A Special Ingredient You Need in Your Home & Organic Garden

A Special Ingredient You Need in Your Home & Organic Garden
Gardening organically can be slightly harder in certain instances, but it is well worth the pay-off. Growing your own nutrient-dense food that is as natural as possible is becoming increasingly important to many families.

What to do about pests though?

Or what about a natural way to get rid of fleas once your lovable pooch has already brought them home?

I got both covered. :)

Here's your special ingredient, something I ALWAYS have on hand, and 6 awesome uses for it:

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a very fine powder that contains tiny pre-historic aquatic organisms called diatoms which are made of silica. Some brands of DE (like in the link above) may be taken internally as well as used around the house. I personally only use a brand that is food grade, as I would not want children/pets getting into anything that was not safe to ingest already, you know what I mean? I don't have chemical insect repellant, cleaners, or sunscreen in the house (I've written about that here), let alone anything else that's harmful to my precious family.

6 Awesome Uses of DE:
1. Overall health benefits for hair, skin, nails, body, and brain. DE usually contains trace minerals, and we are often deficient in silica, which also has some amazing properties. Go do a little google search to see for yourself!

2. Great addition to facial scrubs, deodorant, carpet cleaner, and more. Just AVOID eyes (and nose on furry friends).

3. Kills fleas that your pooch brought in! The fine and abrasive nature of the powder causes insects with exoskeletons to dehydrate fatally. Dust pup 2x per day until pests are seen to be gone (be careful to avoid mouth & eyes, as the fine dust particles can irritate mucus membranes!).

4. Pest control in the garden. Re-apply once per day after noticing pests after dew or rain has dried for best use.

5. DE has detoxifying properties and can be used alongside these other gentle cleansing and detoxing tips.

6. In vegetable gardening, DE is sometimes used as a soil conditioner, because it can retain water and nutrients while draining fast and freely, allowing more air circulation to bring additional oxygen to the root system within the soil (which you want).

There you have it! Hope this is helpful. Go grab some here if you need it as much as I do!

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*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. All things I love and use, of course!

How to Maximize Space and Soil Nutrients in Your Organic Garden

Did you know that planting crops together (inter-mixed) is not only convenient, but beneficial for your crops?
Depending on which plants you choose, this can be a really good option if you...
1) Don't have a lot of space.
2) Want to maximize the growing season.
3) Need to remember where you planted your carrots! ;)

Carrots take a LONG time to germinate. A REALLY long time... 14-21 days, to be exact. That's easily long enough to forget you planted them there! Haha.

We plant a double row of hard-neck garlic with a row of carrots down the middle and radishes planted on top of them.

This, along with maximizing the high nutrient content of our vegetable-based compost, is super helpful for conserving space and utilizing the various nutrients these different vegetables need. The radishes are ready to pick in 4ish weeks, right when the carrots are just coming up! They make a great "row marker" for your carrots, protect the ground where the carrots are, and the garlic is ready to pick (from its planting in the fall) in mid-July, after the radishes are gone but before the carrots are ready to pick. If you pick your garlic at just the right time, it's easy to pull (no forking needed) and the root systems of the carrots are minimally impacted.

Win win win -- triple win! :)

Get our free plant-based DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray recipes for home and garden here

Want to receive updates to the blog? Here's Top 3 Tips for Gardening Organically. You can sign up to get blog updates straight to your inbox or phone here so you don't miss any! 
Fall crop of carrots/radishes planted recently without garlic.
Maximize Garden Space

Top 3 Tips for Gardening Organically

Gardening organically is totally doable and very beneficial for the earth, our bodies, and the creatures with whom we share our world. After 23+ years of experience (my family has gardened organically since I was 3 years old), here are my top 3 general tips, whether you're just getting started or a seasoned organic gardener. There's also a few pictures of our garden along the way and recipes for natural bugs-be-gone sprays for home & garden at the end -- enjoy!

1. Feed the Soil
What we feed the soil is what goes into our vegetables, so if we feed our crops well, we benefit from that in the food we eat. If you've eaten organically fresh-grown food, you'll know that it tastes different. This is in part due to differing varieties of the plant you grow, but in my opinion it has even more to do with the quality of the soil it's grown in.

Pro-Tip: If you can, go down to your local waste energy facility and get some compost made from the fall leaves & grass clippings. This provides wonderful nutrients for the soil, creates a weed barrier if left on top of the soil (any weed seeds are killed in the heating process), and is very cost-effective, not to mention also quite considerate of the earth and the way it naturally functions (recycling concept).
2nd crop of baby zucchini -- we pick 3x per week to get this size, otherwise we'd have a pick-up truck full of them! Pumpkin plants freshly tilled and about to run (they need to be hand-weeded still,
don't mind the weeds)! ;)
2. Plant Crops in a Way to Naturally Reduce Pests
Most people know about crop rotation as the most effective way to do this (moving crops to different locations different years). This also helps with soil quality, as different crops take different nutrients in and out of the soil, so they can help one another! But did you know that you can naturally deter certain animals or pests based on location you plant? For example, we planted parsnips along the edge of one of our fields where bunnies like to be because they find those less appetizing than other crops. Bunnies also won't go out into the center of our fields (otherwise, bye bye, says the hawk!), so planting these edge crops in the first few rows prevents them from bothering anything.

3. Use Plants to Protect Plants
Many people know about diatomaceous earth (uncalcinated) as a more natural effective way to get rid of insects with exoskeletons (by dehydration), but did you know that there are many plant-based ways to keep bugs (with exoskeletons or not) away from your plants? Generally this takes slightly more frequent application, but it tends to be more harmonious for the environment because it does not kill the bugs, just causes them to avoid the area.

Get our free plant-based DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray recipes for home and garden here

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First planting of cabbage, broccoli, and kale.
You can see the zucchini too in the far top LH corner, and the cucumbers next to them. :)

The Importance of Natural Bug Repellent Around Kids and Pets (and Adults Too!)

The Importance of Natural Bug Repellent Around Kids and Pets (and Adults Too!)
You know those creepy crawlies that are found in the garden, around the home...? The ants and potato beetles, or worse... ticks?

We use a natural plant-based and non-toxic DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray in our home (read to the end for the recipe!) because we know how unpleasant some of those insect friends are.

We initially were concerned about finding natural alternatives because 1) we know ticks in particular but also mosquitoes are a problem, but also 2) we know the dangers of yard sprays and deet in particular. You can read more about the dangers of that here. My family is especially concerned about the environmental impact of sprays on bees, fish, and other wildlife aside from our children and pets.

My mom started using our DIY spray recipe on the family dog because he's always getting ticks. She started using it a few weeks ago. The week before, she'd found 3 on him! Since using the spray, she hasn't found one yet. Pretty good!

We also know that some people are not just irritated by mosquitoes, but actually allergic! That is especially important to be aware of. Finding safe alternatives for people with skin sensitivities is also really important. I (Andrea) have many sensitivities, skin and respiratory being two of them, and the ingredients in our spray and roller recipes pass the tests with flying colors.

Get our free DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray recipes for home and garden here!

DIY Insect Repellent Roller Recipe
10 drops citronella essential oil (this one was free in June for ER orders!)
10 drops lemongrass essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil

Add essential oils above to a 10 ml roller bottle (you can find some here) and fill with a carrier oil of choice (our favorite one is here).

*It is very important to know that not all essential oils are created equal...

You can’t just go out to a big box store (or anywhere online) and trust that you’re getting the good stuff. Lucky for you, I’ve got a source I trust. Contact me for more information.
And learn how to use essential oils safely here!

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. All things I love and use, of course!