How to Start Seeds on the Cheap

I’m frugal. I’m cheap. I do not like to part company with money that I work hard for. I especially don’t like to spend money on things that I can make for free or purchase second-hand.

Today’s blog post that I wrote over at Sow True Seed is about how to make or procure materials to start your yearly seed stash  without spending much, or any money.

Here it is! http://sowtrueseed.com/articles/how-to-make-homemade-seed-starting-pots/

Do you have a favorite way to start seeds?

seed starting stuffHappy Seeding! ~Angie

Southern SAWG 2015

This last week I was lucky enough to attend the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference (Southern SAWG for short) in Mobile, Alabama as a representative of Sow True Seed. My co-worker and I set up a booth to sell our awesome seeds, and I had a great time talking to growers, farmers, savvy business folk, and other like-minded people.

SAWG 2015 TableThursday night there was a seed swap, which was less swap and more free-for-all. We’d taken with us a few big boxes of seed that had not passed its last germination testing for USDA standards but was still perfectly plantable, and a few hundred empty envelopes. People were so excited you’d think we were giving away gold bars. The swap was from 5 to 7 and we were out of envelopes by 5:30. Thankfully the two other seed companies present had brought lots of extras, but even with those added to the mix we were all out of envelopes by 6:30. Makes me happy though, I hope it all gets planted! (I’m in the green shirt all the way on the right near the window.)

Seed Swap SAWG 2015They also had a pretty amazing jazz band, which I’m pretty sure was called The Excelsior Jazz Band.

Excelsior Band SSAWG 1-15-15My co-worker and I took turns working the booth and going to classes. The two standouts for me were Bramble Production in the South and taught by an Alabama Extension Agent Fruit and Nut Specialist, and Growing and Marketing Mushrooms by Tradd Cotter. Learning new things is the best. Next year the conference is in Lexington, KY, so that should be pretty great. It’ll be hard to beat this sunrise in Mobile though!

Sunrise in Mobile SAWGHappy Networking!

Amazing Benefits and Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is the only germicidal agent composed only of water and oxygen. Like ozone, it kills disease organisms by oxidation! Hydrogen peroxide is considered the worlds safest all natural effective sanitizer. It kills microorganisms by oxidizing them, which can be best described as a controlled burning process. When Hydrogen peroxide reacts with organic material it breaks down into oxygen and water.

Whiten Clothes – An Alternative to Beach


Add a cup of Peroxide to white clothes in your laundry to whiten them. Peroxide is great to get rid of blood stains on clothes and carpets. If there is blood on clothing, just pour directly on the spot, let it sit for about a minute, then rub and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

Health

Your body makes Hydrogen peroxide to fight infection which must be present for our immune system to function correctly. White blood cells are known as Leukocytes. A sub-class of Leukocytes called Neutrophils produce hydrogen peroxide as the first line of defense against toxins, parasites, bacteria, viruses and yeast.

Rejuvenating Detoxifying Bath

Use about 2 quarts 3% Hydrogen peroxide to a tub of warm water. Soak at least 1/2 hour, adding hot water as needed to maintain a comfortable water temperature.

Foot Fungus

To cure a foot fungus, simply spray a 50/50 mixture of Hydrogen peroxide and water on them (especially the toes) every night and let dry.

Colonic or Enema

For a colonic, add 1 cup (8 ozs.) 3% H202 to 5 gallons warm water. (Do not exceed this amount) For an enema, add 1 tablespoon of 3% H202 to a quart of warm distilled water.

Infections

Soak any infections or cuts in 3% for five to ten minutes several times a day. Even gangrene that would not heal with any medicine has been healed by soaking in Hydrogen peroxide. Put half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your bath to help rid boils, fungus or other skin infections.

Bird Mites Infections

Patients infected by tiny mites report that hydrogen peroxide effectively kills the mites on their skins. They spray it on their skin a couple of times (with a few minutes in between the applications) with amazing results.

Sinus Infections

A tablespoon of 3% Hydrogen peroxide added to 1 cup of non-chlorinated water can be used as a nasal spray. Depending on the degree of sinus involvement, one will have to adjust the amount of peroxide used.

Wound Care

3% H2O2 is used medically for cleaning wounds, removing dead tissue, and as an oral debriding agent. Peroxide stops slow (small vessel) wound bleeding/oozing, as well.

Some sources recommend soaking infections or cuts for five to ten minutes several times a day. However, washing and rinsing action is sufficient. You shouldn’t leave the solution on open tissue for extended periods of time as, like many oxidative antiseptics, Hydrogen peroxide causes mild damage to tissue in open wounds. Therefore it is important to use with caution.

