gardening people, places & things
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
9 March 2014, by gj
Saving the world one step at a time.
Many of you have heard us mention our youngest daughter, but we never explained why we chose her nickname.
When she was little, she used to pretend our backyard was a continent filled with many countries. When disputes would break out between them, she would negotiate peace. Of course each country had its own language which she made up, and it helped that she could speak them all.
As she grew she always took the best road. She found out which companies had good trade practices, and would purchase from them and not from others. She would buy from the shoe company that gave another pair to the needy. She even planted a garden for the sole purpose of giving the food away.
Flash forward to her freshman year in college, when she is invited to present her work on Conflict Resolution Between Countries at a conference, rubbing elbows with people who at the very least are in a master’s program, many of whom have their doctorate. And it goes on from there.
I could sit here and brag about her GPA, or how many languages she speaks and how many majors she has, but I won’t.
Instead I would like to show you something she sent to family and friends as her birthday approaches:
“For those of you who would have bought me a drink on my 21st, I would *really* appreciate, in lieu of alcohol, a donation to help send young girls in India to get an education.
The Child Brides: Send Them to School instead
Her concern for these young girls far outweighs any thought for herself. It truly is just that simple.
And that my friends, is how she got her name.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
23 February 2014, by gj
Shawn isn’t finished with college quite yet, but already he owns his own garden products business and has invented something we thought many of you might find interesting.
Along with his business partner Michelle Mendez, Shawn designed a way to make planters from cork. These lightweight pots are better than plastic because they allow air to get to the soil, and better than traditional clay since cork has natural antibacterial properties.
A local news station featured them, take a look at the video here on Besta Cork.
You can see just how the pots are made by hand, it is really neat.
The planters are also good for the cork trees, as removing their bark is akin to shearing sheep.
If you are looking for a unique gift, Corkit pots can also be purchased with a Sprout pencil. Plant the eraser end, and it degrades releasing seeds. How fun is that!
Note: No compensation was received for writing this post, we just thought we would share something pretty cool.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
4 February 2014, by gj
You Can Grow That! is a wonderful group of garden writers led by C. L. Fornari whose mission is to take a few minutes each month to encourage others to garden.
Occasionally C. L. will have an optional topic suggestion, and I’m sure when she posted this one her intention was to have others actually insert the name of the town they live in.
But that’s where the snag came in. You see, we don’t live in a town, not even close.
We live in an Unincorporated Community of somewhere around 5000 people.
Small ‘town’ living doesn’t get much smaller than that.
We put in a roadside garden.
We have a grocery store, 2 churches and a post office. We even have a dollar store.
We have no sidewalks or street lights. We don’t even have a traffic light.
You could probably fit all the stop signs in the back of your truck.
Of course, the police would make you put them back.
The bank is in the same building as the farm & garden; you get the idea.
One neighbor grew a fence.
So how could we put up a post on this topic?
Then the idea struck… let’s turn this over to you.
Go ahead, insert the name of the town you live in.
How could you make where you live more beautiful?
Perhaps you can get other gardeners to Plant a Row for the Hungry, or start a community garden.
How about starting an annual Seed Swap Day or Plant Exchange.
Maybe form a Garden Club that will spruce up some of the local community areas.
(We don’t have those either.)
And another decorated theirs.
What do you say?
Where are you from, how’s the weather, & what are your thoughts on the subject?
We would love to hear what you think!
Click on the link to read more You Can Grow That! posts.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, you can grow that
4 January 2014, by gj
Easy to grow, nutritious and delicious.
If you have seen Forks Over Knives then you know of the overwhelming amount of evidence that shows consuming 20% or less of your protein intake from animal products can stop and even reverse health issues, as well as promote weight loss.
They’re not talking mild issues either, but rather heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers.
Okay, I know, I know… Bacon.
That’s what we thought, too. But it has been almost 2 years now since we decided to limit meat to once per week, and almost 1 1/4 years since we decided we really didn’t want it at all anymore.
Perhaps being a cook and a gardener, making the change was a tad easier.
Still there are many books out there, including a few by the cast members of the documentary, that will help making that switch to be easier and very delicious.
Once you see how much better you look and feel, well- even Bacon just does not hold up.
So what foods can you grow to keep this a tasty and healthy lifestyle change?
Pert near anything, actually.
Most veggies have a good amount of protein in them.
The highest numbers are found in beans, peas and legumes; especially in dried beans.
Think you’ll miss the bacon in your homegrown baked beans?
Probably not, but in the beginning try adding a smoked salt, Liquid Smoke, or Truffle oil to get that smoked flavor.
You won’t want to ever go back.
Soy is a member of the legume family, and often processed soy is substituted for meat. If you buy it, look for Non-GMO labels.
