Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March!

Speaking of mild weather...

Who hasn't been enticed already by the displays of colorful seed packets and their promises of a rich harvest? The last week in February, my garden beds were warmed by the afternoon sun. It's so tempting. I was ready to start planting... but Debbie advises otherwise:
Since the ground isn't really very frozen, I asked Deb about transplanting peonies and hydrangeas. She discourages it until "mid March, as soon as the ground thaws. Plants do quite well when transplanted at this time. The best time to transplant Peonies is August. If that is not an option, they can be moved in spring, but may not bloom this year."
As far as planting early spring veggies, "Early to mid April is a safe time to plant the cool season veggies. We might be able to get away with planting in March this year, but I wouldn't advise it. Protection at night is a must. We can still get 20 degree nights into mid April. Sooner or later this weather pattern is going to change."
We've seen a lot more deer activity in our yard. I've heard that since Irene blew most of the acorns out of the trees in August, there's little food for them in the woods. This is the first year out of 7 here that they have mown down the myrtle groundcover. Time to get out the Plantskyd. If the deer are at your garden, call aheadat 647-0630 to pick up some Plantskyd. It is VERY effective against deer and even rodents. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.
~ Renee

Learn to Garden with Rhody Natives

header for outreach at rwpbc

You can attend a wonderful workshop series being offered by the University of Rhode Island's Outreach Center at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in Providence. Courses range from $15 to $30.

You can attend any one of the five workshops, but if you register for all five, you'll save 20%.

1. Gardening with Wildflowers;

2. Site Assessment for Informed Design & Native Plant System Design for Habitat Enhancement;

3. Adding Rhody Natives to your Garden;

4. Gardening for Birds: Incorporating Native Plants as Wildlife Habitat; and

5. Native, Beautiful, Medicinal.

Learn more at the webpage for these classes.

First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus -

~Lilja Rogers

Edible Landscaping: A Growing, Healthy Trend

Get the most nutrition by
transforming your landscaping
from simply tasteful
to really tasty.

Eat your Vitamins.
Picture your garden packed with vitamins.
Let me first stress, that it is important to take a multi-vitamin (and whatever other supplements your doctor has recommend for you). In addition to taking vitamin tablets, be sure to include fresh
veggies as part of your balanced diet. Your body processes vitamin pills differently than it processes vitamins from the foods you eat. Luckily, garden vegetables provide these essential vitamins and
minerals necessary for your good health. The USDA recommends eating vegetables in a fresh, unprocessed state (feel free to wash them) during their natural growing season. While blueberry pie has lots of blueberries in each slice, it cannot compare with a bowl of fresh (or even frozen) blueberries.

ACE Your Diet
The ACE Vitamins A (Beta Carotene), C (ascorbic acid), and E are essential to a healthy diet since they strengthen your immunie system and limit the damage done by free radicals. Free radical
damage that leads to aging and heart disease tends to affect people who have unhealthy diets and lead sedentary lives. Also known as Antioxidants (like think of Lycopene in tomatoes) ACE vitamins are beneficial compounds found in some foods. Since they work best together, eating a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods is recommended: including kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, blueberries, and alfalfa sprouts. Also on the list are Gala and Granny Smith apples, plums and cooked Russet potatoes.

Consider this a brief introduction to just a few of the vitamins found in some of your garden produce:
  • Vitamin A boosts your immune system, is key to night vision (think of Bugs Bunny) and promotes bone growth. Vitamin A is found in yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as carrots, cantaloupes and sweet potatoes.
  • Vitamin C helps with wound healing and disease prevention. Find Vitamin C in bell peppers, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
  • Vitamin E helps build strong cells and is found in spinach, avacados, nuts and seeds.
  • Vitamin K is great for faster healing and healthy bones. Luckily, it is found in most dark leafy greens.

Eat Your Veggies.
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends filling at least half of your plate with vegetables. The more veggies you grow, the more affordable that becomes. The sooner you eat/preserve/cook what you harvest the greater amount of nutrients you'll enjoy.
*ASPARAGUS was the focus of an article I wrote last month. TIP:  Standing the spears in a wide, vase-like container of water in the refrigerator helps extend their freshness. Start a bed this year and enjoy the harvest asparagus for many years. Cooking idea: Toss whole spears with crushed garlic and a touch of olive oil, then toss on the grill, or stir fry with sesame oil and a little spiced ginger, or olive
steam with garlic and a touch of salt.

