put my head under the blankies now... I need to figure this out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Changes in my diet...

So, today I wanted to share with you the changes I've made in my diet the last few months. I have been researching (quite by accident!) on going back to a very traditional diet. Basically, if my grandma wouldn't have recognized the food, it's not on the menu. That's not to say I am being anal retentive about it - I let myself have some processed crap once in a while, but I find my body not liking it much when I do.
For dinner tonite (as an example) I had a stir fry with snap peas, zucchini, garlic, potatoes, broccoli (all fresh from my own garden) and pasture raised pork, and mushrooms (from the store.) It was delicious! And oh, so good for me!

Some simple changes I've made to get the process started:
  • no more refined sugar. If I need sugar, I now use unrefined cane sugar
  • sea salt instead of table salt
  • sourdough bread (fermented foods are extremely good for you... and yummy, too!)preferably made with whole grain flour, not white or whole wheat flour
  • unpasturized honey (pasturized honey has a glycemic level that is through the roof - the heating process does that. Plus, unpasturized has certain bacterias that are very beneficial to us)
  • Raw milk. This one is my personal favourite. It is illegal to buy (stupid government) so you have to find a cow share to get into). Raw milk has beneficial bacteria and microbes we all NEED to be healthy, and OMG is it ever good. You have to get your milk from grass-fed, hand milked cows. The grass fed is the healthiest way to keep your cow, and machine milked cows are the scary type... bad bacteria builds up in the machines, and that's why we now need to pasturize our grocery store milk. Think about it - 100 years ago, people drank raw milk every day, and no one died from it. It was only when we industrialized the process that people started to get sick.
  • Butter from grass fed cows. NO MORE MARGARINE! I now make my own butter from my milk each week. The stuff from the store is the same old story - made from corn and grain fed cows... NOT healthy for you at all.
  • meat - now I only get my meat from grass fed cows, pasture raised chickens and pigs. Also, I raise my own eggs from pasture raised chickens. These eggs and meat have lots of natural omega-3's, and other healthy nutrients we need. Again, it's how we raise the animals that has the most impact on how healthy the products we get from them are. Eggs only became 'bad' when they started raising them on corn and grain (not a natural diet) and keeping them in little cages or cramped in close quarters. Sad.
Slowly, I am adding a new element into my diet, making more of my own foods, growing as much as I can, and trying to buy organic when I can afford it.
Some huge differences I've noticed - the most noticable thing is that I don't get any zits anymore! I have only had one in the last 3 or 4 months. My skin is clearer than it's been since I was a kid. The zit I did get was just about 3 weeks ago. I was all rush, rush, and panicky - didn't have time to make something good, so I went to McDonald's. Within HOURS, I had a brush of pimples all over my chin. Geez! They have since cleared up, and I haven't had another since... I think that's telling me something!
I have more energy - I work 16 hour days, running 2 business', and I'm not totally dragged out all the time. I used to be, even when I wasn't working hard.
I have lost 10 lbs, and I am not even trying to. It is coming off slowly, but surely. It's great!
I still am not getting any major sugar cravings. I didn't realize I used to eat so much sugar - I thought my diet was good. Not. Now, I have a little piece of chocolate each day, and unless I get really stressed out, that seems to be enough.
My teeth seem to be getting healthier. I always have taken good care of my teeth, but have fillings all over the place. I have recently had a few fillings fall out, and can't afford to go to the dentist. BUT, the cavities I have in those places are hurting less and less, and getting less and less sensitive to temperature. Interesting!

So, I'm not telling you this to nag, or say that this is the only way to eat. Just Food For Thought;-) To me, it actually makes sense. This is how people used to eat in the olden days - before cancer was a common word, before everyone was chubby, and before tooth decay was rampant.

If you want to find out more, go to

Monday, July 12, 2010


Well, I have just been sitting here waiting for a dog to get picked up, looked outside my window, and it's RAINING! I almost cried for joy, I was so excited! This morning, my well ran out of water, so it really couldn't come at a better time. Don't worry, the well replenishes itself, but it does mean I am using too much water to get the gardens done.
Now, everyone, do a rain dance for me.... let's hope the rain continues long enough to actually do some GOOD!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Heat Wave

Well, it's happened. We are officially in a drought. We haven't had any rain to speak of in over 6 weeks now, and none in the forseeable forcast. All I do is water, water, water. Some in the morning, some in the evening - it's a constant cycle. I do have to say, my hay/mulch plan is working wonderfully, though. Instead of beds drying out in just a few days, they are lasting from 7-9 days without water. I figure, even though I've got double the beds I had last year, I am using about 50% of the water. My veggies are looking fabulous with this heat, though. I harvested my broccoli this morning... it is the nicest looking broccoli I have ever seen in a garden. I have to admit... I am a bit proud of it! I will definitely have to do more next year, since most of it will go into shares this week.

