Over the Counter: Lessons from the Summer Garden

 Raspberries are nutritious, delicate, bright, sharp tasting fruit that add character to any garden.  WARNING  the plants are very tenacious and should be placed with care  OR  you will wind up with Raspberry plants everywhere and you might not appreciate that:)  TIP   The Raspberry has sharp fine hairs along the spine of the plant use  THICK  leather gloves or  THICK  contraction gloves when handling the plants. Remove spines -  take painting tape or plumbers tape place gently over the skin pull back to remove spines - then wash with liquid soap - examine under a magnifier - remove remaining spines with tweezers let dry - purchase "Bacitracin" -  NOT  "Neosporin" - your tiny wound will heal:)

Raspberries are nutritious, delicate, bright, sharp tasting fruit that add character to any garden. WARNING the plants are very tenacious and should be placed with care OR you will wind up with Raspberry plants everywhere and you might not appreciate that:) TIP  The Raspberry has sharp fine hairs along the spine of the plant use THICK leather gloves or THICK contraction gloves when handling the plants. Remove spines -  take painting tape or plumbers tape place gently over the skin pull back to remove spines - then wash with liquid soap - examine under a magnifier - remove remaining spines with tweezers let dry - purchase "Bacitracin" - NOT "Neosporin" - your tiny wound will heal:)

The August Garden 2013

Summer is not officially over until September 21st but by then you would be already enjoying your fall garden and thinking about what to leave in the ground to over winter.  Looking back over the August Garden I  made a few mistakes

I planted the "Jack O' Lantern" near the long, dark, heavy leafed arms of the Mulberry tree. The Pumpkins looked good for while but produced no pumpkins and eventually got moldy I did relocate it near the Tomatoes but the Tomatoes won out:).

The Butter Lettuce grew and it wars tasty ( the leaves I ate ) but it was placed in the path of the Raccoons who seemed to enjoy it too - going forward it will be planted in barrels and I planted too much to close together.

The "Sugar Baby" Watermelon arms ( watermelon lays down vines similar to: Squash Cucumbers, Pumpkins ) look great circling the birdbath and I do have yellow florets but no melons. Could it be too many plants vying for water? Or lack of heat  its been cool here ?) Next year I will plant everything earlier ( I put down seeds and seedlings for most of my garden in June ).

My "American Flag" Leeks peaked and were tasty but did not grow big - I planted to many too close and in a rocky region of the garden - some how weeds took advantage of my affection for the young leeks and - well it was a potpourri that I did not want - the Leeks ( and the weeds ) went bye bye:) 

The Onions thrived - but I planted them too close to the bottom of the "Detroit Red" Beet barrel - the mushrooms that flowered were spectacular but I did not eat them ( see Michael Pollan on eating mushrooms:)  Perhaps next year will plant the on loins in rows  higher up and protected by a plastic liner ( a  "vapor" liner works fine ).

In my haste to make room and provide the stronger arms with nutrients I cut the one Cantaloupe off ( ugh ) and only within  the last couple of weeks have seen tiny Cantaloupes growing ( they are currently the size of marshmallows:) EXERCISE PATIENCE! 

I plant tomatoes near mint and geraniums with great success  no bugs and my bounty is large HOWEVER I have noticed the Tomato plants are selfish with water and will pull from the plants around them ( remember the best tasting tomatoes are not water logged ). Next year I will plant the Peppers away from them ( I relocated "The Black Beauty" Peppers - they were starting to produce less near the Tomato ) are doing fine near the Pole Bean Barrel ( I think I have heard  the Pepper snigger at the Tomatoes now that they are getting enough water - the Tomatoes ignored them:) 

 

A bean aficionado  - I eat them sparingly ( a handful is more than enough protein for a health adult woman who is not lactating or ill  ) I have a fondness for Cranberry beans and planted them successfully with the String beans in the same barrel. 

