Monday, December 31, 2012

What's Your Resolution?

Do you make New Year's resolutions?  Today is the last day of 2012 so I thought I'd share a few popular resolutions.

According to Statistic Brain, the top 10 resolutions are:
1. Lose weight
2. Get organized
3.Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the fullest
5. Stay fit and healthy
6. Learn something exciting
7. Quit smoking
8. Help others in their dreams
9. Fall in love
10. Spend more time with Family

Ready for the resolution statistics?

Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions45%
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions17%
Percent of Americans who absolutlely never make New Year’s Resolutions38%
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution8%
Percent who have infrequent success49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year24%
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions

Length of ResolutionsData
Resolution maintained through first week75%
Past two weeks71%
Past one month64%
Past six months46%

I love to see the statistics!  Are you making resolutions this year?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Your Favorite Posts #2

I've been bouncing around different topics lately.  Have you noticed?  When I started this blog over 3 years ago I wasn't interested in followers, pageviews or recognition.  My goal was to educate myself and others about health and nutrition.  I never intended to post about controversial or political topics.  But you know what?  Life (and health) is controversial!  

From The Politics of Food, The Dark Side of Food and Food Production, Honeybee Death and Genetically Modified Crops...I have become less and less certain of maintaining a healthy food source.  As 2012 comes to an end, opening the door to 2013 I have asked myself numerous times "What am I going to do about it?"  For now I will continue to grow veggies using ONLY heirloom (non-gmo) seeds, educate myself and others but most importantly...I will NOT bury my head in the sand and pretend everything is just peachy because it is NOT!

Thanks for stopping by!
Enjoy the following favorites of 2012!

I hope you enjoyed the favorites!  I'd love to have feedback on controversies and favorites.  Thanks for stopping by! 

Recent Posts:
2012 Your Favorite Posts #1
Urgent Information for Americans 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Urgent Information for Americans

While you're making your New Year's Resolutions, please keep in mind...
From Natural News:

Those who oppose the Bill of Rights are enemies of America

Some misguided, if not treasonous, U.S. Senators, lawmakers and public servants in the executive branch of government currently suffer under the dangerous misconception that the Bill of Rights only exists because they allow it to. They foolishly believe that they can selectively pick and choose which rights to nullify via new legislation or by the stroke of an executive pen. This delusion is not merely wrong-headed and arrogant, it poses a grave threat to the Republic and all its future generations.

Enemies of the Bill of Rights are enemies of America. Whether those enemies be found in the media, in Congress, in the Oval Office or on the streets of America, they are unworthy of being called "Americans" at all. Those who despise liberty do not deserve liberty. Those who deliberately and maliciously attack the Bill of Rights do not deserve the protections of the Bill of Rights. Those who despise the Constitution and its Bill of Rights are publicly indicating they would prefer to live as subjects, not Citizens.

I propose that any who attempt to denounce Bill of Rights protections for others must first surrender their own rights and freedoms. Do not speak of taking away my Second Amendment rights while you enjoy the protections of the First Amendment. Surrender all your rights and freedoms first, because only then have you achieved the necessary moral consistency from which you can demand others be deprived of their rights.

Relocate to North Korea, in other words, and become a subject of Kim Jong-un and then continue your assaults of the Bill of Rights as a Korean gulag blogger. Because only then will you know how much you have lost, and how much you should have valued the liberties you so carelessly abandoned.

The Bill of Rights is not negotiable. If you oppose it, you betray not only yourself, but all Americans.

Please SHARE this urgent declaration. You have permission to re-post, with proper attribution.

Also from Natural News:

Natural News will cover this in detail. Although our focus is traditionally health freedom, food freedom and farm freedom, we fully realize that without the freedom to own firearms, no other freedoms exists at all. A government that disarms the American people will soon follow with forced vaccinations, criminalizing home gardening, outlawing heirloom seeds and more. Don't believe it? California has already criminalized fresh milk from the farm and has actually sent one man, James Stewart, to prison for distributing fresh milk. California is insane, and Feinstein is the reptilian-like leader of the entire insane asylum known as the California government.

