gardening people, places & things
27 January 2015, by gj
Blogging has blessed us in that we have been connected to many wonderful gardeners like you, whether you subscribe to our emails, follow along on assorted social media, or we have e-met on a more personal level.
It has also linked us to people involved in the gardening and publication industries. One such connection is with Horticulture Magazine. We were fortunate to win a contest to get an article published in their magazine, and from that they invited us to contribute to their online blog. How cool is that? My hands were shaking so hard I pert near dropped the phone!
After a few years we took a bit of a break while we worked on our garden system, primarily on finding ways to lower the cost of production without sacrificing quality.
They had no problem welcoming us back, and we are happy to say they have even featured our last two articles on growing Flax and Sunchokes both for their beauty and their edible components on their main page!
So if you are in gardening withdrawal from the cold, or for my friends down under it’s the heat, check out these links to get a little more green in your life.
You can find a new post there and on the Gardening Blog every week.
Color us happy, blessed, and waiting for spring…
Oh, and choose any color you want; anything is better than this snow-white!
Categories: Addiction, gardening people, places & things, jonesen'
4 January 2015, by gj
America really is the Melting Pot, and nobody knows this better than veggie gardeners.
While many are familiar with numerous Asian veggies as well as those of Europe and our Indigenous peoples, less avail themselves of what the people of India have to offer. Of course, growing conditions are always a consideration. Still there are wonderful flavors to be had by trying some of what this culture enjoys.
Most people unfamiliar with Indian cooking think first of curry, a combination of ingredients often found in Indian dishes. One less familiar ingredient is Fenugreek, also known as mathi, which is a staple in Indian cuisine.
You can use both the leaves, which have a very mild maple taste, and the seeds. The plant has numerous health benefits, find some of those here.
What we enjoyed most was the way it combines its flavor to those in many of the dishes we have tried. Our favorite is Mathi Matter, a combination of cashew butter and peas in a cream sauce with fenugreek and spices. It may sound a bit odd, until you taste it. It is now Mandolin’s favorite way to eat peas.
To grow fenugreek, simply scatter the seeds on soil when the weather is warm. You can presoak them to speed up germination. Cover lightly with more soil, and keep watered. Before too long the sprouts will emerge, and you can begin to harvest.
It can be eaten as a sprout, or allowed to grow larger to harvest the leaves. Thin the sprouts to allow 6 ” for the plants if you are going to continue to grow them. The picture above shows both stages. As a bonus, the plant sprouts pretty little white flowers, the seeds of which are also edible as a tea or spice.
An intercultural experience in your backyard garden?
Botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Spacing: 6-8″ for larger plants
Harvest: Sprouts, leaves and seeds
Conditions: Prefers warmth, sun and a well drained soil. No additional fertilizer needed in good soil.
Height: 1-2 ft.
You Can Grow that! is a collaborative effort on the part of a number of gardeners around the world. Each month they write a post specifically to help and encourage everyone to grow something. Find more posts by clicking on the logo above.
Categories: herbs, you can grow that
5 December 2014, by gj
So much of the corn being grown in the US is now genetically engineered by crossing it with e. coli, then doused heavily with pesticides.
Although you can find organic alternatives, if you have the room you can grow quite a lot of popcorn. Just 10 plants can yield anywhere from 4000-12000 kernels, in only an area about 12″ x 30″.
Choose a variety that is recommended for popping, here are a few to look at.
Grow like you would sweet corn, just don’t harvest as soon. Let the corn stay on the stalk until the plant starts to die off, or the ears begin to fall over. Leave in the husk to dry for about a week. The longer it dries the easier it is to get the kernels off, simply by pushing on them with your thumb. You can make it even simpler by twisting the cob or breaking it in half.
When the kernels are completely dry, just store in a food grade container.
How you pop it is up to you. It can be done in the microwave, but we prefer the old fashioned stove top method of popping it in just a little oil in a covered pot on med-high heat.