Personal Care

Healing Properties: Take one capful (the little white cap that comes with the bottle) and hold in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit it out. You will not have canker sores and your teeth will be whiter. If you have a terrible toothache and cannot get to a dentist right away, put a capful of 3% Hydrogen peroxide into your mouth and hold it for 10 minutes several times a day. The pain will lessen greatly.

Mouthwash

Many people don’t realize that hydrogen peroxide makes a very effective and inexpensive mouthwash. Use 3% H202 – add a dash of liquid chlorophyll for flavoring if desired.

Toothpaste

Use baking soda and add enough 3% H202 to make a paste.

Toothbrush

Or, just dip your brush in 3% H202 and brush. Soak your toothbrush in Hydrogen peroxide to keep them free of germs.

Tooth Ache

Hydrogen peroxide is not a pain killer; however, as an anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal agent, it is effective at treating the pathogen that is causing the infection. The following is from my own personal experience: My dentist wanted to give me a root canal some time ago as one tooth was inflamed and, in her opinion, would die. I felt some discomfort but told her that I would give it chance to heal. I rinsed with hydrogen peroxide (several times a day) as well ascoconut oil (once a day). The discomfort went away and I have had no further problems with the tooth.

Tooth Whitening

Having used 3% Hydrogen peroxide as a mouth wash for sometime ago, I am thrilled to note that my teeth have been beautifully and effortlessly whitened. I used to pay so much for professional whitening, those silly strips and uncomfortable trays. Live and learn.

NOTE: Do not swallow any peroxide. When the peroxide rinse is done, be sure to rinse out your mouth with water.

Hair Lightening

Peroxide is a bleaching agent and is used for lightened hair. Dilute 3% Hydrogen peroxide with water (50 / 50) and spray the solution on your wet hair after a shower and comb it through. You will not have the peroxide burnt blonde hair like the hair dye packages, but more natural highlights if your hair is a light brown, faddish, or dirty blonde. It also lightens gradually so it’s not a drastic change.

Contact Lenses

Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant in CIBA Vision’s Clear Care no rub contact lens cleaning solution, due to its ability to break down the proteins that build up on the lense from the eye’s immune response, resulting in increased comfort for those with sensitive eyes.

Sanitizing / Disinfectant / Cleaning
Straight or Diluted Hydrogen Perioxide

Clean your counters and table tops with hydrogen peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray it on the counters. Use hydrogen peroxide to clean glass and mirrors with no smearing.

Keep a spray bottle of 3% (straight) to disinfect the interior of the refrigerator and kids’ school lunch boxes.

In the Dishwasher

Add 2 oz. of 3% Hydrogen peroxide to your regular washing formula.

Mold

Clean with Hydrogen peroxide when your house becomes a biohazard after its invaded by toxic mold, such as those with water damage.

Humidifiers/Steamers

Use 1 pint 3% Hydrogen peroxide to 1 gallon of water.

Laundry
Stain Remover

3% Hydrogen peroxide is the best stain lifter if used fairly soon – although blood stains as old as 2 days have been successfully lifted with Hydrogen Peroxide. Although it will bleach or discolor many fabrics. If a little peroxide is poured onto the stain it will bubble up in the area of the blood, due to a reaction with catalase. After a few minutes the excess liquid can be wiped up with a cloth or paper towel and the stain will be gone.

3% H2O2 must be applied to clothing before blood stains can be accidentally “set” with heated water. Cold water and soap are then used to remove the peroxide treated blood.

Laundry

Washing

You can also add a cup of hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach to a load of whites in your laundry to whiten them. If there is blood on clothing, pour directly on the soiled spot. Let it sit for a minute, then rub it and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

Food Preparation
Vegetable Soak

Use as a vegetable wash or soak to kill bacteria and neutralize chemicals. Add 1/4 cup 3% H202 to a full sink of cold water. Soak light skinned (light lettuce) 20 minutes, thicker skinned (like cucumbers) 30 minutes. Drain, dry and refrigerate. Prolongs freshness.

If time is a problem, spray vegetables (and fruits) with a solution of 3%. Let stand for a few minutes, rinse and dry.

Sprouting Seeds

Add 1 ounce 3% Hydrogen peroxide to 1 pint of water and soak the seeds overnight. Add the same amount of hydrogen peroxide each time you rinse the seeds.

Read more–  <3, Angie

(Originally published on 4/2/13)

Building a Root Cellar: Tips and a Collection of Photos

Root cellars are for keeping food supplies at a low temperature and steady humidity. They keep food from freezing during the winter and keep food cool during the summer months to prevent spoilage. Typically, a variety of vegetables are placed in the root cellar in the autumn, after harvesting. A secondary use for the root cellar is as a place in which to store wine or home-made alcoholic beverages.


