Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Over wintering protection for Chicago hardy & Brown turkey fig trees (VIDEO)

I am in zone 6, on the north eastern side of the United States, so there needs to be some light protection of the fig trees. You can look back on the video where I show you how I protected the fig trees last year here.

I have mentioned before that some people bury their fig trees before a fall frost, and dig them up in the spring. But I do not bury the fig trees here, and so in the video below, I show you my process for protecting/over wintering the Chicago hardy fig trees and the Brown turkey fig tree.

Protest Thanksgiving (quotes)

photo source
"Imagine that Germany won World War II and that a Nazi regime endured for some decades, eventually giving way to a more liberal state with a softer version of German-supremacist ideology. Imagine that a century later, Germans celebrated a holiday offering a whitewashed version of German/Jewish history that ignored that holocaust and the deep antisemitism of the culture. Imagine that the holiday provided a welcomed time for families and friends to gather and enjoy food and conversation. Imagine that businesses, schools and government offices closed on this day."

 "The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own depravity and savagery in their most helpless victims."

"I have a difficult time experiencing gratitude on a holiday that celebrates and worships the dual genocide of a race of people and a species of animal." Gary Smith

To this day, I can hardly bear to think of that quintessentially American holiday —Thanksgiving. When I do, however, I do not dwell on Pilgrims with wide black hats sitting to sup with red men, their long hair adorned with eagle feathers. I think not of turkeys or of cranberries, foods now traditional for the day of feast...I think of the people we have habitually called ‘Indians,’ the Indigenous people of the Americas; those millions who are no more. I think of those precious few who remain, and wonder, what do they think of this day; this national myth of sweet brotherhood that masks what can only be called genocide. Mumia Abu Jamal

"Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn't have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. Without a prison, there can be no delinquents. We had no locks no keys and therefore among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn't afford a horse, a tent or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property. We didn't know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were no able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don't know how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society" -John Fire Lame Deer

"The language and the rhetoric surrounding the holiday erase the true history of settler-colonialism".
"“R*dsk*ns,” and “Thanksgiving” may seem inconsequential to some, the historical context that gave rise to these terms and celebrations contribute to real life consequences that still impact native people in this country."
"Natives have the shortest lifespan of any group living in the United States, and this rate is even lower for those living on reservations. Historical or intergenerational trauma is literally embedded in native DNA, and many of our parents and grandparents were stolen from their families and forced into boarding schools that had the expressed mission to “civilize the savage” and “kill the Indian but save the man. Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Most used words on facebook

Facebook says my most used words are "Seeds", "lettuce", "harvest", "garden", and "Squash".

How to ripen fuyu persimmons (VIDEO)

I forgot to mention in the video that, with other persimmon varieties including the Fuyu, you can freeze them overnight in your refrigerator (to imitate a hard frost), and this will ripen the persimmons. Then thaw the next day to eat.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Raw & vegan grocery budget tips

Fall seasonal fruits
1. Buy in season. Fruit is outrageously expensive in the winter time, except for those fruits that are harvested during this time. For example, persimmons, pears, apples, oranges, and citrus are harvested in the fall and winter months, so they will be more available and cheaper for the consumer. Buy berries, tropical fruit, and tomatoes during the summer, and buy root vegetables and greens throughout the spring and then fall/winter months, as this will be when these foods are harvested. Of course you can buy berries frozen during the winter, and you'll know they were picked in season.

2. Buy from the reduced price wrack. Grocery stores strategically place reduced price wracks towards the end of the produce section. They usually wrap the produce in red mesh bags and reduce the price because they are older. But usually if they're older fruits and vegetables, that means they are then perfectly ripe and ready to eat. Most fruit in the stores are not ripe let alone fit to eat, so always check the reduced price wrack. As you can see in the photo below, I purchased star fruits and an eggplant, squash, and potatoes on the reduced price wrack.