Beet Greens: Vit A, Beta Carotene, Vit K, Potassium. Cooking idea: use in any collard green recipe,  steam as a side dish, or added to salad.

 BERRIES: Whether Red, Black, Blue or Strawberries, they are easy to grow, thrive with a little pruning and are high in Antioxidants.  Recipe idea:  Layer fresh berries between spoonfuls of your favorite yogurt and top with a little granola or chopped nuts. Sprinkle on cereal, salads, etc.

 Brocolli: Vitamin K. Broccoli is least likely to carry pesitcide residue, no need to buy organic.  Cooking idea: Replace the beans in the Green Bean Casserole with brocolli. Great raw in a salad, shred the stalks for brocolli slaw, add chopped to most pasta dishes, or sprinkle on pizza,

Brussel Sprouts: Vitamins C and K. Cooking idea: Roasting reduces bitterness. For Thanksgiving dinner, my hubby made an awesome recipe from Yankee Magazine with shallots and bacon.

Collard Greens are loaded with Vitamins K and A. Can usually be found at winter farmers' markets. Cooking idea: Collard Greens w/bacon; BBQ Chicken with Collard Greens, Red Bean and Collard Gumbo

Kale:  Both KALE and COLLARD Greens are available in perennial varieties that can tolerate our normal winters. Just don't overcook either of them.  Cooking idea: Chop into half inch strips and cook in boiling water for 10 to 15 mins. Drain and toss with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice and salt or even better, feta or goat cheese. Kale is a superfood. Unfortunately, kale is on the Dirty Dozen (link) foods with the highest pesticide residue. Grow your own or buy organic. Ask at the fall and winter Farmer's Markets for organic kale. Great recipes include: Potato and Kale Soup, Sauteed Kale (w/ garlic and red onions), and Chickpea, Kale and Tomato Salad.

*Rhubarb likes our climate, is low maintenance, and likes well-drained soil and partial shade. Full, large leaves with striking stalks looks a nice in your perennial garden. Cooking idea: Of course,
Strawberry-Rhubarb pie is great. Swap out apple sauce with rhubarb sauce, cook two cups of inch long stems (never the leaves) in a half cup of water until totally mush. Add sugar and cinnamon to

Scallions, also known as green onions are rich in Vitamin K . Growing up we called them "rare ripes" which refers to the fact that they ripen early. They are easy to grow. Cooking idea: Toss chopped on a salad or pasta dish, soup, sesame noods or mexican dish.

Spinach: Vitamins A and K and IRON. Bonus, it's one of the first spring crops. Cooking idea: Steamed with garlic and salt, Spinach Soup, Spinach Strata or Frittata, Spinach lasagne, Spinach
calzone, pie or pasta. BUY ORGANIC.

Turnip Greens: Vitamins A,  K, C, Folate and Calcium are in the greens which are more nutritious than the turnip. Cooking idea: Add baby leaves to a salad; Boil twice, fresh water each boil, for a side dish.  Similar to mustard and dandelion greens (less bitter when harvested before flowering in early spring or after a fall frost).

Grow Your Own
Growing your own is a great opportunity to burn additional calories, enjoy the warm sunshine and breath some fresh air.   It ensures that you'll get the some of the most delicious, healthiest, freshest, pesticide-free seasonal produce. Eating lots of vegetables that you have grown in your own garden seems more than twice as healthy as those bought at the market.
Short on Space?
Even a small vegetable garden can provide you with a nice variety of fresh vegetables. If you don't have even a small garden, each year more vegetables are available in dwarf or patio varieties which
are specifically chosen to grow in containers: tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and most herbs, just to name a few.

Although winter still has us in its grip and spring is still just a promise, now is the perfect time to plan a variety of ways to ensure healthy, homegrown produce by including perennial edibles in your landscape. Plan your garden now to supplement your family's diet with the freshest, vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits, herbs and even condiments.

~ Information gathered by Renee Brannigan

Maple Gingerbread Recipe

Have you tapped your trees? Maple Syrup has many health benefits over other sweeteners. It is a higher concentration of minerals (manganese and zinc) than honey, and fewer calories, too.
Maple Gingerbread Recipe
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1 cup fresh sour cream

Preheat oven to 325. Combine and sift dry ingredients. Mix maple syrup with beaten eggs and add sour cream. Combine the mixture and bake in greased 8" x 8" pan for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or favorite ice cream. Yield: About 8 to 10 servings.
As a gardener,
I'm among those who believe that

much of the evidence of God's existence

has been planted.

~Robert Brault