Tag Archives: Grow Your Own

Inspiring live – Dana Zamprogno homesteading mama

I am so pleased to bring you another inspiring,

alternative life interview, meet Dana Zamprogno

 Please tell our readers a little about your life, where are you currently living, what do you do etc?

We are a family of four, with two of us being 19 months and 7 weeks old. We live in beautiful Tasmania, Australia. I am originally from New Zealand, and Tasmania had the best compromise of living in Australia where my husband is from, and getting the NZ climate I miss so much. I currently write a blog about homesteading and being self sufficient on my website, while my husband has taken leave from his Payroll career to spend time at home our kids and I.

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Our dream to open a community hub

As Naked Wild and Free we are part of a community interest company called Bohemia Blackpool C.I.C, which also includes The Gathering fields and Elephant creative thinking

Together and separately we have done all sorts of work in and with the community, and last year we was blessed to be awarded funding by the Big Lottery Fund to do an 8 week course with young (under 25) mums to teach them to cook, all about natural living, sewing, knitting, open up their worlds with vision boards, dreaming, yoga and meditation and have a trip to the  farm at The Gathering fields to learn about growing foods and herbs, this went down really well and I am pleased to say one of the mums has totally changed her eating habits, she has ditched her addictions to unhealthy food and has made some massive changes in her life.

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We love that we are linked from our deprived Blackpool town to an 288 acre farm in Dolphinholme, where children and adults have the opportunity to get away from the grey buildings and be totally immersed in nature, and learn practical things to change their lives. When the young mums experienced a sound bath for their first time, some of the children fell asleep they were so relaxed and the mums said it felt out of this world!

Planting herb/fairy gardens to take home went down really well, and story time in the yurt for the small ones was exciting. Sharing life stories and having the experience of older mums to talk to about worries and concerns was a brilliant part of the course, and keeping the network of people going to help and inspire is key too.

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It is our dream to restore this old Quaker meeting house into an alternative community hub, we believe in living without toxic chemicals, eating clean food that nourishes our bodies and minds, living a purer life and sharing positivity to be the best you can be and encouraging optimum health through talks, food and special events.

Combining this with workshops, theatre productions, cinema evenings, mini festivals, encouraging the local elderly to come and share their stories, holding groups for homeschoolers, parents, children, ethnic minorities and those in our community that feel different for not living in a mainstream way.

We want to open a place where we will welcome community members to come and stay a while, be surrounded by like minded people, eat cleanly and refresh the mind and relax the body, make new friends, get a support network and learn new skills.

It will be unlike any community centres that already exist, we will have a faded elegance decor with twists of a travelling circus, there will be a relaxed bohemian vibe throughout the building. Our ethos is all about eco living, upcycling, reusing, bringing joy and happiness through positivity, growing and learning.

The front room will be dedicated to eating wholesome, vegetarian and dairy free food with squishy sofas, mismatched tables and lots of books, a children’s area with bean bags and wooden toys. There will also be a juice bar serving smoothies, juices and raw foods. This will be Blackpool’s only dedicated vegan/vegetarian, dairy free, fairtrade, organic eatery. With gluten free options available too. The nearest one similar is 30 miles away.

The hall will house many projects including workshop space, mini festivals, vegan fairs, craft projects, farmers markets, art gallery evenings for local artists, yoga, meditation, dancing, sound baths and much more plus having a rentable space for other community groups to use. There will be a stage area for performers to come along and share their talents plus we can put on special evening events in this area too.

Sometimes the hall will be transformed into a cinema showing documentaries and wellbeing films. It will be a great educational space too for homeschool groups and other community projects to use.

The garden is perfect for us growing organic foods, for teaching the community how to grow your own too.

This project is needed in Blackpool as it will educate, socialise and bring together community minorities who have no other place they feel they can go in a safe and homely environment. It is also needed to educate people in eating healthily and on a budget as Blackpool has some very deprived areas. We can teach skills in growing veg, crafts, arts, cooking, eating well, juicing, foraging, meditation, alternative therapies, sewing, composting, keeping chickens, self employment, PR and marketing, blogging and social networking, nutrition, eco parenting and many more.

After putting out a survey to local people our findings showed that there was a lack of communal space where people could meet up, eat, talk, share stories and meet like-minded people who didn’t serve alcohol. Also cafes ect close at 5pm and the only other establishments to meet up in are nightclubs, pubs and fast food outlets. Health conscious non drinkers don’t want to go to these places.
There is a lack of a wholesome venue that teens can feel safe in.
There is no venue specifically for vegans/vegetarians/gluten free/organic eating in the fylde coast. Over 60% surveyed said they would like an organic venue.
59% said they would like to see mini festivals, small concerts and workshops available to all ages.
Positivity and healthy living are the subjects people are most interested in.
There is a lack of friendly, safe places for mums with children that are not play areas to meet and make new friends.

We can’t wait for this dream to come true so we can help and serve more of our diverse and wonderful community and give something to Blackpool that it has never seen before.

What to do on the allotment in May

So what is there to do on the allotment in May?

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It is the first day of may today and it’s pouring down here in Blackpool, it’s turned really cold too and that glimmer of summer hope has disappeared, the heating is back on and so is a jumper! I am fancying comfort food like rhubarb crumble and custard, but I used the rhubarb in a juice yesterday when the sun was shining.

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March: What to do on the allotment

March is here in all its sunny glory in UK and we are thinking about what to do on the allotment.

I love the March sun because it makes grumpy people smile, the lovely spring flowers grow from their deep sleep of winter and allotment holders everywhere get very excited, because its time to sow seeds – Woo hoo!

Our organic seed delivery happened in January from Kings seeds and I have been waiting for that wonderful moment when I get the compost into pots and start planting.

I have been learning about planting by the moon because different plants grow better when they are planted during different phases of the moon. Each of these phases imparts an influence on the way vegetation grows on the planet through the rising and falling of the moisture in the ground and in the plants. – The gardeners calendar

I tell you what, it has made a difference, my courgettes and french beans I planted at 4.30am (this is because I couldn’t sleep not because you have to get up at idiot O’ clock to plant by the moon) have shot up, they are growing so well. This photo was taken 2 weeks after I planted the seeds, I had to re-pot them into bigger pots!

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Totnes sustainability town

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I was looking into the idea of transition towns and places like Lewes that have their own currency and found this great article on The Guardian:

Totnes is an ancient market town on the mouth of the river Dart in Devon. It has the well- preserved shell of a motte-and-bailey castle, an Elizabethan butterwalk and a steep high street featuring many charming gift shops. All of which makes it catnip to tourists. A person might initially be lulled into the belief that this was somewhere with as much cultural punch as, say, Winchester.

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How to plant a medicinal herb garden

How to plan and plant a medicinal herb garden - www.homesteadlady.com

I discovered this ladies site through a link on fb and I am so glad I did, this post is really long so I only copied over half of it, to read the rest pop over to Homestead Lady.

It really called to me as next year I want to grow loads more herbs and use them in many more ways. All photos and links below are from Homestead lady’s page:

Why would you want to know how to plan and plant a medicinal herb garden?  Well, with more and more of us opting out of the conventional this or that there’s been a rise in interest in gardening in general and growing herbs specifically over the last few years.  Herbs are amazingly useful plants in the landscape, even if you’re not ready to use them medicinally.  Most herbs are really not very difficult to grow, many have lovely flowers and/or interesting foliage and they can easily be integrated into your perennial beds or any traditionally landscaped area.  A lot of herbs grow well in pots, either indoors or outdoors and many are very adaptable to climates and types of soil.  Many, many herbs are basically pest resistant plants, ta-boot!  So, come let’s chat about how to plan and plant this medicinal herb garden you need…

 

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Growing garlic

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“Whole books have been written about garlic, an herb affectionately called “the stinking rose” in light of its numerous therapeutic benefits. A member of the lily or Allium family, which also includes onions and leeks, garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulfur-containing compounds including thiosulfinates (of which the best known compound is allicin), sulfoxides (among which the best known compound is alliin), and dithiins (in which the most researched compound is ajoene). While these compounds are responsible for garlic’s characteristically pungent odor, they are also the source of many of its health-promoting effects.

More recent research has identified additional sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for garlic’s star status as a health-supporting food. These sulfur compounds include 1,2-vinyldithiin (1,2-DT), and thiacremonone. The hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) that can be made from garlic’s sulfides has also been the subject of great research interest. When produced and released from our red blood cells, this H2S gas can help dilate our blood vessels and help keep our blood pressure under control.” Sourced from whfoods.com

I was very sporadic in my garlic planting last year and would like to get with it and grow enough garlic so I don’t have to buy any next year, I did work it out we would need to plant something like 140 bulbs to come anywhere close as we use so much in cooking, at the moment with Tom being on his fodmap diet this number has reduced but I will still need to plant a lot! So with this in mind, I searched for some tips and found this great piece on The Telegraph today:

September is not too early to be thinking about next summer’s garlic crop. Garden centres stock a few varieties, but there is an increasing range available. Order early from a specialist supplier such as thegarlicfarm.co.uk to ensure top-quality seed garlic.

  1. Garlic is easy to grow but needs a period of low temperatures for plants to bulb up. Planting in autumn (October-November) or early spring provides the necessary chilling period.
  2. Choose an open sunny site and well-drained soil or grow in raised beds. Garlic does well on soils manured for a previous crop. Otherwise, add a couple of buckets of manure per sq yd.
  3.  Apply a general fertiliser, such as Growmore, at planting time at 2oz per sq yd (50g per sq m) followed by a light dressing of 1oz sq yd (25g sq m) of sulphate of potash in February.
  4.  Break up the bulb into individual cloves, selecting the largest for planting and using the remainder in the kitchen. Plant an inch deep (slightly deeper on light soils), 6in (15cm) apart with 1ft (30cm) between rows.
  5. On heavy, wet soils, start off garlic in module or cell trays in autumn, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant out in spring.
  6.  Keep garlic weed-free for good yields. In spring, during dry spells, water every 14 days. To reduce fungal diseases water the ground and not the foliage.
  7. As foliage yellows in summer, stop watering.
  8.  Harvest autumn-planted garlic in early summer and spring-planted from mid-summer. Don’t leave them too long in the ground or bulbs will open up, which reduces storage quality. 
  9. Dry bulbs in the sun or greenhouse or a well-ventilated shed for two to four weeks.
  10. Garlic suffers from similar pests and diseases to onions. The most common problem is rust, which can cover foliage in orange pustules. To avoid this, plant into fresh ground each year.

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There are two main types of garlic. Hardnecks produce flower stems and fewer larger cloves of stronger flavour. They rarely store beyond mid-winter. Softnecks store better, autumn plantings lasting to late winter and spring plantings to mid-spring. Elephant garlic is related to leeks. It produces a small number of very large cloves of mild flavour. Best planted in October.

I have been using shop bought garlic to plant and its not really worked very well so I am going to try some bulbs from the seed shop and see how they fare, wish me luck! if you have grown garlic with great success I would love to hear from you.

An abundance of fruit and weeds!

We spent another Sunday afternoon at the allotment today, after upgrading from a half plot to full size it’s been hard work, there is so much prep to do, the soil is very heavy clay and every time it rains it ends up flooded. Weeds appear overnight and the seeds don’t grow!

One thing that is doing well are the fruit trees, if nothing else we will have an abundance of fruit to eat!

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Allotment time, books and foraging

I spent a lovely afternoon in the sunshine today at our plot, did some weeding and dug over a bed ready for planting, planted some seed potatoes that were on offer (I normally just sprout my own in a dark cupboard), built up the next layer of compost with grass cuttings, veg peelings, coffee dregs and horse poo and then sat on a bench we made from bricks and a scaffolding plank and closed my eyes and listened to the birds and the sounds of nature all around me. It was amazing, I remembered when we first got the phone call to say we could have an allotment I said to Tom (my partner) which plot I thought it was, we had visited plenty of times on open day so knew the plots quite well, it was a middle plot with fruit trees on, when we visited to view our new plot it wasn’t that one, it was right at the far end with no trees, it was only today I realised when we moved from the half plot to this double plot just over a month ago I was sitting next to the original plot I dreamed about and our new plot has loads of fruit trees on it too!

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Healthy eating on a budget

As the prices of things go up a lot more people are being careful of what they spend or even making a choice of putting money on the electric or buying food, it’s all about budgeting and spending wisely, so I want to offer you a series of handy tip and ideas on how to budget and spend a little but still eat healthily, and make conscious ethical choices.

I have heard many times “we can’t afford to eat organic” or “we can’t afford to buy coconut oil at £6 a jar”, I understand this mindset but it is really all about prioritising and finding a way which works for you, you can do you best and that IS good enough for this moment in time, do consider though not only will you be saving money buy not impulse buying when there is nothing left for tea, you will also be making yourself and your family feel healthy and free of disease.

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