Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hot Summer Sunday Harvest

Last year, I planted a whole bunch of onions, both started from seed as well as from starts. I planted them in every little nook and cranny that was available at the time. Most of these got shaded out by the many volunteer tomato plants that I let go to maturity.  I pretty much thought they were a lost cause.  I was kind of sad about it, but overall the garden did so well that I didn't care as long as I was getting food out of all the space that I had.  So I forgot about them.  I let the chickens dig around them to their liking, knowing full well that whatever chickens have access to, they will destroy beyond recognition.

Then spring came.  And so did the onions.  Back with a vengeance, they did.  They tried flowering, so I broke off each of the buds to encourage energy to go to the bulb, and just let them do their thing.  Some of them recently started getting these weird bulges growing in their leaves, so just out of curiosity, I pulled one up.  It had a pretty good onion attached to it so I pulled another.  Then I couldn't stop myself. I pulled 'em all.  There were 22.  Out of that, 20 of them had good onions or onion-like things attached to them.  Some are a little smaller than tennis balls, some about the size of a large marble. Maybe some of them could have used more time in the ground with their stems squished, but the temptation to pull was just too great and I like to think of them as reclaimed food that I previously had thought were lost so it really was a win all around for me.  The onions I started this year are sucking it up big time.  I just hope they're saving their energy for next year.

I also got several handfuls of berries.  I've given up on the strawberries, by the way.  They just keep getting half red, then robbed.  

The carrots are getting close.  My temptation to pull is getting stronger each day.  So I pulled 3.  It was way too much fun.

So happy about these.
I get about this much every day.
Yesterday, I made a delicious salad out of some carrots, peas, and a bunch of lettuce I pulled because it was starting to bolt in the hot weather. I topped it with a little sliced red onion and what a delicious 100% home-grown salad it was!

The ladies really enjoyed those carrot tops.
I also pulled my pea plants. I let a good handful of them go to full peas so I have seeds for next year.  My pepper and eggplant plants were needing a new home with better soil so I moved those over to where the peas used to be. I also had cilantro and shiso plants that needed to get in the ground so I put those there too.  Then I planted a batch of sugar snap peas where the other stuff was, since peas are less needy of really good soil.  (I did, however, add some compost to help them out.)

So now the peas are left in their pods and have been set out to fully dry on the vine. They should be hulled and dry by next weekend.  It was a hot day, but still really great to play in the dirt.

Happy hot summer day my friends!  Have a fun and safe 4th of July!  Here are some more pictures from today as a bonus:

Dragonfly hangin' with the 'chokes. Where's Gus?
Gus normally sleeps in a very compact ball.  But on a hot day like today, he prefers the sprawl method.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Harvest

2 words: garlic scapes!

(Not pictured: lots if lettuce and peas.)

This is about $4 worth of scapes. I did some research at the farmer's market and based on the prices, it looks like they're the "in" thing to eat these days.

So pretty and curly...

Have a great first week of summer everyone!

Friday, June 21, 2013

What's Eating My Plants?

Something is eating my plants.

I know that the chickens are responsible for the few sad lettuce and kale plants. (Elsa found them the other day and has now made it her mission to get a bite every chance she gets.) 

But something else is eating a bunch of the other stuff. I have been meticulous in picking off the eggs of the cabbage butterflies so my kale (other than what Elsa has gotten) is doing great. The ones that are suffering are my pepper and eggplant plants, the soybeans, the dry beans, and the strawberries. Even the potato plants are showing signs of herbivory.

It's not just isolated to my veggie garden either. My little baby kinnikinnick has been preyed upon as well.  All of the fresh new leaves were devoured by a mystery creature in one evening.

So I'm angry.  I've checked for aphids and I really don't see many. There are a few here and there and they don't really eat the leaves anyway.  I've also been checking for slugs but can't find any either. But that doesn't mean they aren't around.

I think we have a various array of pests at work here.  My soybeans look like the slugs are getting to them.  Maybe the same goes for my already struggling bok choy (below). 