Are you still with me? Are you thinking to your self "What does this have to do with anything?"  Or "But there's nothing I can do about it."  
THINK AGAIN!  You can spread the word and exercise your freedoms under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

2012 Your Favorite Posts #1

I'm still around!  This is my first official post as a married woman.  Woohoo!  I'm enjoying a little "us" time so I'll be sharing your favorite posts (top clicks) and my favorite posts as well.

Stay tuned for my favorite posts of 2012, especially the In the Garden Spotlight.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Friday!

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend!
See you next week!

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.   ~Thomas Jefferson

Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.   ~John Adams

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.   ~Benjamin Franklin

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.   ~Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Enough with the Knee-Jerk Reactions!


I have tried to stay away from current events here.  This blog is about organic gardening, heirloom seeds, health/nutrition and DIY projects.

However...I am sick and tired of the politicizing of the Connecticut tragedy.  It is despicable!  This is NOT the time to start talking about infringing on our rights as free citizens of the United States of America.  This is NOT the time to demonize people with mental illness.  This is NOT the time to verbally attack ANYONE based on character, way of life or their opinions.

This IS a time of mourning and reflection, prayer and peace

Do your own research before forming an opinion instead of spouting the garbage that is out there in the media.  The stuff we are being fed.  I have chosen to turn off the tv and shut down my computer for now.

In the meantime, I have seed orders to fill at Mary's Heirloom seeds, vegan lip balm to make and Oh ya...I'm getting MARRIED!

Below are a few links that you may or may not find interesting.  I'm done venting and I'll see ya around.

My Journey #1
The Dark Side of Food and Food Production

The Truth about Guns
Death by Medicine

Alternative opinions:
The Anarchist Soccermom
The Organic Prepper

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. "

Monday, December 17, 2012

Silence and Support

We are also raising money that will go to an organization in the memory of this tragedy. 

Here is the official description of the support service we are donating to:

“Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic
and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their
highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support
groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.

Please visit THIS PAGE to make your donation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

10 Foods for Flat Abs

I'm in the mood for a bit of healthy eating.  We are absolutely inundated with junk food around the holidays and I refuse to add any more weight than I already have!  This is My Journey post #9.  It should really be called "How to Lose 5 Pounds in 5 Days."  
Seriously...I've already lost 5 pounds!!!  
Check out my meal plan at the bottom.
I love Fuji Apples!
I found "The 10 Best Foods for Flat Abs" at Fitness Magazine so I thought I'd share.  Many of the items below were mentions in 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss Part 1 and Part 2.

These delicious and versatile nuts contain filling protein and fiber, not to mention vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. They're also a good source of magnesium, a mineral your body must have in order to produce energy, build and maintain muscle tissue, and regulate blood sugar.

You won't find a more perfect protein source. Eggs are highly respected by dietitians because of their balance of essential amino acids (protein building blocks used by your body to manufacture everything from muscle fibers to brain chemicals). 

Soybeans are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein. Plus, they're incredibly versatile. Snack on dry-roasted soybeans, toss shelled edamame into soups, and slip a spoonful of silken tofu into your morning smoothie.

A 2003 study in the journal Nutrition found that overweight women who consumed three apples or pears a day for three months lost more weight than their counterparts who were fed a similar diet with oat cookies instead of fruits.

Most are loaded with fiber, every dieter's best friend. The more fiber you eat -- experts say that it's best to get between 25 and 35 grams every day -- the fewer calories you absorb from all the other stuff you put in your mouth. That's because fiber traps food particles and shuttles them out of your system before they're fully digested.

Leafy Greens
Their cancer-preventing carotenoids won't help shrink your waistline, but their low calorie count definitely will. One cup of spinach contains only about 40 calories, while a cup of broccoli has 55 calories and satisfies 20 percent of your day's fiber requirement.

