All Natural Gardening and Lawn Care

Just a reminder – don’t forget to start your gardens!  We planted some seeds outside last week.  We have had an unusually cold and rainy spring here in the Midwest, as has been the case around the U.S.  I’m sure all the crazy weather is going to affect produce prices and availability this summer, so all the more reason to start your own.  I started my seeds indoors early this year – about the end of March, but sadly they didn’t make it!  Darn.  They got really tall and thin and fell over around the end of April.  I put them outside and they all died in a few hours.  Not sure what I did wrong, but oh well.  I think I’ll stick to planting them indoors about 2-3 weeks early instead so I also don’t have to mess with moving them to bigger containers indoors.   


We are in our new house this year so hubby had to make a new square foot garden for us.  I also had a big area up against the house on the inside of our patio made especially for our garden.  However, what I failed to do was see how much sun that area got, which isn’t much because it is facing the west and in the shadow of the house much of the day.  

Last year, the plants did do just fine, but I wanted to plant some other plants in full sun.  So, we made our square foot garden – google this.  There is a book on it too.  We went to Home Depot and got two pieces wood (2x6x8), 8 feet long, 2 inches wide, and six inches tall, and had them cut them in half so we had 4 four foot pieces for the frame of the garden.  Then you will need 3 pieces of (1x2x8 – or something like that), and had them cut those in half.  These are for the inside of the garden to mark off 12 individual 1×1 foot boxes inside the garden.  

We accidentally only bought two inside pieces, so we ended up with only 9 squares in our garden.  My husband saw another garden box at Costco that he wanted to show me, but it cost close to $300!  It was nice because it came with a plastic lid for a greenhouse effect so you could plant a little sooner outside but for that price, I’ll pass.  The wood from Home Depot cost under $20.  I also like that I can write with permanent marker right on the wood what I have growing there and the date it will be ready to harvest.  Strangely, it is almost always exactly right.  

This year, we are growing beefsteak tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, bush green beans (Did pole beans last year and now I know why they made a nursery rhyme called Jack and the Bean Stalk.  These things got big and tall!  Bush beans stay low and get bushy instead.  Much easier to harvest.), peas, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, chamomile, and carrots.  All organic of course.  We have our rain barrel bucket all set up to water with.  For more info on gardening, check out my older post from last year on the left entitled “All Natural Gardening.”

This year, I also have a food dehydrator (Excalibur), so planning on dehydrating this summer a lot.  I have read that you can dehydrate tomatoes, put them in a blender till they become a powder, add spices and store in a jar.  Then, when you need it, add water and it becomes spaghetti sauce!  I have to try that.  We always have so many tomatoes that I don’t know what to do with.  

You can also make your own spices from drying fresh oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, etc.  I use a lot of spices in cooking.  I want to dry some garlic too and make garlic powder.  And plan to dry chamomile to make my own tea!  We have used our dehydrator to make apple rings (Yum! Add sugar and cinnamon.), pears, bananas, mango, onions, potatoes, strawberries, and kiwi so far.  Hubby wants to make beef jerky, and you can make something similar to taffy out of yogurt.  We also plan on making fruit leathers with it.  

Apparently, with things like potatoes and other veggies, you put them in a pot of cold water for about 30 minutes and they return to their original fresh state.  Haven’t tried it yet, but that is crazy.  I never knew that.  So, now I feel like I am ready for the end of the world, which I believe is coming soon!  If the food supply runs out, or we are refused at the stores for not taking the mark of Satan, I will have a year supply of dried foods on hand.  🙂  

If you are a Christ follower – this is totally off subject – but my pastor (James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel in Elgin, IL) taught a year long study on Revelations last year.  He believes based on scripture that we as Christians will go through a majority of the 7 year tribulation as outlined in Revelations.  He believes Christ will return (the rapture/2nd coming) some time during the 6th year of the trib.  This is not what the majority of Christians today believe.  I was raised in a Baptist church and was taught that the rapture would come first, then the 7 years of tribulation, and I was 100% OK with that.  This was a frightening realization for me, especially since I was pregnant at the time.  My biggest fear was that my kids would be too young to accept Christ as their Savior when the rapture happened and be left behind.  What a terrible thing for kids to have to witness.  We eat mostly fresh foods, so the idea of famine on the earth, and being shut off from stores for not taking the mark of the beast, is scary to me as a mother.  Now, I feel better prepared, crazy as that probably sounds to most people!  🙂  But I’m not like most people!  🙂  

Anyways, he made a good case for his belief and stated that he believes we may already be in the beginning of that 7 year tribulation.  Just a few weeks ago, he made another statement at the beginning of church one Sunday, that the Elders had asked him to make a statement about the end times.  He said the current happenings in the world (SO many earthquakes, floods, wars, rumors of wars, famine, crisis in the Middle East, catastrophes, etc.) all make it look like we are currently in the end times.  He did not say that we ARE in the end times, but stated that there are many prophesies in scripture that line up with what is currently going on today, and that it appears that we could be in the end times.  I don’t think he would make this statement lightly, as his audience is in the thousands each week with several campuses.  If you want to listen to the whole series, I believe you can get it at the Walk In the Word web site.  It was really interesting and scary at the same time.  The scariest moment was a few weeks into the series, the week after he had just talked about how we will have lots more earthquakes and how the statistics show that there has been a HUGE increase in the number of earthquakes on the earth in the last decade compared to over a hundred years worth of statistics, we had our own earthquake in Illinois!  I almost had a heart attack.  

