worms, composting, organic gardening, and nature

Posts tagged ‘organic’

No Till Gardening

One of the best ways to increase the amount of nutrient converting soil microbes in your soil is to practice No or Low Till Gardening.  This means that instead of disturbing your garden soil with shovel or tiller, you allow the natural fungi and carbon sequestering to remain intact by a simple management program.  Whether you garden a small, raised bed plot or an acre, No Till can reduce your time and labor, while increasing your yield.  Here are a few simple ways to adopt this practice:

Establish Beds First

You will want to establish a raised bed or garden area with lots of compost to create a loose soil bed with lots of organic matter before starting a No Till Garden plan.  Once you have 6-12 inches of loose soil established in your area, your goal will be to maintain the quality of this soil.  Plant your first season of crops, and once plants are established by more than 3-4 inches of growth, mulch heavily (2-6 inches) in areas where you see bare soil.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

Maintain a layer of mulch in all areas that do not have seeds, but do have bare soil.  This serves to maintain moisture, provide organic matter for microbes to feed on, encourage earthworm habitation and protect those roots and microbe populations from UV damage.  My favorite garden mulch is shredded fall leaves. As the microbes and earthworms feed on the mulch, they break down the mulch into humus.  Another tip is to spread 6-18 inches of hardwood mulch in the walkways.  About every 6 months you will be able to scrape aside the top layer of mulch and find wonderful humus to add to your garden beds.  Replace walkway mulch to start the next season’s garden compost.

 Trim, Don’t Pull

Whenever possible, try to trim spent plants at the soil level instead of pulling out the root ecosystem.  This is especially important for legumes like peas and beans, which add nitrogen to the soil.  Large roots usually have fungi established along their root hairs that act as nutrient converters for most plants.  By pulling these roots, you lose organic matter that could enhance your soil as it decomposes and you also disturb long strands of fungal hyphae.

 Add Compost, Worm castings and Amendments each Time you Plant

Every season, you will need to add some compost to the top layer of your soil to maintain your 6-12 inches of loose soil.  If you had adequate mulch, you will need to add much less compost.  Living worm castings, added at 10 lbs per 100 square feet will maintain your soil microbe population.  Amendments like Azomite or Texas Green Sand will help keep trace nutrient levels high and allow them to be converted by the soil microbes in a plant available form.  Watering and rain will allow these top dressed amendments and worm castings to filter into the soil ecosystem, there is no need to till them in.

 Plant amongst Roots

Finally, you can plant your seeds and transplants amongst the old roots that are still in the soil.  Brush back mulch to plant in the soil. If you added appropriate compost, there should be plenty of soil for seedlings to establish.

 These tips should help your gardening experience by reducing many hard hours of work.  Enjoy Your Freedom from the shovel and tiller and watch as your plants produce like never before!


Richer, More Moral and Happier–want to sign up?

“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” ~Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (1787)

Texas Worm Ranch has new adventures in store in 2013.  We have new seeds to sow and new garden canvases to paint our hopes on. 

 Our first news is that the worm ranch is expanding into a building almost twice as large.  This will allow us to increase our ability to help our large scale organic farmers and ranchers with bulk worm casting orders to improve their pastures and crop lands.  The best news, for us, is that the new building also has growing space in front of the building, and the possibility to begin a roof garden in the future.

 The other news to share with you is that we will work in conjunction with White Rock Local Market to begin a working garden and teaching lab for organic and sustainable gardening.  White Rock Local Market has gained access to an urban garden space.  Texas Worm Ranch will provide day to day management and expertise.

 I’m very excited to expand our ability to provide more access to fresh, local, and naturally grown food right here in the city!  To be honest, selling produce isn’t the modern way to financial success.  Most consumers don’t understand the true cost and risk of growing food.  As a small, urban and organic farmer, we don’t apply for government subsidies or insurance like the big agribusiness conglomerates.  I’m perfectly fine with that, since I prefer my conscience to be at peace.  That makes it harder for us to make a financial profit off of growing food than a large scale, conventional farmer that is subsidized in their growing.  However, if we can accomplish two things, I think we will feel like the richest people in Texas:

 1) Teach others the joy, benefits and expertise to accomplish sustainable gardening—reducing water use and eliminating toxic chemicals, welcoming beneficial insects and pollinators. We will promote the building of healthy soil ecosystems which result in nutrient dense and safe (and delicious) food.

