Gardening – and without Chemicals

Each year, my husband I spend our summers on our vegetable and herb gardens.  Last year, we were able to enjoy fresh blueberries for smoothies.   We enjoyed the blueberries so much that we added a bush that would bear fruit earlier in the season (late June).    We have tomatoes, sweet peppers, squash, peas, beans, garlic, onions, kale, zucchini, and lettuce. Oh—   and potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Our herbs include tarragon, parsley, chives, marjoram, oregano, basil, curry, lavender, rosemary, and thyme.   My goal with the herbs was to make herbs de provence and italian seasoning instead of buying them.   We spend so much on spices-   this garden will keep that spending down.

We have a rain barrel system that is used to water our blue berry bushes.   At some point, the herb garden will also be watered by rain barrels.

To keep the weeds at bay, we use a mixture of 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of epsom salts and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.  This mixture is sprayed on the weeds usually first thing in the morning on a dry sunny day.  By the end of the day those weeds are showing signs of dying and are dead in a few days.

This past year we had issues with squash bugs.  The only thing I could do was watch the squash die.  Neem oil didn’t even work.  My understanding is that we’ll need to burn the areas where the squash bugs were to keep them from coming back.  I’ll let you know how that works this year.

Chemistry in the Shower

Recently, I found out that I’m allergic to the ethylenediamine dihydrochloride, or edetic acid.  What’s interesting is that even after pulling edetic acid out of my diet, my symptoms didn’t subside until I also took EDTA out of my environment. EDTA is in a ton of different things, from detergents and fabric softeners to soap, shampoo and conditioner.   It is also found in a number of allergy medications.  OK, so I thought going gluten free was hard, this is harder.  This isn’t an easy allergy, it’s a lifestyle change.

Now that I know what allergen is bothering me, I now have to get it out of my household, or at least get it out of my immediate vicinity.  My doctor immediately went through my medications and pulled a few medications.   She sent me home with all sorts of reading.  My initial thoughts were that it  could be in detergents and fabric softener.  So I changed from my Shaklee fabric softener and detergent. I’ve sent Shaklee a request for ingredients in those products.  My symptoms didn’t get better, so I started reading more labels around the house.   Sodium EDTA or EDTA is in sensitive skin soap, dermatologist recommended creams and cleansers, shampoos, hair conditioners, and lotions.  I took a shower and thought about the chemicals that are in my shower.   Most of us use soap, shampoo and hair conditioner.   I also use a separate facial cleanser. In my shower, I can only use the facial cleanser.   When I got out of the shower, I read all the labels of the cosmetics that I used.   I could use the facial moisturizer, but couldn’t use my whole body lotion.   Of all of the lotions in my home, I could only use one.  Oh my-   I’m going to throw away a LOT of products.   That’s a lot of money down the drain.

So you might ask, what products am I using?  I tried making my own laundry detergent out of Washing Soda, Borax and Zote soap. I’ve even tried soap nuts.  This past month, I’ve tried using a goats milk soap from the local health food store.    I’ve used an olive oil based soap and have a friend who made me some lye based moisturizing soap.   I love it much better than the goats milk soap that I purchased.  I’ve gone back and forth between soaps and shampoos and detergents  from different companies and home made.

Update (April 2019) Although I love the Shaklee promise and the non-toxic nature of the products-  I’m worried about the plastic containers in which they are packaged.   Are those plastic containers really getting recycled when I place them in the recycle bin?

I found a company that provides products that are good for my skin and good for the environment.   Instead of offering recyclable containers, they offer refillable containers.   What a concept!   The chemicals are reduced in my shower and we have a company that believes in making a difference for the environment.   Learn more about  Plaine Products sustainable products and let me know what you think!

For the first time in two years, my skin has finally cleared up from the eczema rash that I get from EDTA.  I may be able to wear short sleeves this summer!   Now that is something!