Tag: winning

May Gardening Post 2

Let’s talk about collard greens.

Growing up I didn’t like them. I didn’t like any vegetables. When I got in my 30’s I tried them again and fell in love. I remember when I was little I would just eat the ham or bacon out of the greens. Now I actually enjoy them. That was what encouraged me to make them a staple in my garden.

This year I planted the following varieties: Champion, Miss Annie Pearl, Vates, Georgia Southern, Flash, and Top Bunch. All were very good options and taste great. Top Bunch, Flash, and Champion are my favorites.

Because I’m silly and wanted to show scale. All my leaves were this large.

All the varieties resembles these except Georgia Southern. Their leaves have curled edges and what you are most likely to find in your grocery store.

So how did I grow them? You thought potatoes were easy.

I started from seed. I got my seeds from a variety of seed catalogs, but you can get Georgia Southern at any local store that sells seeds.

I started indoors and after I got two sets of leaves I took them outside to garden them off.

I replanted from a six cell tray to a small pot and kept them inside of my plastic totes.

After they were hardened off I had to make tough decisions. I told myself I would only keep two of each variety this year so the other four had to go. They either went to the neighbors or compost.

I repotted them in a five gallon bucket or pot with 1/3 soil, 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite. I then added a scoop of worm castings and a scoop of slow release fertilizer. Dug a hole and planted. Watered in the plant.

Collard greens do not like a lot of sun. If you can get them in partial sun or even shade they will thrive. We received so much rain in May I didn’t need to do much.

I transplanted them on 4/14 and could have probably picked them last week 5/20 but I wasn’t ready to eat them. That extra 10 days made them huge.

I harvested 75 leaves from all the various varieties. I gave half to my father in law.

FYI- collards are cut and come again. Cut the outer leaves and leave the center. This will give you two harvest.

If you didn’t plant collards I would wait until the fall, unless you have a nice shaded area. I find once the temperature remains in the 80’s my greens begin to look sad.

Next week look for my favorite collard green recipe. If you have one please share and I will post that.

And if you haven’t started, there is still time. Let’s Grow Some Stuff

Pots and Buckets

May Gardening Part 1

Outside of some very strong winds damaging a few plants I have been killing it on the gardening front.

I was a little scared about getting things in pots early because of Ohio’s notorious late frost, but I have to say I’m very pleased thus far.

Earlier this week I harvested some spring onions and spinach. My father in law cooked it same day and loved it. I was beaming because if you all remember last year I failed at spinach.

My secret this year was to plant the seeds early. I planted them in early March. I watched the snow fall on the plants and stared at the sad dirt pile for weeks. I thought there was no way this was going to grow. I was wrong.

I have been able to harvest six large gallon zip lock bags full of spinach. Last year I didn’t get not one leaf. I’m hoping this will be one of my best seasons yet.

Stay tuned for more updates

Planted thus far- cabbage, collards, spinach, peas, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and potatoes.

Sorry no pictures of the spinach. I forgot to take pictures before I cut it.

Tiara Cabbage
Red Kalibas. Not container friendly I’ve learned

Month 4 Wk3 Yr2

“You never know what someone else is going through” – Unknown

Not sure if I mentioned it but we did a girls trip a few weeks ago. As part of the trip we dropped by and visited my good friends niece who attends an art college.

I walked through their school in awe. As part of their classes they display their work all over the school. The students have small studio spaces where they keep supplies and various art in different stages of completion.

To say these student were talented would be an understatement. The talent of that small space made me again have hope for the generations after me.

Their artwork said something. The messages were powerful on so many levels. You could see pain, joy, loss, wonder, and every emotion in between.

On a wall in a loft space I saw the picture posted below. If you read any of these lines on their own you don’t get the message. Reading “I am nobody” makes you feel sad that someone doesn’t feel worthy. If you read “Nobody is perfect” you feel an excuse is being made. Reading “Therefore I am perfect” makes you think their is some arrogance from the speaker. Only when all put together do you see the heart of the message. “I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefor I am perfect”.

We are all like this message. Taking one segment of our lives out of context gives the wrong impression of who we are. I am not just African American, nor am I just a wife, mother, daughter, or friend. I am not just an employee, a student , or a person who fights depression and weight loss. I am all of these things and when put together they make up who I am.

This week I didn’t fight who I was nor did I try to change me. I loved me, all of me for exactly who I am. Until we learn to love ourselves as we are, we will never love ourselves once we turn into who we are trying to be. Yes you can read that last sentence again.

