How to Harvest a Cabbage Head in 30 Seconds

Cabbage isn’t a vegetable I always loved. When my parents made cabbage rolls, I gagged, internally and externally. Throughout most of my childhood, I turned my nose up to every cabbage dish that graced our kitchen table. As I grew older, cabbage didn’t seem so bad as it was when I was younger. Now, I love stuffed cabbage rolls or corned beef and cabbage.

                Our cabbage always reaches the scale of gigantic. Sometimes, the heads are larger than my kids’ heads. It is comical to watch them carry the heads into the house after harvesting.

                Most cabbage plants take 80 to 180 days to mature. If you planted them in March, you could expect to harvest between June and August, depending on the variety you selected. One year, I planted Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, which was ready around 65 days after planting!

How to Harvest a Cabbage Head

1.       Watch the tightness of the cabbage. When you are out in your garden, gently squeeze the heads. You’ll notice that they will gradually get firmer. A tight cabbage head is a sign that it is ready for harvest. It is important that you check your cabbage head frequently for readiness. Excessive rain or overwatering could cause mature heads to split; then you lost a harvest.

2.       Look at the size of the cabbage head. It is harder to use the size as an indicator of readiness. Some varieties are naturally smaller than others. It should be at least the size of a softball before you consider harvesting. The base should be at least four to ten inches wide.

·         Elongated Chinese, or Napa, cabbage should be harvest when the head is nine to 12 inches tall.

·         Leafy cabbage is better to harvest leaf-by-leaf because they will not form a tight head.

·         Leave two to four of the wrapper leaves around the head to prevent the cabbage head from drying out.

 

3.       Time to harvest. Once you think the cabbage head is ready, bring your knife out to the garden. Find the base of the cabbage head. Using your knife, cut through the stem. You should leave the stem and leaves underneath the head in place because there is a chance a second head will grow! However, if you planted cabbage in the fall, you’ll only get one head. Cabbage planted for a spring or summer harvest can grow two, three or even four heads!

4.       Store the cabbage. You can use it immediately; cabbage rolls anyone? You could make sauerkraut, freeze the cabbage head or store them in the refrigerator. Make sure the heads stay in a cool, moist location for longevity. If you do so, cabbage stores for three to four months.

Harvesting cabbage is extremely easy. All you need is 30 seconds, and you’re done! If you plant cabbage for the fall, there is plenty of ways to store it long term. Who doesn’t want fresh cabbage for the New Years? Tomorrow, we will talk about how to freeze fresh cabbage. It is one of the ways I preserve it for the long term!

What is your favorite way to eat cabbage? Let me know in the comments!

Why Does Acidity Matter for Canning?

While canning jellies and jams are one of my favorite activities, it is important to understand how to do so correctly. There are a lot of misunderstandings about what is safe for canning. Today, we are going to look at why acidity matters for canning.

The Role of Acidity in Canning

I get a lot of questions from friends and family about canning. Many people don’t understand the role of acid in canning. The fact is that you cannot can every single fruit out there if you plan to use a water bath canner.
To be considered safe, the fruit you selected must have a pH scale of 4.6 or lower. The lower the number, the more acidic! Why is acid important? Botulism cannot grow and thrive in an acidic environment. To safely can your fruits in a water bath canner, the acid must be present.

Foods that are lower in acids, such as meat or vegetables, must be canned in a pressure canner. Their pH level is higher than 4.6. A pressure canner heats the food to a higher pressure, ensuring all bacteria spores are killed, including botulism.

When canning jellies and jams, acid plays another role. It helps to set and gel. If you want to have an enjoyable, safe jelly or jam, you need acid!

What Fruits Aren’t Safe?

Luckily, most fruits are acidic, such as apples and strawberries. The fruits you cannot water bath safely due to low acid are bananas, figs, melons, dates, and papayas.

Tomatoes, which comes to a surprise for many people, can be borderline. They are considered a low-high acid food. If you don’t want to can your tomatoes in a pressure canner, try adding a form of acid, listed before.

Can You Increase the Acidity?

