Garden Wind Chime Tutorial

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Hey Friends! I got inspired this week to make a fun little wind chime for the garden! I wanted it to be quick and easy and off course whimsical and unique. So voila! I think it turned out so cute and I only wish Ava had been big enough to do one with me! I think this would be the perfect summer project for kids to work on! IT IS SO EASY TO MAKE!!

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MATERIALS NEEDED :

1.) Spray paint - I used a chalk paint because I wanted a mat finish. You could do any color, or even have them be hand painted with stamped patterns etc. The possibilities are endless! I painted mine white.

2.) Terra Cotta Pots- I used the smallest ones Wal-Mart had. You can also do it with larger pots. Purchase the ones I got HERE

3.) Wood Beads- I bought mine at Wal-Mart in the craft section. They came in varied sizes and perfect to choose a variety from ! CLICK HERE

4.) Hemp Cord- You can also use rope if your pots are bigger! I used the help rope that was of the right diameter to go through the hole on the bottom of the pot. CLICK HERE

5.) Fancy Beads. Then you need a mixed media bead strand such as this. CLICK HERE. Choose the color you prefer or love the most. hese are the ones you find in the make your own jewelry section. They come in one strand. I got one with pink hues.

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HOW TO:

Friends this is the easy part I think! And you can’t mess it up!

1.) Make a loop with your rope ( for hanging) and tie an extra knot at the bottom. This will be the top of your wind chime.

2.) Next begin sliding beads on! You can do WHATEVER you want! I’d say 2 big ones and then a few smaller. Then tie knot.

3.) Slide your first pot on! Then tie a knot close to the top of the pot so it doesn’t fall down. Then slide some beads in! Make sure they are actually inside the pot a bit as this is what will chime when it moves around. Have about 2-3 beads stick out of the bottom.

4.) Tie a knot then add a few more beads a little ways down. Then add another pot and repeat.

YOU CAN ADD as many pots as you’d like! I only added 3, but you can do more!!

5.) To finish add a few more beads to dangle off the end. Tie a double knot, cut the cord, and VOILA!! You’ve done it!

Tips:

Vary the sizes of wood pieces and intermix in some sparkly pieces. This will add dimension and whimsy to your piece! This was so easy to make and the perfect summer DIY

Enjoy Friends! Let me know if you make one!!

xoxo: Annette

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4th of July Star Cookies

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4th of July Star Cookies 

The holiday is fast approaching! This is a fun easy cookie to make that is delicious and can almost be labeled as healthy too!! Try it out and let me know what you think!


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Ingredients for Cookie

WET

1 cup coconut oil (room temperature)

1/2 cup of juice from 1 can of garbanzo beans ( called aquafaba) 

1.5 tsp vanilla ( clear) 

Pinch of salt


DRY

1 Cup of sugar 

2 tsp baking powder 

3.5 cups of  flour 

Ingredients for Frosting & toppings

1 container of Tofutti cream cheese

1 Cup powdered sugar ( more if you’d like it sweeter) 

2 tsp vanilla extract 

Blueberries 

Sliced strawberries 


Directions: 

 Cookie

  1. Cream sugar and oil together with hand mixer until smooth, then add garbanzo liquid and vanilla. Mix together. 

  2. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients together. 

  3. Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet and mix until dough is blended and can be rolled into a ball. 

  4. Dust surface with flower and roll out  ( If too wet add a bit more flour, and if needed chill in fridge for 5 minutes. Coconut oil can get slippery if too warm) 

  5. Roll out and dust with flower before cutting cookie. 

  6. Use desired cookie cutter shape. 

  7. Preheat oven to 350. 

  8. Place cookies on cookie sheet  and bake exactly 10 minutes. Do not cook longer. Cookies will not brown and will be slightly soft still when removed from oven. They will harden when cooled. Place on rack to dry.

Frosting

1.  Mix “cream cheese” , sugar, and vanilla in mixer. Use knife to spread frosting onto cooled cookies.  Add sliced strawberries and blueberries! SERVE!! 

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I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! Let me know if you make them. It’s a great recipe to vary as well! You can add lemon zest and juice to make a delicious lemon shortbread cookie! Almond extract and things like cinnamon and such make it all sorts of yummy too so try it out and let me know!

xoxo, Annette

Delicious "Cheese" Dip

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Friends! This is hands down one of the easiest most healthy and delicious cheese recipes you will ever make! Not only is it easy and tasty but it is very inexpensive and contains no common food allergens so win win! The consistency of the potato and carrot once blended really does mimic a cheese sauce. This works well for so many recipes! Stay tuned for one coming up next week you can make for fourth of july!

Delicious “Cheese Dip” 

Ingredients: 

2 Cups of potatoes ( russet or yukon) diced large and peeled. 

2 Cups of carrots, diced large 

1/2 Cup water ( use water from cooked potatoes and carrots) 

1/3 Cup olive oil 

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 tsp salt

1tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

pinch of cayenne powder  (optional) 

Directions: 

Boil potatoes and carrots until soft, drain ( use 1/2 cup of this liquid as the water) 

Blend in a high powered blender such as a vita mix until very smooth. 

Serve!

Will store for 1 week in refrigerator . May be re-heated on stovetop or microwave. This makes a great nacho cheese dip but can also be used for enchiladas, scalloped potatoes & more 

Makes approximately 4 cups 

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ENJOY!

4th of July table inspiration

Hey Friends! Summer is about to be in full swing and that means 4th of July is right around the corner. I like to create pretty things and thought a tables cape for the holiday would be fun!

I liked the concept of an indoor picnic so this is what I went with! Natural elements, and just a few pops of red, white and blue!! Easy and fun! I love the woven caddy from Hearth and Hand ( CICK HERE) You can put your silverware, napkins, and even some drinks in it! Beautiful and easy to carry. Pops of color can come from the napkins or even food itself such as blueberries and strawberries. Add some sparkly stars and voila you’re done!

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Create your own similar tables cape! All is reasonably priced and most pieces you will use over and over!

