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Keeping Cayenne Coming

cayenne pepper Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Staked "Korean Lettuce" Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

We know a few of you are like us: you like it hot. So, when it was discovered that we had cayenne pepper in the garden, it was welcomed. We have our first fruits from our cayenne plant. We recently had to stake our “Korean Lettuce” plant, as described by one of the staff at the international market where we picked the seeds up from, because it was growing more vertical and in the way of the cayenne plant. The cayenne plant has put out a lot of leaves probably to grow from under the canopy of the “Korean Lettuce”, so we finally staked her today to get her to grow more upright and to stop her canopy from growing over the cayenne plant. We hope to get more peppers from the cayenne plant now that we have done this.

Our “Korean Lettuce” is also sporting some beautiful flowers. This is typically a sign that a plant is either about to bear fruit or die. We were not sure what to make of our “Korean Lettuce” because the directions were all in Korean and we had so little information to go on. So, we planted her anyway and have kept a close eye on her. Since it is suppose to be a lettuce like plant we are really not expecting any vegetables from her. So, we clipped a few leaves as if to harvest. But, once they have flowered then they seed and die because the plant has not been harvested and it feels its cycle is ended. So, we shall see what happens to this plant. Stay tuned for updates. Have you begun your own garden like several others? What do you think of the Wilson Victory Garden and the gardens that several people have started in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic? Does a garden seem more useful than ever? Michelle Obama had a garden before there was a pandemic. Some people are just ahead of their time!

Cayenne Plant Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Cayenne Plant Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

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Harvesting & Growing Radishes

Korean Radish Flower Shidonna Raven
Growing Radishes from Sowing to Harvest

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Harvesting & Growing Radishes
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Several months ago we took a trip to our local international food market where we sourced a few Korean seeds. Although we had no idea what they were, we grabbed several. Regardless, a staff member at the store was able to give us some basic information regarding the seeds and how to prepare them. Of course we want to eat them! Our Korean Radishes have flowers that are in full boom. We have a few root plants such as carrots. We were wondering how do you know when they are ready if they are underground? God is indeed perfect in all his ways. When the roots are ready the tops will peek above ground. How many varieties do you think there are? Have you ever had radish on your taco? We know a few authentic places. Post us a comment if you are curious. We spent some time in Latin countries and in California so our pallet regarding Hispanic food has been well developed. The things one must suffer through : ) What is your favorite type of Hispanic food?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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MiMi’s Inspiration

African Marigold

MiMi and mom gifted us a Cynoglossum Amabile (Chines Forget Me Not) growing kit. Soon after I picked up another kit of Echinacea from the same location. They like a good deal just like we do so it was perfect and the Echinacea has begun to sprout from the kit I got. I did use a different pot then what was provided by the kit. On May 26, 2020 we posted the article “Crowded”  including a video showing how to use growing kits (specifically how to activate the growing medium). Click the article name “Crowded” to view the article. 

After which, MiMi and Mom got a kit for themselves and decided to grow Lavender & Chamomile. Two of our favorite flowers. Both can be used to make teas and both look very beautiful. Lavender is one of those amazing flowers that can be used for almost anything such as making oil scents, perfumes and you can cook with it. So, we though that was pretty cool and hope MiMi is having an awesome learning experience like us. So, we felt inspired to check out this store too since they (MiMi & Mom) are so good at finding deals. And we did. They had a variety of several kits there.

We did not pick up a kit. However, we did pick up some unexpected good advice. We were telling the staff all about the problem that we were having with ants and how we were really looking for an Organic Remedy to the issue. And it just so happen that a few of his family members were really into gardening also. He told me that ants hate Marigold and a few other plants and herbs. We were considering putting up a boarder around the garden. After doing a little research on the matter we discovered that he was 100% correct about the Marigold and ants. Needless to say we got several packs of Marigold Mission Giant Yellow (there are several varieties of marigold) to plant around the boarder of the garden. We also got one full fledge plant: an African Marigold. Some of its flowers are still blooming. Other flowers on the plant have already bloomed as you can see. Naturally the plants are more. So, we got a plant (it looks like four plants in one pot) to get us started and several seeds to keep us going. The seeds will take a week or two to sprout and over 2 months to bloom. We will soon separate the plants out into separate pots to spread the ‘remedy’ around.

