I don't do a lot of reposting, but since spring weather is often a time of turmoil, I thought I would repost this graphic. It is a good one for grown ups and homeschoolers alike.
I love bees. Not only because they are cute, but because they assist me in growing food, AND honey is my go to cure all for ailments inside and out. I don't use chemicals on blooming plants, I always plant bee friendly or bee attractive plants, and I leave certain areas of my land untouched, so that the bees can have all the clover they want, as well as any other native plants they might like. Protecting the wild bee population is one of the most important things that I do, in my opinion. I help them, they help me.
Check out this very interesting link to bee-havior.
From New Scientist.com,
The extraordinary mental feats of bees are forcing us to rethink what we thought we knew about intelligence. Prepare to be surprised at what a tiny brain can do as we take a look at some of what these industrious honey-makers get up to.
Guarding the door
Throughout history, bees have been revered for their altruism and cooperation – but they occasionally engage in
all-out warfare, invading another hive and steal its honey. For this reason, some workers linger at the hive entrance to ensure that no enemy bees make it inside. The guard bee in this picture can be seen with its body arched, waiting to inspect and attack intruders.
Attending the queen
In any hive, the queen bee quickly establishes an entourage befitting its royal status. Here, the queen honeybee (Apis mellifera) sits at the centre of its court. As sign of their
loyalty, its attendants lick their sovereign and clash their antennae against her majesty's – a common behaviour that helps establish group membership in the hive.
Can I have a bite?
Bees share and share alike, passing their precious nectar to other members of their hive. This also allows them to exchange relevant hormones, helping to prepare the behaviour of the colony for different situations.
Read the rest of the article at http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/bee-haviour/3.
"I can't eat eggs, I have high cholesterol."
How many times have you said this, or heard someone else say the same thing? Turns out, eggs being bad for you is a myth from the 60's. In addition, if you keep the birds yourself and let them eat grasses and bugs, eggs are actually GOOD for you!!
From Mother Nature Network's article 10 False Facts Most People Think Are True...
8. Cholesterol in eggs is bad for the heart
The perceived association between dietary cholesterol and risk for coronary heart disease
stems from dietary recommendations proposed in the 1960s that had little
scientific evidence, other than the known association between saturated fat and
cholesterol and animal studies where cholesterol was fed in amounts far
exceeding normal intakes. Since then, study after study has found that dietary cholesterol (the
cholesterol found in food) does not negatively raise your body’s cholesterol. It
is the consumption of saturated fat that is the demon
here. So eat eggs, don’t eat steak.
See the rest of the list here: http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/10-false-facts-most-people-think-are-true
And from Mother Earth News, How Do Your Eggs Stack Up?...
In 1999, Pennsylvania pastured poultry producer Barb Gorski used a grant from
the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program to have meat
and eggs from her own birds and those of two other farmers tested for a range of nutritional factors. The pastured eggs were found to contain 10 percent less
fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A and four times as
much omega-3 fatty acids compared to the standard values reported by the USDA
for commercial eggs. (Numerous studies suggest that diets high in omega-3s can
help protect against heart disease, mitigate the effects of Type II diabetes and
otherwise benefit the human body’s immune responses.) The pastured chicken meat
(with skin on) contained 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and
50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-04-01/Best-Eggs-Comparison.aspx?page=2#ixzz2OYt53h18
And trust me, chicken coops do not have to be fancy, not do you have to spend $1,500.00 on those tiny custom built jobs that you often see in catalogs and farm stores. Almost anything will do, as long as you can keep them locked up tight from predators at night. Be creative! And get some birds!!
The only way to be sure where your eggs are coming from is to raise them yourself, because even the high priced "cage free", "free range" kind of eggs at the store are often from the same factory produced cheap eggs; the labeling can be misleading because of the FDA and USDA allowed definitions of those labels.
Put your health first; get your own birds, and produce your own healthy, good for you eggs. If you garden, nothing beats using your own bird manure. Your produce waste can be fed to the birds and turned into eggs. And at the end of her laying life, you have a stewing chicken that has been raised on good food, so you are now producing healthy meat too.
It's spring. Go get some birds, and enjoy them and their product
If you are unfamiliar with quercetin, you aren't alone. However, if you have allergies, increasing your quercetin intake can really help. You can buy quercetin supplements in pill form, but taking it in the form of food makes it easier for your body to absorb.
So, if you suffer with a runny nose or itchy eyes in the spring, eat more onions!
Spring is coming (I hope, it is still cold here despite the calendar saying FIRST DAY OF SPRING!!), and with it come the bugs. Give this natural spray repellant a try, and save yourself from willingly spraying chemicals all over yourself and your family. I feel guilty everytime I spray OFF all over myself, so if this concoction works, I will be thrilled.
Combine in a 16 oz bottle:
15 drops lavender oil
3-4 Tbsp of vanilla extract
10 drops of citronella oil (or eucalyptus oil)
1/4 Cup lemon juice.
Fill bottle with water.
Gardens are so important to many people, either for aesthetics or for producing food. Working the soil is good for the soul, and years ago I had a gardening epiphany; if I am going to do all this work landscaping, why not put in plants that would give back in the form of food, herbs and medicine?
