Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crockpot Yogurt Experiment

I made a half gallon of crockpot yogurt from the instructions on A Year of CrockPotting, and it turned out pretty good. I had almost a half gallon of milk that was starting to turn, so I needed to use it up fast.

The yogurt tastes a little more like sour cream than yogurt to me, and it's not quite thick enough for my liking, so I'm experimenting with a few ways to make it thicker and add flavor.

First, I read that if you drain it through a kitchen strainer lined with a coffee filter, it will become more the consistency of sour cream, so I have one of those going in the fridge, and I can already see that a lot of the fluid is draining out. You're supposed to leave it for 24 hours, so by tomorrow morning, I'll know what it's going to look like.

I got the idea that more gelatin, in the form of flavored gelatin, would make it thicker and give it flavor, so I'm experimenting with that as well. I took two cups of crockpot yogurt and heated it for 2 minutes in the microwave (it had been refrigerated, so that just got it warm). I don't know if microwaving kills the active cultures, but I'm hoping not.

I dissolved a package of sugar free lime Jello in a half cup of boiling water, and added that to the yogurt, and whisked it all together well. I poured this into dessert glasses, and put it back in to cool. Hopefully, this will turn out somewhat like the Yoplait Key Lime thick and creamy yogurt. We'll see.

Anyway, I figure at $1.50 a half gallon for the milk, and a little electricity, and maybe a few packs of Jello, I'll have yogurt much, much cheaper than store bought. Plus, if the draining thing works, I'll have sour cream as well.

It takes awhile to make this, but I figure it will be well worth the price once it's done. I'll update this when the lime flavored concoction sets.

CLICK HERE for the update.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Early harvest from my veggie garden

I know I need to take more pictures, but it's a serious pain having to resize them and try to get them to line up right on Blogger.

I actually harvested some veggies last week, a few green beans and 4 squash. I gave the green beans and one squash to my neighbor, because I'm on this 10 day fast. She cooked the green beans in spaghetti sauce...sort of yucky to my mind, but she enjoyed them, so oh well.

She and I are doing sort of a "joint gardening" thing this year. Since I can get the veggie seeds with my foodstamps, I'm buying seeds, and she and I are sharing the harvest. She has much more planted then I do, but I'm working more on getting my gardens ready for fall. I have a lot of stuff in pots, as well, so I guess that counts.

I planted way too many crookneck squash, so I actually dug some up and gave them to her, and they transplanted well, so now she has squash plants too. Same with the peppers. I planted a bunch of yellow bell peppers, some of which I gave to her and another neighbor, and some I kept for myself. Tomatoes go without saying, because I only really planted the earlier ones for her, and gave her all the winter tomatoes. I only like tomatoes for sandwiches, and I love cherry tomatoes, so most of what I have going now is cherry, grape, and beefsteak varieties. I do have the Cherokee Purples, which I'm pleased to say are doing very well so far.

My potato pot (experimental) seems to be thriving, and I found some old lathe screening the other day, and wrapped it around inside the pot, so I can keep adding leaves and see just how many potatoes I can get. I'll try to get a pic of that up. It's really ugly, but I'm going for utilitarian, and it IS an experiment, after all. My sweet potato bin experiment doesn't seem to be doing as well, so I'm working on figuring out another scenario for that one. Vines simply stopped growing, very unlike sweet potato vines.

On the upside, the citrus trees (all but the kumquat) are loaded with blooms. Usually, during a warm winter, they bloom in March, and the wind blows all the blooms off. This year, probably due to colder weather, they bloomed in April, after the worst of the winds had passsed, so here's to keeping my fingers crossed I'll be in this house long enough to see the fruit.

Yes, I'm still facing foreclosure, but still fighting it. It's so sad to me that their greed is causing me to lose all this, but I just prefer to think that the universe has something better in store for me. Maybe I will be able to rent a room from someone in exchange for working in their yard. That would be perfect, wouldn't it?

Anyway, keep me in your prayers. Until then, I'll be here, plugging away at the garden, trying to survive.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Changes Are A-Comin!

Today, I purchased the domain, which will eventually be the new name for this blog. It will be all new, with a new template, but still the same information.

I've officially made greenlasagna a dot com as well, so check out to see all the other changes.

Thanks for your support!


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Natural Pest Control for Your Garden

Chemical free gardening is healthier for gardeners, consumers, and the environment. Chemicals from farm and lawn runoff in Florida have been linked to red tide, which not only kills sealife, but causes respiratory problems in humans and animals. Lawn and garden chemicals leach into our groundwater, and are still present in municipal water supplies, even after processing. It is unclear what the long term effects of these chemicals is on human health, but in recent years many disorders such as infertility, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism have become more and more prevalent in industrialized societies where chemicals are most used.

I've written two articles on natural pest control that will educate you on what is available, and how to use it.

Very basic information can be found here:

Organic Gardening Basics: Natural Insect and Animal Pest Control

More detailed information on Neem Oil, Spinosad and Homemade Pesticides can be found here:

Natural and Homemade Pesticide Alternatives for Your Organic Garden


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Site Map and More

I've added a site map to the sidebar. So far, it's not very refined, and I'll be working on that as time goes by, but I wanted to give you a way to just view certain things.

As you all know, I write articles all over the web on how to grow food, and also on how to recycle and reuse things. I'm getting together snippets and links to all those articles here, because I think it all pertains to Urban Homesteading. After all, we do more than just grow food, don't we?

I added "Grow Your Own Food" to the site map to show all the articles on growing food. Some of these are just for South Florida, but still have some valuable information for everyone. I'm writing more general vegetable gardening articles now, so I'll eventually have them all up.

I'll soon be adding "Green Living" to the sidebar, when I get some of those articles up and linked to.

I'm going to try to start a "Weekend Roundup", where I will just post pictures of the yard, and what's growing, and what's being done. This will save me having to post pics on every post, as that is very time consuming, and I'd rather be gardening and teaching others to garden.

"Friends and Neighbors Friday" will feature links to blog posts from other veggie gardeners and homesteaders, so if you have a post you think is helpful, or just interesting, email me with a link, and I'll check it out. No promises, but if I find it useful, I'll include it.

So stay tuned! I'm going to be promoting the blog more as well, now that it actually has some content, so hopefully some of you will get some traffic from that.

Growing Herbs Properly Prolongs Their Useful Life

Herbs are one of the easiest and most enjoyable plants to grow. Fresh herbs add a special flavor to your dishes, and growing your own guarantees that you aren't getting toxic chemicals with your herbs.

Harvesting herbs properly can extend your harvest considerably. Harvesting techniques are different for different herbs, but there is one rule you should always observe: No Haircutting! It's tempting to just chop off the whole bunch of herbs such
as parsley and cilantro, but this stresses the plant, and can even kill it.

You should harvest herbs as you need them. Harvesting can be done at any time you like, but remove no more than one-third of the total plant. Wait for the plant to regenerate that growth before cutting again. Read More