Sharing Food with Wildlife

Elk are the bane of my existence and I still love them.

Violet the Vixen

I talked about insect pests in another post but really our nemesis is wildlife. We’ve been determined to plant enough vegetables to provide fresh food for 1/2 the year. This summer, the elk ate about two-thirds of our apricots, a quarter of our cherries and peaches, tomatoes, peppers, and all my lettuce.

These are our javelina: Hector-dad, Betty-mom, Penny & Fido.

The javelina eat our flowers and shrubs, rabbits forage, and birds take whatever fruit they please.

I think the biggest problem is me. I have an unfortunate habit of naming my babies. We also provide water in our front yard pond and all the wildlife tell their friends the deer, squirrels, etc. to come visit when thirsty. We fill the 60 gallon pond back up again each morning.

We also sit outside between 4 and 5 AM just to catch sight of our wild family.

Our area has been in drought conditions too which makes us worry about our family when they aren’t around for more than a week.

I know if we lived in the old west, we wouldn’t be as lackadaisical about our missing food supplies but for us it’s just living our dream life in the mountains and seeing a glimpse into nature that many don’t.

We’ll continue sharing with wildlife as long as they come around and there’s a store to shop a few miles away. If that changes, I’ll cry.

Due to the rabbits, we garden in containers and have 20 in the yard. Here are a few pictures.

This is our edible lower patio also known as the crayola patio
More of the edible patio
Squash and hot peppers which the elk love
Line of tomato barrels with fencing around them
More elk fence around our tree garden but it hasn’t stopped them

If you have wildlife or gardening images, I would love to see them <3

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Fennel for the Belly

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other morning and she mentioned eating black licorice for IBS. That got me thinking about my fennel which had just come into bloom.

I truly love fennel flowers and they taste exactly like black licorice and have the same calming effect on your belly as the candies/sugared-filled kind.

I taste tested a flower on my husband and he swears it’s what the candy is made from. You can grow it yourself (very easily) or buy the seeds here

You can even make a belly-calming tea that is delicious, if you like black licorice that is.

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fresh lemon balm

Sweetener of your choice (I drink it without)

1 cup hot water

Steep the seeds for 5 minutes with something to cover the mug and you’re set after straining out the seeds.

The Solution for Dead Thumb

Dead thumb, what is it and do you have it?

In my house dead thumb is the opposite of green thumb. I’m lucky to be blessed with green. But, if you were not blessed as I was, there may be a solution.

I was at a BBQ last night and took my famous micro-green pasta salad made with quinoa pasta (I buy this one). I promise to share the recipe another time, this post is about turning your dead thumb green. Anyway, a lady mentioned she loved the salad and asked what was in it. Of course I went nuts telling her about the micro-greens. She said if you only need to keep them alive for 2 to 3 weeks it was probably something she could grow which got me thinking.

First I want you to ask yourself how long a plant lives once it falls under your care. If you say a week or two, I’ve got you covered. If you can only manage a day or two, I’m truly sorry and you are more than welcome to stop reading now.

My solution to dead thumb is growing your own micro-green garden in your house.

At any given time I have four trays growing. I think my seed supply will last me about 40 years but I could be exaggerating, slightly. These babies grow from seed to eating ready in 7 to 10 days. That’s it.

I put micro-greens in everything: salads, Asian dishes, pasta, etc. I even slip some in my tofu medley. The micro-greens give us so much yummy nutrition all year around and even if you have a dead thumb, you can grow these babies.

Our cart was $99 dollars at Home Depot. The trays cost $1.99 each and I use 2 per unit with holes punched in the top tray so it leaks into the bottom one. 1 1/2 inches of fine soil per tray and you’re set. You don’t even need fertilizer because you’ll eat the micro-greens before they need it. And the best part… they grow all year around even when my garden is buried under two feet of snow.

Here’s a link to Wellness Mama’s (I follow her religiously) post on how to start your own micro-green garden (there are also videos on YouTube): https://wellnessmama.com/36688/grow-microgreens/

Here’s a list of the micro-greens I’ve had really good success with (they grow like weeds).

Kale

Spinach

Mung Beans

Radish

Alfalfa

Mustard

Sunflower

Bugs, Worms, and Food

This little guy lives in my lemon balm and he get’s pretty feisty when I water. I’ve watched him grow from the size of a dime to the budding teenager he is now at about the size of a quarter. He’s been around for two months and I’ve also watched my lemon balm flourish.

Last year the white flies almost did this prized plant in and I’m so happy Lancelot decided to save my delicious smelling and tasting lemon plant.

This brings me to a huge problem we have when it comes to food.

BUGS: the good and the bad.

Although truthfully, they all have their place in nature and none are truly bad. Maybe I’ll just use the word ick instead because I’m not too fond of some little green worms who are using my kale to gain weight. This little guy was moved out of my garden this morning but I’m sure I didn’t find all his brothers and sisters.

My poor worm-eaten kale

So we’ve established there are some bugs I’m not fond of and I’m sure you have your share. Here’s the thing, bugs mean my plants are not sprayed with pesticides or governed by GMO manipulations. I grow plants the way they should be grown and I do everything possible to naturally help them thrive.

When the worms win I have no problem picking away their bite marks and eating the kale or spinach or chard. I’ve even brought in the day’s bounty and found the small green worms that are my nightmare this year and carried the little guy outside and placed him far from my veggies. Wash, eat, repeat.

We must get back to nature to heal!

This includes bugs and learning they aren’t a bad thing. If a salad in a restaurant comes with a worm, I don’t send it back. My thought process switches to survival and the fact the processed salad I’m about to eat might just have some healthy nutrients left that my body vitally needs, after picking off the worm of course ūüėČ

Growing Herbal Tea in My Garden and Kitchen

I love my garden and spend many hours outside pruning, watering, and fertilizing. I need to feel nature and my plants takes me there. I began growing herbs that can be used to make teas a few years ago. Lemon balm is one of my favorites. I’ll actually eat a leaf when walking past the plant. It’s taste like lemon Pledge I used years ago to dust my furniture if that makes sense. I also cut a few branches and place them in a bag with lavender leaves when I travel. I use them as natural perfume by rubbing the combo on my wrists. Lemon balm has many uses including repelling insects. I love the stuff.

This year I added another spearmint plant to my kitchen windowsill. I love the smell and on top of the scent it’s a pretty plant that thrives indoors. The combo of lemon balm and spearmint is one of my favorite teas. This year I’m hoping to have enough spearmint to make it through a cold winter (lemon balm grows like a weed and isn’t a problem).

I cut the spearmint stems along with lemon balm and hang in my kitchen with other herbs. When they’re dry, I put them into my special tea containers (bought at the dollar store for $1 each so very special) and store them in the cupboard.

Dried jasmine flowers can also be added in teas along with lemon thyme which I added to my garden this year but haven’t cultivated yet. I enjoy creating combinations of flavors and testing them on my picky palate.

There are so many health benefits and I know there are no pesticides and I use organic fertilizer to keep them growing strong.

Lemon Balm РEases stress and anxiety, contains rosmarinic acid (a chemical compound with antioxidant properties). Also used for insomnia, cold sores, high cholesterol, genital herpes, indigestion, and heartburn.

Spearmint –¬†Contains¬†vitamins,¬†antioxidants, and vital nutrients. The aroma is very similar to that of peppermint. Is rich in limonene, dihydrocarvone, and cineol.

Your windowsill might be empty now but you could be growing the next best combination of teas on the planet so don’t let the perfect growing space go to waste.

I took these pictures early in the morning so the light isn’t the best but I think you get the picture ūüôā