False Solomon’s Seal

Before I joined a local Facebook group about edible nature in Northern BC, I’d never heard of False Solomon’s Seal. Recently, many of the members have been posting their pictures of this strange (to me) flowering plant. I’ve long been a fan of fiddleheads but typically can’t find them close to home. So I’ve missed out on them for several years now 😩

But it’s okay! False Solomon’s Seal to the rescue!

I impulsively veered off into the bush yesterday while I was walking my dogs and I found some! There’s a ‘true’ and a ‘false’ version of this plant. I made sure I had the right one before eating it.

The last picture is the easiest way to be sure you have the proper Solomon’s Seal. False will have a flower bud on the end. True will have flowers and berries along the underside.

Let me tell you, False Solomon’s Seal IS delicious! Mild and sweet. Many people say it’s similar to asparagus but I’d disagree. Only because I suppose we all have different taste buds 🙂

Now that I know where I can pick it, and it’s close to home, I’m going for more later today. The only “aggravation” is having 2 dogs on leashes, lol. For some reason, they rarely want to go in the direction I do! Or in the same direction as each other. The rewards though (more False Solomon’s Seal for dinner, fresh air, exercise and being in nature) are well worth it.

If you can find it where you live, I highly recommend it. And here’s a link to a great website that features True and False Solomon’s Seal.

False — and true — Solomon’s seal

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Good grief!

Okay. I will admit, I’m not a WordPress expert. Every now and then, I receive an email notification for a new post of someone I’m following. And it’s usually the same someone, or two. I follow several blogs but often wonder why I never hear from them.

And just now, after beginning to follow someone else, I was told I’d get new posts from that person IN MY READER. My what?? My reader? So I see the word up there, at the top of my page, Reader, and decide to check it out. 🙂

Lo and behold, there’s EVERYONE I follow!!

Didn’t I say recently, it pays to learn everything you can about the things you do or use? Clearly, I’m not following my own advice! And perhaps that’s why I get so few likes, LOL, from my tiny group of followers, they’re not looking in their readers either 🙂

But anyway, back to my soap making, sewing and yard work! I hope everyone is enjoying their day!! It’s sunny here after a weekend of much needed, and appreciated, rain.

To sharpen or not?

I’m talking about the blade of my rotary cutter. (THIS is the post I meant to publish, so you’re getting 2 in one day :))

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They’re expensive! A pack of 5 runs about $50 plus taxes or more, depending upon the retailer. Fortunately, I learned I can print an online coupon for 40% off one, regular priced item at my local Michael’s craft supply store. Right now though, I can’t even afford that.

Being environmentally-friendly and trying very hard not to throw non-biodegradable items (or anything really) in the garbage, I hang on to all my old, dull blades. There has to be a way to sharpen them. Right? People sharpen scissors, kitchen knives and skates. Why not these as well?

And this morning I was finally compelled to Google it 🙂 My current blade is driving me nuts, it’s approaching the likeness of a butter knife. I prefer efficiency when I’m working and when I have to roll my blade back and forth AND back and forth to make a cut. . . . that simply isn’t time well spent. Nor is it enjoyable.

I typed in ‘how to sharpen a rotary blade’ and tried the very first trick (link at bottom of page) I clicked upon. It involves tin foil, something I don’t buy or use anymore (for environmental and health reasons), but actually have because I’ve been saving it for years in the hopes of being able to recycle it one day 🙂

This is my ‘inside’ bag. There’s 10 times more in my shed!

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I located 3 flat, folded pieces and used the 2 smaller ones to begin with. I can honestly say I was underwhelmed with the result.

SO, I employed the larger, much more layered piece. It has so many layers I couldn’t cut through them all.

 

Now, when I go to a particular website, and find a recipe or instructions on how to do something (like sharpen a rotary blade!), I always scroll through the comments. In many cases, I can’t read them all but I can glean the general idea of the success or failure. In this instance, most people said ‘great idea, I’m going to try it’ or ‘it DOES work, on scissors too’.

The author of the article claims it works as well. And I’ve no doubt it probably does. For them.

My verdict is this:

I really can’t say for sure if it’s a useful trick. I don’t notice a massive difference in the cutting ability of my blade or even a decent difference. Maybe it’s slightly better. Maybe it’s a placebo effect and there’s no improvement at all, lol. Perhaps it’s because I mainly cut denim. I don’t know. This was not the OMG, so amazing moment I was hoping for.

