MyGreenTerra Articles, products, reviews and information on homesteading, survival and off-grid living, alternative energy resources and pursuing a sustainable lifestyle. Tue, 13 Oct 2020 14:46:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MyGreenTerra 32 32 Bee Removal – Dealing With Problem Bees Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:03:40 +0000 While we all enjoy the sweet produce of the bees, they sometimes invade spaces where co-habitation with humans is a problem. In these instances, bee removal is the only option. If you are concerned with preserving bees as a global resource – and you should be – then there are some guidelines that should be followed when dealing with problem bees.

When Is Bee Removal Necessary

When the bees take up residence on your property, you need to evaluate a couple of things. These will help to determine whether removing them is even necessary at all.

  1. Are you or any member of your family allergic to bee stings? This could be one of the primary deciding factors for bee removal, but not in every case. If you have a garden, there will be bees foraging in among your plants anyway. If a swarm moves in, however, there will be more bees around. But check to see if they really pose an increased risk.
  2. How close are they to your house? If the bees have made a home high in a tree at the bottom of your garden, are they really a risk? The areas where bees would be a problem would be the following.
  • Close to or in your home,
  • Places where your children play,
  • Where you entertain, or have recreation time with your family
  • Areas of high traffic such as garden paths or a garden shed or workshop.

When you notice a swarm has moved in to an undesirable location, it is important that you act quickly to remove the swarm. If the bees are allowed to settle in, particularly in a hard to access location they can be very difficult to remove and become very protective of the location.

Why Is Bee Removal Necessary

Dealing with problem bees is a conundrum for people, particularly those who are conservation minded. Bees can be a problem for us humans, but there is now doubt to the role they play in our own survival. Bee populations globally are under threat, and diminishing.

The main reasons for the decline are commercial agriculture, the use of pesticides, parasites and climate change. Other factors that contribute to the problem are destruction of habitat, the loss of biodiversity, and large tracts of land dedicated to monoculture that reduce the forage available to bees.

Bees benefit humans far more than the average person is aware of. Bees are responsible for the pollination of 35% of our food crops globally. They not only pollinate these crops, but boost the yield of these crops, giving us more harvest per hectare!

Bees are also responsible for pollinating 90% of wild plants that support the natural eco systems that we love and enjoy!

The decline of bees could even affect our ability to farm beef and dairy. This is due to crops used for raising cattle such as clover and alfalfa being pollinated by these busy workers!

I am sure you will agree that it is therefore important to conserve this important natural resource. This means taking responsible decisions when it comes to bee removal.

Bee removal should be exactly that. A relocation of the swarm, rather than destroying the hive is the end result you should be looking to achieve.

Bees are not a pest to be exterminated, but rather a resource to be handled with care!

Who To Contact For A Bee Removal Situation

People with problem bees often don’t know where to turn to for help. The only resource that usually comes to mind is the local exterminator! Unfortunately, these companies are usually not geared up for dealing with problem bees. They resort to pesticides to kill the bees rather than remove them.

The best people to call for a bee emergency are people who understand these creatures. People who work with them on a regular basis, and understand the value of preserving them as a resource!

You guessed it! A beekeeper! Most communities will have someone who keeps bees either as a hobbyist, or as a bee farmer. These are the ideal people to contact when you have a swarm move in to a problem area on your property!

Why Are Beekeepers Good For Bees

Beekeeping requires an intimate knowledge of bees, their behavior and their habits. Beekeepers come to know these creatures very well and understand how they will react in certain situations and how to extract bees with minimal disruption to their communal society.

Beekeepers also understand the importance of conserving the bee population and thus are usually dedicated to a safe removal and relocation of the intact colony. This allows the bees to remain a productive part of the natural environment and to continue to support human life!

A bee removal operation is normally conducted in the evening. During the day, many of the bees are out and about foraging for food and water. They return to the hive in the evening to rest. This is the ideal time to collect the swarm and relocate the bees. This is to prevent bees getting left behind in the removal process. Removing bees during the day is generally an irresponsible method. It usually results in many homeless bees hanging around the nest site, and the destruction of the hive as the removed bees will struggle to settle into a new environment.

Migratory swarms that have not established themselves in a home yet can be removed during the day, as the majority of the bees will be forming a protective layer around the queen.

Once a beekeeper has removed the swarm, they will be given a nice comfy home in a new hive. The bees will then do what they do best, pollinate plants and make honey for the beekeeper. In turn, the beekeeper will take care of the bees by maintaining their hive, and relocating the bees to new food sources at various times of the year, and protect the bees from invading pests and diseases.

This helps to strengthen the colony, and allow them to reproduce and release new swarms on bees into the wild. In this way, the problem bees have now become a productive colony, protected from being destroyed and the world benefits from more bees performing their invaluable service to us!

Why Do Beekeepers Charge For Bee Removal?

Beekeepers who remove problems bees usually incorporate the bees into a hive and put them to work as an active colony for the beekeeper. The bees produce honey or are hired out as pollinators for farmers crops. Some people feel that because the beekeeper is getting the colony, they should not be paid for bee removals.

