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Benefits of Bee Boxes

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on September 10, 2016 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (2)

"Plight" of the Bumblebee

Honey Bees are the most important crop pollinator in the United States. Unfortunately, due to disease and other environmental factors such as pollution and destruction of natural habitat, the number of honey bees is believed to have dropped about 50% since the 1950's. We need to help encourage the population of Solitary Bees (who do not tend to sting humans like wasps or colonizing bees, such as Honey Bees or Bumble Bees) to sustain the population of crop plants and flowers; and thus, keep nurishing the human population.


Solitary Bees

A solitary bee is a bee that does not colonize like honey or bumble bees do. Because of this solitary life-style, they are less prone to diseases which can ravage a colony. Native solitary bees are highly efficient pollinators that produce larger and more abundant fruit for certain crops than the honey and bumble bees do. Maintaning a honey bee colony at you home isa lot of work and less then ideal, but providing a nesting box for a solitary bee take no work at all!

 

The males die off shortly after reproducing, while the females live on until just after producing a brood of eggs. Females will tunnel into the ground or use pre-existing holes in wood, and deposit a mixture to sustain the eggs through their larva and pupa stages. The mixture is relevant so they can emerge from the nest as adult bees to begin the lifecycle once again. Solitary bees will not sting or swarm like honey bees and bumble bees, only because they do not have a hive to protect. However, if their short life is threatened they will try to defend themselves, but this is very rare.


Busy Bee!


 This solitary bee is hard at work on this sunflower.


Attracting Solitary Pollinators

Approximately 30% of solitary bees will use pre-existing wood holes or hollowed out canes in which to construct their broods cells or "nest" for their eggs. The other 70% of solitary bees will tunnel into the ground for nesting. Depending on the species, they will travel between a few hundred feet and a mile to forage for nesting supplies. This makes it important to provide plants that will attract the bees throughout the nesting season. Most species will nest in March, April, and early May. Some will take a year to complete their lifecycle, while others will continue to breed throughout the season. Since there are so many different species that breed and nest at different times, it is important to provide a food source throughout the growing season. Planting perennials and annuals, along with vegetables which flower from early spring to late summer will guarantee to attract some native species. By providing the right habitat, the bees will be here to stay.


Habitat

These days, most people have beautifully maintained and manicured lawns. This is esthetically pleasing, but bad for the bees in many ways. The key is to find a balance which would keep our yards looking great, while providing a "bee-friendly" environment.

 

Read your labels for products that do not kill bees. If you insist on keeping your lawn weed free, then plant some early blooming perennials for the bees to collect nesting materials. Otherwise, bees emerging from their nests in early spring will need food and leave your yard in search of it and probably won't be returning.

 

The lack of dead plants and trees does not provide wood tunneling bees anywhere to nest. However, you can purchase one of Bill's Bee Boxes to help in this situation. These simple wooden structures provide a variety of sizes of tunneling holes to attract various species of solitary bees. They are esthetically pleasing and can be placed anywhere in the yard (they will definately be a conversation starter). They are easy to maintain as well... just let nature take its course!


www.MimisGarden.net 




Benefits of Bird Houses

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on September 10, 2016 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (6)

Attracting birds isn't a hard task at all. You will just need to give them a reason to choose your yard by supplying them with the tools they need to make a home.

 

A good place to start is by providing a Bird Box. Many birds will nest in a tree, but if given the proper shelter how could they refuse? Although it's suggested that you clean out the box after each season, most birds will be able to "clean house" themselves. Our boxes provide easy access screws on the bottom panel for you if you should choose to do this. Also provided is an optional perch. The box comes with the perch in place, but most birds will not need these. In fact, it is suggested that you remove the perch as it will only provide predators the leverage they need to invade the nest. Either way, you may choose to keep it in place by securing it with a dab of glue, or removing it. If removed the hole will provide additional ventilation. There are ventilation slats on the sides, and drainage holes on the bottom in case of water. The boxes are made of untreated wood, and left unpainted. You do not need to paint the box, but if you choose to please use a nontoxic latex for the safety of the birds.

 

When placing your box please choose a spot that is out of reach of most predators, and out of view to ensure the privacy of the birds. Although watching them is enjoyable, when it comes to nesting, they will prefer privacy so as not to feel threatened. This isanother reason we leave the boxes unfinished... the less attention you draw to them, the more encouraged a bird will be to select this home.

 

Provide plenty of nesting supplies. You may fill a mesh bag with hair, dryer lint, feathers, undied string, anything you see laying around that may be suitable for nest construction. Place these "supplies" within a short distance of the box. Birds will not be detered by your family dog either. In fact, take Fido out on a nice spring day for a brushing and leave the fur on the ground. This makes excellent nesting material.