See Links below

Dishes- They are from Target and are super versatile CLICK HERE

Placemats- I have used these placemats from Wax-Mart for almost everything! They are great! CLICK HERE

Silverware- Gold plated silverware from Target. A must have you can use over and over again. CLICK HERE

Mason Jar’s with straws- I got these at Wax-Mart and they are SO cute and useful! CLICK HERE

Woven Utensil caddy is available now at Target from the Hearth and Hand collection CLICK HERE

Patriotic Napkins- add a pop of color without being too loud with a set of napkins from Target. CLICK HERE

Mashed Potato Casserole

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Hey Friends! This recipe came from a family friend and I couldn’t believe it was plant-based the first time I ate it! So delicious, creamy, and tasty. This is definitely a recipe to try if you are taking food to something and want it to not contain dairy but you still want it to taste good.

Trust me I know. Most vegan things can be viewed as gross or non-tasty. This is not one of those. Although it’s not fat-free or calorie free it is cholesterol free! Yay!

I hope you guys enjoy it.

xo:

Annette

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Mashed Potato Casserole 



Ingredients 

10-12 Russet Potatoes (medium size)

1 12oz package vegan sour cream (tofutti superme)

1 8oz package vegan cream cheese (tofutti) 

1 stick of butter (earth balance) 

1 Tbs better than bouillon ( organic) 

4 Tbs minced garlic

salt & pepper to taste 

paprika to sprinkle

minced chives 



Directions 

1.Preheat oven to 350

2.Boil, peel, & mash potatoes. 

3.In a small saucepan melt butter, sour cream, cream cheese, garlic, bouillon, & salt. Heat until warm. Once warmed pour over potatoes and mix well. 

4. Pour onto baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. 

5. Top with sprinkled paprika and chives. 



May be made in advance. Refrigerate and bake when ready. 

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Jared's Soil Recipe

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Jared's Message Below

The recipe below was created to see if we could have a concoction that allowed for maximum germination of seedlings. So typically when you plant say 10 seeds in some potting soil, you may only see 7 plants pop up. But there are ways to increase that ‘germination rate’. One of those is amending the soil. About 10 years ago, I decided to eat a diet of mostly plants because I saw that the strongest animals have diets of mostly plants, that the longest living Americans have a diet of mostly plants and that eating lots of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts etc results in a healthy gut bacteria and finally and most importantly - healthy blood. What we eat turns into blood which gives us life. We are now seeing that what we eat effects our mind and outlook. 

Why do I bore you with all of those details? :) Because with healthy blood, we can be more likely to be free from sickness and disease. You’ve heard the expression ‘catching a cold’ - well plants also can ‘catch’ diseases and be overcome by a ‘bug’ that eats its leaves and consumes our dinner. We don’t want that. 

So what I learned along the journey was if we want the body to be healthy, we give it the best most nourishing food. If we want our garden to be healthy, we give the soil the best most nourishing food. Think of the soil as your garden’s ‘blood supply’. If it is healthy, all will be well. 

The key is to keep giving back to the soil so that it will keep giving back to you. 

Some of you may be growing in a pot or two. Others may have a whole garden. Either way it is all the same, give back and the soil will give back to you. I believe what we learn in the garden is the great principle of life ‘don’t be selfish’. If we build up the soil and keep nourishing it, we will get a huge blessing far greater in return. 

Ok so this recipe we mentioned in the podcast that was tested and retested at various labs and was found to have a very high ‘brix’ ratio. What that means is basically all the ingredients worked optimally together and the soil was amazing. This equates into higher germination and lower pest problems and higher disease resistance.

I ended up giving this recipe to many schools around the world where they teach kids how to grow their own food especially some where the students rely on the sale of produce to pay for school. I continue to be excited about the testimonies I see of results with this recipe. 

I will say they aren’t the easiest ingredients to find but as many as you can find makes all the difference. If you have a larger garden or farm then you can likely get most of these at farm supply store and a few shipped in. 

We have added these to our garden beds and the best part - the produce grown in soil with amendments like these is delicious. Tomatoes taste like they’ve already been salted :) 



Here it is: 

6 Qt. Peat Moss 

18 Qt. Worm Compost

1/2  Qt. Gypsum

1/4 Qt. Molasses

2 Qt. Alfalfa

1/4 Qt. Kelp

1 TBSP. SEA-90

1/2  Qt. BioChar



Let me try to explain it in easier terms: 

Peat Moss is ground up trees, you can buy it at most Home Depots. It helps hold water and makes up the bulk of your soil mixture. We first used this using worm manure basically but now we are using our alpaca and donkey manure. They say worm compost has some benefits but its a little pricey. The key is to use a manure that isn’t from animals that are being given antibiotics or hormones. The gypsum is easy to find. Molasses and Alfalfa can be found at an animal feed store. The bio char is basically ashes from a fire to keep it simple. The Kelp is actually from the ocean, you can find this online and it provides all the nutrients from the ocean, pretty much all that we need to be healthy. The SEA-90 is something you need to be VERY careful with. This is basically sea salt. What you want to do is put a tablespoon of this into a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with water. Then water your plants with this mixture maybe 2-3 times during the growth of the plant and only when it is in the garden or pot, not for seedlings. To be honest, I know this is a key component but I have messed up and even ruined some plots in my garden in the past because of adding too much ’salt’ into the soil. So you may want to have a plant or two in pots that you experiment with this. 

This is enough to fill a small wheelbarrow or a few 5 gallon buckets just to give you an idea of how much soil you will have. You can use this to start your seeds in little seed trays or add some under each plant that you put into the ground. Think of it like superfood for your seeds and plants. I would guess that you might spend $100-$200 if you were to buy everything but that would be enough to make ALOT of this mixture. Probably enough to last you for a while or for a very large garden. When I make it lately, I just sprinkle it down the rows in our garden that we want to plant in or add some into each hole I dig. 



