12 Reasons to Grow Your Own Herbs!

12 Reasons to Grow Your Own Herbs!

There are so many reasons to decide to grow your own herbs. Expense, availability, freshness, health, and the advantages they provide in the garden are just a few of the reasons we cram as many herbs as we can into our growing space.

Whether you live in the city and have only a small patio with room for a few containers, or you live in the country and have acres upon acres of growing space, herbs are definitely worth a little growing room. You could always trade in a little of that lawn. ūüėČ Here are a few reasons why we think you might want to do so…

1. Save more money by growing your own herbs than any other garden crop. 

Pound for pound, if you do a good job of making use of the herbs you grow, they will save you more money than any other garden crop. Do you know dried dill costs something like $175 a pound? A package of cilantro seed, at about the same price of one of those little bunches from the market, will keep you in this favored herb for months. One little mint plant from the nursery will spread and provide you with endless amounts of mint tea.

2. Herbs, like everything else, taste better when home grown. 

Have you ever compared homegrown and store-bought tomatoes? What about lettuce or cucumbers? Herbs are the same! Nothing beats the freshness, quality, and taste of homegrown herbs.

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a handful of Cuban oregano to be dried

3. Cooking with our own homegrown herbs, not only tastes better, it is so rewarding! 

There is something deep down satisfying about providing for your own needs. To prepare a meal entirely (or even just supplemented) with homegrown ingredients nourishes more than your physical being.

4. Brew up your own herbal tea blends!

Try drying some herbs, not just for cooking but also to make your own tea blends. You will be hooked! I love being able to brew up a pot of homegrown herbal tea for guests. I also love the flexibility of customizing the herbal tea blends for what is needed for the day whether something to help relax, combat a cold, or increase concentration. To be on the safe side, start with common herbs you find in blends in the tea aisle at the market. Try a little blackberry leaf, lemon balm, and chamomile flowers for a lovely herbal blend.

Here is our recipe for¬†Cedar Leaf Herbal Tea: PNW ‚ÄėWinter Day‚Äô Blend

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store dried herbs in an airtight container

What is the difference between Herbal Tea vs Herbal Infusions: How To Make Your Own and What is the Difference?

5. You will have fresh herbs available.

During the growing season, you will always have fresh herbs to gather from your own herb garden. How long does that bunch of cilantro from the market stay fresh in the refrigerator? If you are lucky enough to have mild winters where you live, you might even have fresh herbs available to you year round. We learned last winter that cilantro stays nice in our Pacific Northwest garden all winter as long as it is protected it from the rain.

6. You will have fresh herbs available at a whim.

You will love being able to go to your own garden for a handful of herbs on a whim having decided to whip up a marinara sauce or herb butter. Having fresh ingredients available without adding them to a shopping list and waiting for a trip to the grocery store is a huge convenience. Sow parsley once a year in your herb garden for a constant supply. A rosemary shrub will give you fresh springs year round. Chives are one of the first herbs available for harvest in early spring.

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so nice to just step out your door and snip a little fresh sage and parsley

7. There are so many different varieties of herbs you can grow!

How many kinds of basil can you find at the grocery store? How many kinds of mint¬†or oregano? We have five kinds of basil in the greenhouse at the moment, three kinds of oregano in the garden, and I’ve lost count of the various kinds of mint. Branch out and learn to appreciate the differences!

8. Availability of uncommon herbs that are otherwise hard to find.

Have you ever even seen Lovage at the market? Lovage is a nice old world medicinal and a great substitute for celery. Lovage is also one of the many perennial herbs, once established it is quite easy to grow.

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a little jasmine for your tea?

9. Many herbs are very easy to grow once established.

Herbs such as lemon balm, mint, and oregano grow so effortlessly¬†that I like to plant them where they stay self-contained so that they don’t take over. Put these aggressive herbs¬†in a bed with a border or next to a path where they can only spread so far. Allow annual herbs such as cilantro and dill to flower and go to seed to let them volunteer around your garden, no sowing required.

