Apples and stone fruits
Apples are one of my favorite fruits and since I live in the state that grows more than any other state I enjoy many of them. All apples are not equal and my favorite way to eat them is right off the tree. I love going to the u-pick orchard and taking them off the tree. I have great memories of eating Gravenstein apples right off an old tree. This may not be the most nutrient dense apple but has great flavor. I love applesauce from this particular variety. I also am quite fond of red and yellow delicious. And though I love the crispness of a good Fuji and their ability to be kept. When it comes to nutrition the old varieties probably have a lot going for them. The newer ones were developed to pack, ship, store, and sell. So if you can find them those old varieties which by the way can be grown from seed are a great place to be for nutrition.
Berries are great in a number of ways and I will only go into a few here. They have all kinds of phytochemicals that help you stay healthy, fight disease, and build healthy brain cells. Berries are easy to grow, have amazing properties like the ability of strawberries to help detox from heavy metals. Growing them takes a bit of space but you can gow strawberries in a pot almost anywhere if you have light and water. Most other berries can be gown in pots. I have blueberries, strawberries and black raspberries in pots in my years. I also have raspberries growing in the ground. They spread really well so be careful where you plant them.
So grow a few for your health, or find a farm that you can get them from fresh. The next best thing to fresh is frozed and I don’t grow enough so buy some frozen during the winter. I hopefully have picked enough this year and frozen them myself to get though.
Bulbs are some of my favorite things, they are easy for the most part. I love Iris and my mom had a really nice collection of them. I have always loved tulips and daffodils. I have come to enjoy dahlia’s, glads, grape hyacinths, and so many more that I might wish to grow some day. Etsy stores have the most amazing array of them. There are also a number of tantalizing collections from bulb specific catalogs.
I love the bulbs that I raise and have so many that I want to try, just because they are so beautiful and amazing.
Creative Tips and Tricks
I have learned so much in the past twenty years of trying to garden with mixed results. So here I want to share some of the tips the I learned that don’t fit nicely into other sections on gardening.
Tip one from Mr. Daley let your wood chips compost for a year even if they are stump grindings and have been mixed with dirt. I had the bright idea that the stump grindings should have a enough dirt with them that I could use them to fill pots. This did not work out well and I am still rescuing plants and putting them in good soil. The stump grindings work really well as mulch but not so good for potting soil. Lesson learned and now shared.
I learned that I could save my seeds from many plants by bringing them in and letting them set under the fan for the heating system on my table. This also worked well for other types of seeds from melons to beans.
I enjoyed growing great shade tolerant plants that have survived in my yard despite the last four years of being surrounded with trees. I have enough light in one corner of my lawn to grow things like potatoes and tomatoes. But it takes my tomatoes more time to mature.
Growing vertically allows one to use small spaces and still get a large number of plants going in them. I have been blessed by a number of branches this year that are attached by string to a window frame I re-purposed. This helps the plants that love light get higher and by doing so increase the amount of sun they enjoy each day.
Composting can be simple like using the veggie scraps from your produce to make fertilizer. It can get more elaborate such as making giant worm farms in the back yard and hauling in leaves in the fall to compost. I am blessed with lots of worms so have enjoyed just dumping the leaves, veggie scraps, grass trimmings, weeds(note not after seeds start), ask from wood fire, leftover vines and stocks in a pile. I also tent to dump the limbs that blow down on top as well till I have time to break them up and burn them.
I attended a class this spring on worm composting but had a hard time getting excited about adding work to my schedule. It could be a great thing if I didn’t have the outdoor space and an abundance of worms. I also over the years have looked at a number of container systems, ones that turn, hold, or make it easy to compost a mixture.
Container gardening is a great way to start. I would start with herbs. But you need to start with whatever you most wish to be able to grow and eat, provided that it will grow in a pot. Many things will and I have a number of them growing in my yard this year. I have lettuce, berries, herbs, and flowers all growing in pots. I seem to acquire more pots each year. I do have to throw away pots each year as well since the plastic ones get weak over time, they break. Ceramic ones are heavy, wood ones are expensive but especially when out of cedar are a great addition.
Flowers (Coming Soon)
I planted a container with kale, peas. The kale is doing well and the peas are about five inches tall. I have chard that was also planted in August and is ready to eat.
