Every Day Shortcuts to Eat to Your Health

 

Cooking a healthy meal can be a full-time job for any parent. Between planning and organizing, it takes a lot of effort to stay on track. That’s why I have a few hacks on hand to quickly improve the nutrient density in meals.

Quinoa:

Quinoa is a great cook ahead that can be sprinkled onto a salad for an exotic addition of protein. It absorbs flavors so you can pair it with any dressing and it will taste great. Quinoa is also a great way to cut back on rice. For recipes that call for rice, try replacing ½ of the amount with quinoa. You will hardly see the difference yet you will improve your nutrition by adding fiber and lowering your glycemic index. Quinoa is a good source of minerals such as folate, iron, zinc, and magnesium.  It also contains all the essential amino acids, giving it a high score for a good source of protein.  Beware though, it is still a grain and too much of it can be “too much of a good thing”.

Frozen Spinach:

Rich in iron and really flavorful, this makes a great addition to the kids’ mac and cheese. They simply LOVE it.  Recently I have started experimenting with combining it with cauliflower rice. I sauteed a chopped onion or leek for about 5 minutes, then add the riced cauliflower (2 bags frozen) for another 5 minutes, sprinkle some dill or use fresh if you have, add salt and pepper. After it caramelizes add a bag of frozen spinach and cook for about another 10 minutes. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt or some feta and you have a low carb, Greek spanakopita inspired delicious and quick alternative. Spinach is a quick add on to rice, quinoa rice or even sautéed as a side dish. Power up!

Mushrooms:

Mushrooms act as a major immunity booster that can help the body fight illness as well as several types of cancers. It is recommended that you have a little daily. But who can keep up? Try freezing your mushrooms for easy access to omelets, and sautéed meals. Sautée some with onion and keep in the fridge as a sandwich or salad topper.  Consider making mushroom burgers. They are easy, quick and very filling.

Chickpeas:

These are really misunderstood in my opinion because they are usually eaten out of a can. Try soaking a bag overnight and then giving them a quick boil until soft. No spices needed! After they are softened you can eat them plain -so sweet!- or add them to any salad. Keep in the fridge for an easy add on! You can also throw them in the blender with lemon juice and olive oil for a nice hummus.

Cut Fruit:

The best way to increase your fruit intake is to keep it easily accessible. Take a few minutes to cut fruit and keep it in the fridge. It will more likely be your next snack or meal. My favorites for this are watermelon and honeydew. Another great trick is to load up on berries. They have a very short shelf life so eating them will be a priority.

Chia Seeds:

This superfood can be added to any snack to boost fiber and omega 3’s along with antioxidants. Who doesn’t want that in a bowl of cereal, instantly? Consider adding to your yogurt, toasted bread,  and even ice cream.

Broccoli:

This is my go to side dish when I need that extra something to add to a meal. If I am baking dinner it can go straight into a baking dish with some EVOO. If not I can easily steam it and cleanup is a cinch. A major player in the cruciferous family, it is rich in everything, good for you and delicious.  Always keep on hand.

Setting up for success with easy cheats makes up a big component of healthy eating. Now that the kids are helping themselves to snacks it’s even more important to have these easily accessible and at the front of the fridge.

CoachTheresaWV  is a MOM and Health Coach whose goal is to help people harness their inner voice through self-care. She believes in lifestyle habits that include fitness and clean living and is sustainable for long-term health results. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/trainandtransformyourlife/ or email her at CoachTheresaWV@gmail.com for a free consultation.

Shrooming: Trials and Tribulations of growing Shiitake Mushrooms

shiitake mushroom

My path to learning how to grow Shiitake mushrooms has been paved with years of failure until about 3 years ago. I can now say that I finally have success and have enough confidence to begin to experiment with growing other strains and in different growing mediums, such as straw and wood pellets.

Many years ago, I thought it would be fun to grow mushrooms so I bought a-grow-your-own mushroom kit from a seed catalog.  My rationale was that they were a fungus and mushrooms grew wild in my compost pile, woods and in our grass.  How hard could it be? HA!

