sustainable living


FYFO-100 Tip: Why You Should Mostly Skip the Conventional Grocery Stores

Here’s an easy way to lower your grocery costs.  At the start of each week (or whenever your local stores change their sales), check out the sales flyers for any grocery stores near you.  Only check for grocery items that you either use regularly or would use if they were cheap enough.  Make a list for each store in a […]

why you should avoid conventional grocery stores

How to make pumpkin puree

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Sure, you can go buy those orange cans of pumpkin puree at the grocery store, but making your own is so much more satisfying! It’s also much easier than you might think.  Best of all, this time of year it’s incredibly cheap, even if you didn’t grow your own pumpkins.  My kitchen table is currently covered in pie pumpkins that […]


Fabulous Free Permaculture Book Teaches DIY Urban Rainwater Harvesting

Here’s a wonderful free booklet to help you use permaculture principles to harvest rainwater and put it to use in your yard and gardens.     The wonderfully-illustrated 8-page primer was created by by Joe Linton (of LA Creek Freak) to accompany a workshop he did in 2008.   The guide draws heavily from Brad Landcaster’s books Rainwater Harvesting for […]

Fabulous free permaculture book teaches DIY urban rainwater harvesting

Acorn drop biscuits

Acorn Drop Biscuits

It’s acorn season, and anybody who follows my Instagram knows that our family has been foraging, processing and cooking with acorns all month.  Acorn processing #fallforaging #forageandharvest #wildedibles #foraging #foragingfamily #septemberforaging #fallflavors #acorns A post shared by Alicia Bayer (@magicandmayhem) on Sep 4, 2017 at 11:04am PDT I made up a batch of acorn drop biscuits last night and they […]


It’s Acorn Season! 2

Our family has been busy lately with one of our favorite wild edible foods of fall — acorns. Acorn processing #fallforaging #forageandharvest #wildedibles #foraging #foragingfamily #septemberforaging #fallflavors #acorns A post shared by Alicia Bayer (@magicandmayhem) on Sep 4, 2017 at 11:04am PDT Yes, you can eat them, and they are absolutely delicious.  They’re also nutritious and versatile.  You can use […]

It's acorn season!

It’s Elderberry Season! 2

Daryl and I have been faithfully checking our elder patches for the past few weeks and he brought home a bag of our first elderberry bounty for the year this week. This particular clump of elders is bordering a nursing home that has given us permission to pick their pears and elderberries.  He harvested them in the dark, bless his […]


Is Azure Standard’s Organic Fruits and Veggies Box Worth the Cost?

If you don’t have access to affordable organic suppliers like Bountiful Baskets or a good local CSA, Azure Standard is one option to get a monthly box of assorted organic fruits and vegetables.  The box costs $33 (as of August 2017), plus a small delivery fee (generally about $10 for my order of about $120 worth of items, so under […]

Azure Standard's Organic Fruits and Veggies Box

25 Garden crops to plant in August for your fall garden

25 Herbs and Veggies to Plant in August for Your Fall Garden

If you want to extend your back yard bounty of fresh veggies, now is the time to start your fall garden.   There are many garden crops that can handle some frost and some that can tolerate temperatures well below freezing. Root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips actually taste better after some frost, as do leafy greens […]


The Top 10 #FYFO-100 Strategies for Eating Organic for Less

I’ll mostly be focusing on 10 main ways to save money on healthy and organic foods in the FYFO-100 series (Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)). Everybody has different circumstances, so different strategies will be better for different families. You do not need to do all or even most of these to save money, but the more you […]

#fyfo100 checklist of 10 ways to afford organic foods

FYFO 100 Feed Your Family Organic for $100 (or less!)

FYFO- 100: Feed Your Family Organic for $100 a Week (or less!) 2

Yes, you can feed your family healthy, organic, non-GMO food and not go bankrupt doing it! Welcome to FYFO-100, where I’ll share how we feed our family of 7 for around $100 a week. Every few days, I’ll share more tips for how we make it work. You can go all-in and learn skills like foraging or canning, or you […]


Now in Paperback!

