Spring is finally showing it’s face around here! I spent most of the day Saturday moving the mulch out of the way and planting some things in my garden. We are using a deep mulch/ Back to Eden/ no till garden method. It’s sort of an amalgamation of all the ideas I researched rolled into what felt right for us. To get to the actual dirt to plant my seedlings and seeds I had to dig down about 4- 6 inches. As the plants grow I will add the mulchback around the plant to protect the roots, and to keep the weeds from taking over. Any weeds that do grow will be easily pulled.
I also got my seeds started for my tomatoes, various squash, cucumbers, and some beans even though I usually don’t start them inside. If you don’t recognize my seed starter cups it’s just cardboard egg cartons. When I am ready to transplant I will use a pin to poke some holes in the bottoms and tear the sides down to make sure the roots have the chance to break free. Also they will break down pretty fast in the wet soil.
These babies will not go outside until after the last frost date because I love them and I don’t want them to get cold. For now they live in my front window that is actually in my sons’ room. And I finally found a use for the ironing board.
Delicious things coming soon… Like this.
You can read about the expanded garden here, and the first seeds we started this year.
Today is the day I finally try my laundry egg.
I have had it since last week, but I needed to teach my kids what it was, and how to use it. I was also a little afraid to use it. You see, before I use it I still have the ability to hope it works, but if I use it and it doesn’t work then I am going to be sad. I know I am an over thinker.
But since the kids opened the box last night I knew it was time. I also received my new wool dryer balls. I thought why not try them both out together.
We also had a bit of an emergency that left us with a ton of wet dirty clothes that needed to be washed quickly. This laundry egg will really be tested with these loads. I read in the materials that the egg needs more water but I have a HE top load washer. So,I set it to the Heavy Duty cycle to get more water in the mix. Sometimes I amaze myself.
I also had to run a spin cycle to get some of the water out of the clothes and used vinegar in that cycle because they were dirty clothes before they all got wet. Vinegar is my go to for smelly stuff. The box came with 12 pks of white pellets and 1 pack of black. The black ones are ceramic and the white ones are mineral pellets. To start I placed the black pellets and 3 bags of white pellets in the egg. When I use it 72 washes I will need to add a pack of white pellets. Then just toss it on top of the clothes.
I purchased the fragrance free option because I usually don’t like scented laundry, but also it is harder to hide dirty clothes without fragrance. If I later decide I want some smells I can add a few drops of essential oils to my dryer balls.
After the clothes were washed they came out smelling fine. I tossed them into the dryer and turned it on. I try to use the sensor settings because I want to use the dryer as little as possible. I used all 6 of the dryer balls because this was a load of towels and blankets.
I normally line dry my clothes, but it was late afternoon when I was finally able to get to the washing machine and I really wanted to try out my new stuff. Plus it helped to dry the clothes in the dryer to see how much the balls helped to reduce the drying time. Everything came out fluffy, and smelling like nothing. I guess that means it worked!
All in all it was a successful wash and dry cycle. If I think about it I will post an update after I have used this a few times maybe when it is time to refill the pellets. Now to find a way to get the clothes put away that doesn’t require me to put the clothes away.
I took this picture a few days ago when I got home from work and it was not dark outside (I work a lot of late hours for a few reasons we are converting all our files to digital, and I am trying to earn as much cash as possible to pay off my debt and get this dream moving along faster). It was just too beautiful not to stop and enjoy the blooms on my nectarine tree. We have never harvested fruit from this tree because it seems every year they bloom and then it freezes again and they all die off, or the birds get to them before we do. One of the goals this year is to harvest enough from this tree to make some jam. Even if I don’t get any fruit this is still one of my favorite trees because it is so beautiful and it dumps beautiful pink petals all over my yard. Is spring showing in your yard yet?
I like to start my seeds inside, even the ones that don’t need to be started indoors. I like to use the moon favorable dates and the planting guide for my zone from the Old Farmer’s Almanac website.
In a spreadsheet I keep track of when I planted the seeds when the emerged from the ground when they got their leaves and then I have a formula that dates out the earliest and latest harvest dates.
This weekend I was finally able to put seeds in the dirt which if you haven’t figured out yet is one of my favorite things to do. I am not sure how they will turn out because I am using new seeds, and I am trying some new methods out, but I will update regularly and post pictures then there are pictures to post.
I elaborate a bit more in when we have planned in this earlier post.
