April 29, 2010 § Leave a Comment
How is it Thursday already? I’ve had one of those ridiculous weeks that goes by too quickly and yet nothing was accomplished. It’s all due to being away from home last weekend. We were down in CT visiting friends and family Saturday through Monday. I spent Saturday with my girlfriends, sipping vino and talking trash. On Sunday, I attended a great fiction writing workshop led by Amy Bloom at RJ Julia. (The best little bookshop in Connecticut. And maybe the whole world. I love it there. It feels like my home away from home, honestly. I’m such a bookworm.)
The workshop was great in part because it was so small–about 20 people max.–and also because Amy was so nice and willing to answer any question we threw at her regarding her writing practice. The two bits of advice she tossed out that I grabbed on to were: 1. write as if everyone you know is dead, and 2. don’t use adverbs. I don’t know if those little nuggets mean anything to you, but they were like a slap in the forehead to me. She of course gave much more good advice, but those two tips made an impact on me. I’ve been wanting to write a novel since I was, I don’t even know, since I was able to write, I guess. My first story, when I was maybe 10 years old, was about Charlie Farnkley, and my mother thought it was hilarious. I can’t even remember the story, but it was rare in those days that I made my mom laugh, what with being an evil devil child and all, so the fact that she thought my story was funny is memorable. So, yes, I want to write a novel. One more thing to add to my to-do list. It follows “clean the bathrooms” and “fold the laundry.”
On Monday, Peter and I visited with one of my very oldest friends. (When I say “oldest” I don’t mean she’s 101, I mean I’ve known her since I was 7.) I finally met her 3 1/2-year-old daughter. It’s really a crime that that much time can go by without us getting together. Especially considering that we used to spend nearly every day together. People in the neighborhood called us “Mutt and Jeff.” Which didn’t make sense because we were nearly the same height. And we’re girls. But whatever, that’s what they called us. A few years later they called us “troublemakers,” but there’s no need to rehash all that. It was nice catching up with her, and Peter had a fun time playing with her daughter. He has since named all of his toys after her and has been asking if he can call her on the phone.
So, we returned to MA late Monday afternoon. And that’s the last thing I remember. Now it’s Thursday. I haven’t cooked any new recipes. I didn’t even go to the grocery store until today, so whatever we ate earlier this week was pulled together from last week’s scraps. Last night we had Moe’s for dinner. It’s Peter’s favorite restaurant. I always get the Art Vandalay with black beans.
I have no relevent pictures to post.
My car is in the shop undergoing $2K worth of repairs.
My fabulous in-laws are coming up to visit this weekend, which explains why writing my novel falls after cleaning the bathrooms and folding laundry. Seriously, we’re looking forward to seeing them and it’s supposed to be a nice, warm, sunshine-y weekend, which is just like icing on the cupcake.
I hope to regain my footing here this weekend and return next week with some useful posts. Any suggestions for posts? Questions you need answered? Drop me a line in the comments or purewellnessamy at gmail dot com.
April 23, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I just wanted to take a moment to clarify the purpose of my daily food postings. I realized this morning that you may be asking yourself “Why in the hell does Amy think I care about what she and Peter eat each day?”
Well, the answer to that is: I don’t necessarily want you to care about what we’re eating, but I’m also not sharing just to share. Anyone who knows me knows that this sharing business is going against my nature since I’m a pretty private and introverted person. What I’m trying to do is show how easy eating good, real, whole foods can be. I’m not a cook by nature. I’m not one of those people who retreat to the kitchen when they need to relax. I usually become enormously frustrated while cooking and end up drinking two glasses of wine instead of eating the dinner I made because I have no desire to eat it after trying to COOK it for an hour. Ugh. However, I am trying to enjoy cooking more by doing it more often. Practice makes perfect. And what I hope is coming across to you is that you don’t need to be a gourmet cook (or a millionaire) to eat well. You can take 10 minutes (and ~$5) to add sautéed greens to your eggs, or throw together a tomato sandwich with hummus and avocado. It’s all easy stuff that is made of good, real, whole (preferably organic) food.
Oh, and another important thing that I hope you’re noticing is that Peter eats nearly the same exact food as I do. I rarely, if ever, heat up ”kids’ food” for him, such as dinosaur-shaped chicken part thingys. He is a kid, yes, but first and foremost he is a person and, therefore, I feed him person food.