Sometimes, fruits will vary in acidity. For example, an overripe apple has less acid than an under-ripe one! There are a few ways you can fix your pH level.

·         Add some under ripe fruit to your recipe. For example, if you are making applesauce, add some under ripe green apples. If you are making strawberry jam, add some under ripe strawberries, which also contains more natural pectin!

·         Try adding 1 TBSP of lemon juice for each cup of fruit. If you are making strawberry jam with overripe strawberries, you would need 4 TBSP of lemon juice for 4 cups of strawberries.

If you are curious about the pH level of your selected fruit, click here for my free chart! It contains the pH level of most fruits.

 

 

20-Minute Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

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Our family LOVES biscuits. I’m sure that my kids consider biscuits a separate food group. If I make biscuits for breakfast, lunch or dinner, they disappear off of the table before anything else. Buttermilk biscuits just happen to be a huge favorite, above all other choices.

Years ago, I made it my quest to discover a homemade buttermilk biscuit recipe that I loved. Purchasing the refrigerated cans in the store is expensive, and it is full of unnecessary ingredients I don’t want to feed my kids.

Finally, after a lot of trial and error (which my kids appreciated), I found the perfect recipe. The baking time was short, so I could pop them right into the oven while cooking dinner. I didn’t have to knead the dough for hours, and there was no rising time since it is a yeast-free recipe. Whenever we have the urge for biscuits, I can make these in a jiffy.

Print

20-Minute Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk - if you don't have buttermilk mix 1 TBSP of white vinegar with one cup of milk. Allow it to stand for a few minutes. Perfect substitution!

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together, which are flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes. Put them into the dry ingredients. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it forms into a coarse-like crumb.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed, turn the dough out onto your floured countertop and knead gently. Roll the dough out, ensuring it is 1/2 inch thick. Using biscuit cutters, cut out the biscuits. You may have to roll the dough out again a few times.
  6. Place the biscuits on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Eat warm!

Why You Need a Broody Hen

I love a broody hen. I know there are dozens of websites that tell you how to break a hen from her broodiness. You won’t find that advice here!

For years, I purchased chicks from the local farm stores. I even attempted to make our incubator and hatch eggs, which didn’t turn out so well. We did great raising chicks, but our last batch lost all of them. It was heartbreaking!

Then, one spring morning, I opened the coop door and discovered a line of hens. You can imagine my surprise! Our hen, Violet, was causing a backup because she decided to lay on a clutch of eggs. You see, no matter how many nesting boxes we provide, our chickens tend to want to lay in the same one. They developed some invisible schedule that worked wonderfully until Violet changed her plans.

At first,  I wanted to stop her, but then I started thinking. There are a few benefits to a broody hen. Let’s take a look.

Broody Hens Create a Sustainable Flock

Raising chickens is supposed to provide your family with the best food and save you money. You may also want to make money by selling eggs. Why would you want to spend money purchasing new chickens each year?

Hens won’t lay eggs all of their lives. At some point, hens go into retirement, or so I call it. They may sporadically lay eggs, but the production greatly slows down. You will need to add more chickens to your flock to continue producing enough eggs for your family and to sell.

If the farm store disappeared tomorrow, how would you continue to have a flock of chickens? After your last hen went into retirement, you might have a stocked freezer but no fresh eggs. Broody hens are the key to a sustainable flock of chickens. Without their natural instinct to hatch eggs, your flock will always require you to purchase chicks.

Broody Hen Does It Best

You might be an excellent chicken farmer, but you’ll never be as skilled as a hen. A mother hen knows best. When hatching eggs, she knows how to rotate the eggs. She knows how to keep them the correct temperature. Some hens also can recognize when an egg isn’t viable and will remove it from the clutch.

Once the chicks hatch, you don’t have to worry about keeping the brooder at the correct temperature with heat lamps. The mother hen provides all of the necessary warmth for her chicks.

The hen will teach her chicks everything there is to know about life outside of the egg. One of my kids’ favorite memory is watching our first chicks learning how to forage while mimicking their mother. It was a beautiful lesson about the cycle of life.

