Love Spells, Charms and Potions from the Garden

Invite cupid in from the Garden!

Invite cupid in from the Garden!

Express Your Love

There are many different ways to express the feeling of love.  For many people this can be expressed in the form of flowers presented to a partner.  Flowers are an age-old way for those who care about one another to communicate those feelings in a symbolic and meaningful way.   While flowers remain one of the more traditional ways to express intimate feelings between people there are a number of other plants whose uses include love spells and even potions; and let’s not forget the all important aphrodisiacs.

valentines-gift-seeds

Pick Your Love Herbs

Herbs have been a staple of the love potion consortium for centuries and remain a key player in today’s potions.  The types of herbs that can be used in love potions range from the common to the obscure but all have their uses.  Most of us are busy with the routines of daily life and therefore may not have time to shop for the various exotic herbs available.  Luckily enough there are still a wide variety of common household herbs that can be utilized.  Basil is one such herb.

Basil

An age old Love Magnet- Basil!

An age old Love Magnet- Basil!

Basil holds a special place in many Eastern religions and is a more commonly used herb for culinary purposes in the Western hemisphere.  It has been said that basil is the course to true love.  Many of the spells relating to basil has to do with the burning of the herb to invoke its magical properties.  One such spell is the Aphrodite New Moon Love Spell.  This spell can be used for attracting new lovers and is a fun way to use such common herbs as basil.  Another common herb that is utilized through burning is the Bay leaf.  The Bay Leaf Love spell is a simple spell that can bring forth the love you desire.

Aphrodisiacs

Many herbs grown in the garden have Aphrodisiac properties

Many herbs grown in the garden have Aphrodisiac properties

Ginseng

Aphrodisiacs are a popular, easy and extremely fun way to keep the excitement of a relationship moving in the right direction.  Similar to herbs, there are a number of simple aphrodisiacs available for purchase at a reasonable price.  One such aphrodisiac is ginseng.  Ginseng has long been used for its medicinal qualities in ancient China, as well as Korea, and has now seen resurgence in today’s popular culture.  Ginseng, now commonly seen in many energy drinks, can be found in two forms, the American and the Asian. Both forms of Ginseng have been found to enhance libido and increase copulatory performance, according to a recent Southern Illinois University study.

Damiana

Damiana is another amazing aphrodisiac easily available at an affordable price.  This plant has actually been around for hundreds of years and was a cherished plant of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, who used it most commonly as an aphrodisiac in the form of a tea that was drank.  Nowadays Damiana is still used in teas as well as some Mexican liqueur, and is still regarded for its enhancement of sexual drive in both males and females.  If you’re looking for a little excitement to share with your partner give Damiana a try and see why it’s been around for hundreds of years and will remain in use for hundreds of years to come!

Saffron

If you are looking for an aphrodisiac with a little more exoticism and are willing to pay a little more, there is one of the oldest known herbs on the planet, saffronSaffron can be dated back to potions used by the ancient Sumerians as long ago as the 10th century BC.   Saffron is a marvelous aphrodisiac rumored to be used by Cleopatra.  The famed Egyptian Queen would sprinkle saffron into her bath water to enhance lovemaking.  Today saffron is the most expensive herb by weight but still holds much of the allure it did in ancient times.   Saffron holds magical properties as well, such as the enhancement of lust and is said to be most effective when used by women.  When you’ve got money to blow and are looking for a fun way to spice up your love making, turn to the age-old herb that is known all over the world, saffron!

valentines-gift-seeds

Throughout history there have been a large number of plants and herbs used to ignite the passion between lovers. In general, there are a number of amazing herbs and plants that are conveniently accessible to the everyday gardener, which can spark a fire between you and your partner.  While flowers prove to be something on the ordinary side of life, why not add a little vehement enthusiasm to the bedroom and try some of the other extraordinary things plants have to offer.

Invite cupid in from the Garden!

Invite cupid in from the Garden!

Posted on January 28th, 2012 by Dr. Greenthumb  |  2 Comments »

A Brief History of the Wonderful Tomato

Nothing tops a fresh, garden grown Tomato!

Nothing tops a fresh, garden grown Tomato!

A Muddled Past

The history of the tomato is long and, at times, very confusing! Andrew F Smith’s “The Tomato in America” states that tomatoes probably originated in the highlands of the west coast of south America. Tomatoes were a favorite of the Aztecs as early as 500 b.C., in southern Mexico and adjacent areas, and they preferred the smaller cherry-like tomatoes. The larger, lumpy variant is believed to have been selected in central America after a spontaneous mutation, and it’s probably the ancestor of all the modern cultivars.

