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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jeffrey Smith: You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!


The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.

Here's the back story.

When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.

Dangerous Food Safety Lies

When the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to "different risks" than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent.

This fiction became the rationale for allowing GM foods on the market without any required safety studies whatsoever! The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them -- companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe.

GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled -- from 7% to 13%. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.

In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world's top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases.

In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation

In July, a report by eight international experts determined that the flimsy and superficial evaluations of GMOs by both regulators and GM companies "systematically overlook the side effects" and significantly underestimate "the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems, among others."

The Fox Guarding the Chickens

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist.

This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done?

The Milk Man Cometh

While Taylor was at the FDA in the early 90's, he also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST) -- injected into cows to increase milk supply.

The milk from injected cows has more pus, more antibiotics, more bovine growth hormone, and most importantly, more insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for common cancers and its high levels in this drugged milk is why so many medical organizations and hospitals have taken stands against rbGH. A former Monsanto scientist told me that when three of his Monsanto colleagues evaluated rbGH safety and discovered the elevated IGF-1 levels, even they refused to drink any more milk -- unless it was organic and therefore untreated.

Government scientists from Canada evaluated the FDA's approval of rbGH and concluded that it was a dangerous facade. The drug was banned in Canada, as well as Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But it was approved in the US while Michael Taylor was in charge. His drugged milk might have caused a significant rise in US cancer rates. Additional published evidence also implicates rbGH in the high rate of fraternal twins in the US.

Taylor also determined that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling. And as a gift to his future employer Monsanto, he wrote a white paper suggesting that if companies ever had the audacity to label their products as not using rbGH, they should also include a disclaimer stating that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.

Taylor's disclaimer was also a lie. Monsanto's own studies and FDA scientists officially acknowledged differences in the drugged milk. No matter. Monsanto used Taylor's white paper as the basis to successfully sue dairies that labeled their products as rbGH-free.

Will Monsanto's Wolff Also Guard the Chickens?

As consumers learned that rbGH was dangerous, they refused to buy the milk. To keep their customers, a tidal wave of companies has publicly committed to not use the drug and to label their products as such. Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to convince the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to make rbGH-free claims, so they went to their special friend in Pennsylvania -- Dennis Wolff. As state secretary of agriculture, Wolff unilaterally declared that labeling products rbGH-free was illegal, and that all such labels must be removed from shelves statewide. This would, of course, eliminate the label from all national brands, as they couldn't afford to create separate packaging for just one state.

Fortunately, consumer demand forced Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell to step in and stop Wolff's madness. But Rendell allowed Wolff to take a compromised position that now requires rbGH-free claims to also be accompanied by Taylor's FDA disclaimer on the package.

President Obama is considering Dennis Wolff for the top food safety post at the USDA. Yikes!

Rumor has it that the reason why Pennsylvania's governor is supporting Wolff's appointment is to get him out of the state -- after he "screwed up so badly" with the rbGH decision. Oh great, governor. Thanks.

Ohio Governor Gets Taylor-itus

Ohio not only followed Pennsylvania's lead by requiring Taylor's FDA disclaimer on packaging, they went a step further. They declared that dairies must place that disclaimer on the same panel where rbGH-free claims are made, and even dictated the font size. This would force national brands to re-design their labels and may ultimately dissuade them from making rbGH-free claims at all. The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed a lawsuit against Ohio. Although they lost the first court battle, upon appeal, the judge ordered a mediation session that takes place today. Thousands of Ohio citizens have flooded Governor Strickland's office with urgent requests to withdraw the states anti-consumer labeling requirements.

Perhaps the governor has an ulterior motive for pushing his new rules. If he goes ahead with his labeling plans, he might end up with a top appointment in the Obama administration.

To hear what America is saying about GMOs and to add your voice, go to our new non-GMO Facebook Group.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Complete Guide to Freecycling : Planet Green

planet green a discovery company

The Complete Guide to Freecycling

It's like recycling, but you get free stuff...

By Brian Merchant
Brooklyn, NY, USA | Wed Feb 11 09:30:00 EST 2009

Want to give away your unwanted clutter and have access to tons of quality free stuff? Then Freecycling is likely your best bet.

With over 4,600 groups and 6,400,000 members around the world, the Freecycling community is thriving&madsh;and for good reason. It's an organization based on the idea that giving and receiving gifts for free is not only good for the obvious reasons (who doesn't love free stuff?) but it's good for the environment, too. By keeping all this stuff in a "freecycle" and transferring it from person to person, tons of items are spared from meeting a landfill-bound fate. In short, it's one of the greenest ways to get free stuff.

But because the instructional video provided on the website is charming, cute, and anything but instructional, we've decided to prepare a step-by-step guide on how to Free Cycle.

How to Free Cycle:

