Friday, May 29, 2009

Bye Bye Ants!

Ants are sometimes garden pests. Otherwise, they are quite interesting to watch. The ants are very thorough in their work and are mentioned in the Bible as examples of diligence. A problem of being so industrious is that they are persistent in destroying the garden too!

Yesterday, I was working in my garden, and I was wondering why a bush bean plant was not coming up. I had planted older seeds, but all the others plants had sprouted and grown. Next to the spot where there was no seedling, there was a bean plant that was "stuck" in the dirt. So, I carefully removed the dirt where there was no seedling. I was expecting to find an unsprouted seed. Instead, I discovered a mushy little bean plant with ants crawling all over it! I dug around some more and found their colony. Ants were running all over the bean plant that was next to the colony. I eliminated a few ants, but many still existed. I needed to protect my plants!

I came inside and looked in my gardening books, but they only mentioned ants twice with barely any information to get rid of them. They classified them as garden pests. I agree with the pest part! I really did not want to use a pesticide to kill them. Momma did some research for me to find out how to destroy the ants organically. I got busy studying.

Some plants keep ants away. The options I found for plants that ants dislike were pennyroyal, mint, onions and garlic. I did not have any spare plants or room for them, so that was not a choice.

I could have used cucumber peels nearby the plants since ants do not appreciate them either. With having Kathie, our lab, that might have been just a little bit too tempting for her to enjoy a cucumber peel snack in my garden. You can also use lemon juice to keep ants away. I might try that later...

After all of my studying on organic pest control for ants, I ended up using a mixture of cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Cayenne pepper is good to sprinkle around the ant hills to rid a garden of them. Since they dislike garlic, I added that too. I sprinkled the mixture on the ground around the area with the beans. I placed some coffee grounds over top of the spicy concoction to hold it down. Coffee grounds also help to keep them away. I will post on coffee grounds' benefits for a garden later.

Do you have any organic suggestions to rid gardens of pests, especially ants?

Update: It is Saturday, the day after the experiment, and the ants are gone! Hopefully, they are gone for good. I added a little more of my garlic powder and cayenne pepper just to be safe. I also added more coffee grounds. The concoction does work, and if you have ants, you might want to give it a try!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Harvest for Little Tait!

The LORD has blessed Little Tait's family! He has provided for their needs! Here is what the Zimmermans said on Little Tait's website:May 27 Update: Thanks to the blessing of God, and His working through the thousands of people who supported us, we have met our June 3 goal of $51,644 a week early! Honestly, we never expected to receive this much response, and are in awe of the Lord's mercy and power! We are still waiting for negotiation on the $650,000 hospital to be completed, and are working on the "small" miscellaneous bill, which total over $15,000. We appreciate your continued prayer and support, and will keep everyone updated as we hear back from the hospital and other doctors.

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lovage

Lovage is an perennial herb. It can grow up to 6 feet tall. Lovage tastes like a very strong celery. All of the plant is edible, including its roots, stalk, seeds and leaves. We use the leaves in our salads. The stalk can be used as celery, but you definitely do not need as much. Lovage's stalk is not an alternative to celery sticks, since its flavor is so strong. It is best used in salads or soups.

The seeds of lovage have a sweeter celery taste. They can be used as celery seeds in recipes. They are ripe in early summer. You can harvest them by waiting until the seeds are brown. You cut it a little below the seed stalk and dry them.

When you harvest lovage the first year, you should not gather very much of it. You should only acquire it from the outside of the plant. After the first year, you can reap all you want!

Our lovage plant is 15+ years old. Momma and Daddy transplanted the herb to our home in the country when they moved from the city. We have used our lovage plant ever since.

If you have lovage, what do you use it for?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden Blueprint!

