What To Do In Your Garden In April [Planting Guide]

What To Do In Your Garden In April [Planting Guide]

It’s April, and that means in most USDA gardening zones, there’s lots of work to be done!

 

Want the exact organic, non-GMO heirloom seeds we use on our homestead? We love Seeds Now!

 

We’re in Zone 7, so we’ve already set out our cool weather crops, and by the first week of April, we’ll be ready to start harvesting our first veggies of the season!

 

This article is broken down by zones to make it easier for you to know exactly what you should be doing in April in your garden.

 

If you’re not sure what zone you live in, you can check that here.

 

Here’s what you can do in your garden right now!

 

Zone 3

 

Zone 4

 

Zone 5

  • When the weather is mild and soil warm enough, transplant early tomatoes outdoors, inside hoop houses
  • Sow a second planting of lettuce, radishes, and spinach outdoors.
  • Continue to grow squash, melons, tomatoes, peppers cucumbers, and corn indoors and under lights.
  • Plant fruit trees.
  • Start herbs such as basil, thyme, and mint

 

Zone 6

 

Zone 7

  • Thin greens and radishes as needed.
  • Plant fruit trees.
  • If purchasing transplants, choose compact plants that have not begun to flower.
  • Remove row covers from peas as long as the weather is mild.
  • Transplant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower
  • Mulch around cool-season crops to retain moisture and keep roots cool as weather warms.
  • Start cucumber, cantaloupe, summer squash, and watermelon indoors and under lights.
  • Now is the time to start luffa.
  • Set out transplants of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and sweet potatoes.
  • Set out culinary herbs
  • Prune peach trees.

 

Zone 8

 

Zone 9

  • Plant heat-loving pumpkins, squash, melons, peppers, sweet potatoes, and eggplants
  • Every 2 weeks, succession plant bush beans and corn.
  • Continue to plant cool weather crops until the end of the month
  • Transplant tomatoes and peppers.
  • Continue to plant culinary herbs

 

Zone 10

  • Harvest spinach, lettuce, and broccoli.
  • Plant heat-loving pumpkins, squash, melons, peppers, sweet potatoes, and eggplants
  • Be sure to add lots of compost to your soil if it’s sandy and lacking nutrients

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What do you think you’ll plant in April? Leave a comment below!

How to Make Corn Syrup That’s Homemade & Healthy

How to Make Corn Syrup That’s Homemade & Healthy

I never really cared about how to make corn syrup until we started looking at all the processed foods we eat and eliminating them one by one from our diet.

 

Corn syrup is definitely one of those overly-processed foods that has ingredients I can’t pronounce, so it had to go.

 

And since most corn grown in the U.S. is a GMO (genetically modified organism) crop, you can bet store-bought corn syrup is cut from the same cloth.

However, there are recipes where corn syrup is necessary, particularly if you like to make candy, so knowing how to make a light corn syrup substitute at home is a good idea.

 

You should note that because this is a homemade corn syrup, it’s not the same as what you buy in the store, so it’s really an ingredient to use in place of corn syrup.

 

But it works well, and luckily, it’s really so simple to learn how to make a corn syrup substitute, and even a kitchen klutz like me can do it.

 

And while a homemade corn syrup version is still full of sugar, it’s still much healthier than what you’ll find on the grocery aisle.

 

(Even if you use GMO corn, this recipe will work. But if you want to avoid GMOs altogether, then learning how to make corn syrup at home is critical).

And believe me when I tell you, it tastes a hell of a lot better.

 

Think salty and sweet meets “fire-grilled on a warm summer eve” corn on the cob.

 

Honestly, that description doesn’t even cover it, but believe me, try this recipe once, and you won’t go back, especially since you can knock it out in about 30 minutes and have about 1 cup of corn syrup to cook with.

 

So without further rambling, here’s how to make corn syrup with sugar and water right in your own kitchen.

 

 

How to Make Corn Syrup from Scratch

 

So, for this recipe (printable recipe at the bottom of this page), you’re going to need ingredients you likely already have on your kitchen shelf.

 

Grab:

 

1 cup sugar

4 cups boiling water to dissolve sugar

2 additional cups lukewarm water

2 cups of soft corn kernels or 3 leftover corn cobs

 

If you have extra corn left over from dinner, or corn still on the cob that your kids took two bites out of, then this is a good way to use them up.

