Container Gardening 2017

I planted lettuce plants 10 days apart, all of which were bought at the same time, same place, but I ran out of big box potting soil for the rest of my veggies and six of my lettuce plants.  Every year I use regular potting soil from a big box and I add nutrients/minerals to the soil. Last year I bought really expensive organic fertilizer, that did absolutely nothing for any of the vegetables I was growing. This year via Facebook I noticed the coop I shop at was stocking Purple Cow Organics products**.  We found someone local who carried them and proceeded that very night to plant the rest of the lettuce and veggies.

I re-potted a tomato plant that had been severely frost burn in Purple Cow Organics Tomato Gro. Currently, that tomato plant is thriving, the one I did not replant died in big box potting soil.

Side by side you can see big box vs. Purple Cow Organics– the big box potting soil lettuce plants were given a 10-day headstart and still we’re not even close to a lettuce salad.

The lettuce planted 10 days ago in Purple Cow Organics is ready and waiting to be harvested. This picture was taken 3 days ago for a photo op, today I am planning on harvesting what I can and having a salad. The beauty of all of it is the lettuce will grow back and we will have several salads from these six plants.

Ten days ago this was a container filled with Purple Cow Organic Potting Mix and three seed potatoes–today a potato plant appears! So get out there and get you some and enjoy that first home grown salad grown all by yourself (with a little help from Purple Cow Organics, of course)! 🙂 Enjoy.

**not compensated in any way by Purple Cow Organics for my awesome experience using their products and then blogging about it.**

Rocky Mountain essential Oils

I’ve been using oils for almost thirty years. For almost twenty-nine years, I’ve been buying them from a high-end grocery or health food store. I’ve always enjoyed using oils in soap, homemade lotions, and aromatherapy. I’ve practiced aromatherapy since I was a teenager. My favorite oils are- peppermint, orange, lemon and lavender. Peppermint is like Christmas for me and I use it all winter. Orange and lemon are fresh scents and I use them for cleaning, freshening my home and lightening my mood. Citrus oils are springtime for me. Lavender is a calming smell for me and my family and I’ve used it a lot in lotions and soap. I use lavender every night to help manage my sleep.  Although these oils have served a great purpose throughout the years, I wasn’t always sure they were pure and/or what they said they were. So I decided to look online for some alternatives to store bought essential oils. I found RMO- Rocky Mountain Essential Oils. The first essential oil I tried through this company was the Immunity Roll-On. It’s part of their kid’s line, but I use it every day.

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I love the smell of their oils, their customer service, the speed that they ship product and the products themselves.  Rocky Mountain Oils is a leading non-MLM essential oils company. They’ve been around thirteen years and deliver directly to the consumer pure, authentic and safe essential oils. As a personal testimonial for this company, everything I have purchased from them has benefitted my family in one way or another. My husband LOVES their oils and he used to be the biggest non-believer of all.  I would highly recommend this company and its oils to anyone searching as I did for oils for my family’s day to day use. *I was not compensated in any way for this review*

My go-to essential oils guidebook

https://www.rockymountainoils.com/
https://www.rockymountainoils.com/quality

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Ramp Salad and Rhubarb Crunch

This week at the first of the season local Farmer’s Markets–
Ramps

Ramps are related to leeks and here in the Midwest they’re the very first thing that pops out of the ground and are usually sold at Farmer’s Markets from late April to very early May (about three weeks) and then gone. It’s hard to define what a ramp tastes like. They taste both sweet and strong- maybe slightly like a sweet earthy garlic. A popular way to enjoy them is in a salad. We spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Madison WI and brought two bunches of ramps home with us. I made a ramp salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing– the recipe is here .  It was fabulous, you will love it. Give it a try. Next week, perhaps two weeks from now, rhubarb will be available for sale.  I’ve included a favorite family recipe for rhubarb crunch.

Ingredients
3 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup & 2 pats of butter
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

I’m joining Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life for her 373rd Inspire Me Tuesday!  Until next time be well!

Vegetables that grow well together–interplanting and trellising.

Hello, April!

We’re just now starting to figure out what we’ll be planting this year in our container garden.  One thing for sure, I’m going to try and grow a container of potatoes this year. We have seeds and plants started for pumpkins, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers so far.

I ran across an article about pairing up the plants in the garden. Like for instance –plant basil or parsley around the edge of your garden where your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants grow. All of these plants must wait until frost is out of the ground and the consistently warm weather is here for good. You can plant potatoes in the ground, after you’re sure the frost is out, and then plant pole beans or some ornamental gourds above them on a trellis to utilize that space.  Something that I cannot wait to try when we get our new place is interplanting carrots and radishes. Try it, I hear it works great. Something else I saw recently in a food documentary is planting pole beans with your sweet corn and the pole beans end up using the sweet corn as its pole. Be sure to leave room for lovely nasturtiums, an edible flower that looks great in salads.

