Saturday, January 9, 2010

indoor garden update

we have had some really cold weather recently but the gh seems to be doing ok despite not having a heat source in there. Last night we got down to around 5 degrees but we have been having teen temps at night for well over a week now with us not coming up to freezing during the day in about a week.

I have all the beds in there covered with a hoop type house and then they all have another layer of plastic and two other blankets or covers. As of yesterday nothing had died. Growth has near stopped but things look healthy overall.

The inside plants are growing well or fairly well. Tomatoes are flowering pretty good, beans are making a few beans, and the greens are giving us a meal or so a week.. The greens from onions n garlic and cilantro are all tasty too. Peas are shooting up a good bit and some of the newer bean plantings are coming up good. My baby cukes are doing well too but my zookini has failed yet again.

Here is the running photo blog of the indoor gardens.

Friday, January 8, 2010

home made yogurt

While awaiting our blizzard yesterday,I decided to make some home made yogurt. Since milk was back up to near $3.50 a gallon this month at the store I decided to use what we had on hand which was frozen or powder milk. Since I wanted instant gratification, I went with the powdered milk. When milk gets expensive, powdered milk does become the more economical choice. I have never made yogurt from powdered milk before but have made yogurt before so I thought this would be a good experiment.

I used a store bought yogurt for my culture since it has been a while since I used any of my frozen cultures and I thought it would be a good time to replace them.

I am making ours on the wood stove rather than in a crock pot , dehydrator, lamp light or on the counter top.It requires no energy or fuel resources to speed the process up by making it on the wood stove but speeds the process of making it up a bit. Remember I was after instant gratification..

What are some of your ways to make yogurt

here is the recipe I used
3-3/4 cup warm tap water
1-2/3 cups instant nonfat dry milk
4 tablespoon store-bought, plain yogurt with active yogurt cultures

In a large saucepan combine the tap water and dry milk powder. Stir it very well, and let it sit a few minutes. Then stir it again. All of the dry milk should be dissolved. Heat the milk over medium low heat until it reaches 180°. This kills off any competing bacteria so that the yogurt will respond better to the acidophilus cultures. Remove from the stove and allow to cool to 115°. If the milk is any hotter than this then it will kill off the yogurt cultures. Add the store-bought plain yogurt to the warm milk. Stir well. Allow it sit for a few minutes and stir a final time. This should dissolve the store-bought yogurt completely.

Carefully pour the mixture(keep a half cup out as your next starter, these can be froze and used ) into a very clean, quart-sized, wide-mouthed canning jar, or another clean, quart-sized container.cover with a cloth and incubate the yogurt in a warm spot for 6 to 8 hours, or until it is set almost as thick as store-bought yogurt. Chill and eat. Add fruits, make smoothies, parfaits, use as sour creme. If you drain drain the liquid , you have what is sometimes referred to as greek yogurt, yogurt cheese or yogurt cream cheese. The remaining liquid is whey and can be used in breads and other recipes.

The yogurt turned out very creamy, thick and non bitter.It made a very nice yogurt. Total cost of the quart of yogurt about 1 dollar. Had I not wanted the instant gratification, I could have thawed a gallon of goat milk out and used that and cost would have been nothing.

I made a nice caramel apple parfait topped with skillet granola for dessert

simple soap in a crock pot

This is the simplest home made soap recipe there is. Not only are the ingredients simple and easy to find but by doing it in a crock pot it makes it so easy even a hillbilly can do it . This is a really good recipe for someone that is a beginner.

You can use any recipe you wish for the crock pot soap however for simplicity sake I used this recipe
48 oz of oil(veg, olive, lard, shortening, coconut, palm,or any mixture of them)
6 oz lye
14 oz water

I will add tea tree oil for scent and no other additives since I generally use my home made soap as an all purpose soap for dishes, hands, body and hair.It can also be used in laundry as it is a castile soap.

Monday, January 4, 2010

a couple frugal gardening ideas

I love seeing different styles and methods of gardening that make gardening easier for those that are space, precipitation or monetarily challenged. Here are a couple ideas that I have run across that i think are pretty neat.

natural raised wood garden
What an ingenious idea these folks had. Looks great, seems like it would work and other than the time it takes to build, its free!! One thing that I would change is maybe laying a barrier between the sticks on the sides and the dirt to prevent rot. Then again, if you do that you lose some of the aeration of the soil.. Any who for those with limited resources this is a great way to build a raised bed even if it is a bit of work.. The one pictures is very tall too I would go with a typical foot or two tall bed and simply use larger sticks instead of the pieces of lumber for the braces.

empty plastic bottle garden/planter
This one I really like the concept of I especially like the idea for those with limited water supply, as the way it is set up, the system self waters.In the instructable it says to wire the bottles together as you place them inside the frame once you have poked several holes in it. I say phlooey why make more work for your self. I would make my frame out of logs or wood, make my holes and simple place the bottles in carefully and lay a bit of soil around it to keep it in place. Once all the bottles are in and soil is added the bottles are not going anywhere .

When it rains the water goes in to the bottles and from there waters your plants. If you make a larger box, I would simply add a few bottles in the middle of the planter so that all plants gets water regularly.

a couple more great ideas

Since I was having issues posting in the last post I figured I would make life simpler and just make another.

I saw both of these a couple of years back. Both excellent idea for small leafy greens, veggies and herbs.

monday's mountain musings

I kind of enjoy playing with the movie makers. They take a fair bit of time and can be quite frustrating but I like the end result Over the last few days I have made a couple more besides the cabin video