guest blog: home grown garden

Hi guys!  It’s tough to get back into a routine after all of the crazy planning, DIYing, traveling, and general wedding festivities.  And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m doing a lot of staring at my dress and trying to figure out how and when I can wear it again.  I posted a picture of it earlier this week on facebook if you want to check it out.  There will certainly be more sharing here once I wrap my head around everything!  I’m already working on a post about our trip to Brimfield so check in early next week for lots of vintage eye candy.

Until then I have another special guest today from Healthline.com who is stopping by to discuss the health benefits of gardening – a favorite topic of mine behind all things vintage of course.  As I posted recently, we’ve taken on a much healthier eating routine since Ryan’s MS diagnosis.  No surprise here but eating healthy has made us feel great!  Since that post, we’ve also joined a CSA and planted our own veggie garden.  We’re about to purchase a juicer as well!  (I’m still doing research so if you have any juicer feedback, can you leave it in the comments please?)

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

Today Valerie is sharing tips on planting your own healthy garden…

You may have the best proof of your actions in the care and maintenance of your diet and physical fitness.  You eat the right foods and you have a dedicated exercise regimen.  You and your mirror agree: you are the picture of health.  Even though there are splurges for birthdays and the holiday season, you know you will soon be back on track; your history proves it.  Surely, there is nothing more that would improve that picture.  You even know there will come a time when both diet and exercise must make adjustments for the inevitable decline of your body.  Aging comes to all of us.  If you feel this way, congratulations!  You are on the summit and there is no reason why you cannot stay there.

However, if you think there is nothing left to do, raise your hand anyway.  Teachers appreciate enthusiasm.  There is something so simple and beneficial, you are going to slap your forehead: that famous commercial vegetable juice can be made fresh instead of drinking processed juice: plant and grow a vegetable and fruit garden.

Harvest Your Own Health Garden

For as much as you have learned about diet and fitness, is there any doubt that consuming fresh fruits and vegetables will yield greater benefit than their processed, packaged and purchased counterparts from the grocery store?  Even if fresh, how long have those broccoli spears been lying in their tray in the grocery store with daily doses of water spray?  Face it; the only way you are going to assure freshness is if you have harvested yourself and have prepared the meal within minutes of transition from dirt to plate.

garden harvest

But we are far ahead of ourselves.  First, it may be necessary to clear an area in the yard currently dedicated to something else.  If it is a weed patch, there is no argument.  If it happens to be your prized Japanese garden, pick another location in the yard.  The right location will need full sunlight exposure all day long; under a shade tree will not suffice.  Your garden size is dictated by family size, types of vegetables chosen and available space you are willing to devote to the garden.  You may need to modify your current irrigation system to accommodate the more demanding needs of a vegetable garden.  Once determined, clear the ground of existing vegetation and till it thoroughly.  You want loose soil up to a foot deep.  If you do not own a tiller, you may have a friend who does, or most home and garden centers have them for rent.

Purchase an inexpensive soil test kit that will measure existing soil conditions of pH (alkaline or acidic condition), nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, essential elements to assure a bountiful harvest.  Treat the soil according to test results and lay down a layer of steer manure and till all of this fully into the soil.

gardening

The garden layout is going to be dictated by your plant choices; it is best to put a bird’s eye plan on paper.  You planting schedule is going to be dictated by the map of your planting zone.  Back at the home and garden center in March or April, you have a choice of a plethora of seeds, or seedlings ready to plant in the garden.  Follow planting instructions.  Cultivate and weed frequently so that all soil nutrients go where they’re needed.  Harvest according to instructions.

Sustainable Gardening

There is another benefit beyond the advantage of eating your own fresh vegetables:  this is going to require physical labor; always a healthful benefit.

farm to table

…sort of.

I love that phrase – farm to table.  It sounds like such a basic concept.  It is one that we’ve embraced recently in our house.  Well, I guess it has been more like farm to store to table.  But once the harvest season starts it will definitely be more farm to table.  Anyway…

First let me say thank you to so many of you who have consistently followed up with us on Ryan’s MS diagnosis last fall.  He is doing just wonderful.  In fact, much better than before.  And me too.  We have embraced new routines and ditched a few old ones.  Mostly we’ve been really cognizant of what we’re eating and how our meals are made and, most importantly, how those foods impact Ryan.

I’ve never been much of a chef and I’m no food blogger.  There are plenty of fantastic blogs out there for recipes and such but as I’ve been sharing some of my new recipes with friends, they encouraged me to post about it.  Perhaps you’ll have an interest too.

We haven’t become vegetarians or anything official but we’ve embraced a highly vegetable based diet and legume based for that matter.  The turning point was receiving my first ever food processor at my bridal shower.  We ate veggies before but usually in a raw or steamed state as a side. Nothing fancy.  The food processor has hands down changed my life.  And I actually like cooking and experimenting in the kitchen now.  I had no idea how versatile chick peas are!  Yes, I’m getting excited about chick peas.  That’s the new me.

Let me just share some of my latest concoctions.  Ryan laughs at me every time I take pictures of our meals.  I take pictures of our sofa, mantelscape and everything else.  So why stop at dinner?

Chick pea “meat”loaf with carrot soup – my soups need some work

chick pea loaf & carrot soup

Sweet potato stuffed pepper with a garlic cream sauce – hands down, my favorite so far although probably the least photogenic.  Can you believe I never ate a radish before now?

sweet potato stuffed pepper

Mediterranean loaf (with basil, pepper, tomato & mozzarella) – Ryan thinks we need to come up with a new word for “loaf”.  I agree.  Any suggestions?

Mediterranean loaf

Smoked salmon salad – an oldie but goodie.  I think we may be headed down the path of pescetarian but again, no official commitments here

smoked salmon salad

Mango vanilla smoothie – we still go for the ol’ classic strawberry smoothie on the reg too. Apparently I don’t have pictures of either.

I seriously shock myself with my new found kitchen prowess.  Ryan is feeling very healthy and active which is the goal when you have MS.  You want to keep a high energy level and remain active so the disease doesn’t creep up on you.  Certain foods, like kiwi, can increase your energy level.  He’s even lost weight.  Men, they lose it so easily!  Hmmph.

And we LOVE doing yoga.  It is so relaxing & strengthening.  I find it helps me a lot with stress.  I never thought I’d become an organic, yogi but I think that’s the path I’m on.  Ryan continues to do all of the things he loves like fishing & bike riding.

It’s funny how life has a way of throwing you curve balls.  You can either let it get you down or embrace it and make the best of it.  I’m pretty happy with how we’re tackling Multiple Sclerosis head on over here

So what healthy recipes should I try next?

some bunnies

Hey everyone! I hope you and your family have a great weekend celebrating Easter & Passover.

I’d love to share some timely photos with you from Mandy Keep Photography‘s photo shoot at our Brick & Mortar a few weeks ago.  Mandy specializes in family photography.  Check out these cutie pies in their spring best…

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Yes, that is the real Easter bunny who joined us!

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Mandy did a phenomenal job and raised $820 for Multiple Sclerosis research!  We’re so fortunate to have hosted the event with her.  The funds have been donated in honor of our MS Bike ride team – Team RecanizeWe’re still recruiting riders if you want to join us on our City to Shore Bike Ride in September…

Mandy Keep Photography hosts charity photo shoots regularly.  Her next one event is on April 13th.  She’ll take your professional headshot and donate the proceeds to YWCA.  This is the perfect opportunity for small business orders and professionals.  Details below…

Empowering Women Charity Photo Project

Happy Easter!