Sep 29, 2016

September Garden Update

How my garden did this month

Last month the garden was pretty bare and all we had were some seedlings that were started. Well this month those seedlings flourished!

We lost one of our broccoli plants and have yet to put mulch back over its spot. The other 3 seem to be doing ok. The first two are obviously doing better than the third which still has its protective cone on. We keep the cone on for the first little bit to help prevent bugs from crawling in and eating them while they are getting their roots established. Most the time it works, but today I found a caterpillar on one of the plants inside the cone. I guess that time the cone was trapping the caterpillar in, rather than keeping it out!


We have 6 tomato plants which are all doing well. We have Roma, beefsteak, and cherry tomatoes. Don't ask me which are what yet though! Four are in this row and two are in the next row over.

Our jalepeno is still producing, but the amount has fallen way down. Hubby is still enjoying his pickled jalapenos and it's not in the way so it gets to stay a little while longer.

This watermelon seems to be doing quite well.



I had this great method of being organized and labeling all of the seedlings. Unfortunately some of the plants we replanted in containers to let them grow a little more rather than planting them directly into the ground. At that point my organization and record keeping fell apart, so I fully expect some surprises in this garden! For example I'm not sure what these plants are!


I planted some carrot seeds in this part of the garden and didn't have anything make it. I know carrots are a little bit tricky and you should plant radishes in with them to help break up the soil and see where you planted them. I didn't plant the radishes, and I may have left the mulch covering on too long. I'm going to try again at a later date, but right now this carrot experiment is a failure!


We are still dealing with caterpillars. :(  Hubby and I bought some bt to spray and did it once, but I think it's time (past time, really) to apply it again. Since it is deactivated by sunlight and washed away in the rain we only have a narrow window to apply it. Florida is the sunshine state, but we are also plagued by regular thunderstorms. Hopefully later this week we can put some more on!


We have lettuce! While this one little plant most likely won't produce enough for our needs, I am excited that we are on our way to growing a salad, which has been my goal all along.


Our okra continues to grow and produce okra, however it seems like the production has slowed a little bit. We have eaten it fresh, fried it up, and put it in jambalaya. I didn't think I really liked okra, but I love having this plant and hope to grow more in the future.


Hope you enjoyed this update. How is your garden doing?

Shared on Simply Natural SaturdaySustainable SundayHomesteader HopWaste Less Wednesday

Sep 28, 2016

Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop- 9/28/16

Blog Hop Zero waste plastic free less waste sustainable


A blog party focused on environmentally friendly practices: zero waste, recycling, gardening, homesteading, sustainability, living plastic free and upcycling.  It is live Wednesday at 12:00 am CST through Friday at 11:55 pm CST. 

The Host:

Katy writes at SkipTheBag about her experiences trying to minimize waste, avoiding plastic and homesteading with her garden and chickens. If you love her posts you can follow her here:





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML


Not sure what a blog hop is? Click here


The Rules:

  • Link up to 3 original blog posts related to minimizing waste. Posts can be zero waste, living plastic free, sustainability, less waste recipes, homesteading, upcycling or anything to do with helping out the environment.
  • No links to stores or link parties. Giveaways are OK as long as they are accompanied with a post.
  • In addition to featuring the most visited blog, the "most social" person will be featured. It's hard to track, but use the hashtag #WasteLessWednesday when commenting on people's blogs and sharing posts on social media to qualify.
  • Please visit your fellow bloggers: they care about the environment just like you!
  • Posts will show in a random order.
  • By participating you give permission for any part of your post, including pictures, to be used for party promotion. Don't worry all credit will be given to the original source. You will also receive a weekly email reminder for Waste Less Wednesday. 

Features from Last Week:

Katy's pick:

I love solar cooking, it keeps that cooking heat & humidity out of the kitchen. Today I'm making homemade marinara sauce using NO EXTRA ENERGY! #TaylorMadeHomesteadSolar Cooking: Homemade Marninara Sauce- Taylor Made Ranch


Link Up Below!