And the pictures? Well, that’s just a blogging requirement. It’s like rule number 2 of the “how to write a good blog post handbook.” (Rule number one is to keep the paragraphs small (ooops. I’m still working on that one)). What I need to do is break out my good camera and take some artfully arranged, well-lit pictures. I will attempt to do that. I actually read quite a few blogs where the person chronicles every single thing he or she eats during the day–un-artful pictures and all. And you know what? I like it. I find myself returning to their sites every couple of days to catch up and learn about new food and food combinations.
So that’s my answer. If you have suggestions for blog posts or questions you’d like to have answered, please feel free to contact me. I’d love for this to become a little healthy and happy community.
Oh, and here’s a totally unrelated picture. I’m just putting it here to make this a “good” blog post
P.S. The final episode of Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” is on ABC tonight at 9:00 pm EST
April 23, 2010 § 1 Comment
Happy Earth Day! Did you give any thought today to how you can help make the Earth a better place?
Do you already bring cloth bags with you when you go shopping? (And not just grocery shopping. Did you know that Target takes $.05 off your bill for every reusable bag you use? True dat–at least at the Target I frequent. Frequently. Also, my grocery store has a weekly drawing for those who bring in reusable bags. The prize? A $25 gift card. [I haven't won yet, damn it!]).
Do you already recycle?
Do you try to buy organic and, even better, local produce and meat?
Do you turn off your computer when you’re not using it?
Have you installed energy-efficient lightbulbs in your house?
Do you not litter?
Do you compost?
Do you grow your own vegetables and/or herbs? (Don’t let city life or a small living space stop you.)
The list of little things you can do each day to improve our environment is practically endless. I was referred to this website today: http://www.goinggreentoday.com/. According to the website, after you take 20 minutes to fill out a questionnaire they provide a ” 90-day plan to save [you] $2000 and 30,000 pounds in CO2 emissions annually.” I haven’t done the questionnaire yet, but I think I may check it out.
As I’ve seen on many Facebook and Twitter posts today: “Every day should be Earth Day.” And that’s so, so, so true.
So, now on to food. I haven’t written about smoothies lately, mainly because I’ve found a combo that I like and I’ve stuck to it. Here’s the scoop:
Blueberry Cherry Smoothie
4 kale leaves (or Swiss chard leaves)
handful or two of frozen blueberries
handful of frozen sweet cherries
1 banana (optional)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp. ground flax seed (I grind whole flax seeds in a coffee bean grinder)
1/2 c. water
Put in blender and blend it up. It’s really good and packed with nutrients.
I realized I haven’t mentioned lunches yet on the site. We do eat lunch. In fact, I prefer to eat big lunches and smaller dinners. Before I had a family I would eat big lunches and no dinners (or liquid dinners. Ahem.). So, today, Peter and I packed our lunches (in reusable containers) and met up with friends for a playdate. I made this big ole sangwich for myself:
Nestled between two pieces of sprouted grain bread were hummus, avocado, tomato, romaine lettuce and a slice of swiss cheese.
Peter had the same sandwich, but with an added piece of ham. As you may have guessed, I don’t eat meat. However, my husband does and we do offer meat to Peter. Usually just organic chicken and white fish, but we happened to have ham in the house, and he likes it, so I let him eat it. I was on the fence about raising him as a vegetarian and decided that it would be best to introduce him to meat–giving him only the best quality meat I can get my hands on–and later in life he can decide whether or not he wants to continue eating it. So that is that. We also packed red pepper slices, carrot sticks, whole grain Goldfish crackers, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. We ate very well and had a lot of fun hanging out with our friends.
I hope you had a great day, as well. One day to go until the weekend!
April 22, 2010 § Leave a Comment
If you haven’t seen it already you should watch it. If you have seen it, you should watch it again.
April 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I had planned to write about the dinner I made last night, but, well, it just didn’t turn out too good. I mean, it was edible, but it wasn’t anything to rave about. It sounded so promising, too: it called for artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, saffron, red peppers–all stuff I love–but together it was just blah, blah, blah. I had the leftovers for lunch today and they were blah, too. I thought maybe sitting overnight would improve the flavors. I done thought wrong.
Anyway, this morning’s breakfast was a success at least. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know I’m a fan of mix-ins (taking a healthy base, like eggs or oatmeal, and mixing in other healthy stuff to create a nutritious and delicious meal).
This morning I sautéed a bunch of Swiss chard in olive oil and minced garlic:
There’s proof of how much a whole bunch of chard wilts during cooking.
