Tag Archives: DIY

DIY Homemade applesauce

Today I start the 10th batch of apples for sauce and fruit leathers. I already have around 100 quarts canned for the rest of the year. Due to the bumper crop of apples this year we have had an abundance of apples. Apple sauce, apple chips (dehydrated apples), apple pie filling, apples in light syrup, apple leather, raw apples, apple dumpling, apple pie just a few of the ways we have already prepared. Everyone says apple butter, but no one in our house actually likes apple butter.

I cook about 40 lbs of apples at a time and get about 12 quarts of applesauce from that. That is the largest stock pot I have that will fit on our stove. Everyone has their own recipe, and I have tried a bunch. What I have found that works best for me is; it is simple, uses little supplies or ingredients, and has little to no waste. I have anywhere between 3 and 4 ingredients; Apples, water, lemon juice, and sometimes sugar. Sugar is added if I overdo it with lemon juice, or the apples just are not sweet enough. We tried making some with cinnamon, but all the kids liked the plain better. Typical applesauce from the store has; APPLES, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C). Sometimes there are more chemicals than that. I may add 1 cup of sugar to 12 quarts of applesauce. And ½ cup of lemon juice. The lemon juice is a preservative and keeps the color from turning brown when the apples oxidize.

Here is my process. I use the whole apple, core, peel and all. I quarter them for faster processing and cooking, it also allows me to see if any bugs are in the cores. Those go directly to the chickens. All the good quarters go into a big stock pot. Some recipes call for peeling, and coring them. That is more work than I want to put in. The bonus is there is so much more nutrition and benefits in the peal.

 

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After ALMOST filling the pot, I take 2-4 quarts of water mixed with ½ cup lemon juice. Pour all over the apples before you start cooking. This will help the sauce from turning too brown. The lemon juice acidifies the sauce, and also keeps the apples from turning brown. You need a slightly acidic sauce for proper canning to prevent spoilage. Lesson learned from one of my batched. One recipe called for adding the lemon juice after cooking and processing. The sauce was a brown color and the kids weren’t real crazy about it, even though it tasted exactly the same as other batches.

If you fill you pot too full with apples this is what happens after you start to cook. Lesson learned; do not fill it ALL the way with apples. You do not need to cover the apples with liquid either.

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I cook on high for a while, and then turn down the heat to medium.  I rarely measure unless for the first time with a recipe, and rarely time things. My wife hates this about me cooking. When I explain to her that not all stoves, pots, etc. are the same, and some heat differently, cook differently. She sighs and states “Whatever”. I leave the apples on until they are tender on the top (the bottoms will be mush at this point. I go off and do other things, dishes, getting jars ready etc. until the house starts smelling like apple pie. Very important, do not turn on the burner until the water/lemon mixture is poured over the top. Lesson learned. The bottom apples can scorch, and then once it all cooks together and you spend the time to make the sauce, it tastes like burnt sugar/apples.

IMG_0795If you have a stand mixer I cannot recommend highly enough getting one of these, food mils. Well worth the investment. If you do not have a stand mixer you can you a hand mill. But if you are going through 500+ lbs of apples, a mechanical one makes all the difference in the world.

 

I process the cooked apples hot, and put back into a smaller pot until everything is processed and blended. This way I can mix, blend and add sugar if it is necessary. The blend of apples we have this year usually does not require any sugar at all. It is better to use a blend of apples if you can, but totally not necessary. Like a wine, you want to blend different grapes with different flavor profiles, and a blend is better for all around taste. 

When the apples are processed the pulp comes out looking like this. This is after the first pass.

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After straining out all the apples from the liquid that has collected in the bottom of the cooking pot, I will add the pump back and cook it a second time.

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It will rehydrate, further break down, and I run it again through the mill. This additional process usually gives me an additional 2-3 quarts of sauce. Less water waste and less pulp waste. After the second cooking I am left with maybe 1 qt of pulp, seeds, stems, and peels.

