Grow Your Own Turmeric In a Pot

Grow Your Own Turmeric In a Pot | turmeric1 | Agriculture & Farming Organics

 

By: Ariana Marisol, REALfarmacy.com |

With reports of contaminated, toxic turmeric products flooding store shelves, there is no better time to start growing your own. Turmeric is one of the healthiest, nutrient rich herbs you can eat. Learn how to grow your own turmeric at home.

Turmeric can help prevent cancer, it eases arthritis symptoms, it can soothe an upset stomach, it can help the heart stay healthy, it’s a natural fat burner, it helps prevent Alzheimer’s, it can help lower cholesterol, and it can help treat depression! These are only a few of the many benefits of this amazing herb.

Turmeric is a perennial herb that re-shoots every spring. Growing turmeric organic in pots is not difficult.

Although turmeric thrives in tropical climates, it can be grown in temperate areas in the summer. You can always move your plant inside when temperatures begin to dip.

Growing Turmeric

Turmeric can be grown in garden beds or containers. Be sure to grow in well draining containers because water retention will cause rhizomes to rot, reducing yield.

I grew 4 rhizomes in a pot that was about 30 inches long and 12 inches deep, and they are doing great.

Turmeric can grow in USDA Zones 7 through 10. The plants cannot tolerate climates colder than 65 degrees F. Plant turmeric in spring to summer because the roots sprout well when the soil is warm.

Turmeric thrives well in direct or indirect sun, but it can also grow in light shade. Heavy shade for a prolonged amount of time will reduce the yield.

Turmeric does best in well drained loamy fertile soils. Mix cow manure, compost, river sand, and some all purpose organic fertilizer and your plant will thank you.

Planting

Buy some turmeric roots from the market (be sure they are organic). Select small rhizomes with one or two buds. Plant rhizomes about 7 to 10 inches apart and bury them in wet soil about 2 to 3 inches deep. Do not water until shoots appear. The roots will germinate/shoot in 3-6 weeks depending on the soil temperature. Turmeric shoots will appear in about 20 to 45 days after planting.

Grow fresh plants every 3 to 4 years or leave a few roots inside while harvesting. Once the plants grow, keep them well watered.

Bring your turmeric indoors once the temperature gets below 50 degrees F.

You can also start turmeric in pots indoors and move it outdoors when the temperature begins to rise.

Watering

Turmeric plants require consistent and adequate watering. But overwatering can slow down growth.

If you are growing your turmeric in a container or in a garden bed, water only when you feel the is soil slightly dry to the touch. This will prevent leaching out of nutrients due to overwatering.

If your turmeric is grown in a sandy soil or if it is growing in a dry, low humidity area, water often or mist the leaves.

Harvesting

A good indication that your plant has reached maturity is if its leaves begin to turn yellow and its stems begin to dry. The plant usually matures in 9 to 10 months after planting. At this time, the turmeric rhizomes can be harvested.

Harvesting is easy. All you have to do is dig up the entire plant including the roots.

Storage

Wipe fresh turmeric roots and wrap them in a paper towel and place them in a zip lock plastic bag. Then, place them in a refrigerator. This way they will remain fresh for 3 to 4 weeks. Cut the needed piece and refrigerate. For longer storage, slice, wrap, and then freeze for up to 2 months.

You can also peel the rhizomes and place them in a jar with vodka and store them in the fridge for at least a year.

Or you can peel turmeric root and place it in honey for at least a year as well.


Ariana Marisol is a contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com. She is an avid nature enthusiast, gardener, photographer, writer, hiker, dreamer, and lover of all things sustainable, wild, and free. Ariana strives to bring people closer to their true source, Mother Nature. She graduated The Evergreen State College with an undergraduate degree focusing on Sustainable Design and Environmental Science. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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Getting Started With Straw Bale Gardening

Getting Started With Straw Bale Gardening | Straw_Bale_Garden_photocredit_MelindaMyersLLC_t715 | Agriculture & Farming Organic Market Classifieds

(image: Melinda Myers LLC)

Gardening can be a huge hassle when you are first getting started.  Not only do you need to find an optimal location with adequate sun, but you need prepared beds and decent soil conditioned with plenty of organic material.  Preparing the beds is not difficult but it can take time and significant expense, especially if you are starting from scratch.

As a result of my recent move, I faced the prospect of building beds, bringing in soil, and doing the arduous work of getting my food garden ready for to go in time for spring time planting.  All of this was complicated by my lack of familiarity with the area as well as need to assess fencing given the local wildlife.  As I like to say, it is “all too much” to do at once and so I considered going with container gardening this year.

Luckily, serendipity stepped in and a long-time reader and author in her own right, Susan Perry, wrote to me about her great experience with a straw bale garden.  I was hooked and invited Susan to share her expertise with us, including the steps needed to get started.

For the Easiest Gardening Ever, Try Straw Bales!

Last April, after many years of gardening, my enthusiasm was starting to wane. I still had that rush of Spring Fever gardeners always get, imagining handfuls of perfect, fresh green beans and huge, ripe tomatoes infinitely better than store-bought. But memories of the effort involved kept sneaking in. Did I really want to be out there watering and weeding all summer long?

Thank goodness I came across an article about a growing method called straw bale gardening. The article claimed that after a simple initial setup, there was very little maintenance for the rest of the summer.

By the time I finished reading, my enthusiasm was back! I was out the door heading for Lowe’s that afternoon to get some straw bales.