I was relieved to find one commenter who said ‘tried the trick, it does not work’. Someone else said it didn’t work for them either. At least I’m not alone. It didn’t hurt to give it a go though and it certainly didn’t make my blade duller. Now I’ll just do some more Googling and see what else is recommended. I have enough blades to experiment with.

http://pennyshands.blogspot.ca/2011/03/how-to-sharpen-your-rotary-cutter-blade.html

 

Vermicomposting

Shoot! I had 2 drafts going at once and published the wrong one! I don’t know if I can ‘unpublish’ something without actually deleting it, so here it stays. . . . . minus proper editing. Argh. I can’t be bothered now 🙂

Composting with worms. I’ve intended to do this for years. Although I’ve buried plant-based kitchen scraps in my garden for a while now, I’ve neglected to specifically compost with worms. As an organic gardener, I’m very interested in how I can feed and nurture my veggies. Naturally. Synthetic, cancer-causing chemicals are not welcome in my body, in my food or in my home. They can stay away from my yard, and all the critters that reside here, too!

We live in a world full of chemicals used to kill fungus, bacteria, insects, plant diseases, snails, slugs, as well as undesirable plants or “weeds”. Oftentimes, these chemicals kill indiscriminately, much like antibiotics destroy bad bacteria along with the good! It’s why we’re seeing a decline in bees and monarch butterflies, to only name two. We should be protecting and caring for all of the beneficial insects because without them, healthy soil and rain/water, the human race would quite possibly die. Our food supply depends on these three basic things, along with farmers of course.

Since I’m also a vegan, I’ve rejected the standard animal manures many people use. Biosolids? NEV. ER. I’m OKAY with worms though. I’m super vigilant when I’m raking up yard debris like leaves and branches or when I’m moving heavy items such as firewood, rocks or lumber. If I see a worm, I must pick it up! And save it.

A sure sign of tip-top soil is the presence of worms. And let me tell you, I have worms! It thrills me to no end, when I turn my shovel, and see their wonderful, squiggly bodies. Weird perhaps, lol, but I can handle that category. I think I covered it last year when I wrote about my toads 🙂

And speaking of toads, I found my first one yesterday! I was wondering if they were out yet and now I have my answer. He (or she, I can’t tell, nor do I care) was under an old board in my main garden bed. I was looking for worms, not expecting a toad. I took a QUICK pic and left it be. Toads in the garden is a good thing! Although now I have to be careful walking around my yard at night, when I let the dogs out to do their business.

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I did some preliminary research 2 nights ago, and much more yesterday morning, because I’m anxious to finally get at it! This business of vermicomposting. I learned very quickly there are two main types of worms; earthworms (commonly called night crawlers) and redworms.

They’re each valuable but have different tasks in our garden.

earfhwormsEarthworms, aptly named, are responsible for ‘moving earth’. They do a lot of mixing and aerating, traveling deeper than redworms, taking organic material with them. They’re not suited for composting as they need to burrow through soil to eat and survive.

 

redwormsRedworms, however, are designed for consuming kitchen scraps and yard waste. They have voracious appetites and will make short work of the food you provide them. They migrate upwards, towards food placed above them.

In return, they’ll multiply and give you lots of poop! The more civilized term would be castings 🙂

Worm castings improve soil texture and provide high nutrient levels your plants will thrive on. This valuable “waste” is significantly more beneficial than regular compost and highly admired by serious gardeners..

To be honest, I resist the idea of having to buy worms. I try to use what I already have these days. It fits well with my anti-buying mentality. I’m an eco-friendly person and want to tread as lightly as possible upon this planet. I KNOW. Buying worms would not be a huge deal considering what I’d be doing with them. But still. I’m stubborn.