And just to be on the safe side, we also have a really old popcorn popper that can be used over an open flame, back from the days before Jiffy Pop and Monsanto; you know, when corn was just corn.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage others to grow something. Click on the logo above to read many more such posts.
Categories: corn, you can grow that
4 November 2014, by gj
When most people think of perennial edible plants, they probably think of apple trees and berry bushes, and that’s a great start. Fruit trees will bear for decades, berry bushes and canes give out new growth each year, grapes new vines, and even strawberries reproduce themselves providing younger, more vigorous plants.
But you don’t have to stop there if you want a lifetime of food. Plants such as asparagus and perennial onions never seem to stop coming back, and in fact, produce more. One horseradish root can provide you with more than you probably want. Be careful with these, they can be very invasive! Likewise, sunchokes aka Jerusalem artichokes. Although also invasive these have a bonus feature of producing lovely flowers that smell like chocolate.
Can you imagine?
Many herbs like sage, chives and thyme are perennial, others such as all the mint family including the balms and oregano, as well as dill, will reseed themselves. Our oregano bed is a good 10 years old and still going strong. The joke in this area is ‘Don’t trip carrying a pack of oregano seeds.’ Yep, it is that easy to grow, and that willing to spread.
Then there are the plants that give you something to put back, most in the form of seeds. The easiest example of this would be dry beans. With little effort on your part, you can purchase seeds once and never need to buy more. Forever.
You can save the seeds from many other edibles, just watch for cross pollination. Even then, a surprise once in a while is fun.
And it doesn’t stop there. You can replant some of the potatoes you harvest the following spring. Just be sure to start with a variety that holds well, and use the best of what you grew. Garlic is the same way, except that it gets planted just a few months after harvesting.
Let a few of your sweet potatoes start growing vines or ‘slips’ and you’ll be ready to grow another crop.
There are 3 ways new to us that we are trying this year to grow forever food. The first was to bring in a sweet pepper and an eggplant to see if we can keep them alive until spring and then bring back outside to start producing again.
The second is the parsnip experiment, shown above. We let a few roots go to seed, and the bed is now full of free plants. If they can get big enough to survive the winter, that’s one less thing we’ll need to plant.
If not, well we have a jar full of seeds.
The last was an accident. When harvesting some basil, we found a number of smaller plants that still had their roots on when pulled. They are now happily growing in a jar of water by the window, with no signs of giving up.
So what it comes down to is there is very little we need to buy to have a great harvest each year.
Of course, we still do. We just love trying new varieties.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage others to grow something. Click on the logo above to read many more such posts.
Categories: gardening, perennials, you can grow that
7 October 2014, by gj
An adjustable nozzle and 2 attached drainboards.
My husband purchased a garden sink as a birthday gift, he’s so sweet. He found it at Tractor Supply, and I just love it.
1. It saves time.
Instead of harvesting veggies and bringing them into the kitchen, they get a quick cleaning first. Now there is no longer a dirty kitchen sink to deal with, and less time spent chasing those freeloading bugs you sometimes find.
This particular sinks made by Vertex has 2 drainboards, so some trimming can also be done, and cuttings deposited in the composter that is right next to the sink.
2. It saves water.
It hooks directly to a garden hose. It also has a drain that goes into a bucket as shown, allowing for the water to be reclaimed back into the garden.
If you pay for your water use, this can also save money.
It even has a little shelf for a bar of soap. Aww.
3. It saves good garden soil.
No longer is soil washed into the septic tank, but along with the water it can be added back into the garden. Even cleaning the sink itself brings some more soil back.
Okay, it’s a little thing. But it’s a good little thing.
2 drainboards fold over to keep the sink free of fallen leaves.
4. It’s a toy.
Admit it. Chances are you like gardening toys.
With most hobbies, the ‘tools’ are part of the fun.