 

You may provide a bird bath for you visitors to frolic in, but a bird feeder is not mandatory. Your garden should provide enough for this growing family. A bird feeder will only attract other birds and predators creating a high traffic area that may turn you potential birds away. It is hard to forego a feeder, though, if you're a lover of birds so we suggest that if you must keep one please keep it well away from your Bird Box.

 

Apart from these tips, nature should take it's course. If you have a particular bird in mind that you would like to attract you should research what types of plants might be helpful in attracting that species.

My Experience on the 7 Day "GM Wonder Diet"

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on August 5, 2016 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

So a friend talked me into doing the 7 Day "GM Wonder Diet", and I've decided to share my experience and results.  This diet plan is all over the internet, but after much digging I discovered a few things.  Many sources say this "diet" was created by General Motors for use by it's employees, was developed with the assistance of the FDA and USDA, and was tested at Johns Hopkins.  I couldn't find any information to support those claims... but the internet would never lie to me!!  I dug a little deeper and found so many variations, and "rules", I didn't know who to believe, or what the original diet peramiters consisted of.  We just went with the first one we found.  The basic guidlines all seemed to be very similar so we had a little wiggle room.


I'm not a fan of "diets".  I lost 40 pounds using portion control, dietary change, and exercise.  After 10 years of sticking to those lifestyle changes I have kept that weight off, more or less.  I've always had a couple pounds left to lose that I was saving for a rainy day, so why not see if this miracle diet would work for me!  Looking into it you realize it is more of a 7 day cleanse than an actual diet.  It is not intended to be followed for long periods of time.  The plan promotes whole, unprocessed foods, limited dairy, meat, and grains.  Lots of fiber and water in the plan to help you shed fat and purge toxins.  It didn't look harmful in any way so I decided that I'd give it a try.  (Keep in mind I'm no doctor or nutritionist, follow the plan at your own risk)


My friend and I compared side effects and progress along the way.  I insisted on regular weigh-ins to ensure we were shedding fat and not muscle.  I'm going to share all of the fun details with you here, and tips if you are wanting to try this on your own.  It really helped to have someone to compare notes with through the week.  We had very similar side effects, but at different stages of the plan.  He cheated more than I did, but we both had noticeable results.  


First I will outline the plan for you:

Beverages- No alcohol.  At least 10 cups of water per day, you may add lemon for flavor. Club soda. Coffee and tea, no sweeteners.

Day 1- All fruits except for bananas.  It is suggested that you consume mostly melons for better results.  Watermelon, canteloupe, honeydew, etc. No limit, eat as much as you can.

Day 2- All vegetables.  You are encouraged to start your day with one baked potato (optional pat of butter), then consume raw and/or cooked vegetables throughout the day.  This is the only day a potato is allowed. Only limit is on the potato, all other veggies are unlimited.

Day 3- Mix of fruit and vegetables (no banana or potato), cooked or raw.  No limit, eat your heart out!

Day 4- Banana, milk, and soup day.  You may eat as many as 8 bananas, 3 glasses of milk, and unlimited amounts of the "Wonder Soup" (recipe to follow) 

Day 5- Beef and tomato day.  It is suggested you eat 2-10 ounce potions of beef, and no less than 6 tomatoes.  You should increase your water consumption today by at least a quart to help flush the uric acid your body will produce.

Day 6- Beef and vegetables. Unlimited beef and vegetables (no potato)

Day 7- Brown rice, vegetables, and fruit juice.  Unlimited amounts.


Wonder Soup Recipe

28 oz water, 1 large onion, 1 green pepper, tomatoes (fresh or canned), 1/4 head cabbage, 1/4 bunch celery, 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix.  You are allowed to swap out vegetables in this recipe.  Each recipe for this soup online was different, this is just the recipe I used.  Next time I would swap carrots for green peppers, personally.  Also, I added a dash of cayenne and the added spice was nice!


So this was the plan I was given, with nobody to answer any questions if I had them... and boy, did I have them!  Together my friend and I made up our own rules to fill in the blanks.  I'll break it down by male and female for you when highlighting how we actually followed the plan, and give you tips we wish we would have thought of along the way, or maybe picked up too late in the game.


Tips before starting the plan:

- Get all your shopping done before you start!  Nothing was worse then having to hit the grocery store and be surrounded by all those sugary temptations just to get a friggin' onion!  Try to plan your meals in advance so you will know what to buy, and give everything a chance to ripen (the rock-hard canteloupe my friend picked up almost ended the diet for me on day one).  Added tip, stock up on toilet paper!  We're all adults here so I'll just say it... there will be lots of pee and poop!