People who get their calcium from yogurt rather than from other sources may lose more weight around their midsection, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity. The probiotic bacteria in most yogurts help keep your digestive system healthy, which translates into a lower incidence of gas, bloating, and constipation, which can keep your tummy looking flat.

Veggie Soup
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that people who ate broth-based (or low-fat cream-based) soups two times a day were more successful in losing weight than those who ate the same amount of calories in snack food.

Seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These uber-healthy fats may help promote fat burning by making your metabolism more efficient, according to Kleiner.

Never heard of it? Pronounced KEEN-wah, this whole grain contains 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein per half cup. Cook it as you would any other grain (although some brands require rinsing). Quinoa's nutty flavor and crunchy-yet-chewy texture are like a cross between whole wheat couscous and short-grain brown rice.

Are you inspired yet?  Remember, just because it's the "Holiday Season" does not mean it's okay to go overboard on the sweets and junk food.  I worked hard to stay in shape all year and I'm not gowing to blow it now! 

Here's a recap from Mary's Kitchen.  
This has been my typical day of food.

Wake-up: 1 large glass of water with lemon or lime juice.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with a spoonful of honey and a cup of black coffee with honey.
Snack: Carrot Sticks and/or celery sticks. 1 cup of Slim Tea.
Lunch: Scrambled eggs (no cheese for now)
Snack: Protein Shake
**Let me be more specific**  
I use Standard Process SP Complete.  It is a natural, whole food product and is available non-dairy.  I also add veggies to the shake.
No chemicals and non-gmo.

Dinner: Salad with homemade dressing and another protein shake.

Water is key.  I drink about 10- 8 ounce glasses a day.  Sometimes more when I workout.  After dinner I've been drinking a cup of Everyday Detox tea but I might switch that to the morning.   I love the slim tea and it's natural. 
Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
 I'm also growing quite a bit a my own veggies in the garden.  This past year I harvested Eggplant, Basil, Swiss Chard, German Giant Radish, Orange and Red Tomatoes, Carrots, Beets, Peppers, Dill and Calendula all from my little patch out in the yard.  

It's an amazing feeling preparing a meal using veggies from the garden.  Check out Mary's Heirloom Seeds for a unique selection of healthy, non-gmo, organic heirloom seeds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Food for Thought" and Weight Loss (part 2)

Yesterday I teased you with the first 10 of Self magazines 20 Superfoods for weight loss.  The weight wait is over.  Check out the rest!  My Journey post #8
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa
Almond Butter
Adding this spread may lower bread's glycemic index (a measure of a food's effect on blood sugar).

The juice gets all the hype for being healthy, but pomegranate seeds deserve their own spotlight. In addition to being loaded with folate and disease-fighting antioxidants, they're low in calories and high in fiber, so they satisfy your sweet tooth without blowing your diet.

One reason to spice up your meals: You'll crank up your metabolism.

Dietitians often refer to plain yogurt as the perfect food, and for good reason: With its trifecta of carbs, protein and fat, it can stave off hunger by keeping blood sugar levels steady.

Curbing hunger is as easy as piling your plate with this whole grain. It packs both fiber (2.6 grams per 1/2 cup) and protein, a stellar nutrient combo that can keep you satisfied for hours, Krieger says.

These tiny fish are the unsung stars of the sea. They are high in protein and loaded with omega-3s, which also help the body maintain muscle. And they're low in mercury and high in calcium, making them a smart fish pick for pregnant women.
You can use this herb, a staple in French cooking, in place of salt in marinades and salad dressings. Plus, tarragon lends a sweet, licorice-like flavor to bland foods.

Parmesan Cheese
Drop that rubbery lowfat cheese and pick up the real stuff. Women who had one serving of whole milk or cheese daily were less likely to gain weight over time, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds.

Don't let the fat content of an avocado (29 grams) scare you—that's what makes it a top weight loss food, Kraus says. "The heart-healthy monounsaturated fat it contains increases satiety," she says.