I then added scrambled eggs and freshly grated parmesan cheese (it’s not that hard to grate cheese– and it tastes so much better than that processed sawdust in a jar.)
I put my eggs on sprouted grain toast:
Put Peter’s on a plate:
And it was ultimately Peter approved:
(And, yes, we’re sitting on the living room floor eating off the coffee table. Don’t judge me. “Super Why” was on.)
So, anyway, this may not be the quickest breakfast for a weekday morning (although if you washed and chopped the greens the night before, throwing the eggs together in the morning wouldn’t take too much time. Once it’s all in the pan, it takes maybe 10 minutes to cook.) But, you could easily make it for a quick weeknight dinner or a weekend breakfast/brunch.
If you’re not digging the Swiss chard, you could always use spinach or broccoli. Or even peas.
The point is: you can take a tasty and nutritious egg breakfast and make it even tastier and more nutritious by adding , you know, stuff to it. Try it. I’d love to hear some other mix-in ideas.
Here’s a question: when you make scrambled eggs, do you use water or milk? My mom used milk, so I use milk. But, my husband’s parents use water, claiming it makes the eggs fluffier. I don’t know if I can tell the difference. Can you? What’s the consensus? Scrambled eggs made with milk or water?
April 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
Get your mind out of the gutter! I was lucky because the Peters cooked dinner for me:
They prepared a wonderful pasta dish which included sautéed zucchini and yellow squash, fresh dill, and goat cheese. One of my all time favorite combinations is squash with dill and goat cheese. Especially in the summer with zucchini fresh from the garden. It’s so good.
Since it was Pete’s dinner, he chose to use regular semolina pasta. That’s like a treat for me. I do love white pasta, but I usually cook fiber-filled whole wheat pasta. (Regular semolina pasta has 2 g of fiber per 2 oz. serving, while the whole wheat pasta has 6 g). He also bought a soft-as-a-down-pillow loaf of white Italian bread, the likes of which I don’t even look at in the grocery store. White bread? “No danks,” as my son would say. But, to be polite, I had a piece tonight. I couldn’t just leave all those globs of goat cheese and dill on the bottom of my bowl. That would’ve been so, so wrong. They were begging me to mop them up with that soft bread. So I did. And they were goooood.
So, there’s not a formal recipe that Pete follows for this dish (he is staunchly anti-recipe), but here are the main points:
extra virgin olive oil
squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash), sliced
fresh grated parmesan (optional)
crushed red pepper (optional)
1. Cook pasta of your choice until al dente. Drain.
2. Saute sliced onions in extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until they’re translucent, or even a little browned.
3. Add some chopped garlic (and maybe some crushed red pepper) to the onions and saute for about 30 seconds.
4. Add the sliced squash to onions and garlic and saute until they’re the texture you like (crispy v. soggy).
5. Turn off heat and mix in the fresh dill (as much or as little as you like).
6. In individual bowls, add the pasta & top with the squash & dill mixture. Add goat cheese and maybe a little grated parmesan on top.
This dish always gets 5 out of 5 squashes from me.
April 16, 2010 § 3 Comments
Well, the March 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times (VT) has not let me down this week. I made another great dinner tonight. However, just to warn you, it’s not a 30-minute meal. Especially if one has to keep bringing a certain two-year-old upstairs for time-out. (He was in rare form today, fo sho).
But anyyywaayyy, the recipe, Greens and Quinoa Pie, is actually included in an article entitled “Super Seder.” During Passover “most grains and, in some Jewish cultures, all beans and legumes” cannot be eaten. In addition, “the symbolic meal features meat (a roasted lamb shank bone is traditional on the seder plate),” which is obviously not ideal for a vegetarian. Hence, Myra Kornfeld put together a vegetarian seder menu that “highlights the bounty of spring.” This pie is the centerpiece of her menu. Check out pages 50-53 of VT for the accompanying dishes.
[Ok, so my husband just came home, made himself a dish, and is now saying "mmmm" and "this is amazing." He's now asking me to report that Berkshire Brewing Co.'s Coffeehouse Porter is a great complement to the dish. And now he just said that the pie "may be his new favorite." And now he's going back for seconds. This is riveting stuff right here. I bet it's almost as exciting as the blog updates he posted during my 30-hour labor.]
If you’re part of CSA or are growing your own greens, this recipe is a great way to use them.