 

I prefer using loose kernels to make corn syrup, but if you have them, the cobs do make it easier to strain.

 

Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water by stirring water into sugar.

 

If you need more boiling water, then use it. What matters is the sugar is totally dissolved.

 

Pour into non-reactive pot once all the sugar is dissolved.

 

Add remaining 2 cups of water into the pot. (Make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate everything easily; the last thing you want is sugar water boiling over and making a sticky mess.)

 

Slowly heat, stirring to make sure the sugar stays dissolved. This is particularly important as the temperature rises, because the sugar can easily crystallize. Once everything starts to boil, I stir continuously.

 

Once boiling, add the corn kernels or cobs.

 

how to make corn syrup

 

At this point keep stirring. The water will start steaming. Effectively what you’re doing is heating the sugar so it melts, and boiling off the excess water.

 

As the mixture boils, the corn will heat, imparting it’s flavor into the syrup.

 

Keep stirring as the mixture boils. Eventually, the mixture will reduce to about half it’s size. Once the corn syrup starts to look yellow and get thick, you know you’re almost there.

 

Your homemade corn syrup is ready to remove from the heat when the top starts to bubble consistently over the entire surface of the corn syrup.

 

Remove from heat and immediately pour into a mason jar lined with a strainer to catch the corn kernels. It will be slightly runny, but that’s because it’s hot.

 

Allow to cool, placing something over the mouth of the mason jar to keep out bugs and curious children (it will be very hot) but that will still allow steam out.

 

Once cool, the corn syrup should be even thicker. You can store in your fridge, and it will keep for quite a while.

 

This looks like a lot of steps, but really, learning how to make corn syrup at home is very simple once you get started.

 

Learning how to make corn syrup is just a simple matter of using ingredients you already have on hand – and it’s not really that difficult is it?


Kiss your store-bought corn syrup good bye!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have a better idea of how to make corn syrup? Do you think you’ll try this? Leave a comment below!

More Kitchen Basics Tips:


You’ve heard apple cider vinegar is healthy for both humans and chickens…but do you know how to make it? If you’ve been dying to try and want expert guidance, you’ll love this 15-minute video.


<!– Default Statcounter code for How-to-make-corn-syrup
https://thefrugalchicken.com/how-to-make-corn-syrup/ –>
<script type=”text/javascript”>
var sc_project=11964254;
var sc_invisible=1;
var sc_security=”3c7e8099″;
var sc_https=1;
var sc_remove_link=1;
</script>
<script type=”text/javascript”
src=”https://www.statcounter.com/counter/counter.js”
async></script>
<noscript><div class=”statcounter”><img class=”statcounter”
src=”https://c.statcounter.com/11964254/0/3c7e8099/1/”
alt=”Web Analytics”></div></noscript>
<!– End of Statcounter Code –>

Save Money With A Backyard Chicken Fall Garden [Podcast]

Save Money With A Backyard Chicken Fall Garden [Podcast]

Although it’s still the middle of summer, starting a fall garden for your chickens means when cooler weather rolls around, your flock can still enjoy fresh, organic treats.

 

In cooler weather, your chickens are more likely to suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiency, especially if you rely heavily on foraging to supplement your flock’s diet.

 

Cooler weather means less plants are available for your flock to scrounge up, and when there’s snow or wet weather, many chickens stop foraging altogether.

 

But as a smart owner, you can beat poor nutrition to the punch by starting now with a fall garden.

 

In this podcast, you’ll learn about 7 vegetables you can start so your hens can enjoy fresh produce even when nature works against you.
 

 

You’ll learn:

  • The 7 vegetables we’ve had the best success with
  • Why each vegetable helps your flock combat nutrient loss
  • How to extend your growing season into snowy weather
  • Why putting other animals in your greenhouse means a longer growing season

 

Links we discuss:

Butcher Box 

Where to buy raised beds

7 Best Herbs for Chickens to Eat

 

 

 

Butcher Box square

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What are you going to grow for your chickens in your fall garden? Leave a comment below!

10 Simple & Healthy After School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

10 Simple & Healthy After School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Can y’all believe it’s back to school season already? I can’t believe that kids are starting to go back to school and that fall is almost here!

One thing that I’ve always noticed especially as school gets started again is that it can be SO HARD to find healthy snacks to feed your kids. They always come home starving and honestly they normally want junk food! And whether you’re a working parent or a stay at home parent it can be stressful to try and think of healthy snacks your kids will actually like.