Anyone else starting seeds this early?
A good friend of mine told me about this product that is supposed to wash your clothes better than laundry detergent, without chemicals that would be harmful to the Earth. Since this blog is a place for me to talk about my family’s journey to an off grid life what better place to talk about this thing.
First off let me start by saying I have not been endorsed, contacted , or in anyway compensated by the company that makes this product. I just saw it and thought what a neat idea.
Second, I have not used it yet. This is just the first in a series about this product.
Here is what I have purchased:
Here is the product’s Amazon description, “The Laundry Egg is packed with unique, natural and powerful cleaning pellets which activate in the water and are scientifically proven to gently lift away dirt and grime. Simply place the Eco egg Laundry Egg on top of your washing in the drum of your machine. Completely replaces washing powders, liquids, gels and tablets. No mess, no fuss 100% fragrance free so suitable for the most sensitive skin (supported by Allergy UK & The National Eczema Society) Contains no harsh chemicals, hypoallergenic, dermatologically tested and not tested on animals. 720 Wash Laundry Egg lasts the average family of four for 3 years”
I don’t know about you but that is a lot of promises for $24.99. We know we want to try to use a pedal powered washer when we move off grid. (I really can’t wait to talk about that). We would like to have one already built that we have been using before me move. After some google investigating they also claim this is safe for grey water collection. This means that we can use this to wash our clothes and pour the water off to the ground without hurting the environment.
Who wouldn’t want to give this a try? I am just so excited for this to get to my house I couldn’t wait to tell everyone here about it.
Look for later posts to discuss this again after my first use…
Here in central NC spring is just around the corner. We have had our snow day which was enjoyed by all. Since we usually only get one real snowfall here this was terrific.
But now it is time to really get the garden ready. We have been picking up free loads of mulch from the city every week. Here they provide you with free mulch one day a week. We are able to pick up 2 trailer loads that day. We are working towards having 6 inches of mulch on top of a layer of leaves we raked into the garden last year after we tilled it for the last time. We plan to not ever till again. We want to use a no till method but felt that we needed to start with loose soil. This may not be true, but we do what feels right. My wonderful husband has been moving this beautiful mulch one wheelbarrow load at a time. Here is what it looks like as of the last load.
We will pull back the mulch to the soil when it is time to plant and then when we have seedlings we will bring it back around the plant. We ordered our seeds from Botanical Interests because it was the only catalogue that was sent to us that had every seed we wanted to plant. You can see here my garden plans for the year in a previous post.
I am getting so excited for this year because we have so many plans for this larger garden. Homemade marinara sauce that I will can, canning green beans, freezing zucchini for adding to soups for extra nutrition. Anyone else having a hard time waiting for spring?
Where did this year go?! Looking back at why I started this blog last year I think I am following my goals pretty well.
The road so far…my first blog post.
Ths year our focus has been on getting our debts paid down so we can save for our future property. I have been working on sharpening my homestead skills. My husband has also been working on his skills. We made lots of our own stuff, and repaired things that were broken instead of replacing them. We downsized our spending to help with the debt reduction. We expanded our garden to help us be more self sufficient into next year and the following years.
I count 2017 in the success column. What will next year hold?
A larger garden.
We got a Pressure Canner for christmas, and a new stove from my in-laws that has a dehydrate function! Those 2 tools will help us to preserve our harvest. Our garden last year only served to supplement our Summer food budget, and teach us to better manage the garden.
We also fenced in the larger garden because we added a family member, and apparently he loves pepper plants. He ate them every day until the plants were nothing but nubs.
His name is Major, and we got him at the local animal shelter.
My husband has a bow that he bought as a gift to himself a few years ago that he has been learning to use. This year he will get licensed to hunt. His veteran status allows him to get a lifetime hunting license. We hope this will afford us free meat in the fall (minus the costs of hunting).
Continue to spend less, save more, and pay off debts. I will stop spending money on snacks at work. Having a larger garden will allow us to lower our food budget, which helps in all these categories. My husband is able to get all his medical needs met, except dental, at the VA so I dropped him from our insurance plan and only carry myself and our children- more money saved! We are planning a yard sale in the spring to reduce our stuff, and hopefully make a little extra to put towards our debt reduction.
There are other things that we want to do, but are not ready to commit 100% in black & white. What are your plans for the coming year? Any advise on our plans?