The carrots planted in our winter garden are still coming to fruition and the end of March has already passed. The carrot seeds, being so small, were sown directly into the prepared garden bed. We chose an heirloom mix with three different colored carrot roots: orange, purple and white. They have a mild and sweet flavor.
As beautiful as carrots are, it’s the carrot tops that really get your attention. The lush, green, parsley like foliage is so gorgeous, it’s a shame to just cast it into the compost pile like it doesn’t have anything of value to offer. So before I decapitated those fluffy green tops from the long, stocky and stubby roots they were attached to I did a quick search on the internet to see whether they were edible. What was discovered is that indeed, carrot tops are quite edible and full of nutrition, especially vitamin K, but also minerals and proteins. Use caution however, especially if you have skin sensitivities, apparently there is some evidence that people can get a skin irritation from eating carrot tops called photo dermatitis.
The good news is you don’t have to discard your beautiful carrot tops anymore, instead use them like any other green. Therefore they can be used either raw or cooked; in soups, salads, juice and green smoothies. I decided to use mine in our salad tonight as well as in a new recipe called mean greens I came across from the Happy Healthy Human raw food restaurant in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida at 1869 South Patrick Drive.
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I keep telling my husband, “Life is going to change soon.” The reason: this summer will mark my half century milestone celebration on planet earth. Reaching the ripe young age of 50 years gives one pause for reflection: reflecting on accomplishments, desires, and unsatisfied goals. As the date grows nearer, I’ve been asking and praying about how to intentionally spend the next 50 years, Lord willing.
As a result of the recent soul searching, one new goal has evolved – transforming the majority our yard into a garden; sustainable agriculture at home. Some of the inspiration we have received to that end comes from the www.PathToFreedom.com website. Here, you can read, and be inspired too, by the Dervaes who grow the majority of their own food, on a very small plot of land.
The Devraes own a 1/5 acre lot in Pasadena, California and cultivate one half of their property. That means they garden 1/10 an acre. Out of that 1/10 acre they are able to produce 6,000 lbs of produce annually. Their garden is not only their main food source but also their livelihood. Wow! Whoever would have thought that was possible.
Alan and I have started out small: this season we grew lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and herbs and you can see some of them pictured above. But through studying the Dervaes site, our plans for dinking around with gardening as a hobby, has turned onto a very realistic dream of cultivating the entire yard and turning it into an edible landscape. One day we hope that our yard will provide the majority of our vegan diet.
As we move into and through this process, we promise to keep you posted and hopefully give you encouragement on how you too can become a sustainable farmer in your own back yard…no matter what the size.
Tags: sustainable agriculture, garden, pathtofreedom, california, vegan diet
Winter is upon us and for most of the nation growing a garden just isn’t an option. Fortunately we live in Florida where the winters are very mild so we have a regular garden and an herb garden my wife tends in several containers on our deck. But what if you live in the frigid north or live in an apartment and would like to have at least an herb garden?
Well, you are in luck! I’ve just run across the indoor herb garden known as the AeroGarden and it’s one of the coolest little garden deals I’ve ever seen. It’s about the size of a breadbox (does anyone have one of those anymore?), it fits right on your countertop and you can grow herbs in it year round. And the best part is that the herb garden is completely dirt free using what’s known as aeroponics. Aeroponics are very similar to hydroponics and it is a system where the roots are suspended in a high oxygen and moisture chamber fed with just the right amounts of nutrients.
The garden comes with its own full spectrum light, has computerized controls that turns the light on and off, regulates nutrient delivery and it alerts you when additional nutrients and water are needed. And don’t worry about the nutrients, because they are 100% certified organic. You can grow all sorts of herbs in it like dill, cilantro, Italian basil, purple basil, parsley, mint and even small vegetables like cherry tomatoes and chili peppers and some lettuce.
The seeds for the garden are enclosed in their own dome-like seed pots that are like mini greenhouses for fast germination and growing. All you do to get started with the AeroGarden is put in your seed pods, add water, put in the nutrient tablets, plug it in and watch it grow into a nice little garden. It’s perfect for apartments, condos, trailers or as I mentioned earlier, those cold northern areas in the dead of winter.
Find out more about the AeroGarden.
Tags: indoor herb garden, herbs, herb garden kit, aerogarden, italian basil
This month’s Healthy Diet Podcast is about news on organic leafy greens and the California raw almonds update.
- $20 million, 4 year organic produce study coordinated by European Union. Found Up to 40% more antioxidants and mineral content higher. Even milk from organically raised cows had up to 90% more antioxidants than conventional milk.
- USDA issued an advanced notice of proposed rule making recently, trying to establish uniform growing practices to protect consumer health against ecoli bacteria.
- Farmers in California asked to take extreme measures that indirectly eliminate biodiversity on farms by destroying hedgerows around farms.
- Natural vegetation surrounding farm fields actually has many benefits for organic farmers. It’s the bagged leafy greens produced by manufacturing type farms that typically have the ecoli problems. Visit the Cornucopia Institute for more info on these regulations.
- Unbagged leafy greens have fewer problems and are more likely to come from smaller farms.
- The prevalence of the virulent E. coli 0157 in our food system is due to the animal industry being allowed to raise cattle in stressful environments on unnatural diets. A grass diet for cattle vs a grain diet reduces ecoli in the stomachs.