My first kit arrived in the dead of winter and I eagerly opened the box. I followed the instructions, put the box with the gooey bag of ick down in the basement and tenderly cared for it for months….and…. nothing happened. I was frustrated and felt like I had been suckered (not for the first time and probably not the last). I tossed the mass of ick on my compost pile and thought it was a waste of time and money!

Then one very hot and humid day in August while tossing scraps on the compost pile I spied a mushroom.  I looked closer and I thought it was a shiitake and it appeared to be growing from that lump of white ick that I dumped months earlier.  I was excited but I didn’t want to pick it just yet. I wanted to wait just a little longer to see if it grew bigger.

A few weeks passed and I was thinking that the mushroom should be more than ready to pick and I hoped that more had sprouted.  I went out to the compost pile and it was gone – nothing. No white lump, no beautiful mushroom nothing but a pile of dirt and gravel.  WHAT?  I dug into the pile and there deep under the dirt and gravel I found a shriveled up dead mushroom. My neighbors heard me cry NOOOOOO!  I was crushed.

A few years went by….One day I was out with our hiking club walking next to a member I hadn’t met before.  We were chatting along and she suddenly stopped and said “Oh look! There’s a blah blah ish-a-toris something or another mushroom” (long Latin name).  She bent down, picked it, took a bite and offered me a piece.  As she stared and smiled at me, I was trying to find my lower half of my jaw as it was sitting on the ground.  I thought… “Did she just do what I think she just did?”… “Uh- no thank you” I replied.  I quickly gained my composure and I peppered her with questions on how the heck she knew that mushroom was edible.

I learned that she and her husband were wild mushroom foragers and that they learned this craft by going out and watching other seasoned mushroom hunters forage.  She explained that wild mushroom foraging should be taught by a seasoned forager and should not be taught via books or the internet.  There are too many poisonous mushrooms that look like nonpoisonous mushrooms and one mistake could be fatal.  I quickly decided that foraging for wild mushroom wasn’t for me.  Then I learned that she grew all kinds of mushrooms on her compost pile, logs, and wood chips, which she inoculated with mushroom kits.

Stop! Time Out! What did you say?  She explained that growing mushrooms is easy if you have the right environment.  I shared my tale of woe with my many attempts of growing mushrooms in my basement in the dead of winter and my hopes and dreams for a lonely mushroom growing in my compost pile from a discarded kit until it was killed…

She kindly explained that mushrooms like warm, humid shaded conditions and not cold dark basements.  To grow mushrooms, you needed to replicate those conditions and my shaded compost pile in August just happened to be the perfect environment for that shiitake mushroom.

So why do those darn gardening catalogs only sell those kits in the dead of winter?  She smiled kindly and stared at me…It hit me, O.K. I get it – there’s one born every minute…”S” stands for sucker…She laughed and explained that I needed to buy the spawn from a “real” laboratory that specialized in growing fungi.  Oh…I said – there are mushroom laboratories??? I thought this was supposed to be easy…

Fast forward a year after my initial hike with the “Mushroom Lady.”  A consultant from CT Department of Agriculture was doing a site visit for my farm certification.  We were wandering around my property and he saw how much of it was covered in woods.  He asked if I ever considered growing mushrooms.  I had flashbacks of years of failed attempts growing mushrooms in boxed bags in my basement and of my conversations with the wild mushroom lady telling me I had to find a mushroom laboratory to get good spawn while she ate her way through our hike.  I asked him if I needed to have a sterile room or some building to grow mushrooms commercially.  He said no as there are mushrooms strains that grow well in the woods.  Clearly I was missing something. He recommended that I do some research and think about it.

