Gardening in the Blind

Cleaning with herbs
October 29, 2009, 10:37 am
Filed under: cleaning, Green, Herbs

Herbs/vegetables ready to be hung to dry

As fall clean-up is in full swing, I thought I would blog a bit on “Green” cleaning.  Having a house full of animals that lick everything, I have been forced to clean things without chemicals.  In doing so, I have learned a tremendous amount.  So I thought I would share some with you.

Did you know that vinegar is a mild acid.  It works on alkaline substances such as mold, soap scum, coffee, rust and tea.  Castile soap (made with olive oil) or vegetable based soaps attach to soil at the molecular level, so you can rinse away with water.  One of my favorite soaps is Dr. Bonners.  Just ignore the packaging as he was a bit of a nut case!

Remember the large bunch of herbs on the cart that I needed to bring in for drying?  Well they have many uses.  Besides the gifts that we give during the holidays, I use it for a sink scrubber as well.  It not only works great but it smells delightful as well:

Must of the rest of my cleaning consists of castile soap (Dr. Bonner’s)/vinegar/baking soda.  I tend to use peppermint or lavender soaps for cleaning.  I started using tea tree soap, but found it is really bad for animals, so I went back to the original selection.  So below find my recipes for Sink Scrubber, Wall Cleaner, Glass Cleaner, Pretreatment of Laundry Stains and a handy selection of helpful advice for carpet stain cleaners.

Sink Scrubber

1 cup baking soda, dried sage leaves coarsely ground and dried mint leaves coarsely ground, 1/2 cup ground rosemary leaves

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight container and shake to blend.  Sprinkle a small amount of the powder into a sink and scrub.  Rinse well.

Wall Cleaner

Combine 1 part water to ½ part vinegar.   Tip: clean from the bottom up to prevent unsightly drip lines.

Glass Cleaner

Combine 2 quarts water and ¼ cup white vinegar into a spray bottle and use as you would a commercial cleaner.  Try wiping with an old newspaper instead of paper towels to eliminate streaks.

Pretreatment of Laundry Stains

1 part distilled white vinegar to ½ part salt.  Combine in a squirt or spray bottle and apply to stains before washing.  For heavy stains, soak for an hour or so before washing.

Carpet Stain Cleaners

Although the best two items for carpet I have found is salt or cream of tarter, here are some helpful ideas:

Red wine stain: Pour white wine on top and allow to sit a bit.  Or try pouring salt on top, let it sit for 20 minutes than vacuum.

Mud stains: Put salt or baking soda on top of it and let sit for 20 minutes, then vacuum.


Winter is coming quickly!
October 18, 2009, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, local eating
Pesto before frozen

Pesto before frozen

Deron and I spent a weekend up in Maine for his high school reunion.  As we were on the way home I noticed something big and wet and wait…did I see that right??  Yes, I believe it was big white things coming down.  Yuck.  I can’t believe already..  Ichy.  So much for a garden anymore I mumbled under my breathe.  Deron took a deep breathe and told me to do something with the marigolds and arugula that I had been milking.  It was time.

So out in the snow I was picking arugula and thinking about what I might possible do with it.  Then it hit me…Pesto.  I could make it, freeze it and use it whenever my heart was content to.  So I set off to research the arugula recipes.  This is what I decided. 

The first was compliments of In My Kitchen Garden.  I needed to add more oil and cheese, but overall it was quite nice taste.  I placed them in my rubber ice cube molds and froze them.  Once frozen, I then popped them out and sealed them so not to get freezer burn.  The second was compliments of Baking Pi.  I added more garlic because the last one I didn’t really taste the garlic.  I liked this one as it gave me an option without cheese.  It was packed full of flavor.  Before freezing, I have to say this was my favorite.  We will have to see what the flavors are like after freezing.  I will keep you posted.

Update #1
October 16, 2009, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Herbs, Indoor Gardening, outdoor gardening

My husband and I were traveling back home one night when our conversation was turned to the fact that it was 6:30 and by the car temp it was already in the mid 30’s.  I didn’t think too much of it until we pulled into the house….and the light bulb that seems to never want to light turned VERY bright.  OH MY is was going to frost!


