Since I want to try growing sweet potatoes in our hanging baskets this summer, I needed to start a few vines. I had a few potatoes that needed some bad spots removed before cooking, so I saved the ends from those for this experiment. They are in a dish with a small amount of water on a table in our sunroom. I can see tiny purple sprouts starting already on two of the ends! I will update again once they have more growth to show.
We have taken down all of our inventory for the moment as we switch over to our new product lines. If there is something you are looking for in the meantime please don’t hesitate to ask!
After our success growing green onions from scraps, we decided to try the same experiment with our celery leftovers. We put the ends right side up in glass dishes and filled them with water to about halfway up the stalk. Once the leaves had grown to about 4-5″ tall we planted them into a pot filled with potting soil mixed with peat.
Hopefully they will continue to grow and we will be able to enjoy a continuous supply of celery through the coming winter. It never ceases to amaze me how much can be grown from things we would have discarded. Very empowering!
Since I already had success growing a pineapple plant from the scraps, it didn’t take an abnormally large leap of faith to think this might work with other leftovers. I first decided to try this on the ends of some organic green onions. These are by far one of my favorites, but so expensive! Not any more… they started to grow within a day once I put them in water! After a week or so they had large enough roots to transfer to a pot. They are now growing steadily and we can give a haircut to the plant as needed for an endless (and free) supply of fresh green onions throughout the year.
For those of you who are trying to get away from harsh chemicals in all areas of their life, liquid hand soap might be one of those last few holdouts. It is hard to make/sell anything in liquid form without adding preservatives to keep nasties from growing in it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the soap ourselves in small batches as we need it.
All you need is a bar of your favorite natural soap, small pot or crockpot, water and a grater (alternatively a knife and submersion blender will work). Depending on how thick you want your soap to be, you can use more or less water in your recipe. For ours I used one part water and one part chopped soap chunks (I had some extra ends from a few batches of soap, waste not want not). I simply added the soap and water to a mini crockpot and let the mixture heat up. I then mixed it with a submersion blender… since I am not a very patient person. I COULD have grated the soap and avoided this, but laziness got the best of me. After things were fully incorporated, I let the mixture continue to cook for a few hours and poured it into a ball jar (it was still mildly frothy at this point).
The half soap / half water mixture produces a liquid soap with the consistency of a thin syrup. It works well in one of the handmade ball jar pumps and I’m sure would be awesome in a foaming pump as well. If you prefer a thicker soap you could do two parts soap to one part water. I might try that route the next time I have a few more soap scraps to spare. If you used an unscented bar of soap and want to scent your hand soap for the season, essential oils are a wonderful route to go – just make sure you check with your doctor first if you are pregnant, nursing or have any other health issues since some of them might effect the body in different ways.
Another quick note of caution – soap projects need their own set of tools that are not used for food… the dollar store is a great place to find cheapie bowls and graters. If you don’t want to invest in a separate stainless steel pot just for this, you could place it in a microwave safe bowl and warm it in 30 second intervals until the soap melts. 🙂
Growing ginger in your garden is really quite easy. Purchase a fresh piece of ginger from your grocery or farmers market. Look for a large piece with plenty of “nubs” and soak the root overnight in warm water before planting.
If you are in a northern climate where frost is a possibility, you will need to plant the ginger root in a pot that can be transferred indoors in the winter. Either drill a hole in the bottom of the pot, or place rocks at the base for drainage.
Fill the pot with well draining soil almost to the rim. Place the ginger root on top of the soil and cover with a thin (1/2″ to 1″) layer of dirt. Water well and place the pot in a place that gets plenty of sunlight.
Ginger plants like to be watered regularly, but they do best in well drained soil. When I did this experiment in our garden I tried to grow ginger in two pots, the one that received less water did much better than the one that received too much (that root rotted, an extremely stinky experience preparing that pot for the next planting).
After your ginger plant has matured, you can carefully harvest small portions of the root as needed without killing the plant. If you are anything like us, we always end up buying much more ginger than we could use and it either rots in the refrigerator or ends up forgotten in the freezer, so having a ginger plant we can harvest from is a much more sustainable option. If you try this let me know how the ginger does in your own garden!
While you can buy premade olive oil candle wicks, they can be somewhat expensive and it is really quite easy to make them yourself with materials you might already have on hand.
Shape the wire into a circle with the pliers, bend one end upward toward the center and form a loop to hold the wick.
Place the wire and wick assembly into the jar and fill with olive oil until just below the bottom of the loop. Soak the wick completely with the oil and allow the oil to absorb into the fabric before lighting it.
Oil candles are a great alternative in an emergency if you don’t have any wax candles available. They are also great for everyday use if you love candles, but want a more eco-friendly source of ambience. Using a high quality olive oil burns with no noticeable scent or smoke and can last for quite a long time.