3. Buy fresh first, and next best is frozen. Always buy fresh produce seasonally, but if you see that frozen berries are on sale, you'll know they were at least picked and packaged frozen when they were at their ripest (when they were in season). Frozen fruits and veggies are healthier and cheaper alternatives to buying canned foods. I will say, though, I have never had luck ripening fresh peaches, and so I never buy them at the grocery store. I absolutely will not buy fresh peaches anymore because they'll stay hard for weeks and then turn brown to mold. I'll buy peaches canned or frozen, but there isn't anything better than a peach picked perfectly ripe off of the tree in your own backyard...
4. Buy sale items in bulk. When pears are on sale in the fall and winter, buy the pears in bulk. Ask the produce guy or girl if they will give you a box of pears. If persimmons are on sale, buy in bulk.  It's healthier to eat several pears or one fruit at a time anyway, because this is easy on the stomach to digest and assimilate nutrients. Also, it's better to buy more fruit than any other grocery item. When you have lots of fruit around you, you'll go to the fruit rather than the junk food snacks. If you find that the bulk fruit items you purchased are ripening too quickly, store in the refrigerator or freeze them in plastic bags/containers. I have more information on storing, ripening, and how to avoid fruits from ripening here: How to store, ripen, & keep from over ripening bananas (VIDEO)
5. Avoid expensive specialty and processed items. I have found that all of these special "vegan" or "raw" snacks to be expensive for the quantity of the product. Vegan burgers, patties, a bag of Daiya brand vegan cheez, and nutritional yeast all cost nearly $4 dollars each to make a meal. For me, the least expensive items are those that are fresh produce that is seasonal.
6. And most importantly, grow a fruit and nut tree, and garden. The best time to plant a fruit tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is NOW! This year I probably produced thousands of dollars worth of food that I grew and ate for free!
garden harvest 2014

If you live off of government assistance, chances are it isn't enough money to survive on, but there are other means such foraging seasonal fruit and nuts, and dumpster dive for produce. Big corporations compact waste, so absolutely perfectly ripe produce gets thrown out. It's awful that our society produces so much food that it could feed everyone, yet the people that run corporations are so greedy, they won't donate the food! It angers me to my core that because of capitalism we have so much, but most of it's disposable or thrown out, and no food is given to those in need. I posted a video of John Oliver talking about Food waste, see post here: John Oliver explains America's food waste problem.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Apple Butter from foraged apples

Apple butter is processed in different ways, but I used the traditional slow cook method. This method is supposed to take one full day of processing, but I ended up cooking the apples for two days. Also the recipe I used called for 4 cups of sugar, and I reduced that to 3 cups; but I think only 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sugar for 5 lbs of apples would suffice. In fact, my apple butter was too sweet with 3 cups.

First I peeled, and chopped the apples to add to the slow cooker. I cooked 5 lbs of apples (approx 10 apples) in a slower cooker with cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. Every couple of hours, I would stir the mixture. Once the mixture became close to the consistency desired, I thoroughly mixed it in the blender for 15 seconds, and added to sterilized jars. This batch made 4 cups of apple butter, which filled two 1 pint jars. 
Serve with homemade bread or as a dip for pears, apples, or other fruit. Also, you could add a little to smoothies. 

"There is only one way to defeat ISIS"

There Is Only One Way to Defeat ISIS by Charles P. Pierce

We must hold accountable our Middle Eastern "allies"—the states and bankers and political elites—who persist in funding mass murder.