 

 

There is not much waste from 40lbs at the start, and even that is not wasted. Some people will strain the liquid waste and use for apple juice, cider, hard cider or apple vinegar. The juice is just the filtered liquid from cooking, if you let it sit, you get cider when the juice combines with natural yeast in the air. If you let the cider sit you can get hard cider when they yeast ferment the cider to alcohol. If you let the alcohol sit, you can get apple cider vinegar. More work than I want to put into it, and not enough yield for the work. While you are just letting it sit, I forget about these sorts of things, and it ends up looking like a science project. Then I get in trouble with the home boss.

 

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I combine the liquid again with the pump to make a slurry, and feed to the chickens. They love it, it is not wasted, I feed them less purchased feed as a result, and they give me eggs. Permaculture principals at play.

 

 

 

 

No chickens? Feed them to you worms in the worm bin to make compost, compost tea, and worm castings. No worm bin? Just add to your compost and allow it to break down to rich soil.

 

Back to the sauce, here is the final batch.

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I will taste, usually have one of the kids taste as well. They are the final judge of sweetness. You would think they would want it almost candy tasting, but no. They actually prefer my sauce to that of store bought. After eating our homemade sauce for a while, then eating the store bought while staying with family, they said the store bought was too sweet? WHAT? Up until this last year that is what they ate all the time with no complaints. Go figure.

If no sugar is needed, we move forward, bring to a boil then, and added to cleaned mason jars. Once all the jars are full lids and rings go on. I pressure can everything now that I have one, but you do not need to for applesauce. Heating 10+ quarts of water plus the jars, for a water bath boiler is wasted energy and time in my opinion. Using the pressure canner I can get up to temp and pressure much faster, with less energy. As an added bonus, if I am canning other things such as chicken stock or other things that require the canner I can just throw them in at the same time. Because I use a pressure canner I have found that if the sauce is somewhat thin, it is better for storage. If I have a thick applesauce, then can it, it ends up getting thicker during the process and we need to add water when we open a jar to eat as it is almost like a jam. It is almost hard to describe, I like the sauce as a soup consistency vs. a ketchup consistency prior to canning.

You can experiment as we have with various different blends such as apple-peach, apple-pear, apple-mixed berry, apple-blueberry, apple-strawberry, and apple-carrot (it was an experiment). Everything came out of our gardens so we know that there was nothing sprayed on the skins, or waxes etc. Important note, DO NOT run blackberry or other seeded berry in your kitchen aid mill. The seeds can get clogged and I have read where it can damage it. You also do not have to use sugar as a sweetener, you can use stevia if you have it. I have done this a few times and no one noticed. We also grow our own stevia and I make my own liquid sweetener.  

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Build an aquaponics system for under $50

Recently I hosted a tour from the great folks from Aquatic Design. A local company that sells, installs, and services ponds and other waterscapes. They are beginning to enter the world of aquaponics, and wanted to see some real examples from the area. Granted my system are no commercial operation, nor are they often pretty to look at. I mean, I use kitty litter boxes as biofilters. It was cheap (free), I felt accomplished, I did it myself, it works, I can replace parts easily and inexpensively (free).  

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The tour was a learning experience for both I felt. I shared my experiences and lessons learn, often the hard way, and what I, as a new consumer, or someone just getting into aquaponics might be asking, looking for, and solutions to some problems I encountered. I have been a past customer of Aquatic Design and probably continue to be. It was a great feeling when they asked me to come see their new building which will house their aquaponics examples and configurations and maybe give advice as they were setting things up. I felt like all my lessons learned the hard way, shortfalls, and set backs were for a reason. I didn’t need to go to a course, an educational institution, or pay a big chunk of money for the education I had experienced. So when I tell people you don’t need to spend a ton of money on videos, books or classes, to learn about aquaponics I come speaking from experience.  

