DIY Herb Drying Rack

This cute little drying rack is useful and adds aromatic herbal scents throughout your kitchen while the herbs are hanging to dry.

herb-drying
By Moorea Seal
Mother Earth Living

My favorite parts of any meal are the herbs and sauces, the details that make a meal come to life. Most meals call for just a dash of herbs, so when picking herbs from your garden or buying fresh herb bundles from the grocery store, you can save all your extras and dry them here on your drying rack for later use! It’s not only useful but decorative, and fills your kitchen with the scent of delicious dried herbs.

Materials and Tools

  • Baker’s twine
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • 6 bunches fresh herbs (you can and these at your local grocery store, usually in the vegetable section in little plastic packaging—I used oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, tarragon, and sage)
  • 1 (14-inch) embroidery hoop
  • 9 (25-millimeter) wooden beads Superglue
  • 6 clothespins
  • Ceiling hook 

Steps

  1. Cut your twine into six pieces, each 15 inches long.
  2. Create a small loop at the end of each piece of twine.
  3. Take one piece of twine and, using the unlooped end, wrap it around the base of one bunch of herbs, tying it off tightly and leaving the loop exposed.
  4. Repeat this process with each bunch of herbs.
  5. Remove the inner hoop from the embroidery hoop. You won’t be using the outer hoop, just the inner one.
  6. Measure how far you would like your herb drying rack to hang from the ceiling. Take that measurement and add 10 inches. Now cut three pieces of twine to that length. I wanted mine to hang about 15 inches from the ceiling, so I cut three 25-inch pieces of twine.
  7. Using about 5 inches of one piece of twine, wrap it a few times around the hoop, and tie off.
  8. Repeat this process with the two other pieces of twine, making sure that the three pieces of twine are equal distances from each other.
  9. String three wooden beads onto each of these pieces of twine.
  10. Gather the loose ends of the three pieces of twine and tie them all together, leaving 5 inches between the knot and the end of each piece. Make sure that when you hold up the hoop by the twine, it looks balanced.
  11. Create a loop with one of the 5-inch ends of twine. Using the superglue, glue the end of the loop to the base knot. Then wrap the two leftover 5-inch pieces of twine around the knot and glue the ends to the knot.
  12. Using the clothespins, evenly attach the herb bundles to the hoop by clipping the clothespins to the hoop and to the loop of twine on the end of each herb bundle.
  13. Evenly space your clothespins around the hoop so the herb bundles are balanced.
  14. Now, simply screw in a ceiling hook where you want to hang your herb drying rack, and hang it up!

Build Bee Hotels to Help Save Native Bees

Build Bee Hotels to Help Save Native Bees
Source: Ariana Marisol contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com.

Bees are an integral part of our ecosystem. A garden with happy, healthy bees grows happy, healthy plants. Why not help these friendly pollinators even more by building “bee hotels”?

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There are 4,000 species of bees that are native to North America and they are far more efficient in pollinating than the more commonly known European honeybee. Native bees are losing habitat at a dramatic rate and this is leading to a huge decline in population. You can help save these bees by creating a house for them in your garden. The bees will gladly thank you by pollinating your garden!

Over 90% of all bee species are solitary. This means each female will build her own nest in close proximity to other females of the same species. Bee hotels are usually made out of some sort of box or container that is filled with sticks, pinecones, bamboo shoots, or logs with drilled holes in them. These homes provide choices for bees and give them with shelter. Building a “bee hotel” only take a little bit of effort and material you probably already have.

You use bee houses to decorate your garden with these simple ideas.

You can use license plates to make sturdy roofs for your bee houses. You can repurpose a birdhouse for the house base and fashion a bent license plate on the top to create a cool roof. Take off the walls of a bird house and use the framing. Add either blocks of wood with holes drilled in them, or pieces of bamboo stalks to create small living areas for the bees.

You can use cardboard, clay pots, and bricks to create hibernation areas for your native bees. Use left over material you have no use for and put them together in an area by your garden. You can put sticks, pinecones, and cardboard all together in a clay pot and create an area for the bees. Situate them together nicely and create a beautiful creative hodgepodge of recycled garden material.