So let me help you out. Here’s my list of some of my favorite after school snacks that are simple and healthy!

Apples and Peanut Butter

This one is a classic. I’m a huge fan of apples dipped in peanut butter and you kids definitely will be too!  I prefer to use all natural peanut butter like the one below because it has only one ingredient! Peanuts! If your kids have peanut allergies you can try out sun butter! It’s made with sunflower seeds so it’s a great alternative if there are any nut allergies in your home!

 

Homemade Popsicles

I love homemade popsicles! They are SO GOOD! I love to make them with fresh or frozen fruit and yogurt. Two of my favorite recipes are these pineapple popsicles and these berry popsicles. They only take five minutes to make and they’re a great healthy snack for your kids!

Homemade Goldfish

Yummy! Who doesn’t love goldfish? Especially when they’re homemade with ingredients you can trust. Check out this recipe for some homemade goldfish right here! They’re a great snack and your kids will love helping you make them!

Veggies and Hummus

This is definitely one of my favorite snacks and it’s so easy to make! All you need to do is chop up some veggies and let your kids dip them in hummus. You can buy hummus here or you can make your own! Hummus is super simple to make (this recipe takes less than 5 minutes!) and your kids will love it!

Cucumber Cups

How fun are these cucumber cups! They’re super yummy and packed full of nutrients and the filling is made with eggs! This recipe is a great way to feed your kids a healthy snack and use up all of your extra eggs! Check out the recipe here!

View this post on Instagram

Do you ever worry that your kids aren't getting enough protein? This snack combines the nutrition from the cucumbers with the protein and substance of boiled eggs. Each egg contains 6 grams of protein which is awesome for growing kids. Protein does so much more than just give you ‘strong muscles’…. Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Studies show that protein is by far the most filling macronutrient. It helps you feel fuller longer which is great for kids. Get the recipe using the link in our bio. https://www.superhealthykids.com/cucumber-cups-2/ #healthykids #mealplan #healthysnack #pickyeater #protein #healthyrecipe

A post shared by Natalie (@superhealthykids) on

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are the perfect snack for after school, especially when they’re homemade. This recipe is quick and easy and they’re no bake!

 

Greek Yogurt Covered Fruit

I love this idea! It’s a super simple snack and it will taste so good! All you have to do is dip the fruit of your choice in Greek Yogurt and freeze them for 15-30 minutes! It’s a quick and easy snack you can make for your kids!

View this post on Instagram

Yogurt covered strawberries 🍓 🍓 . Strawberries Greek Yogurt (your choice of flavor) Toppings (optional) . 1. Wash off the strawberries (optional: cut strawberries in half) 2. Using a toothpick, dip the strawberries in greek yogurt until fully covered 3. Place on wax paper or parchment paper 4. Freeze for 15 minutes 5. Dip strawberries again 6. Freeze 15 minutes 7. Enjoy! . . #strawberry #strawberries #strawberryrecipes #yogurt #healthyfood #healthylifestyle #cleaneating #nutrition #healthyeating #vegetarians #foodfacts #eats #eeeeeats #eatwell #mindfuleating #macros #fitfam #fitfood #foodporn #healthysnacks #snackfood #kidapproved #pickyeater #afterschoolsnack #nutrition #simonenutritionist

A post shared by Simone Finkelstein Nutrition (@simone_nutrition) on

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

I’ll admit it, I love chips! They’re one of my favorite snacks, but they’re definitely not a healthy snack choice. Which is why I love this recipe for baked sweet potato chips! These will only take about 10-15 minutes of prep time and then you just let them cook in the oven for a couple of hours! Simple!

Get the recipe here: Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Egg Snowmen

I LOVE THIS! I know it’s not winter yet (I’m already counting down the days until Christmas!) but I love these adorable egg snowmen! It’s a great way to use up those extra eggs you might have and your kids will love the creative and fun snack!

Banana Pancakes

Ok so sometimes your kids come home starving and want more than just a simple snack. That’s where these yummy 3 ingredient banana pancakes come in handy! You just need bananas, eggs, and baking powder and then you have a super quick and easy snack for your kids!

Get the recipe here: 3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

What healthy snacks do your kids love? Tell me what snacks are your go to for after school in the comments below!

