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Archive for April, 2010

I watched Food Inc tonight. I knew a lot of it but quite powerful anyway. Got to it from this article which led me to these TED videos.

And then a friend sent me this cool site to look at.

I continue to think about food more and more. I was blessed to grow up going to my great aunt and uncle’s farm. I realize what an impact it had on me. I remember picking beans and blueberries and watermelons. I remember shelling butter beans on the back steps of our house. My  mom froze an awful lot of butter beans. And they were always good. My mom froze lots of food. It seemed normal to me. I remember roaming this farm with my brother and the fun we had going off and exploring. The broken rusty farm equipment, the horses, the geese. The barn, the chickens. Getting the eggs. Simple things but oh so fun and unusual for us. Food had value in our house. And I still value food.

The interesting part of having to become gluten and dairy free and then soy free and reducing many other foods because of my children’s reflux is that I rarely if ever eat fast food, we do not eat out a lot and we make most meals from scratch. Our children see that we value food because my husband spends a lot of time preparing really good food and I spend a lot of time growing food from seed. I have taught our children that foods are powerful, that they are “grow” foods. We need a balance of grow foods to grow. They understand treats are not a “grow” food and so therefore, we do not need them. Since we do not need them, we only have them on special occasions (birthdays and some holidays). And they understand it. A woman in the grocery store stopped me yesterday when I was talking to my five year old about which chard to buy. She wanted to know how on earth I got my children to eat chard and how do I cook it, what do I do to it? I said I chopped it up and lightly sauteed it with some water and a bit of coconut oil and sometimes added pepper. I told her my children have to eat three bites of everything on their plate and I do not put large servings. If they want seconds of their favorite food, they have to eat three bites of everything else first. I think one or two of my kids wanted to be picky eaters but our rules are firm and there is no drama about them. They know I would let them go hungry if they do not at least try it. And they have tried things so many times they have come to love them. My five year old? She wanted rainbow chard because she liked the pink color and all the other brights. She chose it and then gladly ate it for dinner. My kids do not have the option of eating lots of processed foods or foods with sugar because I do not buy it. So they eat what I do have and generally and for the most part they are really happy about it. And they are rarely sick and they have lots of energy. I am motivated to grow even more this year and move towards year round growing. I hate having to go to the store right now to buy greens because mine are not big enough. It is a good goal to move forward to.

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So I have bought Whitney Farms seed starting mix for years and have always had amazing success with it. Last year I saw organic seed start mix randomly at Home Depot by someone else and bought it. The plants in it grew half the size of the ones in Whitney Farms.

Last week I went through my first 2 cubic foot bag and stopped off to get another. I am in the midst of transplanting a zillion tomatoes into 4 in pots (next year must do this by late March!). I noticed the dirt seemed different when I transplanted my Japanese Soyu Cucumbers into big containers. Especially once I brought them into the house and watered them. There was a distinct odor and it was bad. Tried to ignore it. I left the cukes out in the afternoon sun and they were all burnt in the unusual sun. Sigh – do not think I should do cukes this year apparently.

Last Saturday I went to transplant the rest of the tomatoes (about 25 were transplanted with the first bag, which was okay). I transplanted about 60 or so. I was outside and felt somewhat sick and miserable at the end which is not how I ever feel when I have been gardening. I brought everything in upstairs. A few hours later I came upstairs and the smell was completely toxic. I realized the dirt was putting off a chemical smell. And about 15 – 20% of my starts were dead. I did a little research – Whitney Farms is now owned by Scotts. Big corporation. And i thought the seed start mix was organic (maybe it was in the past??) but it is not now.

Sunday I headed to Ballard to Swansons to get different dirt. I realized I could transplant into potting soil and after talking with them, chose organic Monrovia potting soil as the other organic potting soil had chicken manure – not a smell I need in the house. Spent the day retransplanting 60+ tomatoes. In all lost about 30% or more of my starts between the soil killing them and them breaking when changing dirt. I had about 50 or more basil starts – I did not even bother. Basil will come in later but I can reseed.

So frustrating but lesson learned. Pay more attention to what I am buying.

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Well, what a crazy day. Unexpectedly I had a child free morning and there was glorious sunshine and it was fairly warm. Instead of working the entire morning, I got in the garden and transplanted my Japanese Soyu Cucumbers to larger pots and transplanted some of the basil to larger containers.

I have been putting my spinach starts out to harden them off and I decided to leave my Jap cukes out for awhile to start hardening off. All eight were so beautiful when I left.

Off to pick up the kids, go to class and run a few errands – we got home later than planned – went to check on my cukes and all were completely wilted and sunburned. Cooked if you will. Maybe two will survive. Sigh. I hate it when I lose a plant. But to lose two sets of cukes. Darn. That is the challenge of gardening.

On a better front, the beet starts in the ground are coming up, the sugar snaps are about an inch and the carrots are just making their way. I thought for sure the leeks were not going to come up but they have and wow – tons  – need to thin soon. My winter bed is still going – the dino kale is growing fast and the two spinach plants that survived are getting big. The purple broccoli seems close to harvesting. It is all very late and past due but as long as it tastes good – I am not complaining.

After some googling, found out Jap cukes do not like a lot of heat. Well I learned that! I need some major time to garden this weekend to get all the tomato transplanted to 4″ containers. I have way way way too many of course. Maybe a wee bit less than last year. And the broccoli and broccolini need to be transplanted to larger container and hardened off. And squash needs to be started. Always too much to do in spring!

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Today I was out direct seeding all of my beans and a few more peas. As I was comparing my trellis’ to my garden plan drawing I was confused because I was supposed to be looking at cucumbers. About 10 of them. That I so lovingly raised from seed and transplanted last week. I looked closely and found one sad stem munched almost at the base. Aargh. I am going to have put something out there to keep the Japanese cukes from getting munched. Good thing I ran out of time to transplant them.

At least now i have plenty of room to transplant them :). I planted two pole beans and two bush beans today as well as three kinds of peas. More notes on that later.

Also I transplanted my sweet peas outside and then it got very very wet and rainy. Not sure any will make it 😦 And I had such high hopes. I have two more beans/peas to plant from West Seattle Nursery and unfortunately one of my dear dear children removed the tags. I guess we will all have to wait and see what comes up.

I think this lady is in WA state but not sure – wow what a garden!

http://www.modernvictorygarden.com/apps/blog/

The other four blogs I am reading lately for gardening inspiration –

http://www.sustainableeats.com/

and

http://urbanhennery.com/

and

http://www.digginfood.com/

and

http://shibaguyz.com/

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