Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Sunflower microgreens are a delicious addition to your recipe collection, and they’re easy to grow in your kitchen.

 

Once “mature,” you can harvest your sunflower microgreens, and their rich, nutty flavor and crunchy texture fit into every meal of the day. They pair particularly nicely with eggs at breakfast, soups, sandwiches, and wraps at lunch, and alongside meats and grains at dinner.

 

Chock full of vitamins, protein, and lecithin to break down fatty acids, sunflower microgreens are not only delicious, they also pack quite a nutritional punch. Growing them yourself is economical, satisfying, and fun. It’s an easy crop for children to plant and grow and makes a great addition to their favorite meals, including pizza, tacos, and alphabet soup.

 

An as an added bonus, your chickens, ducks, other poultry, and rabbits will also jump at the chance to down some sunflower microgreens as part of their diet (and you might even save some money at the same time!)

 

Are you ready to exercise your green thumb by growing your own sunflower microgreens this planting season? Follow these ten easy steps!

 

Start by purchasing quality sunflower sprouting seeds.

 

You don’t need to purchase the most expensive seeds, but you do want the black oil sunflower seed variety. Make sure the seeds you purchase are for sprouting – organic seeds are best so you can be sure they haven’t been sprayed with harmful chemicals.

 

Click here to buy organic sunflower sprouting seeds on Amazon

 

Then purchase a growing pad, organic soilseedling tray, and plastic cover, and set them aside for later use. (You can make your own organic soil as well).

 

Soak the seeds in warm water for at least 12 hours

 

Grab a mason jar and pour in enough seeds to cover your grow tray. Because we’re growing microgreens, space isn’t as big of an issue so be generous – you want a large enough harvest to make the effort worth it.

 

Be sure to keep the seeds covered as they soak to keep dust, bugs, etc out of the jar.  This will speed up germination, and let you harvest the sunflower microgreens faster. You’ll also waste less seeds.

 

If you don’t want to go through the soaking process, then you can just plant the seeds directly in the grow tray.

 

But if you want to soak your seeds, then…

 

Drain and rinse the seeds thoroughly with cool water, then repeat the soaking process.

 

Again, use warm water and soak for an additional 12 hours. It’s very important to rinse the seeds thoroughly so they don’t get moldy.

 

At this point, you should start to see the seeds begin to sprout. It will look like they’re growing tiny tails.

 

Pour potting soil into your grow tray and spread the seeds very thickly.

 

You can cover the seeds very lightly with additional soil, but it’s not strictly necessary. Cover the tray with the plastic top so moisture is retained – make sure there is some ventilation, and remove the top if the seeds begin to mold.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy addition to any meal!

Water your sunflower microgreens by placing the tray inside a larger tray or tub.

 

This allows the seeds to receive water from the bottom without disturbing them from the top. You don’t want to displace any of the dirt or disturb the seedlings’ root structure.

 

As the seeds grow and start to push up, move them to a sunny spot (like a bright window) and continue to water them regularly.

 

You CAN use a grow light if you want, but it’s not strictly necessary, since your sunflower microgreens will be harvested in a few days.

 

In a week to a week and a half, the sunflower shoots should be about 4” tall.

 

Harvest your sunflower microgreens!

 

Once they’re about 4″ tall, it’s time to harvest the fruits of your labor. Cut your sunflower microgreens right above soil level and store them in a sealable plastic bag.  They should last 4-5 days in your refrigerator.

 

To use them, pull out the amount you need for each recipe, and rinse them carefully under cool, running water.

 

Use this easy method to grow these tasty greens whenever you want them. Because they’re ready to harvest so quickly, they don’t require a ton of planning ahead, and because they last for 4-5 days when refrigerated, they can also be ready to use when you’re ready for them.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy snack!

Ideas to use your sunflower microgreens

 

Try your first harvest in a simple summer salad:

Mix sunflower microgreens with peeled and cubed blood oranges and avocados, peeled and shredded carrots, and chopped walnuts or pecans. Dress with a light vinaigrette dressing and add slices of crusty, homemade bread for a delicious summer meal.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What’s your favorite way to use sunflower microgreens? Leave a comment below!

5 All-Natural Skin Care Hacks That Are Ridiculously Easy

5 All-Natural Skin Care Hacks That Are Ridiculously Easy

Give your beauty kit a revamp with these amazingly easy DIY all-natural skin care hacks you can try at home.

