Gardening February Part Two

“An hour of planning can save hours of doing” – Unknown

If you are like me you are itching to get your hands in some dirt. Earlier this month all my seeds arrived and I decided it was time to sit down and create a plan of what I really wanted to grow this year.

After a small survey of all the seeds I realized I have 13 varieties of cucumbers and 26 varieties of tomatoes. Now if I planned to only grow cucumbers and tomatoes that would be fine, but I also have 20 other vegetables to get in this garden. In total I have over 120 varieties of vegetables.

Basically what I’m admitting is I can’t grow everything I want this year unless I plan on expanding my garden. Please note my husband will kill me if I make this thing any bigger.

If you are like me deciding what makes the cut is rough. I have my favorites from last year and all the new varieties I just purchased. What to do? What to do? Answer, make a plan.

The first thing I did was select two favorites from last year. I fell in love with the Tropical Sunset tomato from M.I.Gardener and the Amish Paste. You might be able to get these varieties from other places but these tomatoes grew so well I had to try it again. The Tropical Sunset is a cherry tomato that was so sweet I had a neighbor eating them right off the vines. The Amish Paste tomato made the perfect pasta sauce last year which meant it was definitely making the cut. So there, the two tomatoes from last year selected.

Deciding on the new varieties was harder because I had 10 new varieties. I’m deciding against all common sense to grow one of each variety. I know this is ambitious and I’m going to regret it later but I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t growing everything. So there you have it, 12 varieties of tomatoes will make the cut this year leaving 48 available spaces. I use a mix of container and square foot gardening which I will talk more about later but just know 48 squares is not as much space as you think.

With tomatoes taking over 12 spaces I’ve decided some other stuff has got to go. I’m scratching squash, turnips, and mustard greens this year along with a few other varieties of items. It’s crazy because as I get better at gardening I run out of space in the garden. Squash lovers don’t be mad at me. I need that space for all the potatoes I plan to grow. Y’all didn’t think I would do a gardening blog and not mention potatoes :). Of course I’m growing potatoes.

Ok moving right along…

So gardeners if you haven’t already done so sit down and create a plan. First decide what you want to grow and then decide how many of each variety you will grow. Look at all the seed selections and make sure you select what’s right for you and your zone. Trying to grow pineapples in Ohio is something that’s not going to work.

Realize that everything you plant will not grow and also don’t be shocked if it does. Have a backup plan to get rid of some plants if your green thumb turns out to be better than you thought. Also leave some space for surprises. Every year someone drops off a new variety of vegetable for me to try. I’m not even talking seeds I’m talking one foot tomato or pepper plants. My theory is they just couldn’t let the seedlings go and finally realized they did not have the space. I’ve been there. Anywho.

Yes it’s cold and yes you think I’m crazy but if you want to get a head start, start now. I already have all my collards started and once transplanted I’m moving on to cabbage. Can you feel my excitement!!

For those who wanted an update on the Aerogarden. This is three weeks worth of lettuce growth from seed. This is Deer Tongue and was great in my salad. Definitely worth the purchase price. #gardening365

Month 2 Wk3 Yr2 – Woe Is Me

“The sky is falling” – Chicken Little

I don’t know about you but it seems like every time I’m on a roll everything tries to derail my progress. Last week I was following my program and then work was much more intense than normal. My son needed help with school and my other son had sporting events we had to attend. I went from starting dinner at 5pm to trying to find food at 7pm. It simply felt like I was go, go, go.

Now as a person who suffers from depression I felt an episode coming on. I would work, eat , then sleep. After I slept for 10-12 hours I was waking up feeling like I had a five minute cat nap. I heard myself using words like never, every time, and always. When those words creep into my vocabulary I realize I need Plan B.

Plan B for me involves a couple of things. The first thing is to allow myself to feel whatever I’m feeling. If I’m feeling depressed I allow myself to feel depressed. Depression is tricky and deciding I’m not going to be depressed tomorrow is not an option. The next thing I do is try to find small wins. Yaaa I woke up on time today. Go Me, I washed a load of clothes. I’m awesome, I combed my hair today.

I am not kidding when I say celebrate everything. When I’m depressed my mind immediately goes to all the stuff going wrong and never what’s going right. I have to gently ease myself back on the positive train.

I accomplished closing my rings for at least five days. Let me tell you accomplishing this while working through the depression it was hard. Closing these rings was my little win each day. Three times a day I got to celebrate just a little. That’s really what I needed to get through this tough week.

