Ok so I got lost for a while didn’t I… after fighting with my gardens for half the summer trying to get them to produce, I realized I was going to have to make some adjustments. So I did some research before starting on my greenhouse, and decided I was going to put an aquaponics system in it. I knew I had the experience to go big right off the start, so we went to planning. I will go into more depth in other posts, but I just had to show you our work in progress!


We wanted the ability to grow our food organically, and year round, and use as organic a fertilizing environment as we could get


.(PS…do you like the photo bombs?)


. The strawberries and lettuce are the most content after their move, although the dwarf citrus trees are doing quite well too.


So I went ahead and moved the plants I could still save inside, we are very excited that it is working so smoothly. We are using a bell siphon system which worked out really well for the setup. Due to our climate and what we think we can manage temperature wise throughout the year, we actually sank the tank down into the ground and will be growing crappie,  we will definitely let you know how that works out. We knew in our climate, that it was easier to heat the water than cool it, so we planned on keeping the water temperature as cool as possible. What would you most want to grow year round if you could?

Growing Your Own Garden Veggie’s And Why You Should!

Let’s talk nutrition, Specifically Enzymes!

Metabolic Enzymes

  • The main function of metabolic enzymes is to build, rejuvenate, and repair the cells in your body. Metabolic enzymes also are capable of digesting nutrients that haven’t been fully broken down to their smallest possible ionic size.


  • When the metabolic enzymes get involved in digesting these undigested particles, repairing the body becomes secondary.


Digestive Enzymes

  • Enzymes are found in raw food and in particular, raw vine ripened food.
  • So if this raw food is picked green and ripened as most of what we eat is, it has about 10% of the enzymes it would normally have. Vine ripened food is what we need to get the enzymes we need and frankly we just don’t get enough of that food out of our gardens and in particular during the cold months of the year.
  • Practically all of our food is cooked and there are no enzymes in cooked food… There are no enzymes in processed foods. This means that our metabolic enzymes start converting to digestive enzymes and pulls them away from our immune system.


  • This happens because the human digestive system developed on a diet of raw foods containing active enzymes. Your body isn’t equipped to handle a diet of mostly cooked food. It causes us to age quicker and fall ill more often.


  • Have you ever noticed after a large meal that you feel the need to take a nap or just get really draggy, and have no energy? This happens because your body is converting metabolic enzymes to digestive enzymes, and has none left over to do its metabolic job.


And this is why I love to see people growing their own gardens! You get raw, nutrient and enzyme rich foods right at your fingertips! It is a health and longevity issue!

Mulching and Fertilizing

Here are some quick tips about using fertilizers and mulch in the garden.  First, know where your fertilizer is coming from.  If it is coming from animals on commercial feed, the commercial feed may contain GMO plants, which can be sprayed with and contain herbicide. If there is herbicide in your manure, you will not get so much as a weed to grow, and if a few weeds grow, you can bet they are herbicide resistant, and very hard to get rid of…

Mulch follows the same rule, know where you are getting it from, because if it has been sprayed with any type of herbicide, it will remain in your soil for a very long time, which will not be beneficial to your garden.

If you are going to use tree trimmings, a great place to get them is your local county yard. Generally, they do not waste the money to spray them before trimming, so they can be a safe way to get your shredded wood. The trick is to get it ahead of time, let it sit for several months before putting it on your fall garden to finish the decompose before planting the following spring. I like to keep piles of it decomposing over different periods, to use when I start a new area. I have had about a ¼ of my new garden mulched for the last six months, and this is where I will pick up this spring with planting. I generally start with a 4 – 6” layer, and continue to add an inch or two every year after.  If you try this, you will be amazed at the soil underneath! Just sayin!

If you are going to use hay, understand that you must keep it thick at all times. Because it has all the seeds attached, it will sprout quicker than you can blink if your hay packs down. And if you decide to switch methods, be aware that those same seeds will sprout very quickly if the ground is turned and you will have a mess on your hands. (This is EXPERIENCE talking here!)

Straw is great, but again, know where you are getting it from, and be prepared to have wheat in your garden. If it is GMO wheat, it has been sprayed with herbicide. It is always a shock when you get a bad batch of something and your entire garden does nothing! Definitely worth crying about on my part!

In some parts I will till the garden where I am going to plant for the first time, and in others, I will simply lay the mulch down several months in advance of planting. You know your soil and which will work the best. In some areas, I till first to both break up the soil, pull weeds and grasses more easily, and to give a first year boost to nutrients, but this is a short term nutrient fix. You will have to add nutrients back to the soil, the decision is whether to add them every year all at once when tilling, or to add them gradually through the season as you harvest and care for your garden.  I have done both, and am now firmly in the no till, fertilize as you go camp!

Feeding Your Chickens on the Cheep! (Episode 1)

Raising free range chickens is always an adventure. Especially when your birds are as spoiled as mine! My rooster seems to instinctively know when I want to sleep in and crows so early and loud that I am fairly sure he would wake the family on the farm next door if their rooster wasn’t having a crowing contest with him. Once Beakey the rooster starts his hollering, my fine feathered ladies are quick to get moving, which means they want me to spring them from the coop, like now! Whether I am ready for it or not, my day on the homestead has begun. So I throw on my housecoat and step into my mud boots so I can trudge out to the barn to liberate my chickens. Luckily they always cackle a quiet thank you as they shuffle past me on their way to find breakfast. All except for Beaky. He has to stop and give me the stink eye for a second or two (I tell him every day that I came as fast as I could, but I don’t think he believes me) before he lurches off after the ladies in his distinctive jerky gallop.