For generations, humans have used nature to enhance our natural glow….and it’s only lately that we’ve turned to synthetic and chemical products.

 

If you’re avoiding using chemicals, but still want to take care of yourself, you do have options. We’ve talked plenty of times on this website about all-natural skin care for your pets, but did you know you can use those same hacks for yourself?

 

Everything from deodorant to exfoliants have all-natural solutions…if you know where to look.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you 5 ingredients you can use for all-natural skin care. I’m sure you already have these ingredients in your kitchen – and you probably didn’t know they could also double as all-natural skin care.

Potatoes for all-natural deodorant

If you’ve been dealing with problems such as sensitivity or dryness (which can happen with commercial deodorants), try rubbing a half-inch thick slice of potato under each armpit. 

 

The natural enzymes and antioxidants in potato skins help exfoliate delicate skin and reduce offending odors.

 

Tea tree oil for healthy skin

Tea Tree Oil (also called melaleuca) is one of the easiest all-natural beauty hacks for healthy skin, and it might reduce blemishes and spots. Mix 1 drop of essential oil with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and apply directly to your skin. The coconut oil is also great for moisturizing and smoothing out any uneven skin!

 

DIY facial scrubs with honey

For acne and other skin blemishes, try mixing ¼ cup oatmeal with 1 tablespoon honey and one egg white and apply to your face. Be sure to wash off with warm water. Honey and oatmeal are soothing for your skin, and can help reduce redness and blotchiness.

 

For blackheads, dip a clean cloth or cotton pad to a honey and organic flour mix. The honey is soothing while the flour acts as an exfoliant!

 

All-Natural Homemade Moisturizers With Aloe Vera & Avocado

Aloe vera is excellent for after-sun skin care as well as sunburns, when your skin, your body’s largest organ, is taking a heap of damage and needs extra care. 

 

Be sure to use fresh aloe, which is best. Snip a piece of the succulent and apply directly to your skin.

 

For dry feet and heels, try magnesium oil mixed with avocado and cocoa butter! The high fat content in the avocado is great for moisturizing!

 

Coffee Under Eye Treatment

One uncommon beauty hack you probably haven’t tried yet is to put coffee on to the dark circles under your eyes to perk them up.

 

Mix ground coffee with coconut oil and apply it under your eyes 3-4 times each week. You can also make an easy skin care mask with coffee and coconut oil.

 

(You can also use coffee grounds in your garden, once you’re done with the under eye treatment!)

How to Keep a Camper Warm in the Winter

How to Keep a Camper Warm in the Winter

Thinking of living full time in an RV in winter? Learning how to keep a camper warm in the winter is easy!

 

I know many of you are pioneering winter travelers or committed to living full time in an RV in winter.

 

While I’m not a huge camper, ever since we got our cabin, I’ve been discovering all sorts of “off the beaten path” ways to stay warm without using conventional ideas like gas, oil, or electricity.

 

(Discover how we avoided propane and saved money this winter by installing a wood stove.)

 

If you own an older camper (or live in a cabin) and plan to be outdoors a lot in the colder months, then you’re going to want to know how to keep a camper warm in the winter.

 

Here are some tips to keep your mobile home warm and cozy.

Wondering how to keep a camper warm in winter? These 7 genius winter camper living hacks and winter camper ideas will keep you toasty while the wind whistles outdoors!

Insulate your camper

Although most campers have some sort of insulation, this can be effected by several factors such as make, model, and maintenance. (Yes, maintenance. If you don’t do upkeep on your mobile home, you’re pretty much SOL.)

 

As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so do periodic checks for leaks around windows, doors, and anywhere with rubber seals.

 

Any ideas about how to keep a camper warm in the winter that we talk about in this article are useless if your RV is drafty and not well insulated.

 

Of course, extra insulation is essential in subzero temperatures. Nobody likes to be frozen when the North wind blows.

 

In addition to fixing any drafts, you can insulate the windows and doors of your camper with insulation panels like these. You can also use spray foam to fill in any gaps.

 

Insulate the roof, walls, and especially the floor with heavy blankets (see this article about how to stay warm in winter for additional ideas).

 

While this idea is very simple, it’s also very effective, and will help keep any warmth inside the camper.

