Rules from ‘In Defense of Food’ by Michael Pollan

Don‘t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn‘t recog-nize as food.

Don‘t eat anything incapable of rotting.

Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamil-iar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup.

Avoid food products that make health claims.

Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.

Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.

Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.

You are what you eat eats too.

If you have space, buy a freezer.

Eat like an omnivore.

Eat well-grown foods from healthy soils.

Eat wild foods when you can.

Be the kind of person who takes supplements (but don‘t).

Eat more like the French or the Italians or the Japanese or the Indians or the Greeks.

Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.

Don‘t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet.

Have a glass of wine with dinner.

Pay more, eat less.

Eat meals.

Do all your eating at a table.

Don‘t get your fuel from the same place your car does.

Try not to eat alone.

Consult your gut.

Eat slowly.

Cook, and, if you can, plant a garden.

Rules from In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

 

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The Power of Seeds | How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts

We all know how wonderful micro greens are for our health and how they were all the rage in the culinary world the past few years. Some of us grew micro greens and others bought them at the store. There have been fewer micro greens in stores and more sprouts in their place.

Yes I said sprouts! They have made a comeback – they are off the side-lines and can be found in most produce sections. This time around broccoli sprouts are the most popular as they have incredible health benefits. Before I share how great they are with you I want to give you a little bad and some good news. The bad news is broccoli sprouts do not taste like broccoli and the good news is that broccoli sprouts do not taste like broccoli.

All kidding aside, broccoli sprouts are easy to grow and just 3 ounces of sprouts have 10-100 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli. Sulforaphane is an anti-cancer compound found in cruciferous vegetables that helps to fight against cancer. Broccoli sprouts are rich in vitamins K, C, B6, E, and folate, dietary fiber phosphorus, potassium, and mag-nesium. They also help the heart, respiratory, immune systems and aid in digestion.

Although they are good for most of us, no more than 2 cups a day is recommended. I caution anyone that is not supposed to have cruciferous vegetables to stay away from broccoli sprouts and always consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

All sprouts are quick and easy to grow and require minimal equipment and time.
If you want to test the waters and do not want to invest in a bag of seeds, Montana Harvest has organic broccoli seeds in their bulk spice section for a small amount of money. There is a lot more information on the internet about growing and buying all different types of sprouting seeds. I put sprouts on my omelets with some greens, in my salads, in smoothies and my favorite is in soups. I even feed them to my dogs. If you decide to give growing sprouts a try send us some pictures and let us know what you think at ymastergardener@gmail.com.

Here are a few links for purchasing sprouts online. https://sproutpeople.org/seeds/brassica-sprouts/ Kitazawa carries a lot of Asian seeds that can also be used for sprouting. http://www.kitazawaseed.com/

Submitted by Donna Canino

Thinning and Spacing in the Vegetable Garden

One of the garden lessons it took me the longest to learn was to rigorously thin my plantings. It has always been hard to kill little plants I so carefully cultivated and I always tended to leave too many. There was then just not enough room for each plant to develop fully.

I also have learned to be more cognizant of spacing plants—seeds as well as stock plants. I have learned to keep the size of the adult plant in mind as I plant. My rule of thumb has become to imagine the adult carrot or beet or onion and space the seeds or bulbs accordingly, so each can grow to its full size. One way to accurately space seeds is to plant seed tapes, strips that already have the seeds embedded. Or you can make your own seed tapes by lightly dampening toilet paper strips, placing the seeds on them and placing another layer of damp TP on top. The paper will break down and the seeds will be spaced correctly.

In addition to imagining the adult carrot or onion or using seed tapes, seed packets are also helpful for determining how far apart to put seeds. I think I have tended to plant them closer together and put in too many, with the idea that they wouldn‘t all germinate and I was hedging my bets that way. But the upshot really was that I had to spend a lot of time thinning!

How to thin? You can get down at plant level and pull the weaker plants, leaving the stronger plants spaced correctly. Do this when true leaves have appeared. Another method is to use small scissors and clip the unwanted seedlings. This works well for squash plants, I found. It’s a bit more challenging for smaller seedlings like carrots and rutabagas. This method leaves organic matter in the soil to feed the microbes while allowing the chosen plants to develop fully.