  1. Join Your Local Group
    Head over to the
    Freecycle Home Page and type in your city name to the home page. You'll be directed to a group page on Yahoo! Click the Join This Group button on this page, after reading through the info. (You'll have to have a Yahoo! ID)
  2. Set Up Your Profile
    Look over the preferences, which will only take a few seconds, and set up your user profile that'll be viewed by the group.
  3. Choose Individual Mail or Daily Digest
    One aspect you'll want to pay particular attention to is choosing how you want to be alerted to the new available stuff—by individual mail, or daily digest. Since the Freecycle community is so big, and there's a lot of free stuff floating around, you might not want to get an email notice for every item that becomes available. Choosing the daily digest option allows you to receive a single email at the end of the day as a roundup of all the new stuff, which will make it easier to manage your inbox. But it also means you might not get first dibs on a particularly alluring item.
  4. Read and Post Messages
    All messages in the Freecycle community fall into 4 categories: OFFER, TAKEN, WANTED, and PROMISED, and each is self-explanatory. Begin each message with one of those: if you have a cookbook you want to get rid of, create a message with the heading OFFER. If your item's been claimed and you're still getting emails, post a TAKEN message. If there's something you need, that's within reason of course (a "WANTED: 2007 Toyota Prius" message may go unanswered . . .) use WANTED. Use a PROMISED message when someone wants an item that's already been spoken for.
  5. Arrange a Pickup
    It's customary for the person receiving the free stuff to pick it up at a location of the giver's choosing. Simple—meet up, and get or give stuff.
  6. Follow the Rules
    And they're pretty simple: No spamming. No pets. No trades. And most importantly, every item must be FREE.
  7. Enjoy Freecycling
    Get and give stuff for free, and ensure all that stuff out there gets the longest lifespan possible—and stays out of the landfill.
  • One last note: use Freecycling responsibly. As on other user-community sites like Craigslist, only make arrangements you're comfortable with, and be wary of WANTED messages requesting used underpants. That's one transaction you'll (probably) want to avoid.

More on Free Stuff:
Give, Receive Trade Green Stuff Online EcoFlip
Swap Your Baby Stuff for Free With Freepeats

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8 Etiquette Tips for Curbside Freecycling : Planet Green


8 Etiquette Tips for Curbside Freecycling : Planet Green

Curbside trading works, but what are the rules?

By Jaymi Heimbuch
San Francisco, CA, USA | Tue Jun 09 09:30:00 EDT 2009

Here in San Francisco, there is a thriving culture of curbside freecycling. If you have something you don't want and don't have the time to put it on Craigslist or Freecycle, you can be sure that the corner is the next best place to put it and it'll find a happy home in, usually, a matter of hours. Urban areas often have this kind of unspoken trading system that keeps consumer goods in the loop. But there are a few ground rules for etiquette that help to ensure curbside trading is on the eco up-and-up.

Tips For Leaving Stuff at Curbside

  1. Know Your Garbage Pick-Up Days
    When you leave items curbside, you want to coordinate with what day your city collects trash so that you can be sure you aren't unknowingly putting something right into the landfill. It's best to leave something out a few days before garbage collection so that you give people a chance to see it and pick it up before it gets grabbed by the garbage crew.
  2. Leave A Note
    Let people know that something is available for them to grab. Leave a note saying "Free" and in the case of appliances or gadgets, whether or not the item works. You'll also help increase the odds that someone will claim the item quickly.
  3. If It's Still There, It's Still Yours
    Just because you've decided you don't want something and have set it out for someone else to take home, doesn't mean you've relinquished responsibility for it. If you're setting out electronics, do the green thing and make sure that if no one claims it, you bring it back in and take it to a responsible recycler, rather than letting it get picked up for landfill.
  4. Junk is Junk. Don't Pass It On
    Be sure that if you're leaving stuff curbside, act as if you're donating it to charity, which means make sure it isn't junk. If something is beyond salvaging, dispose of it properly, or put it on craigslist letting people know it's scrap material for other projects, or an item that needs TLC. If it's simply junk, it'll most likely stay on your curb until trash day where it'll get a one-way trip to the landfill.

Tips For Picking Up Curbside Finds

  1. Inspect It First
    Know what you're taking and if it's safe to take it. For example, if you're grabbing furniture, consider the possibility the possibility of pests that have taken up house in the stuffing. Just because it's free doesn't mean you have to take it without spending some time examining it first.
  2. Take the Whole Thing
    If there's an item set out curbside and there's just part of it that you want, don't gut it. Either leave it alone and head to a
    thrift shop, or take the whole item home, then take the pieces you need and dispose of the rest properly. It's not cool to take just the cushions of a couch, or just the motor of a kitchen gadget. It ruins the fun for everyone else and is a sure fire way to send a portion of the item straight to landfill.
  3. If You Don't Want It After All, Don't Return It
    You might get something home to find that it isn't going to work for you after all. Even if that's the case, don't return it to where you found it. It's just bad form. Instead, take responsibility for it and leave it at your own curbside, following the tips above, or put it up on Craigslist or Freecycle.
  4. Return the Favor
    If you've experienced the thrill of finding something really cool at curbside, then next time you have the chance, pay it forward. When you need to get rid of something that you know someone else will appreciate, follow the tips above and leave it curbside. You just might make someone's day!

More on Freecycling:
What's Your e-Waste IQ?
The Complete Guide to Freecycling
Don't Throw It Away! Give And Take For Free Works In Catalonia
Throw the Perfect Clothing Swap Party

Got a tip or a post idea for us to write about on Planet Green? Email pgtips (at) treehugger (dot) com.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home Canning

A very GROOVY set of six YouTube videos on home canning.
If you don't already have your canning jars better start now
..flea markets, charity shops, freecycle, Craig's List...
Fall is just around the corner !!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Precycling stops waste before it starts | MNN - Mother Nature Network

Precycling stops waste before it starts With smart shopping and a little creativity, it's easy to trim your waste size.

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By Marsha WaltonSat, Jul 11 2009 at 5:29 AM EST Read more:

It's taken decades to get Americans into the rhythm of recycling. Environmental groups guilted and pleaded. Earnest youngsters badgered their parents into taking care of Mother Earth.

The result? Thousands of communities made separating paper, plastic and aluminum a simple routine.

But will the global economic meltdown harm the good habits people are finally beginning to embrace? Prices for recycled paper, plastic and metal have tanked in recent months. There's concern some cities may just haul everything to a landfill if it's cheaper than recycling.

