Biodiversity

Thoughts on Biodiversity

Sweet Clover Sustainability

How do we promote sustaining the preservation of biodiversity? Why should we protect biodiversity?  If more people knew about the detrimental results of the decrease in biological diversity would it be protected? How do we protect biodiversity?

Lichen Diversity

We know that humans are primarily responsible for the decrease in biodiversity.  No I’m not making it up; it’s not some crazy propaganda. The six years I’ve spent in post-secondary education have taught me this and I’ve devoted my career to the preservation of biodiversity.

So why is it our responsibility to lead lives that don’t further the loss of biodiversity? You may ask why do we need to clean up after others.

I understand why you wouldn’t want to clean up after others but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to live as lightly and sustainability as possible.

We are all in it together, one earth, one atmosphere, one…

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Fall Gardening

The nights are starting to cool here in the Inland Pacific Northwest. The days seem to staying warm but all of the smoke from the wildland fires is keeping the heat away until mid-afternoon.

Late summer blooms

Late summer blooms – please ignore the weeds in the background

It’s getting kinda late to start the a fall crop but many cool season veggies will stWarmer Temps in the Westill make it, especially because the months ahead are expected to be warmer than usual, at least in the west.

You can find out climate predictions for the U.S. here and here from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)

Beautiful Northern Prairie!

Beautiful Northern Prairie!

Generally, I’d start a late season crop of veggies late June through mid-July and then a small crop in early August to harvest in late-fall before the cool winter temps set in. However, I was out of town working on the short grass prairie in eastern MT (sometime called mid-grass or mixed-grass).

I’m gonna start a fall garden anyway, even with only a month until frost.

Now, I was gonna make my own fancy design chart showing you when to start a fall crop but I found this one instead. It’s not super pretty, but full of great info. The only thing it needs is the average days to maturity.

Keep in mind that Territorial Seed Company is in Plant Zone 8, so your planting time may very. You can find your USDA Plant Zone here. The USDA Plant Zones were updated a couple years ago (the climate’s getting warmer, ya know) and many other sites with zip code inputs haven’t updated their info yet.

On that note, I’m in Zone 6 and would feel comfortable following the suggestions for planting times in there chart.

Territorial Seed Company Winter Gardening

Territorial Seed Company Winter Gardening Guide

Things I’ve planted so far for the fall garden (mid-August)

  • Snap Peas
  • Spinach
  • Hardy Lettuce (Rouge d’Hiver is a good one)
  • Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale

I’m still planning on starting Cilantro, Parsley, and Garlic. Starting some carrots and covering with a row cover would be a good experiment for the winter. I’ll let you know how they do.

Have you started a fall garden yet? Or is it too late in your neck of the wood?

Turmeric, Raw Honey and Coconut Milk Mask

This morning I make some homemade Thai Iced Tea. I vaguely followed this recipe using whole cardamom pods, black tea, coconut milk and raw honey. I added a bit of vanilla, cinnamon and black pepper to spice it up a bit. I also drank it hot. So maybe I made a Thai-inspired Chai Tea. Whatever it was, it was delicious!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures. I can’t be asked to think ahead B.C. (Before Caffeine) in the morning.

Yummy Cardamon!

Yummy cardamom!

I drank my tea slowly, ate some breakfast (I’ll share my fantastic whole grain pancake recipe soon) and realized I had been up for a few hours and hadn’t washed my face. I got to thinking about how much I had been seeing Turmeric in face masks recently and decided I needed to try one out myself.

Turmeric has tons of benefits! And there’s science behind these beneficial effects.

  • Anti-inflammatory
    • Similar to ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The strength is different though.
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial

Turmeric is currently being studied for its effects on cancer, Alzheimer’s, among other human diseases. It’s also being toted as anti-aging.

Raw honey also has tons of great benefits. It’s antiviral, anti-fungal and super moisturizing. We all know that coconut milk is great too. It’s super moisturizing,

Why do all of these plant and animal products has antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It totally makes sense evolutionarily; viruses, fungi and bacterial attack more than just humans. My hypothesis is that other organisms have evolved these properties as it has helped them survival longer (thus reproduce more, the driver of evolution).

Fun fact, Turmeric is in the Zingiberaceae Family, the same family as Ginger and cardamom. You can think of them as cousins. Maybe I’ll try some cardamom in a mask soon or a triple whammy – cardamom, Ginger, Turmeric Mask.

EWW!

EWW!

This mask looks absolutely terrible. Or maybe turmeric yellow just isn’t my color.

Turmeric is used as a dye. I was a little worried that my skin would turn yellow, but luckily it didn’t. I only left the mask on the 15 minutes.

It tasted pretty good though! Please don’t actually eat it, that’s weird.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this mask has some anti-aging properties but who knows how good one application would do.

The Microsoft Age Guesser sure thinks it works.

Younger After the Mask!

Younger After the Mask!

Potential benefits of this mask include:

  • Anti-Acne
  • Anti-Aging
  • Moisturizing
  • Calming and Soothing
  • Reducing hyperpigmentation

Here’s your recipe.

Turmeric, Raw Honey and Coconut Milk Mask

Mix together in a small bowl, apply a thin layer and leave for 15 minutes.

