Monthly Archives: February 2016

How To Grow Potatoes

Most of you know that I have had my ups and downs trying to grow potatoes.
The outcome was not very good.  I couldn’t get a straight answer on where or how to plant. Once the potato eyes were in the ground, Wireworms and Colorado Potato Beetles joined together to make for tiny tubers and a potato growing nightmare.

So,when I read High Mowing Seeds post on growing potatoes 101 I knew I had to share.

I also think that Margaret Roach of A Way To Garden fame has a good tutorial fro growing your own spuds, too.

If you dream of growing your own spuds or want to be able to walk into your back yard and dig a few potatoes for the dinner table, High Mowing Seeds and Margaret Roach can help you get it done.

Remember, potatoes love being planted when it’s cool out so early spring is a great time to give this American favorite a try.

If you are successful, try dicing a few into this fabulous fish chowder – buttery rich and tasty. I married an Italian but my maiden name was Duffy.  If I know anything, I know some great recipes for cooking potatoes!

Fish Chowder

2 boneless fish fillets
2 thick cut bacon slices
2 T butter
1 leek, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
½ tsp dry mustard
1 lb potatoes, peeled & cubed
4 sprigs thyme
¼ c heavy cream
1 T minced chives

Place fish fillets and bacon slices in large pot and cover with 4 cups cold water.

Bring to simmer over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes or until fish is cooked.

Transfer fish to plate and let it cool then remove skin and flake into large pieces.

Continue to simmer bacon in broth until stock is reduced by half (2 cups).

Strain, discard bacon, add 2 to 3 cups of water and reserve poaching liquid.

Melt butter in large pot, add leeks and celery and cook 15 minutes until translucent.



Tick Control & Lyme Disease Treatment

It’s been a very warm and wet winter here….perfect for a lot of pests to grow and breed and lay their plans of total destruction. One of the worst pests, in my opinion, is the deer tick – the one that carries Lyme disease or Lyme borrelliosis,

Deer ticks carry Lyme disease.

Deer ticks carry Lyme.

just two of the many devastating diseases carried by ticks.

One major problem is that Lyme is easily and frequently misdiagnosed.  The bad news is that physical consequences of a tick-borne illness like Lyme are horrendous and can be slow to show up,arriving years after exposure.

Prevention is your friend.  You don’t want to play host to one of these nasty arachnids but chances are you, one of your kids, your significant other or your dog is going to get bitten.  Here are some ideas for fighting back, preventing bites and treating bites when it’s too late.

Think about buying Martin S Permethrin Sfr Termiticide/Insecticide

I get it on Amazon at a concentration of 38% – that’s more than 5 times the strength of the Pyola you would buy from someplace like Gardens Alive and it’s cheaper.

You may be screaming, “Hey, that’s not organic! Permethrin is actually a synthetic compound that mimics pyrethrin found in chrysanthemums. We use it sparingly and only when needed to spray the perimeter of our fenced in yard. It usually only takes one soaking spray to do the trick.  NOTE: I spray before beneficials and buds show up.  As an organic gardener, I hate to spray but hate the prospect of Lyme disease or borelliosis even more

Buy some permethrin-treated clothing – it might help prevent bites but be aware of the pros/cons per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Clothing is available at REI and Sawyer or you can spray your own clothing to prevent tick bites.   Keep in mind the precautions recommended for skin or eye contact.

Read up about your enemy. My favorite book (illuminating and terrifying) is by Stephen Harold Buhner. I read the 2005 version but Buhner just released a version in 2015 – Healing Lyme : natural prevention and treatment of Lyme borreliosis and its coinfections / Stephen Harrod Buhner.

If you are unlucky enough to be a tick host, Buhner advises you not to wait. Begin a treatment protocol right away!  Even if your doctor says you aren’t positive for Lyme!!

Anyone who owns or a horse or hangs out with the horsy set knows that the most frequently prescribed treatment is Doxycycline.   I only mention this because some physicians refuse to order doxy if the Lyme titres aren’t there.  If you have a horse or know a horse owner, you might be able to find what you’re looking for at the barn.

Whether or not you get doxy, the man who wrote the book on Lyme also has some herbal alternatives you can try, too.

Buhner’s web site has a wealth of information on treating Lyme.  If you go there and click on Prime protocol, you will find a list of recommended herbs and sources for herbal treatments. Note that all of these herbs are also available through Amazon, I think, but beware who makes them.  You want pure and healthful.

Buhner’s Core Protocol
1. Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) (Green Dragon Botanicals) – 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily for 8-12 months;
2. Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa)(Green Dragon Botanicals) – 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily for 2-3 months, then 2-3 capsules 3x daily;
3. Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) (HerbPharm tincture) – 1/2 to 1 tsp upon rising and at lunch;
4. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) – 1,000mg daily (not to be used in chronic lyme)

You can also source these from other sites but after reading Buhner’s book, I think I might start with his recommended sources to begin with.

There are few natural or wild things that scare me but ticks are a source of real terror for me. I will prevent them from being in my garden or house if I can. If I can’t, I will make sure I am vigilant, check for ticks on myself and my dogs every day and follow Buhner’s protocol if I find an attached tick.

By the way, you can have any tick tested for $50 at U Mass Amherst. It’s better to know your enemy and be able to show your doctor just what your tick was carrying!

Want more tips on preventing problems with ticks? The Illinois Department of Health offers some straight up ideas for making your summers safer and healthier.

Safe and happy gardening.

How To Grow Onion From Seed

Growing onions is easy.

My onions enjoy raised bed living.

I love growing onions. I have only grown them from seed, once and I sowed them outdoors. That is another story!

This year, I am starting onions from seed, indoors, and I wanted to share two of the resources I am using to help me in this new adventure.

Barbara Pleasant’s Top Ten Tips for Growing Onions from Seed is a spectacular resource. Pleasant is a well-known author who contributes to publications like Mother Earth News and The Herb Companion.  

She is also the US-based contributor to a site and company called GrowVeg, which provides innovative garden planning apps for Mac, PC, iPad & iPhone.

This woman knows her beans…or her onions.  Anyway she is a top-notch gardener and her “how to” article on starting onions from seed is one of the best I have read. IMG_2464

Sprouting onions from seed

Onion seed sprouted quickly.

My second source should be familiar to a lot of you – it’s High Mowing Organic Seeds.

They are sharing their tips and tools for starting onions indoors. Part 1 covers location, light, temperature, soil and containers then shares the best way to get the seeds into the soil and get them started.

If you want to start onions from seed this year, I cannot recommend any better places to start than GrowVeg’s Barbara Pleasant and High Mowing Seeds Seed Hopper Blog!

Spring is coming! And the game is afoot!!

Lee Reich Shares Seed Starting Tips & More

Lee Reich's farmden is organized and weed free.

Lee Reich’s spring garden

I love Lee Reich!

Dr. Reich (botanist, retired professor and incredible home gardener) lives on a “farmden” in New York state and is my go to guy for fruit growing, pruning and feeding blueberries, blackberries, apples and more.

In this lovely interview with Lee Reich, another of my favorite gardeners, Margaret Roach, formerly Martha Stewart’s garden guru and author of several beautiful books including the book that launched her blog A Way To Garden.

Get Lee Reich’s simple but very effective recipe for seed starting mix. Take a look at his planting tools – practical, some homemade and all well-used and well-loved.  And watch the two wonderful clips of Reich in his gardens.

Its snowing again here, today, but I am going to my basement, turning on my grow lights and playing in the dirt as I dream of April, May and June.

Happy Gardening, Gang.