gardening people, places & things
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
15 June 2014, by gj
Social media has afforded us the wonderful opportunity to e-meet other gardeners and talented individuals; some of whose paths we otherwise might have never crossed.
We do so enjoy introducing them to you in our Sundays in the Garden series.
So without further eloquence, please meet one of our equaintances, Christina Kamp~
Hi, Gardening Jones and friends.
Here in Oklahoma we run a family childcare home, Little Sprouts Learning Garden. We have kids ages 1-11, and know that what kids eat is incredibly important to their growth and development.
We also feel that what is in our food supply is alarming, so for the past three years have taught the kids to grow chemical free food for themselves.
They are learning skills they can use for a lifetime.
In addition to the other activities we do at Little Sprouts, the garden teaches the kids social interaction, math, reading, and endless science lessons, so it’s a big part of what we do each day.
It also helps keep the kids active in a world where video games, computers, and television are king.
The benefits of gardening carry over into every area of learning, so it’s an amazing activity to do with kids.
Children are 80% more likely to try a food they helped grow, and that’s helping these Little Sprouts learn to like a whole lot more things than they did before we started the garden.
The kids also learn to cook, which encourages them to try new things.
The changes in them, and me, are amazing!
Childhood obesity and diet related illnesses are increasing in epic proportions. We need to do something now to change the future, especially here in the United States. The art of gardening, until recently has been dying slowly over time. It’s a skill that we can’t lose. We need it.
Look what we grew!
Our journey toward better food has been fun. I would LOVE to help other childcare providers, teachers, and others who work with kids to start gardens.
We have a book about our trials, failures and successes that hopefully will be published soon, that would help get the information people need to do that.
There is also information about it on a new blog called Little Sprouts Learning.
You can find us on Facebook for updates.
We would love for you to join us in our journey!
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
3 June 2014, by gj
Perfect little harvest.
Newer to many home gardens than its brassica relatives, broccoli raab is gaining favor rapidly.
And for good reason.
Like cauliflower, cabbage and of course broccoli, you can start the seeds indoors to be ready to transplant about a month before the last spring frosts.
Similarly, it prefers cool weather and is perfect for that spot in the garden that gets a wee bit more shade than the rest.
See the numerous side shoots?
It has a few advantages over the others, especially broccoli which has always been difficult for us to time just right.
Actually, that is one of the pros of broccoli raab; the timing doesn’t matter much.
You see, you can eat the mini heads even if they have started to flower. Just harvest the heads as they begin to mature.
Or, you can pick the entire plant when the heads first appear, and enjoy stem, leaves, shoots and all.
Small heads beginning to flower.
It is also a heck of a lot faster from seed to table.
We planted our transplants out at the end of April, and they were ready to harvest in just 4 weeks.
Seriously, the other transplants were just coming out of transplant shock.
We found the flavor to be much milder than broccoli, so it is a good intro veggie for young ones and those who do not favor broccoli.
Whether you have had issues growing broccoli, have a short season, a small garden or are in a hurry to get some good eating, give broccoli raab a try.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort on the part of garden writers around the world, to simply help others learn to grow. For more fun reads, click on the logo above.
Botanical name: Brassica rapa
Common names: broccoli raab, rabe, broccoletti
Hardiness: Prefers the cool. Transplant out early or direct seed well into spring and again in the fall. May over winter in some areas.
Days to maturity: From transplants 4 weeks, direct seed 6 weeks.
Height: About 24″
Seed source: Open pollinated.
Use: Culinary. Use the leaves, stems and heads as you would beet or turnip tops; raw in salads or cooked.
Categories: broccoli raab, you can grow that
31 May 2014, by gj
Photo by Sally Getz of part of her garden.
There are times when no sooner does a seed get planted than the battle with critters begins.
My Facebook friend Sally Getz of Colorado had been facing an annual mass seed theft in her garden until she came up with the fabulous idea.
She purchased cheap clear plastic cups from a dollar store.
After planting and watering her seeds, she dug in a cup over each one, bringing more soil around the cup to hold it in place and not let the winds blow it over.
She kept them watered as needed.
Not only did the cups protect the seeds, they acted as mini-cloches to keep the seeds warm and moist.
Of course this helped them sprout sooner.
Sally is one really determined gardener, she did this for over 800 seeds.
No replanting this year and we hope it will be her best garden ever
You grow girl!
Categories: gardening people, places & things, techniques
4 May 2014, by gj
Aww, isn’t it a cute little thing?
There are numerous varieties of basil, including Lime and Lemon, Thai, Cinnamon, Italian Large Leaf and even Bazel Warv.
Admittedly, you can’t actually grow that last one.
But when we came across this Basil Bonsai, it looked almost like a plant from science fiction.
It is an ornamental and edible grafted plant that has the trunk of a bonsai tree and the top portion of a fine leaf basil.