Greens and Quinoa Pie*
Serves 6. Gluten free
Technically, quinoa is not a grain (it’s related to spinach and chard), so it’s perfect for Passover. Here, spring greens are wilted then mixed with quinoa and cheese for a golden-crusted savory pie.
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch chicory (1 to 1 1/4 lb.), cut into bite-sized pieces (bottom 1 1/2 inches of hard stems removed) (Note: I used 2 bunches of Swiss chard instead)
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 green onions, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably Greek (1 oz.)
1/4 cup grated aged goat cheese or Swiss cheese (1 oz.) (Note: I used Swiss)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Place quinoa in small saucepan, and toast over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost dry. Add 1 cup water and season with salt, if desired. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and transfer to large bowl.
2. Heat large pot over medium heat. Add chicory, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted, stirring frequently or tossing with tongs. Add romaine, and wilt 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer greens to strainer, and squeeze out excess moisture. Transfer to cutting board, and chop into small pieces. Stir greens into quinoa.
3. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, and saute 10 minutes, or until browned. Add cooked onions, green onions, dill, feta cheese, and goat cheese to quinoa mixture. Stir in eggs; season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4. Pour 1 Tbs. oil into 9-inch pie pan, and place in oven. Heat 5 minutes, or until oil is hot. Swirl oil to coat bottom of pan, then spread quinoa mixture in pan with spatula. Bake 20 minutes. Drizzle pie with remaining 1 Tbs. oil, and bake 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden brown.
Per slice: 233 cal.; 10 g prot.; 13 g total fat (4 g sat fat); 20 g carb; 115 mg chol.; 149 mg sod.; 7 g fiber; 4 g sugars
*Again, I copied the recipe verbatim from the March 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times, page 51.
I would say that this recipe gets 5 out of 5 “mmms.”
April 12, 2010 § 3 Comments
For me, comfort food usually contains hot, melted cheese: home-made macaroni and cheese, lasagna, pizza, cheddar melted on Triscuits (oooh, I haven’t had that in a while, mmmm). But last night I made my first-ever cheeseless comfort-food dish, and nobody was more shocked than me. It was a hearty mash-up of cabbage, swiss chard and egg noodles, appropriately named “Egg Noodles with Cabbage and Chard” in the March 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times. And it’s crave-worthy. I can’t wait to have left-overs for lunch. If you like the flavor of caraway seeds (the seeds in rye bread), then I think you should try this dish:
Egg Noodles with Cabbage and Chard*:
Serves 6. 30 minutes or fewer
Combining green cabbage with Swiss chard adds sweetness and color to this homey recipe. Season with salt at the end of cooking to keep the cabbage from turning soggy.
1 8 oz. pkg. egg noodles
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups) (Note: don’t skimp on the onions. Use a full two cups.)
3 cloves garlic, minced (3 tsp.)
1 head green or savoy cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced into 1-inch-wide pieces (8 cups) (Note: I used green cabbage)
1 bunch Swiss chard, large stems removed, leaves sliced into 1-inch-wide pieces (8 cups) (Note: wash chard by filling a large bowl with clean water and swish the leaves around. Dirt will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Change water and swish until there’s no residue in bowl)
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/8 tsp. cracked black peppercorns (Note: I misread this last night. I thought it said 1/2 tsp. No wonder it was so peppery. It was good, but peppery.)
1. Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 7 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add cabbage and Swiss chard. Stir to coat with onion and garlic mixture. Add broth and vinegar, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until cabbage has softened. Stir in noodles and remaining 1 Tbs. oil, and cook 3 minutes more. Stir in caraway seeds and cracked peppercorns; season with salt, if desired. (Note: If I were you, I’d season with some salt. All the cool kids are doing it.)
As usual, it took me longer than 30 minutes to make, but I am the slowweesstt cookkk iiinnn ttthhheee wwooorrrllldd.
Despite its lack of deep, bright color, green cabbage is very nutritious. A member of the crucifer family (joining kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, et al), it’s rich in vitamin K ,vitamin C, and cancer-fighting antioxidants. It goes without saying that Swiss chard is good for you. Big, leafy greens? It’s a no brainer. You should eat it any way you can. In fact, you may want to add a bunch and a half, or even two bunches, to this dish since the leaves wilt considerably when cooked. I considered substituting whole-grain noodles for the plain egg noodles, but I decided against it and I think it was the right decision. Plain old egg noodles are good and I think they’re definitely the comfort factor in this dish. I used to love eating egg noodles with butter and (of course) a lot of grated parmesan when I was young.
