How to clean a mortar and pestle

Last night I realized that my mortar and pestle needed cleaned. It looks a bit sticky inside the bowl of the mortar. You see, I like my green tea pretty finely ground up. I received a big bag of large cut green tea last year and have been grinding it up daily using my mortar and pestle. Unfortunately there were tiny pieces of dried fruit in with the tea and even though I tried to pick them out, a few pieces were ground up from time to time.

Directions for cleaning a mortar and pestle

This left a sticky residue that attracted tea dust with every use. Obviously I need to clean it. Luckily it is a marble set so it was super easy to clean up, but not all mortar and pestle sets are made of the same material! Instructions for cleaning your set are different depending on what material it's made of.

Knowing what type of material your set is made of before cleaning it is important. Wood, lava rock, granite and marble are the most common materials used in a mortar and pestle set. Marble and granite get confused the most, but I'll explain how to tell them apart and how to clean them. 

Winter: What to do in the garden

For those of us under snowfall, winter is a boring time to be a gardener! There isn't much to do in the garden in December and it's pretty darn depressing to look at. I have found a few garden chores to keep busy though. One of my favorite gardening chores for winter is my assessment of the past years garden.

Garden under snow, what to do?

I like to think I learn from everything that I plant. Sometimes new things work out and other times they don't. For instance, this year I learned that the Lollipop lilies I had planted by the house were actually being eaten by rabbits and not deer! No wonder all my tricks for keeping deer away from the garden weren't working.  

I also learned just how hard raspberries are to contain once they take root in a spot they like! It was a constant battle to keep them where they belong as they kept sending up shoots further and further into my garden. For all the trouble they gave me you'd think they would have rooted where I moved them. Nope. Even though it had the exact same type of location, sun etc none took. Unfortunately, they're still popping up in the garden. *sigh*

Ultimate guide to preserving herbs

There are many ways to preserve fresh herbs and this week I tried them all! As cold weather fast approaches I needed to harvest and preserve all the herbs in my garden quickly before they froze. Of course fresh is the best way to use garden herbs, but I'm not willing to go without herbs all winter....so I went on an herb preserving spree.

Preserved herbs in oil and salt

At this point in time it's ok to harvest as much of the herbs as possible! Frost is just around the corner and anything not preserved will be lost after a good freeze, so go ahead and harvest all you want from perennial herbs. Because of the timing, I kinda went crazy. I ended up with baskets and baskets of basil, parsley, sage, mint, lemon balm, chives and more! 

This week alone I froze herbs in oil, made herb vinegars, compound butters, herb salts, dried herbs and made herb flavored sugars with the herbs left in my garden. That is an amazing array of herbs for later use!

How to clean spilled nail polish in seconds

Today I made a huge mess. I dropped a bottle of nail polish on the hard kitchen floor and not only did the top crack right off, but it starting spinning in circles, spewing purple nail polish in a giant spiral all over the floor! Thankfully spilled nail polish is super easy to clean up and within 3 minutes the floor looked good as new.

To clean spilled nail polish off a hard floor all you need to do is dump sugar on it. Lots of sugar, and do it quickly. Thankfully, I was in the kitchen so the sugar canister was nearby. Yes, I videoed it for you...because honestly, if I had not seen it work I wouldn't have believed a floor with a whole bottle of nail polish spilled on it could get that clean again! 

cleaning spilled nail polish without chemicals

It really did though! The nail polish wiped right up in less than 5 minutes! Unfortunately, because of the need to act fast I didn't get a picture till after I started treating it...but I'm sure you can just picture that part. Here's my lovely purple nail polish spiral covered in sugar. 

Crops you can plant in August

My garden just didn't meet my expectations this year. I tried to get everything planted on time but life got in the way and I literally only got half done. Now it's August and what I planted is doing great...but I didn't plant as much as last year! That's ok, that just means I have enough space to plant a fall garden!

I don't usually plant very much in fall, in fact I'm normally quite burned out by now, so planting the whole garden in August is a brand new adventure for me! I live in zone 5. Actually I'm considered zone 5B. Everything I'm planting in my garden is suitable for zones 5 & 6. Most of these will do well in zones 4 & 7 too, though it gets a little iffy if you get too far away from here!

Food crops to plant in August


When deciding what to plant in August, the first thing you'll want to do is determine your first frost date. This is pretty much the same as when we determined your last frost date, exact you're using the fall frost date instead of the spring frost date.

Since I'm smack dab in the middle of Pittsburgh and Erie, I'll need to guess. My first frost should be somewhere between Oct 17 & 29. That gives me at least 60 days.

First frost date for fall garden

Obviously I want to plant things that will mature around 60 days or less, can tolerate cooler temperatures and maybe even some crops that are frost resistant once established.

Crops to plant in August


Kale: I started this list with my favorite as kale is the only cold hardy crop I have planted every single fall since I've started gardening. I affectionately refer to it as 'deer food' since inevitably the deer will find it and pull the covers off it to eat it in the dead of winter. *sigh* Once established many varieties of kale grow well in the cold and even tolerate a bit of snow.

Spinach: Once I learned the trick to quickly germinating spinach seeds I plant it several times a year. Tip: germinate seeds between wet paper towels in the refrigerator! See? Spinach really does prefer cooler temperatures!

Peas: How many times have I said that I love peas? Many, I'm sure! I have a few varieties of peas I plant that start to produce in under two months. (I'm probably most excited about fall peas!)

Beans: I chose bush beans for this year (ok, I lied....it's every year. I've literally been saving seeds from these plants every year for 8 years now, so I always plant the same ones) Bush beans mature in about 50 days so I will get at least one good harvest before the cold sets in. 

Carrots: These are hit or miss as sometimes fall carrots aren't ready in time before the temperatures drop too much. If that happens, just rake a load of dried leaves, straw or other mulch on top of them and let them be. The cooler temperatures make the carrots sweeter and they will continue to grow (slowly). Just part the mulch to harvest.

Click to enlarge image then right click to save.
10 crops to plant in august infographic.

That ends the portion of the garden I planted this week, however you don't have to stop there! There are several more vegetables you can plant in August if you're in my same zone: beets, turnips, radish and kohlrabi will all grow quickly enough to produce before winter.

Lettuce: Practically every common variety of lettuce still has time to produce at least 1 full harvest and luckily the cooler weather keeps it from bolting too fast. Unfortunately many varieties are frost sensitive so that first frost is often the end of lettuce. I have had pretty good luck by covering lettuce with plastic covers to get past the first few frosts.

Arugula growing in the fall garden

The lucky folks in the zone below me can get a decent harvest of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli in before the cold gets too severe. I actually could have planted these from seed last month and harvested them in fall, but my brain was on summer vacation and I can't find any seedlings around here now!

Not in the same zone as me? Check out this list of what to plant in your fall garden for all zones, 1-10! Happy planting!

Want more posts on gardening in Autumn? Click here for my other posts on Fall gardening!

~L

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