Posts tagged vegetables

Happy Anniversary!!

    How could I forget our anniversary? It was Jan. 17, 2008, when the online version of Homegrown started, so this blog has already passed its one-year mark.

 

    With that in mind, I wanted to point out some new features that have been added since then.  First, searches are now easier with the addition of a search button.  If you want to know more about lawns or corn or lady bugs or something else,  just put the word or phrase into that space and click to find more on the topic. The “Your Photos” feature was added last year. Even though I asked for garden or plant photos, since it’s winter in Iowa, feel free to submit your cold weather photos – the ice on your tree branches, birds at the feeder or your child’s tongue stuck to a metal pole. OK, maybe not the last one, but photos you want to share can be emailed to me at: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com and I’ll post them to Your Photos for the world to admire.

 

    The gardening events category is a popular one, but remember to look for the posted dates. Many of those items are from 2008. I’ll try to remember to put 2009 on all the new events to avoid confusion. The farmers markets list is from last year, but I will update the list this spring.

 

    If there are any other additions or changes you’d like to see on Homegrown, please let me know by email (same as above) or by posting a comment below.

 

    Finally, here is the message that kicked off Homegrown just over a year ago. I think it’s still appropriate today.

 

Welcome! I am so excited to be doing this!! Homegrown is the blog version of a gardening column I wrote for The Gazette a few years ago, a reference to locally grown vegetables, fruits and flowers. First off, although I was born in the 1960s, I don’t consider myself a product of the ’60s, so if you’re looking for a less than legal “homegrown” substance, you’ve come to the wrong blog, dude. Everyone else, feel free to come back often – more will be added as we move into growing season – and please, offer your comments. I want to know what your interests are. I’m also thrilled to provide a forum for our Master Gardeners, who will be sharing their expertise, as well. Thanks for checking in. I look forward to hearing from you!

  

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Poisoned Fruit

Following is an excerpt of a new report by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food.

The Poisoned Fruit of American Trade Policy

Produce Imports Overwhelm American Farmers and Consumers

Americans are consuming more imported fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen and canned produce, and fruit juice than ever before.  An examination of U.S. consumption of produce that is commonly eaten as well as grown in America found that over the past 15 years Americans’ consumption of imported fresh fruits and vegetables doubled, but border inspection has not kept pace with rising imports, and less than one percent of the imported produce is inspected by the federal government. 

 

Food & Water Watch studied fifty common fruit and vegetable products like fresh apples, frozen broccoli, fresh tomatoes, orange juice and frozen potatoes and found that:

Imports made up one out of ten fresh fruits and one out of nine fresh vegetables Americans ate in 1993 (10.1 and 11.7 percent, respectively) but by 2007 the import consumption share doubled to more than one out of five fresh fruits and fresh vegetables (22.3 percent of fresh fruit and 23.9 percent of fresh vegetables). 

The share of imported processed (canned or frozen) produce tripled, from 5.2 percent of frozen packages or cans in 1993 to 15.9 percent in 2007. 

The share of imported fruit juice (orange, apple and grape) grew by 61 percent, from about a third of American consumption (30.8 percent) in 1993 to about half of consumption (49.5 percent) in 2007. 

On average, each American consumed 20 pounds of imported fresh fruit, 31 pounds of imported fresh vegetables and 24 pounds of imported processed produce and drank three gallons of imported juice in 2007.

Imports of fresh fruits (except bananas), fresh vegetables and processed produce essentially tripled, rising from 10 billion pounds in 1990 to 30 billion pounds in 2007.

Imported produce was more than three times more likely to contain the illness-causing bacteria Salmonella and Shigella than domestic produce, according to the latest FDA survey of imported and domestic produce.

Imported fruit is four times more likely to have illegal levels of pesticides and imported vegetables are twice as likely to have illegal levels of pesticide residues as domestic fruits and vegetables.

The hidden dangers on imported fruits and vegetables can enter U.S. supermarkets because the FDA inspects only the tiniest fraction of imported produce. Less than one percent of imported fresh produce shipments were inspected at the border in recent years.

