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Sweet Basil Update

sweet basil

Sweet Basil is doing great in her new home. She is growing. Three days or so after a plant has been moved into a new environment is a good time to watch for any stress or shock. The plants growth might be stagnant. It may drop its leaves. There may be signs of disease or predatory insects. These are all signs that a plant is in trouble. However, if you see little change but growth, that is a good sign that the plant is indeed in good shape. These are signs that it has adjusted to its environment and is thriving.

We are looking forward to hearing about some delicious meals from Sweet Basil. Stay tuned for more transplant updates. What is your favorite Herb? Have you considered buying an herb plant from the grocery store? What are the benefits of having Fresh Herbs to cook with in your kitchen? 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.

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Corona: The Environment

As we wrote to you about rethinking organic, it has come to us to rethink many things about this organic journey and the significance of our health. Environmentalists have a lot to think about as well. As the onset of COVDI 19 has caused many to self quarantine, be quarantined and rethink spacing in many facets, environmentalists have been watching from above. And what they can see is a significant reduction in pollution. Like many who have seen some positive changes in the midst of COVID 19, they want to hold on to the positive changes that have come out of all of this.

Organic growers are much attuned to their environment and the effects it has on what they grow. As we look at what and the ways we consume, essentially our diet, so too our avenues of thought about cause and effect are broadened. We can see how pollution has decreased when we see the need to reclaim space for public health safety has caused bike sales to rise and consequently having a positive effect on the environment by reducing smog. As we struggled with understanding the pests in our own garden and paying homage to our Organic Journey, we were perplexed how a seemingly healthy plant could get into trouble so fast. One day the plant looked lush and green and the next day it was withering and dying.

Most Organic growers will tell you that the signs of pest are the signs of an unhealthy plant and the best way to address pests is to promote plant health. While I think they are right to some degree, I believe there is another component we must flesh out more. What about its environment? If I put a healthy plant in an environment that is unhealthy how long will it stay healthy? Not long. So while our plants were healthy, underneath the ground where we could not see, we currently suspect, was a vole tunneling holes through root systems and munching on our plants from underneath the ground. This put our perfectly healthy plants in serious danger, which we could not see from above ground. The plants would then become unhealthy and susceptible to pests.

This observation gives us pause to think about our health from many directions as we consider the environments of our foods as well as ourselves. How do pests or culprits unknown, unseen and clandestine impact the health of the plants we grow to eat and our environment at large? What are some ways we can identify pests in the environment of our plants as well as the environments we live in? What are 3 things we can do today to start to have a positive impact on the environment around us and the environments in which our foods are grown? Leave your comments and questions so the whole community can benefit. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing! Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today.

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

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Neem Oil

When our Cabbage & Brussel Sprouts leaves were being eaten up, we went in search for an Organic Remedy. Most organic gardeners and farmers will tell you the best remedy is plant health. Those plants that come under attack are typically not in good health. Although the vole might be putting them under stress. We found that the plants coming under attack were perfectly healthy plants but young and tender. Some of them were going through the transplant process and experiencing some stress and shock. All things we think the plants could bounce back from without problem. So, we have decided to give our plantings a little Organic help to promote growth and health while we get our garden off the ground.

Our search produced a recommendation to use Neem Oil. We found a product that left us with a little more questions than answers because it did not fully disclose all of its ingredients. We discovered that Neem Oil is often mixed with dish detergent and water. The emulsifier in the dish detergent helps break down the oil and give it a little structure. Naturally the oil will loosen up if heated but that is not a good application method for your plants. Once the detergent, water and neem oil mixture is made it must be used otherwise it will break down and become unusable. Well we want to know what we are putting on our food so, we found 100% cold pressed neem oil. We will add our own water. If you decided to use detergent, we recommend Castile soap, which is a natural (and can be organic) soap with no chemicals. You can find this soap at your local store or order it online. We found our Neem Oil online for about $5 per 8 ounces plus shipping. We decided to buy in bulk so we got 32 ounces for that price (per 8 ounces).

Although we think it is still to early to tell, the results thus far have been very positive. We have seen a noticeable difference in the amount of flies. They have decreased in number and have become more clandestine. Just because they get clandestine does not mean they are gone. Remember to keep up your Organic Remedy Regimen for at least 2 – 4 weeks. It is recommended to keep treating plants 2 weeks after desired results are achieved. Click here to learn more about Neem Oil from the Smiling Gardener. We did not buy our Neem Oil from this supplier, but found them to have a great deal of knowledge regarding Neem Oil as it relates to gardening and farming.