A year of research…I began to read books on mushroom cultivation. Who knew there were so many different kinds of mushrooms? I watched YouTube videos, read articles from magazines/blogs and I took a workshop on growing mushrooms.  The class was packed and, after hearing similar stories to mine, apparently, I wasn’t the only one that had been suckered with those grow-your-own kits.  I was not alone. I learned that the easiest and most successful way to grow mushrooms is to inoculate oak trees freshly cut into 4-foot lengths.

Months after taking that workshop and doing more research, I decided it was time.  A farmer friend was kind enough to allow me to cut down several trees on his property.  We hauled the logs back to my driveway and my husband (who was trying to be patient with me) hauled them to the back of our property and into the woods.  On several cold spring days, we drilled, plugged and waxed hundreds of holes.  It was a cold and sticky job and at that point, my husband was not- so- patient anymore and declared “No more logs!”

The logs were then put to bed on the forest floor laid out in sections.  I was nervous because I didn’t know if this would work. But I was hopeful as I had done my research and felt confident that I did this right.  It would be a year of waiting to get my answer.  Was this going to be another failed costly experiment?

Nine months later, I was giving someone a tour of my farming operation and I took him out to the pile of logs in the woods.  I spied a mushroom, then another and another!  I became emotional as I tried to explain to my guest that I finally had shiitake mushrooms. I was having a moment…this was big!! However, my guest was not so sure about me and was probably thinking that I was a whack job. He soon left and I was alone in the woods carefully cutting my prized mushrooms and lovingly carrying them into the house to show my husband.  I told him in a cracking voice, “It worked!  It really worked!”

Hubby wasn’t impressed…

Then I told him the current price per pound for shiitake mushrooms at the market.  His eye got real big and he said Oh! This year we will be experimenting growing in straw and wood pellets oyster, shiitake and winecap mushrooms.

Books:

Links to books listed are Amazon Affiliate Links. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home by Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets

Websites:

Fungi Perfecti – www.fungi.com

Mushroom People – www.mushroompeople.com

Waiting for Spring

January 14, 2015 003

It’s been a cold and icy winter here in Connecticut and we are making the best of it with warm cozy fires in the evenings and bundling up with layers of sweaters and wool socks if we have to go out.  On the other hand, my poor cat has had it with the cold temps that keep him inside more than he wants to be and we start hearing about it from him when mid- January rolls around.  We’ve learned how to speak cat during these cold winter months.  He is very vocal and expressive when he’s not happy.

However, I happen to love January, especially the last week, because this is the time when I begin to implement my growing plan for the upcoming season.  I begin to start my seedlings in the greenhouse for an early spring crop.  If you are thinking about starting a garden, now is the perfect time to start planning.  A well planned garden will make planting and care both easier and more productive.

1047918-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Construction-Worker-Digging_thumb[12][1]Before You Dig

Here are some basic things to consider:

  • Soil – what kind of soil do you have? Is it loose, level, well drained? Is it sandy or hard clay? Plants will not grow in either of these soil types unless lots of organic matter like well-rotted compost is added.
  • Sunlight – how much sun does that spot have during the day? You need at least 10 plus hours of sunlight per day for high quality vegetables.

 

  • Shrubs and Trees – they will compete with the sunlight if they are near your garden.   Monitor where the shade pattern is during the day and place your garden outside of the shaded area. In addition, their roots tend to choke out tender vegetable plants, so the further away they are the better.

 

  • Water – How close is the water supply to your garden? Gardens require frequent watering during the growing season. If you must carry water to your garden or haul a long hose, place your garden nearer to the water supply.

 

  • Location, location, location – garden placement is the most critical piece to growing. If your garden is too far away, chances are it will be neglected. Gardens need to be cared for daily, which means, planting, weeding, pruning, watering and harvesting (which is the best part of all). If your garden is on the “back forty”, chances are you will never reap the full rewards of your hard work.

th0HRWLZVBCreate a Garden Plan:

Once you’ve confirmed that you can meet the above basic conditions, the next step is to plan out your garden on paper.  This will be your map to building and maintaining your garden during the growing season.    This plan doesn’t have to be fancy – I find the simpler the drawing and/or list, the easier it is to implement and to later adjust.

