Red, White and Blue

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Hopefully you will soon be enjoying local strawberries and blueberries.  Perhaps you already have gone through your strawberry season if you live in the far southern USA .  In any event most folks treasure this fruit fresh off of the stem and regret that it is a short season as we rush to make jam , vacuum seal the goodness and or freeze dry this  years crop.  Strawberry shortcake is a delightful dessert or snack.

Next year I plan to start strawberry plants and blue. berry bushes.  This I have never done before and so any suggestions that the readers can give me for a successful crop year after year is greatly appreciated.  Thank you in advance.

I am submitting a recipe for strawberry pie that was given to me by one of my Amish neighbors .  I know that she is one of the worlds best cooks and has taught me a lot.  She has also created this pie with blueberries .

The recipe is for 2 pies.  First bake 2 pie shells in 2 pie pans.

Make a glaze of 1 cup of white sugar , 1and 1/2 cups of water , 2 Tablespoons of Clear Jell or Gelatin.  1 small box or 1/3 cup of strawberry Jello.  Bring this to a boil and stir together.  COOL.  Add sliced strawberries , the quantity is your choice.  I like lots .

Next mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1 and 1/2   8 oz. packages of cream cheese.  Add more or less to your taste.  Spread this onto your baked pie shells, sides and all.  Fill with your strawberry filling into both shells and chill for a couple of hours .

Serve with whipped cream or put it on the top of each pie .  If the blueberries are available you can dot the top with them.

Red , White and Blue for our upcoming patriotic holidays .  They’ll be asking for more, I   promise.   If you’re traveling with this pie, keep cold .       Enjoy ,  Grandma Jean

Weed Out

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Weeds ?  Well they come and go and we have the power to determine their fate.

What if one day when you were just a seedling yourself you had known you were going to be big and strong and beautiful .  You knew what flowers looked like and for a while you knew  something of what they felt like.  As time passed you began to feel like a weed because as spring came and the flowers around you bloomed  you learned to be content as a weed.  You tried to take up very little space ,  very little sun and  very little nourishment and water so that the flowers around you could sustain themselves in grand fashion.

When warm air covered  the ground and you felt growth moving you it is then that you have a hope and a wish for a bud , a blooming.  Of course that is impossible, you  are thinking because you are just a weed.

One day someone picking flowers comes across you and notices a beautiful tiny flower bud emerging from the over growth of all the other flowers.  Perhaps you noticed that this person is delighted by the exquisite tiny flower growing from your weed like stem.  You would not believe it at first, you would think it was a mistake but hope again arises within you very cautiously .   As you begin to look at yourself and experience the appreciation of that special person you began to have doubts ,  you at first would not believe that you are actually a flower .

You know now what it actually feels like to be a flower and are gladdened by it , excited in fact , but at the same time you are sad that you wasted so much time  believing yourself to be a weed .  You haven’t discovered yet what being a flower is all about but you promise your self to give it all you’ve got.

Grow For It,  Grandma Jean

 

Herbs and Health

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Herbs have been used by people since the early cave man laid down and slept well in a field of Lavender.

I do not purport to be an expert in the field  of herbalist’s lore .  I merely am sharing information that I have either experienced successfully or have read about .  I came across much information by reading the history of this great country of ours.  The early settlers and pioneers learned to use cultivated and wild herbs that were grown naturally in America.  The Native Americans taught them . We have expanded our knowledge of useful herbs that are used in other countries when international travel became common.

I am listing some suggestions for planting or obtaining at a health food store for you . Most ingredients can be used as tea or some are topical as applied.

ALFALFA,  rebuilds hard tissue , balances pH and enhances milk flow ………………………..

ALOE VERA GEL,   applied externally for sunburn, minor burns of other sorts , insect bites and can be used internally as it is said to reduce allergy sensitivity ……………………

ASTRAGALUS,  this herb originated in China as is taken internally to strengthen the immune system and it can help resist sinus infections…………………………………………………

BLACK COHOSH,  this helps relieve labor pains when a woman is giving birth.  This should be used by cultivating in your garden as it is said to be an endangered species in  the wild……………………………………………………………………………………………

BURDOCK,  has been  said to be known to promote a balance of blood  sugar…………….

CATNIP,  the benefits from this herb are to help with digestion and colic , as a tea…….

CAMOMILE,  encourages relaxation and reduce fever and pain , used as a tea………….

CHARCOAL, ACTIVATED , is usually consumed in capsule form .  It absorbs toxins in the digestive system and can be used to quickly heal the gut from food poisoning……

CRANBERRY, taken as a tea or in the form of diet cranberry juice can help promote urinary tract health…………………………………………………………………………………………….

