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Friday, December 30, 2011

Plant Companions: List for Ten Common Vegetables

Here is a list of friends and foes for ten common vegetables. We'd suggest separating foes and friends on opposite sides of the garden or at least 4 feet away. Read our full article about plant companions.

With Thanks to: http://www.almanac.com/content/plant-companions-list-ten-common-vegetables

FRIENDFOEFRIENDFOEFRIENDFOE
BEANSCORNONIONS
Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Squash
Strawberries
Summer
 savory
Tomatoes
Garlic
Onions
Peppers
Sunflowers
Beans
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Melons
Peas
Potatoes
Squash
Sunflowers
TomatoesBeets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Lettuce
Peppers
Potatoes
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Peas
Sage
CUCUMBERSPEPPERS
Beans
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Lettuce
Peas
Radishes
Sunflowers
Aromatic
  herbs
Melons
Potatoes
Basil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
CABBAGELETTUCERADISHES
Beans
Celery
Cucumbers
Dill
Kale
Lettuce
Onions
Potatoes
Sage
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Asparagus
Beets
Brussels
  sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Onions
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Spinach
Strawberries
Sunflowers
Tomatoes
BroccoliBasil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
CARROTSTOMATOES
Beans
Lettuce
Onions
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Tomatoes
Anise
Dill
Parsley
Asparagus
Basil
Beans
Borage
Carrots
Celery
Dill
Lettuce
Melons
Onions
Parsley
Peppers
Radishes
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Brussels
  sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Kale
Potatoes

Related Products:
The beautifully photographed 2012 Recipe Calendar features seasonal recipes that are both easy to cook and delicious, along with helpful hints and advice, and much more.

Companion Planting: The Three Sisters

The classic example of happy companion plants is the legendary"three sisters"—corn, pole beans, and either pumpkins or squash. This trio is one of the easiest and most satisfying to grow.
Tips for growing the three sisters:
  • To try them in your garden, in spring, prepare the soil by adding fish scraps or wood ash to increase fertility, if desired.
  • Make a mound of soil about a foot high and four feet wide.
  • When the danger of frost has passed, plant the corn in the mound. Sow six kernels of corn an inch deep and about ten inches apart in a circle of about 2 feet in diameter.
  • When the corn is about 5 inches tall, plant four bean seeds, evenly spaced, around each stalk. About a week later, plant six squash seeds, evenly spaced, around the perimeter of the mound.
Each of the sisters contributes something to the planting. Together, the sisters provide a balanced diet from a single planting.
  • As older sisters often do, the corn offers the beans needed support.
  • The beans, the giving sister, pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three.
  • As the beans grow through the tangle of squash vines and wind their way up the cornstalks into the sunlight, they hold the sisters close together.
  • The large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist and preventing weeds.
  • The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons, which don't like to step on them.
By the time European settlers arrived in America in the early 1600s, the Iroquois had been growing the "three sisters" for over three centuries. The vegetable trio sustained the Native Americans both physically and spiritually. In legend, the plants were a gift from the gods, always to be grown together, eaten together, and celebrated together.
Read our article on Companion Gardening to learn more about which plants are friends—or foes!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Kind of Town!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2072383/Eccentric-town-Todmorden-growing-ALL-veg.html


Carrots in the car park. Radishes on the roundabout. The deliciously eccentric story of the town growing ALL its own veg

