Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.


Leave a comment

Naturally Prepare Your Spring Garden This Fall

Get a head start on your Spring garden by preparing great soil now! For many plants and animals, the winter is a time for rest and rejuvenation, but there is lots of action happening under ground even beneath a blanket of snow.

oak 001Let’s think for a moment about the way a forest functions naturally… In the fall, Oak leaves on Oak trees begin turning beautiful red and orange colors and the acorns drop off. Squirrels and other little forest friends will come along and pick up many of the acorns, but those that don’t get picked up will accumulate and rest under piles of leaves and sticks. The Oak seeds are planted. In the Spring they have the possibility of sprouting and turning into Oak trees themselves! The preparation was done in the fall and the results can be seen in the Spring and in years to come.

the forest floor

the forest floor

The first thing you can do to prepare your garden now is create compost. Take your leftover plant debris from last season and throw it in your compost heap. Need some composting help? http://blog.ecoetsy.com/2012/10/food-gardening-fall-composting-tips/html

Instead of digging and tilling which breaks up and destroys the structure and habitat of soil, try adding organic matter to the surface and let it rest until the Spring as nature intended. People who practice permaculture, a lifestyle of natural gardening, call this sheet mulching. Others call it lasagna gardening. It’s a very simple practice and in my opinion is way more fun than digging and tilling!

Sheet Mulching –

The possibilities are plentiful and abundant when it comes to sheet mulching. Most recently, I have been working on building an organic garden on a 1/4 acre of grass lawn. I have a vision for the whole thing to be covered with an edible food forest, and to accomplish this I have been smothering out the grass using supplies that are free and available locally.

Don’t be scared to use what you have and be open to any new ideas because they might work out perfectly! I started off by collecting cardboard from the restaurant my dad works at. We took off the tape, broke them down, and laid them out flat. Then we collected piles of leaves and covered the cardboard with that.

On top of the leaves, we added coffee grounds, manure, dirt, and wood chip mulch. Go into your local coffee shops (like Starbucks) and ask them for their spent, or used, coffee grounds. More info on coffee grounds in the garden – http://groundtoground.org/ For free manure, try searching craigslist.org for “manure” and you may be surprised at how many farmers give away livestock waste free of charge.

lasagna garden

lasagna garden

In my first sheet mulch / lasagna garden I used newspaper, hay, and manure and it turned out super rich. We grew abundant broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, green onions, and a few other herbs. It was fantastic!

food

It’s wonderful to add soil enriching extras to your fall garden preparation. Scatter some seaweed or kelp powder, bone meal, compost, and anything else you like and may have experience with. I like to use perlite for moisture retention and because I got it in bulk from a guy on Craigslist which leads me back to…

Use local supplies!

I have grown food in California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, and Missouri and no matter where I go, there are so many amazing resourcesThe possibilities are endless!

 

Advertisements


6 Comments

History of My Passion for Food and Life

I have lived a very interesting life, especially these last 4 years or so. I moved to California from Texas with my ex-boyfriend and lived together with his mom in her home in Oceanside. That’s when I started growing my first garden, using no-till and permaculture methods that I had been reading about, and buying almost all of our food from the local farmers market. That was in 2008 and I have been flourishing in this lifestyle ever since, constantly learning and growing more every day!

This is a little part of my backyard garden in Oceanside. We used manure and straw to build up the soil a little, very little digging or tilling, and we grew GREAT broccoli and cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs!

Here’s another raised bed I did – manure and hay. Everything in there was purchased from a local man who sells starters from his backyard and these plants grew to be HUGE!

We rode our bikes to the farmers market every week to pick up all the food our household would need, aside from a few grains that we got from a local natural food store. Living in Southern California meant there was never a need to preserve food. It’s always growing and abundant. Almost all of our food was purchased from the same farm, La Milpa Organica. Eventually I ended up moving onto the farm to live and apprentice there! It was wonderful, for about 3 months… They had been getting loads of fines from local and state authorities because of all these random regulations that eventually put the farm out of business. My boyfriend and I broke up, the farm shut down, so then I began hitch hiking and traveling around the west coast. 🙂

Delilah, a beautiful Jersey cow

Eventually I fell in love with my now-boyfriend Carlos and traveled through more of the country with him. One of the first places we stayed at was a commune called the CRIC house. That’s where we first learned how to milk cows and goats, to make cheese, how to pickle and can loads of food, how to use a solar oven and how to set up a composting toilet… among many other things. The lessons we learned there were life changing and totally empowering. I am forever grateful for the incredible people who shared their lives with us.