 2)  Increase our local Metroplex food security.  There is very little food grown directly in our city.  There are a few community gardens, but not everybody can garden in their backyard or in a community garden.  These people still want access to healthier food choices, but may have time, disability or expertise concerns that prevent them from gardening on their own. Our naturally grown food will be free from GMOs, free from chemicals, and will be safe and nutrient dense.  Instead of traveling hundreds or thousands of miles, it will go straight from field to farmer’s market.  In the event of local or national disturbances (frozen roads, terror events, salmonella scares, hurricanes, etc.), we will not be barred from eating, because we will be growing right here in the City, and not dependent on transportation from other regions.  Furthermore, White Rock Local Market (where we sell the bulk of our produce) accepts SNAP benefits, so that families who need a hand up can feed their children fresh and healthful food also.

If you believe in Thomas Jefferson’s missive to our first President—that you would be richer, more moral, and happier from getting a little dirt under your nails—we have plenty of volunteer/learning opportunities coming up.  Send us an email at:  rancher@txwormranch.com, and we will see what interests you have and where you might like to unplug from the trappings of modern life, travel back in time, and become a gentleman or gentlewoman farmer.

 Thanks for your support as we grow!





New Year Opportunity for Organic Growers and Producers

Our mission at Texas Worm Ranch is to:

  • Reduce the local waste stream
  • Create beautiful and safe landscapes and gardens
  • Promote the use and enjoyment of local, sustainable, organic agriculture

The TOFGA conference is right around the corner, and we look forward to seeing all of our friends there.  We would love to schedule a time to talk about your program and see if our worm castings or aerated worm casting teas might benefit your production.  Please let us know if you would like to schedule a time to meet with us in Austin.

Worm castings and aerobically aerated worm casting teas have been a key ingredient in the success of organic and natural programs from vegetable gardens to grass fed beef operations.  We can help you increase the yield of your pastures, fields, and gardens. 

 Now is the time to think ahead about applying worm castings or an aerobically aerated worm casting tea to your property in timing with the last expected freeze date for your area.


Want more info?  Contact:  Heather Rinaldi or Steve Clary at info@txwormranch.com

Texas Worm Ranch is now taking bulk orders for premium worm castings.   In an effort to make it more affordable for our organic…Image partners, we will offer reduced pricing for bulk pre-orders placed a minimum of 10 weeks in advance of needing castings. A 50% deposit is required.  Pre-orders help ensure you will have the castings for application when you need them, and get an affordable price to inoculate your soil with the gold standard of beneficial soil microbiology.

This opportunity allows us to partner with our Texas farmers and ranchers in a way that helps us meet your demand, while helping you determine the best way to use our product to your farm’s health and bottom line benefit.

 ***We can also help you partner with Texas’ best applicators of soil biology inoculate field spraying***

Here is information about our product and what we hope to help you accomplish.

Feed your soil, naturally, with Texas Worm Ranch Premium Worm Castings and experience the profit and performance benefit from improving your soil ecosystem through our high quality worm castings or worm casting tea applications.

Test results:  “Above expected levels of bacteria and fungi, great diversity (of protozoa) – good for soil functioning in all conditions, good inoculums of both bacteria and fungi.  Nitrogen Cycling Potential:  300 lbs/acre”– Earthfort Labs

 Want more info?  Contact:  info@txwormranch.com

 Why buy Texas Worm Ranch Premium Worm Castings?

Our Goal is to ensure that our castings are the premium standard for the industry, in both nutrient value and soil biology.  Texas Worm Ranch is committed to a quality product that will greatly improve your soil health and production, increasing your profit potential.

  • Unlike other casting producers, our worms are never fed peat moss (an unsustainable and antimicrobial food source) or just one food source of any kind. 
  • We custom feed a diverse mix of natural vegetative waste to produce a premium standard of abundant biomass of beneficial soil organisms and nutrients.
  • Our castings are tested by a SoilFoodWeb and Dr. Elaine Ingram approved laboratory for diversity and mass of soil biology and nutrient cycling potential.
  • We use our castings in our own organic yard and tree treatments and vegetable production.  We require the highest quality for our purposes and pass that quality on for our customers’ success.
  • Our castings are harvested weekly and kept moist and alive to ensure you get the highest quality and diversity of biological life when applied to your property or clients’ property.
  • We also partner with two other TOFGA members who are widely regarded as the state’s best applicators of organic treatments.  If you are within their service regions, we will be able to connect you with them to apply Texas Worm Ranch casting product on your property.

