Friday, April 20, 2018

Beautiful Milk Thistle Silyburn Eburneum

Bloom of Milk Thistle Silyburn Eburneum

Oh, I just couldn't wait to show you this bloom! Earlier this winter I had written an article for Natural Family Today on naturalizing beautiful weeds and natives. The photo I used in the article was when this Milk Thistle was still an infant. Now it is about 4 1/2 ft. tall and nearly 3 ft. wide. I can't believe it!! I knew it was special from the first time I layed eyes on it and have anxiously awaited its crowing glory.

Needless to say, the article didn't get a whole lot of attention. I wasn't surprised since it seems to be a whole new concept for most folks to keep weeds in their gardens. Many people still don't understand that many weeds are so very beneficial for human health as well as for wildlife and diversity. So it is my hope as always, to maybe convince a few more gardeners to perhaps think twice about pulling them up.


As I glanced through the photos I had taken this morning, I thought to myself that it was almost as if heaven was shinning its light down upon this precious plant.

If we were to keep pulling up the Milk Thistle, such as this we could loose one of the most valuable resources in nature to heal the human liver. This plant is edible either fresh or steamed. Also the seeds are said to have a tremendous health impact for problems related to the liver caused by chemicals and toxins. Christopher Hobbs had written a very informative article for the Herb Companion, going into great detail on studies done in Germany on Milk Thistle. He also includes dosages and precautions for using it medically.

I hope to capture some more photos of this amazing plant with some activity surrounding it with our local wildlife. This plant offers much food for butterflies and birds, such as the Gold Finch that enjoys eating its seed. It is said that the Gold Finch also enjoys nesting within the plant. I certainly can see how it could protect the young nest with the sword sharp jagged edges of the leaves.

It is my desire to let this Milk Thistle naturalize with in my garden and so we shall keep you updated on its progress. I also want to welcome you to come and visit our Facebook Page and share with us some of your favorite photos of your beautiful weeds.

Happy Gardening!!
Pammy

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Growing Organic Potatoes Made Easy

Red LaSoda Seed Potatoes

Valentines Day means more than just Cupids here in the garden. It really means Potato Planting Thyme in Texas!

Mr. Garden, also known as El Spud by some has the easiest system for growing clean and easy potatoes in raised beds.


This year it seems one of the several compost piles had lots of extra oak tree leaves. We always use what we seem to have the most in as far as organic material goes. Last year it seems it was pine straw that was used. 

Part of the raised beds get filled with leaves. Then as you can see, Mr. Garden tosses in some seed potatoes.


Then we get in there and space them in nice straight rows about a foot to 18" apart. Pretty easy so far!


Next he simply covers the potatoes with more leaves. 


Our four raised beds take about 6 lbs. of seed potato. Mr. Garden likes to buy them just the right size (smallish) so we have no need to cut them like you would for the really big seed potatoes.

All that will be left to do is to water them in and wait for them to grow. As they grow you will just simply add a bit more leaves on the top. 

Be sure to check out my potato harvest article from last year.Storing and freezing harvested potatoes.

Here's to a Fresh New Year and Bountiful Harvesting!

Happy Gardening!
Pammy

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Chemical Free Gardening

Take The 3 Step Challenge To Chemical Free Gardening
The Monarch Caterpillar
“The 3 Step Challenge is designed to get you well on your way to a chemical free Garden.  Chemical free gardening is all about nature. The goal for every natural gardener is to bring nature back into balance. As this happens harmony will begin to replace the chemicals.” ~ Pamela Kimsey
How we approach natural gardening can be our greatest challenge. No one wants bugs to devour their vegetables. Nor do we want wild animals destroying all of our hard work.
The trick to changing our chemical dependency is in developing a new way of thinking. Instead of working against nature we begin working right along with it.
It is hard for first time gardeners and even old time gardeners who have always depended on the use of chemicals. Many changes will be taking place within the whole ecosystem of the garden. It takes time to overcome some of the challenges you will most likely be faced with.
We can prolong the actual progress of the balanced natural garden each time we use a chemical. This includes many organic chemicals and some of the homemade solutions, especially when used improperly.

First Challenge: Breaking the Habit

It is our nature to want instant results. When insects invade our garden our first instinct is finding the quickest way to get rid of them. With chemicals so easily available we usually grab one without thinking. There most likely was a natural solution.
Challenge: Patience! There are many factors to first consider. Research the problem and talk with experienced and successful natural gardeners. They love sharing tips and tricks.