One of three solar cookers at CRIC

The front porch of CRIC house (painted by Carlos, Shirley, and myself) where we spent lots of quality time.

We hitch hiked up the west coast from San Diego, CA to Eugene, OR where we took part in a tree sit in the Elliot State Forest, part of Willamette. They are tearing up that forest, clear cutting left and right. We helped set up barricades to keep out the bull dozers… they didn’t last very long and eventually people were arrested and the destruction continued.

Then we continued up to Olympia, WA and stayed with Carlos’ sister and her new baby for a while. Olympia is an amazing town with lots of barter opportunities and free wells that get water from the nearby Mt. Rainier. They have wonderful farmers markets, tons of community and front yard gardens. If you ever get a chance, check it out.

Multnomah Falls, on the Columbia River Gorge

Picking thimble berries along our journey.

After Olympia, I decided it was time to visit my parents in Branson, Missouri so we went down to the Columbia River Gorge and hitch hiked through beautiful Oregon to head east for Missouri. We met so many incredible, loving, smart, and wonderful people during our travels, and now that we have been in Branson since March of this year, we have an incredible group of friends here.

Local food in Branson, MO

Tomorrow Carlos and I are taking a bus to Des Moines, Iowa where we are picking up our new house on wheels – a 1985 Toyota Dolphin! We will be traveling once again, and this time we’ll be the ones giving rides to hitch hikers and hobos! We are spending every dime we have on this gypsy caravan to start a fresh chapter in our life together, and I have an incredible positive feeling about it. I am taking my small business on the road. We are packing up our instruments, our seeds, and going wherever we feel called to. I am elated!!

Our soon-to-be House on Wheels

I have met a lot of folks who think that the world is doomed, that people don’t give a shit and we are all going to die in a flaming hell of fire. I’m here to say – that’s bologna! Almost everyone I talk to does care about the fate of our planet and they do want things to be functioning in a more sustainable way. I have met numerous people who live off the land and invite strangers into their homes with open arms so they can spread the love they have for this earth. It’s heart warming. We all have the power to be the change we wish to see in this world!

So let’s do it.


5 Comments

How to Say NO to GMO

I’m not into politics and voting in this country anymore because of how defiant our government is. The government disregards our own constitution frequently and all they care about is money. They are run by corporations. So I’ll admit that I didn’t vote yesterday. I did cast a mental vote for one thing – Prop 37. This proposition would have made it necessary for Genetically Modified foods to be labeled on all products in California. Sad to say, it failed. But all is not lost! We have the ability, as consumers, to understand what is in the products that we eat and feed to our families. We can learn which foods are GMO and what those foods are turned into. We can only buy foods from companies that we trust, buy more WHOLE and ORGANIC foods, and best off all – BUY LOCAL!!

Image

EIGHT GM FOOD CROPS TO AVOID :

  • corn
  • soybeans
  • canola
  • sugar beets
  • hawaiian papaya
  • small amount of zucchini and crookneck squash

If a food contains “sugar” and not “pure cane sugar”, it is most likely GM sugar beets.

Most dairy cows are injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Look for dairy labeled “No rBGH” or “No rBST”.

Nearly all livestock is fed GM grains – corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. Buy organic or local meat. Lately I have been volunteering at local farms where I can actually meet the animals, see what they eat, and process them myself. I realize many of you won’t be able to do that, but you can visit your local farmers market and speak to the farmers.

You are what you eat.

Here are a few sites that can help you learn more about GMO foods –


2 Comments

How to Save Seeds – Seeds are MAGIC!

Fall is in full swing here in Branson, Missouri. The frosts have come, the tomato plants have withered, carrots are ready to come up, and the most exciting part for me…everything is going to seed!! To me, it’s like everyone around is having lots and lots of babies! It’s absolutely incredible how many seeds are in one tomato, one pepper, one marigold bud. Total magic! If you have never saved seeds, I highly recommend trying it. Here you will learn bit about what goes into saving them – it’s a cinch, really! And it will save you money $$$.

