Sara’s Summer Garden Series: How to Make Your Own Soil for Your Container Garden

Sara's Summer Garden Series Cover

You can set up a container garden easily, with as little or as much space as you want, and relatively inexpensively. You can also make your garden as elaborate or as simple as you want. A few of my favorite benefits of container gardening are it is totally customizable to your needs and you know exactly where your crops come from. Whether it be a simple salsa garden filled with tomatoes and peppers or an extensive array of fruits and vegetables, you control for the most part what (if any) chemicals, including pesticides and fertilizers, are absorbed by your plants. You can even make your own soil for your container garden.

I started thinking about the chemicals that went into our foods after reading It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and determined that not only do we not know what is in all of our foods, but we often can’t control what farmers put in or around our foods to manage pests and increase product yields. Last year, my garden suffered a major hit from the Tomato Worm and we didn’t get any tomatoes. I didn’t put any pesticides on our plants because I was already sick and didn’t want to harm my body any more than it already had been harmed. I also started thinking about how we plant our gardens and the chemicals that are often placed in top and potting soils.

Now I know a natural way to kill Tomato Hormworms is to mix peppermint oil with water in a spray bottle and spray the entire plant.

Now I know a natural way to kill Tomato Hornworms is to mix peppermint oil with water in a spray bottle and spray the entire plant.

I know we can’t possible eliminate every single chemical that makes it into our food, but my husband helped me devise a way to have a little bit more control about what we do put in our bodies and this year, we made our own potting soil. It was easy, really cheap and the plants have been growing well this year (as have the weeds, no doubt) so I assume it is providing nutrients. In terms of the weeds, I just need to find time to pull them out! If you have a container (or any) garden, you can make your own soil too in just a few easy steps – and I guarantee it won’t even change much from what you are already doing in your day to day life!

How to Make Your Own Soil for Your Container Garden

Note: This takes a little bit of time to prepare so the first year we gardened we bought the soil and then started making our own as we became older and wiser.
  • Get some lawn and leaf bags or save the empty potting soil bags from the year you planted using commercial soil.

Bag used for compost

  •  Each time you weed your garden, trim your yard or pick up after a storm collect the plant waste.

organic 'waste'

  •  Add it to the lawn, leaf or potting soil bags.

organic 'waste' in bag

  • As time goes by and you continue to weed, keep adding to the bag! I add the new material on top and fold the bags down so there is not much room for air. We store the decomposing bags right on our front porch. I have never noticed a smell or anything because we don’t put food scraps in there and the thick material of the bag is a good barrier. Turn the compost every now and then (my husband does it once or twice a month) and soon, you will notice soil!

New compost in bag

  • When you are ready to plant, dump the soil in your bag our on the ground or tarp (so as not to waste it).

New compost on tarp, not sorted

  • Sift through the soil, removing the larger plant materials. Return the large pieces to the bag to continue decomposing.

sifting through compost

  • Add your soil to any pots you are ready to plant!

filling post with compost.jpg

  • The amount of time this will take to create compost will vary depending on factors like temperature, moisture, and what/how much you put in your bag. During the summer (which is the most productive time for us) a three month decomposition is possible, but it could take several months, up to a year. We do not turn the bags in the winter because the process slows down during that time.

That’s it! Easy and a lot healthier for your plants and you. We have two bags of soil going and were able to plant about half of our garden with homemade soil this spring. Now we have four bags going so we will just keep composting soil until we don’t need to buy any more.

Until the next mile marker,

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Top Ten Natural Blood Thinners – The Spice Edition

Top Ten Natural Blood Thinners Cover

Ever since I have been diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), I have been reading about natural “cures” and remedies for blood clotting, including what natural blood thinners exist. I don’t know about you, but it really bothers me to be on so much medication and for such a serious condition. I would like to get to a point someday where I can not be dependent on medication. I believe that the earth – in it’s natural state – originally provided everything our bodies needed to survive and heal. How else would be have survived all of these tens of thousands of years?

I believe the state of our environment, water and food supplies have a lot to do with what is causing us to be sick in the first place. Especially in America (and those counties that eat our food), we have paid a price for convenience, preservation and price all while sacrificing what is natural, whole and healing.

There is some interesting information online about natural remedies for serious disorders, and all new courses of treatment should be discussed with your healthcare provider before you make a switch. For instance, people taking prescription anti-coagulant drugs also need to be careful not to consume too many foods with natural blood thinning components in addition to their regular medication.

The chemicals in blood thinners, which are known as salicylates are also found naturally in some plants, stored in the bark, leaves, roots, skin and seeds. Blood thinners help block vitamin K and in nature, salicylates help to protect plants against insect damage and disease. Aspirin is another everyday example containing salicylate and many foods also contain them.

I love to cook with spices – and not just salt and pepper – so I was excited to see there are many spices and herbs that are naturally comprised of salicylates, or natural blood thinners. Below is my list of the top ten natutal blood thinning spices and what you can use them for, along with some other health benefits they may provide.

  1. Ginger- Ginger can be added to almost anything and brings flavor to most meals. I use it in Asian and Indian dishes. Ginger also helps to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and has been used in the treatment of a variety of ailments from cancer to migraines.
  2. Cayenne Pepper- Cayenne Pepper is one of nature’s most healing and therapeutic foods. It gets it’s color and spicy flavor from an ingredient known as capsaicin. I love spicy food so I use this ingredient a lot. Remember, a little goes a long way!
  3. Curry Powder– One of my all-time favorite spices to cook with. Curry has many anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat inflammatory diseases for centuries. I use curry on a weekly basis in shrimp, chicken and vegetable dishes.
  4. Paprika – Paprika is rich in antioxidants and vitamin c and also helps the cardiovascular system by reducing swelling and increasing circulation. I don’t use it very often, but it is good on eggs and potatoes. I will definitely have to get more paprika next time I head to the grocery store.
  5. Thyme – Thyme is rich antioxidants and helps aid in digestion, as well as soothing coughs. My favorite way to eat thyme is in a tea right before bed time.
  6. Cinnamon- Consume pure cinnamon to help with regulation of blood sugar and lowering of cholesterol as well as blood thinning. Cinnamon has long been used in baking recipes, but I prefer it sprinkled on top of oatmeal or over a cup of hot apple cider in the fall. I also use cinnamon in several Indian dishes.
  7. Dill- Dill has been used for centuries in cooking and as a herbal remedy. It is known to be a digestive and sleep aid. I like dill on baked or sauteed potatoes or in an egg omelet.
  8. Oregano– This herb is excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium and when eaten fresh, it packs a punch of vitamin c as well. I love oregano in pasta sauces most of all. I just toss some of the fresh herb in the pot after chopping it up a bit.
  9. Turmeric- Turmeric is the ingredient in curry that gives it a vibrant yellow color. It has anti-inflammatory properties and just a pinch is tasty in egg salads and deviled eggs.
  10. Peppermint– Peppermint helps an irritable bowel and may also help in the fight against cancer. I like peppermint freshly steeped in hot or iced tea.

Next time you are cooking, try a couple of these herbs and even if they don’t help clotting, they are sure to not only delight your senses and tantalize your taste buds, but maybe add in some extra health benefits too.

Until the next mile marker,