To see the full report, go to: www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/imports/the-poisoned-fruit-of-american-trade-policy

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“Compostales”

   The winner of our compost contest was announced  and her essay on composting magic was posted earlier, but there were others who shared great advice and fun stories. Dustin Hinrichs, one of our judges, noted that he enjoyed reading the “compostales.” I like Dustin’s terminology, so here are some of the compostales that were also entered in the contest. More will be posted later. Enjoy, and thanks to all who entered!

 

Duane Thys of Cedar Rapids:

 

I LOVE COMPOST!!

 

I  HAVE BEEN COMPOSTING FOR OVER FORTY YEARS.   PRESENTLY I HAVE TWO PLASTIC BINS AND A WIRE CAGE.  I ‘FEED’ THE BINS FROM THE CAGE WHICH  HOLDS  LEAVES AND GARDEN REFUSE.  I LAYER GRASS CLIPPINGS, KITCHEN SCRAPS, DRYER LINT, PAPER, ETC.,  WITH THE LEAVES AND GRASS CLIPPINGS.    I HAVE NEVER HAD ENOUGH COMPOST.  I   TOLD MY WIFE THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE ALL THE COMPOST IN THE WORLD.  SHE THINKS  I’M NUTS.

 

I ALSO RAISE RED WORMS.  THESE ORIGINALLY WERE FOR FISH BAIT ALTHOUGH I SECRETLY WAS THINKING ABOUT MORE COMPOST.  THIS TURNED OUT BETTER THAN EXPECTED.  THE WORMS MAKE EXCELLENT BAIT , BUT THE COMPOST IS  AWESOME.   USING TWO BUCKETS  I DEVISED A COMPOST TEA MAKER .  THIS BREW MAKES EVERYTHING FROM ASPARGAS  TO ZENNIAS  GROW. 

 

GETTING ENOUGH ORGANIC MATERIAL  HAS BECOME A PROBLEM.  THE WORMS NOW EAT ALMOST ALL THE KITCHEN  SCRAPS SO MY OTHER COMPOST SOMETIMES GOES WITHOUT.  I TAKE LEAVES AND GRASS CLIPPINGS FROM  NEIGHBORS.  (EXCEPT THE  ONES WITH DOGS) 

 

I WAS TAUGHT NOT TO WASTE ANYTHING  SO, COMPOSTING COMES NATURALLY TO ME.  I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY SOMEONE WOULD THROW AWAY PERFECTLY GOOD GARBAGE.

 

Neena Miller of Scotch Grove:

 

   The first time I was aware of the benefits of composting was when I was in ninth grade and had a pony (1968.)

   Mucking out the stalls was my chore to do, in order to have my beloved pet, and, although it was hard work, it was very beneficial (especially to the summer garden.)    Throughout my life, I have always known my mother to continue the composting tradition by collecting kitchen scraps and lawn clippings to add to the compost bin.

   Today, I continue that tradition on the farm. I have a bucket under the sink for all kitchen scraps. I keep a dishcloth over the top, to keep away gnats.    In the garden, I have a circle of wire (like chicken wire) where I deposit the kitchen scraps from my bucket, layering with yard clippings, leaves, manure and pulled weeds.

   The different “green” debris and manure, which I variegate in the pile, create heat, which cooks the compost pile, creating a germ free “super” fertilizer for my new garden and potted plants. The “waste” factor of using a garbage disposer and flushing these valuable nutrients down the drain, or throwing leftover food products in plastic, non-biodegradable bags into our garbage dumps is huge.

   In a situation in which we cannot dispose of kitchen waste immediately, we might simply freeze it in a plastic bag until we can. This way, our world and our lives can be replenished the way nature, and ultimately God, had designed.

 

 

Nancy Feldmann of Manchester:

 

I like to compost. It’s my way of giving back to the earth. You might say I’m a naturalist at heart, because I love gardening, composting, sun drying my laundry and saving gray water. I grew up on a farm in NE Iowa and things I learned there brought me to where I am today – an avid recycler of almost any product. All of my containers are recycled, I buy in bulk and reuse containers whenever possible. My composting method right now consists of a plastic laundry hamper with holes in it -I’d love to move up to more modern technology. All of my compost feeds my garden soil, which in turn feeds my family. (Did I also say I am a Supervisor at Goodwill? I believe in helping people learn to be independent. Our people is our most important job at Goodwill and recycling is our second most important, which really coincides with my beliefs of giving back.)