 

Also be sure to insulate your hot water pipes since, if you’re cold, a warm bath can help you heat up. Use foam covers, (these have saved our butt many winters), spray foam, or even old clothes (this is one we use a lot, and a good use of ripped and old clothing you’d otherwise throw away).

 

How to keep a camper warm in the winter off grid

So, on to how to keep a camper warm in the winter if your heating system sucks.

 

Ask me how I know these tips (hint: I refuse to use the central heat in our home because I think the cost of propane is highway robbery. We use a wood stove instead).

 

Gas heaters are one option for a camper that’s off grid and doesn’t use electricity. Here’s one option for propane heaters you can use indoors (just remember: you’ll have to pay high prices for that propane AND you’ll blow through it quickly.)

 

Electric heaters are another option. Your best bet, as far as electricity goes, is to get a solar generator, and plug an electric heater into it.

 

They’re not cheap, but they’re still affordable and because they use a renewable energy source, your camper can stay warm in the winter longer. You can buy a regular electric heater at any dollar store.

 

Pro Tip: Choose an energy-efficient electrical heater to avoid surges.

 

If a solar generator just isn’t an option, you can buy adaptors to turn a cigarette lighter into an electrical socket and run the engine of your car. Check out one option here.

 

Bring the right items so you stay warm in the winter

Getting the right items to keep you warm throughout the winter nights is essential. After all, you can insulate your camper but still feel cold, especially if temperatures reach extremely low numbers in your area.

 

Here’s my best tips for staying warm in winter without heat, and if you’re cold, then one of the easiest ways to warm up is to walk around, weather permitting.

 

There’s been many a morning where I’ve groused about the freezing weather only to quickly warm up when I started feeding our chickens.)

 

Learning how to keep a camper warm in the winter is easy as long as you make the right preparations.

How To Install A Wood Stove For Beginners

Ever since we moved to our farm, learning how to install a wood stove has been on the bucket list.

It’s not just that a wood stove screams homesteading, but it’s also about saving money, using the resources around us (we have 5 acres of woods), and, frankly, not buying propane for our central heat system and dealing with the upkeep of said system just so we can stay warm.

square foot gardening plant spacing

Our first year on the farm, we actually did use propane to heat the house. And it was about $500 a month. And ever since, I’ve refused to use it because, honestly, I think that’s highway robbery.

So, enter the idea to use wood. In this article, I’m going to show you how to install a wood stove.

This is just the way we did it – you might read about other ways to install a wood stove on the Internet, and that’s fine. Definitely do your research! This is an easy decision to make, but also a big one.

Wondering how to install a wood stove hearth? If you're thinking of getting a wood stove fireplace, and aren't sure if it's for you (or whether a wood stove surround is a good idea), then read this wood stove ideas guide!

So, here’s a quick breakdown of the steps to install a cast iron wood stove in your house:

  1. Decide on a model to buy
  2. Get a chimney kit, if needed
  3. Decide on a location to install it
  4. Build a fire-safe base
  5. Install the wood stove and chimney kit
  6. Use chimney braces, if needed
  7. Seal the interior chimney pipe so they don’t leak smoke

So, let’s look at each of these steps.

square foot gardening plant spacing

 

Decide on which wood stove you’ll buy

This isn’t a light decision, and you should make it carefully. After a lot of research and talking to people, I decided on this model.

Honestly, I was overwhelmed by all the options (you can buy stoves from $300 to $3,000 and everywhere in between) and I had no idea which was best.

I ended up asking a friend I trusted about the model they bought and whether they liked it and whether it was easy to install (she purchased hers a few years ago and it’s still going strong), and just ended up buying that exact model.

Why reinvent the wheel, right?

Something to consider, though, is the size of the area you want to heat. I installed my wood stove inside my 12×24 cabin; as it turns out, the wood stove I bought was WELL equipped to heat a larger space (1,800 square feet to be exact, and the cabin is quite a bit smaller than that).

While I don’t regret my choice at all, now that I have more experience and I’m less overwhelmed, I might have looked for a smaller model.

Wondering how to install a wood stove hearth? If you're thinking of getting a wood stove fireplace, and aren't sure if it's for you (or whether a wood stove surround is a good idea), then read this wood stove ideas guide!

Something else to consider is the price. By all means, stick to your budget. But don’t cheap out on this purchase.

If your cast iron stove is well made, you will likely never have to replace it. You can’t beat that investment.