My garden has 22 raised beds numbered 1 – 22. When I create my garden plan, I tend to plant a single vegetable type in one bed.  For example, beds 15, 16 and 17 contain arugula and beds 7, 8 and 9 have lettuce etc.  I’ve tried fancy garden software but it didn’t work well for me because I have several beds of varying size and conditions (i.e. some beds are part shade).

When creating your plan, consider the following:

  • Size / Cost – How big is your garden going to be? Obviously, the available space you have will dictate the size. Remember there are upfront costs to consider when starting a garden and the bigger your garden is the more it’s going to cost.

 

  • Vegetable Location – Are you planning an entire row with one vegetable or are you planting half with one thing and half with something else? Are you planting in the ground or in raised beds?

 

  • Row Length – This is important to determine how much seed to buy. How many plants can you plant per row? The answer to that question will be in the seed description.

 

  • Inter-Row & Inter-Plant Space –   A foot wide path between rows is a good rule of thumb. You don’t want your rows too narrow as weeding becomes very difficult. Conversely, you don’t want your rows too wide as this wastes space and requires more weeding. Ick!

 

  • Planting Dates – You need to figure out the approximate date of the last frost in your area. I start turning over my soil and prepping as soon as the ground is defrosted and warmed up. It could be a few weeks before or after the general frost date for my area.

 

  • Succession Planting – What plants will follow when each vegetable is harvested? This is a space saving technique but you need to plan for it to work.

Vegetables – What to Plant?

What are you going to grow?  My advice is to plant what you like to eat and don’t over plant.  If you plant 20 squash plants your family is not going to be happy with you.  You are not going to grow everything so use the available space wisely, especially if it’s small.

Sweet corn is a perfect example of what not to grow on a small plot.  Corn needs to be grown in a large space (over 1000 sq. ft.) for proper pollination.  So choose vegetables that your family will enjoy and that make sense for the space you have.

    • Small gardens (less than 1000 sq. ft.) – think about plants with a high yield per plant, which include the following vegetables:
      • Bush Beans
      • Leafy greens
      • Tomatoes
      • Peppers (hot and sweet)
      • Squash (bush variety)
      • Mustard Greens
      • Collard Greens
      • Kale
      • Chard
      • Spinach
      • Carrots
      • Beets, Peas
      • Eggplant
      • Onions
      • Radishes
      • Turnips
      • Herbs

 

    •  Large Gardens (1000 sq. ft. or more) – larger gardens can obviously grow a larger variety of vegetables (including those that take up more space) but remember the bigger the garden the more work required and the higher resulting yield. If there are only two of you and unless you want to be super gardeners or love to be outside puttering around, I’d recommend downsizing to a small plot:
      • All the vegetables listed above
      • Melons (vining varieties)
      • Squash (vining varieties)
      • Pumpkins
      • Sweet Corn

039Growing Seasons

How will your garden grow?  Some plants (i.e.- lettuce and peas) are better suited to grow in the early spring whereas squash and tomatoes are heat loving plants that do well in high temperatures.   Make sure that your plan includes a seasonal planting schedule that correlates with your successive plantings.

Successive Planting 

Planting every few weeks provides a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.  To avoid gardener burnout, spread out your plantings to avoid a monster harvest all at once and instead have a steady flow of vegetables throughout the season.  For example, planting new lettuce every two weeks during the early and mid-spring seasons guarantees you’ll have lettuce until it gets too hot.

In addition, successive planting ensures the wise use of your space.  Planting squash in place of an earlier crop like peas will allow you to grow two crops in the same space in a single season.

January 3, 2015 085Seeds and Plants

Order seeds from quality organic seed companies now.  Don’t wait until the snow melts.  I don’t recommend that you purchase seeds from a large box store as their seeds tend to be of poor quality and have low germination rates.  In addition, don’t forget that there are GMO seed companies parading around as “your local friendly seed company” so buyers beware!