- Choose your start day-of-the-week wisely.  My day one was on a Friday and day two I was tempted with beer, wine, and S'mores!  That was rough!  I stood strong, my friend did not and cheated with some pretzels and hummus.

- Fat stores are packed with toxins.  Shedding high amounts of fat quickly will have  some very strange side effects on the body, so be prepared!  I'll be sure to outline all of the side effects we had so you will know what to expect. Everyone is different, however, so you may experience other symptoms.

- Plan on exercising.  It's not really mentioned in the plan, but it is a very important step!  I chose a moderate route walking up to 3 miles each day.  I broke it up into two sessions.  Exercise actually helped to alleviate some of the detox symptoms.  My friend took a more aggressive approach and worked out intensley 6 out of the 7 days.  We had similar results (considering ourbody masses), so I can't really tell you which approach is best.

- Pack a toothbrush.  For the first 4 days you aren't really eating anything that will help keep your teeth clean.  My friend and I both experienced "furry" teeth on those days.  Be prepared in case this happens to you. Sugary gums and breath mints aren't in the plan!

- Prep yourself mentally.  It's a pretty intense plan, be ready for it.  Know that you are releasing toxins into your system, expect discomfort.  It's only 7 days though, an excellent test of will power.  Maybe bring a friend on board to commiserate with... it really helped me!


Now I'll tell you how I followed the plan:

Day 1- Fruit day.  I tried to stick to melons only, but ended up adding blueberries and grapes for variety.  This was my hardest day.  I'm a veggie eater and I don't get a ton of fruit in my diet so the natural sugars had some intense effects on me.  I was eating a whole lot of fruit throughout the day.  I felt like I kept having sugar crashes and the only thing to perk me back up was more sugar.  Headache kicked in around 3 p.m. and was a full blown migraine by evening.  I also felt a change in my vision, almost as if my periferral was fuzzy.  This day sucked for me.  I almost threw in the towel!  But I knew vegetable day would be easier for me, and wasn't about to quit after putting myself through such torture.  After surviving fruit day I was making it to the end!  

Day 2- Vegetable day.  That potato in the morning was glorious!  I found that I started using the word glorious a lot to describe certain foods from this point on in the diet.  This day is so much more flexible when it comes to food prep, as you can eat your veggies cooked or raw.  The diet didn't call for it, but I sauteed my veggies in coconut oil when cooked.  I was allowed to use spices, but I never added any salt.  You don't want to add anything that might make you retain water when you are trying to flush out your system... kind of defeats the purpose.  Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, lemon pepper... I made veggie chilis with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, pepper, cayenne... you can get creative!  

* There are different opinions when it comes to what qualifies as a fruit, and what qualifies as a vegetable.  We went the dietary route and not the scientific route (i.e. a tomato is considered a vegetable in the kitchen, but is technically a fruit)

Day 3- Fruit and vegetable day.  No potato, no banana, but everything else works.  I made a big batch of veggie chili and at it throughout the day, and fresh fruit in between meals.  

Day 4- Bananas, milk, and soup day.  I called this "Day Four-ium" because you get your potassium, calcium, and sodium fix today.  I woke up feeling slim!  I could see a difference in the mirror, it was great!  I was worried about the diet plan though, as 1 banana is usually my limit.  I used almond milk, I'm not a big dairy milk fan.  I ended the day at 7 bananas, and only 2 cups of milk, and I ate 3/4 of my batch of soup.  I was painfully bloated today!  Not gassy, just bloated.  My friend had about 10 bananas, 5 cups of milk, and only 1/4 of the soup.  He wasn't bloated, but his system is used to more bananas than mine.  Both of us were craving burgers today, but I'm guessing it's because meat was on the menu for tomorrow.  I felt great today until the bloat set in, then I felt very discouraged.

Day 5- Beef and tomato day.  I didn't eat all 20 ounces, but I had all 6 tomatoes.  I also polished off my soup today.  I made a couple small steaks for breakfast, but would highly suggest sticking with ground beef.  I picked up a very lean 97/3 ground beef chub and made a chili for dinner with ground beef and tomato.  We both pointed out how much chewing was involved today!  Holy chewing!  The ground beef was a bit easier, so I would suggest skipping the steak.  I couldn't eat anymore beef because I physically couldn't chew anymore (I'm typing this on day 8 and my jaw is still sore).  I would just make a big batch of chili to eat throughout the day, and I would definitely add more soup to the day.  Drink lots and lots of water today. 

