Saturday, June 27, 2009

Eating Organic On The Run

I've come to discover it is impossible to eat organic on the run around
here. It's all fast unhealthy food. I really wish my hometown had more eco-friendly and organic options. Maybe one day. I'll keep spreading the word. In the mean time I will have to take my organic lunch with me or just deal with eating what's around.

Friday, June 26, 2009

DIY Findings For Organic Gardening & Conserving Water

Below are very informative sites I have found online. I thought I would share with anyone interested in organic living or gardening. I hope it helps.

1.DIY Gardening: Making an Upside Down Tomato Planter
I thought this was great and I plan to show my husband as well as my neighbor. It looks so easy.

2. How to Build a Rain Barrel
It seems so simple. I posted a question on Gather and other social networking sites about large containers and the advice given so far is to find food grade plastic barrels from places like Dunkin Doughnuts, restaurants and so on. That's a pretty good idea. There are also a few cheap ones on eBay that cost about $25-$45 plus a few dollars to buy the parts. That is a lot cheaper than already made barrels. Still in an effort to conserve every dime and be as eco-friendly as possible I would like to buy or get a free used barrel. I would also like to find some locally.To reduce my carbon footprint and keep some money in my pocket. Shipping something like this can get expensive.

3. More DIY rain barrel step by step instructions

4. And another one here
5. Seasonal Ingredient Map
This is a great site to refer to each new season. It is very helpful and I can't believe I haven't already told or emailed my husband about the site.

6. Food Dictionary
I have used this site many times already and thought it a great idea to share if I haven't already.

7. Community Garden

8. Farmers Market Online In Season

9. Organic Food and Beyond: 18 à la Carte Tips to Green Your Meals

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rain Brings Happiness To My Baby's Daddy

It rained today on the way home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a light rain with a rainbow painted across the sky. My husband shouted out in happiness as we drove into it. My girls asked about finding the fog at the end of the rainbow. I wanted to say it was growing in our garden, but instead I took pictures of the rainbow. What a beautiful ride home.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Where is the rain? Thanks HEB

The lack of rain is making all of us grumpy and the days are hot. This is the 3rd week or more without rain. My flower garden is thirsty and we are still trying to find ways to water our vegetable garden without bringing up our water bill. This is proving to be hard because these plants need a lot of water.

We also still have not found free or inexpensive wooden barrels for container gardening nor have we found free large plastic or tin barrels to contain the rain when it comes....if it ever comes.

On a very positive note....during our shopping trip to HEB right before our CSA pickup we stopped by the corn on sale and my husband noticed a large box of empty corn husks right next to the corn stand. He said, pointed at the box and looked at me, "I want this!" A light bulb went off in my head and I remembered a tip from one of the many gardening books we have checked out and I said, "go ask the manager". He smiled swung his pointed finger in the direction he would walk to to find the manger and said, "I will!" Off he went. When he came back he said they gave him the rotting melon too. I had mixed feeling about that. I didn't want rotting melon in the car in the heat. Imagine the smell, but he seemed happy so I went a long with it.

When we got inside the car I could smell it. It was nasty and we still had to pick up the CSA veggies then drive all the way home. At the CSA pick up we finally had a bag of tomatoes to pick up with the rest of the veggies. I was excited because we love tomatoes. We still have only one bag full of vegetables, but at least we no longer have that nasty lettuce. Unfortunately, we are now growing tired of the squash too.

When we arrived home. He took the large boxes of rotten fruit and husks out of the SUV and to the back yard to place in the compost. Naturally he spilled some of the melon juice in the back of the SUV. I was upset, but he cleaned it and aired it out. The smell is gone now. Next time we will bring flattened cardboard boxes with us. When he spoke to the manager there she was fine with allowing us to pick up more rotten fruits and veggies later. She says a lot of gardeners have asked them. My husband says one of the other managers there was a little nervous about letting us take the rotten food. My husband reassured him we wouldn't eat it. I guess the other manager was worried about a lawsuit or something. I can understand that. There are some bad dishonest people out there. They ruin it for everyone. I told my husband, if they are still nervous. to tell them he is more than willing to sign a paper letting HEB know we wont sue. I'll post it here. HEB we wont sue you over this rotten food. We are only using it for our compost pile and I appreciate you willing to take the chance. You are helping us out and helping the planet at the same. Thanks to you, our compost bin is full and in six months to a year we will have rich dark black soil to put in our vegetable garden.

