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Monday, January 10, 2011

Greetings from Gaia's Garden

Garden Greetings,
Where does time go?  It seems like it was just yesterday when I sent out the December newsletter.  I have had family in for the holidays and I have lost all track of time.  It was great to see the grandkids again … I’m liking the ability to visit them whenever I feel I need to and not worry about someone watching the shop, etc. The gardens at home are still a mess but we are slowly working on each area.  We are in the process of getting the pond liner in the ground so that we can determine where we will put the gazebo so we can install the pavers.  I am excited about my vision … it’s the hard work that I dread a little bit BUT it’s soooo worth it!  Still planning on Spring to provide garden tours and classes.
I just got a care package from our foreign exchange student we had last year … it’s all sorts of candy … licorice, Milka chocolate, and gummy animals.  What I love about European sweets is that they are made with actual S-U-G-A-R and not high-fructose corn syrup, which isn’t all that great because it’s cane sugar, but so much better than corn sweetner. If you are concerned with where your food comes from and what may be in it Gaia’s Natural Foods (GNF) provides the health-conscious consumer safe, beneficial, and healthy foods grown locally. MEMBERSHIP is OPEN!  We have a plethora of offerings … pastured eggs (chicken and duck), dairy products (dairy and goat), grass-fed, free-range meats (beef, lamb, pork, and goat), pastured poultry (chicken and turkey), and local honey.  We have access to organic bulk goods, natural household cleaners and personal care items as well. We continue to make local farm visits to keep the bounty coming. Membership is $50.00 per year to enjoy wholesale pricing on GNF’s offerings. Why settle for a preselected box when you can custom order the products you love.
I’m getting the knack of preparing different recipes with our local produce, to the point that I am pondering the idea of writing a local foods cookbook with tidbits of information on sustainable living along with recipes. I was standing in the kitchen with a pile of turnip and rutabaga roots wondering what I could make to take to our monthly local foods potluck and movie (2nd Tuesday of the month at Fountain Square in FWB). So I thought, “Well people substitute turnips for potatoes when mashing.” so they should taste good in a milk base of some sort. Then my little brain thought why don’t I make a milk roux (gravy) and make them like scalloped potatoes but use the turnip and rutabaga instead.  I got busy making the dish and took it to my meeting.  It could go either way - they’d totally hate it and I wouldn’t ever make it again or they’d like it. To my delight, they were such a hit I brought an empty dish home!  Another time I sat with leftover turkey from the roasted pastured turkey we had when the kids where here and fresh goat cheese. Again my little brain thought to brown the turkey in a butter garlic sauce and serve over spinach fettuccini – delicious!  I plan on making it for this month’s local foods potluck on Tuesday!  Along with some mustard greens that I have learned I like as long as the leaves are torn/cut up well. So I’m experimenting and experiencing the ultimate in local food cooking from canning and freezing while there is abundance to growing seasonal crops myself to making up dishes with what is available in our area.
As I’ve written before, we have closed our physical store location … BUT hope to entice you to our online store for your shopping needs … we offer an eclectic mix of items that will surprise you!  We have many ordinary and not so ordinary gift items for the gardener as well as non-gardeners alike.  Be sure to bookmark our website: www.gaiasgarden-n-gallery.com and check back often as we are revamping it to make it more informative, easier to shop, and have better access to up- to-date information on issues we feel are very important to us and our planet.  
January Gardening Tips*:
DECIDUOUS FRUITS.  Blueberries Need Acidic Soil: Of all the fruit plants, only one has to have a very acidic soil. Have your soil tested if you are planning to grow blueberries. If it’s not in the 4.5 to 5.2 pH range you may not be able to grow this crop. Soil test kits are available in our online so that you can check your soil pH on your own.  If you’d rather we also have soil test kits that can be mailed off to UF, for a small fee, for a complete soil analysis and recommendation for your planting area.
*  Adjust the soil pH to the acid level with soil sulfur as recommended by the soil test.
*  Spread the sulfur over the soil and till it in 4 to 6 inches. The sulfur takes several months to make the pH change, but the blueberries can be planted while it adjusts the acidity.
*  Have the soil pH-tested in 3 or 4 months. If needed, reapply the sulfur.
