Organic Gardening

Whether you are a master gardener or just beginning, it is always worth refreshing yourself on some essentials before beginning. As a pursuer of wellness, I am particularly intrigued with organic gardening and how to be successful at this venture. 🙂 I am pleased to introduce the professionals at Top Gardening Services in London. Enjoy their tips for starting and maintaining an organic garden!
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What is Organic Gardening?
To many people this concept is still very unclear. Organic gardening is a production system known across the globe, which has a number of benefits for both human beings and for nature. It focuses on enhancing soil biological activity, conserving biodiversity and promoting ecological balance.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Put simply, organic gardening is an effective and healthy method of growing food that benefits the planet and every living organism. It is non-harmful in that it involves no synthetic fertilizers and pesticides or any harsh chemicals. It uses healthy, non-contaminated soil, which is high in nutrients. As you know, soil feeds the plants. Everything they need to survive, such as nutrients and water, is available in the soil. Thus, it really makes sense to improve soil’s texture.

Where to begin
Ideally, you will start by testing the soil. This means that you will need to collect a sample and send it to a lab as soon as possible before it changes over time. The experts will analyze the soil’s pH level, acidity, composition, and nutrient content, as well as levels of contamination. That way, you can learn what nutrients you lack and the ones you need to provide for your plants to grow.

Next you want to focus on what you can do to improve the soil. It needs some good “food” and water. Food includes the following all-natural and non-toxic alternatives:

*Mulch: This serves to insulate and enrich the soil around plants. Mulch is made of compost,
grass clippings, bark, straw, or decaying leaves. Some people use newspaper, but since you want
to go organic, it is best to opt for one of the other options mentioned above.

*Compost: This acts as a fertilizer. It is made of decayed organic material. It attracts
beneficial organisms and is packed with healthy substances.

The next step is to choose a site. Your plants will need more than five hours of sun a day. Choose wisely. Make sure to also select plants that do well in your climate zone. As much as you want to grow diverse plants, it is essential to stick to crops that will thrive in your area.

What next?
It is very beneficial to draw a plan in advance. Make sure to include enough space for your plants to grow. It is wise to place tall vegetables or flowers north. You would not want them to cast a shadow on the other crops.

Further, use the methods of either raised beds or rows. Raised beds drain faster, reduce weeds, warm up quicker and prolong the planting season. Rows are more common for flat gardens. Both methods have their pros and cons and are listed as follows:

1. Raised Beds…
Advantages:
•Raised beds are neat.
•If the soil is contaminated, raised beds are the best option because they will protect roots from harmful substances in the ground.
•Raised beds do not require soil improvement.
•If plants are high enough, critters will not be able to reach them.

Disadvantages:
•If the climate is hotter, roots are likely to dry out more quickly.
•A raised bed requires tools and supplies to construct.
•Bagged soils are not high in minerals.
•It requires digging every few years, contrary to what many people think.
•It is labor intensive.

2. Rows…
Advantages:
•They are great for wide-row gardening.
•This method is inexpensive.
•There are no additional materials necessary for constructing rows.

Disadvantages:
•Rows use more space.
•Rows do not protect plants from getting waterlogged.
•This method does not protect plants from contaminated soil.
•The gardener needs to select location carefully.

In addition, you will need to know the planting periods for the plants you desire to have in your organic garden. Educate yourself on the plants in your garden, whether they tolerate cold weather or if they need an environment with more full sun. Some crops, such as spinach, radishes, lettuce, peas, kale, onion, garlic, etc. tolerate a bit of frost, while others such as tomatoes need to be started indoors.

Additional Information…
•There are beneficial bugs and harmful bugs. You will need to learn to distinguish between them.
Some bugs eat larvae that feed on your plants (e.g. spined soldier bug, ladybirds, etc.). Hence, do not kill every bug you see on your plants. Always check if it can be a benefit to your crops. At Mother Nature Network, there is more information about helpful and harmful bugs as well as how to tell the good ones from the bad ones. You’ll also learn how to identify as well as how you can control them. In addition, Rodale’s Organic Life offers additional information about beneficial insects, their feeding habits, etc.

