Saturday, May 31, 2014


Here is another report our research team came up with showing how some states are trying to make it unlawful to farm even on a small scale!  Just one more reason to start or join a farm activist association for Idaho's small farms!  Perhaps we should be considering how we keep these type of regulations out of Idaho County?

Michigan to criminalize small family farms with chickens, goats, honey bees and more

May 2 • Government Watch • 910 Views • 15 Comments

right to farm sqIn the latest stunning assault on Americans’ right to grow their own food, the freedom-crushing state of Michigan has ruled that local governments (cities, towns, counties) can now ban any animal they wish from small residential farms. The move opens the door to the mass criminalization of backyard farms and small, residential farming operations where people might keep a few goats or honey bees for food security.

According to Michigan Public Radio (1), the ruling could ban all chickens, goats, honey bees and other animals from farms which have another residential house less than 250 feet away.

Off The Grid News(2) goes on to report:
Some homesteaders in Michigan could find themselves in a complete regulatory limbo because of the Commission’s action. Blogger, writer and organic farmer Michelle Regalado Deatrick does not know if she’ll be able to keep her livestock, because about half of her 80-acre farm may not be zoned for farm animals.

“We’re building up a mixed production farm, planning to farm during retirement, and we have a permit in hand for a livestock facility,” Deatrick said, “…Now we’re having to reconsider our business plans and may sell the farm and buy a farm in a more rural area with definite [Right To Farm] protection, or move to another state that’s more welcoming and protective of small farm rights.”

Michigan DNR previously ordered small local farmer to shoot his own pigs

Michigan is the same state where the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) ordered one small, local farmer to shoot all his pigs because they were the wrong “race” of pigs. This genocidal demand by the Michigan state government echoes a tyrannical anti-farming agenda at the highest levels of state government.

Michigan is also the state where Julie Bass of Oak Park was threatened with jail time for teaching her children how to grow vegetables in their own home garden. All charges against Julie were later dropped after Natural News and other independent news sources publicly shamed Oak Park bureaucrats into backing down.

Nationwide, people who attempt to grow their own food are routinely threatened with arrest and fines. One woman in Oklahoma suffered the complete destruction of her medicinal herb landscaping by local city officials who raided her home garden while she was away.

The war against small farms is an attack against America

This obscene war against small farms is an attack against America herself. Our heritage, values, and culture are forever interwtined with small local farms.

Attacks against small local farms are also attacks on America’s food security. Local, independent food production provides a buffer against systemic food failures that might occur, for example, after an EMP attack causes a national power grid blackout. Without power, centralized systems of food production, harvesting, transportation and retailing cannot function. But small, local farms can still produce food without electricity. So any attack against local farming is, in essense, an attack on America’s national security.

And no state seems to be more determined to undermine America’s national food security than Michigan, where state leaders appear to be even more insane than the leaders of Illinois.

Natural News urges farmers everywhere to fight back against this insanity and stand up for your divine right to produce your own food on your own property. Any government “authority” that attempts to take this right away from you is no authority at all: it is a tyranny.

With food prices already skyrocketing nationwide, and food security on the brink of systemic failures, only a government run by absolute fools would try to limit local food production. Perhaps when these bureaucrats are all starving one day, they can eat their regulations.

Sources for this article include:

Source: Natural News

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014


10 Reasons Why This Is, By Far, The Best Lettuce

best lettuce sqGreen leaf, red leaf, butterhead and iceberg are just a few common types of lettuce available at most markets. However, in terms of nutrient density, none are healthier than Romaine.
There are plenty of other green leafs which are even healthier such as spinach, kale, arugula, radicchio, endive etc, but for common lettuce types, romaine is king. Leafy greens in general are likely the number one food you can eat to regularly help improve your health.

If you start your meal with a salad made of romaine lettuce you will be sure to add not only a variety of textures and flavors to your meal but an enormous amount of nutritional value. Most of the domestic U.S. harvest of romaine lettuce and other salad greens comes from California and is available throughout the year.

Native to the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia, lettuce has a long and distinguished history. With depictions appearing in ancient Egyptian tombs, the cultivation of lettuce is thought to date back to at least 4500 BC. The ancient Greeks and Romans held lettuce in high regard both as a food and for its therapeutic medicinal properties.

In Great Britain, Romaine lettuce is known as “cos lettuce”. Many dictionaries trace the word cos to the name of the Greek island of Cos, from which the lettuce was presumably introduced.