Don’t wait too long to pull the unwanted seedlings or the process will greatly disturb the remaining plants. And don‘t forget you can generally eat your thinnings, especially from greens and lettuces.

To me this is the least fun part of vegetable gardening but this year, when I forced myself to really thin correctly, I was rewarded with the best carrot crop ever, so it was definitely worth it!

Submitted by Ann Guthals

 

Saving Summer Plants for Winter Color

Have you ever thought about bringing in some of your summer plantings in the fall to grow through the winter? While researching different plants that we could grow here in Montana I came across some that most of us have in our yard during the summer.

After such a scorching summer, we are usually ready to send everything to the dumpster or compost pile. But think outside the box. How about some color, plants for decorating, or use for cooking. Some of these plants will need to be repotted for indoors or take cuttings.

Geranium – Bring them in before frost and give them a light trim. Water when dry, feed monthly and give bright direct light. http://www.wikihow.com/Propagate-Geraniums- from-Cuttings

Caladium – The same plants sold as tubers and potted and sold, at a much higher price, as houseplants. Indoors they like indirect light. Keep their soil moist, but not wet. They prefer temps from 60 to 85 degrees. If they yellow and die back, just let rest until spring. Store in a cool dry spot and repot in February or March. They like low to moderate light.

Boxwood– Small potted evergreen boxwood make easy going houseplants and special winter decorations with a little pruning. Turn the pot every few days to keep growing evenly. Humidity is crucial to evergreen houseplants so keep a mister handy. Put plenty of pebbles in the bottom of the pot. Water when the soil dries and feed monthly. They like bright to moderate light.

Coleus – Coleus come in so many different colors it’s a shame not to try cuttings from your favorites. They like indirect bright light and to be warm. Keep the soil moist and feed monthly. Pinch off any flowers to prevent them from going to seed.

Hot Peppers – Peppers are tropical perennials and can be kept growing and producing. Smaller hot peppers are the easiest to bring indoors. They like their soil a little dry and underfed. Bright direct light is necessary to set flowers and grow peppers. Think orange, yellow, green and red for winter color. Do watch for aphids and fungus gnats.

Herbs – Many herbs do well indoors. Do you have chives, basil, parsley, rosemary or lemon grass? It is best to start with small, young plants. Perennials, like lemon grass and rosemary can be potted and brought back and forth from outdoors to an indoor window sill. Be sure they get bright light and trim to keep bushy. They like bright light.

If you are bringing plants in from outdoors you may think about isolating them before bringing them indoors. Make sure all the hitchhikers are gone. You don’t need extra pests to infect your existing plants. Fungus gnats are generally caused by overwatering.

Submitted by Sheri Kisch

The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife

Naturalist Nancy Lawson’s primary purpose is to help animals. She writes a column called ‘Humane Backyard’ (http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/wild_neighbors/humane-backyard/humane- backyard.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/) for the Humane Society publication All Animals and is the founder of The Humane Gardener, a comprehensive website and outreach initiative focused on gardening for animals(http://www.humanegardener.com/)

In six chapters, Lawson introduces the reader to the ideas of: · Trying Something New – By abandoning preconceived notions of what a garden should be and focusing on native plants. · Embracing the Wild – By allowing nature to take over a portion of a garden to see who sets up housekeeping. · Supporting Ecosystems – Fostering habitat by providing desirable food and shelter for native animals, and making gardens safe for the animals that make their homes there. · Providing Natural Food for Wildlife – By understanding that the creatures that live in our gardens must eat, too. · The Importance of the Full Life Cycle – By taking a new look at decaying plant material that may be messy, but that provides food and shelter to garden inhabitants. At the end of each chapter is an in-depth profile of a pioneer who has reclaimed a landscape for wildlife.