Sep 26, 2016

Bloom: Biosolids Compost

compost made from human waste

I recently attended a meeting of the Pensacola Organic Gardeners Club where they had a speaker from the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) tell how the company treats waste water. He also went into detail about how they make their compost which they call Bloom.

Bloom is a compost made from biosolids retrieved during the waste water process. As you may remember partially treated waste water enters retention ponds where the biosolids flocculate and fall to the bottom and the clear effluent continues on the waste water route. The biosolids, or sludge, is diverted off to make fertilizer and compost.

Before they started making compost they would take the sludge to the landfill. However landfill tipping fees became so excessive that they wanted to find a more economical way of disposing of the waste. They say their natural gas bill is nearly a million dollars annually so I can't imagine now much it was costing to landfill that all, or what a mess that would make of the landfill! So I'm pleased they are looking for other alternatives to landfills.

After being removed from the retention pond the biosiolids go into a dryer where it is turned from a sludge consistency to a cake like consistency. Then the composting process can begin. First they lay out mulch into long rows. The mulch is from the grass clippings, tree clippings, leaves and branches that are collected from the city's yard waste collection. Between two rows of mulch a row of biosolids is added. Then, using a machine called a windrow, the three rows are mixed together. Next a proprietary blend of bacteria and fungus is added to either end of the row.

The pile then composts over the next 30 days. The organisms grow and digest the biosolids and yard debris. The temperature of the pile rises to at least 130 degrees. On day 30 they turn the pile again and let it go for another 15 days. At this point it is fertilizer ready for sale to the public after it goes through testing confirming the levels of "fecals" are appropriate. Fecals are either pathogenic organisms or indicators for pathogenic organisms.

The Pensacola Organic Gardeners hosted the meeting, but they invited many other local gardening groups to attend.There was a large discussion about whether this compost could be used in organic gardening or how it compared to other types of compost and fertilizers.

According to the USDA, which certifies organic foods and to the OMRI, Organic Materials Review Institute, which certifies products for use in organic gardening, compost made from biosolids is not organic. In fact the OMRI considers it's synthetic! This rating is not due to the presence of human waste (which would obviously be non-synthetic) but more has to do with the presence of pharmaceuticals, cleaning products, and other unknown chemicals that may be lurking in the biosolids.

Therefore it was determined that gardeners wishing to practice organic gardening, sell their products as organic and/or become certified as an organic grower should not use the Bloom product on their Garden.

There were several conventional gardeners present as well as some non-food gardeners like the Rose Society. So there was a discussion about how Bloom compost may be a cheap compost for them. There was a large discussion about the amount of heavy materials heavy metals found in the compost and the chemicals which are tested.

The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, has recommendations for amount of metals which can be added to a given plot of land per year and cumulatively over many years. Two of the speakers did calculations from those EPA limits and the information about heavy metal content found in Bloom. I won't bore you with them, but they said that in order to stay under the annual EPA limits for heavy metals one should add no more than six inches of Bloom compost to their garden.

Just to clarify that's a height calculation, not a volume calculation. So if you put a cubic yard over your garden and it spreads out to 2 inches thick you are ok, if your garden area is so small it's more like 8 inches of soil, you might want to rethink adding that much. If you do need to add it in quantities larger than that...if you have a pot to fill, for example, you can mix it with other soil so you aren't exceeding the 6 inches.  Furthermore, according to the cumulative heavy metal exposure for land, you could add that 6 inches annually for 40+ years and still be under the cumulative maximum! The speaker also showed amounts of heavy metals in naturally occurring soil in Washington state and Miami and they had some heavy metal rates higher than what is found in Bloom.

There was also an interesting discussion about the different kinds of biosolids and fertilizers made from them there is a class of category B fertilizer which Bloom predominantly makes which can be sold to golf courses or other agricultural processes to use for fertilizer it has a higher tolerated level of pathogens or other chemicals. Category A fertilizer is what ECUA can sell to consumers . Since it is sold to consumers at the household level it does not need to be monitored more is the placement recorded . Florida actually has quite stringent laws relating to where biosolid fertilizer can go.

