Starting your garden!

I am so excited! The lilacs are blooming and that is the earth’s signal for us to start planting our vegetable gardens for the season!

Gardening is a great hobby and gives everyone who plants one access to clean fresh food. You can get my report on how to grow your own herbs that heal by signing up on our contact page.

Growing up on a farm, I learned at a young age to love fruits and veg. I wouldn’t even need to come inside to eat because i would be playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine, eating whatever was around to forage. We had grape vines, a cherry tree, wild strawberries, raspberries and a huge garden where i would often pick beans, peas or pull up a carrot to wash off under the hose so i didn’t have to go back inside.

I still find myself in awe of how something as tiny as a seed will grow into a magnificent plant that nourishes us. I get so excited to see those little seeds grow!

So come on, let’s get growing so you can see for yourself how vibrant food makes a vibrant you!

When deciding to start a garden you will need to start with a plan.

I didn’t do this at first, I just read a bunch of books and went willy nilly at it. I reaped some from the fruits of my labour, but I didn’t get  any extras to store for winter and some plants did not do well at all. 🙁  Now I have a garden journal so that I know where I have planted my veg in the past so I can rotate my crops for better nutrients for the new crops and I plan out where I am going to plant things that benefit each other for this year. Like the three sisters. Beans, corn and squash. These three have been planted for years all over the world. They stabilize the soil and help support each other, not to mention they are delicious.

While a smaller garden means less work and money, it will not produce enough food to sustain you for the winter months. Container gardens are fun and easy to maintain not to mention a necessity for small yards or balconies, but they do require more water and fertilizer.

One item that will ease your workload is to put down a 4-inch layer of mulch. This will reduce the soil’s need for water and helps keep weeds under control. Last years leaves or straw make a great mulch. I use both, and I have very few weeds.

Keeping your yard tools in good condition is going to make your maintenance tasks easier. So go ahead and put them away when you’re done, somewhere they are out of the elements.

Save your seeds at the end of the season; it’s cheaper than buying more and you can trade them with other gardeners. Some communities have seed exchanges where you can swap some of your seeds for new varieties!

Here are six things to consider when starting your garden:

Remember each garden will have a unique process for bed preparation, depending on soil conditions and available tools.

  1. Aerate – Use a pitchfork to loosen the soil (to invite oxygen, water and root growth) without turning it over (to preserve structure and microbiology).  
  2. Weed – All competing plants must be pulled up. Be sure to get all the roots or else they will come back.
  3. Amend – Now is the time to add fertilizer or soil amendments.  adding ash from the fire pit for potassium and higher pH.
  4. Mulch – Apply a layer of mulch of your choice until soil is covered.  Mulch protects soil from moisture loss, weed growth, and erosion from wind and rain.
  5. Plant – Direct seeded tomatoes, beans, peppers and transplant seedlings
  6. Companion planting is another lesson to learn. Multiple species can  grow well together, each contributing to the greater ecosystem.  For instance, legumes and their rhizobia (bacteria in their roots) build nitrogen in the soil.

Starting your own garden is so rewarding! When you are outside in nature you have a real appreciation of where your food comes from and the work it takes to grow.

Have you started your garden? What do you like to plant?

 

Get out of the Grocery store

farmers-market-local-produce-520What is with the grocery stores these days? It is the place we all go to shop for food, but I find that there is little actual food in these stores. Have you stopped to read the labels on some of the products in there? It’s frightening! For me my rule of thumb is, if I can’t read it, it isn’t food and I am not going to be eating it or feeding it to my family.

With all the marketing and clever disguises the food companies assault us with it is no wonder disease is on the rise. We are no longer eating food we are eating food like substances.

So what are our options?  Some people say that eating local and organic is expensive or that they don’t have time to make meals. Have you calculated the cost of being sick lately? A little prep time once a week goes a long way in terms of eating healthy and getting healthy meals out to your family in a timely manner.

Here are some other options for frugal and healthy shoppers, that want to vote with their dollars and get away from the grocery store nightmare.

  • Join a food co-op or CSA (community supported agriculture) -this is a great option a real tangible way to vote with your dollars.  You can signup and receive weekly fresh produce from the people in your community. With co ops, they will require a membership or volunteer time in lieu of payment. Definitely a great alternative to the traditional grocery store.
  • Grow food in your space plant in containers of all kinds, vertical gardening is a wonderful way to utilize space, find a sunny window sill to grow kitchen herbs or turn your backyard into an urban farm!  Not only is gardening cheaper than therapy but you get tomatoes and you know exactly where your food is coming from and what went into it.
  • In season produce– cheaper and nutritionally superior, this is the way to go for healthy and frugal shoppers alike and when it’s local you are helping your community. If you buy too much you can always blanch, freeze, dehydrate or can your extras for the winter months.
  • Buy local– change your shopping habits and buy from your local farmers. You get to know where your food is coming from and get to know and support the people in your community. Find a local farmer here http://croptouring.com/
  • Buy your staples in bulk– buying in bulk quantities reduces the prices to lower or equal to the prepackaged items found in a traditional grocery store.
  • Forage– this is one of my personal favorites as there is so much food/medicine out there that we overlook every day. Lots of greens, berries, fruits and something for every ailment. After all our mother earth is here to sustain us. Don’t forget tho if you are taking from her it is a good idea to give back. I like composting as my giveback to the earth.

