2018 Container Gardening- Week Nine

So this week things have stayed pretty much the same in my container garden. Missing are both Walmart non-smelling
geraniums. Not only did they not smell like geraniums, they basically bloomed once and died. I have since visited a nursery and purchased a new geranium plant along with a new petunia plant plus more Purple Cow composting soil. My husband and I live in an apartment complex for now. We are hoping by this time next year to be moving. A few years ago maintenance came around and planted shrubs etc. near everyone’s front door. I am assuming they felt that the tenant should thereafter be responsible for all care and maintenance of said shrubs and plants. Well, the soil these plants were planted in was all wrong, not to mention the kinds of plants planted, and the fact they were hastily put in and during one of the hottest days of the year. For over a year I watered an entire courtyard near our door and four plants right next to our front door. I also fertilized all the plants that were around our unit. Unfortunately, most could not be saved–mostly due to the fact of the soil they were planted in, they were planted shallow, they were planted late fall during a heat wave, and then come spring the area was sprayed by them with a toxic weedeater. This spring nearly everything was dead so we decided to go out and buy hostas at our own expense. I thought hostas would do well near our front door and they still might. However, the spot near our front door gets extreme heat in the afternoon and shade in the am. Hostas need warm sun in the am and shade in the afternoon. This information did not deter us, instead, we went ahead and dug holes, filled them with Purple Cow composting soil, and planted the hostas. Today I made a sunshade for both plants and will cover with said sun shade for part of every afternoon. Keeping fingers crossed. My lavender is doing well since being cut back, and so is my rosemary. Our tree is still recovering, the lime coleus continues to flower and is about 2.5 ft tall, and I have a total of 14 green tomatoes waiting to ripen. How’s your garden doing?

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Permaculture

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about permaculture lately, and like I, wondered what on earth is all the buzz about? Initially, I’ll be honest –all I saw when I looked at the word was culture, and I immediately thought it was a new group to join.

So what does permaculture really mean? Permaculture is defined as an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings.

So how do we integrate human activity with natural surroundings?

Whether on your homestead, property, or in your garden everything created- food scraps, plant waste, and animal waste is all put back into the soil, hence composting, creating a closed loop system of farming/gardening. Nothing is brought in from the outside–you use everything that is already available to you from the resources you have on hand. Thus creating zero waste.

In essence, you collect waste, you compost the waste, and then you return it to your soil. In your soil, you grow your food, and if you have livestock you grow their food too.

By doing things this way your operation is considered sustainable, as well as efficient, less costly to operate, it’s environmentally safe, as well as safer for you, your family, and anyone that eats what you produce–nothing from the outside is being hauled in that may be contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, or other pollutants.

In closed-loop farming, you try to use everything such as:

  • Table scraps are composted- all scraps even bones and meat scraps.
  • Lard is rendered from pigs
  • Animal hides are tanned and turned into gloves, vest, jackets, and so much more.
  • Garden scraps–any and all safe plant scraps
  • Animal waste is composted.

By the way, this isn’t something that is new in farming, gardening, or homesteading. I grew up this way in the 70s, and know many hundreds of people that grew up this same way too. I grew up on a farm, but even most of the city kids I knew had compost pails under the sink. All kitchen scraps were thrown in the garden, and/ or fed to the chickens and pigs. Chickens scratch the ground–they are natural compost tillers. I found a great article about this here.

What is vitally important to remember as you start your spring planting is — you need your soil to be at its very best. You need to start with soil that is alive, healthy, and thriving. Chemical-laden soil grows a chemical laden product. Depleted of its nutrients soil grows depleted of its nutrients product. Small scale or large scale you don’t need to rely on places outside your farm or homestead to provide you with nutritious resources for healthy soil. You have everything it takes to make it if you have kitchen scraps, plant and animal waste, time and space.

Here’s an article I found that teaches you all about composting.

Here’s an article about building healthy soil.

Here is a Composting 101 Guide.

Here’s a Permaculture Film.

Here’s some free online streaming of all things permaculture.

And last but never least here is a family that blogs about homesteading, permaculture, and gardens created by chicken tillers– The Rhodes Family on Youtube. You will love them and find a ton of useful information about permaculture and chicken gardens here.

A special thanks to the website Permaculture Research Institute for providing hours of rich and comprehensive information for me to consume on Permaculture.