 

  TIP:  Cranberry beans are nutty flavored gems which lose their signature stripes during  cooking save some of the beans ( remove them from the pod ) to plant for next years harvest:)    PAIR :  I combine  Blue Potatoes with Cranberry Beans to make a great spread - add lavender salt - delicious:)

TIP: Cranberry beans are nutty flavored gems which lose their signature stripes during  cooking save some of the beans ( remove them from the pod ) to plant for next years harvest:)   PAIR:  I combine  Blue Potatoes with Cranberry Beans to make a great spread - add lavender salt - delicious:)

The Fall Garden - are you ready to get down and dirty?:)

The Lemon Cucumber has three little cucs on the way the plant has been producing less after a great summer of gifting me with yellow lemon scented fruit but the leaves are looking tired and moldy - even thought the plant is in full sun - I think it wants' to call it quits this year. In the SF Bay Area we harvest vegetable gardens up until mid december ( in dryer years ) but I will be leaving the property so I can't take advantage of this - I am happy to have had such great cucumbers for my salads! 

HERBS

The herbs in your summer garden may need to be relocated in order to be productive in the fall. TIP: many herbs contain their own seed packets! Basil for example self seeds take the seeds from the flowers and plant around your garden! remember to top  flowering herbs so you get more leaves than flowers ( Coriander, Basil, Thyme Arugula are examples:)

Autumn is coming, the kids are going back to school ( or you will be starting classes soon ) you have new neighbors and you met your exercise goals now  you can look toward the fall and plan your meals - start here: 

1. Assess your time - how much can you allocate ( faithfully ) to an autumn garden? 

2. Will you start from seed or purchase seedlings? ( remember to save seeds from your favorite fruit and vegetables - remove the fruit from the seeds lay the seeds out to dry and store in a cool dry place.) 

3. The light will change. Remember was a sunny corner in your summer garden may be darker or have shorter periods of light  and hence "heat" for your autumn beds -plan accordingly.  

4. Plant what is going to be eaten. Plant for your kids yourself, your community -plant things that will be happily eaten example. A neighbor plants a row of pumpkins - of all kinds along the pavers in front of his home. Watch the Pumpkins grow is fun - this scene alone is reason to get out of bed and walk the dogs down this street - however the man does not eat them! he lets them rot and if no one takes them it becomes a rotting mess ( we have been working with him on this:)  Plan your garden plant what is going to be eaten - this simple step will save you time ( and money:) 

5. To Let alone or remove - that is the question? The wilting leaves from Iris, Lilies, Alliums etc may be unsightly but try to leave them alone. The bulbs and corms  are storing nutrients for the next season. If you must cut the wilting leaves of the Iris for example do so on an angle this seems to affect the plant less.

Final Thoughts

 Cover exposed Iris rhizomes ( which have multiplied since last season ) with soil and or straw until you are ready to divide, share and plant the rhizomes.

Cover exposed Iris rhizomes ( which have multiplied since last season ) with soil and or straw until you are ready to divide, share and plant the rhizomes.

Summer gardens are a joy aren't they? i have had so much fun tending my little vegetable / herb garden. There used to be fruit trees where the vegetable garden is - Fig, Blood Orange, Cortland Apple and an Apricot Tree - all donated to Mills College. Yes it has been a lot of work but the rewards I have reaped and shared have been worth it. I have grown and become a better gardener because of tending  the flowers, herbs, vegetables and other plants ( all of which I planted ) which call this parcel home.

If you are an experienced gardener, garden enthusiast and if you love eating fresh fruit and vegetables - look forward to planing your fall garden! Whether you have a small patio, or container  garden ( many plants are successfully grown in container gardens ) or if you've considered taking the jack hammer to your hard space and turning gray to green the possibilities are endless make the fall garden yours.  I assure you it can be a thrilling and as memorable as summer roller coaster ride - a fun learning experience you will learn from and enjoy during the highs and lows of the season! The summer garden is almost at and end and your fall garden is a tiny a light in your eyes make it a reality. This one green act for yourself, your community and the earth is so personally gratifying and it becomes so natural and is perennial as the return of your favorite sleeping bulbs, corms and rhizomes ( shown below )  which will awaken, grow, greet you -"hello"and multiply for years to come:)

 

Killing Me Softly: The Hidden Danger of Plastic

 Plastic deteriorates over time - with each drink from your water bottle you ingest chemicals from plastic too!

