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Author: Lark

I am a passionate gardener that has learned through trial and error. Gardening is in my blood. Sister, Mom and Dad have been my teachers. I have been perennial gardening at my present home in 1995. I am quite artsy and like the element of surprize and whimsey. Gardening on a budget is my speciality. I have been in a few magazines, Better Homes and Gardens (Sept.2010)is the lastest. I consult, lecture and teach basic gardening. Tips, techniques and tours are part of my daily routine during the gardening season. I hope you have fun with my forum.
CHOP & DROP

CHOP & DROP

CHOP & DROP

I have been using the chop and drop method of feeding my soil for two years. Easy and very effective. No hauling away debris to the compost pile. All it consists of is when I ‘dead head’ or ‘cut back’ in the perennial flower beds, I let the foliage lay on the ground around the plant. When using this method on the edges of the garden I tuck the foliage under the plant, out of sight. In the center of the garden I just let it lay.

In the vegetable gardens I pull or cut back the old lettuces, radishes, sorrel and let it lay. Comfrey is an EXCELLENT mulch for the veggie garden. I get about four cutting a season. It is so full of minerals that feed your soil, which feed your plants, which feeds YOU. :0) I have Comfrey planted by each of my vegetable beds. Makes it easy to chop it down and lay it on top of the beds.

It took me 18 years to learn this method. Better late than never.

PREPPING PLANTING AREA FOR POTATOES

PREPPING PLANTING AREA FOR POTATOES

PREPPING PLANTING AREA FOR POTATOES

Rotating where you plant your vegetables is very important to ward off disease. I am lucky enough to have the area to do a 3 year rotation. I plant my potatoes where I had my compost pile the year before. Last year was the first time I tried this method and it was the best harvest I had ever had.

Last year I planted my potatoes the first week in June. After the last frost date. This year I am starting my potatoes in April. Way too cold and wet for potato planting in Wisconsin, zone 5. BUT this year I put up a little hoop house and black plastic on the soil to warm this area before planting. I will be planting about 12 ‘pieces’ of potatoes, which have at least 2 ‘eyes’ on each piece. I will allow them to ‘callus over’ before planting. I will write another article on how I ‘chit’ potatoes. I will cover the newly planted area with a ‘row cover’ and the hoop house over that. This double protection should keep the potatoes warm enough to grow. If the sun ever comes out, I will have to vent the hoop house. I do this by opening both ends, allowing air flow. A hoop house temperature can rise very quickly into the 90’s -100F if the sun is shining. How do I know this? I have FRIED many plants forgetting to vent the hoop house. Live & learn.

I will write updates to keep you posted on how this experiment of planting potatoes early is going. Don’t forget to sign up for my forum. The blog (here) and the forum have separate ‘to join’ areas. You might like to check out my video on this potato hoop house.

HAPPY GARDENING!

FERMENTED SALSA

FERMENTED SALSA

FERMENTED SALSA

This time of the year I have a lot of tomatoes ripening fast. Salsa is a favorite of mine. Since I am trying to eat more fermented food, I decided to give this recipe a try. YUMMY! I thought the taste would be sour, but it isn’t. A little tangy.

FERMENTED SALSA RECIPE

3 pounds ripe tomatoes chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped onion
½ Jalapeno Pepper (with seeds) chopped or more if you like it spicier
1 cup chopped sweet bell pepper
2 tsps. minced garlic
2-3 tsps. sea salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano or 3 tsp. chopped FRESH oregano
1 lime (juice from 1 lime)
½ cup WHEY

I use a food processor for ½ of the ingredients, this will make a finer and juicer blend. Then I mix in by hand, the other ½ of the chopped mixture. It gives the salsa a CHUNKIER texture. Fill jars with salsa, leaving an inch of space at the top. Push down the veggies. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover all the veggies. Put cover on. This is important for the fermentation. Leave jars on the counter and cover the jar with a towel (darkness) for two days. You will notice little bubbles forming. This is normal. After the two days refrigerate. This salsa fermentation will keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator.

NOTE: All seasonings are to your taste.

CUCUMBER BEETLES

CUCUMBER BEETLES

My Cucumber plants have barely been in my gardens for 10 days and I already spotted the dreaded Cucumber Beetle.

cucumber-beetle-crop1

A couple of the leaves had holes in them and I saw rust colored spots on the leaves. Sure signs of the dreaded Cucumber Beetle. I smushed several of them and several more flew away. I decided to try a different technique. I will take an empty sour cream container and add an inch or so of water and a squirt of dish soap. Hold the container under the leaf & tap the leaf. Hopefully the cucumber beetle will fall in and won’t be able to get out. I use this technique on the Japanese Beetles and it works great. Just time consuming. I DO NOT WANT TO USE CHEMICALS.

I think the mornings would be good for hunting the Cucumber Beetle because they should be quite sluggish and won’t fly off so easily. Except for one thing. My Mom always told me not to touch the plants when they are moist with dew or rain. It causes fungal diseases. Have any of you heard this? I better play it safe and do the BEETLE PATROL when the leaves are dry.

I already started some new cucumber seeds, just in case these plants start going downhill fast. There are a couple of cucumbers forming on the vine. Maybe in a couple of weeks I will be eating my organic cucumbers. Wish me luck.

HOLY BASIL ‘TULSI’

HOLY BASIL ‘TULSI’

HOLY BASIL ‘TULSI’

I started growing Holy Basil ‘Tulsi’ several years ago when I felt stressful. Little did I know there are many health benefits of consuming Holy Basil ‘Tulsi’. I did some searching for herbal remedies and Holy Basil ‘Tulsi’ was mentioned. This was the start of my passion for herbal teas. I take no medications so inter actions are not a problem for me. Be careful if you are taking medications.

I use it fresh during gardening season. I dry a lot of it for using during the winter. This year I am growing 12 plants. They are growing in my south windows right now and will be transplanted into my gardens the first week in June. Here in Wisconsin, zone 5, Holy Basil is an annual. It is very easy to collect seed and plant from year to year. Let me know it you are considering growing this special herb and how you like it.

Health Benefits of Tulsi as an Aromatic Digestive
Like our common culinary basil, holy basil has many positive effects on the digestive system. As a slightly warming and aromatic herb it is used to promote stagnant digestion and it is often paired with dried ginger for this purpose. Stagnant digestion is when you eat a meal and feel like it is stuck. One might also experience bloating, gas, decreased appetite and nausea. Tulsi is also helpful for heartburn and can help to heal ulcers.
The fresh juice sweetened with honey is used for intestinal parasites. And it is considered to be an hepatoprotective herb, or an herb that protects the liver from harm.

Health Benefits of Tulsi as a Blood Glucose Regulator
Holy basil has been shown to help regulate blood sugar in diabetics and specifically can lower fasting blood glucose significantly. One reasoning for this ability may be its high antioxidant levels. Someone who is taking insulin to control their diabetes might need to approach this herb with caution and adjust their insulin levels accordingly.

Health Benefits of Tulsi as a Cardiovascular Tonic

Tulsi has many beneficial actions on the heart. It is slightly blood thinning and promotes good circulation. It can lower stress-related high blood pressure and taken daily it can help optimize cholesterol levels. Stress can play an ugly role in overall cardiovascular health and the adaptogenic properties of tulsi can help mediate stress-related damage.
In Ayurveda, a formula that is balancing to all who take it (tridoshic) is made up of tulsi, arjuna and hawthorne.

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