Last updated at 4:31 PM on 10th December 2011
Admittedly, it sounds like the most foolhardy of criminal capers, and one of the cheekiest, too. 
Outside the police station in the small Victorian mill town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, there are three large raised flower beds.
If you’d visited a few months ago, you’d have found them overflowing with curly kale, carrot plants, lettuces, spring onions — all manner of vegetables and salad leaves.
Today the beds are bare. Why? Because people have been wandering up to the police station forecourt in broad daylight and digging up the vegetables. And what are the cops doing about this brazen theft from right under their noses? Nothing.
Food for thought: Todmorden resident Estelle Brown, a former interior designer, with a basket of home-grown veg
Food for thought: Todmorden resident Estelle Brown, a former interior designer, with a basket of home-grown veg
Well, that’s not quite correct.
‘I watch ’em on camera as they come up and pick them,’ says desk officer Janet Scott, with a huge grin. It’s the smile that explains everything.
For the vegetable-swipers are not thieves. The police station carrots — and thousands of vegetables in 70 large beds around the town — are there for the taking. Locals are encouraged to help themselves. A few tomatoes here, a handful of broccoli there. If they’re in season, they’re yours. Free.
So there are (or were) raspberries, apricots and apples on the canal towpath; blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries beside the doctor’s surgery; beans and peas outside the college; cherries in the supermarket car park; and mint, rosemary, thyme and fennel by the health centre.
The vegetable plots are the most visible sign of an amazing plan: to make Todmorden the first town in the country that is self-sufficient in food.
‘And we want to do it by 2018,’ says Mary Clear, 56, a grandmother of ten and co-founder of Incredible Edible, as the scheme is called. 
‘It’s a very ambitious aim. But if you don’t aim high, you might as well stay in bed, mightn’t you?’
So what’s to stop me turning up with a huge carrier bag and grabbing all the rosemary in the town? 
‘Nothing,’ says Mary. 
What’s to stop me nabbing all the apples?
‘Nothing.’ 
All your raspberries? 
‘Nothing.’
It just doesn’t happen like that, she says. ‘We trust people. We truly believe — we are witness to it — that people are decent.’
When she sees the Big Issue seller gathering fruit for his lunch, she feels only pleasure. What does it matter, argues Mary, if once in a while she turns up with her margarine tub to find that all the strawberries are gone?
‘This is a revolution,’ she says. ‘But we are gentle revolutionaries. Everything we do is underpinned by kindness.’
The idea came about after she and co-founder Pam Warhurst, the former owner of the town’s Bear Cafe, began fretting about the state of the world and wondered what they could do. 
They reasoned that all they could do is start locally, so they got a group of people, mostly women, together in the cafe.
Incredible Edible is about more than plots of veg. It's about educating people about food, and stimulating the local economy (pictured Vincent Graff and Estelle)
Incredible Edible is about more than plots of veg. It's about educating people about food, and stimulating the local economy (pictured Vincent Graff and Estelle)
‘Wars come about by men having drinks in bars, good things come about when women drink coffee together,’ says Mary. 
‘Our thinking was: there’s so much blame in the world — blame local government, blame politicians, blame bankers, blame technology — we thought, let’s just do something positive instead.’
We’re standing by a car park in the town centre. Mary points to a housing estate up the hill. Her face lights up. 
‘The children walk past here on the way to school. We’ve filled the flower beds with fennel and they’ve all been taught that if you bite fennel, it tastes like a liquorice gobstopper. When I see the children popping little bits of herb into their mouths, I just think it’s brilliant.’
She takes me over to the front garden of her own house, a few yards away. 
Three years ago, when Incredible Edible was launched, she did a very unusual thing: she lowered her front wall, in order to encourage passers-by to walk into her garden and help themselves to whatever vegetables took their fancy.
There were signs asking people to take something but it took six months for folk to ‘get it’, she says.
They get it now. Obviously a few town-centre vegetable plants — even thousands of them — are not going to feed a community of 15,000 by themselves.
But the police station potatoes act as a recruiting sergeant — to encourage residents to grow their own food at home.
Today, hundreds of townspeople who began by helping themselves to the communal veg are now well on the way to self-sufficiency.
But out on the street, what gets planted where? There’s kindness even in that.
‘The ticket man at the railway station, who was very much loved, was unwell. Before he died, we asked him: “What’s your favourite vegetable, Reg?” It was broccoli. So we planted memorial beds with broccoli at the station. One stop up the line, at Hebden Bridge, they loved Reg, too — and they’ve also planted broccoli in his memory.’
Not that all the plots are — how does one put this delicately? — ‘official’. 
Take the herb bushes by the canal. Owners British Waterways had no idea locals had been sowing plants there until an official inspected the area ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales last year (Charles is a huge Incredible Edible fan).
Estelle Brown, a 67-year-old former interior designer who tended the plot, received an email from British Waterways. 
‘I was a bit worried to open it,’ she says. ‘But it said: “How do you build a raised bed? Because my boss wants one outside his office window.”’
Incredible Edible is also about much more than plots of veg. It’s about educating people about food, and stimulating the local economy.
There are lessons in pickling and preserving fruits, courses on bread-making, and the local college is to offer a BTEC in horticulture. The thinking is that young people who have grown up among the street veg may make a career in food.
Crucially, the scheme is also about helping local businesses. The Bear, a wonderful shop and cafe with a magnificent original Victorian frontage, sources all its ingredients from farmers within a 30-mile radius.
There’s a brilliant daily market. People here can eat well on local produce, and thousands now do.
Meanwhile, the local school was recently awarded a £500,000 Lottery grant to set up a fish farm in order to provide food for the locals and to teach useful skills to young people.
Jenny Coleman, 62, who retired here from London, explains: ‘We need something for our young people to do. If you’re an 18-year-old, there’s got to be a good answer to the question: why would I want to stay in Todmorden?’
The day I visit, the town is battered by a bitterly-cold rain storm.  Yet the place radiates warmth. People speak to each other in the street, wave as neighbours drive past, smile. 
If the phrase hadn’t been hijacked, the words ‘we’re all in this together’ would spring to mind.
So what sort of place is Todmorden (known locally, without exception, as ‘Tod’)? If you’re assuming it’s largely peopled by middle-class grandmothers, think again. Nor is this place a mecca for the gin-and-Jag golf club set.
Set in a Pennine valley — once, the road through the town served as the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire — it is a vibrant mix of age, class and ethnicity.
A third of households do not own a car; a fifth do not have central heating. 
You can snap up a terrace house for £50,000 — or spend close to £1 million on a handsome stone villa with seven bedrooms. 
And the scheme has brought this varied community closer together, according to Pam Warhurst. 
Take one example. ‘The police have told us that, year on year, there has been a reduction in vandalism since we started,’ she says. ‘We weren’t expecting this.’
So why has it happened? 
Pam says: ‘If you take a grass verge that was used as a litter bin and a dog toilet and turn it into a place full of herbs and fruit trees, people won’t vandalise it. I think we are hard-wired not to damage food.’
Pam reckons a project like Incredible Edible could thrive in all sorts of places. ‘If the population is very transient, it’s difficult. But if you’ve got schools, shops, back gardens and verges, you can do it.’
Similar schemes are being piloted in 21 other towns in the UK, and there’s been interest shown from as far afield as Spain, Germany, Hong Kong and Canada. And, this week, Mary Clear gave a talk to an all-party group of MPs at Westminster.
Todmorden was visited by a planner from New Zealand, working on the rebuilding of his country after February’s earthquake.
Mary says: ‘He went back saying: “Why wouldn’t we rebuild the railway station with pick-your-own herbs? Why wouldn’t we rebuild the health centre with apple trees?”
‘What we’ve done is not clever. It just wasn’t being done.’
The final word goes to an outsider. Joe Strachan is a wealthy U.S. former sales director who decided to settle in Tod with his Scottish wife, after many years in California. 
He is 61 but looks 41. He became active with Incredible Edible six months ago, and couldn’t be happier digging, sowing and juicing fruit.
I find myself next to him, sheltering from the driving rain. Why, I ask, would someone forsake the sunshine of California for all this?
His answer sums up what the people around here have achieved.
‘There’s a nobility to growing food and allowing people to share it. There’s a feeling we’re doing something significant rather than just moaning that the state can’t take care of us. 
‘Maybe we all need to learn to take care of ourselves.’