Most regions in Texas will experience their last freeze date in Mid-March.  If you would like to benefit most from our early order discount, the time to order is before January 10th!  Email us today and we will get you started for success in 2013.

Info @txwormranch.com




Don’t judge the bookworm by it’s cover

I often have customers tell me they have bought worm castings from a retail nursery and not really noticed any improvement from the application.  There is a good reason or two for that.  1)  If castings are dried and sealed in a clear, airtight container–there is no chance for beneficial soil microbes to be alive.  2)  Often, the retail castings are produced from straight peat moss.  Peat moss harvesting is destructive to the habitats they come from. Peat is also known to be antimicrobial, which defeats the soil microbe building purpose of worm castings.  The reason the producers use Peat Moss?  It looks a lot like worm castings, so that when screened, the customer doesn’t know the difference and just believes it is all a uniform product.  I call it the McDonald’s effect–the urge for consistency, even if it is an inferior product.

Our castings may not look entirely uniform.  We do screen at a 1/8 inch size screening, so the vast majority of the material will be straight castings.  Any other material is great food for the living microbes in the castings to continue feeding on and activating your soil with.  I love picking up and holding our freshly harvested castings.  It almost feels like a high dollar spa treatment in your hands–cool, earthy, moist and smelling of forest floor.  We harvest weekly to get our customers the freshest castings possible.  Our castings are packaged in breathable bags to maintain microbe life.  We also sell in bulk, and maintain that same level of quality whether you buy 2 lbs or 2,000.

Why buy Texas Worm Ranch Castings?

  • Unlike other casting producers, our worms are never fed peat moss (an unsustainable and antimicrobial food source) or just one food source of any kind. 
  • We custom feed a diverse mix of natural vegetative waste to produce a premium standard of abundant biomass of beneficial soil organisms and nutrients.
  • We use our castings in our own organic yard and tree treatments and vegetable production.  We require the highest quality for our purposes, and pass that quality on for our customers’ success.
  • Our castings are harvested weekly and kept moist and alive to ensure you get the highest quality and mass of biological life when applied to your property.
  • We monitor by microscope for diverse and abundant beneficial microbes and will soon have test results from a SoilFoodWeb and Dr. Elaine Ingram approved laboratory for diversity and mass of soil biology and nutrient cycling potential.

Our Goal is to ensure that our castings are the premium standard for the industry, in both nutrient value and soil biology.  Texas Worm Ranch commits to quality and our mission is to:

Reduce the local waste stream

Create beautiful and safe landscapes, gardens, and farms

Promote the use and enjoyment of local, sustainable and organic agriculture

We appreciate your support of this mission and sincerely appreciate your business.

Happy Growing!


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving time, one of our favorite holidays.  Where nothing is expected but good food, good football and minor family drama.  It is a time of harvest abundance and a time to give thanks.  At Texas Worm Ranch, we would like to express our thanks to our customers who have offered friendship, encouragement, and support throughout this year.  We truly appreciate your business!

This Saturday is our last farmer’s market opportunity at White Rock Local Market before your glorious Thanksgiving meal.  Many farmers will be bringing their best Fall produce to help you with your menu.  Please consider supporting these local farmers, as the market season is about to wind down.  I know they would be thankful for your kind support of their families and farms.

At Texas Worm Ranch, we grow everything naturally.  No chemicals are ever used, but our plants are given lots of natural tender loving care to ensure they are delicious, fresh, safe and nutrient dense.  Did you know we grow our produce less than 2 miles from White Rock Local Market?  That is almost as fresh as growing it yourself!  

What I have found can transport my Thanksgiving meals from pedestrian to gourmet, is the use of fresh herbs.  This Saturday, at White Rock Local Market, we will have fresh sage to add to your Turkey or Dressing.  Fresh chives can make your potato dish pop, and fresh mint will be available to add an extra element to tea or dessert.  Yes, we will bring kale and Swiss Chard and arugula too. We look forward to being a small part of your family’s Happy Thanksgiving.