Today’s varieties of tomatoes originate from two main predecessors: currant tomatoes and “Matt’s Wild Cherry” varieties. They both originate from the native tomato plants in eastern Mexico.

While most people may think they know everything there is to know about a tomato, the truth is that history has a muddled, confused view of the tomato, and even needed the Supreme Court to make an official ruling as to whether this amazing plant will be considered a vegetable or a fruit.   It turns out that the tomato is both! According to the Supreme Court the tomato is a vegetable, however botanically the tomato is a fruit.  Confused?  Regardless of whether you consider the tomato a fruit or a vegetable it is still an amazing plant that is fun to grow yourself.

A Little Tomato History

A Little Tomato History

The Heirlooms

There are actually a wide variety of tomatoes available, and each offers there own unique qualities and challenges.  A group of tomatoes that have recently reached popularity amongst private cultivators are heirloom tomatoes.  Because there are many cultivars, the heirloom can be a chosen based on personal preference and environment.  So whether you decide on a more traditional tomato plant or want to try your hand at something a bit more unique the heirlooms can prove a fun and exciting way to grow.

Heirloom Tomato Cultivars

Heirloom Tomato Cultivars come with so many colorful names, flavors colors and shapes. Here is a brief list of some of our favorites!

Brandywines

The Red Brandywine Tomato

Brandywine: An Undisputed Heirloom Favorite

One of the greatest things about the heirlooms is the tremendous variety in which they come.  One of the most well known heirlooms, which also lends to their popularity, is the Brandywine.  The Brandywine has excellent flavor and long history.  Although the Brandywine reached the height of its popularity in the 1980’s from a farmer named Ben Quinsenberry, it has been noted in history books dating back to the late 1800’s.  While this plant takes a while to mature (typically 80-100 days) and has a relatively low yield per plant the outcome is always worth the wait.  The Brandywine boasts a large pinkish-fleshed tomato that is unrivaled in flavor and acidity.  Join the millions of people who enjoy the Brandywine and give it a grow!

The Bradywine Tomato

The Bradywine Tomato

Stupice

Stupice Tomato: Sweet and Delicious

Stupice Tomato: Sweet and Delicious

In contrast to the Brandywine, in terms of growth and yield, the Stupice heirloom is a reliable plant throughout the growing season, regardless of environment, and actually boasts a sweeter flavor as the weather goes from warm to cold.  Many people agree that the Stupice is the best tasting plant for early season planting and grows incredibly well in hot and cold weather depending on the variety.  That being said, the high yield, which produces quickly, and will continue to produce all season long, makes this a great tomato to plant first!

Dagma/Dogma’s Perfection

Dagma's Perfection Tomato- Unique Flavor, Unique Color!

Dagma's Perfection Tomato- Unique Flavor, Unique Color!

If you are looking for something a little more exotic in flavor, and overall appearance, then there is one tomato plant most definitely worth taking a look at.  Whether you spell this next plant with an “o” or an “a”, Dogma’s Perfection is an eye grabbing veggie with amazing taste appeal.  This tomato can add spice to any dinner table in ways that other tomatoes just can’t compete with.  The medium sized tomatoes are clothed in a light yellow skin, complimented by delicate hairline red striping.  If that’s not enough to grab your attention wait until you taste it!  While the Dogma holds much of the traditional flavor expected of a ripened fruit, the unexpected overtones of tropical fruit are also present, including what some people describe as faint hints of lime within the juicy flesh.   Don’t be surprised if you make this a staple in your garden for years to come.

Happy Tomato Growing!

Tomatoes are the number one most popular plant to grow in America’s backyard gardens- and we can see why! Growing Tomatoes is a fun and extremely fulfilling pastime. With so many varieties to choose from you are sure to find a never ending (and very delicious) adventure.

Top World Tomato Producers

Top World Tomato Producers

Happy Tomato Growing!...and Eating!

Happy Tomato Growing!...and Eating!

Posted on February 27th, 2011 by Ms. Sunshine  |  1 Comment »

The girls (and boys) Guide to Confusing Food Words

Food Buzz Words can lead to misguided choices and confusion

Food Buzz Words can lead to misguided choices and confusion

“Food is power. Are you in control of yours?” – John Jeavons

Today’s food market, heavily laden with politics and big business, has developed a long list of confusing and obscure buzz words.