It apparently reached the West via Rome, as in Italian it is called lattuga romana and in French laitue romaine, both meaning ‘Roman lettuce’, hence the name ‘romaine’, the common term in American English.

Health Benefits
The vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber found in romaine lettuce are especially good for the prevention or alleviation of many common health complaints.

As with other dark leafy greens, the antioxidants contained within romaine lettuce are believed to help prevent cancer. According to the 2011 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the chlorophyll pigment in dark leafy greens, such as Romaine lettuce, may reduce levels of colon and liver cancer carcinogens.

Due to its extremely low calorie content and high water volume, romaine lettuce–while often overlooked in the nutrition world–is actually a very nutritious food. Based on its nutrient richness, our food ranking system qualified it as an excellent source of vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene), vitamin K, folate, and molybdenum. Romaine lettuce also emerged from our ranking system as a very good source of dietary fiber, four minerals (manganese, potassium, copper, and iron), and three vitamins (biotin, vitamin B1, and vitamin C).

All common lettuce varieties are considered hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause allergic reactions), but romaine lettuce may offer additional health benefits for people who suffer from allergies thanks to its high folate content (one ounce of romaine delivers 10% of the Daily Value for this B complex vitamin). A 2009 study examined the blood folate levels of more than 8,000 people with and without asthma and allergies and found that people with the lowest serum folate levels were 31% more likely to have allergies and 40% more likely to have wheeze than those with the highest levels of folate. The inverse association also appeared to be dose-dependent, meaning that the people with the highest levels of folate were least likely to suffer from allergies or wheezing. This study appeared in the June 2009 issue of the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Romaine’s vitamin C and beta-carotene content make it a heart-healthy green. Vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol becomes oxidized, it becomes sticky and starts to build up in the artery walls forming plaques. If these plaques become too large, they can block off blood flow or break, causing a clot that triggers a heart attack or stroke. The fiber in Romaine lettuce adds another plus in its column of heart-healthy effects. In the colon, fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. This forces the body to make more bile, which is helpful because it must break down cholesterol to do so. This is just one way in which fiber is able to lower high cholesterol levels.

Phytochemicals may be as important as any single nutrient in supplemental form. Phytochemicals are some of the most biologically active substances found on Earth. They give fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains their rich colors, flavors, and aromas. But phytochemicals also detoxify the body by neutralizing free radicals, inhibiting enzymes that activate carcinogens, and most of all boosting immunity. The new study in the Nature Immunology found that dietary factors, and in particular consumption of cruciferous leafy greens, control the activity of vital immune cells through the activation of a particular gene known as T-bet.

Equally beneficial to heart health is Romaine’s folate content. This B vitamin is needed by the body to convert a damaging chemical calledhomocysteine into other, benign substances. If not converted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessels, thus greatly increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition, romaine lettuce is a very good source of potassium, which has been shown in numerous studies to be useful in lowering high blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease. With its folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber content, romaine lettuce can significantly contribute to a heart-healthy diet.

1. Low Calorie Content
Lettuce has only 17 calories for every 100 grams. This is why it can be consumed in massive quantities without dramatically increasing daily calorie consumption.

2. Helps Weight Loss
Romaine lettuce contains fiber and cellulose. Besides filling you up, fiber improves your digestion. Improving your digestion is actually essential for long term weight control.

Fiber also helps remove bile salts from the body. When the body replaces these salts it breaks down cholesterol to do so. This is why romaine lettuce is also good for your heart!

3. Heart Healthy

Romaine Lettuce’s vitamin C and beta-carotene work together to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. This prevents the build up of plaque.

4. Omega-3 Fatty acids
Romaine lettuce has a two to one ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. That’s a great ratio. The fat content in lettuce is not significant UNLESS you eat a lot–but we actually suggest you do!

5. Complete Protein

Romaine lettuce’s calories are 20 percent protein. Like all whole foods, much of this protein is complete, but the amount can be increased by combining with balancing proteins.

6. Helps with Insomnia
The white fluid that you see when you break or cut lettuce leaves is called lactucarium.

This has relaxing and sleep inducing properties similar to opium but without the strong side effects. Simply eat a few leaves or drink some lettuce juice.