"These are a few things that will not solve the terrible and tangled web of causation and violence in which the attacks of Friday night were spawned. A 242-ship Navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying the clip of an AK-47 into the windows of a crowded restaurant. The F-35 fighter plane will not stop a group of motivated murderous fanatics from detonating bombs at a soccer match. A missile-defense shield in Poland will not stop a platoon of motivated murderous fanatics from opening up in a jammed concert hall, or taking hostages, or taking themselves out with suicide belts when the police break down the doors. American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will not stop the events like what happened in Paris from happening again because American soldiers dying in the sands of Syria or Iraq will be dying there in combat against only the most obvious physical manifestation of a deeper complex of ancient causes and ancient effects made worse by the reach of the modern technology of bloodshed and murder. Nobody's death is ever sacrifice enough for that...
​"The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of war. They were a brilliantly coordinated act of pure terrorism, beyond rhyme but not beyond reason. They struck at the most cosmopolitan parts of the most cosmopolitan city in the world. They struck out at assorted sectors of western popular culture. They struck out at sports, at pop music, and at simple casual dining. They struck out at an ordinary Friday night's entertainment. The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated statement of political and social purpose, its intent clear and unmistakable. The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of fanatical ideological and theological Puritanism, brewed up in the dark precincts of another of mankind's monotheisms. They were not the first of these. (The closest parallel to what happened in Paris is what happened in Mumbai in 2008. In fact, Mumbai went on alert almost immediately after the news broke.) They, alas, are likely not going to be the last...
"The expression of bigotry and hatred will not solve the deep desperation in the human heart that leads people to kill their fellow human beings and then blow themselves up as a final act of murderous vengeance against those they perceive to be their enemies, seen and unseen, real and imagined. Tough talk in the context of what happened in Paris is as empty as a bell rung at the bottom of a well....Francois Hollande, the French president who was at the soccer game that was attacked, has promised that France will wage "pitiless war" against the forces that conceived and executed the attacks. Most wars are pitiless, but not all of them are fought with the combination of toughness and intelligence that this one will require. This was a lesson that the United States did not learn in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. There are things that nations can do in response that are not done out of xenophobic rage and a visceral demand for revenge. There are things that nations can do in response that do not involve scapegoating the powerless and detaining the innocent.  There is no real point in focusing a response on the people whose religion makes us nervous. States should retaliate against states...
"The main job of the elites there is to find enough foreign workers to ensla…er…indenture to do all the real work. The example of Qatar and the interesting business plan through which that country is building the facilities for the 2022 World Cup is instructive here. Roughly the same labor-management relationship exists for the people who clean the hotel rooms and who serve the drinks. In Qatar, for people who come from elsewhere to work, passports have been known to disappear into thin air. These are the societies that profit from terrible and tangled web of causation and violence that played out on the streets of Paris. These are the people who buy their safety with the blood of innocents far away...
"It's not like this is any kind of secret. In 2010, thanks to WikiLeaks, we learned that the State Department, under the direction of then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, knew full well where the money for foreign terrorism came from. It came from countries and not from a faith. It came from sovereign states and not from an organized religion. It came from politicians and dictators, not from clerics, at least not directly. It was paid to maintain a political and social order, not to promulgate a religious revival or to launch a religious war. Religion was the fuel, the ammonium nitrate and the diesel fuel.Authoritarian oligarchy built the bomb. As long as people are dying in Paris, nobody important is dying in Doha or Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton. "More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups," says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide," she said. Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The cables highlight an often ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them. The problem is particularly acute in Saudi Arabia, where militants soliciting funds slip into the country disguised as holy pilgrims, set up front companies to launder funds and receive money from government-sanctioned charities.
It's time for this to stop. It's time to be pitiless against the bankers and against the people who invest in murder to assure their own survival in power. Assets from these states should be frozen, all over the west. Money trails should be followed, wherever they lead. People should go to jail, in every country in the world. It should be done state-to-state. Stop funding the murder of our citizens and you can have your money back. Maybe. If we're satisfied that you'll stop doing it. And, it goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway – not another bullet will be sold to you, let alone advanced warplanes, until this act gets cleaned up to our satisfaction. If that endangers your political position back home, that's your problem, not ours. You are no longer trusted allies. Complain, and your diplomats will be going home. Complain more loudly, and your diplomats will be investigated and, if necessary, detained. Retaliate, and you do not want to know what will happen, but it will done with cold, reasoned and, yes, pitiless calculation. It will not be a blind punch. You will not see it coming. It will not be an attack on your faith. It will be an attack on how you conduct your business as sovereign states in a world full of sovereign states.
And the still, stately progress of the news from Paris continues. There are arrests today in Brussels, of alleged co-conspirators. The body count has stabilized. New information comes at its own pace, as if out of respect for the dead. In the stillness of the news itself, there is refuge and reason and a kind of wounded, ragged peace, as whatever rolled up from the depths of the sickness of the human heart rolls back again, like the tide and, like the tide, one day will return."