10. Grow your own pharmacy!

…or ‘farmacy’ ūüėČ

Lemon balm is great for nervous tension. Chamomile and hops will help you relax before bed. Echinacea will boost your immune system. Dandelion root serves to detoxify your liver. Stinging nettle is a great source of nutrients and iron, a common supplement during pregnancy and for those who struggle with anemia. And everyone knows lavender is excellent for anxiety and depression. I could go on, and on… Get yourself a good herbal medicine book and study up!

This is one of our favorite recipes:¬†Sage & Echinacea Chicken Soup ‚Äď Easy Herbal Remedy Cold & Flu Care Recipe

12 Reasons to Grow Your Own Herbs - PNWfromScratch.com

Mmm… add a little sage to your chicken soup!

 

11. Herbs are good for you!

The more you incorporate herbs into your diet and daily habits, the healthier you will be! The tradition of herbal medicine teaches that herbs are best used preventatively to maintain a state of health and well-being. Add herbs to all your recipes… dill on eggs; cilantro, parsley, and basil in your salads; lovage in your soups and chowders; tea, tea, and more tea… hot and iced!

12. Herbs are great for your garden too! 

Herbs in your garden can serve many purposes. Many herbs help attract beneficial insects and repel pests. When arranged as companion plants they can increase yields and quality of the plants around them. Mint repels cabbage caterpillars. Yarrow increases the aromatic quality of other herbs. Garlic can help control blight on potatoes and tomatoes!

Get out there and plant some herbs!

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When planning your¬†herb garden, decide which herbs to grow based on what you¬†like to use. I like to keep the herbs close to the house and easily accessible so that even in poor weather they are easy to get to for harvesting. For best success, try to group herbs together according to their light and water needs. Some herbs don’t like a ton of water so don’t plant those together with herbs that do. I prefer to stay away from containers because of the time it takes to water them in the summer heat but if that’s all you have room for it is better than nothing.

I love having herbs in the garden because at our place plants have to earn their keep. While we have five acres, most of it is sloped timber. Our gardening area is actually not very large so we focus on edible landscaping. We have a few plants that are there simply because we enjoy their presence. But for the most part, plants we choose to grow need to fulfill multiple purposes. Herbs are edible, medicinal, and either attract beneficial insects or repel pests. If for some reason we could no longer have a large garden and I had to downsize, herbs would definitely take priority over other plant selections.

Want to know more? Check out this post:¬†PNW Medicinal Tea Garden ‚Äď 14 medicinal plants for herbal tea that you can grow!

Going on in the PNW from Scratch Organic Garden ‚Äď May 2016

Going on in the PNW from Scratch Organic Garden ‚Äď May 2016

It is May and summer is here, already.

We went from a wet, rainy, miserable March – and the wettest Pacific Northwest winter on record – to¬†a hot, sunny, record-breaking-80’s April. The change happened so fast! Almost overnight. It¬†feels like we skipped Spring again this year!

Not sure what happened to our April showers, but we certainly have May flowers.

After that winter, we are soaking up this beautiful weather, and so is the garden. The warmth is making me feel a little behind on the planting calendar. Not to worry though, I know things will catch up in no time. Better a little late, now that it’s nice and warm, than stunted transplants and rotten seeds from being set out too early.

Pictures not enough? Keep reading to find out how you can come see the place for yourself!

Here is what we have going in the garden this May…

In the greenhouse

The greenhouse is packed with baby tomatoes and peppers, six varieties of each. More than I have room for, as usual. With this warm weather we have been having, I’m itching to get these heat lovers planted out, but I will be patient. With a few feedings¬†and a couple more weeks in the greenhouse, these little babies¬†will put on some nice growth and be ready to harden off and set out in no time.

Some of the new Violetto artichokes have already been transplanted out to the garden, and some are potted up, still in the greenhouse, waiting to fill in holes in the perennial beds wherever there is room a few weeks from now.