There are however, easier ways for a beekeeper to increase his colonies. He can trap migrating swarms, or split one of his own strong colonies into two colonies. Removing problem bees is a costly endeavor for the beekeeper. It often requires multiple trips to the site to remove the bees. First the site must be inspected to establish how difficult the rescue will be, secondly, to return in the evening to do the actual removal and in some cases a follow up trip the next day to make sure the site is inaccessible to new swarms. This travelling has a cost to it.

Another cost factor for the beekeeper doing the removal is the time and physical labour required to actually extricate the bees from their space. In my experience, bees have the habit of making their homes in the oddest and sometimes very difficult to access places. Some of the favourite places are municipal water meters, pool pump housings, wall cavities, chimneys and under floors of wooden garden sheds!

Another cost involved is a new hive to home the swarm. A hive can cost in the region of $80 to $100 (R1200 – R1500)!


When a swarm of bees takes up residence on your property and poses a danger which requires their removal, do NOT call an exterminator. They will do just that, exterminate the bees. This is not the way to conserve the world be populations.

To deal with a problem swarm of bees, contact a local beekeeper to perform the bee removal. This way, the bees will be responsibly removed and the colony preserved. This is one way conservation minded people can contribute to keeping global bee populations from declining.

As a beekeeper, I offer a bee removal service in Randburg, bee removals in Fourways and bee removals in most of the Northern suburbs of Johannes burg, South Africa.

If you need a bee removal service in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, complete the query form below. I will make contact with you to arrange a site inspection and plan the bee removal operation.

Bee Removals - Dealing with problem bees
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How To Pickle Chillies Sun, 03 Mar 2019 17:26:10 +0000 Pickling is a great way to preserve excess produce for later use. This easy guide on how to pickle chillies is one of many ways to preserve your excess chillies.

There are many other ways of preserving chillies such as drying them out, fermenting them or preserving them in oil. We have an entire post dedicated to the many other methods of preserving chillies.

The great thing about the pickle method is that the chillies will remain crisp and retain their heat. Another advantage to this method is that it works for most types of chillies, from the fleshier bishops hat and jalapenos to the less fleshier varieties like the birds eye chili.

How To Pickle Chillies – Ingredients

The ingredients for this recipe are really basic. You probably have most of them in your kitchen already!

You will need:

  • 1lb (0.5kg) chillies
  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • Water (use filtered water that is chlorine free)
  • 15 peppercorns,
  • 5 bay leaves and 3 tblsp salt and pack into pre-sterilised wide-mouthed jars, to 1cm below the rim.
  • 1L (2 pints) white wine or rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons castor sugar
  • Wide mouth mason jars

How To Pickle Chillies – Method

The method to pickle the chillies is really easy and does not take up a lot of time!

  • Sterilise the mason jars by heating them in an oven for 10 minutes at 100 C (200F). Then remove from the oven (carefully because they will be hot) and let them cool.
  • Remove any bruised or damaged chillies.
  • Using a sharp knife, make a few small slits in the sides of each chilli. You may want to wear gloves for this. The purpose of the slits is to allow the pickling juice to penetrate the chilli.
  • Make a saltwater solution by dissolving 3 tablespoons of the salt in filtered water. Wash the chillies thoroughly in the saltwater. This helps to prevent mould from forming.
  • Mix the chillies in a bowl with the peppercorns, bay leaves, the remaining 3 tablespoons of salt.
  • Pack the chilli mixture into the sterilized wide mouth mason jars to 1cm (0.5 in) below the rim of the jar.
  • Heat the 1-litre white wine, rice or cider vinegar together with 6 tablespoons caster sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is almost boiling.
  • Pour into the jars with the chillies, cool a little and seal.
  • Refrigerate and leave for at least 2 weeks.

Remember to write a date on the mason jar so you know how long they have been in the fridge!

How To Use Your Pickled Chillies

The uses for pickled chillies are wide and varied! You use the chillies themselves, or you can use the pickle juice to add flavour to a variety of dishes. Here are a few ideas to get your started.

  • When frying chicken, just before it is done, add some chilli pickle juice to the pan. The chicken will absorb the juice, adding flavour. Add additional juice to the pan to make a quick pan sauce for the chicken.
  • Use the pickled chilli as a pizza topping to add some heat and great flavour!
  • Chop up some pickled chilli and add to a pesto
  • Incorporate some of the pickle juice into a salad dressing.
  • The pickled chillies make a great condiment for cold meat sandwiches

Some Final Tips

Remember that pickled chillies retain their heat, so if you can handle the heat by all means use hot chillies. If you prefer a milder chili flavour, choose a milder variety for pickling, such as the Yellow Wax pepper (banana pepper), or the Anaheim pepper varieties.

How To Pickle Chillies
Grow 50 Plants in 4 sq ft

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How To Preserve Chillies in Oil Sun, 03 Mar 2019 17:24:45 +0000 Most food plants don’t produce yield all year around. If you want to use this produce year round you need to find a method to preserve your crop for use at other times of the year. There are many methods for preserving your excess chilli crop for year round use. Thats where this post on How To Preserve Chillies in Oil comes in!

The method we will discuss here is how to preserve your chillies in olive oil. Although this is a short term storage method, it allows you an alternative which extends the life of the fresh fruit.

You can use other oils for this method, but we have found olive oil to be the preferred oil for this method. The reason for this is that olive oil easily absorbs flavours, adds it own flavour dimension and is a healthier oil for salads and cooking.