With making these few changes we are voting with our dollars and saying no to harmful pesticides, chemicals, gmo’s and artificial processed ingredients. Say no to the traditional way of shopping and get involved with your community at the same time.

 

Dreaming of Gardening

 

compost_et_copeaux_de_boisOn a beautiful snowy day i am still thinking about my garden. I think about what i am going to plant next year and where I am going to add fruit trees. I also think about the great compost that i am going to nourish my plants and trees with. This is something i can do for my garden throughout the winter months.

Composting is my way of thanking the earth for her beautiful bounty.

So there is a few ways you can contribute to get the nutrient rich soil your garden deserves!

First is traditional composting.

A balanced compost pile (or compost bin) is the  key to good composting.  There are two main categories for organic inputs in composting, green and brown material

The green material is made up of items high in nitrogen like kitchen scraps, weeds, flowers, grass clippings, and chicken manure. Compost that is high in this green material can cause the pile to become mushy and smell bad. So you want to ensure that you have a 3:1 ratio of brown material to green material in your compost pile.

The brown material is made up from woody and fibrous materials like wood chips, branches,  straw, wood ashes, newspaper, corn cobs and sawdust. Put too much brown material in the compost and you will find it takes much longer to break down.

Water, oxygen and temperature are also key components to your pile. Too much water can cause it to become mucky and too little will slow down the process. Outdoor piles typically only need a sprinkle if it becomes too dry as the extra water will be absorbed by the surrounding earth. Adding brown material in between the green will keep oxygen throughout your pile. If you find that your compost is not getting enough oxygen you can turn it over or give it a few pokes with a pitchfork to keep the oxygen flowing. As for temperature, your compost pile is doing its best when it is between 55 and 65 degrees Celsius.  

Second is Vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting is wonderful!  This consists of red wiggler worms breaking down your organic green material. This is a wonderful solution if you are living in an apartment and don’t have access to a outdoor compost pile or if you live in a city that doesn’t offer compost collection. The rules are pretty much the same as above with the exception of meat. I never put meat into my vermicomposter. I find egg shells to be okay though.

Vermicomposters are easy to make as well. I purchased a large tote with a lid drilled some holes in the sides and filled it with shredded paper a little soil and worms to start. I had a bin in my apartment for a year and found that as long as i kept to the 3:1 ratio i had no problem with the smell.  

The soil you get out of this bin is as good as gold! Red wigglers can eat their weight in food and the compost can be harvested in as little as 8 to 12 weeks!

Third is Bokashi composting

This one was new for me.

Bokashi is a Japanese word that broadly means “fermented organic matter.”

With this system you can compost all kinds of kitchen scraps, including dairy and meat products.

Layering Bokashi bran with your kitchen scraps is a process of using Effective Microorganisms (EM) to reduce food scraps into compost.

Once the bin is full it is set aside for a couple of weeks. You will need to drain the excess liquid off of the bin every couple of days… that is where having a bokashi bin is helpful as it comes with a spout at the bottom just for this.

The liquid that comes from the bin can be diluted and used as a fertilizer or poured full strength down drains to clear them.

The compost breaks down in about two weeks and is ready to be put into your existing compost pile or into a shallow hole dug out in your garden. You will want to be careful that your plant’s roots don’t touch the Bokashi though as it is still very acidic at this stage.

So no matter what you choose you know that you are going to get exceptional compost for you garden. Just another step in creating a vibrant garden and a vibrant you from the ground up!

 

Motivation is food related?

greatfatsThis came as a total surprise to me. My motivation or lack thereof could be food related? Really?

Yes really.  Sometimes our lack of motivation comes from our addiction to the things we love. Coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, and red meat.  These things increase our dopamine levels and then leave us always looking for our fix. When we don’t get it we become lazy, indifferent, weary, slow-moving and lethargic.

So how do we get back to our natural state and back to wanting to reach our goals and feel great doing it?

Well there a few things you can do to increase your dopamine levels naturally and leave you feeling vibrant without the negative side effects.

  1. Exercise. It’s a given isn’t it? Exercise is one of the most underutilized methods of making us feel better. I like gentle stretching, yoga or hiking with my dogs.
  2. Power poses can make you feel more confident in as little as a couple of minutes. Stand up straight hands on hips for a few minutes. Try it out and see how your feel.
  3. Eat dopamine enhancing foods like dark chocolate, If you buy good quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content,  fish… the classic brain food, nuts and seeds.
  4. Write yourself a contract. When we make a commitment to ourselves and write it down we are more likely to do it.
  5. Get outside and into nature. Guess which colour provides the biggest boost in energy and motivation? The colour green. So get outside and drink up those delicious green smoothies!

Detoxing and then introducing rebuilding foods that are going to help you stay on track, is always in my opinion a great place to start. Oh yes, and of course a great coach to get you there 😉

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