Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter Sewing

I spent some time today planting seeds for next spring. I planted them in milk jugs and orange juice jugs and put them on the balcony for the winter. They are perennials and require a winter to germinate. This is called "winter sewing". It's a great way to plant perennial seeds that need the cold.

I cut the jugs in half, leaving them connected at the handle. I opened the jugs, poked holes in the bottom and put soil into then about 4" deep, then watered it. I like to water the soil before I plant the seeds. Then I just sprinkle the seeds on the wet soil and top, if needed, with a light sprinkle of soil.

All of these are taped closed and put outside on
the balcony for the winter. I left the little lids off the containers so they could get some rain and snow to keep the soil damp until they sprout in the spring. I put chairs around them to protect them from the wind and possible winter storms.

I have grown things using the winter sewing method before and it works very well.

I numbered each one on the outside and on the inside so the weather would not erase the number. I listed the plants in each jug on a piece of paper with the numbers so I will know what they contain in the spring.

I planted euphorbia donkey tail spurge, red monarda bee balm, husker red penstamon, purple lupins, a lot of berginia, wintergreen, hardy hibiscus, honeysuckle vine, pink alpine grass, fancy feather oriental poppies, peony poppies, indian paintbrush and pink grass together and johnny-jump-up violas for pots.

The indian paintbrush needs another plant from which to get its nutrients. It's roots wind around the roots of the other plant and take their nurishment from that plant rather than the soil. Grasses are good for this so I have planted it with the alpine pink grass. I got the indian paintbrush seeds from the alpine area where I got the pink grass seeds, often growing together. Here's hoping it works!

Winter sewing also gives me a way to play in the dirt in the middle of winter!

Soap Making

I'm making soap! This particular batch is going to be used in Christmas baskets. I do hope to make more to sell in the store in the spring. I just don't know if I'll get there this year.

I make soap that is pure soap. It has no artificial colour, artificial scent, chemical hardener or chemical sudsing agent...just pure soap. I used to add scent and colour but now I just make pure soap.

It still contains all the glycerin that is a byproduct of soap making. Most bath bars that you buy are detergent, not soap and even commercial soap has the glycerin removed. It's much more valuable than the soap. It's the stuff that moisturizes and softens your skin.

The soap that I make is good for our waterways and has no phosphates. It's also good for your pets and for you! There's nothing in it for anyone to be allergic to.

The hardest part is getting the fat to make it from. Sometimes I use pure unseasoned fatty beef trimmings if I can get them. Those I have to render into pure hard fat myself. Occasionally I buy vegetable shortening at the store and use that to make vegan soap. That's what this is. This also has olive oil and goat's milk in it. Sometimes I make an oil infusion of healing herbs and use that to make soap but I didn't have the herbs for this batch.

I like to make cold process soap because it's so quick and easy to toss together. It's also smoother but has to cure a long time before it can be used. I cooked this because I want it ready before Christmas.

I used to make huge batches of it and sell it, but that was a few years ago. It felt good to make soap again! I am going to enjoy using again too!