I’m not going to get into the details of the GMO debate but if you want to know more, just “Google” it.  This is a hot topic in the world of agriculture and gardeners and consumers need to understand how important it is to buy properly sourced seeds from non GMO companies.  To get you started, here is an article from Mother Earth News.

There are many organic seed companies, but here are a few that I’ve used personally and recommend:

lucille-surprise[1]  What? No space to Garden? Grow it in a container!

Yes, it is possible to have a garden even if you don’t have available land by growing in a container!  All that’s needed is good quality organic potting mix and a container – i.e. – an Earth Box or even a baby wading pool will work!  For DIYers, purchase a storage container (or baby wading pool) from a large Box Store.  It doesn’t have to be deep as about a foot of growing space is all that’s needed.  Drill a few holes in the bottom and sides to allow water to drain out of the bottom and air through the sides for the roots to develop.

 

 

Pictured below are some of the containers that I grow in.  Easy Peasy!

opening day 012   Baby Wading Pools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

opening day 007  Fabric Grow Tubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

opening day 010 Storage Totes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Earth Box

 

 

 

 

opening day 016  Large Grow Bags

 

 

 

 

 

If you have questions about your garden, please feel free to contact me.  Happy Garden Planning!!!

Turnips get a Bad Rap

December 4, 2014 008

There are a few vegetables that I refuse to eat and butter beans is on the top of my list!  My Mother is an awesome cook but sometimes she missed the mark on some of her creations.  She used to make a dreadful dish consisting of several cans of butter beans (including the liquid) dumped into a round glass casserole dish, layering bacon on top and baking it.  The mere smell of it made me sick to my stomach and I hated that dish so much that, at times, I refused to eat.

hate butter beans

 

The turnip was, for reasons I can’t now recall, also a veggie that was once on my banned list.  Once while having dinner at a friend’s house, I mistook them for mashed potatoes and fell in LOVE with them right then and there! How could I have disliked the turnip when it tasted so good?

 

 

 

 

screaming-woman[1]

 

 

Years later during a Christmas dinner, my Mother discovered she was eating turnips instead of mashed potatoes and we had a family crisis on our hands!  (True confession – she was technically eating mashed potatoes, turnips and rutabagas, but I didn’t tell her that). My Mother hated turnips and never cooked them or even allowed herself to try them until she unknowingly ate my mashed medley of root vegetables (recipe will follow below).  She projected her dislike of turnips on her children as we grew up and so we developed the impression that turnips were bad.  My repulsion to the butter bean was similar to her repulsion to the turnip.  Who knew?

I have since learned that the turnip is a wonderful vegetable and I’m surprised that so many people don’t like them.  This year, I have included turnips in my CSA distribution and I love to hear customers’ comments about what they are doing with them each week.

woman cooking

 

 

Some have also grown to love the turnip and gleefully share the different ways that they cook their bulbs.  Others are not so much in love but have a favorite recipe or two that will do the job.  Then there are others that just plain hate turnips (a similar disdain that I have to the butter bean) and ask to take them back.

 

 

According to Wikipedia, the turnip has a long history and was domesticated before the 15th century.  Throughout the world, the turnip has been a popular and a not so popular veggie.  In Ireland and Scotland, turnips have been used as Halloween lanterns.  In traditional Celtic festivals, rutabagas (which are larger turnips) were hollowed out, carved with faces and placed in windows in the hopes of scaring off evil spirits.

Nordic_Map_4_Trimmed[1]

In Nordic countries, turnips provided the staple crop before their replacement by the potato in the 18th century.  In Turkey, turnip flavored salgam, is a juice made from purple carrots and spices served ice cold.  In Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, turnips are pickled.

The Japanese also like their turnips pickled as well as stir fried in salt and soy sauce.  In addition, they are fans of turnip greens, the very nutritious top of the turnip. In Brazil, the turnip is not a favored veggie as it is in other parts of the world and is thought to have an unpleasant taste.

