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HearthandHelm
HearthandHelm
Hearth & Helm. Reviving Folk Vitality in the Modern World. Video, Podcast and Blog with vital information on living holistically- from a traditional, conservative, feminine and primal perspective.
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Welcome

  • We three mothers collaborate to provide blog posts, videos, recipes, and podcasts. Topics include: homesteading, child rearing, spirituality, herbalism, nutrition, and more!

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HearthandHelm

One aspect of high investment parenting is to hold the viewpoint that ‘teaching your child to rea...

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Healthy, Candy Free, Spring Basket Ideas For Children

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Birth Plan

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Planning Your Victory Garden 

Part One

Building Beds With The Sheet Mulching Method


As many of you know, I have grown up with gardening of all types. As a child, my mother started a landscaping company in California which specialized in xeriscape. In Indiana, the business changed to residential cottage style gardens, incorporating many bright and colorful butterfly and bird-attracting perennial flowers. Over time the landscape company also opened a plant nursery, where I spent my after-school hours and weekends watering all the potted plants and soaking up the educational dialogue between my mother and her customers. At our nursery, we helped them find the right plants for their particular yard. The family landscaping business serviced some prominent clients such as the dean of a local university, doctors, professors, and we also established a wildlife habitat/ interactive children's garden in the middle of the city in the place that was once a parking lot. 

In the later years of my mother's life she reverted to her own childhood gardening past, collecting rare and unusual conifers as my grandfather had done. While my mother grew up watering my grandfather's greenhouse, I grew up watering the plants in her greenhouse, and now I find myself in my own greenhouse teaching my kids how to properly water our plants. Gardening runs in the family, you might say. 

Indeed, my grandfather was one of the first people to bring the Japanese Maple into the United States after his service in WWII. Some of his rare plant collections can still be found in the Washington Arboretum. He and my mother were members of the American Conifer Society, and there is even a Japanese Maple named after my grandfather. 

Gardening Through the Years...


Yesterday I came across a photo of the beginning garden that my husband and I started here at our homestead. He and I have lived many places together, and we always plant gardens wherever we go. There was the time in North Carolina, living on the side of a mountain, when we hauled locust logs out of the woods, split them and built retaining walls for a terraced hillside. There was the time we were in a tiny city apartment in the nearby college town, and after receiving permission for our landlord, we removed about 75% of the lawn and planted all manner of vegetables and flowers. After that, we lived in the deep woods and sowed hundreds of Ginseng seeds over the couple of acres that held our small cottage. We would venture out of the woods, into the sunshine- down a few backroads to a shared garden a few miles away, where we worked with a friend to grow beets, tomatoes, squash, herbs and Asian greens. Following that, we were living on a cow farm in a yurt. That was our first "dream garden". It seemed so big back then. Doug built our first little greenhouse (the 12 x 16 the you can find a tutorial on right here on our Subscribe Star). At that garden we grew almost everything-sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, onions, lettuces, even our own tobacco! And finally, we are here. We have lived here for nearly ten years and the gardens have changed drastically since the beginning. We bought 3 1/2 acres of blank canvas. 

The Sheet Mulched Garden...


In the photo below you can see how we started. It was always important for us to try no-till gardening, and this bottomland was prime for that method of growing. Tilling can be a quick way to put in a garden, and in some places nearly necessary- but if the conditions are right, no-till is the way to go. Weeds are quite reduced and the soil is nourished and built over time, vs. tilling the each year which gives life to dormant weed seeds and stripping away precious topsoil. Topsoil is truly precious and in some cases takes hundreds of thousands of years to accumulate. The minerals and beneficial earthworms are also conserved with no-till gardening. Ultimately, it is lower maintenance, more harmonious, and more sustainable for you and your crops in the long run.

As you can see in the photo below, we used "sheet mulching" to establish the gardens. This is a fun and easy way to begin a garden. Personally, I find the idea of building raised beds using wood and other hardware dreadful, but I can acknowledge that they might have some benefits for some people. (Please let me know what they are)

Here are a few reasons we would not choose raised beds (as in, built with wooden frames, etc.):

1. Lumber is expensive
2. Time is precious
3. Weeds will still come up in the raised beds
4. They dry out much more quickly and need to be watered more frequently
5. Typically they are not done properly (i.e the soil needs to be aerated or tilled slightly below the placement of the raised beds otherwise you end up with a "bathtub effect".
6. Over time, they'll need to be replaced

With sheet mulching, you can create a long lasting garden using natural materials.