So, my husband ate two bowls of it last night AND brought leftovers to work today. My son ate a whole bowl of it, and as I mentioned, I can’t wait to have it again.
Therefore, I bestow on this recipe 5 out of 5 cabbage heads.
(Oh, and you didn’t hear this from me, but I imagine meat eaters may like some kielbasa in this…)
(*Note: I copied this recipe verbatim from page 75 of the March 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times since it’s not available online yet. Please don’t sue me for copyright infringement. Thanks.)
April 9, 2010 § Leave a Comment
A friend who suffers from seasonal allergies recently asked me about natural remedies. She uses a neti pot (nasal irrigation), but feels that it’s just not doing the job on its own. So I consulted some of my reference books and the websites of Drs. Mercola and Weil and culled this list of natural remedies. It’s an overwhelming list, for sure, but information is power, and if you try one thing for a while with little or no results, you can try another tip, or tips, from the list.
Here we go:
My #1 recommendation is nasal irrigation. For severe allergies, rinsing can be done four times a day until symptoms are relieved.
If you need further relief, you may want to try one of these herbal recommendations:
1. Stinging Nettle (recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil. Supplements are available on Vitacost.com). This is definitely the most talked about herb I could find with regard to allergy treatment.
2. Quercetin (also recommended by Dr. Weil. Supplements are available on Vitacost.com)
3. Homeopathic remedies from BioAllers (recommended in the book “Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing” http://www.bioallers.com/category-exec/category_id/580 and http://www.vitacost.com/BioAllers-Allergy-Relief-Pollen-Hayfever-Allergy-Treatment/pd_section-pr#ProductReviews)
4. Visit an acupuncturist who practices Chinese medicine. There are herbal formulas in Chinese medicine that are known to help relieve allergy symptoms. Acupuncture itself may also relieve symptoms. (If you live in central MA, I recommend Root and Branch Oriental Medicine. Geoff and Eileen are just great.)
Now, I don’t have personal experience with these herbs, so I can’t tell you if they actually work. I can tell you that you should not take herbs if you’re pregnant or nursing or if you’re taking another antihistamine. I can only recommend that you research all four of the suggestions and determine whether you feel comfortable trying one of them.
Here are some suggestions from Dr. Joseph Mercola (Note: some of the links will lead you directly to a video clip [what I'm saying is, it's noisy. So be careful clicking if you're at work]):
1. Strengthening your immune system: Eliminate or limit sugars and grains from your diet as detailed in my nutrition plan and even more in-depth in my book Take Control of Your Health.
2. Exercising: The rate of hay fever among inactive kids is more than double that of healthier, more active youngsters, so regular exercise is an important tool to help prevent allergies from forming in the first place. (Note: the same can be said for adults)
3. Addressing your emotional stress: The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is one profoundly simple, inexpensive and effective tool to address the underlying emotional traumas that can devastate your immune system and allow allergies to flourish.
4. Getting plenty of animal-based omega-3 fat: The omega-3 fat in fish oil and krill oil helps reduce both allergic and inflammatory response.
5. Optimizing your vitamin D levels: Healthy amounts of vitamin D can also help to lower inflammation.
6. Taking a high-quality probiotic: Good bacteria (probiotics) may help lower levels of an antibody that produces allergy symptoms while raising levels of a different antibody, called IgG, that may play a protective role against allergic reactions.
7. Considering an air purifier for your home, to help remove airborne allergens (Dr. Andrew Weil adds this: I recommend a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes particles in the air by forcing it through screens containing microscopic pores. These devices work well and aren’t too expensive. Get one for the main rooms in your house, or move one from room to room regularly. Avoid air-filtering equipment that generates ozone (HEPA filters don’t).
And some more tips from Dr. Weil:
•Follow a low-protein diet and try to eliminate milk and milk products. Excessive protein can irritate the immune system and keep it in a state of overreactivity. The protein in cow’s milk is a frequent offender. (Dr. Mercola’s advice and this advice may make you wonder what you should actually eat, but I think limiting sugars and dairy products are your best bet. Especially dairy since it’s mucous forming.) (Note: there are two words that you will never hear me speak. One is “mucous” and the other is “moist”)
•Try hypnosis, which can lessen or completely prevent allergic reactions and facilitate the immune system’s unlearning of its pointless habits (in this case, an inappropriate response to pollen, dust, mold or animal hair or other substances that cannot really hurt us).
