December 23, 2012

Really Natural Books: Seeds Time Capsules of Life

Seeds: Time Capsules of Life is an amazing book! The photographs are amazing and makes one think about the origins of plant life. Such diversity and beauty, as well as pertinent information are included in this book.

In this lavish collection, artist Rob Kesseler and seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy of the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, present a natural history of seeds, illustrated with close-up photographs and scanning electron micrographs. The images afford an unprecedented view into a most astonishing microcosm, where even the tiniest examples are exquisitely beautiful and sophisticated--in fact Kesseler's work has been called "mystifying," "astounding," and "awe-inspiring" by scientists and critics around the world. Seeds constitutes an essential source book not only for those fascinated by the natural world, but also for artists, designers, and anyone interested in the development of biological structures. This brand-new edition features a preface by HRH the Prince of Wales, himself an avid conservationist. With its studied narrative and beautiful photographic eye, this keepsake volume is a stunning tribute to the beauty and marvel of seeds.

Seeds are the most complex organs plants ever produce. A major keystone in the evolution of land plants, the first seeds appeared some 360 million years ago. Since then they have developed into highly sophisticated propagules that have enabled plants to dominate the Earth's surface and conquer almost every possible habitat from the Antarctic to the hottest deserts. The diversity of shapes and sizes encountered in seeds is nearly endless and ranges from the impressive Seychelles nut at twenty kilos to the dustlike seeds of the orchids. No matter how small, packed into every seed is the complete genetic information needed to give rise to a new plant, whether it is a tiny herb or a giant rainforest tree. True time capsules of life, seeds may travel thousands of miles and, if necessary, wait for hundreds of years before germinating.

There is so much to be learned and amazed by this book!

disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 27, 2012

Grow the Healthiest Vegetables this Year!

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It almost time to plant seeds. Homegrown vegetables and fruits are more nutritious than those found in the grocery store.

Burpees new BOOST line of seeds and plants are designed to pack in flavor and nutrition.

To your health. Our experts have selected six of our most nutritious and delicious vegetables--for a harvest of health-giving flavor. Burpee's BOOST collection includes six vegetables, each "best-in-class" for taste and nutritional oomph.
  • Tomato 'Solar Power Hybrid'
  • Pepper 'Sweet Heat Hybrid'
  • Tomato 'Power Pops Hybrid'
  • Lettuce 'Healing Hands Salad Mix'
  • Tomato 'Cherry Punch Hybrid'
  • Cucumber 'Gold Standard Hybrid'
I haven't sprouted these seeds yet, so I don't know how well they grow. In general, I try to buy seeds that are organic and collected closer to home to be better climatized for my garden. Burpee seeds come from Pennsylvania.

Most of these seeds are hybrids, which means you won't be able to collect your own seeds from the plants for next year's garden.

I do like how the collection contains 20 seeds of each variety, as a normal seed packet contains too many seeds for one season of personal gardening, and germination rates decline as seeds age.

Disclosure: The products described above were sent to us as free samples. Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given. No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews. The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 22, 2011

Winter Garden Seed Collection by Territorial Makes Winter Gardening Easy!

It may be the middle of summer, but it is time to get your winter garden ready. To make life easy this year, I ordered the Territorial Seed Company's winter garden collection.

New to winter gardening, or not sure which varieties to choose? Here is a collection of our favorite, proven cool-season varieties. A well-rounded and complete combination of crispy greens, spicy mustards, delicious Oriental vegetables, and hearty root crops make this an ideal starter kit, or the perfect, no-brainer for anyone interested in cool-season gardening! All in a resealable, watertight bucket, complete with a desiccant package and a Territorial Seed Company Winter catalog with valuable growing information for your fall and winter garden.

Winter gardening is easy and very rewarding. Territorial makes it a no-brainer with their planting chart and proven seed collection. Forget summer, time to plan/plant for winter!

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 26, 2011

Maine Towns Enact Local Food Freedom Laws


In what can only be a response to the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, communities in Maine are enacting "local food freedom" laws to supersede federal laws (only it doesn't actually work that way in the Constitution). Treehugger reports:
Blue Hill, Maine will be one of several towns in Maine to recently enact food freedom laws declaring that the federal government doesn't have the right to intervene in local food matters, according to a story on Natural News. The bill allows this rural community of around 2,500 people to decide what foods that they buy and sell locally as well as exempting all direct sales of local food products from complying with state and federal inspection requirements.

Photo:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by manray3

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

January 12, 2011

Kids' Garden: 40 Fun Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Games

Kids' Garden: 40 Fun Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Games is fun deck of large cards with great ideas to get your child outside (or bring outside in).

Get outside and grow with some child-friendly fun with gardening! Kids Garden includes forty activities and games and an eight-page booklet that contains information on gardening tools, year-round plant care and garden safety. These step-by-step instructions are enhanced by colorful collage artwork on each double-sided card and they create a fun and easy way for budding green-thumbs to plant, investigate, learn and experiment.

I strongly believe gardening should be part of every child's education, both at home and at school. Not only does gardening teach children about the natural world, it improves their nutrition and willingness to try new fruits and vegetables.   Products like this one help give you ideas and motivate families.  

