review of The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, Carol Deppe's new book

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening

Carol Deppe has a new book out. Readers of my blog will know I really like her stuff as discussed in my corn post, but I'm not sure if you know why.

It's not just that she provides a lot of practical information not provided elsewhere. All the books on my gardening shelf have that distinction, which is why they were purchased as opposed to the scores I just borrowed from the library and returned. There's only about 5-6 of them there frankly.

Carol's books are not on my shelf; Carol's books are on my Kindle, and besides my Kindle itself, I have a Kindle app on my phone. Carol's books are with me in the garden so I can look stuff up right when I need it.

But again, it's not just the wealth of information she provides. A lot of it is just... her.

starting seeds

seed starting kit

This is the type of seed starting system I use, where each tray can hold 12 6-packs or a total of 72 plants.

Following is my description of how I start seeds, posted several years ago on Facebook. This year, there will be several changes though.

First, I ordered onion plants rather than starting my own seeds. This is because I really should start seeds in December to have decent-sized seedlings to transplant in March. This year, I did not get my manure together with regards to my planning until mid-January.

Second, reading Carol Deppe's newest book (review coming shortly), she made the point that coddling seeds with sterile soil is basically selecting for plants that can't stand a few stray bacteria. So I'm going to skip baking the manure, which was never pleasant anyways; it's VERY difficult to talk me into something I didn't want to do anyways. ;)

(Aside, one day hubby came home and looked at a tray of manure cooling on the counter and in a smart-ass manner, asked me if that was dinner. I replied that if he couldn't tell the difference between that and the meatloaf in the oven, my cooking chores would be a LOT easier in the future).

On to my seed-starting system...

why a tiny house

a tiny house

A few years back, I decided I wanted to build a tiny house. A few months after I decided, my husband got on board also. ;)

It's easier to tell people today as there's all these TV shows and whatnot, so nearly everyone knows what a tiny house is. I don't have to start by explaining that.

But I still get the question all the time about why not just buy an RV?

My answer is not necessarily applicable to anyone else, but honestly I did consider an RV first.

vintage post - hunger in America

Red & Honey logo

I prefer real food, especially nutrient-dense meat and dairy products and organic produce, eschewing "empty calories" from grains and sugar.

Meanwhile one in six people in the US are hungry. I mean, actually hungry. I mean, they would be quite happy to eat pesticide-laden crap filled with GMOs, white flour and sugar, chocolate produced by child slave labor, not because they prefer that, but because they're actually hungry.

For those of you who think it's because they waste money on other things, or don't cook from scratch, or just don't understand how important real food is, I have a vintage post for you.

posts for Pat: Flexible Meal Planning

You can plan and prepare balanced meals for your family

I can't know today if I will be able to make risotto next week. Risotto involves standing at the stove stirring constantly for 30-40 minutes or so. And it's not good as leftovers, you have to make it when you are going to eat it to get that decadent creaminess.

So... I never plan for risotto. I have broth made, always. I usually have rice, Parmesan and butter on hand. I often have precooked beans and sometimes have precooked meat in my freezer. So... if it's the end of the day and I feel pretty energetic, I might make a risotto.

But I can't ever count on it, which is why I don't like the whole idea of a specific meal plan. Around here, risotto just happens... or it doesn't!

garden planning

my raised bed garden

The picture shows my raised bed. Steve built this for me several years back when I was much more disabled than I am now. It is 4 x 24 ft long. Because I also didn't have the energy to dig soil to fill it, the bottom half was filled with logs ala hegelkultur. Then we added a couple bales of straw to give it a flat floor on top of the logs. Finally, we filled it with a mixture of about 1/3rd each vermiculite, peat moss and compost. The net on the north side is for growing peas and beans on the outside; when it was all I had, I grew tomatoes on the inside. I have a little seat, a piece of wood with foam rubber nailed on, to use to sit on the cinder block walls and garden from a sitting position.

Growing vegetables very close together is a feature of Square Foot Gardening or Biointensive Gardening. To do so, you need lots of fertility, hence the soil mix that is 1/3 compost. It works well if you have little space, or if you're disabled like I was. In my opinion, gardening beats not gardening, even if all you have is a raised bed or even containers.

However, my disability progressed to the point where it was easier to do stuff from a standing position rather than having to get up and move repeatedly. So we tilled up a big chunk of yard last year.

how to cook fluffy rice & fried rice recipe

Jasmine rice

There's several tricks to making good fried rice. First, you really need to start from cold rice. For me, if I plan to make fried rice for dinner tomorrow, I cook the rice while fixing dinner tonight so it will be thoroughly chilled.

The other trick is that the rice must not be sticky. You can use sticky rice in lots of recipes, bu it doesn't fry well. The tricks to making it fluffy instead of sticky include rinsing the loose starch off the rice, soaking it if it's old, using less water than usual and letting the rice rest.

raw milk vs. commodity milk - a third choice?

what type of milk?

I need to address some things about raw milk.

I'm not going to start with all the pros and cons. You can click those links to read if you like and use your own brain to come to your own conclusions.

The thing no one seems to consider is that there's a third choice between pastured, raw milk and commodity milk: high-quality milk that's been minimally processed.

Cynthia Anne - RIP


As noted in my last post, I kind of fell off the blogosphere due to my daughter's death. I'm coming back first with a post about her, then on to other topics.

For those of you who knew her, her Facebook page is located at Cynthia Anne; some friends and family are posting anecdotes and pictures.

I've been posting to Facebook every couple weeks or so about her. Likely, a few folks have found me depressing and stopped following me. But several have said they have found my postings useful, so I decided to gather them here so they'd not be lost.

This post is quite long. It will get longer as I continue to deal with her death. I don't want the blog to become a grief blog, but do want to keep this all somewhere. So if you want to follow along, you'll need to bookmark this page or friend me on Facebook.