•Consider whether stress impacts your allergy and, if so, take steps to reduce it. I’ve seen long-standing, severe seasonal allergies disappear when people switched jobs, left a relationship or otherwise eliminated a source of stress.
•Dust-proof your bedroom by eliminating wall-to-wall carpets, down-filled blankets, feather pillows and other dust catchers.
•Substitute window shades for Venetian blinds, which can trap dust; be sure to wash curtains regularly in hot water to kill dust mites.
•Encase your mattress in an airtight, dust-proof plastic cover; dust your furniture with a damp cloth; and damp-mop floors regularly to pick up dust.
And from WebMD:
According to New York University allergist Clifford Bassett, MD, if you suffer from ragweed or other weed pollen allergies, “you should avoid eating melon, banana, cucumber, sunflower seeds, chamomile, and any herbal supplements containing echinacea, all of which can make symptoms much worse,” he says… (Note - I’ve seen recommendations to take echinacea for allergies, so there’s definitely some contradiction going on with that herb.)
And finally, also from WebMD:
…In addition, both Hardy and Frieri caution that if allergies are moderate to severe, you should not self-treat — even with seemingly benign natural products — without checking with your allergist first. When you are ready to try some alternative care, Hardy says one key to success is starting treatment before allergy symptoms kick in. The ideal time to begin, she says, is “three weeks before allergy season is scheduled to start.”
I hope you can find some relief using one or more of these suggestions. But, please, consult your doctor or allergist if you’re currently taking any other medications before you take any herbs. Just because herbs are “natural” doesn’t mean they can’t have an adverse effect.
April 8, 2010 § Leave a Comment
…and there’s hardly any lead in our garden soil!! Yes, our soil analysis report finally arrived yesterday. I’m sure you’ve been refreshing this page non-stop in anticipation of this post. Riiight. Well, I was relieved to see that our lead levels are low. That’s good news.
Some not so good news is that our raised-bed garden soil’s pH is “slightly higher than desired for most vegetables.” Poop. The report goes on to say that ”cole crops may prefer the current pH since they are more resistant [to] clubroot infection under slightly alkaline conditions. Take care, however, not to incorporate any amendment that would further raise soil pH.” Whaa?? I am a gardening novice, to say the least. I had to read the report more than once to understand it. I even had to look up the meaning of ”cole crops.” Here’s what I found: “‘Cole’ refers to any of various plants belonging to the Cruciferae or mustard family. Some plants in the mustard family are Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, broccoli, turnips and watercress.” I guess our kale is going to do well, but I’m not sure how everything else is going to fare Oh, yes, we planted seeds last weekend before we received the soil results. Bcuz we is smert lyke dat.
Of course the question in my mind was: How can we lower the pH? Amherst provided a lengthy soil test results and interpretation document and, according to the document, the remedy for high pH levels is elemental sulfur. Yay, let’s go get some sulfur! Oh, wait. It says here that “unfortunately, sulfur is rarely available in garden centers.” Oh. Hmmm. We can contact the soil lab for other options, but I thought I’d put these questions out to the internet first: Does anyone know where can we buy elemental sulfur? Or, is there another way to lower the pH? I’d appreciate any feedback. Of course, we can’t do anything until the end of the season since the seeds are already planted (Doh!)
For our new garden, the results were better. For the pH adjustment, we were given these instructions: “incorporate 8 lbs. of ground dolomitic (magnesium rich) limestone per 100 sq. feet as early as possible prior to planting. Avoid mixing in lime when the soil is very wet.” We haven’t planted anything in that garden yet, so I guess if we add some limestone, we’ll be good to go.
The report also provided us with nutrient and micronutrient levels, but I won’t get into those here. It suffices to say that I’m now fascinated with our dirt. It’s a whole new world to me. There’s really manganese in our little old garden? Wow. It’s amazing. Coincidentally (the universe is a funny, funny thing), I received an email today promoting DIRT! The Movie which will be airing April 20 on PBS (check your local listings). I’ll be watching it for sure.
It’s probably too late in the season now, as most people have already planted seeds (Doh!), but I strongly recommend that other home gardeners get their soil tested in October/November. As I mentioned in the earlier post, it’s not expensive and preparing the soil sample is easy. Even I could do it, and that is saying something.
So, to reiterate, I think if you have a garden, especially if you grow vegetables or fruit, you should know what is lurking in your dirt.