You can grow your own soybeans and enjoy them roasted in the form of edamame.
Nut trees will also provide a delightful abundance of vegetable protein. Check to see what is hardy in your area.
Quinoa (pron Keen-wa) has the most complex proteins of any veggie, similar to meat.
It is a relative of spinach, which is also high in protein when it is cooked down. You can grow it and harvest the seed, if you live in a cooler climate and have the room.
If you have the space and love a new seed to try out, go for it!
Really, even though getting enough protein is what concerns most people new to limiting their intake of meat, it probably will never be an issue.
Think about it… if we couldn’t get enough easily from plants, wouldn’t all animals be meat eaters?
The only way Mandolin will eat beets.
If you have thought of limiting your meat intake, or even becoming vegetarian or vegan, this is what we would suggest:
1. Never say never.
Start off easy, and give yourself one day each week to eat whatever meat you want. After a while, you may just lose interest. Even if you don’t, you are still better off.
2. Be creative.
Eating is one of the few basic human needs we enjoy in public. Have fun with your dishes. Experiment. Share.
3. Grow what you can.
You know it will taste better if it is homegrown.
4. Don’t be defensive.
We did find that some people react strongly when you tell them you are giving up or even limiting meat in your diet. Don’t let them get to you.
The simplest answer when they ask “Why?” is
“For my health.”
For some reason, that does not bother them and after all, it really is the truth.
You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to help others learn to grow.
Click on the link above for more.
Categories: you are what you eat, you can grow that
3 December 2013, by gj
Day 2 and already well on the way.
Recently we were out at a local market when I came upon this neat plastic lid that you simply place on a wide mouth canning jar to turn it into a sprouting system.
After reading a lot on the subject, I discovered that as long as you keep your sprouts well rinsed and refrigerated after they are ready, they are safe to grow at home and extremely healthy for you.
You just place a small amount of sprouting seeds in a jar, add water, and let sit overnight in the dark.
The next morning you begin to rinse them 2-3 times per day, tilting the jar to let out any extra moisture, and keeping it covered.
Day 4, almost ready.
Rinse heavily when they are ready, to remove any leftover seed hulls.
Let ‘green up’ in indirect sunlight for a day.
You can choose specific seeds for particular health benefits or flavor, or try a mix at first like we did.
Caution: Check to be sure the seeds you use are meant to be used for sprouting, or at least have a very high germination rate. Unsprouted seeds, according to the manual we purchased, may ferment and spoil the whole batch.
We really enjoyed these sprouts on our Thanksgiving Day salad, with fresh greens and carrots from the garden.
Knowing you are giving your family something healthy that you grew yourself, really is something to be thankful for.
And a healthier year ahead? Yeppers- you can grow that too!
This post is a part of a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to help others learn to grow.
Click on the link above for more posts.
Categories: all about seeds, How to Grow, you can grow that
24 November 2013, by gj
Picture a beautiful sunny day on a California ranch, with horses pulling plows through the fields and cows grazing in the grassy meadows, and that’s the setting where you’ll find Annie Haven.
For generations her family grew plants for seed, and were one of the major suppliers in the U.S.
They used the manure from their ranch animals to nourish and replenish the soil. They ‘brewed’ the manure in large vats, in big sacks the size of pillowcases.
Now this wonderful, all natural, eco-friendly and amazing product is available to the small grower.
We first heard about ‘Moo Poo Tea’ on social media, and everyone was raving about the results they got from it.
So we ordered some to see for ourselves.
The plants did great, so this past summer we decided to do a side-by-side comparison.
Early in the season we brewed some tea and poured it onto one side of the parsnip bed. Mid-season, we did it again.
To be honest, we were shocked by the difference:
Let me just say that Annie knew nothing about this trial, we ordered under our real names and didn’t say anything until we saw the results for ourselves.
We liked it so much that we put her ad on this site.
One of only two, yeah- we are that picky about ads.
But don’t just take our word for it, check out the pinterest link and also hear her interview with Mike the Gardener by using the links below.
Oh and by the way, it does wonders for houseplants too.
Perhaps ours will actually survive this year.
A pic is worth a bunch of words.
Listen to Annie tell the full story.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
10 November 2013, by gj
My parents grew up in the same small town, and both sides of the family were only a few blocks from each other.
My Great Uncle, one of only a handful of men to serve in both World Wars, was by trade a florist, as was his father.
He lived in the same house as my Dad’s parents, and every Sunday after church we would go over to visit them.
Early spring by the flower garden.
He was a wonderful man, soft spoken and funny, and as a gardener always happy to show what was in bloom. There was also a vegetable garden, and that was where I first saw a tomato growing.
Where the gardens used to be.
He has been gone many years now, and yesterday we took on the task of cleaning out the basement where he used to can.