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 19, 2010

Urban Garden Movement in Richmond, CA Turns Vacant Lots Into Food


Richmond, California is one of those East Bay towns that can be sore on the eyes. Industry has left, and crime is an issue, but citizens have found a unique way to beautify and feed this economically depressed region by taking over vacant lots and turning them into gardens. Truthout explains:
Once a month, Latino and African American families-often people who live just a few blocks from each other but rarely had a chance to meet in the past-gather at the garden and have a barbecue. Tomatoes, chard, and corn grow in raised beds across the street. Muslim families from the local mosque just a few blocks away pluck fresh mint from the garden for making traditional Arabic tea. The garden is the work of Urban Tilth, one of the dozen or so groups at the center of Richmond's urban garden movement. It was built by community members, often young people, and is tended in part by students and teachers from the elementary school next door. And it has become a community gathering space...

People rarely get a say in what happens to land when their city falls apart. But in the last five years, some Richmonders have taken matters into their own hands. Often with official permission but sometimes without, they have planted more than two dozen gardens in public lots and school grounds all over the roughest parts of town. Urban Tilth calls them "farms," and last year grew 6,000 pounds of food, which went to dozens of local families.

This is an amazing story that should be replicated across the country. From upscale neighborhoods to ghettos, urban gardening brings communities together, reduces crime, and provides healthy local food.

Photo:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by anarchosyn

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 16, 2010

Indoor Gardening: Grow Your Own Shitake Mushrooms

shitake mushroom kit.jpgOne challenge for urban dwellers is space for gardening. One easy and fun solution is a Shiitake Mushroom Kit

Grow your own fancy mushrooms with our all inclusive kit! A mushroom treasured by many, our Shiitake Patch (Lentinula edodes) is composed of a unique blend of sterlized, enriched sawdust fully colonized with a select Chinese strain. Esteemed for both is health stimulating properties and its culinary value, our Shittake kit out-produces by far that of any known competitor. Shiitake mushrooms can be harvested at two week intervals up to 16 weeks. A 50-80 degree Fahrenheit environment is ideal. Each kit comes with illustrated instructions and is guarantee to produce.

Unfortunately, our kit has never produced as abundantly as pictured above. We have had several mushrooms at a time, but I have been disappointed with the results, even after contacting the company for special instructions. I don't know what we are doing wrong, as I have friends who have had great results with mushroom kits.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

July 9, 2010

Vegan Garden Recipes: Organic Kale Chip

As summer time temperatures are heating up, I am searching for ways to use up the kale in my garden before it starts to bolt. One super easy recipe that kids love is kale chips. This snack is healthy and a good replacement for potato chips.

Organic Kale Chips

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line a cookies sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut or tear kale into bite size pieces and lay out on cookie sheet. 
  • Spritz kale with olive oil and Bragg's Liquid Aminos or soy sauce. 
  • Sprinkle lightly salt and nutritional yeast over kale. 
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on the oven.

You may want to experiment with different spices to flavor your kale chips. They should turn out crunchy and sort of melt in your mouth. Of course, you can buy kale chips, but it is much more fun and easy to make your own.

Image: daveeza

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

June 21, 2010

Organic Gardening Magazine

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Whether you are an experienced organic gardener or someone just learning, Organic Gardening is a wonderful periodical.

What You Can Expect in Each Issue:

  • Food: We evaluate new and heirloom varieties of tomatoes and all your favorite vegetables in our nationwide network of test gardens. And we bring you the latest research on how to grow them to the peak of flavor. Each issue also includes hints on serving them simply to show off their homegrown goodness.

  • Landscaping: A well-maintained property enhances your home's value and gives you a comfortable space where you can relax with family and friends. We show you how to create a yard that is filled with color and interest in all four seasons, with details on the flowers, shrubs and trees that demand little care and deliver big impact. And we offer expert suggestions for giving your yard that "designed by a pro" look.

  • Pest and Weed Control: Toxic pesticides and weedkillers not only harm wildlife and poison our fresh water supply, they threaten the health of people and pets. Organic Gardening readers get solutions that are proven to work, but safe for all living things.

  • Soil: The secret to success in gardening is right below your feet. Organic Gardening is the only magazine that gives its readers information they can use to build the most fertile, well-balanced and healthy soil possible. Plus, find out how easy and rewarding composting can be.

From organic summertime lawn care to keeping backyard chickens, the current issue is full of inspiration.  As an avid gardener, I find I need motivation at times. Reading Organic Gardening gets me excited to be in the garden, and the recipes provide further encouragement when it comes to harvesting and being creative with your bounty.

This magazine has been around since 1942. A two-year subscription only costs $23.94 ($2.00 an issue), and it would make a wonderful gift.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 19, 2010

Really Natural Books: Grow Your Own Drugs: Easy Recipes for Natural Remedies and Beauty Fixes

Grow Your Own Drugs: Easy Recipes for Natural Remedies and Beauty Fixes is written by ethnobotanist James Wong. Wong believes, and I agree, that it's easy to grow and make your own natural remedies. He explained to NPR:

I think so many people have this stereotyped idea of what herbal medicine is. I think they've very much got a big black line in their minds that separates serious, conventional, tested, scientific medicine on one side and slightly airy, fairy, away-with-the-hippies -- you know -- natural-but-probably-doesn't-work, plant-based medicine on the other. To me as a scientist, whether a chemical is found within a pill or the cells of plant is really irrelevant -- that's just packaging.