Olive Oil
Like avocados, olive oil has healthy fat that increases satiety, taming your appetite. But that's hardly its only slimming feature. "Research shows it has anti-inflammatory properties," Kraus says. Chronic inflammation in the body is linked to metabolic syndrome.

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Food for Thought" and Weight Loss

Yes, the holidays are here but that does not mean packing on the pounds or starving yourself.  I'm actually planning on loosing a few pounds before Christmas.
Baby Lucy taking a cat nap!

I found a great article at, "20 Superfoods for Weight Loss."  
Here goes My Journey #7

Eat more Apples are the ideal on-the-go low-calorie snack. For a pie-like treat, chop up a medium apple and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Pop in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

Try to consume local organic beef; it's healthier for you and the environment.

Dig in to eggs, yolks and all: They won't harm your heart, but they can help you trim inches.

One raw chopped cup contains 34 calories and about 1.3 grams of fiber, as well as a hearty helping of iron and calcium.

All oats are healthful, but the steel-cut and rolled varieties (which are minimally processed) have up to 5 grams of fiber per serving, making them the most filling choice. Instant oats contain 3 to 4 grams per serving.

Lentils are a bona fide belly flattener. Eating them helps prevent insulin spikes that cause your body to create excess fat, especially in the abdominal area.

Goji Berries
Snack on them mid-afternoon to stay satisfied until dinner. The calorie cost? Only 35 per tablespoon.

Wild Salmon
"Omega-3 fatty acids improve insulin sensitivity—which helps build muscle and decrease belly fat," Grotto explains. And the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns. Opt for wild salmon; it may contain fewer pollutants.

Buckweat Pasta
Swap plain noodles for this hearty variety; you'll slip into your skinny jeans in no time. "Buckwheat is high in fiber and, unlike most carbs, contains protein," Zuckerbrot says. "Those two nutrients make it very satiating, so it's harder to overeat buckwheat pasta than the regular stuff."

All berries are good for you, but those with a blue hue are among the best of the bunch. They have the highest antioxidant level of all commonly consumed fruit. They also deliver 3.6 grams of fiber per cup.

So that's the first 10!  I'll share the second 10 tomorrow.  Looking for ways to get started?  Check out 6 Ways to Stay Focused.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Seeds in a Stocking WINNER!!!

I chose 3 WINNERS this time around for the Seeds in a Stocking giveaway!  If you didn't win, you can still order them from Mary's Heirloom Seeds and they'll still arrive before Christmas!

Seeds in a Stocking Winner:  Claire!
You have been notified by email (please check your spam folder just in case)

Runners-Up: Kim M. and Debra Ann

Runners-Up will receive 2 heirloom seeds of their choice from

Mary's Heirloom Seeds
You have been notified by email (please check your spam folder just in case)

There are SO MANY unique varieties of heirloom seeds!  If any of you have questions about heirloom seed varieties please feel free to ask.  

Useful Links:
Spaghetti Squash (3 Sisters Method)
Basil  (My favorite!)

Below are a few of my favorite and some of the easiest varieties to grow!
Extra Dwarf Pak Choy
French Breakfast Radish
Genovese Basil
Tom Thumb Lettuce

THANK YOU all for entering!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Eat, Drink and be Merry!

No Garden Spotlight today!  I'm getting ready for a big birthday celebration in our Chiropractic Office for the Doc.  
SHHHH...It's a surprise!  

AND, I'll be asking my trusty Rafflecopter at Midnight to night to choose a winner for the Seeds in a Stocking Giveaway.  
There are still a few hours left to enter!

I'll share the tutorials for our goodie bags later but for now, enjoy the delicious food and drinks that I've been posting over at Mary's Kitchen!

There are so many simple, healthy recipes at Mary's Kitchen.
Check out my Harvest Recipes!

See you tomorrow when I announce the winner of the Seeds in a Stocking Giveaway!