Thank you so much for your passion to grow :) I’d love to hear you

Happy Planting, Jared

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Breakfast " Sausage"

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Hey Friends! Here is a quick and easy, healthy recipe that I love to make. It’s something you can eat at breakfast or depending on the topping anytime of day! There’s lots of options!

Breakfast “Sausage”

Ingredients: 

3 1/2 cups of water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 Tbs maple syrup 

2 Tbs onion powder 

2 Tbs garlic powder

1 Tbs dried sage 

1Tbs Italian seasoning

1/2 Tbs smoked paprika 

2 Tbs oil ( olive oil) 

1 tsp salt 

1 tsp liquid smoke 

1/2 tsp cayenne (optional) 

4 Cups quick cooking oats ( Gluten-Free if preferred) 

Directions: 


  1. Preheat oven to 350, use non-stick cookie sheet 

  2. Combine ingredients in small saucepan and bring to a boil 

  3. Add oats and stir well. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 min 

  4. Roll into 2 inch balls, if sticky coat hands with a little oil. Place on baking sheet and flatten 

  5. Bake 15 min then flip and bake for 10

Serve with ketchup, salsa, or your favorite sauce. May be frozen and saved for later! Re-heat at 400 for 20 min each side. 

Recipe makes 24

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Tree Planting Like A Boss

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Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. 

-Martin Luther

If ever there was something that required patience it would be planting a fruit tree. You put in all this hard work only to wait a few years to see it pay off. But I can say that planting fruit trees has taught me a lot about some jargon we hear in the business world that sometimes doesn’t make sense. 

One term that gets thrown around a lot is - Seed Capital – This is the amount of investment you need to just get started. Sure it’s risky but it could pay off huge dividends. When you think of planting something by seed especially a fruit tree, you can imagine the hope and anticipation of one day seeing that one seed turn into thousands and thousands of peaches or apples or cherries. 

I remember a saying that went something like “it’s easy to count the seeds in an apple, but how about counting the apples in a seed”.

I have personally used the below method and I’ve seen others apply the same method and see amazing results. Bottom line, by following this method you will grow trees many times faster than others. This includes height, breadth, foliage and fruit yield. 

Below is an image of the idea. 

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The story goes like this. An American, named Ellen White, moved to Australia to help start a school in the 1800s. The students needed to earn money for tuition and to eat. They tried all different types of planting methods to increase yield. This one worked and it worked in an amazing way. 

You want to dig a huge hole, much bigger than you would think necessary. This loosens up all the soil so that the roots can easily inch their way left and right and down to find more nutrients to keep growing. 

I dug a 3’ by 3’ hole. Put all the dirt in a pile and then you want to add in your amendments one layer at a time. You will see some instructions in the picture above but I think I can make this a little easier on you. 

There are a couple schools of thought on the pipe in the hole. The image says Tin Can, but I used 4” PVC pieces of pipe from a Hardware store. The reason for this is to trap oxygen in the bottom of the hole. The oxygen feeds the microorganisms and causes a flourishing of growth. 

The key to growth of a tree is that the roots are getting all the proper nutrients that they need. I think of them like the immune system of a human. If the immune system is good, all will be well. Or more specifically you could say the gut bacteria. If the gut is good and the microbiome is good then all is well. 

So if you have healthy soil you are much more likely to have a healthy tree that does not need any sprays or chemicals to keep bugs and disease away. I’m a big believer that with plants and humans, if we take care of them as they were designed, they will do great without needing chemicals etc to survive. 

Here are your steps: 

STEP 1 – Put some very rich compost and topsoil mix into the bottom of your hole. You want your roots to reach down and find all the good stuff deep in this hole. I would even recommend mixing up a batch of a mixture of top soil, compost (manure) from organically raised animals, and if possible mixing in a little peat moss, ground up kelp, bio char, organic alfalfa hay and ground molasses. Many of those you can get at a feed store. Don’t stress if you can’t find them all, use as many as you can. Use this at the bottom of the hole and as you add new layers of it. 

STEP 2 – Put a layer of gravel on top this mixture you just put in the bottom of the hole. This as I’m told does something to the electrical current in the ground and channels it into the tree. Just a thin layer of some type of rocks. 

STEP 3 – Now put a 4” PVC pipe with large rocks stuffed into the ends so that for the most part the pipe will trap air in the middle of your hole and not fill with dirt. 

STEP 4 – Gently put some more of your mixture of soil and amendments around the pipe and on top your rock layer and fill it up 2/3 of the hole. Think of the hole in thirds. 

STEP 5 – Put a big rock on top your mixture and now you’re going to put a little layer of your soil mixture on top that rock and then set your tree (or in one experiment I tried – my tomato plant) on top this rock. Then fill in the rest of the hole and around your tree with your super soil mixture.

STEP 6 – put some type of mulch i.e. hay or straw on top of your hole

STEP 7 - Water that tree for 10-15 minutes. (Keep watering every other day and watch it grow.) 

*** If you want maximum growth, I would do something that sounds crazy. This is an old testament gardening trick but I can say it works. For the first 1-3 years of your tree, pluck the fruit off right after the buds come in each spring. This allows for all the energy of the tree to go into the roots. Then your tree will produce so much more and be so much stronger as the years go by to drought and disease etc. 

For many places you may need to spray your tree to keep the birds and bugs away depending on humidity etc. I would recommend something organic.

The reason organic vs. traditional is so interesting to me is that the real point of interest is that the chemicals get into the soil and kill the bacteria. They are the technology of the tree that allow it to absorb vitamins and nutrients. Sure you can still get fruit but will it taste as good as it could have or does it have the nutrient content? 

Think about someone who may look great on the outside but inside they have heart disease and are on the verge of a heart attack. Same idea with organic vs traditional. Both can look fine on the outside but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. 

If you have questions feel free to reach out to me on IG - @jaredthurmon or via @azurefarm 

Happy Planting 

Jared 

 

 

 

Duckling Care 101

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Hey Friends! This post is a long time coming!! This is the second spring I raised baby ducks and although I am still 100% learning and NO expert I figured I should share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully help you on your duckling journey!