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We are still munching on the year’s first sowing of ‘cut and come again’ salad greens. But they aren’t going to last long in the greenhouse in this heat. Good thing we have the next batch already sown outside.

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In the beds

Legumes, spring peas and fava beans to be exact, went in early to work on fixing nitrogen in places we will plant heavy feeders like tomatoes, cukes, and squash later in the season.

Garlic is going strong and should be sending up scapes to be enjoyed on the grill and in stir fries before long. Three varieties of hard neck garlic, and new this year, an Italian soft neck for longer storage.

This winter’s most valuable gardening lesson… Cilantro!

The best lesson we learned over this last year?! How well cilantro will stick around all winter long if you just protect it from the rain! I struggle every summer to keep a crop of cilantro in the ground long enough to enjoy. In the heat, it bolts so fast that I sow it every few weeks in order to keep it around. The patch of cilantro and arugula pictured above self-seeded last fall. I kept it covered with an open-ended cloche and we have been eating on it all winter and spring. Now we are letting it flower and go to seed until we need the space for another crop. The beneficial insects are happy for the flowers, and we have less seed to buy for the next crop. I love this year-round gardening thing.

Speaking of…

Brassicas of all ages

The Pacific Northwest’s temperate climate allows brassicas to grow year round and our garden has them in various stages. There are new transplants of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower beginning to take off after being set out just a couple weeks ago. Some of last fall’s crop that recovered from deermageddon¬†overwintered nicely. We have been enjoying the purple sprouting broccoli since February and are now letting it, and last year’s kale, go to seed. Overwintered cabbages should be starting to head up soon. Good thing, because we are just about out of sauerkraut! We can’t let that happen. The fresh made sauerkraut has become an unexpected family favorite.

Berries, berries, and more berries!

There will be raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, loganberries, huckleberries, and yes, we even use the salal berries. We love berries.

Three varieties of raspberries went in a couple years ago and this year we have big hopes for a nice crop and a long season. The differing varieties should give us a longer harvest window than just one type alone.

A new dedicated strawberry bed should keep the family in strawberry shortcake for the next three years, at least. The six plants we scattered around the yard last year are full of blossoms¬†and will be a nice snack, but they just aren’t going to be enough to satisfy the craving. They will go nicely with the blueberry bushes that are finally loaded with blossoms after three years of TLC.

My favorites though¬†are the wild berries. We don’t have to plant them, feed them, or care for them much at all really. Other than pruning now and then to keep them within reach, we just have to pick them. Oh, and eat them. We love the wild huckleberries for everything from pancakes to salad dressings, and a lovely grilled salmon glaze. The salal berries also make a nice vinaigrette, or we use them for the ‘PNW Everyberry Jam’ we make using every edible wild berry we can get our hands on throughout the season. The huckleberries can be a bit tedious to harvest unless you know the trick.

We are still waiting on the six aronia berry plants we added two years ago from Burnt Ridge Nursery to put on some size and start flowering. We are being hopeful …and patient.

And lastly, the goji berry is hanging on, barely. I thought the winter had killed it, but there are shoots of new growth coming from the base! Let’s see what happens. We may just get some home grown goji berries yet.

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Perrenials, every gardener’s best friend

We are always looking to add more perennials to our permaculture gardens. Plant them once and then harvest from year to year. Least input, for most output.

This is the second year on the shiitake logs and this spring they have been kicking out mushrooms on a regular basis. The three varieties – WR46, Night Velvet, and Miss Happiness – produce in varying temperature ranges and should continue to give us a harvest late into fall as long as they have the needed moisture. We are already planning on inoculating more alder logs next March to keep the mushrooms coming.

The four varieties of hops are racing for the peak of the house and the ‘Mt Hood’ variety is winning again. Cascade always catches up and produces a nice crop that is our favorite for an herbal sleep-aid evening tea blend. Zeus and Fuggle are the new additions we have to experiment with this year. The hops take a bit of work to keep trained and under control, but we find them to be worth it.

