First Farmer’s Market and Wind Turbines

This past weekend I was able to visit my first Farmer’s Market of the year!   We were down South visiting our daughter at school and she had an assignment from one of her classes … visit a Farmer’s Market and write a report.   She asked if I wanted to join her …….. heck yea!   The markets further up North don’t start rolling for another month so this was Great!

She was thrilled with the jar of  honey we purchased for her since she now enjoys drinking tea each morning.   I think she was not thrilled with the fact that I was taking her picture ……    I also purchased some herbs and flowers for my own garden.   It was a gorgeous day at the market!

I have taken photos and even a video of these wind turbines which we pass on our trip down and I happened to take a few more this time.   What I found interesting as I flipped through my Organic Gardening magazine when I arrived home was a short article about these wind turbines.   It states that they Grow Better Crops!   What happens is these giant, and they are GIANT, turning metal designs create a gentle turbulence , more favorable temperatures and more air exchange with the plants.   More carbon dioxide is received and the blowing air helps dry the leaves reducing risk of fungal infections.   While the wind turbines are constructed to generate electricity this newly discovered benefit is being eagerly researched.

When we first started seeing semi trucks carrying these huge metal constructions, we likened them to parts of an airplane.   Now we know better …. they are parts of a wind turbine.   Fascinating for sure!

Newest update: I now have Photoshop

I still consider myself to be in the learning stages with my Apple Mac and I am making it a habit to use it even for the simple searches or mail checks.   If I don’t use it I will never learn all the fantastic features it contains.   I did purchase the iWork when I first purchased the computer, so I have been dabbling around with iPhoto.   I reasoned to myself though if I am in this learning mode at present, I may as well throw more into the equation, so I now also have Adobe Photoshop.   I received the software yesterday along with the Missing Manual for it and am excited to dive in!

If you have been following along with the Post A Day challenge and my blog, you may have noticed my list of topics for each day is gone.   What I found happening was that I was trying to follow the outline of topics exactly and I was feeling pressed to come up with a new craft or tech idea to write about and, quite honestly, it wasn’t fun.   My topics were great and definitely part of what I do, but if you notice my posts have become more centered on photos, recipes and now with the gardening season upon us…much more gardening!

I still haven’t missed a day although there are gaps.   These are filled by my other blog GardenDish with gardening recipes which will become more frequent.   …and gosh, who knows where this new Photoshop will send me.   So like an evolving diary … my blog keeps learning and moving on to new facets in life.   The one underlying lesson I am taking away with this challenge is not to limit myself and to write about what I am passionate about – it is much more interesting.   Since that changes (almost weekly) you will never know what to expect next.   For now it’s ……. Gardening, Photos and some good ole’ healthy eating.

Thank you for your patience as I shift gears a bit.   One more note – it seems using the air card brings me back to prehistoric time and my computing is slow and although I can check in … there is not a whole lot of browsing and commenting I am able to do.    My trips and air card use will be on the increase and I can read most …. very slowly and very patiently.

Bunnies Love Green Beans

Green beans are good for you, easy to grow in the garden and the bunnies will devour them before you have a chance to wink your eye.   They don’t seem to care that you spent hours planting, weeding and watering your beans anticipating the day of harvest.   They will even stare you in the eye as they munch away oblivious to the fact that this is YOUR garden and not theirs!   There are quite a few greens bunnies love and green beans are on the top of their list!

I established a new garden out in the far part of the yard several years ago and although I had it fenced in …Mr. or Mrs. Bunny found a way in and enjoyed every single bean growing.   I would see movement and run out waving and yelling only to arrive and see the bunny still munching and going no where quick – just looking at me like I was some half crazed human.

You would think scary Gargoyle would have the situation under control.   Needless to say, that year I had no beans and actually removed the whole garden out that way, since it was too far to keep an eye on.   The year before a squirrel climbed in and had a daily party with the Blue Corn growing.

Last year I planted TriColor Bush Beans from Renee’s Garden close by and had a nice assortment for freezing.   I will be adding a post to GardenDish this week with some of the frozen beans I have packaged up.   Beans are easy to grow – just keep the area fenced in if you happen to have a bunny or two around.   Plant the seeds directly outdoors when the soil has warmed and the danger of frost has passed.   Plant 1″ deep and 3-4″ apart in rows 1 1/2 – 2 ft. distance.    Planting seeds several weeks apart until the end of June will assure a continuous harvest throughout the season.   There are many different varieties and types of beans from bush to pole to snap beans and dried beans.   Try some different types and you will discover some new and exciting dishes to serve.

TriColor Bush Beans with fresh Dill (watch for recipe later this week)

Grow some Beans … just watch for those Bunnies!

Grow some Herbs!

Have you ever grown herbs in your garden?   How about a pot or two on a windowsill in your home?    Many people have and are Happy Herb Growers … best part is … it’s relatively easy.   Growing herbs indoors in the winter takes a bit more of  your attention, but if you watch the progress on a daily basis, you will be successful.   A warm sunny windowsill is required or grow lights working 10-12 hrs. a day.    The air in the home is very dry so the soil will need watering almost on a daily basis if under grow lights.   At first the seedlings will grow slowly, but once established they will take off.   What better thrill when you are cooking dinner and you can turn to your herbs, snip off some basil, parsley or oregano to add to your meal and impress your guests with your cooking skills and also your gardening expertise!

I always include herbs in my gardening plans and this year is no exception.   I started several herbs back in November and they are at the “taking off” stage in their growth.   Here is my Dill …..

