Tag Archives: kale

Protein From The Garden – from Garden Rant

If you struggle with the ethical issue of killing and eating animals, like I do, you have either become a vegetarian or are becoming one. I am on the cusp.  I eat fish – only wild caught and wild harvested.  Occasionally (maybe 10 times a year), I still eat poultry.

Eat vegetables for a protein rich, ethical diet.

My backyard garden is full of protein rich plants.

On average, 98% of the year, I am vegetarian, growing as much of my own food as I possibly can; buying the rest from local, organic farmers.

My choice opens me up for a lot of “advice” from well-intentioned people who love me and who think I simply don’t get enough protein.  As one of them quipped, not so long ago, “I’ll buy you a walker when your muscles break down.  You’re too old to cut out protein from your diet.”

The truth is, I haven’t cut out protein; I’ve just changed the source of my protein to foods that don’t cry, don’t make friends with each other, don’t lovingly care for their babies, don’t greet you in the field.  Up until this morning, I didn’t really have an argument that supported my food choices.

Garden Rant and Evelyn Hadden have provided me with knowledge I need to defend my choice!

Turns out that foods I grow (like kale and beets), foods I love (like sunflower and pumpkin seeds and cheese) and foods I buy locally from my organic farmer friends are packed with protein!

FYI – I can’t quite get my arms around eating insects – one of the protein sources Hadden cites. But I’m on board with all the rest and grateful for a chance to eat without any compromises.

So if you are just thinking about changing some animal protein to plant, or if someone is telling you you have to eat meat to maintain your health, check out Hadden’s article and consider the options she offers.

Oh, also courtesy of EvelynHadden, if you want to find out just how much protein the foods you’re eating have, check out the protein content at the USDA National Nutrient Database.

 

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Taking Summer Stock – What Worked? What Didn’t?

I love and hate the end of the summer.

I hate that it has ended.  I love that I can spend quiet hours cleaning up, organizing and getting ready for the next garden.

And I love some of my online gardening friends for their insights, their humor and their ideas.

Check out this post from Chrystal.  Gardener extraordinaire, keeper of bee hives

Bees making honey in Chrystal's garden.

Bee hives enjoying Kale Grower’s garden

and sharer of good advice, good recipes and good humor, she gardens a bit north of me (British Columbia) and catalogs the good and the bad from her 2015 garden!

And shares some wonderful pictures in the process.

Read up and learn how Chrystal copes aphids (suggested she get some lacewings which devour lots of irritating bugs).

Find out how her tomatoes grew (like mine, they didn’t) and check out what she made with her lovely red raspberries.

Reading about her adventures helped me with my end of gardening season blues.  Isn’t it nice to know we have company in our back yards?

Happy planning for 2016!

2015 Organic Garden in the Ground!

I got all of my plants in the ground – wrapping up planting today.  All organic seed, all raised by me in my basement and all hand-planted.

Granted, the garden doesn’t look like much right now but give it a few weeks and the size and shape of every plant will change as they fill in their spaces!

My garden is all planted.

All my plants are in the garden and ready to grow.

Here’s the inventory!  And, instead of talking about them, here are pictures of the newly transplanted, beautiful babies.

Eggplant baby.

Eggplant transplant just in the ground.

I put in 4 different types of tomatoes – 12 plants – Golden Slicer, Fir, Fox Cherry & San Marzano

Sweet Italian Peppers – 14 plants

Organic Italian sweet peppers

Inverted tomato cages help support my Italian sweet pepper plants.

Eggplants – 5 plants – Dusky and Melanzana Prosperosa

Zukes – 3 plants – saved seeds from last year’s Italian Zuchetta

Cukes – Saber F1 from Seeds of Change and Cetriolo from Grow Italian.

Kale – 10 plants – Curly, Russian, Dino & some unknowns from Adaptiv Seeds

Beets – lots and lots of plants – Cylindra and Early Wonder

Lettuce – Butterhead, Red Oak & a mix of saved seeds from last year and

Organic red leaf lettuce

Organic red leaf lettuce grows quickly and tastes sweet by itself or in salads.

Onions – 100 plants which I did not raise. I got these from an Amish friend.

Oh, and my thornless blackberries are growing and greening up!  And right below them, my gorgeous blueberries are covered with flowers.  Planted once, harvest every year for 20 years+ – organic gardening really is easy!

Thornless blackberries

My Doyle thornless blackberry bushes getting ready for summer.

Blueberry bushes laden with flowers.

Every flower on every blueberry bush becomes a blueberry — 60 quarts every summer.

How To Grow Spring Crops

Encore blog: Today is the first day of Spring, 2016. It snowed here and more snow is predicted for tonight. As usual (see below) I tend to put cool weather crops like beets, lettuce and kale, in the ground early. My weather has been so unpredictable here in the Mid-Atlantic for the lasts couple of years but win, lose or draw, I usually just plant.

Some tips on getting cool weather crops started and some cheap tips on how to protect them when snow and frost return to their curtain calls.

Window frames protect plants from frost.