And have you ever seen rhubarb that big! Time to make some pie… or something.

Two experimental perennials we added this year… Pesto Perpetuo basil and Kosmic Kale¬†from Territorial Seed. They are looking a bit scraggly at the moment but we will share pictures when they put on a little growth.

Four years and counting…

This will be the fourth year of molding this little patch of five timbered and sloped acres in the Pacific Northwest into our mini farming empire. It has not been without its challenges. We have been taking what was an awkward, highly shaded, north facing piece of ground and molding it into the place where we live, and work, and grow as much food and herbal medicine as possible for ourselves and others to enjoy. Thanks for letting us share it with you via this blog and other ways.

Would you like to come for a visit?

Mason County Master Gardeners 2016 Garden Tour

Come enjoy a walk through our garden, as well as several other beautiful gardens in the Union area, this July 9 for the Mason County Master Gardeners 2016 Garden Tour. Keep an eye on the Mason County Master Gardener Facebook page for upcoming event information and where to get tickets!

Planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest? Stay with us via Airbnb!

Let us be your home-away-from-home and help you see what it’s like to ‘live local’ while you are here!

PNW Organic Farm Downstairs w/ View

Union, WA, United States

Guests say ‘best yet’, ‘hidden gem’, and ‘this is what Airbnb is all about’! Experience the peace and seclusion of this Pacific Northwest organic farm getaway. Large downstairs with epic views onto…

New to Airbnb?

If you are new to Airbnb, we would like to welcome you! Sign up through this link for some travel credit… $35 for your first stay, or $65 when you host. Maybe we will see you soon!

What do you have going on around your garden this May?

We would love to hear in the comments section. Share your pictures with us on Twitter, Facebook, and¬†Instagram‚Ķ¬†mention us @PNWfromScratch or hashtag it #PNWfromScratch‚Ķ we would love to see how your garden grows! And don’t forget to follow the blog by email to get free notifications of new posts!


Five Surprisingly Useful Northwest Native Trees to Include in Your Landscape

Five Surprisingly Useful Northwest Native Trees to Include in Your Landscape

It is the last Friday of the month… our ‘Five Things Friday’¬†AND, it is Arbor Day! So today we want to celebrate by sharing five of our favorite Pacific Northwest native trees to include (or keep) in your landscape, and why we love them. Read on, some of their uses may surprise you!

All of these trees have medicinal properties but we aren’t going to go into great detail on preparations, precautions, and administration. It is important to seek out the advice of an experienced herbalist and your healthcare provider. Do your research! See below for a link to our favorite resource.

1 РMadrona (Arbutus menziesii), aka Madrone or Pacific Madrone

  • unique shape and beautiful color
  • draws in the birds
  • edible and medicinal
  • hard wood

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Our landscape is scattered with the beautiful twisted trunks and broad glossy leaves of the madronas. My favorites are the two that tower on the hillside right out front. The evening sun lights up the peeling ochre trunks with golden light and they are stunning, especially after a rain.

In spring, the canopies are full of clusters of cream-colored blossoms that the Band-Taled Pigeons just adore. The flocks come every year to enjoy the sweet nectar of these flowers.

Native Americans would eat the uncooked fruit of these trees, which are said to be anywhere between sweet and bleh, and full of seeds. Maybe they would make a nice jam.

The leaves of the madrona tree have been used medicinally to treat acute bladder infections caused by binging and the consumption of foods that turn the urine alkaline. Another medicinal use is as a sitz bath for postpartum mothers and also vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis, and yeast infection.

Madrona also makes a very nice¬†hard wood. Just Google ‘madrone woodworking’ and see the beautiful images that pop up.

2 РRed Alder (Alnus rubra) and Alder in general (Alnus spp.)

