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Thanks for stopping by!!

We are excited so many have taken an interest in what we are doing and can’t wait to share our adventures with you.  We hope you enjoy our posts about gardening, seed starting and saving, harvesting, raising chickens and whatever else we decide to get ourselves into.  If you have questions or would like to recommend a post feel free to Contact Us

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What’s eating my tomato plants? How to identify Tomato Horn Worms.

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At least for us in lower Alabama the only pest we encounter on our tomato plants is the Tomato Horn Worm.  We’ve vowed to be grow organically so we do not spray or otherwise treat any of our plants.  We discovered that placing newspaper around the bottom of our tomato plants seemed to help cut down on the horn worms significantly.  We’ve also heard that placing cups around the stems at ground level helps, although we haven’t tried that method yet.  Additionally we experienced far fewer worms when we grew our plants from seeds as opposed to buying them from the big box stores.  We’re inclined to think some of the worms were likely in the soil of those plants.  No matter what method you try at least a few of those pesky worms are bound to show up on your plants.  We find simply removing the worms to be the best method of controlling them.  They are definitely masters of disguise, but we’ve got a few tricks to help you identify when a worm is eating away at your prized plants.

 

Two signs we look for that are a good indication a worm is actively feeding on your plants:

1.) Poop on the leaves.  This is the preferred method for us, once we see this we look for a worm.  Once we’ve removed the worm we make sure to brush the poop off the leaves.  That way when we are checking the plants tomorrow we know any poop we see indicates another worm is present.

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Proof is in the POOP!

 

2.) Looking for leaves or stems that have been cut off.  This is not the most effective method since the leaves and stems could have been eaten previously.  Sometimes you can tell old damage because the stems will have a brown off area like in picture # 2.

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Browned off area on stems indicating old damage.

 

Once you’ve identified the presence of a worm the hide and seek game begins.  Here are a few tips that will help.

1.) I’ve found that it’s best to look for the worms in the late afternoon when they tend to be more active and when the sun is starting to go down.  The worms have a color very similar to the tomato plants and this can be difficult to see in the sunlight.  Their color difference is much more apparent in lower light conditions.

2.) The horn worm tends to be on the underside of leaves and stems so you’ll have the best look getting a horizontal view of the plants.  If you have kids this is a great tasks to get them involved with.  They are the perfect level and love to play I spy.

3.) Look for the “horn” which tends to be more of a yellow or orange color.  And by the way, the horn is just for show.  It does look like a stinger but presents no harm, it’s simply a clever defense mechanism.  In the photo below you can see the horn is actually soft and flexible.

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“Horn” is not a stinger and presents no harm.

 

Once located the worms can simply be pulled off the leaves and plants by hand.

Now that you’ve removed those pesky little worms what do you do with them.  Sell them of course!!!  We like to use every part of our homestead without waste and if we can make a few bucks in the process even better.  Tomato Horn worms are loved by fisherman for their bright colors and also make great reptile food if you can find a local outlet or friend with a reptile.

Questions we didn’t cover?  Feel free to drop us a comment below and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.

Have other tips on dealing with Horn worms?  Feel free to share below.

 

Happy Gardening from our family to yours!!

Grace and Faith Farms

 

 

Repurpose, Upcycle an old ant farm

If you’re like our family you can’t seem to kill the ants in the yard but those ants you ordered for the kids ant farm didn’t even last two weeks.

Maybe we should ask the husband to try feeding the outside ants some potatoes and water and see if they die as quickly as our indoor friends!!!

At any rate, we failed at ant raising and are left with a cute little ant farm.  It sat in our  closet for a long time waiting for a second chance.  We decided to make a fun gardening project with our youngest daughter Faith.  Learn how we re-purposed this ant farm into a cute little planter for kids.  Faith was able to help with the whole project and she’s fascinated with being able to see the seeds sprout and grow.

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Our farm came completely apart which made the project super easy.  We removed the green top and brown sides which allowed us to separate the clear front and back.

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We cleaned the farm really well to remove any remaining sand and ants.  The little green tree section is removable so we set that to the side as well as the green top which we will not be using.

Once we had the pieces clean it was time to add the potting mix.  We used a cup to sprinkle a small amount onto one side.  With a spray bottle we moistened the potting mix. It’s important to get the soil moist enough for the seeds to germinate but you don’t want it too moist.

 

Next we arranged our seeds on the potting mix.  We used sunflower seeds because that’s what we had at the moment and they do grow really easily.  Other great options are squash, watermelon, zucchini and cucumbers.

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We snapped our pieces together and found a nice sunny window to place our farm.  We use our spray bottle to mist a bit of water from the top every few days.  And before you know it our seeds had sprouted.  Kids rarely get to see the plants growth from below the ground so this has been an amazing project for Faith.

 

Let us know how your project turns out.  Have other re-purpose/upcycle ideas for ant farms?  Feel free to leave us a comment below.

Happy Homesteading,

Grace and Faith Farms

Free Green Onions forever!!!

That’s right, Free Green Onions forever!!

This is by far our favorite gardening and kitchen hack.

There are absolutely no skills needed to grow an infinite supply of fresh green onions.  First you’ll need to purchase one bunch of green onions, we prefer Organic.  You can snip off the top green part for use in your recipes and as a garnish.  Save the white/light green bottoms and roots, that’s where the magic happens.

IMG_8817Next you’ll need to fill a small vase or glass with fresh water.  Simply place the bottoms and roots inside making sure the roots are pointing down and you’re DONE.  That’s it, now sit back and watch the green onions begin to grow.  Be sure to provide fresh clean water every few days.  You can see the new growth in the picture below, this was about 3 days into the process.

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We also keep an eye on the roots and trim them back a bit when they get long.  You’ll have an infinite supply of FREE green onions all year long.  Several bunches can even be placed in a small rectangular glass container like the one below to create a decorative piece for your kitchen.  44655_DSC_0299_111512Let us know how your green onion indoor gardening turns out.  We’d love to hear your feedback and pointers.

Your kids WILL eat their veggies!

These Calypso beans are so beautiful and unique.  They definitely catch kids attention as well as adults.  Faith was asking if she could eat the beans while we were still in the garden.  As parents we’re always delighted when we find a healthy food that our kids beg to eat!!

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The Calypso bean, also known as Orca bean or Yin Yang bean, is a native of the Caribbean but grows well in our warm southern climate.  In fact, this Kidney Bean Hybrid can be grown in Hardiness Zones 3 through 11.  Find your Hardiness Zone HERE

Seeds can be direct sown into the ground after the last frost, with an expected harvest in 70 to 90 days.  These can also be planted in late summer for a fall crop.

We’ll have a fall harvest for sell as well as seeds in the spring of 2019.  Sign up for our email list HERE if you’d like to be notified when they become available.