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Monday, February 14, 2011

Easy Indoor Composting (video)

 I find it so disturbing to throw away my used coffee grounds, apple peelings, carrot heads, etc. etc because it's the stuff rich, fertile veggie garden soil is made of....okay, so I'm weird.... but that's another story......anyway  I found this video and thought I'd share it with my fellow Old Hippies.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Plastic Milk Carton Mini Green Houses ~Fabulous Idea

NOTE: You might want to mute the video.....LOL




Groovy Baby

Solar Heat For Plants~Clever Way To Recycle Plastic Soda Bottles

How To Make Garden 'Grow-Bags'

Well, it's that time of year  again.  Time to start planing my veggie garden. This is year three of my 'learning-via-mistakes' experiment and heaven knows, I've made some real doozies  but I've also learned quit a bit too...plus, it's been fun, fascinating and interesting.

Last year I discovered 'grow-bags' at one of those chain hardware stores. Because of my limited physical abilities (back surgeries, spinal fusions) I can not dig a traditional garden nor lift more than 5 Lbs. so if I want to grew veggies, which I do I need to look for a less physically demanding method. Grow Bags look to be the answer but they are pretty darn pricey. A great idea but for me they are cost prohibitive -so- I did what I always do, surf the web looking for ideas on how to get what I need for next to nothing. Not because I'm cheap, to be perfectly frank, I am dirt poor: Here's what I've found:




For a wealth of info & advice visit: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/

Top Ten Most Nutritious Vegetables and How to Grow Them in Your Garden | Food Freedom

Top Ten Most Nutritious Vegetables and How to Grow Them in Your Garden | Food Freedom




By Colleen Vanderlinden
Treehugger

A perfectly ripe, juicy tomato, still warm from the sun. Sweet carrots, pulled from the garden minutes (or even seconds!) before they’re eaten. Growing your own vegetables is one of those activities that balances practicality and indulgence. In addition to the convenience of having the fixings for a salad or light supper right outside your door (or on your windowsill), when you grow your own vegetables, you’re getting the most nutritional bang for your buck as well. Vegetables start losing nutrients as soon as they’re harvested, and quality diminishes as sugars are turned into starches. For the tastiest veggies with the best nutrition, try growing a few of these nutrient-dense foods in your own garden.
And don’t let the lack of a yard stop you – all of them can be grown in containers as well.

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is high in calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as Vitamin A, B6, and C. In fact, one cup of raw broccoli florets provides 130% of your daily Vitamin C requirement.
  • How to Grow Broccoli
  • Grow Broccoli in Containers: One broccoli plant per pot, pots should be 12 to 16 inches deep.
  • What to Watch Out For: Cabbage worm. If you start seeing pretty white butterflies fluttering around your broccoli, you’re guaranteed to start seeing little green worms all over your broccoli plants. To avoid this, cover your broccoli plants with floating row cover or lightweight bed sheets. If you start seeing cabbage worms, simply pick them off by hand.

2. Peas

There is nothing like peas grown right in your own garden – the tender sweetness of a snap pea just plucked from the vine is unlike anything you can buy in at a store. Aside from being absolutely delicious, peas are high in fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin A, B6, and C.
  • How to Grow Peas
  • Grow Peas in Containers: Sow peas approximately 2 inches apart in a pot that is at least 10 inches deep. Provide support for peas to climb up.
  • What to Watch Out For: Hot weather. Once the weather turns hot, pea production will pretty much shut down. Grow peas in early spring and late summer/autumn, or any time of year when temperatures are consistently between 40 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Beans (especially navy beans, great northern beans, kidney beans)

While snap beans (green beans/wax beans) are a great addition to any garden, it’s the beans we grow as dried beans that are real nutritional powerhouses. Dry beans, in general, are high in iron, fiber, manganese, and phosphorous.
  • How to Grow Beans
  • Grow Beans in Containers: Bush beans are your best option for growing in containers. Plant beans four inches apart in a container that is at least 12 inches deep.
  • What to Watch Out For: Harvest at the right time. Harvest dry beans when the pods have completely dried on the vine. The pods should be light brown, and you should be able to feel the hard beans inside. Shell the beans, and let them sit out a few days to ensure that they’re completely dry before storing them in jars in a cool, dark, dry place.
brusselstompepper.jpgPhoto Credits (left to right): norwichnuts, photon, S. Diddy, via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

