DIY Garden Health Household sustainability Sustainable

Start a garden

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN STARTING AN URBAN GARDEN

 

It’s planting season in Phoenix!  Do you know what to plant?  Where to plant?  How to plant?

There are so many questions when it comes to starting your urban garden – or as I like to call it – your medicine cabinet and grocery store.  And you will read all sorts of articles telling you dozens of things you need to do to be successful.  But it really doesn’t have to be that hard or expensive… especially if you know the basics.

So we came up with our top things you need to know when starting your urban garden:

  1. RESEARCH – This includes looking at a planting calendar to know what to plant in your area. And once you figure out what grows when, choose things you really will use.  Research images of what the plant will look like in your garden, how much space the plant needs, best temperatures for germination, etc.  Seed packets will give you the basics.  Don’t limit your research only to online searches.  Social media gardening groups are awesome and local nurseries can be extremely helpful.
  2. START SMALL – Doing too much gets discouraging and causes many of us to quit. Gardening doesn’t have to be hard.  4×4 is a perfect starting point for a garden and so easy to build a garden bed yourself.  Home improvement stores will cut your wood to your specified size and you can use blocks to simply place the wood slabs inside.  It’s a simple process, especially if you want to avoid cutting and drilling, etc.
  3. PREPARE YOUR BED – Grass and weeds can be one of your biggest enemies. We put cardboard at the bottom of our beds to help stop the grass.  We also have a lot of gophers in the area so we also put chicken wire at the bottom.  Fill your bed with soil… add compost…. Soil and water are the basics that will help your garden thrive or die.
  4. SAVE MONEY ON SEEDS—1st garden will be most expensive but should be the only time you have to spend money buying all of your seeds because you can save them each season.

There are lots of seed banks at libraries and other local places that may offer free seeds. 

All seeds are NOT created equal, so look for GMO Free, heirloom, open-pollinated seeds so that you can continue to save the seeds each season. 

  1. GROW WHAT YOU’LL USE – Whether it’s food or medicine, if you’re watering it, you want to use it. If you won’t eat brussel sprouts, don’t plant brussel sprouts.  Can’t sleep?  Plant chamomile for tea.  Got a cut?  Plant aloe. You’d be surprised at how many natural remedies you’ll find in your garden (ADD NATURAL REMEDIES  LINK)
  2. CREATE MICROCLIMATES AND KEEP IT ORGANIC – Planting all of the same families in the same bed means they’re all competing for the same nutrients and attracting all of the same bugs. So mix things up.  That will also create a cooler environment and help keep your garden naturally organic , especially if you consider companion planting.  
  3. PUT WATER ON A TIMER—one of biggest things to kill gardens is water so you don’t want to have to constantly think about if you’re over or under watering. Set a timer for your water —- regardless of the type of sprinkling system you choose.

OLLAS are another option for watering… my favorite because it takes guesswork out of watering. 

  1. FEED YOUR GARDEN—we fertilize about every 2 weeks with homemade worm tea, compost mix, etc. Again, don’t freak out if you’re not composting, you can buy fertilizers when you’re first starting – ONE THING AT A TIME.  Again garden groups are great for where to buy what, where to find sales, tricks of the trade, etc.
  2. BE PATIENT, STAY POSTIVE AND ENJOY THE RIDE—Everything will NOT grow and some things will look great one day and be falling over the next. It’s about trial and error, learning your soil, your garden.  Trust me, the rewards make it all worth it.  The flavor of the food is richer, you know exactly what you’re getting, you’re saving money, lowering your carbon footprint, growing your own meds… the benefits just keep coming.
  3. TREAT YOUR GARDEN LIKE YOUR FAMILY – If you’re thirsty, you need water. So do your plants.

If you’re cold, you may need a blanket.  If you’re hot, you may want shade. Same with your plants. I talk to my plants, sing to them… not sure if that makes them happy.  The peace of being in the garden in priceless, so spend time in nature, learn your garden (family) and mother nature will do the rest.

 

We have all sorts of DIY videos helping you throughout your journey.   Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions because we are all in this together.  It’s a lifestyle that keeps on giving.

DIY Garden Health

Zucchini boats

How to make zucchini boats using ingredients you already have!

Got zucchini? We’re making stuffed zucchini boats and if you have the zucchini, you really shouldn’t have to leave home for ingredients!  You can really use your leftovers to stuff them — hence cleaning out the fridge and bringing you closer to zero waste.  It’s a win-win!

So we will make the recipe according to what I had in the garden and in my fridge….

One ingredient that isn’t flexible is your zucchini… you’ll need large ones to use as your shell.