Monday, December 3, 2012

In the Garden Spotlight: Basil

Basil is by far the easiest plant I have grown...EVER!  Basil needs sun, water and room to grow.  If your plant gets too tall or bushy, chop of a piece and add it to your salad, make pesto or even Basil Lemonade!
Purple Opal Basil

My favorite varieties are Dark Purple Opal, Fine Verde and Genovese Basil.  All three of them are great in pesto and the purple adds a bit of color to salads or even pizza!
Fine Verde Basil
Companion Plants for Basil are: tomatoes, peppers, oregano, asparagus and petunias.

From the Growing from Seed page:
Sow seeds outdoors when soil is warm and temperature does not drop below 65°F. Basil can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting out. Seeds usually germinate within 7 days of planting.

Seedlings need 6-8 hours of sunlight .  Basil can be grown indoors on a nice sunny ledge or windowsill or outdoors in a sunny spot.

Make successive sowings for continuous summer supplies. Pinch back flower stalks as they appear to keep plants from bolting.  Basil prefers rich well-drained soil.

I have found Easy to grow Herbs very helpful.

Doesn't that sound easy?  I found a basil plant at my local supermarket for $4.  For $4 at Mary's Heirloom Seeds you can get a full pack of organic, non-gmo Basil seeds.  That's a possible 35 basil plants!!!

Want to grow your own?  Enter to win the Seeds in a Stocking Giveaway!  ENDS December 4th at Midnight!  Win it for yourself or give as a gift.

This is a series!  Did you miss the previous spotlights?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

In the Garden Spotlight: Japanese White Egg (eggplant)

This is definitely one of the most unique seeds available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds. I grew Black Beauty Eggplants last year and really enjoyed eating them right off the bush/plant. The Japanese White Egg will be a delightful addition to my garden.
65 days.  Produces heavy yields of 2-3" oval creamy white eggplants.  Long season.

Wonderful rich flavor.  Perfect for a delicious stir-fry or lasagna.

Companion plants for the eggplant are: amaranth, beans, peas, spinach, tarragon, thyme and marigold. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and does well with peppers as they like the same growing conditions.

From the Growing from Seed page:

Eggplants can grow 2 to 6 feet tall, depending on the variety.  Grow eggplant in full sun. Eggplant is not particular about the soil it grows in but will grow best in well-drained soil rich in organic matter.

Eggplant is sensitive to cold (and extreme heat). It grows best where day temperatures are between 80° and 90°F and night temperatures between 70° and 80°F. Eggplant is best started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting into the garden.

Sow eggplant seed ¼ to ½ inch deep spaced 4 to 5 inches apart. Thin plants to 6 inches apart if the weather does not allow transplanting before plants grow 5 to 6 inches tall. Set eggplants into the garden 18 to 24 inches apart. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart.

Do not over water or allow the soil to dry out. Once the soil has warmed, mulch around eggplants to retain soil moisture and an even growing temperature. Eggplants are heavy feeders prepare planting beds with aged compost and side dress eggplants with compost tea every 2 or 3 weeks during until the fruit has set. (stay tuned for compost tea recipe)

Eggplant is easily grown in containers. Plants will grow in pots at least 12 inches across and as deep. Choose a smaller growing variety.

Homegrown Black Beauty Eggplant
Harvested: Eggplants, tomatoes and swiss chard!
Do you have a favorite variety?  Would you like to share your garden?  Send me an email or leave a comment!

The Seeds in a Stocking Giveaway is almost finished.  2 days left!
No wrapping required!  No Card?  No Problem!
Includes 3 seed packs of your choice, a mini stocking and a holiday card for you to personalize.

*Stockings available in Red, Green and Blue*

This is a Garden Spotlight series!
Pink Oxheart Tomato
Sweet Corn
Spaghetti Squash
 Marglobe Tomato

Saturday, December 1, 2012

In the Garden Spotlight: Marglobe Tomato

My first "spotlight" post was the Pink Oxheart Tomato.  I am currently growing them in the garden but they are just seedlings.  I had terrific success growing Marglobe Tomatoes in my Florida garden.