FENNEL,  relieves gas , digestive issues and colic…………………………………………………………..

FEVERFEW,  arthritis and migraine headaches are helped by this herb………………………

GARLIC,  this is suggested to help keep cholesterol balanced as well as contributing antiseptic needs to the body………………………………………………………………………………………………

GINGER,  a strong antiseptic for gastrointestinal flu as well as it helps prevent motion sickness………………………………………………………………………………………….

MILK THISTLE,  this has been used for centuries to help with jaundice and hepatitis .  It is a most efficient antioxidant ………

PSYLLIUM,  this can help relieve bowel impaction as well as a help for spastic colon difficulties…………………………………………………………………………………….

RED CLOVER,  made into a tea this was commonly used as a blood purifier by our early Americans……………………………………………………………………………………

SARSAPARILLA, cleanses infections from the body as well as helping with skin problems and ringworm ………………………..

WHITE WILLOW BARK ,  natures best alternative for aspirin .  This is commonly used in a concentrated form by cutting away some small piece of the trunk and chewing the inside …

I do hope this post will encourage all of you to do research and share with others your success with natural remedies .

To Your Health, Grandma Jean

 

 

 

 

Helpful Herbs

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It has been my interest as to how helpful herbs can be.  They can be planted to improve garden growth in many ways .  This is often referred to as companion planting.  Many herbs are used for cosmetic purposes .  They can also  be applied to keep pests off of pets as well as keep the bugs out of your garden.  There are traditional Pioneer and Native American teas and  salves to be created from herbs for health reasons  .  Research has indicated that ancient societies used many of the same applications .  And lastly herbs improve the flavor of the foods that we cook.  I am listing common and easily planted herbs and their usefulness as well as tinctures , oils and dried herbs that can be obtained at your health food store.

Please do research before consuming or applying any product as often folks have allergies that they were unaware of .  Spot test applications  and consume herbs sparingly at first.  Ask your Doctor or one that is well versed in Holistic Medicine their opinion regarding consumption.  As always keep your herbal remedies out of the hands of children.

For cosmetic applications a traditional soothing ointment for dry skin , skin rashes and insect bites is Comfrey , Chickweed, Plantain leaf and Mullein oil .   All of these can be purchased at your nearby health supply store or most “super stores” .  The first 3 ingredients can be grown in your back yard.

For pest control on pets  ,Geranium oil and Sesame oil repels fleas and ticks .  Lemongrass oil repels fleas and mosquitos. Lemongrass can be grown in your back yard to repel the fleas and mosquitos in your surroundings.  In your garden , pests can be controlled by planting onions and garlic at the ends of the beds.  Surround your beds with Marigolds and Zinnias to ward off other critters as well.

For your health —Basil ,Comfrey, and Pepsin are said to be good for your gut and digestion.  Camomile tea also is often used for stomach aches and colic.   Another digestion aid is ginger, peppermint, and  fennel .

Turmeric is said to be anti-inflammatory , an anti-oxidant and often inhibits craving for sugar.   Other herbs used for inflamed areas in joints  are Echinacea and Golden Seal combinations .  Yucca and White willow were also used by our early ancestors.  Willows inner bark if cut out in small chewable chunks is an old remedy used for pain.

Valerian root as well as Hops and Skullcap are suggested to be good for nervous conditions.

Violets, often growing wild in the spring , make an excellent tea to combat allergies  .  Use about 1/4 cup chopped leaves and flowers and steep for 15 minutes in boiling water.

Thyme has been used as an antiseptic.

Witch Hazel is  for topical application for varicose veins and hemorrhoids .

Rhubarb can be used as a laxative.

Rosemary, Dill, Thyme, Basil , Ginger, and Oregano enhance the flavors of many soups, sauces and stews.  They are used for rubs and marinates on meat and fish.  Onions and Garlic are used for this purpose as well.

Snip herbs when harvesting to promote reproduction.  The one exception is Dill .  Dill can be pulled as a plant.

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Loving to Learn, Grandma Jean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Beginning

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Hi folks ,  I hope your Easter and other Holidays that you celebrate were all happy and joyous.  Singing in the choir keeps me in a celebratory mood .  I have also heard that singing to your plants is beneficial.

It is time to start a new beginning in this part of the world with the arrival of spring .

Let’s start with clearing all debris from your selected garden space , tilling the soil with the compost that we created over the year , adding minerals and mulch .  Pop in those organic seedling when they are ready and watch the magic.

Compost is important to create proper nutrition and ph balance in your soil .  The photos show an established compost pile and as well as when it has matured to a functional quality .