Saturday, November 14, 2015


In case you have not been keeping up with all of the harvest photos, here is a collection of the garden harvest pictures in one video. Some pictures I did not add to the video such as this picture below and the blueberry harvest photos, and pictures of some of the lettuce harvest. Watch video below for an idea of what we grew throughout Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Herbs & flower raised bed + November Hugelkultur garden clean up (VIDEO)

In the video below I show you what remains of the Hugelkultur garden and some maintenance I have done around the gardens and flower beds. Today I rotated the soil in the flower/herb beds to add flower seeds. I added seeds of Zinnia, Coneflower, Hibiscus, Tulip, Holly Hocks around the herbs. 
Because I uprooted the Canna flowers and pruned back the pineapple sage, I wanted to show you pictures of them. The Canna flowers are quite magnificent because of their tropical nature with big fan leaves. In my climate (zone 6-7), we have to dig up the Canna bulbs before winter. You have to store them indoors over winter, and plant them again in the summer. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

How to save seeds from common garden vegetables

One of the ways I dry lettuce, broccoli, radicchio is by covering and tying off with newspaper. Pull the plant out of the ground, cut off the root ball, then save the top of the plant with the dangling seedpods by wrapping the plant with newspaper, and tie with a string the top of the stem. Hang on a wall in the house or where ever is convenient to hang drying plants. This is usually a temporary method of drying, as this could encourage mold. The proper method of storing or drying seeds is by taking the shells away from the seed, dry for a week, then storing in an envelope, plastic bag, or glass jar. Keep seeds in a cool, dry place; and of course you can store seeds in the refrigerator or freezer. 

Typically it is best to let all seedpods dry naturally on the decaying plant. Once the plant dies and becomes brown and brittle, the seeds should have dried well enough that you can store the seeds indoors. There are several methods of drying different plants, and I'll show you different ways I dry each plant and their seeds.

In the picture below, I have covered Radish plants, Lettuce, Spinach, and Radicchio in newspaper and tied with a string.

We prefer to allow the beans dry naturally on the plant, but you can harvest bean pods green and allow them to dry by stringing pods together (which we have done in the photo below). It is best to dry beans and other seed pods on wracks that will ensure aeration and prevent molding.

Here I am drying onions and beans on newspaper, and corn drying in a box.

Normally I dry cantaloupe, watermelon, and squash seeds by scooping them out of the fruit, rinsing them in water, then laying them out on a paper towel, wash cloth, or newspaper. After a week or two of rotating the seeds, they should be ready to store. Pepper seeds can be dried as you would squash or melon; but pepper seeds will dry faster than other fruits.