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2072383/Eccentric-town-Todmorden-growing-ALL-veg.html#ixzz1gKVM23F0

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Truth About Canned Soup

ORIGINAL SOURCE: http://www.rodale.com/canned-soup-0?page=0,0&cm_mmc=Twitter-_-Rodale-_-Content-RecentNews-_-homemadealtstocannedsoup





The Truth About Canned Soup
Your soup could be canned up in a chemical stew.
By Leah Zerbe


Your soup could be canned up in a chemical stew.
By Leah Zerbe

Topics: food packaging


Don't know what's in your canned soup? You're not alone.

Soup is a must-have for chilly winter days and to battle anything that ails you, be it a nasty cold or a case of the winter blues. Plus, now that it comes in cans, cups, and drinkable bottles, it's easy to grab on the go. But what are you getting when you slurp down that tomato soup, beefy stew, or other canned favorite? Often sold under a healthy halo, processed soups are full of a lot of ingredients that won't be listed on the label—such as industrial chemicals, pesticides, and weird food additives.

BPA
BPA is a chemical used in cash-register receipts and some plastics, but also in the epoxy resin liner of most metal food cans. The bummer? It's most likely leaching into your favorite soup, exposing you to the synthetic, estrogen-like substance that has been linked to obesity, breast and prostate cancers, and aggression and other behavioral problems in young girls. The amounts of BPA used in the cans varies drastically, but an alarming new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests we're ingesting dangerous levels of the hormone-mimicking chemical when we eat soup even once a day. The study's authors asked some participants to eat Progresso soup for lunch five days a week, while others ate homemade soup. All of the canned soup eaters had detectable levels of BPA in their urine at the end of the experiment. What's even more striking is the amount of the chemical detected after downing a can of soup once a day for five days. Compared to those eating fresh soup, the group eating canned soup saw BPA levels jumped more than 1,000 percent.

