I haven’t grown garlic in years but this year I got my act together and managed to get some planted in the garden before the real snow! I purchased some locally grown garlic so it should do very well in my garden. There are two main types of garlic. Stiffneck and soft neck.  Stiffneck garlic plants send up a false flower stalk in the spring called a scape. Stiffneck garlic bulbs usually contain 5-7 large cloves. Softneck garlic plants do not produce a scape, and generally contain a dozen or more relatively small cloves. I planted the stiff neck variety. Garlic is multiplied by vegetative reproductions rather than by seeds. Individual garlic cloves are planted and they each produce a bulb. The nice thing about planting garlic is that it is planted in the fall, it’s out of sync with other crops. Garlic requires a cold treatment for about two months to induce bulbing. You want to give the garlic enough time to form roots but not enough time to form leaves! Our fairly mild fall gave me the opportunity to plant my garlic.

I pulled all the weeds from one of my raised beds and removed the various little stones that seem to pop up every year. First thing I did was to break each garlic set into its cloves, just like you do when you are going to cook them. Then I planted each clove, root side down every 5-6 inches apart. Each clove was pushed into the ground about 4 inches and then covered with dirt. I didn’t want the frost to pop them out of the ground. Once the garlic was all planted I mulched the bed with a nice layer of straw. Hopefully each of those cloves will grow into a nice, plumb garlic bulb! Now to be patient.

In the late spring the scapes should develop. These should be removed to retain the plant’s resources for bulb formation. The scapes are edible! Something new to try! I won’t be able to harvest my garlic until the lower leaves begin yellowing from the tips on down, usually in July. Ideally you want the bulbs to have attained their maximum size but the cloves have not started to separate, this way they will store better. I will let the bulbs air dry where they are protected from the sun. Then they will be ready to store.

 

 

When you compare the prices of cleaning products in the stores with the cost of making them at home you’d be surprised at how much you can really save! If you were to add up the toilet cleaner, kitchen cleaner, window cleaner etc. it seems the average clean household requires close to $150 worth of chemical supplies at all times. You can switch to the healthier alternatives sold in the stores but they are also expensive. The best choice for your budget and your health is to make them yourself.

One of the first products I began to make myself was a window cleaner. A good friend shared her recipe years ago and I’ve been using it ever since! With just several basic products you probably already have in your home you can make a window cleaner that really does get your windows clean! In researching various homemade window cleaners I found there are two main recipes; one uses vinegar and the other ammonia. I’ve been using the one with ammonia, I’ll have to make both and compare!

Window Cleaner #1: This can be made right in your spray bottle. Mix ½ tsp dish detergent, 3 Tbsp vinegar and 2 cups of water. Shake it up and use like any commercial variety.

Window Cleaner #2: This can also be made in your spray bottle. Combine 3 Tbsp ammonia, 1 Tbsp vinegar and fill the rest of the way up with water.

Let me know which one you think is better! Or do you have your own unique recipe?

A good all purpose cleaner:
16oz spray bottle
2 Tbsp distilled vinegar
1 tsp borax
water (if you have hard water this needs to be distilled or purified water, otherwise use tap water)
2 Tbsp mild liquid dish soap

Mix the vinegar and borax with 1 cup of hot water until dissolved. Let the mixture cool and then pour into your spray bottle. Add enough water to the bottle leaving just enough room for your dishwashing detergent. Then add the liquid soap.

Next  weeks frugal tip will be making your own laundry detergent! Stay tuned!

ammonium, vinegar, cleaners

Ingredients to make household cleaners!

This recipe has been in our family for years and years. Originally a neighbor shared it with my mom and she’s been making it ever since. When I left home it was one of my mom’s recipes that I brought with me! The recipe is very simple and you can make the basic recipe as is or add more ingredients if you want. Use any kind of nuts, I’ve made it with walnuts, pecans and sliced almonds. All are delicious. Once the granola is cooled completely you can also add a variety of dried fruits; cherries, cranberries and raisins. This recipe is easy, inexpensive, very flexible and tastes much better than anything you can find in the supermarket!

6 cups of quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1/3 cup sesame seed
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Heat oats in ungreased 9 x 13 pan in 350 degree oven for ten minutes.

Combine oats, wheat germ, coconut, sesame seed and chopped nuts and stir. Combine brown sugar, vegetable oil, honey and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until coated.

Divide mixture in half. Bake half in ungreased 9 x 13 pan at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often to brown evenly. Cool. Repeat for other half, don’t let it get too brown or it will burn!

Store in an airtight container.