Dane County Farmers’ Market & Eating Local

This past weekend we drove down to Madison WI for our first trip this year to the Dane County Farmers’ Market. It’s been awhile. We have had several local farmers’ markets we’ve been doing business with for a couple of years now. This year much to our disappointment one of them is selling produce that looks pretty bad and their corn made me really sick. There’s an older lady that runs the stand who is very friendly and we’ve known her for years and get a kick out of her mainly because she really speaks her mind. I asked her if anyone else had complained about getting sick from the corn and she said “Well you know they use A LOT of chemicals in their fields, more now than they’ve ever used to keep up.” We know we cannot always get organic produce, and unless it is noted at the stand, we know most of what we buy has had some chemicals used. Sadly more and more I am getting sick from chemicals, additives and all the crap that’s in our food supply. So, we stopped patronizing this stand and one other that just stopped selling with no fair warning. The Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest producers-only market in the United States. We started out for Madison at 6:00 am and got there, after a couple of stops, by 7:30 am. Even at that hour the parking ramps were packed, the streets were lined, and the throng of market goers was strong. What you do once you get there is join the moving queue. The market farmers’ are laid out in a circle that surrounds the state capitol building. So when you join you walk in a circle and when you spot something on a farmers’ table you hop out of the moving line to buy it. Once purchased back into the line you go. This can wear you out. I promise. We used to get here around 11 am–it’s really packed then. But you know, 7:30 am isn’t much better. It’s a popular market filled with lots and lots of locally grown food. We love our farmers’ and I’m such a big believer in locally grown and knowing your farmer well. It looks like we’ll have to go there a few more times so that I have plenty of produce to process for winter. It’s hard to see by the photos, but we purchased almost two weeks of produce. We were able to get 1 # of green beans, 1 head of cauliflower, broccoli, 1 squash, 4 ears of corn, 4 zucchini, 2 bunches of carrots, 1 leek, 2 cucumbers, a bunch of kale, fingerling potatoes, 4 heirloom tomatoes and a beautiful bouquet of local flowers (of course) for $15.75. You absolutely cannot beat that. Once home I set about to clean, trim and repackage the produce. I shredded the zucchini right away for zucchini bread. Our dinner menu reflects 11 days of eating this produce so that we enjoy it when it is at its freshest. Next trip will be to buy some tomatoes in bulk to make sauce with. http://janrd.com/blog/5454/divine-tomatoes

How was your weekend?









Fall food goodness

The last of the local zucchini is available this week, so I made sure to grate a bunch and freeze for pasta dishes this winter. Local apple orchards are announcing new varieties of apples every week. The first week we tried some new varieties and this week we bought Macintosh, Honey Crisp and Ginger Golds. Pears were plentiful too and ripened nicely next to our apples and bananas on the counter. A tomato plant I bought late at Bauer’s Market in La Crescent Mn. still producing. All total for a $9.00 plant, sold towards the end of planting season, it produced 17 tomatoes for me. To save seeds from tomatoes you cut the tomato in half and squeeze its pulp out into a small dish or container and cover for three days. The pulp ferments, allowing the covering that the seeds are encapsulated in to disintegrate. Each day you must stir the pulp and on day four rinse the pulpy seeds in a sieve careful not to allow seeds to sift through sieve (just the pulp) and then place on a piece of dry paper towel. As the seeds dry on the paper towel remove them from clumps to separate and allow to dry. You should store these dried seeds in a cool dry place, even the refrigerator- do not freeze them.  Coming up in future posts- seed saving, freezing vegetables, pumpkin recipes and pantry staples. Until then be well and always remember to eat good food!

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If I can grow red juicy & delicious tomatoes, why can’t big corporations?

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If I can grow 3 juicy tasty tomatoes on the north face upper level of my home, in a Rubbermaid container with organic potting soil, why can’t big corporations do the same? Until I grew my one pitiful tomato plant this summer, I hadn’t had a good tomato since the last time I harvested which was last summer around this time.

At best my plant got the sun some of the time, and a fair amount of water most days from either rain or condensation from our a/c that we catch in a pail on our deck. With a late summer and a lot of wind to deal with it was surely a surprise to me that it lived at all. I wish I had taken a picture of this sad little plant that tried so hard to produce fruit that its stalks and leaves withered down to nothing, yet, three beautiful tomatoes were produced for its efforts. I nearly cried each day as I watched the wonders of nature at play, right there on my deck in front of me. It should be said that I added absolutely no chemicals or fertilizers, not even miracle gro.

I’d like to say I won’t make attempts this fall or winter to find a good tomato to eat when the urge for a fresh couple of slices hit me. Unfortunately, I never find anything close to as good as the ones I can grow myself.

I long for an opportunity to grow all my own food. I look forward to the day that this will be possible for my husband and me.

The right and the freedom to choose what I eat

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It has never been more apparent than now that we as consumers need to know exactly what we are feeding our families, have a trusting relationship with our supplier, and be made aware of where it is manufactured and by what process (genetically modified food or ?).

http://www.techyville.com/2013/09/news/tests-confirmed-aldi-beef-contained-horse-meat/ which really shouldn’t surprise me or anyone else because this same issue happened earlier this year (same company, same horsemeat issue, same retailer-Aldi’s).

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/10/world/europe/uk-horsemeat-probe/index.html .  I know my family doesn’t need to worry about eating mystery meat because we don’t shop at Aldi’s. In fact, we don’t eat much meat at all anymore, having given up red meat almost 6 months ago now.

I was required to write a research paper for one of my university courses on ethics. I chose the food industry and have attached my research paper. I spent close to 100 hours researching the subject matter and have devoted the last 10 years of my life to changing my family’s diet and lifestyle-moving away from eating large retail sourced food to local food only.

The food that we the consumers buy should have labels that contain ALL the information about said food on them all ingredients, additives, where they were grown or manufactured and whether or not they are GM (genetically modified ) foods. As consumers of these products, the very least we should be given is enough information to make an informed decision as to whether we want to consume said product at all. Being given limited information or no information at all holds us prisoner to the very people who make claims to have our best interests in mind. It’s time for people to stand up and demand to know everything about the food they are eating and feeding to their children. It is, after all, going into our bodies, the same bodies we need to carry out all manner of tasks in life. It’s too much of a risk to buy from companies that make no effort or very little to ensure their suppliers are really supplying what they say they are. I mean really this problem with horse meat and Aldi’s has been going on for quite a long time.  The only way you ever really know what you are eating is to grow/raise it yourself or purchase your meat and produce from local farmers.

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