Vegetables stored in the root cellar primarily consist of potatoes, turnips, and carrots. Other food supplies placed in the root cellar over the winter months include beets, onions, preserves/jams, salt meat, salt turbot, salt herring, Winter squash, and cabbage.

In the days before fresh produce was available in supermarkets year-round, a root cellar was an essential part of every home. They’re a lost way of life and were once a crucial link in the subsistence chain. In one form or another, we may need to rely upon them once more — this time after the pole shift. Conditions might render a root cellar a luxury, but it’s an option we should be knowledgeable about. 

Here are some excellent key points from the book “Root Cellaring” by Mike & Nancy Bubel. This book is a goldmine of information, and if you’re considering putting in a root cellar, it’ll walk you through every step. 

  • The authors found with proper planning they could produce about 33 kinds of vegetables for winter storage.
  • Vegetables store best if harvested at the peak of maturity. This takes a little planning.
  • Many storage vegetables grow best in the cool growing days of fall.
  • Unblemished, disease-free vegetables keep best.
  • Well-fertilized kale, collards and cabbage contain more vitamin C than those grown on lean soil.
  • Whole grains will remain in good condition for two or three years if kept cool and dry and protected from insects. Pick a tightly closed container that shuts out light and that insects and rodents can’t penetrate. Grains don’t belong in a damp root cellar.
  • Cured meats, especially ham and bacon, can be kept in a root cellar if the temperature is 40° or below. (About 4° C)
  • You can even put potting soil in the root cellar over the winter so it won’t be rain-soaked when you need some for spring seedlings.
  • Root vegetables can be left in the ground until hard frost, and that way the temperature in your root cellar is more likely to be at an optimal level.
  • It shouldn’t be necessary to clean most vegetables, but handle with care and store only your best. Curing isn’t necessary for most root vegetables.
  • Leafy tops of parsnips and beets are good to eat.
  • Lowering the storage temperature is the single-most important thing you can do to promote the longevity of root vegetables.
  • The optimal temperature for most root vegetables is around 32° F (0° C)
  • The majority of storage vegetables are biennials — those that go to seed after a winter dormancy period. Nature intends them to last the winter.
  • Store enough items so that a few losses won’t matter.
  • Inspect your stored vegetables weekly.
  • The main cause of shriveling in storage is low humidity.
  • The authors also discuss outside storage of vegetables in mounds, also known as clamps. However, I couldn’t find a web site that dealt with this topic.
  • If you’re willing to dig a hole for it, an old refrigerator can provide good storage space for vegetables. You bury the refrigerator to take advantage of the moderating and more constant temperature of the sub-surface soil. Keep the refrigerator well covered and protected from moisture, and you may need to install a vent.
  • If winters are mild (average temperatures over 30° F) you won’t be able to reach the optimum temperature in a root cellar. In this case, the vegetables should keep well in a heavily-mulched garden row.
  • In planning a root cellar, temperature is the first consideration. You want to maintain temperatures at 32° to 40° F (0 to 4 C).
  • Double-doors or a small anteroom (fore-room) provide an additional degree of protection from temperature swings. Insulation also helps maintain a stable temperature. You can use sawdust, wood shavings, cinders, straw, even dry leaves. Some outdoor-survival books discuss how to keep insulation dry.
  • The next requirement is high humidity, about 90% to 95%. This will help prevent the food from shriveling. You can measure humidity with a hygrometer, though humidity shouldn’t be a problem in a post-shift world. If the cellar has a dirt floor, it will provide natural moisture. If necessary, you can place water in shallow pans. You can also pack root vegetables (especially carrots, beets, and parsnips) in damp sawdust, sand or moss to reduce surface evaporation. If you can install one, an arched ceiling will cut down on condensation problems.
  • You also need proper ventilation, and this means installing a low air-intake opening and a high air outlet on opposite sides of the room. In Europe, the pipes are often insulated to help prevent condensation. Don’t place your storage shelves right against the walls. Your food can get moldy. Ditto if you place your storage bins right on the floor. A palette-type device is recommended.
  • The storage room should be kept dark.
  • You want to clean up the cellar annually.
  • Crates utilize space more effectively than baskets.
  • A space eight-by-eight feet (about 2.5 square meters) should be plenty for the average family.
  • Root cellars are too humid for canned goods, unless you consume these in perhaps the first year.
  • You don’t want a strong draft through the bin, because this will remove moisture from the produce.
  • If the outdoor temperature is higher than the root cellar, keep the air-intake vent closed during the day.