 While they were here I talked about the largest system 4500 gal outdoor down to my smallest system 30 gallon. As of now we have 4 systems in operation. 4500 gal outdoor pond, 3000 gal currently in a greenhouse but being converted to hoop house, the newest a 275 gal poly tote in the garage – still under development, and the 30 gal inside our kitchen/dining room. This 30 gal is something many people can put into place for inexpensively, it is a great conversation piece, it is entertainment, it is educational for kids of almost all ages, and in my mind, it’s really cool.

 

4500 gal system

4500 gal outdoor system

3000 gal greenhouse system
3000 gal greenhouse system
275 gal still under development

275 gal still under development

Tubs on top of the 275 gal tank. Using Raft grow system

Tubs on top of the 275 gal tank. Using Raft grow system, romaine, celery, and azola growing

30 gal indoor system

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Romaine from purchased head

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Romaine 3 days later

I made this system a continuous recycling flow system. I got the aquarium from a friend who was throwing it out. Free. You can look on Craigslist, Goodwill, or friends and family for aquariums. Many times people would love to get rid of them. Bonus if you get pumps or other stuff with it you can use later.

The rocks on the bottom of the tank are landscaping lava rocks. Mine were free. The previous owner of my current house landscaped with it. I hate the stuff in the yard. Again free. (well, if you count the $10 I pay kids to collect if they want to earn money). Fish habitat or hiding spaces I used left over PVC pipe from another project. Find them at building sites, or look around. It could be old Tupperware, or food containers just something for the fish to swim in and out of.

I actually paid for the submersible pump. But it was 75% off so I think I paid $10. Some big box stores will clearance pond and fountain pumps in fall and early winter. Just watch for sales. Or it may come with your aquarium you got for free. You can watch Goodwill and I have seen fountains or other pumps on occasion. Worst case $30 or so retail price.

The grow beds are wash bins. This was a Goodwill special and I only paid $0.25 each. Dollar Store has them for a buck. The grow media, lava rock again. Do not pay for the extruded clay. Not worth the extra money in my opinion. I drilled holes in the bins and had the pump take water from the tank, pump into the bins, and out the drainage holes in the bottom. It is important to add more holes than you think is necessary, because over time roots and other gunk can fill the holes and it will overflow. Another important lesson, add overflow holes below the lip. VERY important, if you don’t, and your drainage holes become clogged, your tank will overflow, and all your water will go onto the floor. Want to know how I learned this?

Because of the location in my house the system doesn’t get enough direct light to support plant growth. So I added a florescent light. The light, the stand, and the bulbs maybe $30. I made the stand out of PVC pipe and fittings. I could have just as easily hung from the ceiling and saved the cost. I use this system sometimes when I to talks or presentations and the stand is needed for display purposes. You need to use a bulb that will hit 2700K to 6500K, read the labels on the bulbs. Choose a T5 over a T12 type of bulb. T5 is higher intensity over T12, and more efficient use of energy. The fixture should match the bulb type, T5 bulbs fit in T5 fixtures. You could use HID, or LED. But for the money and energy I found fluorescent was just fine. HID gives off too much heat, and LED was too expensive. With fluorescent lights you want them 2-6 inches from the plants. The light needed for photosynthesis loses its intensity after 6 inches using fluorescent bulbs. HID can be several feet away because it is a more intense light (and 2-6 inches will literally cook your plants).  

We have some kale, some medicinal plants, and a philodendron, which are poisonous, but we can split and propagate to other containers to sell, or help purify the air in the house. We always leave the main plant so that there is always a plant purifying the water in the system. We have had tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, parsley, basil, cilantro, marigold and more. You can get plants from what many people think of wastes. We have started planting the bottoms of romaine lettuce. It was originally just an experiment, but now we are just harvesting the leaves for food. Celery is another plant that can be planted from the hearts when you buy them at the store. Here is another list of plants you can plant from cuttings when buying food. You can also regrow scallions, 3+ years of cuttings from the same plant.