Wong's book has a beautiful layout with incredible photographs and recipes. Take for example:
A few tablespoons of this garlicky vinegar in hot water make a powerful antifungal foot bath, but don't use it on broken skin -- it will hurt! The vinegar takes 1 month to infuse but will last at least 6 months to 1 year. It tastes good in salad dressings, too.


Garlic Footbath
10 bulbs garlic, peeled and finely chopped
100 g fresh sage leaves
2 cups (500 ml) cider vinegar

1. Place the chopped garlic and sage leaves in a jar, then add the cider vinegar. Seal and leave to infuse for 1 month, shaking occasionally.

USE Add 5 tbsp to a bowl of hot water, and soak feet for 15 minutes. Use 2 or 3 times a week in conjunction with "Garlic Talcum Powder" (see page 52).

This is a great book for the seasoned herbalist and amateur alike, and it is an incredible resource I know I will refer to over and over again.  The title is pretty unique too!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

April 15, 2010

Prince Charles Commissions Music Inspired by his Organic Gardens

Prince Charles, a long-term organic gardener (well, he probably has a lot of hired gardeners) and advocate of the local food movement has commissioned music inspired by his award winning gardens at Highgrove. UPI explains:

Patrick Hawes, one of Britain's leading composers, has completed the four-movement Highgrove Suite, inspired by the gardens at Prince Charles's country home...

Claire Jones, the royal harpist, and the Philharmonia Orchestra will premier the suite this summer at a Highgrove concert to benefit The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts.

The Christian Science Monitor further explains the Prince's commitment to organic gardening:
Long before organic went mainstream, Prince Charles was an avid proponent. He recommended improving soils with compost instead of pouring on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. He also advocated recycling kitchen and garden waste for compost and collecting rainwater to provide moisture for plants. Charles endured years of jokes about his views, which were considered a bit odd - but he didn't back down. And he put his money and personal influence behind them - most notably at his Highgrove estate...

Americans tend to think of organic gardening mostly in terms of vegetable gardens. But Prince Charles shows that following environmentally sound principles in the landscape works just as well with ornamentals, since his estates have the type of landscapes that are typical around European palaces and grand houses: intricately trimmed topiary, towering hedges, and many types of informal gardens - from wildflower meadows, orchards, and lily pools to "productive gardens" of vegetables and herbs.

I imagine the original royal gardens were grown organically before the invention of petrochemicals, and I am sure they were nothing less than spectacular.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

May 1, 2009

Natural Food Friday: Organic Optimum Slim High Fiber Cereal and Farmers Can Be Heroes

Fiber, protein, and whole grains are the secrets behind Nature's Path Organic Optimum Slim cereal. Ingredients:

Made with love and ...
Organic rolled oats, organic evaporated cane juice, organic roasted soy nuts, organic wheat bran, organic whole wheat meal, organic brown rice flour, organic soy protein, organic soy oil, organic flax seed, organic flaxmeal, organic freeze dried banana, organic oat syrup solids, organic raisins (coated with organic sunflower oil), organic almonds, organic oat bran, organic puffed Kamut® Khorasan wheat, organic sunflower seeds, organic barley malt extract, organic cinnamon, sea salt, organic matcha green tea, organic molasses, tocopherols (natural vitamin E) added to enhance freshness, organic rice bran extract.

Cereal doesn't have to just be for breakfast. If you are watching your weight (or not), Nature's Path Organic Optimum Slim cereal makes a great snack.

Nature's Path Organic Foods, Organic Valley, and Organic Gardening have teamed up to support the Farmers Can Be Heroes program. This program recognizes our farmers are our heroes who must feed our world while battling climate change. The program provides online courses for conventional farmers to learn about how to switch to organic agricultural practices.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 6, 2008

Great Big Plants: Organic Liquid Compost

I am pretty good about keeping my garden and ornamentals fertilized with local manures, but my houseplants suffer from neglect. In the past when I have tried to fertilize them, my family complains of the foul odor. When I discovered Great Big Plants organic liquid compost, I decided to do a sneaky test on my family. I knew that Great Big Plants would invigorate the soil and result in healthier plant growth, but I was concerned when I read on the label "strong odor". Would my family notice? Would Great Big Plants be banished to outside fertilizing only?

When I opened the bottle of liquid compost, well, it smelled like my compost pile. I don't find that offensive, but I don't want my house to smell that earthy. I mixed the concentrate with water and poured it on my houseplants. When my family came inside, they never even noticed; however, my houseplants did! After one application, my neglected house plants have perked up, and they are as happy as can be!

Great Big Plants can be used inside and out, and convert your soil into a rich and healthy environment.  It can be used for new plants and those in old soil, like my houseplants.  It works great invigoratin fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals naturally!

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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