Plastic deteriorates over time - with each drink from your water bottle you ingest chemicals from plastic too!

Horror film aficionado? Do you have un explained allergies? Are you infertile? Have you gone from fat to obese ( with no logical explanation)? You may want to include the documentary "Plastic Planet" on your must see films before you die list:) . The premise of the documentary is to reveal the way plastic has taken over earth, invaded our bodies ( if you are pregnant - for three generations ) and ( make a note of this ) how top multinational companies ( for example:  Bayer / Mitsubishi / Dow/ GE ) which are responsible ( and don’t want to be held accountable ) for the packaging of food are cautious about labeling the plastic they package food in as potentially harmful ( to you and your pets ).

In the film, Werner Boote ( the grandson of a plastics magnate ) guides us on a global tour of 14 countries introducing viewers to the way plastic has been used in biology, chemistry, industry and technology. The plastic industry was cautious about speaking with him on camera and sent Ray Hammond author of the “World in 2030” to discuss how plastic will mature into cognitive, self healing,  sentient, transmitting – species ( OMG a species of plastics??  ( think “I Robot ).

 "Plastic for Dummies" - Now that's a good title what a good suggestion for the "Dummies" book series:) BTW if you read the "Dummies" book series your intelligent not stupid:) 

"Plastic for Dummies" - Now that's a good title what a good suggestion for the "Dummies" book series:) BTW if you read the "Dummies" book series your intelligent not stupid:) 

FAQ

The life of a plastic bottle is about 500 years ( that is  about six generations of your family )

When plastic is heated ( dishwasher / by the sun heating up the interior of your car ) for example it deteriorates and lets off chemicals that lead to our ( and other animal and mammalian species ) deterioration – how?

Low Sperm

Change in Estrogen Levels OR it can trigger hormone like signals ( via the umbilical cord for example )

Cancer triggers ( remember Cancer is the result of a series of triggers that send YOUR cells against you   - this is the VERY simple explanation of course but basically plastic insults if you will the mechanisms of our bodies in ways that are only now being revealed to lay people – just like YOU and ME.

Since 1998 just 10 out of 100,000 ( ? ) chemicals have been researched as harmful to us as a result of plastic.

 Technology and other industries have made the word more "visual" BUT  most people do not consider what plastic looks like when it is discarded - it looks and smells terrible!

Technology and other industries have made the word more "visual" BUT  most people do not consider what plastic looks like when it is discarded - it looks and smells terrible!

Think about  it – society and authoritative bodies ( such as governments ) have ( mostly ) won  the uphill battle for labeling our food – we so we know what is in packaged food. HOWEVER there is NO label on packaged food telling us what is in the packaging!

The emerging ( and well funded ) field of Bio Plastics, shows promise in that due to spread thin petroleum resources consumers may see more Bio Plastic food packaging on their supermarket shelves and with proper labeling be able to make informed choices which will aid in the prevention of allergies and illnesses for them their children and their pets.

Multinational Plastic Corporations  are loathe to share information with the general public  ( who has not asked  pertinent questions en masse ) about the potential dangers of every day plastics ( baby bottles, water bottles, packaged foods, clothing, and the bottles prescription medications are packed in.

 Efficiently Recycled Plastics include this designation: "Materials used to manufacture this product" which they do not! Recycle companies would be more efficient if this information was readily available it isn't.

Efficiently Recycled Plastics include this designation: "Materials used to manufacture this product" which they do not! Recycle companies would be more efficient if this information was readily available it isn't.