What Is a Straw Bale Garden?

It’s a container garden, using a straw bale as the container!

Here are the steps:

1. Set the bales in a sunny spot with the cut edges up and the strings on the sides. They can be in straight rows, angles, a big circle; you can have one bale or ten, whatever fits your space.

2. Sprinkle about two cups of nitrogen fertilizer over the top of each bale.

3. Water the bales to saturate them and work in the nitrogen. Check them every day and add water as needed to keep them wet.

4. In about two weeks, the straw on the inside starts to turn into compost. Now you’re ready to plant!

5. Tap in your seeds to their proper depth. For started transplants, use a pointed stick or tool to make a small opening and tuck in the roots.

Group plants together that need similar amounts of water. For example, tomatoes, peppers, and leafy greens like a lot, while most herbs like to get a bit dry between watering.

To add to the fun, you can plant small herbs and flowers down the sides of the bales.

6. As your plants grow, keep an eye on them for how much water they need. If your area tends toward hot, dry weather, a soaker hose makes it easier to keep things moist. If leaves start turning yellow, add a bit more nitrogen.

To support tomatoes, cucumbers, and peas, you can pound a fence post into the ground at each end of a row, then attach heavy string or wires to each post, stringing the wires down the row above the bales. You can also stake plants individually.

What I’ll Do Differently Next Year

For the most part, I was thrilled with the results. The no-weeding claim was not an exaggeration! I harvested twice the cucumbers from one-fourth the space of previous years, and the grape tomatoes just wouldn’t stop. They spread over their stakes and out into the yard so far I had to set up benches for them. Even with only three plants, we couldn’t eat them fast enough, and I froze the extra.

But there were also a few things I could improve on. Next time, to prevent water from running through the bales and onto the ground, which happened most times I watered, I’ll lay down some black plastic to go underneath, and wrap some from the base to about halfway up the sides. This would also reduce how often the bales need water. And to hold back the grass, I’ll put down mulch around the edges.

By mid-summer, several bales had collapsed when the string disintegrated. The plants keeled over, their roots were exposed, and they never quite recovered. So, next time I’ll wrap a wire around the sides of each bale to reinforce the string.

The seeds that were supposed to be planted one-half inch deep were difficult if not impossible to cover with straw. I eventually sprinkled potting soil on them, but some were already dead, so it would be better to do this at the start.

What Plants Can Be Grown In a Straw Bale?

Vegetables, flowers, herbs, even potatoes can be grown this way!  There is one exception: don’t plant perennials like asparagus or rhubarb, since the bales can be used for only one year, two at the most. (After that they make excellent mulch.)

Which reminds me, the other thing I’ll do next year is plant strawberries! In the past, I’ve had terrible luck with diseases, but with the berries so high off the ground, they should do much better.

What Equipment is Needed?

Basic: straw bales, nitrogen (ex. Organic Blood Meal)

Optional: soaker hose, plastic sheeting for ground cover, stakes, fence poles & wire

What are the advantages?

1. Less work.

With the bales above ground, there’s less stooping and bending, and no digging, aerating, or tilling. Your knees and back will thank you! You can even place the bales on a pallet for additional height.

2. Weeds are virtually a thing of the past.

Any lurking in the straw are killed by the heat the first two weeks. The few that might appear later can be plucked right out with your thumb and finger.

3. It’s economical and healthy.

Going organic has never been easier! Straw bales cost about $5, and a bag of Organic Blood Meal is less than $10. You’ll also avoid spending money on soil amendments, fungicides, and disease and pest control.

4. Plants grow faster.

Straw decomposition in the interior of the bales provides a warmer environment. This fosters quick root development and faster plant growth.

5. Gardening is possible even if you have poor quality soil.

Your plants will have no idea that you could never garden before!

If you’ve been wishing you could be on the cutting edge of something, a straw bale garden may be just the thing. It greatly reduces the work of growing fresh produce and increases the yield in a small space. And as an added bonus, you’ll have a fresh topic of conversation for your next social event!

I’m sending all gardeners out there best wishes for happy garden times and a lovely harvest!

For more information, this is the book I recommend: Straw Bale Gardens by Joel Karsten.

 

The Final Word

About the same time Susan contacted me,  a number of Facebook fans started chatting about their success with straw bale gardens.  I literally did a little dance.  A straw bale garden is giving me the life raft I need to get a garden going quickly, easily, and within budget this year. I am so excited!

How about you?  Have you used the straw bale method of gardening and if so, do you have tips and strategies to share?  I would love to hear about them!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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10 Winter Garden Tasks for People Who Just Can’t Wait to Get Started

10 Winter Garden Tasks for People Who Just Can’t Wait to Get Started | wheelbarrow-winter-garden | Agriculture & Farming Organic Market Classifieds Organics Special Interests

If you’re itching for gardening season to start, you’re in luck. You can start now with the clean hands, no backache part. Whether or not you’ve grown a garden before, there are plenty of tasks you can do during the colder months to get ready for spring. Not using this more barren time means that your planting will be delayed and your harvests will not be as good as they would have if you had been ready to go.

Planning your garden is a crucial step in getting a decent bounty at harvest time, but there’s a lot more to it than just allocating space in your veggie plot. As I discussed last fall in this interview, you need to work on becoming more self-sufficient NOW, regardless of where you live. You don’t have to have 30 acres in the country to produce at least some of your own food.