I have ordered my EM and my M. Fungi for my planting next week. I can't wait to try it, see how big a difference it makes. The kale I seeded several weeks ago is ready to go into the garden beds, but I'm not planting it until I get my new stuff!

I have also harvested all my garlic this week, and have it on the front porch to cure. I got some honkin' big garlic... you can never have too much garlic! Peas are almost done... they will be done either this week or next. I've already dug some under, getting ready to plant the kale in the same beds, but I've also started planting more peas in some of the beds that didn't do well. Peas will fix the nitrogen in the soil, and add some quick organic matter, so whatever I plant in there next will be fabulous.

One thing I've noticed this year, is the amount and variation of wildlife I have in my yard this year. I've seen a zillion snakes...all sorts of gorgeous colours - red, yellow, brown and green ones. Each time I see one, I get all excited... SNAKES EAT SLUGS!!! I will encourage these little snakes all I can! I actually really like snakes as a rule - not afraid of them at all. The other thing is birds... way more variety of pretty little songbirds. Bright yellow finches, and some yellow and red birds that I have no idea what they are. I am taking this all as a sign that my yard is healthy and thriving.

Since the heatwave started about a week ago, I've changed my working pattern. I have been getting up between 5 and 6 am, and going out to exercise dogs, and get as much gardening done as I can before it gets too hot. The weird thing is that I am enjoying getting so much done so early in the day. I don't even set my alarm... I just naturally wake up. When I used to work a 'real job', you couldn't drag me out of bed by 8... I would have to press snooze several times. I guess it makes a huge difference when you are doing something you love, and working for yourself. It's awesome.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cousin comes for a visit...

My favourite cousin, Lorelie came to visit yesterday. She has recently taken a course at the Gaia College up island, and came to share some of her new-found knowledge with me. I learned so much! It was awesome. She brought me some Plant Extract Tea, so we could try it on some of my veggies as a foliar spray, see if we could perk some of my squash and cucumbers up. Not a joke... we just did it yesterday, and already I see a few new green leaves coming up... they have been sickly and not very healthy this year so far, and I'm convinced that it's because I have new soil, and it doesn't have any organic matter in it yet.

To make plant extract tea:
Fill a 5 gallon pail 3/4 full of nettles, comfrey or horsetail.
Fill rest of bucket with clean water (no chlorine in it) Lucky I'm on a well!
cover with a lid, and let ferment for 10-14 days.

At the end, it really stinks, but you mix 1 cup of tea with 10 cups water, and spray it on your plants.

I am also making manure tea - just dumped a bunch of horse poo in a garbage can, filled with water, and am mixing a cup of that with a bunch of water to fill a watering can (not very scientific!) and watering my plants with it - I am trying to start to do that every 10 days or so.

She also told me about adding ocean water to compost - adds all the minerals you need for your garden. I plan on making a trip down to the ocean very, very soon to get some!

EM or Effective Micro organisms

I have heard of this before from another friend, but Lorelie really put it into perspective for me. I am ordering some as soon as I get paid.  You can get it from  He will ship it to wherever you live.

Mycrroizal Fungi.... (am certain I didn't spell that correctly...!)

To use when seeding or transplanting. Combines with roots of plants for a symbiotic relationship.

The amazing thing is you should never, ever use even 'organic' fertilizers in your garden (commercially made stuff that is). What she was taught was to improve and make the soil healthy, then your plants will be healthy, and be better able to fight off fungus and bugs and disease. Makes sense, and I've heard that before, but wasn't sure how to go about it. Now I have the tools. I have already started my Plant Tea Extract, and it will be ready in about 9 days, and can't wait to see how things start to grow, grow, grow!

She told me some tips on making a wormfarm, which I've tried before and failed at. This way makes more sense to me... I think I will try it again soon, so I can get that worm poo growing;-) I won't describe it now... it is getting late, and I am too tired.

It's been threatening rain for a week, but we haven't actually got more than a drop or two. We need it, BAD! Now, I just checked the weather station, and it's supposed to get super hot this coming week. I've been busy all week putting hay and mulch on almost all the beds, and hope to have that finished tomorrow. The less pressure I put on the well, the better. Even if it keeps the moisture locked in the beds for a few extra days between waterings, it will be a great help. I may work on putting an extra layer on, just in case...

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!