My tip for you this week. Find your small wins. Small wins add up to big wins and big wins lead up to living depression free.

Starting Weight For Feb 270

Current weight now 268. Two pounds gone.

20 For 20 Goal 250.

Month 2 Wk2 Yr2 – Wow

“Had to have high, high hopes for a livin” – Panic! At The Disco

Let me tell you this week has been hard. When I decided to do this challenge I just knew I was going to workout and get myself moving everyday. Yea I had some high, high hopes. What I got was one work crises after another. I got appointments I needed to attend, surprise presentations and meetings. All my plans went out of the window.

Before you think I completely failed I did get four days worth of movement.

I closed my green ring (Exercise Ring) four times. On Feb 2nd I actually got a workout in and the remaining days I had to do little exercises at my desk. I was trying to get my workout minutes in anyway I could get them.

I’m not going to give you a bunch of useless information this week. What I’m going to tell you is try to find a way. If you are trapped at your desk do some leg lifts. I hopped on my yoga ball and did squats while listening to a conference call. If you have nice weather right now break away and head outside. Since I claimed I couldn’t find 30 minutes I found 5 minutes here and there.

Notice I said claim because I was full of crap. Each day I played useless games on my phone or read articles on Google for over an hour. I wasn’t looking for that 30 minutes :).

Next week I’m going to make my five days. I’m going to locate those 30 minutes.

Starting Weight For February- 270

Current Weight 269. One pound gone.

20 Week Goal Weight – 250. I’ve got this.

Gardening February Part 1

START PLANNING

I know I usually give you a great quote about gardening as the intro, but there was nothing to say other than start planning. I think the biggest mistake people make outside of planting too much, is not having a plan. Just like with everything else you need to begin with some leg work before you head out to your garden.

If you are a first time gardener I’m going to give you some tips, but this is really applying to people who have gardened for at least one year. I say that because in your first year you need to do stuff like find a spot, pick some seeds, amend your soil, or buy some pots. This post is not going to help you with those things but previous post will. This post is for all of us who think we have it all under control and then in August we ask ourselves what have we done.

The first thing I’m going to recommend is one of my favorite gardening planners.

This book right here has it all. If last year you were all over this place buy this book. It takes you week by week on what you should be doing to get your garden going. The only thing you have to do is determine your frost dates and count backwards. It tells you when to start seeds, when to transplant, and when to begin looking for bugs. While this book can’t give you information about your specific growing zone it can get you started in the right direction.

The great thing about this book is it holds three years worth of information. For those of you who don’t do any journalling this is at least a good start. Please note that I have an entirely separate garden journal that I keep notes in from year to year to compliment this.

I picked my journal up late and it’s already telling me I should be planting collards for an early harvest. Let me clearly state it is 11 degrees outside and there is a sheet of ice under six inches of snow. The thought of planting collard seeds is cracking me up. I will also be the same person in March/April talking about how warm it is and that I should have planted some cold tolerant crops. Yes I’m that person.

With that said, order the book. You can thank me later for this little gem.

Month 2 Wk1 Yr2

“Now that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger” Kanye West

As February was approaching I had no idea what I would do this month. Some friends told me to eat vegetables but me and vegetables don’t always get along. When I did that challenge last year I lived off cucumbers, green beans, and shredded lettuce. I think the point of the challenge was for me to try new vegetables, but I never kept it up. I needed to come up with something and no bells and whistles were going off. That was until I returned home from a girls weekend.

The weekend was filled with a lot of laughing, a lot of crying from laughing, and a lot of carbs. My one friend has a love of pizza so we had that twice. I have a love of chicken and dumplings so I got an extra portion for later. You add those two foods to fish and chips, cheeseburgers, and not enough water and my scale went the wrong way.

When I returned home I had gained four pounds. Basically the two I lost came back and some friends dropped by.

This is typical for me which I’m sure it is for you. As I’ve said before, it was worth it. I made a goal to be more present and being present meant not worrying about what I ate. The weight can come off, I could never get those laughs back.

I think my other friend felt the same way because she came up with a challenge. 20 in 20. She basically challenged us to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks. After the 20 weeks we will get back together and hang out at a lake house. While the lake didn’t excite me hanging out with friends again did.