So, high quality means you will never have to figure out how to install a wood stove again, and it will likely have more design, safety features, and sufficient draw than a lower-quality purchase.

We noticed with our stove, that it had all kinds of safety features, including a way to deprive the fire of oxygen if it got too strong.

That’s good for us, since my husband has burnt down the barn in the past (that’s a LOOOOOONG story. Well, not really long, but an annoying story, so we’ll save it for another time).

We purchased our wood stove new, but if you can find a high-quality used one (maybe from a relative who upgraded and you’ve seen their old stove working), then by all means, go grab it.

I would be a little concerned about stoves purchased from yard sales or flea markets; you don’t know what you’re necessarily getting into, and might waste a lot of time and money.

square foot gardening plant spacing

 

Do you need a chimney kit or a kit to customize your chimney?

Most wood stove chimneys are designed to go through the roof of your home, and that’s how most people install them.

We weren’t going to cut a hole in the ceiling of our cabin for a variety of reasons, so we decided to install a wood stove through the window.

Wondering how to install a wood stove hearth? If you're thinking of getting a wood stove fireplace, and aren't sure if it's for you (or whether a wood stove surround is a good idea), then read this wood stove ideas guide!

It saved us the effort, expense, and inevitable heartache (lest we make a drilling mistake – a likely occurrence on this farm) of drilling through the roof.

Additionally, not all wood stoves come with chimneys, so you might need to buy a kit. The best thing to do is consult the manual of the stove you end up buying.


And be aware that the cost to install a wood stove isn’t just the stove itself – the chimney kit will cost you as well. However, like the wood stove, don’t skimp on this expense.

To run the chimney through the window, we needed a 90 degree elbow and a chimney pipe that had 2 layers so it didn’t get so hot.

We were able to find both at a local big box store, and knew what to buy thanks to the manual that came with our stove.

square foot gardening plant spacing

 

Decide where you’ll install your wood stove

In our case, I knew right away where I wanted to install our stove. In a small cabin, there’s only so much space!

But here’s some things we DID take into consideration: We have 2 small children, so we wanted it to be in a place where we could easily build a barrier to keep the kids away from the flames.

Similarly, we wanted it to be in a place where we didn’t have pets (our cats live in the house) so they didn’t accidentally burn themselves or the cabin down.

We decided that the wood stove would be the focal point of the room, and then we would design the rest of the cabin around it. So, we installed it in a location that made sense from a design standpoint and where there was enough space away from everything else so any chances of a fire were reduced.

The only caveat to installing it through the window is we lost the lower half of the window and a certain amount of light. So, we will need to decide how to recover the natural light in the cabin.

Build a base

After you’ve chosen a wood stove and decided where you’ll put it, you need to build a base. The point of the base is to provide a fire-safe structure for your stove to stand on.

In our case, we used cement board, tile, and mortar to install the wood stove. We started by screwing the cement board to the floor (if memory serves, it was 5 feet by 4 feet), then laying the tile on top.

It was easy and took about an hour to complete. There wasn’t enough tile to cover all of the cement board; I’m going to go back and find some easy to install tiles (read: no cutting involved) to cover the rest of the cement board.

Before continuing, we allowed the tile to dry for 48 hours. When dry, put the stove on the base and prepare to install it permanently.

square foot gardening plant spacing

 

Install the chimney kit

Installing the chimney kit wasn’t hard, but it’s one of those projects that takes a bit of brain power.

We had to find something to support the chimney through the window. Wood wouldn’t work because we wanted to eliminate the chance of a fire.

So we used a spare piece of tin. You can probably find kits online, but we had tin laying around, so why not use it?

Install the chimney kit according to the directions that come with your kit.

In our case, we had to also use a chimney brace. We have very strong winds in our area, and things that aren’t nailed down, will likely go bye-bye in 70 mph winds (I remember one time I bought a shed kit for my grain, only to find it scattered in pieces the next day because a tornado came through – worst $300 I ever spent).

Wondering how to install a wood stove hearth? If you're thinking of getting a wood stove fireplace, and aren't sure if it's for you (or whether a wood stove surround is a good idea), then read this wood stove ideas guide!

So brace that sucker unless you want to buy a new one.