Second Challenge: Get Familiar with Nature

This means to learn about things in nature. Get to know the bugs and the weeds common to your area. Some bugs are pests while others are helpful. Some weeds can be obnoxious while others benefit natural pollinators and wildlife in general. Get to know the things you cannot 'see that live in your soil. You will find harmful ones that live there as well as the ones you must have for healthy soil and plants.
Challenge: Wisdom! You're never to old to learn new things. Wisdom usually comes with practice. Find books on the subject and websites. Begin to notice the small things that are happening in your garden. The relationships between plants, the birds, the bees and the butterflies, the life cycles of insects and their natural predators. It’s all a lifetime of learning.

 Third Challenge: Trust Nature

Coming to realize that nature has always done perfectly fine all on its own before mans intervention is a great place to begin. Think of the natural forest and all that is within it and how it all works together from the tips of the tallest trees to the very ground beneath them. You can create the same perfect balance in your garden.
Challenge: Faith! The more you begin to take notice in even the smallest of things the larger your faith will grow. Once you’ve noticed a simple ladybug devour clusters of aphids on an infested plant and you didn’t need to do a thing to control the aphids you will be well on your way to balance and harmony in your chemical free garden. Nature truly is a beautiful creation handed to us to tend and care for in the most natural way.

Happy Gardening!

Pammy

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mexican Hot Chocolate In A Mason Jar

The kitchen gardens bountiful summer harvest of herbs are hanging about drying for winters use. The fragrances fill the air indoors as we begin to settle in on some chilly fall nights.  The aroma beckons their use in that first warm cup of homemade cocoa.  Who am I to argue with such things? It’s time to pull out the mugs and teapot.

The special blend for this cocoa stems from the history deep within the Mayan Indians and preserved among the Mexican People. Using a Mexican chocolate called Ibarra gives the cocoa a sweet touch of cinnamon. The final touch is an infusion made from the herb Mexican Mint Marigold. Also called “Texas Tarragon,”  the herb gives the cocoa the faint southern flavors of anise and licorice.

Mexican Mint Marigold comes from high within the mountainous regions of Mexico. It’s the perfect herb to grow in the southern regions where Tarragon simply won’t grow. The perennial is very drought tolerant and makes a beautiful display in our kitchen garden during the fall months. The tiny golden yellow flowers are among the last to bloom before frost still providing food to the honeybees. If harvested while the flowers remain on the stalks and hung to dry adds extra beauty to garden and herb crafts.

Simply add your cocoa to a mason jar and decorate with a sprig of Mexican Mint Marigold or your favorite mint, along with a couple sticks of cinnamon. Tie it on the mouth of the jar with a piece of jute rope or raffia. They make a simple and elegant gift to give during the holidays.

Mexican Mint Marigold (Texas Tarragon)

Mexican Cocoa

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped Mexican chocolate (Ibarra)

Optional: pinch of dried Mexican Mint Marigold finely crushed

I put a couple nice size teaspoons of the cocoa mix in my favorite chocolate mug and sprinkled a small pinch of Mexican Mint Marigold on top. Just pour on some hot water and enjoy the warm Mayan Indian chocolate flavor.

Happy Gardening!
Pammy

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ginger Snap Cookies


It is truly fall around the house when I bake the first batch of Ginger Snap Cookies. The fragrance of Cinnamon and Ginger always does the trick.

I've been making this recipe for about 23 years now since my mother sent me a cookbook that women from her church had made. The ladies name who shared this cookie recipe was named Laura Covey. I don't know her, but I thank her because it turned out to be my son's favorite cookie.

I also use these Ginger Snaps to make my pie crust for pumpkin and squash cheesecakes. I always have to hide some cookies so I have enough to make the pie crusts.

I never changed a thing in this recipe until recently. I decided to change up on using the Shortening. I found an awesome way of switching it that has worked out perfectly and much healthier.

When baking the cookies it is important not to let them get over done. They should still want to be almost to soft to lift off the cookie pan with your spatula. That way when they cool they won't be to hard and still have a soft middle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup Grandmas Molasses
1 egg
2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger

Directions

Cream sugar and butter and coconut oil, add molasses and the egg. Sift salt, spices and flour, add to the creamed mixture. Stir and blend well.

Place cookie dough in the fridge until cold. One or two hours is good.

Roll dough into round balls about the size of a walnut. Roll them in some sugar and place on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes. Check them while baking to not let them turn to dark.