Worried about the effects of toxic spraying? Here is what we are doing…

Hello organic friends,

We want to talk to you today as concerned environmentalists and parents.

Many of you are probably as concerned as we are about Dallas County’s decision to spray a toxic mix of chemicals over our natural ecosystems.  Much assurance has been given on the “safety” of these neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors.  At the same time, they are giving a mixed message of “don’t eat your vegetables, protect your pets, don’t go out in your yard, etc.  Earlier this week, Heather spoke against the aerial spraying at Dallas City Council.  Unfortunately, our words fell on our Mayor’s deaf ears.  We are not happy of the effect this spraying is having on our bees, butterflies and other beneficial creatures.  Heather’s daughter has a rash that started the day after they started fogging our neighborhoods by truck.  We cannot eat from our organic garden or sell our organic produce.  As parents and citizens, it is hard to see this destruction and personal impact.

As business owners, we struggle with what direction to take.  See, we know our Texas Worm Ranch has a product that can reduce the exposure to your family and help heal your natural ecosystem—our 100% safe and natural Worm Wine Yard Treatment.  However, we also don’t want to seem like we are taking advantage of this unfortunate decision of our County and City Leaders.  In an effort to reduce the impact of the spray on our families, we will be spraying all of our yards and gardens early next week with our high microbe Worm Wine Yard Treatment.  The research says that soil high in beneficial microbes is the best way to reduce the life of the toxins in the soil.  We’ll give you the information we found, and will let you decide what you would like to do for your family and your property (don’t we wish we weren’t in this position!).

Here is one document we found, which gives differing results from different studies studying cancer and pyrethrins:  http://www.pyrethrum.com/NewsResources/~/media/pyr/Files/Cancer_Assessment_Document.ashx

More info on synthetic pyrethoid exposure:


From a manufacturer’s own website:  http://www.pyrethrum.com/How_It_Works/Environmental_Impact.aspx


“The binding of pyrethrins to soil makes microbial metabolism in the soil an important component of the degradation of pyrethrins, with half-lives of 10.5 days under aerobic soil conditions and 86.1 days in anaerobic conditions.”

Bingo!!!  Something we can do to help reduce the impact on our families and  natural ecosystem.  So folks, that is why we plan to spray our Worm Wine Yard Treatment on all of our property and gardens.  We test every batch of our Worm Wine under microscope to ensure large quantities of beneficial microbes are in our mix, as well as natural plant nutrients, hormones and enzymes which help support a healthy soil ecosystem and ensure healthy plant life. Our Yard Treatment is $150 for a one time spraying or $100 each for a 4 time yearly contract.  This is the time of year to get our yards back in shape after another tough Texas summer, but this year the need for our natural product is even greater.  We are happy to send you more info on our 100% natural and safe product and associated costs.  Please let us know if you are interested in our help, you can call or email Texas Worm Ranch at:

Steve’s Email:  steve@txwormranch.com

Steve’s Phone:  214-755-1111

 Sending Best Wishes for You Family’s Health!

Heather Rinaldi and Steve Clary

Texas Worm RanchImage

Supporting Local Business–The Dallas Eco-op

I think everybody really thinks they believe the idea of “supporting local business”, but what does that really mean?  Does it mean, “hey, great, one of my neighbors has a business and that’s cool!”, or does it mean you actually use and refer that business to others?  One of the easiest areas we can support local business, that has a huge economic, environmental and health impact is by supporting local “sustainable” businesses.  That’s why we started the Dallas Eco-op

In the Fall and Winter of 2011, several non-profits and small businesses started dreaming together of a way to create a healthier community, healthier people in our neighborhood, a better way to incubate small, green business, and help keep our planet beautiful and healthy too.  We were inspired to create a better ecosystem to live and work in, that truly makes a difference.  Here’s our business and nonprofit partners and how they make a difference:

GROW North Texas:  Our mission is to connect North Texans to food, farms, and community in order to create a sustainable, secure regional food system that enriches the land, encourages economic opportunity through food and agriculture, and provides equitable access to healthy, nutritious food for all residents.  GROW NT hosts our bi-weekly Pop Up Market at the Eco-op, which helps local farmers and artisans get their products to our local community.  A balance of healthy organic food to our neighbors, while keeping the farmers and artisans in business (with your support!!).