During my perusal of the many different websites offering advice on how to layer a worm bin, I discovered the plethora of materials used. Broken bricks, pebbles, leaves, shredded newspaper, grass clippings, cardboard. All of these, and more, can have a function in your worm bin. Personally, because I’m an organics freak, I dislike the notion of cardboard and newspaper, which can and do have ink on them. I wouldn’t eat a piece of newspaper, so I’m not going to feed it to my worms either. I use organic sugar when I make hummingbird food and organic nuts and seeds when I make suet for my chickadees and woodpeckers. It would be otherwise hypocritical to me. I don’t want to harm myself with conventional foods but will potentially endanger the teeny, tiny bodies of the birds with it? No way, JosĂ©. It’s why my dogs eat well also 🙂

In regards to this worm bin, I decided I was going to employ creativity instead. I have the space and the time to adapt and conjure up my own version. For those of you who are confined to utilizing an actual, store-bought contraption, you’ll obviously require a purchase of worms.

Me, I’m making an open worm bin, from wood. NO plastic for this plastic-hater! I’ll designate an area in my yard and measure off a 3′ x 4′ section. I’ll dig down a full 6-12 inches and then begin constructing the sides. I believe 3′ will be deep enough, with the option to go higher if necessary. OR I’ll make an off-the-ground bin with a tray below. It’s an as-I-go project. And I’m known to change my mind.

I’ll do layers like I’m supposed to but ONLY with organic materials gathered from around my yard. Leaves, dead grass, broken up pieces of bark, etc. I also have organic eggshells and organic coffee grounds. I think I’ll be pretty pleased with the outcome.

In the meantime, because I couldn’t wait, I concocted a smaller model directly in my main garden bed. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. It didn’t cost me anything and the worms are free to wander, if they so choose. It’s an experiment.

I had an old, wooden drawer missing the bottom. I nestled it snugly in a corner of my garden bed. I layered dead grass, dead leaves, an organic potting soil blend with includes peat moss and dirt. I put in some worms, not a huge amount, just what I could readily find. More dirt. Leaves only this time and then my (previously frozen) kitchen scraps (celery, spinach, carrots mostly) and some crushed eggshells. I have SO MANY saved from when I wasn’t a vegan. Now I can put them to use. More dirt and leaves on top of the food and more worms! Covered by more dirt and then finally some large, super thick pieces of bark.

I did all of this while it was cloudy. Worms can dry out very fast when the sun is shining. It’s also why I dig in the garden, preparing it for planting, when it’s overcast. A light, rainy day is even better!

I watered each level as I went, not too much but enough I hope! And as mentioned, if the worms don’t like it, they can leave. MY EPD was near by as usual, with her EPB. (that would be my Ever Present Dog with her Ever Present Ball, lol). I also call her Charlotte.

I figured, half way through the process, it made sense to have worms above the kitchen scraps, as opposed to below when using redworms. If earthworms travel down, they’ll encounter the food, and hopefully stay to eat. And then they can go elsewhere, they’re not trapped in a plastic bin. The most difficult thing for me will be leaving it alone! I already want to see WHERE the worms are. Are they eating? Are they gone? What are they doing?!

There are several key things one should know when composting with worms:

  • Type needed – redworms, not earthworms found in your yard.
  • Moisture – too much slows down their activity, not enough, they’ll dry out and die.
  • Food – mainly plant-based but also ground eggshells. NO fish, meat, cheese, dairy or oily, greasy stuff. Coffee grounds – limited because they’re acidic
  • Shade – they prefer it, please don’t leave the bin in the blazing sun
  • Ventilation – is a must
  • Sand and soil mixed in the bedding will provide grit for digestion
  • When they’re happy, they can double their numbers every 90 days 🙂

I’ll keep you posted on the success, or failure, of my worm composting adventures. And if it’s something you’re keen to try, it’s easy enough to Google ‘how to compost with worms’.

You gotta love the internet. AND worms!

http://www.homecompostingmadeeasy.com/wormcomposting.html

Okay, I did include one link, the information on this particular site was exceptional. Like any subject I’ve researched, I’ve learned how scattered important details can be. It’s not often I find one written piece that covers a lot of ground.

 

 

Keep Your Country Clean

Over the past several years I’ve developed a deeper love for vintage items. I suspect it’s due to my dad and all of my grandparents now being gone. And my own advancing age, ha, ha. Somehow, 46 sneaked up on me. It baffles me sometimes 🙂 I don’t feel 46. HOW can I be 46?? My mother was right. Time really does fly!

The younger generation, for the most part (not every one of them), views antique and vintage things as junk. For me, I’m fascinated with the history attached to “old stuff”. Who owned it first? Was it a gift? Why did they get rid of it? Or did a family member carelessly do so? Was there simply no family left to keep it?