Just a note: You can find this sink and similar ones on Amazon, but you can also DIY a set-up of your own.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, tools and toys
30 August 2014, by gj
1. You can put garlic in anything.
Oh sure, we all know the most common foods, and this sign was just the beginning.
It went on from there to sauces, garlic-hot pepper jelly, oils and in case that wasn’t enough… garlic ice cream.
Yep, you read that right, and it was surprisingly not as bad as we expected.
2. That German White and Purple Stripe are two of the best varieties for colder climates.
Every farm stand that was selling garlic had at least these 2 selections. Both are hardneck and cold hardy, something we need here in the northeast and even up into Canada.
The Purple Stripe is also considered to be the ‘Grand-daddy of all garlic” in that it is thought to be the oldest type still around. Kind of neat, right?
3. You can freeze garlic.
And perhaps you should. Frozen garlic will hold its flavor better than refrigerated bulbs.
We never really thought about it before, but it does make sense. It certainly is easy enough to try.
4. That a garlic bed should be fertilized twice.
At planting time, here in zone 5/6 that is mid-October, and again when the ground thaws in the spring, add bone meal, blood meal and a fertilizer that is about 10-20-20. Of course that depends on your soil, but generally a good plan of action.
This summer we saw how well bone meal worked for our onions, so knew it would likewise be good for the garlic.
5. That some people will try anything.
Garlic is good for you, vinegar is good for you. Why not combine them, right?
Mandolin was just one of a number of people, men mostly, that tried the garlic vinegar. Perhaps it was the sign ‘More potent than Viagra’ that got their attention.
We’ll leave it at that. ;-D
Categories: gardening people, places & things, garlic
24 August 2014, by gj
We recently purchased 100 ears of corn from the local farmer and set about preserving it. Some of it was frozen on the cob, the rest we wanted to remove the kernels from the corn to can.
Here’s what we found with the tools we tested:
The one on the right made by Norpro we had heard about online. It did great for cream style corn, not so much for just kernels.
A similar tool made by Lee does much better, as you can see in this video.
The second tool is called The Corn Zipper. This one did a pretty good job of removing the kernels, although it tended to leave rows that had to be redone.
It also would have been very tedious with that many ears, but if you are just doing a few it is pretty handy.
Removing corn kernels using the Corn Zipper.
Since Mandolin Jones is a food service guy, he ended up just sharpening one of his knives and removing the kernels that way.
Removing corn kernels by a professional.
We did learn right away that this is very messy, so he soon took the process outside.
It is impressive how far that corn milk can splash!
Here is some of the finished product:
Well worth the effort.
Categories: gardening people, places & things
18 August 2014, by gj
The facility I work at has on site a pre-school program, government offices, a senior center, a playground and a little league ball field. It is a place where many local residents can find something to do.
Today, a 16 year old boy shot a younger boy playing nearby with an air BB gun, multiple times. The physical wounds were not severe, about a dozen welts to the arm and back.
The emotional wounds, for both boys, will last much longer.
When questioned by police the older boy reported that he had not taken his medication that morning, he has anger issues and sometimes does bad things without his medication.
Both boys are victims here, and I’ll explain why I say that.
We are spiritual beings in a chemical body. If you don’t have a religious faith, we are still chemical beings.
‘Carbon based life forms’ is what they called it on Star Trek, but that is exactly what we are.
When we hurt, when we are sad or happy, and when we are fearful or feel any other emotions, our brains and bodies secrete chemicals that flow throughout us.
Did you ever see a video of a child playing with puppies?
If you smiled and felt good, that was at least partially the result of your brain releasing a chemical called Serotonin into your body. Yeah, advertisers know this.
My background is not in horticulture but actually in psychology, and we’ve learned from studies and information gathered long ago that our minds react chemically, and also in other ways that is more difficult to understand. Many call that part the ‘soul’.