7. Romaine Lettuce is Alkaline Forming
The minerals in romaine lettuce help remove toxins and keep your acid/alkaline balance in order. Once you are balanced on this level there are a host of benefits including greater energy, clearer thinking, deep restful sleep, and youthful skin.

8. Low Glycemic Index
Romaine Lettuce has an average glycemic index of 15, but because it has so few calories, its glycemic load is considered zero. Foods with low glycemic indexes are great for anyone watching their blood sugars for medical reasons, or for weight management.

Of course, lettuce has no refined or white sugars and the host of problems that come with them.

9. Whole Life Food
Romaine Lettuce is almost always eaten raw, providing us with many micronutrients not found in cooked or processed food. Eating raw food also adds vital energies not recognized by nutritional science.

Large food corporations have not found a way to package lettuce long term or stick it in cans or boxes. Let’s hope they never do!

In fact, lettuce is one of the few foods which can be found organic and prewashed already in bins for you to eat immediately.

10. Lettuce Tastes Great
Even though lettuce is very low in calories, many varieties still have a sweet taste. To maximize benefits from your food you should really WANT to eat it with your whole body–not just your mind saying it is good for you. If you like the bitter taste you can find more bitter lettuce options, too!

How to Reap the Health Benefits of Romaine Lettuce

Now that we’ve established that romaine lettuce is good for you, it’s time to look at how you can maximize the health benefits of romaine. Here are a few tips:

-Buy organic romaine lettuce or grow your own crop using organic methods — conventionally-grown lettuce typically contains high levels of pesticides which can cause ill health.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


     Our research team found the following information about wheat we thought was very interesting, it was taken from REAl, a great place to read about great things dealing with our food and health.  There website is linked below, check it out.

Something Horrible Was Done To Our Wheat In The 60′s That We’re Just Realizing Now

May 19 • Health • 42 Views • Comments Off

Gluten intolerance is no longer a fringe medical concept. Researchers are fully aware there is a very big problem with modern wheat cultivation. Wheat is far from being a health food. It makes you fat, causes gas and makes your intestinal tract your enemy, or rather vice-versa. High-yielding and now genetically modified varieties of wheat are making this one cereal grain you’ll probably want to axe from your food list.

horrible that we're just now
233 consumer and farmer groups in 26 countries have joined the “Definitive Global Rejection of GM Wheat” statement to stop the commercialization of genetically modified (GM) wheat and remind the biotechnology corporation Monsanto that genetically modifying this major crop is not acceptable to farmers or consumers.

     So how–and when–did this ancient grain become such a serious health threat? Author and preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD, says it’s when big agriculture stepped in decades ago to develop a higher-yielding crop. Today’s “wheat,” he says, isn’t even wheat, thanks to some of the most intense crossbreeding efforts ever seen. “The wheat products sold to you today are nothing like the wheat products of our grandmother’s age, very different from the wheat of the early 20th Century, and completely transformed from the wheat of the Bible and earlier,” he says.

     Plant breeders changed wheat in dramatic ways. Once more than four feet tall, modern wheat–the type grown in 99 percent of wheat fields around the world–is now a stocky two-foot-tall plant with an unusually large seed head. Dr. Davis says accomplishing this involved crossing wheat with non-wheat grasses to introduce altogether new genes, using techniques like irradiation of wheat seeds and embryos with chemicals, gamma rays, and high-dose X-rays to induce mutations.

     In July 2009, the most hated company in the world Monsanto, announced new research into GM wheat and industry groups kicked their promotion of GM wheat into high gear. “Widespread farmer and consumer resistance defeated GM wheat in 2004 and this global rejection remains strong, as demonstrated by today’s statement,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

     “In 2004, a coalition of Japanese consumer and food industry groups delivered a petition to the Governments of Canada and the U.S. urging them not to introduce GM wheat. Today, consumer rejection of GM wheat in Japan is just as strong as ever. 80 organizations in Japan have already signed the rejection statement,” said Keisuke Amagasa of the Tokyo-based No! GMO Campaign. “A large majority of consumers here in Japan are voicing their strong opposition to the cultivation of GM wheat. We see strong opposition from all sectors of society.”

     Japan’s flour companies are also rejecting GM wheat, echoing consumer opposition. In a statement released today, the Flour Miller’s Association of Japan wrote to the No! GMO Campaign indicating its opposition.