- Government is burdening the small farmers instead of dealing with the root issue.
Almond farmers who sell 100 Lbs a day are required to pasteurize (aka kill) their almonds.
- Are these regulations really about protecting consumer health when the regulations result in a decrease in nutritional value?
- Almond framers using propylene oxide to pasteurize almonds is raising concern for consumers. Propylene oxide is a gas used for fumigation as part of the pasteurization process. Banned by European Union and Canada, the EPA identified it as a probable human carcinogen.
- There is a war out there on our health and it begins with the farmer and we urge you to continue to support local and organic farmers.
Tags: organic, leafy greens, california almonds, propylene oxide, antioxidants
Organic Leafy Greens And Raw Almonds Update [15:03m]: Play Now
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With the high cost of produce and because we want to use our land wisely we decided to start a small garden several weeks ago. Mind you, when I say small I mean small (3′ x 15′), but it is actually an experiment for a much larger garden possibly in the spring or later.
Jean mentioned the garden a few posts ago when she explained how we keep the pests out by natural means so I thought I’d tell you a little more about what’s in it and post a picture of it.
Starting from the top of the picture you will see marigolds, that’s to keep the pests out. Then there is broccoli and red onions together, the tomatoes, then we have romaine lettuce, more onions and tomatoes again. We finished off the other end with marigolds as well.
Now, the nice things about the garden is that we get to eat the freshest food possible, from garden to table, and we know exactly what goes into the production of our little crop. I had the privilege of getting to eat some of our romaine lettuce when Jean made me a salad yesterday. It’s a wonderful feeling to be eating the fruits of your own labor, well, it’s more like the fruits of Jean’s labor. She’s the main gardener around our house.
Jean made our faux tuna salad recipe for lunch on Monday and put it on a bed of our own fresh romaine lettuce along with cucumbers, tomatoes, raisins and our own scallions to top it off. I used a simple dressing of honey and Braggs aminos. It was a tasty treat for lunch.
Tags: home garden, romaine lettuce, gardener, tuna salad recipe
It is a beautiful Florida morning and I have already been out tending my small garden. We were created to be gardeners and to take dominion over the earth and everything in it. I think that’s the reason most people derive great joy from seeing things grow. There is just something uniquely special about growing food for one’s sustenance that resonates deep within and connects us in a greater way with our Creator. Not to mention, the best food for your health and well being is food grown in your own yard – from garden to table in one day – that makes it nutritionally superior to any other food you could eat.
Of course with the joy of gardening comes some trials as well. Those trials frequently come in the form of pests and other little critters that like to “worm” their way in where they are not welcome. The biggest pest we have to contend with (no pun intended) is our 18 lb Siamese named Bear. Because I am concerned about using harsh chemicals to control pests I did some research on natural pest control.
The number one natural pest control of course is making sure that your soil is rich in nutrients – so before planting, enrich your soil with good organic fertilizer/manure and peat. Second best form of natural pest control are other plants – this form of pest control is called companion planting. Marigolds give off a strong fragrance that pests don’t like and also may confuse their senses making it difficult to figure out which plant they want to eat. The marigolds seems to be working so far in the garden. I also planted red onions and they too are known for being a natural pest repellant.
Additionally, I discovered that sprinkling cayenne pepper and paprika around the garden will keep pests away. So far there are no signs of critters (rabbits, armadillo, opossum or kitty cats sneaking in and chomping on the young veggies). Surprisingly, there is no evidence of bugs or caterpillars eating the veggies either.
In Florida, there are always fire ants to contend with, but I had read that citrus works to keep them at bay. So a couple times I have sprayed my citrus based All Natural Veggie Wash on the ants and their mound and it seems to at least redirect them.
If all continues to grow as planned, we should have some red onions, romaine and maybe even broccoli ready for Christmas dinner.
To your health,
For the last few years I have thought often about creating a compost pile. As mostly raw vegans, for over 3 years, I have felt more and more convicted about recycling our garbage. In doing research I found many different types of composting containers – You can build a wire cage, side-by-side bins or purchase various and sundry composting containers. Since I didn’t want to spend $200 + dollars to see if the barrel composter (I really wanted) would work and I didn’t want to take the time to build a wire cage, I decided to use the plastic bag approach that Tom MacCubbin recommends in his book The Edible Landscape (Tom is Florida’s leading garden expert).
This approach seemed good for several reasons: First, I could set the bags descretely behind our deck – out of our view and our neighbors view. Also, since the compost would be in a plastic bag, it would not smell offensive while it was decomposing – another plus I’m sure the neighbors appreciate. Third, I could compost in various stages quite easily. This method supposedly creates compost in 4-6 weeks (according to MacCubbin) which means that the most bags I will have sitting behind the deck is 4-6. Finally, turning the compost is made quite simple by simply turning the bag every week to 10 days to mix the compost.
Well today was week 4 for my first bag, so I cautiously took a peak inside. What did I find? What I found was that my compost was starting to compost – it was all dark brown, pretty smelly and moist with some parts and pieces that had not yet decomposed: parts like small oaks leaves and twigs – but it was looking good! I’m excited about recycling kitchen scraps and will keep you posted on how the plastic bag method of composting works for us.
Tags: composting, compost pile, recycling, Tom MacCubbin