4. Brussels Sprouts

The bane of many a childhood, Brussels sprouts get a bad wrap mostly due to overcooking. When prepared right, Brussels sprouts are sweet, tender, and delicious. They also provide tons of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and riboflavin, as well as high levels of Vitamins A, B6, and C.
  • How to Grow Brussels Sprouts
  • Grow Brussels Sprouts in Containers: Grow one plant per 16-inch deep container.
  • What to Watch Out For: Cabbage worms (see “Broccoli, above.)

5. Tomatoes

Fresh, homegrown tomatoes are the reason many gardeners get into vegetable gardening in the first place. There’s just nothing that compares to eating a perfectly ripe tomato, still warm from the sun. Tomatoes are also incredibly good for us, packing plenty of fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and Vitamin A, B6, and C. They’re also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene.
  • How to Grow Tomatoes
  • Grow Tomatoes in Containers: Container sizes will vary depending on the variety you’re growing. If you’re growing an indeterminate variety, your container will need to be at least 18 inches deep. For determinate varieties, 12 inches is a good depth, and for dwarf or “patio” type tomatoes, 8 inches is perfect. One tomato plant per pot.
  • What to Watch Out For: Tomato horn worm can be a problem in many areas – these large caterpillars should be removed by hand whenever you see them. Also watch out for signs of blight, which is a real problem in many parts of the U.S.

6. Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers are high in potassium, riboflavin, and Vitamins A, B6, and C – in fact, one cup of red bell pepper packs an amazing 317% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and 93% of the recommended Vitamin A.
beetsamaranthcarrots.jpgPhoto Credits (left to right): La Grande Farmer’s Market, SummerTomato, color line, via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

7. Beets

Beets are a great “two-fer” crop – you can harvest the beet roots, of course, but you can also harvest and eat the greens. Young beet greens are delicious when added raw to a salad, and larger beet greens can be sauteed as a quick side dish or used the way you’d use other greens such as spinach. Beet roots are very high in iron, potassium, and vitamin C. Beet greens are even better, as they are high in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and Vitamins A, B6, and C.
  • How to Grow Beets
  • Grow Beets in Containers: Plant beet seeds three inches apart in a container that is twelve inches deep. Because each beet seed is actually a cluster of seeds, be sure to thin the seedlings to one per cluster. Thinnings can be added to salads or sandwiches.
  • What to Watch Out For: Knowing when to harvest. Beet roots are at their best when they are harvested small – between one and two inches across. At this size, they are sweet and tender. Larger beets tend to be kind of woody and less flavorful.

8. Leaf Amaranth

Leaf amaranth is a less-common vegetable that is well worth a try in your own garden. The leaves have a sweet and slightly tangy flavor that works well in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries and soups to simply steaming it all by itself. As a bonus, leaf amaranth is one of the few heat-tolerant greens. It won’t bolt in the heat of summer the way spinach and kale are prone to. Nutritionally, leaf amaranth is very high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, and Vitamins A, B6, and C. Everyone should be growing this!
  • How to Grow Leaf Amaranth
  • Growing Leaf Amaranth in Containers: Scatter the tiny seeds over the soil’s surface in a pot that is at least 8 inches deep. Harvest the leaves when they are two to four inches tall. You will be able to get at least two or three harvest before you’ll have to sow more seeds.
  • What to Watch Out For: Leaf amaranth is fairly easy to grow, and relatively problem-free. Rarely, leaf miners can become a problem.

