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Vegetable Garden in Flint, Michigan? YES!

January 26th, 2010

With this blog post we wanted to let you know about a really innovative and inspiring project that the University of Michigan, Flint is undertaking to convert a tax foreclosed property near to its campus to classroom space for university students, the community and visiting school kids.

The lot adjacent to the house will become a vegetable garden and demonstration site for urban agriculture.

The home on the left is the property that will be partially restored. This is a great idea and a wonderful way to bring back a bit of what was once a thriving town.

If you’re interested in keeping up with this project, or learning more details about the other parties involved in the deal, visit: Urban Alternatives House or check out the blog entry from San Francisco journalist and Flint Michigan expatriate Gordon Young here.

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Edible Gardening Inspriation from Portland, Oregon

January 24th, 2010

Sometimes when you start a gardening project it’s hard to see the big picture. You don’t always do things perfectly right the first time. Gardening is always a work in progress–at least that’s what we find!

Here’s a before and after photo from the Allan Family Edible Garden in Portland, Oregon.

BEFORE

AFTER

It’s inspiring to look at the successes that others have created through hard work and innovation and think, “Hey, I could do that!” Personally, I’m not sure I could something like the Allan Family from Portland, Oregon has done, but it sure does give me the energy to try!! We’ve posted a before and after photo from their blog above, or you can check out their story and peruse many more photos here.

What do you think of their yard? When you take on a garden project do you document it with photos? If so, we’d love to see them. Go to our Facebook Fan page and post away! Nothing is better than a great before and after photo to remind you and others of where you’ve been and where you’re at!

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Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Artichokes

January 23rd, 2010

Taste: A chemical compound found in artichokes called cynarin inhibits the sweet receptors on our tongues, so desserts will taste especially sweet when followed by a course including these members of the lettuce family.

Harvest: Each flowering stem produces one large artichoke at the tip and several smaller ones below. Harvest the central bud first when its scales are tightly closed and the globe is about the size of an orange.

Health: This flower bud contains a flavonoid called silymarin, which works as an antioxidant to help protect artery walls from damaging LDL cholesterol.

Etymology: The word “artichoke” comes from the Italian word cocali which means pinecone.

Visit our website to learn more.

Sources:
McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis, www.lizapplegate.com
.

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Our First Sign That Spring Is On It’s Way!

January 15th, 2010
Arlene found a few daffodil buds shootin’ through the dirt in our rose bed. (See photo below on the left.) These daffodils were a surprise to us but after some asking around we found out that sometimes ground squirrels and/or gofers will dig up previously planted bulbs and then move them to another location. If you have ever been on the UC Davis campus, then you why we are placing our bets on the ground squirrels.
Will our daffodil mystery ever be solved? Who knows! But since they are here we are going to enjoy them! The photo on the right is of the large daffodil bed planted at the campus’s main southern entrance, steps away from the Good Life Garden and probably the place where our guerrilla rodent gardener removed the bulbs to then replant!

Have you ever had anything unexpected pop up in your garden? Let us know what it was or is and how you think it got there!

In our attempts to find an answer to the garden mystery we found a few facts regarding these beautiful flowers…

American Daffodil Society recommends not refrigerating the bulbs before planting because it will cause them to bloom early and stunt their stem growth. Also, don’t use nitrogen fertilizers or fresh manures because these are commonly associated with bulb rot.

Once you are ready, pick a place in your yard that is sunny with good drainage. Try to put your bulbs in the ground in the fall, about 6-8 weeks before frost is expected. Planting recommendations for standard bulbs include planting the bulbs in trenches or holes that are six inches deep and six inches apart. At the end of the season do not mow down the foliage, rather let the flower die back naturally because cutting too soon will result in bulb loss and fewer blooms in subsequent years.

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Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Chard

January 8th, 2010


In history: A member of the beet family, chard is grown for its meaty stems and tasty greens, but ancient Romans cultivated the plant for its roots as well.

Health: In a mere 35 calories per cup, chard supplies a staggering 700% of Vitamin K needs and a wealth of carotenes that protect your eyes from age-related loss of vision.

Did you know? Like its distant relative spinach, chard contains oxalates, which are a waste product of plant metabolism. Oxalates are responsible for the gritty film left on your teeth after eating the vegetable.

About the veggie: Chard is one of the few vegetables that contains red and yellow betains—a type of pigment that produces the bright stem and vein color seen on certain types of chards. Red betains contain antioxidants; yellow betains do not. Betains are also found in beets, amaranth and prickly pears.

Visit our website to learn more.

Sources:
McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis, www.lizapplegate.com
.

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Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Lettuce

January 8th, 2010

Health: Deep green lettuce leaves provide a wealth of nutrients, including Vitamins C and K, and folate, along with the minerals potassium and magnesium. Supplying only 25 calories per cup, lettuce is a nutritional bargain and excellent for heart health.

In history: Garden lettuce is thought to be a selected variety of Lactuca serriola, a wild lettuce found throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is believed to have been first cultivated in Egypt but was also a favorite amongst the ancient Greeks.

Harvest tip: To achieve an extra nutritional boost, harvest in the early morning for maximum carotene content and flavor.

In the garden: Lettuce prefers cooler conditions so plant in early spring or late summer.

Did you know? Medieval paintings often depict the lady of the house harvesting frilly lettuces. These delicate vegetables were considered dainty enough to be touched by refined hands.

Did you know? The lettuce family, or ‘Compositae,’ is the second largest family of flowering plants, and yet it only contributes to a few food plants.

Visit our website to learn more.

Sources:
McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis, www.lizapplegate.com
.

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Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Carrots

January 8th, 2010

In history: Cultivated white during classical times and yellow in medieval times, carrots did not get their trademark orange color until they were bred by farmers in the 17th century to honor the royal Dutch House of Orange.

Health: Known for being packed with beta-carotene, carrots supply over 300% of the Daily Value (as Vitamin A) per ½ cup when steamed. Studies show diets rich in beta-carotene from vegetables like carrots lower the risk for breast, prostate and other cancers.

In the garden: Most varieties of carrots should be harvested when they are no more than 1½ inches in diameter. This prevents them from developing an unpleasant woody flavor.

Companion planting: Plant carrots near lettuce; lettuce leaves will keep the sensitive carrot seedlings safe by providing moisture and shade. Their different growth cycles allow the harvesting of the lettuce just as the carrots need more space to grow.

Did you know? Pigments called carotenoids are responsible for most of the yellow and orange colors in fruits and vegetables as well as the red of tomatoes, watermelon and chillis. These pigments are so named because the first member of this family of pigments to be chemically isolated came from carrots.

Learn more by visiting our website.

Sources:
McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis, www.lizapplegate.com
.

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