This week honor yourself. Be grateful for all that you have and hopeful for what’s to come. I am turning the corner on this journey and loving every step. Yea sometimes I’m stepping in dog poo or mud, that’s life. Learning that dog poo and mud can be washed away is where I am now. My anxiety can be washed away when I choose to focus on the good.

Current weight 279. No loss, and no gain. Well I gained a lot of insight. when I figure this out I’m coming out swinging and everybody better be ready.

Bonus – Mint Growing Guide

“It is the destiny of mint to be crushed” – Waverly Root

When I started my garden I had no intention on growing herbs. I had nothing against them I was just so new to gardening I didn’t want to chance messing it up. My father in law changed all that.

My father in law told me that he liked having a cup of mint tea everyday. He said he was not having it as often because mint was expensive. He then asked me if I could grow it?

“Of course” was my answer. You will soon learn this is how I started growing almost everything. It makes my father in law happy thus making me happy. Unicorn Crossing is referred to by my father in law as “our garden”. That always makes me smile. Moving on…

So in my normal fashion I set out to learn how to grow mint and this is what I learned.

1. Buy a mint plant. Mint can be grown from seed but why bother. A plant cost about $3 and it will last years. Not only do you get instant mint but it spreads like crazy so you will always have fresh mint.

2. Try new flavors. I didn’t realize how many different types of mint there were and they all taste great. In my garden I grow spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, mojito mint, and pineapple mint.

2. Put mint in a container. As I stated mint grows like crazy and takes over everything. If you put this in your garden you will grow nothing but mint. I’m sure that is not your goal. Simply fill your container halfway with soil, drop your plant in, and cover with soil. I would select at least a one gallon pot or larger. It depends on how much mint you would like.

3. Prune mint often. Cut longer shoots leaving about two inches from the stem. Don’t worry, it will grow back with a vengeance.

4. At the end of the season cut your mint plant back to one inch. Cover the plant with mulch or soil. The plant will survive the winter. I put all my plants in my garage over the winter.

5. Do not fertilize or even care for mint. This is one of those plants that actually like being neglected. Just makes sure it gets water if it’s looking a little sad. If it dries out don’t worry. Add water and it will bounce back.

Note – you can do this with the following herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, oregano, parsley, basil, lavender, coriander, lemon balm, tarragon, catnip, dill, fennel, sorrel, chervil, bay, German chamomile, winter savory, and meadowsweet.

So put all these herbs in pots. Store them in your garage and they will provide you with herbs year after year with one sowing.

Before pruning m. I just let it over winter.
After I cut back on the madness. Look at that growth. FYI- next year I will have to either go up a pot size or split up the plant. Notice all the stems. I probably should do it this year but I’m being lazy.

Month 3 Wk4 Yr2 – Black People Don’t Get Depressed

“I do have anxiety, and it is part of my experience” – Lizzo

I remember when I was younger I use to hear my grandmother and aunts talk about nerve pills. They talked about them as casually as you talk about Tylenol. No one even batted and eye. What I learned by these actions was taking nerve pills was ok because everyone did it. They did it because people got on their nerves.

When I got older and started to suffer from what I now know is depression and anxiety I mentioned this to a few members of my family. I was trying to be perfect at everything. I would get extremely sad for no reason, or I would sleep for two days. What my family told me was that “I was working myself too hard”, or “I would get through this”. Not once did anyone even utter the words depression or anxiety, so I kept waiting to get through whatever “this” was. They also did not mention these famous nerve pills which I wish they had because they were getting on my nerves.

In college it got worse when my mood would swing suddenly. I was always sad. Everyone around me kept saying they were normal but I just felt off. I saw my first counselor in college and was diagnosed with depression.

When I went home to tell my family I was quickly told “Black people dont get depressed”.

If I wasn’t a mess before I was certainly a mess now. It was a white lady who told me I was depressed so maybe she was wrong. I was struggling with identity issues in high school and college so again maybe they were wrong. My first real boyfriend told me I was a “white girl trapped in a black girls body” so maybe I was displaying this white girl disease. I had no idea what to believe, so I ignored it.

Guess what happened? It got worse and a few years later I eventually broke. It’s been 17 years since the break and while each day gets easier it does come with its challenges.

Let me tell you some of the things I’ve learned and hopefully they help some of you, while continuing to help me.

