When we first bought our off-grid property, we decided to run it like a homestead – which means that we do everything that we can ourselves, we aim for zero waste, we use what we have and we buy little.
Now that we have been here a while we are slowly moving toward our dream of being 100% self-sufficient and eating only what we grow, catch and forage for thus reducing our waste.
When we decided to build a wood shed to store our wood for winter, we knew that it was going to be set back in the bush, no one can see it so it didn’t matter what it looked like.
We literally just said the other day that we need to start chopping wood to prepare for winter and wondered where we could find some tin to make the roof.
We used trees and manuka poles on our property for the sides and we have a small amount of tin that we put on the roof.
Then Mark’s workmate told him that he wanted his shed pulled down so he could build something else in its place so Mark went to his house and brought all the tin home – free of charge! The tin could have ended up in the landfill had we not salvaged it and upcycled it into our magnificent wood shed!
Now that we have our shed up and the first few pieces of wood in it, we can spend the rest of the summer and autumn making sure it is loaded to the top.
The really ironic thing is that we don’t even have a fireplace yet! We are going to put that in before winter so we are toasty and warm. The winter isn’t terribly cold here like it is in other countries but it still gets cold enough to light a fire. Because we live off the grid, we will use our fireplace to boil water, cook stews and curries and other delicious hearty, homestead meals.
What is something that you have upcycled recently?
Herbs are plants that are traditionally used to enhance the flavor of foods as well as offer loads of health benefits. During spring and summer, they are found in most stores and farmers markets. If you are passionate about cooking and have been wanting to start a garden, then growing herbs is a great start. With the right amount of sun, water and organic soil, they are easy to grow.
Here are eight reasons you should be growing your own herb garden this year:
1. They’re Fresh
Buying herbs from the store may seem easy, but fresh herbs can quickly go bad. Having your own herb garden means you can have any herb you want on hand and fresh, without the need to substitute for dry ones.
2. They Save You Money
Herbs at grocery stores or even farmers markets can be quite pricey, especially if you are trying to make some delicious sauces or pesto that need larger quantities.
You can simply save money by pulling the herbs from your garden without the stress of running out, because more will continue to grow from your initial investment of seeds or starter plants.
3. They’re Healthy
Fresh herbs offer many health benefits. Most are anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants and help aid in digestion. You can get all these benefits from your own herb garden without added pesticides.
4. They’re Beautiful and Smell Fabulous
Herbs are highly aromatic and pleasing to the eye. They make great additions if you want to add a few pops of color, like violet from lavender. Feverfew is another choice that looks like small daisies with a bright yellow center and white petals.
5. They’re Fun and Easy
Most herbs are quite easy to grow, which makes them less stressful and more fun compared to other plants in the garden. You can grow herbs outdoors or even inside on windowsills or other areas of the house that have adequate sunlight.
6. You Have More Variety
A home herb garden offers what most stores can’t and that is variety. There are hundreds of herbs to choose from and the choice is yours.
7. They’re Good for Pest Control
If you are having trouble keeping insects or other pests out of your garden, then plant herbs such as basil, lavender or rosemary. These herbs are known to repel pests due to their strong scents.
8. They Taste Exceptional
Fresh herbs offer the best flavour. That is because when picked, herbs release an oil that is responsible for their flavour. This oil breaks down fast, which is why herbs are best fresh and have such a rich flavour when first picked.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should be growing your own herb garden. Your taste buds and wallet will thank you over time, and you will no longer need to make multiple trips to keep fresh herbs around the house.
I hate having to buy food at the supermarket knowing everything has been sprayed with pesticides and who knows what else so growing our own fruit and veggies is essential to not only our wallet, but our health too.
What is an organic garden?
Organic gardens produce plants and vegetables that are grown and handled naturally. Many people like us are concerned about the chemicals that are sprayed on commercial fruits and vegetables and the additives they’re given to keep them fresh so it’s time to do something about it. It’s really not that hard to build in your own organic garden – even if you don’t have a lot of space.
What are chemicals doing to our bodies?
We all know how fruits and vegetables are healthy for our mind and bodies, but what about those chemicals?
I wonder sometimes if they actually cancel out the benefits fresh veggies provide because they cause so much damage to our systems.
Serious illnesses like cancer are on the rise and I’m sure all the chemicals we consume play a big part in that.
What you see is what you get when you grow your own food
Growing your own food is essential to make sure that you’re eating fresh, natural foods to provide the necessary nutrients for your body.
Organic gardening doesn’t use any chemicals at all, so you can enjoy an all-natural diet.
Commercially grown fruits and vegetables have chemicals on them to keep the insects and other pests away from the food and the additives are what keep them fresher longer from the farm to our table.