To make your own compost use almost all organic waste that is left from preparing food. Raw vegetables and fruit , egg shells , coffee grounds and fish bones .  Plant clippings as well as leaves may also be turned into compost .  Cooked foods and weeds and twigs should not be included.

To activate and cure your compost to break down does take some time .  The process requires turning to insert oxygen into the mixture .  Turn it with your pitchfork.  Lightly add manure, horse , cow, or chicken .  If you or your neighbors do not have it readily available ,( and I’m sure your neighbors would welcome help cleaning barns.), you can purchase it at a local garden supply.  If your conditions are dry , you will need to add water occasionally .  It is highly advisable to NOT add  highly chlorinated water.

Enclosed compost containers are also available for purchase or you can make your own.  You will need the capability to turn your compost to create your soil .

If you have youngsters I would like to suggest that you help them to create a children’s garden.  Children delight in the achievement and accept the responsibility readily .  First help them to select the plants they can grow .  Start with 2 or 3 that will come up and produce quickly in the spring or early summer because children have little concept of time and could loose interest .  One plant that comes to mind is peas , another is lettuce .  If the youngsters are old enough they could even be encouraged to complete the task by serving their produce at a family dinner .  Of course the harvesting , washing and cooking should be supervised .  I have had some gritty lettuce from the lack of an overseer . Herbs are also fairly child proof and maybe could inspire a future chef .
Digging with You, Grandma Jean

Goodness Coming Up

IMG_3092Good day to all the gardeners out there ,

Greener in January became stretched out a bit but finally March is making promises it has to keep.

The greenhouse is near completion and just needs some trim and shelves but I am able to use it .  The delay to our timeline for having it finished has been all of the expected interruptions happening at once .  We will also include a gutter that will supply a rain barrel .

The seeds are started in the greenhouse and the other day my first tomato surfaced.  What a joy to know that Spring is here.  I put on my happy face.

All of the seeds that are planted are certified organic heirloom seeds or are in the final stages of meeting those qualifications.  Some were purchased but most came from saving seeds of over production of years gone by.  The use of these seeds can save a lot of money in the years to come as well as contribute to ones health in the purity of the vegetables and fruits grown.

It can also be enjoyable to sell your over production of established healthy. plants at your local farmers market .  I expect that my enthusiasm will provide the supply .

May I encourage everyone to can, dry, vacuum seal and freeze as many of your fresh vegetables as possible .  It is worth the effort and time for your health, your pocketbook and the exercise that we all could use.

If you are uncertain about how to do food preservation safely , there are many instructions available in your library and also on the internet .  YouTube is also a place that good instruction can be found on any subject.

The supplies required for preserving food is mostly a one time purchase .  Start slowly and build your confidence .  At first you will just want to admire your well stocked shelves .  When you bring your accomplishments to the table the appreciation of your family and guests will not go unnoticed .

Planting herbs , growing herbs , drying herbs , using herbs in recipes for flavor of our food and also for cosmetics as well as medicinal uses is of interest to many.  I am just beginning to appreciate all of the applications possible .

OK, lets begin by laying out our garden where it is wanted, removing rocks, roots and   tilling the soil with a mixture of compost, peat moss and fertilizer  .  I like horse manure because it is readily available to me.  Plant your seeds with a mixture to start seeds in containers and keep the soil moist.  Please remember to start small and build your garden and confidence one year at a time .

Are you getting hungry yet ?   Grandma Jean

Gardening Coming to Google Plus

pexels-photo-414181.jpegHi Friends and Fellow Gardeners,

My young friend Eva has introduced me to Google Plus and future blogs will incorporate this method of viewing. My name on Google Plus is Jean Molnar.

The greenhouse is near completion and later posts will discuss planting herbs and successful seed starts.

In the near future, we also will provide an e-book for instructions for proper soil development in any condition. This includes soil around the globe such as in Europe, India, and America.

Looking forward to sharing with you.

Grandma Jean

Greener in January

Good day to you all .  January and February has been the time of the year when my sister and I usually head to Florida .  We visit relatives , tour gardens and find fresh veggies all along the way .  This year our visit may be shorter than we formerly planned as I will be fortunate to have fresh veggies in my own back yard.

There are many ways to build a green house . The cold frames made from used window or glass door panels set upon a raised bed work well .  I have also used bent fence wire with clear plastic attached .  These are all moveable and replaceable .  Also if you have a sunroom attached to your home , you can easily adapt it to become a green house.  I chose to build a semi permanent structure this year .  I CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR COMPLETION .