There are several ways to go about it. You can lightly till the soil before making your sheet mulched beds, or you can gently aerate the soil (right into the lawn!) with a digging fork or broad fork. I highly recommend the broad fork as a VIP in the tool shed.

Then, you layer. We added slow release rock phosphate and other minerals by sprinkling them directly onto the lawn, which was mowed down as low as possible. Next, we fork the whole (future) garden using the broad fork. This is essentially just poking a lot of holes in the ground and also a fantastic workout. Then, we water the lawn (future garden area) unless it is already moist from ample rainfall.

After that we alternate layers of anything good and organic that we can get our hands on such as composted manure (or fresh manure- *see below), finished compost, chopped (or whole) autumn leaves, straw, spoiled old hay, wood chips from a tree company (no Black Walnut!), green manure such as fresh cut grass clippings, and so on. Each bed might not have the same layers. The important part is to have a balance of nitrogen and carbon. Manures and compost need to be balanced with carbon. Straw is the star here.

What I have described above is the omnivore's or "poor man's" approach. We use anything we can. We have even added peat moss before if it was on hand. But if you have the resources- the best combination is just straw and compost.

It is optional, but recommended, to lay newspapers down over the moist, aerated soil/ lawn prior to building your beds. This will not only suppress weeds, but it will also draw earthworms tot eh soil surface- they will find your delicious treats on top and begin to work through the layers, all the while helping decomposition and depositing valuable castings.

How much to layer?


Your beds should have between 3 to 4 total layers and be about 12 inches tall. By planting time, they will have decomposed and will be just slightly above ground level.

When can I plant?

Ideally, after creating the sheet ,mulched garden, you let it rest for at least three months, the longer the better. If your ground is not frozen solid, now would be a fine time to begin. You can then be ready for planting time in the late spring.

How to plant?

One caveat to this method, is that when your beds are brand new, and you are in your first year, sowing seeds directly into the ground will be more challenging. If you are planning to do that, see below. Otherwise, just take your seedlings, measure out your bed and how far apart you'll plant things, and then pull the "mulch" back, dig a little hole, and tuck in your plants. You can then push the mulch back around the plant. This is yet another great thing about sheet mulching- your beds are already mulched which results in better water retention during heat and droughts. Don't forget to water your plants in as usual.

About sowing seeds...

If you are sowing tiny seeds such as carrots, or even beets or radishes and/or you want to use a seeder, we typically remove a long strip of mulch by separating it with a shovel, a rake, or by hand. We get the strip down to the bare, original soil, and then fork it really well to loosen the "clods". Then you can sow the seeds. Once they are sprouted and several inches tall, you can choose to leave the mulch separated, or bring it back around the bases of the plants, depending on what type of crop it is.

About manure...

If you are using certain types of fresh manure, as in- you just scooped it out of your chicken coop or goat shed- be aware of the guidelines for safety. Our local conservation office recommends that fresh manure be allowed to break down for at least three months before consuming any above ground, fruited plant parts such as squash, tomatoes, etc. I believe it is even longer for things such as root vegetables or fresh greens. Check with your local county extension agent to find out what they recommend.

Different manures might have different guidelines. Rabbit and Alpaca for instance, have pellets and not "manure"...

The Quickest Method...

You can simply order a truck load of high quality finished compost or a blend of compost and garden soil and have it dumped onto your prepared lawn/future garden area. Rake it out so that it is at least 4 inches deep, then cover with a nice thick layer of straw or hay. let it rest 3 or more months and then plant.

Controlling Weeds...

I think one thing that people might like about the wooden raised beds is that they have borders. Everyone loves a nice border, so I can understand that. However, it is misleading to think that wooden or retainer beds will keep weeds out. Weeds will come through and even bust the boards apart by the second year. Weed seeds can still fall into the beds and germinate there, and other weeds will come right up through that garden soil that looked so clean and pretty when the garden was first planted.

The best way to control weeds around the border of a garden and in the pathways is to lay THICK cardboard down and mulch over the top of it. The mulch can be wood chips, autumn leaves, or straw/ hay. Never pay good money for hardwood mulch- I'm talking about using the kind of wood chips that tree companies have. Most of them are happy to dump them on your property and they are a valuable resource on the homestead. Beware of black walnut though.

