Benefits of Growing an Organic Vegetable Garden

Benefits of Growing an Organic Vegetable Garden

Benefits of Growing an Organic Vegetable Garden

Most of us go to the nearest grocery store to purchase fruits and vegetables. Most of the produce we buy is brought in from faraway places, like blueberries are brought in from Columbia during the winter months in the northern hemisphere (in the N.H. of the earth fresh blueberries are available May thru October).

You also take the chance of buying fruits and vegetables that have been grown with the use of dangerous pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, unless of course you buy organic produce. But even then, most people will not, as they consider organic produce too expensive.

Have you given it thought to growing your own fruits and vegetables on your own piece of land, and if not possibly claiming a small plot for yourself in a community garden?

You can grow your own produce without using any chemicals that are used in growing traditional commercial produce. Growing your own food supply also saves you money and allows you to contribute to a more healthy earth for all living things.

An Organic Vegetable Garden Is Threefold

How is having an organic vegetable garden threefold? Consider the following.

When you decide to grow organic, or even buy organic foods, you are committing to growing and eating food in its natural state.

An Organic Vegetable Garden Is ThreefoldWhat would you use in place of chemicals? You would use mulch, chicken manure (can be used all season long as it will not burn the plants roots, like cow manure can), or compost to fertilize the garden.

Having an organic vegetable garden will require weeding, watering, and harvesting the vegetables and fruits when they become ripe. But don’t think of weeding as work or time consuming. Think of it as exercise, which your body needs in the first place to stay healthy.

Having an organic vegetable garden is threefold,

  • Growing and enjoying your own food
  • Doing so without chemicals
  • Getting in exercise at the same time

Organic Vegetable Gardening with Your Health In Mind

As an organic gardener, you will learn how to grow foods holistically and with health as a priority. Your own grown organic produce will contain valuable nutrients, such as more phytonutrients (less are found in chemical grown produce) for better health.

Stepping out of your home to the garden affords you picking and harvesting fresh produce at its peak. Having an organic garden doesn’t only give you food, it also gives you better health.

Composting for a Healthier Organic Garden

Composting for a Healthier Organic GardenYou will need to have a compost pile, which contains leaves, grass clippings, other plant debris, and kitchen food scraps. All of this once it has decayed, forms the best soil and fertilizer available for your organic vegetable garden needs, and it’s free.

Worms and other garden creatures will eventually get in action of converting your compost heap into raw matter, which is a pure, black, healthy earth.

How Organic Gardening Can Help Us

Organic farming and gardening has many positive effects on our lives, benefits that range from physical to social, and to our emotional wellbeing.

Once you start gardening you will find it a stress relieving adventure.

You can spend more time out in the sun tending your organic garden, and getting the vitamin-D which your body needs to keep your skin and bones healthy. You will become more physically fit by working in an organic garden.

You get to use your muscles on a regular basis and you will be growing food that is actually healthy to all parts of our body.

You can feel comfortable that you are not adding to the destruction of the earth and its valuable soil. Putting your hands in the dirt can be soothing and can bring satisfaction of eating your own grown and harvested food.

Starting an Organic Garden

Potted tomatoes cultivated in town on a balconyIf you don’t have a lot of land, or live in an apartment complex with a small patio or balcony that gets at least 6 hours of direct sun, you can grow your own produce using pots, to and grow vegetables like tomatoes, herbs, and peppers.

If you have your own home and land, be sure to always have a compost heap so you always have a ready supply of rich soil.

Find a sunny spot in your yard and till it, making room for several rows of whatever type of vegetable you like.

In conclusion, if you don’t find gardening is for you, then make it a point to always buy organic foods at the store (in season produce is cheaper).

Doing so, you can do your part in keeping the earth, its soil, animal life (bees and other pollinators) healthy, including yourself.

 

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The Eatable Fiddlehead Fern

The Eatable Fiddlehead Fern

Fiddlehead greens are the curled stalk or leaflet of Fiddlehead fern, and these curled leaflets are harvested for use as a vegetable or leafy green. Fiddleheads are harvested early in the season (Spring) before the frond has opened and reached its full height, they are cut as close as possible at ground level.

Believe it or not, but fiddlehead ferns have antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber (Agriculture Canada Study). The most popular verities that are harvested for food are:

  • Western Sword Fern
  • Lady Fern
  • Cinnamon Fern or Buckhorn Fern
  • Royal Fern
  •  Midin
  • Zenmai or Flowering Fern
  • Vegetable Fern

Certain varieties though, of the fiddlehead fern can be carcinogenic.

Harvesting the Fiddlehead Fern

Health Benefits of the Fiddlehead Fern

We mentioned a few nutritional benefits of the fern at the onset of the article, other benefits of the fern are, it’s rich in potassium, and low in sodium.

