Monday, May 28, 2012

Balanced Diets

There are lots of healthy foods out there. Even if a food is healthy there can be problems if a diet isn't diverse.  Scurvy is one of the more common problems that can occur due to a lack of vitamin C.  One of the more surprising problems I came across is eating too much corn which if not prepared well can cause delusions and even death.
As long as a wide variety of foods is eaten then there usually isn't a problem unless allergic reactions are involved. At that point there's no telling what can come up.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer's coming

The heat is coming and it's time to make sure everything will survive the temperatures we're about to have here in the metroplex. We're usually five or so degrees hotter than the surrounding country side mostly due to running engines and pavement reflecting heat.
Last year I had good success just making sure there were enough weeds to keep in the moisture.  Natives are really good at this and are one reason they have survived here for so long.  Most of them are grasses but there are a number of vining ground plants that come along as well.  For the most part they won't compete too much with the plants you want since they keep their roots shallow. So not only do they help retain the water in the ground they also don't compete to use it up.
Mulch can help too but it's not really made for the job. Although it does create shade, it wicks the moisture up off of the ground and gives a higher evaporation surface. When the wind picks up they dry out quickly and pull more moisture.
Watering throughout the day in specific areas, not broadcast watering helps too. One of my favorites is ice watering. A block of ice will melt slowly and not only release water but also cool the roots down. It's like placing the glass of iced tea on your chest on a hot day while at the same time sipping it. Which isn't a bad idea to do while refreshing your plants.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cooking with Fennel

You probably know that fennel is used in lots of italian food. For instance it's the reason my wife doesn't like italian sausage. It's also used in soups, pastas and sauces.  You can braise the bulb of the fennel plant and serve it with a mustard sauce.
What I like to do, which is also considered italian to some degree is put fennel seeds on pizza.  It just seems to add that little bit of kick you don't usually have. Not too much though or you'll be picking the little seeds out of your teeth for a while and the flavor can be overpowering.  So next time you have pizza delivered, sprinkle some fennel seeds on a slice and see for yourself.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mexican Hat - Plant Profile

Mexican Hat is a wildflower which ranges over a wide area including most of the United States. It prefers drier climates, which we have plenty of her in Arlington.  It's currently in bloom and can get 2 to 3 feet tall. It grows in clumps.
Although not related to the purple coneflower another name for it is Long Head Praire Coneflower due to it's tall flower.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday Weed: Queen Anne's Lace

Most of us probably think of it as a nice addition to a bouquet but for many in the eastern United States it's an invasive weed and it's spreading west at an alarming rate.  Although not poisonous like it's cousin hemlock, it grows in areas such as open fields.  In our area it was growing in a field used for producing bales of hay which will make the meal a little less palatable for the poor animals who get to eat it.
Some areas and even states have put bans on planting it in an attempt to keep it from spreading any more than it has which will be difficult since it produces so many seeds which can spread a long way before settling down.
The root is edible but more palatable when it is young but also hard to determine if it truly is the plant you're thinking it is.  So unless you planted it I don't suggest trying it on the tongue first and in the big scheme of things probably better to go get some carrots from the store.

One striking characteristic is the single purple flower in the center of the spiral of flowers.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lavender Harvest

It's that time of year again. Tomorrow we'll be harvesting the first lavender flowers of the year and making spindles out of them.  We hope to get at least fifteen to twenty for the American Herb Society's conference this weekend where we'll have a booth selling among other things herbal sachets and of course the spindles.