There’s not much that can compete with the fresh flavors of summer, except for recipes that will have you reminiscing when that season has come and gone. By preserving summertime fruits and veggies, you can enjoy them throughout the colder months. That’s what we did with the organic peaches that we stocked up on from the farmer’s market. I’ll tell you that having sliced frozen peaches on hand makes recipes quick and easy! One of my favorite ways to use frozen peaches during the fall is to bake with them. You’re not going to want to miss my mouthwatering Countryside Peach Bars recipe over at Scratch Mommy! I also included some tips on freezing peaches.
Garlic harvested from the garden is a beautiful thing! The question is, how can it be properly stored so that it will last for months and be planted in the garden for next year? If I keep a few garlic bulbs in the dark pantry or cupboard in our kitchen, they usually last a month or two before they start to sprout or rot. I go through garlic fairly quickly as I cook with it often. I also mince it and add it to herbed butters and oils, then freeze to be used later in sautéed veggies, sauces, and soups. That’s one way to preserve it but it’s really nice to have a stockpile of bulbs available so we don’t ever need to buy garlic. Here’s how I do it!
Here is my post on how to grow and harvest garlic. I cured our garlic by tying it in bunches and hanging it in a dry, dark, moderately cool (about 75 degrees) closet for 6 weeks. It cured beautifully. After curing I took it down and trimmed the leaves and roots, leaving about an inch at the top and a quarter inch of roots. I removed only the dirtiest outer papery wrapping because the rest of the layers protect the garlic cloves and keep them fresh.
Damaged garlic bulbs shouldn’t be stored because they spoil more quickly. They should be used right away and if there are brown spots, just trim them off and the rest of the clove will be fine to eat.
I put the cleaned garlic bulbs in mesh cotton bags, then hung them from the ceiling in our crawl space. It has vents so the air circulation will be fine for storing garlic. If you’re super lucky to have a basement, that would be a great place to store it as long as it’s not too damp or too dry. A closet would be okay as long as it’s dark and there’s ventilation along with a stable temperature. The ideal conditions are a temperature of around 65 degrees F, with moderate humidity and some ventilation.
Under ideal storage conditions garlic can last for up to 8 months. Of course, storage time will vary based on the variety of garlic and the conditions. I sorted my garlic bulbs and set aside the biggest ones with the healthiest wrappers for planting this fall. If you plant your biggest seed garlic cloves every year, your harvest will keep getting better and better!
“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Sharpie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #EverydaySharpie http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV“
Whenever a new season approaches, I get this uncontrollable urge to organize something. Sometimes it’s just a little bit, and sometimes it’s like the major nesting instinct I had while I was 8 months pregnant. I can’t ignore it. My pantry is begging to be organized this fall. It has been a mess since we moved into our house a year ago. Do you ever feel like you could save so much time in the kitchen if you just knew where everything was? I don’t even want to imagine how many minutes I’ve spent digging through the pantry. I can, however, imagine how many other ways I can use those extra minutes!
Based on my fall pantry project, I’m excited to give you some great tips to help you get yours in shape. The pantry was the biggest project to tackle on my organizing to-do list, but it motivated me to get a few other areas of the house in order, too!
The first thing I did was head over to Walgreens to pick up some new Sharpie Pens for my projects. They’re great for labeling just about everything. They come in tons of pretty colors, the ink doesn’t bleed through paper, and the eco-friendly aspect is that they’re refillable. Pick up a few new ones and and I bet you’ll be excited to tackle your project!
DIY Wooden Shelves
My pantry had wire shelves that were starting to bend and sag in a serious way. They weren’t safe anymore. My solution was to take them down and replace them with sturdier wooden shelves that I found at our local home improvement store. I like that they’re unfinished hardwood because they give our pantry a natural homestead look.
Our shelves are 16 inches deep and about 1″ thick. I attached 1″x4″ inch boards to the walls to brace the shelves on both sides, and attached a metal bracket underneath each shelf in the middle for extra support.
I saved the stackable wire racks that I was using before, and they’re much more substantial on the wooden shelves. I like how they provide an extra layer of storage and it’s nice to be able to move them around.
Glass Canning Jars
I moved dry food items in the pantry such as rice, beans, cornmeal, shredded coconut, etc. from bags into glass canning jars. Using my Sharpie Pens, I labeled each jar. Surprisingly, this really made the shelves more neat and tidy and freed up a lot more space. The bags created chaos because it was tough to see what was in them and they were making a mess by spilling all over the pantry.