These words are the coinage of food debates and controversy. Words like “organic“, “healthy“, “genetically modified” and “heirloom” are tossed around like candy. Many of us think we know what they mean or, at least, we think we know what they DON’T mean and, most of us are wrong!

Learning the Food Buzz Words can help you make more informed choices and give you the power of knowing you no longer have a fog over your eyes every time you put something in your mouth!

“Our choices at all levels—individual, community, corporate and government—affect nature. And they affect us.”- David Suzuki

  • Organic vs Conventional:

    When one looks at the time-line of food production the modern definition of the phrases Organic and Conventional is a bit confusing. In any other context, “conventional” would mean the way something has traditionally been done. The established practice or accepted standards. Not the case with food!

    For  most of human history, agriculture can really be described as organic. It has only been in very, very recent history, the 20th century,  that a large supply of new synthetic chemicals were introduced to the food supply. This modern style of production is referred to as “conventional,” even though “organic” production has been the convention for a much greater period of time.

    In organic food production, the use of conventional non-organic pesticides, insecticides and herbicides is greatly restricted and only used as a last resort. However, contrary to popular belief, certain non-organic fertilizers are still used.

    So, to clarify this confusion, the old and traditional way of growing food without chemicals is termed ORGANIC while growing foods with the newest technologies and chemicals is called CONVENTIONAL.

  • GMO:

    Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are any plant, animal or microorganism which have been genetically altered using molecular genetics techniques such as gene cloning and protein engineering. Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods that have had their DNA changed through genetic engineering.

    Unlike conventional genetic modification (in this case “conventional” means the traditional way) that is carried out through time-tested conventional breeding of plants and animals. Combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology, and the resulting organism is said to be “genetically modified,” “genetically engineered,” or “transgenic.”

    GM products include medicines and vaccines, foods and food ingredients, feeds, and fibers. For example, the gene from a fish that lives in very cold seas has been inserted into a strawberry, allowing the fruit to be frost-tolerant.

    In America, there is no law dictating GM food products be labeled or disclosed in packaging.

  • Hybrid:

    Plants that have been cross breed with other compatible types of plants in an effort to enhance a plant’s growth, fruiting and hardiness are called hybrids. Many of our modern plants are the results of these crosses.

    Hybrid plants are different from GM plants in that they are NOT the result of genetic alterations using molecular genetics but, rather, the result of cross-pollinating plants that are compatible.

    Hybrid seeds do not always reproduce true to type. This means that second generation plants may produce different results. If you are buying hybrid seeds, look for seeds which are labeled as reproducing “true to type”.

  • Heirloom/ Heritage:

    Heirloom plant seeds have been saved and passed down through generations by gardeners looking to preserve their genetic diversity and the unique qualities of the plants they produce. To be capable of being saved, Heirloom plants are Open Pollinated.

  • Open Pollinated:

    Open Pollinated (OP) plants are plant varieties that are capable of reproducing themselves. OP plants will produce seeds that, when replanted, will produce seedlings that are identical to their parent plant. Not all plants do this.

  • Untreated Seeds:

    Untreated Seeds have been produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or genetic modification.

  • Biodynamic Seeds:

    Biodynamic Seeds are from farms or gardens which use Biodynamic practices of managing land for ecological balance. The organic growing methods and planting cycles are integrated with the local environment where possible.

  • Monsanto:

    Monsanto is the world’s largest conventional seed company and the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seeds, selling 90% of the world’s GE seeds. Monsanto’s products have been the target of much world debate related to the future of agriculture and food production.

    Through Genetic Engineering technology, Monsanto married Roundup and Corn

    Through Genetic Engineering technology, Monsanto married Roundup and Corn

For a list of genetically engineered crops visit: safe-food.org

For further information on Monsanto and the effects on the farming industry visit: OrganicConsumers.org or Wikipedia

To purchase Organic, Heirloom, untreated, NON GMO seeds visit: eGardenSeed.com

“Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure.”  – John McConnell

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi

Food-Buzz-Word-Signs

Posted on December 5th, 2009 by Ms. Sunshine  |  No Comments »

Plant an Indoor Herb Garden

Indoor Herb Garden Seedlings growing in Dixie Cups

Indoor Herb Garden Seedlings growing in Dixie Cups

Since Biblical times Herbs have held a special place in the home garden. Various herbs have been said to have “magical powers” or to carry intense meaning and significance. Today, herbs are valued for their culinary as well as for their health benefits.