A draw back of eating the fiddlehead is it contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine a B-vitamin. Therefore, it is best not to consume the fern in excess, as it can lead to beriberi and other vitamin-B deficiencies.

Dinning On Fiddlehead Greens

Fiddlehead ferns grow wild in wet areas of the northeastern part of North America in the spring. Fiddleheads are a traditional dish of  Maine, and northern New England (USA) , and in some parts of northern Canada. It is said that the town of Tide Head, New Brunswick (Canada) claims itself as the “Fiddlehead Capital of the World.”

It is recommended to cooked the fiddlehead greens thoroughly before eating eating them as they do contain some traces of tannins and toxins. The recommended cooking time is 15 minutes if boiled and 10 to 12 minutes if steamed. The cooking methods of gourmet cooks, is to spread the greens into a thin layer in a steaming basket and steam them lightly, just until tender crisp.

The University of Maine states that the ostrich fiddleheads should not be Sauteed , stir-fried, or microwaved.  They say that the Fiddleheads should be boiled or steamed prior to use in recipes, and after doing so, then they can be used for sauteing, stir-frying or baking.

Recipes Using Fiddlehead Greens

Hawaiian Fern SaladHawaiian Fern Salad

1 pound warabi (fiddleheads)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt

1 (4oz.) package codfish, shredded

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, cubed (can also use cherry tomatoes)

Sauce ingredients:

¼ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup lemon juice

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

Thoroughly rinse warabi and dry, then cut into 1-inch length. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil, then add salt and warabi. Turn down heat to medium and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat shredded codfish on medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine warabi, codfish, onions and tomatoes.

Sauce instructions:

Mix together soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar and garlic salt. Pour over warabi salad and toss gently.

Chill until ready to serve.

Spicy Vegetable fern saladSpicy Vegetable Fern Salad

1 pound cooked shrimp and oysters

16 ounce bag of spring mix of leafy greens

4 boiled eggs, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

2 medium tomatoes sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

¼ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup lemon juice

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

2 to 3 tablespoons of wasabi  sauce

In a medium bowl mix soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, and garlic salt. Pour dressing into a large salad bowl. Next add first 6 ingredients in the recipe list. Toss until well coated with the dressing. Plate and serve.

 

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How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

 

We posted an article awhile back about enjoying melons on hot summer days (Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons). I spoke with a few local  Farmer’s Market venders and asked them about how to chose melons that are ripe and ready to eat, and here is the jest of what they had to say, starting with the cantaloupe:

Cantaloupe, Mark said, is one of the most popular melons in America. While the cantaloupe is deeply loved by many, as Mark went on to say, “It’s equally disappointing when you get a cantaloupe that either isn’t ripe yet or has passed its prime”. To make sure you don’t suffer from this disappointment, here are some tips that Mark shared with us on how to chose the best cantaloupe.

* When picking out the perfect cantaloupe, you want to use your senses. Let’s start with sight. Look at the color of your cantaloupe. You want one that has more yellow tones to it. Pay close attention to the colors between the webbed portion of the cantaloupe. If it’s still green it’s not ripe; it was picked too soon.

* Look for a mark on the side of the melon that is flat and is slightly different in color. This is the side which was on the ground and did not see sun.

* Listen – Now you need to give the melon a little listen. Holding it in your hand, knock a few times on the side of the cantaloupe. If it’s deep and thick, then you have a good dense and full cantaloupe. If it has a high-pitched sound, then it isn’t ripe.

* Feel – You need to know how the cantaloupe feels in your hands too. You want it to be firm, but not too firm. Squeeze it gently on its ends. If there’s some give to it, it’s good. However, if it’s mushy and wet then it’s past its prime. If it’s too hard with no give then it’s not a ripe cantaloupe.

* Smell – This might be the most important of your senses when choosing the perfect cantaloupe. You want one that is very aromatic and sweet smelling. The sweeter, the better. If you don’t smell any aroma, then the cantaloupe is not ripe. If it’s an unpleasant odor, then it’s no good. If you do nothing else but smell, then you should still be able to find the most flavorsome cantaloupe possible.

* Taste it! Of course this isn’t something you can do in the grocery store or at the market, but clearly the best way to tell if a cantaloupe is at its freshest is by tasting it. Hopefully you have used your other senses in the ways described above so you don’t get a mouthful of tasteless cantaloupe. That would be a big disappointment.

once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riperThe thing when picking out the perfect cantaloupe is to remember the nursery rhyme Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You don’t want it too firm or too soft. You don’t want it too green or too yellow. You don’t want it too strong smelling or not smelling enough. It needs to be just right. Then you will know that you have found the absolute perfect cantaloupe.

Also remember, once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riper than it is at that moment it was picked. So don’t buy a slightly unripe cantaloupe thinking that if you give it a few days it will get better.

Please return as we have tips on How to Choose and Store Watermelon.

 

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