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?

 

Raw Food Diet

cleanse-homepageI have been studying and experimenting with raw food for over twenty years.  I first heard of food combining (that is for another day) and raw food back in my early twenties. I ate only raw food for two months. I felt wonderful and really enjoyed some of the cold soups that I made along side of the salads. But let me tell you that the raw food diet has come a long way in twenty years! So many more recipes… and of course the internet is great for accessing all kinds of recipes!

The raw food diet has been around for many years. Our ancient ancestors started out eating raw food, before we mastered the art of fire. So it is something that has been around for generations and gets revisited by many people.

What is the first thing you think of when you think raw food diet? I use to think of  people munching down on salads and thought, Wow, is that all these raw foodists eat? I mean I like salads don’t get me wrong and fresh salad right out of my garden is the best around no doubt, but it does leave me to wonder how does one survive on salad alone?

So why eat a raw food diet? Some people are using a raw food diet to kickstart their way back to healthy eating, while others end up really liking the way they feel when they eat this way, that it becomes a way of life for them.

Personally, I am a curious girl. I started experimenting with this as it seems to be a healthy alternative to the western diet and I am always looking for something new to eat that is different, nutritious and keeps me healthy, and hey adding more veg to your diet is something we can all do to make us healthier.

It makes sense to me that, as humans we started out eating only raw food as we hadn’t mastered the art of fire, but I have to tell you that I love cooking! So I choose to eat a mixed diet of both raw and cooked food.

Is raw right for you? Well, the Ancient Greeks fasted for health and Pythagoras was a vegetarian who fasted for 40 days and lived on raw food consisting of figs, olives, fruit and vegetables.

However, only you will know what is right for you. Listen to your body and go ahead and experiment a little. Read up on all the different foods you can try. There are so many ways to get all the excellent nutrients you need to be a vibrant you!

Are your Seedlings in Trouble?

Green_Seedlings_Growing-

When staring a garden, nurturing your wee seedlings requires attentiveness, love and some patience. To keep your sensitive seedlings safe and healthy you will need to recognize when they are not well. Here are some signs that your wee ones are in trouble and what might be the culprit:

  1. No germination – Causes could be that it is too cold or hot, growing medium dryed out, seeds were planted too deep or not deep enough, seeds are old, not enough light or improperly stored or seeds rotted in the soil. (damping off disease)
  2. Mold or Moss – Causes could be that there is not enough air circulation or too much moisture.
  3. Decaying or falling over– this could be damping off disease. Damping off disease is a horticultural disease or condition, caused by a number of different organisms that kill or weaken seeds or seedlings before or even after they germinate.  This can be caused by the soil or the containers not being sterilized. Before you reuse your containers be sure to sterilize them! Other causes include not enough space for your seedlings to grow, poor air circulation, too much moisture, low light or cool temperatures.
  4. Stunted growth – is possibly caused by poor nutrients in soil or low temperatures.
  5. Spindly growth – could be caused by overcrowding your seedlings, not enough light or too much fertilizer.
  6. Leaves that curl under–  Could be too much light or too much fertilization.
  7. Pale or discoloured leaves – May be insufficient lighting, too much water, not enough nutrients or fertilizer burn.
  8. Poorly developed roots–  Some causes include low temperatures, poor soil nutrients, poor drainage and compacted soil that doesn’t leave enough air for the roots.

These are just a few things to keep an eye out for when you are germinating your wee ones.  Your seedlings need just the right conditions to grow up to be vibrant plants, so get out there and grow!

 

Succession planting

succesion plantingSuccession planting is an important part of gardening if you want to utilize your space to get as much food as possible. You can avoid situations where the whole crop comes in at once and you will have an ongoing supply of veg throughout the season. It is nice to have a steady supply ready for harvest over a long period and this reduces the risk of crop failure by having another crop ready to  come in.

Here is a sample of some crops that I have successfully succession planted:

  • Cucumbers -every three weeks. I like this so i can have fresh cucumbers and have lots to make into pickles
  • Kale – every three weeks. Kale is prolific. As long as you are trimming it, it will continue to grow. It is nice however to have some fresh baby kale throughout the season.
  • Beets– every two weeks. Mmm beets and beet greens!
  • Green beans– every ten days.
  • Melons – every three weeks
  • Sweet corn- every ten days. There is nothing like fresh organic corn in the summer time!
  • Radish– every week.
  • Spinach – every week. When I have a surplus of spinach I like to blanch and freeze it for the winter months.
  • Carrots, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Broccoli – twice a season. This way you can have a summer crop and some in the fall to store for winter.
  • Basil – every two weeks. A nice way to store extra herbs are in ice cube trays with olive oil… Freeze and re thaw when needed.
  • Tomatoes and peppers can be planted a couple of times as well if you have the space.

