Never did I think I would be making homemade sauerkraut. I have eaten and liked canned processed sauerkraut for years. I stumbled across a video on fermented sauerkraut while researching how to get my ‘gut’ flora in balance, good bacteria & bad bacteria. I have always had stomach and digestive problems. Sinus, eczema and allergies. In the research of eating fermented cabbage some of the benefits they mentioned were: improved digestion, promotes a healthy immune system, it is a pro-biotic food (like yogurt), loaded with vitamins & enzymes, controls sweet cravings, it is alkaline and very cleansing. The list goes on & on. I am convinced that most health issues stems from our gut and I want to get mine right. I asked myself, “how does FERMENTED RAW SAUERKRAUT taste compared to the canned? I purchased a pint of organic raw fermented sauerkraut. I was SHOCKED at the price of $9.99. There were some even more expensive. Now I knew I was going to make it myself, since I eat about ¼ cup before my meals and sometimes as a snack. It tasted GREAT. I know some of you are don’t like sour, but I do. It can be an acquired taste. FERMENTED RAW SAUERKRAUT is way better than canned. Not as salty, mushy or sour. You can control these flavors by how long you ferment. There are fermenting kits you can purchase. My Grandma made her sauerkraut at home, so I decided to give it a try. I think she is smiling down on me and saying, “You go girl”. Well maybe not that phrase. But I am sure she is happy with me. Here is how I make RAW FERMENTED SAUERKRAUT. Make sure your area & supplies are VERY CLEAN.

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Three weeks ago I decided to try & make COMFREY TEA.  I was warned that it will be very stinky. It certainly was. I filled a 5 gallon bucket with cut up COMFREY LEAVES and STALKS packed down & to the top. Then I filled the bucket with water, making sure all the leaves stay submerged (I put a brick on it for a couple days).  Put a cover on it because it will STINK. Get a LONG stick for stirring the concoction. After a couple of days I take the brick out because I don’t want to be fishing out a brick in this stinky brew. I stir this at least 1-2 times daily to put some air into it. The leaves will decompose and this brew will be green. And did I mention that it will STINK??? I let this COMFREY TEA sit for 3 weeks. After this time there should be very little leaves & stalks left in the bucket. It all decomposed.  To use as a liquid fertilizer I used a ratio of 1 part COMFREY TEA to 20 parts water. No I didn’t measure exactly. The end result should look like very light colored water. The smell now reminds me of a cow barn.  I used a sprinkling can to water every thing in my veggie gardens.


After applying the COMFREY TEA to my gardens, I started to more buckets of this ORGANIC FERTILIZER.  In 3-4 weeks I will give the gardens another application.  I am so glad that I have several large plantings of COMFREY. Of course after cutting down the COMFREY, I thanked the plant for sharing all its wonderful healing & fertilizing properties it has.  I then watered all the plants thoroughly.

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 A bit of advice for beginning gardeners and even some seasoned gardeners. Your plants are only as good as the soil you plant them in.  So BEFORE you dig that hole to plant your new flower or veggie have some GREAT compost handy.  Dig the hole AT LEAST TWICE THE SIZE of the potted plant or transplant (if you are dividing). Add your compost & mix it in with the native soil.  If you have WORM CASTINGS and leaf mold that would also be a great addition at this time, making sure you mix it well with the soil you dug out to make the hole.  Now you are ready to give your dollar plant a MILLION DOLLAR hole.  Firm it in and water.

 Now is a super time to amend all your gardens, to continuously help the soil become more fertile. Having a compost pile or two or three is great BUT if you do not have the room for it you can just amend your planting areas as they lay.  Mulching all garden beds is a MUST DO!  I wish I would have used shredded bark on my perennial beds when I started  19 years ago.  So now, after the fact, I practice a method called CHOP & DROP.  When I deadhead or cut back my perennials, I take the clippings and tuck them under the plants themselves. This creates a layer of mulch which will break down & feed the soil.  If it is too large of an amount, I add it to my compost pile. When I do weeding, I pull & drop.  Making sure there are no seeds on the weeds. If there are seeds on the weeds, I put them in the garbage or burn pile.

