Mustard greens are next on the list for my growing greens mini series . As a wonderful winter crop, they thrive in cool temps and are cold hardy, meaning they will survive a light frost. I planted these in November as baby plants and they shot right on up in less than four weeks. I’ve harvested three rounds from the greens so far and it is continuing to grow, making bi-weekly and weekly harvests possible,depending on the number of servings I’m cooking. While I planted my mustards in a raised bed, they can easily be planted in a container outside. If you’re thinking, “i’m not going out to buy a container,” you can always use household items like an empty storage bin, large food containers, etc. that you can poke holes into with a screwdriver or pair of scissors.
As we are in winter, pick up a few transplants from your local nursery. You can usually get groups of 6 for a couple of bucks. It is worth the investment to let sunshine and nature grow a plant that keeps on giving all season long. The greens should keep producing into the spring.
To get started:
- Identify a sunny spot in your backyard (or front yard bed) to plant your greens.
- Dig holes to fit two transplants each if smaller or plan them individually 6-8 inches apart.
- Cover with dirt and then add mulch to help the plant retain its moisture
- If using a container, prep it by poking holes in the bottom for drainage
- Fill it 2/3 of the way with a mixture of compost and soil. Add plants and the cover with dirt, then mulch.
You can harvest the leaves by clipping them off with kitchen scissors; I waited about 6 weeks until the leaves were large and mature, but you can also clip them when they are young (2-3 weeks) and about 3-4 inches long for a little added spice to your salads.
Only cut what you plan to eat. The plant will continue to grow new leaves. Check out my stages of growth below. Happy growing!
If it starts to warm and you start noticing holes in your greens, you can spray them with organic pest sprays. You can cut, chop, bag and freeze them. I’d recommend labeling the bag with its content and the date so that you stay on top of its freshness. They should be consumed within 12 months.
Happy 2019; I hope your year is off to a great start! I said I would do a couple of post on gardening in the New Year and thought it best to start off with one. Growing your own food doesn’t have to be scary and is certainly rewarding. I actually began growing by attending a fundraiser and participating in a ticket pull. While my goal was to win a bottle of wine, I instead won a few herb plants and my first tomato plant. After my first tomato came in, I was hooked and have been growing since then.
I’d like to start with lettuce since this is perfect weather to grow them in Louisiana and similar climates with temperatures at a low of 40 and high of 75 degrees. It’s important to note, soil PH is different in different areas and can even be different in your backyard. So finding the right spot to grow your crops is part of the discovery. You can always add compost and plant food with dirt when planting to create more PH balance. I learned through trial and error that I do best growing in planters for crops like lettuce rather than in ground. Lettuce needs good drainage, sun with shade for part of the day and regular water. Once I found the right spot, the greens mostly took care of themselves.
I brought a rectangular planter and drilled holes in the bottom to support drainage. With a mix of potting mix, organic compost and organic chicken manure, I had a great growing environment. The fun came in adding rows of different seeds for a pretty interesting salad mix. I included red and green lettuce, arugula and mesclun seeds in the bed for my salad. With rain every few days, I have not had to water the planters. It’s important to make sure the box remains moist. Once they start to sprout, it takes three to four weeks to grow into tasty salad greens. *Note: Growing herbs like parsley and cilantro is not only easy, but make great salad additions.
Considering squirrels are frequent backyard visitors, I covered my greens with mesh netting to prevent nibbles. I have not had any problems with nibbles nor other pest impacting the greens; however if you do, there are organic sprays that can be used such as Garden Safe, which I did need for tomatoes this past summer.
I’d recommend only cutting what you need for a meal to get the most fresh and best tasting greens. Rinse them well! I clipped them down to the base stem and added them to a sink of water to get off any extra dirt. Check out images of the stages of growth below.
Just starting to sprout (they do not all come out at the same time):
Gaining traction (about 2 weeks later):
Be patient. It’s worth it! (2-3 weeks later)
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s easy to skip if it’s not part of your routine; if you are trying to maintain or lose weight, make it part of your routine. Of course the quality of the meal is important. Breakfast jumpstarts the metabolism and sets the stage for your energy stores for the day. I’m a big fan of big breakfast often including a fruit or vegetable with protein and a whole grain. If you are not a morning person, plan ahead to make sure you make a great start to your day.
Below are a few ideas to keep in your back pocket:
- Multi-grain bread
- Protein of choice (bacon, smoked salmon, egg or multiples)
- Frozen berries
- Spices like cinnamon or sweeteners like honey
Morning Muffins (can bake a dozen!)
