Honey, compost and outdoor school

This week was a busy one! All week I drove to the next county over to go to outdoor school and experience it with students from our school. We had a great week, despite the rain and muddiness! The hikes were my favorite part!

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The sun did manage to shine one day! 

When I got home, we spent one whole evening spinning and filtering some honey from our hives. It turned out a beautiful dark color and has a delicious taste!

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Beautiful capped honey! 
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Slowly filtering! 

Since it seems like the only weather we have anymore is rain, compost pickups are always rainy. I’m so lucky to have a great worker who doesn’t complain about getting rained on during pickups! Look how many pounds we have collected so far:

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Over 800 pounds so far! 

Even though that weather was not ideal, I was able to find a few sunshine rays that allowed me to release a few butterflies this week! 1 boy and 1 girl so far!

When  I was rushing out of the house earlier this week and I found this lone leaf in the driveway:

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❤️

I feel like the Earth was sending me some love back! We are pretty committed to each other! 😆

Wherever you are, whatever you do, try to bloom where you’re planted! 🌱❤️

Canning and back to work

Last week was a long one! Going back to work means prepping for a new school year and SO many meetings. (And sitting in seats made for 8 year olds during those meetings!) I am absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! But, everything will be ready by the first day for my students!

I have been able to get in the garden several nights this week and had a few nice harvests! I need to make so much more out of tomatoes!

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Nice harvest right out of the yard! 

We also had our stand set up this weekend! We had lots of customers!

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Our tiny produce stand 
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All of the tomatoes still left after the sale! 
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Some salsa ready canned and delicious! 

We finally had to take out the trash. Our goal for the year is to only make 6 bags, so I am thinking that we should be ok!

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Bag 3 and both dogs made it in the picture! 

We also did the compost pickup today. It takes a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, but we only upcycle unwanted containers for the compost. The regular buckets are from a company’s laundry detergent and the left are kitty litter containers.

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Upcycled and ready to be used! 

And check out how much we have composted so far:

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717.24 pounds!!!!

And last, but no least, we found 13 more monarch caterpillars that we will be raising and releasing!

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So many babies! 

And our last 2 were ready to be released on Thursday! 1 girl and 1 boy! (The girl flew away immediately!)

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This handsome fellow even posed for me! 

I’m looking forward to getting myself back in the work routine and hopefully having a great school year! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

Certified wildlife habitat!

One of our goals for the new year was to turn the front lawn by the garage into a wildlife habitat, and I’m happy to report back that we did!

The check off sheet for certification:

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Food, water, cover, places to raise young and sustainable practices
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My rough draft last year
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After lots of hard work getting rid of the grass
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And this week!

And now all of the requirements:

food: we have raspberries, lots of pollen and nectar, a walnut tree and sunflowers for both pollen and nectar as well as seeds

water: we have 2 bird baths and a tiny pond back by the garden

cover: we created a small brush pile and we have a wooded area and tiny pond

places to raise young: we have milkweed for baby catapillars, pond, bat house, pollinator hotel and trees for the birds

sustainable practices: we capture rain water, use lots of mulch to reduce watering and keep soil from eroding, reduce watering, plant lots of native plants (and plan on adding more every year!), hand pick weeds and invasive plants/insects, reduce lawn area and compost like no one’s business!

 

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We started many native plants indoors last winter (coneflowers, milkweed, yarrow, bee balm)
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I keep seeing beautiful cardinals enjoying the seeds
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Not Native, but a polllen and nectar source
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Nasturtiums and the pollinators are enjoying the blooms now
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Echinacea
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Black eyed Susan (a Maryland favorite!)
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Another variety of black eyed Susan with a native bee
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Birdhouse gourds volunteered to come up here
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Upcycled bamboo sign post
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The solar lights along the walkway

It is far from perfect, but I plan on working on and adding to it every year. My husband enjoys not having to cut the grass in that area anymore and the wildlife have really moved in to this area! I see so many different birds, lots of different bees and beautiful butterflies flitting around. Plus, with more birds, I have had less issues with some insects in the garden! I’ll post a picture of it at the end of the season! Keep blooming friends!

 

 

June Goals Update 2018

Happy July all!! June was a fun month of finishing up school and traveling! Plus, the garden is taking off!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– ✅it happened! Everything is growing pretty well and I’m hoping that I get a great harvest!

2. Fix the camper– We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! We are going to update it some more, now that we lived out of it for 2 weeks!

3.Travel out west- We did it and enjoyed every single stop! (And the last blog posted was all about our adventure!)