So is there a way to make recycling unnecessary? Enter the concept of "precycling."

No, it's not a setting on your washing machine for pesky ground-in grass stains. It's a push for consumers to think before they buy — so there's no waste that has to go anywhere. Think rechargeable instead of disposable batteries. Cloth napkins instead of paper.

"Environmental education is always being updated, and the message has to change over time," says Carey Hamilton, executive director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition. The precycling mindset can be used at home, at the office and on every aisle of the grocery store. Among the Indiana coalition's tips:

• Push your shopping cart past the individual bottled waters and juice boxes. Instead buy large containers and sturdy, refillable bottles.

• Buy loose fruits and vegetables, not prepackaged containers with unnecessary Styrofoam and plastic.

• On the laundry aisle, buy cleaning products in bulk or concentrate.

• As you compare sizes, prices and brands, go for the product with the least packaging and best potential to reuse, refill or recycle.

• In the kitchen, use washable plates, cups and silverware, not paper or plastic.

• The Indiana Recycling Coalition has more tips for home, garden and office.

Hamilton works with businesses to help them with recycling and other "green" plans. She says the economic downturn shouldn't hamper environmental gains, adding that, over the long term, a green decision is usually the best business decision as well.

"People are starting to see the correlation between environmental decisions and the economic bottom line," she says.

For some hard-working Americans, the whole concept of "recycling" and "precycling" is amusing.

Lynne Finnerty, who grew up on a Mississippi farm raising cattle, cotton and catfish, says farmers are the original environmentalists.

"'Reduce, reuse, recycle' wasn't a slogan to country folks. It was a way of life," Finnerty says. Now the editor of Farm Bureau News at the American Farm Bureau Federation, she explains how farmers are the ultimate recyclers in an essay titled "Recycle This."

Farmers know how smart it is to buy in bulk. That's how co-ops got started, Finnerty says. Clothing also gets a second life: Worn T-shirts become rags, and old nylons tie up tomato plants.

The latest numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency show conspicuously consuming U.S. residents recycle about one third of their trash. Of 254 million tons created in 2007, 85 million tons found a new life somewhere other than a landfill. Thirty-three percent of paper was recycled, 54 percent of aluminum cans, 48 percent of glass and 28 percent of glass and plastic.

And if you're grumbling about the 30 seconds it takes to put milk jugs into one bin and newspapers into another, take a lesson from those who scrimped and saved during World War II. In the 1940s, British families were urged to separate their waste like this:

"Tin and metal for aircraft, tanks and weapons, Boiled bones to make glue for aircraft and glycerin for explosives, Kitchen waste to feed pigs, goats and chickens."

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

More About Growing Sprouts

If you're new to eating sprouts, don't make too much at first. Once you get the hang of it, you can start another jar three days after you start the first jar. The next jars will be ready after you finish eating the first batch.

The most important point: when you strain seeds, make sure that they're really strained. Sprouting is remarkable; all you need are the seeds and water. But add too much water and the seeds may rot. Nevertheless, it's pretty difficult to make the seeds rot, as long as you follow the steps carefully.

  • Choose and Measure
  • Soak the Seeds

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Here are the best choices of each type of sprout source.

  • Best seeds: alfalfa, clover.

  • Best beans: mung, lentil, garbanzo.

  • Best nuts: almonds, filberts (hazelnuts).

  • Best grains: wheat berries, rye.

The next list indicates what amount of sprout source is appropriate.

  • small seeds: 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml).

  • medium seeds: 1/4-1/2 cup (65-125 grams).

  • large beans and grains: 1 cup (250 g).

  • sunflower seeds: 2 cups (500 g).

As noted, a large variety of seeds, beans, nuts, and grains can be sprouted. For the sake of simplicity, this tutorial will explain alfalfa sprouting, and will provide additional information for other sprouting as necessary.

  • Measure: Before you go to bed one night, measure the correct amount of seeds--in this case, 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) of alfalfa sprouts.

  • Any time you cook with seeds or beans, it's a good practice to inspect them before you go any further.Take the portion of seeds or beans, and pour them out onto a large plate, serving dish, or baking sheet. Push the seeds on one side of the dish, and inspect them for broken or withered seeds, and small stones or lumps of dirt. (If you have any kids, this a good time to bring them into the act.) After they're sorted, pour them into a strainer and give them a good rinse.

  • Pour the rinsed seeds into the jar. (If you're sprouting large beans, grains, or nuts, use a large bowl.)

  • Cover them with adequate water--a few inches (6-8 cm) above the level of the seeds. Let the seeds soak overnight. Medium-sized seeds should be soaked 8-12 hours, and large beans and nuts can soak for 12-24 hours.

  • Note: Water, water everywhere...but it's not always fit to drink. Or for that matter, grow sprouts with. Many municipal water supplies around the world have been contaminated by industrial and agricultural pollutants. If you soak the seeds in that water, your sprouts may absorb those pollutants and pass them on to you. Eating sprouts made in contaminated water may have an adverse health affect over time, so consider using filtered or spring water for sprouting.


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Next morning, cover the mouth of the jar with cheesecloth, and fasten with the rubber band. Turn over the jar in the sink. The cheesecloth acts as a strainer, holding in the seeds and letting out the water. If you're using the bowl method, use the strainer to strain out the soaking water and rinse the seeds.

Note: Some people save this soaking water. It contains valuable nutrients that you can mix into a health shake with other ingredients like fruit and yogurt. Or use it for your houseplants--they'll be very grateful.