 

 

 

nobel snob

 

 

However, part of the bias may be more of a social stigma vs. actual taste as, since the Middle Ages, turnips were an inexpensive crop that were associated with the poor and avoided by the nobility.

 

 

Here in the United States turnips are popular throughout the country.  In the 1800’s, Westport Massachusetts was considered the turnip capital of the U.S thanks to two brothers, Aiden and Elihu MaComber.  In 1876, they returned from the Philadelphia Exposition with a pocket full of turnip seeds and decided to go into the turnip business.  The Bristol Whites were descendants of Swedish and Russian turnip seeds and flourished in the fertile ground of Westport. They soon became a popular and sought after commodity from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island.

web-blog-caution-like[1]

 

 

 

Today they are a popular root crop used in all kinds of dishes.  Personally, I prefer to treat them as a potato.  If counting calories, the turnip is a good substitute for potatoes.  The turnip root is also high in vitamin C and turnip greens (the tops) are a good source of vitamins A, C & K as well as folate and calcium.

 

 

The USDA states that one medium turnip (122 g) contains the following nutritional elements:

  • Calories: 34
  • Fat: 0.12
  • Carbohydrates: 7.84
  • Fibers: 2.2
  • Protein: 1.10
  • Cholesterol: 0

As is the case with potatoes, there are many different ways of preparing turnips.  All that’s needed is a little imagination and you will have treasure trove of recipes.  There are simple techniques like simmering in water (low boil) to the more detailed techniques such as Turnips Au Gratin.  All in all, turnips are one of the most versatile root vegetables imaginable.

Here are my favorite techniques:

Quick Simmering/Low Boil Method: 

Boiling-Water[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water: Peel, cut into chucks and place in a pot big enough to cover them with cold water. Simmer on low heat until fork tender and then drain well.

In a bowl, add a few tablespoons of butter (or coconut spread will also work well – vegan option) to hot turnips and mash in salt and pepper to taste and serve.

or

 

mini-cooper-milk-carton-small-95907[1]

Leave in chucks, add butter, favorite spread and chopped herbs such as parsley, rosemary or thyme. Then add salt and pepper to taste.

Milk: Peel and cut into chucks and place in a pot big enough to cover them with milk.  For a different twist, add either a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme to the milk while the turnips are simmering.  Since I don’t drink milk, I use Almond Milk and the turnips taste wonderful.  Simmer  drain well, discard the herb and reserve some of the cooking milk.

 

 

 

In a bowl, add a few tablespoons of butter (or coconut spread – vegan option) to the hot turnips and a little of the reserved milk and mash.  Don’t add too much milk so that the consistency of the turnips will be smooth and not runny. Add salt and pepper to taste while stirring in some newly chopped herbs used in the cooking and serve.

Dressed Up Boil Method:

This is my all-time favorite recipe from “The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas: The History of the Season’s Traditions, with Recipes for the Feast” by Jeff Smith (copyright 1991).

Mashed Rutabaga, Turnip, and Potato

1 ¾ pounds rutabaga, peeled and quartered

1 ½ pounds turnips, peeled and quartered

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

½ cup whipping cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

The vegetables can be peeled ahead of time if you keep them in separate containers covered with water and Fruit-Fresh to prevent browning.  Drain before cooking.  Place the drained rutabaga in a 6-quart pot with ample fresh water and a pinch of salt.  Boil 15 minutes.  Add the turnips and potatoes and boil an additional 15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.  Drain well.  Mash the vegetables with the remaining ingredients.  They can also be pureed in several batches in a good food processor.

Tarragon-Roasted-Turnips[1]

 

 

Roasted Method:

 

 

 

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut turnips into chunks and put in a bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over the chunks and season with your favorite herbs such as rosemary, thyme or your favorite herb blend.  Salt and pepper and pour onto a cookie sheet.  Place in pre-heated oven and roast for 5 – 8 minutes.  Remove cookie sheet and stir turnips and place back in oven for another 5 – 8 minutes and stir again.  Total cooking time should be 20 minutes but will vary depending on the size of the chucks.