  • If it’s extremely cold out and the cellar is reaching below 32° F, you can put some hot coals in there to warm things up.
  • Store only your best vegetables.
  • Keep them as cool as possible between harvest and storage.
  • Dug-in root cellars work well because they are insulated by the earth surrounding them. The soil is a poor conductor of heat, so the temperature of the ground six feet under the surface is cool and fairly constant. The natural moisture of the earth helps to keep humidity high. It is important to provide drainage around the cellar so there is no water-logged soil to freeze and cave in the walls.
  • You can cover a dirt floor with gravel, but you don’t want a concrete floor. You also want a drain to allow excess water to seep out. Cover it with a screen. Excessively rainy conditions may call for a trench.
  • In many places, most root cellar crops can be safely left in the ground until November.
  • Keep carrots and beets away from any condensation that might by dripping from the ceiling.
  • If mice become a problem, you may have to screen individual containers of vegetables.
  • One enterprising person made a root cellar out of a discarded truck which he drove into a dug-out hillside.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, you can put a container of water in the cellar. If it starts to freeze up, you’ll need to warm up the cellar somehow.
  • Incidentally, a root cellar can make an excellent shelter from tornadoes and hurricanes.
  • Old-timers sometimes built the front wall of a root cellar twice as thick as the back wall.
  • You need a good roof that doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate the cellar. If it’s structurally sound, you can place a couple feet of dirt on it for additional insulation. The Bubels go on to describe characteristics of different storage items:
  • Apples: I don’t foresee growing these, but they’re considered the ‘queen’ of storage fruits.
  • Beets: good keepers. The ‘Long Keeper’ variety is just that — a great keeper. The leaves are vitamin-rich. Can last 4 to 5 months in storage.
  • Brussels sprouts: might keep 4 to 5 weeks if kept in perforated plastic bags. This reminds us we might want to stock up on plastic grocery bags for this purpose.
  • Cabbage: if it splits, it won’t keep.
  • Chinese cabbage: can last up to three months. You can even replant them in a box of soil in the root cellar.
  • Carrots: a summer planting is best for winter keeping. They are the backbone of any food-storage plan. The roots are rich in vitamin A and they can last several months in storage. With adequate mulching, you can even keep them right in the garden row for the winter.
  • Cauliflower: keeps only a short time at best, two to four weeks.
  • Celeriac: a good keeper.
  • Celery: see how late you can keep this in the garden, and then maybe you can get a month or two of storage out of it.
  • Garlic: needs lower humidity than root vegetables. If you can find a cool, dry place, it can last seven or eight months.
  • Horseradish: very hard and a good keeper.
  • Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke): can last several weeks in plastic bags or in damp sand.
  • Kale: high in vitamin content, easy to grow, extremely cold-hardy.
  • Kohlrabi: the leaves are good to eat. Packed in damp sand or sawdust, it can keep well into the winter.
  • Leeks: especially cold-hardy. Can make it through a winter outdoors if well mulched, or you can plant some in your root cellar in tubs of sand or soil.
  • Lettuce: has a short storage life.
  • Onions: seed-grown onions are especially good for storage.
  • Parsnips: these are perhaps the hardiest of all root vegetables. Be sure to dig them out. If you pull them, you can lose half the root. If you nick the roots with the shovel, don’t store them. Nicks and blemishes invite spoilage, and this applies to all root vegetables. For longer storage, pack them in damp sawdust. Leaves, moss, or sand will work well too. The leaves are edible.
  • Sweet Potatoes: the roots are vitamin-rich, and they can keep several months if stored well. Must be cured.
  • White Potatoes: beware of planting the kind you buy in the store — they may contain disease. Cool nights promote storage of starch, making for a longer-keeping potato, so the later-maturing ones are best for storage. Must be cured and kept in a dark spot. They can last four to six months.
  • Pumpkins: those that have lost their stems won’t keep well.
  • Winter radishes: they’ll last until February if well stored.
  • Rutabagas (Swedish turnip): will last two to four months in storage.
  • Squash: if it’s well stored, it will keep for up to six months. Cure them for 10 to 14 days. Like pumpkins, keep them dry and moderately warm.
  • Tomatoes: late-planted tomatoes are best for storage.
  • Turnips: these are among the hardiest of vegetables. In storage they might put out pale, leafy tops, good for stews.

 This incredibly ambitious buried school bus cellar inspires thoughts of all kinds of buried junk; An old car, van, cargo container, or:

 An old non-working refrigerator. A chest freezer would be great as well.

 Beets and carrots store best buried in sand.

Cabbages hanging upside-down by their taproots. I love the cans, but stop stacking your home canned goods people! Safety first!

(Originally published 11/20/12)