It is a Learning Experience

As a homeschooling mother, I always look for ways to teach my kids. Watching a broody hen do her job and hatch eggs is an educational experience for children. We count down the days on the calendar and wait in anticipation. Broodiness is a beautiful life lesson.

Broodiness Should be Desirable

If your goal is not to create a sustainable flock, broodiness can be an undesirable trait. Their natural instinct is considered a negative, so chicken breeders opt to breed chickens that are less likely to go broody. They pick hens that never go broody and continue the process, weeding out the natural instinct they are meant to have.

Our plan involves a flock that will continue to grow without the need to go purchase chicks anywhere. Nature designed chickens with the broody instinct for a reason. We love to embrace nature’s intentions.

Do you allow your hens to go broody? I would love to hear your experience!

 

 

 

Hand Pollinating Male and Female Zucchini Flowers

As your zucchini plant grows, you’ll notice lovely orange and yellow flowers. These flowers are essential to produce the fruits you desire. For years, I had NO idea that each flower has a specific gender! Zucchini flowers are either male or female.

Hand pollating male and female zucchini plants

You might think this information is useless, but you’d be wrong. Pollination is ESSENTIAL for the formation of zucchini fruits. This story is the tame version of the birds and the bees.

Bees and other insects take the pollen from the male stamen and move it to the female stigma, pollinating the plant. Pollen sticks to the bees legs and, as he lands on the female flower, the pollen arrives. After pollination, the fruit starts to grow.

Aside from pollination purposes, the male serves little purpose. You can flour them up and deep fry for a delicious snack!

Distinguishing Male and Female Zucchini Flowers

The male flower has a single, long stamen in the middle of their blossom. It is covered with pollen. If you sneak up, you might find bees there. I found a bunch this morning on my zucchini plant!

The female flower is a bit different. Inside, she has multiple stigmas. The base of the blossom is wide, called the ovary. This area produces the zucchini after pollination.

The base of the male flower blossom is a long, slender stem. The long stem allows them to stand out on the plant more, attracting the bees faster.

Female zucchini flowers tend to stay closer to the base of the stem. Remember, they are going to produce the fruits soon. If they were high up in the area, the weight of the zucchini would cause the stem to break.

How to Hand Pollinate Zucchini Plants

Why does all of this information matter? It matters because you may notice that there is no fruit on your plant. If that happens, you may have a pollination issue. With the right information, you can hand pollinate zucchini flowers. Here are the simple steps.

1.       Identify the male flower. You need first to find a wide open male flower. I always check in the early or mid-morning.

2.      Identify the female flowers. Female flowers open for one day, so it is important for you to check daily! Once you find an open female flower, the fun needs to begin.

3.      Use a Q-Tip. Your first choice is to take a q-tip or cotton swab and rub it along the stamen. Doing so will collect the pollen. Then, go over to the female blossom and gently rub the swab inside of the stigmas at the inside base of the flower.

4.      Remove the Male Flower. Another choice is to cut one of the male flowers from your plant. Then, rub the male flower stamen inside of the female flower.  You can see an easy video here.

Now you successfully hand pollinated a zucchini flower. For years, I had no idea that there was a gender of flowers! It wasn’t until I watched an episode of Alaska: The Last Frontier did I realize that there was something I missed. Eve, one of the main people on the show, had to hand pollinate her zucchini plants. Now, I know what to do if my plants aren’t producing the fruit needed!

Have you ever hand pollinated a zucchini plant?

 

Step-by-Step Guide: Freezing Fresh Green Beans

It’s July, and my green beans plants are exploding. We left for three days to spend time at a cabin near our favorite lake. In that short period, my plants blossomed. I came home to an entire harvest ready for picking. I love this time of year!

How to freeze green beans

Green beans are one of our favorite vegetables. We prepare them in a variety of ways, but my favorite is how my husband makes them. He simply cooks them with fingerling potatoes, butter, and pieces of bacon. It is divine, so flavorful. Green beans soak up all of the delicious flavors of the bacon. If you’ve yet to try it, you must!