My friend Kevin and I are building a green house.  Kevin is an engineer by education and is very capable of designing the structure that I wanted .  So far everything is fitting together perfectly and every detail has been well thought out.  Progressive pictures will accompany future blogs along with internal as well as external design.

The green house will have a ventilation system , a cooling system , a heating system, a watering system and temperature control .  All of this will be accomplished with  a solar panel and a timer , a pond and a pump .

The structure is 8′ x 8′ and has a framed , insulated plywood floor built upon corner supports that we purchased at a local builders supply store.  The ceiling is 7 ‘ high and the roof will be peaked .  Polycarbonate  panels will provide adequate protection and light emissions .  These panels will be placed on the finished frame that has been completed with the addition of side walls of 3 ‘ high .

Internally we will construct shelves , a potting bench, storage, and a door or two .  Hopefully it will be completed this week .  I am excited about having produce year round as well as saving money and knowing that my plants are not altered in any way .

In the future I will provide plans for this green house as well as a sure method for starting seeds successfully as well as suggestions for maintaining full plant growth .  Remember , “It’s in Your Soil “.

Growing together ,  Grandma Jean

 

 

Bug Out 2

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Hi Gardeners ,  It is my wish that you all have enjoyed your holidays and that you have a Happy New Year  .  This time of year needs every bit of our attention and time to reconnect with family and friends  .   The focus is on sharing and love and I hope that you all became wrapped up in the season.

If your tradition for New Years dinner is sauerkraut or black eyed peas ,  or stuffed cabbage , I hope that the produce from last years garden helped contribute to your tradition .  Growing your own food from heirloom seeds and your preserving methods of choice is satisfying, healthy and thrifty .

First we have to get the bugs out the best way and that’s with natural application.  so here are a few more suggestions .   As I’ve mentioned before , we are at the top of the food chain but we don’t want to eat ’em .

A good way to keep these critters out is to go to any gardening supply store  to purchase diatomaceous earth  and sprinkle this among your plants .  This helps keep soil clean and bug free.

Another natural way to introduce pest control is by using a beneficial predator control to deter the insect spread.  Bird feeders , chickens,  ducks and other poultry will help .

Although using Dawn or other dish soap as a spray can help with aphids , beetles and the whitefly,  the frequent use of this application can reduce your abundance .   There is also a product named neem that has proven useful.  Handpicking, row covers, and beneficial nematodes as well as crop rotation are also useful.

If you are growing corn and are experiencing earworms then apply canola or olive oil with an eye dropper to the top of the area where and when the silk emerges .  Corn will flourish if we fence it away from raccoons .

Cutworms can be kept under control by cultivating a couple of times  .  After that the birds will take care of the problem  and if you start seedlings plant them sometime later than usual.

Zinnias are a good companion plant  as well as marigolds to eliminate many insects .

Plant more than you can use ,  they can’t get them all .  Any excess can be sold or distributed among your friends and neighbors.

A last thought ,  Remember always that the best prevention starts with your soil preparation .  IT’S IN YOUR SOIL .

Happy New Year and a prosperous one to you and yours .

Grandma Jean

Bug Out

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Good morning to all of the gardeners out there .  I sincerely hope that as Thanksgiving approaches your bountiful harvest will fill your tables with mouth watering recipes.

Previously we had discussed ,in a brief way, that it is important to clean up your garden in the Fall .  Not only will this prevent mold but will eliminate many critters wanting to share your production with you .  These critters , (bugs),  can destroy a crop quickly so let us remember that we are at the top of the food chain and all is fair in love and war with bugs .

Organic pest control is the best approach for your health as well as a way to keep nature in balance .    Row covers are useful as a beginning application.

If you have the room to do so , acquire some free range chickens or ducks .  They not only consume many insects but at the same time can help fertilize your plot  . You also will save dollars on poultry feed .  Japanese beetles are successfully controlled in this way  as well as other insects .

Rotating your crops assists in controlling your garden pests .  This is accomplished because bugs are drawn to specific plants and in effect you are not allowing them to find a happy home .  This is especially important to control maggots that attack roots.

If we provide a nesting habitat for wild birds we can eliminate much grief and frustration.  Bird feeders help .  There are also ways to find beneficial insects for your specific problem and these can be looked up on the internet .  I will make a list of these in my next post.  Stay tuned.

The top controls are crop rotation, insecticidal soap solutions ,  oil for horticultural purposes ,  crop rotation , poultry predators , hand picking, row covers, garlic pepper spray , attracting birds and planting beneficial companion plants and always using organic gardening products .

In the next post I will go into more detail regarding some of these subjects but in the meantime I invite your comments and items of your concern.

Enjoy your upcoming holidays .

Working for our enjoyment ,  Grandma Jean