Will I use the bloom compost? Probably not. While we do tend toward organic practices for garden I would say my primary goal is laziness. Yes, it is organic to lay cardboard down and mulch your garden to prevent weeds from occurring. And I do it to prevent weeds, because I am lazy and don't want to pull weeds. Unfortunately working in the medical field I know that many of the chemicals we interact with on a daily basis could possibly still be present in the compost. I'm not very concerned about pathogens since the compost pile reaches such a high heat for such a long period of time, however we do not know what this will do to the chemical compounds in the compost nor what they would degrade into. Since there's so much unknown, and we have other options, I do not think we will be using Bloom as our primary compost. That said I am not against it and we may decide to use it sparingly in the future .

One of the other options is a mulch product also made by ECUA which does not contain biosolids. It is simply a mixture of the yard debris they collected and mulched. Unfortunately it has been found to be contaminated with quite a bit of plastic. This is primarily due to the fact that consumers used to be able to package all of their yard waste in plastic bags. There is now an effort to put yard debris into paper bags to help with this composting process.

Would you use a compost made from biosolids?

Shared on The Homesteader Hop, Homestead Hop Waste Less WednesdaySimply Natural Saturday,Sustainable Sunday

Sep 22, 2016

What Happens to Waste Water?



I attended a Pensacola organic gardening club meeting where they were having a representative from the ECUA Emerald Coast Utilities Authority. They are the water, sanitation and recycling company for the Pensacola, Florida area. The speaker gave an overview of the waste water treatment process and spoke about their new composting product called Bloom.

This post is going to focus on the waste water process. The state of Florida requires that storm water and sewer water remain separate. I'm thankful for that law because who wants to have sewage that can back up into the roadway after a heavy rain or be released directly into the environment.

There are 3 waste water treatment facilities around Pensacola with one of them doing the bulk of the work. That facility has been designated as an advanced waste water treatment facility, meaning it will produce effluent of a very high quality, which will be disinfected to the level required for unrestricted exposure to the public.

The first step in the water treatment process is filtration. The sewage goes through a one-quarter inch screen through which large particles and trash are filtered out. The remaining sewage is then transferred into a grit removal system. It is a large cylinder that spins the effluent. The small grit particles are forced to the outside where they are collected and the remaining liquid is transferred on to the next step. Grit comes from stuff you wash down the drain, like sand or parts of pipes, or probably even small food or paper scraps.

Next the effluent goes into a settling pond where bacteria and bio solids flocculate and fall to the bottom. Leaving clear liquid on the top. The newest ECUA facility was built with longer time in this process to help remove more contaminants from the final waste water. The sludge is removed and the clear liquid is pumped off the top of the retention pond and goes into a disinfectant tank. ECUA uses chlorine at about twice the strength of household bleach to disinfect the water. The chlorine levels are tightly regulated and if the water is found to have too much chlorine by the end of the process the water than is recycled back through waste water system.

The treated, disinfected water is then used for a number of purposes they use it for the Gulf Power Power stack or also the paper mill that is here locally they also use the water for irrigation or putting it in wetlands.

The water undergoes testing the raw material undergoes testing at the beginning of the process there are a hundred and twenty-six chemicals which were tested very few what you're actually found in the water here in Pensacola, primarily because we don't have a lot of heavy industry.

The speaker brought up some interesting points about the fact that waste water treatment facilities are one of the few industries where they have very little control over the inputs to their facility. A water treatment facility a city the size of Pensacola has roughly 1 million inputs into their system. Every toilet, shower drain, and sink in every home, office, hospital, restaurant and business enters their facility. The raw sewage and waste water from these locations all contain chemicals and contaminants unique to their locations.

After hearing about the waste water treatment and how some of it goes into a watershed it makes me that much more motivated to use 'green' cleaning products. It's one thing to know that everything on the earth is interrelated, but it's in quite another once you see how are trash or waste can come back to us. The medications and cleaning products you use today, may end up in the effluent and in the watershed next week! Even our food choices can affect the water supply. The speaker asked if we had heard of Splenda and asked people to raise their hand if they use it. Interestingly only one person really raised their hand and another member of the group shouted, "Well, this IS the organic gardeners club!" We all laughed at that. But he made a comment that when we consume Splenda it goes through us unchanged (why it is calorie free) and enters the waste water treatment facility in levels it is detectable, and is still detectable in the effluent. He didn't think it was taken up by the bacteria used in the processing of the sludge, but he admitted he didn't really have a way to test for that.