 

 

Heather Hospodarsky of Cedar Rapids:

 

I love my newly found composting routine.  We have a family of 6 and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.  My newest composting helper is a cat litter bucket with a tight fitting lid.  I was unable to find a bucket that would hold a few days worth of compost until a friend, with cats suggested this.  It stays in the garage and I take the compost there as needed.  Our bin several yards from our house and we empty the bucket a few times a week.  It feels so good “recycling” our food waste instead of sending it to the landfill. 

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Compost winner!!

Saturday, Nov. 15, is America Recycles Day and what better way to recycle than by composting?

   Composting turns egg shells, banana peels and other fruit and vegetable peelings that would otherwise end up in a landfill into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that helps gardens thrive.

    Readers sent in some wonderful essays to our compost contest and we’ll eventually get those posted here, beginning with our winner: Beverly Whitmore of Cedar Rapids.

Beverly Whitmore

Beverly Whitmore

 

 

 

    Beverly won a kitchen composting package, courtesy of the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Special thanks to our judges, Bev Lillie, Linn County master gardener coordinator; Dustin Hinrichs, Linn County Public Health air pollution control specialist and Stacie Johnson, education coordinator for the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Stacie provided the prize.

   Thank you to everyone who enteredJ

 

Here is Beverly’s winning entry:

 

I’m a magician.  I can turn coffee grounds, dried crushed eggshells and any kind of fruit or vegetable peelings into “black magic”!  Even the stems of irises and day lilies go into my “recipe” for compost.  The real secret is to “chop” up the ingredients into small pieces, and turn those ingredients with a pitch fork once in a while.  Come see my garden next spring and you will not only see lovely, black dirt full of healthy earthworms, but after it has “baked” it really does have a sweet aroma.  When neighbors stop by to say how pretty my garden is and comment that I must use a lot of fertilizer … I simply say “no, I just put a shovel of compost around my plants, it’s really what makes them so happy”.  My plants grow taller than usual and produce lovely blooms.  One could say that I like to play in the “dirt” and I do!  Whether it be “mixing” a concoction of non edible peelings and leaves, or enjoying the beautiful plants and their blooms, one thing is for sure, my husband is happier too … he gets to tote “less” garbage to the street each week!

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Forbidden Fruit: equal rights for veggies

The following on equal rights for European veggies is from FoodNavigator.com

EU scraps regulations on forbidden fruit

By Gavin Kermack, 13-Nov-2008

Ugly and misshapen fruit and vegetables are to be permitted for sale in Europe for the first time – but equal rights are still a dream for many grocery items covered by separate regulations.

 

The European Commission has torn up its much-maligned 100-page document providing legislation on the shape, size and texture of fruit and vegetables, meaning that from 1st July 2009 consumers will be able to purchase 26 items, including onions, apricots, Brussels sprouts, watermelons and cauliflowers with as many knobs, bumps and curves as they like.

“This marks a new dawn for the curvy cucumber and the knobbly carrot,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development at the EC. “In these days of high food prices and general economic difficulties, consumers should be able to choose from the widest range of products possible. It makes no sense to throw perfectly good products away, just because they are the wrong shape.”

A further ten items, including tomatoes, lettuces and endives, lemons, limes and apples, will still be covered by the regulations. However, EU member states will be free to allow shops to sell them as long as they are labelled with words to the effect of ‘product intended for processing’.

These ten products account for 75 per cent of the value of fruit and veg trade in the EU.

FoodNavigator.com has learned that the continued segregation of deformed citrus fruits was a compromise reached by the EC in order to avoid a qualified majority of votes against deregulation.

16 of the 27 member states – including France, Spain and Italy – voted against the move.

Streamlining

Peka Pesonen, secretary general of Copa and Cogeca, which represents farmers and agricultural cooperatives in Europe, said that the move ignored the interests of the European fruit and vegetables sector.

“The use of objective parameters such as size and uniformity helps put a clear and univocal price on each quality, at both the producer and consumer level,” she said. “We fear that the absence of EU standards will lead member states to establish national standards and that private standards will proliferate, which will only hamper the smooth running of the single market and hinder simplification.”

The EC has been criticised in the past for over-regulation of foodstuffs. “[This is] a concrete example of our drive to cut red tape,” said Fischer Boel. “We simply don’t need to regulate this sort of thing at EU level.”