     “Under the present circumstances, with all the doubts about safety and the environment that the consumers in Japan have, including the effect on the human body from GM foods, GM wheat is included among the items that are not acceptable for the Japanese market,” Kadota Masaaki, senior managing director of the Flour Miller’s Association wrote to the No! GMO Campaign.

     Clearfield Wheat, grown on nearly 1 million acres in the Pacific Northwest and sold by BASF Corporation–the world’s largest chemical manufacturer–was created in a geneticist’s lab by exposing wheat seeds and embryos to the mutation-inducing industrial toxin sodium azide, a substance poisonous to humans and known for exploding when mishandled, says Dr. Davis. This hybridized wheat doesn’t survive in the wild, and most farmers rely on toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides to keep the crops alive.

     So what does all of this plant science have to do with what’s ailing us? Intense crossbreeding created significant changes in the amino acids in wheat’s glutenproteins, a potential cause for the 400 percent increase in celiac disease over the past 40 years. Wheat’s gliadin protein has also undergone changes, with what appears to be a dire consequence. “Compared to its pre-1960s predecessor, modern gliadin is a potent appetite stimulant,” explains Dr. Davis. “The new gliadin proteins may also account for the explosion in inflammatory diseases we’re seeing.”

     An intolerance to gluten can cause a wide array of symptoms, some debilitating. Moreover, delays in diagnosis or common misdiagnoses can be devastating to long-term health. Gerta Farber elaborates on her research and personal experience with Celiac disease.

     A powerful little chemical in wheat known as ‘wheat germ agglutinin’ (WGA) which is largely responsible for many of wheat’s pervasive, and difficult to diagnose, ill effects. Researchers are now discovering that WGA in modern wheat is very different from ancient strains. Not only does WGA throw a monkey wrench into our assumptions about the primary causes of wheat intolerance, but due to the fact that WGA is found in highest concentrations in “whole wheat,” including its supposedly superior sprouted form, it also pulls the rug out from under one of the health food industry’s favorite poster children.

     Below the radar of conventional serological testing for antibodies against the various gluten proteins and genetic testing for disease susceptibility, the WGA “lectin problem” remains almost entirely obscured. Lectins, though found in all grains, seeds, legumes, dairy and our beloved nightshades: the tomato and potato, are rarely discussed in connection with health or illness, even when their presence in our diet may greatly reduce both the quality and length of our lives.

     The appetite-stimulating properties of modern wheat most likely occurred as an accidental by-product of largely unregulated plant breeding methods, Dr. Davis explains. But he charges that it’s impact on inflammatory diseases may have something to do with the fact that, in the past 15 years, it’s been showing up in more and more processed foods. Wheat ingredients are now found in candy, Bloody Mary mixes, lunch meats, soy sauce, and even wine coolers.

     As if making you hungrier wasn’t enough, early evidence suggests that modern wheat’s new biochemical code causes hormone disruption that is linked to diabetes and obesity. “It is not my contention that it is in everyone’s best interest to cut back on wheat; it is my belief thatcomplete elimination is in everyone’s best health interests,” says Dr. Davis, “In my view, that’s how bad this thing called ‘wheat’ has become.”

Replace Wheat With Spelt

     Spelt is an ancient grain that has lately made a comeback in North America, even though it has been popular through the decades in many European countries. Spelt is a non-hybrid distant relative to present day wheat. Spelt’s uniqueness is derived from its genetic makeup and nutrition profile. Spelt has high water solubility, so nutrients are easily absorbed by the body making it easy to digest. It is high in protein (significantly higher than wheat), higher in B complex vitamins, and spelt is high in both simple and complex carbohydrates. These complex carbohydrates are an important factor in blood clotting and stimulating the body’s immune system. Spelt is a suberb fiber resource. Spelt’s nutty flavor doesn’t just taste good, it has so many other nutritional benefits that are amazingly good for you! Keep reading to find out more about how spelt’s nutrients contribute to lower risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease, type II diabetes, and can lessen occurrences of migraine headaches.

     Spelt is more difficult to process than modern wheat varieties, making it alittle more expensive to purchase. Spelt’s husk protects it from pollutants and insects which allows growers to avoid using pesticides, unlike other grains. The husk needs to be mechanically separated from the kernal before milling (this is done after it is thrashed and harvested). The spelt is stored in good, low moisture conditions in order to protect the kernal, retain nutrients, and maintain freshness. Over decades, modern wheat has been drastically changed to be easier to grow and harvest. This in turn increases yields, maintains a high gluten content in the wheat to produce high-volume commercial baked goods. On the other hand, spelt has preserved many of its original traits and continues to remain highly nutritious and full of flavor. And spelt can make fantastic breads and delicious pastries.