Happy Gardening and Happy Baking As Well!!!
Pammy

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Butternut Swirl Cheesecake


This cheesecake is a huge hit with my entire family and several special friends.

I usually reserve making it until Thanksgiving but I have a huge basket of heirloom butternut squash just screaming to be used. Aside from the fact that it was my son's request for his Birthday Cake.

The recipe originally comes from Kraft Foods Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but with a few modifications I've turned it into my own personal garden kitchen work of art.

 Instead of the pumpkin that Kraft uses, I've substituted with some winter squash.

The crust is what really pulls this cheesecake together. I've been making my own gingersnap cookies for many years mainly just for this cake. You can find the link for the cookie recipe in a previous post by clicking here.

It's quite simple to crush the cookies with some pecans or even walnuts and add some butter to them to press into your cheesecake pan. I also love to sprinkle some fresh organic pumpkin seeds on the top for an extra special treat. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Ingredients

2 cups crushed homemade gingersnap cookies
1/2 cup crushed pecans (walnuts can be used)
6 tbsp. organic unsalted butter
3 pkg. Organic cream cheese
1 cup sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 cup steamed fresh butternut squash pureed
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
dash of cloves
1 or 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds for top (optional)
Greek God Yogurt, Pinch of Pure Vanilla Extract and a dash of Cinnamon for topping (optional)
Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use a 9" spring form cheesecake pan.

Mix crushed gingersnap cookies with the crushed pecans. Add melted butter and mix in with a fork. Press into your pan to at least 1/2 to 2 inches up the sides. 

Beat softened cream cheese, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the plain batter in a small bowl and set aside. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, pureed butternut squash and spices to the remaining batter.

Pour the squash batter into your pan on your crust. Take your reserved plain batter and by the spoonful dollop on the top of your squash mixture. Cut through the batters with a knife several times to swirl it and get the desired effect.

 Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds.
Bake for 55 minutes or until the center is almost set. Let cool before opening the rim to your spring form pan. You might want to run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen it before you open it. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

If you like to add a dollop of cream on top I recommend Plain Greek God Or Honey Greek God Yogurt. Stir in a pinch of pure vanilla extract and cinnamon and it makes a lovely tasty creamy topping.

Happy Gardening and Happy Baking As Well!!
Pammy

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Heirloom Honey Tomato Ketchup

This is a healthier version of homemade ketchup using some of the delicious chemical free and local honey my dear garden friend Ruth traded me for one of my watermelon jams. Great Trade I think!! 

No sugar when canning your own and none of the other nasty processed stuff they put in the ketchup sold at the market. 

For those of you who are sold on the tremendous flavors that heirloom tomatoes give us, you will also appreciate those flavors in this recipe. 

It's like what real ketchup use to taste like many years ago.

I must be a tomato rebel, because I simply have never found any reason to remove the skins or the seeds in my tomatoes. It's all good and I don't want to waste an ounce of any of them. 


When you blend the tomatoes for this ketchup there are no seeds to be seen or found. It's rich and creamy and thick!! 

I also love the flavor of my heirloom sweet Italian peppers after they've turned nice and red. But you could use a red sweet bell pepper or any other of your favorite sweet peppers. 

Actually you can make it spicy and use mildly hot peppers here as well as really hot ones. It's all up to your personal tastes, so be creative and make it suit you and your family! 

Ingredients
Makes 4 Pints
15 cups heirloom tomatoes, chopped (The best are Roma and Paste)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 or 2 large garlic cloves, minced
10 to 12 red sweet Italian Peppers (1 red bell, or sweet peppers of your choice)
1 1/2  cup 5% white vinegar (apple cider vinegar may be used)
2 tsp. fresh celery seeds
2 tsp. whole mustard seeds
2 to 3 fresh cinnamon sticks
1/2  to 3/4 cup honey 
1 tbsp. Sea Salt


Directions
Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and vinegar to a large non reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Next, remove your pot from the heat and place your mixture in the food processor or blender a little at a time until well pureed. Add it all back into your pot and add the honey and salt.

You will need to make a spice bag out of cheese cloth to hold all your spices. Just tie a knot at both ends of the clothe and place it in your sauce. 

Bring back to a gentle boil. Again, reduce heat and simmer for another 30 minutes. This time stir it often until it reaches the desired consistency.

Pour your ketchup into hot sterilized jars. Wipe rims with clean cloth and place on lids and bands. Boil in water bath caner for 30 minutes.

Remove and put on counter out of any draft. Let set until cooled and store in pantry. 

Happy Gardening and Happy Canning!
Pammy