There is a handy “Getting Started” guide at the end of the book that includes: · General Information · Regional Books on Habitat Growing · Native Plant Information and Regional Databases · Native Plant Retail Sources and Supplies · Co-Existing with Wildlife · Habitat Certification and Yard Signs. Each provides valuable resources for readers who would like further information on native plant species, humane gardening, and wildlife habitat. Also included is a section titled “Plants Mentioned in this Book,” a comprehensive list of the many native and non-native species discussed, with their common and Latin names.

The Humane Gardener is an idea-packed examination of what happens when we view our yards as opportunities to preserve and foster habitat for native plants and animals. As Lawson says, “Even in a small yard, you might be surprised by who shows up if you let them.”

By: Tracy L. Livingston

Local Gardeners and Master Gardener Steve and Kelly Pottenger

Jim’s Jungle has been a fixture in town for many years. Recently, as current owners, Steve and Kelly Pottenger, sat down with me at the end of a hot day in the fenced nursery location in front of the West Park Shopping Center, a shopper asked Kelly if they still had new plants coming in. With new plants coming in through the middle of June, I agree with the nice lady – even at the end of the planting season when the garden is stuffed full, it’s still hard to stop coming here to buy plants.

The name of this place is actually Potager’s Jungle, but it is hard to bend a great tradition to fit changing times. Potager is an Old English gardening term that these folks would like customers to become accustomed to as they settle in to the location they hope to make permanent. While Steve, Kelly, and their two kids Katie and Skyler bring years of knowledge to the colorful oasis among the pavement and cement along Grand, they are quick to explain that at home the environment is even more challenging to garden. I wanted to know more about that.

Steve told me right off the bat that at home “the water is not good, the soil is not good, the wind is nasty.” Our place does not look like this, he said with a swoop of his hand. While I can relate to those challenges of rural Montana gardening, I couldn’t imagine desolation where this kind of gardener lives. Of course they garden successfully – they figure out what is most hardy for this area when they take the last of the crop home to plant in those rough conditions. The plants that survive there are the toughest,
and prove to be what they recommend to folks next year that will take whatever the Montana summer can dish out. They have hanging baskets of colorful flowers and mix their own soil for pots full of vegetables, which last year they brought in to the sunny south window and enjoyed tomatoes in the living room all winter!
What are their favorite plants? That was hard for them to pin down, but Kelly’s favorite is gaillardia. She did say when she gardened in the Kalispell area she loved the begonias and dahlias, too. They just aren’t as well suited here. Steve enjoys all plants, but perennials in particular. He gardened in Reno for many years before returning to Billings.

Where did they get the willingness to experiment in these harsh Montana conditions? Both Steve and Kelly grew up with gardening dads and even while doing those unloved weeding chores never gave a second thought to the natural ebbs and flows of the backyard landscape. Kelly spoke of an activity at the local YMCA where she was able to introduce kids to their first experience with gardening. Realizing that there are so many kids who don’t grow up with that kind of daily practice made her appreciate what she had learned from her folks. It makes Steve and Kelly happy to encourage people of all ages to get in the backyard and grow things, and they see many younger folks coming to buy plants to produce their own home-grown food.

They are teaching new generations side by side with their own kids. Katie and Skyler are learning all aspects of the nursery business and have integral parts in the family operation. Steve says Katie is great at the till, and Skyler is a very reliable ‘yard’ man, helping customers and keeping the area running smoothly. They are also learning to practice safety – Kelly and Steve make sure everyone that works in the nursery use good gardening habits: stay hydrated, have access to shade and takes breaks in a cool, protected environment, and be mindful of using good tools and proper clothing.

Steve told me that one of the things he wants his fellow Master Gardeners here to know is how grateful he and Kelly are for their help on Saturdays in May. Handing out the leaflets with gardening tips and taking the time to have conversations with beginning gardeners is a wonderful treat for their customers, and they love to see people become even more interested and confident with the insight from the Master Gardeners who help out there. I let them know that as a Master Gardener I appreciate their business and having access to vibrant healthy plant materials delivered with a smile and thanked them for a lively interview!

Submitted by Corinna Sinclair