  • Shake the jar (or strainer) a few times to remove all of the water from last night's soak.

  • Rinse: Fill up with water, and again drain out the water, ending with a few hearty shakes. Hold the jar up to the light; the seeds should be mostly dry. If there's too much water left in the jar, the seeds may rot over the next few days. But if you're even slightly careful to drain the seeds, that probably won't happen.

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  • To ensure complete drainage, some folks store the jar upside-down in a glass baking dish or plastic tub. Rest the jar on the side of the dish, or up against the wall--any excess water drains out, without any more attention from you.

  • Repeat: On the evening of the same day, you'll repeat the rinsing process. You'll continue this morning and evening rinsing for 4 or 5 days (in warm climates, figure a day or two less than that). If you're feeling particularly keen on sprouting, you can rinse it a third time at noon.

  • Watch for the growth: you'll see green leaves sprouting on seeds, and white shoots on beans, nuts, and grains.

  • Harvest:

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    After four or five days, the sprouts will reach their peak of flavor and nutritional value. Give them a final rinse; drain with a hearty shake. Now they're ready to be prepared and devoured by the hungry masses.

    So many uses! Your biggest problem with sprouting is choosing among these alternatives.

    • Add to salads and sandwiches, and as a garnish on soups.

    • Puree seeds and beans to make a fantastic sandwich spread or vegetable dip. For flavors, try adding tahini, lemon, and garlic for a middle Eastern flair; or fresh tomato and basil for a Mediterranean touch.

    • Cook bean sprouts: lightly stir-fry them with other vegetables, or add to other recipes like vegetable burgers. Also very good when steamed with shredded carrot and cabbage.

    • Sprouted grains are a bit trickier to use. They're often ground up and baked at low temperatures (220 degrees F/90 degrees C) to make bread, or added to recipes like vegetable burgers and casseroles.

How to Grow Sprouts In A Mason Jar

Mung beans

Sprouts cost only pennies to make if you already have a few Mason jars laying around. If you don't, an old mayonnaise jar will work just as well. Have you SEEN how much these things cost in the grocery store?!

Well, I'm off to sprout now......

(hummmm....do I want my sprouts in a salad or in a sandwich? Decisions, decisions, I can't take the pressure anymore **taking a deep breath** relaxy PattyAnn, you have six days to decide).

Credit To:


Things You'll Need:
  • A quart-size mason jar (or any glass jar)
  • A plastic sprouting cap with a mesh screen
  • or
  • Cheesecloth and a rubber band
  • Two tablespoons of alfalfa seeds (certified organic)
    Preparing for the Growth Process
  1. Step 1

    Certified Organic Alfalfa Seeds

    Certified Organic Alfalfa Seeds

    Place approximately two tablespoons of alfalfa seeds into the bottom of a clean, quart-size mason jar. This is going to produce about two cups of sprouts.

  2. Step 2

    Fill the jar with about two to three inches of water.

  3. Step 3

    Alfalfa Seeds Soaking 8 Hours in Mason Jar, Covered with Cheesecloth

    Alfalfa Seeds Soaking 8 Hours in Mason Jar, Covered with Cheesecloth

    Screw on the strainer cap if you have one. If you don't have a plastic strainer cap cut a square of cheesecloth wider than the mouth of the jar. Place this piece of cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and secure it onto the mouth with a rubber band.This cheesecloth will strain the water from the seeds. Eventually, you may want to purchase a strainer cap, which is easier to use. Strainer caps are made to fit mason jars only.

  4. Step 4

    Place the jar of alfalfa seeds and water in your kitchen, in a dark place at room temperature (about 70 degrees) and let it soak for about eight hours. We'll bring it out to the light later.

  5. Step 5

    Sprouting Lid For Mason Jars

    Sprouting Lid For Mason Jars

    After eight hours, drain the water (through the strainer) from your jar. This is the only time you will have to soak your seeds for eight hours. Add more fresh water to the seeds in your jar. This can be done through the strainer or cheesecloth. Swirl the water around the seeds and drain it again through the strainer or cheese cloth.

  6. Step 6

    Place the drained jar of wet seeds upside down, tipping at a 45 degree angle. You can prop it up against a corner of a wall. Let it sit on a dish or tray to catch the liquid. In this way excess water can still drain out while the seeds remain moist, but not wet.

    Growing Your Sprouts
  7. Step 1

    Two to three times each day, rinse your seeds with water and drain it as you did before. Drain it well--you don't want the seeds to be too wet or sitting in water--you just want them moist.

  8. Step 2

    On the second day you will notice that the alfalfa seeds have already started to sprout. Keep rinsing your seeds as before, two to three times each day.

  9. Step 3

    When your alfalfa sprouts are about one to one and a half inches long, (which may be on day four or day five) move the jar to a place in your kitchen where it can get indirect sunlight for about five hours. This will turn the brown-looking leaves a beautiful deep green and raise the vitamin content of the sprouts, especially vitamin A.

  10. Step 4

    Mason Jar Filled with Alfalfa Sprouts after 4 to 5 Days

    Mason Jar Filled with Alfalfa Sprouts after 4 to 5 Days

    After five hours of indirect sunlight, return them to their previous spot and continue your rinsing and draining of the sprouts with water as before; moving them back to indirect sunlight if necessary.

  11. Step 5

    When your sprouts are nice and dark green, rinse them well and place them in a sealed container (preferable a see-through plastic container) with room for excess moisture to drain. Store your sprouts in the refrigerator. They are now ready to eat!Your fresh, homegrown alfalfa sprouts can now be used in many delicious ways.

How to Grow Sprouts | eHow.com

“Why are my tomato plant’s leaves yellow?”