3 Ways To Use Rabbit Manure To Improve Your Garden!

3 Ways To Use Rabbit Manure To Improve Your Garden!

As you probably know, we raise rabbits on our homestead, which means we have a LOT of rabbit manure.

 

What you may not know is that rabbit manure is one of the easiest to use, yet super healthy, fertilizers for your garden. In this article, I’m going to show you how to use rabbit poop to improve your harvest.

 

Garden compost made from animal manure does two amazing things for your garden. First, it’s a free byproduct of your animals, so it’ll save money on topsoil and fertilizer. Second, it is a nutrient rich way to help your garden grow and thrive.

 

Why Rabbit Manure?

 

Great question! Unlike other manures which have to be well composted before you can even think of using it in your garden, rabbit poop can be immediately applied to your soil. It won’t burn crops, and can be used as a stand-alone planting medium or mixed with topsoil (although your best bet is to mix it with soil.)

 

As rabbit manure decomposes, it helps build up the structure of the soil, and injects valuable nutrients and organisms into your garden that will promote strong, speedy plant growth.

 

Rabbit manure, in particular, is rich in potassium, nitrogen, zinc, and calcium, and it’s one of the most nitrogen-rich manures out there – so you’ll get lush, green, well-fertilized growth. The potassium will also improve the quality of the fruit your vegetable plant sets.

 

Finally, unlike cow, horse, or pig poop, rabbit manure is odorless – so as you collect it and incorporate it into your garden, your nose (and your neighbors!) will thank you.


Want more awesome gardening tips? Check out my book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.

Organic by Choice


How to Use Rabbit Manure In Your Garden

 

First decide on the source of your rabbit manure. If your kids have pet rabbits, have them collect the rabbit’s waste each day. If you already raise bunnies on your homestead, then what are you waiting for? Go start collecting rabbit manure for the garden!

 

Collecting it is relatively easy, and everyone has their own “system.” One of the simplest methods is to place plastic tubs under your rabbits’ cages and dump them out every day (don’t wait on this – flies WILL lay eggs which will hatch into maggots – GROSS.)

 

You can dump them into a compost pile, or directly into your garden. If you haven’t planted anything in your garden yet, then till the rabbit manure to a 2-inch depth.

 

If your garden is already established, then side dress your plants with the manure – it’s usually best to do this as your plants are flowering and setting fruit. They’ll need all the nutrients they can get during that time!

 

If you just got your rabbits, or don’t want to raise any but definitely want to use bunny poop in your garden, then you might also be able to find rabbit manure to buy. Check with neighbors or even Craigslist in your area.

 

How to Make Rabbit Manure Compost

Not everyone is enchanted with the idea of directly applying manure to their garden. That’s ok – you can compost the rabbit poop.

 

To make rabbit manure compost, mix the poop with other compost ingredients that will decompose, such as fruit peelings (like bananas), bits of leftover food, coffee grounds, and grass clippings, and leaves.

 

Add equal parts of wood shavings and straw, then blend all these things (and other kitchen waste) thoroughly, then add enough water to moisten. Be very careful not to completely saturate the compost pile.

 

Cover with a protective tarp and turn every two weeks. If you’re hot composting (which is unlikely with rabbit poop but, hey, stranger things have happened!), then water regularly to maintain heat and humidity levels. Keep adding to the pile and turning and blending it until it fully composts.

 

If you’re cold composting, then simply turn the pile until the manure and other ingredients have turned to sweet-smelling soil.

 

Making Rabbit Manure Tea for A Larger Garden Harvest

 

A third option, other than putting rabbit manure on your garden directly or composting it, is to make a tea fertilizer. Luckily, this is pretty simple.

 

In a 5 gallon bucket, place a burlap bag. Fill the bag about half way with rabbit manure (or however much manure you have on hand), and close it tight with string.

 

Add water to the bucket until the burlap bag is full submerged. Allow your tea to “brew” for 5-7 days, stirring daily. Once the allotted time has passed, simply remove the bag of manure from the bucket.

 

You can use the tea directly on your garden, and compost the rabbit manure, or use it on your garden as well.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you use rabbit manure in your garden? Leave a comment below!

Check Out My Other Rabbit Articles:


Do you love gardening, herbs, natural remedies, self sufficiency, and/or homesteading? Learn how to grow 30 different herbs in this encyclopedia! Herbs In Your Backyard is a digital book, delivered to you INSTANTLY!

Herbs in Your Backyard