Still looking pretty good.
It was only a few years before he passed that he stopped putting food by. I remember him showing me once how he did it, I was fascinated.
My parents made jam, but you could can tomato sauce and sauerbraten? That was probably the moment I became hooked on growing food.
His stove, our stove.
The stove he used is now coming, piece by piece, to our house.
It’s wonderful to have something that was such a part of his life in ours, that connection to another person and to the past.
Just part of the larder.
As our work party did their thing, it made me sad.
When the basement is done, that’s it. No more Unc.
I thought to myself that what I would really like to find, other than just things, would be some kind of handwritten notes about his garden.
I kid you not, in the very next stack of seed catalogs I picked up, this was sticking out just enough for me to see:
My heart was touched and it made me smile, he was there. He was a part of what I was feeling.
Then I chuckled as it hit me- apparently, he never knew you could overwinter parsnips.
Categories: gardening people, places & things, sundays in the garden
4 November 2013, by gj
Fall is the time of year when many people’s thoughts turn towards expressing gratitude for what they have, and to giving to others.
Commercialism aside, gardening affords you the greatest opportunities to do just that.
Whether it is bringing a small basket of fresh produce to the elderly woman down the street who can no longer grow a garden; or a dozen eggs to the disabled vet next door who not only enjoys them himself, but loves to share with his dog; being able to give really is more rewarding than receiving.
Plenty to share.
It means you have more than enough, that you think of others and care about them, and your heart grows bigger with each act.
Whether you share produce, pickles or seeds, or even just the information to help others grow their own, it is a wonderful way to connect and improve someone’s life every day.
This is a lesson I have learned well these past few years blogging.
What began as a simple attempt to share what I know about growing food, has given me in return wonderful new friendships and connections, a whole lot more information, and expressions of gratitude that truly touch my heart.
“What do you get out of this blogging thing?” a more cynical acquaintance asked me recently. “Look at how much time you spend, what’s in it for you?”
“Much more than I could ever have dreamed.”
This post is a part of a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world.
Click on the link above to read more.
Want a very simple way to give?
When you read a post that teaches you, uplifts you, or just makes you laugh- share it using the icons below, or share from another source.
You are not only changing someone else’s life, you’re making yours better too.
Even if you don’t see it right a way, trust me.
It is a bonus to be truly thankful for.
Categories: special posts, you can grow that
26 October 2013, by gj
Please read Part 1 here.
Dianthus Maiden Pinks
Plants area divided into three groups namely Annual, Biennial, and Perennial. The lesser known Biennials develop as a plant the first year, surviving the winter, and producing flowers the second year. Two examples of biennial are Digitalis also known as Foxglove and a Dianthus variety know as Sweet William. These plants survive by producing thousands of seeds which are scattered around where the plant is growing and some being carried by the wind. Only a few plants are reproduced from this large quantity of seed but obviously enough to insure the plants survival.
Next we have Annuals which everyone is familiar with. These plants are grown mainly from seed saved from plants grown for that purpose and placed on sale at your local garden center. Annuals normally bloom all season until killed by frost or freezing conditions and have to be replaced every spring.
Finally we have Perennials which survive the winter months and reproduces from their roots when the soil becomes warm in the spring. Most perennials however only bloom for a short period of time. Some bloom in the Spring, some in Mid Summer, while others bloom in the Fall .In addition the perennials are divided into hardiness zones determined by the average high and low temperature for your region of the country. The hardiness zones have been established by USDA and range from zone 10 at the southern tip of Florida to zone 1 at the northern tip of Alaska. When a perennial plant is listed as such it must include its hardiness zone. Otherwise if it is not hardy for where you live it will not survive the winter, or the summer. The hardiness number not only tells you what freezing temperature the plant can tolerate but also under what conditions of heat. Some plants are cool weather plants which cannot survive hot weather such as found in the southern part of the country while others are tropical and cannot survive cold climates.
Now that we have established all these facts let’s see if we can figure out why all of this occurs.
Every living thing that we see is made of molecules that are joined together in such a way that we recognize them by the light waves they emit. Each different thing having a different molecular configuration than any other. These “things”, such as plants, are held together in some cases strongly like perennials and in other cases loosely like in annuals. When plants are subjected to extremes in temperature, either freezing or heating, they expand. This expansion can cause the molecular bonding to be torn apart to the degree as to destroy the plant which leads to its death.
In conclusion: Even though perennials are labeled as such doesn’t mean they will live forever. Even among perennials, some are short lived and others can last for decades. This is determined by the degree to which the strength of a plants molecular structure is held together, and what a native plant looks like was determined by its ability to adapt to changes in the earths evolution and its ability to reproduce itself.
Walter Kunz MG
Categories: gardening people, places & things, plant problems