Bushel Baskets and Wooden Crates
Bushel baskets work wonderfully to store veggies such as potatoes and onions. Previously, they were rolling around on the wire shelves. That was clearly not working especially since I was harvesting them from the garden and quickly running out of space. What a difference the bushel baskets make. They’re easy to slide out from the shelves to pick out what you need.
Nowadays, you can find unfinished wooden crates at just about any craft store or home improvement store for a really inexpensive price. They come in different sizes and they stack. I designated a couple of smaller sized crates as snack bins, and a few narrow crates as canned goods bins. Like the bushel baskets, they’re easy to slide out to get what you need.
If you’re into canning, you’ll love how these wooden crates stack nicely to store jars. This is a separate closet from the pantry but you can see how the crates make perfect sturdy shelves. My favorite part was labeling, especially with the cute little wooden tags I found at the craft store.
Before & After
It’s easier to stay organized now that everything has its own place in the pantry. It definitely saves me time in the kitchen.
Moving along from the pantry…actually, not too far for us because our living room is part of our kitchen and dining area. Our indoor space is pretty small so we have to be creative about how we store toys. We keep them in canvas bins on bookshelves, which works out great because the girls can easily get them down on their own and dig in. The issue we’ve been running into is organizing the toys INSIDE the bins.
My solution for keeping smaller toys together is empty oatmeal containers. They’re so functional. The lids are easy for kids to take off and put back on, and there’s just enough space for things like small metal cars, puzzle pieces, little wooden animals, and so on. I labeled the lids using my Sharpie Pens, drawing pictures to help the girls find what they’re looking for (and they have fun picking up their toys and matching them with the lids!) The containers fit nicely inside the toy bins.
I hope you’ve found a few tips that will help you in your quest to get organized this fall. The satisfaction of having a little extra space and time saved is the best feeling of all after the project is completed!
What are you organizing this fall?
Squash bugs and squash beetles are attacking my fall pumpkin and cucumber plants! I don’t understand it since my summertime cucumber bed made it without a single pest. There were aphids, but ladybugs took care of them. That’s what I first thought the squash beetles were on my pumpkin vines. Unfortunately, it turns out that they’re definitely not helpful ladybugs.
Squash beetles (different from squash bugs) are hungry little devils that can destroy a squash, cucumber or melon plant in a day’s time. Even though the bugs and beetles are two different pests, they affect the plants similarly. They can even spread bacterial wilt, which causes the vines to rapidly wilt and die.
The most effective way to get rid of squash bugs and beetles is to go out during the day when you can easily see them on the plants and pick them off by hand. I’ve done this and it’s really time consuming. The squash beetle larvae are downright creepy so picking them off isn’t my favorite thing to do. They’re yellow, spiky, mean looking little pests. Trust me, you’ll know one when you see one.
Here’s a DIY hot pepper spray which is 100% safe and natural, that I spray directly on my cucumber and pumpkin vines to get rid of squash bugs and beetles. A local farmer told us about it at the farmer’s market. The key is to apply it either at night or first thing in the morning, before the insects are really active and before the sun can burn the leaves. The goal is to force the existing pests off of the plants, prevent them from laying eggs on the plants, and to prevent new bugs from being attracted to the plants in the first place. It may not be 100% effective, but it sure does reduce the amount of squash bugs and beetles, saving you the time it takes to pick all of them off by hand.
I spray this solution on my plants every other day or so, or more often if it rains.
- 2 hot peppers
- 1 tablespoon organic canola oil
- Chop up the hot peppers and add them to a jar. Crush them really well to release their juices.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the jar of peppers, then allow to sit overnight.
- Strain the pepper pieces from the pepper water, reserving only the water.
- Pour the pepper water into a 32 oz. spray bottle.
- Add the canola oil plus 4 cups of water.
- Shake the solution well before each use.
Do you have an effective method to get rid of squash bugs and beetles? Please share!
I remember researching colleges and universities. It was one of the most exciting and overwhelming times of my life; deciding where I would spend those transformative years that would prepare me for the responsibilities of full-fledged adulthood. I remember the incredible amount of factors to consider beyond the academic standpoint. You’re making a large investment in your education at an institution that leads by example not only for students, but also for community and beyond. I am so glad to see that in this modern day, one of the examples set by many colleges is a strong commitment to sustainability. Now that I have two small children, I am realizing more than ever the dire need to protect the health of our environment for our future generations.
