25 January 2013, by gj
Many gardeners find themselves limited as to what they can grow.
It might be because of the amount of room they have, the free time to spend in the garden, or the physical demand a garden requires.
Of course there are gardening techniques and practices that can help in each of these areas.
For today though, let’s look at how to decide what to plant, and what not to. It all depends really on what you want your garden to provide:
1. Financial savings. If saving money is your top priority, you are not alone. So what veggies are expensive in the stores but easy to grow? Raspberries would probably top the list, expensive mainly because they are difficult to ship. Herbs are another food item that can be quite pricey, yet most do well in pots or hanging planters. For some odd reason lettuce has become expensive, at least in our area. A small head sells for almost $2, are they serious? Conversely, dry beans and potatoes are relatively inexpensive all year.
2. Fresh eating or long term storage. Are you mainly looking for a variety of fresh produce or do you want to load up the pantry shelves? If its the former, then one or two tomato plants, a variety of fresh greens, one cucumber, peas and beans growing up a trellis, etc. can provide you with a mini produce department from spring until fall. If winter storage is the goal, potatoes, garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes can be held through most of the winter. Dry beans will last for years, and there are pole varieties that save space.
cold holding sweet potatoes and squash
3. Self Sufficiency. If your concern is more for the future you would probably want to plant heirloom and open pollinated varieties of plants, so the saved seeds will continue to produce true to the parent. A variety of veggies that includes at least one protein, such as a dry bean, will offer the most nutrition per garden. Shoot for color- orange sweet potatoes, carrots or squash, a red tomato or berry, purple eggplants and dark green broccoli. This will arm you with a good balance of vitamins in your diet. Also consider some perennials plants or those that can be replanted like onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
4. Food Safety. This is becoming an increasing concern for many, and is one of the reasons they are turning to their own yards. Some of the veggies with the highest levels of pesticides were found by the FDA and USDA to be Celery, Peaches, Strawberries, Apples, Blueberries (Domestic), Nectarines, Sweet Peppers, Spinach, Kale & Collards, Cherries, Potatoes, Grapes (Imported), Lettuce, Blueberries, and Carrots. Here’s the complete list.
This list is now 5 years old, and since then I have read that summer squash is also loaded with pesticides. Geesh.
In addition GE corn, which is now headed to some markets, is very heavily sprayed with pesticides. If you’re looking to grow food that is safer to eat, keep this in mind.
choose organic what you can
This subject came up a few times lately, and after much consideration here’s what we would grow if for some reason we had to downsize:
A few raspberry canes, 2 blueberry bushes, 1 small vining summer & 2 winter squash and peas & beans on trellises, carrots, kale, a few strawberry plants, ‘garbage can’ potatoes, pole dry beans and 2 celery plants. If there was room, then a tomato or two.
We would buy organic corn just to be safe.
How and what would you choose?
Categories: faq's, gardening, organic, preparedness, saving money & time, you are what you eat
14 December 2012, by gj
There are plenty of jokes and stories about pregnant women and what they crave, but unless you eat a perfect diet and live a perfect life, you most likely crave foods as well.
Cravings fall into two basic categories: physical and emotional.
“I’m craving meat” I told Mandolin recently, “I don’t want to eat meat, but my body is telling me to.”
“You probably need protein” he responded, “not meat, just the protein.”
covering both bases
At first I figured he was right, I hadn’t been eating a healthy balance. Then I remembered, I also had a hankering for some beets.
What do meat and beets have in common? Okay, yes- they rhyme, but that’s not what I’m looking at.
Iron. That’s probably what my body was trying to tell me it needed.
Sure enough I felt better after making sure to include some iron in my diet.
Have you ever found yourself craving something with lots of garlic and onions? It’s quite likely your body was trying to fight an oncoming cold- garlic has natural antibiotic properties, and both of these alliums will boost your immune system.
The other type of food craving is emotional, but even this is your body trying to talk to you.
Craving chocolate? This delightful substance actually causes your body to release serotonin, making your mood improve.
Holding a puppy does the same thing, but with less calories.
it is easier than it looks
If your cravings lean more toward comfort foods, that may signal some emotional need in your life that’s not being met. Don’t deal with it by eating pizza.
Try yoga instead, you’ll be surprised. It improves your overall sense of well being,
IMHO our bodies know what they need. Since you are here reading, you probably have already gotten rid of most of the garbage in your diet. Good for you! I think that makes it harder for your body to communicate with you.
So the next time you open the fridge or cupboard, and you’re not really hungry, listen.
The next time you have a craving, pay attention.
Figure out what your body is saying- after all, you do speak the same language.
Here are some tools to help:
More on the benefits of onions and garlic.
On eating organically.
Nutrition Analysis Tool will tell you what is in the food you eat.
Information on types of vitamins and their purpose.
Categories: organic, you are what you eat
12 August 2012, by gj
may as well get the good stuff
Buying organic is not always more expensive, if you take the time to compare prices- and use a little creativity.
from lemon to freezer
There is a store about 35 miles from us that has a wonderful selection of organic produce; our local market doesn’t carry any. So when we happen to be in that area we try to stock up.
Recently they had organic lemons 2 pounds for $4.99. Nine lemons is a lot to buy all at once, but the price was about the same per pound as our local store’s non-organic.
We even looked in a Wal-mart to compare the price and their non-organic were 50 cents each, so again about the same.
like the yellow, not the white
Here’s where it gets better. Dried Lemon Zest in the spice aisle was about $6 per ounce.
So here’s how you can beat that-
Grate the lemon peel being careful not to get the white pith underneath, that stuff is nasty.
simple and shelf stable
You can freeze that for recipes that call for freshly grated peel, or dry for those that have lemon zest as an ingredient- that is all it is, dried lemon peel.
Drying is easy enough, spread out on a pan and either let stand out overnight, place in an oven on lowest temperature until dry (about 15-20 minutes), or set out in the sun until dry.
You can use a microwave too, but I’ve never tried that.
push down and twist
We weighed the end result and the organic lemon zest cost about $5 per ounce.
There is the side benefit of fresh squeezed lemon juice as well.
Each of our lemons produced about ¼ cup of juice, which we froze in ice cube trays to use as needed.
fresh squeezed lemon juice
Organic lemon zest, freshly grated peel, and juice for less than buying them already prepared- and even less than making it with non-organic lemons.
Now we just need to pick up another bag when we are near that store next, and try our hand at candied citron.
You got to love it.
2 tablespoon per cube
Categories: drying-roasting, freezing, organic, saving money & time