Pile of Greens

Pile of Greens

Without changing (I happened to be wearing heels that day) I ran out to the garden.  It was dark already so I turned on the garage light and the deck light and grabbed a flash light.  I needed to save some stuff!  I started at one end of the beds and ended with the bean bed.  I pulled most of the carrots and turnips, trimmed all of the lettuce, gave the arugula a nice haircut and set out to grab herbs. 

I cut the mint and lemon balm first.  I knew they are touchy around the cold for me in the past.  I then went down the line and took some sage (not much as it has been snow on the ground and I still had sage) chives, parsley and the remainder of basil.  I also grabbed some horehound as this is the first year that I have grown it so I don’t know how touchy to the could it really is.  I guess I will find out.

Herbs hanging in window

Herbs hanging in window

After spending over an hour washing prepping  freezing and hanging to dry, I could see my counter again.  It was a grand thing seeing the windows full of herbs.  Nothing makes me more at home that seeing them in the window.  

It is official.  I have moved.  Well not that kind of move, but I moved my shelving and lights down in the basement.  I think it will be nice as I will have most of the basement dedicated to the plants.  Deron is going to install a water spout down there for me to use in watering the little seedlings.  It will be a great set-up when I am all done with it.

I have decided to bring in the hot pepper plants and start my winter experiment.  I believe that I can have peppers year round if this works.  Stay tuned for more information throughout the experiment.

In transit
October 13, 2009, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Due to the fact that I have this urge sometimes to look on Craigslist, my planting station is going down.  Downstairs that is.  I am kind of excited about what it will be when I am finished.  I am also going to have a guest room again.  Now if I could just get a guest to enjoy it…

The Steamer Trunk

The Steamer Trunk

It all started when I found this wonderful steamer trunk.  I had wanted one since a little girl when my sister got one.  So all of a sudden I was presented with this trunk for $25.  Now not only is it extremely cheap, it is in mint condition.  Deron didn’t even see where this was going.  We got it and then I needed a bed to go with the trunk.  This prolonged my use of craigslist.  Why not.  I wasn’t finding anything in my neck of the woods, so I decided to go further west in the state.  That is when I found exactly what I had been looking for.  A black iron and brass bed with the original springs.  So we rented a vehicle, drove over one and one half hours and picked it up.  I have to say I was in my glory!  (Please excuse Hunter my cat from the picture.  He can’t help but lay down between pillows.)

The perfect bed

The perfect bed

So now I am setting up my basement.  I quickly set up the shelves and lights so I could bring stuff inside before the frost.  I have decided to conduct an experiment and dug up some of the pepper plants (hot that is) and am going to try keeping them growing throughout the winter.  I will post pictures and updates of the downstairs soon!  But in the meantime enjoy the guest room finds!

Fall planting time
October 10, 2009, 6:33 pm
Filed under: outdoor gardening

It has been too long since I last posted.  I have had a series of events which have kept me away.  But here I am again.  I had been procrastinating when it comes to clean up with my garden.  But it finally came down to the line.  I had to clean up to plant the garlic for next year. 

It really wasn’t that bad.  Just needed patience.  So, I set out to do it in the morning.  I have found I am most likely have enough patience in the morning.  Let’s just say the later in the day the less time I have for something tedious and slow. 

I cleaned and raked the area.  We decided that why not have the entire right side of the ground planting (18 feet) garlic.  We eat a lot of it so why not.  The thing about garlic is that is only needs approx. a fist between plantings.  I decided I would enlist the help of Deron for the actual planting.  That didn’t produce much help, but I did manage to get a little.  So we took a stick and started poking holes in the ground approx. 3″ deep.  After the holes come the fun part of placing a clove down every hole.  Then I counted.  And recounted.  And realized I am NUTS!

To make a long story a little shorter, I planted 105 cloves this morning.  That means 105 heads next year.  When I asked Deron what in the world were we to do with the garlic, he just smiled and said “You can just sell it somewhere, you know like your stand outside and at work”  I don’t know which one of us was more insane.  I place my chips on him!