This combination allows you to have fresh basil all year round, no matter what your climate.
And, well, it is cool to look at.
Great taste awaits.
Plant grafting can afford the gardener some great opportunities.
Our gardens sport a number of grafted fruit trees for example. One pear tree produces three different types of fruit in a much smaller area than three trees would.
For trees that need more than one variety for pollination reasons, these 3 in One or All in One fit the bill.
But back to the basil.
Be careful when transplanting.
Like any plant that is grafted, be sure the area where the plants meet remains above the soil line.
Otherwise the plant will grow new roots and go back to its original state.
It is easy to see where the graft is in the picture below.
Where green basil stem meets brown bonsai trunk.
So far our bonsai is only a few weeks old, and standing a little over 5 inches high. They can get to about 12″ or so tall.
The directions suggested it be harvested lightly and from below, eventually creating a dome shape on top.
We’re adding this post to the category The Experiments, and will keep you posted.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort on the 4th. day of each month among gardeners around the world to encourage everyone to grow something.
Find more posts by clicking on the logo above.
And then go ahead and grow something!
Categories: The Experiments, you can grow that
4 April 2014, by gj
It was about 3 years ago that I brought home a curry plant from the local nursery.
My husband giggled “You can’t grow curry.” he said, “Curry is a combination of herbs and spices.”
Of course it turned out he was right; after all, food is his field. Apparently what I had purchased was a delightfully smelling ornamental plant. Drat.
But telling me “You can’t” do anything only makes it a challenge, and I finally figured out that you really can grow curry.
Well, close enough.
It started out with me trying to grow as many of our own herbs and flavorings as possible.
Some, like mints, are simple. Others, like garlic, take a little more work. Still others, like ginger, take more know-how and time.
As the seasons came and went, there was less and less from the store on our herb shelves and more from the garden.
Still that curry thing bothered me.
Until recently that is, when I actually read the list of ingredients from the back of the bottle, given in order of amount:
Coriander- A No brainer. How often do gardeners complain their cilantro has bolted? Yep, those little seeds are coriander. We got this one!
Turmeric- Okay, it is getting a little harder. Turmeric is a root that takes almost as long to grow as ginger, specifically about 8 months. It is a perennial in zones 9-11, but like ginger it can be grown indoors in colder zones like we have. You can sometimes find it fresh at Asian or India food supply stores and in some markets. I couldn’t find it locally, but was able to order some from Amazon.com. The price wasn’t too bad, and you can replant some of what you harvest so it is a one time purchase.
Mustard- It doesn’t say on the bottle of store bought curry, but most often it is the mustard seed that is used as a spice. All we need to do is let it bolt and harvest the seed. Now we’re talking!!
Cumin- This relative of parsley is a new herb for our garden this year. It is often confused with the biennial caraway, but cumin is actually an annual plant. It can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked, so here it will be going in the ground this weekend. What you harvest are also the seed heads. We will be posting more on all of these as the season progresses, hopefully with lots of pictures!
Fenugreek- Another new one for us. This should be a fun season! Also easy to grow, prep your seeds first by soaking (we recommend Moo Poo Tea, link above right) or scarify. Soaking is much easier. Fenugreek will be great because both the leaves and seeds are edible.
Paprika- Another easy one. Paprika is simply a dried and powdered pepper from the group Capsicum annuum. These can range from sweet to rather hot. I’ll let him decide which ones he want to use, as we are growing quite a variety of peppers this year.
Cayenne- This seemed a little redundant to me, but I guess they are looking for a cayenne specifically. Yeah, we have that covered as well.
Cardamon- This very expensive herb actually can be grown at home. I have read that you can plant the brown type found in the grocery store, but I don’t know if that is true. Instead I found seeds online; after all, I’ve gone this far I can almost taste victory! It looks like another plant that may need some special attention, but that’s okay by me.
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cloves- What? No! All 3 of these, the least of the ingredients, are derived from trees; and ones that I highly doubt grow in our area. When I looked up a substitute for nutmeg, it said cinnamon. When I did a search on a substitute for cinnamon, I found cloves.
It began to look like I really couldn’t grow curry after all.
Until my husband read this post on varieties of basil.
“There’s a Cinnamon Basil?” he asked. “You should grow that!”
“Why would you want cinnamon basil? I responded, “That sounds like an odd combination to me.”
“No, they are great together. When I use curry powder, I always add some basil. I love the way they taste together.”
So there you have it my friends, never say “You can’t grow that” to a gardener.
Unless, of course, you want them to prove you wrong.
We will post updates on the plants throughout the season. When we make the curry powder, we will add that recipe to our recently revived foodie blog page here.
Of course, we will also add some recipes that feature curry.
We’re betting this will taste much better than the store bought stuff.
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, preparedness, saving money & time, you can grow that