Ginger & Turmeric – Grow Your Own Continual Source

Grow your own Ginger Root Turmeric Root

Growing your own Ginger and Turmeric is actually quite easy.  We’ve been growing and replanting “child” sprouts from our ONE original Ginger root for about 5 years now and this year decided to give Turmeric a try.  Ginger and Turmeric have such a wide array of uses, both medicinal and culinary, we felt like they were something we didn’t want to have to do without or depend on the grocery store for.  It’s so easy that I’ve just laid out the quick and dirty for you below, nothing fancy.  There are probably a billion other methods, but this is the way we do it, and with very good success. Read More

Canning & Pickling Beets

Canning & Pickling Beets

At the request of one of my readers, here is a quick run down on Beets, starting with ones fresh from the garden or farmer’s market.  It just so happens that I took pictures a few weeks ago as I canned some of ours, but like so many other things I put off writing about it.  🙂   You can also use store bought canned beets for pickling and I’ll give proportions and a recipe for that method along with the fresh, toward the bottom of this post.  Beets are high in potassium and are a natural source of Iron, Magnesium and Vitamin C.   Generally, people who like beets really, really like them and the ones that don’t, hate them with a passion.  There never seems to be any in between.  To me, they have a wonderful earthy flavor and I could eat them with every meal.  They’re super for aiding digestion and stimulating the liver’s detoxification process.  That said, … let’s see, how do I put this tactfully?  If you eat a plateful every day for several days in a row, don’t be surprised if Read More

Chemical-Free Squash Bug Management

Adult Squash Bug on leaf

Image courtesy of NC Cooperative Extension

This so-called “shortcut” described below is nothing new, but is my favorite way to manage Squash Bugs in our garden.  We don’t spray chemicals, instead we pick, squish and smush.  I think that’s why they call these bugs and their preferred fruit “squash”, as is in squish, smush and “squash”, but that may be a Southern term.  🙂  We also utilize Lady Bugs as a natural predator to unwanted garden bugs but they don’t help with these.  The Lady Bugs are another reason not to spray chemicals in your garden, because as they kill the unwanted bugs, they also kill the valuable Lady Bugs.   There’s still a lot of time involved doing it this way, as you’ll need to check the underside of the squash leaves in the morning and again at night,  but this management practice is completely doable.  Read More

Seed Saving – Zinnias

I LOVE Zinnias. My love affair with them goes back much further than just planting them here on our land. We always had Zinnias. My parents had Zinnias, my grandparents had Zinnias and as far as I know, their parents had Zinnias. We welcomed the time of year that we could start them and enjoy their beauty all summer and into late fall. Needless to say, my parents and grandparents saved Zinnia seeds from year to year (that’s just what you did back then) so several years ago when I planted the first Zinnias at our new homestead, I started saving the seeds. Seed saving has many benefits ranging from the $1.50 you’ll save every year, haha,  to the more important fact that, over time, plants adapt to local conditions. Please check out http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/save-seeds-to-save-money-and-improve-your-garden for the whole story behind how plant generations adapt and optimize to soil over time. I’d do far worse trying to describe the biology behind this, they say it much better.

The last of the Zinnias for this year:

Seed Saving, Zinnias

To save Zinnia seed (or other flower seed) I usually leave the spent flowers on the stems until they are dry, or pretty close to it. You will get much better flower production during the season if you immediately clip spent flowers, but I go somewhere in between to get the best of both. Once clipped, I store them for another month or two in a brown paper bag and then shake to loosen the seeds and other plant matter. The “other plant matter” in that mix are petal and leaf bits that I view as a helpful spreader when planting next year. Instead of systematically placing seeds, I can sprinkle the whole mix in the bed I want planted and feel reasonably certain they are well spaced because of the “other matter”. This is similar to what people do with very tiny seeds like carrot or celery. Below is the pic of packaged ones and partially dried ones, in a pretty keeper basin, that I’ve clipped but haven’t gotten around to yet.   If you are saving during summer months, an excellent and quick way to dry them is to put them in a brown paper bag and leave them in a car that is sitting in the sun. This will do the trick in just an afternoon. However, when cool weather hits, it’s better to just bring them inside and wait for them to dry the slow way.

Saving Seeds over to the following year

Fuzzy Brown Things Everywhere! – Leaf Galls

Gall Wasp on an Oak Leaf

Yesterday, my 5 year old and I found the largest leaf gall I’ve ever seen. We’re never sure exactly what insect they’re from when we find one, but it’s always fun examining them. Galls appear as the result of an insect, mite, or fungal or bacterial irritation and can be found most any time of the year, depending on the cause or type of insect. They can be fuzzy, like this one, or smooth. Some even have hard spikey nodules covering the outside. Most of the ones we have found have been like this one and are made by insects that lay their eggs on the plant leaves or stems. The gall casing and plant host house the eggs and later serve as a food source for the young. The offspring, once hatched, dig their way out, then ants, spiders and beneficial insects such as lacewing larvae move in, or so we’re told! As I understand it, galls like this one are generally harmless and can actually be beneficial because of the hatch cycle described. Some floral arrangements even use fuzzy galls as an attractive addition… I’m not sure how I feel about that! We’re far from experts, but we like to observe them and enjoy the wonder of this odd creation from nature.