Here is an update on how my garden is looking.My cherry tomatoes were from my Grammy. Thank you, Grammy! A few of the cucumbers were killed from the frost. I will replant those hills. My cilantro has taken over some of the herb garden, so I am going to trim it back today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Peas and Posts

My peas have been sprouting with all the rain we have been having lately. Peas are members of the lagoon family. We decided to stake them this year to help contain them, so they wouldn't take over the garden. Daddy and Ben staked them up last Saturday. The stakes were wooden with chicken wire stapled to them for the peas to climb. The peas are doing well now and are growing up the chicken wire. I will post on the harvest later.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Update on Little Tait

Little Tait is doing quite well now. He was a preemie baby, and his parents are facing extremely high hospital and doctor bills. The first bill they got was negotiated down to $51,644. The original price was $186,789. They have raised $38,062 as of May 19. They only need $13,582 more! This bill is due on June 3, 2009. If they do not raise the money, the bill will be turned over to collections. May the LORD bless their efforts and may He give his people a generous spirit.

Little Tait's Preemie Fund


This post, I am going to be endorsing some businesses that are giving money to Little Tait.
  1. Graceful Designs Cards. Hannah, a good friend of mine and the owner of Graceful Designs, is giving 5% of all her total sales this month to Little Tait.
  2. BreezyTulip's Studio. Miss Breezy is giving $10 of the all of the sales of the print "The Library" to Little Tait.
  3. The Library Fundraiser for Little Tait
Visit Simply Vintagegirl Blog for buttons on Little Tait. Thank you, Miss Emily Rose, for the buttons!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a member of the buckwheat family. Rhubarb is a perennial. It should not be harvested the first year and only a little bit the second year. Beginning the third year, you can harvest as much as you want. Rhubarb is has a tart flavor. It is a light red or red on its stalk.

I do not grow rhubarb, though I hope to do so soon. Momma loves rhubarb. We got some rhubarb from Heartland Harvest, which is just up the road from us. Momma and I used the rhubarb in some jam and a coffeecake. Here is the rhubarb jam and coffeecake recipe that we used.

EASY Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Yield: 2 pints

5 cups diced rhubarb (about 10 stalks)
1 small can crushed pineapple (drained)
2 cups sugar
1 small pkg strawberry Jell-o

Mix together the rhubarb, pineapple and sugar. Let stand 2 hours, then boil 8-12 minutes. Remove from heat add the dry Jell-o, stir and pour into jars or plastic containers. Refrigerate for immediate use, freeze or process in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes with 1/4 inch headspace.
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If you do not like Jell-o in your jam, here is another recipe

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Yield: 6 pints.

4 cups crushed strawberries
4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 packages powdered pectin
1/2 cup lemon juice
11 cups sugar

Combine strawberries, rhubarb, pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove form heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
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Rhubarb Coffeecake

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together:
1/2 cup melted shortening
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Add 1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)
Add: 2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
Mix in 2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut fine
Spread batter in buttered 9" x 9" pan.
Top with mixture of:
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp melted butter
Bake at 375º for 35 - 40 minutes.

We were introduced to this scrumptious coffeecake when we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Kentucky while visiting the Creation Museum. It has been a favorite in our family ever since.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Frost Protection

Over the last two nights, we have had some frost. Daddy and I placed tarps over the plants for protection. We did some research and found out some things.

There are two types of frost, light frosts and hard killing frosts. The first night, we had a light frost, but last night, we had a hard frost. Last night, we covered some of the plant with tarps twice because the temperature was 29º.

I read that you should water the plants before you cover them. Watering them first traps the moisture and warms the plants some during the night. Another way to keep the plants warm is to place a bottle of warm water with the plants because water holds heat longer than the plants.

Also, cover your plants before dusk, since the air gets colder after the sun goes down. Covering the plants before dusk helps trap some warm air underneath the tarps. A good website to look at for more information on frost protection is here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Easy Gardener's Soap

Momma and I are going to make soap this summer. Until then, we were looking for another way to have a "homemade" soap. This is somewhat of a homemade soap though it uses store bought soap. It is supposed to help get off the dirt and grime from working in the garden without scrubbing so much. It is simple and fast to make. The soap also works for mechanics, etc.