Beaky the Funky Chicken
Beaky the Funky Chicken

This ritual is only part of what I love about allowing my chickens  free reign of the place. It all works together in the perma-culture symphony we are creating on the homestead. And it makes for super healthy chickens that are so inexpensive to feed that it is almost ridiculous!

With a little extra planning in the garden, you can provide nearly all of the nutrients your feathered friends need to be healthy and happy. It is important for chickens to have a diet consisting of a variety of different foods to ensure proper nutrition. Your birds need about 1 part protein for every 4 parts of carbohydrates to ensure proper egg production. Keep in mind that calcium is also a very necessary component in their diet. They need at least 3% of their total intake to be calcium.


BUGS – Chickens love bugs like a rabbit loves carrots! Your chickens will constantly be on the lookout for a nice juicy bug or two or ten, which gives them the majority of the protein they need. And that my friends, makes it a snap to control insects in your garden. They can clean out a pack of potato bugs in no time flat! It is rare to see a chicken choose to eat your prized tomato when there is a bug to be chased down and eliminated.



COVER CROPS – Yup! I’m talking about weeds. Really more like plants that we see as weeds and chickens see as a smorgasbord of yummy greens and flowers. If you strategically plant things like Comfrey, Clover, Nettle and of course Chickweed around your garden, your chickens will gravitate to those plants instead of wiping out your strawberry patch. The best thing about these plants is that they provide the exact nutrients your chickens crave and need.

Comfrey - Chicken Feed ala Free!
Comfrey – Chicken Feed ala Free!

GARDEN VEGGIES – It is a simple concept. But it is dang hard to let happen. A free range chicken IS going to partake of all the yummy vegetables growing in your garden. After all, a chicken has to do what a chicken has to do! But there are a few things you can do to mitigate the damage they inflict on your main food crops. One of the biggest things you can do is to plant extra. If you have planted a perimeter of cover crops around the garden (especially on the end of the garden that the little cluckers will hit first) then this little bit extra ‘for the chickens’ should be enough to keep them satisfied. Not to mention that one of the cutest things I have ever seen is watching my chickens jump up to reach the beans I planted especially for them!

Chicken Feed

CALCIUM – This is a BIG deal! It takes a lot of calcium for a hen to crank out nice, strong shelled eggs. She simply must have the extra calcium left over to keep her own structure strong. Luckily, it relatively easy to supply all she needs naturally. Those weeds we were talking about earlier? They have tons of calcium. No oyster shells needed, especially in the summer months.

Eggcellent Eggs!
Eggcellent Eggs!

I could go on forever about my feathered flock. Certainly they are not just food. They are an integral part of this homestead and it’s constant evolution toward a self-sustaining eco culture. They are a true pleasure to care for in a natural way. And it is wonderful to only have to run to the chicken palace instead of driving all the way to town when I run out of eggs! Please comment or leave questions below. I always love hearing your best chicken stories as well. Also stay tuned…next time I will show  you how to feed your chickens on the cheap in the wintertime!



rosemary2As for Rosmarine, I lett it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and, therefore, to friendship; whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language that maketh it the chosen emblem of our funeral wakes and in our burial grounds.” — Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)
Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I use it in my cooking multiple times weekly when in season, which around here is March through November. I plant it in several places around my garden as a pest confuser. the strong scent keeps them away from my valuable vegetables. It takes its name from the Latin ros maris, which means “dew of the sea.” It is also associated with enhancing memory and recall. Shakespeare’s Ophelia petitions Hamlet with, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance, pray you love, remember.” Scholars of ancient Greece wore wreaths of rosemary about the brow to help improve recall while taking exams. This reputation has earned the herb a place among traditional wedding herbs used to grace the bride’s bouquet, headpiece, and dress. Wedding guests are also given sprigs of rosemary to wear to help them remember the occasion. It was also once common to add rosemary to the couple’s wine to help them remember their sacred vows to each other. At one time, it was customary for the bride and groom to plant rosemary near the marital threshold on their day of matrimony. However, the old saying “where rosemary flourished, the woman ruled,” prompted some husbands to pluck the plant from the ground lest anyone should think he wasn’t fit to rule the roost. Perhaps this is why the practice fell out of favor by the late 15th century.



Medicinally, rosemary has a wealth of uses, both old and new. In one of the earliest herbals known to be printed in England, Rycharde Banckes recommended that one gather leaves of rosemary and “…boyle them in fayre water and drinke that water for it is much worthe against all manner of evils in the body.” Indeed, rosemary was once thought to be a cure for poor digestion, migraine, joint disorders, and muscle aches. In fact, Queen Elizabeth of Hungary was reputedly cured of semi-paralysis when she sipped a concoction of rosemary to ease her painful joints. Hence, this formula came to be known as the infamous Hungary Water.

Today, rosemary is recognized as possessing several medicinal properties.  The plant contains salicylic acid, among others, the forerunner of aspirin. This may explain why massaging the oil of rosemary into joints effectively eases arthritic or rheumatic pain. It also contains antibacterial and antimicrobial agents, and is used by modern herbalists to treat a variety of skin disorders, including dandruff. Rosemary is also being studied for its potential anti-cancer effects since initial studies indicate that its compounds inhibit carcinogenic chemicals from binding to cellular DNA. Rosemary may also become useful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease in the near future. Researchers have discovered that certain phytochemicals in the herb prevent the degradation of acetylcholine, an important brain chemical needed for normal neurotransmission. A deficiency of this chemical is commonly seen in Alzheimer’s patients.

Take the time to do your research on Rosemary, you will be glad you did! And more importantly, chop a sprig of it up on your next salad!