Do this now to be healthier instantly

I was inspired to write this post after seeing my Word Press Daily Prompt email today. The one word prompt was, “artificial”. The minute my brain sorted out those 10 letters it clicked! One of the reasons my family and I stay so healthy is because we have nearly eliminated artificial ingredients from our diets.

So how can this tidbit of information help you get healthier instantly?

Right now at this very minute you can make the decision to limit or eliminate artificial ingredients from your diets. While you are at it, keep the ingredient lists short for any meals or snacks you are planning.

How many ingredients can you see in the picture below?

 

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What did you guess? If you guessed one you are wrong. The answer is actually two. Two fresh, delisious and organic goldren raspberries grown right in our backyard.

It might not be raspberry season for much of the world, but most people can grow their own food for many months of the year. When you have a farmer’s market outside your door it is easy to eat natural and keep ingredient lists to a minimum. Check out some scenes from our DIY Backyard Farm.

Winter, spring summer and fall. In our garden we have something for all!

Even if you live in an apartment on the 44th floor you can still keep artificial ingredients to a minimum. Shop carefully, buy fresh, local produce whenever possible and order simply prepared foods when eating out. Are you going to start being healthier in this very instant? Are you inspired to plan a bountiful, edible garden of your own?

Nothing artificial, keep it real and get healthier today!

Get a Discount to Celebrate Fall Edible Gardening

We are offering our biggest discount ever to help get folks into fall edible gardening. That’s right, many of the veggies and herbs you grow in spring and summer can also carry over or be grown again in the fall.

Act soon because most zones need to begin planning (and even planting) now! You will love having an extended growing season and probably save some money on produce too.

We want to help get you started by offering $4 off the $14 price of our edible garden planning guide book. You can only get this discount by buying direct from our eStore. Enter code W84YWAVZ to get the $4 discount. Offer expires 08/31/2016.

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Plan Your Garden, Garden Your Plan!!!!!

Happy shopping and great growing!

First 2016 Bucket of Potatoes Harvest

It may have been a bit early, but our bucket of Red Norland potatoes was ready to harvest. Red Norland are an early maturing potato variety anyway, but this bucket was even earlier because of the type of pot or “bucket” that we used.

To make a long story short, we gave our last white potato bucket to a friend who wanted to grow his own bucket of potato goodness. As is usually the case when you give something away, we wound up needing it!

Some extra Red Norland seed potatoes needed a home and we were without the usual white bucket. Instead, we dropped them into a large black pot filled with our fabulous DIY Backyard Farm soil.

At first everything was going great. The spring did not bring hot temps at all and there was plenty of rain. Then Mother Nature turned up the heat. The days got longer and the sun got hotter. What do you think we learned???

Yes, the early days of science class came blasting back into our minds. Black colors absorb sun, white colors reflect it. Our black pot was turning our potatoes into french fries!!!

We moved the pot into a part sun area and watered it twice a day to help revive the greens. The plants started to turn around and then they suddenly browned out and went flat. Was all lost???

Watch the video below to find out!

A Tip For My Container Gardening Friends

fishnure tomato experiment

Give your container garden soil a refreshing “mix”

Someone asked me a great question at a recent edible gardening seminar I was speaking at. She was a container gardener who asked what she should be doing with her soil at the beginning of the season. The woman was referring to how to prep the soil before planting the new season’s crop.

Containers do not benefit from the same natural changes our garden soils go through. For example, contaners will have less or even no earth worms patroling the soil on “doody” Containers certainly don’t cooperate when you’re trying to turn their soil over either.

Wait, maybe there is a better way to prep container garden soil…

When I prepare my container gardens I usually group them all together and dump them into a large wheelbarrow or onto a tarp. My goal is to break up the soil, remove the larger roots that are left over from previous crops and amend the soil. I will usually add some soil blend, compost and/or organic vegetable garden fertilizer.

If you are adding any soils or fertilizers be sure you are using ones designed specifically for edible gardening. Lastly, more DOES NOT equal better when it comes to fertilizer. Follow product instructions.

After I get the soil pile nice and mixed and free of clumps I add it all back into the containers. I usually have some left over because the soil gets nice and airated from breaking up the clumps and gentle mixing in of the aforementioned ammendments. A nice excuse to start a new container!

 

How to “Kid” Around in the Edible Garden

Engaging kids with their food is a great way to create healthy, lasting eating habits. Just look at the fun and excitement we share in our backyard edible garden. Even more exciting is all the feedback I have been getting on this topic. People keep telling me how amazed they are that their children are eating their veggies, fruits and herbs!

One parent recently told me her son will only eat what he picks. He will eat picked string beans, but won’t touch store bought. Smart kid!

Don’t Do This For Better Peas

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Purchase The New Book For More Tips and Garden Planning Worksheets

That is right, a “don’t” recommendation at a time when many folks have planted their spring pea crop. Lots of people are talking about best ways to sow the seeds, optimal trellis methods and best times to harvest. Those are lots of “do” recommendations. However, I have not seen much talk about one particular “don’t” recommendation that I find a lot of folks ignore.