I wish all grocery stores would do this. I hate the idea of all that compost material going to waste and to the landfill. It's a shame that so much of it does when it can be turned into compost. If grocery stores were smart they would turn there waste into compost and then sale it to their costumers for a dollar. A dollar more for organic compost.

By the way our pumpkins, cantelopes, and cucumber are thriving, but our watermelon is struggling. My husband says they do better in sandy soil. We have clay soil. He plans to mix it with a bit of sandy soil next year. This year we will just see what happens. By the way did I ever mention we once lived in Alabama for a year many years ago and we tried gardening there. We planted a few things: corn, carrots, watermelon, and tomatoes, is all I can remember. Our corn died. Only one carrot grew, but we picked it too soon, cute tiny little thing. We had some yummy tomatoes for a few weeks. They were absolutely delicious. I think I made the best spaghetti I have ever made with those tomatoes, but then before we knew it the watermelon grew over everything and choked everything out. Still, we were happy. We picked a few watermelon at first, but discovered it was too early to harvest. We finally researched how to harvest watermelon and a few weeks later we had so many we were giving them away. I would love to reach that point in our vegetable garden, the point when we have so much food to harvest we can give it away to our family and friends.

Back then we didn't know how to garden at all. It was pure luck and wishful thinking. This year we decided to learn about gardening first and then plant. Well...honestly it was a little of both. We are still reading gardening books. We are still asking gardeners questions. We still have a lot and I mean a lot to learn, but I think we will be okay. If we succeed then we save money on food and we feed our family fresh organic healthy food. If we fail, it isn't really a failure because we learned new things and we enjoyed doing it, my husband most of all. After coming back from Iraq and still searching for a job I believe this calms him. This calms me.

My children enjoy it too. They get so excited about these things. This is what I love about kids, simplicity and nature still excites them. Materialistic things and vanity are way back on the back burner. I say let us as adults help them keep it there. We all need to take a break and give simplicity and nature another try. Maybe we would all be happy for it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Epson Salt and No Rain for Days

It hasn't rained for days. It is hot, humid and our grass is turning brown. We are only using our water to water the plants that can't take it without water. Still our water bill has gone up. The forecast does not predict any rain for the next ten days either. Meanwhile we are still looking for wooden barrels to make into planters for our organic container gardening and plastic barrels to make into rain barrels which would have done us a lot of good these days had we already had them. Not much luck. These barrels are expensive and no one is willing to give any for free. Who would want to? These barrels are valuable.

In the mean time this is what I have found on Epson Salt. I read many tips about the benefits of Epson Salt in the gardening books I checked out from the library. Take a look below:

By the way if you have your own garden register it here for free.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Too Much Sun and Poor Draingage

We took a trip to the botancial garden's yesterday evening. It's about 3 minutes away. It was a beautiful hot day followed by a trip to an airconditioned library next door. I enjoyed the flowers, took pictures and watched my girls enjoy the shaded swings. My husband took the opportunity there to ask a gardner what's wrong with our herbs. Turns out it's too much sun and poor drainage. She also suggested to not use treated wood for our planter. Our herbs are better off in the ground and its still too early for our cilantro. Tomorrow I will transplant the herbs into a section of my flower garden. I will have to find another place for my bulbs. Maybe I'll transfer them to the planter the herbs are in now.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our Garden, Farmer's Market, CSA and Everything Else

It has been a busy couple of weeks of work, life, kids, family, gardening, reading and everything else. To sum it up:

Our seedling our finally planted in the ground in our vegetable garden in the back. We finished this yesterday. My husband finished digging up a foot deep of dirt. Then he rented a tiller and tilled up the earth with all of our compost, some composting leaves from two doors down, and Organic Soil from Miracle Grow. Then we built up little hills and transplanted the seeds. I will need to take pictures and post them on here.