As with all our ant Organic Remedies we are being persistent and trying to give them time to work. Because we have serval remedies at work if one does not work than we hope the other will. In the interest of time we are trying multiple avenues. So far the ants seems to be checking the Marigold out and she is standing firm. We will be making observations regarding all our remedies. We are learning too MiMi. Stay tuned to see how things go. 

Where are some interesting places you have found help or information? Have you ever considered using a plant as a pesticide? What other Organic Remedies do you know of that you can share with the community? Did you know ants also hate coffee grounds? Did you know that coffee grounds are good for compost and as a fertilizer? Read more about coffee grounds in our May 24, 2020 article “Compost & Coffee Grounds”. As always you are the best part of what we do. stay healthy.

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MiMi’s Flower

MiMi’s Cynoglossum Amabile (Chinese Forget Me Not) flowers have finally bloomed. These short and thick sprouts are sure to grow into a beautiful addition around the house. For only a dollar this is a great way to introduce your children to gardening. The growing medium discourages over watering because it is a little lose, runny and slow to absorb. Similar growing mediums are available for growing other seeds / plants. These blocks are sold individually from kits and come in blocks of different sizes. They also come in packs with a tray. These packs also have growing medium sold in different sizes.

Kits are great because they take some of the guess work out of beginning to grow plants that many newbies face. The Soil Blocks and Growing Mediums offer the gardener a way to save in many forms. If you would like to learn more about Soil Blocks read our article titled “Soil Blocks” dated May 4, 2020. So far, we favor well drained clay pots. Many kits will not come with a clay pot but you can find one at your local garden center for a little more than $1 depending on the size you want. Metal pots can be lined and if you are remaining true to the Organic Journey you probably do not want to use plastic pots.

Among the Cynoglossum Amabile flowers we also found our Korean Radishes sprouting all over the place now that, fingers crossed, our vole problem is under control and we do not have underground munching going on. Our Pumpkin, Sugar Baby Watermelon and Beans (Green, Pinto & Lentil) are all doing very well. The plants have been getting plenty of water from Mother Nature over the last several days and are slotted to get a lot more over the next several days. We love and we think the plants do too. As soon as the rain lets up and we get a few sunny and calm days, we will set some plants out for transplanting and hopefully get the rest of the plants out into the garden. We halted transplanting until we could figure out our pest problem and then came the rain. So, hopefully we will get back on track in about a week.

We have a few squash and melon lovers out there, we are sure they are happy to see them sprouting and doing well. What pest problems have you encountered? How can you use these Organic Pest Remedies around the house as well as in the garden? What do you think the benefits would be? Do you think it would help save money and improve your health? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

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Korean Connection

Now that we have 3 more rows, we decided to gather a couple more seeds to sow to fill in our garden as we wrap up the planting phase and move into cultivation. We sowed a few directly into the ground and will be transplanting another 10 – 14 plants over the next few weeks. After we get all our transplants out, everything that we will be sowing for the season will be in the garden. We will then focus our efforts outside and tuck our remaining seeds away in a cool dry place until next season. As we were looking for a few more seeds to sow and perhaps a good deal since the sowing season is winding down, we discovered a slim selection and no deals. Nurseries and garden centers have begun to put out plants and flowers. We did however find some okra, which should be an interesting and delicious addition to the garden.

We were so intrigued by the Korean “lettuce” that we decided to get a little more adventurous. The pickings were also slimmer than before. Nonetheless, we picked up a couple more lettuce like seeds as well as some radishes and green onions Korean style. We sowed these seeds directly into the garden. It has been a beautiful day and the garden is always a peaceful as well as fruitful place to be. As much work as there seems to be, there seems also to be an abundance of peace and connection with nature while working in the garden. It never seems nearly as long as it is. The time flies. The bugs and worms are busy beneath the surface doing their work as well. So are the birds, bees and butterflies. We are not so much worried about them as we are about the ants that never seem to go away.

These Korean Seedlings should be interesting to observer as well as eat. We hope you are feeling just as adventurous as us. If so, grocery stores are another common place to source international seeds. So, try your local international food market to locate some international seeds. Every seed we selected we got a little information on since the packet was all in Korean. Even if it was a lose translation. We discovered a few things about our seeds:

  • What is it like? In other words, is it like Spinach. Often we got it is like such and such but, with for instance, a different texture.
  • How do you cook it? Can you eat it raw? Must it be cooked? What are common dishes that it is cooked in. For instance, soup or salad.
  • What is its name? In English or in the foreign name so you can research it. Or ask us.