Some wonderful things to think about if you are short on space. Definitely always consider the vertical as you are planting your gardening–peas work great on a trellis overhead. You can start your sweet peas inside and trellis them up your curtains and across your curtain rods until it’s safe to take them outside. I did this two years ago and loved it. This year we have two grow lights so we’re going to have several plants started in the next three or so weeks. Our greatest hope is to learn how to start most things on our own vs. running to the nursery and buying their 4-6″ veggie plants and flowers.

Until next time be well!

Kombucha

Kombucha Recipe

One of the most important things you can do for you and your family’s health is to improve your gut health. Most people are under the impression things like that take care of themselves. They don’t. They probably did take care of themselves fairly well many years back before our food contained large amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, GMO’s and preservatives. At one time most of the people in this country preserved their food. Most people’s diets contained several pickled and fermented foods. Pickles of all kinds, coleslaw, and sauerkraut were table staples.  These foodstuffs helped keep human guts balanced with the proper bacteria. Bacteria and enzymes in our gut help to break down our food.  The food we eat, once broken down, travels off to different parts of our body to nourish us. We need to stay well nourished to stay healthy.

My experience with gut problems began about thirteen years ago as I detoxed from years of smoking and not so smart eating habits. First came the transition to a healthier diet, then came transitioning to organic foods, and then came my intolerance to everything gluten.  After suffering for about 5 years with gluten issues I read an article about gut health. Before I get started let me show you where your gut is and what parts of your body make up your digestive system.

The gut, otherwise known as your digestive track,  has many components– it starts with your mouth and teeth and technically ends where your waste exits. The stomach is one of three parts of your gut that absorbs and digests food, with the small and large intestine being the other two parts that break down, digest, and absorb nutrients. The linings of our small and large intestines are the largest part of our immune system. Now, this was a big find for me. Not only did I not have a clue our immune system is in our gut, but I was simply blown away discovering the largest part of it is the mucosal lining of our intestines. Nutrients enter the blood stream, once broken down, from our small intestines. There are tiny villi all along our intestinal wall. These villi are how nutrients enter our bloodstream.  The intestinal wall is permeable to some extent so that these nutrients can pass through. In a normal, healthy gut the good stuff passes through and the bad stuff does not. But sometimes bad things start passing through, and sometimes the intestines become damaged and the lining develops holes allowing undigested food to pass through.

Learning all of this information made me wonder- was there a way I could heal my gut lining if in fact it was damaged or malfunctioning? So  I began reading about the gut lining and found that there were other people, just like me, experiencing issues with “out of the blue” food allergies and/ or intolerances who were using probiotics as a way to improve their overall gut health. Probiotics as we know help to maintain the good bacteria in our digestive tract. That good bacteria is part of a large ecosystem of bacterial flora that lives mainly in the large intestine.

Gut flora is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans and other animals, including insects. The gut metagenome is the aggregate of all the genomes of gut microbiota. (Wikipedia)

So I made an appointment with our family physician and asked for his opinion on whether or not starting on a probiotic would be a good thing or bad. He didn’t see how taking one could hurt and so I began using a probiotic about two years ago. Of course, I should note before I forget– a steady diet of kombucha and other fermented food in your diet would alleviate your need(most likely) to have to depend on a store bought probiotic. A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea.

A lot of my gluten intolerance issues went away about one year after I started using probiotics. I still have problems with food that contain a lot of additives, preservatives and maybe GMO’s? Corn still bothers me, as does soybeans and oats.  Although I check labels and watch what I eat, sometimes things are hidden or ? and I experience pain, pressure, a lot of bloating and usually diarrhea. I currently take a probiotic daily, but I’ve also incorporated fermented foods and kombucha into my diet as well.

Other than those very rare occasions I am presently symptom-free from issues associated with gluten intolerance. I believe the probiotic healed my gut to some degree by restoring the healthy bacteria I needed to process and digest my food. Some of the ways you can contribute to having unhealthy gut flora — a diet high in sugar (which I had for years) and low in fiber (that too).  Chronic stress(yes!) and chronic use of NSAIDs (yes to that too). Also if you are a person that has a lot of infections and relies heavily on antibiotics (thank goodness I can say nope to this one) you are at risk for having an unhealthy gut.

http://www.loveyourgut.com/what-does-the-gut-do/the-digestive-system/

http://www.enzymestuff.com/conditionleakygut.htm

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about Kombucha, probiotics and gut health as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Until next time–be well!