Easy Homemade Gardener's Soap

This came from Frugal Living

You will need:
  • Dish soap or hand soap
  • Corn meal
  • An empty container
Instructions:
  1. Fill an empty container with dish soap – enough for one hand washing or enough to wash your hands a bunch of times. The choice is yours.
  2. Then, add corn meal to the soap – just a sprinkle for a small batch and as much as a tablespoon for a big batch.
  3. Stir the mixture up, and rub a bit between your fingers to test the grittiness.
  4. Add corn meal (if needed) until you reach the right consistency.
  5. Use immediately, or store in an air-tight container for future use.
If you have a good soap recipe, why not comment and share it with everyone?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gone to the Greenhouse!

On Wednesday, we went to the greenhouse. The greenhouse we go to is Mistimorne Plants. It is located outside of Harrisonburg and Dayton, VA. The owners are our neighbor's brother, so we have always gone there. We got flowers, herbs and vegetables. For the flowers, we got marigolds, zinnias, snapdragons, salvias, geraniums, impatiens and carmine glow. For the herbs, we got two types of lavender, mint apple, spearmint, parsley and lettuce leaf basil. The vegetables we got were jalapenos, peppers, tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce and cabbage.

We planted the most of the flowers, mints, lavenders, a little red leaf lettuce and jalapenos in Momma's flower pots. The rest of the vegetables, herbs and flowers went in my garden. I will update my garden blueprint in a future post. In another post, I will tell you about Momma's flower pots.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Thank You and the Winner

The winner of the May Giveaway is Theresa! The DVD that was won was Christianity and Science Fiction: Reclaiming the Genre for Christ.

Thank you God's Dancing Child for commenting on the giveaway. Thank you to everyone for commenting and encouraging me as I garden for my family! It really means a lot to me when you comment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gutter Gardening!

Momma and I were looking at Mrs. Edmond's website and saw that she had posted on gutter gardening. Gutter gardening is not really in a gutter on a roof, but it is done in plastic gutters so that you can place them on the side of the house. The idea started in Alaska where a lady had really wanted a garden. You can read her story here. Gutter gardens can also be put along a porch railing etc. I thought that it was a neat idea. It can also be used when you have poor soil, or when you do not have room for a garden.

While I am talking about Alaska, I would like to update a post that I made earlier on Little Tait who also lives in Alaska. As of yesterday, they had $29,268. They still need money for his medical bills. I think that it is exciting how the LORD has been providing for them. See Little Tait's story here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Momma!


My Momma is the best woman in my life. She is my friend and confidant. Our family could not cooperate without her. Momma is the best cook, washerwoman, housekeeper and doctor all combined in one! She is not world wide known, but I think she could if she wanted to be!

I love you, Momma! Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

May Giveaway!!


One of my family's favorite places to buy things for the family is Vision Forum. I have been chosen by them to offer a giveaway from their new DVD titles in the Reclaiming the Culture set. I am very excited to offer this to you!

In order to participate in the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post with your name and the title of the DVD you would like if you win. In your comment, please put your e-mail address (I will edit out the e-mail address before posting your comment**). The contest will close on Wednesday, May 13 at midnight EST.

Here are the choices of DVD's.
  • You May Not Take Our Guns
  • The Devolution of Law
  • Top Ten Questions About Genesis and Creation
  • The State of Parental Rights in America
  • Christianity and Science Fiction: Reclaiming the Genre for Christ (1 DVD and 2 CD's)
If you would like to visit Vision Forum's website to see the descriptions of the new Reclaiming the Culture set and all the wonderful things that they offer to the family, please click through me on the button below.

I will post a winner on Thursday, May 14. Check back to find out who won! If you win, I will contact you through your e-mail.

**I got a comment and found out that I cannot edit out anything. I do not want you to get spammed, so I am going to post your comments without the e-mail address. I will post them under my name. This would be the example content of a comment: "Posted by Anna for Gardening For My Family-- This is a test comment." Please post your comments just like before. DO NOT WORRY, this is not an extra thing added to my life! I actually enjoy technical things and working with computers. I am sorry that this happened. PLEASE NOTE, THIS COMMENTING STYLE IS ONLY FOR THIS POST. YOU WILL BE ABLE TO POST LIKE NORMAL ON THE OTHER POSTS. Thank you!