Here are a few things you can do during the winter.

Some of these things require that the snow already be melted, while others can be done even if it’s up to your knees.

1) Pick up any downed branches 

Chop them into the appropriate sizes and set them aside for firewood or kindling. They’ll need to dry out for a season or two, but it’s a good way to add to your wood stash for free.

Bundling sticks for a perfect fire

2) Rake the leaves.

If the snow has melted, rake your garden to get rid of smaller debris and leaves. (I like this rake because the head is expandable and can work for various nooks and crannies.) Either bag up the leaves so they turn into mulch or add them to the compost bin.

3) Kick the composting into high gear.

If you have a smaller space, rotating compost bins are ideal and make compost super fast. They are the perfect size for those who need small amounts of compost for container growing.

4) Dig up any perennial weeds that have survived the winter.

If the snow has melted and the ground isn’t still frozen rock hard, you can begin attacking those stubborn weeds before things get overgrown. Check every week for new arrivals poking through especially as we move toward warmer weather.

5) Decide what you are going to grow.

Having a garden that can supply the maximum nutrients to you family will be of prime importance if the time comes when you can’t get to the store to stock up.

6) Order your seeds.

Be sure to buy heirloom seeds so you can save them year after year, something that will be critical after a long-term disaster. Get a wide a variety of seeds for long term storage. And come on, who doesn’t love curling up in front of the fire with a pile of seed catalogs?

7) Check for restrictions in your neighborhood.

The laws and regulations targeting small growers could potentially make growing your own veggies illegal. Many HOAs make it difficult to be self-reliant. Check your local regulations – no one wants to deal with the “garden police.”

8) Get your greenhouse ready.

Greenhouses should be completely emptied. Remember that rodents love make a cozy home in greenhouses. If you have one of the plastic ones (like this), they should be cleaned top to bottom to ensure no mood, spores or moss that can affect your tender plants are present.

9) Get your pots ready.

Do you save the little pots from the nursery to use year after year? Be sure to clean them properly to ensure they are free of anything that might contaminate your new plants. Check them for leaks or cracks before planting in them.

10) Test your soil.

If your soil isn’t too hard to dig up a little, it’s a great idea to check the chemistry of your soil so that you can be sure your veggies will thrive. This will help you figure out what type of amendments you will need.

Here are a few more articles that you may find useful:


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The Ultimate Chicken Crap Composting Guide

The Ultimate Chicken Crap Composting Guide | chicken-crap-composting-1024x629 | Agriculture & Farming Organics

There are no two ways about it – your soil needs nutrition regularly. This isn’t just dirt that we’re talking about. We’re talking about soil and soil is alive. In order for plants to grow to their optimum capacity, they need bio-intensive nutrients present in the soil to assist with growth, root development and disease prevention. While there are other nutrients needed for perfect soil, there are three responsible for the overall health of the plant.

1. Nitrogen: Encourages green foliage by producing chlorophyll and improves leaf development.

2. Phosphorus: Phosphorus promotes good root production and helps plants withstand environmental stress and harsh winters.

3. Potassium: Potassium strengthens plants, contributes to early growth and helps retain water. It also affects the plant’s disease and insect suppression.

This Bi-Product is One of the Leading Soil Amendments and Preferred by Most Organic Farmers

While most of these elements and nutrients are naturally found in soil, sometimes they can become depleted and need to be added to help the soil get healthy again. Those of you who are working towards sustainability are well versed in the importance of composting and may even be making the most of your property by caring for backyard livestock.  If you do have livestock, you probably have a plethora of the bi-product they produce – manure. Once composted, aged manure is a great addition to create rich soil. In particular, chicken manure can be one of the best types of manure to add.


“Chicken manure has higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium compared to cattle, sheep or horse manure.”


Safe Handling

While chicken manure is a desirable compost to add to the garden, there are some things you need to know before you apply this soil amendment. First of all, gloves should be used when handling manure. Salmonella spp., E. coli and other human pathogens are present in chicken manure, so handle carefully. As well, because chicken manure is packed full of powerful nutrients, it is considered a “hot manure” and requires proper composting. Make no mistake, raw chicken manure applied to plants can burn, and even kill delicate plants. Moreover, since vegetables are growing in compost manured, take extra care when harvesting your vegetables. Thoroughly wash any harvested vegetable or fruits that was touched with compost with soapy water. As well, peel root vegetables and wash leafy greens with soap, or thoroughly cook garden vegetables before eating to kill any pathogens that may remain in the soil.

How To Compost Chicken Manure

Did you know that one hen produces 45 pounds of manure every year? That’s right, this livestock is a pooping machine! Taking that 45 pounds of chicken manure and chicken litter and applying it each year to 100 square feet of soil will work wonders in your vegetable garden and increase the fertility of your soil.

There are two ways to compost chicken manure. Cold composting is a slow aged process that requires weeks for the manure and chicken bedding to age and mellow. Hot composting creates an interior heat in the center of the compost mound and the high-heat cooks the manure and considerably shortens the composting process.

Cleaning out the chicken coop is the best time to start a composting pile for your manure. When we prepare our chicken coops, we use a layer of cedar chips and them apply straw every month or so until it’s time to clean the coop again. This process naturally gives the future compost a 2:1 ratio of brown material to green material.

Cold Composting Method:

This composting process allows nature to do its business. Manure is added to a compost heap and allowed to sit and slowly decompose.

