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Posts Tagged ‘herbal tea’

I’m a firm believer in eating as much organic food as possible.  I’m not referring to pre-packaged “organic” food, I mean the real deal.  The foods that contain large amounts of  pesticides and artificial fertilizers; our fresh fruits and veggies.  Unfortunately, the demand is not yet great enough for these organic foods to be cost-friendly, so I can’t always afford to buy them.  In this economy, who can?  This is why I have started my own organic garden. 

Organic gardening is not as easy as one might think, and it really makes me understand why we began using pesticides and artificial fertilizers in the first place.  It is tough to keep the pests away and the nutrients high, but it can be done.  Through trial and error I have found some organic solutions to common garden problems.

Pests:  I would be very careful here when buying “natural” or “safe” pesticides.  I was recently shopping for something to get rid of the pests eating my blackberries and came across a supposed “organic” pesticide.  After reading the label I wondered how a product that is “harmful to fish” and should be “kept away from heat and flame” could be considered organic.  I decided to forgo the commercial pesticide and do some research instead. 

Depending on the plant, there are a few ways to either eliminate pests or keep them away.  A few of the methods I have used are planting herbs around and within the garden.  Different herbs repel different plant pests, so it’s good to mix it up.  I have found that basil, lemon balm, spearmint, peppermint, catnip, thyme, rosemary and sage are all great natural pest repellents.  Spearmint specifically is a wonderful ant repeller.  It’s also nice to have a garden full of fresh, organic herbs!

Garlic and onions planted around the perimeter of the garden are also wonderful at keeping out bugs and larger animals such as deer and moles.  This is yet another natural solution that comes in handy in the kitchen!

Diatomaceous Earth is another natural pesticide.  This can be found at most of your hardware stores.  It is an abrasive powder created from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a hard-shelled form of algae.  The only downside to this as a pest repellent is it can kill off the good bugs too, so use wisely and be sure to buy the organic food-grade.

A few other common household items I have used in my garden are coffee, cinnamon, and eggshells.  Coffee is supposed to be good for keeping out ants, but I have yet to see if it really works.  Cinnamon is also a good pest repellent, and the egg shells I just hate to throw in the garbage so I crush them up and toss them in the garden for nutrition value.  I am sure they do something I haven’t discovered yet.

Fertilizers:  Again I would suggest being careful here as there are a lot of so-called “organic” fertilizers on the market, so be sure to read labels.   

The one fertilizer I swear by is fish emulsion.  Be sure to check the label and make sure it’s certified organic.  Basically, it’s fish poop, so it smells, but my plants sure do love it.  Another good one is worm castings.  Again, this is just a fancy term for worm poop, but it is yet another excellent food for any organic garden.  I like to just mix it in with the soil when planting, or if your garden is already established just sprinkle it around like you would any other fertilizer, the nutrients will work their way into the soil.  I read somewhere that worm castings are one of the best because they are loaded with micro-nutrients which are much more easily absorbed by the plants.

It’s also a great idea to mix in some organic composted manure with all of your plants, but especially your garden.  There is something to be said for animal poop, plants love it!

And of course, compost.  Compost is a wonderful way to keep a large portion of your trash out of landfills, and it makes a wonderful fertilizer.  I have yet to buy myself a nice composting bin for outside, but it’s on my list!  Be careful here and make sure anything you put in your compost heap is organic to start with!

There are many other kinds of organic fertilizers out there, but these are what I’ve found and like so far.

Mulch:   Anyone who has ever had a garden, or even outdoor plants of any kind, knows how important it is to mulch.  It keeps weeds down, moisture up, and saves water.

There are plenty of organic mulches, some of which can be found in your own yard.  One great one is leaves.  I recently discovered this, and it’s a great way to put all those pesky fall leaves to good use.  You can shred them or just use them whole, but they are a wonderful barrier and also provide acid for the soil.  I just lay them down in my garden after I’ve watered it well, leaving some room around the stems of each plant for water and air.  You can also lay newspaper or cardboard down first, but be sure not to use anything with colored ink, and it’s a good idea to call your local newspaper to make sure they use soy-based black ink.  I skip this step because our paper does not, and there are chemicals in the non-soy inks that I don’t want getting into my food.

Other great organic mulches are grass clippings, hay,  and pine straw. 

I also like to take the ashes from our outdoor fire pit (if you have an indoor fireplace those will work too, provided all you’ve burned is wood) and sprinkle them around my plants.  This is a great source of nitrogen, and a great way to recycle!

I think the key to a successful organic garden is good old-fashioned hard work mixed with a little know-how and diligence.  Pay attention to everything you put in your garden because it will end up in your food.  

Happy Gardening!

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I’ve  been reading all about artificial sweeteners and how terrible they are for you.  One article actually said that artificial sweeteners still cause a spike in your blood sugar, with a crash afterward, and can trigger our bodies to store fat!  And that’s mild in comparison to the laundry list of other side effects, one of which includes cancer!   Sheesh!  So, no more diet sodas and artificial sweeteners for me.  I have found some sweet substitutes for sugar, and yesterday tried one that I really love;  Agave Nectar.

Agave Nectar absorbs very slowly into the blood stream, causing a minimal increase in blood sugar.  It comes from the Agave plant, the same plant used to make tequila (my favorite)!   It has the same consistency as honey, and actually tastes similar with a flavor closer to actual sugar.   The only drawback to Agave nectar is there are 60 calories in a tablespoon, but on the flip side, you only need a small amount to achieve a very sweet taste.  I use it in my coffee and tea,  and could probably find many more uses later on.  I had thought I would need to go to a health food store to find it, but I was very pleased to find it at my local grocery store, and it’s 100% organic. 

The other sweetener I’ve been researching, and have yet to try, is Stevia.  This comes from the Stevia herb, and is supposed to be very sweet in very small amounts.  It is non-caloric so that makes it desirable for those who are watching their weight!  I am going to give this a try next and will let you know what I find.  Like anything, I have found some negative things about Stevia, but so far none that are any worse or even come close to the bad side effects of artificial sweeteners!

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  • 2 Cups Chopped Romaine Lettuce
  • 1.5 ozs. Cooked Chicken Breast – Cubed
  • 1 oz. Sliced Portobello Mushrooms
  • 1 Hard Boiled Egg – chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Sunflower Kernels
  • Sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. Lite Raspberry Walnut Dressing

Approx. 350 Calories and SOOO delicious!

This was my lunch today along with a big mug of fresh brewed Chamomile tea.  I already feel better.

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