- Yellow or green onion
- Protein of choice (bacon, sausage, ground beef, seafood
- Egg McMuffin at home with protein of choice
- Nut Butter and Banana
- Nut butter and jelly
Prepping ahead goes a long way toward helping you stay on budget and curbing the need for take out under the notion of “I don’t have any thing easy to cook at home.” It’s helpful to always keep a couple of quick cook options stocked in the freezer whether leftovers from a large batch of beans or meat sauce, or pre chopped veggies and seasoning that can be added to your protein of choice. Seasonal vegetables like squash, zucchini and potato can last for several months in the freezer and make an easy breakfast, lunch or dinner meal in a pinch. I’ve added sausage and have also smothered it with onion and garlic to go with chicken. It can also be seasoned a variety of ways to keep things interesting.
A quart size bag makes 2 to 3 servings and a gallon would make roughly 6-8 servings. It’s best to chop and freeze it in your preferred quantity. You can always add bell pepper and/or onion (green, white or yellow) to your mix for added flavor. Personally I prefer a higher ratio of the squash and zucchini to the potato for a higher fiber, lower card ratio.
After thoroughly rinsing the veggies, I chopped roughly a cup to 1 1/4 of squash and zucchini and a 1/2 cup of potato. when adding the onion and bell pepper, add only a cup of the first two veggies to make sure the quart size bag has space.
As some of you may have seen last week, I am attempting to add a videos to support these post. That will be a work in progress :). Please share your thoughts and happy prepping!
Water is essential to the health of your body. Just like gas in a car, we cannot function without it. But who says water has to be boring? While I love the stuff as is, sometimes water with a boost of flavor makes it easier to drink. I love to play around with different infusion combinations. It’s an easy way to boost your consumption of nutritious herbs, fruits and veggies and support the health of your body through something you have to have. The best part is you can create any combination that works for you.
This mix that I made is really to support good digestion. Now while juniper berries are not your average stocked item, spice companies like Red Stick Spice carries it for about two bucks a bag. With stores like Red Stick, I love that you can buy just how much you need to try out something new, rather than investing in large quantities of something you will use sparingly. Since I made my own blend, I purchased reusable muslin tea bags to make removing the ingredients from the water easy. You can also always strain it with a mesh strainer. If you do, I would steep one kettle of water and let it steep for 30 mins to and hour, strain it into a bowl then add the water back into the pitcher and fill the rest of the pitcher with room temp water. This will last all week in the fridge. Check out the recipe below and enjoy!
1/8 cup dried juniper berries
2 1 inch pieces of ginger
1 tbsp. Tarragon (dried or fresh)
1 lemon sliced
1 orange sliced
2/8 cup of orange mint or basil
- Bring a kettle or pot of water to boil.
- Rinse and slice citrus. Add to a large pitcher.
- Rinse and peel ginger. Add ginger and other ingredients to a muslin tea bag. Add to pitcher.
- Add water, top and steep for 30 mins to an 1 hour.
- Remove citrus and satchel. Refrigerate and enjoy.
Are you protected this Spring? With flowers and weeds in bloom and the green and yellow pollen coating everything outdoors, it’s important to give your body the boost it needs to fight allergy symptoms such running nose, itchy throat, watery eyes, etc. that can easily turn into weeks of suffering. Since staying indoors the entire season is not possible, there are 5 key things I keep on hand to give my system a fighting chance is addition to over-the-counter Rx help. I can’t say enough how effective prevention is with immune boosters. I make enough for 3 to 4 days at a time with numbers 2 through 4, ginger and oil of oregano. When allergies do hit, brewing tea is also another great option to give you relief.
1. Garlic. Whether pickled or fresh, garlic is the number one must have during allergy season. Pickled garlic cloves are easy to find in the store or restaurants like Crackle Barrel and are easier on the system than the raw cloves. Raw garlic minced is ideal when you are showing symptoms. If you just can’t swallow a teaspoon minced, try garlic tea with fresh or ground ginger, orange or lemon and a pinch of cayenne to relieve symptoms.
2. Citrus (orange and lemon). Vitamin C which is found in high quantities in citrus, is a key boost to support immune health and helping to relieve allergy symptoms by lowering histamine levels in the blood. Breathe easier.
3. Local honey. Sweeten the deal with the right honey. Locally sourced honey is critical during allergy season because it helps your immune system build a tolerance to the local pollen around you. During pollination, bees hop from plant to plant and some pollen naturally transfers to the honey they produce. Most produce stands and farmer markets offer local selections.
4. Cayenne. Capsaicin, a key component of cayenne pepper, is helpful for more than just Louisiana cooking. It helps to clear the sinuses and relieve allergy symptoms by making the mucous membranes in your nose less sensitive to airborne particles. Let’s face it, constant sneezing is no fun.
5. Lemongrass essential oil. Essential oils like lemongrass can be diffused in your room or home. With its anti fungal, antimicrobial and immune boosting properties, it is a highly effective at removing allergens and helping your body heal from them. It is also great to use topically with a location or base oil to ward off bugs and mosquitoes. It’s important to choose a quality essential oil, so certainly research the difference between those used for diffusing, topically and those that can be ingested.
What are your top 5 must haves?