Use the best quality olive oil that you can get for this method to preserve chillies. We use extra virgin olive oil.

How To Preserve Chillies In Oil – Preparation

  • Choose fresh, firm chillies for this method. Don’t use any chillies that have started to turn soft or feel mushy.
  • Wash the chilllies thoroughly and dry them off
  • Wash your jars thoroughly, and then sterilise them by soaking them in boiling water. This helps to reduce the bacteria that could potentially spoil your chillies. You can use any jars, as long as they can provide an air tight seal.
  • Dry them in an oven under low heat

How To Preserve Chillies In Oil – Method 1

This method uses the chillies whole and unroasted. Pierce the chilllies in several places with a sharp knife. This allows the oil to penetrate the entire chilli. Place a handful of chillies in a glass jar.

Heat the oil to around 140ºC/285ºF and pour the hot oil over the chillies in the jar. Do not pack the chillies too tight, as this will prevent the oil penetrating the chillies. The heating of the oil is to prevent botulism spores from growing. These spores may be present on the flesh of the fruit.

Allow the oil to cool and then refrigerate. Use the oil and the chillies within 2 to 3 weeks.

This method uses the whole chilli, including the seeds. This means the chillies will retain their heat and infuse the heat as well as the flavour into the oil.

How To Preserve Chillies In Oil – Method 2

This is the method I prefer as I enhances the flavour of the chillies and the oil.

  • Slice the chillies in half lengthwise.
  • Roast the peppers on a grill over medium heat until the skins are bubbly and blackened.
  • Be sure not to overcook the chilles as the bitter carbon will infuse throughout the oil, giving an unpleasant taste.
  • Allow the chillies to cool. A handy tip is to place them into paper bags and allow them to steam. This helps to loosen the skins.
  • Remove the shin prom the peppers. Tou can also remove the seeds if you don’t want an intense heat.
  • Cut the flesh into thick strips.
  • Place the roasted pepper strips to a sterile jar. Pour in enough olive oil to cover, then cover tightly with an airtight lid.
  • Refrigerate immediately.

Another alternative to roasting the peppers is to use dried chillies. Take a look at our post on 4 Ways To Dry Chillies to give you some ideas.

You can add other herbs and spices to the oil for additional flavours. These can be herbs such as thyme, dill, rosemary, black pepper or any other herbs you may want to try!

How To Use your Oil Preserved Chillies

There are many ways to use your oil preserved chillies. You can remove them from the oils and chop into salads, or use in stir fries.

The chillies can be removed from the oil and ground up in a pestle and mortar. You can then add additional ingredients to make a spicy pesto.

The oil that is infused with the chilli heat and flavour can also be added to various dishes, from stews, to salad dressings. Crush some tomatoes and chopped spring onions (or normal onions), pour in some of the infused oil to make a spicy salsa as a dipping sauce or to go on tortilla’s!

There are many other ways to preserve and use your excess chillies. Take a look at our post on 6 Methods To Preserve Your Excess Chillies to find out which other methods you many like to try! One of my favourites is pickled chilllies!

How To Preserve Chillies In Oil


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4 Ways To Dry Chillies Sun, 03 Mar 2019 17:24:10 +0000 Your growing season went well in your veggie garden and your chili plants produced an abundant crop! Awesome! But now, what to do with all those excess chillies! Here are 4 ways to dry chillies, after you have used or sold as many as you can!

There are other ways of preserving chillies for later use, which you can read about in out post 6 Ways To Preserve Your Excess Chillies.

This article will be focusing on the drying method and in particular 4 ways to dry chillies.

Drying is a great way to preserve your excess chilli crop. Not all chillies are equal, however when it comes to drying. Scotch Bonnets, Bishops Hat, Habaneros and other fleshy varieties tend not to dry very well with the sun or air dry method.

There are other methods you can use for these varieties which we will discuss in our 4 ways to dry chillies.

4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Sun Dried Method

Sun drying is more suited to waxier chili varieties such as Birds Eye and Indian Peppers. Traditionally, chillies would be laid out in the sun to dry, giving warmth and ventilation, but this is not always possible in cooler regions.

Not all climates are suitable for the sun drying method. Colder or more humid climates can give you problems with mould. If your climate falls into one of these categories, rather use one of the last two methods out of the 4 ways to dry chillies, or a different preservation method altogether, such as pickling or preserving in oil!

There are two main factors to consider when drying chillies. They need to be kept warm and dry. The optimum drying temperature is about 25˚C (77 F).

If your temperature is warmer than this, the dried chillies can turn out to be crumbly or brittle. On the other hand, if the temperature is much cooler than this, there is a risk of the chillies becoming mouldy before they dry out.

The method for sun drying chillies is very basic.

  • Rinse the chillies in salt water. This helps to prevent mould
  • Place kitchen paper towel on a baking tray
  • Spread the chillies out on the kitchen paper towel to absorb the moisture
  • Place them in a warm sunny spot. A great loacation for this would be a greenhouse or a sunny windowsill.
  • Turn the chillies regularly to ensure even drying

Once your chillies are dry, store them in whole in an airtight container. Another method would be to grind them into chili powder. You can use a pestle and mortar to do this, or a coffee grinder.