Ready for the payoff pitch? It is simple and will even save you money!

Don’t fertilize your peas. That is right, peas often do best in less fertile ground. In fact, peas that have been fertilized will often produce vigorous leaf growth, but produce far less pods than their less spoiled pea friends. What do you want more of, leaves or pods? I rest my case.

Here are some other DIY Backyard Farm tips on playing nice with your peas:

Tee-“pea” Trellis

Planting Peas With Kids (they usually love snap peas)

Tips For Starting Pea Seeds Indoors

Gardening Activities to Do With Your Children in Winter

Kale,tent

Kale Tent

It’s January and in much of the county it is cold. Too cold to grow most fruits, vegetables and herbs. The next 2-3 months can be really dull and difficult for many edible gardeners. Having young children at home can make wintertime cabin fever more difficult. What can one do to inspire their inner edible gardener while keeping the kids entertained? Easy, plan next season’s edible garden! Just be sure to include the kids.

Recently I posted about fighting back against winter’s dreary grip. It contains a recommendation to browse seed catalogs as one way to brighten up otherwise dull, grey days. Why not invite the kids along to thumb through the seed catalogs with you? After all, seed catalogs are usually filled with wonderfully colorful images of amszing produce!

Winter months are some really tough times for parents, especially those with younger children. The holidays are over and parents have exhausted all the usual options. It just so happens these are the months when seed catalogs arrive in the mail. I call them colorful messengers of joy! Plus, seed catalogs remind us all that spring will in fact come again one day. So, break out the seed catalogs and start dreaming about the growing season to come!

Over the past couple of years we have made seed selecting and edible garden planning family activities. It is so much fun and very interesting to watch the children’s’ eyes light up as they see images of beautiful and often unique fruits, vegetables and herbs. Selecting seeds and garden planning do not have to be quick activities either. It usually takes us a few sit downs before we get our seed orders and edible garden plans just right.

Here is how to do it:

1) Have a bunch of small pieces of paper and some tape handy to allow each person to bookmark their seed pages of interest and write down their thoughts on particular seeds.

2) Place all your seed catalogs around a table and let each person take one. Some catalogs are more visual than others. Be sure the kids get the most visual ones. If they are old enough to read then encourage them to learn about the seeds. Take time to read to them if the reading is too advanced. You will likely learn something as well!

3) Begin to develop a garden plan once most of the seeds have been selected. This step is best done at a different seating. It is nice to sleep on seed buying decisions before investing time to plan a garden or order seeds. Plus, the kids will not want to do marathon garden planning sessions!

4) Sketch out edible garden beds on graph paper or use the garden planning worksheets in the back of my edible garden planning guide book. Does your seed selection make sense now that it is on paper? Remember, less is often more when it comes to edible gardening. Also be sure the edible plant selections will grow well in your location (consider variables like climate, sun exposure, watering needs and companion planting).

Let kids get creative (example in the picture below) by allowing them to use colored pencils or crayons to draw the edible plants they want to grow. I bet they surprise you with how well they can draw carrots, strawberries and other tasty produce. Be sure to help them understand how many of each plant can grow in a specified area. If you do not have this information then check the plant descriptions in seed catalogs.

5) Once you are satisfied with your seed selection and checked that plants will do well in your garden it is time to order or buy seeds from your local garden center. I buy some seeds from local garden centers, swap seeds with gardening friends and order from a few catalog retailers. Click here for a list of mail order seed suppliers.

When the seeds arrive you can keep the kids engaged by reviewing each seed packet with them. Remember to keep it simple and do not try to become expert on too many plant types at once. You and your children will benefit more from growing a few plants and knowing a lot about each one.

I find the process of seed selection and garden planning is helpful for getting through the winter. Before long it will be time to start seeds under grow lights or plant the first seeds of the season in your garden soils!

Tomato Tending Tip For Late Season Success

Right after July 4th, it seems that the days fly off the calendar. While that is happening the tomato plants keep growing. It is like watching Jack and the Beanstalk right in your own backyard!

A few nights ago I had an experienced gardener at my home. She was complaining about how her tomato plants have all flopped over and begun to die. It sounded to me like the plants grew too tall and started to collapse under their own weight. I have seen this often and experienced it myself. Plus, the added weight of tomatoes makes the plants even more likely to become damaged.

Long ago I learned to “top” the tomato plants. Topping is only really needed for indeterminate tomato plants because these varieties just do not know when to stop growing.

I demonstrated my technique for topping tomato plants in the video below.

The Tastiest Tomatoes

March on into your garden to tend tomato plants daily. A little work each day keeps your plants from overwhelming you and makes growing them feel a lot less like work. A little tying here, some pruning there and of course some picking! An ounce of prevention is worth pounds of amazing, fresh globes of goodness!