The next day after hearing about this I was needing some dishwasher cleaning product so I purchased it from Seventh Generation because I've heard they are more environmentally friendly than some other alternatives. Hearing this talk also doubled and my desire to only clean with natural products such as soap and baking soda and vinegar and lemon. Although the next day Hubby still put Splenda in his coffee. ;)

Did you know how waste water was treated? Does it make you want to make different choices about what goes down your drain?

Pin for later:
What happens to water that goes down the drain to a water treatment facility?

Shared on Simply Natural, Sustainable SundayThe Homesteader HopHomestead HopWaste Less Wednesday

Sep 21, 2016

Waste Less Wednesday Blog Hop- 9/21/16

Blog Hop Zero waste plastic free less waste sustainable


A blog party focused on environmentally friendly practices: zero waste, recycling, gardening, homesteading, sustainability, living plastic free and upcycling.  It is live Wednesday at 12:00 am CST through Friday at 11:55 pm CST. 

The Host:

Katy writes at SkipTheBag about her experiences trying to minimize waste, avoiding plastic and homesteading with her garden and chickens. If you love her posts you can follow her here:





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML


Not sure what a blog hop is? Click here


The Rules:

  • Link up to 3 original blog posts related to minimizing waste. Posts can be zero waste, living plastic free, sustainability, less waste recipes, homesteading, upcycling or anything to do with helping out the environment.
  • No links to stores or link parties. Giveaways are OK as long as they are accompanied with a post.
  • Please visit your fellow bloggers: they care about the environment just like you!
  • In addition to featuring the most visited blog, the "most social" person will be featured. It's hard to track, but use the hashtag #WasteLessWednesday when commenting on people's blogs and sharing posts on social media to qualify.
  • Posts will show in a random order.
  • By participating you give permission for any part of your post, including pictures, to be used for party promotion. Don't worry all credit will be given to the original source. You will also receive a weekly email reminder for Waste Less Wednesday. 

Features from Last Week:

Most social:

Katy's pick:

dehydrating food
Guide to Dehydrating Foods1


Link Up Below!


Sep 19, 2016

5 Ways To Be More Social

relationships

Shortly after arriving in Hawaii my husband went on deployment. So I had come up with some ways to find social interaction on my own. This was particularly difficult because we had only moved there a few months before so we didn't know many people yet.

Here are some of the things I did that helped be more social:

1. Say "Yes" to everything.


This was probably the biggest thing I did. It made me get out of my comfort zone and have new experiences and meet new people. Sometimes I would feel that people were just being polite when offering an invitation, but I agreed anyway. It was a way for me to get to know people better. I even got a trip to Maui out of it when a friend was going and invited me.


2. Learn to make small talk.


If you have to network at work, or want some tips on how to talk to people, I highly suggest Leil Lowndes's How to Talk To Anyone*. I first read it nearly 3 years ago and found it really interesting. I found that I already did many of the techniques the book discussed, but it also gave some other concrete examples of things to do and say while talking with people.

3. Try Meetup.com. 


Meetup is a website where you can find groups that meet for a variety of activities or interests. I started by going to a board game group, but there are groups for hiking, singles, to practicing foreign languages, food and drink, exercising and politics. Really there are groups for just about anything you can imagine. And if there isn't a group you want, you can start your own. Going to my first meeting by myself was a little nerve wracking, but after that first time I was comfortable going on my own or with Hubby.

4. Get a dog. 


She will force you to get outside and get walking. It's also crazy how many people talk to you when you are walking a dog. They'll ask if they can pet her, where you got her, how hold she is, what kind of dog she is. I used to sometimes notice how I'd walk places and never talk to people, but once I got my dog it seemed like everyone wanted to talk to me about her. Also you can find a dog park where your dog likes to play and you can meet up with their owners.