Seeds in the Ground!

Last Saturday, Daddy and I planted some things in my garden. Daddy made the rows, while I planted. I planted cucumbers, squash, leeks, spinach, lettuce, peas and bush beans. I planted two types of cucumbers, Poinsette 76 and regular hybrid cucumbers. The squash seeds are older, but they hopefully will still work.

I have not filled the whole garden up yet, but I am going to get some plants at the greenhouse next week. I will get some buttercrunch lettuce, which we greatly enjoyed last year. I also will be getting some tomato, pepper and parsley plants. When I get the plants, I will also plant radishes and onions. I would have already planted the radishes and the onions, but I would like to get the plants from the greenhouse first.
I added the "blueprint" of the garden so you can see where I planted everything. The circles are hills, the lines are rows and the square is the herbs. I will update the garden blueprint in a future post.

Homeschooling...


Momma loves this kind of homeschooling. These are her reasons:
  1. Daddy and I are working together in the garden as a team.
  2. We are in the dirt working, not just reading about it.
  3. I am finding things out in one of my gardening books and immediately putting the information to use.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Catnip...

Catnip is normally thought of as a non-usable weed that comes up in people's yards. Many cats go crazy at the very smell of catnip. Maggie LOVES to eat catnip. (It is the ONLY green thing that she likes.) Catnip attracts cats, which is not a very good thing for gardens.Catnip is an herb that is a member of the mint family. It has heart shaped leaves, a hairy stalk and a light blueish-gray color. Catnip has a recognizable odor that has a faint aroma of mint in it.

An interesting fact I learned is that catnip repels mosquitoes. It can be made into a mosquito spray. However, like all herbs, some people could be allergic to it. Below is a recipe for mosquito spray that came from the Hobby Farms Home magazine. I have not tried it, so I do not know how it works. If anyone tries it, let me know if it works!

Easy Catnip Mosquito Spray

Pack a 1-quart canning jar with bruised or chopped catnip or other herbs. Fill the jar to the brim with boiling water, cap the jar and let it sit overnight. Strain and pour the resulting liquid into a pump dispenser. Store unused portions in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Olive Plants...

Psalm 128:3 "Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine on the sides of thine house, and thy children like olive plants around thy table."

I wanted to place this post on my blog not because I have olive plants, which I do not, but because children are a blessing of the LORD. They are the parents' "garden" to tend.

My Momma first looked-up this website and showed it to us. Here is a background on the site.

Tait Zimmerman Jr., is the precious little first-born son of his parents, Tait and Lauren Zimmerman. He was born 3 months before his due date of February 4, 2009. Little Tait had to stay in the hospital for 3 months in the ICU. His parents were billed $186,769, but their representative was able to negotiate it down to $51,644.35. The problem is that the bill will jump up to the original amount unless they pay the bill before June 3, 2009. They are still waiting for the hospital bill, which will probably be much MUCH more. If you feel led to donate to them and wish to read the rest of Little Tait's story, please visit his site at www.littletait.com.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Leeks and Garlic

As I was planning my garden, I remembered that when I planted leeks last year, there were some helpful things that resulted from them.
  • We enjoyed fresh leeks from the garden all winter by keeping them in the ground.
  • Leeks are a natural insect repellent. I planted them next to the cucumbers, and they kept away the Japanese beetles. We always had a problem with the Japanese beetles' LOVING to eat the cucumber leaves, but not last year!
Leeks are large onions that can be an inch wide. Their white part can be 3 inches tall. Elephant garlic, which is thought to be garlic, is a leek.

The wild "onions" that normally pop up in most people's yards are actually wild garlic. You can use the tops of the wild garlic like chives. A friend of mine told me that she uses the top green part chopped up for people to put in soup.

Another additional way to extend a harvest of garlic, is to cut off the unopened flowers, called scapes. They are located on the tips of the garlic plant. You can sauté them with mushrooms, or add them raw to your salad.