Seal the chimney pipes so they don’t cause smoke in the house

Finally, we sealed the interior portions of the chimney kit so they didn’t leak smoke (found that one out the hard way – no big deal, except it might cause carbon monoxide poisoning.)

We used a stove sealant like this one. Allow it to dry before lighting the fire.

Wondering how to install a wood stove hearth? If you're thinking of getting a wood stove fireplace, and aren't sure if it's for you (or whether a wood stove surround is a good idea), then read this wood stove ideas guide!

That’s it – now we’ve figured out how to install a wood stove, and we can be toasty warm all winter. Hope this guide helps you out!

square foot gardening plant spacing
Why Your Shampoos & Soaps Are Harming Your Daughter (And What To Do About It)

Why Your Shampoos & Soaps Are Harming Your Daughter (And What To Do About It)

Time for a truth bomb. If you use commercial soaps and shampoos from big box stores, the dollar store, etc, chances are you’re exposing your children to phthalates.

 

What the heck are phthalates?

 

I’m glad you asked. (Like, really glad). Phthalates are chemical compounds commonly found in all sorts of consumer products, like household cleaners, toiletries, children’s toys, and makeup.

 

They also happen to be linked to depressed thyroid function, particularly young girls, according to scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

 

I bet if you look in your bathroom right now, you’ll find at least 10 items containing phthalates. That’s a big fat scary thought, isn’t it?

 

So, how did all these products end up in the hands of consumers anyway?

Well, that’s a funny thing. The large corporations that produce these products aren’t required to disclose what’s in their product’s fragrances.

 

So those dryer sheets you love so much?

 

Chances are they’re full of phthalates, and potentially wreaking havoc on your children’s endocrine systems.

 

Another common culprit? Nail polish (who knew?). Window cleaning products are another.

 

Those scented soaps you buy? Possibly messing with your daughter’s thyroid every time you bathe her.

 

In fact, skin exposure is a huge factor in endocrine disruption. As you know, the skin is our largest organ, but it has no defenses against phthalates.

 

Any exposure heads straight through your skin and into your major internal organs.

 

Yuck, who needs this, right?

 

Why going unscented won’t stop your problem

So, from now on you’ll just use unscented or fragrance-free products, right?

 

Well, that’s not going to solve the problem of your phthalate exposure any better.

 

Unscented means that the product probably has a large chemical smell naturally – and more chemicals have been added to mask that scent.

 

Fragrance-free just means that more fragrances weren’t added…but the product’s natural fragrances are still there, and there’s still likely phthalates lurking in the bottle.

 

So, what should you do instead?

Here’s our handy list of swaps you can make, switching your phthalate-laden shampoos and other household products with greener, healthier versions:

 

Shampoos – use organic castile soap like this here. For fragrance, you can use 1 drop of essential oil per 16 fluid oz of castile soap. Peppermint is a favorite with many people. Rosemary is great for maintaining full, thick hair.

 

Please don’t buy your essential oils on Amazon – there’s no quality control. 

 

Soaps – try to buy from small, artisan soap makers to avoid any unnecessary exposure to chemicals. You can also make your own soap in minutes with our recipe here. Use lavender, rose, or geranium essential oil for great all-natural scents.

 

Window cleaners – Mix 1 drop lemon essential oil with 8 oz white vinegar in a spray bottle (Look for bottles with recycle numbers 1 or 2). Spray windows, wipe with newspaper.

 

Counter top cleaners – Mix 1 drop of lemon essential oil with 8 oz white vinegar. Use like you would normally. You can also use these all-organic counter wipes. Buy direct from the manufacturer here.

 

Room fresheners – diffuse 1 drop of essential oil. For tough odors, try 1 drop melaleuca (tea tree) essential oil with 1 drop lemon. For a floral scent, try 1 drop geranium! For bedtime, diffuse 1 drop lavender. Get your oils here.

 

Again, please don’t buy your essential oils on Amazon – there’s no quality control. Buy direct from our trusted source here.

 

Laundry detergent -You can also make your own recipe here.

We love this brand: 100% all-natural.

Here’s where you can get it.

 

Dryer sheets – Use wool balls with 1 drop of essential oil of your choice. Lavender is a good one to try.

 

Baby wipes – We love this brand of baby wipes:

No phthalates, 100% natural. Can also be used as makeup wipes! Get them here.

 

Makeup – We love this brand. Pure mineral makeup, no phthalates. Get it here.