You can use cinderblocks to create multi-storied high-rise bee hotels. Put bamboo stalks or a a stump drilled with holes into the cinderblock gaps and create a nesting area for the bees. You can paint the cinderblocks to add some color to your garden. Cinderblocks are great to use because they will protect the bees from the elements.

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Fill a mason jar with bamboo cuts or small tubes and create a wonderful small living space for bees. You can find an area to set it in your garden or you can suspend it from a branch or shed. You will be able to watch the bees move in because the bamboo tips will be filled with mud and other material.

Fill an upcycled wine box with bits of wood or bamboo canes and arrange them artistically. You can use different kinds of material for the nesting pods to add texture to your bee hotel.

Honey bees are not the only bees that need our protection and help. Add these quirky decorative homes to your garden and watch as the bees graciously thank you!

What To Do With All of the Poo? Share it!

Holy Piles of Poo!

Whether a farmer has one cow or 1000, manure problems are the likeliest route to trouble with the neighbors.

Everybody poops; animals just happen to do it more than the rest of us. A lactating dairy cow can produce 150 pounds of manure every day. Twenty broiler chickens will produce over four pounds a day. Whether a farmer has one cow or 1,000, manure problems are the likeliest route to trouble with the neighbors.

So how do you solve a problem like manure? From non-farmers – with a horse to the largest industrial hen houses – people are coming up with ingenious ways to take the damage out of dung by sharing a necessary garden resource with folks looking for this very solution.

These mostly localized manure shares pair animal owners with gardeners, farmers and landscapers in need. Using mailing lists or sign-up sheets, most farmers looking to unload their manure give their location, fee (if any), whether they deliver, if the waste is raw or composted and the kind of animal the manure is from.

Snohomish Conservation District
Check out the resources available by visiting http://www.snohomishcd.org
Manure Share List 2019

Manure Shares are grassroots programs often run by agricultural extension offices or conservation programs. They don’t cost much to run but are a simple solution for animal owners with just a little too much to go around. They help farmers by giving them a place to dispose of animal waste that’s only real benefit is to the soil. They help gardeners by providing an inexpensive and natural source of fertilizer for their plants. And they help the public by cutting down on environmental damage or health hazards associated with raw animal waste.



$30 in Wild Greens, FREE!

Source: Haphazard Homestead
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARaUBo9vDkY
If you have some of these common wild plants, weeds, and trees in your yard, you could be eating an incredibly delicious wild salad, too. Forage 24 plants from your yard. Then turn them into an amazing salad with a wild salad dressing.

Even though spring is the easiest time for foraging a wild salad, there are still plenty of great wild edible plants to eat as late spring heads into summer.

The plants in order of appearance:

1. Common sowthistle – Sonchus oleraceus
2. Grand fir – Abies grandis
3. Spearmint – Mentha spicata
4. Wild field mustard – Brassica rapa
5. Wild garlic – Allium vineale
6. Chickweed – Stellaria media
7. Black locust – Robinia pseudoacacia
8. Sheep sorrel – Rumex acetosella
9. Blue Spruce – Picea pungens
10. Trailing blackberry – Rubus ursinis
11. Nipplewort – Lapsana communis
12. Cleavers – Galium aparine
13. Oregon grape – Mahonia aquifolium
14. Western Larch – Larix occidentalis
15. Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
16. Common hawthorn – Crateagus monogyna
17. English daisy – Bellis perennis
18. Hedge mustard – Sisymbrium officinale
19. Curly dock – Rumex crispus
20. Bristly hawksbeard – Crepis setosa
21. Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis
22. White clover – Trifolium repens
23. American elm – Ulmus americana
24. Bittercress – Cardamine hirsuta

Here are some tips for making a great wild salad:
1. Focus on plants that are in good condition.
2. Pick clean. Look through what you pick, as you are picking it. leave the grass, pieces of other plants, and poor-quality plant parts out in the field.
3. Pick organized – and keep everything organized until you’ve double-checked it all, back in the kitchen
4. Chop the plants into tiny pieces
5. Keep some of the wild flowers aside, to mix into the chopped greens. It all looks nicer that way.
6. Use a simple salad dressing. Let the taste of all those wild plants shine. A simple oil and vinegar mix works fine!

