A Canning Tutorial DVD (& COUPON code!) AND Pantry Paratus EXCLUSIVE Sale!!

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Depending on where you live in the world, you’re either at the beginning or middle of canning season. Or, if you live somewhere that’s perpetually warm with an almost never-ending growing season, you get to enjoy canning even longer.

Kendra Lynne at New Life on a Homestead created an easy-to-follow canning tutorial DVD called At Home Canning for Beginners & Beyond (affiliate link). She’s now offering a $5 OFF sale (if you use the coupon code).

I purchased this video recently, and I’ve watched it almost in its entirety. Because of that, I can say first-hand it’s a must-have video.

May I digress for just a moment?

Here on Your Gardening Friend you learn about gardening, foraging, garden recipes, garden critters, landscaping, and faith and encouragement. Here is a sample of posts:

- How to Make Your Own Seed-Starter Mix
- Compost Worms 101 series
- How to Sprout Mung Beans
- 12 Ways to Critter-Proof Your Garden
- Mulch Do’s and Don’ts
- Sautéed Cucumbers
- Creamy Apple Pie
- How to Make a Suet Plug Bird Feeder
- Attracting Bats to Bat Houses
- DIY Decorative Engraved Stepping Stones – Easy Peasy!
- A Hobby, A Passion … Or An Idol? {My Story and Help for Others}

Okay … this is where I share something personal and a bit embarrassing. I thought long and hard as to whether or not I would share this, but in the spirit of transparency here we go.

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DIY Sprouting Lid

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I’m not sure if I had ever seen a sprouting lid prior to seeing one on a Botanical Interests mung bean packet (see below image). It looks like a wire mesh might be attached to the underside of the Mason jar band.

The mesh sort of looks like what you’d see used for a front porch screen door. So … that’s what I used to make a sprouting lid. :)


Supplies Needed to Make a Sprouting Lid:

  1. Front Porch Screen Door Mesh*
  2. Scissors
  3. Mason Jar Band (Ring) (wide mouth for better air circulation)

*The screen mesh comes in at least two types: some kind of metal wire or aluminum cloth. I chose to work with the soft aluminum cloth.

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3 Tips You Gotta Know When Using Suet Plugs

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If you use suet plug bird feeders you know how incredibly messy they are to fill.

[A quick note to those who don't feed birds or use suet bird food - Suet food usually comes in either bricks or plugs. The binding agent for the bird seed is suet (animal fat or partially solidified grease.)]

I’ll say this, what suet cages lack in beauty they more than make up for in ease of use. Suet plug feeders, on the other hand, provide a certain almost rustic appeal, but, boy, oh boy. By the time you get all the feeder holes filled with suet plugs … Have you ever seen a 12-month old baby that’s been handed a HUGE slice of birthday cake – loaded with chocolate icing, of course! – and the birthday baby is encouraged to have at it?! Well, when you’re done filling suet plug feeders you end up looking a little like that. Granted, your face is clean, but your hands are unfit to touch ANYTHING.

The reason for this mess, aside from the fact that you’re dealing with “grease,” is because the plug holes are a bit snug, which requires pushing the suet plugs through the holes.

Recently, as I finished filling my suet plug feeder, I thought, “There’s GOT to be a better way to do this. The plugs are simply too soft and slimy, something that doesn’t happen with … frozen food.” :) Light bulb!


1. Freeze the Suet Plugs

Freezing them made a huge difference.

Freezing bird food suet plugs makes the job of filling the suet plug feeders a WHOLE lot easier for two reasons:

  1. Nearly everything, except water, contracts in its frozen state. This makes the plugs ever so slightly smaller; and
  2. Pushing the plugs through the plug holes doesn’t become a mushy mess when the plugs are hard.

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Sprouting Mung Beans {And a Gardening Coupon Code}

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If you’ve never sprouted beans you’re missing out on a lot of fun, yummies, and nutrition!

As gardeners, we don’t expect instant gratification. No, our gratification timetable falls somewhere between the time it takes to grow a Chia Pet to that of aging fine wine.