From what we discovered, we have a few lettuce like, radish and green onion Korean varieties. But they should be nothing like what we have had before. The whole process will be an interesting learning experience and adventure. What are your favorite international foods? Where are your local international food markets? Tell us about any gardening deals you see! Share the wealth of information with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Transplanting Progress

Our goal over the next several weeks is to get all the plants from inside the mini greenhouse and outside into the garden. Things are progressing well. But, there is still much left to be done. We will be planting a few of the same types of plants. We have been anticipating the harvest and looking forward to a bountiful one. We will also be resowing some plants that did not either sprout or did not grow into successful pants or transplants.

As with any garden there is much work to be done; many observations to make and much progress ahead. Today we put out 4 (pinto bean, navy bean, parsley and sage) more transplants (pictured in the article) and observed some successful transplant progress. We also observed some recent and first transplants that are doing pretty well ( 2 tomato plants and 2 kale varieties that we put out. We are actually having kale tonight. But, that is store bought. Wait to you start your own garden as everyone says. You will not regret it and you will notice the difference.

Early Girl Tomato came to us fresh from the store as a plant and she is one of the plants we transplanted right away with out acclimating her. Because she went into shock, we spent many weeks nursing her into good health and protecting her from pests while she recovered from shock. So, we are pleasantly surprised to see her doing so well and growing tall. Her stalk is growing thick, tall and strong. As goes nature from time to time tomato leaves will grow yellow and then brownish. It is recommended that you clip these leaves to maintain the health of the plant and prevent disease. We have not yet seen any flowers. Tomatoes are perfect plants and will pollinate themselves. So, we are expecting to see some flowers before we see any fruit. The birds and butterflies love the garden and come to visit quit often. We will talk more about the birds and bees in another article.

Roma Tomato, very good for sauces because of the few seeds, has truly and literally blossomed. She too came to us straight from the store and went straight into the ground. We prune her and keep her in good health. Her stalk is growing strong, thick and tall. She is healthy and holding her leaves high. And as you can see, she really has blossomed two beautiful yellow flowers. So, we are expecting fruit to start budding any time soon. So we can patiently watch it ripen on the vine. I think this is going to be Charles’ top pick as I know he is into homemade pasta. She has come a long way. We are so pleased at her progress. The neighbors come by often to see the new garden in the yard. They have commented more than once how beautiful the yard is. We are hoping to make a couple of more inviting additions to the yard that will keep the yard a warm and welcoming place.

We planted two varieties of kale, which we love around here. Dark leafy greens are always high on the recommended good for you list. We like them because they are high in iron. Initially, I was very concerned about kale because no matter how much dirt I piled around it, they were just leggy and wanted to flop over and lie close to the ground. I noticed today that they seem to be holding their stance and growing their leaves big now that they are out of the pot. They are bright green and growing crinkles around the edges of their leaves like most typical kale. While you can cook kale, we have lots of salads in store for this duo. We are eager to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Waiting to enjoy seems to be the hardest part. At least my father and I both share that sentiment.

In keeping with our mission to get all plants out to the garden over the next several weeks, we brought out pinto and navy bean, which look very similar to green bean. Unlike lentil bean, which looks tall and stalking bearing several small leaves and a few branches. At least for now. They are not nearly as tall. Nonetheless, they went through the transplanting acclimation period very well and are standing tall as well as looking good. We gave them a healthy amount of water and will be watching how they take to their new home in the garden.

Sage and Parsley went out today also. Sage is looking a little saggy. But, it seems to be holding kind of low. Or either it was reaching for sunlight in the greenhouse. We are hoping that once she catches to her new home that she will spread out and full up. Parsley is one of those plants who did very well. We had one in a clay pot and one in a cardboard like pot and the one in the clay pot did very well in our mini greenhouse aka garage (which seemed to be very mold loving. if we decide to make cheese we should be good.). We are sure that the mold had something to do with that. Overall we were very pleased at how the clay pots were able to shrug off disease. We were able to get the smaller clay pots at a local dollar store. So, they were a good investment. We will wash them out and use them again.