  1. Add a shovelful of already finished compost or native soil, which will be full of microorganisms to jump-start the process.
  2. Using gloves, rake, shovel and deposit the bedding and chicken droppings directly into the compost pile.
  3. Water it thoroughly and then turn the pile every few weeks to get air into the pile. Allow six to nine months for the manure to naturally age.
  4. Once compost has aged properly, it is done when originally bedding and manure is no longer recognizable and has turned into rich, dark soil.
  5. Once you have finished chicken manure composting, it is ready to use. Simply spread the chicken manure compost evenly over the garden. Work the compost into the soil with either a shovel or a tiller.
  6. Thoroughly wash any raw vegetables before eating.

*If you are uncertain how well your chicken manure has been composted, you can wait up to 12 months to use your chicken manure compost.

Hot Composting Method

This is a faster composting method that heats the composting manure up to high temperatures that will kill off weed seeds and pathogens (diseases), and break down the material into very fine compost considerably faster than the cold composting method.

  1. Add a shovelful of already finished compost or native soil, which will be full of microorganisms to jump-start the process.
  2. Using gloves, rake, shovel and deposit the bedding and chicken droppings directly into the compost pile that is 3 cubic feet (1 cubic meter) in size and no more than 5 cubic feet (1.5 cubic meters). *This size creates the best heat and moisture to speed the decomposition process.
  3. Water compost pile thoroughly (It should be as wet as a wrung sponge).
  4. Cover compost pile with a large burlap or other breathable tarp to maintain moisture.
  5. With a garden thermometer, take pile’s temperature daily to ensure the temperatures rise to 120 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually takes one to five days. *Temperature trends are approximate and vary depending on the type of materials you’re composting, the size of the pieces, the level of moisture, and so on.
  6. Every four to seven days, when the temperature of the pile begin to drop below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), turn all of the organic matter to introduce more oxygen and heat it back up.Thoroughly mix materials from the pile’s exterior to the interior. If needed, water as you turn to maintain the “wrung-out-sponge” moisture level. *Be careful not to get material too wet, because doing so cools off the pile.
  7. After about 14 days, the ingredients of the organic matter will no longer be recognizable. Continue monitoring and recording daily temperatures and repeating the turning process.Turn every four to five days, when the temperature drops below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). Add moisture, if needed. Turn a total of four times throughout one month.
  8. After 1 month, the pile no longer heats up after turning, and the bulk of it is dark, crumbly compost.The temperature drops to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) or lower.
  9. Monitor the pile and once you are satisfied that the entire contents of your bin has been heated, loosely cover and allow the compost to cure for 45-60 days before using.

More information on this process here

When your chicken manure has sufficiently turned into fertilizer, simply spread evenly over the garden. Work the compost into the soil with either a shovel or a tiller and watch how fast your plants will grow.

The use of manure is an integral part of sustainable gardening and adds necessary organic matter in soil to improve water and nutrient retention. In turn, this creates a prolific ecosystem in the soil to give your plants what they need to produce. Adding chicken manure is an excellent soil amendment and if composted properly, you will find that your vegetables will grow bigger and healthier as a result.


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How to Store Vegetables Without a Root Cellar

How to Store Vegetables Without a Root Cellar | vegetables | Off-Grid & Independent Living Organic Market Classifieds Organics PreparednessSurvival

Anyone who loves to garden, especially those who wish to be able to provide wholesome foods for themselves and their families and live independently enough to survive economic or natural disasters will need to know what to do with all of the surplus from the summer. It’s great to be able to eat vegetables right out of the ground, but it is just as important to have good food all winter long. There are many methods of preservation.

The way you store each vegetable will depend on its needs and its hardiness. Here are ways to keep all of your produce, and especially the root vegetables, in great shape for the long winter months.

Keeping “The Roots” in Good Shape For Storage

Root vegetables are a great resource because they can be stored easily and last a long time without extensive preparation. Plus, root vegetables are amongst the hardiest of the garden crops, and are relatively easy to store without processes such as canning, or even freezing. Here are some great ways to keep those delicious roots and other hardy vegetables in tip-top shape long after the garden has been harvested for the winter.

Put Them to Bed in Their Bed

One great way to store root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes and radishes is to leave them right where they are in the garden. Cover them well with a hefty bed of straw or wood shavings, or use a garden blanket that can be found in many hardware or garden stores to keep them tucked in nicely for whenever you need them.

Toss it in a Trash Can

If you have a garden, make use of it during the winter by digging a hole and burying a garbage can up to the lip in the ground. Then layer root vegetables inside, covering each layer with a generous topping of sawdust or straw, and sealing it with the cover. Open up the instant root cellar whenever you need to go “shopping” and pull out what you need from the top layer, then recover. It’s easiest to have a separate can for each type of vegetable being stored in this manner so that you can easily have access to what you need on the top layer of each particular can.

No Ground? No Problem

Even if you live in an apartment or city home with little or no outdoor space you can stock up on root vegetables when they are their most affordable, and have them all year long. All you have to do is build a quick and easy storage for them. A small plastic bin with a cover will do the job nicely. Even a plastic lined box will do well as long as it can be covered up.

Place the vegetables in layers, alternating each with sawdust, straw or a thick layer of newspaper and cover. Remove vegetables as needed all winter long. When kept inside the home, try to place the storage containers in a cool room that can be closed off from heat. Close vents and do not insulate windows in the room.

