Choose organic!

Organic has a bad reputation for being more expensive than conventionally (or GMO) grown food. It’s just not true! For example, the organic coconut milk costs the same as the non-organic at Krieger. So, keep and open mind and compare prices. You might find a better deal in the organic aisle!

Choose organic

Coconut milk is a great healthy fat to add to smoothies. You can also make whipped cream!

Related: I really think it should cost more money to put chemicals and pesticides into our food than it does to grow them without. Check out what our local CSA has to do to qualify for organic certification. Why do they have to pay more to prove they are doing good?

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Winding down in the garden

Now that our hot, hot summer has departed and the cooler temperatures of fall are setting in, we’re shifting things around in the garden. The tomatoes are still growing like wild (I will try to buy 5 tomato plants next year, not 9!) and the peppers are still giving it their all.

October 2012

greenhouse

We’ve cleaned out the cucumbers and melons, and planted radishes, beets, leeks, parsnips, and onions. The radishes look good, but there are no parsnips and just one beet. Any suggestions? Those are my favorite root vegetables, so I would really love for them to succeed.

Certainly, we’ll have freezing temperatures soon, and we’ll have to give in and pull up the remaining tomatoes and pepper plants. I can’t wait to see how long the greens last in the garden. Plus, I planted a bunch of seeds in the little greenhouse – kale, bok choy, arugula, and lettuce. Cross your fingers!

Pollinators in trouble

Scientists continue to warn us about how pollinators are in trouble, and how our food supply is in danger too. Some species of bees have declined by 96% in some areas.

In California alone, researchers reported last year in the journal Rangelands [sub. req.] that native species pollinate more than one-third of the state’s crops, making them a multi-billion-dollar contributor to its rural economy.

Garden

The problem

Colony collapse is a real problem, and supposedly still mysterious. There are a few potential problems, and they’re all preventable. We all know that pesticides are affecting the bees. Most pesticides that kill bad bugs kill the good ones too. Certainly, it’s a challenge to keep a vegetable garden from getting destroyed by insects, but without bees, there is no garden. Pesticides are causing a bigger problem than they’re solving. The other potential cause is that bees need to eat their honey throughout the winter. Well, instead of letting them eat the honey, beekeepers are harvesting the honey and feeding the bees high fructose corn syrup. What?! Yes, they’re taking the bee’s natural honey and giving them a processed food instead.

How we can help

I don’t like all the doom and gloom… I want to know how to help. Check out this TED Talk about urban and city bee farmers and how they can help solve the problem. If you don’t have room for a beehive (which, regrettably, I don’t), you can plant a pollinator garden to give the bees and their friends lots of options and variety. Additionally, some countries have banned the use of the pesticides that are killing bees. Maybe we could encourage our country to do the same.

bees

Sources

Garlic

Last October, I learned that we can grow garlic, right here in Ohio! It’s the easiest thing ever. You just take one clove (not the whole bulb) and plant it a few inches deep, with the pointy end up. Wait about 6-8 months and you’ll have a whole bulb of garlic. If you buy locally grown organic garlic, you could have your own healthy, local garlic all year round.

garlic

I planted 6 garlic bulbs in October, and a few weeks ago, they were ready to harvest. You know they’re ready when 1/2 of the leaves are brown, and 1/2 are still green. Harvesting was easy. We just dug them up. You can hang them in a cool, shady place to dry, or keep them in the fridge and use them within 2 weeks.

garlic

Part of our CSA program requires that we work for 3 hours at the farm. That’s it. Just 3 hours for the whole summer. What a deal!

garlic at Crown Point

Our 3-hour commitment came up last Sunday when they were harvesting garlic. It was the day after the week-long, intense heat wave and we are so glad it broke! We had such a pleasant morning in the field, listening to the birds chirping as we dug and tied hundreds of bunches of garlic. Crown Point will dry it for us and we’ll see it in our share later this year.

garlic at Crown Point

Starting a vegetable garden

We’ve started a vegetable garden in our back yard! It goes like this…

GardenMr Not Terror and I decided to kill half our lawn and plant a vegetable garden. So, one night, back in October, we laid heavy black plastic across the lawn and left it there for about a week to kill the grass without chemicals. Then, we rented a till and tilled it all up. We added a wood frame and about 90 bags of soil and compost manure (it doesn’t smell). The lady at Copley Feed told us that rye grass makes a good cover crop, so we planted that late in the fall. We tilled the garden this week, adding some nice nutrients to our soil.

seedlingsWe also bought a greenhouse from a big box store. It’s got a nice metal frame and a heavy plastic cover. I’ve already moved the seedlings from the upstairs window to the greenhouse (out of the cat’s reach!) and planted a few more seedlings. I’ve never had much luck growing from seed, but it’s inexpensive, so I might as well try. So far, they look pretty good.