We wait months for the complete transformation of a tiny lettuce seed to a ready-to-eat stalk or head of lettuce. That’s pretty much the case for any vegetable. However, with sprouts, the seed-to-table time is accelerated exponentially. Of course, that’s only because we’re not waiting for the seed to become a mature plant producing its fruit. Instead, we help the seed START to grow, and then … toss it in our mouth. Pretty sneaky if you ask me. The little seed doesn’t see it comin’.

There are so many beans you can sprout and toss into dishes. Most often you hear of sprouts being used in salads or stir-fry dishes. I love salads loaded with goodies, and sprouts give my salads variety, extra crunch, additional nutrition, and a little whimsical presentation.

5 Reasons to Sprout Beans

  1. Sprouts Are Nutritious.*
  2. Sprouting Allows You to Eat the Beans NOW.
  3. Sprouting Aids in the Digestion of the Beans.
  4. Sprouting Provides Winter Cabin-Fever Reprieve.
  5. Sprouting is SO Much Fun!
  6. *You’ll need to do your own research on this. Some believe raw sprouts are a nutrient-dense food; others believe eating raw sprouts may be the cause of some illnesses and death outbreaks.

I’ll have to elaborate on these reasons in a future post. There is so much that can be said about sprouting beans; I just can’t easily fit it all into one post.

How to Sprout Mung Beans

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July’s JUMBO Giveaway!!!

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I’m trying to schedule a big giveaway once each calendar quarter (or thereabouts), so it’s time for our next one. :)

Today’s prize package consists of a plethora of various gardening, cooking, preserving, foraging, and homesteading items. Each item was carefully chosen for a well-rounded prize package at over $343 ARV!!!

Most of the items are provided by today’s host bloggers and sponsors from their online stores, books they wrote, and a DVD one of them created. The rest of us pooled our money together to purchase items from Amazon, local stores, and even more items from Pantry Paratus to bring you this FABULOUS prize package.

Nearly HALF (or more, depending on how you count them) of the items come from Pantry Paratus! Their online catalog consists of over 300 items: pressure canners; food dehydrators; kitchen tools and utensils; how-to resources on gardening, cooking, preserving, foraging, homesteading, etc.; and much more.

Amazing Graze General Store has all kinds of stuff for the kitchen and farm like grain mills, juicers, breadmakers, even chicken poop lip balm, and more. Peaceful Acres Farm store offers homemade aromatherapy items, organic herbal salves, wool products, and more. Timber Creek Farm’s Etsy store sells handspun wool. And Trayer Wilderness store is just the place to shop for your survival needs such as knives, multiflame tools, a squirrel roaster, candles, and more.

Most of the books in today’s giveaway were written by Amazing Graze Farm, Learning and Yearning, The Organic Kitchen, and Schneider Peeps also has a gardening book we gave away in a recent giveaway.

We even have a DVD in the mix. Yep. New Life on a Homestead is providing the winner with their At Home Canning for Beginners & Beyond.

Don’t forget the rest of us who don’t have stores or books because we’re pretty amazing, too. Seriously. Just ask us. ;)

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Attracting Bats to Bat Houses

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I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that probably most of you do not have a bat house. Maybe you’ve never even thought about getting a bat house. Bats might even seem a little creepy or of no personal benefit to you.

So let’s start out with a few intriguing bat facts.

Bats are Mammals and Pollinators

I remember seeing a show on Discovery, Animal Planet, National Geographic, or some nature channel about bats in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico. The videography was amazing in itself. In slow motion they showed a bat flying to a cactus to eat pollen. Big whoop, right? The WOW factor was that WHILE the mama bat was zooming from one cactus to the next getting her nibbles or slurps of pollen, her tiny pup was clinging to her AND, if I recall correctly, nursing!

Talk about a mama multi-tasking, not to mention the skill of that pup to hang on for dear life!

I just love watching stuff like that, but that part of the show was actually about the crucial role of bats in propagating the cardon cactus.

Because of the lesser longnosed bats (and other pollinators) the flowers are pollinated, the pollinated flowers produce fruit, the fruit provides nutritious food for the local people, and the fruit that falls to the ground becomes another cactus that feeds the bats that …

Bats are very important to the agave plant “… which relies solely on bats to pollinate its flowers and reproduce.”(5)

Click here to read more about how bats can benefit you and your family, your garden, and your back yard.

Some Bats Are Simply Adorable

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