Image

Mexican Marigolds holding seeds inside.

Last year we had 4 marigold plants in our garden. I don’t even know where they came from. We let them go to seed and they all fell on the ground and just sat until the spring.. and then we had probably 300 plants come up! I spent lots of time thinning them, fertilizing with bone meal, manure, and lots of love and we probably ended up with about 50 full, wonderful plants.

Image

ABUNDANCE

A marigold flower sprouts out of the bud, stays open for a while, then it curls up, works on producing it’s seeds, turns grey/brown, and then starts to droop… pick em before they fall, pick em off the ground, or just let them lay on the ground til Spring and you’ll have tons of little plants in the Spring! I did a little math… cuz I’m a bit of a math nerd. Every flower bud that I counted had between 40 and 60 seeds inside. Most plants had about 100-200 flowers. From 200 plants I could get ONE MILLION seeds! Magic, I’m telling you.

Morning Glory bud holding seeds inside.

So here’s my method-

  • Get to know the plants and what the seeds look like.. by letting it go to seed.
  • Pick off the buds, fruits, or whatever contains the seed and
  • If it is dry, it’s ready and you can store it in a cool, dry place.
  • If it is something wet (tomatoes) then squish it in a jar, let it sit a few days, then rinse the seeds, let them dry, and store in a cool dry place.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Some seeds are super easy and some are harder to germinate.. but the process is usually similar. There are many seed saving resources to look into and much to learn. I’m only a beginner and I have so much fun with it! Next year I’ll be planting homegrown pumpkin, zucchini, marigold, morning glory, gourd, and bean seeds!


Leave a comment

Building a CommUNITY Garden

Starting a garden bed

I have recently been working with a group called Homegrown Missouri that I totally resonate with. The goals of the group that stand out in my heart are localizing food and localizing the community by building relationships and connections with our environment, ourselves, and eachother. Everyone has their own ideas in the group and I totally honor and respect each individual, as they do me. 🙂 It’s a beautiful thing. The group has meetings every month and in November we are having a workshop about fermented foods where members of the group will be teaching what they know. I am sharing beet kvass and Carlos, my partner / soul mate, is going to be teaching sauerkraut. Check out my last blog that features the flyer I made – https://regrowroots.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/free-fermented-foods-workshop/

I would like to share my newest endeavor that is going incredibly well and will one day become everything I dream of… a COMMUNITY GARDEN! It is located in my dear friend JoAnna’s backyard. I’m sure you will hear much more about JoAnna in future posts, as she is an amazing woman in my life. Her backyard is mostly grass with wild onions and dandelions growing here and there, as well as a pear tree, an elm, and a couple other little trees. My vision is to shift the entire yard into a food forest / community space where people can share food, potlucks, community, music, love, and growth!

Alpine Strawberries and Echinacea

We picked up some Alpine Strawberry starts from a friend and put them in the ground. I cut off the tops of them so all the energy will go to the roots and build a strong plant that will pop up in the Spring! 🙂 I also planted a bunch of echinacea Purpurea seeds that will come up in the Spring.

Huuuge backyard space!

This is the view from the deck. It is north of the house so that will be something to keep in mind. The beginning veggie patch is in the back by a big tree and an elderberry patch. Right now there are kale, cabbages, jerusalem artichokes, elephant garlic, and one lovely marigold.

Closer view of the garden beginnings

To the left of the photo are 2 raised beds that Carlos set up and we have some buckets waiting to be relocated and filled with dirt. Carlos actually dug the grass out for the raised bed. For most of our future beds, we will place down cardboard to suffocate the grass and build on top of that. That way, we will get lots of beds done before planting time in the spring!

 

 


Leave a comment

FREE Fermented Foods Workshop

Homegrown Missouri is hosting a free heritage skills workshop in Kirbyville, Missouri. This workshop will cover fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, beet kvass, and kefir. It will be the first of many skills workshops! Come and bring your friends to share the dream of local, healthy food sustainability! 🙂