Regrow

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Celery, this is the 4th regrowth for this plant

I got feeder fish from the pet store $0.12 each. I got a plecostomus (sucker fish) to eat the algae off the sides so I didn’t have to do it. $2.00. I feed the fish azola or duckweed I grow myself. So feeding them is free.  From an educational standpoint there are so many things to learn. From the 2 year old feeding and watching the fish, to adults and learning about the nitrogen cycle. There are lots of lessons to be learned. Want to learn more. Contact us, or follow us here, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  Or come see us in person November 23rd for a full day class on homesteading, growing your own food, preserving your own food and more! Ensure your spot is reserved by registering and prepaying for the class. Schedule your own series of classes with the Be Prepared Series.

Be Prepared Series

Be prepares is a series offered by Wolf-Beach Farms. It is designed to be a multiple series of classes picked by the audience, and delivered as often as you would like. The course designers pick from a series of classes or all of the classes. The class on average is about 2 hours and can be one a week, twice a month once a month or every other month. The goal is to fit what your needs are in the time you have.

The series starts with an opening class to go over what and how the classes will be organized. The beginning class the participants will be given a binder. This binder will hold the class notes, handouts, examples, etc. from that particular topic. Each class, the participants will get the handouts, listen and participate in exercises and gain useful insight into the particular topic. Each class will have a section in the binder. At the end of the series the participants will have a handy binder with the necessary information all in one spot. This binder can be used as the “go to” book whenever it is needed.

Classes can be purchased on an individual bases, a series of classes (at a discount) or a whole series at once for a set number of participants. Pricing and classes are flexible and affordable. These series can be customized for your group. Do you want a stronger community built around your church group? When an event happens, who in your group or organization has the skills to help the fellow members out?

Be Prepared series were designed to give participants tools and information in case something happens. This is not to instill fear or doom and gloom. This series was design to help participants face challenges and situations with knowledge and strength rather than fear and ignorance.

Here are some examples.

When a snow storm is announced, what happens at the grocery store? A rush on bread, eggs, and milk. Is everyone going to make French Toast during the storm? These are the wrong things to be stocking up on. Two of the three require electricity to keep them cold and preserve freshness. What if, an announcement was made of a bad storm and you and your family didn’t blink an eye, because you didn’t need a single thing at the store, EVEN if the power went out for days?

Here is another example.

A family of 4 on average spends about $400 per month on groceries according to recent information. Some may be more some may be less. What if I told you that our family of 6 can spend less than $275 per month? It isn’t rocket science, and our pantry is completely full. We eat three meals a day. We even have reserve that if needed could outlast any storm sent our way. Hurricane Sandy had some people without power and local groceries for 6 weeks.

In both cases people say they will just go to the store. Having worked in a major grocery store I can tell you what you see on the shelf is ALL there is in the store. There is little to nothing in “the back room”. The fancy scanner that is used to checkout automatically places an order for the item as it leaves with the warehouse or distributer. IF the trucks are running and they are able to get on the roadways it is 48hrs or more before delivery. The benefits of on demand stocking.

A tornado comes in and wipes out your house. Everyone made it out to safety and you had the keys to the car and everyone is in their PJ’s. You are thankful your family is OK. You return home and everything is gone. How do you document who you are, what you had? Where are all of your papers for insurance, mortgage, bank accounts, and credit cards? In this day and age fraud is rampant. You will need to prove who you are, that your kids are YOUR kids, that what was once your house was YOUR house. Can you imagine the stress, the heartache? Taking a few simple, easy steps and proving who you are, and all the important information will be easily retrievable. Better yet, what if you left, but each had a bag that had cloths, the documents and everything you needed for three days. Three days to put things in order, Three days to not worry about where to sleep, clothing, feeding the family. Sounds like a lot but it is easy to accomplish.

Did you know if you drive a car, SUV, truck etc. you already have access to a generator capable of giving you power in your home if the electrical grid goes down?

Did you know you may already have access to 60+ gallons of water in your home if the water is shut off?