This is what we have in the ground: pumpkin, watermelon, cantelope, cucumber and one garlic. We made hills for the watermelon, cantelope and the pumpkin. I suggested a 4 sided t-p trellis like the one in the Organic Gardening book for the cucumbers. My husband grabbed a few long branches my neighbor cut from the crape Myrtle when it fell in our back yard during Hurricane Ike. He cut several branches in order to help me raise the Crape Myrtle back up. It looks ugly now, but its thriving strong with leaves and even flourished with flowers a few months back. When my husband came home he cut the cut branch's into smaller straighter branches. He grabbed four of these yesterday. Collected them at the top with wire and spread the bottom. Once the trellis was made he placed in the garden. He can make trellis so easily. You should see the simple but affective one he made for the jasmine in the front yard.

The okra seedlings are still in a pot waiting for a bigger pot. We are having trouble finding free large containers for our container garden vegetables. There just has to be a place were we can just go pick up free large containers someone else doesn't want. I will have to try freecycle again. We would also like to find large containers to make our own rain barrels. These would be very helpful because where we live sometimes we can go weeks without rain. Using our fresh water gets expensive.

Our Topsy Turvey has 3 small green tomatoes quickly growing on the vine. I can't wait to taste them. My neighbor's Topsy Turvey has six. He tease us constantly about our little tomatoes.

Our herbs.....not doing so well. They look weak and small in their beautiful homemade wooden container. We think it either a drainage issue or a too much sun issue. We are planning this week to visit the botanical gardens near by to ask in hopes for the correct answer. A friend of mine from work also suggested Randy Lemmon. He's a radio gardener.

Our CSA meat came on May the 30. This is what we got:

Beef Liver (I still have the last one)
Whole Chicken
Beef Sirloin Steak (2)
Hot-Piggity- Dogs
Top Round Roast Beef
Pork Shoulder Roast
Smoked Jowls
Ground Brisket Beef (2)
Ground Beef (2)
Ground Pork
Beef Cutlets

As always the meat is delicious and I am so happy to be eating meats that are healthier for my family, kinder to the animals (compared to other places), healthier for the environment, and helps support a local farm. I absolutely love the customer service from here and I always look forward to Honi's newsletters. She is so cheerful and gives great cooking tips and recipes. The only downfall is the price and the amount. I'm trying to use the amount of meat we eat for our health for our pocketbook and for the animals, but one day I made a meal that obviously didn't have enough meat for my husband or even my kids. He loved the taste of the meal but was upset that there wasn't more meat. We ate less meat at this meal than recommended per meal per person. Usually this isn't a problem because I have nuts or mushrooms or a starch, but on that day we were running low on everything, but vegetables and the other CSA meat varieties. I really do wish I was a better cook.

Our CSA veggie pickups have had a lot of squash. A lot! So, we've eaten a lot of squash lately. We are pretty much all squashed out, but I made a squash dish everyone liked yesterday. I cut the squash into small pieces. Sauteed them in butter and garlic. Added salt, black pepper, and a bit of lemon pepper.

This past Saturday we shopped at a farmer's market as well as visited a farm and bought some of their fresh picked veggies at the little shop they had on their farm. The farm was huge. I'm still shy about asking farmers how they grow their food in fear they'll become defensive like one woman farmer did months ago, but I did ask if they gave tours. I am interested in showing my girls what a farm is and does. The women apologized and said only in groups, like a school group. Oh well, maybe next year I can convince my daughter's school to take a field trip to the farm.

The rest of this week will be busy too. School is out, but work isn't.