In Feburary, 2010 around 4am, we had an earthquake of around 5.  I woke up to my bed and my whole house shaking.  Earthquakes in IL are pretty much unheard of.  I ran to my kids’ rooms and they were all still sleeping.  I looked outside and I don’t know why, but my very first instinct was that Jesus was returning RIGHT NOW, and I don’t know if I was looking in the clouds for him coming down on a white horse or what, but I have never been so scared in my life! My next thought was that it was the start of the tribulation and all I can think of when I think of the tribulation is that Thief in the Night movie I saw when I was little of giant scorpions attacking, and people heading to live in the mountains.  Anyways, he had many reasons to support this view.  A couple being – the Bible states that no one will know the exact day or hour of Jesus’ return.

However, it doesn’t say that we will not know the month or year.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  Also, Revelations talks about Christians being persecuted.  If all the Christians are taken up in the rapture before the trib, how can there be any Christians to persecute?  I have always wondered about this. I always thought that maybe there were a lot of people who were on the fence about Christianity or who thought they were saved, and then once the rapture happened, they realized they were not, and then put their faith in Christ.  However, I don’t think that many people, who are new believers, are going to be able to stand up to that intense of persecution.  Plus, Revelations talks about how so many people’s hearts are hardened and refuse to turn to God despite all the calamity, which is partly why more and more plagues keep coming.  

Our pastor believed we would be raptured somewhere during the 6th year of tribulation, right before God’s wrath is poured out on the earth.  Seems to me like a whole lot of God’s wrath is poured out in those first 6 years, but apparently it will get a lot worse, and that final year is the wrath that God’s people will be spared from.  Anyways, so all the more reason to have your own garden!

Sorry, back to gardening!  This year, we have also just tried out a new all natural grass fertilizer.  I didn’t want hubby put down any Scott’s fertilizer last year because I was pregnant and then our daughter was born.  We just tried an all natural fertilizer called Ringer All Natural Lawn Restore.  It’s not at most Home Depots, but I did find it at a local nursery (Platt Hill in Carpentersville, IL if you are local).  Call around if you want it.  Supposedly, you only put it down twice a year, in the spring and fall.  If you put it down in the summer, you will just be feeding the weeds.  It is made up of gluten corn meal, soy, and a few organic materials.  It does smell a little like chicken feed or dog food, but once you wet it and it absorbs down into the grass, it goes away.   So, we’ll see if it works.  Supposedly, it takes a little longer, but in the end works just as well if not better than Scott’s, but without the chemicals. 

A couple of things you want to do as well is not mow your grass too short.  Try to set the blade on your mower to 3 inches, which some don’t go that high.  It will make it harder for weeds to grow and seeds of dandelions to penetrate down and get into the  soil.  We still have some dandelions in the back, after putting the fertilizer down a couple weeks ago, but our lawn mower was in the shop and I think we didn’t get the fertilizer down early enough because I was searching for a natural one.  

To get rid of dandelions naturally, you can do several things.  Pull them up at the root.  They sell tools that are made specifically for this purpose that help get down to the root easier.  You could also pull them up by hand or with a trowel (new word I learned from my son’s preschool pack.  Had to use it!  It’s a small shovel if anyone is clueless like I was to the gardening lingo).  If you want to enlist the help of your children, you can also just pull the heads off the dandelions.  Yes, the root will still be left, but if you continue to pull the heads off when they grow back, eventually it will die because it is not getting the nutrients it needs from the flower.  
This seems like it would take too long but I guess it’s an option.

Your other options (which you need to be careful with because you could also kill the grass around the area) is to pour boiling water over the dandelions.  In a couple of days, they will look like elephants trampled on them.  We tried this in one area.  It did not kill the grass around it at all.  We boiled up some water in a tea kettle.  My son thought killing the dandelions was big fun.  We called our boiling water dandelion stew.  It’s been almost a week now, and the stems of the dandelions are brown and they are definitely dead, but I suppose you still have to pull up at least the stems of these b/c you don’t want dead dandelions in your yard either. 

Next, you could pour a solution of 5% vinegar to 95% water and spray the dandelions.  I haven’t tried this yet, but plan to.  I think the best thing to do is keep your grass healthy so that dandelions won’t grow there in the first place, and pull them up as soon as you see them before they can spread too much.  We also just had our lawn aerated.  We’ve never done that before, but I guess it helps water and fertilizer get down to the roots better so your lawn stays healthier and requires less water.  It cost $45.   

And lastly, if you have a preschooler, and happen to be homeschooling, or like to supplement, there is a great web site called http://www.homeschoolcreations.com/ and they have a really cute Gardening Preschool Pack.  Here is the link to some of the preschool packs:

http://www.homeschoolcreations.com/preschoolpacks.html

It’s free and you print out about 40 pages or so, and you can laminate some of it (or not).  It includes games and other school related items to teach preschool related skills.  She has a whole bunch of preschool packs that we are using that are awesome and my son loves them.  One of the best homeschooling web sites I’ve seen for free printables. 

Happy gardening!

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 out in March, 2013!


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