Prevention – Irish Spring

I’ve blogged this in past years, and will probably blog it again in future seasons: grated Irish Spring soap sprinkled on entry areas in your yard will repel mammal pests. Another plus, oh my, it smells so good when I’m grating it. The downside, it quickly washes away in the rain. The technique works well for me if I am diligent in reapplication. I don’t place it in areas where I am growing food intended for eating. So far, the worst damage in my gardens has been the inevitable unearthing of seeds and seedlings by foraging squirrels and chipmunks and some slug damage. So far,  the battle is about even between the animal pests and me. “Onward my wee laddies and lassies!” (I’m writing this with an celtic accent of course.)

“May your days be many
and your troubles be few.
May all God’s blessings
descend upon you.
May peace be within you
may your heart be strong.
May you find
what you’re seeking
wherever you roam.”
~ Irish Blessing

Prevention – Immunity Booster/Echinacea Tea

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Echinacea is a terrific supplement for enhancing your immune responses. I like to use Echinacea in tea form. The warmth of the brew seems so much more conducive to believing you are being boosted than popping a supplement. The taste is rather nondescript, so to enhance and cool the tea, I add a splash of my favorite fruit juice.

There are some precautions on who should take Echinacea. The University of Maryland has a good article on the do’s and don’ts of using Echinacea.

Echinacea is also a terrific garden plant, and one of the workhorses of my gardens. Not only are they beautiful when cloaked in their summertime blossoms…

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They also form attractive seedpods that help supplement the diet of local birds all through the winter. I think they are beautiful dappled with yesterday’s light snowfall.

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My Echinacea grows best in 6 -8 hours of sun per day. Planted near the birdfeeder, the plant provides both a meal and a resting place for birds throughout the entire year.

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Plants & Prevention – Broccoli Sprouts

Broccoli sprouts are a superfood. Part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, broccoli packs quite a nutritional punch as a cancer prevention, respiratory health enhancer, and decreaser of triglyceride levels. “Sulfaraphane-rich broccoli sprouts may be the key to lowering your risk for heart disease,” says an article at Healthy Eating. “Young broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times more of the antioxidant sulforaphane than broccoli.

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Five to seven days ago I found an old packet of broccoli sprouting seeds that I’ve had since 2011. I wasn’t sure if the seeds were still viable, but rather than waste them, I put them in water to soak for 24 hours. When the time came to drain the water, I covered the glass with a sprouting lid and drained the water away. For the next few days I rinsed the seeds with water twice a day and let the glass drain upside down at an angle. Even though the seeds were not fresh, most sprouted for me.

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If you don’t have a sprouting lid, there are many other alternatives: cheesecloth, netting, I’ve even used old pieces of lace rubber-banded around the top of a glass or jar.

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To remove the spent seed hulls I soak the sprouts in a bowl of water. The seed hulls float and gather at the sides of the container. I remove these by running a finger around the edge, depositing the hulls in the sink to wash down the drain. Any seeds that don’t sprout usually drop to the bottom of the bowl, making for easy removal.

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If you don’t eat your sprouts immediately please refrigerate them. They will stay fresh for several days stored in a chilly environment. I use my sprouts on sandwiches, in salads…once I even used alfalfa sprouts in a meatloaf, trying to sneak in extra nutrition for my family…problem was the small plantlets stayed a brilliant green…well, you know the story about some people and eating “GREEN FOOD!”

My favorite source of sprouting seeds and microgreens is Pinetree Garden Seeds and Accessories. I find them very reliable, the seeds they sell stay fresh for me for years if stored in a cool, dry place. Give sprouts a try…your immune system will thank you.