Did you know that you can still communicate with loved ones if cell towers are overloaded?

Did you know that you can produce 800+lbs a year of food on less than 1000sq feet of yard or patio?

Did you know that you do NOT need a rooster to enjoy the benefits of backyard fresh eggs?

These are just a few examples. The Be Prepares series allows you to plan ahead, so that IF you ever have to use these skills, tools, and tips it was planned and thought out when you had a cool, calm, and collective thought process. Here are just a few classes

The series is designed for groups as small as 5 and up to 100 or more.

This is for the average person. It explains things from a basic point of view and uses practical, real world solutions. The series explains how to use what you already have. This isn’t a demo of the latest and greatest gadgets. This is how to accomplish your goals with little to no investment and on a budget.

Do you already have a meeting location? Church space when no services being offered? Meeting rooms, halls apartment club house? All can be used. No location? We work with various venues on different sides of town in and around the Indianapolis area.

Contact us for more details or to start scheduling your own series.

Full day homesteading skills class

Thanks to everyone who completed the survey for what people are looking for as far as education here in Indy. Here is the first response to that. Based on the survey results this is what most people wanted to see.

Full day homesteading basics class. 8 full hours plus free samples to take home. As of now here is the breakdown of the class. This is for people from apartments to rural areas. I will give examples of how you can implement in just about any situation. I will bring examples, what materials I use, photos, and a CD/DVD of resources I use when I need additional information.

Class will be $40 per person or $60/couple. If bringing the family or more than 2 please contact me for other arrangements. Pay in advance or at the door. Cash only at the door. You will save the cost of the class alone if you just adopt and use a few of the topics mentioned.  Due to the limitations of Meetup payments (can’t do discounts based on number of people) contact me if you want to pay in advance with cash or use electronic payment.

Register through one of the Meetup groups below although not required. There is a limited number of seats but should accommodate a larger class size but to guarantee a seat registration is recommended.

http://www.meetup.com/AlternativeGardening/

http://www.meetup.com/Indiana-Disaster-Preparedness/

Here is what is being offered. I can add additional topics if time and my experience permits. Seats, and tables provided along with two large overhead screens for notes and examples. There will be breaks and a lunch period as well. Bring your lunch or visit one of the many local places.

  1. Backyard Grocery (fall is one of the best times to start this)
    1. Mini Orchard
    2. Vegetable garden
    3. Edible landscaping
    4. Aquaponics
    5. Backyard Chickens
    6. Goats
    7. Bees
    8. Rabbits
    9. Vertical Gardening
    10. Potatoes
    11. Container Gardening
    12. Medicinal Herbs
    13. Composting and mulch
    14. Water harvesting and rainbarrels
  2. Food Preservation (what to do with everything you harvest)
    1. Canning
      1. Water bath canning
      2. Pressure canning
    2. Dehydrating
    3. Freezing
    4. Smoking
    5. Fermenting
  3. DIY
    1. Laundry soap – how to make – free samples 5 ingredients or less
    2. Tooth paste – how to make – free samples 3 ingredients or less
    3. Bar soap – how to make –(free samples if cured in time)
    4. Fire starters – how to make
    5. Homemade bread – very simple steps <5 ingredients. Way more healthy for family
    6. Homemade pasta – very simple steps <5 ingredients. Way more healthy for family
    7. Make your own ethanol
    8. Battery backup for emergency home power use
    9. Make your own generator from your car with an inverter

What is a dead tree worth?

                Many people will say not much, it is dead, it cannot filter the air, it cannot produce any more for us. I on the other hand see great potential in what others call a waste. The Native American Indians would use every part of a resource, letting nothing go to waste. This principal was repeated in my permaculture course. Recently I was able to take a trip to a friend’s farm and he had several trees that had been blown over. Here is my recap of what a dead tree is worth to me. Granted some uses may take time as in drying firewood, but it all started with the single blown over tree. This single dead tree is worth roughly at least $2,220. There are probably other ways to break it down, but just as an example.