I suppose that’s just how it works out sometimes. I have several pieces that are special to me. I don’t have kids though. Once I’m gone, I imagine my things quite possibly could end up in a thrift store. I pray never a landfill!

I made the choice recently, prompted by a severe (and extremely educational) cash flow problem, to sell much of my stuff. It’s been stored away in boxes and bins for eons anyway. What’s the point, right? I’m a pack rat trying to kick the habit of hanging on to everything. It’s difficult, easy and freeing all at the same time!

The other day I was looking for a small drill bit to complete the construction of a mason jar organizer. During my rummaging around I came across a key chain. I’d seen it many times and largely ignored it. It sports a picture of Uncle Ben and I’ve never been a beer drinker.028 I figure it once belonged to my dad, a fan of cerveza 🙂 I thought, “Oh, maybe I’ll sell this after all, surely there’s an Uncle Ben collector out there. I could get five bucks for it. Maybe” and I picked it up.

And decided to keep it! (give me a break, I’m still a pack rat)

I love, love, LOVE what it says on the back. Aside from the awesome Canadian flag, it promotes fighting litter and pollution. 027I have to keep it because I’m highly dedicated to being as environmentally-friendly as I possibly can.

This incident proved to me that we can see something over and over and over again and never give it a lot of consideration and then one day. . . voila! We view it in a whole new light and appreciate it. Being a PR does have advantages 🙂

I actually Googled ‘Uncle Ben beer’ and now that I know the story, this key chain is even cooler. The man behind the beer, made it all happen right here in my home town! AND the beer came out the year I was born!

We have an off leash Ginter’s Park where Uncle Ben’s house once stood. Knowing the history of something is like hitting the jack pot 🙂 For a weirdo like me, lol.

For those of you who can’t make out the blurry photo (sorry, my camera is cheap), it says ‘Please fight litter and pollution, Keep your country clean’.

Wise words to follow!

Creativity. Use it!

I’ve learned a lot about being frugal in the past year. Being financially strapped will do that for you. And I actually highly recommend it! Many of us never consider how many squares of toilet paper we use. Or how much further inexpensive rice or pasta can make a meal go. Toothpaste, shampoo, laundry soap. When we run out, we run out and buy more!

But what happens when you don’t have the money for “necessities”? You get creative. And frugal 🙂 You begin to understand a tiny blob IS enough. You ration your food (and hey, some people can handle that!). You start to realize we have so many luxuries we take for granted.

Yesterday, with the record breaking warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing, I was outside often. It’s time for massive yard work. And I’m easily annoyed when I have to remove my shoes and put them back on repeatedly.

I thought to myself, “I need some slip on shoes. But they’re all probably made in China!”. And I refuse to buy anything from there. I have plenty of reasons why; their appalling environmental pollution, their ivory trade, how they contaminated the honey industry, their animal testing. I could go on and on. I’ll restrain myself however 🙂

I’m also on a huge anti-buying spree in general. If I can reuse something for a new purpose, I do. I recycle. I refuse. I reduce. In other words, I try. This planet matters. There was a time, when I was young and foolish, that it didn’t. I have much to make up for!

So back to the shoes. I needed some slip ons. And I remembered I have old runners in my shed. Old runners that are too small! Yep. You’re a kindred soul if you figured out what I did. I cut the heels out of them! And now I have slip on shoes, lol. (One so far anyway). I don’t care if they’re pretty or not. I didn’t have to buy them AND I’ll get tons of use from them. Annoyance is gone.

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THAT is what I like to call ‘using your noggin’. Or mine, in this case. It’s like the broken crock pot that’ll become a planter in the garden soon. Or the weathered fence board I’m turning into a ‘No touch, no talk, no eye contact’ sign. Or the vintage door knobs from the house I grew up in becoming a coat rack.

My point is, throwing things away, into the never-stops-growing landfill, isn’t always necessary. Even if YOU won’t repurpose “garbage”, someone else will. Say NO to the landfill and ask friends or family if they want what you don’t. Or donate it. Place a free ad online, giving away FREE stuff. Heck, put it at the end of your driveway with a FREE sign on it. Someone will take it.

Now, I’m off to cut my other shoe. Have a fabulous weekend everyone!