Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Homemade Plant Labels

Every year we seem to struggle with the best method of keeping track of all the different variety of plants we grow.  For instance, how do we remember the 12 different pepper and 15 different tomato varieties?  Popsicle sticks absorb the water and eventually rot and mold; and keeping a separate chart on paper gets confusing.  This year we decided to use yogurt containers!

Fist remove the bottom and top of the container.  Next, with a razor blade and board underneath, cut the plastic into strips.   Each yogurt container gives you about 14 labels.

Use a Permanent Marker or China Marker to write the plant variety on the label.

Learning How To Knit

This winter I learned how to knit.  It seems that in most localities there are knitting/spinning groups where a person can learn the art, but I just looked online and found a great tutorial that taught me the basics.

My first project was a pair of dishcloths.  They are made with 100% cotton and do a great job washing dishes.  This particular yarn was purchased at Darn.Knit.{Anyway} in Stillwater, MN. 

How to Make Beeswax Candles

For Christmas this year, Jon gifted me a bee skep candle mold!  I have to say, it's pretty darn cute and a great winter project.  The mold, wick, and wick bar was purchased from Ruhl Bee Supply.

Step 1: Prepare the area.  Spray the silicone mold with spray release (purchased at Hobby Lobby), thread the wick; secure the wick with a wick bar so it is taunt; and place rubberbands around the mold to keep everything snug.

Step 2: Set up a double boiler to melt the wax.  I used the same large pot that was used for rendering beeswax.  I didn't have a small pot to hold the wax so I reused a tin can.

Step 3: Heat the beeswax until the temp reaches 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step 4: Slowly pour (to minimize air holes) the beeswax into the mold. 

Step 5: Fill the mold up to the wick bar.

Step 6: Pull the candle slowly out of the mold.  If you don't cut your wick beforehand, the mold will already be wicked for the next melting.  

Step 7: To level the bottom of the candle, slowly press down and move the candle around on the bottom of the pot. 

Finished candle is: 3.5 inches tall x 2.75 inches wide at the base.
It took 9oz of beeswax to make this candle. 

I want to mention a movie that I recently viewed on Netflix.  It's called More Than Honey.  This is another excellent documentary about the global problem our honeybees face.  The cinematography is awesome!

Winter in the Greenhouse

It's been a cold winter here in West Virginia. Paul has only attended six full days of school out of 22 for the month of January.  With record breaking lows, the shut off valve to our home freezing, and slippery roads, it seems like Mother Nature is telling us all to slow down and stay home.  This past fall we built our first greenhouse and have been surprised that we still see growth on our spinach, poc choy, and kale despite night time temps falling below freezing every night. Their growth has been very slow but they manage to hang on!

I took this picture when the greenhouse was covered with snow and it was 6 degrees outside.  The thermometer reads 28 degrees.  There are a few gaps around the perimeter that Jon left loose so we could get a little air flow in there to cut down on mold growth. We had a brief heat wave come through yesterday and temperatures peaked in the 60's - Jon happened to look in the greenhouse and it was 90 in there with buckets of ice quickly melting.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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