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Firewood – $400

                In my area of suburbia dried split firewood runs for about $60-$80 a rick. Now some people claim a rick is 3×6 where the true rick is 4×8.. Dried, split, delivered, and stacked about $100/rick in my area. 3×6 prices and it would be $500. The particular tree we cut was about 4 true ricks worth of wood when split and stacked.

Heating offset – $800

                In suburbia we only have heat pump/electric heat. The first year we lived in the house that is all we used to heat. Our electricity bill was through the roof that winter. We then invested in a fireplace insert which is about 80% efficient using the wood to the 20% of a normal fireplace. 20% is generous for most fireplaces. The 4 ricks of wood would last us about 2-3 months. With this single fireplace we are able to heat a 1900 sq foot home throughout the entire winter and never need the heat pump/electric heat.

Mushrooms – $800

                Several of the branch logs can be stacked to make a mushroom colony. The going rate for dried oyster mushrooms is about $60/lb dried. The logs could produce for at least 2 years. If you get a more exotic variety of mushrooms and the profit from said mushrooms increases much more.

Mulch – $100

The branches that are too small for firewood and leaves are sent through a shredder and used for gardening mulch. A few cubic yards could be gained from the tops of a tree.

Water reduction – $50

                Having a thinker layer of mulch around your plants reduces the need to water and external nutrients. This extra layer of mulch will help retain water, and reduce or eliminate the need to water your plants.

Mushroom Compost – $50

                After the mushrooms break down the log, the compost that is left is one of the best compost you can buy. All of the nutrients and minerals the tree has taken up and stored over its lifetime is broken down and now available for a new generation of plants.  

 Sawdust – $20

                Yes even the wood chips left over from cutting up the tree can be worth something. Sawdust, combine with old candle wax and you have a fire starter, use sawdust in worm bins to produce compost tea, compost, and worms, cat litter, use it as animal bedding just to name a few. You do not want to use around any animals if the tree is a black walnut. There are toxic oils in the tree which can make animals sick or even kill them.

This is just one example of how we as a society could better use our resources more effectively. I have learned so much with my experiences over the years and the additional benefit of permaculture educations. I would like to help you use this as well. The possibilities of what you can do with what are otherwise waste materials is huge. Old tires, pallets, plastic pop bottles are normally thrown out. You can reuse these materials. Your lawn that produces nothing but work for you. You have to mow, some people water it, and unfortunately many people put chemicals for weeds and fertilizer. Why not turn this wasted space, costing you money into something that can produce food, or even income for you. Let me work with you to help you become more self sufficient. Use the Contact us page to let us know how we can help you on your path to getting a better life. The first 30 min are free what do you have to loose. See what others have had to say on the testimonial page.

Money matters moment – bathroom

                 In this money matters money I will tell you how we save by  making our own, and using simple techniques and tips to save your hard earned money in the bathroom.

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While I am sure there other ways we haven’t tried yet, different versions, or even better techniques. I would be interested to hear them. There is always something new to learn. Leave a comment.

Deodorant – There are so many recopies out there for making your own deodorant. After years of spending $2-3 per bar of toxic gick (Paul Wheaton term) that I spread under my arms I opted for a simpler option. Gone are the days of buying bars of toxic substances and applying to my lymph nodes to be passed into my body. For $0.50/6 mo compared to $3/mo. I use simple rubbing alcohol purchased at the Dollar store or other places. I recycled an old red wine vinegar bottle from the recycle container and fill it up. A few shakes rub under the arm and I am good to go. Now, it doesn’t last the whole day and depending on the level of work I may need to re-apply. Have no worry, when I am away from home, I have a few alcohol pads in the car. Purchased on clearance for $1.00 for 200 pads I can apply as needed in a pinch. The test, the wife says she can’t notice and she is closer than anyone else should be. The smell isn’t from the sweat, it is from the bacteria that grow in the wet damp, areas. Sweat is a way for the body to cool itself and removes wastes. Side effect, and it may be from the non-chemical. I can smell everything now. When my daughter gets into the car from a weekend at her mother’s I can smell the lotion, hair conditioner and fabric softener as soon as the door is opened. When we go out, I can smell everything, and usually try to avoid isles in stores with lots of chemical fragrances. Benefit, flowers smell that much better, food smells better, and I notice things more. You can add a bit of essential oils, tea tree (be careful it can burn the skin) lavender, sandal wood or other fragrance. Beyond the fragrance most of essential oils have anti bacteria properties and makes the alcohol last that much longer. My wife seems to like a few dashes of lavender and vanilla in her mixture.

