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Grapes are a delicious long season-crop that not only make a great addition to your little home farm, but their pretty vines are an enchanting garden aesthetic as well. If you take care of the plant in its initial stages, you’ll get a good crop that can yield a harvest for many years.

Grapes can grow in multiple environments, but the key to getting a healthy crop is to choose the right variety that can thrive in your area. Look through varieties of red grapes, like New York Muscat, Boskoop Glory, and Regent, and white grapes such as Muller Thurgau, Foster Seedling, and Schiava Grossa, to find one that will grow in your locality.

Make sure to get grapevine plants that are a year old at most, because these will grow vigorously compared to older ones. Purchase them from a reliable source so you know that you’re getting disease-free plants.

Planting

Set up a sturdy trellis before you get started because your grape vines need support in order to grow vertically. This makes your grape vine less susceptible to attacks by infections or pests. Prep your soil to be, well-drained, loose and free from invaders like weeds.

Before you plant, keep the roots of your grapevine plant moist by wrapping them loosely in a wet burlap sack – this keeps the root system from drying up. For each plant, dig a hole next to a supporting trellis. The hole should have a depth of 13 inches and width of 11 inches.

Add 3 inches of soil before placing your plant, and then add 5 more inches of soil to surround the roots and hold the plant in place. Add the rest of the soil till it reaches your soil line but make sure that it isn’t compressed- leave a good amount of air pockets for circulation.

Improve Quality

During the first few years, the grapevine will have to establish its roots before it’s able to carry the weight of the grapes. Vines shouldn’t be growing any fruit in those years so trimming is important and must be completed before sprouts start to swell. Hence, the best time to get trimming is around mid-spring, during March and April.

You’ll want to trim 4/5th of last year’s increase in growth, at the very least, so that you end up with a good yield. In year one, trim off all the sprouting buds and leave only the most healthy-looking ones. When these buds bloom in the second year, remove surplus flower clusters because they’ll grow and leave buds on all your trail arms.

Unless your garden is suffering from bad soil, don’t fertilize the soil surrounding your grapevine in the first year. You can begin adding small amounts next year. Remember that it’s a bad sign if, in the following years, you begin to observe your grapevine yielding an unusually large amount of grapes. A large number of grape bunches results in bad-tasting grapes. This can be avoided if you make sure to trim off any extra flower clusters that appear odd and remove grape bunches, aside from the ones you selected, that grows.

Harvest during the end-months of summer till the beginning of fall. You’ll know when your grapes are ready for harvest when they have achieved good color and are sweet in taste. This is a no-brainer but doesn’t pick your grapes before they’re fully ripe.

You can check if they’re ready for harvest by tasting a few from different bunches. If you notice that your grapes aren’t growing well, check to see if they’re getting enough sunlight and whether the soil is rich enough in organic matter. Happy farming!

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Making (Make)Up Is Not So Hard To Do

Making you own makeup sounds daunting, but if you want a simple natural look, why not try a few of these delicious recipes? You can use your home made or bought essential oils as well.

SOLID PERFUME

Beeswax is so useful for so many things, and it makes a great solid perfume that you can take with you so you can refresh your signature flower scent any time.

Melt one quarter cup of beeswax over hot water. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and allow to cool. Put a small amount in a pretty cream container or pillbox and keep the rest in the fridge.

To make it more interesting, try a blend of oils to create your own signature perfume – like roses and violets, freesias and lily of the valley.

SIGNATURE SCENT

To fill a spray bottle with your signature scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to a mixture of equal parts witch hazel and glycerin. Shake well and keep in the fridge for a refreshing spritzer.

FRAGRANCE SACHETS

Carry your signature perfume over to your clothes and lingerie. Mix a cup each of lavender buds and rose petals with a quarter cup of orris root powder (available from craft shops) and use to fill small muslin or cotton sachets. Store them in your lingerie drawer or hang from coat hangers to keep a beautiful fragrance around you all day.

BASIC LIP GLOSS

The most basic lip gloss recipe of all is simple Vaseline. To this base you can add a variety of ingredients, or you can start from scratch and make your own.

Melt a tablespoon of beeswax by placing in a clean glass jar and placing it in hot water until it is soft. Add a tablespoon of Almond oil and mix thoroughly with a small wooden spatula.

That’s it! Now you can begin to create your customized lip gloss…

  • Want your lips to taste fresh and minty? Add just a couple of drops of peppermint oil.
  • Want your lips to taste romantic and perfumed? Add rose, jasmine or other flower oil to your liking.
  • Want your lip gloss to have color and fruity favor? Add the juice of mulberries or blueberries, enough to create the amount of color you desire.
  • Want your lip gloss to soften dry lips? Break open a Vitamin E oil capsule and tip in the contents.
  • Want your lip gloss to cure cold sores? Infuse a cup of Lemon Balm (Melissa) leaves in enough Almond oil to cover the leaves and put in in a warm dry place for at least five days. Strain the oil, add a few capsules of Vitamin E oil. Add a teaspoon of the oil to your basic lip gloss.

Keep your finished lip gloss and your Melissa Oil in the fridge. They won’t last forever so just make small amounts as you need them, and if they get left out and smell rancid, make a fresh batch.

But you can take your lip balm with you on dates, just put a small amount in a pretty little pill box.

GLITTER UP

If you love the look of glitter make-up, it is easy to make your own using the basic lip gloss recipe. Add the contents of about six Vitamin E oil capsules as well, so that it will be good for your skin.

Melt one quarter of a cup of beeswax in a large clean jar over hot water. Add one quarter cup of almond oil and mix well. As the mixture cools, add in glitter of your choice…tiny sparkles, stars, moons…

You can tint the mixture with blueberry or mulberry juice, and add fragrance with the essential oil of your choice. Keep it in the fridge and use as required.

The most exciting thing about making your own fragrance and make up is its uniqueness. Soon you’ll be turning heads with your own special, indefinable brand of beauty!

More to read: A Lip Smackin’ Lip Balm!


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