June 26, 2015

Growing Strawberries

I recently bought some Ever-blooming strawberries at my favorite wholesale plant supplier. I wanted some for my yard and figured my customers would like them too. I planted mine in a raised bed near the deck. and I plan to add bird netting to keep the squirrels out. Today I got this Blog from Mike's Backyard Nursery about 7 Tips for growing Strawberries. Figured you might like it too. I like the hanging basket idea! So click the link above and pay Mike a visit.

June 19, 2015

Late Tomatoes...A God Thing

Last year I started my tomatoes way too early. By the time folks were ready to buy them they were too tall and before the season was over they got aphids in the crowded greenhouse and I had to pitch half of them out!

I made a note in my garden journal to start them later this year. Well I did and the weather got cold, the lighted heat rack kept drying out the flats and by the first of May when everyone was ready to buy Tomatoes, mine were barely showing 2 true little leaves. I lost a lot of sales. :-(

Here it is the middle of June and the plants were needing to be in someone's garden! I ran an ad on Craig's list "Heirloom Tomatoes Buy One Get One Free - Friday and Saturday" I said a little prayer, "Lord, I really wish You would send someone who needs these tomatoes."

I got a call today (Monday) about them. They guy wanted to come today and buy them all! I was here so I said come on over. While I was waiting I started to think about the whole thing. I've never in four years sold all the tomatoes. I wonder if this had been orchestrated by God for the good of someone. When the man showed up, we talked and I asked what he was doing with all these tomatoes. He said, "I'm growing food to give to the old people who live in the high-rise near my home. Most of them are on welfare and barely make it through the month. I'm also giving what is left to second Harvest Meals on wheels". I knew it!  God knew that he would need tomatoes when no one else had them for sale and he hooked us up through Craig's list. He got nearly 200 tomato plants for $45! I gave him all the squash and peppers I had left too. God Blessed us both - I got rid of all the tomatoes and he got a deal too! I hope he has a bumper crop and feeds a bunch of people!

This fall he is going to send me his list of tomatoes for next year and I'm going to grow them for him. I love the way God works in our lives and I'm always grateful when I recoginize when He is working.

June 12, 2015


                            Bill sent me this information - some I already knew some not. I looked at the 5 pound jar of honey that I always keep in our pantry. Here is the label - looks fairly safe right? Look again at the stamp on top! Vietnam - guess who is finding another source of honey?

Read on....
Smithfield Farms, the largest pork producing farm in the USA was sold to China with the unanimous support of its stockholders!! The hogs are still raised here, but slaughtered and packaged for sale there before being sent back here.  This includes labels of MorrellEckrich
Premium HamsCook's
The same with many chickens.  They can now be shipped there, but when they come back all that needs to be labelled is that they  WERE RAISED IN THE USA.  Not that they were processed in China !!! Our great FDA at work again.  The chickens will be all processed and most sold to fast food restaurants for sandwiches, along with schools and supermarkets.  The China slaughter and processing are not nearly equal to the requirements here.
We recently learned that Starkist Tuna is now owned by Korea, and is in big conflict with the U.S.concerning quality, safety, and records, which Korea refuses to produce.
Read several articles on Google about this, and even one that was defending the eating of tilapia said to avoid the fish that came from China?
Also, I had just returned home from buying  Albertson's 4-day special of 4 bags of frozen tilapia for the price of one?  Sure enough, on the top of the bags, it read "farm raised", and on the bottom in small print it said, "China"read all the way to the end....
Recently a Food inspector on TV... said he had lived overseas and he had seen the filthy conditions their foods are raised and processed in. It is enough to make you throw up.  Some foreign workers have to wear masks as they work in these places, because the food is so rotten and filthy, it makes them want to throw up.  Many of their fish on Fish Farms are fed raw sewage daily.  He said he has seen so much filth throughout their food growing and processing that he would "never" eat any of it.  They raise this filth, put some food colouring and some flavourings on it, then they ship it to the USA & Canada for YOU to consume and feed to YOUR families. They have no Food & Safety Inspectors.  They ship it to you to buy and poison your families and friends.
Imported food we eat and the junk we buy:
 Green Giant frozen vegetables are from China,
and so are most of Europe's Best.
 Arctic Gardens are OK  so is Birdseye.*Never buy the grocery store garlic unless it is clearly marked from USA or Canada*, the other stuff is grown in people poop (even worse than chicken poop). China is the largest producer of garlic in the world; U.S. is next.
*Buy only local honey*, much honey is shipped in huge containers from China and re-packed here.
Cold-FX is grown and packed in China and is full of fecal bacteria.  Doesn't work anyway, big scam.
If the country of origin is not clearly marked, beware.If produce, ask an employee.
Watch out for packages which state "prepared for", "packed by" or "imported by". We don't understand the lack of mandatory labelling, especially the produce.
The country of origin should be clearly shown on the item in the store.
Go to the local farmers' markets in season and keep a wary eye open the rest of the year.
Please read this very carefully, and read to the very bottom.  It's important for all of us.
How is it possible to ship food from China cheaper than having it produced in the U. S. or Canada?
Beware, Costco sells canned peaches and pears in a plastic jar that come from China ..
*Recently The Montreal Gazette had an article* by the Canadian Government on how Chinese feed the fish: They suspend chicken wire crates over the fish ponds, and the fish feed on chicken poop.
If you search the internet about what the Chinese feed their fish, you'll be alarmed;  eg: growth hormones, expired anti- biotic from humans?  Never buy any type of fish or shellfish that comes from these countries
Check this out personally.
Steinfeld's Pickles are made in India - just as bad!
Another example is in canned mushrooms.  No-Name brand came from Indonesia.
Also check those little fruit cups.  They used to be made in Canada in the Niagara region until about 2 years ago. They are now packaged in China. Most sold in Aldi stores.
While the Chinese export inferior and even toxic products, dangerous toys, and goods to be sold in North American markets, the media wrings its hands!  Yet, 70% of North Americans believe that the trading privileges afforded to the Chinese should be suspended.
Well, duh ! Why do you need the government to suspend trading privileges?
Simply look on the bottom of every product you buy, and if it says 'Made in China' or 'PRC' (and that now includes Hong Kong ), simply choose another product, or none at all.  You will be amazed at how dependent you are on Chinese products, and you will be equally amazed at what you can do without.
If 200 million North Americans refuse to buy just $20 each of Chinese goods, thats a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favour ... fast!  The downside?  Some Canadian/American businesses will feel a temporary pinch from having foreign stockpiles of inventory.
Just one month of trading losses will hit the Chinese for 8% of their North American exports.  Then they will at least have to ask themselves if the benefits of their arrogance and lawlessness are worth it.*START NOW and don't stop, and tell your friends*Send this to everybody you know.  Let's show them that we are intelligent, and NOBODY can take us for granted. *Start reading labels more closely and buy something else even if it cost a few cents more*. 