Toothpaste – Fluoride is extremely toxic. As a chemist background I can tell you this stuff is not something to mess with. A level 4 (out of 4) toxicity level it can kill. Yet we are forced to have it in our water. Fluoride that is added to our drinking water is a byproduct of toxic waste from industrial processes. Being forced to drink fluoride as a treatment for the surface of your teeth is the equivalent of being forced to drink Coppertone 60 for the prevention of sunburn. Have you ever noticed that the label on the toothpaste says if you swallow more than a pea sized portion contact poison control? So why force feed it into your water supply?  Ever noticed how there is water specifically without fluoride for babies? Why is that? We now make our own toothpaste and have had great results. Baking soda, water, and a few drops of essential oils. That is it. If I wanted to I could eat it and no harm. It is safe for kids of all ages, however not the tastiest. A few spoons of baking soda, and I like to use peppermint, Thieves, and vanilla essential oil and enough water to make a slurry. Done. I used to get canker sores all the time. Since switching, none. My teeth are smooth like when I visit the dentist. My wife recently went and she indicated far less scraping than she has ever had. Why? The essential oils kill the bacteria in your mouth preventing tooth decay, gingivitis, and canker sores. We did buy some xylitol (a natural sweetener that will not add to tooth decay) but haven’t tried using it yet. Each batch, maybe ¼ cup lasts a month or two and costs roughly $0.10 to make.

Cleaning products – Vinegar, and baking soda. These two will clean just about anything. Use apple cider vinegar every once in a while just to add something different. This is used to clean tub, tile, sink, toilet. Rather than spending $30-50 on cleaning products that are again toxic gick, and something you already have on hand. We buy both in bulk. We maybe spend $0.10-0.30 a month on cleaning products. Do you know what you get when you combine bleach and Windex? A version of mustard gas. Yes the same gas they used to kill people in WWII. Read the label. Again, my chemistry education. If you only knew the things you could make with household cleaning products. A bomb…yes…Nerve agents…yes…poisonous gas…yes…eat the paint off your car…yes…dissolve concrete…yes. Yet people use this every day and expose their family to them.

Water reducer – we use low flow shower heads and faucets to reduce the amount of water we use. When waiting for the water to get warm for a bath there is a 5 gal bucket. This bucket is used to water plants, put into the Berkey add to fish tanks. Don’t let the water simply go down the drain.

Hot Water – we turned down the thermostat to the highest setting we could stand straight out of tap on full hot. Rather than super heat water to cool it back down with cold water just use the hot water straight from the tap.

Other tips- When in the shower take an old dish sponge and wipe down the curtain and walls with a little soap on it. This will prevent mold and mildew from building up and additionally clean and soap scum, and mineral buildup as it starts. We also have shutoff valves on the showerhead. The water will stay hot and the same temperature you left it while you stop to lather up, shave, or shampoo the hair.

Make your own soap. Because several of us have sensitive skin, we use the plain basic soaps with no fragrance, and no unneeded chemicals. My wife has started making our own soaps. It was super easy. Many of the components we already had and I can make it without harsh components. Since we just started, I am so far on board with it. Still evaluating. But at 1/10 the cost of purchased soaps it is well worth it. Out at The Farm we hope to reuse gray water so having a more natural soap is really beneficial.

