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
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
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.


Gardening 101: How to Use Eggshells in the Garden

Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

All winter long I’ve been saving eggshells by simply rinsing them and placing them in an open container where they could dry out. (No, they do not smell. Everyone who comes to my house and sees them asks me this question.)
Above: All winter long I’ve been saving eggshells by simply rinsing them and placing them in an open container where they could dry out. (No, they do not smell. Everyone who comes to my house and sees them asks me this question.) To remove any proteins, spread eggs on a baking sheet on a parchment paper. Preheat oven to 250 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.

Now that Easter is over we are inundated with Easter Egg Shells! This is an exciting time for the garden when we have additional resources for growing happy edibles in the Living Lab. At the end of every week when my containers are full, I set to pulverizing them into little bits with wooden spoons, thus compacting the shells so that I can collect more. If you prefer to use a food processor to grind up your egg shells, reduce to a fine powder and store in a mason jar. The finer the particles the easier for your plants to absorb the calcium. Keep adding shells to store throughout the year to use in the spring.


When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium.
Above: When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium.

Though nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most vital for healthy growth, calcium is also essential for building healthy “bones”—the cell walls of a plant. Composed of calcium carbonate, eggshells are an excellent way to introduce this mineral into the soil. To prep the eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. Because it takes several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant’s roots, it is recommended that they be tilled into the soil in fall. More shells can be mixed into your soil in the spring.

By the same token, finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole will help newly planted plants thrive. (Tomatoes especially love calcium.) For an exciting recycled garden cocktail, try mixing your eggshells with coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen.

Finally, eggshells will reduce the acidity of your soil and help to aerate it.

Tips for Eating & Harvesting Dandelions

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It’s Dandelion Season! Looking for ways to use these healthy greens in your kitchen? Dandelion greens may not be the most popular greens out there but hopefully after this post you’re going to feel informed enough and comfortable enough to go out and give em a try!

Not only are dandelions delicious, they are a nutritional powerhouse! Dandelion greens are a dark, leafy green veggie that are packed with goodness. They are said to be one of the most vitamin packed foods on the planet! They have more fiber, protein, calcium and potassium than any other green out there and they’re rich in beta carotene, iron, vitamin A, E and K. Dandelion greens not only support the digestive system but they also reduce swelling and inflammation in the body. Needless to say, they bring a lot to the table.

Like many other light, leafy greens, they peak right at the beginning of Spring and go till about mid Summer. This is when you’re going to get the best flavor, the highest nutritional value, and they can be foraged for FREE!

You’re going to notice that the leaves are fairly irregular and a bit jagged, they look a little bit like an arrow. You want to make sure they are nice and firm and a rich green with no discoloration and no wilting.

Dandelions do tend to be a little bitter by nature but what you’ll find is the smaller the leaf the more mild and tender the flavor. Try to avoid the really big leaves and keep it between small and medium sized.

After foraging for dandelion greens you’ll want to keep them in the refrigerator under the high humidity setting in your veggie drawer, know that they’ll only last a couple of days so you do want to use them shortly after harvesting. Once you’re ready to use your dandelion greens, give them a good rinse in cold water. The bottom of the stems can be a little tough and bitter so trim those off and add to your compost bin.

Chop them off right where the leaf begins. Give the leaves a nice rough chop all the way up. You can either enjoy them raw in a salad or cooked. If you’re going to put them in a salad I would maybe suggest giving the leaves a little nibble first to see how mild or bitter they are. If they are a little bit bitter consider mixing the leaves with a little butter lettuce or a red leaf variety and then build your salad from there.

Dandelion greens really love big, bold, fat flavors so things like blue cheese, goat cheese, nuts and bacon are a perfect fit, be sure to give your greens a little fat love. When it comes to cooking these greens they love to be steamed, sautéed and braised. Again, they love big bold flavors so things like garlic, soy sauce and big, bold vinegars are really going to compliment these greens.

A personal favorite go to that’s really quick is to sauté your dandelion greens in a little bit of olive oil, fresh garlic and a few hits of soy sauce. Let those greens wilt down and finish it off with a big squish of lemon and voila! Quick and simple.