I like to use my pots over again the next year. I also collect other peoples pots at yard sale and thrift stores. I do wear out or break pots every year so have to keep replacing them. But reusing even it means chasing out the slugs and bugs after a winder of storage is a good way to recycle.
I have used a several different types of green houses. My first experience was with on that we had at the Campbell Farm in Wapato, WA. It was a PVC pipe build with plastic over it. I would guess looking back that it was not used very well because I don’t remember starting much in it. Great space but I didn’t really know how to use it. I also was not very connected in the community and didn’t have the skills to recruit volunteers to help out. There are numerous ways to do green houses so we will only look at a few here and you can find links to more at the bottom of the page. The basics of a green house very from climate to climate. So in the north of Washington state on the Eastern side you might get down to -20 degrees and need a double cover with airspace in between. In southern Oregon on the coast side of the mountains you may only need a single layer of thick plastic but a frame that can stand a fair amount of wind. Wind can be a problem almost anywhere and insulating the plastic from the wind on small green houses takes some creativity.
Glass green houses are wonderful but also quite expensive if you purchase them new. There are ways to use second hand glass to make a number of great alternatives. Grow boxes work really well and an old window is the perfect thing for it. Some have made entire greenhouses out of recycled glass.
I have a frame that is covered with plastic while in use. It is 2 ½ by 5′ about and came with a plastic cover. It works well for some things and kept my house from being taken over by tomatoes this spring.
I love butter lettuce, romaine, and red or green leaf lettuce. I love to buy the green house grown butter lettuce with the roots and plant them in a pot at home. It gives me a huge amount more of lettuce than what I originally purchased and I also can harvest seeds in the fall.
I use my small last years seed dock as a lettuce which works pretty well. If I gets to big I use it as a green. For places like here that have hot summer I plant in the spring. I love to grow mixes of lettuce that allow me to enjoy a variety all the time.
I have slug war to fight on a regular basis and they seem to love my lettuce especially.
Melons are one of my favorite foods. Cantaloupe is my all time favorite though there are few melons that I can say I didn’t enjoy. I am happy to sit down and eat half a cantaloupe for breakfast, lunch, or super. I worked at an amazing place called Krugger Pepper Gardens in the 90’s and was introduced to a fantastic number of melon varieties that I had never seen before. They also changed the way I viewed peppers for the rest of my days.
There is a fair amount of research on music and how it affects the way plants grow. So plants will thrive if played classical music. There is also a company called sonic bloom that makes CD and cassettes that you can play to your plants. I have sang to my plants on occasion and the indoor plants constantly during the day have radio or CD going. I hope sometime in the future to test some of these things out on plants but for now I am happy just to share my music with my house plants.
We lived organically till the last two hundred years and it was a good thing. So going back to doing things organically is a great plus. What does that mean, simply using natural means, pulling, burning, using bugs or animals against, or hoeing weeds. Today I hoed one of my least favorite weeds goat heads are really hard to get rid of and not much fun to pull. It means using complete fertilizers such as compost, crushed rock, mineral rich sea weed, organic minerals added after testing the soil. For many places it means setting up water filters before you run irrigation water to keep out water born chemicals. Any steps toward being organic are a step in the right direction for health and happiness.
Omega 3, 6, 9 plants ratio’s. As Americans in general we get way too many omega 6 and 9 while getting just a few omega 3 which is a huge problem on the cellular level. Omega 3s allows for elasticity of the cell wall. Cell walls need to move and change, get a lot of nutrients in and waste out among other things.
What are omega’s and what do they do in the body? Simply omega 3 is a fat that is used to build the cell walls. You have trillions of cells and they have to be rebuild on a pretty regular basis. If you are eating enough omega 3s you have healthy cell walls. It is also important for cell to cell communication and the transfer of nutrients in and waste out of the cell. Omega three is also part of the process when your body forms hormones called prostaglandins that the body uses for the regulation of nerves, kidney function, blood pressure, and blood clotting.