While I do can some of my green beans, I prefer to freeze them. Frozen beans seem to do better for our frequent method of cooking. Let’s take a look at how to freeze fresh green beans, with plenty of pictures!

Steps to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

1.       Pick them off of the vine. This step is pretty self-explanatory! You need them off of the bush or vines before you can freeze them.

2.      Snap off the ends. If you have little kids at home, now is the time to get them involved. I gather my little kids and have them help snap all of the beans. While you are snapping the ends, check for any imperfections or parts that may need to be removed. You want only the good ones ending up in your freezer!

3.      Wash the beans. Put them under water and move the water around to remove the dirt. I also sometimes spray them inside of a colander to allow the water to drain away. At the same time, I get a pot of water boil in preparation.

4.      Soon, your pot of water will come to a rolling boil. Before you put your green beans in the pot, prepare a pot of cold water with ice. You want the water to be as cold as possible. You are going to blanch the beans. Blanching is the process of abruptly stopping the cooking process by submerging the vegetables in an ice bath.

5.      Put your green beans into the boiling water. As soon as you do, the boiling will stop. In about three minutes, the boiling will start again. Once it starts, take the beans out of the water and immediately plunge them into ice water.

6.      After the beans are cool, I lay them out on a towel and pat them dry. You could opt for two choices here. You can pat them dry, put them directly into the storage bags and then into the freezer. Done. Or, you can lay them on a baking sheet and flash freeze them before you put them into a storage bag. The reason you might want that step is because it makes it easier to store in larger bags and just scoop out what you want to use that night.

7.      I opted, this time, to just put them right into bags because I was short on time. Make sure you label the date so you can eat them in order of harvest.

 

Freezing fresh green beans is so easy! With a summer and fall planting, I will have plenty of harvests ahead of me. While I could can all of them, freezing is another variation of preservation I like to use throughout our small homestead.

How do you store your fresh green beans? Let me know in the comments!

 

Brussel Sprouts Growing Guide

My husband and I are huge fans of brussel sprouts. We frequently make them as a side dish for dinners throughout the week. While our kids may not love brussel sprouts as much as we do, they are an essential part of our garden.

The first year that I grew brussel sprouts, I was confused. It doesn’t look or grow like any other plant. Brussel sprout plants are unique. As you watch the sprouts grow up the stem, it is an amazing plant. The stem becomes shockingly thick, and it rarely needs staking. That is shocking, considering our plants reach three to four feet tall!

Years later, I learned how to grow brussel sprouts. They aren’t as hard as I once thought. Here is what you need to know!

Growing Brussel Sprouts from Seeds

One of the disadvantages of brussel sprouts is they are a slow-maturing plant. It can take 120+ days for a plant to mature. Consequently, gardeners typically are not advised to sow seeds directly into the garden. You will want to start seeds indoors.

To grow brussel sprouts from seeds, you first have to determine your USDA Hardiness Zone and find your final frost date for the year. In Zone 5B, my last frost date is typically around May 10-15. Brussel sprouts can go outside two weeks before the final frost date. You want to plant your seedlings four to six weeks before the date you want to put them outside. So, six to eight weeks before your last frost, start your seeds!

Tips for Planting Brussel Sprouts Outside

Before long, the time to transplant your seedlings outside will arrive. By now, your seedlings should be four to six weeks old, and you spent a week hardening the plants off. Hardening is the process of slowly introducing your plants to the weather outside. I start by placing my plants outside for two to four hours in the shade or a cloudy day. The next day, I leave them outside for another hour long, more in the sun. Over the next days, I allow the plants to stay outside for a long time and in more direct sunlight.

Once you finish hardening your seedlings, here are some tips for a smooth sailing transplant for your brussel sprouts.