Trim the ends of the zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out your seeds and pulp.  Don’t toss it… you can use the pulp and seeds as one of the ingredients.  I save my seeds for planting and I share them on our Etsy site

Back to the ingredients… again use what you have.  I grabbed onions, bell peppers and more zucchini from the garden and chopped it all up before adding it to a skillet.  This is where you would add your zucchini seeds and pulp.  Cook the ingredients for about five minutes.

Next you’ll spoon everything into your zucchini boat.

I started with tomato sauce, then black rice, cooked veggies and topped it all off with vegan cheese.

Let it cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Garnish it with fresh veggies and you’re done… Looks and tastes so yummy and you can make it as healthy or decadent as you want.

Let us know if you make it and if so, what ingredients you use! 

RECIPE DETAILS

Ingredients (Flexible)

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
  • ½ cups shredded cheese
  • Other ideas – mushroom, rice, beans, spinach

Directions

  • Trim the ends off zucchini. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds and pulp.  Save the pulp/seeds for the meal, or save the seeds for planting.
  • Add ingredients to a skillet…  I used onions, bell peppers, and sliced zucchini.  Cook for about five minutes
  • Spoon everything into your boat, I started with tomato or spaghetti sauce, then added some leftover black rice, then my stir-fried ingredients and topped off with vegan cheese. 
  • Place in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish and bake, uncovered, at 350° until zucchini is tender, about 30 minutes.
  • When finished, add fresh garnish.  I used onion and society garlic chives from the garden.  DELISH!

 

DIY

DIY: Get Rid of Carpet Odors

If you’re going to be home all day… you want to make sure the house smells amazing!

Think about it… if you have carpet all sorts of odors are lingering… even when you vacuum.

So here’s a simple recipe with just two ingredients to leave your carpets so fresh and so clean.

All you need is baking soda and your favorite essential oil and you have a toxic-free carpet freshener.

The great thing about baking soda is that instead of masking odors… it interacts with odor particles and neutralizes them.

As for the essential oil, choose what smells best to you.

I like peppermint oil because it smells fresh and naturally wards off certain pests… including ants.

So here’s the breakdown…

I use about a half teaspoon of essential oil and 2 cups of baking soda.

I save my seasoning containers because the holes in the top are perfect.

I give the mix a good shake, let it sit for 24 hours to settle and you’re ready to clean.

I usually sprinkle the mix on the carpet, and then I dust so the mix has a chance to simmer. Next vacuum it up.  That’s it!

And just like that… no more stinky odors lingering around in your carpet.

I also use baking soda to keep the kitchen sink clean and fresh. I run hot water down the drain, then pour about a half cup of baking soda, let it sit for about 10 minutes and rinse it down.

To scrub the bathtubs, I sprinkle baking soda on a damp scrubbing sponge and just scrub.

And I sprinkle it into my boys’ stinky shoes and at the bottom of the trash bin.

Plus, it’s great for baking and occasionally I sprinkle it on my toothbrush to keep my teeth white.

These are just some ways I use baking soda but there are hundreds of other benefits.

How do you use it? Share your ideas and recipes!

DIY

How to make DIY tomato Sauce

One of the things that make gardening so fulfilling is seeing things grow from seed to amazing meals.  The more I grow and see others grow, the more inspired I am to try new things.  And now I have the time to find more ways to leave less of a carbon footprint.

But don’t be fooled… having more time doesn’t mean I want to take more time on individual projects.  I like things simple… which is why it had taken me so long to make my own tomatoes. I had to figure out if it was worth the work and once I did it… the answer was simple

We had an awesome tomato harvest this year, I was picking baskets full daily.  So I thought it was time to take on the experience of making my own tomato sauce and I’ll be honest, I really don’t want to buy pasta sauce from the store anymore because this was too yummy and too simple.

So if you don’t have tomatoes in the garden… no worries, you can still buy tomatoes and make your sauce.  Trust me, you won’t regret it… especially since I have a recipe that uses ingredients most of have at home and it omits the work of taking the skin off of your tomatoes.  The ingredients and steps are below.  I also have a video showing the step-by-step process.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic diced or crushed
  • 12-14 tomatoes halved
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup lemon juice for flavor and canning (optional)

How to Make It:

  • Add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar to a pot and bring it to a boil
  • Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30 min – 1 hour  (Slowly simmering the sauce brings out the deep flavors, so you’ll need less seasonings)
  • Add basil when it’s almost done
  • Optional – Add lemon juice for flavoring and canning

Don’t be afraid to play with the recipe to fit your meal.  Adding celery and carrots to the sauté mix is yummy.

I’ll admit, I like it best fresh from the pot to the plate.  I honestly could have eaten it alone… actually I did have a few spoonfuls because it was so delicious.

I also tried it over noodles with other vegetables and absolutely loved it.

I tried it in spinach lasagna and thought the vinegar was a little strong for it.

Please let me know if you try the recipe.  Take pictures and let me know if you made alterations that made it even more amazing!