5. Take classes. 


There are a large number of places where you can take classes. You can take exercise classes from a gym or yoga studio. The local community college or adult center may offer educational classes. They also offer classes for master gardening, master recycling, and disaster preparedness. Seek out educational opportunities and you will meet people with similar interests. Or seek out something completely new and out of your comfort zone and learn a new skill!

How do you stay social and meet people?

*This post contains affiliate links

Shared on Homesteader HopWaste Less WednesdaySimply Natural, Sustainable Sunday

Sep 15, 2016

Precycling, Recycling, Downcycling, and Upcycling


I recently read the book called: The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less* by Amy Korst. It was written by a woman who decided to go waste free for a year and it has information on why you should want to go waste free, tips on how to reduce your waste, and information on how you can make help make an impact on a global level by getting lobbying for corporate changes with respect to waste.

The book introduced me to a couple of concepts I hadn't heard before: precycling and downcycling. So I wanted to discuss what those are and see how they relate to two other concepts I am familiar with: recycling and upcycling.

Precycling


Korst defines precycling is the act of considering a product's worth, usefulness and recyclabilty before it is ever purchased. However she expands the definition further than I would. Her definition includes determining if a purchase is a need or a want, and limiting purchases that are wants. 

I would argue that determining if a given item is a need or a want would actually fall under the Zero Waste Tenet of Refuse, and that precycling is limited to weighing purchases based on their end life.

For example I have been making apple pie refrigerator oats for my breakfasts lately. It uses applesauce and my preference to purchase applesauce in glass containers over plastic is an example of precycling. Whereas purchasing whole apples and making the applesauce myself would be an example of refusing waste.

Recycling


Recycing, as adapted from Wikipedia, is the process of converting waste materials into reusable objects to prevent waste and reduce consumption of fresh materials. I like this definition because it addresses the two reasons why we recycle.

First, we recycle as a way to dispose of products we no longer have a use for. Junk mail, empty milk jugs, and cardboard boxes can all be recycled rather than sent to a landfill. Now the particular items which can be recycled varies widely by location, but in general every item sent to recycling is another item not sent to a landfill.

Second, this definition encompasses a reduced need for new raw materials when items are recycled. Paper and glass sent for recycling means that much fewer paper or glass needs to be created. It can save energy and natural resources, but recycling itself is not without energy expenditure and pollution. Therefore it should be seen more as a last resort and not a cure for consumption.

Downcycling


Downcycling is another concept introduced to me by Korst. She says some objects can be recycled over and over again into the same product without any loss of integrity. However, other objects cannot be made into the same product or can only be made into the same product a limited number of times. When the object cannot be remade into the same product, it is said to be downcycled. 

Glass and metal are products that can be recycled a near infinite amount of times. But paper and plastic are eventually downcycled. Paper is is made of fibers, as it is recycled, the fibers get shortened meaning that it can only be turned into thinner and thinner pieces of paper (think printer paper to tissue paper). Eventually it cannot be recycled anymore. Similarly plastic can usually only be downcycled. An example Korst gives is that the yogurt container is turned into plastic lumber. However she goes on to say, "Humanity can use only so many plastic benches."

Upcyling


Upcycling is generally a fancier way of saying reusing or repurposing. It gives an item that would normally be destined for the trash, or even the recycling bin, another chance to be useful. Some examples of upcycling are turning picture frames into serving trays, taking metal washers and turning them into necklaces, turning an old door into a headboard, collecting bits of plastic trash and turn them into beautiful sculptures or even embellishing some old clothing to make them attractive and wearable. 

All four of these have their part in reducing waste. Precycling when examining what objects you are going to bring into your house. Upcycling to see if you can eek out some more usefulness out of the object. And lastly recycling and downcycling to preserve resources.

Which of these do you do?

*This is an affiliate link, read my Disclosures and Privacy Statement.
Pin for later:


Sep 14, 2016

Waste Less Wednesday: Blog Hop #5

Blog Hop Zero waste plastic free less waste sustainable


A blog party focused on environmentally friendly practices: zero waste, recycling, gardening, homesteading, sustainability, living plastic free and upcycling.  It is live Wednesday at 12:00 am CST through Friday at 11:55 pm CST. 