     A note about gluten: Keep in mind that spelt does contain gluten. Gluten is made up of glutenin and gliadin molecules. Gluten provides elasticity to dough, which allows bread to rise. Even though spelt’s gluten is more fragile than other wheats, the bread produces fewer air pockets, it is well formed and maintains its flavorful taste.

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Monday, May 19, 2014


     The following information was taken from the latest issue of Mother Earth News written by Al Nichols of Penticton, British Colombia.  Although that which is presented is a very labor intensive method of constructing raised beds it is also a very inexpensive way to produce multiple beds for ones expanding garden.  I have personally toured homes in the foothills of Northern California that were constructed by this rammed earth method; I fell in love with the aesthetics of being surrounding with earth, even walking on rammed earth floors was very pleasant.  Some of you may know that there are a few of these types of homes in our own area.  

     Still, there is more than one way to create a rammed earth grow bed.  You may remember that last year I was given a brand new in the crate earth brick machine (it also presses blocks and pavers) manufactured by 'Open Source Ecology'.  It has the same capacity of utilizing the earth to produce walls and floors but in units much easier for us old dogs to handle.  This type of brick needs no mortar at all to achieve adhesion, when stacked they will adhere to one another quite easily by just dampening  the top of the last course of brick.  It could especially be helpful in forming new raised grow beds for members of Neighborhood Dirt, but it needs to be assembled; it's only time, right!  For more information on assembly, google 'Open Source Ecology'. 

     Rammed earth garden beds are made by compressing a damp mixture of approximately 70 percent sand, 30 percent clay, and a small amount of cement into an externally supported form or mold, creating a solid, earthen wall after the frames are removed.  One of the benefits of rammed earth is that its high thermal mass absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night.  My technique for building rammed earth garden beds makes use of local raw materials, is resistant to temperature changes and is remarkably cost-effective.

     Construct rammed earth gardens beds by using two frames; a box inside of a box with a three and a half inch space between the walls or boxes.  Pack this space with the earth mixture, then remove the frames, leaving earthen walls that are ready to hold your garden soil.

3- sheets of 4-by-8 foot plywood
4- pipe clamps, each 60 inches in length
12- 2-by-4s
1- bag of portland cement
1- hand tamper (or optional power tamper)
A mix of local sand and clay

     Start by constructing the framework.  Cut all three of the 4-by-8 foot plywood sheets in half lengthwise, resulting in six pieces of 2-by-8 foot plywood.  Set two of the newly cut pieces aside.  Cut the remaining plywood sheets into the following sizes: two at 24-by-48 inches, two at 24-by-41 inches, and two at 24-by-89 inches.  Save the leftover pieces for a future project.

     The external, larger box uses the two panels that are 2-by-8 feet and the two panels that are 2-by-4 feet, held together with the pipe clamps.  The internal form uses the two 24-by 41 inch sheets and the two 24-by-89 inch sheets braced with the twelve 2-by-4s.  After the two frames are assembled, you will have two big boxes sitting on the ground, with a 3 1/2 inch space between their walls.

     Mix the sand and clay with 8 percent Portland cement and very little water.  Layer the mixture between the framed walls, 8 inches deep at a time, and then tamp it down tightly. Repeat this process until the rammed earth is 3 inches from the top of the form.  At this point, add a layer of concrete to the top of the forms to finish the process.  The following day, strip away the wooden form and then fill the rammed earth garden bed with soil and top it off with mulch.

Good luck!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


     I picked this off the web, thought you'd like it....

    Whether you are just starting your first vegetable garden, or have been growing for decades you are bound to make mistakes.

I know I make oodles of mistakes each year.  Some are new mistakes, but for some reason I repeat old mistakes every now and then.  I have made enough mistakes over the years I could probably fill another complete website full of my vegetable garden follies.
Fortunately, through my mistakes I have learned what to do and what not to do in a bunch of situations.  Here are eight things NOT to do in the vegetable garden along with an extra bonus tip at the end.
Do Not Over Fertilize
Many new vegetable gardeners may get the idea that really slapping on the fertilizer will help the plant grow even more. And the more fertilizer you use, the bigger and better the plant will get.