Linked To: GooseberryPatch

One of the items found in my pantry are wheat berries. Wheat berries are a true whole grain! Without these kernels there would be no flour. They are loaded with nutrients and are as easy as rice to prepare, perfect for a meal any time of the year. Did you know that raw wheat, if kept dry and free of insects, can last hundreds of years without any loss of quality or taste. Unfortunately, once wheat is ground into flour, it will last only a few days without turning rancid, which is why regular store-purchased flour is heavily bleached and full of preservatives. I started buying wheat berries more than 15 years ago even though I didn’t own a wheat grinder. I had a friend that would grind the berries for me. Eventually I purchased a wheat grinder of my own and have been happily grinding my own wheat for years.

In addition to grinding wheat berries to make flour you can also enjoy them in other ways. When they are boiled, cooked wheat berries have a chewy bite and a nutty, earthy flavor. They can be eaten as a breakfast cereal with milk and cinnamon or added to a salad or a main dish. A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron. If you Google major cooking sites like the Food Network and search “wheat berries” you’ll find at least fifty tasty suggestions that incorporate whole wheat into soups, salads, sides and main dish casseroles.

You may not be a baker but wheat berries are definitely a staple that should be in your pantry! Try serving them to your family this week. Besides grinding wheat berries for flour do you have a favorite way to enjoy them?

 

Here in the northeast fall is the time to plant daffodil bulbs. Ideally, you should plant bulbs as soon as you purchase them. I received my daffodil bulbs in the mail and decided to follow the directions and plant them right away. The day was warm and sunny and most of the snow had melted from the weekend storm, a good day to mess in the garden! You want to plant the bulbs when the soil can still be worked, this gives them time to develop roots and establish themselves before winter arrives.

The rule of thumb for planting bulbs outdoors is to set them two and a half times deeper than their diameter. For my daffodil bulbs this meant 5-6″ deep. If you want a naturalizing look to your planting, take a few bulbs in your hand, toss them gently on the ground, then plant them where they have fallen. Dig a hole in the dirt with a trowel for each individual bulb. Special bulb-planting tools are available at garden centers, they make it easy to dig neat, circular holes. Place the bulb in the hole and cover with dirt. In the spring before growth or flowering begins spread a complete fertilizer over your flower beds. The spring rains will carry the fertilizer down into the soil.

Planting bulbs requires patience because you have to wait almost six months before you can enjoy the flowers! Patience is a good virtue to practice, it involves waiting. In our society we want things immediately which is why so many people have debt problems! If we would learn to wait and save for something we want rather than “buy now, pay later” we would be much better off financially! Even stocking your party requires patience. A pantry does not become a well stocked pantry overnight. It takes months of careful planning and preparation, which is a good rule to live our life by!

So I will be patient, the bulbs are planted and I will wait to enjoy their beauty. I will look forward to the daffodil blooms come spring.

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness;
it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
Gertrude Jekyll

 

I love homemade gifts! As the holidays approach I try to think of gifts that I can make myself that might bless others. One favorite idea is homemade gift jars. You can fill jars with all sorts of gift ideas – cookie mixes, brownie mixes, or soup mixes. One of my favorites is a Minestrone Soup Mix. It makes four gift packages and when presented in a jar with a cute tag makes a wonderful gift. Most of the ingredients you probably have on hand in your pantry.

Minestrone Soup Mix

Flavoring Mix;
½ cup dried onion flakes
½ cup dried celery flakes
¼ cup dried parsley flakes
2 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried marjoram
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp pepper

½ cup beef-flavored bouillon granules
1 pound dried navy beans
1 pound dried kidney beans
2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked

Combine the first 8 ingredients and divide evenly into 4 gift packages. Add 2 Tbsp of the beef flavored bouillon granules to each package. Label and seal.  Combine navy beans and kidney beans and divide into 4 gift packages. Label and seal. Place ½ cup of macaroni into 4 gift packages. Label and seal

Present one package of herb mix, one package of bean mix and one package of macaroni with a copy of the recipe for Minestrone Soup. You can layer the ingredients  in a jar or decorate a brown bag and include the ingredients in the bag. To each jar or bag attach the following recipe:

Minestrone Soup

1 pkg of bean mix
3 quarts of water
1 pkg herb mix
1 carrot, chopped
2/3 (4oz) of chopped lean cooked ham
1 (14.5oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg macaroni

Sort and wash beans; place in a Dutch oven and cover with water, two inches above the beans. Soak for 8 hours. Drain beans; add 3 quarts of water, herb mix, carrot and ham. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. Add tomatoes and macaroni, cook 20 minutes or until macaroni is tender. Serve hot.

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