9. Carrots

Carrots are at their sweetest, crunchiest best when freshly harvested from the garden. These icons of healthy eating deserve their “good-for-you” rep – they’re very high in fiber, manganese, niacin, potassium, and Vitamins A, B6, and C. Their only drawback is that they do tend to be high in sugar, so if you’re watching your carb intake, you’ll want to limit the amount of carrots you eat.
  • How to Grow Carrots
  • Grow Carrots in Containers: Sow carrot seeds two to three inches apart in a pot that is at least twelve inches deep. Look for shorter varieties, such as ‘Thumbelina,’ or ‘Danver’s Half Long.’
  • What to Watch Out For: Harvesting at the perfect size. Carrots are at their tastiest when harvested small. Leaving them in the ground too long can result in overly large, woody carrots. You’ll also want to make sure to keep your carrots evenly moist, as letting the soil dry out too often can also result in somewhat bitter, fibrous carrots.
leafygreensall.jpgPhoto Credits (left to right): Oakley Originals, djprybyl, djprybyl, via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

10. Leafy Greens

OK, I cheated here. I can’t recommend just ONE leafy green, because they are all incredibly good for us, as well as delicious — kale, collards, spinach, turnip or dandelion greens — how can you possibly choose just one? In general, the “green leafies” contain high amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, and Vitamins A, B6, and C.
  • How to Grow Kale and Other Leafy Greens
  • Grow Greens in Containers: Grow one kale or collard plant per ten inch deep pot. Other greens can be grown a few plants to a pot — they should be planted at least 4 inches apart and harvested small.
  • What to Watch Out For: Heat and cabbage worms. Most leafy greens are cool-weather crops, so they’re best grown in spring and fall in most areas – hot weather will cause them to bolt. In addition, many of these greens are members of the Brassicas family, which means they are prone to cabbage worm infestations. Control them with the same methods outlined in the “Broccoli” section, above.
Try growing one or two (or all!) of these nutrient-dense, delicious vegetables in your own garden, and you’ll get double the health benefits: healthy food and time spent outdoors, nurturing your plants.
More About Growing Your Own Food:
Beyond Salads: Grow a Garden to Feed a Family
Complete Guide to Summer Vegetable Gardening
66 Things You Can Grow, At Home, Without a Garden



Friday, February 4, 2011

Why You Can Now Kiss Organic Beef, Dairy and Many Vegetables Goodbye





By Ari LeVaux, AlterNet
 February 4, 2011
http://www.alternet.org/story/149716/



Monsanto has been trying for years to gain approval for its genetically modified Roundup-Ready alfalfa seed. On January 27, 2011, it finally got the green light in the form of "deregulation." This means that farmers are free to plant GE alfalfa, and the USDA won't even be keeping track of who plants it where. There will be no tracking, no notification system, and no responsibility on the part of Monsanto for any business that is lost as a result of the genetic contamination that is certain to result. If the ruling stands, we can kiss organic dairy and beef goodbye, and many organic vegetable growers will have to switch the cover crops they use on their fields.

The Center for Food Safety is planning on dragging the issue back to court, where the organization has a good track record in recent years against Monsanto, even in the notoriously business-friendly U.S. Supreme Court, which in June upheld a ban on the planting of Roundup-Ready alfalfa until the USDA drafts an environmental impact statement (EIS).

The EIS was dutifully drafted and released in December 2010. The document airs the concerns expressed by the vast majority of the 200,000-plus comments on GE alfalfa, yet somehow concludes: "...consumer preferences for organic over GE foods are influenced in part by ethical and environmental factors that are likely unrelated to minor unintended presence of GE content in feed crops."

That's quite a use of the word "likely": When the organic rules were drafted in 1997, Big Ag tried very, very hard to include GE products in organic-labeled foods. In response to this attempt, USDA received over 275,000 comments against GE in organics. It was the largest number of comments USDA had ever received on a single issue. How USDA managed to conclude that consumers of organic food are likely unconcerned by contamination of organic products is a mystery -- at least, until we recall that Tom Vilsack, Obama's agriculture boss, used to fly around in a Monsanto corporate jet while governor of Iowa. During that same period he was also named "Governor of the Year" by the Biotechnology Industry Council.

Another word in the above statement that bears scrutiny is "minor," as in "minor unintended presence of GE content in feed crops." While it may be true that the public may in fact be OK with a little "minor" genetic contamination, there's nothing minor about the threat posed by Roundup-Ready alfalfa.