First let me start by saying that ducklings are one of the cutest most precious creations there is! However, they are VERY messy. I had NO idea how messy. They also grow very quickly and those cute little babies will be loud teenagers in no time. Keep in mind that getting ducklings is a commitment but if you stick with it and have a little patience they will be one of your most cherished animals for years to come!


BROODER

First things first! You need a brooder. Same idea as with chickens. I like to use some sort of plastic container. Most of the supplies other than the plastic container come from Tractor Supply

Large Storage Bin from Amazon CLICK HERE ( I always have 2, will explain why later)

Heat Lamp such as this one CLICK HERE ( Always have an extra pack of bulbs in case one goes out)

Click HERE for bulbs

Food Container like this CLICK HERE

Water Container like this CLICK HERE

All my ducklings have loved having some sort of stuffed animal they can sleep against. So I used a little stuffed alpaca. Be warned it will get very messy and dirty and you’ll have to wash it but they do love it and I think it’s comforting to them.

I will say however that we also have a traditional chicken brooder made out of wood ( see below) and I just raised our goslings in it. I actually think I prefer this best for ducklings in the future. It has airflow on the bottom and allows the whole coop to “breathe” which in turn makes it less messy and stinky. So if you happen to have one of them or can make one that would be a great option too! Pictured below on the left is the duck brooder and on the right the chicken one. However, If you have one like the one on the right I’d say that would work well for ducks as well!

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When you get your ducklings they will be just a few days to a week old! In a short 8 weeks they will look like full size ducks and be HUGE! Be prepared.

Below is the brooder set up I had inside our home the first time we got ducks.

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NUTRITION

There are feeds out there which are specific to ducks you can buy such as below. They are however more expensive and harder to find sometimes.

Duckling Started feed

For that reason you can absolutely use chick starter feed with a few tweaks.

Use ONLY NON-MEDICATED chick started feed. I use an organic one such as the one below.

Organic Chick Starter

Ducklings should be fed 21%-22% protein chick starter with a niacin supplement until 2 weeks of age.  From 2 weeks till they are around 6 months (or until the first egg is laid) they should eat 16% – 18% chick starter crumbles with a niacin supplement.  If you can’t find a low enough protein blend then add , a little uncooked rolled oats (breakfast-type oatmeal) to lower the protein content. The chick started listed above is 19% so it’s a good middle ground. If you start noticing their wings falling down and inability to move properly ( a condition called Angel Wing) Immediately give them a lower protein food. Or mix in uncooked oats and allow them to free range more.

To all your feed you MUST add brewers yeast in order for them to get enough niacin in their diet. If they don’t have enough of this they will develop complications with their legs. Their muscles don’t develop well and they end up crippled or worse. The easiest way is to mix some of the brewers yeast into their feed. You cannot overdose them on this. If you’ve got chickens in with your ducks it will not affect the chickens negatively so essentially they ca eat the same thing.

Grit- If in a brooder and not on grass or free ranging ducklings will need some grits to digest their food. I usually just add some in to their feed mixture.

Something like this works well. Chick Grit

At about 2 weeks of age you can start giving some greens and treats. My ducklings have all LOVED peas. Frozen peas as adults and when they are still little I just blend them up. Lots of fruit can give them diarrhea so stick with greens stuff and just the occasional fruit treats.

Do treats at around the same time each day so they associate you with something yummy. They will learn to come up to you and even eat from your hand if you do this.

Once they are 6 months of age they can eat the regular chicken layer pellets.

CLEANLINESS/WATER

Ok friends, I cannot emphasize this enough. You MUST keep their brooder and water areas clean. That is super HARD to do! What has worked best for me is to do the following.

Line the brooder ( Unless you are using one that has chicken wire on the bottom and can “breathe”) with a couple puppy pads. Yes, the ones you potty train puppies on. This will allow them to soak up the water and poop the ducklings spill and makes it less messy if you will.

On top of that I put either straw or fresh pine shavings. I have used both, either works.

They must have fresh water at all times. For their water it has worked for me to place a round cookie sheet under the waterer. Use one that is bigger than the waterer and it will catch some of the spills. You can also use a plastic houseplant tray to catch all the spills. I have used MANY methods of waterers and such. I have found a simple one to be the best. Anything deeper and they will try to swim in it and make a bigger mess.

Some people use chicken wire over a paint tray and then place the water on that. It can help catch the water. I have not found this to work particularly well and it takes up more room. It’s an option however!

For 5 or fewer ducklings, a quart-size chick fount will work till they are about 2 weeks of age; for more ducklings or older birds, a gallon fount will be a more appropriate size.  You’ll know if you need a larger waterer if you need to fill more than once per day. They need to be able to dip their beak fully under water to clear their nostrils.

As they get bigger you can elevate their water on a brick or such so they don’t step in it and get shavings and poop in their waster.

You must clean the brooder and change water AT LEAST once a day. I’d say I do it usually twice a day to make sure it’s clean and they have fresh water. This might sound excessive but trust me it’s not.



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Swimming

Ducks are of course great swimmers and love to have water nearby. You do not need to have a pond or fresh water source in order to have ducks. A simple kid pool from the store will do. They love love love to swing and play in it. Of course a pond is nice as well but anyone can have ducks even if you don’t have one! Please do have a source for them however so they can bathe and do duck things. You will have such happier ducks if you do so!

Wait one week until you place the ducklings to swim. When you do you must ensure they can touch the bottom as they will tire out quickly and could drown. Do not let them swim unsupervised. Once they are 5-6 weeks old and the oil in their feathers had developed they can swim unsupervised. I have let them swim in my bathtub and it s hilarious.

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Heat

Ducks are MUCH more resilient than chickens when it comes to weather. They grow so quick they can tolerate cold and high heat much better. With that in mind however they will need some sort of heat lamp the first few weeks. After 2 weeks they will be much better anad unless it’s super cold they are albe to do well. General rule of thumb is a temperature of 90-92 degrees for the first 3 days, then 85-90 degrees for days 4 to 7. Thereafter, drop the temperature by approximately 5 degrees per week until they are fully feathered.Place the heat lamp to one side of the brooder so they can move away from the heat if they are too hot. Do not let them overheat. They do not like it when it’s too hot and they will pant and drop their wings when they are overheated.