Adelphi University’s Green Initiative
One university that is continually making major efforts to ensure a cleaner, fuel efficient environment is Adelphi University on Long Island. They are applauded for their role in creating and preserving a healthier environment while preparing their students for employment in a green economy.
Over a decade ago, Adelphi began using 100% natural, organic techniques to maintain the grounds of their Garden City campus. I personally can’t stress enough how important this is! Whether it’s a university, home, neighborhood, business, etc., a huge step in removing environmental toxins is to stop using persistent synthetic chemicals. The safe alternative is to use natural, organic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers which actually nurture plants, soil and wildlife habitats. Industrial chemicals have been shown to be harmful to human health, as well as being one of the reasons why species such as honey bees are in danger. Did you know that ladybugs are an effective means to control pests? In June 2014, Adelphi released thousands of ladybugs to naturally control aphids and other insects on campus.
With two small kids who love to play outdoors, I would love to have peace of mind knowing they’re not being exposed to chemicals wherever we go to play. I thank Adelphi for playing a big role in setting a national example for others to strive towards clean and responsible landscaping!
Adelphi University is also a registered Arboretum. Check them out on Pinterest to see the beautiful flora on campus.
Many times we take the sun for granted. It’s often times one of the everyday parts of our lives that we don’t even notice, unless we’re making a point to protect our bodies from its heat and UV rays. The thing that’s most often taken for granted is that it’s one of the most important sources of renewable energy available to us. Just as plants use it for energy to grow, we can convert it into electricity and heat. The downfall is that the means to use solar energy are expensive so it’s not yet widely incorporated.
It is investments in this new technology that will help it to advance and eventually be more widely accessible. Aside from installing geothermal systems, energy efficient fixtures, and purchasing 100% green power for the campus, Adelphi installed a photovoltaic solar energy system on the roof of their Swirbul Library. The 180 solar panels have no moving parts and require little maintenance. Won’t it be wonderful someday when solar energy systems like this are commonplace in our country? Adelphi is helping to set the example!
Over the years I have been taking steps to remove toxic chemicals from my household. I am all about homemade natural cleaning products! I now clean my home with ingredients like vinegar, essential oils and baking soda. We’re no longer breathing in toxic chemicals, absorbing them through our skin, or releasing them into the environment. I know which steps we’re taking at home, but I often think about businesses and schools.
Using eco-friendly products is another part of Adelphi’s green initiative. Back in 2005 they began switching to environmentally friendly cleaning and paper products. They now use Green Seal Certified® products, which are recycled from waste paper, newspapers, and magazines. The products have had contaminants removed and are eco-friendly.
Fresh Air Campaign
In their continued focus on bettering the health and wellness of their community, Adelphi has launched a 2-year fresh air campaign.
- By fall of 2016, there will only be 3 designated smoking areas on campus.
- A reliable, cost-effective rideshare program will encourage carpooling to help reduce carbon emissions.
- Electric vehicle charging stations were installed in a parking garage on campus.
Adelphi Leads by Example
These are all efforts that inspire people to better their health and wellness. Again, it’s an example that will lead Adelphi’s surrounding community and the nation! Here are some other green standards Adelphi is adhering to:
- Decreasing our reliance on fossil fuel
- Reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency
- Utilizing alternative forms of energy wherever possible
- Decreasing the production of emissions that contribute to climate change
- Conserving energy in information technology and computer usage
- Greener construction
- Replacing Public Safety patrol vehicles with hybrid vehicles
- Encouraging the use of public transportation by providing free shuttle service to all major hubs for students, faculty and staff
Adelphi shares some tips on what YOU can do at home to save energy. Read them here on their website!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Adelphi University. The opinions and text are all mine.
I’ve been slightly obsessed with glass bottles in the garden lately. There are so many ways to upcycle glass bottles and make your garden that much more beautiful! I think I got started on my kick after I longed for the perfect garden markers, and finally made some I love by repurposing mini wine bottles. All this DIY talk brings me to tell you about Hometalk, the social media site dedicated to home and garden projects. You can browse through TONS of projects and clip the ones that spark your interest to your boards. You can share your own projects with the Hometalk community, and even post questions.