  My elderberry book is now available in a paperback edition!  We heard from many people who wanted a physical copy of the book, especially to make use of it while foraging and for the cookbook section.  I worked over the past couple of months to create the best possible paperback version, with black and white photos and illustrations throughout […]

Elderberries: The Beginner's Guide to Foraging, Preserving and Using Elderberries for Health Remedies, Recipes, Drinks and More

Seven Plants That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Soil, Ponds and Wetlands

Seven Plants, Weeds and Flowers That Naturally Remove Lead from Your Property

If you have soil that’s been contaminated by lead, you know that it’s probably not safe for vegetable gardening and it can also be a hazard to children and pets who play on your property. Lead can be a serious problem in gardens, ponds and wetlands, in addition to posing health risks for growing kids.   Lead contamination is a […]


How to Make Your Own DIY Natural Sunscreen

It’s starting to get to sunburn season! Wearing hats and staying in the shade isn’t really cutting it the way it does the rest of the year, especially if you spend a day at the beach or out in the hot sun. With that said, there are some pretty scary ingredients in even “natural” sunscreens. One alternative is to make […]

DIY natural sunscreen

The 10 best houseplants for purifying indoor air

The 10 Best Houseplants for Purifying Indoor Air

Houseplants offer lots of benefits to homeowners. They can bring a little green to snowy winter months, they add some cheer and they also are just pretty. One of their best uses, however, is in cleaning indoor air.   With our modern, energy-efficient homes and the prevalence of toxins in our manufacturing processes, indoor air is likely to be even […]


How to Use Banana Peels for Fertilizer, Dried Mulch and More

Banana peels are some of the best food sources you can give your houseplants and your garden. Yes, you can just toss them in the compost pile, but you can put them to even better use in other ways.   Banana peels are full of nutrients that plants need. The Micro Gardener says these include: Potassium – helps promote general […]

All kinds of brilliant ways to use banana peels for your houseplants and gardens

20 Vegetable, herb and edible flower seeds you can still plant in June

20 Vegetable, Herb and Edible Flower Seeds You Can Still Plant in June

Think June is too late to start seeds in your garden this year? No way! There are still lots of veggies you can direct seed in your garden.   Indeed, many garden plants grow much more happily in June when the soil has warmed up. Some bean varieties mature in as little as 35 days, and herbs like cilantro can […]


10 Natural and Organic Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

The recent hot, dry weather has brought a small plague of grasshoppers to my garden for the first time in years, and I’ve been working hard to defeat them.     We garden organically and I didn’t want to douse our family’s food sources with pesticides and poisons. Also, they’re just not terribly effective. Timing is important in their life […]

Natural Ways to Defeat Grasshoppers

What to forage in May

31 Wonderful Wild Edible Foods to Forage in May

There are so many fantastic wild edibles to forage in May! Many of the best wild foods can only be found this time of year, such as wild asparagus and morels.  Greens are still mild and delicious, and more and more favorites are starting to show themselves. Here are 31 wild edible foods to look for in May, along with […]


What to Forage in April

April is a fantastic time to forage for wild edible foods. The weather is generally beautiful, and it’s great to get back out in the outdoors after a long winter. Greens like dandelions and nettles are tender, mild and at their peak for cooking, teas, salads and medicinal uses. Many of the best wild edibles can only be found this […]


25 Garden crops to plant in August for your fall garden

If you want to extend your back yard bounty of fresh veggies, now is the time to start your fall garden. There are many garden crops that can handle some frost and some that can tolerate temperatures well below freezing. Root veggies such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips actually taste better after some frost, as do leafy greens like […]


Root to Stem Cooking: How to Use Every Part of Your Produce

  When you stroll through the farmers’ market or pick up your CSA box, you’re likely to find something that you won’t find in area supermarkets — whole plants.   Local growers tend to leave the leaves on root vegetables like beets and carrots, keep the flowery fronds on the fennel and otherwise give you a lot of extras with […]

Roots to Stems: How to use every part of your produce!