I had to learn that problems are going to happen daily. I just have to learn to deal with them. That was the easy part. My problem is, in my mind I’m trying to solve a million problems at the same time. My mind eventually gets pissed and shuts down then decides to take my body with it. The solution is recognizing what’s happening and slowing down.

I also learned that no one person is responsible for my issues nor can they solve my issues. YOU DO NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE. Stop trying to fix stuff yourself. Obviously your brain can’t fix this issue so let someone help you. Only you can finally solve your issues, but there are people who can help you along the way.

The last thing I learned was that Black people DO get depressed. Depression has no color. Depression doesn’t care about who you think you are, or how strong you believe you are. Depression basically says “Fuck your feelings”. Depression is that beast that just doesn’t go away and likes to rear its ugly head from time to time.

I’ve yet to meet a person who has beat depression. What we like to say is “My story is not over;” That is the most important thing.

Let me be clear. We are all placed here for a reason. You may not know that reason, but there is a reason. It is not your place to remove yourself from this world and rob someone of your joy. I’ve gone on to be the mother of two wonderful children. I have a husband who loves me. I have lifelong friends and I have coworkers who are amazing. Guess what? They all get on my nerves and that’s ok.

If you are Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, yellow, green, blue, pink, or teal, you can get depressed and that is ok. There is nothing wrong with you are you are here for a reason. You are amazing and believe me someone loves you.

As this month comes to a close and I evaluate my mental health I’m 100% in a better place than when I started. I realize that I needed to take this break and take care of myself and that is ok. Maybe I was just reacting late to the Winter Blues but I’m ok.

Oh and let me say I’m never embarrassed or ashamed of talking about my mental health. If you have questions ask me. Hiding and pretending like I’m ok is what got me here. I refuse to go back to that place. I’m going to continue to love myself and grow into the person I’m meant to be.

This tattoo hurt worse than any other I have, but the meaning is so strong it was 100% worth every year.

March Gardening Part 3 – Container Gardening Under $100

I realize today as I was going through my notes that the first year I decided to garden I spent over $500. I then spent over $500 the second year and would have spent more if I had not start writing down what I’d spent.

This can be a bit much.

This got me to thinking about people who are just starting out. How can you garden for under $100 without doing any of those tricks that you see on YouTube. I have no intention of seed starting in yogurt cups or egg cartons. I also have no intention on taking old items and turning those into planters. Don’t get me wrong, you can do all those things and save money. I’m just going to be honest and tell you I’m not doing any of that.

So how can people like me start a garden on a budget. Basically people who want function mixed with a little bit of fashion. Here is my must do list to get started. By the way I will be rounding up since I don’t know the tax in your area.

  1. Containers – I recommend 5 gallon buckets. I have seen the price increase but I’m going to tell you the best value for me was Walmart. Not only did they have a lot of buckets but they had a variety of colors. In my garden I have Black, White, Green, and Blue. Cost for one bucket is $3. I would recommend at least 5 buckets to get started so your total investment cost is $15. (You can also buy planters. Make sure they are at least five gallon planters). Some stores may have some on clearance as they make room for this years styles.
  2. Soil – You need a good quality potting mix. You might get a cheap bucket, but do not get cheap soil. I recommend Miracle Grow Potting Mix. This cost around $15 a bag. You will need three bags for a cost of $45. These three bags will not fill all your buckets, but will fill the tops of your buckets where most of the roots will be. You can fill the bottom half of your bucket with the bag your soil came in, leaves, dirt from your yard, branches, or a smaller pot. You might ask why I told you to get five gallon buckets if they are so hard to fill. I actually use them to store my soil from year to year. These buckets become very versatile and dirt ain’t cheap.
  3. Watering Can – You can get a good watering can for $5. If you find one cheaper use the extra money to buy more seeds. This is not a necessity but after you have lugged water back and forth you will thank me. If you have a water hose that you would rather use take that $5 and buy a water wand attachment for your hose. You need water to sprinkling on your plants, not blast them.
  4. Seeds – You should now have $30 left to buy seeds. Seeds vary in price but you dont need to break the bank. You can get seed packs at the dollar store, home improvement stores, or even Walmart and Target. The price of seeds depends on what you want to plant. On average seeds are running $3 a pack this year. Realize you can plant multiple plants in a one bucket. Lettuce can be planted with onions. A tomato plant can be planted with basil. Research companion planting.
  5. Journal – Take $1 and go to the dollar stores and buy a journal or notebook. You need to keep notes. Believe me this will help you next year. If you are tech savvy put it on your phone, but I like paper so I write everything down.

