How to Tell When It's Ripe

Many fruits and vegetables are in season now. It's often possible to score bargains at a farmer's market or truck stand. Of course, if you're growing your own food, you need to decide when to pick it! But how do you tell which fruits and vegetables are at their peak? Here are some tips...

Choosing Fruit That's Truly Ripe -- general principles
How to Tell If Your Fruit Is Ripe -- several species in detail
Have you ever wondered how to tell if fruit is ripe? -- many species briefly, plus list of which ones keep ripening after harvest
How to Tell If Fruit Is Ripe -- a Whole Foods video tutorial
When to Harvest Fruit -- advice on timing by month; advice on characteristics by species

When to Harvest Vegetables -- many species in a chart showing "too early," "optimum," and "too late"
How to Tell If Vegetables Are Ripe -- several subcategories of tips
Picking Desert Garden Vegetables -- special advice for southwestern crops & climate

Spring and Summer Fruits & Veggies -- multiple species, brief clues to ripeness
Fall and Winter Fruits and Vegetables -- multiple species, brief clues to ripeness

What are some of your favorite tips?

(Crossposted on cheap_cookin )
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Grow Your Own Food

One sensible response to the plummeting economy is to grow some of your own food. Vegetables, fruits, and herbs taste better when fresh; you can choose varieties suited to your area and taste; and it doesn't have to be either expensive or difficult. Here are some resources.

Grow food in small spaces:
"Container Gardening 101" by Suzette Haden Elgin
Square Foot Gardening homepage
"Intensive Gardening Methods" by Alex X. Niemiera, Extension Horticulturist, Virginia Tech
"Hydroponic Gardening for Beginners" by Greentrees Hydroponics

Make your own soil or improve poor soil:
Kitchen Compost Crocks
"How to Make Compost"
"How to Make a Small Backyard Compost Bucket" by shoopgirl
"Compost Tea Makers"
Vermiculture Supplies
"Composting Your Organic Kitchen Wastes with Worms" by Lori Marsh
5 dollar, 1/2 hour worm composing bin by Marcus

Grow "heirloom" or "antique" varieties:
Heirloom Seeds
Amishland Heirloom Seeds
Victory Heirloom Seeds
Hobby Farms Apples of Antiquity
"Stone Fruit Varieties for Milder Climates" by Andrew Mariani
Heritage Fruit Group (Australia)

Save and exchange seeds:
Seed Savers Exchange
International Seed Saving Institute
"How to Save Seeds for Next Year's Garden" by Edwin Marty
National Garden Association Seed Swap

Divide and exchange roots, canes, and other live plants:
Trade A Plant
Plant Exchange
The Plant Exchange (UK)
Plant Swap Forums
Plant Swap Party
"How to Organize a Plant Swap" by Sophia S.

Start a fruit/vegetable swap in your neighborhood:
How to start a homegrown fruit and vegetable exchange in your community
Ceres Organic Farm activities
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Bloomin' Easy Craft Projects

With spring comes the growing season. It's time to give something back to the Earth. Consider the following ideas...

You can recycle old newspapers and other waste paper yourself. Make pots out of newspaper; they will be biodegradable, better for the environment and your plants than plastic or peat pots. Also you don't need the pricey wooden widget sold in stores for rolling pots: a glass or jar will do.

Besides newspaper, you can also make pots from toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, and mini-yogurt cups.

Another option is to make your own paper from waste paper. If you add some flower seeds, the result is a beautifully textured handmade paper that can be used to make cards -- and then planted. Here are some instructions:

If you aren't crafty, you can buy seeded paper. As you can see in the following catalogs, seeded cards are ideal for use in weddings, baby showers, graduations, and other special occasions.

Here's a cool video on how to incorporate seeded paper into your business plan for eco-friendly marketing. If your business caters to green-minded customers, this is especially effective -- but it's a good idea for anyone.

Do you save seeds? If you garden, probably so. Do you really need all 1,614 marigold seeds that you pulled off the heads last summer? Probably not. To share them with friends, make your own seed envelopes:

Like seeded-paper cards, seed packets make charming party favors for a baby shower, wedding, or graduation.

Seed tape is a wonderful way of making very straight rows of evenly spaced flowers or vegetables; it can also be used to make designs or write messages. It's ridiculously expensive in most stores or catalogs, and often contains undesirable chemicals. Happily, you can make this yourself too. There are various recipes using different base papers and adhesives.,,DIY_13968_2270362,00.html,7518,s1-5-19-643,00.html

Does anyone else have favorite garden craft projects to share?
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Gardening with Wildlife

Gardening on a sunny spring day is a rather different experience than gardening on a cloudy day. To wit, the "neighbors" are more apparent...