4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Air Dried Method

Air drying chillies is another method that requires a warm dry climate. This method is popular in Mexico and South America. Air drying is also widely used in the warmer southern European countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece.

The method is even easier than for sun dried chillies.

  • Bunch the stems of a number of chillies together and tie them up with string.
  • Don’t put too many chillies in one bunch as this will restrict air flow and your chillies will mould
  • Tie multiple bunches and then tie the bunches to a long piece of string so your have bunches hanging vertically.
  • These strings are called a Ristra. Hang your Ristra in a warm airy room. Near an open window would be good to promote good airflow.
  • The chillies will dry in a week or two, depending on your climate.

4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Oven Dried Method

Oven drying your chillies is a good method to use if you have high humidity or want to dry your chillies quickly. Slicing the chillies lengthways in half will help them dry evenly.

Here are the easy to follow steps for oven drying your chillies.

  • Wash the chillies
  • Slice the chilies in half lengthwise.
  • Lay them seed-side up on a baking sheet.
  • Preheat you oven to 125 F (50 C) or your lowest setting.
  • Place the baking tray with the chillies in the oven and leave for 3 to 4 hours or until dry

4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Dehydrator Dried Method

If you have a food dehydrator, you can use it to dry the chillies much quicker than most other methods. If you are living off grid, or don’t have ready access to electricity, why not try making your own dehydrator.

This can be a simple as making a wooden box with a sloping glass lid. A couple of ventilation holes, with mosquito netting to prevent unwanted guests will provide airflow.

Place your chillies on a baking rack in your home made dehydrator and place the dehydrator in the sun. The baking rack will allow air flow all around the chili peppers and promote quicker drying.

The sun will heat the air in the box and works on the same principle as using your stove oven, only the energy is free!
If you have any other drying methods that we have not mentioned, feel free to leave them in the comments!

4 Ways To Dry Chillies

Grow 50 Plants in 4 sq ft

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6 Methods To Preserve Excess Chillies Sun, 03 Mar 2019 17:23:23 +0000 Growing your own food is a great strategy for off-grid living or starting your journey to becoming self-sufficient. The problem with growing your own food is how to store the excess long term for future use. Each crop will have its own best methods of preservation, and today we are going to be talking about how to store your excess chillies!

The Importance of Chillies in Your Diet

Chillies are a healthy addition to your diet. They contain up to seven times the vitamin C level of an orange. Chillies are also a good source of vitamin A, E, Beta-carotene, potassium and folic acid. Some of the health benefits of chillies include relief from sinus congestion, improving digestion, relief of muscle pain as well as joint and nerve pain. Some people have even reported that chillies help to relieve migraines!

Besides the nutritional value of chillies, they are also tasty and can be used to add a new dimension of flavour and heat to a variety of dishes!

Chillies are seasonal growers, so in order to have chillies all year round, you need to preserve your excess chillies for out of season use.

How To Preserve Your Excess Chillies

Preserving food is a skill that most of our forefathers knew how to do and it was part of the daily routine. Refrigerators and electricity were not an option! Most modern day people have lost this skill and will need to acquire this skill for off-grid living or homesteading!

When it comes to chillies, there are a number of ways in which to preserve them for later use, some being more complicated or time consuming than others.

Here are 6 basic methods of preserving your chillies!

  • Drying or dehydrating (various methods)
  • Pickling chillies
  • Freeze your chillies. This only works if you have the means to freeze!
  • Fermented chillies
  • Preserved in oil
  • Salted chillies

Drying Your Chillies

Drying is a great way to preserve excess chillies and there are a number of ways to do it. The fleshier chili varieties such as Habaneros and Bishops Crown chillies are not well suited to the drying method. The additional moisture in the fleshy parts makes them hard to dry out before they become mouldy unless you have a dehydrator.

The chillies with a waxy coating such as Birds Eye Chillies are better candidates for the drying method.
The easiest method to dry out the chillies would be to lay them out in the sun to dry on a surface that allows ventilation both top and bottom. This method is the most basic, but may not be possible in cooler or high humidity climates. In these instances you may need a dehydrator.

To dry out your chillies, you would need to maintain an optimum temperature of about 25C (77F). If your temperature is lower than this, you run the risk of developing mould and losing the batch. If the temperature is too high, the dried chillies become brittle, and this is ok if you want to make chili flakes or powdered chili.

Other drying methods you can try are as follows:

Take a look at our post on 4 Ways To Dry Chillies for more details on these methods.

Pickling Chillies

If you enjoy the tart taste of pickled foods, then this is a great way to preserve chillies for future use. Pickled chillies can be enjoyed on their own, added to a salad to spice up the flavour, or added to stews and curries.

They make a great relish for serving with steak or cold meats, or used as an additional pizza topping!
Read our post How to Pickle Chillies for a detailed recipe for this method.

Grow 50 Plants in 4 sq ft

Freezing Chillies

Obviously, this method is dependent on having a freezer and electricity to power the freezer! If your homestead has neither, then one of the other preservation methods will have to suffice.

Chillies handle freezing pretty well. They will retain their flavour and heat. The freezing method of preserving excess chillies is best used on the fleshier chili varieties such as Bishops Hat or Habaneros.

The method for freezing whole chillies is quite simple.

