October 10, 2015

Not the Dishwasher too!!!

This was forwarded to me by Bill - it is too good not to share with you. Some good tips toward the end too!

Lee Bellinger's Independent Living
Bossy Busybodies Move to Mandate … Well, Everything
Okay, this isn’t end-of-the-world stuff.  It’s about control freaks on steroids and how you can thwart their micromanagement of your life.
First they came for our refrigerators. Government bureaucrats demanded greater energy efficiency. They also forbid manufacturers from using certain chemicals. That drove up prices while reducing capacity. But it was okay, they said, because you were using less energy.
Then they came for our toilets. Federal mandates now require that toilets use 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush. Less than half the previous standard of 3.5 gallons. The end result? People now have to flush multiple times to clear the bowl. No water savings at all.
Then the Washington busybodies went after our showerheads. People skirt the new, mandated low-flow options left and right because the alternative is a less-than-satisfying shower experience.
They came for our light bulbs. 
They’re going after our hot-water heaters. 
Who Cares If They’re Clean As Long As We Save Water?
If you’ve had experience with different kinds of dishwashers, you know that some clean better than others. Newer isn’t necessarily better. Stainless steel finishes, electronic controls, and ultra-quiet modes don’t have much to do with getting plates and silverware to come out spotless. 
What matters is whether the dishwasher sprays enough water in the right places at high enough pressure to dislodge all the food particles from a fully loaded rack. The best dishwashing detergents won’t compensate for a poorly designed or underpowered appliance. (Though later in this story you’ll learn how you can supercharge your dishwasher powder/gel.) 
Thanks to new proposed regulations from the Department of Energy bureaucrats, dishwasher manufacturers could soon be forced to make dishwashers that can’t wash dishes as well as the models you used decades ago. 
Dishwashers that don’t wash; toilets that don’t flush; showerheads that don’t give your hair a good rinse... all in the name of “efficiency.” 
If you have a dishwasher you know is going to need to be replaced in the near future, you might want to replace it now. At some point, when only 3.1-gallon dishwashers are available, you might have to go back to hand washing your dishes in order to get them clean. 
For now, you can still obtain dishwashers that produce clean dishes. Opt for a heavy-duty model from a reliable brand. As with any appliance, the cheapest dishwashers will tend to be the least reliable and produce the worst results. But the priciest dishwashers with the fanciest looks and features aren’t necessarily the best. High-end models that are less popular may have more things that can go wrong down the road. Sometimes a mid-level model from a top brand is your best bet. Check Consumer Reports for their latest ratings. 
The Renegade Way to Get
Your Dishes Really Clean
And You Don’t Have to Risk Prison to Do It 
Over time, a dishwasher’s effectiveness will decline. Cracks and crevices inside your dishwasher can be breeding grounds for gunk. Mineral deposits from tap water, residue from detergent, and un-dissolved food debris can all hinder your dishwasher’s performance over time. All that buildup can restrict water flow. Worse, some of it can get re-deposited on your dishes during wash/rinse cycles. 
Running an empty wash cycle with two cups of vinegar can helpclean your dishwasher. But if you want to get it really clean and back to peak performance, you’ll first need to physically scrub it out. You’ll be removing the buildup that today’s phosphate-free detergents leave behind. 
If you want to prevent that build up in the first place, try adding a tablespoon of tri-sodium phosphate to your regular wash cycles. (Most dish detergents stopped including this ingredient due to trumped environmental pressures.) You can pick up a box of TSP at most hardware stores.
You should notice a difference – cleaner dishes and no more film left behind on glasses or the walls of your dishwasher. Your dishwasher itself will remain cleaner when you use TSP, because the phosphate breaks up residues left by detergents and prevents them from clinging to surfaces. 
Yours in Freedom,
Lee Bellinger
Lee Bellinger, Founder
Independent Living


October 2, 2015

My Homemade Seed Saver

I have tons of seed! I have seeds that I will plant in flats and sell next year from the Greenhouse and seeds that are for my garden - both to eat and for flowers in the yard. Keeping up with all of them could be an issue. I admit to being a little scatter-brained and tend to leave things willy-nilly all over the place.

I came up with a pretty cool way to organize them all. This is a little plastic storage box I found at Walmart. I made alphabetical dividers from Card stock. If I had more time I would have designed and printed the dividers from Photoshop to match the label I made for the box. The handwritten dividers work just as well for me.  No more lost seed packets and no more spilled seeds!

I especially like the way the little green handles snap over the top to hold the lid on. (top photo)

September 25, 2015

Square Foot Gardening Part Two

We now have two raised beds finished, ( see my previous post about Raised beds) I still need to put soil in the second one. I wanted to plant some fall and winter crops in the first one so I went out this afternoon and made my squares.

I used the bailing twine left over from the straw bale garden that we are breaking down. As you can see from the picture, I stapled the twine to the sides for a permanent grid. I actually used a piece of twine to measure with too. I tied a knot 12 inches from the end and measured as I went along. This was much faster than carrying the measuring tape all around the bed.

I planted my squares and labeled them. As you can see, I planted things that will be happy growing as the weather turns cooler later this month (September). The Garlic will be left to harvest next year so it got fancy signage. :-)

September 19, 2015

Square Foot Gardening...Maybe???

Tad, JoJo & Annie with the finished raised bed
My straw bale garden this year was a disaster! I didn't treat the bales like I should have, I planted too late and pretty much neglected it because I was so busy with my little nursery business. Besides all that, the straw bales cost $65 this year. Bill and I decided we could buy a lot of fresh veggies at the Farmer's Market for $65!

Raised beds would be a better investment and once we get them built and filled with compost, they will be much less work and less expensive each year. As usual, Bill went right to work building wonderful beds to fit the slope where we needed them to be. I started doing a little research on square foot gardening. With four, four by eight foot beds we should be able to grow lots of veggies using the square foot method. We wanted to make use of the existing space because we already have the ground cover down and it's the sunniest spot in the back yard. We wanted to use the decaying straw from this year's bales as we moved them to make room for new permanent beds.

Grandson Tad was a lot of help moving the rotted manure and helping me spread it and the compost in the new beds. We topped them off with bagged soil conditioner as you can see in top photo. Now I'm ready to mark off my squares and plant some fall crops. See all the photos below. Stay tuned!
old straw in first new bed

Tad moving compost to new bed

Bill is almost done with bed # 2