  • I add fertilizer to the soil before planting them outside. Compost is ideal because it gives a nutrient boost to the soil, which increases the plants’ growth. Brussel sprouts love nitrogen, so ensure you pick a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. You can also add natural fertilizers like manure or grass clippings with additional nitrogen.
  • Scope out your planned location before planting. How much sun does the area receive each day? Brussel sprouts require at least six hours of sunlight each day. At the same time, the plants will appreciate some shade, especially during hot weather.
  • You will need to plant each brussel sprouts 12 to 24 inches apart. By the end of the season, you will be surprised at the size of your plants. They easily reach two to three feet!
  • Add mulch around the base of your plants. Organic mulch is an ideal choice because it helps to retain moisture, control soil temperature and add nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes.
  • The soil should have a pH level between 6.0 and 6.8, which is more acidic than average.

Caring for Brussel Sprout Plants

As I mentioned before, brussel sprout plants are slow-growing, slow-to-mature plant. It can be frustrating. You might think you did something wrong. Why is nothing growing? I know I felt that way a few times, but just have patience with your plant!

  • Fertilize your plant twice a season – once when the plant is close to a foot high and before harvesting. The second application may not be necessary! Slow-release fertilizers are a popular choice among gardeners, lasting an entire season.
  • If your plant becomes top-heavy, add stakes for additional support or mound dirt around the stem. If a brussel sprout plant falls over, it will break.
  • Your plant will slowly form sprouts, starting from the bottom and working upwards. As the sprouts form, break off the lower branches. This practice allows the plant to focus its energy on growing taller and forming the sprouts. Don’t toss out these stalks! They are edible and can be cooked down like any green.
  • Always remove any yellowing leaves that appear on your plant. The yellowing typically appears at the bottom of the plant as the sprouts mature.
  • If you need to extend the season due to unexpected colder temperatures, mulch around the base to protect the plant from the frost. Brussel sprouts are frost hardy, but you don’t want to leave them in temperatures too low, below 28 degrees F, for an extended time.

When and How to Harvest  

       

You’ll know that it is time to harvest your sprouts when they are two inches in diameter. Some people prefer to harvest them when they are one inch in diameter. The sprouts feel tender and are bright green. Most sprouts are ready 120 to 180 days after planting. That requires a lot of patience on your end!

Harvesting sprouts are easy! You can twist or cut them off. You need to remove the outer leaves and then store the sprouts. They do great when stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Don’t wash the sprouts after you harvest them. The best time to wash them is right before you eat, cook or freeze them!

Brussel sprouts are a fantastic fall crop. You will want to harvest them after a light frost. The sprouts have an amazing flavor after a frost! You might notice a second crop developing at the base of the stem. That is normal, and those sprouts are edible!

 

Brussel sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables to grow. I love the look of the plant as it grows, with dozens of sprouts dotting the stems. Brussel sprouts are a unique plant, making them an awesome addition to your vegetable garden. Just remember they are slow growing, but also heavy producing! Each plant produces, on average, a quart of sprouts. You will have plenty for the months to come!

Do you grow brussel sprouts? If so, leave some advice for other gardeners!

6 Medicinal Herbs to Grow in Your Backyard

Our family relies on medicinal herbs to heal a variety of ailments and illnesses. I believe that modern medicine has its place in this world; it has done some miraculous things! I also believe that we can heal many things without turning to modern medicine.

If I feel a cold coming on, I prefer not to turn to over-the-counter medicine. Instead, I pick out one of my several dried herbs I keep in our home. Along with dried herbs, we keep infused oils, herbal teas and herbal bath satchels prepared and ready to go.

You could dedicate a huge space in your garden to medicinal herbs. We grow around ten, but some double as medicinal and herbal, such as basil. I can use rosemary for medicinal and culinary purposes.

I want to pick six of my favorite medicinal herbs and tell you how we use them! You might decide you want to give a few of these a try.

6 Medicinal Herbs for Your Backyard Garden

  1. Chamomile
    Everyone has heard of chamomile. It is a famed herb, known for helping adults and children get a peaceful night’s sleep. The reputation is true; chamomile is perfect as a sleep aid. There are other medicinal purposes such as:
  • Fever reducer
  • Treating colds
  • Stomach illnesses and morning sickness
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Antibacterial and antifungal
  • Relieve teething problems
  • Reduce colic
  • Stress reliever

There are several ways to use chamomile! Most of all, I use chamomile as an herbal tea, but you can create salves, vapors and as a wash or compress. You could also add dried chamomile to your bath water. That is an easy way to use the benefits for children.