Note: Turmeric has been used as a dye. Don’t leave this mask on for too long. There is a chance it could stain your skin. You may want to do a test patch to make sure it doesn’t. 

Recipe Card:

Turmeric, Raw Honey, Coconut Milk Face Mask

Other references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric

Turmeric Root”Curcuma longa roots” by Simon A. Eugster – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curcuma_longa_roots.jpg#/media/File:Curcuma_longa_roots.jpg

Frost Tolerance of Garden Vegetables #1

I like to engage in risky behavior:

  • I’ve climbed the second tallest mountain in Washington State
  • I like to scramble around precarious places – rocks, trees, etc.
  • Sometimes I get paid to light large swaths of acreage on fire
  • I like to set my plants out earlier in the year than recommended.
Frosted Tips

Frosted Tips

This poor baby Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato
has been damaged. I left for a few days and decided it would be better to leave them outside in the natural light than leave them under my lamps.

Now, I knew it was supposed to get down to 32 F or so but I risked it anyway. I knew it would be better for the plants to be in open air and natural light for the four days I was gone, rather than be inside under fluorescent lights.

The dark edges on the leaves are necrotic (dead) from the cold, whereas the lighter spots are sun damage. After being inside under the weak fluorescent lights for so long, the real thing can be a bit much for plants to handle. I didn’t want the poor plant babies to get sunburned again this year so I risked a bit of frost nip.

Through my trials and experiments (read: lazyness and carelessness), I’ve found that baby plants can handle a lot more than you think. Once, I planted everything in early May and left for a week, only to have a 28 F Freeze, A FULL ON FREEZE! I was devastated! I though all the baby plants would die. Everything but that Basil lived. The eggplant lived, the peppers lived, the squash lived, the cucumbers lived, even the tomatoes lived along with all of the other more hardy vegetables. Out of those, only the peppers didn’t actually produce any fruit.

Warning: The hardiness of plants depends on the variety, . Furthermore, one frost is waayyyy different than multiple days of freezing temperatures. Wind speed and daytime highs also play a role in how well plants will handle frost. These are my non-scientific findings and may not apply everywhere. To follow my advice may result in some damage to plants, reduced yields, or even dead plants. Remember, hardening off is important. 

There is a lot of good information out there about frost tolerance and this is one below of my favorite infographics on the subject. But it’s WRONG!

Getting started, find your Frost Free Date. Your USDA Plant Zone can also be useful. I also recommend checking a 10-Day Forecast in the weeks leading up to your normal Frost Free Date because it could be later or earlier, depending on the year.

Very Hardy

All of these can be planted as soon as the soil is thawed. The plants won’t germinate until after the soil warms (40 degrees F for some varieties, closer to 50 degrees is optimum for others).

First of all, Asparagus is a perennial so it doesn’t need to be planted every year. It takes careful planning to start but is certainly worth it. Rodales has a great How to Grow Asparagus explanation. If you start using crowns (pieces of the roots), 4 to 6 weeks before the LFD (Last Frost Date) is pretty accurate. If you’re starting from seed, you need to start inside earlier, in February or March (especially in cooler climates) and probably wait a whole year before planting out.

Rhubarb is also a perennial. This year, I planted some in mid-March (8 weeks before my frost date) and it’s doing just fine.

Fava Beans and Arugula also fall under this category.
Frost Tolerant

You can probably plant all of these a bit earlier, especially if you start them from seed. They won’t come up until it’s warm enough and won’t be damaged. I’d be a bit more cautions of you are transplanting but I bet four weeks to six weeks before the frost free date would be fine. I’m a risk taker! If you invest in some Frost Cloth, row covers, or even an old sheet you could plant these a bit earlier or a least have a piece of mind.
Tender

Tomatoes can handle down to 28 F but will get damaged! Even at 32 F they get damaged, but they will live and produce.

I would plant snap peas much earlier, like four weeks earlier, I don’t know what they were thinking.
Warm Loving
Infographic Source: Fix.com

This one is pretty accurate. Peppers are babies. They’re sensitive little buggers that need to be sheltered in the beginning. Squash, Melons and Cucumbers need the soil to reach 60 degrees before they will germinate.

I highly recommend taking some risks, getting a few frosted tips and taking notes about what works for you.

Next, I’ll go into some more detail about frost tolerance, soil temperature and planting dates. 

Remember, Frosted Tips were cool once.

Welcome!

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry

I’m glad you made your way to Wild Strawberry Gardens! You will find posts about gardening, cooking, remodeling and life. We live in Eastern Washington in USDA Plant Zone 6a (temperatures can supposedly dip to -10, burrr!) and around 22 inches of precipitation each year, mostly in the winter.

I cook mainly vegetarian food and was a vegetarian for over 7 years. Now I’ve added organic and all natural meat to the mix including elk, other wildgame and organic chicken.

My boyfriend and I purchased 40 acres about a year ago. The acreage contained a small 20′ x 24′ cabin with all the necessary amenities for living. We’re in the process of remodeling the cabin and hope to be done within another year. The cabin will be around 800 sqft when finished. We own Honegger Construction, LLC., here in the Inland Northwest so the BF has lots of remodeling experience to get the job done.

Currently, we rent a 550 sqft cabin on a secondary lake lot (it’s not actually on the water but we have access).

Note: I have added Amazon Affiliate links but only recommend products I actually like.