Well, after many a burned and stunted plant I finally learned that when it comes to fertilizer more is not better.
Fertilizers should really only be used when there is a nutrient deficiency in the soil. Plants are going to only take up nutrients as they need them, and any others that are added to the soil will only go to waste. This is especially true when it comes to nitrogen.
Sure, there are some plants that will benefit from a small dosage of fertilizer, such as corn, and organic amendments like compost are always a good bet.
Do Not Use Synthetic Fertilizers
Staying with the fertilizer rant, avoid using synthetic fertilizers, such as Miracle-Gro.  Miracle-Gro is a chemical fertilizer that is not helpful at all to your vegetable garden. This is especially true if you want organic vegetables.
If you have used, or are still using fertilizers like Miracle-Gro, don’t poke your bottom lip out.  I think every gardener at some point have used the “Blue Stuff O’ Death” at one time or another especially when first starting out.
I’m not hugely proud of it, but I did use Miracle-Gro when I first started gardening. I used it because Miracle-Gro was all I knew at the time.  The problem with the Miracle-Gro plague is you find it everywhere.
Walk into a Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart Garden Center and the shelves are lined with nothing but Miracle-Gro and other synthetic fertilizers. This is where most of us shop when looking for gardening supplies, so it’s easy to think that’s what you are supposed to use.  It’s not.
Throw those bottles of synthetic fertilizers away and opt for creating your own organic compost, use earthworm castings, fish and seaweed emulsions, and leaf mold instead.
In fact, if you use these amendments you can reduce, or even eliminate the need for fertilizers all together. Your vegetable garden will grow ten times better and be far more healthy.
Do Not Plant In Too Much Shade
Planting vegetables in a shady area is a really big no-no. There are a handful of veggies that do not mind a little shade, such as lettuces and peas, but most vegetables need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight in order to thrive. Less than that and you could end up with underperforming plants.
Shade is something I battle with every year because I have two huge maple trees in my backyard. Luckily, these trees shade a section of my vegetable garden during the hottest times of the day – between 11 am and 4 pm.
Unfortunately, I planted my first (and second) 100 sq ft garden in complete shade. It resulted in a rather disappointing outcome growing only three tomatoes from two plants, and two banana peppers from one plant.
If you are starting your first vegetable garden make sure to watch the sun throughout the season to find the area that gets the best sunlight. It’s better to check the sunlight in the spring, summer, and fall because what is sunny in early spring might be shaded in summer once the trees have filled with leaves.
Do Not Forget to Amend the Soil
We are going to step back a minute to compost. I mentioned previously about using compost, earthworm castings, and other organic amendments for your vegetable garden.