The decision has been welcomed by many in the food industry. A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said, “Defra welcomes this decision. It is a sensible first step on the way to further streamlining of the regulations.”

It’s bananas

Tim Down, a fruit and veg wholesaler from Bristol, UK, was outraged in June when he was forced to throw away 520 Chilean kiwis after being told by the Rural Payments Agency that they did not meet industry standards.

Some of the kiwis weighed up to four grams less than the stipulated 62g.

“Standards are necessary,” Down told FoodNavigator.com, “but they have to be implemented in a sensible way.”

“How anyone ever sat down in an office in Brussels and got paid an enormous amount of money to decide on the correct curvature of a cucumber beggars belief.”

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1677/88 previously stated that Class I and Extra Class cucumbers were allowed a bend of 10mm per 10cm of length, with Class II cucumbers being allowed twice as much bend.

From next year, though, even bent cucumbers will be allowed into Europe.

However, we will not be seeing abnormal bananas just yet. One famous regulation, (EC) No. 2257/94, which states that bananas must be “free from abnormal curvature of the fingers”, is to remain.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Michael Mann, the EC’s agriculture spokesperson, told FoodNavigator.com. “Perhaps we will come back to bananas in the future.”

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Demonstration gardens

Linn County Master Gardener Shelby Foley describes a worthwhile trip to make in Eastern Iowa:

 

A group of Linn County Master Gardeners has developed a demonstration garden at Lowe Park, 4500 N. 10th St., Marion that serves as an outdoor, hands-on learning laboratory.  The garden consists of eleven beds and a composting station.  Master Gardeners are in the garden on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to dusk and on Thursday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon all summer meeting with the public to talk gardening and answer your questions.

            From conifers to roses to vegetables, the beds offer something for everyone interested in gardening.  The herb garden features eight different types of basil, each with a unique color and taste.  Visitors are encouraged to sample them and taste a bit of Italian summer.  The birds and butterflies bed is planted with flowers and herbs to attract our winged friends.  Here a caterpillar munching on a leaf is a good thing and visitors may spot a chrysalis or two hanging on the plants.  Several beds of annuals are changed in design and color from year to year for added interest.  The other beds provide just as many interesting designs, textures and colors. 

            Meander through the gardens.  Enjoy the marvelous scents.  Hear the soft sound of the native grasses swaying in the summer breeze.    Relax by the water feature.   You will undoubtedly be intrigued by the possibility of a family gardening project. 

 

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A Midsummer’s Garden

Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith shares the following:

 

Can you believe it’s already July?  The favorite daughter’s corn (all 24 stalks—remember it’s her first garden adventure) are way taller than knee high.  Her two tomato plants are huge; the pumpkin plants absolutely covered with blossoms.  The kids are so anxious to see the fruits of Mom’s labors. What fun this is!

                So how is your vegetable garden fairing?

§  You may be surprised to know that you will want to water soon, if you haven’t started already.  Gardens – vegetable and flower -need about one inch of water per week.  Remember it’s best to water thoroughly early in the day. 

§  Fertilize leafy vegetables and sweet corn when the plants are about half their mature size. Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans should be fertilized when they have started producing fruit. Spread about two cups of a low-nitrogen fertilizer about six inches from the plant for every 100 feet of row.  Never put fertilizer directly on the fruit.

§  Continue to monitor for pests, add additional mulch if needed and remove weeds to prevent competition for water and fertilizer.

§  If you feel you must use a weed killer be careful to not get any on your ground cover.  Herbicides will kill any plant they touch.  A helpful hint is to cut the top and bottom from a milk jug, cover the weeds with the milk jug and spray the weeds inside the container.  Once the herbicide is dry, move the jug on to the next group of weeds.

§  Does your garden have a hot spot—lots of sun and dry?  There is still time to fill in. Plant some annuals.  Zinnias, Sunflowers, Dusty Miller and Cleome are both heat and drought resistant.  Deadheading (removing dead flower heads) will increase flower production.

Do enjoy your garden where the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor will be a tasty and safe special treat for the entire family. 

 

Another reminder – if you would like to become a Linn County Master Gardener  contact the Extension Office at (319) 377-9839 for information regarding the program.

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