How to: plant a butterfly garden

I don't know if you've heard, but the monarch butterfly is decreasing in population lately. They have declined by 85% in the last decade. Now Monarchs are different than other butterflies in that they only have one host plant for the caterpillars and it happens to grow in ditches in a long roadside so it's often treated as a weed and destroyed. That plant is milkweed, more on that later.

butterfly on flower in butterfly garden

However it's not just the monarchs! Over 450 butterfly species have declined in population since 1972! Butterflies are crucial pollinators (along with bees) for many produce crops. No pollinators equals no food! We already know there's problems with the bee population and now... here we are with butterflies!

Get Started Using Medicinal Teas

When you talk about medicinal teas or teas with natural health properties many people immediately think they need to grow, dry and blend their own teas. That couldn't be further from the truth! You can walk into any large grocery store and find at least a dozen different herbal teas available in tea bag form!

Various brewed herbal teas and herbs for natural healthcare

I'm not talking Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme and Trader Joes. Kroger has a great selection of herbal teas as does Walmart, Target, Meijer, Albertsons and most other large grocery stores. Admittedly the small stores might not carry many, but they should have a few. Those first 3 stores I mentioned will have a huge selection available!

Some of the most common herbal teas are peppermint, chamomile, ginger and hibiscus. You can usually find several blends also like detox, immunity and energy blend.

7 ways to use rosemary as medicine

I grow many different herbs and one I cannot be without is Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis). Rosemary is actually a member of the sage family and has needle like (almost pine looking) leaves on woody stems. Most people grow it as an annual since it's not cold hardy but it is actually a perennial. One of the most common kitchen herbs, it also has many medicinal uses.

Rosemary  herb. healing properties

Though rosemary is mostly known for its prominence in cooking, it has been in use otherwise as far back as 5000 BCE. It was grown in ancient Egypt for use in burial rituals and also used in Greece and Rome. In the 14th century, rosemary was used to make one of the first alcohol based perfumes in Europe.

Throughout history rosemary has symbolized remembrance, being using in many different cultures burial ceremonies. More currently, it holds a place in a often quoted line from the movie Practical Magic. "There are some things I know for certain: always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.”

Rosemary is a natural anti-inflammatory, is antifungal, has antimicrobial properties and is high in anti-oxidants. It can be used to improve the mood, lessen anxiety, reduce fatigue, improve memory and stimulate hair growth. 

How to grow petunias from seed

Petunias are a garden staple, known for their colorful flowers and great for gardens or containers. They come in more colors and types than you could count! They do great in full sun but because they tolerate shade well they are often placed close to homes where they spent part of the day in the shadow of the house. 

Petunias growing from seed

I have been growing petunias for many years. I like using them in the garden but they're also great in planters. Since they spread out so well, they can be used as a pot filler. Their colorful blooms attract lots of pollinators like butterflies and bees. Since your vegetables need pollinators, it's a good idea to welcome add to the garden!

13 Ways To Sneak Some Extra Fruits And Vegetables In Your Family’s Diets

I write a lot about growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs. I grow my own for many reasons but mostly because they are cleaner and healthier for you than the stuff sold in stores. Plus it's just easier to pick what you need for dinner from the yard than to drive to the store! As a bonus, when your kids help to grow the produce, they tend to be more willing to eat it! 

Fruit and cream cheese sandwich to add fruit or vegetables to diet

I make it a point to grow at least one new thing every year and the kids are always willing to try it! In the last few years we've grown cucamelons, glass gem popcorn, 4 different colors of tomatoes, huckleberries, ground cherries, purple green beans, purple carrots, kohlrabi, white egg eggplant and more!

It makes sense to get the kids involved in growing the foods they eat. I mean, if you can get the kids to willingly eat broccoli then you don't have to try to sneak it into their diets. If they're not willing though, that's when things get a little tricky. 

We all know that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Unfortunately should and do are two very different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there, especially with picky kids or cooking from the garden. 

I mean, if you've gardened for any length of time you know all the zucchini comes in for like 2 weeks then nothing! Right? Cherry tomatoes are pretty spread out during the season, but how many days in a row can you eat those? This makes it difficult to have a varied diet without getting sick of the crop of the week. So we’ll just have to get creative.