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. We are finally starting to see what we envisioned! The pollinator hotel is being used, and flowers are blooming!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Bag number 2 was just taken out!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I didn’t do a big do-good gesture, but the boy’s composting service has kept around 220 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- this month we were able to pick up some pallets and the Mr. turned them into compost bins that the chickens gladly turn for us! Post will come later on how to make them!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The little sprouts are starting to look like trees!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! I also was able to pick up some ground cherries at a local nursery!

Genovese tomatoes

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.47 MWh and just the connection rate for an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this weekend! We will have garlic, eggs and some birdhouse gourds! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month things grew so well while we were out of town! I hope that your gardens start to produce some fruit and veggies for you! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

May Goals Update 2018

It’s June!!! Only another week and a half of school, the garden is coming to life and the temperatures are on the rise. I love summertime!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– it happened! The whole thing is planted! I have walkways and I’m doing my best to keep the weeds at bay! The trellises are all looking great too!

2. Fix the camper– We have been fixing up our home away from home! It is finished, minus a few little cosmetic things that I’d like to do! We love how it turned out! And the Mr. custom fit the bamboo mat for the bathroom area!

3.Travel out west- That camper is officially ready for adventure! It’s going to be happening this summer! I really want to see a buffalo, a few Great Lakes and the beautiful sights in Yellowstone! Oh, and spend another summer with my boy before he’s all grown up!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. So far we have raspberries, blueberries, black eyed Susan’s, brown eyed Susan’s, echinacea and a wildflower mix. And I’m pretty sure that some wild yarrow is coming up! And we are up to 2 inhabitants in the pollinator hotel!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are still working on filling bag 2! (Or actually not trying to fill it!) Still only 1 bag of trash! [/caption]

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I spread some good! I volunteered at a STEM festival and helped to educate kids about the importance of bees! I saved all of the water bottles from being thrown out during a school event and the boy’s composting service has kept around 70 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- the Mr. turned a broken window into a planter for the wildlife area! He also painted up and installed a cat litter container (now mailbox) in my garden so I’m not losing my garden trowel as often! And I turned some unused worksheets into notebooks for the boy to write down compost weights on! Great upcycling month!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! We are now up to 2 seeds sprouting! I was hoping to at least have that many for cross pollination!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! The only seeds that didn’t germinate at all were the oriental long beans. Not a one!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.6 MWh and just the connection rate fir an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this month! Maybe at least eggs! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month I worked every single free minute in the garden. On more than one occasion I had a bad feeling that I bit off ore than I should have. But, not everything is planted and growing. I hope that your gardens are taking shape! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Overload of homestead happenings!

Over the long weekend and all week long, we have been working all around this place!

The Mr. has been putting up better fencing around the garden that also connects the chicken area to the garden.

This is the new walkway in the big garden:

I also finally had a chance to string up the trellises for the pole beans. And I’m using the green bean teepee from last year!

I spent last night weeding the homestead tomatoes and yellow zucchini area:

And one of the yolo red pepper plants is producing its first pepper!

I have been (with the help of the boy) doing a much better job of keeping the compost greens and browns balanced! It was baking at around 130 degrees yesterday morning!

But don’t worry, I have still been chilling with the pup when I’m not in the garden!

I hope that every week continues to be as productive as this one! Keep blooming friends!

Kid composting service!

My kiddo is growing up fast and I would love to instill some work ethic into him. Don’t get me wrong, he will help out with whatever you ask him to, but I would love for him to understand what it’s like to keep customers happy. So, this summer he is providing a service to our neighbors/friends/family that were willing to participate! (And he actually got 10 people!)

The way that it works is that I am going to pay him, because not many people would actually pay for a service like this in our area. We asked around on Facebook and were able to round up some free buckets and that’s where we got the customers too!

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After we scrubbed them all up! 

Then, I helped him line them all with some newspaper and he wrote out the pickup times and put the list inside,

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The inside of the bucket
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All ready for drop off! 

He has already cleaned out several and has retrieved around 15 pounds of compostable materials that would have otherwise made its way to the landfill!

And now for his process:

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Step 1: weigh it (so we can let his customers know how awesome they are doing!) 
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Step 2: dump out the contents 
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Step 3: scrub out that bucket with some eco friendly soap! 

And an awesome coworker/friend thought that the boy’s service was such a good idea, that she donated some cleaner! This stuff smells amazing and leaves the buckets smelling great!

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Thank you Mallory! 

And on to Step 4:

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Reline the bucket with newspapers also given to us!

When he gets home we throw most of it into the compost bin, and give anything that would be enjoyed by the chickens to them! They sure are loving this!

I’m hoping to be able to keep this going all summer and I’m very thankful to the sweet people that are willing to try composting! I also love the fact that my boy knows just as much about composting  as I do! He can answer pretty much any question that a customer throws his way! Keep blooming, even in the middle of a neighborhood! 🌱💚