  • nitrogen fixer
  • deciduous¬†color
  • mushroom logs
  • medicinal
  • erosion control

Alder is a pioneer species that many around here almost consider a weed. You have no idea how many times I have been asked when I am taking down the alder that resides on the edge of our garden. I’m not taking it down!¬†Years ago, when we worked for the Washington Conservation Corps, we would go out and collect cones from the fallen alder trees with resulting bags full of the seed to scatter on disturbed hillsides for soil building and erosion control.

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Digging through the garden I can recognize the roots from the alder¬†tree because of the clusters of nitrogen nodules. Free fertilizer! ¬†Like many other nitrogen fixing plants, alder has a symbiotic relationship with a bacteria that has the ability to pull nitrogen from the air. The nitrogen is fixed underground on the plant’s roots as clusters of tiny round nodules for the tree, and then succession plants, to use.¬†Alders can produce between 120 and 290 pounds of nitrogen per acre annually,¬†according to Wikipedia.

They don’t give a ton of fall color, but they do provide a beautiful flush of bright green to our coniferous landscape in the spring that I appreciate.

They are also great for mushroom farming. A few springs ago, we harvested alder¬†from our woodlot to be inoculated with three varieties of shiitake mushrooms. We’ve been enjoying those mushrooms for a couple years now and will continue to do so for years to come.

We have not yet used alder medicinally, but according to Michael Moore in Medicinal Plants of the Pacific Northwest, it can be used to improve food absorption and fat metabolism.

3 – Willow (Salix spp.)

  • rooting aid
  • erosion control
  • medicinal
  • decorative
  • easy to grow

This is another native tree that we first became familiar with while working for the Washington Conservation Corps.

New growth shoots of this tree would be harvested and cut into 12-18 inch sections for two purposes. The sections can be used as stakes in hillsides, sometimes by themselves, sometimes to hold down other materials. They easily take root to grow a new tree/shrub and help with erosion control. The same constituent that allows them to root so easily is the reason that we would use them to make a rooting tea to help in transplanting other native plants. Fill a five-gallon bucket with sections of willow, add water and allow to steep for twenty-four hours or so. We would then use the resulting ‘tea’ when transplanting other plants in the landscape to give them a boost in establishing their root system.

Willow bark is a natural, and some say more gentle, alternative to aspirin. The dried bark is used to make a pain relieving tea that may be a bit bitter to drink but reportedly works best topically anyway by soaking a cloth in the tea and applying it to the area in need of pain relief.

There are many decorative varieties of willow. We have a corkscrew willow in our landscape that we are able to coppice each year (cut nearly to the ground). The twisty branches are used in bouquets, wreaths, and whatever else inspires. To propagate, all you need to do is cut a branch in early spring and stick it in moist ground. Before long the buds will swell, the plant will begin to grow, and voila, you have a new tree! These are easy to grow and would make a nice gift for a gardening friend.

4 РWild Cherry, aka Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

  • edible fruit
  • seasonal beauty
  • draws in wildlife
  • medicinal

During our time living in Montana, we would harvest the chokecherries, which were wild and plentiful, and preserve them as syrup for our pancakes, waffles, and ice cream, yum!

Now we have a beautiful purple chokecherry in our garden to enjoy. The leaves come out bright green in the spring and mature to a beautiful deep purple as the season progresses. The show doesn’t stop there. Fall brings out a bright orange in the leaves, making this shrub an almost year-round interest.

The clusters of white flowers turn to beautiful dark chokecherries that we can harvest and use, if we beat the birds to them, that is. Either way, whether we get to enjoy the fruit, or the wildlife that it draws in, this tree makes an enjoyable and easy to grow addition to the edible landscape.

Medicinally, wild cherry can be used as a respiratory sedative for acute conditions.