•It is wise to rotate your crops. If you always grow one plant in the same area of the garden, you risk ruining the soil.

In conclusion, these are several essentials and basics of organic planting. The largest difference between regular gardening and organic gardening is in the products it uses. Everything has to be organic, from fertilizers to the seeds themselves. Remember, no chemicals and no pesticides.

If you’d like to learn more, feel free to contact us at TopGardeningServices Dulwich. We look forward to hearing from you.
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*This page contains affiliate links.
*Photo(s) courtesy of Pixabay.

Guest Post by Gorilly Goods: An Interview with a Vibrant, Local Organic Food Manufacturer

It is my pleasure to introduce to you today, Chris, the Co-Founder of the delicious, crunchy snacks, Gorilly Goods. Not only are they delicious, but they are snacks which you can feel good about as they are packed full of nutrition. Enjoy learning more about Gorilly Goods, and don’t forget to take advantage of the February PROMO at the end of this post! Give the Gorilly Goods a try for yourself!
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Chris: We met LeNay and her sweet young boys while visiting a couple of stores with our Gorilly Goods products. We are delighted and honored to be able to introduce ourselves through LeNay’s beautiful Avocado Mommy blog.

Avocado Mommy: What are Gorilly Goods?
Chris: Gorilly Goods are crunchy, organic snack “things”. They are packages of tasty goodness that are delicious with your morning coffee or tea, are excellent to grab for a snack “on the go”, and are great for long drives in the car to grandma’s house. In addition, these snacks are ideal for refueling on the hiking trail or after your workout. Finally, they are excellent for kids! Pack them in our kids’ lunch along with a few extra to share with their friends! There are three flavors of which to choose from: The “Original” and the “Chocolate” which are sweet and the “Savory” which are made with seeds and greens. They are handmade in Jackson, WI, in a small family business owned by people who care about others and live like it’s heaven on earth.
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Avocado Mommy: Wow! My mouth is watering already. What are some other aspects that make this product so exceptional for my family?
Chris: Gorilly Goods represent the next generation of nutrition snacking: 100% organic, gluten-free, raw, non-gmo, vegan, and certifiably delicious. They represent cleaner oceans,
fresher air, more fertile soil, sustainability, forest life, healthy dancing children, brilliant
sunsets, and a connection to nature. These are the “things” of Gorilly Goods snacks.

Avocado Mommy: What is the background/inspiration behind the company?
Chris: My husband, Stephen, and I are a conscientious couple that have spent our last
25 years following a passion. Much of the passion has been connected to food, how
food relates to life on our planet, how food impacts the well-being of animals and
humans, how it affects our outlook on life, and how our food choices matter in the
scheme of our world. In 1999, Stephen and I chose to live a raw-food lifestyle
which we embraced, with much study, for several years. During this time, we
developed the Raw Foods Foundation in St Louis, MO. Classes were taught, raw
retreats were held, and many delicious recipes were created. The best of these recipes are
now being produced and introduced to the world through our products, Gorilly Goods.
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Avocado Mommy: Tell us a little more about the production of this product.
Chris: Everything we use in our kitchen is certified organic – that’s important to us. Our first
product to be introduced was the Original Fruit and Nut Things. It’s made mostly of
bananas (fair trade from Ecuador), with California raisins, Texas pecans, Vietnamese
cashews, California walnuts, Philippine coconut as well as coconut nectar, and some
sea salt. The same ingredients are in the Chocolate Fruit and Nut Things variety, but
we coat the Original pieces with an un-roasted, certified organic cacao bean chocolate,
sweetened with coconut palm sugar. It’s all vegan, non-gmo, and created on the tropical
side of heaven – imported from Bali. This Balinese chocolate is 70% dark and full of all
the good antioxidants and nutrients that dark chocolate is known for! Besides fair trade,
it’s certified organic and undeniably, an excellent choice of chocolate. The Savory
variety is made with mighty pumpkin seeds and the cruciferous king: kale (locally
grown from Full Harvest Farm, when available). The seeds and kale are
seasoned with organic nutritional yeast from Germany (info on our blog), gluten-free
organic tamari, and tasty seasonings.
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Avocado Mommy: I have these on my grocery list! Can you share any other thoughts as to why your products are special?
Chris: (As my mom would say…they are…)
• delicious
• nutritious
• make you feel ambitious 🙂
• seriously, they are just good….good tasting, good for you, good for the earth, just
plain old good

