Archives for March 2013

All About Mushrooms: History, Health Benefits, Growing Mushrooms YCH#22


Here is a link to 2 great free videos on identifying wild mushrooms:  The seond video is slow in the beginning but lots of great info!


  1. Growing mushrooms is easy and fun.  Before we get started lets learn a little.  We talk about:
  2. History of mushrooms
  3. Classified in 3 groups: Mycorrhizal, parasitic, and sacrophytic
  4. Primary, secondary, and tertiary decomposers
  5. Mushrooms used for cleaning toxic wastes
  6. Mycofiltration


Growing Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Free Books, FBI Moneypak Virus YCH#21

  • Today we talk about growing potatoes, different ways and varieites
  • Growing and processing sweet potatoes – how to make them sweeter
  • FBI moneypak virus
  • Oca the wonderful little known tuber
  • Ideas for land management – Ancient Inca style
  • National Acadamies Press – free books and lots of them
  • Nematode control naturally

Juneberries, Cornelian Cherry, Making Lye Soap, Deodorant, Dish Washing Liquid, Bath Bombs YCH#20


I  have an update on growing blueberries.  Companion planting.  what plants grow well with blueberries.  Well, they have to be acid loving plants, and here is a list:

Wintergreen a good ground cover.

Landscape plants: rhododendron, comptonia, juniper, heath, blue hydrangea, holly (winterberry), petunia, pansy, azalea, viola, cranberry, bleeding heart, stokes aster, camellia, foxglove.

I also will talk about edible landscaping.  I hope to include some plants you may never have heard of.  We already talked about some: blueberries, elderberries, medlar, etc.  Today I will go into detail on Juneberries:  They look like a blueberry and taste like a cherry with an almond flavored seed.  That sounds delicious!  They are the size of blueberries and usually blue or purple.  They are a pom fruit related to the apple and pear. They can be red and even creamy white.  There are many species. They have grown in Asia, Europe, and North America.  The grow in every state in the continental US and all over Canada.  The American Indians used the berries in making pemmican by pounding the meat into the fat of deer, moose, caribou and buffalo.   With all the different species they range in size from shrubby plants to trees reaching 50 feet in height.  They are also beautiful plants.  In early spring they are covered in white blossoms.  In the summer they have the fruit and soft green leaves.  In the fall they bear purple, orange and yellow colors.  Then in winter they bear a striated gray bark.  One variety known as Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a mispronounced Cree Indian name (mis-sask-quah-too-min)  It is very cold hardy and can tolerate -60 degrees F.  Fruit color comes in blue, creamy white and red.  Berries can reach over 1/2 inch in size. Hardiness zones for Juneberries are 3-8.  They can fruit in sun or partial shade and tolerate a wide variety of soils.  They bear fruit 2-4 years after planting.  It will be easier to harvest with plants that only get about 6 feet tall.  And they should be about 8 feet apart.  Pruning every winter will produce more and juicier fruit.  Some species put out suckers and can be propagated by a sucker with lots of roots.  The type for trees can be planted from seed.  They often grow true to seed. (exception white Juneberries)  If planting from seed, don’t et them dry out and stratify for 3-4 months. Softwood stem cuttings can be rooted also, but must be taken at just the right time.  They must be harvested as soon as they are ripe or they will shrivel quickly.  They are great fresh, in jams, jellies or frozen.

Cornelian Cherry:  Cornelian cherries are basically dogwoods with edible seeds. This fruit has been eaten for over 7000 years.  Trace of it were found  at a site in Northern Greece with remains of einkorn wheat, barley, lentils, and peas.  It can grow to 25 ft. tall.

We also discuss in the podcast:

Making deodorant, bath bombs, dishwashing liquid.  And I go into greater detail on soap making.  And as always I’ll talk about updates around the farm.


Greg Harvey Interiew, Maple Syrup, Ice House, Goats, Pigs, Making Deodorant Chapstick,& Dish Washing Liquid YCH#19


An interview with Greg Harvey, we talk about maple syrup and how to do it.  What is happening on his homestead, pigs, goats, guinea fowl, pig tillers, an ice house, gardening with wood chips and hugel beds.

I had so much fun yesterday.  I made my own chap stick and deodorant.

The chap stick is absolutely luscious.  Creamy cocoa butter, coconut oil, olive oil, beeswax.  Clean and pure. Pretty easy just get a pot with boiling water,  a pyrex cup set inside.  Put in 2 tsp coconut oil (slightly less) 1-1/8 tsp cocoa butter, 3 tsp olive oil, 1-1/2 tsp beeswax, 3 vitamin E caps – or use a few drops of liquid.  Put everything except vitamin e in the pyrex and heat it in boiling water.  When it is melted squeeze the vitamin E from the caps.  Stir and put in chapstick holders. It makes 7. Delicious!!

And I am giving homeade deodorant another try.  I did it before and it burned my pits and didn’t work.  But I tried it again with shea butter, coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder. And lavender oil.  I am still waiting on my rose oil to come in.  I have some on now and it is burning slightly… So we will see!  Here is a link to the recipe, thanks Doodle: Be careful with the baking soda.  Some have aluminum.   That kind of defeats the purpose. You can buy it aluminum free from Bulk Apothecary.  I haven’t purchased from them yet.  But their prices look great.  I will update you!