Me: "Hello, corn snake."
Snake: *licksniff*
Me: "You're too close to the road. You should move."
Snake: "I'm too cold to move."
Me: "It's a nice day."
Snake: "For a mammal."
Me: *nudge with shovel* "Shoo, shoo."
Snake: "I shall bite you!"
Me: "You are a constrictor. Shoo."
Snake: "I shall bite you anyway, with my many tiny teeth!"
Me: "A little farther, if you please." *nudge, nudge"
Snake: AAAAAAA!! Get away from me, you monster! *flees into tall grass*

Me: "Ah, ladybugs!"
Ladybugs: *rustle*
Me: "You're in the way, ladies." *gentle poke with trowel*
Ladybugs: *reek in irritation*
Me: "Shoo, shoo." *carefully scrape leaves away from soil*
Ladybugs: *rustle REEK rustle REEK rustle*
Me: "Shoo, shoo ... shoo-EEE what a stench!" *shift upwind*

Me: "Hello, lawn grub."
Grub: *munch munch munch*
Me: "Better luck next life." *STOMP*

So far, I've planted 2 Russian olive trees, 2 hazelnuts, and an extra honeysuckle that got left in the bucket by mistake. If I have time later I'll put out the freebie rosebush.
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(no subject)

To All Witches, Magical Beings & Entities of the Like:


This is being posted in several places, so sorry if this is a re-read.

This is a thought that just now hit me. I am not expecting a big reaction, But I would be glad of information f one has it .

    I was thinking about all the things that are happening in this world- War and The state of Earth particularly. I was wondering... 

     1) Is there anyhing Magicals can do on the magical plane to help with some of these problems?

     2) If so, What could we do? I am talking some act of extremely powerful magic. The first thing that comes to mind when I say this is a large gathering of witches, maybe some faeries thrown in. 

    The first 2 questions focus more on the state of the Earth. Thank you for your time, and I wish you peace.

      Blessed Be,

The Scent of Sage Part 2!

Hello all!

I posted a couple of weeks ago in regard to the distinct smell of burning sage in my apartment and inquired as to what it could mean. I got some very good advice about needing to realign some things in my life which I took.

A couple of months ago I had an abscessed tooth and had to go to to an emergency dentist to have checked out. He ended up doing a partial root canal but did not completely clear out the root. It gave me a bit of reprieve, but the day after the scent came to me my tooth pain began to come back. I ended up taking that as a sign and got that all taken care of and now I have an amazing dentist (recommended by one of my very closest pagan friends).

Anyhow, tonight the smell is back. Odd to me because the majority of the responses I got stated that it indicated a misalignment or a forewarning of sorts. It's odd because I've never felt happier and my life could not get better in this very moment. My boyfriend and I are making engagement plans, he just got a promotion, I have a good job (and health insurance) and we are just overall a more connected couple. My question then is this-- can the scent of sage also be a sign that the bad energy is leaving a certain area of our home? I cleared out some dirty laundry with my man tonight as a result of our newfound "oneness" with eachother. I've also taken other steps that I hope will benefit our relationship (which I won't go into for personal discretion reasons).

Any thoughts? Can it be a sign of a more positive cycle in our lives? Or should we be concerned that there is still more to come? We've had a hard year and I'm hoping for the former, but am prepared for bad news too. Enlightenment is key, in my mind, regardless of the content of the truth.

Thank you in advance for your advice!

{And I should mention that we've taken all the necessary steps to make sure that our doors are locked and our dogs are safe... all that jazz, in the even that it's a bad sign).

Have a great Thursday, all!

(no subject)

Hello all-- I'm new. Just had a quick question for you....

I like to do smudging ceremonies in my apartment on a semi-regular basis. It's been a little over a month since the last and tonight I got home and the smell of sage in my apartment is overwhelming.

Any idea what might be causing this? Is there a sign I'm missing here? This is practically the only thing I do that is "magick" related... so I'm a little naive to the signs that are probably right in front of my face.

Any incite would be greatly appreciated!

The Introductory Post

 Good Day,
                    I am Drake. This is my second year of magic- I am 13, but please do not think less of me for that. Ever since the discovery of my energies, magic has become a regular part of my life.I hope to meet other people here, as well as share wisdoms. Thank you for accepting me.
                   Happy New Year and Blessed Be,

(no subject)

i believe this is my first time posting here

im alittle off so please dont judge me by this post...

right now i am so light headed and feel like i am going to explode.

i havent gotten my period since september/october....i need to know if anyone has any natural remedies for getting/encouraging periods.

please, im so desperate, this happens to me all the time and the meds they give me make me so if you know anything, or know i site or person...please fill me in

thank you so much!!!

all the love and peace
nikki rae