How to Clean & Sharpen Garden Tools


How to Clean and Sharpen Garden Tools


This shovel could use a little TLC.

Properly maintained quality garden tools are a joy to use and can last for generations. And, like most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regularly cleaning and oiling your garden tools will prevent rust, keep them sharper, and allow the handles to stay strong.

But if you’re like me, sometimes you’re not as diligent as you should be—putting your tools away dirty or leaving them outside in the weather. Then before you know it, they’re on the fast track to the trash bin.

Here’s how to get a shovel, or other garden tools, in shape and keep them that way.

Gather Your Weapons

To clean and maintain your tools, you’ll need the following:

  • Cleaning Supplies: Detergent, garden hose, sprayer, sponge, old rags or towels.
  • Cleaning Tools: Steel wool, scrub brush, wire brush, and a rotary wire brush attachment for your drill.
  • Sandpaper: (80 and 120 grit) Made to work on both wood and metal.
  • Sharpening Tools: A fine metal file and a sharpening stone to hone edges.
  • Lubricating Oil: Such as boiled linseed oil, tung oil, motor oil, lamp oil, or cooking oil. Boiled linseed and tung oil are probably the best choices, but you can use what you have on hand.
  • Safety Equipment: Wear gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask when working on tools.

Step 1: Clean Tools

Start by giving your tools a good scrubbing to remove any mud and grit from the blades and handles. Dry with old towels, then set them aside overnight so they dry completely to avoid trapping moisture.

Step 2: Remove Rust

Use steel wool or a wire brush to scrub away any rust that has accumulated on metal parts. A rotary wire brush attachment chucked in a drill can make the job easier. As a rule, you want to remove the rust with as little grinding and scraping of the steel as possible to keep tools from becoming thinner and weaker over time.

Step 3: Sand Tools

Smooth worn wooden handles with medium grit sandpaper to remove splinters and deteriorated finish. You can also use sandpaper to remove any remaining rust from surfaces and crevices and to lightly polish the metal. When finished, thoroughly wipe down the tools to remove any wood or metal sanding dust.

Step 4: Sharpen Tools

Use a metal file to lightly sharpen the edges of tools. Again, you don’t want to grind away too much of the metal, just use it to smooth out nicks, remove burrs, and give a nice clean edge. On some cutting tools (like hedge clippers and axes), you’ll need to follow up with a sharpening stone lubricated with oil for a finer edge.

Step 5: Oil Tools

Using a clean rag, apply lubricating oil to both the wooden handle and the metal blade. Rub the oil into the surface then wipe off any excess. The oil will help prevent rust and condition the wood to keep it from absorbing water and prevent cracking. After the handle has dried, apply a second coat of oil to the wood if needed. Tools with fiberglass or composite handles will only need a good cleaning.

Some gardeners prefer to sand wooden tool handles and reapply a coat of exterior finish such as spar varnish. If you do refinish your tool handles, make sure the wood is completely dry first. I prefer using oil simply because I’d rather do a quick wipe down, rather than taking the time to sand the wood, apply finish, and wait for it to dry, but it’s really a matter of preference.


That’s more like it! Now, to keep it that way.

Preventative Maintenance

Now that your gardening tools look like new, take the time to keep them that way! At the end of every gardening day, spend a few minutes to:

  • Rinse off mud and soil with a garden hose. Clinging wet soil is the main cause of rust on garden tools.
  • Scrub away stubborn soil with a scrub brush, and use paint thinner to remove sap and pitch.
  • Wipe tools dry with a rag or towel, or let them dry in the sun while you finish your chores.
  • Hang tools up rather than standing them on their edges.
  • Periodically wipe on a light coat of oil or spray surfaces with a penetrating oil. You can also put tools in a sand bucket to keep them clean and sharp.



Growing Squash Sowing to Harvest

Source: Mother Earth News

Squashes and pumpkins are among the most thrilling vegetables you can grow. Speed, vitality and generous harvests – they’ve got it all!

Growing Squash from Sowing to Harvest

Whether you’re growing summer or winter squash, get your crop off to the best possible start with our sowing-to-harvest guide to these first-rate performers.

In this short video 5 minute video we’ll show you how to grow super squash – every time.

“Growing