Monthly Archives: May 2012

Garden update: 25 May

Just a quick update: Today I took a look out in the garden and noticed that I have potato plants making an appearance! Pics tomorrow (been busy with homework today, so no pics) I’ve also seen cucumber seedlings of both types, as well as radish leaves. One of my basil plants looks iffy, but 5/6 is a pretty good number if you ask me!

Tomorrow I’ll be planting the jalapeño plants and the English lavender after work, if I have the energy. I will likely have to put my feet up for a while, though.

Farmer Geordon In the Garden

My cucumber trellises came in from Gardener’s Supply Company yesterday and I was excited to put in my cucumbers. I did that today. While I Was out there, Kristen decided to come help out some (Bless you!) by pulling some weeds out of the ground in and around the garden boxes. She also brought her camera with her to document our efforts.

Photo collage after the jump

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Busy in the kitchen

First, about the pickled eggs. I am LOVING them! I now have to get more eggs to boil, and more vinegar to make another batch. These pickles are ALL mine. *grin*

PIckled eggs

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In the garden now

I’m not anywhere near being done, but I have the first part in the ground. I have a potato tower with a couple of different types of potatoes, I have two tomato plants in the ground (Cherokee purple, as I recall, and Roma) as well as about 20 onion sets.

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New job, day two recap

Yeah, about that. I’m now working in retail, at Target. That’s not too bad, especially since I was out of work for just about a month before I got a call from them. Yes, I know how lucky I am to have found something so quickly. Hush, you.

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Potato aprehension

I finally have everything on hand to build a couple of potato towers, but the things that I’m seeing online suggest that potatoes grown in towers have a relatively low harvest.  To the tune of about 3 pounds of harvest for every pound of seed used

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Bog fat blob

Oh. My. God. I am in the process of tilling up my garden area, and have discovered something: I don’t think I will be able to do it all as I wanted. One of the 4×8 beds down, one more of the same and a pumpkin patch to go. I can barely lift my forearms.

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Gardening and cooking are subversive acts

Today, I spent a good hour of my day just listening to the following talk:

Authors@Google: Michael Pollan – YouTube.

Michael Pollan is the author of, among other things “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” of which the latter is the topic. There was a lot of information to chew through, but one of the core points is that much of what we eat in America today is “edible food-like substances” rather than “food.”

What is the difference between these two terms? your grandmother or great grandmother would recognize anything that is “food” as edible without difficulty.  “Edible food-like substance” on the other hand, would stymie her. Pollan gave the example of Gogurt as something that she would be confused by. What is in this sealed plastic tube? It feels like toothpaste! The ingredients are crazy, too: High fructose corn syrup (Huh?) and tricalcium phosphate? Neither of those occurs in nature, and Grandma certainly wouldn’t use them in her cooking.

The American diet is so far removed from the natural state of food that most of us have no idea where what we eat comes from. Even our lettuce comes processed! When I was a child, I had to tear apart a head of lettuce If I wanted to have a salad.

Count in that the fact that much of the produce in the grocery store comes hundreds or thousands of miles from where it’s grown to our table. Much of that produce is genetically altered and designed (hybridized) with an eye toward being shipping-durable above all else. If you’ve ever tasted a garden-grown tomato against a grocery store tomato, you know that there is a giant difference in flavor, appearance, and texture between them.

There is a movement underway that has people returning to “real” food, food that Grandma would recognize, and food that doesn’t travel thousands of miles to get to the market. This includes buying food at farmer’s markets and home gardening to raise produce. I don’t have any numbers, but I’ve seen lots of things on the Internet and in my town that proves that some people are “getting back to real.” Even my family is getting back to real food, though that’s as much necessity as anything else.

A big problem with this is that “real” food is more expensive than edible food-like substances. The reason for this is two-fold. First, there is a supply and demand curve that must be overcome. More people want the real food than there are farms and gardens to support it. Second, a great deal of what makes up the food-like substances are subsidized, therefore artificially driving the price down. Watch “Food, Inc.” for more on that. One person that I know summed up that movie in five words: Want some corn with that? Corn is one of the most heavily subsidized crops in the country, making it dirt-cheap to use.

For another problem with our current food supply, just refer to the recent uproar over “pink slime“. Household cleaning chemicals are used to make something only fit for animals into people food. I object, your honor.

Sometimes the sheer thought of eating in the American public makes me sick. I’m growing a garden, so I know where it comes from. (and because it will subsidize my family’s diet for the Fall.)

Home made products using water.

Special thanks to Crunchy Betty for today’s post about making homemade products (lotions soft soaps, creams, etc) that contain water. She makes an excellent point about the fact that preservatives are a necessary thing if you make anything that contains water.

Most of the water that we have easily available is definitely NOT sterile.  What that means is that the water that you use may very likely have some sort of cooties in it. This is why many products on the market have preservatives: To help keep the cooties under control.

There are a lot of hand made skin products available on the Net, especially in places like Etsy. The Any of them that contain water (such as most lotions and creams, for example) damn well should have something in them to act as a preservative of some sort. I happen to use tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) in the stuff that I make to help keep the oils from going rancid. However, I also don’t use water for much of anything, and most bacteria do not grow well in all oil environments.

This is also why I prefer to use salves and ointments: They are heavy on the oils and light on the water. As in, they don’t have water as part of their make-up. Crunchy Betty talks about a number of ways to help prevent cooties from forming in your all-natural whatever-it-is. One of the big ones, though, is to make only as much as you can use in a reasonable amount of time.

This is different if you’re making stuff to sell, though. I’ve seen Etsy shops that claim to have a 2 year shelf life, but the product is half water. Not likely, unless they’re using a boat-load of preservatives, which then calls into question the “all natural” claim (which is a null statement, anyway. There is no regulation of it. Not even any industry guidelines) that they tend to have.

That’s why it’s a good idea to include something like grapefruit seed extract (not grapefruit essential oil, which is completely different) in any formulation that has water. It has been shown to be effective against a wide range of bacteria, fungi, and molds even in relatively low concentrations. The down side is that  grapefruit seed extract can be toxic to humans, so should not be taken internally except under careful guidance of a qualified professional.

Pickled eggs… AWAY!

Since the ladies were away for the evening, I decided that it would be a perfect opportunity to try out a recipe from my The Joy of Pickling cookbook that I recently picked up. 

Sadly, they got home before I was done, and I have been informed that pickling is something that had been relegated to an “outside only” activity. Kristen’s nose disagrees with the smell of the pickling brine cooking.

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