Now I don’t know about your friends but my friends are competitive. No one wants to be the person who didn’t lose something. I’m not trying to tell these ladies I didn’t at least lose a few pounds. The great thing was this challenge was more than doable and it falls right in line with my one pound a week plan.

Sooo….

Challenge accepted.

This month I plan to revisit a proven method that works. I’m going to keep moving my body. My focus is to close my Apple Watch exercise ring at least five days a week. That includes some cardio, weight training, and meditation.

Starting weight for February is 270.

Twenty week goal is 250.

I got this.

Month 1 Wk5 Yr2 – Bonus Week

“Look, my philosophy in life is expect nothing and everything is a bonus” – Hugh Jackman

I have to be honest. That is probably one of the saddest quotes I’ve ever read. Expecting nothing is not the way I live, but the quote makes sense. I think a lot of times people put so many expectation on themselves that everything is a let down. I find myself doing that often. This journey I took myself on was not immune to that thinking. I wanted to lose a pound a week and expected to lose a pound a week. I then got mad at times when I didn’t lose a pound a week. It was only after I reflected on where I was did I realize what I learned. What I learned often times was much bigger than the one pound I didn’t lose.

I will also tell you that’s what happened with this eating an apple thing. I found I would eat an apple then I would want a protein shake or the fruit smoothie. Refer to the smoothie recipe from last week. I then decided I should probably start walking because, well I had the energy. In my mind the goal was to not waste this apple thing. If I was going to eat this healthy apple, why not have tuna for lunch. It’s crazy how one change had me wanting to perform another change. The key is I wanted to do it, I didn’t place the expectation on myself to do it. I didn’t fill out a million rules of what I would do. I simply said I would eat an apple.

If you look back to the post I had from Year 1 I emphasized trying one thing a month. All those things did not stick immediately for me, but the concepts did. I was able to introduce myself to something and come up with a plan. I can tell you one thing for sure. Losing weight is about finding things that click. I know what to do, you know what to do, you will only do it when you are ready.

I’m not here to bash any weight loss plan, but again they will only work when they click for you. I hope at least one thing I’ve said clicks.

Beginning January Weight- 268

Ending January Weight – 266

Month 1 Wk4 Yr2

“Mom can you buy more apples” – My Son

They said it takes 66 days to make a habit. Basically two months before something you are doing sticks and you just keep doing it. We are almost 30 days into this apple adventure and I have to say its sticking.

Two things let me know I was on track. First, I was traveling and my first stop was to find a store and purchase apple slices and peanut butter. Second, my son asked me to buy some more apples. I don’t know which one made me more excited, but you should know usually I’m buying bags of chips or doughnuts for my hotel room when I travel.

I’m working on several projects for work and flying is back in the mix. If you don’t know how I feel about flying please check out my blog “Flying While Fat”. It’s still rough. As much as I try to fly less I still find myself needed to hop on a flight every few months to do some things for work. Yes I know I should not complain, but it’s a struggle. A struggle of my own making, but a struggle.

Ok back to the positives, apples. I would like to report that for the first time I did not gain weight when I returned from my trip. Normally I add about five pounds and it takes about a week to get it back off. This trip that did not happen. As I stepped on the scale with true hesitation I was pleasantly surprised. The number was exactly as it was when I left. I don’t know about you, but this was a win and I’m taking all the wins I can get.

So in conclusion how do I feel about this apple challenge? I loved it. Not only is it a healthy great snack, but I am also throwing them in green smoothies. The tartness of the apple cuts through the veggie taste so I was getting a two for one bonus.

This month we get an extra Saturday so that means an extra post. My goal is to make the best of the last seven days of the month and see how I can continue to improve. Remember, we are only trying to be 10% better. I encourage you to challenge yourself. 10% is not as hard as you think.

Green Smoothie Recipe

1 Granny Smith Apple cubed

1 Cup of Grapes- I prefer seedless green grapes

2 Cups of Greens (Collard, Spinach, Kale, your choice)

8 oz Apple Juice

Throw all this into a really good blender. I have a Ninja and while it’s loud it works. Let me know if you like this smoothie recipe as much as I did.

Gardening In January Part 2

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn

This quote is really why I love gardening. It’s hard to be a depressed gardener because you are really looking forward to tomorrow. Even when crops fail, the rain doesn’t come, or in my case your attacked by cicadas, I can still find hope.

When something goes wrong there is always another thing growing behind it. I might lose one cucumber plant but believe me I have five more just waiting for their opportunity to shine. The hardest part for me is really when I can’t garden.