Old sheers stapled to old window frames.

It was gray and cool day, perfect weather for the baby plants that I put in the old ’55 Chevy truck bed!

Lettuce, spinach and onions growing in raised truck bed.

Cool weather and cool raised bed of a 55 Chevy truck making for happy lettuce, spinach and onions.

All of butterhead lettuce and the spinach slid right into the soil and the plants responded to the cloudy skies and low temperatures beautifully.

The oak leaf lettuce (lower left hand side of the picture) didn’t fare as well.  It got a bit battered by the wind which rose to 35 miles per hour the day after transplant.

Baby beets grown indoors from seed.

Beets started indoors can be transplanted outdoors as soon as you can work the soil — if you protect them from frost.

Next to go out, will be the baby beets I started in the basement from seed.

I used a 40 cell propagation tray and put 2 or 3 seeds in each cell. When I transplant the beets, I will separate them by gently teasing apart their tiny roots (cilia). Using a pencil, I will punch a hole in the ground and set each beet in, tamping gently around the stem.

The kale, which is a mixture of dinosaur, curly and seeds from Adaptiv which came from around the world, will go in on the same day as the beets.

And if another frost is in the forecast, it will be easy to protect all these small plants using materials I got for free. The old window frames came from a friend’s house.

Window frames and sheers protect baby plants

Free row covers from old window frames and sheers

The sheer curtains came from my own living room. Both were being replaced and could have been thrown out but I saw opportunity. I knocked out the glass and cleaned the frames up a bit. Then I stapled the curtains to the window frames. In 20 minutes I made half a dozen “raised bed” covers.

These covers can be used year after year and make protecting transplants easy.

Protect cool weather crops with window frames

Sheers stapled to window frames

Just make sure your raised beds are the same width as the length of the windows so you can use the sides of the beds to prop up your covers – just lay them across the raised bed and…instant coverage.

Are your transplants in the ground yet? Are you getting ready to harvest? Share the state of your garden and any tips you have for getting plants into the ground!

Happy gardening, everyone!

Growing Season Begins! Tips for Getting Ready

It’s time!

The weather is relenting; the cold retreating.  Birds are singing and trees are putting on their Spring buds.  It’s gardening season and I have some tips for you on how to make the most of the next two months.

Outside, it’s cool weather crop planting time in Zone 6A or 6B or whatever USDA is calling it now.  For me, that means putting in lettuce seeds in the old truck bed and sowing beet seeds.  I’ll keep both watered by hand (a hose would still freeze solid) for the next 2 to 3 weeks while their hard hulls soften, crack and start to reach for the sun.

Inside, I’ve transplanted the baby kale to small pots and given them a quick feed. IMG_2189They’ve been moved out of the basement to join the lettuce I started inside and I’m now hardening them off.  Both are starting to go outside for quick visits with the sun and the wind.

Meanwhile, back in the basement, the tomato and pepper seeds I started in cells just got transplanted into cow pots (which I got online at a great price).

Seedling tomatoes and sweet peppers

Transplanted tomatoes will live in the basement until early May.

Sweet Italian Pepper Transplants

These babies will stay in the basement, growing, being fanned and fed, until the first week of May when they will take their place in my office and begin their hardening off process.

NOTE:  I used to harden plants off haphazardly.  Dangerous! The seedlings you worked and worried over will quickly die if they are not properly introduced to the great outdoors – an hour a day for 2 days, 2 to 3 hours a day for 2 to 3 days, 8 hours a day for 3 days and only then (and only if it’s not hailing or very windy) do they get their first overnight!

DOUBLE NOTE:  I also used to hurry and plant my babies by May 7th or 8th. Frequently, the ground was too cold for warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers and they simply stopped growing for a couple of weeks (or forever in some cases).  Putting plants in the ground too early can be deadly so give the soil a chance to warm while you get your plants ready for the great outdoors.

If you don’t want to start bedding plants from seed and you happen to live in Amish country or near some old, established nurseries, go check out their plants. Maple Shade Nursery in Kirkwood, PA is Amish run and you can watch the women tease baby plants apart and re-pot them right at the register.

In the Spring, I can get an early fix just by visiting and strolling through their greenhouses.   I supplement my seedlings with theirs and I buy herb plants from them like my Bay “bush”.

Bay plant, bay leaves, Amish nursery

“Bayby” is a bay plant I picked up at an Amish nursery 5 years ago.

“Bay-by” was in a 3 inch pot when I bought her but now, 5 years later, she graces my desk with her splendid inch wide trunk, stands a foot high and provides me with fresh, tasty bay leaves for my soups and stews.

I simply bring her in during the winter then set her out on the patio for late Spring, Summer and early Fall.

FYI – the reason I avoid big box stores when it comes to getting bedding plants is because I have NO idea where the seed came from (I want organic and no GMO) or what they’ve been fed.

Want to learn more about organic gardening?  Want to see just how easy it is to grow your own, healthy and organic food.  Take a look at my Kindle book – Grow So Easy; Organic Gardening for the Rest of Us.