Texas Honeybee Guild:  Did you know that at least 30% of our food needs to be pollinated by a bee?  Not only do bees provide lovely honey, they are vital to our food supply.  Brandon and Susan Pollard’s hives are so local, they brand it, “Zip Code Honey”, which helps reduce your allergy intensity.  Education, advocacy, and products from said honey to candles and soaps are what they sell.  You will find the Pollards (who live in East Dallas) at local farmers markets, including the Eco-op…or “like” them on Facebook to see where they might be found.

Clean Air Lawn Care:  Clean Air lawn care is also here in our Lake Highlands, East Dallas and Lakewood areas of Dallas. I highly recommend their service to all my neighbors and friends. They will mow your yard with SOLAR powered (no polluting emissions) mowers and use organic lawn products.  Rick Hauser is all class, and anything we can do to maintain healthy, organic lawns while reducing our air and chemical pollution is a big win for our family’s health, waterways, and creatures depending on our streams and White Rock Lake.

Recycle Revolution:  Owner, Eddie Lott and his family, lives right here in Lake Highlands.  Recycle Revolution, LLC, is an independently-owned, non-landfill recycling company. We provide a one-stop shop collection service for a growing and diverse group of businesses and multi-family communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and waste consulting and project management services to establishments seeking LEED and zero-waste goals. We are also a Community Drop-Off Center for both traditional and Hard-to-Recycle-Materials (HaRM). Ask us about our new Compost and Shredding programs!  Bring your recyclable e-waste, Styrofoam, or other hard to recycle products by the Dallas Eco-op on Saturdays 10-3 or during our Pop Up Markets.

SynergyFish Aquaponics, LLC:  Owner, Dave Pennington, is the mad scientist of sustainability.  From Aquaponic systems, to rocket ovens, to building domes from recycled materials, “Synergy Aquaponics seeks to save the planet from the human species, by educating them about how to sustainably feed, house, and provide energy for themselves.”  Dave provides classes and training, as well as consultations.

Urban Sustainable Ecosystems:  Urban Sustainable Ecosystems (USE) is bringing together experts on sustainable living to teach comprehensive classes & workshops on transforming homesteads into more self-sustaining ecosystems.  Our next workshops are coming up, and we can teach our friends and neighbors how to save money and be more sustainable in their own homestead.  Check out the lineup: 

Texas Worm Ranch:  My business partner, Steve Clary and I each have families that live in Lake Highlands.  As parents, it is important to each of us that we make a positive impact in the community we live in.  Not only do we sell worms for you to compost at home with, we also provide organic yard consultation, install organic vegetable gardens, and help you convert your current chemical lawn care to a safe and effective lawn treatment program.  Email us at rancher@txwormranch.com for help with any of these services.

Urban Acres:  Urban Acres is a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm store.  Every other Saturday, they bring local and organic boxes of produce to the Dallas Eco-op for their CSA members.  I’ve seen the member boxes and they are lovely and full of good-for-you produce.  It’s also a great service to the farmers they buy from, who don’t have to spend hours prepping for a farmers market.  Check them out, it just might be something to help your family get healthier.

So, hope you enjoyed meeting some of these folks.  We are here to help you, your family, our mutual neighborhood and our planet.  Come see us at a Pop Up Market, or email one of the businesses to support their services.  We hope you agree we are in this together!

Shop local, shop green, shop Dallas Eco-op!Image




Gardeners are Super Heroes

So, you always wanted to wear a cape, brightly colored spandex, and proclaim that you are here to “Save the Day!”?  Go ahead, you deserve it, because Gardeners are Super Heroes!  Grab your magic hand trowel and let’s talk about how you can fight off an evil nemesis each day.

We are talking about “it” that can’t be named, that villain that kills over 500,000 Americans each year…begins with a C, yes, Cancer.  The good news is that cancer has a kryptonite, and that is healthy, organic foods that are loaded with KaPOW!

Here are 7 healthy, cancer-fighting foods that you can grow in your garden.  By growing your own, they will not lose important nutrients during transportation and storage, and (even more importantly) won’t be laced with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or irradiated.  You will have control of everything you use on your familys foods–and as a Superhero, you would never jeopardize health with nasty killers like chemicals in your food!  I’ll use a blue text to show my words below.