Alfalfa is the main forage crop for dairy cows and one of the principle foods for beef cows, especially grass-fed cattle. Alfalfa is a perennial, easily lasting five years once planted. And it's bee-pollinated, which means each year, every non-GE alfalfa plant within five miles of every GE alfalfa plant will likely be contaminated by GE genes.

According to the Organic Consumers Association, "...the massive planting of a chemical and energy-intensive GE perennial crop, alfalfa [is] guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S."

When Tom Vilsack was named Agriculture Secretary by President Obama in late 2008, sustainable food activists felt they had been duped. The appointment followed a flood of opposition that resulted in Vilsack's name being removed from Obama's shortlist of USDA chiefs. This rope-a-dope took the wind out of opposition sails, and foodies let down their guard and began optimistically ruminating on who should run the agency. Then, out of the blue, Vilsack was appointed. Two years into Obama's administration, he appears to embody Obama's centrist approach, praising organic foods out of one side of his mouth while supporting GE foods out of the other, as if the two are separate but equal.

But the deregulation of GE alfalfa throws the possibility of coexistence out the window. And if history is any guide, the victims of genetic contamination will not only have no legal recourse, but they will face being sued by Monsanto for illegal use of its patented genes.

Given that public sentiment is overwhelmingly against genetically engineered food, it's not surprising that the Monsantos and Forage Genetics of the world are against labeling. What's telling is that retailers like Whole Foods also oppose labeling foods that have GE ingredients. Instead, the company has thrown its weight behind the effort to label foods that do not contain GE ingredients. This may sound like the same thing, but as Norman Braksick, president of Monsanto subsidiary Asgrow Seed Co., once said, "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

The Organic Consumer Association asserts that two-thirds of Whole Foods' product line is not organic, which means they could be contaminated by GE genes. It's no surprise Whole Foods doesn't want to put what amounts to a skull and crossbones on two-thirds of its products. Kristina Hubbard, director of advocacy for the Organic Seed Alliance, says that while hers and other organic watchdog groups oppose GE alfalfa, it's important to remember that conventional farmers are also put at risk by the ruling. Via email she told me:


"We believe USDA's decision to deregulate alfalfa puts the integrity of organic and non-genetically engineered seed, and thus the integrity of organic food, at risk. While the media paints this as organic versus biotechnology, it's important to note that conventional producers, including exporters, also feel threatened by GE alfalfa. In fact, the lead plaintiff in the alfalfa lawsuit is a conventional seed producer. I represent organic interests at OSA, but I've noticed that more conventional stakeholders are standing up in opposition to GE alfalfa than any other GE crop type (i.e., corn, soy, etc.) that has been deregulated."

This is an important point, but while individual conventional farmers are among the victims of genetic contamination, the organic industry as a whole is threatened by USDA's deregulation of GE alfalfa.

By deregulating its first perennial crop, which happens to be a bee-pollinated plant that is the foundation for the organic dairy and beef industries, USDA is breaking ground that cannot be easily repaired. Widespread genetic contamination has for years been threatening to make the entire GE discussion mute, because once everything is contaminated there will be nothing pure left to protect. In the same way, GE alfalfa threatens to make the whole idea of organic mute. Or at the very least, finally bring about the biotech industry's long-desired change of the organic standards to include GE ingredients. Once non-GE crops become impossible to find, what choice will we have?

Ari LeVaux writes a syndicated weekly food column, Flash in the Pan.
© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/149716/
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About Me

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~Nature is my Religion~  Eccentric, Atheist, Freethinker, Paganistic (minus the god/s)  Free Spirited Old Hippie-type, A Mediocre Artist & Jewelry Maker, Writer of Bad Poetry,  Lover of Whimsy, Thunderstorms, Books, cheap Red Wine & the unconventional. I  Seek a quiet life close to Nature and grow veggies and herbs, compost, day dream. 
'Veni, Vidi, Vixi'.  -translated-  'I came, I saw, I Lived'.  (Contemplations,  by Victor Hugo).