Know Each Individual Root’s Needs

Some vegetables like it dry and some like it damp. For those that like the atmosphere a little moist, storage in basements, attics, unheated garages, sheds, porches or covered decks are good spots. In homes without those areas, storing on an exterior wall, preferably with a north wall is the best choice. If the storage is in one of the outdoor locations or unheated garages or attics, the temperatures should always stay below 60 degrees, but not go below freezing.

The cold and damp root vegetables include:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes

Those that prefer it cold and dry include:

  • Onions
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squashes

Most tubers love darkness. They are best stored in some type of box with a lid indoor, although you can also line a drawer or laundry basket and cover the roots with newspaper for insulation and to keep the light off of them.

Some, like potatoes, do not like it too cold. Allowing them to drop too much below 50 degrees will release the starches in them. Onions need much more air circulation than many of the root veggies. Storing them in a netting in a dark place or in a wire basket or laundry basket where air can circulate freely will keep them lasting all through the winter. They should not be covered at all, but they still need to be out of direct light.

Keep Them Growing for a Little Extra Bonus

Want some extra salad greens for soups and salads all winter long? Plant some beets, turnip or radish bulbs in a pot of soil and place it in a sunny location in your home. They will sprout delicious tops that can be cut continuously all winter for an added treat.

Be Aware of Shelf Life

Even the most well-preserved vegetable will have a shelf life. More tender roots such as beets, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, rutabagas, and turnips will only last 1 to 5 months in dry storage. Hardier roots like carrots, parsnips and potatoes can be stored for between 4 and 6 months. Powerhouses such as horseradish can last as long as a year in storage, but tender kohlrabi will only be good for a few weeks no matter how well you prepare the space.

Prepare Roots for Dry Storage

The better you handle the preparation for storing your root vegetables, the better chance they have for lasting. Make sure you harvest in cool, dry weather and let them dry out on the surface of the soil for 8 to 10 hours to toughen them up a little bit. Cut the foliage down to the crown, and make sure to only store clean, undamaged vegetables. Use up any that have any signs of damage or blemishes immediately.

Other Vegetable Preservation Methods

Preserving Fragile Vegetables

Certain vegetables require careful handling to last beyond their normal fresh shelf-life. These include watery vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Many other vegetables can be canned, or as you will see, are also storable in other ways.

Freeze What You Can

Freezing is a fantastic, easy and quick way to store almost anything from the garden. It is especially good for those vegetables you will be consuming within a three-month period.

Use only strong freezer bags and squeeze as much air out of them as possible when sealing the vegetables in. While this is a great way to store vegetables, it does take up a lot of valuable freezer space, even for homes with large stand-alone freezers. In addition, you could lose your frozen goods in an extended power outage.

For that reason, it is probably best to limit how many root and other vegetables are stored in this manner in favor of other methods.

Canning for Long-Term Dry Storage

Canning is a time-honored traditional way to store many of the types of vegetables that can’t keep on a shelf or root cellar. The drawback to canning is that it takes a lot of time, some special equipment, practice and the vegetables may contain more preservatives and salt than frozen or naturally stored vegetables do. In spite of the drawbacks, canning is an important resource for some of the more fragile vegetables that can’t be stored in other ways, such as tomatoes.

Dry Them Out

The water in the fragile vegetable group is what makes them harder to store. To preserve them for long periods of time without bulky jars or taking up precious freezer space, consider drying them. Use a dehydrator to remove all of the water, and store the shrunken vegetables in mason jars or sealed bags. They can be rehydrated for use in soups and cooking, or eaten dried for a great treat.

Dehydration works for all vegetables, even those that can be kept in storage for long periods of time. The best choices for dehydration are fruits like apples, bananas, peaches, and vegetables such as carrots, potatoes or squash.

 

The Final Word

It takes a little work to preserve your produce for long storage, but it’s worth it. You spent a lot of time planting, growing and protecting them in the garden. Remember that you do not have to pick just one storage method. Incorporate several types of preservation to maximize your space and get the most out of your garden produce.

By selecting the type of preservation or storage that suits the particular type of vegetable, and your own space you can enjoy the bounty of your garden even when the temperatures dip below freezing. It’s a great way to keep your family well-fed and happy regardless of what is going on in the outside world.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

The post How to Store Vegetables Without a Root Cellar appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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6 Fall Plants To Get Planted Now

lettuce-fall-garden

By: Pamela Bofferding, Ready Nutrition |

The weather is getting colder, but that doesn’t mean your gardening plans are thwarted. There are distinct benefits to planting some things in the autumn months: the temperature is cooler, the soil is still quite warm, there is more moisture in the soil and there are more good weather days for planting (as compared to the spring when sudden thunderstorms threaten your gardening days and wet the soil too much). In addition, you can cash in on discounts at your local gardening center as they try to move the last of their merchandise before winter. The ideal time to plant in the fall ends about 6 weeks before the first frost, usually in mid-to-late October.

The following are the ideal plants to get into the ground during the fall months:

Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs actually require a period of cold in order to bloom. Plant bulbs in the fall in order to guarantee blooms for spring. If you have issues with deer in the autumn months, try planting allium, English bluebell, dog’s-tooth violet, or snowdrop bulbs.

Pansies

Pansies are ideal for planting in the autumn months because their roots thrive in the still-warm soil. You’ll get to enjoy them for two seasons if you plant them in September/October. Keep the soil wet and remove spent flowers so the pansy doesn’t use any effort to set its seeds. Once the soil freezes, mulch to prevent alternating freezing and thawing cycles that can eject plants from the soil.

