Welcome to my gardening blog! Here you will find all kinds of useful information about Gardening including video tutorials and a planting schedule for Maricopa County(at the bottom of the page). I have learned a lot from several different sources- Beverly Austin who teaches an awesome organic gardening class on Saturday mornings at ASU East for just $5, Jim Kennard-the president of the Foodforeveryone foundation and teacher of the Mittleider Method of gardening, and my parents who always had us kids out working on the family garden. I hope you take away useful information and use it in your own gardens but even if you don't do everything I've outlined, the most important thing is that you plant! Now! Nothing will teach you more than actually doing it on your own!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


"Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a ... chop." -Dr. Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University.

Dr. McKay was talking about sprouts. (To see the wonderful nutritional value of Sprouts, see sprout info below the tutorial)

I'm going to teach you all how to sprout alfalfa seeds in your kitchen! It's awesome! My daughter eats sprouts on everything now. She even asked for some on her scrambled eggs the other morning which I hesitated at at first, but heck, why not? She finished the sprouts and left some of the eggs unfinished. LOL I have felt so good since I made these sprouts part of my daily diet, so naturally I want to share the wealth!

First, you need:
-Alfalfa Seeds
-2 Quart Wide Mouth Jar (I recycled a large Mott's applesauce jar)
-a mesh strainer * (I did my first batch without this, but it's easier with it)

Place 1-2 Tbs alfalfa seed in a 2 quart wide-mouth jar & cover w/water overnight.

The next day, pour off water using a small mesh strainer& rinse the seeds. Drain off any and all excess water so seeds will not spoil. After everY rinse, lay jar on it's side and spread the seeds out as much as you can with a butter knife.

For the next few days, keep seeds rinsed to keep them from drying out, straining after each rinse making sure all excess water is removed and lay back on it's side. (I just do this whenever I come into the kitchen)

About the fourth day the seeds begin to sprout white tails. Place them in the sunlight for a day or two so they will turn green in color. **to have them sprout after 1 day see my note below
Once sprouts are about an inch long, or after one week, place moist green sprouts in an airtight bag or container and put them in the fridge for keeping.

Sprouts should be used within 5 days.

Sprouts can be used in soups, on steamed veggies, as lettuce for sandwiches, burros, baked potatos, and salads. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes.

The above suggested amount will give you a 2 quart jar full of sprouts.

*Some people like to take a piece of nylon and a rubberband to cover the jar so that you can strain the sprouts easily
** in the initial soak I add a few drops of kelp (you can get this at most gardening stores- it's great for helping plants in distress such as transplant shock as well.) I also keep them in the sunlight from the very beginning. I think a combination of the two has made it so my alfalfa sprouts after about 30 hours instead of the 4 days stated.

It is really only in the past thirty years that "westerners" have become interested in sprouts and sprouting. During World War II considerable interest in sprouts was sparked in the United States by an article written by Dr. Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University. Dr. McKay led off with this dramatic announcement: "Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a ... chop."
Dr. McKay was talking about sprouts. He and a team of nutritionists had spent years researching the amazing properties of sprouted soybeans. They and other researchers at the universities of Pennsylvania and Minnesota, Yale and McGill have found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, and show a big jump in Vitamin A and an almost unbelievable amount of Vitamin C over that present in unsprouted seeds. While some nutritionists point out that this high vitamin content is gained at the expense of some protein loss, the figures are impressive: an average 300 percent increase in Vitamin A and a 500 to 600 percent increase in Vitamin C. In addition, in the sprouting process starches are converted to simple sugars, thus making sprouts easily digested.

One pound of alfalfa seed will yield 10-14 pounds of fresh mini-salad greens. Whether you are on top of a mountain or in a bunker with artificial light, you can still grow this fast, organic food.
Yes, it is fast food, but you won't be sacrificing any nutrition. Alfalfa sprouts have more chlorophyll than spinach, kale, cabbage or parsley. Alfalfa, sunflower, clover and radish sprouts are all 4% Protein. Compare that to spinach - 3%, Romaine lettuce -1.5% and Iceberg lettuce- 0.8%, and milk -3.3%. These foods all have about 90% water. But meat and eggs are the protein foods for Americans. Meat is 19% and eggs are 13% protein (and 11% fat). But Soybean sprouts have 28% protein, and lentil and pea sprouts are 26%. Soybeans sprouts have twice the protein of eggs and only 1/10 fat the fat.

Alfalfa, radish, broccoli, clover and soybean contain concentrated amounts of phytochemicals (plant compounds) that can protect us against disease. Canavanine, an amino acid analog present in alfalfa, demonstrates resistence to pancreatic, colon and leukemia cancers. Plant estrogens in these sprouts function similarly to human estrogen but without the side effects. They increase bone formation and density and prevent bone breakdown (osteoporosis). They are helpful in controlling hot flashes, menopause, PMS and fibrocystic breasts tumors.

The sprouts contain 10-100 times higher levels of these enzymes than do the corresponding mature plants.

Alfalfa sprouts are one of our finest food sources of saponins. Saponins lower the bad cholesterol and fat but not the good HDL fats. Animal studies prove their benefit in arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Saponins also stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells such as T- lymphocytes and interferon. The saponin content of alfalfa sprouts multiplies 450% over that of the unsprouted seed. Sprouts also contain an abundance of highly active antioxidants that prevent DNA destruction and protect us from the ongoing effects of aging. It wouldn't be inconceivable to find a fountain of youth here, after all, sprouts represent the miracle of birth.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Unintentionally Green and loving it!

Ok, so I was (ok, am) the type of person who scoffs at tree huggers and this whole green movement, so how how did I get to this place where I am vermicomposting with worms under my sink, using organic materials to fertilize (kelp), enriching my soil with Vermiculite and composted horse manure, and reusing playdoh containers for my window sill herbs??

Here's how: I've been going to an organic gardening class for a month now given by a woman in my community named Beverly. She is a walking gardening encyclopedia. She can tell you which plants will help your skin, blood pressure, teeth, sinuses, what will make your hair silky smooth, and even plants that will replace the "little blue pill" (these ones grow as weeds in my backyard). I already wanted help getting these dumb plants to thrive in the Arizona heat, but she has taught me way more than I expected! If you're in the area, she teaches a hands-on class every other Saturday morning at 6am. The next one is this Saturday the 6th and she charges 5 bucks a lesson. You can ask her whatever you want and she always has super helpful handouts including when to plant different types of veggies in this area, and good organic recipes for potting soil. If you're interested you can email me and I'll tell you where to go. These little 1 week old beauties are a tribute to her teaching skills. (they came up after 3 days because of all the rain- it also tranplanted seeds to the other side of the pots. Oh well) Thanks Beverly!

Mixed Salad Greens (and flowers)

Sugar Peas

Pie Pumpkins, Canteloupe

Chatantais, Zucchini (I can't remember what those tiny plants are that I put in the middle/left- I guess it'll be a surprise!)

And here is the next place to plant as soon as I get my composted equine manure to help the soil!!! (yes, these are the fences!!!! they are a little dirty after the crazy rain and wind- I haven't cleaned the splatters off yet. If you're wondering what that table thingy is in this picture, go to this post)