We’ve saved our most favorite for last,

5 РWestern Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

  • cultural history
  • fibrous bark
  • medicinal
  • natural insect repellant
  • building material

We couldn’t put together a list of our favorite trees without including the Western Red Cedar. With its antifungal and antibacterial properties, its ability to stimulate innate immunity scavenging, and being naturally insect repellant and rot resistant, our native cedar tree has many uses.

This magnificent tree was central to the indigenous cultures of this area. It not only had religious meaning to them, they used it for many of their basic needs. The wood of the western red cedar was used for canoes and carvings, its bark for basketry and clothing, its various parts for medicine, and so much more. I remember sitting in Washington State history class in school, learning how the bark would be twisted into a strong rope after being peeled off the trunk in long strips.

This last winter was the first time we really started working with cedar medicinally. We used a small amount of the collected tips, along with a selection of garden-grown herbs, in a wonderfully bright PNW ‘Winter Day’ herbal tea blend. Very pleasant, and nice to have on hand for the gloomy Pacific Northwest winter days, especially when there are cold and flu viruses going around due to its antibacterial and immunostimulant properties.

Our first ever batch of home-distilled essential oil was using Western Red Cedar tips. The resulting essential oil and hydrosol has a surprisingly floral scent, quite different than the scent of the aromatic wood. We are using the hydrosol as a spray for a room disinfectant and freshener, and sampling the essential oil in various aromatherapy blends.

This spring, we are putting some nice cedars from our woodlot to use in the construction of split rail arbor gates for around the farm. The rot resistant wood is long-lasting and definitely a material of choice in the wet Pacific Northwest. Not only for fence posts, the wood is widely used for deck material and roofing shingles as well.

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If you have the room, reserve some space for a few western red cedars around your place. You may not be able to use them as building material in your lifetime, but they will be valuable to future generations. And with their historical significance, they merit a place in your landscape.

Get out there and plant a tree!

Whether it is an apple tree or a magnificent cedar, planting a tree is investing in future generations. It is a way of saying that you have faith and hope in what is to come. In many cases, the tree you plant will be around long after you are gone. The trees you plant may be harvested by your grandchildren, or maybe by someone you will never know, either way, they are sure to be grateful for your forethought.

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About the Medicinal Qualities of these Trees

For more information on each of these trees, and how they can be used medicinally, check out Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West. This is an affiliate link, please see the full disclosure down below.

Affiliate Disclosure

This is not a sponsored post, but it does contain affiliate links. Why? Because we actually use this stuff and think you will find it useful too.

Five Surprisingly Useful Native PNW Trees to Include in Your Landscape this Arbor Day_3

How it works…

If you click on the link and make a resulting purchase, we get a small percentage which is one way to support this blog and keep the info coming! (The price you pay is not increased.) In this case, we recommend this book because it is on our bookshelf and one that we value and use regularly. We will never promote an item that we do not use ourselves and fully support. This is one way we are compensated for the time it takes to put this blog together. The other is just the good feeling of helping out and connecting with like-minded folks. Otherwise, I would be out there gardening. ūüėČ

Here is the full legal disclaimer…

PNW from Scratch is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Now that that is over with… back to the fun stuff.

We would love to hear from you!

Are you planting a tree this Arbor Day? What kind, and why did you choose it? Were you surprised by any of the uses of these native trees?

Share pictures of your Arbor Day adventures with us on¬†Twitter,¬†Facebook, and¬†Instagram…¬†mention us or hashtag it #PNWfromScratch… we would love to share in your tree planting projects!

Save Money: Mix up a Bulk Batch of Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF)

Save Money: Mix up a Bulk Batch of Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF)

Want to save money on your organic fertilizer expense? Have you tried mixing up your own bulk batch of complete organic fertilizer? It is easier than you would think.

(This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links in case you like what we recommend. See below for more details.)

Every year since making the switch to organic, we try to shave a little off our gardening expense by mixing up our own bulk batch of ‘Complete Organic Fertilizer’ or COF. Once you have your ingredients together it only takes a few minutes and is so nice to have on hand for the gardening season. One batch based on a fifty-pound bag of cottonseed meal produces roughly two five gallon buckets of complete organic fertilizer that lasts me two gardening seasons, give or take. As long as you keep it dry, it keeps indefinitely.