Turfgrass

Cool-season turfgrass is most successful when soil temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees. Planting in September/October ensures that the roots will take adequate hold before the first frost, when growth slows dramatically. Cool-season turfgrass includes Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue.

Cool Season Veggies

Many vegetables thrive in cooler months (namely broccoli Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes and carrots), but they must be planted by late August. Veggies that perform the best when planted during the fall include lettuce, spinach, and other greens with a short harvesting time such as collards and swiss chard. Another benefit of growing these vegetables is that they don’t need a whole lot of space and can be crowded into smaller areas with partial shade.

Trees and Shrubs

Planting from early September to late-October offers many advantages to certain trees and shrubs. Transpiration is low and root generation is at an all-time high during these months. Typically, plants with shallow, fibrous root systems can be planted easier in the fall than those with fewer, larger roots. Trees that can be successfully planted in the autumn months include alder, crabapple, ash, buckeye, catalpa, hackberry, hawthorn, honey locust, elm, Kentucky coffee tree, linden, maple, sycamore, pines, and spruces. Most deciduous shrubs can easily be planted in fall.

Cover Crops

Even though it is Fall, it does not mean you should neglect your garden. Now is the perfect time to get your garden cleaned up and ready for the Spring. Master gardeners like to plant cover crops to help add nutrients to the soil during the winter months. Cover crops such as fall rye, crimson clover, buckwheat and others are easy to grow. Here’s how they work: when they are digested by soil microorganisms they restore organic matter and nutrient levels in the soil. Because they are sown thickly, they also help to outcompete weeds. Cover crops also control erosion from heavy winter rains, and help prevent the soil from compacting over winter. Depending on your growing region, some cover crops will die during the coldest weather. The crop residue is still a valued supplement in the spring. Check with your favorite gardening website to see if they carry these organic cover crops.

Take advantage of the nice fall temperatures and get your garden growing! For more information about gardening in general, check out the 7 Laws of Gardening: Time-Tested Tips For Growing a Successful Garden.


 

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

The post 6 Fall Plants To Get Planted Now appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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Meet Urban Farmer David Young (VIDEO)

David Young The Urban Farmer

Cute goats. Rescued chickens. Sixty—yes, 60!—beehives.

David Young tends them all.

Young, a transplant from Indiana, now lives in New Orleans. He has managed to turn 30 neighborhood lots in the Lower Ninth Ward, abandoned after Katrina ravaged the region in 2005, into an urban food garden.

Last year, Young fed over 2500 pounds of food to his neighbors. Who says you have to live on a farm in the country to grow food?

Capstone 118

h/t: OCA

The post Meet Urban Farmer David Young (VIDEO) appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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Rhubarb: The Good Stalk

rhubarb

Rhubarb is more versatile than we give it credit for. Its stalk are a favorite for culinary uses, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

This perennial favorite is very easy to grow and makes a popular addition to low maintenance gardens. Rhubarb is an extremely hardy plant, and can grow in almost any climate. Rhubarb can be propagated by dividing the crown and planting it. Divisions from 4-5 year old crowns should be taken in the spring. Plant the divisions near roses, asparagus and strawberries, as these are companion plants.

It is best to allow the plant to grow the first year and harvest the following year when the foliage spread and stalks reach sufficient girth of about one to two inches thick. The top greens are usually discarded, as they contain unusually high amounts of oxalic acid. When this acid is consumed in high amounts it can cause severe symptoms such as burning in the eyes, mouth, and throat; skin edema, difficulty breathing. In serious cases, it can result in kidney failure, convulsions, coma, and death. Therefore, stick to using the stalks of rhubarb for cooking.

Rhubarb also contains many nutritional benefits including:

  • Rhubarb contains some vital phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber, polyphenolic antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Further, its petioles contain no saturated fats or cholesterol.
  • The stalks are rich in several B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
  • Red color stalks contain more vitamin A compared to the green varieties. Further, the stalks also contain small amounts of polyphenolic flavonoid compounds like beta-carotene, zea xanthin, and lutein. These compounds convert to vitamin A inside the body and deliver same protective effects of vitamin A on the body. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for healthy eyesight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • As in other leafy greens, rhubarb stalks also provide good amounts of vitamin K. 100 g of fresh stalks provide about 24% of daily recommended intake of this vitamin. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Its stalks also contain healthy levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. However, most of these minerals do not absorb into the body as they are subject to chelating into insoluble complexes by oxalic acid, and excreted out from the body.

Source

The Medicinal Side of Rhubarb

Rhubarb has a wide range of medicinal uses as well. The rhubarb root is one of the most popular herbs in traditional Chinese medicine and was first documented in an ancient text written 2,200 years ago called the Divine Husbandman’s Classic of Materia medica. Originally, herbalists used rhubarb as a laxative, and to evacuate the bowels and improve the digestive tract. However, they found it was also useful in treating jaundice, endometriosis, and if applied topically would help burns and skin ulcers. Moreover, rhubarb has the ability to fight infectious fungi such as candida, and infections of the lungs and eyes.