When washing pots it is important to note that you should remove all past substance to prevent disease from spreading. However, if you use a detergent, sit your pot out in the sun for a few weeks and allow the chemicals to leave the pot. You might also try a water and bleach solution or an organic cleanser. What observations have you made? Have you begun your kitchen herbs or garden yet? What is holding you back? Have questions? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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True to Transplanting

This season we have been true to transplanting for a couple of reasons. We started our gardening season in February prior to the last frost. When you begin planting before the last frost, you must do so inside where the plants can survive the frost weather. We also wanted to give our plants a head start before going into the ground. We were also planting seedlings to go to other homes and possibly kitchens, so we put them in pots so they would be ready to roll once they were plants. Many of these plants were herbs who did not fair well from the mold outbreaks in the mini greenhouse aka garage. Since then they have been resown. Many herbs have been resown into soil blocks. Stay tuned for more on soil blocks.

We enjoyed the transplanting route. However, many plants such as dill and carrots do not like being transplanted nor can not be transplanted (respectively). So, the transplanting process is not for every plant. Read your seed package and do the research to find out if your seedlings will tolerate the process. It is worth noting here that soil blocks can make the transplanting process easier and less stressful for your plants. If you have questions about transplanting just leave us a comment and we will get right back to you. And stay tuned for more on soil blocks.

Green bean is one of our successful transplants. All of our transplants were successful. However, once outside it is a whole new ball game. These plants have to be able to withstand the weather, the outside elements and the pests that come along with it. For instance pumpkin and the first green bean plant did very well. Until a culprit took their leaves right off leaving just a steam. The ants are good but we don’t think they are that good. So, we are still looking for the pest that was responsible for that. Outside of ants the plants have had no real outside dangerous or pests. But it is worthy to note here.

Because of the conditions outside we decided early that we wanted the transplants to be on the bigger side when they went outside. We also wanted them to be in a healthy state. Good health in your plants is important in transplanting because you do not want pests to attack your plants once you put them in the outside environment. Regardless of how well you transplant, your plants will experience some degree of stress during the process. So, you want them as healthy and strong as possible for the process.

When you get ready to begin the transplant process you want to begin by acclimating those strong and healthy plants you have elected for the transplant process. During the acclimation process you leave your plants outside in their well drained pots in an area close to your garden if not in your garden. You will leave them outside for part if not the whole day. You may decide that only part of the day is good enough to have your plantlings out and the other part of the day may be too much for them to become acclimated to. Or the weather conditions during part of your transplant days may not be favorable for transplanting. During these times you can bring your plantlings in. The idea of acclimation is to get your plants acclimated to their new garden and thus mitigating the shock and stress of the transplanting process. Up to now your plants have been set in an inside environment and shielded from outside elements and for the most part pests. Going outside into the ground is a big deal for them.

Plants that undergo shock can become sick and be attacked by pests and die. A friend brought me a couple of plants straight from the nursery and we put them straight into the ground. This was a big no no and we lost about 3 – 4 plants because of it. We had an ant attack and a few other plants had to be nursed back into good health. In retrospect these plants should have been brought inside thus mimicking the environment they had just come from and then acclimated to their outside environment. Nonetheless, with care and organic pest treatments most of the plants survived.

I typically give my plants three days to become acclimated to their outside environments. During this time I give them some shield from the outside environment (like a wall on one side). I constantly check on how they are dealing with the acclimation. Are their leaves high or droopy? Do you see adverse affects on your plants or are they about the same or better? Of course I water them with a light mist and make sure they have proper drainage. If any plants show stress I bring them back in and bring them into good health and strength. I may let them grow more. I basically get them to a point where they are ready to begin the transplanting process.

For those plants that acclimate well to their new outside home in the pot. I turn them over; give the bottom of the pot a tap to loosen them from their pots and place them in a hole level to the top of the soil of the transplant and then cover them with a mound. We highly recommend putting compost in the hole before putting your plant in. Once the plant is in the ground, give it a generous helping of water. Making sure to water the roots and not the leaves. Also, when you bring the plant out of the pot check for any pests or infestations. Check for any problems.

Once the plant is in the ground continue to water it each day with a healthy dose of water. Check the plant daily for any signs of stress or pests. Remedy any issues fast. Once your plant has begun to grow and looks healthy with no signs of stress, then chances are your plant has successfully been transplanted. Continue to nurture this plant as you would the other plants in your garden. We are excited to share our experience with transplanting with you. If you have begun transplanting then that means you have a full garden outside. Curious to know if your plant is transplant friendly? Leave us a comment. Think carefully when selecting a spot for your garden. You want to make sure it will have everything it needs for the type of plants you will be growing. Do you have questions? Ask us. Looking forward to learning more about soil blocks and how they can help you with transplanting? Stay tuned. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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The golfer or the ant?