Remember to always use candles with caution and never leave burning unattended.
Soap Pump (I bought a dollar store soap dispenser and just used the pump)
Glue (Some people use heavy duty dishwasher safe glue, I hot-glued mine)
Scissors, drill or xacto knife
Take the flat ball jar lid and draw a circle in the center where you want the pump to go through the diameter of the pump (you can eye-ball this). You have a choice now as to how you wish to cut the hole. I started mine with an xacto knife (really watch your fingers if you choose this option) and finished it off with scissors. Others have had success drilling a hole through the lid. Whichever way you choose to go about this, just use caution.
Once the hole has been cut, slide the soap pump through and center it on the lid in the direction you want it to face. Hold everything together with one hand while you glue around the base with the other. If you want things to be extra secure, you could place some glue around the top of the pump before sliding it through the hole as well. I found it easier to put a few dabs of glue around the base to help hold things in place so I could seal it all the way around with glue using both hands.
I was able to get a pack of 12 Ball Jars for just 8.59 (with tax!) and the soap dispenser at the dollar store, so total cost was right around $1.81 for this cutie. Not too bad considering these can cost upwards of $20 if you buy them premade.
After learning to make my own homemade household cleaning products, I needed a better way to store and organize them. I was lucky enough to find some spray bottles and swingtop sealed jars at the dollar store of all places (JACKPOT! I absolutely love the sealed jars!).
Now that we have all these containers, I wanted to label them so I would know what was inside each of them. I like the idea of a clear label, but the kits to make them are rather costly. I thought about perhaps printing onto a transparency, but I didn’t have any in the house. So, out of cheapness (and laziness) I decided to just print onto plain paper. If I get tired of the labels, I can always change them to something else at a later time.
Printer With Ink and Printer Paper
Clear Packing Tape
X-Acto Knife and Ruler (Optional)
I started by designing some labels on the computer – you can use any digital image software to do this. If you don’t have one currently, Gimp is a good free program that can get the job done. I then arranged all the labels to fit on a single 8.5×11 sheet and printed them out.
Next I trimmed the labels with an xacto knife and ruler leaving a small white edge around the sides. If you don’t have an xacto, scissors will work if you have a steady hand. Then I placed each label print side down onto a piece of clear packing tape and trimmed the excess with scissors.
Finally, take your new label and place it onto your container starting in the center and working your way outward. Be sure to smooth out any air bubbles. One tip when working with containers that have irregular edges is to make the labels slightly smaller than the even surface. This will ensure that they can be adhered smoothly. As you can see, these cheap little labels don’t look too shabby!
Total cost out of pocket if you already have everything on hand = $0, can’t beat that!
While these won’t be dishwasher safe, they are good enough to survive a hand washing if you are careful.
I’ve been on a mission lately to figure out how to make things myself using only natural ingredients. Commercial dishwashing detergent can be pretty expensive and honestly it hasn’t been working that well for me. I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one tired of having to re-wash things like stained tea mugs by hand after they come out of the dishwasher. Not to mention the chemicals that might stick behind and end up in our food. No thank you!
I was able to find many homemade dishwashing detergents using borax, but I wanted to make something gentler using only natural ingredients. After a little bit of experimentation, here is what I came up with. I made this recipe for a small batch, it makes approx 8 tablets so you can try it out. Once you have tried it and want to make larger batches, just increase the amounts in the same proportions.
30g (1/8 cup) of Citric Acid
1/2 cup Baking Soda
30g (1/8 cup) of Kosher Salt
Water in spray bottle
White Vinegar per directions
First put on some vinyl gloves to protect your hands, measure and mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Quickly pack mixture into whatever molds you have. Ice cube trays will work just fine if you don’t have any decorative molds to use. I am a craft-dork, so of course I have to use the pretty ones. It is important that you only fill the molds about 1/2 – 3/4 full in case you added too much water (they will expand if this happens).
Let the mixture sit undisturbed for a few hours so it can dry and harden. You can then unmold them and they are ready for use right away.
I usually put these dishwasher tablets in the cutlery compartment and add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar to a measuring cup placed in the center of the top rack. I also ditched the jet dry and put white vinegar into the rinse compartment as well.
If your dishes turn out cloudy (with an almost powdery substance on them) you probably have hard water. Try increasing the amount of citric acid to twice the original amount. If you have already made up your dishwashing tablets, instead of throwing them away and starting over just add the extra citric acid to the detergent compartment when starting the cycle. This is why I made up a small amount of tablets at first – gives us a chance to figure things out and get them perfect. Once perfected, they can be made in bulk! You can also add more vinegar for a spot-free rinse.
Store tablets in a dry place – ball jars and swingtop containers work great for this and look cute too!