 My number one mulch for my veggie gardens is organic grass clippings. Dave doesn’t use chemicals on our grass. I apply a thin layer, ½” or so.  You don’t want a thick layer or it will mat and water will not penetrate it easily.  I do this every other week.  It really does keep the soil cooler, moist and the worms love it.  Another  source of mulch is used coffee grounds. Thinly spread and the worms love this too.  Chopped up leaves are a super mulch, but not too available in Spring & Summer. NOTICE! All these mulches are FREE!  Straw is another great mulch BUT it can be costly. Hay can be used too, BUT it does seed and grow in your garden.

 Now if you are really serious about building a better soil, check out my article on LASAGNA GARDENING.  I do this method every Fall in all my veggie beds. This Fall I promised myself that I would take the time to collect bagged leaves from the curbside and let them sit over a season or two.  This is called LEAF MOLD.  It is a very good mulch or additive to your soil.

 I hope I have inspired you to take the time to BUILD BETTER SOIL.

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On February 1, I decided to germinate radish seeds using the PAPER TOWEL METHOD for quick germination.  Three days later I planted the germinated seeds in a window box type container and placed it in my south facing windows.  I used a ‘store bought’ organic potting mix and mixed in some worm castings along with a little Azomite rock dust.  I planted the germinated seeds about an inch apart.  Five days later the seedlings poked through the soil.  I read that you shouldn’t fertilize radishes too much.  A good loose organic rich soil is what they want. Along with keeping the soil moist.  If you do fertilize too much the radish will put a lot of growth to the leaves and not grow a large bulb (root).  So I followed these instructions.  I picked my first radish 50 days after planting the seeds.  I picked the first radishes when they were on the smaller side.  This  gave more room for the other radishes to get larger. I guess I could have planted them farther apart or just thinned them.  To me ‘thinning’ is wasteful so I decided to just eat the first picking when they were on the small side.  At 65 days I was harvesting FULL SIZE radishes.  Mission accomplished…growing great radishes indoors.

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It is early Spring in my Wisconsin yard and garden clean up has begun.  It is time to start a new compost pile.  Cutting back perennials and raking some dried leaves from the gardens gives me plenty of BROWN MATTER to start a new compost pile.

The first thing I do to start out my new compost pile is select the sunniest area I can find.  Second is I lay cardboard or ½” thick black & white newspaper sheets on the selected area.  Making sure you overlap (by 4”-5”) so no weeds or grass can enter your new compost pile.  Water this layer of cardboard/newspaper thoroughly.  This layer attracts WORMS and WORMS are a gardeners best friend.  On top of this cardboard/newspaper layer I add the TWIGGY stuff I cut down.  Next I add all the other cuttings of the dried flowers, perennials and leaves.  Every compost pile needs BROWNS & GREENS.  I added some of my kitchen ‘green scraps’.   We have A LOT of brown matter on this pile, I don’t have much green matter to add.  So now the special  GREEN MATTER enters the picture.  HUMAN URINE!  Human urine is high in nitrogen and is the perfect additive to our very brown compost pile.   I do not take any drugs so my urine is quite organic.  FREE & SIMPLE.  Each time I add more brown matter to my compost pile, I also add HUMAN URINE.  How much you ask?  The ratio is usually 4 parts brown to 1 part green.  My new compost pile is only around 5’x5’x2’, so I added a gallon of HUMAN URINE.  If it doesn’t rain make sure you keep this pile moist.  If it rains too long, I cover my compost pile with plastic.  I don’t want it too wet, all the nutrients can leech out.  In a month or so you can turn the pile.  If you are old (like me) or just don’t want to take the time you can just poke your pitch fork down into the pile and lift up, creating air pockets in the pile.  This helps it break down faster.  If you don’t want to turn or poke the pile, nature will do o.k. without this process, it will just take longer.

Have fun my gardening friends.  LET GARDENING SEASON BEGIN!

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