Fresh from the garden lettuce & RMO Essential Oils and Pest Control blend

For most of the last three weeks, all we’ve had in Wisconsin is rain, rain, and more rain. Every day is cloudy. Somehow in my fond dreams of yesteryear, I remember spring having some sunny, warm and simply satisfying days before the hot and sticky days of summer arrive. This year I made a solemn promise to take spring slow and enjoy every moment of it. Now all I want is heat and sun–go away rain, the rivers are flooding.  Less than two weeks after planting the last six lettuce plants we’ve had two big salads from those six plants, a lettuce leaf on five sandwiches this week, and lettuce on our hamburgers tonight. Believe it or not, there is still at least one salad left and more to come. This has been my most successful year of growing bibb lettuce.  While harvesting the lettuce I was bitten a total of three times by pesky mosquitos, which reminded me I need to order some Bug off! from Rocky Mountain Oils.

Last year I used a blend made from RMO’s cedarwood, lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass essential oils in purified water in a 4 oz spray bottle. I put in 30 drops of cedarwood, 25 drops of lavender, 15 drops of peppermint and 15 drops of lemongrass. I shake the spray bottle gently before each use.  I use either, it just depends if you want to make up your own batch or buy a blend that has all of the essential oils and more already in it. Either way, you cannot go wrong using Rocky Mountains Oils as your go-to pests go away and stay away from me spray.

 

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.**

Summer menu ideas & herbs

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Summer Menu Time- What’s Cooking?

Breakfast in the summertime is usually fruit leftover from our meal the night before. And water, lots of cold water with lemons and cucumbers in it.
Lunch- Lots of salads. Is there anything better than a fresh from the garden cucumber diced with fresh tomatoes, peppers, and buttery lettuce? We have salads for dinner too though we throw in chicken, eggs and sometimes sliced Fuji apples to make a more filling meal.
Monday– Monday has to be an easy day for us, meal wise, so it’s often a quick pasta dish like Shrimp Scampi Zoodles.
Tuesday-Once a week we have breakfast for dinner. Since I froze quite a bit of asparagus, lately it’s been Mini Quiches w/asparagus.
Wednesday– I volunteer after work on Wednesdays, so I pack a salad and a snack bar. My husband usually makes a pizza.
ThursdaySouthwestern Chicken wraps and soup- usually homemade that I defrost in refrigerator -(it’s good for two meals)
Friday– We almost always have seafood for dinner on Fridays so it’s either a local fish fry or I make something with salmon like Salmon Cakes with Cucumber Dill Salad.
Saturday-I grill once a week 9 months out of the year. I love grilling. In the summer we have hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats. Once in awhile, I will BBQ a whole chicken.
Sunday-We almost always have roast chicken for dinner on Sundays. Now that I am able to source new baby potatoes we have those, fresh onions, fresh tomatoes, fresh parsley (potatoes) and fresh rosemary(chicken) and homemade baked beans.

This past weekend we took a ride to our local farm stand and loaded up. We bought a flat of strawberries, some yellow marigolds, another tomato plant,  some more thyme, parsley, new potatoes, radishes, butter lettuce, and peaches. For two grocery bags full it cost us $23.00. I was able to get 5 -4″ pots of thyme for $1.50.  Here is a couple of pictures of my patio garden. I am thrilled to say I already have 3 small tomatoes on one of my plants. I’m also happy to say my lavender is near flowering.

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That’s all for now. Until next time–be well!

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.

Organic vs. Natural What does it mean?

Organic meat comes from animals whose bodies and food are never treated with pesticides, herbicides, antibiotic and hormones. Animals must have access to exercise, sunlight and time to graze in pastures rather than a feedlot.  The animals food must be certified organic with no genetic modifications or animal by-products.

Farmers that sell organic go through a stringent process of certification regularly. It is expensive. Farmers do this to provide people with  guaranteed organic food. Organic food has made a huge difference in my husband’s and my life.

Natural-This label is everywhere. Please DO NOT confuse it with organic. Natural means: contains no artificial ingredients or artificial coloring. When we use the term processed food, natural food is minimally processed. It is still processed food. Natural food and milk have no regulatory definitions-not certified.

Sources: USDA, FDA

Organic vs. Nat

Our latest organic bounty

A bumper to bumper commute 50+ miles yielded us this lovely bounty.

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Head steamed for 30 minutes, done!

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delicieux!

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Steamed 22 minutes in my bamboo steamer.

We don’t add butter, cheese or spices to any of our organic veggies. Though we used to use plenty of  butter and spices we don’t need to anymore. We much prefer the actual real taste of our veggies now instead of trying to cover up the bitter taste of the non-organic ones.

Even if you can’t afford organic at least stay away from canned vegetables. They’ve been boiled or blanched so hard that the nutritional value has been washed down the sink. We stopped eating canned vegetables almost eight years ago. We then began buying frozen vegetables that were advertised as flash frozen as soon as they are picked. We steam most of our vegetables including the frozen ones.

 

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These lovely yellow beans are on tomorrow nights menu. Neither my husband or I like yellow beans but we refuse to waste them. With these I may need to add a dab of butter.We will have to see.

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7# of produce this trip. And some lovely currants for our Christmas ham glaze, socked away in our freezer for now.

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Organic beans, corn and red lettuce

Tonight’s dinner was organic green beans, sweet corn and natural turkey hamburgers. We switched about three months ago from ground beef  to natural turkey as of yet we have not found organic meat we like. The turkey has quite a bit more taste, no grease and far less calories. Price wise per pound we spend about fifty cents more. The brand we buy is Jennie-o and we both agree that is very good. The lovely green beans were from the Dane County Farmer’s Market in Madison, the corn is from a veggie stand here in town.

 

Green Beans

Green Beans-cook on medium for 15 minutes, warm up butter (olive oil is good too) lightly drizzle and sprinkle garlic salt lightly.  I also like them with sauteed red onion and olive oil. Either way- Delicious.

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Fresh Corn-Yum

red lettuce

Wash well, pat dry. Good in salads with green frilly lettuce or even all alone. We are currently looking into different salad dressings to compliment this great lettuce. Every delicious organic sandwich we make gets two pieces of frilly red lettuce.

Last but not least- dessert

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A peach from California. Perfectly ripe and mouth watering good at $2.99/lb

Bon Appetit!!

Update on my patio garden

Well, it’s been rough. We’ve had 7 bad storms in a 2 month period of time. My tomato plants have been through some pretty hostile rains and wind. One night during a storm, with 15 m.p.h winds, I stood out on my patio and held onto my tomato plants so they wouldn’t be destroyed. That’s how devoted I am to growing my own food.. But I can’t do that every night nor would I want to lol.

Here are pictures of the fruit on the vine.