YES – PLASTIC HAS IMPROVED OUR LIVES  AND MADE THE FOOD INDUSTRY / WASTE MANAGEMENT / PACKAGING / DISTRIUBTION OF PRODUCTS/ SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND THE COSMETIC INDUSTRY more efficient/ productive/ safe/ and available to people on a global scale but these wonders of the modern world are not free – YOU pay for them with your life in many ways which are not over the long term beneificial ( if the planet no longer produces food or has fresh water and if people are sick what good is  make up or a plastic container ( both are petroleum products ).

 The ocean is adversely affected by plastic - you should care - WE need the ocean to live ( sea turtles / seals and dolphins )

The ocean is adversely affected by plastic - you should care - WE need the ocean to live ( sea turtles / seals and dolphins )

What can you do?

Reconsider frequenting any restaurant which displays plastic food – the Urban Veggie Girl considers this a clear indication that this type of establishment DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU OR THE PLANET – AVOID:)

Watch Plastic Planet  Have a Plastic Planet Friday night movie party  ( serve food in non plastic containers )

Learn More visit plastic-planet.at

 Almost all containers which contain liquid ( lotion , water, juice etc ) are made of plastic  - great to mass market bad for the environment! SO come up with a better solution - you will be WEALTHY:) and a  global hero!

Almost all containers which contain liquid ( lotion , water, juice etc ) are made of plastic  - great to mass market bad for the environment! SO come up with a better solution - you will be WEALTHY:) and a  global hero!

Reduce your plastic use – this has to be said because plastic is becoming cheaper, more readily available ( especially to low income  demographics ).

STOP drinking water out of plastic bottles and glasses.

WRITE to your congressional representative about the plastic company in your community. Hold the company responsible for labeling the products they produce – this simple action will have a huge impact on the lives of you, your kids, your garden and your pets ( the birds will thank you too )

Ask your primary physician to do blood work which includes revealing the amount of chemicals your body contains as a result  of plastic. The  film revealed that couples who had low fertility levels or who could not conceive at all had many times the level of chemicals related to plastic than couples with healthy children!!

 Plastic - Don't turn into a plastic version of yourself!

Plastic - Don't turn into a plastic version of yourself!

REPLACE  your plastic dog and cat  bowls with ceramic bowls –AND replace the plastic bird feeder ( which is deteriorating via weather conditions and emitting chemicals into the air ) with a wooden one – or just feed the birdies with a dish – they won’t mind.

Ask your allergist and or nutritionist about what changes you can make to avoid living with and digesting plastic – your quality of life may significantly improve.

 Yes there are plastics in make up try to avoid these - do your research - your eyes and your skin ( you live in ) will appreciate it:)

Yes there are plastics in make up try to avoid these - do your research - your eyes and your skin ( you live in ) will appreciate it:)

If you wear makeup check out the ingredients and ask the company what the packaging is made out of – the changes you make may improve your look and your health!

Remember over 700 studies have been published which prove plastic won’t kill you instantly but it can kill you over time – killing me softly is  not OK   stop paying the plastic industry to kill you over time – they don’t care about your quality of life I DO:)

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Aaahh, A Home Made Veggie Pizza Pie - That's, Amore!

 This mouth watering pizza can be made easily and affordably. 

This mouth watering pizza can be made easily and affordably. 

Did you know pizza according to "About Pizza", is America's favorite fast food. This is huge for three reasons. 

1. Pizza can be easily used as an educational tool - to teach kids about how to make good and healthy "fast food".

2. The amount of and kinds of pizza eaten is an indication of the trend in food design, supply and production ( Agri-business ).  

3. Pizza parlors have been a staple in neighborhoods across the US for over 50 years. Pizza parlors are community centers so to speak - information hubs where you can go to find out the latest community news and eat well! 

The history of pizza is food for thought, this alone will surprise you as its roots are not what you think

I am a pizza aficionado from way back. My Mom turned me on to pizza when my sister and I were very little - ( you may or may not know there is an ongoing friendly battle of the pizza's between NYC and Chicago ). No matter which you think is better you have to agree the possibilities for eating good pizza - the Pizza Movement if you will have increased dramatically over the past 15 years.