The best part about the sheet mulching method is that weeds are controlled in the beds, as long as you have layered sufficiently. Do not cut corners or underestimate the importance of building thick layers.


If this all still sounds like too much work, see part two, which is the method we switched to, and have now been using for several years. Spoiler- you still won't need a tiller, but you will need birds








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Cooking with Beef TongueHave you ever tried it? Your first impulse might be to recoil in horror, ...

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A fun, lighthearted "day in the life", as requested by some of our friends and followers. :) 

Today I am harvesting some fresh produce from our greenhouse/ un-heated high tunnel. The carrots & spinach are superb. With the kids as my helpers we are also feeding and caring for the chickens. 

Inside the kitchen I am busy with food preparation using whole ingredients. I will show you how to make Russian Beet Kvass, a delicious and nutritious 'blood cleansing", lacto-fermented, traditional beverage. 

Please bear with me as my editing is amateur and I know it is not the best sound quality!
We at Hearth & Helm hope that you'll be inspired to try gardening in the winter and also some new recipes using whole foods. 



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Qh1jrjVns8
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Mint Chocolate Latte Recipe

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Nutrient dense and savors that sweet tooth but has no refined sugars, made with ancient grains, s...

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The Joy of Eggnog


Every year as Yule time approaches we begin making egg nog more often. I use raw eggs in ours and it is so nutritious. I say, "more often", because I also make this in the middle of summer. 

At farmers' market many years ago an older Amish lady with broken English told us of her meal of choice for long, hot summer days. Lo and behold- eggnog! It is not surprising that this was her 'meal' of choice, because it is cool, full of protein, and also quite refreshing. 

However, we all very much associate eggnog with Christmas or Yule time...

In our home, the first night we have eggnog is the night we put up the Yule tree and bring out the boxes of decorations. I also bake at least two batches of cookies- typically Russian teacakes and macaroons. 

We also play our favorite classic 'Christmas' tunes such as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' performed by Frank Sinatra, and of course, 'Blue Christmas' by Elvis Presley, and so much more. 

The eggnog is a major component to the Westman's celebration of Yule. 

We have raised our own chickens for the use of eggs for many, many years. They eat only non-GMO feed, wild weeds and natural sources of proteins such as bugs. We also move them around the farm to various locations and fresh ground several times a year. needless to say, I felt that our eggs are supremely healthy and of very good quality- therefore I have not the worry of the risk of any sort of sickness or disease from eating the eggs raw. 

Our ancestors consumed raw eggs for millennia and it is only quite recently that it became 'taboo'. Of course the reason is no mystery- with industrialization of agriculture and food production came standards that were otherwise unnecessary and unknown to our folk. 

For instance, hens living on fresh feed and fresh air and pasture rarely, if ever. get diseases such as e.coli or salmonella- the major fear factors promoted in modern times for "store-bought' eggs.

In fact, fresh, wholesome eggs are known to 'keep' for months sitting on the kitchen counter, clean but unwashed, without any special care.  I typically do not refrigerate our fresh hen eggs unless they are for customer sales in which case I am obligated to comply with state egg board standards. For home use, our eggs sit on the counter and are used each day as I need them. Now, if they are very dirty then I wash them for home use as well. 

The raw eggs have a huge amount of nutrition, some of which can be lost in cooking. 

My recipe: 

For eggnog, I use a high powered bender such as a food processor. I use about one quart of fresh raw cow milk, mixed with 4 fresh, clean raw eggs, added one cup of heavy cream, a large dash of both nutmeg and cinnamon, and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup. Also remember to add a generous dash of vanilla extract- about 1 to 2 tablespoons. 

I blend this all on high for about one minute, or until it is quite whipped and thick. 

We drink this fresh in mugs. Or, I will refrigerate it and drink later. Sometimes it might need to be shaken again after sitting for awhile. 

For an adult festive version you may add a dash of bourbon or rum. 


Our children love homemade raw eggnog and I can rest assured that it is a nice healthy treat for them, without the soy, or other flavors, sugars and additives that many store bought versions of eggnog contain. 

*** If you are immunocompromised and wary of eating raw eggs for some other reason, here is an alternative recipe from another website. 