Playtime

Ducks are some of the sweetest animals. They are funny and have big personalities. When ducklings they will literally snuggle with you every night! With our first set of ducklings I held them every night. Once they reach about 4 weeks old they will no longer be interested in snuggles and will be loud and running around. Enjoy the snuggles as much as possible!

Once they start eating treats give them some around the same time each day. They will associate you with the treats and come running! :)

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It will take about 8 weeks for your ducklings to look full grown. Remember to offer them a safe place to sleep at night with lots of straw to lay on. Give them plenty of fresh water and if you let them free range they will love eating up all your bugs and slugs! They are wonderful animals and I say everyone should own a duck at least once in their life.

If you have specific questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me!!

xoxo:

Annette




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Natural Marble Cleaner

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Hey Friends!!

I’ve gotten questions regarding how I clean my countertops so here’s a little how to!! We have honed Danby marble in our kitchen. Honed means the polish has been taken away so it is not shiny. In our bathrooms we have polished carrara marble.

Sadly marble does stain and etch. However, I do feel this adds to the beauty of it!! When cleaning marble natural products are best because they will not damage the stone! Castille soap is an excellent natural soap and is great for so many things including marble!

This super easy recipe will keep everything clean and smelling delicious. I use this in our kitchen and bathrooms as well.

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For darker stains I use a baking soda poultice. Just add a TBS or two to the area you are treating. Add a teeny bit of water and mix till it form a paste.

Leave in place and cover with clear plastic wrap. IF needed tape it down so it does not move. Leave overnight. In the morning life it all and wipe down with cleaning spray. Stain should be lighter as the baking soda goes into the marble’s pores to lift the stain. Don’t be disappointed if it does not work 100% the first time. Sometimes it takes 2-3 tries before the stain is gone!

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I use lavender or lemon castille soap and essential oils! Ultimately the scents you choose are your preference. However, I think lavender smells so clean and amazing!

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Glass Bottles- CLICK HERE

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Castille Soap- CLICK HERE

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I hope you all can use this and really benefit from it!! Comment below and let me know if you use this in your home!!

Warmly,

Annette







Baby Ava Rose Maternity Session

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So happy to have had the opportunity to do a maternity session before baby Ava made her arrival! Sweet Karla from Aiane Karla Photography took the most beautiful images. She was just SO sweet and helped capture such a special time! Below are a few of my favorite images from the session!

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There are so many more pictures i could post but I’ll leave you with these! Thank you Karla for your amazing images.

Follow her work!

Aiane Karla Photography

@aianekarlaphoto

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CORN SALAD

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My friend gave me this recipe and I tweaked it a bit to my liking, but it is definitely one of my favorite side dishes!!


INGREDIENTS:

6 Cups of corn ( Fresh is best, if not I’ve used frozen white corn or sweet corn)

1/2 red onion chopped

Juice of 1/2 a squeezed lime + zest

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS agave

1 Tsp salt

5-7 basil leaves julienned

pinch of red pepper flakes ( optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Add basil last. Increase lime juice if desired and serve either hot or cold! If serving hot add 1 TBS butter once corn is warmed before adding other ingredients. If serving cold chill in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

ENJOY!

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Pesto Green Beans

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These green beans are one of my favorite side dishes to make!

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups of green beans cooked ( if not fresh I use the organic frozen french style green beans )

1/2 a cup of pine nuts

4 cloves of garlic

2 Cups of fresh basil

1/ 4cup olive oil

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook green beans until cooked but still crunchy and bright green. While cooking make the pesto.

Toast pine nuts in skillet over medium heat until browned.

In a food processor add pine nuts, basil, garlic, & salt. Process the ingredients until everything is chopped.

Slowly add olive oil until it is all mixed. ( This is less olive oil than or a standard past pesto sauce) You don’t want it to get too mushy. Almost more crumbly.

Once green beans are cooked mix in dish with the pesto mixture. Salt everything taste once again and serve!!

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Pearl's Story

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Originally Written September 11, 2017

Many of you have asked about Pearl and her story, so I figured it was time to post about it! 

When we purchased our Alpacas back in April I knew Queen Elizabeth was pregnant. Her due date was set for around September 15 or so. An alpaca's gestation is typically about 355 days. 

On Wednesday August 16, 2017 I had scheduled the vet to come out to our farm and just do a general checkup on our animals. Since I knew QE ( short for Queen Elizabeth) was due in a month I wanted to make sure all was well. We have never had alpacas or any farm animals for that matter, so being prepared was on the top of my list. I had watched several alpaca birthing videos on youtube and I had spoken to a few people but that's about it. It is said that 90% of alpaca births require no intervention, I was hoping that would be the case. 

The vet was scheduled to come at 10am. At around 9am I decided to go out to the alpaca. Usually by that time I see them grazing in the pasture but on that day they were not. I found that odd and for that reason also went down to look at them. When I approached I saw they were all gathered around each other and QE was on the ground. I found that odd. At this point I did not have my contacts in yet so my vision was definitely not 20/20. Upon approaching closer I saw what looked like a white pouf on the ground. I thought to myself " no way, that can't be a baby, it's not due for a month!" Well, it sure was! A tiny baby alpaca who appeared to have JUST been born! She still had stuff all in her mouth and nose and my nurse instincts kicked in! I cleaned her nose and mouth with my hands, she was breathing but appeared very weak. I immediately called the vet to ensure she was coming. She said yes, and to keep her warm and stay with her. I ran to the house, grabbed a towel, and came back. Dried the baby off and then waited. 

See pics below of when I first walked up to the baby. 