  • spread them out on a baking tray so they are not touching (prevents them becoming a solid lump)
  • freeze then on the baking tray
  • Once frozen, place them in a sealed container for storage

Another freezing method is to process the chillies first.

  • Cut off the stalks
  • Remove the seeds (if you don’t want too much heat)
  • Freeze in a sealed container or bag, preferably in single portion size quantities.

You can take the processing a step further and chop the chillies finely, place the chopped chillies in an ice cube tray and freeze.

You may want to have an ice tray dedicated to this purpose, as anything you freeze in the ice tray after this will be chili flavoured!

Once frozen, place the chili cubes into a container of bag to store in your freezer.

Fermented Chillies

Fermented foods have been in the diet of many cultures, both ancient and modern. Not only is fermentation a useful method of preserving food, but it has health benefits to. You can read about these benefits in our post 5 Reasons Fermented Foods Are Good For You.

Preserving Chillies in Oil

Preserving chillies in oil is a method that not only preserves the chillies, but is a very versatile ingredient to have in your kitchen. Olive oil is the best oil to use for this method of preservation.

The chili infused oil can be used in any number of applications from salad dressings to dipping sauces. The preserved chillies can be used in an equally numerous variety of ways.

Read our post on Preserving Chillies In Oil for details on this method and how to use the preserved chillies!

Salted Chillies

The salt method is one of the easiest ways to preserve your excess chillies. The indgredients are very basic, in fact, you only need 2. Salt and of course, your chillies.

This recipe is to preserve 250g (0.5 lbs) of fresh chillies. Scale up, or down the salt quantity proportionately depending on the amount of your chillies.

For the 250g of chillies you will need 40g (1.4 ounces) salt. I prefer to use Himilayan pink salt, but you can also use a good quality sea salt. It is better to use coarse salt rather than finely ground salt.

The method is as easy as the ingredients!

  • Wash your chillies and pat them dry
  • Cut off the tops and roughly chop the chillies, leaving the seeds in
  • Mix the chopped chillies with 30g (1 ounce) of the salt
  • Place the salt and chopped chili mixture in a sterilised glass jar
  • Cover the surface of the chillies with remaining salt
  • Seal the jar and store in a cool, dry place for a couple of weeks before refrigerating

That’s it! You can add the salted chillies to any dish to add some extra heat and chili flavour!

6 Methods to Preserve Chillies
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7 Tips On How To Grow Citrus Trees Mon, 21 Jan 2019 13:37:22 +0000 Citrus fruits are among my favourite fruits! They are not only great to eat on their own, but can also add great flavours to your cooking. This guide will give you some basic tips on how to grow citrus trees! You will be surprised to find that it is not as difficult as you think! And you don’t need acres of space!

Citrus has gained a reputation of being difficult to grow. If you follow these basics on how to grow citrus trees and take care of them correctly, you should have few problems. Your reward will be having the pleasure of picking your own fruit from your own trees!

Let’s get started!



Choosing the correct position for you citrus tree is critical to giving your trees a good start and keeping them healthy. Citrus trees prefer full sun, so position them where they will receive maximum sunlight.

Citrus trees do not tolerate frost very well, especially when they are young trees. If you are in the southern hemisphere, like me, planting them near a north or a west-facing wall will give them some frost protection. Those of you in the northern hemisphere can use a south, or west-facing wall.

If you are in an area that gets a lot of frost, you can take other measures to protect from frost. These can include a good layer of mulch – see much section below, or wrapping the stem with a commercial frost protection material in winter.


Citrus trees like well-drained soil. If you are planting directly into the ground, add generous amounts of compost into the planting hole before planting the tree. If you have a clay soil that does not drain well, you can add river sand, with lots of organic matter mixed in.

An alternative to planting in the ground is to grow your citrus tree in a pot! This has many advantages.

  • You can control the soil composition
  • The tree can be relocated to better positions from season to season
  • It allows you to grow a citrus tree anywhere, even on a balcony!
  • Locate it close to a water source such as a tap, for easy watering
  • Easier to control pests

One of the main reasons that I grow citrus trees in posts is because I don’t own the property where I homestead. Having my trees in pots allows me to take my established trees with me when I move to my own piece of ground!
When growing your citrus tree in a pot, be sure to add a good quality potting soil , and use a pot that will drain well. Add a handful of earth worm castings or bonemeal to the potting soil when planting.

Remember that citrus trees planted in pots will require more frequent watering and fertilizing!

Grow 50 Plants in 4 sq ft


Citrus trees like regular watering! Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, particularly when your tree is in bloom or setting fruit.

In summer time, a watering regime of twice a week should be sufficient. If you have rain, skip a watering cycle.


Using mulch should be a standard practice in you homestead garden. It brings many benefits to the plants and the environment. Rather use organic mulch, as this will provide food for you tree as it decomposes. Compost is the preferred mulch medium for citrus trees. Make sure that you don’t put the mulch right up against the stem of the tree, as this will promote disease.


Generally, citrus trees do not require pruning, but it is a good idea to remove dead branches to prevent the tree becoming overgrown. When the trees are young, removing the lower branches promotes growth and improves air circulation.


Citrus trees do not like their roots being messed with, so weed carefully around the tree by hand. Keep an all other plants at least 1m (about 3ft) away from the base of the tree.