I’m posting this article why….? You guessed it. The leaves on two of my tomato plants are turning yellow and I know ‘zip’ about vegetable gardening . Oh, it gets even worse . I don’t know anyone who knows anything about vegetable gardening. So what does one (me) do when one (I) finds oneself (myself) lost in a world devoid of all knowledge pertaining to vegetable gardening….hummmm….I KNOW!!! One (me) turns to the the all knowing Cyber Gods and That’s exactly what I did. I ran (not walked) directly to my computer and did an internet search asking The Powers that Be: ‘Why are the leaves on my tomato plant turning yellow’? *BAM* INSTANTANIOULY all of these answers just came to me. I’m telling you: ‘it’s a miracle’.

The article below gave me the best info.


By Vanessa Richins

If only there was a simple answer to this. There are many different factors that can cause tomato plants to develop yellow leaves.

Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Under-watering: When plants don’t get enough water, they start to wilt and lose color. Under-watered plants are also more prone to attack from diseases and pests.
  • Over-watering: On the flip side, overwatering can also cause yellow leaves. Over-watering can also cause root rots.
  • Aphids: If you see sticky honeydew and small green, black, or red insects, you have aphids. A strong spray of water can knock these off. Ladybugs love to eat aphids.
  • Nitrogen: Another cause of yellow leaves could be a lack of nitrogen. Test your soil with a basic kit available at home improvement stores or nurseries, or you can send in your soil for more detailed testing through your local cooperative extension. The cost varies by location but for example, it costs $15 here in Utah. If this is the case, add compost or a nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Tomato Hornworm: If you see chewed yellow leaves, you may have tomato hornworms. Check the plant for these large, fat green worms. The easiest remedy is to just pick them off.
  • Iron: Another nutrient deficiency signaled by yellow leaves is lack of iron. Add an iron chelate to the soil or the leaves, depending on the form.

These are only some of the causes. Other possibilities include: Early blight, psyllids, sunburn, curly top virus, whiteflies, flea beetles, and Septoria Leaf Spot.

If you are unsure of the cause, you can call a fellow gardener, ask here on Tomato Casual, or consult your local extension office.

Tomato Casual » Understanding Yellow Tomato Leaves

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Make A Tote Bag From Old T-Shirts

I stumbled upon this in another one of my surfing sessions. A very easy & creative way to recycle t-shirts. I would think sweat shirts would make a much sturdier project but that's just my humble opinion.

FASTEST RECYCLED T-SHIRT TOTE BAG - More cool how to projects

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hate Junk Mail?

I absolutely loathe junk mail, it makes me Image and video hosting by TinyPic I resent that rubbish being forced on me. If you're anything like me, filled with hostility to the extent to being on the verge of having a stroke every time you open your mailbox this is the article for you! Since I have started worm composting my worms are converting most of my junk mail into WORM POOP. Ahhhh.... the sweet, sweet taste of revenge. Now, what can we do about Washington......?

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Earlier I addressed the subject of things you can and can’t compost from within your home. But now allow me to isolate and elaborate on my favorite part of the indoor composting process. Inside my house, the shredder is the equivalent to the compost bin outdoors, based on how much it is put to work. I shred everything! In fact, I derive great pleasure from it. If you think that sounds a little odd, just know that my kids argue over who gets to shred the next stack.

The point is so much that makes its way into our homes is fair game for the shredder. As long as there is junk mail, schoolwork, bills or anything else printed, there will always be and endless source of compostable material from inside the house. And while we’re having some good clean family fun reducing unwanted paper to confetti, I am creating a wonderful carbon-rich addition for the compost pile and ultimately the best soil amendment in the world!

With the help of a good shredder, you can make great composting ingredients quickly and easily and finally put those papers in their proper place! Shredders are readily available today from many sources; drug stores, office supply stores and the big warehouse clubs all sell them. I use a high quality, home office version that I purchased for about $150. It can take about 15 sheets at a time, cuts paper into confetti and handles a large volume, all without removing a single staple or paperclip. It can even cut through CDs, DVDs and credit cards. However, knowing that everything I shred is destined for the compost pile, I don’t include these.

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and so it is with shredders too. I’ve had the small and inexpensive trash can size in the past but to me, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. The small cans fill up too quickly for all the trash I have. On my current model, I even enjoy hauling out the container of confetti paper to dump into the compost pile. It’s quite attractive actually. In short order, all the different colors from the confetti are soon reduced to the same unrecognizable common denominator of finished compost.

Even if someday we do actually become a ‘paperless’ society, I can’t imagine junk mail ever going away. And as long as there is junk mail, there will an endless source of compostable material from inside the house…meaning there will always be an endless source! Besides the true pleasure I get in reducing these offensive mailings to confetti, I must say, I am amazed at how quickly that volume of paper adds up, not to mention that for much of my life, I was contributing so much unnecessary waste to the landfill.

Now, with the affordability of quality shredders for the home, I encourage you to get one and start using it right away, especially since there’s not much else going on the compost pile this time of year. Although the extra compost you’ll make is the direct benefit, keeping all that paper out of the landfill is a simple and significant way to do something good for our planet too.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Growing Tomatoes Upside-Down

Upside-down Tomato Plants

Growing Tomatoes Upside-Down

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At first glance, this might look like an unusual way to grow tomatoes. But Jim Appleby from Iowa has discovered several benefits to hanging his tomatoes in buckets. First, the air can circulate better so the plants have almost no disease problems. Second, the fruit doesn’t rot as quickly as that on the ground. And finally, some critters that eat tomatoes have trouble getting to the ripening fruit.