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I couldn't believe it!! I had all these plans for September and all of a sudden the baby was here. I was NOT ready. I have realized though that God's plans are never our plans and we must always trust Him. What an amazing coincidence that the vet had been scheduled to come out the same day the baby was born. It's like God had that all planned out for me. The vet arrived. She was amazing and SO helpful.  She immediately told me the baby was definitely a premie. No teeth, little hooves were not fully developed and ears were fallen down ( all signs of being premature) Concerns that would come along with that are a weakened immune system, undeveloped lungs, and being underweight. Baby weighed a whopping 7.5lbs!! SO TINY!! Alpakita, our little 5 month old Alpaca weighed 17lbs when she was born! Normal birth weight is 12-20lbs. Sweet baby was way underweight. On a happy note though it was a GIRL! yay! First baby born on the farm and a little girl. I was so thrilled but yet so worried. 

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QE seemed to be in a lot of pain. Unable to really move and was panting and appeared so uncomfortable. The vet gave her antibiotics and pain medicine. A huge concern was the fact that baby must drink milk from mom within a couple hours after being born. Same as human babies the colostrum is super important to help them survive and give them the adequate immune boosting benefits. However since the baby was a premie and mom was SO uncomfortable there was no milk yet. My sweet dad ran to the tractor supply store to buy some cow colostrum. He brought it back to me and we mixed up a tiny bottle for the baby. 

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The vet mentioned I must feed the baby about 2 ounces every 2-3 hours round the clock in order for her to survive. I would also have to ensure mom delivered the placenta within 4-5 hours after the birth. On this particular day my husband was out of town, my mom was out of town, and although my dad was helping as best he could I felt quite overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring of this tiny baby all by myself. By the end of the day she had gotten up walked around, but could barely hold herself up. Mom had no milk, I checked and kept trying to milk mom to get something out. Nothing. I learned more about God and His love for us that day than I did in a long time. I had so many plans for when this little alpaca would be born and she came a whole month early. Baby girl was a fighter. Seeing her try to learn her way around was the cutest thing ever! I was so worried though.  QE and her were having a hard time bonding, I was afraid she'd be cold, what if the other alpacas hurt her, then I realized I was trying to do it all myself and not trusting in His protection and power. I was so humbled. God made this beautiful little creature and He would would care for it. Baby girl was in His care, as are we when we put our trust in Him. 

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Picture above is about 6 hours after she was born. For the next two days until Friday I kept watch on her and fed her every 3 hours. I felt pretty sleep deprived. On Friday QE finally started getting milk! I was so excited. However, baby girl was so weak she could not stand to nurse. So I would hold her up to mom and try to get her to nurse, while supplementing her with bottles of formula. 24 hours after her birth I switched her to regular whole cow's milk. I also mixed it at times with a little bit of yogurt to give her some probiotics. I had never researched and read so much to learn what on earth to do with this baby than I did that week. 

Friday afternoon I came up to her and took her temperature. Baby alpacas cannot regulate their temperature for the first 72 hours so you have to make sure they stay between 100-102 degrees. She was 103.7. She was also very weak and lethargic. Not moving and not wanting to drink from her bottle. This change happened during the course of maybe 3 hours. I immediately called the vet. I was afraid we would loose her. It all literally happened so fast. The vet came and by that point baby girl was not responding and shaking pretty badly. I was so sad. After 2 days of caring for her and feeling she was better I felt we were taking steps back. Vet said it seemed like an infection due to her being a premie. So she gave her antibiotics and left me with 10 days worth of antibiotic shots to give her. 

I felt so overwhelmed again. I continued to pray. For the next 3 days I fed her every 3 hours round the clock. Getting up at 2 am and 5 am was quite crazy. I don't have children of my own but I felt for a moment like a new mom feeding her infant. However, a new mom would at least be in her warm home and not have to walk down the hill to the barn, with bugs and flashlights:) 

Finally by Monday, her and QE were bonding more and more. She was getting strong enough to get up and nurse herself! I would only have to prompt her to eat every so often. Mom seemed great too! Baby Alpacas should gain between 1/4-1/2 a pound a day. By week 1 she was 10.6lbs! Growing and jumping around. I continued the antibiotics for 10 days and supplemented as needed. Now she is a day shy of 4 weeks old! She is almost 17lbs and doing amazing!! What an experience! I am so grateful to God for His protection over these sweet animals. I only hope I can care for them and love them the best I can. We have had such fun watching her grow and run around. The animals are truly a blessing and I look forward to many more moments with them. There is so much more I could say about her birth story, but this blog post is getting super long. I I will end with her name which is Pearl. My sister in law recommended it and I loved it immediately. She is white and fluffy and Pearl just suited her. I then remembered there was a story in the Bible about a pearl. It is found in Matthew 13:45-46. It talks about how the kingdom of heaven is like a Pearl. Something of great value. A man once he found that Pearl sold everything he had and bought it. What a beautiful significance. We should constantly be seeking that Pearl, longing for God and His kingdom. I hope our sweet baby Pearl is a reminder of that to us. 

I leave you with a few more pictures of her:) 

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Write here…

NOTE: Almost a year and a half after I wrote this blog post we found my sweet Pearl had died overnight one morning. She had been healthy up until that point. It was devastating, but the joy she brought us for over a year was worth it even when she was gone. She was a sweet little one and will be forever missed.





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How to Love your Soil and Make Fertilizer

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Whether you do a soil test or just assume your soil needs some TLC, you are now going to be able to help it. The soils around the world are being depleted for many reasons.  Whether it is from lack of crop rotation, pesticides, or just no TLC, the soil needs to be assisted in maintaining its health.

Giving is a secret law embedded in nature but we must realize we are a part of that system and we need to be involved in helping the soil just like it helps us.

The soil is unable to give us nourishment if we do not in turn take care of it. 

Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy World

Here’s how to help get your soil back to where it needs to be, full of nutrients and structurally sound.

Soil Structure

To help ensure that your soil is healthy, you need it to drain well and be an ideal environment for nutrients to easily get to the plant and then to the fruit and then to you. To do this you need to help it by creating compost.