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Baking Method:

The final cooking option is baking and there are some great recipes online such as Turnips Au Gratin that can be found by searching your favorite cooking site.

 

 

 

 

 

Why is Supporting Local Businesses so Important

 

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Today Thompson Street Farm is participating in Small Business Saturday at the Glastonbury Farmers Holiday Market (Market is open every Saturday through December 20th) at The Old Cider Mill 1287 Main Street Glastonbury 10 am – 1 pm.  So why is supporting small businesses so important?  Here are 12 reasons why…

Why is shopping locally so important? 

  • You support local businesses.
  • You protect the character of our community.
  • You keep local dollars in the community.
  • You help protect the environment (factory farm food uses a lot of resources)
  • You help create jobs.
  • You increase your home value (yes, towns with independent local business districts tend to have higher home values).
  • You safeguard your families health, Fresh is best!
  • You protect New England’s beautiful scenery. Yup, buying from farms helps preserve land.
  • You discover amazing new and delicious food items you’ll never find at a big chain store.
  • You play a larger role in our community. Shake the hand that feeds you.
  • Have fun! Local farmers markets are more lively, creative, have beautifully decorated products and locally sourced compared to the big box stores.
  • Even if you just replace one of your holiday items with a local product you’ll be making a difference in our community.

Thompson Street Farm is all about local, “Because Local is Best!” – we hope you will join us at the Old Cider Mill!

(adapted from Fresh New England 12 Great Reasons to Shop Locally this Holiday Season – Blog)

Kitchen Counter Garden

March 5, 2014 001

Spring is days away and it’s been so cold the snow has turned into solid ice. My cat has lost his mind from not being able to go outside. To pass the time of day he has resorted to playing fish on my daughter ipad. Although I think he knows something up with this “pond” – he keeps shaking his paws thinking they are wet and but they are dry, and then there’s no smell.

March 7, 2014 007

March 7, 2014 002

 

 

 

 

 

As a farmer, I cannot wait for warmer weather to start digging in the soil again.  In January, I completed all my shopping for seeds, and on March 1st, the new season began I started planting my new seedlings in trays.  The best part is my new aquaponics system is finished and I am excited to see how well the system works.  This system was designed to grow hundreds of lettuce and herbs.  In another week or so, the fish should be arriving and that will really boost the system.

March 5, 2014 004 (These are garlic cloves sprouting into garlic greens)

While talking to a friend recently, she mentioned she couldn’t wait to start eating fresh local greens.  I suggested she start a small kitchen herb garden on her counter – it’s the fastest way to get fresh greens and in less than 10 days she can be cutting fresh greens for her salads.

March 11, 2014 002

Start with any kind of container.  I personally like the containers our Chinese food come in.  They hold enough soil to do the job.

March 11, 2014 001 March 11, 2014 003 March 11, 2014 004 March 11, 2014 006

Gently poke holes in the bottom of container.  An easy way to do it is using a board underneath the container and hammer the nail through the bottom.  For those who want a higher tech method, a drill with a small bit will work fine.  Just make sure there are enough drainage holes in the bottom so the water can drain.

March 11, 2014 002 March 11, 2014 003

Moisten the potting soil prior to filling the container.  The soil should be wet enough to make a meatball size clump – but not soaking wet where there is water dripping from your hand.

March 5, 2014 006March 5, 2014 005

Sprinkle your seeds over the top of the soil and cover with plastic wrap until the seeds sprout then remove the plastic.  If the container has a lid, gently close it but don’t seal it tight.  The goal here is to keep the soil moist until your seeds sprout.  Remove the lid completely and water when soil appears dry on top.

Easy Kitchen Garden Varieties:

Arugula

Basil

Chives

Garlic Greens – (need a deep container for this) just peel a few garlic cloves from the grocery store and plant.

Parsley

Happy Spring!