  1. Calendula

Calendula produces a beautiful orange flower that will brighten up your flower garden. I grow calendula right amongst my flowers; it blends in perfectly. The petals are edible; toss some in your salads!

 

For centuries, people used calendula for a variety of purposes. You can use it to treat:

  • minor wounds
  • cuts and scrapes
  • bruises
  • heal burn
  • bee stings,
  • Soothe rashes or skin irritation

If you want to have a medicinal herb around to use for your kids, calendula is perfect. Trust me; you will find ways to use it! Calendula is versatile, and you can use it in several methods.

My favorite way is to make homemade diaper rash creams, but you can use calendula in your bath water, as a cream or salve, compresses or washes, ointments, massage oils, teas, tinctures and more! Best of all, calendula is so gentle, perfect for children.

  1. Echinacea

If there is one herb you want to have in your garden for flu, it has to be Echinacea. Native Americans first discovered the medicinal benefits of Echinacea. It is a coneflower that is native to many areas in the continental United States. There are several ailments that Echinacea will treat, such as:

  • Heals wounds
  • Kills off infections
  • Treatment for the flu
  • Reduces upper respiratory infections
  • Kills the common cold

Echinacea is a powerful, immune-boosting herb that you need to grow. Don’t be afraid of its strength; Echinacea is truly easy to grow. The plant grows to 36 inches tall and is often an ornamental flower in gardens, attracting bees and butterflies. Try planting Echinacea near other plants that require pollination.

You can use Echinacea in several ways. Infusions, decoctions, herbal teas and capsules are a few of the common ways. If you go into the herbal supplement section in any supermarket, you will find Echinacea pills. Why buy it if you can grow in yourself?

  1. Feverfew

If you are lucky, Feverfew might grow wild near to your home. Originally from the Balkan Peninsula, Feverfew now grows wild and in flower gardens around the world. The plant produces dozens of small, daisy-like flowers with white petals and yellow centers. You might confuse it with chamomile.

 

Historically, Feverfew treats several ailments. While the most obvious might be reducing fevers (due to the name), you can use Feverfew to treat:

  • Most noteworthy – treat headaches
  • Relieve toothaches
  • Helps with menstruation and labor during childbirth
  • Treats digestive problems
  • Heals insect bites
  • Treats arthritis pain

You can use Feverfew in a variety of ways. Our favorite method is to make an herbal bath. We fill a satchel with dried flowers and leaves. Then, I place it directly into their bath water. It is a fantastic way to help reduce a child’s fever (when necessary; fevers aren’t always evil).

  1. Lemon Balm

A member of the mint family, lemon balm is a famed essential oil and medicinal herb. While it is not native to North America, you can find lemon balm in most nurseries and backyard gardens. Herbalists rely on lemon balm to treat a variety of illnesses and ailments, such as:

  • Reduce fevers
  • Treat colds
  • Reduce stomach aches
  • Cure headaches
  • Calm anxiety

Growing lemon balm is easy! You can start the plants with seeds indoors, or you can sow seeds late in the fall for a spring sprouting. The plant can spread out, reaching almost two feet tall. However, it doesn’t prefer full sun so keep it in an area that reduces shade, especially during the summer.

How can you use lemon balm? There are so many ways! One of my favorite ways is to make an herbal tea by pouring boiling water on top of fresh leaves. You can use dried lemon balm, but it does lose its scent faster. Just like other herbs, you can make herbal baths, tinctures and more!

  1. Rosemary

Finally, my last favorite medicinal herb is rosemary, a sweet-scented shrub with pretty, pale blue flowers. The leaves look like little pine needles. Rosemary is a culinary and medicinal herb. We love to cook lemon and rosemary chicken or rosemary garlic bread! Delicious!