Day 6- Beef and vegetables.  I made I big batch of chili today!  Beef (which I couldn't stand to even look at) and tons of vegetables.  This was an excellent meal throughout the day.  I should have made another batch of soup because that would have been good today too.  Only one more day to go and my friend and I were soooooo ready to be done with this plan.

Day 7- Brown rice, vegetables, and fruit juice.  I was so happy to be done with beef.  Brown rice and vegetables are so much easier to chew! My friend didn't have the same jaw pain, but thoroughly made fun of me for mine.  I made a couple of stir fries using different vegetables and spices for variety.  My friend was in need of variety of flavor at this point, but I was fine with the repetition because I knew it would all be over soon!  I did use a tiny bit of soy sauce in one of my stir fries today because I just couldn't care less at this point.  If you're buying your fruit juice instead of making it yourself, please be sure to read the label to ensure that real whole fruit juice is what you're buying.  Nothing else added (except water maybe).  No "from concentrate", or sugar added.


That's it.  We survived.  The results were in...

Me, female, 7 pounds total weight loss, 2% body fat loss, 1% muscle mass gained

My friend, male, 10 pounds total weight loss, 3% body fat loss, 2% muscle mass gained


Here are some of the side effects we each experienced:

- Cold, chills.  Even though it was 90 degrees out I didn't feel hot.  In a 72 degree house I was cold.  I looked it up online and it said that burning high amounts of fat can raise your body temperature.  I don't know if that is true... but I was cold, so you explain it!

- Muscle pain.  I experienced some aching in my back throughout the diet, and pain in my left shoulder on day 5.

- Angry day (at least that's what we named it).  We each had one day where we were on edge and ready to lash out.  For my friend this was day 5, day 6 for me.  Luckily mine came after his so I recognized it right away and tried to keep myself from lashing out.  You didn't want to cross my path that day!

- Fuzzy vision.  We each experienced this on day one.  Mine was worse and lasted throughout the day, his came at the end of the day.  I didn't have any additional issues with my vision during the cleanse.

- Fuzzy teeth.  I explained it earlier, but for the first 4 days we both had fuzzy growing on our teeth.

- Headaches.  We each had headaches throughout the 7 days.  The worst day for me was on day 1 when I hit full blown migraine status.  I didn't take any pills for the headaches, just upped my water intake.  

- Bloating.  I had this really bad on day 4.  My friend didn't complain of any bloating.

- Jaw pain.  I had jaw pain after day 6 and 7, which I attribute to chewing on all that red meat on days 5 and 6.  My friend didn't have this.

- Exhaustion.  For the majority of the cleanse I felt fine and had a ton of energy.  For some reason towards the end of day 5 I had complete exhaustion.  You could see it in my face and hear it in my voice.  A long nights sleep really helped with this.

- Joint popping.  My joints started cracking, it was weird!  I would turn my head and my neck would crack.  Not painful at all, just weird.  My friend didn't have this.

- Toxin flushing.  Let's face it, you're opening up Pandora's Box here, and you are asking a lot of you filtering organs like your kidneys, liver, and skin.  You will sweat, you will pee, and you will poop... a lot!  You will find, however, that your sweat doesn't stink, your pee is clear, and anything coming out of your butt doesn't smell quite as bad as it used to (maybe, I don't know you).  Expect to be in the bathroom a lot.  The exodus doesn't end at day 7 either, especially if you have a "log jam" along the way.


So this is my experience on th "GM Wonder Diet", whatever its orgins may be.  We shall see if the weight stays off, but I'm certainly not craving all the junk I had before.  I look better, feel better, am sleeping better.  It was a rough 7 days, and it took a lot of will power, but I don't regret doing it.  Do the research yourself and decide if you want to try the plan.  Hopefully some of these notes will help you out if you do try it!




Regrow Celery

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on November 14, 2012 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

After you cut the bottom off of a bunch of celery... don't throw it away!  You can easily grow a new bunch with just a couple steps!  This makes a great project for kids :)

 

Cut the end of the bunch off, and place it in a shallow dish of water.  Place in a sunny spot, but out of direct sunlight.  Replace water daily.  After about a week or two new leaves will start to sprout from the center of the bunch.  Keep the celery in water until roots start to form on the bottom.  At this point you can transfer the plant into a pot of soil... or directly into your garden.  The old stalks will die off, and the new ones will continue to grow until they form a mature bunch. 