Compost is nature’s fertilizing power house. Many in India right now are finding the harm of years of repeated over-doses of synthetic fertilizer. In the beginning the plants grew at an incredible rate. Eventually though, the soil just wore out like someone on steroids. Then it was nearly impossible to get the soil to do what it did without the juice. You have to apply more and more and more until you can barely grow anything.

Plants can grow and look healthy. Compost is a great way to encourage nutrient presence.  The key ingredients are Air, Water, (N) Nitrogen, (P) Phosphorous and (K) Potassium. 

You want to integrate your compost with these nutrients as you plant and periodically throughout the growing season:

• Nitrogen helps promote green foliage

• Phosphorous helps promote root and flower growth

• Potassium helps with the plants immunity to disease and overall plant health

To make your own compost all you have to do is find a nice shady area or bin. 

To make good compost you need a combination of “green” high-nitrogen materials like fruits and veggies, grass clippings, or weeds. You will add these to your “brown” ingredients 

like leaves, newspaper, or wood (twigs/smaller pieces). 

Mix these in layers evenly one layer on top of the next. 

Things not to use in your compost are:

Meat scraps, bones, fat, oils, breads, glossy magazines, diseased plants, feces from cats 

and dogs. 

It is interesting how a number of these above are now being shown to be harmful to our health in our regular diets. 

The pile should remain damp but not wet. The bigger the pile, the faster it will break down and be able to be used. You can assist the process by turning the pile every few weeks. 

When your compost pile basically looks like soil, then sprinkle it around your plants and mix it into the first few inches of the soil around each plant.

Soil Fertility and Nutrients

Your soil is tired and warn out. Its been giving and giving all these years and it needs some TLC in order to bring it back to what it needs to be.  Just like your body needs Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium etc to function properly, so does the soil to help grow healthy plants.

Kelp and ocean salts have been shown to help in a number of areas including:

• stimulate soil bacteria which increases fertility of the soil through humus formation.

• helps aeration

• helps moisture retention

• increases resistance to disease and pests

• allows for easy nutrient absorption into the plant

• seed germination

• increase in food production per plant

Think about it, by helping your soil you are really helping yourself! You will have more nutrients in your food and have more disease resistant plants which in turn will lead to healthier and more delicious food. 

Secret Sauce

Find manure, or cricket castings, or worm poop free from any antibiotics or hormones and start adding a little of this to your soil ever few weeks. 

How to Save Seeds

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For thousands of years farmers saved their seeds each year so that they could plant again the following year. 

Think about this:  There is a story of a school out in the western United States that would give the students a cob of corn to go out and start a new life. They would take that cob and use all the kernels to plant corn the next season. 

Those 200 kernels turned into 200 plants that each had 4 cobs of corn. Now that one corn cob had turned into 160,000 kernels of corn in just one year! Imagine the increase year after year by saving just a small portion of kernels for seed.

By saving seed that is open pollinated you will find that the crop will adapt and grow better and better in your climate and region. After all, who wants to be a slave to a system of going to the store to buy seed as the only way to grow food?

Most plants if left to continue to grow through the harvest and into the fall will develop seed coats where the seeds are safely stored. The majority of seeds need to be harvested and dried to germinate properly the following season. Ideally you will be plucking dried seeds from the plants when they are ready.

The seed packets are important because often the seed hardens and will drop to the ground. You need to be constantly watching for the optimal time and then harvest the seed. 

Store your seeds in paper bags. This will allow them to continue to dry. Store your seeds in these bags or sealed containers free from moisture, heat and sun exposure. Ideally store seed in a very cool, dark, and dry environment. To get seeds from fruit or veggies where the inside is where the seed is stored like a tomato, you want to scoop out the seed and spread them on a towel, cloth or coffee filter paper but not regular paper towel due to them sticking. Leave them here for a while and let them dry.

You can use our free printable below and make your own seed packets!

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Planting 101

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Ok now you’ve got some seedlings and you’re ready to take them out of daycare and into the world ☺ 

Putting your baby plants to bed

There are some simple points to consider when planting. Before planting you should think about laying out your garden.

After drawing out the layout of your garden, one of the first things you want to do is create raised beds. Raised beds are basically mounds that you plant in. I’m a fan of raised beds here in the south because they create nice drainage and can make for easier weeding.

The benefits of raised beds are:

1 - The soil drains better

2 - The ground warms faster

3 - The soil allows for more oxygen to the roots


Something to remember is to make your garden beautiful. If you are going to be coming and spending quite a bit of time in this paradise, make it attractive.

Ideas to make your garden more attractive:

Make smaller beds so that you can walk around easier

Make your beds/rows about 4 feet wide and leave at least 18-24” between each row for walking. Also this will allow for you to kneel down and reach half way across the row without stepping on your beds. Stepping on your beds compacts the soil and prevents the oxygen and water from easily permeating the root structure of your plants.

If possible, align your rows from north to south. This allows for your plants to get maximum east to west sun exposure each day. 

Dig deeper and wider holes than seems needed. There is an ancient little known method that states, for optimal growth of a tomato plant, you want to dig a hole 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep and layer it with compost and other materials. This method sounds intense but what it does is break up the soil for perfect transfer of energy from the sun and water to the root structure of the plant. It also allows for your plant’s roots to grow easily through soft highly oxygenated soil. For the typical hole, dig it at least 6 inches by 6 inches and then place the plant where the first leaves or branches are just above the surface when you fill in the hole with all the loose dirt. 

Crop Rotation: 

Because different plants use more of some elements than others, it is wise to change the location of where you plant your plants each season and each year. In other words don’t plant the tomatoes in the same place year after year. 


Covering: Don’t leave the ground Naked

Walk in the woods sometime and notice how the trees and bushes are growing just fine. Who is taking care of these guys? Notice that the leaves from the trees fall on the ground and create a covering of twigs and leaves and branches. These in turn decompose and create a nice blanket for the forest. This blanket helps maintain proper soil structure and fertility by allowing nature to do what it does. So what do we learn from this? We replicate this in the garden.Cover your plants and rows with a layer of mulch or compost. This will prevent rampant weed growth (some may still come through but they are much easier to pull and manage). You can use leaves, mulch from trees or any other type of mulch that will easily break down into soil. Apply 3-6” of thickness for maximum benefit. This will also prevent soil compaction and allow for minimal watering needs.