I love the taste and smell of Dill and I have found planting the seeds all together so the herb grows in a cluster works well since it can grow up to 4-5′ in height and this method supports each individual plant.   Dill requires full sun once planted out and once the days become extremely hot, it will bolt and go to seed.   The neat feature with Dill is that you can use the leaves, the flower head and the seeds in your food preparations.   Using the flower head along with other herbs and spices is recommended when canning up pickles.   Dill works great on seafood, in cheeses, breads and salads.

Drying dill for later use is an easy process.   Snip the amount of dill or other herb (basil, oregano, sage)  gather in a bunch and tie the stems.   Hang upside down in a cool, dark location and in a couple of weeks you have dried herbs.   Find a glass or plastic container for storage and use generously in your cooking adventures.   Experiment with different combinations in your garden and in your kitchen.   The fresh flavors that herbs offer can turn an ordinary meal into a work of art!

I am thinking of adding that bunch of dill to some grated ginger and lemon along with white wine vinegar and oil for a nice salad dressing….oh, and I can’t forget the garlic!   What do you think … time to grow some herbs in your garden or on that lonely windowsill??

Transplanting Peppers and Free Seeds!

Last week I promised Free Seeds to those who would like them.   All you have to do is send your name and address to mailbox@therunninggarlic.com and I will send them along to you.   The three flower seeds are pictured below and I will also be planting more in my own gardens this year.   The Coneflower is a perennial and will return each year while the two Marigold flowers are annual and the seed needs to be replanted each year.   The seeds are very easy to save so you will have these flower types for many years to come.   I have to limit my mailing of seeds to the United States since there are custom restrictions with sending seeds to certain parts of the world.

Coneflower – Echinacea purple

Mr. Majestic Marigold

Guardian Marigold with a Praying Mantis.   This praying mantis is about 4″ in length and he was one of the neatest bugs I have ever seen!

I transplanted some of my pepper plants last night to give the roots more room to spread out.   The key with transplanting is to be careful with handling the roots; try not to crush them.   I grab the plant by the upper half near the leaves … gently and repot.

Make sure to label all your pots.   It’s easy to forget at this point and then in a few months you will be guessing what you planted!

The pepper plants I have started are – Alma Paprika, Long Cayenne, Red Mini, Tam Jalapeno and Marconi.   The only one that seems to be having trouble starting is the Jalapeno … not sure why, but started another set of seeds last night.   I think I may need another sweet pepper or two.   I will be starting my tomato seeds real soon also … Amish Paste which are good for canning, Cherokee Purple which are absolutely delicious and Sungold – a first this year!

Food Focus or Munchie Monday!

Eat healthy!  

I think those two simple words are tattooed on my brain and will be there forever!   I am constantly aware of what I eat, how much and how good it is for me … it’s not really an obsession, just an awareness thing.   How can I say it’s not an obsession?   Simply because I don’t abide by those two words as an obsessive person would.   The holidays are now well past and I can honestly say “I did not Eat Healthy”.   The few extra pounds can verify that fact and although it may not all be the eating thing – lack of outdoor activity may factor in somewhat … I am betting all those calories consumed helped boost along this weight gain.   Last year about this time I found Spark People – which is an interactive website which helps you track your calories and activities.   I highly recommend it – I even purchased the book which was brand new to the market.   I did Great and felt Great …. I may head on back there for a refresher!

Recently, I discovered another site that has me heading back for more – this time for recipes and a theory they call “healthified”.   You can listen to the explanation here – a simple concept of reducing some of the fat and extra calories in foods we eat.   What I initially planned to post today was a few recipes from the site Eat Better America, cook a few up and post pictures.  

Then … Another idea came to me!  As I was catching up reading posts from fellow bloggers, my creativity alert went off (the very one that loves to play hide and seek with me!) and the idea came from this post over at Piglet in Portugal.   She even suggested a name for me “Munchie Monday”!   Her “Foodie Fridays” feature recipes she would like to try and has received help with suggestions from some of her readers.   An excellent way to learn and try some new recipes!

So my thought was to create a Linkup for Munchie Monday and invite readers to post their recipes to share.   Checking with my account, I see there are some changes being made and I need to do a little further investigating.   Hopefully, by next Monday I will have a plan in place!  

Thank you to Piglet in Portugal for that spectacular idea and I must go do some more blog reading to see what all the rest of you creative folks are up to!       Tonight’s dinner will be Healthified Ravioli and Squash Toss  … easy enough!

Have you had your Grains today?

Grains are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare and should be included in your daily diet.   Grains provide nutrients which are essential for optimal health and well-being.   Researching grains on the internet I came across two sites that offer a very nice guide along with some great pictures of the different grains that exist.   Culinate has a picture perfect whole-grain glossary with a nice description of each grain and FoodFit also offers a nice Grains Guide with recipes for each grain.   Do take some time and browse these sites if you are curious about grains and incorporating more of them into your daily cooking routine.

Most of us are aware of the common grains such as oats, wheat and barley – these along with many others, are easy to grow in your garden.   Easy to grow but not very practical if you are looking to supply your pantry for the coming year.   I have experimented and grew several new and different grains, millet, amaranth and buckwheat.   You will have a harvest if you tend to them regularly, but unless you plant acres and acres … your harvest will be minimal.   The millet and amaranth are tiny seeds and plentiful on the plant, whereas, the buckwheat is a bigger grain and my purpose for growing was as a companion crop.   They are beneficial in attracting good insects to your garden and offer nutrients for the soil.

With the New Year still ringing in our ears, the healthy eating resolution is still within plain sight.   I recently purchased the cookbook, Whole Grain Recipes, by Jean Pare and it has some outstanding recipes to try.   Tonight I decided to bake up the Vegetable Barley Manicotti and love the idea of using barley … and it is rather easy to put together.

Complete recipe posted at Vegetable Barley Manicotti – Mixing Bowl — Enjoy and Be Healthy!!!