I've never been much of a tea drinker. I have sampled many times the teas in the little boxes from the grocery store, trying to understand why people seem to like them so much. They were always so bland and tasteless, even if I used three or four bags. I even went so far as to find a local bulk tea shop, and bought several types that appealed to me. Most of them just can't compete with my heavenly dark brewed, packed with flavor, beloved coffee. I gave up, and decided the Brits could have my share.
However, when I began to grow my own herbs, a really wonderful thing happened; I found that my homegrown teas were packed with flavor. In addition, if you are using teas as medicine, using fresh plant material is a better way to acess the medicinal qualities.
For an even more interesting tea, try adding fruit peels such as apple, lemon or orange. I save my fruit peels for just this purpose. Find some local honey as well, and you can create all sorts of heathful, helpful powerhouses.
A tea garden is a delightful hobby that can complement the rest of your herb garden and will provide you with the joy of fresh herbal teas, more properly known as herbal infusions or tisanes, at a moment's notice. Creating a tea garden in a container can also make a perfect gift for somebody. References to "tea" below should be understood to refer to herbal tea.
Peppermint - this is a perennial favorite for many people. Its refreshing taste is uplifting and cleansing, as well as wonderful for stomach troubles of all kinds. Peppermint is generally very easy to grow and enjoys sunny and semi-shaded spots. Grows very, very easily and unless you want it escaping across the garden, keep it pot-bound. The leaves are the part used for making tea.
Lavender - a delightful, softly fragrant tisane that is perfect for soothing, especially recommended for reducing tension and soothing headaches. Lavender grows well in full sun, well-drained soil . Lavender buds are the part of the plant used for tea.
Lemon Verbena - a refreshing and tangy lemony taste comes packed in these simple but easy-to-grow leaves. It needs full sun and will not tolerate harsh winters, so keep it pot-bound if that's a danger in your area. The leaves are the part used for tea.
Rose Hips - rose hips are the seed cases for roses. They are extremely high in vitamin C and are very good for you. Rose hips will form once the rose bush goes to seed. The rose hips should be deep orange-red before harvesting. Clean the rose hips gently before steeping.
Marjoram - this herb has a fruity, citrus flavor and an undertone of mint. It grows well in full sun to semi-shade.
Leaves and flowers are suitable for steeping.
Pick the leaves or flowers. The best time of day for this is just after the dew has dried but before the heat of the sun begins to draw the oils out of the plant.
Prepare the leaves. Leaves should be bruised to release their essential oils . Do this by rubbing them together.
Make the tea. Add the herbs to a teapot or directly to a mug or cup. For each cup of tea, add approximately 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves and/or flowers. Slice rose hips in half before adding.
Allow to steep for 5 minutes. This will ensure that the flavors are released and the full benefits of the herb's or flower's qualities are available.
Read more about teas as gifts, choosing the right soil and/or pots for herb growing, and additional herbs to grow and use at http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-an-Herbal-Tea-Garden.
When I had a market garden, I grew 200-foot rows of lettuce. The rows contained my own mixture of lettuce varieties, chosen for taste, color, and leaf shape, and I cut the leaves young for the mesclun mix I sold to local chefs. Twice a week my two young assistants and I knelt in the white clover pathways to shear the baby plants.
Most of the dozen or so lettuce varieties were the type described as cutting lettuces, which obligingly and vigorously sprout a fresh crop of leaves when they are snipped off just a couple of inches above the ground. They are often called cut-and-come-again lettuces.
Cutting lettuces are mostly non-heading leaf varieties from two groups, Grand Rapids and oakleaf. The Grand Rapids group produces broad, crinkled, and frilly leaves, while the oakleaf varieties have flatter and distinctively lobed leaves. Both groups include red and green varieties and several red-green combinations. All make great garden design elements.
Paint the garden with lettuce
Whatever else I grow, I always have plenty of ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, an heirloom. I don’t bother with little packets; I buy it by the ounce, about 25,000 seeds. Properly stored, lettuce seed stays viable
for three years. ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ is so reliable I use it as the standard for judging the germination success of other varieties. A fast grower, it produces crinkly, juicy, yellowish-green leaves. Its only shortcoming is a tendency to bolt in summer heat; it does best in spring and fall here on Long Island.
One of the best summer performers I have found is a romaine: a French cos, ‘Craquerelle du Midi’. When every other lettuce in my garden is getting bitter or defiantly announcing its plans to set seed, this one stays mild and leafy.
The red or green lobed leaves of the oakleaf types are pillars of the looseleaf establishment. There are at least half-a-dozen varieties of each color commonly found in seed catalogs. ‘Oakleaf’ is the original old standby that yields crisp, tender, light green leaves and keeps going through moderate heat. Although it has deeply lobed leaves, ‘Salad Bowl’ is not a true oakleaf. But it is an All-America Selections winner that produces rosettes of delicate lime-green leaves and also has good heat tolerance.
Tops for reliability, even through a hot summer, is ‘Red Sails’. Another All-America Selections winner, it’s a fast grower with green and reddish-bronze leaves.
Read the rest of this article at http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/2961/cut-and-come-again-lettuce-sampler#comment_list
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One of things that I really, really need here to grow the amount of food that I would like is a greenhouse. I have looked at so many, and they are usually incredibly expensive. My building skills are rudimentary at best, but this one I think I can not only build, but also afford.
From http://bepasgarden.blogspot.com/2011/03/building-greenhouse.html, take a look at this nice 6' x 8' greenhouse. If the price is accurate, I could build one to grow greens for the animals too.