worms, composting, organic gardening, and nature

Archive for July, 2014

The Lost Generation


 I call my generation “the lost generation” in regards to food. Many of us had grandparents that gardened or farmed, but their parents had stopped the cycle and relied on supermarkets as the only food source. The advertising behind frozen and prepackaged meals made cooking and canning obsolete in a generation. People literally forgot where food came from and that they had the ability to grow it themselves. The fruit and veggies they ate had traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to get there, and then had sat on shelves long before being purchased. The nutrient and taste components of produce were displaced with varieties that could withstand long shelf lives. Taste lost its impact on consumer demand and food no longer tasted like food, but had cookie cutter perfect looks. Thousands of lbs of perfectly good produce were wasted, because consumers demanded perfect looking and conforming produce. Large percentages of my generation opted out of almost all vegetables because “they taste bad”.  


From Seed to Salad

From Seed to Salad

garden goodies 001

This also meant they would not “force” their kids to eat vegetables, because if they don’t like them, how can they make their kids eat them? No wonder we have an obesity epidemic! Processed “food stuff” has replaced natural food to become the norm for my generation and each generation behind mine.

My degree is in health, and I have witnessed the correlation between food selection and wellness first hand. When I had my kids, I knew this is not the legacy I wanted for them. I firmly believe you GROW vegetable and fruit lovers. Provide safe, nutrient dense and tasty produce straight from your garden, and you will grow a healthy eater and well adult. Even better, you will teach them how to grow their own food, prepare their own food, and spend lots of memory making hours with them.



If 1 in 6 US Children have a Developmental Disability, What we Need is…

…More Exposure to Neurotoxins?

Today, a group of concerned citizens, farm owners, bee keepers, agtivitists and mothers spoke to the Commissioners Court of Dallas County about their plans to spray during daytime hours, by truck and by plane, with neurotoxic mosquito spray. My message was simple–we have a True Epidemic going on in our country right now with 1 in 6 children reported to have neurological developmental disabilities possibly linked to pesticides–Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Processing Disorders, etc. We also have an epidemic of adult neurological conditions like Alzheimers and Parkinsons. I asked the Court to consider the mounting scientific evidence relating these issues with our overload of environmental pollutants and to please consider the 1 in 6 number vs. the 1 Texas case of Chickungunya (in Austin–a traveler from the Caribbean) and the zero reported cases of West Nile this year in Dallas County. In my mind, and if I remember from my statistics class, that isn’t an epidemic.

Politics 1 Citizen 0…they of course went forward to start the contract with the company who can spray us all at the court’s request. No consideration for the long term health of citizens, with the ineffectiveness of the spray, the relative ease and effectiveness of organic larvacide, the loss of income from the local organic food supply, or (not least) the loss of beneficial insects and mosquito predators and our pollinators. I have compassion for those affected by infectious disease, but I can protect myself and my family from that. Not so with long term drift and spray of toxic chemicals.

I commend the commissioner’s for their compassion of the refugee children coming into Dallas County–the other issue of the day.  How about a little love for the families afflicted with a Developmental Disability in their house?  Developmental Disabilities in children impacts that child for life.  Parents feel guilt, stress, worry and isolation.  Instead of going to Tball or Ballet classes, these families spend hours at occupational or behavioral therapy clinics.  Marriages and family budgets are strained.  Siblings wonder why their brother or sister acts out against them and why they can’t belong in a “normal” (neurotypical) family.  It strains our schools also.  In one of my daughter’s 1st grade classes, at least 1/3 of the children had at least one Developmental Disability.  Imagine that learning environment!  In areas of higher income, parents opt out of public school to send their failing children to private schools to meet their needs (at $15-$25 K a year tuition).  In our less advantaged areas, whole public schools suffer trying to accommodate the least amongst us.  These children are at higher risk of bullying, depression, anxiety and suicide.  Someday, they will need to be employed.  How is that going to work out?  Ask any employer of young people, and I bet they have already had some experience with these issues. 

Shaking my head–there are smarter, safer, more cost effective and way less destructive ways to prevent the issue of mosquito borne illness.  Have they exhausted education and code enforcement?  Since a Dallas city councilwoman had a nasty pool filled with stagnant water with mosquito larvae, I don’t think so.  What do I know?  I’m just a Mom.


Organic Gardening in July

If you like the info in this post, much more info will be included in our 365 Days a Year of North Texas Edible Gardening class next month.  Click the link to sign up for the class.

This is the month to claim victory as you savor ripe tomatoes and drop multitudes of squash on your neighbor’s porch at midnight—because they have asked you to kindly stop giving it to them! If you are a Texas gardener, you can take the heat. Be sure to take care of your plants so they can too.

What to plant this month: Collards, cucumbers, luffa, okra, pepper transplants, pumpkins, Southern peas, shallots, tomato transplants, watermelon, winter squash. Plant tomato and pepper transplants early in the month for best results. For seeds, provide a moist seedbed until sprouts are approximately 2 inches tall.

What to watch for:

  • Water: check soil moisture daily. The surface may be dry, but a good rule of thumb is to probe 2-3 inches below the surface to see if the root zone area is to wet or dry. A good, inexpensive probe can be found in every gardeners home–the gardener’s finger!

When watering, water deeply to promote strong, deep root systems. Drip systems will accomplish this better than hand watering.

Another choice is to use Dripping Springs Olla Pots.  These will reduce your need to water by slowly leaching water through the clay of the pot.

  • Mulch: place 3-4 inches of mulch around all bare soil. Mulch retains soil moisture, keeps cooler root zones, and provides cover for the beneficial organisms needed to promote healthy, living soil.
  • Insect Pests: squash vine borers, spider mites, squash bugs
  • Plant Problems: Blossom end rot—caused by over watering and reduced nutrition in soil, especially calcium. Add soft rock phosphate to the soil and drench soil and plants with Worm Wine (TM).

What to enjoy:

  • Basil, Egg, Tomato and Goat Cheese Open Face Sandwich

Slice your favorite baker’s bread and toast.  Spread Goat cheese on the toast, place basil and Tomato on Toast.  At same time, fry a Sunny Side up Egg, and place that on top of tomato.  Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy my favorite summer lunch item!


  • Texas Best Guacamole (Rinaldi Family Recipe)

4-5 ripe avocados
1 medium homegrown tomato, diced in small pieces
1  ripe peach, diced in small pieces
1 Texas 1015 onion, diced in small pieces
2 Tbsp. chopped Cilantro
1 Tbsp. diced garlic
Pickled Jalapeno Slices, diced in small pieces (adjust to taste preference, we like about 2 dozen slices)
Juice of ½ a juicy lime
Salt to taste

This recipe is best in July, when all ingredients are at peak flavor and availability, but can be made with “regular ingredients” the rest of the year. Slice avocado in half, remove seed, scoop fruit with a spoon and mash in bowl with a fork. Add other ingredients. Stir before serving. Best if served immediately. Serving suggestions: with tortilla chips or sweet potato chips, on burgers, with any Southwest, BBQ, or Tex-Mex favorites.