The Host:

Katy writes at SkipTheBag about her experiences trying to minimize waste, avoiding plastic and homesteading with her garden and chickens. If you love her posts you can follow her here:





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML


Not sure what a blog hop is? Click here


The Rules:

  • Link up to 3 original blog posts related to minimizing waste. Posts can be zero waste, living plastic free, sustainability, less waste recipes, homesteading, upcycling or anything to do with helping out the environment.
  • No links to stores or link parties. Giveaways are OK as long as they are accompanied with a post.
  • Please visit your fellow bloggers: they care about the environment just like you!
  • In addition to featuring the most visited blog, the "most social" person will be featured. It's hard to track, but use the hashtag #WasteLessWednesday when commenting on people's blogs and sharing posts on social media to qualify.
  • Posts will show in a random order.
  • By participating you give permission for any part of your post, including pictures, to be used for party promotion. Don't worry all credit will be given to the original source. You will also receive a weekly email reminder for Waste Less Wednesday. 

Features from Last Week:

Most social:

Katy's pick:

jeans3


Link Up Below!



Sep 12, 2016

Bulk stores in Pensacola, Florida

As you may know I recently moved to Pensacola, Florida. I have been looking for a store that sells bulk food with little success. 

Our primary grocery store was Publix and I didn't think they had a bulk food section. Then after shopping there nearly 2 months I found they do have a little section. It's about a third of an aisle and stocks some black beans, chick peas as well as some nuts and dried fruit. Not really the panacea I was hoping for, but it gave me hope that I would find local stores that had bulk food.




The next store I found that had a noticeable bulk food section is The Fresh Market. They have nearly 3 aisles of food in glass containers and regular bulk foods. However they mostly stock candy, nuts and snack food. They have nearly a dozen or more containers dedicated to Jelly Beans. It looks pretty, but isn't what I was hoping for in terms of reducing our waste. 

La Mexicana is a little market attached to a restaurant. The market has many products from Mexico, most are packaged, but they do have a small bulk section with peppers, dried beans and dried shrimp.

Four winds is an international market. They have several bulk bins with dried beans, lentils, dried fruit and figs. They also have some 'wet' bulk foods with several different kinds of olives. They make their own bread and sell it without paper. Finally they have a number of homemade food that are amazing. Their chicken salad is great on sandwiches and their pesto is amazing on pasta. They didn't bat an eye when I brought my own bag for the dried goods, although the worker states I was the first person he'd seen using one.




Bailey's Market and Nursery has tons of plastic free fruits and vegetables.

I went to several oriental markets to see if they had bulk foods, but I was disappointed to find they were actually packaging vegetables into plastic bags. I tried a local Greek Grocery and while they had some fun items, they didn't have a bulk section to speak of. 

Finally I stopped at Ever'man. They are a local organic co-op and I figured they might have some bulk food, but was afraid I would be disappointed. Boy was I wrong!

They have partial aisle dedicated to bulk spices and bulk herbal supplements. And they have an entire aisle of bulk bins! It even has many items that we would actually use. They had several different kinds of rice, lentils, oatmeal and couscous. They had dried chickpeas and two kinds of popcorn. There were also some flours. And of course there were many different kinds of nuts, trail mixes, dried fruit and other snack foods.



I spoke to the cashier and asked her their policy on using my own container for the bulk bins. She said they were very open to having people use their own containers and if it is a container to bring it up to the cashier to weigh before filling it up. I didn't specifically ask at this time, but I doubt produce bags or other lightweight bas would need to be weighed. After seeing the wide number of items available I can't wait to try and purchase some of them from Ever'mans.


I was also pleased to find organic applesauce in glass jars which were very reasonably priced. Recently I have been purchased that from Publix and The Fresh Market. I have been refusing to buy applesauce in plastic containers so I have been limited to the only option each store carried. I was pleased to see that Ever'man carried both brands at similar prices to the other stores. But I was even more excited to see they have a store-brand product that was larger and $2-$3 cheaper! That alone nearly makes the trip worth it.