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30 Week Pregnancy Regimen - Preparing My Body For Labor

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Homeschool Progress, Seasons Changing, A Few Thoughts. . . I know many of our followers and frien...

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An Autumn Update

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Saved by Black Walnuts by VasalisaWhen we were searching for property back then we met with a rea...

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An EASY DIY Mini Greenhouse for Season Extension

This is an updated re-blog from my old Steemit account, but I thought you all might be interested in this.
The challenge of getting an early start to the growing season and the excitement that comes with it will be understood by many here. As market gardeners there are certain crops we start in February. We are in USDA Agricultural zone 5/6, which means our lowest possible winter temperatures are -15. This is an unheated greenhouse, more properly termed high tunnel, that can be used in colder or warmer climates to extend the growing season at the beginning and the end of the grow season. Tight now in Autumn, the landscape around us is all turning brown and death has come to the greenery that once was. But inside the high tunnel, there are lush greens- kale, arugula, spinach, and more. Our high tunnel is not heated. Just having an extra "layer" of protection can extend the growing season quite a bit! We expect to continue harvesting greens out of it into January.


Here is one of the types of chicken tractors we have used in the past. This is a small version of our mini high tunnel. It stays nice and warm in the winter for our laying hens, especially when we add a thick layer of straw inside for insulation.

I highly recommend Eliot Coleman's books on season extension for more concise information for your exact climate.

Today I'm going to tell you about this little life saver, our unheated seed starting high tunnel that we use every year. This style can be very useful on the homestead. With clear plastic for plants, and with canvas or old billboard tarp for portable animal shelters, it can even be a quick, inexpensive shed!


This photo is one of our very fist greenhouses.This was taken in late February/early March in Indiana. Plenty of greens and salad mix.

We see the plastic used in this case as appropriate technology, and although it is still plastic, and not exactly highly aesthetic, it enables us to grow so much more food than we could without it. It is also a stepping stone for us until we have a permanent plexiglass or recycled glass window greenhouse.

We sometimes run a small space heater for extra cold nights for the flats of seedlings that are on tables and benches. We also have planted directly in the ground in February using this same tunnel. (Things like lettuce, spinach, carrots and beets do just fine and are ready for harvest in April!

The crops get a good start with the passive solar during the day, and can tolerate some cold temperatures at night. If it's going to get very cold in late winter when we have seedlings in there, we cover them with row cover , an agricultural fabric that can be purchased from Johnny's Seeds.

On sunny days it is important to vent the tunnel because it can get too hot.
The first step is to build the end walls using 8' 2x4's with a 12' long baseboard. We had a leftover greenhouse door he had built last year, so he built one of the end walls with a door frame to fit that door. One of the end walls will be your back wall and one of them will be the "front" of your greenhouse, and will need a door frame. You can use any old door you might have laying around, and build your door frame to fit it, or you can build that end wall with a custom door frame and then build the greenhouse door to fit it. (It is helpful to be able to fit a wheel barrow through!)


The end wall with door
Use these to assemble the pieces of the end walls, which are positioned on the inside of the structure:
Then connect the end walls at the base with 2x4's. You can either connect 2 - 8' 2x4's together for a 16' length on each side, or you could us 16' 2x4's or you could just make it 12' long using one 12' 2x4 on each side. In this case to save money we connected 2 8' 2x4's on each side for a length of 16'.
After you have assembled the base by connecting the 2x4 baseboards to the end walls, you then install a central beam on the top of the structure. We used these joist hangers:
Using 3/4" PVC pieces with a washer and a a lag bolt combo, place on the ends of the 2x4 base, on either side of the base of the end walls. Pre-drilling is optimal. These will serve as stabilizers for your end wall hoops.
Then place your 19.5' long 1" PVC hoop over the end wall and set it onto your stabilizers.
Then using pipe hangers, secure your first hoop (good job!) to the end wall in three places, including one over the center beam. Repeat this same process on the other end wall, so you now have two hoops!
The next step is to put the rest of your hoops on. Install 6 "stablizers", as described above, down each 2x4 baseboard at about 28" apart.
And then attach your six hoops!
Before putting the plastic on. Make some preparations. Using a circular saw and a saw guide strip 2- 8' 2x4s to make your own 1/2" trim for attaching your plastic. This will save you lots of money!