From: Top 10 Antioxidant Foods

“Berries—Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are loaded with proanthocyanidins, which are the antioxidants that may help in preventing cancer as well as heart disease.  Additionally, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries have ellagic acid, which is a plant compound that fights carcinogens.  And blueberries seem to help elderly folks retain cognitive function longer.  Stir berries into yogurt, add them to salads, or eat them au natural for a delicious snack.”

If you buy berries in the grocery store, they will already start to lose some of  those important antioxidants.  The most important thing, though, is that if you are not buying all these berries organically, they are going to have been fumigated with tons of antifungal chemicals that are known carcinogens.  Blueberries are not able to be grown in our North Texas Clay Soil…but you could try to grow them in large pots.  Blackberries are a fairly easy to establish crop that would last a lifetime in your backyard.  Strawberries are both fun and delicious to grow in pots or beds.

“Broccoli—Along with other cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, broccoli may help in preventing cancer and heart disease.  In general, the crucifers contain indole-3-carbinol, which is a powerful antioxidant that breaks down estrogen and reduces the risk of breast cancer, along with ovarian and cervical cancer.  Beta-carotene is also found in broccoli, and is though to be a cancer and heart disease preventative.  Drizzle lightly-steamed broccoli with salad dressing and enjoy.”

The time to get started is NOW!  I plan on broccoli, broccoli raab, Brussel Sprouts, Mustard Greens, Bok Choi and other dark leafy greens.  These will be picked and eaten immediately, saving all the health benefit and cost of buying from the store…and again, no chemicals to offset the health benefits.

“Tomatoes—Lycopene is the hero within the much-beloved tomato.  Lycopene is in the carotenoid family, which is also in pink grapefruit and is twice as strong as beta-carotene.  According to the latest studies, men who eat more tomatoes or tomato sauce benefit from lower rates of prostate cancer.  Lycopene is also thought to prevent cancer of the lungs, colon, and breasts.  Additionally, tomatoes contain glutathione, which increases immune function.  Add Roma tomatoes to fresh pasta along with olive oil, or add sun-dried tomatoes to soups or mashed potatoes.”

We froze bags of tomatoes, and made multiple batches of stored Marinara sauce from our early summer tomatoes.  I still have healthy plants and am really hoping for a cool down so my plants can start setting fruit again.

“Red Grapes and Red Wine—Red grapes contain reservatrol and quercetin, and those are potent antioxidants that get rid of free-radicals and keep blood vessels open and unobstructed.  Reservatrol is believed to help prevent cancer and reduce inflammation, gastric ulcers, strokes, and osteoporosis.  Sip a glass of red wine or snack on frozen grapes.”

I am NOT a grape growing expert, nor do I currently have grapes…but no time like next growing season to start!  Here is a guide, but remember to use organic methods instead of any chemicals:  Texas A&M Grape Growing Guide. 

Oh, and I highly recommend sipping a nice glass of red wine as you enjoy the fruits of your garden labors (in moderation, of course).

“Garlic—It isn’t just vampire repellent anymore.  It has been shown to help prevent heart disease, cancer, and slow down aging.  The key ingredients are the sulfur compounds that give garlic its pungent aroma and taste.  Keep your heart healthy and prevent cancer by adding garlic to soups, stews, or spreading roast garlic on warm bread.  Garlic is also an excellent anti-fungal and can help with asthma and yeast infections.”

I do grow LOTS AND LOTS of garlic.  It is nearly impossible to find organic garlic in the stores, and almost as hard to find garlic grown by US farmers.  The amount of anti-fungals and other posions dumped on garlic during conventional growth and shipping (usually from China) is staggering.  There is also evidence that our loosely regulated imported garlic has high levels of heavy metal contamination.  October is the time to plant this crop, and you should order your seed source ASAP.

Spinach—It can help protect your vision because it contains the antioxidant lutein.  Studies show that spinach-eaters are less likely to get cataracts or macular degeneration.  Lutein accomplishes this by shielding your retina from sun damage and keeping free-radicals from hurting your eyes.  Eat spinach salads or add chopped spinach into brown rice dishes.

Time to plant spinach too–easy to grow in a bed or a pot.  Easy to grow by seed, so it is very affordable.  Trim the outside leaves, leaving the inner leaves, and you can cut and grow again all winter long.