The recipe is based on the one found in Steve Solomon’s book,¬†Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades: The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening. This book is a must read for every Pacific Northwest organic gardener. It has served as my organic gardening bible since we made the switch away from agrochemicals four years ago. Not just for me, this is the main fertilizer used by the Master Gardeners and what they sell a pound or two at a time at our annual plant sale.

Here is what goes into it

All measurements are by volume (scoop, bucket, shovel, etc)

Note: The original recipe uses 4 parts seed meal and half parts of the remaining ingredients. I find that starting with 8 parts just makes the math easier.

Where to Buy the Ingredients

There are links above where you could order the ingredients online, but in most cases you will save money by buying your ingredients locally.

Start by contacting your local feed store to order the cottonseed meal. This is the only way I have been able to get it. I get fifty pounds for $29. This is the only ingredient that I need to buy every year. You use such relatively small amounts of the other ingredients that if you buy those in bulk and keep them dry, they will last you a while.

Dolomite lime is easy to get your hands on, but I had to ask around a bit for the ag lime. If you can’t find it, or don’t want to bother, you can skip it. Just use a full part of dolomite.

A couple of years ago I invested in a large bag of kelp to further cut down our costs. I store it in a five-gallon bucket with a lid and keep it dry. I will be pulling from that bucket for years to come. Kelp tends to be the spendy part, so you can also buy it in a smaller box, just enough for your batch, but pound for pound you end up paying twice as much. Kelp is important because it supplies lots of minerals and micronutrients. This gives your plants what they need to stay strong and help with overwintering for us cool season gardeners.

Mix it up

If you have a patch of flat concrete and a straight edge shovel, this goes really quick. If you don’t have a patch of concrete you might use a tarp spread out on the ground. We do a pretty big batch. Of course, if you are mixing up a smaller batch you can use whatever works.

Measure out your ingredients by volume. Eight scoops of seed meal and one scoop each of the other ingredients.

Now, mix away! Keep mixing until you see that your ingredients are evenly dispersed.

Store it

Scoop up your batch into containers. I use five-gallon buckets for everything. You will want something with a lid to keep out the rodents. Otherwise, they will munch on this stuff and you will find your supply strangely dwindling. It is always good to keep your organic fertilizers in rodent-proof containers to prevent attracting unwanted pests.

Using your Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF)

The general guidelines are…

  • 1-2 gallons per 100 square feet
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup per plant
  • 1 cup per¬†10 row feet

Use as much or as little as the plants will respond to.

For more detailed information about Steve’s recipe and how to use it, along with growing guides and tips for gardening west of the Cascades, grab the book.


Affiliate Disclosure

This is not a sponsored post, but it does contain affiliate links. Why? Because we actually use this stuff¬†and think you will find it useful¬†too. We will never share links or promote items that we don’t use ourselves. How lame would that be? We are here to share information and be helpful and one of the ways we like to do that is by pointing our readers to things that might improve their lives in one way or another. So, rest assured, you can trust that we have your best interest at heart. If you happen to click on a link and make a purchase, we do get a little compensation for referring you. This is one way we are compensated for the time it takes to put this blog together. The other is just the good feeling of helping out and connecting with like-minded folks. Otherwise, I would be out there gardening. ūüėČ

Here is the full legal disclaimer…

PNW from Scratch is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Now that that is over with… back to the fun stuff.

Get out there and grow!

Check out this post to see what a garden fed with this fertilizer can look like:Going on in the PNW Vegetable Garden – September Photo Tour & Garden Journal

Share pictures of your garden on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram…¬†mention us or hashtag it #PNWfromScratch… we would love to see how your garden grows!

