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Showing posts from November, 2015

Getting started with beekeeping - Erik and Kelly from Root Simple

Over the past few weeks I've been running a series of interviews with other bloggers about getting started with beekeeping (see the list at the end for the other posts).  I have learnt so much from these posts, not just practical ideas but an insight into the philosophy behind different styles of beekeeping. This week I am lucky to have an interview with Erik and Kelly from Root Simple .  These two have an excellent blog and podcast (and two books about homesteading).   I really love listening to their podcast, which occasionally features bees and lots of other homesteading topics.  They live in suburban Los Angeles, with a similar climate to me, but with neighbours to complicate things.  Here's what they had to say about beekeeping: ~~**~~**~~ Farmer Liz: How long have you been keeping bees? What got you interested in bees originally? And how many hives to you have now? Root Simple: We've kept bees since 2009. There were a number of reasons we got into it: lov

Swallow this - book review

In Joanna Blythman's book "Swallow This", the author has somehow gained access to the food industry's inner circle.  She attends trade shows and obtains information about the hidden ingredients in processed food that you will find shocking.  The food industry is onto us consumers, they know that we are reading labels and avoiding weird ingredients and anything with a number, so their latest technique is "clean labels".  Complex and unnatural ingredients are shown on clean labels with familiar or safe sounding names, such as "yeast extract" or "modified starch" or "beetroot extract", this means its getting even harder to read processed food labels and avoid eating artificial ingredients. I've taken key points from each chapter in the book, however there is so much detail, if you are interested in this subject I recommend you read the book yourself.  It is written from a UK and EU perspective, I can only imagine tha

Getting started with beekeeping - with Leigh from 5 Acres and a Dream

In the third of my series of interviews about getting started with bees, I'm chatting with Leigh from 5 Acres and a Dream .  Leigh and her husband homestead on five acres in the foothills of the Southern Appalachians.  Their climate is very similar to mine, with a relatively mild winter, and hot humid summers.  Leigh's book " 5 Acres & A Dream The Book: The Challenges of Establishing a Self-Sufficient Homestead " is a great resource for anyone thinking of homesteading.  But today we are talking about bees, which are a recent addition to Leigh's homestead and she's chosen to use a different hive, this time the Warre Hive.   In the previous interviews I talked to: Sally from Jembella Farm in South Australia and then  Vickie from Making Our Sustainable Life , who lives in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. **~~**~~**~~** Farmer Liz: How long have you been keeping bees? Leigh: We set up our first hive on the homestead this past spring.

How I use herbs - lavender

Lavender is an essential herb in any garden because it is relatively easy to grow and has so many uses.  There are several species, with similar properties, but each suited to different climates.  The species considered to have the best "quality" essential oil is Lavendula Augustifolia,  however it can be more expensive as it has lower yield that other varieties (and the quality just refers to the pleasantness of the smell).  Any of them grow well in the garden and smell lovely.  I am pretty sure my plant is French Lavender ( Lavendula Dentata ) , I also have an Italian Lavender (Lavendual Stoechas) next to it, but it has hardly grown. How to grow lavender I got my lavender plant as a small plant.  I have tried growing lavender from seed with no success.  I think its better from a cutting or by layering.  I haven't had any success with cuttings either so far.  I really need to work on this because I'd love to have more lavender in my garden.  Lavender once establi

Getting started with beekeeping - with Vickie from Making Our Sustainable Life

Last week I interviewed Sally from Jembella Farm in South Australia about her bees, this week I'm talking to Vickie from Making Our Sustainable Life .  Vickie and her husband live on acreage in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, just east of the Sacramento Valley.  Even though they are in a different country, with a different climate and bee habitat, I think there's much to learn from beekeepers all over the world.  The things that particularly interested me about Vickie's bees is that she uses a horizontal top bar hive , which is a totally different type of hive from the common langstroth hives that we use.  Here's what she had to say: The top bar hive **~~**~~**~~** Farmer Liz: How long have you been keeping bees? Vickie: We have had bees only since this past Spring 2015, though we have dreamed about keeping bees since we bought our land (which would become our current homestead) more than ten years ago. FL: What got you interested in bees original

Keeping bantam chickens

I recently came into the possession of some bantams and they are ridiculously cute.  They also have a job to do.... I'm hoping they will hatch some eggs.  I thought I better find out a bit more about them first though!   Here's what I've learnt about bantams.... By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the  chicken tractor ebook blog .  Or you can get it directly from my shop on  Etsy  (.pdf format), or  Amazon Kindle  or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} What's the eBook about? Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.  A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are

Getting started with Beekeeping - Sally from Jembella Farm

Pete and I recently got bees (if you've been following, you'll probably be sick of me talking about it!), and lately I've been connecting with other bloggers who have bees (by connecting I mean asking heaps of questions!).  I thought this would be a good topic to continue my "getting started" series.  I've previously asked other bloggers about growing vegetables , keeping chickens and dairy animals . Sally and Brian's beehives My first "getting started with beekeeping" interview is with Sally from Jembella Farm . Sally and her husband live in the Barossa Valley (South Australia) in a 100 year old house on sixteen acres with 2 dogs, 7 cows, 2 alpacas, 5 geese, 35 chickens, 78 sheep & a few bee hives. ~~**~~**~~**~~ Farmer Liz: How long have you been keeping bees? What got you interested in bees originally? And how many hives to you have now? Sally: It had been on my bucket list to have bees one day, so for my birthday in Octo