In the recent example of Robin Williams, I believe he was a soul tortured by what the chemical processes were doing inside his body. Depression causes a known chemical reaction in the body. The same is true for anger issues and many other deviations from what we might consider the average.
Note I don’t use the term ‘normal’.
So what has happened to our children that we now see a young person go out and harm someone defenseless?
Sandy Hook, Columbine… plus there are many other incidences, like the one here, that you never hear of.
I grew up in the town where I work, and I don’t remember ever hearing of anything other than normal growing pains amongst kids.
What has changed in the past 40-some years? Well, a lot; but one of the main things is our diet.
“You are what you eat” or more literally, “Man is as he eats” was quoted almost 200 years ago by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.
Most of what we eat today is meat filled with the chemicals secreted by fear, suffering, maltreatment and pain. With few exceptions, our burgers and eggs are heavily dosed with antibiotics and the feed these animals are given is laden with pesticides. Man made chemicals are also found on a lot of the produce we consume.
We’re feeding this to our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews and step-children.
I understand it is easier to get and afford these ‘foods’ than the better alternative, but all of us can make a few choices, easy choices really, to change this.
I’ll post that tomorrow, right now I need to take a walk in the garden to help put it all in perspective.
Tomorrow I’ll post what I think we can all do to help change this, from the easy to the more involved.
I hope you will share that post as much as you can… this has got to stop.
For now, thanks for listening. <3
Categories: gardening people, places & things, special posts, you are what you eat
4 August 2014, by gj
4 Varieties with different colors, flavors, and storage potential.
This year, we did the math.
Onion plants from Dixondale Farms, 6 bunches: $30.72
The more bunches you buy, the lower the cost.
If you don’t want a lot, see if a friend will go in on an order with you.
Harvest: 43 pounds.
Note that this does not include the quart of roasted green onion tops, nor the ones we pulled early as scallions, or the ones we gave to our daughter to plant.
Soil Amendment: Free horse manure and about 50 cents worth of bone meal. Though that’s probably an over estimate.
Recently our local organic market had onions on sale for $3.69 for a 3 pound bag.
Plain yellow onions, no choice of variety.
No freedom to choose based on flavor and storage capability.
No green tops!
The freshness and freedom to grow the kinds of onions you want organically, plus the perks of roasted tops?
You Can Grow That! is a monthly collaborative effort by garden writers around the world to encourage others to grow something.
Categories: saving money & time, you can grow that
3 July 2014, by gj
Early light harvest of greens while zucchini heads up vertically.
Since you are reading this you are probably already a gardener, congrats!
Perhaps you have a lot of space that you would like to optimize, or maybe you just want to get more from a smaller area.
There are gardening techniques that have been around for thousands of years that can help you do just that.
25 corn plants with bush and pole beans
Intensive gardening is a technique that incolves planting veggies close together, even in the shade of one another, to get more from the space. Of course you will need to be diligent so as to not have disease issues, and to be sure all plants have the water and nutrients they need.
Succession planting allows you to replenish then refill up spaces as they open.
So you have pulled those early planted carrots, how much time do you have for another crop?
Growing vertically, from the typical peas and beans to the more unusual squash and melons adds even more bounty in the same space.
Keeping plants warm in early spring.
When you utilize season extenders like those pictured above, you can increase the quantity you harvest by as much as 50% here in the zone 5/6 area. The actual amount depends on your climate.
That’s a lot.
These pics are of the test model of a garden system we designed primarily for those in suburban areas, but with everyone in mind.
After 3 years of testing we found we can pretty much double our harvest by using the techniques mentioned above, as well as the built in critter protection.
10 tomato plants with basil below.
Now we don’t want to be a commercial on our blog.
If you would like to learn more, click here.
In the meantime, know that however much space you have, there are fun and really easy ways to make the most of that.
More veggies? Yeah…
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world who want to help everyone enjoy growing.
For more posts on other gardening topics, just click on the logo above.
Categories: gardening, techniques, you can grow that