Carrots—They are power packed with beta-carotene, a member of the carotenoid family of antioxidants.  This free-radical fighter is also found in yellow-orange vegetables, sweet potatoes, and beets.  Beta-carotene fights cancer and can reduce arthritis from progressing by as much as 70%.  Cook carrots for the highest amount of available antioxidants, since heat breaks down active compounds, making them more available.

Guess What?  Time to grow carrots also.  I suggest either planting these in a large container (at least 12 inches deep), or in a raised bed of at least 12 inches deep.  Don’t even bother to grow these directly into our North Texas Clay–too compacted and carrots need a nice loose organic mix.  Biggest issue is not thinning these enough to allow them to grow.  Keep reseeding through the season and you will have carrots from the first picking until April or May.

Sow (pun intended)–what are you waiting for?  Go out and grow, Superhero (wear spandex and capes while gardening at your own risk)!

To Hell with Wall Street, Gardening Might be Your Best Investment Ever!

I’ve been looking at prices everywhere it seems.  Loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread at the regular grocery are priced over $4/loaf!  Whole grain cereals are well above $3, organic raises the price even higher.  Last night I took a little shopping trip to one of Dallas’ destination stores for artisan and organic foods.  Organic milk is between $5.19 and $6 a gallon, the price of artisan bread had raised a dollar, while the size of the loaf had shrunk considerably.  Artisan cheese had raised at least $2/lb in price.  The press is on for the consumer and the farmer at the other end, only the middle man is unharmed.  Seasonal produce prices seem to be holding steady, but organic fruits and vegetables were both hard to find and precious in price.

Most people think of the hallmarks of summer, tomatoes and peppers, when they think of gardening.  However, fall gardening is both easy and productive.  I plan on growing like I have never grown before—using my community garden plots, home garden, containers, and even my front landscaping to grow healthful and affordable food for my family.  This will give me about 650 square foot of garden space. What can I expect to save for my family?

I did a calculation of a “Produce Value Expectation” for a Fall/Winter Organic Garden, using a standard (4X8) plot.  I then used prices similar to what I have seen for Whole Foods/Central Market Organic Produce.

Anticipated Crop Harvested by Christmas (4X8 plot):

Arugula:  5 lbs X $5/lb = $25

Green Beans:  4 lbs X $5/lb = $20

Broccoli (4 plants) 10 lbs X $4/lb = $40

Peas:  2 lbs X $6= $12

Cucumber:  7 lbs X $3/lb = $21

Mesclun Leaf Lettuce:  5 lbs X $5/lb = $25

Spinach:  4 lbs X $5/lb= $20

Beets (greens and beets)  2 lbs Greens X $2/lb = $4  4 lb beets X $5/lb + $20 total =$24

Kale:  10 lbs X $3/lb = $30

Swiss Chard:  5 lbs X $3/lb = $15

Carrots:  2 lbs X $2 = $4

Radish = 5 lbs X $2/lb = $10


$242 by Christmas


An easy calculation would show that in my families 650 square foot of space, I could grow almost $5000 worth of produce, using this formula!  Realistically, I will probably use space to grow less costly foods like carrots and green beans, so even if our family saved half of that price, I would be thrilled.  Honestly, much of that space still has healthy tomato and pepper plants that I have nursed through the summer and am hoping for a huge fall bounty.  Okra will go crazy in its space until the first freeze too.  Have you seen the prices for organic tomatoes and peppers?!  Maybe I will see a value around $5000!

Radish, beets and carrots can be replanted as they are harvested and greens can be cut and harvested again and again and with adequate care will last though the Winter Season.  Lettuce will last until the first major freeze, and even then can often be covered to extend their useful season.  I spent some time looking at using a 4 X 8 plot for a total year in Texas and feel sure that, depending on what you plant, the weather and your care, a Total Yearly Produce Value on a 4X8 Organic Vegetable Garden Plot could easily equal somewhere between $1365-$2275.  The seeds, plants and additional amendments for this plot, once established shouldn’t be that much of a burden, especially if you compost and worm compost to add to your bed.

Texas Worm Ranch installs organic vegetable gardens, complete with planting and ongoing email and Facebook help.  A standard garden’s price is $700, fully installed.  What other investment gives you a Return on Investment of 95% —225% in the first year alone?  With only the cost of plants, seeds, amendments and water from there forward, you will be enjoying safe, nutritious, chemical free, tasty and affordable produce for a lifetime.  Hope you laugh all the way to the bank!