Aren't they Gorgeous?
75 days. Determinate.  Marglobe tomatoes can be traced back to 1917 but were introduced by the USDA in 1925.  Medium size red fruit make excellent canning tomatoes or sliced for a sandwich or salad.  Good size and uniform deep scarlet color, 7 to 10 ounce fruits.  Great for humid climates.

I highly recommend heirloom marglobe tomatoes.  They are especially great for Florida gardeners as they grow well in humid climates.

For growing instructions check out the Growing from Seed page.
If you intend to grow organically or you would like to reduce your dependency on expensive treatments, use Companion planting.

Companion plants include:  asparagus, basil, beanborage, carrots, celery, chive, cucumber, garlic, head lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, pea, pepper, marigold, pot marigold and sow thistle.
 I especially like to grow borage and calendula around my tomatoes.  They are beautiful flowering plants, attract beneficial insects and can be eaten in salads.  Calendula is great for tinctures or beauty products.
This is a Garden Spotlight series!

Friday, November 30, 2012

In the Garden Spotlight: Spaghetti Squash

You see, there is a method to my madness!  The 3 Sister's Method growing Corn, Beans and Squash.

The new variety of squash at 
Mary's Heirloom Seeds is the Spaghetti Squash and is a winter variety.  
I am really looking forward to growing these gorgeous cucurbita! 
88 days.  Introduced in 1934.  Easy to grow.
This is a very popular squash with stringy flesh that can be used like spaghetti.  Squash is ripe when they turn yellow and sound hollow when thumped.

Companion plants for squash are: Beans, corn, cucumbers, icicle radishes, melon, mint, onions and pumpkin. Helpers: Borage deters worms, improves growth and flavor. Marigolds deters beetle.  Oregano provides general pest protection. Dill may repel the squash bug that will kill your squash vines.

From the Growing from Seed page:

In spring, sow seeds in prepared beds or hills after your last frost has passed, or sow them indoors under bright fluorescent lights. Set out seedlings when they are about three weeks old. In Zone 6 and warmer, you can plant more winter squash in early summer, using space vacated by fall-planted garlic or early spring lettuce. Stop planting winter squash 14 weeks before your expected first fall frost.

How to Plant Winter Squash
Winter squash grows best in warm conditions, in fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Choose a sunny site and prepare 3-foot-wide planting hills within wide rows, or position them along your garden’s edge. Leave 5 to 6 feet between hills. Loosen the soil in the planting sites to at least 12 inches deep. Thoroughly mix in a 2-inch layer of mature compost and a light application of balanced, organic fertilizer. Water well. Plant six seeds per hill, poking them into the soil 1 inch deep. After seeds germinate (about 10 days after sowing), thin seedlings to three per hill. Set up protective row covers as soon as you’re done planting.

Harvesting and Storage
Fruits are ripe if you cannot easily pierce the rind with your fingernail. Never rush to harvest winter squash, though, because immature fruits won’t store well. Unless pests or freezing weather threaten them, allow fruits to ripen until the vines begin to die back. Expect to harvest three to five squash per plant. Use pruning shears to cut fruits from the vine, leaving 1 inch of stem attached. Clean away dirt with a soft, damp cloth, and allow fruits to cure for two weeks in a spot that’s 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Store cured squash in a cool, dry place, such as your basement, a cool closet or even under your bed. Check every two weeks for signs of spoilage.

Winter squash face challenges from squash bugs, squash vine borers and cucumber beetles. To defend your plants from all three insects, shield them with row covers held aloft with stakes or hoops until the plants begin to bloom. Big, healthy plants will produce well despite pest pressure. Among diseases, powdery mildew is a common problem best prevented by growing resistant varieties, which often have “PMR” (for “powdery mildew resistance”) after their variety names. In addition, a spray made of 1 part milk and 6 parts water can suppress powdery mildew if applied every two weeks during the second half of summer.

Winter Squash Growing Tips and Ideas
Grow open-pollinated varieties so you can save your own seeds for eating and replanting. Only choose hybrids if you need a space-saving bush habit or a special form of disease resistance.