May 29, 2015

Notes on My Straw Bale Garden Experiment

Straw Bale Garden May 30 2014
I have very little sun in my yard for a vegetable garden. The only sunny spot I have is on a slope where all the water in the neighborhood drains through.  Even if I amended the soil and tilled it up, the next rain would wash it away.I decided last year to try Straw Bale Gardening. I read all the articles I could find on the subject and then, in typical Kathy  fashion, I tweaked what I had read to suit my situation. I'm totally OK with organic but I honestly didn't want to go to the expense and trouble of organic fertilizer etc so I used a pelleted 6-12-12 fertilizer. I tweaked my recipe again this year.

As you can see above, we put metal fence posts in the ground to hold the bales in place. These are permanent so I'm good to go this year. I also put greenhouse ground cover on the ground last year before we laid out the bales and it should  last several years. JoJo helped. The wires in the photo above were added to hold up tomatoes and vines.

The following is what I did this spring to start my garden and so far it is working as well as all the trouble I went to last year (adding fertilizer several days, watering it in, etc)

Be sure you use straw bales NOT hay bales. Place then CUT SIDE UP where you want to garden. I didn't get around to buying the bales this year until the 2nd week in April.  It was a couple of weeks before I got around to preparing the bales. When I did get to that, I sprinkled  all the bales liberally with 6-12-12 pelleted fertilizer and watered it in good.   That's all I did! God watered it well because we have had a fairly wet spring.

When I got ready to plant or put my baby seedlings into the bales (about 3 weeks after the application of fertilizer), I added about an inch or two of well rotted horse manure to the tops of all the bales. Compost would work too - that's what I used last year. This helps especially if you are planting seeds. All you need to do is pry the straw apart enough to poke the plants in. The compost helps fill in the space around them. Water in and you are done!

I set my first plants the 2nd weekend of May. I did plant Asparagus Bean seeds straight into the manure on top of the bales. They were up in less than a week! Last year I had beans and peas and they did well but I decided not to plant them this year. They took up too much room and after all, beans are cheap in summer. The Asparagus Beans are not available in my local market so I added them in among the squash and pepper plants. They will grow up and the squash will grow down.

Squash Buds
It is only the  5th week so my babies have been growing in the bales for only 2 weeks, They are looking great - the squash even have tiny buds! Beans are up too. I planted Lettuce about 3 days ago and look how fast it has jumped up! You can see the Manure in the pictures. I'm sure we will have a yummy harvest of Tomatoes, Squash, Peppers, Basil, Dill, Beans and lettuces. I'm going to plant lettuce seeds every two weeks until the weather gets too warm.

Baby Lettuces

Last year I planted the squash near the ends of the bales. I repeated this again this year. They grew down over the sides and onto the ground cover - no mildew or insects! I had one squash borer and I buried the bad place under the compost and the vine just kept on growing and making squash!

I plan to write another Kindle book about my straw bale experiments this fall.