The strawberries are another story.  Though I know the slugs love strawberries, the evidence is of something bigger.  The little green strawberries are being stolen off the vine as a whole.  It looks as though something has come along and cut them off.  So my thought is rats.  We've seen them around the chicken coop so I wouldn't be surprised if they were getting into other stuff too.

Unfortunately, the herbivores aren't the only problem in my garden.  Some stuff is just not growing.  The onions are totally stunted and aren't doing anything.  ALL of my broccoli died, so I had to replant it two weeks ago.  My cucumbers suck, and the eggplant isn't doing anything either.  Even the zucchini is struggling.  What's going on?  Zucchini is supposed to be a like a weed.  I didn't add much to the soil this year, and I think I'm paying the price.  I have been fertilizing, but it doesn't seem to be enough.  Blerg.

Missing: Three green strawberries.
But, there are some things that are happy.  The potatoes are gorgeous, the peas are producing like the zombies are coming, and we have an artichoke!  So I guess not all is lost.  And look at the beautiful garlic scapes!  I think I'm going to be cutting them and eating them this year.  Yum!  Now if I could just figure out what's eating my plants.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Harvest 2013!

Is it just me, or am I posting the first Sunday harvest post 2 months earlier than last year?

Oh yeah, I am. Booyah!

So I planted some lettuce seeds at the end of last season and they didn't really do much. Then spring came and they shot up to welcome the warmer weather and sunshine like the rest of us. We've gotten about 6 good salads worth of 2 kinds of lettuce and arugula. So cool. And I like it, in case those of you who know my aversion to lettuce are wondering. I've been making this really delicious Caesar dressing which helps too. 

Quick Caesar Dressing
(Recipe for some now and some later)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbs lemon juice
5 dashes worchestershire sauce
Fresh ground pepper and ceyenne pepper to taste
Lots of Parmesan cheese

Put it all in a jar and shake well. Use as needed. Yum!

The other thing we've been eating like crazy is snow peas. So good right off the plant or stir fried with other vegetables and oyster sauce and garlic.

On a slightly more annoying note, we've been having slug and aphid issues. Or at least we think that's what's been eating our plants. This is putting a damper on the peppers, eggplant, and strawberries. And my patience for being inclusive of all living things in and around my garden.

But I'm still happy that my diet now consistently includes something I've grown in my yard.

How are your harvests?

This is just a fraction of what we've picked this week.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Taking Care of V

Yes indeed.  This post is about vaginas.  Vaginas and all the loveliness that comes with being a proud owner of one.  I have been thinking about this post for over a year now and haven't really had the guts to write it, or even more, post it.  But this is important.  For several reasons.  There are lots of ladies out there, and therefore, lots of vaginas.  We spend a ton of money and time taking care of them and I feel like we are in it together.  If one finds a new trick or tool to make taking care of a ourselves easier, then we as women have an obligation to pass along that knowledge.  I'm about to drop some serious knowledge on y'all, so watch out.

(You may also be asking why this is at all appropriate for this blog.  I too thought about this and realized that the subheading of my blog is "A Journal of Conscious Living."  Trust me, the info I have to share will make you live more consciously with your body and about your impact on the environment.)

If you're blushing and are feeling uncomfortable having read this much, you should probably click away because I'm about to get real.  You might not see me the same way after this.

Still with me?  Great.  Let's talk about periods.

Since early on in my hormone-filled teenage years of feeling completely horrified that I had to have periods in the first place, I remember thinking what a waste menstrual pads were.  Watching my garbage can fill up each cycle during the 4 or 5 days was pretty horrifying.  (Leave it to me to think that even at the age of 13, huh?)  When I started using tampons I felt a little better since they were just smaller in size and took up less space, but even then the applicator seemed silly, and the risk of toxic shock required me to continue using pads as well.

My first step in conscious menstruating was to buy applicator-less tampons.  I recommend this for everyone.  You don't need an applicator.  Trust me.  You really don't.  Then I started getting pantyliners and tampons made out of organic cotton.  But that still doesn't eliminate the stuff that goes to landfill.  So I think it's time to make the ultimate leap.  Zero-waste, baby!