Finished "trim" will look like this.
Pre-drill and partially install your 1.5" screws about every 16" down each piece of trim.
Work smarter, not harder
Next it's time to put the plastic on! We purchased a piece of 20' x 25' 3mil plastic from the hardware store. You can also use 6mil. For more money and a better product, purchase greenhouse plastic. Once you have it draped over it's time to secure it with your trim boards. Please note: If you are like us and only purchased an exact size of plastic keep in mind there will not be an inch to spare! Starting along the base of the structure, begin stapling the plastic all along on one side of the tunnel. Then screw the trim boards over the edge of the plastic to secure it along the bottom of the greenhouse!

Repeat along the base of the other side of the tunnel, pulling the plastic taught as you staple, and then following with the trim boards. (Give thanks for your hard work of prepping those trim boards!) Then you will move to the end walls and continue the same process of pulling the plastic taught, stapling, and following with trim boards. You may find that on the end walls, depending on how you structured them, there may need to be some folding and even trimming of the plastic here.
Install your door, and if you like, add some felt around the frame to help it stay draft- free. You may also wish to go around the base of the tunnel with soil or mulch, or even an extra semi-buried piece of plastic, or a combination of these things, for more insulation.
Pour yourself a beverage, and go out to your new "fort" and sow some seeds!

This is an excellent form of season extension. Keep in mind, if you get cold weather in late winter and early spring you can use a space heater and agri-cloth to protect your seedlings.
This tunnel cost us just a little over $100 (in 2017), can't beat that!


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Our tote bags are being hand screen printed by a fellow craft lady right here in the USA! the sit...

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Announcements! Fun ones. . . Merch! We are excited to announce that we will have our first merch-...

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Sunday was such a blissful Autumn day here in southern Appalachia. Mind you, I broke out the Autu...

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“Pumpkin” Spice Muffins With Cream Cheese Frosting

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*The stories and information shared on this episode are personal anecdotes only and are not professional advice. DO YOUR OWN research before trying to use ANY new parts or whole of herbs, plants or mushrooms-- and consult a professional medical practitioner.

********************Hello Everyone!!**********************

Thank you for joining us for an interesting chat with a fellow pagan mother, who is also a homeschooler, homesteader and a folk wildcraft herbalist.

In these modern times, we seek to keep alive the beautiful aspects of our folk ways while marching forward in gratitude for this life which we have been gifted by our ancestors. The seasons are changing; autumn is nigh- indeed- the autumn equinox. With the changing of this season we are harvesting, not only those crops we have grown, but also the metaphysical harvests of our minds and lives.

Join us for a discussion on homesteading, self preservation in the wake of the threat of a compromised Western civilization. Hear about the herbs we are picking and using right now, but more importantly, the ways we are seeking a deeper connection with these herbs. Heather comes from a farming/ homesteading background and was much influenced by her grandparents who held a deep connection to their local community.

****************************************


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMCyYpfnnPI
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I have reached for the Tylenol on more occasions than I would like to say, when it has come down ...

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Cleansing the Blood, in-The Kitchen That Never Sleeps. . .

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An interview with Hunter M Yoder, Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Artist.

History, Culture, Lore, Hexology, of the Pa Dutch & More.

What is the difference between barn signs and hex signs? Who were the PA Dutch? What is the significance of our ancient ancestral symbols and how can we relate to them today?

Reading his captivating book, 'Der Volksfreund', many questions have arisen in my mind. We discuss Hunter's beautiful and spiritually moving art in his hex signs. Hunter is an experienced hexologist; owner and artist at The Hex Factory- check out his awesome work here:

https://www.instagram.com/thehexfactory/

Purchase his work here:

https://www.huntermyoder.com/apps/webstore/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iPITnvLKKk
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My New Favorite Way to Preserve Herbs From the Summer Garden. . . This is a very old technique an...

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Chanterelle MushroomsAn ancient and sacred wild food. . .

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HearthandHelm

Thank you so much to our new (and old) subscribers and tipster! We hope you know how grateful we ...

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We would like to invest in some modest equipment to improve the quality of our shows, eventually. Financial gifts through subscriptions will also help cover our costs for recording software, etc. We will also be using the funds from this podcast to help supplement our family income, as we are all stay/work at home moms, who homeschool our children.

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