I LOVE Pinterest, but Hometalk especially takes care of us DIY-ers who have a special interest in home and garden. Enough said; click here to check out Hometalk, and here to check out my “Glass Bottles in the Garden” board that got me started. I can’t wait to do some of the amazing glass bottle projects that I clipped to my board!
Are you on Hometalk? Follow along with me! I’d love to see your projects!
Fall is approaching quickly. Where did the time go? Before the crisp air sets in, it’s time to savor the tastes of the summer garden while they last! To me, potato salad is one of those quintessential summertime dishes that I can’t imagine a picnic without. I’m planning on making my favorite potato salad tomorrow with the last of our potato harvest. Add garlic, dill and chives to the mix and there’s seriously nothing better than those fresh flavors!
If you’re looking for a healthier potato salad recipe to enjoy this holiday weekend, you’ve come to the right place! I think you’re going to love this recipe if your favorite potato salad is the rich, creamy kind. The creaminess is made with greek yogurt, which makes it a bit lighter than traditional recipes. This recipe is easy to make and is even more flavorful if made ahead and refrigerated overnight.
- 2 pounds of red potatoes, cut into cubes (I've used a mix of red a purple potatoes before, which was fabulous!)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon organic mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons organic greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon organic dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt (we use this kind)
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a large pot of water over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and garlic and bring water to a boil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fork tender.
- While potatoes are cooking, combine remaining ingredients in a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl.
- Drain potatoes and allow to cool until warm to the touch.
- Add potatoes to dressing mixture and gently stir until potatoes are thoroughly coated.
- Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
The close of summer is a great time to direct-seed fast growing varieties of vegetables in the garden. Lettuce, bok choy, spinach, radishes, arugula, turnips, peas, beets and carrots are just a few of the crops that grow well when days are shorter and temperatures are cooler. Here are some tips to help you enjoy fresh food past the summer season!
Knowing your first average freeze date and the amount of days until harvest (listed on seed packets) for each crop will help you determine the best time to plant your fall garden, within reason. I say within reason because sometimes the weather could be extremely hot and dry, as it has been recently here in South Carolina. I delayed sowing seeds a couple of weeks until the heatwave let up a bit. It seems like weather conditions are never textbook!
Here’s a list of what we planted in our garden (zone 7b.) If you’re in a northern area, some good choices are lettuces, spinach, peas and perhaps turnips. I may be cutting it close as far as timing goes with a couple of my choices, but I always think it’s worth a try. I’ve worried about planting too late or early before, and I ended up with a great yield regardless. Hooray!
- Beets: Soil temp 50-85 degrees F, maturity 52-60 days
- Bok choy: Soil temp 65-80 degrees F, maturity 35-45 days
- Broccoli: Soil temp 75-85 degrees F, maturity 60-90 days
- Cucumbers: Soil temp 70-95 degrees F, maturity 59-65 days
- Lettuce mix: Soil temp 40-65 degrees F, maturity 24-28 days
- Rainbow carrots: Soil temp 45-85 degrees F, maturity 58-65 days
- Scallions: Soil temp 65-85 degrees F, maturity 60-120 days
The soil temperature listed is what is ideal for germination, and maturity is the amount of days until harvest. We’ll have to wait to plant lettuce here because it’s just too hot even with our soil cooling efforts.
I added vermicompost to the raised beds after I removed the spent spring and summer plants and before I planted new seeds. Please check out my series on vermicompost here. I think it’s one of the best ways to feed the garden! It helps improve soil texture, helps retain moisture, and it’s one of the most nutritious fertilizers you can use.
Cooling the Soil
Even though I delayed direct-seeding my fall veggies until after the heatwave subsided a bit, the soil in my raised beds was a bit too hot at 90 degrees F. Check the ideal soil temperature ranges for germination on your seed packets. A simple soil thermometer does the trick to check the temperature of the soil 2 to 3 inches down before sowing seeds.
One way to cool the soil down is to water thoroughly so the moisture reaches a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Adding a layer of mulch to the surface of the soil helps retain moisture which helps keep temperatures down. The addition of compost to the soil also helps retain moisture.
Adding Row Covers
I added row covers to my raised beds to help keep the soil cooler and to protect delicate seedlings from scorching sun. In addition to protection from late summer heat, row covers can also play a big part in extending the cool weather growing season. Depending on the weight of the fabric used for the row covers and also the climate, the growing season can be extended as much as 2 months or even more. Some fabric can protect to temperatures as low as 25 degrees F.