FAQ: 

1. More restaurants which offer pizza provide certified organic ingredients. 

2. The cultural significance  of pizza eating is global - more cultures serve their own take on pizza than ever before. One can have japanese / Australian / Spanish and Indian inspired pizzas - the choices are as vast as your imagination:). 

3. Non Profit Organizations such at Kids Eat provide a great recipe and how to for cooking pizza with kids - a fun and practical way to introduce them to food, where it comes from, how it is made and the possible choices for toppings. Althought July is the month for tomatoes in America, August offers a bounty of vegetables including the tomato to help make your pizza delicious, unique and memorable!

 This image from Thomas Farm Organic - Corralitos, CA

This image from Thomas Farm Organic - Corralitos, CA

This weekend I topped a store brought pizza ( OK I was time starved ) with tomatoes from Thomas Farm Organic - their "Devilishly Dry Farm" tomatoes are WONDERFUL THE BEST I HAVE EATEN IN ALONG TIME! The taste is so deep and deliberate you can eat each tomato whole - tear the skin  like you would dive into an apple and enjoy  - oh so good on pizza or alone. One taste of these tomatoes and your kids will want to make sauce, eat pizza, forever!

Some of the ( voted ) best eateries for pizza do cater to vegetarians - just ask if the pizza you would like to try on their menu can be made with vegetarian or vegan ingredients - its that simple:)   Serving home made vegetarian pizza with fresh local ingredients  - thats amore:)


 

 

Join Us We're Open: Farmers Markets - After Dark

 Farmers Markets are a mixed blessing to any urban neighborhood and not just for day trippers Farmers Markets: OPEN at Night:)

Farmers Markets are a mixed blessing to any urban neighborhood and not just for day trippers Farmers Markets: OPEN at Night:)

Did you know you can enjoy Farmers Markets after hours? A growing trend in urban ( and rural ) communities is offering the option to shop - fresh, local and organically grown in the evening and after dusk.  Learn about and meet local artisans additionally this is a fantastic opportunity for individuals, organizations and small business owners to gather in a social setting using smart  phone technology to tell friends and families what you have found. Traditional after dark venue - bars and restaurants move over  Farmers Markets After Dark is OPEN:)

 Oakland, CA on the Waterfront!

Oakland, CA on the Waterfront!

I took in Jacks Night Out - at Jack London Square in Oakland on Friday - one of the "first Friday events at this renown gathering waterfront  night spot. Local crafts people, artists, farmers and local entertainers helped make the night feel warm inviting and safe - it was like extended family joining me for food fun and libations:)  Here is a list of just some of the Farmers Markets which have "Nights Out" ( remember to check for updates on each website ) and BYOB  ( bring your own bags to carry your purchases in ).

 

 The Original Farmers Market - Los Angeles

The Original Farmers Market - Los Angeles

Some venues are kid friendly check websites for parking and for restroom access and public transportation logistics as nights - particularly weekends can get busy. Yes there are super markets in certain neighborhoods that make social shopping all the more fun ( the Safeway in Georgetown  - Washington DC comes to mind:)  The inspiration for and the addition of Farmers Market's open under the summer evening sky is well worth waiting for and participating in, especially if you work during the day and on weekends when most farmers markets take place. Farmers Markets at night are welcome spaces but be safe and aware of your possessions at all times:)  If you know of a market not listed please add it in the comment section - see you at the Market! NOTE some listings are until 6:00pm ( evening hours start 4:00pm onward :)

 Philly Farmers Market at Night!

Philly Farmers Market at Night!

Chicago

Cincinnati

Columbus

Dallas

Coconut Grove

Las Vegas

Los Angeles

Nashville

New Orleans

NYC - 125 Street

Oakland

Philadelphia

Young Farmer Nights - Urban Veggie Girls and the people who love them can  learn from these ( rural ) experiences about NexGen farmers: their plans, interests, and aspirations for bringing food to people who want fresh organic produce.