If your citrus tree is in a pot, do not grow any plants in the same pot at the base of the tree (underplanting). Rather place companion plants in their own containers near the tree.

Aphids can attack citrus trees, but can be managed with companion planting, or organic pesticides.

For a more detailed, annual maintenance program, see the infographic at the end of this post.

Companion Planting

Companion planting is grouping plants together for mutual benefit. Lavender, calendula and marigolds are great pest deterrents to have near your citrus trees. Nasturtiums are great plant to act as a decoy to attract aphids away from the citrus tree.

Dill and fennel will benefit your citrus trees by attracting insects such as lacewings and ladybugs that feed on the ahpids.

Borage and lemon balm are great companions to your citrus trees as they help to repel unwanted insects.

You now you have the basic knowledge on how to grow citrus trees! I bet it is easier than you expected! Next time you are at your local nursery, pick up a few citrus trees for your homestead or garden! These basic care guidelines will help you to reap homegrown fruit from your trees for years to come!

How To Grow Citrus Trees

How To Grow Citrus Trees

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5 Uses for Autumn Leaves On The Homestead Tue, 27 Nov 2018 13:57:51 +0000 For many, autumn leaves are just another seasonal chore! But this resource can be so much more. Try out these 5 uses for autumn leaves on the homestead, or even for your suburban garden!

5 Uses For Autumn Leaves On The Homestead – 1 – Mulch

Rake up the leaves and distribute them on the ground around the base of your plants. Distribute the leaves around your plants by hand, crushing the dry leaves in your hand as you go along. Alternatively you can shred the leaves with a garden shredder if you have one, or run your mower over them a few times. If you do not shred them, the whole leaves form a compact, matted layer that prevent air and water filtering down to the soil and your plants roots below.

You can make the layer a few inches deep, depending on the size of the plants you are placing the mulch under. Give the shredded leaf mulch a good watering down to stop the wind blowing them away.

Mulch acts as a protective layer which keeps moisture in the soil and reduces weeds sprouting in your garden! As they decompose, they also provide nutrients to your growing plants and improve the quality of the soil.
To make leaf mulch even more effective, mix with wood chips or grass cuttings.

Mulch is great to use on your home vegetable garden and it will reward you with stronger healthier plants, while reducing their water needs!

5 Uses For Autumn Leaves On The Homestead – 2 – Compost

Those of you who make your own compost know that you should layer your compost with alternating layers of green and brown compost material. Autumn leaves make the ideal brown layer for your compost pile!

Shredding the leaves first, using the methods mentioned above, will help them to decompose quicker. Layer the shredded leaves between your green layers of compost which can be prunings, grass clippings or vegetable peelings from your kitchen.

The reason for layering brown and green components in a compost pile is that good compost requires a balance of carbon and nitrogen materials. The brown layer provides the carbon component, while the green layer provides the nitrogen component.

Cover your compost pile with a tarp and turn it over (mix thoroughly) every couple of days. This helps the organic matter to break down evenly. In about two months you will have a rich, earthy smelling, dark brown compost for use in your garden.

5 Uses For Autumn Leaves On The Homestead – 3- Store Them

You may find that you have too many leaves left over after making your compost pile and mulch layer. Bag the excess leaves up and store them in a cool dry place for the spring time.

Green material is more readily available in spring and summer to make a compost pile, but the brown layer can be a bit harder to find. Storing the leaves you make sure you have enough material for your compost and mulching in summer.

5 Uses For Autumn Leaves On The Homestead – 4 – Leaf Mould

Leaf mould is basically leaf compost. The differences are that it is made entirely of leaves (brown layer), with no green material added, and the method of breakdown.

The process of breaking down leaves to make leaf mould is primarily through the action of fungi as opposed to bacteria as in the making of traditional compost.

The fungi take much longer to break down the leaves into a useable material. The advantage of the slow process is that the end result has a higher density of nutrients than normal compost.

This project is not a short one. It can take up to a year or more for the leaves to completely degrade. The process can be helped along by periodically turning the leaves over and adding water.

You can use leaf mould at various stages of decomposition, but that will be the topic of another post!

5 Uses For Autumn Leaves On The Homestead – 5 – Insulation

If you live in a temperate climate, where you don’t get too much frost, you can use autumn leaves as an insulator for young plants.

Place wire fencing around the plant and stuff the fallen leaves into the wire mesh around the plant. Don’t cover the plant completely, but only stack the leaves to just under the green leaves of the growing plant.

The layer of leaves will raise the temperature a few degrees, particularly as they begin to decompose and generate heat.

This may be enough to stave off frost in the colder nights of a temperate climate. In the springtime, after all chance of frost is gone, you can remove the wire, rake up the leaves and use them for mulch or compost.

5 Uses For Autumn Leaves On The Homestead

5 Uses For Autumn Leaves On The Homestead

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How To Harden Off Seedlings Tue, 20 Nov 2018 06:52:45 +0000 Most vegetable gardeners who have been growing their own food have started seedlings indoors in late winter. This allows us to get a jump on summer and have seedlings that are ready to go into the ground by the time the last chance of frost is over.

This is a great method, but means that you will need to harden off your seedlings before planting them in the ground!

What Does It Mean To Harden Off Seedlings?