Replacing crops that have finished producing with a new crop in the same place is another way to succession plant. Just be sure that you are planting something that works well for the time of year you are planting. For example, plant peas in the spring then cucumber in the summer and Kale in the fall. This way you will get a wider variety of veg in the same amount of space and your vibrant garden will never be empty throughout the growing season. By varying the types of veg that you grow in each succession you will be preventing the depletion of some nutrients. Crop rotation is important so that you are nourishing the soil which will in turn give you higher yields. Also make sure to feed your soil in between planting to keep production high. I like to add a bit of compost to my soil in between and or sometimes watering it with some compost tea.

I use my google calendar to keep track of when I need to plant my next crop… any calendar or journal will work as well for you to keep track of yours. I like to keep a journal of where i am planting what as well, so that I can utilize succession planting from year to year to ensure good crop rotation.

 

Plan to be healthy

healthyyouWe make new year’s resolutions, we commit to losing weight or getting healthier, but then it all seems to fall by the wayside and we are back into our comfortable settings, eating convenience foods or food like substances as I call them. Getting healthy can be daunting. But anything worth doing is worth doing right. You don’t have to do it in a day either. It is all about one step at a time, making small changes every day or every week so it becomes a habit to be healthy.

  • Get busy in your kitchen – Cooking doesn’t have to take long and can be a wonderful experience if you are doing it with loved ones. We all have to eat right? Teaching children how to cook will help them make healthy habits.  There are lots of healthy meals that can be prepared and ready in as little as 30 min. Find some great recipes on our recipe page.
  • Organize your pantry – Get in there and toss the junk! Go thru everything. Can you read what’s on the label? If you can’t it is not healthy for you. Stock your pantry with staples, whole grains, beans, nuts and lentils. If you can see the junk food it can stimulate cravings so get rid of it or at the very least hide it somewhere out of site until you are ready to treat yourself.
  • Use smaller plates– plate sizes are increasing. When you are filling your plate check it’s size, if you put less on your plate you will eat less. Also if you fill your plate and then sit down instead of having food within reach it will give you pause before you eat again resulting in knowing if you are full, therefore reducing your intake.
  • What’s in your fridge- Fill your fridge with healthy food. Fill your crispers with lots of colourful veg! If you find that you are not using all of the veg in a week, then it is time to make soup or blanch and freeze your extras so that you always have some veg on hand. If you have meal items on hand you are less likely to eat out or find something “convenient”
  • Along the outside- The next time you need to grocery shop i would hope you wouldn’t go the traditional grocery store, but if that is where you find yourself go only to the outside perimeter of the store. This is where the organic and less likely to kill you food is. haha
  • Chew slowly- pacing how fast you eat helps your body to register when you are full. So go ahead a savour your food instead of gobbling it down. this will aid in better digestion and mindful eating.
  • Turn off the TV- mindlessly eating in front of the tv or any screen is going to lead to poor food consumption and choices. Making food together can be bonding and eating together can lead to conversation!
  • Increase your vegetable intake- vegetables are the best way to protect your heart and body against obesity. You can add them to omelets, baked goods, pasta and of course smoothies! You can even substitute pasta for spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons. Find some fabulous recipes here.
  • Keep temptation to a minimum- the closer you are to the crap the more likely you are to eat it. Keep it hidden or better yet don’t bring it into your home.
  • Eat healthy fats– Switch out your unhealthy fats for healthy ones. It is easy to swap your butter for coconut oil or avocado. We need fats in our diet to help absorb our fat soluble vitamins.
  • Bye bye sugar– You know by now that white refined anything is bad for you… white refined sugar will kill you. Cut it out! Stick to natural sugars found in fruits and veg.
  • Cayenne pepper- if you are not eating this, you should be. Not only does this boost your metabolism but can cut sweet, fatty and salty food cravings. Sprinkle it everywhere.

It is okay to treat yourself once in awhile, but if you want to start your healthy lifestyle then find a way to do each of these things everyday. Like I said, you don’t have to do it all in one day but plan to be healthy and one step at a time you will suddenly find a more vibrant you!

 

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