This Organic Remedy should allow our plants time to get over any shock or stress. We also dug new ground and are always learning what works best. So, there are a lot of factors to consider. We wanted a product whose ingredients we knew. Also, we are always looking for a good deal. We don’t mind mixing up our own Neem Oil solution in order to get these things. We believe you should know what is on and in your food. So, we decided to go with a small business owner supplier who provided unfiltered and cold pressed Neem Oil.

We have high hopes for our garden once these seedlings have an opportunity to flourish. They are on average very healthy and strong. The introduction of Soil Blocks and other methods that discourage disease have significantly improved our sowing success, it is on track to be 100% of seeds sown sprout into healthy plants. The transplanting process has been improved. And we are in the process of helping them catch root quicker. Discouraging voles and other mole like animals should also keep the plants from being uprooted once successfully transplanted. What we believe is a vole could have also been preventing our plantings from developing healthy root systems as well as taking root sooner and completing the transplant process. We will be observing if these pest remedies shorten the transplant process.

We believe the Neem Oil will help keep pests at bay and give these plants a chance to recover from any stress or shock. When reading packages they often make EPA, USDA and other certifications. Do you know what these standards are and are these standards acceptable to you? Do you think manufacturers should release all ingredients despite their desire to protect trade secrets? How can you help influence EPA & USDA standards that are more transparent and acceptable to your own personal standards? 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.

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Keen Observation

As Eliot Coleman would say, some of the best farmers are observers. The farmers he learned from were keen observers. There are many benefits to making keen observations in your garden besides the sheer joy of watching the plants grow from a seed into full fledge fruit bearing plants.

  • Identifying issues such as disease or crowding of plants
  • Identify best practices, which your plants respond favorable to
  • Identifying practices to change, which your plants do not respond well to
  • Identifying Harvest time

Pumpkin was the first transplant to go into the garden. During watering time we observed that both of pumpkins leaves were missing. It was pretty difficult to miss. We were from there able to identify that we had a pest around our garden attacking just the leaves of the tender young transplants killing its chance to grow. Since the fatal attack, we were able to resow pumpkin from the arsenal of seeds that we saved. It has been several weeks since we resowed pumpkin. Without fail it has come from beneath the surface with deep and rich green leaves. These seeds came to us from a friend who got them fresh from a pumpkin. We have a few fall loving people who are very pleased to see pumpkin return.

We have had several friends and gardening cohorts come by recently. Some sharing advice and best practices for gardening and farming. Others checking on the progress of the garden and the plants in the garden. And yet others who have been dropping off seeds and growing kits. We are always thrilled to have visitors in addition to the birds who always come by to visit. We want to thank MiMi for giving us a growing kit of Cynoglossum amabile flowers. Growing kits are a great way to introduce yourself to gardening and to get children involved in the process as well. We will be talking more about MiMi’s flower in the next article. Thank you MiMi!

How can you sharpen your sense of observation? What are the benefits of keen observation in your garden? What observations have you made from the photos that we have shared? 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. Thank you for taking this journey with us. We are as thrilled as you are.

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

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Turning out Transplants

As the transplanting continues feverishly through May, the latest transplants are doing well. As we shared, since April is the big month to get plants out in our Zone, we are a little behind. We are filling in the rows in our garden. We also had some pests show up during transplanting which did not help since plants sometimes go into shock when transplanted. So, we wanted to put out the biggest and healthiest plants possible to mitigate any shock and to alleviate any pest attacks. We also had to make some adjustments for our mold loving garage, which we lovingly refer to as the mini greenhouse. We are thus filling in rows with plantlings and expanding a little to give every plant the space it needs to grow.

Green Bean – Transplant
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

As you can see from the pictures Habenaro and Green Bean are doing pretty well. Habenaro is delicate and still making an adjustment to the garden. We made some adjustments we hope will help her along. Green Bean is from the second wave of Green Bean transplants. The First Green Bean transplant suffered an attack from an unknown pest. Both of its leaves were missing leaving only a stem that produced no more leaves. Green Bean and Pumpkin were the first transplants. They both suffered the same fate. We have our eyes peeled for the responsible pests. We also picked up some news seeds that will be sown directly into the ground since we are in May and probably past the last frost of the season. Stay tuned to discover what we have sowing up next.

The Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage = Cabbage Family, continue to form into globes as they grow. It is amazing to see its transformation from a collection of outward pointing leaves into a slow motion globe formation. We will keep you updated on the progress of these delicious globes. As usual we have culinary plans for these plants. From one gardener to another …”…check back”. The question we get asked the most other than, is it ready to eat yet, is probably how is this or that plant doing? Or what is going on in the garden? Normally the questions are very specific but the range is wide open. What questions pop in your mind? Ask. What have you enjoyed most about the Organic Journey? What are you most interested in getting an update on? Drop us a comment and we will get back to you. Chances are if you want to know someone else wants to know too. 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.

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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!

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