To make the upside-down containers, Jim used 5-gallon buckets with tight-fitting lids. He recycled his from a restaurant, but says you can find them many places, such as paint or hardware stores.

Jim scrubs each bucket out with soapy water and makes sure the handle is attached securely. He cuts a 2-inch or larger diameter hole in the center of the lid and one in the bottom of the bucket. To make the holes, he uses a drill with a hole saw bit (an attachment for cutting a door to install the doorknob).

With the bucket standing upright and the lid off, Jim covers the hole in the bottom with a coffee filter or scrap of fabric. That way the soil won’t fall out when he turns the bucket over. He fills the bucket full of a lightweight potting mix, shaking it to settle the soil.

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2 in. or larger diameter hole cut in bucket lid for both drainage and watering

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Established tomato seedling ready to hang

Hole cut in bucket lid Tomato seedling ready to hang
2 in. or larger diameter hole cut in bucket lid for both drainage and watering Established tomato seedling ready to hang

Before he puts the lid back on, Jim lays another coffee filter over the soil where the hole will be. Next, he puts the lid on and turns the bucket upside down.
Jim cuts a slit through the filter in the hole and plants a tomato seedling. To give the tomato a fast start, he strips off the lower leaves and plants the seedling deeply so roots can form along the stem. He places the planted bucket in a sunny location and keeps it well-watered for the next few weeks.

When the plant is about a foot tall, Jim’s ready to hang it up. The bucket needs a solid support to hold the weight. A clothesline pole is ideal. If you hang the bucket from a building, make sure it won’t bang into a window or the siding on a windy day.

This part is easier with two people — one to lift and hold the bucket and one to fasten the chain. Jim drapes a chain over the clothesline post while a friend lifts the bucket. He pulls the chain through the handle of the bucket and fastens the ends together. You can buy chain loops made specifically for fastening or use a piece of heavy wire and twist it to hold the chain together. Either way, Jim finds he can raise and lower the height to harvest his tomatoes

— From Garden Gate Issue 39

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The Amazing Dandelion


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Europe, North America and Asia and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. The common name Dandelion (pronounced /ˈdændɨlaɪ.ən/) is given to members of the genus and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.


Origin of the name

The English name dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion[9] meaning "lion's tooth", referring to the coarsely-toothed leaves. The names of the plant have the same meaning in several other European languages, such as the Italian dente di leone, Spanish diente de león, Portuguese dente-de-leão, Norwegian Løvetann, and German Löwenzahn.

In modern French the plant is named pissenlit, which means "piss in bed", apparently referring to its diuretic properties[citation needed]. Likewise, "pissabeds" is an English folk-name for this plant, as is piscialletto in Italian and the Spanish meacamas. In various north-eastern Italian dialects the plant is known as pisacan ("dog pisses"), referring to how common they are found at the side of pavements[citation needed], while in many other northern Italian dialects it is known as soffione ("blowing") referring to the blowing the seeds from the stalk. The same is true for German, where Pusteblume ("blowing flower") is a popular designation. Likewise, in Polish it is called "dmuchawiec", deriving from dmuchać ("to blow"). Whilst in its flowering form the Poles know it as Mlecz, a word derived from "milk", due to the plant's milky sap.

In Turkish the dandelion is called karahindiba meaning "black endive".
The Hungarian names for the plant are kutyatej ("dog milk"), referring to the aforementioned white sap found in the plant's stem and gyermekláncfű ("child's chain grass"), referring to the habit of children to pick dandelions, remove the flowers, and make links out of the stems by "plugging" the narrow top end of the stem into the wider bottom end[citation needed].
The Lithuanian name kiaulpienė can be translated as "sow milk"[citation needed]. Similarly, in Latvian it is called 'pienene, the word being derived from piens - milk.

In Finnish and Estonian, it is called voikukka and võilill, respectively, meaning "butter flower", referring to its buttery colour. In Swedish it is called maskros ("worm rose"), lik ely referring to its low status (being mostly considered a weed) despite a fairly pleasant appearance.

In Dutch it is called paardebloem, meaning "horse-flower".
In Chinese it is called "蒲公英" (pronounced pu gong ying), meaning flower that grows in public spaces by the riverside.


Antioxidant properties

Dandelion contains luteolin, an antioxidant, and has demonstrated antioxidant properties without cytotoxicity.

Caffeic acid and carcinogenicity

Caffeic acid is a secondary plant metabolite produced in dandelion, yarrow, horsetail and whitethorn. Despite its name, it is unrelated to caffeine. Recent studies have revealed this acid may be carcinogenic. When caffeic acid was tested for carcinogenicity by oral administration in mice, renal cell adenomas appeared in females, and a high incidence of renal tubular cell hyperplasia occurred in animals of each sex. However, more recent research shows that bacteria present in the rodents' intestines may alter the formation of metabolites of caffeic acid. There have been no known ill effects of caffeic acid in humans.


Dandelions are important plants for bees. Not only is their flowering used as an indicator that the honey bee season is starting,[citation needed] but they are also an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season.

Dandelion is an extremely nourishing plant; its properties especially support the liver as well the kidneys, spleen, pancreas and the entire digestive system. Dandelion is extremely holistic, improving the function of the lymph, circulatory, glandular, urinary and nervous systems. Its leaves are extremely high in vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and calcium. Its roots are mineral rich, containing calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, choline, and even protein, carotenes and mineral salts.

Most all parts of the dandelion plant are useful, first, uses for the leaves:
The leaves make a great diuretic and help rinse the kindneys.

