Thursday, May 26, 2011

*Guest Post* Plants for Summer Harvest

"There is nothing quite like the experience of working hard to plant different vegetables and fruits and reaping the benefit of theirharvest. I have been gardening since I was a little kid. Every spring my mom and I would plant a large numbers of items and harvest a bounty of goods in thesummer! With my husband going back to school on the new GI Bill, I found myself having some extra time and decided to start a garden, both to help the earth and myfamily. Additionally, having participated online in some nutrition classes froma distance learning university helped out when I was trying to figure what plants would be best nutrition-wise.

We would have the most incredible meals in the summer madewith food we actually grew ourselves. The freshness simply cannot be beat, andthe satisfaction gained from growing your own garden.

My favorite time to plant is in the spring after the lastthaw. I love to finally get into the garden and begin planting the seeds. There are many things that I enjoy planting, but there are a specific few that arebest to plant in spring to be able to harvest in summer. My absolute favorite thing to plant in the spring is zucchini. Zucchini grows like wildflowers andproduces some of the most beautiful vegetables that you could never find in the grocery store. They grow to be rather large and are so flavorful.

Another one of my favorites is tomatoes! Tomatoes are the perfect things to plant in the spring because they will render the juiciest,best-tasting tomatoes you have ever had. We plant tomatoes all over our garden because we eat so many of them, and want the biggest bounty possible. Tomatoes are wonderful because they are easy growers and are so versatile in thekitchen.

In addition to zucchini and tomatoes, squash, cucumber,basil and cilantro are wonderful to plant in the spring. Squash, like zucchini,grows rather rapidly and produces a wonderful crop. The plant can overrun your garden, so it must be pruned and planted with room to spread. Cucumber is another fantastic plant that is fun to grow. My mother was always keen ongrowing herbs and her favorite were basil and cilantro. Both of those herbs grow with relative ease and are perfect for spring planting and summer picking.

It’s hard to find any food or meal that isn’t improved bythe addition of fresh herbs; especially picked from your garden. I love to make a cold pasta salad with my zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs.The flavor combination is out of this world and so very healthy! No matter whatyou want to grow, I encourage you to get out and plant anything! The rewards are tasty, nutritious and fun to experience!"

Karen is a long time blogger, and a life long gardener. She now enjoys sharing her gardening hobby with her kids when they are home from their outdoor education school.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

An article on "Why should I buy organic?"

CLICK HERE for the full article (taken from "Healthy Bellies Happy Babies")

an excerpt:

Why should I buy Organic?

I always hear the reason why people don't buy organic is because its much more expense then the alternative brands; I get that, but I've been doing my research on why eating organic is so important.  So here is why.

The Environmental  Working Group recommends buying organic whenever possible. It is the smartest way to reduce your exposure to pesticides; Pesticides are toxic by design.  They are created to kill living organisms -such as insects, plants, and fungi.  Many pesticides pose health dangers to people.  These risks have been established by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.
As acknowledged by U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including:
  • nervous system toxicity
  • cancer
  • hormone system effects
  • skin, eye and lung irritation
  • Lower IQ in children (recent studies done out of Mount Sinai, Columbia, Beekley)
Also by buying organic we are sending a message that we support environmentally friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard water quality and protect wildlife. 

Finally, organic foods are healthier for you. The research on whether consuming organic food is healthier for people remains inconclusive. However, the USDA's own tests show that most non-organic produce contain residual pesticides even after washing.  The long term effects of consuming these pesticides has not been sufficiently studied, but most research shows that they aren't good for you.

Things to do to limit your exposure to Pesticides:
  • Wash, Scrub and Peel your fruits and vegetable's
  • Buy organic for those fruits and vegetable's that cant be peeled
  • Discard the outer leaves on leafy vegetable's
  • Meats/Poultry/Fish - take off skin and trim fat since pesticides affect these areas most
The Environmental Working Group composed a full list of the Best and Worst (Fruits and Vegetables) that contain pesticides.

Starting with the Best and down to the Worst!
  1. Onions (Best)
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango's (Subtropical and Tropical)
  6. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi Fruit (Subtropical and Tropical)
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe (Domestic)
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet Potatoes
  15. Honeydew Melon
  16. Plums (Domestic)
  17. Cranberries
  18. Winter Squash
  19. Broccoli
  20. Bananas
  21. Tomatoes
  22. Cauliflower
  23. Cucumbers (Domestic)
  24. cantaloupe (Imported)
  25. Grapes (Domestic)
  26. Oranges
  27. Red Raspberries
  28. Hot Peppers
  29. Green Beans (Imported)
  30. Cucumbers (Imported)
  31. Summer Squash
  32. Plums (Imported)
  33. Pears
  34. Green Beans (Domestic)
  35. Carrots
  36. Blueberries
  37. Lettuce  (Imported)
  38. Grapes (Imported)
  39. Potatoes
  40. Kale/Collard Greens
  41. Cherries
  42. Spinach
  43. Sweet Bell Peppers
  44. Nectarines
  45. Blueberries (Domestic)
  46. Apple
  47. Strawberries
  48. Peaches
  49. Celery (Worst)

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

*Side Note* Quick and Easy DIY artwork

I don't normally post things like this, but because decorating/remodeling has been our main focus the past few weeks (and will be our focus the next few months) these are the little things that are occupying my time right now :). I thought I would share in case anyone is getting a little crafting itch as the weather warms up. Not necessarily "eco-friendly" but definitely budget friendly! Hopefully these will give you a little inspiration...

So here's what I did:

Lost my "before" picture, but it was a hideous dark, fake wood frame

"before" this picture actually makes it look a little better than it was

"After" looks bright and sunny!
Project 1
Spray paint ugly frames white

Project 2
Make "wall art" (scrapbook paper + modge podge + canvas)
Project 2, this picture doesn't really do them justice :( these turned out so cute!

Project 3
Make more "wall art" (scrapbook paper + modge podge + matting paper- for framing)

Project 4
Paint, paint, paint; a rocking chair, toddler bed, kitchen table, etc. haven't started this one yet... yikes!

Share your cheap and easy DIY with  me! I need some inspiration!

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