 

There are plenty of medicinal properties to rosemary as well. Here are the most noted.

  • Aids indigestion
  • Helps digest starchy food
  • Relieves mental fatigue and forgetfulness
  • Cures colds and chills
  • Relieves flatulence
  • Heart stimulant
  • Reduces dandruff
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

I typically drink rosemary tea if I notice I have indigestion. Most of all, rosemary shampoo is wonderful for your scalp health! If you feel as if you are in a daze and need more clarity, rosemary is for you

These are just six of my favorite medicinal herbs. There are so much more that you can grow and dozens of ways to use them. I would love to know what is your favorite medicinal herb to grow in your backyard. Let me know in the comments!

 

 

6 Homesteading Skills that Save You Money

When the homesteading whim hits you, there is a chance you won’t be in the prime location for it. Perhaps you are stuck in an apartment in a large city. Or, you might live in the country but are lacking the financial means to create a homestead.

That’s ok! You can practice homesteading skills ANYWHERE. The best thing about developing homesteading skills is that they can save you money. Who doesn’t LOVE to save money, right? Most homesteading skills lead you towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle, no matter your location.

I could list over a hundred homesteading skills, because I want to learn them all. We still in the suburbs! There are so many skills I want to learn like how to milk a cow and how to raise goats. I don’t know those skills yet, but it might happen one day.

Instead, I focused on skills that you can do no matter your location that will start leading you towards the homesteading life. Remember, these skills typically take practice. You won’t try it once time and master the skills. Everything takes practicing.

6 Homesteading Skills that Save You Money 

  1. Bake Your Own Bread

If your purchase bread, you might not know the amazing taste of homemade read. Nothing beats it. When you put the loaf of bread in the oven, the smell fills your house. It’s intoxicating.

Beyond the taste,  baking your own bread is more economical. I can easily bake loaves for under $1. Plus you can sell your own bread at farmer’s market, priced easily at $3 to $4 per loaf.

2. Grow a Vegetable Garden

There is nothing like growing your very own vegetable garden! It is a major step towards self-sufficiency. Gardening reduces how much you need to rely on the supermarkets.

At first, you might want to start buy purchasing seedlings at the store. Over time, you will want to switch to starting the seeds at home. Then, you can learn how to save seeds at home. There are so many gardening skills to work on developing. I think that’s why I love gardening; it is a never-ending learning experience.

3. Learn How to Can Produce

Once you start gardening, you want to learn how to can produce. You don’t even need a garden to start canning! Head to a local u-pick fruit patch, pick a huge bundle of strawberries, then make a batch of easy strawberry jam.

At first, you will want to start by using a water bath canner for easy things such as pickles, jellies and jams, and tomato sauces. Once you feel confident, learning how to use a pressure canner allows you to preserve your other harvests like green beans and potato soup.

4. Using Medicinal Herbs

Homesteading means using the things that you have around you. Growing herbs is typically easier than growing vegetables. You can grow herbs on your window  sill or in the middle of your kitchen table.

Pick a few medicinal herbs to grow for homemade herbal remedies. Some of my favorite choices are:

  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Echinacea
  • Feverfew
  • Sage
  • Calendula

Once you start growing your own herbs, you can learn how to make infused oils and salves. We love making homemade salves for sore muscles or abrasions.

5. Basic Sewing Skills

When you have a hole in your shirt, what do you do? The answer isn’t to get rid of it. The answer is learn how to sew and mend your own clothing. You don’t need to create an entire wardrobe yourself! Instead, learning basic stitches so you can close holes or add patches to your clothes is a great skill because not only does it save money, but it also is a means of making money! People will pay for a seamstress!

6. Make Your Own Soft Cheeses

Cheese is a favorite food group in your house! The kids think cheese is comparable to candy. Try diving into learning how to make soft cheeses such as mozzarella or ricotta cheese. You can learn how to make your own cream cheese and sour cream as well. This skill doesn’t seem important, but once you have your own cow or goat, it is necessary!