Liver problems
upset stomach
digestive problems

the roots can be used for:

appetite stimulant
digestive aid
gall bladder and liver problems ( great for detox)

the flowers can be used to make wine and add flavor to a salad.( young tender leaves can be used for greens)
You can dry the leaves and roots use them this way or you can steep them into a tea...
These are just a few uses for this amazing little plant that most of us consider a pesky weed!

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Growing Tomatoes


Site Preparation

Tomatoes grow best in full sunlight, in a location where they are open to free air circulation. The soil needs to be well-drained and should be cultivated with plenty of compost and well rotted manure.

Choosing a Variety

There are many varieties of tomatoes ranging from small to large, stake to cluster, and tiny cherries-on-a-bush to huge dinner-for-two-on-a-staked-plant. Some varieties include:
* Cluster tomatoes (hybrid) are borne in clusters of 6 to 8, and bear a smooth, firm dark glossy red skin. They are picked in clusters and retain their fresh taste even after picked.
* Beefsteak tomatoes are the hardier of the tomatoes and are available in many different varieties, with delicious fruit that can exceed 12 oz. in size. These are ideal for slicing and putting on hamburgers.
* Cherry tomatoes can be grown in the garden or in patio planters and come in many varieties and harvesting times.


Tomato seeds can be started indoors about 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last spring frost. Place 2 to 3 seeds in every 1-inch cell and then thin out to 1 per cell once they sprout. Cover the seeds with 1 inch of soil and keep them where the temperature will remain a constant 70 to 80 degrees F and where there is continual light. When the plants have 2 or 3 sets of leaves, transplant them into larger pots (2 or 3 inch squared). Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks starting at half strength and increasing to full strength over the next 6 weeks. Transplant outdoors only after all danger of the last frost is passed, as they are very susceptible to frost damage. Space the plants 24 to 36 inches apart with rows at least 36 to 48 inches apart.

Tomatoes: Care


Every gardener has his own theory about pruning tomatoes. I only prune when the plant becomes too heavy or is difficult to train on the stake. Young prunings can be rooted in a glass of water and will be ready to set out in a couple of weeks. If you choose not to prune, you can pinch out the top of the plant to encourage bushy growth. This works well in hot climates.


Plants that are dark green and vigorous don't need more nitrogen. If your plants are yellowing, the addition of nitrogen will probably solve the problem. Some lower leaves will inevitably yellow and drop off up to three weeks after planting. Too much nitrogen will result in lots of dark green leaves and no fruit, so wait until blooms appear to side-dress with nitrogen. Try using a quart of manure tea for each plant. The recipe is one third manure and two thirds water, stirring daily for two weeks. Don't get it on the leaves, as they burn easily.

Mixing lime in with the soil will help reduce mineral imbalances that cause fruit deformities. The calcium in the lime will help prevent blossom end rot which is a common problem with tomatoes.


Stems need help to support the heavy fruit. Use 6 foot stakes and fix firmly in soil at planting to prevent root damage in growing plants. As the plant grows, secure it to the stake with soft ties at 12 inch intervals.

Tomato cages work very well. Use commercial cages or make your own from wire fence. Make sure the gage of the fence is large enough to allow you to insert your hand and pull out a large tomato. Caging usually results in smaller but more plentiful tomatoes.


Good companions for tomatoes include cabbage, carrots, celery, onion, mint, pot marigold (calendula) and borage. Borage actually improves the flavor of tomatoes, and the young leaves are a great addition to a tomato salad. Pot marigold and borage help deter tomato worms. Don't plant tomatoes near fennel or corn.

Saving Seeds

First, make sure your tomatoes are not hybrids. Hybrid tomato seeds will not not produce plants like the parents. Heirloom tomatoes are the best for saving seeds.

Choose the best tomatoes on your plant for seed saving. It's a good idea to choose some of the last fruit of the season and let them ripen fully on the vine. When the tomato dents easily when squeezed lightly, it's time to harvest seeds. Remove the seeds from the tomato, then pick up a dozen or so with the tip of a spoon. Spread the seeds around on an index card and allow the card to dry in an area with good ventilation. Once dry, write the name of your tomato plants on the card, seal them in a baggy, and store in a cool, dry place. Next spring the seeds will peel from the card easily.

Harvest and Storage

Pick the fruit when they are firm and starting to turn red. If they are left on the vine to ripen, they should be used immediately as overripe tomatoes rot very quickly. The fruit can be eaten fresh, preserved whole in mason jars, or made into sauce or juice and preserved.

Flowers for Beneficial Insects

Flowers for Beneficial Insects
by Diane Linsley

Why should vegetable gardens be
unattractive and boring? There's simply
no excuse for it when there are so many
beautiful flowers and herbs available. For
those of us who tend to feel guilty if we
plant anything "impractical" in the
vegetable garden, here are two reasons
why we should plant flowers:

1. Many flowers attract beneficial insects.
2. Some flowers are edible -- a very practical reason!

Beneficial insects are unbeatable for controlling bad bugs. A few years of reading Organic Gardening magazine convinced me to avoid pesticides and seek out safer alternatives. Not only are beneficial insects good for your garden, but they're also nice to have around when teaching children about nature.

If you have small children, consider planting only edible flowers in the vegetable garden, so they don't get confused about what's safe to eat. Other flowers can be planted in a border outside the vegetable garden. Be cautious and well-informed before eating any plant or flower. Some people have allergic reactions to certain flowers.

It's usually best to stick with annual flowers inside the vegetable garden, since you'll be rotating your crops every year. It's nice to have a special section for perennial flowers, maybe as part of the herb garden. Some herbs are perennials or biennials, so they need a permanent spot where they won't be disturbed by digging or rototilling.