The root of a six-year-old rhubarb plant is harvested in the fall and dried for later use. The dried root is usually ground into a fine powder or used in a tonic to treat a diverse amount of ailments including a natural way to lower cholesterol, as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, astringent, promotes the flow of bile from the gall bladder, soothes and protects irritated mucous membranes, diuretic, is a purgative, stomachic and tonic. When taken internally in small doses, rhubarb also acts as an astringent tonic to the digestive system, when taken larger doses rhubarb acts as a very mild laxative. Rhubarb has also been shown to exert protective effects on severe acute pancreatitis in rats, probably by inhibiting the inflammation of the pancreas, improving pancreatic microcirculation, and altering exocrine secretion.

According to this article, one can make a decoction using rhubarb roots. Herbalists recommend putting 1-1.5 teaspoons of pulverized, crushed rhubarb root in one cup of boiling water and letting the mixture infuse for 10 minutes. The tea can be taken twice a day. Most herbal preparations of rhubarb, however, are individually prepared for each patient. Rhubarb may be combined with other herbs.

Warnings and Side Effects of Using Rhubarb Medicinally

There are warnings and side effects of using rhubarb medicinally.

  • Rhubarb should not be taken by children under the age of 12
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use rhubarb.
  • It should also not be taken by patients with acute or chronic intestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.
  • Due to a possible loss of potassium, rhubarb root should not be taken in combination with cardiac medications, diuretics or steroids. Loss of potassium can be decreased by combining rhubarb root with licorice root.

The most common side-effect noted with rhubarb is abdominal cramping; however, this condition is often relieved by reducing rhubarb dosage. Excessive use of rhubarb can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and possible liver and damage of the kidneys. Rhubarb should not be used medicinally for long term as it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and hypokalemia (a metabolic imbalance characterized by low potassium levels in the blood).

As always, make sure to consult with a licensed, qualified healthcare professional before taking rhubarb or any other dietary supplement.

To conclude, rhubarb is a noteworthy addition to your garden and can be grown in any climate. Consider adding this vegetable to your garden for its unique flavor, nutritional properties and its many medicinal qualities.

 

The post Rhubarb: The Good Stalk appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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99 Things You Probably Didn’t Know You Can Compost

compost

Anybody who has a composting bin or compost pile at their house knows that old apple cores, banana peels and potato skins can be composted. The list of items that can be composted doesn’t stop there, in fact, it barely scratches the surface.

Did you know that you can compost an old tea bag? Old spices? Grass clippings? How about sticky notes? Yes, each of those items can be composted!

There are many compostable items, and this list will get you started with the first ninety-nine. Composting at home is a very effective method to reduce the amount of waste you personally contribute to the landfill.

If you are composting for an organic garden use organic starting materials. Some of the items below I would not recommend for organic gardens. For clarity, I will specify those items below.

The Basics

  1. All organic vegetable and fruit matter including rinds, skins, shells, seeds, cores and peels
  2. Old leaves and hay
  3. Used coffee grounds
  4. Paper coffee filters
  5. Grass clippings
  6. Egg shells
  7. Tea bags
  8. Peat moss
  9. Tree bark
  10. Old flowers
  11. Garden soil
  12. Old top soil
  13. Old bread
  14. Wheat bran
  15. Cooked grains
  16. Olive pits
  17. Popcorn kernels
  18. Dust bunnies
  19. Toothpicks
  20. Business cards (Paper)
  21. Natural wine corks
  22. Toilet paper rolls
  23. Wrapping paper rolls
  24. Old loose leaf tea leaves
  25. Dried brown garden weeds (avoid composting weeds that go to seed)
  26. Spices and herbs that have lost their smell
  27. Nut shells (except walnut shells, which contain a chemical that can be toxic to plants)
  28. Wood chips and sawdust – from untreated wood, treated wood is toxic
  29. Soy products – non GMO
  30. Wine and beer-making wastes
  31. Old dry cereals, crackers, chips, cookies, etc.
  32. 100% cotton swabs and Q-tips (do not compost plastic sticks)
  33. Wood fire ashes from grill or fire-place (also from smoking fish and other meats)
  34. Dirt in soles of shoes
  35. Facial tissues (unless soiled with chemical products)
  36. Old organic milk, ice cream, cream, etc. (in limited amounts)
  37. 100% cotton clothing (ripped into small pieces)
  38. 100% wool clothing (ripped into small pieces)
  39. Raffia decorations
  40. Crepe paper streamers
  41. Paper napkins
  42. Natural wreaths, garlands and other natural holiday decor
  43. Chopped up Christmas trees
  44. Aquarium plants
  45. Paper bags (ripped into smaller pieces)
  46. Old Post-it Notes
  47. Any form of paper that has been soiled by food
  48. Pizza boxes (make sure to break them down into small pieces)
  49. Shrimp shells
  50. Used paper plates without wax coatings
  51. Old mail and bills (make sure not to compost envelopes with the plastic windows)
  52. Paper or wood-based matches
  53. Animal manure and droppings
  54. Paper towels and towel rolls
  55. Cork
  56. Organic glue
  57. Animal fur
  58. Jell-O (gelatin)
  59. Paper muffin and cupcake cups
  60. Cage cleanings from small pets such as Guinea pigs, rabbits, birds and iguanas
  61. Freezer burned fruits and veggies
  62. Burlap sack
  63. Stale candy (remove wrapper, of course!)
  64. Cardboard and paper egg cartons
  65. Cardboard tampon applicators
  66. The boxes that surround many forms of cheeses
  67. Pure cellophane bags
  68. Paper Envelopes from your mail (Shredded up)
  69. Shredded catalogs and magazines (unless they have a very waxy cover)
  70. Chewing gum
  71. Feathers
  72. Old rope
  73. Stale catnip
  74. Organic cotton socks
  75. Dead houseplants
  76. Star fish (dead)
  77. Old Halloween pumpkins
  78. Electric razor trimmings
  79. Finger and toe nail clippings
  80. Hair – Both human and animal hair is compostable
  81. Ground bone and blood meal
  82. Old rawhide dog chews
  83. Old dog/cat foods
  84. Small pets that have died, like goldfish (Not recommended, but possible.)
  85. Urine (although can be quite smelly in the summer sun)
  86. Old cheeses
  87. Ash from fire place
  88. Old beer, wine and liquor
  89. Crustacean shells (shrimp, crab, lobster, etc.)
  90. Organic tobacco waste
  91. Bamboo products
  92. Old fish food
  93. Sheepskin condoms
  94. Shower loofahs (made from natural materials, such as sea sponge)
  95. Bamboo skewers
  96. Granite dust
  97. Dolomite lime
  98. Liquid from canned fruits and vegetables
  99. Pure soap scraps