I'm not sure why I was so reluctant to shop at Ever'man, but I now see that it will likely play a larger role in our grocery shopping. It's not perfect, there are still a lot of packaging in the produce, deli and bakery sections of the store. But I'm happy I've found somewhere that has a lot of dry goods available without waste.

Do you have bulk options where you live?

Shared on Homesteader HopWaste Less WednesdayHome Matters,Simply Natural SaturdaySustainable Sunday

Sep 8, 2016

10 Tips to Prevent Food Waste: #ZeroWasteWeek

#zerowasteweek Zero waste week

This week, Sept 5-9,  is Zero Waste Week. It was started by Rachelle Strauss in the UK, but has grown to an international movement. This year the focus is on food waste. It is estimated that a third of all food ends up as waste rather than food.

So in celebration of Zero Waste Week here are ways that we help reduce food waste. Although admittedly we could do better!

1. Shop your refrigerator/pantry first. This is a huge way to cut down on food waste. Looking to see what food you already have on hand rather than shopping. This will also help to save money!

2. Meal Plan. We used to purchase a food service that would send us recipes every week based on the sales of our local supermarket. The nice thing about it was that if there was a recipe that used half a red onion in the beginning of the week, there would be a recipe at the end of the week that would use the other half. It was a way to know you were getting your money's worth and it would lead to less food waste. If you plan out your meals you will not only have a better idea of what you need to buy (and conversely what NOT to buy), and you can also make sure you have a plan to use up what you do buy.

3. Have a 'fend for yourself' night. This is a time once a week or so where you don't cook dinner, but rather everyone has to figure out their own dinner. Usually this means each person takes leftovers, but it may mean someone is digging a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the pantry.

4. Eat leftovers. When cooking dish up a serving into lunch containers. This will help prevent overeating at dinner, and also help you get a second meal out of the dinner.

5. Store bread heels in the freezer and use them to make breadcrumbs. We've got one bag full of heels for this purpose. When we need some breadcrumbs we just take a couple slices out and throw them in the food processor. The food processor doesn't care that they are frozen and they thaw really quick once crumbs.

6. Speaking of bread, we keep our bread items in the refrigerator. Years of living in a hot humid place we've found this helps prevent the bread from getting moldy.

7. Keep a collection of stock veggies. This is something we've done in the past, but should be better about. When peeling vegetables or cutting off the ends of veggies you can keep them in the freezer until you are ready to make vegetable stock or chicken stock. Be careful about keeping onion peels, they will turn the broth a dark color.

8. Use your freezer. Many things can be safely frozen and thawed with no change in taste or texture. When it is looking like you may have got too much food that you won't be able to use. Freeze it! You can freeze all sorts of berries and vegetables. You can even freeze cooked food!

9. Feed the chickens. We've got chickens and while they've gotten some food scraps, I have not developed a habit to regularly give them food scraps. Mostly because I need to look up every single thing that we give them and there are some foods that are dangerous. They enjoy the treats so I should look to divert more food scraps their way.

10. Compost. Any food scraps (except for meat and dairy) should be composted and not sent to the landfill. There are good nutrients in the food scraps that can be used back in the soil rather than slowly (if ever) degrading in the landfill. Some cities have compost that can even take meat and dairy, but home compost piles don't get that hot, so those items should be avoided.

Shared on Sustainable SundayHomesteader HopWaste Less Wednesday,Home MattersSimply Natural Saturday

Sep 7, 2016

Waste Less Wednesday: Blog Hop #4

Blog Hop Zero waste plastic free less waste sustainable


A blog party focused on environmentally friendly practices: zero waste, recycling, gardening, homesteading, sustainability, living plastic free and upcycling.  It is live Wednesday at 12:00 am CST through Friday at 11:55 pm CST. 