There’s a saying in gardening that goes something like this, “Feed the soil so it feeds the plants”.
This is extremely important and should be embedded in your gardener brain. If you start out with vibrant, healthy soil you will grow vibrant, healthy plants.
Let me say that again.
If you start out with vibrant, healthy soil you will grow vibrant, healthy plants.
I just can’t say that enough.  Amending your soil in the spring, throughout the season, and in the fall with copious amounts of organic matter is the absolute best thing you can ever do for your garden. When it comes to compost and other soil amendments you really want to pile it on.  With adding compost, more is better.
Do Not Over Water
Just like over fertilizing, over watering is a very common mistake many gardeners make.  When I started my very first tomato plant I watered that poor thing to death – literally.
I would grab the water hose and water and water and water. Then, I’d water again. I did this every single day because I thought if I really socked the water to it the plant would grow like gangbusters.
It did grow well …. for a little while.
 Then after a few weeks of the water onslaught it all of a sudden died. I dug it up and took the whole plant to a friend of mine who told me it had root rot. I had watered the thing so much that the roots of the plant actually died.
Keep in mind that most vegetables need about an inch of water per week. A good rule to remember is to keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy.
I like to use the “finger check” method to see if a plant needs water. Simply take your finer and stick it in the soil about an inch or two deep. If the soil feels dry to the touch, water the plants. If the soil feels moist, do not water and re-check again the next day.
If you want to get fancy you can purchase a soil moisture meter to help determine whether the soil is moist or not.
I always recommend mulching around plants. You can use straw, dried grass clippings, unfinished compost, dried leaves, or non-colored bark mulches as an excellent mulch for the vegetable garden.
A thick layer of mulch will help conserve soil moisture and even help keep weeds from getting out of hand.
Do Not Plant Seedlings Too Deep… Except Tomatoes
Tomatoes are the only vegetable that you can actually plant deep. I made the mistake of planting some cucumbers deep so only the top two leaves were above ground.
A week later, I was re-planting cucumbers because the first two died. Every vegetable except tomatoes should be transplanted so the soil line of the seedling is level with the soil line of the garden.
Tomatoes are the rare exception because the tiny hairs found on the stem of the plant will actually form roots. Planting the tomatoes deep will cause the plant to grow a bigger, stronger root system.
So, when transplanting vegetables into the garden make sure to keep the soil lines the same, except for tomatoes.
Do Not Start Out Too Big
Once you get the gardening bug it is difficult to restrain yourself from wanting to go full bore and plant an expansive vegetable garden. The temptation is great.
The temptation was so great for me that I went all out my third year of gardening, and it was too much. I was completely overwhelmed by everything.
Keeping up with weeds, watering, mulching, tending to the plants, trying to figure out what bug was eating this and what’s these yellow spots on the leaves, and what do I do about this powdery mildew ….on and on.
Stop the insanity! I was in way over my head.
If you are just starting your first garden resist the urge to plant a huge garden right off the bat. Start with a few easy plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, or lettuces.
Once you start getting comfortable growing those vegetables, expand on to a couple more vegetables. As your experience and confidence grows, start diving into more difficult vegetable to grow, like broccoli or Brussels sprouts.
Avoid growing a huge garden during your first at-bat. Doing so can lead to you becoming overwhelmed and frustrated.
Do Not Use Broad Spectrum Pesticides
Insect pests can be down right trifling when they start their endless pursuit of destroying your precious vegetables. You spend a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears just for some little winged thing to come along and mess it all up!

That’s when it becomes far too easy to run to Lowe’s and buy the most potent pesticide known to man and just start spraying it around like Rambo.
The problem with this is that you may end up killing the nasty insect that wreaking havoc, but you are also killing the beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs and lacewings that might be visiting your garden.
You could also be coating your plants with the awful chemicals and ingesting them later down the road when you are enjoying that first fresh salad from your garden.
When ever you come across a pest issue it is important to identify the culprit first. Once you have the pest named then you can come up with selective means of deterring, or eliminating, the pest from your garden.
You want to use a method that targets that pest and that pest alone so that you do not harm any potential helpers in your garden. Many times there is an organic solution for dealing with a pest that is much better for the health of your garden, and your family.
Bonus Tip: Do Not Step On Seedlings
Not stepping on your seedlings sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Once you get your vegetable garden filled to the rim with new plants it can actually be easy to accidentally step on a plant behind you.
Well, at least it’s easy for me.  While planting my tomatoes last season, I stepped on a tomato.  I had just finished transplanting a Cherokee Purple tomato and went on to the next spot to transplant the next tomato plant. I kneeled down, transplanted the tomato, then took a couple steps back to admire my newest member of the garden.  CRUNCH!  I heard that all too familiar sound of a stem breaking. I felt a bit queasy. I swayed from the dizziness. I was too scared to look down to find what had made that sickening sound.  After a few minutes of praying that I had not done what I think I had done I looked down.  Sure enough, my foot was on top of the Cherokee Purple I had just transplanted, and it was in a couple pieces.  Luckily, I was able to salvage the plant, but it goes without saying to watch where you are stepping while working in the garden.


     I've read with much interest from the internet how folks prepare homemade fish emulsion and swear by its effectiveness. There are so many articles saying how simple the process is in making fish emulsion. I suspect though that many of these how-to articles just parrot each other.

There is little material thus far, however, by way of photos and/or videos that illustrate the processes involved in this so-called simple procedure - as of this writing, anyway. So this article will illustrate, by pictures, just that.

Simple and easy - yes - but a bit messy and stinky. You will not believe how bad the stink can be. And for many, that may be an understatement because the basic raw material for fish emulsion is well, raw fish scraps (as shown below) which will be decomposed.

Sources of Raw Fish Wastes or Scraps

You will likely be able to get fish scraps or wastes in places where fish is cleaned prior selling or consumption. The fish section of the wet market will usually have traders removing fish parts like intestines, gills, liver, gall bladder, heart, fins, tail, scales and even bones. Typically, these are thrown away and so you could just ask them for free.