Moms these days are jumping on the bandwagon of cloth diapers.  So why not cloth pads?  I've been using one periodically for a few years, called a GladRag, and have to say, I feel pretty awesome when I do use it.  This one, however, is a little bulky so I don't wear it out as much.  I also only have one, so when it's dirty, I'm back to using a disposable something.  But I did some research recently, and found that there are tons of different companies (mostly Canadian) making and selling cloth pad options.  I ordered one of several kinds to see which ones I like best. You can get a free sample at this site for just $5 shipping.  (I'll update this post when the testing period is complete.)

You probably wondering what the cleanup situation with cloth pads is like.  Sure, it's a little more work to clean than a disposable, which has no clean up whatsoever, but it doesn't have to take forever.  The idea behind some cloth pad companies is that cleaning your own pads "gets you closer to your natural cycle."  I'll have to admit, that's kind of silly, seeing as how I have no desire to "get closer" to my period.  But for the sake of the environment, I'm willing to do it.  A combination of cold water, hydrogen peroxide, and some natural detergent or baking soda pretty much takes care of things.  You can even just throw them in the washing machine with the rest of your clothes as long as they aren't too saturated.

Now I know some of you are also thinking, "but I'm a tampon girl, cloth pads don't take care of my needs."  Not to worry my friends, there is a zero waste option for you too. --->  Menstrual cups!  They are little silicone cups, about the size of a shot glass, that you just stick up there.  You empty it out every few hours, and it can stay in there for up to 12 hours with no risk of TSS.  My friend told me about it way long ago in high school and I thought it was a crazy idea.  But times change.  I bought one.  Haven't used it yet but I'm excited to.

Ok, so I think that takes care of periods.

Moving on to bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.

This just gets better and better, huh?

I received an incredible piece of advice from a Swedish Physicians doctor several years ago that I still, to this day, consider the single most useful (and practical) piece of info I've ever gotten from a doctor.

Basically, vaginas need a delicate balance of things to stay happy.  Any time this balance changes, you get infections of the yeasty or bacterial variety.  This imbalance is often caused by a change in the Ph of the environment.  Vaginas are naturally acidic, at about 3.5-4.5 on the pH scale.  This keeps the bacteria present to a controlled level.  However, when the pH rises, the change effects the balance of the good bacteria and allows for an overgrowth of the bad stuff, plus a chance that yeast can move in and get comfortable.  Gross.

Now commercials tell you that you have to go out and buy the latest fungal ointment or douche or "feminine wash."  Those are not only chemically based, which is a problem in itself, but are also expensive, gross, and unnatural to use.  All that really needs to be done is to return your V to its happy pH.

What does this?  Boric Acid.  You can find it in any drugstore, maybe near the hydrogen peroxide, in an 8oz bottle.  You should look for the stuff that says it's for "household and farm products."  You also need to get some size 00 gel capsules.  Those come in packages of about a bazillion.  Seriously, these are both super cheap and will give you enough to last for many years for not only you but your mom, your sister, your friend, and anyone else with a vagina.  Just fill a handful of gel-caps up with the boric acid and keep them in an airtight container in the bathroom.

It works because Boric Acid has the same pH as your V.  It also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.  It can be used to treat an existing problem or as a preventative.  Either way, insert one gelcap, just as you would a tampon, before bed.  (Make sure you go to the bathroom as soon as you get up in the morning or you'll be greeted with a a bit of a mess.)  For an existing problem, use nightly for 7-14 days.  Then you can treat once or twice a week for preventative measures, or at any point when you feel like your precious pH has been compromised, like after swimming or sex.

Pretty easy.  I've read that some people have some irritation at first, but it's uncommon.  It's also important to note that Boric acid is toxic when ingested.  So don't eat it!!!  And clearly label your capsules so no one gets confused.

I should also remind you all that I'm no doctor, and never will be.  This is simply a tip that I have found incredibly useful in my life, but you should always talk to a doctor if you're feeling anything unhappy down there.

Here's to living closer and more comfortably with your femininity.
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