I’ll keep you posted as the garden progresses. I’m using SmartGardener.com to help us plan what seeds to plant and when. It’s free, and it offers advice based on our zip code climate.

Community garden

Community garden

Community garden

Community gardens are sprouting up all over Akron, thanks in large part to groups like University Park Alliance and NEOhaus. We all benefit from fresh food and closer communities.

A few weeks ago, we went to photograph the first night of a community garden, and were invited to take a plot and plant our own garden. Hooray! We jumped right in and planted squash, cucumbers, cauliflower, tomatoes, and more. Others have beans, okra, radishes, and herbs.

It’s fun to work together, but it’s also a lot of work. Fortunately, it rained the first week, so we didn’t have to worry much about watering our garden, but we’ve seen straight sunshine ever since. That means families have to water the community garden twice a day. We also had to work out where to store the hoses and tools, and how to keep our garden free from pests, both human and insect.

Find out more about Akron’s community gardens:

I can’t wait to share the results of our garden with you. What are you growing this year?

Why I try to eat organic food

strawberriesI try to eat organic, not just for me, but because the people who pick my food are exposed to all the chemicals that get sprayed on the food. Insects become more resilient to pesticides, so they use more and more pesticides in this fruitless effort.

Bats are good at eating insects! And bats probably don’t enjoy the pesticides either.

Here are the veggies on the “dirty dozen” list of foods that are more beneficial for you to eat organic.

  • Celery
  • Thin-skinned fruits like peaches, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, cherries
  • Apples
  • Bell peppers
  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, etc)
  • Potatoes

Find the complete list on The Daily Green.

Mosquitoes

With summer comes mosquitoes. I seem to get bit just thinking about them. So, here are a few tips to keep your yard and your body mosquito free:

  • spray your yard – grass, trees, plants – with garlic oil. It should repel them for up to 4 weeks.
  • keep your dog on heartworm medicine. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes!
  • remove all shallow standing water – dog dishes, tires, etc.
  • keep bird baths fresh
  • line your gutters with gutter-guards. You can do it yourself with supplies from the local hardware store.
  • rake those leaves – mosquitoes love piles of damp leaves
  • stay in the sun – mosquitoes seem to only bite when you’re in the shade.

Sprays

Instead of stinky mosquito repellent with harmful deet, we use a mixture of lavender oil and water. It’s so refreshing, and it really works. Other sprays that probably work are eucalyptus oil and lemon oil. You can get essential oils in the “healthy” section of most grocery stores, or in some specialty stores. We mix up a little bottle about 10 drops of lavender oil and 4 oz. of water.

Spilled Milk

Ohio is considering restricting the amount of information that can be included on milk labels. Specifically, it will not allow producers to label their milk free of growth hormones (rBST and rBGH). I think consumers deserve to be as informed as possible about how our food is produced. Not allowing this information is not in the best interests of consumers. That’s my opinion.

You can inform decision makers of your opinion by visiting this site and sending them a letter or e-mail.

The OFPA requires by law that the certified organic milk produced follow strict verifiable standards. Farmers cannot inject or use any growth hormones (including rBST or rBGH) with their cows. To verify that they are following the production practices required by law farms undergo an annual inspection by a USDA-accredited certifier.

I am concerned that adopting the proposed rule would restrict interstate commerce making it difficult for suppliers, farmers and processors to do business in and out of Ohio.

The proposed rule would infringe on the consumers’ right to know about how the products were produced.

I like to know where my food comes from, and I don’t think cow-grade hormones are appropriate for human-sized consumers. It’s my opinion, not based on research, just thoughtfulness and reason. I don’t think we’re missing anything by drinking hormone-free milk. (rBGH is banned in Europe)