We can’t wait for you to try our delicious products! Plus, we have a great promotion for all Avocado Mommy readers:

Rejoice! Use coupon code “avocado” at checkout. You will get you 25% off suggested retail price of any online orders. The coupon is good through February 28th, 2015.

Thank you for reading! Thank you for checking out our products. Thank you for caring
about life. You can read more about us at http://www.gorillygoods.com
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*This post contains affiliate links.

Why Grass-Fed Meat?

In my quest to share the passion I have for wellness and healthy living, I have talked with several women who are looking to make positive changes, but don’t know where to start. I agree. It can oftentimes seem incredibly daunting with the wealth of information out there. While I am not saying that much of the information is invalid, I do believe that we can quickly become quite overwhelmed when we try to do all at once. Moms especially face an overwhelming amount of information as they seek to keep their children healthy and well; it can be downright exhausting. Yet, the truth is, there is grace, and the most important thing to remember is that “baby steps” toward healthy living are to be celebrated. So when it comes to diet, where is a positive place to start?

 

As I mentioned, several people whom I have spoken with ask me, “Where do I start making healthy changes?”.  My answer is simple: start eating high quality, grass-fed meat, and avoid gluten as best as possible. I am going to take some time in a future post to share my convictions on why gluten should be avoided by all people, not just those with diagnosed celiac disease, Crohn’s, colitis, and a host of other conditions irritated by consuming gluten containing products. So, why grass-fed? First of all, I can attest to the fact that, hands down, the taste is superior. The flavor is richer and the product is far less greasy. I love that I don’t have to drain so much fat from my meat as I am preparing my family’s meal. I have had the opportunity to buy our meat from Northstar Bison, which is owned by people whom I have the privilege of knowing, and is sold nationwide.  Their meat is both grass-fed and organic; in my mind, it is the best of the best! 🙂  Yet, suppose I did not have the option to choose both grass-fed and organic. Which is better and why?  Aren’t they the same? In her article, “Beyond Organic,” New York Times bestselling writer, Jo Robinson of Eat Wild, explains the reason behind going grass-fed and takes time to decipher between the characteristics of pasture raised meat and grain-fed meat. Even organic, grain-fed meat is far less nutrient packed than non-organic, grass-fed meat. I’d encourage you to take some time to read her short article as you consider the meat your family consumes. Check out her article here. I think you will find it very informative and helpful. Happy grocery shopping! 🙂

Nutrient Packed Banana Bread with Maple Frosting

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Every mommy has at least one recipe that she uses so frequently that she could make it in her sleep. (Wouldn’t that actually be great if we could do that?! Breakfast ready to go before we even entered the kitchen in the morning…Whala!) In all seriousness, though, I don’t know what I would do without this one. I love it because it is incredibly easy (the kids can help too!), and it is so good for bellies, young and old. 🙂 It is packed with fiber and protein, and it is sweetened naturally. No sugar, no junk. Nothing but sheer goodness. Enjoy, and make it often!

Nutrient Packed Banana Bread with Maple Frosting

4 very ripe bananas, mashed

4 organic eggs, slightly beaten

1/3 cup melted coconut oil (I love this brand) or organic, grass-fed butter (I use Kerrygold I have found this at Costco or Trader Joe’s for a good price.)

