Don’t Spend a Fortune on Laundry Detergent

Making your own laundry detergent can be a great way to save money. Making laundry detergent that actually works great, for a very small fraction of the cost, is even better! 

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Cheap and Easy Worm Farm

So I made a worm farm out of two plastic bins and coffee grounds. It was so simple that I couldn’t help but share it. Of course you will need worms to get started. I bought some red wiggler worms, also known as composting worms,

along with two dollar store totes. I worked in an office and was friends with the night janitor (I worked late and she would come in to start her shift, we just hit it off). Anyway, I asked her to save the coffee grounds for me from the multiple coffee pots she was changing out every night. I have heard people say they also got coffee grounds from Starbucks or other local coffee shops if you just ask.

First I drilled holes in the bottom of one plastic tote.
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I then placed some old coffee cups in the bottom of the plastic tote that was not full of holes. You can use anything for spacers, I just happened to have some old coffee cups. Then I placed the plastic tote with holes on top of the coffee cups. This way, the water from the worm bin can drain into the void and not drown the worms. Also you can harvest the “worm tea” for fertilizing your plants. It works great!

I filled the top tote with coffee grounds and sawdust.
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The worms will also eat the paper filters, tea bags and the sawdust.
I put the worms in the coffee grounds, placed the sawdust on top to keep flies from laying eggs in the coffee grounds and wet the whole thing down. I put cardboard on top, the worms will eat that too!

Occasionally I put leftover vegetable scraps in the coffee grounds as well. The worms multiplied quickly and I would feed them to my chickens at times over the winter to supplement their diet. Eventually I moved the bin to a larger tote and then put it in my 300 gallon Rubbermaid livestock water bin (minus the water) when I decided to make a container garden in the spring.

It was such a success that I thought I should share it with you. Once my garden is spent, I will recapture some of the worms and start over this winter. The rest of the worms will be great for my chickens and compost pile! I think I will try meal worms next. They are so expensive to buy at the feed store….stay tuned!
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Cooking with the Sun

Solar Oven CookingI love my Solavore Sport oven! I have used it to bake multiple meals for our family. Anything you can bake in the oven, you can bake in the solar oven.

This is a marinaded pork loin that I baked recently. I just put it out in the morning and it is tender and juicy by dinner time.Solar Oven Cooking Pork Loin

I have also made cornbread by just following the regular directions. Be sure to preheat the oven first. The oven comes with two dutch oven pans like you see above, the oven thermometer shown and a pasteurization device that you float in water when you want to purify drinking water. I have also baked eggs in the shell, they come our similar to boiled eggs.

This is a great oven to have when the power is out or for camping as well. It is a must have for emergency preparedness and will make a great conversation piece when you use it to cook for your guests. Best of all, the energy it uses is free, clean and absolutely renewable.

Solavore Sport Solar Oven – Portable Solar Cooking Package Complete with All Season Solar Reflectors, 2 Granite Ware Pots, Oven Thermometer, and Water Pasteurization Tool

For days when there is less sun, the Solavore comes with shiny metal panels that attach to the rim and direct sun inside. I have not needed to use these because I live in the Nevada desert where sunshine is not a problem. However, wind is a serious problem here so I was glad to see that there are secure clamps top and bottom that keep the lid on tight.

The unit is made of plastic which may seem cheap to some people. I have seen reviews where people say this. However, I like the lightweight plastic because I can easily carry it out onto the deck and yet it holds two dutch ovens side by side.

Let me know if you have used a solar oven or have any questions about solar cooking. I would love to share recipes!

 

Fresh Free Organic Bell Peppers in January

I am still learning to garden but I am getting better at it. After moving to Northern Nevada it was quite a learning curve. High desert is not a great place for a garden, especially when your soil is pretty much a beach without the water. We also have serious winds and rapid temperature changes. Unless you are growing sagebrush, Russian olive trees or cactus, be prepared for high maintenance or creating your own climate zone with a greenhouse, or lots and lots of mulch like Jake Mace the Vegan Athlete (one of my favorite You Tube channels).

Since I like to recycle and do things on the cheap, I saved some organic bell pepper seeds to see if I could grow them. Using peat moss, azomite rock dust (thanks for the tip Jake), worm castings from my home made worm farm, and some of the abundant sand around here, I accidentally created some really great potting soil! If you don’t want to make your own, my husband and I have had great success with Happy Frog soil.

I had washed and dried my saved seeds, then carefully made an envelope out of a brown paper bag for storage. I shook some out into the soil and placed them in the sunny windowsill.

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Now I had a problem. My bell peppers would never survive the winter outside. So now I had to keep them indoors. Luckily my master bathroom has a huge jacuzzi tub in a corner with east and south facing windows. It became a perfect spot for an indoor garden and hangout for our kitten Sweetie. Although I would not be able to feed my family, it was an inexpensive way to work on my green thumb.

I was so excited at my success, I ended up sprouting about 50 plants. Since I don’t have enough space to grow all of them up, I decided to use recycled plastic bottles to create small planters and give them away to co-workers.

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Bell pepper seedling in a planter made of a recycled plastic bottle.

Bell peppers taste so much better when you grow them yourself, even better than the organic bell peppers I saved the seeds from originally. They do take a long time to grow so I don’t rely on them as a food source, they’re more of a treat. For a regular source of healthy greens, I am learning to sprout sunflower seeds.

 

water filter

Gravity Fed Water Filtration System Made with Food Grade Buckets

Now we have safe, clean water for our family, pets, and plants for less than $70. The system produces more than 5 gallons of water per day at about than 3 cents per gallon.

Some Basic Chicken Facts

Often when I am chatting about my chickens to co-workers, vendors, and anyone else who shows interest, I realize how little the general public knows about chickens. Here are some basic chicken facts that you may find interesting.

Chickens: Pets with Benefits (part 2)

The local feed store was having a livestock swap on Saturday so I drove down with my son to see what they had. As soon as we pulled up in front of the store, there he was, a Buff Orpington rooster. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Container Gardens

Container gardens are a great way to grow produce in a small space. With some careful planning a tender loving care, you can reap nature’s bounty on a small scale. This photo above is an actual harvest we grew on our back deck.