5 Health Reasons To Garden

Summer is around the corner and I’m looking forward to having fresh and chemical free vegetables.  I’ve been gardening for several years and wanted to share the benefits of having a kitchen garden:


1. High In Antioxidants – Herbs help reduce heart attacks and are high in antioxidants according to Fitness Magazine.  Oregano, basil, rosemary and parsley are a few of the herbs that you will find in my kitchen garden.  I love using oregano and basil in my sauces, parsley on potatoes and rosemary on chicken and in stuffing dishes.  


2. Exercise – Having a kitchen garden provides an opportunity to get moderate exercise.  


3.  Boosts Vitamin D – Sunshine is the best way to boost Vitamin D intake.  Ten to 15 minutes a day should be sufficient.  (Be sure to wear sunscreen while gardening). 


4.  Reduces Stress – Gardening reduces the Cortisol level, which is produced when you’re feeling stressed.   


5.  Better Nutrition – Home grown vegetables, herbs and fruits provide better nutrition and are more flavorful and chemical free.     


Home grown vegetables and herbs have become an important staple in my home.  I look forward to picking fresh lettuce, tomatoes and herbs for my dishes and preserving them for use during the winter.  The flavor versus what is purchased in a grocery store is beyond comparison.  That alone is a great reason to have a kitchen garden.  I enjoy walking into my garden retrieving peppers and tomatoes straight from the vine when I’m cooking.  The fresh herbs provide a wonderful enhancement to sauces, stuffing and salads.  


Start planting and reap these health benefits as well as a new found flavor and perspective on fruits and vegetables.  Start with a few herbs and tomatoes which can be planted in containers, and than start planning for next year’s garden.  


You may also like:


Gardening With Children


Using Eggshells In The Garden


My 2014 Vegetable Garden                                                        














Winter Sowing Vegetable Seeds

gardening tips
I have the winter blues!  I decided to start my vegetable seeds over the week-end.  Planning my garden takes the blues away and gives me a head start with strong, healthy veggie plants.  Last year I used heating mats and grow lights.  I had a 90% germination rate, but it takes lots of time and space to nurture the seedlings.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

This year, I decided to try winter sowing.  I’ve been saving plastic liter, juice and milk bottles.  Anything that I can cut and punch holes in the bottom for drainage.  I started about 20 bottles over the week-end.  Tomatoes, dill, zucchini, squash, sunflowers and petunias.  Tomatoes, dill and petunias reseed and grow.  Research showed that the squash and zucchini will also do well.  l will continue winter sowing through-out February.  I’ll do a few tomatoes, cukes and green beans inside.  Just in case I don’t have a successful germination rate from the winter sowing; however, gardeners swear by this method.  I’m sold!

 

If you’re wondering how I create these miniature greenhouses, here it goes.  Wash your bottles in hot soapy water and rinse well.  I used a box cutter to cut around the bottles.  Leave an inch on the bottle for a hinge.  Add drainage holes in the bottom of your bottle.  To accomplish this, I use a glue gun on the milk bottles.  However, I was unsuccessful using the glue gun on the liter and juice bottles.  The gun wouldn’t penetrate.  I used the box cutter to make slits on the bottom.  If you have another method of punching holes, bring out your equipment and punch holes in the bottom of your bottles.

First, mix your seed starting mix as directed on the package.  I use warm water when mixing the soil Mix it thoroughly.  You want it wet; however, not soggy.  Next, add 2 – 3 inches of the mix to the bottom of each of the bottles or container.  I use Miracle Gro Seed Starting Mix, which I purchase from Tractor Supply.  It’s a little expensive, but I have a great germination rate each year with the mix.

Second, place your seed on top of the soil and cover lightly.  Wrap the bottle with duct tape.  I purchased my duct tape from the dollar store.  Mark the bottles with a permanent marker, which I also purchased from the dollar store.

You can discard the bottle tops.  I moved the bottles and containers to the deck to ensure they get rain. Let them go until spring.  At that time you should have sprouts that will need water.  As they grow, you will have to remove the top of the bottles.  These little babies will already be hardened off, which is a step you will have to take if you start seedlings indoors.

Stay tuned for additional posts on winter sowing.  Finally, if you are a gardener and use the winter sowing method, please share your experience.  You may also like My Winter Sow Seed List.

Grow Your Own Veggies

I decided to plant a vegetable garden this year.  I have fond memories of my grandparent’s garden when I was growing up, and I remembered the taste of a tomato straight from the garden.  There’s nothing like it.  I want Xavier to experience his summer’s in Mama’s garden and enjoying the taste of fresh veggies and fruit.  He loves apples, pineapples, and strawberries.  I’ll be planting an apple tree next year and a strawberry patch in the fall so we can have fresh strawberries next spring and summer. 

This year I planted tons of tomatoes for canning and salsa, green beans, peppers, eggplant, squash and zucchini.  He’s not fond of veggies yet, but I’m adding a little to my sauces so I can sneak some in.  I’m also looking for recipes that I think he may like without there being a hint of veggies.  So far Zucchini Bread without the walnuts, don’t trust him eating those yet, is at the top of the list.  He loves spaghetti, so I’m finely chopping and I do mean finely chopping peppers and onions to add, lol.  He saw a carrot in some sauce once, and it ended his entire meal. 

Planting your own garden is also a great way to save on the grocery bill, and there’s no pesticides used.   It’s also a great family activity.  Xavier is picking hot banana peppers for Mama’s hot pepper ring mix.   He loves a hot banana pepper, cauliflower and jalapeno mix that I purchase from the store.  I’m going to can a few quarts for his enjoyment. 



After picking the peppers, Xavier watered the garden for Mama.  He now understands the importance of sunshine and water to a garden.  I didn’t leave out weeding either, lol.  We’re going to put a little patch for him next year to include strawberries, raspberries and colorful carrots.  Check out his gardening boots.  He loved them so much, he took them home with him to wear when he waters his mother’s flowers.  Aren’t they adorable, I’ll be doing review on the boots in another post.

Because I acquired poor eating habits growing up, I want to teach my grandson the importance of eating fresh veggies and fruit.  What better way than to walk into your back yard and pluck them off the vine.  I must saw that Michelle Obama’s Get Moving program and White House garden inspired me to plant mine.  What an excellent idea to get children involved in an outside activity, and one that is so important to their health.  We need to get them off the computer and sofa and back outside to get some physical activity and fresh air.  I’m grateful that Xavier would rather be outside than in the house.  He runs an entire acre catching fire flies, making mud pies and cakes, swinging from trees.    Do you have a garden?  What outside activities are your children involved in?  Leave us a comment, we may want to try it.