Do you compost at home? Can you think of some other items you can compost? If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments below.

 

The post 99 Things You Probably Didn’t Know You Can Compost appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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5 Simple Solutions For Composting

5 Simple Solutions For Composting

Composting is by far the best way to condition your soil. Whether you have a small patio garden or a robust vegetable garden in your backyard, your soil needs to be cared for.

When I began gardening, my grandfather pulled me aside and passed on some very wise advice. He said, “You have to grow your soil in order to grow your plants.” Since that time, I have made an effort to save my compostable materials to use in my garden. With composting, you are utilizing aerobic and anaerobic decomposition processes to break down the compostable material and invite beneficial organisms to assist in the process. The end result is a full spectrum soil conditioner that has many benefits.

  • Compost contains macro and micronutrients often absent in synthetic fertilizers.
  • Compost releases nutrients slowly—over months or years, unlike synthetic fertilizers
  • Compost enriched soil retains fertilizers better. Less fertilizer runs off to pollute waterways.
  • Compost buffers the soil, neutralizing both acid & alkaline soils, bringing pH levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants.

Brown – Carbon Rich Materials

  • Livestock manure (horse, cow, sheep, chicken)
  • Lawn clippings and dried leaves, pine needles
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Straw
  • Wood chips and small twigs

Green – Nitrogen Rich Material

  • Crop residue
  • Culled vegetables
  • Used kitchen scraps – peels, cores, leftover cooked vegetables (as long as there is no salt or butter on them), produce past its prime.
  • Grass clippings (free of pesticides)
  • Cuttings from plants, dead headed flowers, pulled weeds
  • Coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves, tea bags
  • Eggshells

Follow these tips to creating a healthy compost pile

Those who begin collecting their compostables have a problem with the smell emanating from their kitchen area. Here are some simple solutions to keeping the smells at bay.

  1. Enclose it. Kitchen scraps that have been enclosed in a container will help keep the smells from wafting into other rooms. Cutting the kitchen scraps into small pieces will help them fit easily into the canister. There are fancy porcelain compost buckets and pails you can buy, but the cheapest compost contain you can use are the ones found in your home: plastic coffee containers, empty protein powder containers, etc. Utilize what you have around you. If you have multiple composting canisters, you can add more to your compost pile at once. Once they are added, use a hose to water the heap; the moisture will help expedite the decomposition process.
  2. Freeze it. Add your kitchen scraps to a zip-loc bag and freeze it. This will assist in the decomposition process, as well as eliminate the smells from the kitchen. Simply freeze the scraps until you are ready to add it to the compost pile or worm bin. When ready, allow the bag to thaw out before adding. The frozen food may harm the beneficial insects. Another tip is to cut your scraps up into smaller bits to help the decomposition process and beneficial organisms break it down faster.
  3. Fill an egg carton. Egg cartons are great “brown materials’ for the compost heap. Add vegetables, fruit scraps and egg shells to the carton all at once. Or, you can utilize the freezing method with this method. When you have filled multiple egg cartons filled with scraps, add them to the compost pile, water it down and layer with a healthy addition of leaves or grass clippings.
  4. Vermiculture.  Maybe it’s the tomboy in me, but I love having a worm bin. They break everything down and the happier they are, the more they produce. If you don’t want to collect your kitchen scraps and save them, consider starting a worm bin and adding the kitchen scraps more quickly. An added benefit to keeping worms is the rich worm tea they produce. You can give your garden an added boost from this worm bi-product. Follow these instructions for creating a worm farm.
  5. No mess composting. There are two ways to utilize the no mess composting: trench composting and sheet composting. Trench composting is simple; all that is required is to dig a twelve inch “trench” or hole near the plants that will use the compost. Add four to six inches of “brown” and “green” composting material and bury it with the reserved soil. Sheet Composting is more of a longer term composting plan, but is very simple. Place organic matter to be composted directly on to the soil as a form of mulch and allow it to decay naturally.  One or more layers can be added. Water thoroughly and allow the decomposition process to begin. New plants can be planted in the area in the next season.

Here are some other great ways to compost

When the compost is a rich brown color, it’s time to add it directly to the garden. These six simple solutions will help your compost pile stay healthy and happy; and a happy compost pile makes for a very happy garden. Happy gardening!

The post 5 Simple Solutions For Composting appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


Source: Alternative news journal

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