Our little piece of the world

A mother, wife, and teacher aims to make life simple

Archive for the tag “Gardening”

Blog recommendation

I forgot that I wanted to recommend a blog that I have been reading in an attempt to learn more about canning and preserving.

Heavenly Homemakers has a ton of great information, but I’ve really focused on the canning and preserving section. If you’re into gardening and find that you have too many veggies, this is a great place to start learning how to preserve it for your pantry.


Well said, Jamie Oliver.

Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food.

Jamie’s TED talk on why we should include educate children about the importance of good food.
I’m proud to say that my school does teach a “family studies” class to grade 7 and 8 students about healthy eating and cooking.
… not sure they’re getting it after I see them eating poutine every day, though.

Urban “Vertical Greenhouse”

Today I came across this article about a vertical greenhouse that is being built in Linköping Sweden, set to open in 2013. This concept does away with the idea that you have to live in a rural area to be self-sufficient or self-sustaining.

The future seems so unclear to me. While my husband and I have decided that living rural is the best fit for our family, it does seem to be true that there’s a tendancy among our generation and younger generations to move to urban areas. It’s easy to see why: urban areas are not only more hip and cool, but they also offer more job opportunities and amenities (I would never be able to live without a car here because of that lack of public transit, but in a city that’s no problem for most people.

So if the future is urban centres, it follows that we need to find a way to make these areas more self-sustainable, and ideas like this are exactly what we need. With these vertical greenhouses cities may be able to grow local, healthy, nutritious (perhaps even organic?) foods for its population. Given a city composting program, some planning, organization, and perhaps a little bit of time, seeds could be collected from the plants there and the greenhouse could become, essentially, self-sustaining. Am I the only one that finds this incredibly exciting?

Food is, of course, only part of the discussion of self-sustainability- but it’s a start.

Clyde’s garden planner

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you have probably already figured out that a big part of self-sufficiency to me is cultivating your own food. Nutrition is one of the most important things to survival and if you can take care of that yourself you have one of your most important bases covered.

I am very much an apprentice gardener, but I have learned a lot over the past few months of research. Since I live in a fairly cold climate with a short gardening season (zone 3a), starting seeds indoors is very important.

Not too long ago I heard about Clyde’s Garden Planner, and ordered it that day to see what all the fuss was about. For $5 how could I loose?

…this thing is amazing.

For a novice gardener I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of information this tiny little chart contained. The problem with following the information on the seed packet is that it doesn’t take regional frost dates into account.

Book review : Country Wisdom and Know-How

Amazon link

This was the first book that my husband and I read about homesteading so it was only natural that it’s the first book review I do on this blog. My parents actually bought this book as a gag-gift for my husband, but it quickly became clear how useful it actually was. This book has so much information in it, it took us a few weeks to fully process all the information and figure out how we wanted to use it to improve our lives. The book contains information on raising livestock, quilting, gardening, training cats and dogs, home brewing and so much more.

There are countless tables, check lists, recipies, and step-by-step instructions for making even the most inexperienced (ie. me) would-be homesteader feel comfortable living a self-sustaining lifestyle.

The only problem that I encountered (and was mentioned over and over in the reviews on Amazon) is the physical size of the book. It’s far too big, and it’s a soft cover, so it’s difficult to hold and read. My copy also seemed to be missing a few pages… I’m not sure what that’s all about (but it could have been a problem with how my mom bought it).

Regardless of those problems I would recommend this book to anyone who was interested in homesteading, whether novice or experienced. There is so much varied information that I’m sure there is something that anyone could learn from it.

Gardening with my kiddo

One of our goals for this year was to expose our little one to gardening. I tried it on a long weekend in February (“Family Day” to all you Ontarians out there), and could never have predicted how well it would go.

We went to the grocery store and popped into a local garden centre on the way home. Right now they’re only selling seeds and seed-starting supplies because it’s still -20C out there and there’s no chance of planing anything in the ground. Kiddo picked out sunflower seeds and cactus seeds and we headed home. I’ll readily admit that I was very uncertain about the cactus seeds, but decided to give it a whirl. We headed home with our seeds, started tray, and potting soil, and began our planting adventure.

It was not long until the dirt was everywhere… but man did we have fun.

Kiddo had the time of his life putting the dirt into cut up toilet paper tubes in the starter tray. We managed to get them into some semblance of order, and then he had the time of his life squirting me with the spray bottle.


We took care to water every day, and my son quickly learned when the soil felt dry or wet. And a few weeks ago we were rewarded for our labour of love- the seeds actually sprouted! I have to admit I was a little bit dubious about the whole thing, never having been much of a gardener, but the look of excitement on my son’s face was worth it a million times over. The sunflowers have grown quickly and the cactii are even starting to grow (a huge shock to me). I’m looking forward to having some sunflowers in the house, and maybe even a few cactii to place around the place. I’d love to have one to bring to my classroom.

We have a very busy weekend coming up, but stay tuned for next week when we plan to repot the sunflowers and try some more green cleaning ideas!

How can I parent my child in a self-sufficient lifestyle?

Like any parent, my first obligation in life is raising my child(ren) in the best way I can. My son is, actually, one of the main reasons I am starting to head in the direction of a self-sufficient, natural, and healthy lifestyle.

My husband and I have talked at great length about the qualities that we hope to nurture in our son.

Gentleness: I believe this quality is so important to nurture, especially in boys who constantly seem to be having “tough” shoved down their throats by society at every possible turn. When I decided to start to grow some container plans with my son I was surprised at how gentle he was with them. Little boys are (often) very rough and tumble, but it’s so important to give them these moments of gentleness.

Patience: This is a quality that I think is greatly lacking in our modern world: with the ability to buy fast/frozen food, and a large variety of ready-made products we’ve lost our ability to just… wait. Whenever you’re doing anything for yourself you have to have a good amount of patience and understanding of the process. Homesteading and self-sufficiency in general mean having to wait for things… and hopefully this will give us a little bit of extra patience with other things as well.

Independance: My husband and I decided well before we had our son that we wanted him to be as “free-range” as possible. We wanted him to have the opportunity to play outside in the forest or in a field without being worried about getting hit by a car. The opportunity to explore outside without worrying about anything is one of the most wonderful things about childhood. We can’t wait to move out to our house so that he can play in a sandbox or in the garden and have plenty of room to run around.

Healthy lifestyle: I think this one speaks for itself in terms of gardening and cultivating your own food. There’s also the aspect of owning property and getting outside- going for hikes and runs, learning to ski (something my son is already better than me at at the age of 2) and snowshoe and just get outside.

Appreciation for nature: I’ve discussed this one already!

Easy going: We are very lucky that this is a quality that our boy seems to already possess (and he came by it honestly) because it’s a quality that we both value and see in ourselves so much. Being easy going is about more than just rolling with the punches. It’s also an attitude of being able to make anything work and of making the best of a bad situation. This will be so important as we learn the skills necessary to build a self-sufficient and sustainable life.

I know that my son is going to be his own person, and that ultimately we can’t decide on the qualities that he will possess. I do, however, hope that living a self-sufficient life will help him to appreciate and develop at least a few of these qualities.

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