This week I ran out of dishwashing liquid, so I made my own.  So easy and much cheaper than buying it.  I think it is easier on my septic system too!   Just put a little white vinegar in the rinse cycle.  It will make your dishes sparkling and help clean the mineral deposits off the pipes!  Here is the recipe:  1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, 1/2 cup citric acid (we will talk about this and substitutes on the podcast.), 1/2 cup salt.  This worked great. I don’t plan on buying the stuff from the store anymore!  (hmmm sounds like a country song. LOL)

And I found something I can use to de-ice my truck windows.  1 & 1/2 cups vinegar to 1/2 cup water. in a spray bottle.  It really did work much faster.  I tried it with the spray and 1/2 without.  It de-iced much quicker with the spray!



Blueberries & More On Tumeric YCH#18


The acid heads of the garden, very powerful antioxidants and on the dirty dozen for pesticides in non organic foods.  But who can afford organic blueberries; not me!  I have a link to a wonderful little kindle book I got for free.  I hope you can get it too!

So, why would we want to grow blueberries?  In my personal opinion they are a perfect plant for homesteaders.  They can grow in a multitude of environments including in containers.  They have beautiful foliage. They are a super food, high in antioxidants.  And best of all they are yummy.  Just thinking of little blue faced, smurf looking children raiding the blueberry bushes makes me smile.  So let’s dive in!

  1. Health benefits: The  highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit, Neutralizes  free radicals which can affect disease and aging in the body, Aid  in reducing belly fat, Helps promote urinary tract health, Preserves vision, Great for brain health, Prevents heart disease, Lowers cholesterol,  Improves digestion,  Prevents constipation, Prevents cancer,  they Improve mood and Prevent depression.  Here are links for more information:  a breakdown of  nutrition –
  2. The blueberry bush is a beautiful plant and a wonderful food hedge.  In the spring the flowers form in clusters of tiny, pink-tinged white bells on the twigs of the blueberry bushes. In the summer, the leaves turn a deep rich green with a shiny texture.  In the fall  leaves of the blueberry bushes go from green to a deep dark red, then the red color will brighten and you will see some bright orange in the foliage. The leaves remain on the bush a good portion of the fall; and you should get several weeks of outstanding fall color. In the winter Blueberry bushes display red color in their twigs and buds.  And lets not forget about the beautiful tiny white flowers and dark purple, green and pink berries in different stages of ripening. So what could be better for an ornamental in the yard, or a hedge of food producing plants (a fedge), or a nice potted plant for the porch?
  3. There are 3 basic types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush, and rabbiteye.  Lowbush grow 1-3 ft tall, more like a groundcover.  They thrive in Eastern Canada, new England and the upper Midwest. Highbush usually reach 5-6 ft. tall and up to 10 ft.  Highbush grow in the Mid-Atlantic states and on the West Coast.  Norhern Highbush varieties include: Bluecrop, Elizabeth, Rubel, Duke, Jersey, and Legacy.  Originally the Highbush varieties couldn’t be grown in the South; but fortunately Southern Highbush Varieties have been developed. They have a lower chill requirement and would fruit better in the heat. Some of these varieties are: Southmoon, Sharpblue, Misty, O’Neal, Jubilee’ and the 3-4 foot dwarf Sunshine Blue.  Rabbiteye Blueberries are native to the Southeast; from Texas to North Carolina to Florida.  There are best adapted to the hot climate of the deep  south.  Varieties include:  Brightwell, Climax, Beckyblue,  Powder Blue, Tifblue, Chaucer, and Centurion.  here is a link for more info on Rabbiteye blueberries from Texas A&M;
  4. Blueberries do have special growing requirements that some say make growing them in a pot even easier.  You will get more fruit and larger plants if grown in the ground however.  The main thing is they are acid lovers.  Ph should be about 4.0 to 5.5.  This can be accomplished with the right soil and amendments.  Just invest in a ph meter.  They are cheap and easy to use. Just poke the prongs in the ground and read it.  For the soil mix there are many recipes, all require lots of pine straw, bark or compost to lower the ph. Here is a typical one: 1/3 bark, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 forest product potting soil.(Dave Wilson Nursery Recipe).  Another from Raintree Nursery: 80% shredded bark, 10% pumice, and 10% peat moss. Another way is:. Use a one-third mix of potting soil intended for camellias and azaleas, peat moss, and small pathway bark, along with a handful of soil sulfur.
    A good rule of thumb is to have 60 -80% of your “soil” as pine bark, needles or peat moss to keep  the ph low and have good drainage.  If  planted in a container at least 15 gallon size would be the best. Unless you grow a smaller variety like the Top Hat Blueberry.  Every year add more acid mulch, compost or sulphur.  I have read even coffee grounds work!  Blueberries need more plants to fruit well for pollination.
  5. Suggestions are to plant several varieties that flower at the same time for better pollination.  I’d like to have different varieties that flower all through the season for a longer harvest.  Another good thing about blueberries is the fruit doesn’t come all at once.  So you aren’t overwhelmed, but rather a few ripen at a time. Another reason they are so expensive to buy, they can’t be harvested all at once. Link for charts on chill hours, fruiting time from a nursery:
  6. If planted in a container make sure they get afternoon shade as they could easily get too hot. And don’t forget to provide good drainage.
  7. Blueberries produce only 2-3 years on each limb.  So if you want heavy production, they must be pruned.  And don’t forget the bird netting – as they love the berries too.
  8. When your over abundance happens they can be frozen, canned, made into jelly, jam, pies, cookies, smoothies, ice cream, wine, mead, beer, etc.  Also don’t forget they can be dehydrated.  I love dehydrated blueberries in my salad or with my 85% dark chocolate… Food of the Gods.
  9. Did I convince you yet?
  10. We also talk al little bit about birthing goats.
  11. Tumeric, the miracle herb.
  12. A fun you tube link:


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