7 Natural Ways to Control Cucumber Beetles

So far the 2014 garden is off to a great start! At the end of May I shared a summary of what’s going well and what’s not-so-swell. At that time, the garden remained relatively pest-free. However in the short time since that post I’ve encountered to more prevalent invaders. The first pest is a mysterious, large, picky eater. The invader may be a deer, although there are no signs of jumping our 8-foot tall fence and the tracks left in […]

Violet Leaf & Honey Cough Syrup

Yesterday was amazingly sunny and warm. Today is rainy  and warm, but I’m not complaining, because these are great conditions for my spring garden! As I traipse back and forth from the house to the garden I’ve noticed that the violet blossoms are basically gone for the season. Meanwhile, I keep reminding myself that I need to make time to harvest more of the leaves before my ‘real’ garden kicks into full gear. I plan to dehydrate about 4 cups […]

Dye-Free Sprinkles from Sweet Violets

Last spring I debuted my first foraging post when I shared about the violet velly (jelly) I made from sweet violets growing ‘wild’ on our property. Once I discovered that violets are edible (and beneficial for health!) I knew these early spring beauties would give me plenty of opportunity to try out new recipes. I’ll share more about their health benefits later this week. (If you can’t wait that long, click here for a re-fresh.) Though there are plenty of […]

Local Peach Sources

Another fruit season is underway – it’s time for Michigan peaches! I’ve spent some time looking for pesticide-free peach sources and I’m having a rough time. Molter Family Orchards has organic peaches, but only in limited quantity due to losing some to a May frost. Their CSA members get first dibs (rightly so) and they did delivery a few to the People’s Food Co-Op in downtown Kalamazoo last week. Blue Dog Family Farm also has organic peaches (“a small orchard”) […]

Where to Find Rhubarb

The weather has been cool in Southwest Michigan. That means you won’t find much at the local market beyond greens, herbs and radishes until the weather warms a bit. It also means that May goodies like asparagus and rhubarb may last a while longer. A couple of weeks ago (before my life got super busy) I shared a post with you about where to find asparagus in the area. I’ve also done a little looking for rhubarb, although I confess […]

Natural, Cheap Fabric Softener

In this previous post I shared with you how you can make natural laundry soap that costs about half as much as store-bought, chemical-ridden detergent. (Could be even cheaper if you do fewer than 365 loads per year!). Today I want to give you a similar ‘recipe’ for natural, inexpensive fabric softener: Natural, Cheap Fabric Softener Ingredients: White Vinegar Instructions: Add ½ cup to the rinse cycle. (If you have a fabric softener dispenser, add the vinegar as you would […]

Homemade Vanilla Extract

We do a lot of baking at our house. Because we don’t eat artificial food dye and are trying to avoid artificial everything-else, I recently purged all of the unnatural additives from my baking cupboard. I pitched things like neon food dye, regular food dye, artificial vanilla and a slew of other flavorings like “butter” and “root beer.” All that remained was some pure almond and pure peppermint extract. If you like to bake as much as I do, you […]

What is Sustainable Living?

In January of this year I wrote Our Story and mentioned that I would eventually share with you why we believe a micro-farm provides health (sustainability) not only for our family but also for the community. Since that time, I’ve used the term sustainable living several times. Now that the main growing season is over and my focus is turning to more of the non-gardening aspects of the farm, this seems like a good time to share those thoughts with […]