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My kid is a complicated one when it comes to eating. In some ways he eats very healthy, but given the option he would eat crackers and peanut butter sandwiches all day. He won’t touch vegetables or fruit on their own, so I have to get creative about getting them into his diet.
One thing I have found is that he will eat anything if I tell him it’s a “pizza.” So I have a great, delicious, vegan pizza I put together for him regularly. Here’s what I do:
Get your bread. I use the Garlic Naan from Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious, it’s a good source of protein, it’s higher on the calories (which is good for my guy who is very small for his age) and it crisps up beautifully in the oven.
Add your tomato sauce. I use Rao’s Marinara from Whole Foods. It’s a pricier one, but it doesn’t have added sugar, plus it is absolutely delicious.
I then chop into tiny pieces whatever veggies I have. Usually, it is broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and sometimes zucchini or peppers. I mush them into the pasta sauce - you could also mix them into the pasta sauce so they are barely visible. Sometimes I will put them all into a food processor to make the pieces really tiny!
I add my sausage, which again is vegan breakfast sausage from Trader Joe’s. This is a very heavy Trader Joe’s-based meal. It is delicious and really helps you feel like you are eating real pizza.
Last I do a sprinkling of vegan mozzarella. I’m not a big fan of vegan cheese, so if you are you could go heavier on this. Or, of course, just use real cheese if your diet allows.
I cook it in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes. I like mine a little longer because of how good the naan is crispy.
It’s a healthy hit every time!
Some plants need more supplemental nutrients than others. If you have a plant that is produces something for you, it's nutritional needs will be higher than your average flower or shrub. What are the most important nutrients your soil needs?
Nitrogen- Animal manure is a great source. Start light and distribute frequently. Warning: some manure can come with weed seeds as hitchhikers.
Phosphorus - Fishbone or bone meal is a great way to get your phosphorus. Along with supporting a good microbalance in the soil, this helps blooms, stem formation, and the production of high-quality fruit and vegetables.
Potassium- Good sources are hardwood ash and kelp meal. This is essential for plant immune system health. It also plays a roll in color and the number of blooms.
In addition to these sources, adding compost to your soil is beneficial. It brings bacteria, fungus, PH, and more to your plant on a microbiological level. It is the cornerstone to your fertilizing plan.
You can purchase testing kits to test nutrient levels in your soil to guide you to the best mix for your plot of land. You can also bring in an oldtimer from your area that has been dealing with the same soil and knows what it needs from experience.
My organic garden gets better every year! Pests can be a big problem, I am learning to control them using healthy soils, companion plants, and attracting predators. It requires some patience, but once you have it down, you are golden!
It’s important to know what bugs are good and what are bad:
Some bugs that are beneficial are ladybugs, praying mantis, spiders, wasps, predatory nematode, spider mite predator, whitefly parasite, whitefly predator, trip predator mite, and pirate bug.
Some bugs that are harmful are aphids, spider mites whitefly, mealybug, thrip, mealybug, caterpillars, leaf miners, fungus gnats, hornworms, and snails/slugs.
What can you do?
Attract good bugs to eat pests using flowers and plants. Wasps eat cabbage moths and caterpillars. Hoverflies, lacewings, and ladybugs are all attracted to many flowers.
Handpick larger pests like squash bugs, slugs, and snails. Ducks and chickens also work great for the big pests.
Purchase good bugs to add them to the garden like ladybugs and praying mantis.
Use hoop tunnels or insect netting to cover plants during peak infestations.
Certain plants help deter, such as basil, lemon balm, fennel, dill, lavender, thyme, petunia, marigold, nasturtium, alliums, & chrysanthemums.
Organic and safe things to defeat are iron phosphate for snails/slugs to stop them from eating, and copper strips give slugs/snails a shock keeping them out.
Homemade insecticidal soaps using water, vegetable oil and liquid soap in a spray bottle works well.
Kitchen remedies such as cinnamon, garlic, orange peels, banana peels, milk, apple cider vinegar, hot peppers, ginger, baking soda, beer, castile soap, eggshells, soy sauce, and vegetable oil all have their own benefit in the garden.
Get to know your pests, predators, plants, and items you can use to keep your garden thriving, organic, and pest free!
Water selectively: If you have the time and money you can also invest in a drip system, which helps to focus more on the root zone of the plants as well as conserve water. Nowadays, there are Bluetooth timing systems that read the weather, time, and water accordingly. To test to see if your plant needs water you can simply poke your finger into the soil. If it’s cool and damp, you don’t need to water.