Our overall pests problems have been few. Because our mini greenhouse (as we like to call it) was set up in our garage, we have also experienced a few mold outbreaks that were detrimental to the spinach and herbal seedlings to our great dismay. But the ants have come out, as they always do, in large numbers and have been our greatest challenge.

You guessed it. When these pests and their friends showed up we took the organic route. We first did everything we could to improve the health of the plant. In this instance our plants came straight from the store and into the ground. We will not make that mistake again. Stay tuned for a more successful way to transplant. Needless to say, our plants had a severe case of shock and stress and the tomato plant on the end suffered the most.

We then rid the plants of the ants with a regimen of boiling water, white vinegar and then flooding with water from the hose. It was successful. However, we have seen them rear their heads again in a more clandestine manner. So, while these organic remedies were successful, the best remedy is to keep plants as healthy as possible. It is not always easy to see when a plant is in trouble. And when the ants get more clandestine in their attacks, sometimes you can not see it until it is too late. The best remedy for this is to occasionally give your plants a 360 degree check. In the case of garages which love mold, also check for odors.

an ant uprooting fatality (roma tomato)
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Our Roma Tomato plantling seemed to be doing just fine. So, we began the transplant process. When we went to put Roma in the ground we found a swarm of ants at the bottom of Roma’s pot made out of a cardboard like material. We found that clay pots work best to discourage mold and disease in a garage like environment. The cardboard like pots were very ineffective in this. Again, we went the organic route when mold appeared. We discarded all mold infested material. Even soil. And washed the pots in a bleach and water solution, which effectively got rid of all visible mold. We are now in the process of transitioning these pots out, transplanting and moving to soil blocks, clay pots and clay trays. Stay tuned for more on soil blocks and how they help you save in more ways than one.

Since the top soil seemed in tact, we noted the ants and moved on and planted Roma in the soil. Big mistake. The next day we found Roma up rooted and a few feet from her mound. Apparently the ants kept working from underneath the plant after we transplanted Roma and moved her right out of the ground. In retrospect we would have tried our natural remedies or removing the infested soil. We also recommend checking your pots 360 degrees when you have them outside for acclimation.

We found that these organic remedies were effective, but we have to follow these ants down all the way so to speak. They are very crafty and not to be underestimated. A word of caution. The boiling water and white vinegar had an adverse effect on the leaves and plants overall. When using these methods be careful to aim only for the ants and not the plants. Aim low in this case. Also these remedies are only for ants. Each pest will have its own natural remedy.

Do you know of any other organic remedies that can be used in the organic garden? What do you do to keep your plants healthy and to come to their aid when they are sick? Try this organic remedy and tell us how it worked out in your garden. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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white spots on the leaves from the boiling water and white vinegar organic ant remedy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
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Harvesting Herbs

We had a few questions about harvesting herbs. And we are here and happy to answer. First and foremost we have a love for herbs because they are a great way to start gardening. You can keep them in containers on your window seal if you like. Or you can place larger pots on your front or back patio. It is how we begun our organic garden. Although we went from 2 seeds to over 30 seeds in the same day, it is a great way to get started and introduce yourself to organic gardening. We highly recommend it. So, go ahead and get started. Remember, to send us your pictures and leave comments all about your journey in organic gardening. We invite you to join us on ours.

Dill before harvesting
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Question: When you harvest your herbs will they grow back?

Answer: The quick answer is yes.

As long as your herb is in its season it will continue to grow back for some time. Some herbs will come back year after year but lose their flavor after a few years, like oregano.

1.You can see the dill before harvest. 2. You can see the dill pre cooked. 3. You can see the dill after we cooked it up with salmon. 4. You can see how the dill is slowly growing back in its small container. This is after about 5 days after the initial harvest. Dill was the first plant that we harvested in our organic garden. We also used a little thread from our sewing room and a popsicle stick (from the local general store) to stake the herb as dill has a tendency to get a little leggy and want to flop over. We did this to encourage growth and to prevent the stems from breaking and becoming damaged, hindering growth. Remember to keep the herb and not the popsicle stick towards the light.

Thank you for your questions. We truly enjoy making this journey with you and hope that you will soon visit one of your local garden stores or nurseries and began your organic journey with us. What questions do you have? What are your observations. We invite you to leave your comments with us. We love pictures. Be sure to contact us and e mail them right over.Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.