I used wire hoops to support the row cover fabric, and attached the fabric to the wire using clothespins. The fabric I use is permeable polypropylene and it allows 70% light transmittance and also lets rainwater in. It will provide up to 6 degrees frost protection. Since there are different weights of row cover fabric available, you’ll need to determine how much protection you’ll need based on your climate.
It’s not too late to get out there and plant a few fall veggies! With these tips in mind, primarily the row covers, you’ll have the opportunity to stretch out your growing season.
Which fall crops are your favorites?
Has your herb garden given you a bumper crop of delicious fresh herbs this summer? If it’s still growing strong and you have more fresh herbs than you can eat at once, one great way to preserve them other than drying is making pesto. I make big batches of it with my basil and parsley from the garden and freeze it in 1/4-cup servings in jelly jars. It lasts 3 to 6 months in the freezer, so it’s wonderful to have on hand for those busy weeknights when you need a really quick dinner.
Pesto is so versatile that there are endless ways to prepare healthy, flavorful meals with it. There’s nothing like that garden fresh flavor no matter what time of year it is! One of my favorite recipes is this easy, creamy basil pesto sauce. It takes minutes to make a nourishing meal with it that hits the spot when you’re tired from a busy day. I guess you could say it’s a healthier comfort food! I like to serve it over pasta tossed with sautéed broccoli and mushrooms.
- 12 to 16 oz. organic tortellini (or your favorite type of pasta)
- 1/4 cup pesto (my homemade recipe is here)
- 3/4 cup organic milk
- 5 tablespoons organic butter (preferably grass-fed)
- 1 tablespoon organic whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup fresh grated organic parmesan cheese
- Your favorite sautéed veggies (broccoli and mushrooms are delicious with this sauce)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Add milk and butter to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and whisk in flour. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in pesto and parmesan cheese.
- Pour sauce over pasta and gently stir until pasta is coated. Toss in veggies, if using.
My 4 year old daughter is a magnet for mosquitoes. Our bite prevention measures have included long sleeved light colored clothing and a good natural insect repellent, but no matter what, she always ends up getting bitten. Not only that, she also has severe reactions to the bites. They’re itchy and hot, swell to golf-ball-size, and sometimes even cause her to develop a mild fever. My homemade natural anti-itch cream works well to calm her symptoms, but I have been desperate to find a solution that works to keep bugs off of her in the first place!
Mozi-Q to the rescue! If you or someone you know is a magnet for mosquitoes and are driven “buggy” by not finding a safe repellent that works, I would highly recommend trying it. One of my dear readers told me about it via a blog post comment, and I’m so grateful. I’m also happy to have the opportunity to tell all of you about this product, and to give you the opportunity to win a package of it to try! Here’s the quick scoop:
Mozi-Q is manufactured by Xerion Dispensary, a environmentally and socially responsible homeopathic formulation company in Calgary, Alberta. It’s a homeopathic formula in the form of a chewable pill. Perhaps the first thing you’re wondering is, what does it taste like?? It tastes almost like nothing. It just has a very slight sweetness to it. The pills are small, about the size of the tip of your pinky finger. It contains 5 homeopathic remedies, which combine to cover the susceptibility of more people (mosquito magnets included.)
- Ledum palustre
- Urtica urens
Mozi-Q is safe for kids of ages 1 and up. It’s GMO-free, completely non-toxic and natural. The low homeopathic potencies do not interfere with other homeopathic treatments, and there are no interactions with medications or other treatments for bug bites.
I really only have a short review based on our experiences. Mozi-Q works! Meaning, the mosquitos don’t swarm, and if the pesky buggers do bite, the reaction is less severe…even for my daughter. I still apply my topical natural bug repellent, but combined with Mozi-Q, my mission is finally accomplished! I can watch my daughter play freely outside without worrying so much, and she doesn’t have to suffer from multiple severe bites. The kids aren’t turned off by the flavor of the slightly sweet pills, so that’s definitely a bonus…they’ll actually take them.
Before you scroll down and enter to win a free package of Mozi-Q (60 pills,) here are a few more important points:
- It works within 30 minutes of taking it.
- There are no side effects.
- Besides mosquitoes, it works against other bugs such as ticks and head lice.
- Starting with a half hour before going outdoors, it can be taken every 2 to 3 hours.
If you’re a mosquito magnet, you can understand that words can’t describe the relief in finding an effective, safe repellent!