Annual Flowers and Herbs

Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) -- Attracts hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) -- The flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects. The aromatic foliage supposedly repels aphids and tomato hornworms.

Calendula (Pot Marigold, Calendula officinalis) -- Edible, orange or yellow flower petals. Attracts bees, butterflies and hoverflies.

Cornflower (Centaurea sp.) -- Attracts lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic mini-wasps, bees and butterflies.

Cosmos -- Attracts lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) -- The leaves are used in recipes, and the umbel flowers attract lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps. A favorite food of the Eastern black swallowtail butterfly. Can be used as a trap crop for aphids. Self-sows.

Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) -- This self-sowing annual has beautiful, blue flowers in early summer, followed by ornamental seed pods. The seeds are edible and can be used in fruit salads and baked goods. Nigella sativa (Black Cumin) has spicy, pepper-flavored seeds.

Marigold (Tagetes sp.) -- The flowers attract butterflies and hoverflies, and the roots produce a secretion that kills root-eating nematodes in the soil. The flower petals are edible.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.) -- These edible flowers should be in every salad garden.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) -- Attracts bees like crazy. Birds eat the seeds in autumn. Plant sunflowers where they won't shade the vegetables.

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) -- A wonderful flower for attracting hummingbirds, hoverflies, parasitic wasps and butterflies.

Perennial Flowers and Herbs

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) -- Edible, licorice-flavored leaves for tea. Spikes of blue flowers attract bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. Blooms the first year from seed.

Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatile) -- The bright yellow flowers bloom in May, providing an early food source for ladybugs and hoverflies.

Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum') -- Handsome bronze foliage. The flowers attract lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic mini-wasps and butterflies, and the foliage feeds swallowtail butterfly larvae. Freshly-ground fennel seeds are great for sausage and spagghetti sauce, and the leaves are used in fish dishes.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) -- Leaves and flower buds are used in recipes. Makes a nice edging. Deadhead to prevent excessive self-sowing. Attracts bees and butterflies like crazy.

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) -- The flowers attract bees and beneficial insects. The leaves have a nice, strong garlic flavor. Chives and garlic chives make good companion plants for roses because they repel aphids.

Hesperis (Dame's Rocket) -- Pretty purple or white flowers. The young leaves are edible. Attracts bees and butterflies.

Lavender 'Lady' (Lavandula angustifolia) -- A nice compact lavender for the herb garden. The flowers attract hoverflies and bees. The fragrant foliage is used in potpourri. Blooms the first year from seed.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) -- The lemon-flavored leaves make a good tea. The tiny flowers attract hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic mini-wasps.

Lemon Bee Balm (Monarda citriodora) -- Like the name says, it attracts bees like crazy. The lemon-scented leaves are edible, and the flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) -- The umbel flowers attract hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic wasps. Parsley is a favorite food of Eastern black swallowtail butterfly larvae.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) -- This perennial wildflower is sometimes listed as an herb because the roots are used in herbal medicine as an immune stimulant. The flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus) -- Lovely spikes of blue flowers in June and July. Attracts ladybugs, hoverflies, hummingbirds and bees.

Sage (Salvia sp.) -- There are many forms of sage, including culinary sage. They all attract bees and butterflies, and some species attract hummingbirds.

Speedwell (Veronica spicata) -- Attracts ladybugs and hoverflies.

Thyme (Thymus sp.) -- Attracts bees, hoverflies, tachinid flies and parasitic mini-wasps.

Viola -- I let these self-sow wherever they like. They don't disturb the vegetables, and the edible flowers make nice cake decorations.

Yarrow (Achillia sp.) -- Attracts ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitic mini-wasps.

Information on beneficial insects comes from Tom Clothier's and Organic Gardening. Information on edible flowers comes from North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

Related Articles:
Flowers for Hummingbirds
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Growing Zucchini

This is one of the Groovy sites that has helped me in my Veggie Garden Adventure



Zucchini is known in Europe as courgettes. This squash family member is best when picked very young. Bushes are quite prolific and the plant is ideal for containers. The shape is elongated and both green and yellow varieties are available. Young zucchini is excellent in salads while older varieties are better cooked.


zucchini Zucchini is a warm weather crop and will not tolerate frosts. It requires full sun to partial shade and will do well in almost any soil with good drainage. Zucchini is a heavy feeder and the addition of compost and well-rotted manure will greatly improve results. When flowers begin to form, you will want to side-dress with more manure. Keep the garden free of weeds which may harbor disease. Cultivate lightly so as not to disturb the shallow root structures.


Plant when soil has completely warmed. Plants can be started indoors 4-6 weeks ahead to speed harvest. To sow directly outdoors, place several seeds 1/2 inch deep in a wide, saucer shaped depression. Depressions should be 8 inches deep and excavated soil should form a rim around the depression. Leave 3 feet between these "hills". Thin to 3 plants per hill once the true leaves appear. Remove unwanted seedlings by cutting them off with scissors at ground level.


zucchini Try to keep the water off the leaves and foliage. Insufficient water will cause the fruit to fall off before it matures. Leaves will wilt during very hot weather, but will recover when watered.


Powdery mildew and mosaic virus are the main problems. Good preventative measures include not handling the vines when they are wet, planting in an area with good ventilation, and keeping the garden clean and free of weeds and debris. Most insects that attack zucchini can be controlled by spraying with a good herbal or natural insecticide. See our recipes for herbal insecticides.


Pick zucchini early and often. Fruit that is 4-6 inches long will have the best flavor, and picking encourages more fruit.


Peace On

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