Soil [how-to prep the garden]

DIY Soil Testing

With Spring right around the corner now is the time for starting our seedlings. We’ve purchased our seed packets, starter kits and grow lights. Next up was prepping the containers on our deck for when the starter plants are ready to go into the soil outside. In prior years we’ve had no containers of soil on our deck because come fall we’ve always bagged it up and used it for fill on our lawn. Last fall I had what one would call–

a light bulb moment when I went to bag the dirt in our containers and haul it down to a low spot in our lawn for fill in. Here was soil I had worked with and grown organic food in for six months, and I was about to throw it on our lawn. The wiser thing to do would be to keep it and add more nutrients to it pre-planting and grow some more great food for six months. Soil over time loses its nutrients. Farm crops especially are nutrient deficient. Tilling soil is one of the worst things you can do, though long practiced and still done today. Farmers till their fields to aerate the soil which loosens up the soil and readies it for planting. Fields and gardens suffer from soil compaction come spring. Stress from machinery last fall, or animals, or possibly even you pushed the soil down causing air displacement. I can remember planting things in a garden and then pressing down the seed rows by walking on them. Now that’s a really bad idea. Soil contains living and breathing organisms and they need air. Biology Life in soil– lists all the wonderful things soil is composed of.

Up until the last three or four years, I simply filled containers and pots with soil purchased from our local nursery, put in my starter plants or seeds and watered. Doing things this way will likely yield you something, but more times than not that is based on luck. If you want luscious flowers, vegetables, and produce crops you need to have rich, nutrient dense soil.

Here’s how to make nutrient dense soil- 8 Steps

Everything, including the seeds and the plants, that we grow is organic. We do not use chemicals or store-bought fertilizers. Because our garden is in containers and not at the ground level we don’t see a lot of the usual garden pests. If I do I simply remove them by hand. Once we buy our own home again we will have to consider what we will do for pests in our ground level organic garden. We are looking into no-till methods for our future gardens. For farm fields, farmers might want to consider the no-till method which has so far proven to almost eliminate soil erosion. Leaving the previous year’s crop intact (what’s left behind after harvest) rather than tilling it in, has proven to increase water infiltration and water retention. Thus requiring less water and causing less runoff of contaminated water (fertilizers and pesticides). For more information about no-till agriculture- visit this site.

Below are more links and how-tos for garden prep:

How to make compost

Soil Testing- kit and info here

Garden Prep- things to do here

There’s a new documentary out called Sustainable. This is a great documentary that gives the viewer a look at how to live sustainably, grow sustainable foods, and features sustainable farms. It also features Illinois farmer Marty Spence & family of Spence Farm a provider of locally grown food for many Chicago area restaurants including Frontera Grill owned by Chef Rick Bayless.

Seed Catalogs and Spring Planting

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I apologize in advance for how bright the photos are. We haven’t had sunshine for about two weeks now. Today–the sun is shining. It’s bitterly cold out, but the sun sure feels good when you’re out in it. I love my seed catalogs, from my two favorite seed catalog companies. I have yet to place an order with them hence the Burpee seeds, also a favorite.

I buy all my tomato seeds from Baker Creek. You can request your free catalog here. I receive a Seed Savers catalog every year but have never ordered from them. They come highly recommended, so this year I will be placing an order for cucumbers, pumpkins, and assorted flowers. I usually buy planters and pots of flowers, but this year I am going to try growing my own. You can request your free catalog here. 

So that’s my spring plan thus far. I have all my pots washed out, soil purchased and grow light ordered.

 

The Benefits of Taking a Nap

nap-time

The benefits are listed here.

I am big on naps for many reasons.  Naps feel good.  I wake from a nap fully ready to take on the world. I am a bit saner after a nap, less cranky and way more energetic. But not everyone likes taking a nap. Remember when your mother used to force you to go take a nap? I do. Until I became an avid bookwork nap taking was pure evil. Do you remember laying in bed as a child staring at the ceiling counting sheep restlessly until your mother let you know nap time was over? I remember that too. But now, well actually for about the last 20 years, I am a regular nap taker.  I often try to get my husband to lie down and nap, but it’s just not his thing. Something tells me he is more the fall asleep in the recliner during the 6 o’clock news kind of guy.  For my nap to be successful I first plan how long it will be and set my clock. I make sure everyone in my household knows I am going to lie down. I turn on my white noise machine, rub lavender over my face and on my pillow and down I go. Whether it’s a 30 minutes nap or two hours I feel like a million bucks when I get up from it.

I do have night time sleep problems, but I’ve had those for many many years. My taking a tap doesn’t make them any worse and sometimes my nap makes me tired enough later in the day to fall fast asleep at bedtime. Try it. Just go ahead and try it.  What are you waiting for? Sweet dreams~ 🙂

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Lemonade

Christmas time brought me two new cookbooks-

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I haven’t had much of a chance to go through each one of them yet, but I did find an interesting recipe in Nourishing Traditions that I wanted to try right away.

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Lemonade- this drink is very very good for your gut.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Lemons,  juiced
  • 1/3 Cup Lightly refined sugar
  • 6 Cups of Water (not boiled)
  • 1/2 Cup of  Basic Whey

Dissolve sugar in water in a large glass container with an air-tight lid.
Allow the mixture to become room temperate before stirring in the lemon juice and whey.
Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Once done I transfer the lemonade into 2 Weck Jars for Juice for easy storage and serving.
Refrigerate. It will continue to ferment but at a much slower pace.