The total is around $96. This is 100% all you need to grow stuff. You don’t need to start out with amendments or fertilizers. There is no need to break the bank if you just want to dabble in gardening to see if this is something you will enjoy. I’m sure you can do this cheaper but I believe these are the basics.

I also suggest a lot of books in my blogs. You don’t need these. Google is free. The internet is packed with information but I will tell you for me it got overwhelming. After you decide what you are going to plant go from there and everything else is easy.

I will make this last point. You are going to hear “plant what you like to eat”. I don’t even like many vegetables but I love gardening. Don’t plant what you like to eat. Plant something that someone will eat. I garden for therapy not to eat stuff. If you are laughing because my garden is large, realize I need a lot of therapy.

They even have yellow buckets now.
Do Not Buy Cheap Soil
Basic watering can.

Let’s Grow Some Stuff

March Gardening Part 2 – Containers

If you recall I told everyone that I garden in containers. I told you in the last post why I love containers, but I feel like I also have to be honest. I have to tell you why you may not want to use containers. It’s up to you to make the best choice for your garden. So here are a few reasons you may not want to use containers.

1. Upfront cost- gardening can get pretty expensive and container gardening is no different. There are upfront cost such as the containers, container soil, and amendments. Gardening in containers takes a little bit more prep work than traditional gardening and honestly the cost turns some people away.

2. Choosing a container- when you container garden you have to make sure your pot can hold your full size plant. That cute one gallon pot is nice until you grow cabbage the size of your head.

3. More watering- you have to water containers more often depending on what you use. I like fabric pots and that great feature to air wick roots is the same feature that makes you need to water more often.

4. Pot Prep – you always have to make sure your pots have drainage holes. You also want to make sure the holes are large enough to create enough drainage. Water logged roots mean the death of your plant.

5. Containers are heavy – I know I told you that you can move containers, but sometimes their heavy. I use ten gallon grow bags for potatoes and once they’re set, they’re set. Those bags are heavy enough to throw my back out.

6. Too much water and too many amendments- just like I said you have to water and add amendments. You can also add too much. Without excess dirt to absorb your mistake you might slowly kill your plant. This is a very delicate mix.

7. No natural bugs – although I don’t like worms they are great for your garden. Their poop or “casting” are great natural nutrients. Guess what? Worms can’t climb in pots so you lose that.

8. Fear – people are scared to garden in containers. Gardening is hard enough and now we are adding all these rules. You would rather start simple with that plot of dirt in your yard.

Like I said container gardening or traditional gardening is up to you. Always do what works best. For me I’ve grown into this method and I really enjoy it. I do have challenges from time to time, but it’s just seeds and I can always grow more. Take time to explore. There is no wrong way to garden. You will be surprised at what you are able to grow.

Container Peas and Spinach. Next week I will tell you about seeds you can get in the ground or pot early. These are five gallon grow bags.

Month 2 Wk4 Yr2

“Trying to manage diabetes is hard because if you don’t, there are consequences you’ll have to deal with later in life” Bryan Adams

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but I’m pre-diabetic. I was diagnosed two years ago and since then I’ve struggled on and off to make the best choices to combat this. Honestly one of the reasons I decided to go on the weight loss journey was because of the threat of diabetes.

This week it hit home harder than I wanted. My husband is diabetic and was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. This meant he needed to not only have laser treatments and eye injections, but also eye surgery. Ok I’m going to be honest with you all. That scared the sh$t out of me.

I’m not going to tell you all his business but just know he’s had diabetes for years and only in the last few years has begun to actively take care of it. I don’t want to get to that point.

I don’t want to have eye issues. I don’t want to possibly lose my limbs. I don’t want injections of insulin daily. I don’t want medication on top of medication to control a disease that I caused myself.

And while I don’t want any of that I find myself often not doing anything to stop it.

This week though with his surgery, I was shook.

Something has to click inside of you to do better. I haven’t clicked yet. I’ve turned the corner a little since I’m not binging on foods or stuffing myself silly. I’m drinking more water and actually eating some vegetables, but I haven’t clicked. For me clicking is constantly doing better. It’s me not thinking about eating well, but instead just eating well.

I haven’t given up on the click but I sure will be glad when I find it.

February Start Weight 270

February Ending Weight 267. Three pounds gone.

20 in 20.

Only four days but slow progress is better than no progress.

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.