Water in the morning: This gives your plants time to absorb moisture before it evaporates from the heat of the day. This also minimizes the risk of fungal diseases and slugs.
Focus on the root zone: The roots of the plant need the water, not the leaves. Watering just at the roots helps to minimize disease. A great example of over-watering is with squash: you’ll see a white fungal film form on the plant if you are watering too much. Squashes are “panting” plants that look like they need water because their leaves get droopy during the day. They are just letting the water evaporate off to cool and remove excess moisture.
Water deeply and thoroughly: Roots of most plants can go as deep as 12”. Make sure you water for enough time. This will help your plants develop a deeper root system, but also encourage a less frequent need for watering.
For potted plants: You’ll need to water these more frequently, especially if you’ve used a clay or terra cotta pot, because they are highly porous. The same goes for pots made of metal. Use a pot that is glazed or plastic to prevent quick water loss. You can always hide these pots in more decorative ones for aesthetic value. Keep in mind that plants in pots have more area for evaporation, which is why they dry so quickly.
Add organic matter: Use materials like compost or mulch to help retain water. This slows evaporation. A top layer 1-2” thick will help keep your plants water savvy. Note that when you go to plant, mixing compost or mulch into your soil will help to retain water as well as provide nutrients.
Get rid of weeds: These are tough competition for soil moisture so it’s important to keep on top of them.
Know your plants: Some plants need more water more frequently. Some need very little water to survive, like cacti. Water your plants according to their needs.
Build your beds to retain water: Before planting, add logs and other organic debris under the bed. Items like logs, leaves, sticks, pine needles, etc. hold moisture, but also provide nutrients as they break down.
Dandelions are more than just a weed! Most people see them as a nuisance and want to get rid of them, but actually, they should be harvested due to their fantastic health benefits. Dandelions have many health benefits and uses. Every part of the dandelion has medicinal potential, and they have been used in Chinese and Eastern medicine for hundreds of years.
Dandelions contain a high amount of vitamins and minerals and can improve your health. A cup of dandelions contains over 112% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, and 535% of the daily amount of vitamin K. Dandelion greens are also high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium.
When you go foraging for dandelions, be sure to use ones from your own yard or any area where you know chemicals have not been used.
7 Ways To Use Your Dandelions
Make a Dandelion Salad – A simple way to add dandelions to your diet is to throw them into your salad. You can combine your dandelion greens with other greens, lettuce or spinach. Dandelion greens are commonly used in salads and taste great! The whole plant is medicinal, even the flower can be added to your salad.
Juice Your Dandelions – Another great way to add raw dandelions to your diet is to put them in a juicer. You can add lemon or other fruits for flavor. Dandelions can also be added to a smoothie if you don’t have a juicer.
Make Dandelion Tea – All you need to do is rinse off the greens and roots, dry them out using a dehydrator or the oven to heat at low temperature, mince them by using a knife or food processor, pour hot water over the dandelions, and strain.
Dandelion as a Wart Remover – To use dandelions as a wart remover, break open the stem and you should see a white sticky juice/milk which can be applied to the wart daily.
Dandelion Infused Oil – Dandelion oil is an excellent remedy to help relieve aching muscles and joints, it also has a fantastic scent! To make the dandelion oil, pick a bunch of the flowers and place them in a jar. Tear some of the flowers to loosen the petals and pour oil over the flowers until covered. Seal the jar and let it sit for about 2 weeks.
Dandelion Soup – Another way to add dandelions to your diet is to throw in pieces of the leaves or root into your soup. Not only does it add great health benefits, but it tastes delicious!
Dandelion Tinctures – Store-bought tinctures can be quite expensive, yet are very easy to make yourself. You can use vinegar, glycerin, or alcohol to make the tincture. To make a dandelion tincture with vinegar, gather the leaves and roots, rinse them off, chop them, and put them in a glass jar. Pour in the vinegar and seal the jar. Some recommend shaking the mixture every day while steeping. On average, steep for about 6 weeks, then strain, and the remaining liquid is your tincture!
Dandelion tinctures are great for cleansing the liver, and the average dose recommended is 10 to 30 drops per day. Dandelion roots and leaves aid in stimulating the release of bile from the liver and are used as a natural alternative way to support digestion.
Do you have a favorite way to use dandelions that isn’t on this list? Share with us on social media!
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