To harden off seedlings, is the process of conditioning your seedlings to a life outdoors. The process is to transition young seedlings from a sheltered environment to an outdoor environment, exposed to the elements.

Why Is It Necessary To Harden Off Seedlings?

Until now, your seedlings have had an easy, cosy life! They have been started in a sheltered environment where the conditions have been optimal for promoting growth.

While these conditions are great for promoting growth, they do not prepare the young plant for the harsh outdoors. In the outdoor environment, the young plant will be exposed to heat, wind, less water, less light and cold nights. This is significantly different from the relatively pampered lifestyle they are used to.

Seedlings need to be eased into this new growing environment to allow them to adjust to the harsher way of life. Failure to harden off the seedlings may result in the loss of a significant number of plants. This is because they do not have the capacity to adapt to the sudden change in environment.

This will produce stronger plants that will produce fruit sooner!

When To Start Hardening Off Seedlings

The first aspect you need to determine is the level of hardiness of the seedlings you want to harden off.
Brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, etc), and onions are considered hardy and can take temperatures as low as the 10 degrees Celsius (40 F).

After they are well hardened off, these plants can manage light frosts.

Typically, summer crops are less hardy and prefer warmer nights of at least 15 degrees Celsius (60 F). These crops include melons and cucumbers, pumpkins, butternuts, tomatoes, etc.

These crops usually can’t tolerate any frost at all, even after hardening off.

The following recommended night time temperatures are recommended to harden off seedlings.

  • Hardy Plants – 4.5° Celsius (40° F) – Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cabbage, onions, leeks, parsley
  • Semi-Hardy – 7° Celsius (45° F) – Lettuce, Celery, Chinese cabbage
  • Semi-Tender Plants – 10° Celsius (50° F) – Butternut, Pumpkin, Squash, Sweet corn
  • Tender Plants – 15.5° Celsius (60° F) – Cucumber, Watermelon
  • Very Tender Plants – 18° Celsius (65° F) – Bell Peppers, Basil, Tomatoes, Chilli peppers

Grow 50 Plants in 4 sq ft

Follow These Guidelines To Harden Off Seedlings

  1. Start the hardening off process about 7 to 10 days before planting outdoors.
  2. Start on a mildly warm day and place the plants in a fairly sheltered location in partial sun for about 2 to 3 hours. Bring the seedlings back inside after this time. Don’t expose the seedlings to strong sun, wind, heavy rain or cool temperatures just yet.
  3. Gradually increase the time each day that you leave them outside. Also increase the exposure to direct sun and wind.
  4. Gradually decrease the amount of watering as the outside exposure is increased, but don’t let them wilt.
  5. Avoid giving the seedlings any fertilizer during the hardening off period.
  6. Monitor the weather. On the fourth or fifth night, leave them out overnight if the temperature will be 10 Celsius or more (above 50 F). If nighttime temperatures are predicted to be below this, rather bring them indoors.
  7. Once the seedlings have been outside all day and all night for at least 3 or four days, they are ready for transplanting into the bed outdoors.
  8. After transplanting, give the seedlings a feeding of weak liquid fertilizer, from your worm farm for example, to get them growing well. It helps to prevent transplant shock too. Water them regularly for a few days after transplanting to help them settle in. Then revert to your normal watering regimen for that crop.

Your seedlings are now hardened off and should be ready and able to cope with their new environment and produce a healthy harvest!

How To Harden Off Seedlings

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7 Reasons To Be Thankful On The Homestead Mon, 12 Nov 2018 09:39:59 +0000 During this season, our American cousins celebrate Thanksgiving. While this is not part of my culture or tradition, I think the sentiment of taking time out to think about what you are grateful for is a good for you. Hence, I will celebrate Thanksgiving with my fellow homesteaders in the USA with 7 reasons to be thankful on the homestead!

When we take the time to hit the pause button on our busy schedules and start to think about our blessings, we discover that there is a lot more to be thankful for than to complain about.

Being a homesteader, most of my reasons for being thankful are related to homesteading. While homesteading is hard work and you can get bogged down by your “To Do” list, it is an undertaking that is good for the soul! If you take the time now and then to stop and enjoy it!

Reason 1 To Be Thankful On The Homestead – Working Outdoors

I love working outdoors! Homesteading gets me outside, working in the fresh air! I get to work with my hands as well as my brain. When I work outside, I am thankful I am not sitting behind a desk in artificial light! The climate where I live has pretty mild winters, so working outside, even in winter is not a hardship!

Reason 2 To Be Thankful On The Homestead – Working With Nature

The homestead life provides interaction with nature everyday and nature never ceases to amaze me. Having previously worked as a safari guide in the African bush, I have a keen interest in all things living!

I take great joy in watching seedlings sprout and push their way out of the soil, reaching for the sun, or watching your animals grow and thrive as you give them the attention they need.

Working with nature comes with a frustrating side and sometimes sadness, when the plants and creatures that you labour over don’t make it! But this is life! It gives us an opportunity to learn, do better next time, and grow as human beings.

I am thankful to be able to work with nature – it is a reminder to me that we are the caretakers of this planet and whether it thrives or dies is in our hands! Let your lifestyle heal the planet!

Grow 50 Plants in 4 sq ft

Reason 3 To Be Thankful On The Homestead – Grow Your Own Food

Growing my own food is important to me because I know how it is grown and taken care of. I try to grow my own food on the homestead as organically as possible. No chemicals, or pesticides that may not only harm me and my family, but also harm the environment.