Omega 6 also is needed when forming prostaglandins. There is a lot of talk about ratio’s of these two since you need a balance. So where do we get omega 3 or 6 from? Well it turns out our Omega 3 comes from nuts (walnuts, pecans,) seeds (flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin) greens (purslane, spinach, Brussel sprouts, leaf lettuce,), oils, (extra virgin olive oil,) algae or algae oil. there are trace amounts in other foods but theses are the most potent vegetable forms of Omega 3. One can also get it from fish sources but you loose many of the other health benefits from the whole foods and risk many contaminates found in sea food.
This year I have beets big beautiful red and white striped beets. I have never been a great fan of beets except in botched until this last year. I had Hepatitis A this last year and found myself doing a lot of research on healthy liver and liver recovery diets. Beets were up on the top of the list so I learned lots of new ways to eat beets. I also wished to grow them.
The other thing that made me feel much better during recovery was juicing carrots. Carrots are one of those supper foods that contain high doses of precursors to Vitamin A, which I really needed more of. They are loaded with a number of other healthy vitamins and minerals as well.
Growing radishes has always been on my easy list, eating them not so much. But if they are cooked a bit in a pan, thrown into a salad sliced thing, added to a salsa, or used as garnish I can live with them. My son came home and ask for a giant white one which he then devoured for the most part. I grew them once which was really fun though they got about the size of medium carrots for me.
Parsnips, turnips, and a number of others less familiar to me are also loaded with nutrients. So for your health sake try a few more root veggies on your plate.
Four years ago I moved into a place that was riddled with pest and started to garden. First I have sugar ants that do really well because I am surrounded by trees maple, locust, black walnut, mulberry, and plumb. These aphid herders are a pest of giant proportion compared to their small size. I have found a way to keep them off of most of my veggies and roses though. I mix up about a tablespoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of biodegradable dish soap, and a quart of water. Blend in the blender for about a minute, put in a spray bottle and spray plants on an as needed basis. About evey two weeks it seems for me.
I also am inundated with earwigs which have to be one of my least favorite bugs. I have learned to set oil traps for them and seem to have a never ending supply of them. The trap is easy but has to be redone fairly often just a small container, I recycle yogurt, tofu, and seaweed containers for it. Add about an inch of oil and it will attract the insects.
Wasp and yellow jackets seem to be a plague this year. If you can find the nest spraying it with bug spray works well. I have set but traps that have worked in the past with soda and a bottle cut and inverted, taped upside down. That also works for flies, gnats, and other pest.
Sweet potatoes and yams are the clear winners here when it comes to nutrition. They are great to make like french fries in the oven with some rosemary on top, the mashed baked ones make a great side dish, baking them and just eating them without anything else has also become one of my favorites.
I love potatoes, while French fries are high on my list I have learned to make oven baked sliced potatoes with garlic, salt, and basil on them with more flavor then my old favorite.
I have grown five types of potatoes sweet, yukon gold, red, purple, and russet. I would rate them in the order given for flavor and nutrient value. There are so many ways to use them so please check out the recipe section of this website for great idea’s.
Watering gets to be a real chore during the summer here and keeping plants damp can become a daily chore in 100 degree weather. I have found a few ways to cut back on that. Mulch is a huge benefit both in nutrients to the soil over the long term and water retention during the summer. Amazing how far a bit of bark, compost, grass cuttings, and wood chips can go to help keep the plants happy.
My research suggest that watering in the morning early can also help. Plants watered early morning have more time to take it up without the sun evaporating it off. Plants watered in the morning have time to dry off before nightfall which helps slow spread of mildew or fungus.
Watering plants that need more water separately or in addition is also a good solution. I tend to watch my mint to see when it is dry. I used to watch my geranium plant to know when my house plants needed to be watered. Now I have house plants that are mostly succulents and require infrequent watering. In mid winter and spring I have lots of plant starts, herbs, and sprouts that need daily care.
I have two wild edibles that I eat often and grow in my garden and in planters. Dock is the first on that list and my son brought roots for it home. The second is purslane which is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. I have planted or transplanted a number of plants this year. I also grow Dandelions but there is nothing intentional about that they came with the place.
https://countryfarms.com/our-products/sprouts-seeds Omega 3 blend seeds
https://www.nordicnaturals.com/consumers/algae-omega Omega 3 Algae oil
Created by Judy Woodworth 2018 all rights reserved