5 Down & Dirty Resources for Year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

5 Down & Dirty Resources for Year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

New to organic gardening?

Maybe new to gardening in the PNW?

Or maybe, you just want to take year-round organic gardening in the Pacific Northwest to the next level.

Here are 5 of the most helpful, go back to again-and-again, resources I’ve found on learning how to garden year-round in the Pacific Northwest.¬†These are the essential resources I could not have lived without in the early days of my PNW organic gardening journey, and I still use each one of them to this day.¬† (more…)

DIY Garden Planting Calendar – Hands Down the Most Time-Saving Section of My Garden Journal

DIY Garden Planting Calendar – Hands Down the Most Time-Saving Section of My Garden Journal

If you have tried to implement year-round gardening or succession planting, then maybe you too have experienced the flurry of seed packets and chaos that can happen at sowing time. Often getting to it late, or sometimes too early, keeping up with seed sowing is an area of stress in the garden that I want to streamline.

So last year, rather than randomly plodding outdoors with a boxful of seed packets and a headful of ideas, I implemented into my garden journal a seed sowing and transplanting calendar, a schedule. Using this tool, along with the garden layout plan I put together at the beginning of every garden season, saved me in more ways than one.

With a schedule and a map in hand, I saved many headaches and hours of time. No more having to juggle through seed packets and labels trying to jog my memory or drum up inspiration. Crops were also more likely to be sown and transplanted on time because it is ‘on the calendar’.

I have learned that things work out way better when I have a plan.

Now sowing days are as easy as looking to the calendar to see what needs to be sown that week. I can pull just those seeds from storage, prep the row markers ahead of time, and then head outside with a map and confidence that I actually know what I have to do that day.

This is the best way that I have found to keep us in salad greens year-round and avoid missing the fall / winter sowing windows.

If you do any amount of gardening, from a large market garden to a tiny window patio, implementing a seed sowing calendar into your annual garden planning will surely improve your results, and therefore, your garden enjoyment. And that is what I am going for.

It takes time to put together your first calendar but the nice thing is in future years you only need modify your calendar for the adjustments you want to make for that year. Maybe you decided, like me, you need to be a little more patient, allowing Spring to warm things up a bit more before you sow your carrot seed. You have last year’s calendar as a record so you know when you sowed your carrot seed, adjust it this year to sow a couple weeks later.

Whether you decide to go print or digital for your calendar, the idea is the same.¬†Here is how I do it.¬† (more…)

PNW Medicinal Tea Garden – 14 medicinal plants for herbal tea that you can grow!

PNW Medicinal Tea Garden – 14 medicinal plants for herbal tea that you can grow!

I love tea.

Wrapping chilly fingers around a hot, steamy cup of herbal goodness on these dark, drizzly Pacific Northwest winter days… a good cup of tea can go a long way to lift one’s spirits and warm one’s soul.

The vaporous steam that is so soothing to breathe in as the healing infusion washes over a sore throat or soothes a nagging cough.

A nice cup of something before bed to slow the day down and signify to the senses that it is time to bring this day to close, time for sleep. Chamomile is common, but my favorite has become a mix containing hops and lemon balm.

herbal tea

I thought I loved tea before. Then we started harvesting and drying our own, experimenting with our own blends. We are hooked.¬† (more…)

Going on in the PNW from Scratch Garden – November 2015

Going on in the PNW from Scratch Garden – November 2015

I know this is November’s post, but October still gets a mention. { I should have posted last month. Better late than never… } October was an amazing month – sunny, warm, and wet. With the return of the fall rains, the garden sprang back like nothing else! Even a lot of what the deer damaged at the end of summer came back and is giving us a yield. (more…)

Northwest Grown Pomegranate!

Northwest Grown Pomegranate!

When I brought the scrubby little pomegranate bush loaded in bright red blossoms swelling with the promise of fruit home from the nursery this spring, I had hope. Well, pleased to report, our little pomegranate experiment has been a success! (more…)

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