I could include several more homesteading skills that can save you money, but it is best to start small! Many of the skills start in the kitchen, which is the heart of the home.

Do you have skills you are working on as a new homesteader? I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments!

9 Ways Amazon Prime Saves You Money

Amazon and I have a serious love affair. I’ve been a Prime member for at least three years, and I have no desire to go back to live without Amazon Prime.

Despite being a member for so long, I never knew I was missing so many ways you can save money with Amazon Prime. Of course, Amazon is always coming out with new ways as well. One of the reasons I love Amazon so much is their constant development and improvement.

Aside from the obvious two-day shipping benefit, you can save even more money with Amazon Prime. Let’s take a look!

9 Ways Amazon Prime Saves You Money Try Amazon

Prime Pantry
I recently began to use the Prime Pantry and I love it. A little known tip is to select free 5-day shipping at check out for your other items. You have to wait longer for your book, but you get a free-shipping credit for your Prime Pantry purchase.Why do I love Prime Pantry? The prices are similar to other supermarket stores in my town. I can shop from my couch without having to dress myself or the kids. Best of all, Amazon now includes Prime coupons. With those coupons, many of the items I purchase are brand name and WAY cheaper than the items I would buy in the store.

Lower Prices for Prime Members
When you view an item listed on Amazon as a Prime member, you get special prices on many items. Sometimes, you pay significantly less than other people because of your membership! These lower prices will help you save money on every day items, from books to toilet paper!

Free Lending Library + One Free Book
If you have a Kindle, you have access to thousands of books on Amazon’s lending library. You also get one free e-book each month if you are a Prime member! No more driving back and forth to the library, which saves you gas. Plus, e-books generally are cheaper than regular books anyway!

Prime for 30 Days for Free
When I signed up years ago, Amazon didn’t offer a free trial program, but now they do! The best thing about Amazon’s free trial is that you aren’t limited. Many programs limit what you can do with their free trial. Amazon doesn’t.
You have full access to EVERYTHING, from the free Kindle lending library to their Prime music account. Having full access to their membership lets you determine if you would actually save money. You might be surprised! Pick 10 things you might purchase for gifts. Calculate the shipping you would pay. You might be close to the $99 yearly membership fee already!

Amazon Prime Streaming
Why do you need cable if you have Amazon Streaming? Each month, I am more impressed with their streaming. They off hundreds of choices for children, along with movies and TV shows. You can purchase or rent movies, as well as purchase entire TV series if they aren’t free. They also have opt-in programs such as Starz and HBO. Seriously, with Amazon Prime Streaming, you can cut out cable. There is no need!

Early Access to Deals
Amazon has lightning deals, especially during the holiday season. Amazon Prime members get early access to these deals before other shoppers. Sometimes, the items sell out in that 30 minute window of early access. That’s how good some of these deals are!

Free 2 HOUR Shipping
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with free 2-hour shipping, you can get your groceries and other items in a flash. By using this offer, you save money by reducing gas and impulse spending!

Dash Buttons
Is there an item you typically need but forget to order on a regular basis? Then, you need a dash button. They cost $4.99. All you need to do is press the button and you order the item you need. They have so many dash button choices like Bounty, Tide, cat litter and dog food!
Dash buttons do save you money because you don’t have to run out and make a purchase. Whenever I head to the store because I forgot something, I purchase things I really don’t need. I like to reduce my gas usage and reduce the amount of time I spend in stores.

Subscribe and Save
I love Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program. It is simple to understand. You select items you need on a regular basis, like toilet paper or disposable diapers. They offer a variety of choices for delivery schedules, so pick the one that works for you. Each month or week, you are automatically billed for that item, and it is sent to your house.
The money saving takes place when you schedule 5 or more items on the S&S program. Then, Amazon reduces the costs by 15%! Therefore, not only are you saving on gas, you are saving even more money on the items themselves!

Amazon Prime, when used in the wrong way, could cause you to want to spend TOO much money. You have to learn to control yourself, easier said than done!

How do you use Amazon Prime to save money? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments!