Thursday, July 14, 2011

How does your garden grow?

I keep a little garden patch in the back yard in the summer.  It's only about 5' x 7', but I can cram a lot of goodies in that small space!  You can't see in this photo, but I also have a couple of pumpkin plants too.

I basically have no idea what I'm doing every year.  I just pick out the seeds I'd like to try and my dad plows my spot.  I have really good luck with tomatoes (but I got a late start this year so I've only had 2 ripe ones so far!) and lettuce and cucumbers.  The pole beans are pretty out of control too, so that will be fun!  I love fresh green beans.

Pretty little cucumbers...

Watermelons!  I *accidentally* grew a watermelon plant over my fence one year (in the cow pasture) because that's where we threw our used up rinds after eating watermelon!  These plants were "planned" though. ;)

Finally, I'm going to have fresh, ripe tomatoes!  Yay!

My lettuce has been picked many times so far this summer.  I love running out to the patch to grab some lettuce for a salad or for my sandwich.  Does it taste better if you grow your own??  It seems like it!

Today's lunch: lettuce & cucumbers for a salad!  (and Rodney's nose.  He's nosey.)

Monday I made a batch of liquid laundry soap!  Last batch I did the powdered version, which is quicker and easier to store.  I really prefer the liquid though and a month of using the powder didn't convert me.  So I went back to the liquid method.  Here's one of my four "storage" bottles of laundry soap:

(I don't have little ones, so I can use the empty juice container, I wouldn't of course if I had curious kidlets!)

I use recipe #3 from this page: 10 Homemade Laundry Soap Recipes, except I use these proportions (I use #4 when I do the powdered version):
1/2 bar Fels Naptha
1 c washing soda
1/2 c Borax

Everything else I follow as written, except I don't measure any of the water.  I just add enough to the pot to cover the grated soap shavings by an inch or so, and then I add 2 gallons of water to the tub to mix it all up.  I pour it into a bunch of different containers (the yield is about 2.5-3 gallons!)

I have a Gain liquid detergent bottle that is my "main" container, so I can use the convenient measuring cup lid. I also have filled a gallon OJ container, the apple juice container, an empty Downy bottle, and the entire Gain bottle.  That's a lot of liquid detergent!  Total cost is something like $2.

There are lots and LOTS of mixed reviews online about homemade laundry detergent/soap (technically it's a soap).  I take anything I read online with a grain of salt! As with anything, I say try it and see if you're interested.  A friend of mine at work gave me a 1/2 gallon to try a year ago, and she had good things to say.

Personally, I haven't experienced anything negative.  Our clothes are clean.  I spot treat with the extra bar of Fels Naptha I keep on hand (I just wet it and rub it on the stain.  Instructions are on the package.)  I only have to make a new batch every few months, and it's CHEAP.

Some people complain online of "dingy whites", which I think is due to the missing optical brighteners most store bought detergents have added in.  My grandma used "blueing" for this.  I remember the tiny bottle on her laundry shelf!  I think you can still buy it.  I haven't noticed dingy whites...I do bleach my whites once or twice a month, but I had to do that with regular detergents too.  I also line dry whenever I can, which I think brightens things up too.

I do use Downy.  I'm not converted to white vinegar as a fabric softener (although the white vinegar tips website does say it's a brightener for whites and colors in the laundry!)  We just love the smell of Downy!

Wow, this turned into a country girl post, ha!  Hope you enjoyed the side road. ;)


  1. Your garden looks like it's going great! I'm a total brown thumb so seeing others growing things makes me excited! :)

  2. Haven't made my own detergeant yet but I do use Fels Naptha for stains and white vinegar. The vinegar is great for softening our water and DH is not allergic to it like the Downey. I also add a color catcher and I swear our whites are whiter than before.

    Oh love your garden. Our daily salad comes form ours but boohoo we haven't had a ripe tomato yet and the corn is pretty puny.

  3. I'm a long time reader but this is my first comment. I haven't made my own laundry soap but instead of Downey or dyer sheets which are full of chemicals we use dryer balls. They are just rubber balls with pointy bits and we use about four of them per load. They help keep the clothes seperated in the dryer and prevent wrinkles.

  4. increasing the borax slightly can help with whites too. I bleach every month too (I had to do that before anyway, but then we have bright red dirt here that indelibly stains regardless of any form of bleaching, so I end up just throwing away a lot of socks). I haven't noticed dingy whites but I do increase the borax slightly from my standard recipe.

    OMG it's green up there. so depressing. But nice to see.

  5. It definitely taste better if you grow it yourself. Your garden looks great, this is my second year with a garden and there's no going back, nothing like picking a fresh ripe tomato.

  6. My gran also used 'blue' - and it was used on our bee stings (placebo perhaps?) So many store bought whites are now marked do not bleach. I love your garden.

  7. So envious of your garden!


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