*  Use an acid-loving fertilizer to help keep the soil acid. There are often sold as azalea-camellia fertilizers.
Some soils have the ability to resist pH change. These may not be good blueberry areas.
HERBS & VEGETABLES. Quick Cold Protection: Most cool season vegetables are tolerant to frost and light freezes, but what to do when heavy freezes are forecast? What about warm season crops that are still producing? A little protection may be all that is needed. Below are some ways to save your plantings.
*  Cover rows with newspaper then add a layer of plastic.
*  Spread sheets or blankets over the crops. They have to touch the ground to be effective.
*  Break open a bale of have and scatter it over the crops to keep out the cold.
*  Turn off all water. Irrigation is used by professionals, but home gardeners cannot provide enough water uniformly over plants to take advantage of this technique.
*  Build a tent over especially cold sensitive plants and add outdoor approved electric light as a heat source.
CITRUSQuick Control of Winter Damage: Home gardeners are much luckier than grove owners. They can wait until the cold warnings are sounded to protect their trees from possible freezes. Most citrus trees are quite cold tolerant until temperatures drop into the upper 20s Fahrenheit. Then some protection is needed. Only lemons and limes will need protection when temperatures are expected to drop to 30 degrees. Just a mound of soil may be all that is needed to protect the budded area of the tree and lower trunk. The soil provides insulation that prevents the cold from reaching the trunk.
*  Use any available soil in the landscape.
*  Form a foot high or higher mound around the base of the tree.
*  Create the mound a day or two before the cold if possible.
*  Leave the mound in place until all threats of cold are over.
Unfortunately, mounds of soil do not protect the upper portions of the tree. Any part of the tree could be damaged.  But if you protect the base where the graft union is located, a damaged tree can regrow limbs of the desirable variety so you won’t have to plant another tree.
*Taken from Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida.
January Green Ideas:
CARS – When buying a new car, make sure that it’s better for the environment than the last one. And even ask yourself whether you need a new car at all.
     CHOOSE THE SMALLEST CAR AND ENGINE – that will meet your everyday needs. Look for the car with lowest emissions in your chosen category, and save money on both fuel and tax.
     BUY AN ELECTRIC CAR – If you charge it from a renewable electricity supply, it will produce 97% fewer emissions that a gas-powered counterpart. Small electric cars average the equivalent of 600 mpg, but their battery technology limits the range to around 50 miles with today’s ability. 
     BEST OF BOTH WORLDS – Try a hybrid car for a balance between efficiency and range. Hybrids are powered by an electric battery at low speeds and gas at higher speeds. The battery is recharged using the kinetic energy produced when you apply the brakes or travel downhill.
     WHATEVER CAR YOU CHOOSE – make a pledge to use it less and share it more.
     THE LEASE BAD OPTION – Strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as a “green car” – even the most efficient model takes a great deal of resources and energy to make and requires an environmentally damaging infrastructure of roads and parking lots. The Norwegian government feels so strongly about this that they have banned advertisements that focus on cars’ green credentials, pointing out that “cars cannot do anything good for the environment except less damage than others.”
Did you know?
  • Minimize add-ons such as global positioning systems (GPS) – they can add to your car’s weight and/or sap its battery, both of which lead to reduced fuel efficiency.
  • You can save a ton of CO2 every year if your new car is just 2 mpg gallon more efficient than your current one.
  • Large SUVs take 50% more energy to manufacture and produce around 80% more CO2 per mile than the average car.
  • Choose a model with manual transmission if you follow the principles of eco-driving, manual models tend to be more fuel efficient than automatics.
  • A stop-start system, which switches off your car’s engine whenever you stop and uses electricity from the battery to move forward again, can increase mpg by up to 15%.
  • Hybrid and electric cars attract income tax breaks in the US and are exempt from the congestion charge in London.
*Taken from Yarrow, Joanna (2008). How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. Duncan Baird Publishers: London
Happy Gardening!
Gaia's Garden'n Gallery & Gaia’s Natural Foods
125 Scottsdale Court * Mary Esther FL 32569
850.863.4040 PH & FAX

www.gaiasgarden-n-gallery.com * info@gaiasgarden-n-gallery.com
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