#DIY: Growing (Organic) Gardens and Canning Month

Dear Readers -

This month is all about DIY gardening and canning. This is my second year of experimenting with a small garden. Last year, I was able to reap the leftovers of my neighbors’ gardens, but I missed my lesson on canning. However, this year, I’m prepared with canning jars, lids, and two ladies who volunteered to help me!

I hope you are looking forward to simple garden ideas, growing and harvesting your own garden as well as how to preserve your toils of the earth. We’ll also be including a couple other DIY recipes to save you money throughout the year – not just summer – things I have tried and actually work.

So let’s get started….

organic-gardens
Simple organic garden Bell peppers were planted at the end of May.
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Review: Vinegar Uses as #DIY Home Cleansers and More

I’m sure you have heard or seen posts on Facebook or Pinterest about the many uses of vinegar – 11, 20, 31, 50 or 101 – but does it really work as a home cleanser? What are the benefits of using distilled vinegar vs. store bought cleaners?

vinegar-usesVinegar really does have many uses and due to high acidity, it is effective to kill many bacteria, mold, mildew and germs. It is safe for the environment, does not harm plumbing, does not leave stains or harm most non-porous surfaces, so it’s safe to use around children and pets.

I like to save money and use less chemicals in my home, so I have tried several of the suggested vinegar uses. Here are my reviews on ways to use vinegar in your home for cleaning and more.

  1. Household Disinfectant – Works just as good as a general purpose cleaner. No harsh scent or residue. I dilute with water and put in a clearly marked spray bottle for frequent use. Kills most bacteria, mold, mildew and germs that cause allergies and illness.
    Uses: Bathroom and kitchen surfaces, inside trashcans and refrigerators, sinks, and any non-porous surface.
  2. Extend freshness of fruits and vegetables – Best way to keep fruit and veggies from spoiling.  Put equal amounts of water and distilled vinegar in a small spray bottle. Spray once and they will last several days longer and sometimes up to a week before the skin starts to wrinkle. You do not have to refrigerate many fruits and vegetables to keep them fresher longer. I have a couple large flat bottom baskets that I leave on the kitchen counter or table with the fresh produce.
    Uses:  Instead of washing fresh fruits and vegetables before eating, spray it with the diluted solution and it’s safe to eat. Especially good for soft edible skin produce such as tomatoes, oranges, apples, eggplant, cucumbers, and green peppers.
  3. Removes coffee/tea stains – Combine with salt for stubborn stains and a little elbow power and you’ll have a safer cleanser than bleach in a can. Use full strength for stubborn stains, let it sit for awhile (an hour or overnight), scrub, rinse and you’re done!
    Uses: I use on my stainless steel coffee pot, and plastic or glass iced tea containers as well as stained coffee mugs. (No, it won’t taste like vinegar.)
  4. Removes lime buildup – Yes, it does work on lime scale buildup on shower heads and tiled bathroom/kitchen walls. Remove your shower head and put in a container (bowl or bucket, depending on the size). Add enough full strength vinegar to cover water inlets. Allow to soak for several hours or overnight, and rinse in fresh water. You’ll see an improvement with your shower stream!
    Uses: Removable shower heads or tiled walls. For stubborn buildup on walls, make a paste with salt and vinegar and scrub walls. Rinse clean and dry.
  5. Carpet Stains – Have pet or food stains on your carpets? Use vinegar and baking soda (yes, together!). Remove as much as the substance as you can by blotting the stain (never rubbing or scrubbing). Sprinkle baking soda over the stain and spray or cover with vinegar. It will bubble and foam, do not stand directly over the stain until the foam settles. Cover with a plate and allow to sit overnight. Remove plate and vacuum up remaining residue. Poof! Stain disappears!
    Uses: This works on old stains too, however, you may need to repeat the process a couple times to remove the stain. This method is so much less cumbersome than using a store-rented carpet shampooer and much less expensive than having your carpets cleaned.

I’ll add more as I try them, but I love the many uses of white vinegar instead of using toxic commercial household cleaners.

What have been your experiences using vinegar? We’d love to hear your stories!

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Pros and Cons of Living Off the Grid

land-for-sale-off-grid-living

Many people have romantic notions about what it means to live off of the power grid. Here are a few pros and cons for alternative living.

Living Off Of The Grid Pros

1. No building codes. Building codes are based on decision by a community’s government  protect the health and safety of people from the environment. However, problems  arise when the building codes interfere with the rights of individual citizens.

The government may not be as concerned about the effects of construction on the planet’s environment. If building codes aren’t an issue, a greener, more frugal, experimental housing plan
may be used. And no building codes mean you  are free to use your land to raise animals and to grow a garden.

2. No dependency on the power grid. If the power goes out in a city, the citizens are at the mercy of repair crews. However, living off of the grid (as in power grid) may use alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, and often can be accomplished as a DIY project. Thus reducing your dependency on the frail power grid.

You may say, “Sign me up for that!” But what are you really agreeing to?

Living Off Of The Grid Cons

1. Sewage regulations. Even in areas without building codes, you’ll probably run into sewage regulations. Allowable off grid options include septic tanks with buried leach fields and open-­air lagoon pits. Composting toilets are acceptable in many regions. Personal septic systems require ongoing maintenance and inspections to keep them functioning correctly.

Going off­ grid can be an expensive proposition if you try to replace all the modern amenities (running water, flushable toilets, washer/dryer) and most people prefer their amenities.

2. Clean water source. A site with a reliable water supply is essential to off ­grid living, and prospective landowners. If you’re buying land, you’ll still need a reliable water source. Can a stipulation to include the use of potable water?

3. Property taxes. I don’t know of any vicinity that doesn’t collect property taxes, unless you rent the land from someone else. Make sure you know what the property taxes are and the permits necessary to build a home, if that is permissible.

Consider this, will you have the legal right to use any existing roads, paths or waterways to reach your land? If you do not have access to water or road ways, then consider another plot of land.

Is living off the grid for you? What could you live with or without? Could you sacrifice those
things you take for granted everyday such as running water, electricity for all your electronics,
electric lights?

We want to hear your comments below!

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One perspective about living a greener, healthier and simpler life on a budget.