Because a coating on the outside of tomato seeds prevents the tomato from sprouting on the inside of the seeds, saving seeds from tomatoes requires (as well as cucumbers) a fermentation process. Fermentation is one way of breaking down the coating. 
Use your biggest, ripest (mature), and best looking tomato to save seed from. Start by scraping out the seeds into a glass jar, and avoid big chunks of tomato. Fill the jar with 1 and a half times as much water as you do tomato seed and juice. Then cover the jar with a coffee filter or fabric that will allow the jar to breathe; then secure with a rubber band or hair tie. Keep the jar in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Everyday, shake the jar of seeds and juice. A scum will develop on top of the juice, and of course that is normal. After four days or so, strain the juice from the seeds in a sieve. Clean the seeds with water. Spread the tomato seeds on a paper plate or paper towel for several days until completely dry. Store in an envelope. 
Cucumbers also require a fermentation process, but you do not have to ferment the seeds in a jar of water like the tomatoes. I have done that before, but I have also seen gardeners dry the cucumber seed as you would a squash seed.
Save the seeds from an overripe, yellow cucumber that has been left on the plant until it has doubled its picking size. This will allow the seeds to mature and triple their normal picking size. 
In the picture here, there is one large cucumber on the left that is turning white and yellow--this means that the cucumber is mature enough to save seed from.
First, scrape out seeds into a sieve. Wash the seeds in the sieve over running water. Clean completely and dry on a paper towel or paper late for up to seven days. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

40 Autumn plants as garden decor for zones 4-9 (Mums, Ornamental kale, Sage)

Chrysanthemums and aster are the most common flowering plants I see n the fall garden. But don't feel limited to growing mums, because there is a plethora of edible and ornamental plants that will grow throughout autumn and serve as garden decoration as well.
Here is a list of those edible and ornamental plants, as well as container ideas for growing decoration.

1. Hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtus, USDA hardiness zones 4-8.
2. "Chilly chill" ornamental pepper, Capsicum annuum. There are also edible hot pepper plants that will grow/survive a frost.
3. Golden Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummulari 'Aurea', zones 4-8.
4. "Sweet Tea", Heucherella, zones 4-9.
5. "Winter Glow", Bergenia cordifolia, zones 3-9.
6. "First light" swamp sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius, zones 5-9.
7. Pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, zones 6-10.
8. Arkansas bluestar, Amsonia hubrichtii, zones 6-8.
9. "Bright lights" Swiss chard, Beta vulgaris, annual.
10. Delta Orange pansy, Viola x wittrockiana, annual.

Green bean connection
11. Arugula
12. Tat soi
13. Sorrel
14. Red oak lettuce
15. Romaine lettuce
16. Lollo lettuce
17. Spotted Trout lettuce
18. Gigante Inverno spinach
19. Mizuna
20. Rouge d’Hiver lettuce
21. "Blue ice" cypress, Cupressus arizonica var. glabra, zones 6-9.
22. "Peacock red" ornamental kale, Brassica oleracea, annual.
23. Ornamental Cabbage, Brassica aleracea, annual.
24. "Berggarten" sage, Salvia officinalis, zones 5-8.
25. "Matrix purple" pansy, Viola x wittrockiana, annual.
26.  "Morning light" miscanthus, Miscanthus sinesis, zones 5-9.
photo source
27. "Autumn joy", Sedum, zones 3-11.
28. "Ogon" sweet flag, Acorus gramineus, zones 5-9.
29. "Redbor" ornamental kale, Brassica olercea, annual.
30. "Salsa orange" ornamental pepper, annual.
31. "Solar eclipse", Heucherlla, zones 4-9.
32. "Color guard" yucca, Yucca filamentosa, zones 4-10.
33. Autumn fern, Dryopteris erythrosora, zones 5-9.
34. "Dimity"dwarf fleeceflower, Persicaria affinis, zones 5-8.
35. Bottle gentian, Gentiana andrewsii, zones 3-7.
36. White-topped pitcher plant, Sarracenia leucophylla, zones 6-9.
37. "Prinz Heinrich" Japanese anemone, Anemone hupenhensis var. japonica, zones 5-8.
38. "Ruby slippers" oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, zones 5-8.
39. White Autumn Crocus, Colchium speciosum, zones 4-9.
40. Burgundy Bunny dwarf fountain grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides, zone 5-9.

There are many more hardy plants that will grow throughout the fall and winter months. Your local nursery, farm store, and even walmart and lowes will have plants available that will grow outdoors during these cool months.