Conditioners and hair care. With a house of 4 women and girls conditioner and other products seemed necessary. Mayo, eggs, vinegar, chamomile tea all aid in their hair care rituals. I cannot speak to them. I use the bar soap for everything having short hair this works for me and the boy. Shaving, bathing, and shampoo. It all has worked for us.

Toilet paper – find one you like and buy in bulk. Not like it goes bad. No expiration date. Before you buy in bulk, make sure you like it. Nothing worse than using 20 grit sand paper because it was the cheapest alternative.

Pinterest finds

I was going through some of my pinterest finds and thought I would share a few.

Growing

Herbs

LEaves

Regrow

companion planting

I found a website http://www.dumpaday.com/genius-ideas-2/simple-do-it-yourself-craft-ideas-52-pics/and you can really dump a day there. I found all kinds of cool stuff I added to my pinterest account. Before long I have used up 1/2 a day looking at some of the cool stuff.

Here is where I pin stuff I find.

http://www.pinterest.com/rikkrack/

Homemade chicken or turkey broth

                I have started making my own chicken and turkey broth for the last several years. It is simple, uses what otherwise was a waste product, and is cheap. You all know I like cheap.

I start by taking a chicken or turkey carcass. This is usually left from when we have Thanksgiving turkey, or roast a whole chicken, or make crock pot chicken.  After all the meat is picked off, I place the carcass in a large pot, or leave in the crock. Add enough water to cover. Then I add the other ingredients.

                You can save your vegetable discards for the stock. Celery tops are great. You cut celery for eating or other recipes. Save the tops of the celery. if you bought the heart from the store, save the bottom too. You can both plant it, and grow your own celery plant (only during warmer months) or toss in the freezer for alter use, like in broth.

                Carrots. Tops and bottoms. Save these and add to broth. If you but the bunches at the store, or of you grow your own don’t throw them away. Use them for broth. You can use and should use the green portions as well.

                Onions are the same as carrots and celery. When you cut the tops and bottoms for other recipes, save them and throw in the freezer. I also use the onion skin.

                Garlic, tops and bottoms. Same thing.

Parsley stems, basil stems, oregano stems, and any other herb which you like, that you use the leaves and toss the stems.

                I will occasionally add broccoli leaves just for something different. You can add any number of veggies to the broth for your own tastes.

                Last I add some black pepper and if I have them some pepper tops and bottoms left over from other recipes. Depending on how the chicken was cooked I will also add some salt or season salt. Not necessary, but I will leave off, because sometimes I do not need salted broth.

                Bring all the ingredients to a boil. The longer the boil the more you get out of the bones from the carcass. I typically let boil 3-4 hours at least. If not covered you may need to add more water or even if covered may need to add more water to keep everything covered by liquid.

                After boiling I allow the broth to cool slightly and strain through a metal strainer. Something like this.

 metal-strainer

I will strain into a large pitcher. This makes it easier to can it later. While still hot I will put the broth into clean, sterile canning jars and pressure can it. You should NOT attempt to water bath can this. I am paranoid about food poisoning, so anything with meat, meat byproducts, or low acid food I pressure can.

Suburban Farm Tour 9-21-13 10am

If you are local to the Indianapolis area we are hosting a group tour to see in person and ask questions some of the things we have used on our micro farm in the city. See the three aquaponic systems in action, back yard chickens, medicinal herbs, water harvesting, edible landscapes just to name a few. Ask questions, tips, techniques and see some of the items we have for sale. This will be scheduled through Meetup Alternative Gardening group. If you are not already a member of Meetup there is a link below. We are having it on Saturday September 21st 10am.

Group Tour info

Call out to local landscapers!

I am looking to work with local landscaping companies in and around central Indiana to fill a unique niche integrating permaculture into current landscapes and future landscape projects to be both productive and retaining visual appeal. Contact me for details.