It is not only the health issues that I like about growing my own food, but also the feeling of being productive and self reliant or self-sufficient! It is rewarding to know that what you have put on the table has been by the labour of your own hands!

I am thankful have the ability, resources and knowledge to be able to grow my own produce!

Reason 4 To Be Thankful On The Homestead – Live A Healthier Lifestyle

I am thankful that, being a homesteader, I can life a healthier lifestyle. In this information age, more and more of the harmful farming practices used on commercial farms are coming to light.

I am grateful and thankful that I have the resources, capability and facility to produce my own food! Free of harmful chemicals, and rich in nutrition!

Thankful on the homestead

Reason 5 To Be Thankful On The Homestead – Become Mindful Of The Environment

The longer I homestead, the more and more aware I become of the impact we have on our environment. Some of the impact we have is bad for the environment, but on the other hand, some of it is good.

As an example, I am a beekeeper. I see this as a positive impact on the environment, where the numbers of bees are declining due to the overuse of pesticides in commercial farming.

I am thankful that homesteading makes me more environmentally minded and to live with purpose to be a positive influence on my natural environment.

Reason 6 To Be Thankful On The Homestead – Being Part Of A Community

The homesteading community world wide are generally a friendly bunch. We enjoy sharing our ideas and experiences with each other (and anyone else willing to listen). I have recently joined a group of like-minded people on Facebook. This has been an awesome experience as it allows me to connect with people from all over the world who face the same challenges as I do.

We encourage each other through the difficulties of homesteading and celebrate our achievements with each other. I am thankful to be a part of a community that are not judgmental but focus on encouragement!

Reason 7 To Be Thankful On The Homestead – Support Of Family

My last reason to be thankful on the homestead, is probably the most important, and the one I cherish the most! My wife is my greatest supporter and works alongside me to make our homesteading efforts successful. She is supportive of everything I do and gives encouragement and constructive feedback! I have two grown children, a son who is married but lives on the same property as us, and a daughter who still lives in our home as she is still studying. Our children are two of the nicest people we know and we are privileged to have them still be part of our lives.

They are a source of joy to Nikki (my wife) and I. They encourage us without judgement in our quest to become more self reliant an live a more sustainable healthy lifestyle! It is a good feeling to know you have family that have “got your back” and support your endeavours!

Tactical Bivvy

Other Thankful Bloggers

This post is part of a Thankful Loop post as part of the Natural Living Bloggers Helping Each Other Facebook Group.
Please click the links below to read other bloggers “Thankful” posts within the loop. You will give them another reason to be thankful!

Oakhill Homestead



The Green Acre Homestead

Stone Family Farmstead

15 Acre Homestead

Homegrown Self Reliance

Heavenly Bodies

Thankful on the homestead


Thankful on the homestead

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Homestead Hack: Check Your Soil Quality Mon, 15 Oct 2018 19:04:59 +0000 In order to maximise your crop yield in your homestead vegetable garden, you should use this homestead hack: check your soil quality and least once a year. A good time to perform this test would be just before your main growing season. For most people, this would usually be springtime. Besides soil acidity, the quality of your soil can determine the success of your gardening endeavours.

The test is easy and requires very little in the way of equipment.

Homestead Hack: Check Your Soil Quality

The homestead hack to check your soil quality is very easy to perform. You will require a glass jar, a mason jar will work well. Fill the jar to the halfway mark with soil from your garden where you are going to plant your crops. Top the jar up with water, leaving about an inch of space from the top of the jar.

Close the lid of the jar tightly to avoid leakage. Shake the jar vigorously for at least 5 minutes. This will separate the soil in the water. Set your jar down in a place where it can be left undisturbed for about 24 hours to ensure the layers settle properly.

As the sand settles, you should start to see three distinct layers forming. Once the soil has settled completely, you are ready to analyse the results!

Homestead Hack: Check Your Soil Quality

How To Analyse The Soil Test Results

The layers should settle in order of density, with the heavier sand layer being on the bottom. The middle layer will be made up of silt and the top layer of clay.
The ideal ratio of these soil types should be 40% sand at the bottom, 40% silt in the middle and 10% clay. If your soil has this ratio then you are good to go!

Homestead Hack: Check Soil Quality

How to balance your soil

Modifying your soil to provide a more balanced growing environment for your plants is possible.

A silty soil is comprised of approximately 20% sand, 70% silt and 10% clay. Silty soils are often fertile, but can also become compacted very easily. When silty soil is compacted, it becomes waterlogged and can harden to the point that plants cannot push through it easily.

You can improve silty soil by adding more organic matter in the form of compost and mulch.

For soil that is more on the clay side, you will have problems with poor drainage causing waterlogging and when the soil dries it becomes hard and compact. Experts advise against adding sand to clay soils as it only seems to make the problem worse.

For light clay soils, add more compost, for moderate clay soils, add gravel to improve drainage. If you have a heavy clay soil, you may want to consider gardening in raised beds where you can more easily control the soil.

If your soil is more on the silty side of the scale, around 10% clay, 20% sand, and 70% silt, adjust the silt level by adding more organic matter in the form of compost.

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