Starting and growing an indoor herb garden is a great project for new and experienced gardeners alike.

The joys of harvesting garden herbs and cooking with fresh basil, oregano and mint can be enjoyed year round right off your window sill!

  • The first step in starting your indoor Herb garden is selecting which Herbs you want to grow. Some of the most popular choices are:

Basil- A warm clove-like flavor and fragrance. Basil works well in combination with tomatoes and enhances vegetables,fish, chicken and egg dishes.
Oregano- Peppery flavor enhances cheese and egg combinations,as well as marinated vegetables and shellfish. Widely used in Greek and Italian cuisine.
Mint- A fresh and clean flavor that enhances a variety of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. Mixes well with lentils, soups, fruit drinks and desserts.
Parsley- A clean taste that serves as a natural breath freshener. Often used as a garnish or chopped and added to sauces and salads.
Cilantro- Cilantro leaves have a strong smell described by some as “soapy”. The stems also have a strong odor and flavor. Pairs well with cuisines of the US Southwest, Latin America, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and in parts of northern Africa. Used to “lift” other flavors; they enhance and promote other pronounced flavors. Coriander roots are used often used fresh as a base flavor for Asian soups.
Sage- A lemony, camphor-like and pleasantly bitter taste makes this a perfect choice for cooking with pork, duck, fish, poultry, eggplant, artichokes and potatoes.
Dill- The delicate, fern-like Dill leaves have an essence of tang. Dill is often used in dressings, salads and fresh fish.
Chives- A sweet, mild onion flavor that complements almost every recipe. Chives are a common addition to potatoes, cream soups and egg dishes.

  • Now that you have selected which Herbs to plant, you need to decide on a location for your garden. Your Herbs will need 4-6 hours of good sunlight a day. If you don’t have a window ledge or counter space that can provide enough light, you can supplement with fluorescent lights. Your Herb Garden will also need adequate ventilation. However, try to avoid any direct drafts or great temperature fluctuations
  • When selecting a container to grow your Herbs in, it is recommended that you choose one that is around 8 inches deep and 6-8 inches across. Dixie cups can be great starter containers if you plan to move your herbs to larger containers or outside in the Spring.
  • Fill your containers with premium-quality, well draining potting soil mixed with coarse sand and mushroom compost.
  • You are now ready to plant your Herbs! Follow the directions on your seed’s label but, generally seeds should be planted to a depth of three to four times their diameter.
  • Once your Herbs are planted your job is to Feed, Water and Harvest.
  • While your Herb Seedlings are still growing, feed them once a week with seaweed extract or fish emulsion.
  • Your Herbs should be watered with a good soaking once or twice a week.
Indoor Herb Garden ready for Harvest

Indoor Herb Garden ready for Harvest

  • Harvest! When your seedling have grown enough to enjoy, gently clip what you need- always be sure to leave plenty of vigorous growth on the plant so you can continue to enjoy the benefits of your Indoor Garden Herbs!

Posted on September 29th, 2009 by Ms. Sunshine  |  5 Comments »

How to Harvest Seeds from your Heirloom Broccoli

One of the great adventures and benefits of growing Heirloom Quality vegetables is harvesting your own seeds for planting and growing next year.

Harvesting seeds from your Brocolli or any member of the “Cabbage or Cole Family” (including Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts and Kale) actually starts long before the end of the growing season- the process begins with planting! Members of this family can cross-pollinate and should, ideally, be planted at least 1,000 feet from each other to prevent cross-pollinatation.

If you have a small home garden and would like to harvest your own Broccoli Seeds, try planting only Broccoli (or whichever Cole Crop’s seeds you hope to harvest).

If you planted multiple Cole Crops, have already reached the end of growing season, and would like to try to harvest seeds- Go For It! It’s always worth a try!