Heaven or Hell?

There is also another benefit to applying a layer of mulch onto the surface of your garden:  Weed Control. 

Weeds are perhaps the greatest evidence in the world for evil. Once you have a garden, you will understand. They come out of nowhere, there is no reason for their existence. The way in which to best deal with weeds is to pluck them out when they are young and throw them outside of your garden. Like any bad habit, if you just leave it around the thing will take root again and grow back stronger than before. 

By applying a layer of mulch you will help keep your garden looking like heaven and not the other place!

I hope these tips help you as you plant your garden ! Let us know if you have any questions!!

Happy Planting,

Jared

DIY Natural Organic Pesticide

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With increasing awareness of the benefits of organic food, and the quickly growing alarms around spraying toxins on foods, innovative techniques for pest and disease control are becoming hot topics for gardeners and small farm owners alike.

To compete in the modern, industrialized food system, farmers must use the cheapest and most readily available solutions available. They often don't have the luxury to take chances on a new product when their current methods are working for them and their competitors. This competitive atmosphere can make it so that one mistake can destroy their whole business. 

The products that today's organic farmers use for pest and disease control are arguably safer than conventional farm sprays, but they can be dangerous to consumers. Copper sulfate, for example, a fungicide widely used by traditional and organic farmers, damages good bacteria in the soil, where it also can accumulate in harmful concentrations. While organic farmers use far less pesticide than conventional farms, there are much better options available that haven't yet reached the attention of the farming community.

It may surprise you to learn that many everyday staples in the kitchen can serve as natural pesticides and for disease control. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies garlic and spicy pepper concentrates as biochemical pesticides, which means they do not harm the environment. 

A good organic garden spray is easy to make. Here’s how: 

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Some other examples of natural pesticides are acidic solutions made with vinegar or citric acid, herbicidal soaps, and salt-based solutions. 

Neem oil is a favorite among home gardeners. Made from an evergreen tree native to India, it is a natural oil that can get sprayed onto crops and trees to eliminate pests, fungi, and bacterial disease. Neem works by stunting larvae growth, decreasing insect mating, and stopping insects from feeding. It can also kill many kinds of harmful fungus on plants. Unlike copper sulfate and conventional pesticides like glyphosate, neem oil is entirely safe to breathe in, get on the skin, and even to ingest. The best part is that neem oil does not harm beneficial insects when applied correctly. 


It is common knowledge that manure is an excellent fertilizer for the garden once it breaks down, but green manure is an easy and time-tested way not only to fertilize but also significantly reduce plant diseases. The latest research suggests that plants from the brassica species, especially pungent varieties like mustard, radish, and horseradish, can help reduce pathogens and pests in the soil. According to John Kirkegaard, brassicas used as green manure can increase yields of solanaceous species by up to 40 percent. To employ the chop-and-drop technique for using green manure, which is as simple as it sounds, you spread the plant materials as mulch on top of the soil, or if you prefer, you can slightly bury it. 

Especially for home gardeners, the natural weed- and pest-control methods above can be preferable to risking long-term damage to the soil. Since natural solutions are safe for human consumption, you get added peace of mind when feeding your family or selling your produce. 

Happy Planting, Jared

4 Ingredients to Healthy Plants in your Garden

As you’re planning your garden, there are some key ingredients you want to consider. Just like baking some bread or a cake, without these you’re not going to find the success you’re looking for.

You will hear me say this over and over, but we can’t take from the garden without giving back. I would even go so far as to say we can’t take from the garden without giving ahead of time. Build up the bank account of the soil and it will pay you dividends for a long time. The goal is to get the microbial activity in the soil working so that your plants are absorbing the maximum amount of nutrients. When this happens they will have a healthier immune system and will more easily ward of disease, pests and will increase taste and yield.

Here are four things to remember:

Soil - Help your soil become healthy by adding compost and soil conditioners

Air - Make raised beds and don’t compact the soil to ensure for plenty of oxygen to get to the roots

Water - Water your plants deep so that the roots are reach-ing deep for water.  Don’t water too much or in the eve-nings when mold can grow.  Water in the mornings. 

Sunshine - Plant your plants where they can get plenty of sunlight for at least 6 or more hours each day.

Below is a downloadable file you can print and keep handy.

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How to Make Nutrient Rich Soil

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This is perhaps the most important yet most over-looked element of growing delicious nutrient rich food. 

There are two key ingredients to good soil:

1. Fertility - The amount of nutrients it currently contains and can contain􀀁

2. Structure - The layers and particles that make up the soil itself􀀁

Ideally you want to test your soil to determine it’s pH levels.You can buy a kit at your local hardware store or contact your local county extension office to find out more. The reality is that most soil is depleted of both fertility and good structure so we are going to help both.

It is amazing to see the similarities between soil and our blood.􀀁 Like our bodies, plants also like a neutral pH around 7, they need nutrients to thrive, and they work best in an optimal environment. In this case, the soil should drain well and not be too sandy but at the same time be able to crumble in your hand and so that the roots can easily absorb proper water and nutrient levels.  

In order to help your soil thrive, you will want to regularly add nutrients and materials that turn into humus that then help it drain easier (more crumbly) as well as add compost.


By following the above steps you will help create the optimal conditions for your plants to thrive and in turn pass along the nutrients from the soil to your body. The plants are conduits to take nutrients from the soil and deliver them in a delicious way through your favorite foods􀀁 


Did you know?

The human body is made up of minerals and nutrients and works optimally when replenished with fresh supplies of these on a regular basis. A Reader’s Digest article years ago stated how “researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center confirmed the ancient account in the Torah that every element found in the human body can also be found in the soil.”

AMAZING!

Happy Planting, Jared

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