The Host:

Katy writes at SkipTheBag about her experiences trying to minimize waste, avoiding plastic and homesteading with her garden and chickens. If you love her posts you can follow her here:





Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML


Not sure what a blog hop is? Click here


The Rules:

  • Link up to 3 original blog posts related to minimizing waste. Posts can be zero waste, living plastic free, sustainability, less waste recipes, homesteading, upcycling or anything to do with helping out the environment.
  • No links to stores or link parties. Giveaways are OK as long as they are accompanied with a post.
  • Please visit your fellow bloggers: they care about the environment just like you!
  • In addition to featuring the most visited blog, the "most social" person will be featured. It's hard to track, but use the hashtag #WasteLessWednesday when commenting on people's blogs and sharing posts on social media to qualify.
  • Posts will show in a random order.
  • By participating you give permission for any part of your post, including pictures, to be used for party promotion. Don't worry all credit will be given to the original source. You will also receive a weekly email reminder for Waste Less Wednesday. 

Features from Last Week:

Most social:

No one. :'(

There are two easy ways to be featured as most social next week!

  • Visit fellow blog submissions and comment using the hashtag #wastelesswednesday.
  • Share the Waste Less Wednesday link on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+) 

Katy's pick:

IMG_8319

Eco Nuts! All Natural Laundry Detergent (My Review) - Made Right (Here)


Link Up Below!


Sep 5, 2016

Hubby's Famous Fish Tacos

Recipe homemade

We have a local fish market that is AMAZING! Just about any seafood you could want is available and ready for you to select. You can pick the size fillet you want, you can get the entire fish whole or dressed, you can even get some of the food steamed if you'd like. We don't visit the fish market as often as we should, but when we do, we usually get at end up having fish at least 3 times or more that week. A while back we bought salmon, mahi, and basa, a type of catfish. We'd made plans to have fish tacos one night, Hubby makes them and they are delicious. However he went out of town and before risking the fish going bad, I tried my hands at them. They are very easy to make and taste delicious.

Ingredients:
1 fillet of white fish per person (I used basa this time, but we've used mahi in the past)
1 egg
1 cup of bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs)
Oil for pan frying
1/2 bag of preshredded coleslaw mix with carrots
3-4 T of poppy seed dressing
Taco sized flour tortillas
Avocado slices
Cilantro for garnish

Directions:
Cut the fish into small cubes or slices about 1 inch large, try to keep them consistent sizes. Heat oil over medium heat in plan. Dredge the fish in egg and then coat with bread crumbs. Place fish in oil and cook until bread crumbs are brown and fish is cooked, approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.

Prepare coleslaw mix by combining cabbage mixture and poppy seed dressing. Make the tacos by adding coleslaw, fish, avocado, cilantro to the tortilla. Feel free to add other items such as salsa. Then eat and enjoy!

This is the recipe Hubby has followed for years, but now that we have an eye toward waste I would make some slight changes. First, I would buy cabbage and make my own coleslaw rather than buying it in a bag. If I had some carrot or purple cabbage I'd shred some up, but I don't think the few shreds of carrot make or break the meal.

The next part, and the part I am having the hardest part finding an alternative to, is the poppy seed dressing. Typically we have purchased a bottle from the store and recycled the bottle. So I may have to do some experimenting to find a plastic free alternative.

Shared on Homesteader HopSustainable SundayWaste Less Wednesday

Sep 1, 2016

August Garden Update

homestead garden gardener urban farmer

August has been a transitional month for our garden. We've pulled many of the plants that either stopped being productive or got eaten by caterpillars so it looks pretty sparse. In fact two of the rows don't have anything planted!

urban farmer garden gardener backyard hobby farm

The okra which we just recently planted has been doing phenomenal, we haven't got any okra from it, but it's growing really well.

We still have the eggplant, as you may remember we let some of it get too ripe. I've been considering pulling them, but they are still producing flowers so I'm hoping it will make something of itself.


The jalapeno is still going strong. Hubby is loving all of the pickled jalapenos. Next time we plant jalapenos Hubby wants even more bushes.


Our bell peppers are still producing so they get to stay.


We've started seeding some plants, but most of them are still not quite large enough to put into the ground.


We have started zucchini, carrots, watermelon, tomatoes-beefsteak, roma, cherry, lettuce, leeks, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin. I hope they keep growing and sprouting and will provide us food soon!

How did your garden do this August?

Shared on Sustainable SundayHomesteader HopWaste Less Wednesday