Harvesting Broccoli Seeds

  • At the end of the growing season, stop trimming the Broccoli heads for consumption.
  • First you will notice small yellow flowers then, the small green pods will begin to form.
Green Broccoli Seed Pods

Green Broccoli Seed Pods

  • If you only want to collect a small amount of the seeds, wait for individual pods to dry to a light brown color. Pods toward the bottom of the plant will dry first, followed by those higher on the plant.  Once a pod appears dry, you can pick it and open it by hand or by walking on it.
  • If you would like to collect the maximum amount of seeds, pull the entire plant from the ground after the majority of the pods appear dry.
  • You can place all of your dried pods in a cloth bag and open them all by smashing them with a mallet or walking on them.
  • Green pods will rarely produce viable seeds- even if the pods dry after the plant is pulled.
  • All harvested seeds should be stored in a cool, dark and dry environment until you are ready to plant them.


Posted on September 21st, 2009 by admin  |  13 Comments »

Recipes for Red Russian Kale

Kale, Red Russian

Red Russian Kale is not frequently found in supermarkets and is a great addition to your home garden!

This heirloom Kale gets its name from the belief that Russians brought it to America in the early 1800s.

Red Russian Kale, also known as “Ragged Jack” after it’s mention in an illustrated vegetable garden book by Vilmorin-Andrieux, is easily recognizable by its blue-green leaves and reddish veining.

Kale is high in Beta-Carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Potassium. Red Russian Kale is sweeter, more tender and sturdier than other Kales and Spinaches and is perfect for soups and stir-fries.

For extra flavor, the leaves can be picked when they are still tender and small. For a little extra storage time, dip the leaves in cold water prior to storing.

Kale is a great Late-Summer/Early-Fall crop. Try these recipes and fully enjoy the great flavor of your Red Russian Kale.

Zuppa Toscana

Based on a popular restaurant starter soup.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (16 ounce) package smoked sausage
  • 2 potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups kale – washed, dried, and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chicken soup base
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Place sausage links onto a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until
    done. Cut links in half lengthwise, then cut at an angle into 1/2-inch
    slices.
  3. Place onions and bacon slices in a large saucepan and cook over medium
    heat until onions are almost clear. Remove bacon and crumble. Set
    aside. Note- You can saute the kale at this step for extra richness in its flavor!
  4. Add garlic to the onions and cook an additional 1 minute. Add chicken
    soup base, water, and potatoes, simmer 15 minutes. Note- This is where I prefer to add my kale! Russian kale will take the simmer without losing its texture and flavor.
  5. Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale, and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve.

Stir-Fried Kale and Broccoli Florets

An unusual side dish, a light fall lunch or dinner starter.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 chile pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in thin strips
  • juice of 2 limes
  • salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Stir in garlic and chile pepper; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in broccoli; cook 1 minute. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Pour in lime juice, and season with salt to taste. Toss well.

Pork Tenderloin & Steamed Kale

Beautiful showcase of pork and kale. Tenderloin can be marinated for a few hours, up to overnight…for extra flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1 pound kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small bowl , whisk olive oil with lime juice. Season with cilantro, garlic salt, and peppercorns. 
  2. Brush the pork tenderloin with three tablespoons of the lime dressing. Wrap in aluminum foil, and place on in a large baking dish. Roast in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.  Note- can be slow grilled on indirect heat on a BBQ if the weather is too hot or you want a smoky flavor!
  3. While the tenderloin is cooking, place kale in a steamer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until tender. You can saute the kale now for a more intense flavor.
  4. Slice the pork tenderloin into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Serve on top of the kale. Whisk the remaining dressing, and drizzle over pork and kale. Make sure to serve the kale under and on the side of the pork, don’t just use it as a garnish! It adds a depth of flavor to the pork.

Heirloom Bean, Red Russian Kale and Wheat Berry Chili

A delicious way to warm an early Fall day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked fresh Mixed Heirloom Beans
  • 2 cups Wheat Berries, cooked
  • 1 large bunch Red Russian Kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 14 oz cans Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • Pinch of Jamaican Allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tsp Blue Agave Nectar (or Light Brown Sugar)
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 Avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the Olive Oil until it’s hot but not smoking. Add the Garlic, and saute until fragrant…about 30 seconds. Add in the Onion, Pepper, Jamaican Allspice, Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt and Pepper, and saute for 5-7 minutes, until tender.
  2. Add the Canned Tomatoes, Heirloom Beans, Broth and Agave. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. Add Kale and Cooked Wheat Berries to the pot, and allow the Kale to wilt and the Wheat Berries to heat through…about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, add in Lime Juice and taste for Salt and Pepper. Serve garnished with diced Avocado and Cilantro.

Enjoy!


Posted on September 9th, 2009 by admin  |  1 Comment »

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