Try growing winter squash in an old compost pile located along the edge of your garden. Small-fruited varieties do well if allowed to scramble up a fence.

This is a Garden Spotlight Series:

Ends December 4th at Midnight!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In the Garden Spotlight: Beans

If you would like to start your own garden or add to your collection of seeds, check out the Seeds in a Stocking Giveaway going on now.  Includes your choice of 3 varieties of heirloom seeds, a mini-stocking and a holiday card for you to personalize (in case you decide to give as a gift).
Blue Lake Beans (like you buy in the store)
60 days.  This dark-green bean has been a favorite for over 40 years.  Heavy yield.  Matures its large crop early and all at once.  Stagger planting for longer harvesting.
Developed from the Pole Blue Lake

I mentioned the Three Sister's method when growing Sweet Corn in the last spotlight.  This is similar to companion planting.  It is a garden practice used by Native Americans when growing Corn, Squash and Beans.
From Wikipedia:  "The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the human body needs to make proteins and niacin, but beans contain both and therefore maize and beans together provide a balanced diet."
Golden Wax Bean
55 days.  Old-time favorite introduced in 1900.  Excellent quality and yields. 
Stringless pods are 5-7 inches long with delicious wax bean flavor.  Good for freezing or canning.

This year I have added several bean varieties!  The Kentucky Wonder or "Old Homestead" is a pole variety.  The Blue Lake Bush, Royalty Purple Podded and Golden Wax are all bush varieties.
Kentucky Wonder Bean
65 days.  Pole Bean variety.  Introduced in 1864, this bean was originally known by the name 'Old Homestead.'  What made the 'Kentucky Wonder' a wonder was, in part, its size. The beans are extraordinarily long.  They produce beans in clusters over an extended season.

Royalty Purple Podded
 56 days.  Bush variety.  Tender, bright purple pods turn green when cooked. 
Prolific producer and a good home garden variety.  Beautiful addition to your garden and very tasty.  Plant a row every three weeks until July for a long harvest period.
Royalty Purple Beans are a nude color
I recently added the Royalty Purple to my own garden.  I soaked the beans for 3 hours before I planted them and the germination was much faster and more successful.  Living in South Florida allows me to try different varieties throughout the year.  I am looking forward to purple beans in another 37 days or so.

Bean seedling at approx day 19
From the Growing from Seed page: 

For the sake of simplicity, I classify beans in 2 categories: Bush and Pole.

Bush beans are usually compact and grow close to the ground. Pole beans climb and require a trellis or other support. Bush beans tend to produce more beans in a shorter time, while pole beans will produce more over an entire season. Pole beans typically require much less.

Two weeks before planting, work compost or fertilizer into a garden spot that receives full sun. Well after the fear of frost has passed, use a garden hose to lightly moisten the soil. Plant bean seeds directly into rich, fast draining soil in spring after the soil has warmed. For bush beans, form 1inch-deep furrows and place beans every few inches. For pole beans, position the trellis or bean teepee before planting the seeds. Plant several seeds in each 1-inch furrow.  Cover all seeds with soil and water well. 

Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. When seedlings sprout, carefully thin them to one plant every 6" to 8". Apply a generous layer of mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and prevent weed growth. Bean plants need about 1" of water per week. They should be watered in the morning so the foliage has time to dry before dark. Fertilize bean plants with an organic fertilizer every two weeks for the first six weeks, then once every three to four weeks. Keep an eye out for bean beetles, which are easily picked off by hand and terminated.

The plants require full sun and regular water. In general, bush beans mature faster and are less sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures than pole beans. Provide support for vines in the form of a trellis or pole.

Tip: Never work around bean plants when they are wet. Disease can quickly spread from plant to plant, destroying an entire crop. 

Bush beans are ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days, while pole beans take between 60 and 90 days. Beans should be harvested when the pods are 4" to 6" long. Beans that stay on the plant too long are much less tender and flavorful. Beans should be harvested frequently, even daily, to encourage continued production. Simply pull the pods from the vine to harvest, but try not to knock the blooms off the plant

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