Guess what, I found a solution.

I’ve heard a lot about Aerogarden. The price was crazy so I was not about to pull the trigger on $100 mini indoor garden. I felt like as usual I was being stalked and I found one one sale and with coupons it was a bargain I couldn’t pass up. For $50 I invested in an Aerogarden Harvest and a 9 Pod Grow Anything Kit.

With the help of my husband I was able to get it set up quickly and get some quick growing veggies in the pods. I decided for this first trial I am growing lettuce and spinach. My family consumes both of these things frequently and they normally grow pretty quick while in the garden.

I will keep you all posted on the success of this project. Let’s hope it keeps me busy enough to not buy large amounts of new seeds. Do we ever really need more seeds?

My first attempt at hydroponic gardening indoors. Will the veggies taste as good as those grown outdoor? We will see.

Month 1 Wk3 Yr2

“Fruit is natures candy” – Unknown

Ok by week three I thought I was going to be all appled out. I thought this task was going to be a lot harder, but then in swoops my husband. I started buying him apples as well and he mentioned how great caramel would be. Of course I was upset he was trying to fatten up my apples but then I remembered there is sugar free caramel syrup. Oh then the fun began.

Kraft.com

Do you know you can put just about anything on apples? This picture is from Kraft.com. They used Granny Smith apples, caramel, and chopped pecans.

My favorite combination is peanut butter and chocolate chips. If you heat the peanut butter for 15 seconds it will get thin enough to dip the apples. After it cools drop some chocolate chips on your apples.

You can also add sugar free chocolate syrup, marshmallows, and a ton of other healthy toppings.

Below are the tools you need for this apple venture. Please note I say need loosely. They just make eating apples daily a little easier than only using a knife.

Veggie Peeler $3
Apple Core/Slicer Combo $4
Apple Corer $5

These are all Amazon prices. You might pay a little more in the stores, but well worth the investment. They each cost about the same as a bag of apples. There are endless possibilities on how to make this apple challenge work. Be patient with yourself and just enjoy natures gift.

Month 1 Wk2 Yr2 – Organic vs Non Organic

“Once upon a time all food was organic” – Unknown

There is a huge debate about organic versus non organic fruits and vegetables. I have to admit that I had not given it much thought until I decided I was going to eat an apple everyday. Of course Google was stalking me and I started seeing a lot of articles about the pesticides on my apples. I decided I would do a little research.

I found out that my love for Granny Smith apples came with a price. Turns out for me to get that glossy green color I would be ingesting a high amount of pesticides every time I bit my apple. The apples are sprayed to preserve the color and work as pest control. The pesticides adheres to the skin and then leaks into the core. Not only am I getting all the outside pesticides, but now they are inside my apple as well so washing the apple is not very effective. Research shows that these pesticides are harmful to the brain, nervous system, and due to toxicity may cause cancer, hormone disruption, as well as skin/eye/lung irritations. This is just the tip of the iceberg for apples.

So in a nutshell I bought organic apples for my second week.

I’m going to be honest, the color threw me off. Not only were they not glossy green, but some were even a yellowish color. I also had to ignore that some had brown spots. What organic was translating to me was funny colored apples. I figured if I was giving up on color I would get it back in taste. I wish I could lie to you and tell you the apple was amazing. They were not. They were not worse than other apples but it was not better. I’m going to chalk that up to apples being out of season.

When I grow stuff in the garden it’s amazing. The flavors are some of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I thought organic would translate to be the same. Nope. Now for transparency I got these apples at Walmart and they were only $1 more than non organic apples. Next week I’m going to try apples at Whole Foods and Kroger and give you an update. I need to give a fair assessment.

So what is my verdict? I’m going organic for the apples. That $1 more is not worth the risk of the pesticides for me. I also might go organic for other fruits and veggies as well. If I’m making one change I might as well make some more. With all my other issues I can’t worry about pesticides.

Now I am not telling you all to make the switch and I’m not saying your apples are bad. What I’m saying is if you can’t grow it yourself make sure you are eating the best foods possible. I am also saying eat what you can afford. Don’t feel bad for eating a regular apple instead of organic. That’s better than eating that candy bar you’ve been eyeing in the checkouts. We are all still learning how to navigate this world. Don’t beat yourself up about an apple.m

Stock pictures to show the color difference. My apples were not even this green.