Easy, natural ways to perfect garden soil

Even if your back yard is full of sandy, clay or otherwise miserable soil, you can convert it into rich, healthy soil. While you can purchase specialty products to help you do this, you can use a variety of natural materials and creative methods to do it yourself — virtually free. The key is to make sure there’s lots of […]


30 Ways to use mint

Mint is one of those workhorses of the garden. Once you plant it, your hardest job is keeping it from overtaking everything else in the yard and figuring out what to do with it all. It grows easily in most of the country and robustly returns to zone 4 Minnesota gardens every spring, where it grows happily until fall frosts. […]

30 Ways to use mint

All kinds of great articles about organic gardenings that will grow in partial shade

40 Fruits, vegetables and herbs that will grow in partial shade 1

We all know that most garden crops want as much sun as possible. Tomatoes, melons and peppers will positively pout if they don’t get oodles of light. What you may not realize is that many other garden crops will do quite well with limited sunlight. Which plants will put up with lower light levels? A general rule is that plants […]


16 Ridiculously easy seeds to plant in your first garden

If you’re new to flower and vegetable gardening, it can seem overwhelming. There are so many varieties of flowers, herbs and vegetables to plant. Some need to be started indoors six to eight weeks (or longer) before transplanting into the garden. Some need very long growing seasons or special conditions. Some seeds need to be notched, cold stratified, or soaked […]


Seven benefits of backyard chickens

Seven benefits of backyard chickens

Citizens in cities around the country have been battling over backyard chickens in recent years.  Many residents have been up in arms at the idea of allowing their neighbors to own chickens, suggesting that the neighborhood will turn noisy, unsanitary and out of control. In truth, backyard chickens have many benefits.  Here are just a few. 1.  They provide better […]


12 Great sources of natural mulch for your vegetable gardens

Do you mulch your vegetable gardens? If you don’t, you should. The right mulch helps retain moisture, prevents weeds from getting a foothold and even enriches the soil as it breaks down. Here are 12 great sources of natural mulch (many of them free!)… Bagged leaves (except from the black walnut tree due to the presence of juglone, a chemical […]

12 Great sources of natural mulch for your vegetable gardens

Free printable nutrient deficiency charts for your garden plants

Free printable nutrient deficiency charts for your garden plants 1

Here’s a wonderful free resource to help you identify nutritional deficiencies in your garden plants. The University of Arizona cooperative extension office has developed a free color guide illustrating how deficiencies of micronutrients typically look on leaves, along with a handy chart to help pinpoint the problems and solve them. The 8×10 color poster shows common characteristics of leaves on […]


Famous herbalists teach how and why to use motherwort

Motherwort is a commonly found plant that is excellent for treating heart issues, menstrual problems, menopause symptoms, stress and anxiety, among other issues. It has been historically used extensively in China, Europe and North America, and still offers exceptional benefits for a whole range of issues today. Motherwort, whose latin name is Leonurus cardiaca, is an herbaceous perennial plant in […]

Famous herbalists teach how and why to use motherwort

25 Fantastic foraging groups and pages on Facebook

25 Fantastic foraging groups and pages on Facebook

Has your family tried foraging yet? Foraging for wild edibles is a great way to get healthy, pesticide-free, tasty food for free, plus try wonderful new tastes and get out in nature. There are many great books out there to give you basic information about foraging and I recommend you check out a pile of them from the library since […]


Setting up a green kitchen on a budget

                                      So you’ve decided you want to start cooking and eating more naturally, but you don’t have the money to invest in $500 blenders and fancy bakeware. The good news is that it doesn’t take a huge budget to make a huge […]


Free book teaches how to build a cob house

Cob houses are becoming more and more popular again, thanks to how amazingly inexpensive they are to build and the fact that just about anybody can build them. Becky Bee’s landmark book on the subject, the Cob Builder’s Handbook, is available for free online to help teach people how to do it. Despite the unusual sounding name, cob houses are […]


What is urban foraging anyway? 2

I consider myself an urban forager, and many people have asked me exactly what I mean by that. To me, urban foraging is more than just walking through the woods (although that’s definitely a part of it). And it’s more than just wandering through town looking at people’s yards and gardens. First, let me say what it is not (at […]