That's how we get fish scraps for free. Many traders in the wet market are just happy to get rid of their refuse from the fish cleaning. We're able to get a kilo or so by just asking. Of course the fish scraps include everything and you just can't become picky and select a few parts. I bring along a plastic container with a lid on it. Plastic bags won't do because of the risk of them bursting open.

Making Your Own Fish Emulsion from Fish Scraps

The procedures outlined below will yield roughly 2 liters of concentrated fish emulsion from 2 kilograms of fish scraps. Because of fish scraps volume, it will take 1 month for it to sufficiently decompose and for you to extract the fish emulsion. Your mileage may vary. Obviously, a smaller amount of fish scraps will yield a smaller amount of fish emulsion and will take lesser time.

The pulp that will be left behind after extracting and collecting the fish emulsion is not wasted. It may be used as a good starter mix for the next batch of fish emulsion, because of its state of decomposition. It may also be used to feed a compost pile that can later be applied and mixed into your garden soil.

Do NOT use the extracted fish emulsion directly on your garden plants. Instead, dilute to apply the fish emulsion as fertilizer.

1. Raw Fish Scraps - 2 kilograms
2. Molasses - 1 cup
3. Sawdust - 2 lbs.
4. 5-Gallon Plastic Bucket with Cover
5. Window Screen, 18" x 18" - 1 pc.
6. Garden Hand Rake or Spatula

1. Pour an inch-high layer of sawdust at the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket. This is the component in the mixture that absorbs extra nitrogen expelled by the decomposing fish. While others choose a variety of "browns" to be added like dried leaves, grass clippings, etc., I only put sawdust for consistency and to keep the entire process simple.

2. Pour all the fish scraps in the bucket. If the fish scrap has water, pour that in as well.

3. Put 2 tablespoons of molasses into the bucket. Molasses feeds the microbes that eventually decompose the fish parts. The sweet sugary smell of molasses does NOT remove the offensive odor of rotting fish, but simply masks it. 

4. Mix the fish scraps, sawdust and molasses thoroughly with a garden hand rake or spatula. The reddish brown color below comes from the sawdust. It may be a bit heavy to mix all together because much of the fish scraps is still semi-solid.

5. After mixing thoroughly, sprinkle a thin layer of sawdust on top of the mixture as shown below. 

6. Be sure the layer of sawdust is spread all around. If the sawdust quickly absorbs the mixture water and becomes wet, continue adding additional layers until the topmost layer of sawdust appears dry. The layer of sawdust will minimize and contain much of the offensive odor of rotting fish inside the bucket.

7. Cover the bucket with the window screen piece. Ensure the piece will sufficiently cover the bucket's opening and will have a couple of inches extra beyond the bucket's rim. The window screen prevents adult flies from getting inside the bucket. If adult flies are allowed to get inside the bucket, you'll have a problem with maggots.

8. Replace the bucket's cover and twist to secure the window screen in place. The window screen between the bucket and cover creates a space gap for air. It is NOT advisable to seal the cover because gases are formed during decomposition and need to escape. 

Optionally, add a heavy weight on top of the bucket cover to weigh it down. This will prevent the accidental bumping off the bucket's cover. The weight will also discourage pets and animals from knocking it off.

9. Avoid opening the bucket anytime during the day for the next two weeks. Flies will almost immediately swarm towards the open bucket. If you need to open the bucket, do this at night. 

The photo below of 3 flies on the bucket cover and window screen shows how smelly the contents have become. This photo was taken during the first week at daytime.

10. For the next four weeks, open the bucket every other day to mix and aerate the contents. The aeration discourages the buildup of anaerobic bacteria that contributes largely to the bad smell. 

11. Continue adding 2 tablespoons of molasses as needed to help control the odor and aid in the decomposition of the fish scraps. Note that fish bones, heads, fins and tail will take longer to decompose.

In the first week, the stench will be horrible. Try to do the mixing at night when there are no flies. If there is wind, turn your back to where the wind is coming from so you won't smell most of the wafting odor. In the second week, the odor will smell like that of fish sauce that's common to Thai and some Asian cooking.

By the third and fourth week, much of the contents would liquefy because of decomposition. Because of that, it becomes easier to mix the contents. The odor will be less offensive, but still bad, nonetheless. The mixture will also be a bit darker because of the added molasses.

After four weeks or roughly a month, you'll be ready to extract and collect the fish emulsion.