The huge spike in BPA seen after eating canned soup is "unlike anything we've ever seen," says Laura Vandenberg, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow of biology at the Center for Developmental and Regenerative Biology at Tufts University in Massachusetts. "The levels are shocking."

Sodium
Americans are seriously bingeing in the sodium department, a dangerous practice considering excess sodium doesn't just leave us looking bloated, but also can lead to life-threatening heart attack and stroke. A big reason sodium is such a problem has to do with deceptive labeling practices, explains Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director at Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). "On most canned soup labels, you'll see numbers in the 800- to 900-milligram (mg) range," she explains "That's already about half a day's worth for most Americans, and that assumes you're only consuming an eight-ounce serving."

Seriously, when have you eaten just half a can of soup? Probably never. And a recent survey showed that most people consider a full can of soup to be one serving, when most labels say the can contents serve two or more. Even when you eat a low-sodium soup that contains 400 mg of sodium per serving, you wind up with twice that amount if you actually eat the entire can in one sitting. If you're still going to go for canned soup, be aware of the serving sizes, and don't fall for claims like, "25 percent less sodium!" The sodium content still could be dangerously high.Read More:
9 Everyday Chemicals That Could Be Screwing with Your Fertility
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Flavor Enhancers
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) brings out wonderful flavors in canned soup, but if you're one of the many people sensitive to this flavor enhancer, the food additive could lead to a crushing headache. Animal studies have found that MSG is toxic to the brain, and researchers believe it causes migraines in people because it dilates blood vessels and impacts nerve cells in the brain. Along with headaches, people sensitive to MSG often experience pressure in the neck and face, sweating, abdominal cramps, and tingling in the fingers.

If MSG makes you sick, you should also look out for ingredients like "natural flavoring" and "hydrolyzed vegetable protein," two other additives that also contain glutamate, according to CSPI's Food Additives database.

Topics: food packaging


Don't know what's in your canned soup? You're not alone.

Pesticides and GMOs
As our food system becomes more industrialized, more and more farm chemicals are winding up not just on our food, but also in the food we eat. Within the last 20 years, chemical farmers have overwhelmingly adopted genetically modified seeds, or GMOs, for crops like corn and soy, two common ingredients in canned soup. (There are more than a dozen different ingredients derived from corn and soy.) These seeds have been genetically engineered to withstand heavy sprayings of Roundup, and when that happens, the pesticide is absorbed by the plant and winds up in your food. Roundup is used so heavily, in fact, thatscientists recently detected it in rain. Constant low-level exposure to the pesticide can cause obesity, heart problems, circulation problems, and diabetes, says Warren Porter, PhD, professor of environmental toxicity and zoology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. As if that's not bad enough, the process of genetic modification, when a plant's DNA is changed in a lab, not by nature, is known to cause spontaneous abortion and infertility in animals and has been linked to the skyrocketing rates of food allergies in people over the past decade.

Healthy Soup Tips:

Making homemade soup may be a little more time consuming than popping open a can, but it comes without the chemicals, and you can freeze it for those days and nights when cooking a full meal isn't feasible. Try one of these healthy soup recipes or just wing it. "Clean Out the Refrigerator" Soup is a great way to use up about-to-go-bad vegetables or small bits of pasta or dried beans you have lying around.

When you do make homemade soups, start with homemade stock. Like soup, it's a lot easier to make than you realize. "Use a pressure cooker," advises Joy Manning, nutrition editor ofPrevention magazine. "Many stores sell chicken backs and necks for pennies a pound and, if not, a few pounds of whole chicken wings makes for a particularly rich stock." Or, save the bones, skin, and leftovers from the last chicken or turkey you carved up and use those. Cook everything at high pressure for 1 hour—"throw in a halved onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery or two if you have them," Manning suggests—strain with a fine sieve, and you have several quarts of amazing stock ready for your next soup-making session.

Alternatively, you can buy commercial stocks and soups packaged in glass or cartons, which are BPA free, or dry soup mixes that need nothing more than some water and an hour or two on your stove. Always opt for organic brands.

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).