Harvest and eat!  Remember to save the bottom and continue the cycle :)

Oatmeal Cookies

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on November 14, 2012 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Oatmeal Cookies

(Based on a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens)

3/4 C Butter, softened

1 C Packed brown sugar

1/2 C Sugar

1 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Baking soda

2 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

1 3/4 C All-purpose flour

2 C Rolled oats

1 C Chocolate chips, raisins, or dried cherries (I like to mix all 3!)

 

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees

-In a large bowl beat butter with a mixer on high for 30 seconds.  Add brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, (add 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon if you wish).  Beat untill combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.

-Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer.

-Stir in remaining flour, stir in oats, stir in chocolate chip/cherry/raisin mix.

-Drop dough by rounded teaspoon 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes untill edges of cookies are golden brown.  Cool on sheet for 1 minute then transfer to wire cooling rack and let cool.

 

-Enjoy!!

 

Prepping Brussel Sprouts For Freezing

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on November 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Brussel sprouts taste even better after a light frost... but you can't leave them outside forever!  When it comes time to harvest you may find you have more then you could possibly eat.  It is very easy to freeze them, but there is a little prep work involved if you would like them to taste good after thawing.  Best way to prep brussel sprouts for freezing is to blanch them.

 

Harvest your sprouts, cut the stems, pull off the outer leaves, and rinse off any dirt.

Next you will want to seperate them by size.  Smaller ones, medium, and larger ones.

 Fill a pot with water and let it reach a rolling boil.  Prep a large bowl with cold water and ice.

Add the sprouts to the pot.

Boil them:

5 minutes for larger ones, 4 minutes for medium, and 3 for smaller sprouts.

Remove sprouts using a strainer or slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Once they have cooled down pour them into a strainer removing as much water as possible.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Place the sprouts in freezer bags, remove as much air as possible (vacuum sealers work great for this), and place them into the freezer right away.

These will last for a long time.  Thaw out, prepare to your liking, and enjoy them!

 

 

Mixed Berry Jam

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on October 27, 2012 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

This is a recipe I found online.  Very easy for a first time jam attempt! 

-1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered

-1 1/2 Cups sugar

-1/2 lemon, seeded

-1 pound mixed berries (I use blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)

 

-In a large saucepan (do not use aluminum) add the strawberries and sugar.  You will not need heat for this step!  Allow the sugar to dissolve for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until you have a mixture resembling the photo below.

-Once you have reached this consistency, squeeze the lemon over the strawberries.  Add the lemon rind to the pot once all the juice has been squeezed out.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. 

-Cook over medium/high heat until strawberries are just softened, stirring, this will take about 5 minutes.

-Add mixed berries to the pot.  Cook over medium to medium/high heat until mixture thickens.  The liquid should run off the spoon in thick drops.  This could take 20-25 minutes or more.  Skim any foam off the top of the pot.

-Discard lemon and spoon the mixture into 3 warm, sterilized 1/2 pint canning jars leaving 1/4" of space at the top of the jar.  At this point I place one of the jars out to cool, then into the fridge for immediate use, while canning the other two jars in a 10 minute water bath.  These can be store on the pantry shelves, after they have cooled, for a few months.

-Enjoy!

 

 

 

Protect Your Arms

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on October 21, 2012 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Saw this idea in the latest issue of Garden Gate and just had to try it! Now I don't have to wear long sleeves when I work with my tomato or zucchini plants (which tend to give me hives). Just take a long sock and cut the fingers out of it... then place your gardening gloves over them. Tried it and it works! Thank you Garden Gate Magazine for the wonderful tip! - Mimi's Garden

Pickled Peppers, Basic Recipe

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on October 3, 2012 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

This recipe will be enough for 4 pints of pickled peppers, and can be adjusted up or down based on your harvest!  Works with any type of pepper.

2 Quarts of Peppers

2 Cups White Vinegar

2 Cups Water

1 Tsp salt

-Seed, stem, and slice peppers.  If the peppers are spicy you may want to wear gloves!  If you leave the peppers whole cut 2 slits into the tip of the pepper in an 'X' , or your peppers might burst.

-Simmer White Vinegar and Water in a pot. 

-Pack peppers into a jar as tightly as you can, and add simmering mix to the jar.  Fill within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar.  Add salt to the top of the mixture.

-Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes

 

Pesto

Posted by Mimi's Garden, Inc. on July 16, 2012 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (2)

Ingredients:

 

1 Cup packed basil (Stemmed, rinsed, and thoroughly drained)

1/4 Cup Olive oil

2 Medium Cloves of Garlic

1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese

1/4 tsp Salt

-In a food processor or blender combine basil leaves, garlic, salt, and oil

-Process until mixture is evenly blended

-Transfer to a bowl and stir in grated cheese

-Refrigerate for up to a week.  Top with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent "browning".  Mixture may also be frozen for a few months.

 


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