Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Herb Fairies is Back!

...and to celebrate, we are giving away a free PDF activity pack to show you what Herb Fairies is all about! Simply click on the picture below and it will take you to the download.
activity-pack-image
Want to see more Herb Fairies? Head on over to their website to get some more great freebies from Herb Fairies!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

First Aid Kit for Traveling Abroad


A friend of mine's daughter is traveling to Nicaragua soon and being a herbalist, she created a first aid kit appropriate for traveling to the warm, buggy climate. It's a great source for more first aid kit information, especially for those who will be traveling abroad.

First Aid Set for Traveling Out of the Country

Friday, March 8, 2013

Of Potatoes and Mushrooms


Last year at this time, spring had sprung weeks ago. This year, I have still yet to hear the peepers declare their promise that spring has arrived.

Today I went to purchase a few more seed potatoes. I bought some purple potatoes at the grocery store a few months back and they are sprouting quite nicely. Today, I grabbed up about 5# each of red, white and yellow to round out our crops.


In the past I have always planted rows. This year, in an effort to thwart the chickens incessant scratchy and destruction, I'll be using old tomato cages and growing potatoes vertically. Today, I also chitted the potatoes that were too big for planting singly, a very small amount as I purposely selected small seed potatoes.

Our sweet potatoes are growing like crazy! We have 4 containers full of slips that I'll be planting into containers shortly to get a head start on their growth since I cannot put them out for another 2 months. I am truly amazed at how large they have grown.


My order of ginger and turmeric have arrived and I'll be pre-sprouting them this weekend. I'm hoping to have a crop for selling at the farmer's market this fall. And for us to have plenty for the winter. It will be interesting to see how this crop works out.

The store also had a bag of Oyster mushroom plugs for $12. I decided to try them out, as Oysters are my favorite and it was a decent price for 100 plugs. I'll be drilling logs this weekend and planting them in the orchard and woods.


In order to keep track of what should be planted when, I splurged for the Zarkin Royal calendar. I'm so glad I did, it is very helpful for keeping on track. It will be great to look back on at the end of the year.

We have also purchased 150' of chicken wire to surround some of my herb/garden beds to try to reduce the amount of damage caused by turkeys, chickens and ducks. We'll see how it works. I'll be planting lettuce first thing when the moon is new next week.

I'm ready for spring to arrive! How have you been preparing?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Some Things Old, Some Things New

I pulled out my seed jars today to get the onions started. Last year I didn't start them soon enough and they didn't do well because I planted them when they were tiny. There are actually a few onions growing in the garden right now left over from that failed attempt last year. A friend of mine who runs a CSA has started experimenting with overwintering his onions. Our zone seems to be warming up quite a bit so plants we previously wouldn't be able to overwinter here are doing nicely now.

Things we'll be trying out for the first time are:

Pickle cukes - Sage loves pickles but because of his sensitivities, there aren't any options where we are so I hope to ferment some for him this year

Shallots - Something we don't get from the store often because of their cost

Ginger & turmeric - I have grown ginger in a pot for myself before, now I'm going to try to grow both for selling at the farmer's market. I've ordered #5 of each to try out.

Purple Potatoes - The kids are tickled about purple mashed potatoes and they are supposed to be higher in antioxidants, etc.

Longkeeper Tomato - Eating tomatoes that we had stored from October in January was the clencher! I'm going to be growing Rev. Morrow's Long Keeper and Giraffe, a Russian variety.

Things we'll be returning to are:

Luffas - I grew these successfully a few years ago and my stash is now almost gone. I tried growing them again last year but the drought didn't allow them to start blooming until it was too late for the fruits to mature.

Garlic - I used to be so good at planting garlic in the fall. The past 3 years I've slacked off, probably because my friend who runs the CSA sells 10 varieties of garlic at the farmer's market so I know I can always get good garlic from him.

Amish Paste Tomatoes - These are a long time favorite for me to grow for using in making sundried tomatoes and ketchup

Rose Tomatoes - Hands down my favorite slicing tomato. This heirloom has few seeds and that's the one thing I don't like about eating tomatoes are the seeds. This tomato is thick and beefy and a beautiful rosy pink color.

Corn - Though we've grown corn in the past, this year we'll be bagging the corn so that we can hand pollinate so it won't cross contaminate with the gmo corn that grows all around us

What tried and true favorites do you return to every year? Which ones are you throwing out? Are you trying anything new this year?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Garden Planning


I've been lax on our gardening efforts the past few years but with a year of extremely restrictive dieting under our belt, I'm more determined to grow the food we like and eat this year.

Part of this is because my youngest has shown remarkable improvement in his behavior over the past year with the deletion of food dyes, preservatives, msg, pasteurized dairy, gluten and gmo's. But, there's still something I am missing and I think part of it might be pesticides/herbicides that are sprayed/absorbed into foods as they grow. We try our best to buy organic as much as possible but if there's anything I've learned, it's that I cannot trust a label to be completely honest with how that plant grew. During the summer I can get veggies from the farmer's market and I do but from mid-October to mid-June, it's slim pickin's and that's the other reason I want to get better at gardening. I hope to fatten our larder choices for that time period.

I'm looking into fall planting for potatoes for next year. I'm going to experiment with some gorgeous purple potatoes the grocery store has this spring. Several of them are already sprouting so I plan to buy about 10# and see what comes of them. It's cheaper to buy them at the grocery store than it is through an online seed potato supplier.

I've started compiling a list of foods we love to eat and eat on a regular basis. From there I will try to map out a way to grow them year round as much as possible. I know with some things it will be impossible but with others, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and such, I am hoping I can. Our winters are becoming a lot more mild in the past few years and I think with the help of a hoop house (which we have started) I could even possibly grow lettuce and a few other things in there all throughout the winter.

I'm also stoked that I brought home a box of tomatoes from a friend up in Chicago back at the beginning of October. We JUST ate the last tomato 2 days ago. Unfortunately, it was a Burpee "Long Keeper" which is a hybrid but I hope to research and possibly find a tomato that will last that long and still be a heirloom.

So, this week I've started a sweet potato and will grab a few more organic ones at the store to start as well. We have a pile of potatoes that were grown last year that are sprouting. We are going to have a warm (50's) week coming up so we're going to do an experiment and plant them with lots of goat manure and straw.

Early Spring plants:
Lettuce
Kale
Broccoli
Potatoes
Parsnips
Turnips
Carrots
Onions
Peas
Scallions
Spinach
Oats

Late Spring/Early Summer:
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Summer Squash
Tomatoes
Eggplant
Peppers
Lettuce
Carrots
Winter Squash
Celery (have plants growing in pots)
Cucumbers
Okra
Corn (we are going to bag the tassles/silks and hand fertilize them)
Tomatillos
Luffa

Fall planting is going to be more intense this year. I hope to start growing these plants this fall:
Broccoli
Cabbage
Lettuce
Kale
Potatoes*
Garlic*
Parsnips
Turnips
Rutabagas
Asparagus
Carrots
Onions*
Spinach

Are your garden plans changing for this year? Are you doing more or less? Trying out any new produce or techniques this year?
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