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Showing posts from November, 2017

The Self Sufficiency Handbook - Review

Opening up the first page of the The Self-Sufficiency Handbook, I felt as though the authors were kindred spirits. As many of you know, we bought a farm last year and have been diligently working to get it to a sustainable point. It's been hours and hours of dirty, hot, sweaty work.

If you've never lived off the grid, I suggest you give it a shot for a few weeks. It's hard!! We have dug wells, configured solar power, froze without heat, planted trees, killed gophers, argued with neighbors....

It's a process. So I appreciate the wisdom found in this handbook. It is more of an "idea starter" than a "how-to" book. All topics are overviews and there is no - "this is how you do it."  I would suggest it for dreamers or people just getting started. Once you are homesteading or living off the grid, you need more practical how-to type advice - and so you need more specific books or information sources.

The advice given - especially about trying ou…

Balloon Flowers - Great for Bees, Great for Beauty, Great for #easy #gardening

Once upon a time, our lawn had a kidney shaped island with no plants. I tried a few annuals in the space, but really tired of having them die each fall and require replanting. Then on a random trip to the nursery, I found some badly dehydrated clearance priced perennial flowers. Balloon Flowers!

They were planted right before winter, and by the next spring I was sure I had made a mistake. Balloon flowers take their time starting up each spring, and they start out so little. I was wrong (thankfully!) and they took off in no time. By mid summer they look like the photo above.

They do produce seeds that will drop and make little seedlings. Again...little. They are easy to pull out or relocate. The flowers are so fun - they start out as puffy little balloons and open into adorable stars. Bumblebees seem to prefer them compared to honeybees but I have seen both bee types on these flowers. They have a very light pleasant scent and the petals are edible. They taste like nothing - rose petals…

How to make your UGLY evergreen trees look GREAT!

Ten years ago, we planted 6 Colorado Blue Spruce trees in our yard. They were the runts of the bunch, so we got them at a discount. Just in case you ever find yourself in this situation, I do not recommend buying sick/diseased/weak trees. They are usually cheap - sometimes free - but they very rarely make it.

And even when they do survive, they often look horribly ugly. I am trying to dig up a photo of the trees from the beginning, but haven't had any luck yet.

The bottom line - they were short (4 feet maybe?) missing needles, one was twisted, one was almost entirely needleless, and 2 turned out to be black hill spruce. So we had a hodgepodge of ugly trees.

I watered them every spring and fall for the first 2 years. They grew a little but still looked terrible. I splinted two of the trees (The twister and one where the top started bending over). I shaved up one of the trees that was really asymmetrical (not generally okay to do with evergreens but in moderation it can really help …