1 tablespoon vanilla (gluten and alcohol free)

1 heaping teaspoon 100% baking soda (aluminum free)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free, gluten-free)

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup coconut flour (I use this brand)*

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Optional: 1/3 cup add ins: Enjoy Life chocolate chips, dates, raisins, raw walnuts, etc.

Directions:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a bread pan with unbleached parchment paper. With a spatula, mix all ingredients together, except for the coconut flour and optional add-ins, in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the coconut flour and stir until combined. (Sometimes the mixture looks more wet, sometimes it looks more dry. DO NOT ADD ANY MORE COCONUT FLOUR. Coconut flour is unique. 🙂 You will have very dry bread if you try to play with the ratio on this. ) Fold in the add-ins if using. Pour into your prepared bread pan and spread it out evenly in the pan. Bake for 45 minutes. *Note: This recipe also makes 12 muffins if you would rather do that! 🙂  When the bread is cooled completely, frost liberally. 🙂

Maple Frosting (Recipe from Civilized Caveman Cooking

½ cup organic palm shortening
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons coconut flour
1 tablespoons chilled, coconut milk fat (thick part from the top of can)

Directions:Mix everything, except for the coconut milk fat, until smooth. Add the coconut fat and mix until combined. Do not over mix as your frosting could start to separate. Frost your cooled bread or muffins. 🙂

*Fun fact: 2 tablespoons of this coconut flour contain 6 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein! 🙂

 

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French Silk Avocado Mousse

It’s no secret…I LOVE CHOCOLATE.

Yes, I will admit it. I won’t even try to hide the fact that this is something that I eat everyday. Once I decided that this was a fact worth celebrating, I started to have a bit of fun!I resolved that I could not only make chocolate often, but I could also make treats that were guilt free! 🙂 Yes, you heard me. Guilt free. I have decided to include several recipes for treats on this blog which would be considered “guilt free” because all of them are gluten free! In addition to that, they are free of refined sugars and artificial junk! 🙂 Several of them even contain healthy fats and oils such as unrefined coconut oil, palm oil, and yes, even green ingredients like avocados! 🙂 So, indulge with gusto!

French Silk Avocado Mousse

• 4 oz. Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
• 1/8 cup of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
• 1 ripe Avocado (about 7 ounces, measured whole)
• ¼ Cup Coconut Palm Sugar
• 1-3 tsp. Stevia(depending on your taste preference)
• 1/2 cup Cacao Powder**
• 1/2 cup coconut cream, chilled from a can of full fat coconut milk (I like to use Native Forest)
• 1/2 Tablespoon of Vanilla
• (optional) ½ teaspoon of Espresso Powder or Fine Coffee Grounds
• Pinch of Salt

Directions:
1. Gently melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil together.
2. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Scoop out the avocado meat and place into a mixing bowl.
4. Add the chocolate coconut oil mixture, sugar, Stevia, and cacao powder.
5. Whip on medium high speed until mostly combined, about 2-3 minutes. Use whisk attachment for a stand mixer.
6. Add the coconut butter, extract, espresso, and salt.
7. Whip on medium high to high speed for about 5 minutes until fluffy.
8. Let the mousse chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
9. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Optional: Make a double batch and spoon it into a gluten free pie crust for a healthier version of “French Silk Pie”!
**Instead of cacao powder, you can replace it with 1/4 cup NutriDyn’s Dynamic Fruits and Greens, Espresso Flavor. This will give you the added bonus of hiding some extra nutrition in your mousse!

Update: I have had a couple people recently share with me that they need to avoid Stevia. If you want to make this recipe without Stevia, just increase the vanilla extract to 1 tablespoon, and add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup in addition to the coconut sugar that is already in the recipe. Enjoy! 🙂

Recipe adapted from Paleo Fondue