Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Your Garden ~ House Hold Fertilizers


    Now that you have your garden planted and it's starting to grow, you need to make sure the fruits of your labor are realized.  There are multiple ways for you to fertilize your garden from items you can find around your home.  The three we are going to focus on today are coffee grounds, banana peels and egg shells.

    I recognize that not everyone drinks coffee and even if you don't, you can still use grounds from your local coffee shop or diner, just be sure to ask them to collect them for you.  Before we closed our coffee shop, we did this for a patron and ourselves and it worked out great.  Now we just use the grounds we create from serving guests at the bed and breakfast.  We have a collection bucket outside that we toss the used grounds into everyday.  That way it's ready to use when we need it.  

    Why use coffee grounds on your garden?  Coffee grounds work as a natural fertilizer.  Applied directly to the garden area, it can help with drainage, adding microorganisms and the attracting of helpful earthworms.   If you have gone so far as to start your own compost pile to create your own "brown gold" the addition of coffee grounds will help introduce nitrogen to the material as it composts down.  Be sure to place your grounds around the appropriate plants, not all plants like the acidity of coffee grounds, especially tomatoes, sunflowers and carrots.  You can also use the coffee grounds to create a pest repellant for pest such as slugs.  I have noticed some slugs around my greens, so we will be adding grounds to those plants.  

    Egg shells are another very easy option to add to your garden.  Almost everyone eats or cooks with eggs in one way or another.  We collect the egg shells in an old mushroom container and let them dry out, squash them down and add more.  Once they can no longer be effectively squashed down and are dry enough, we grind them up to make an egg shell powder.  The egg shells add calcium to the plants and can help prevent rot on the blossom end of tomatoes, for example.  

    We also used egg shells on our indoor plants to help keep away little flying bugs.  The shells worked similar to diatomaceous earth and collect on the exoskeleton of the bug and kill them.  We blend up the shells to create a powder because they break down into the soil quicker than whole shells do.  You can add the ground shells directly to the soil as an amendment or to your compost pile to add calcium back into your soil.

    Banana peels have some many wonderful uses in the garden and I think are one of the most prolific of choices for fertilizer, insect replant and overall soil health.  Our first choice and how we prepared our banana peels for this is a banana peel tea.  We soaked our banana peels in water for at least 48 hours, and then discarded the peel, into the compost pile, and watered our plants with the new banana peel tea.

    But wait there's more.  You can directly sow your banana peels into the soil.  Chop them up into smaller pieces and mix into your garden bed directly.  The peels will break down and release the nutrients into the soil for your plants to use and flourish.  Why is potassium important to your garden's health?  Potassium is important for root and seed production, as well as support to tolerate extreme temperatures. With that Texas heat right around the corner, be sure to add in some peels to help your plants out with the change in temperature. 

    Our favorite and most effective way to use banana peels is to create a spray, using dried banana peels, egg shells, and Epson salt.  The banana peels are for potassium, the egg shells calcium and Epson salt is for magnesium.  Add your dried ingredients into a spray bottle and then top with water.  This spray is a step up from banana peel tea and can utilize fewer bananas but cover more plants.   You can quickly dry your banana peels in a 140 degree oven, set on a cookie sheet without the pieces touching.  Leave the oven door slightly open and the peels inside until dried.  

    Either way, don't throw your left over items into the trash but make something out of the waste from your kitchen.  No matter if it is egg shells, coffee grounds or banana peels, help Mother Nature out with a little bit of kitchen recycling, and watch your garden grow even better.  Just remember a little bit goes a long way and not every plant will enjoy every choice, so be sure to know which plants need what for optimal growth.  

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Let's Eat Food Trucks ~ Shave Shop

    You may have seen Clay & Kendall Hansford around Sulphur Springs or other local cities with their mobile shaved iced truck at an event or two since they opened. Now you can enjoy their shaved iced without the hunt.  With two Shave Shop trucks they are ready and able to attend special events, and park at their new spot at The Rail Yard.  The flexibility of having two trucks allows them to serve their customers in more ways than one.  

    With the addition of the a second truck Clay and Kendall are still able to participate in school fundraisers, where they give back to the school that books their truck as well as company parties, and events.  They hope that their spot at the Rail Yard, will give them additional visibility during the summer months while schools are no longer in session. 

    When they started with the school fundraisers, the Shave Shop found that they have to abide by the low calorie snack rule and changed all the syrups to fit the needs of the new snack guidelines.  The best part about them attending a school event is that they give back 30% of their profits back to school.  Who would not want to host the Shave Shop at their next big school event.  

   If you are not a school don't worry the Shave Shop has you covered, for all your corporate events and parties.  Treat your employees to a cold summer treat or wow your guests for your next party by having the Shave Shop attend.

    While it might seem like all fun and games, running a mobile shaved ice business it does take a lot of work and planning to adapt to customer needs and find the correct supplies.  They drive once a week to Keller to stock up on ice to fill up the deep freeze and be ready for all those events and parties.  They have even discovered on their travels new flavors to share with their customers, that will be coming out soon.  
    Menu options will change and adapt based on location and event.  Be on the look out for new cream based flavors coming soon.  In the mean time stop by their spot at the Rail Yard to enjoy some fresh shaved ice.  I had the new cold brew coffee shaved ice and let me tell you, I'll be back to order that one again.  It definitely hit the spot and I know the kids will want to visit soon.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Herb Infused Cocktail ~ Rosemary Paloma


    As we enter into the summer months a cold and refreshing drink on the patio or deck hits the spot after working in the garden, watching sport games or just because.  This months herb infused cocktail is a Rosemary Paloma.


    Grapefruit is a winter fruit but can be made into a refreshing drink at any time of the year.  Since our rosemary grows well all year round, why not take advantage of the delicious flavor it provides walking into the summer months.  

    This drink can also be made for a crowd ahead of time for those patio parties or summer bar-b-ques.  We chose to use a darker tequila for this drink to really enhance the rosemary flavor.  The more oaky flavor of the Anejo tequila pulls the rosemary notes from the homemade syrup.  For a lighter version you can use a Silver or reposado tequila.  

    Rosemary Paloma

1 - 1.5 ounces of Tequila

3 ounces of grapefruit juice

1 ounce of rosemary syrup

dash of lime juice


    Fill a shaker cup with ice.  Top with all the ingredients for the drink and give it a good shake.  Pour into an ice filled glass.  Garnish with a wedge of lime and rosemary sprig.

    This drink is easy to make for a crowd or just a few people.  Of course if you choose to make it a mocktail just eliminate the tequila.  You might even consider adding a splash of grapefruit soda, to add a few bubbles.  

    The rosemary syrup is the standard simple syrup of sugar and water, with rosemary added in from the start.  Let it cool and infuse the flavor longer into the syrup, for a stronger rosemary finish.  The simple syrup will keep in your fridge for up to two weeks. 

    As always please drink responsibly and have a designated driver.  We hope you will enjoy this drink and let us know how you liked it.  Cheers, from the Oaks bed and Breakfast.