You have the benefit of eating it straight away
Your own fruit and veggies will last long enough after you pick it until the time you go to eat it. There’s also no need for chemicals to rid the plants of pests. All you need to do is grow natural bushes and plants in your garden that deter bad insects and attract the goo others – like bees!
There’s also no need to use artificial fertilisers to help the plants grow. You can use natural compost that you make yourself. All you need is leaves, grass clippings and table scraps to be stored for composting.
One of the biggest advantages of growing an organic garden is that because there are no chemicals used in your soil, there’s no danger to the plant life, wildlife, water supply, and humans.
Growing an organic garden allows you to put food on the table for your family and know exactly what you’re putting on the table instead of just taking a chance that you’re not putting anything harmful into your family’s mouths.
Take control and make sure your family is safe with the food you prepare for them. Do you want to risk harming them with traces of sprayed chemicals – or do you want them to benefit from the nutrients an organic garden provides?
Do you have a garden at home? What is your favourite thing to grow?
I love making my own healthy homemade granola. You can add whatever you want and there is much less sugar than the kind you would buy at the supermarket. I use a super simple recipe that is easy to make. My son, Eli helps me make it.
Ingredients: 2 TBsp Honey 2 TBsp Peanut Butter 3 c Rolled Oats 1 c Nuts and seeds 1/2 c Dried Fruit
First mix the peanut butter and honey together until it makes a smooth paste then add the rolled oats.
I just used normal oats but you can use gluten free or whole wheat if you prefer. I just used what I had on hand so I didn’t have to go to the shop to buy anything. Try and get all the oats fully coated in the peanut butter mix.
I then chopped the nuts. This time I used walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews and sliced almonds but you can use whatever you have on hand. Macadamia and pecan nuts would be great too. For seeds I used pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and chia seeds.
To be honest I don’t measure how much I put in, I just play it by ear and use what I’ve got and how much I want to save for next time.
Then I baked them on an oven tray at 150 degrees celsius (300F) making sure I turn them often. I have a really small gas oven so I have probably overloaded it a bit too much so in future I will try making it with 2 cups of oats instead of 3.
Once they are all nice and evenly toasted, I take them out of the oven and let them cool down. Once they are cool I will add my dried fruit. This time I added cranberries, apriots, dates, raisins and a bit of shredded coconut as well. Then store it all in an airtight container. I assume it will last a while but it never does in my house – it’s gone within days and I have to make a new batch!
So there you have it! My easy peasy homemade granola. It’s great for breakfast with fresh fruit and yoghurt or on it’s on as a healthy snack.
Do you make your own muesli or granola? Let me know in the comments if you have tried this.
Too often when homesteading we tend to overthink things and then make it more complicated than it needs to be. When we moved to this property there were no gardens, and nowhere to even put them. We could have spent heaps of money getting the timber for nice beds but we live in the bush so we wanted to utilise our natural surroundings and have our garden beds blend in.
To do this, we first went to the beach and looked for suitable driftwood. The garden would be whatever height the wood was. We didn’t want to muck around with it too much. We cut a length that we thought would look good. We had no measuring tape so we tied flax leaves together to get a rough idea and cut 2 long lengths and 2 short ones. We still had to trim the ends off to make it fit perfectly then we screwed them together. Punga trees are native New Zealand fern trees and are a dime a dozen. They are EVERYWHERE! We couldn’t screw the punga trees because they are airy like a coconut husk – so we used wooden pegs to hold them instead. This is all untreated, natural wood so we know we will have to replace them every few years or so when they rot.
We built 3 planter boxes of a similar size and alternated them punga, driftwood, punga and we will build another 3 raised garden beds at the end of summer. We really wanted to get a few gardens going ASAP. Once the planter boxes were screwed together, we got a truckload of topsoil in to fill them.
And then the shoveling began! The golden rule on the homestead is that everyone must help so Eli had a ball helping shovel the dirt. He loved playing in it too, jumping up and down in the dirt pile. It’s so good for kids to be outside and get dirty. And it’s good for mama as well to get connected to the earth and nature.
Once we got all the dirt level, it was time to plant. I have never done much planting before but this time I was head honcho because hubby was busy with other jobs. I planted corn, heaps of tomatoes that we will out into jars for winter, cucumber, capsicum, eggplant, chilli, peas and beans, celery, spring onions, spinach, and many more. It’s means so much more to me knowing that I have invested my blood, sweat and tears into this garden and providing healthy organic food for my family. There is no need for a gym membership on the homestead. Just get outside and start digging – that is all the exercise you will need.
It’s so easy to use what you have around to make your raised garden beds. You don’t have to over-complicate it. Getting driftwood off the beach or using anything you have already on your property will be awesome and they will look like they have been there all along.