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Best Veggies to Grow in Raised Beds

A raised bed is a great way to start a vegetable garden. It allows you to create the perfect environment for your veggies, with just the right soil mix and good drainage. You can generally grow any vegetables in this way, but some are superstar producers in a raised bed.

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Always Plant This Kind of Fruit in Containers

Growing fruit is easier than it sounds, even in a limited space. There are several types of fruit that can be grown in pots. Container-grown fruit allows you to have a little orchard even if your outdoor space is limited to a patio or balcony. And, you can bring the pot in for the winter if you choose a fruit that is not hardy. Check out the best fruit varieties to grow in containers and some tips on how to get a good harvest.

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The Easiest Way to Grow Herbs all Year Long

Container gardening is one of the easiest methods for growing herbs. Not only can you move the pots around to catch sunlight or give them a bit of shade, but you also have easy access to all your kitchen herbs right outside your backdoor. If you are in the middle of preparing dinner and realize that that spaghetti sauce needs a hint of fresh basil, you can simply step outside and cut a few leaves.

Why plant herbs in containers

  • Containers contain aggressive herbs

Container gardening helps keep aggressive herbs such as most mint varieties from spreading and taking over your entire garden. Eventually, the herbs can become invasive and be more of a hassle than a blessing.

  • Containers allow for moisture and soil control

Herbs can occasionally be finicky and require varying levels of moisture and soil fertilization. To ensure that you keep your plants healthy and watered properly, it is a good idea to utilize the power of container gardening.

  • Containers can be brought indoors

It can be hard to let your perennial herbs die out every winter when you still want to harvest their flavorful leaves. If you have space, simply bring your pots indoors when the weather begins to cool and you can keep your herbs for years to come. Plus, you will have even better access for beauty and culinary uses.

Containers make great patio decorations

If you have an outdoor living space such as a patio, balcony, or porch, it can be hard to figure out how to infuse it with life and make it welcoming. Potted herbs can do just that! You can choose colorful pots that match your patio furniture or simply enjoy the natural green beauty of your fragrant plants

Best herbs for containers

With all that being said, it is important to remember that not every herb will thrive in a container environment. Many need more space or drain soil nutrients too quickly to be contained to a pot.

Here are 5 of the best herbs for container gardening.

  • Basil

Perhaps one of the most versatile and useful herbs in the kitchen, fresh basil adds delicious flavor to any savory dish. Be sure that your basil plant gets plenty of sunlight and is in a container with adequate drainage. Once your plant has reached maturity, it is best to frequently harvest the leaves, as basil does well when trimmed back often. Be sure to pinch off any flower buds before they can develop since they tend to reduce flavor and quality.

  • Mints

Mints are many gardeners top choice for container gardening as they tend to take over whatever space they are planted in. Containers are also useful for those wishing to keep mint varieties separate and prevent cross-pollination. Mints do well when harvested frequently. Use mints in teas, baked goods, or even dinner dishes.

  • Rosemary

This beautiful, fragrant herb makes an excellent addition to any windowsill or backyard patio. Keep the soil wet, but be sure not to overwater.

  • Thyme

Another fantastic culinary herb, thyme is a great choice for those just starting out with gardening, or gardeners plagued with a black thumb, since it is fairly resistant to drought and neglect. This herb looks beautiful in any pot and will thrive under full sun.

  • Oregano

Another prolific herb, oregano often does a little too well in the garden and can quickly spread and take over. Growing it in a pot can help control this enthusiastic growth, and provide you with flavorful oregano all year round.

Tips for herb container gardening

  • Choose the right pot

Drainage is the key concern when picking out the pot for your herb. Most herbs don’t do well in standing water and could begin to rot or mold.

  • Harvest frequently

As mentioned earlier, it is important that you harvest your herbs frequently. Letting growth get out of control can create bitter, flavorless herbs.

  • Use quality potting soil

Because your herbs are in containers, it is important that you don’t skimp on the soil. Fill your pots with a mixture of quality potting soil and aged compost for optimal results.

Have you ever planted herbs in containers? Let us know which plants worked best for you in the comments below.

– Taylor Ramsey

Food Safety Alert: Nationwide Shrimp Product Recall Intensifies

And… it has happened again. As of August 16, 2021, there have been nine reports of salmonella-related illnesses related to shrimp products sold by Avanti Frozen Foods India.  Three of these people have been hospitalized. This multi-state outbreak is currently being investigated by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Illnesses have been reported in four states, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Rhode Island. 

On June 25, 2021, Avanti Foods Pvt. issued a recall on frozen shrimp products distributed nationwide from November 2020 to May 2021. However, it is now thought that the products may have been sold in stores more recently, according to the CDC.  After the CDC reopened its investigation, the FDA requested Avanti to expand the prior recall.

The frozen shrimp was sold under multiple brand names including,  365, Ahold, Big River, Censea, Chicken of the Sea, CWNO, First Street, Food Lion, Hannaford, Harbor Banks, Honest Catch, HOS, Meijer, Nature’s Promise, Open Acres, Sandbar, Sea Cove, Waterfront Bistro, Wellsley Farms, and WFNO Brands.

Whole Foods Market lists two products associated with the recall under its 365 store brand, Kroger, Albertsons, Target, and Meijer, and Hannaford are among retailers impacted by this recall. Products included in the recall include various sizes of frozen cooked, peeled, deveined, shrimp (some packaged with cocktail sauce), tempura roles sold at Target stores in California, and rings of frozen shrimp distributed by Chicken of the Sea and sold at Meijer as well as bags of Meijer-branded bags of frozen shrimp.

Avanti is based in Visakhapatnam, India, partially owned by Bangkok-based Thai Union Group, a global seafood company.

Three smaller recalls linked to the nationwide recall

In addition to the nationwide shrimp recall, there are three smaller related recalls.

  • Mai Cuisine Inc., of Allentown – Recalling 67 packs of 12 piece Shrimp Tempura Kabuki Roll purchased at selected California Target Stores
  • Genji Pacific LLC, of Allentown – Recalling 1 490 packs of sushi containing cocktail shrimp purchased in Whole Foods Market in California stores
  • Mai Franchising Inc., of Allentown – Voluntarily recalling 103 packages of sushi containing cocktail shrimp purchased at New Leaf Community Market stores in Northern California

Stores linked to these California recalls can be found on the fda.gov site.

How seafood gets tainted

According to a study published in the Journal of Food Protection, unlike poultry and other warm-blooded animals, seafood such as shrimp do not naturally carry Salmonella bacteria. Study authors state the following.

“Salmonella is not part of the natural flora of the shrimp culture environment, nor is it inherently present in shrimp grow-out ponds. The occurrence of Salmonella bacteria in shrimp from aquaculture operations is related to the concentration of fecal bacteria in the source and grow-out pond water.”

More than 90% of shrimp consumed in the United States is imported from other countries, including Southeast Asia and Central Asia. There are numerous points from growing to harvest, processing, and shipping where shrimp can become contaminated. Each time seafood and meat are frozen, it becomes a better opportunity for bacteria to thrive. Additionally, if these foods are thawed and frozen again – more bacteria can grow.  The shrimp in question were sold frozen, then thawed before being sold.

Know where your seafood comes from 

Like all food you put on your table, knowing where it originated and is handled is essential. If you can’t catch your fresh seafood or don’t live close to the sea, pick a reputable company that sources only the best seafood possible. Here are a couple of great options to consider

 Vital Choice says this about their products.

“We seek ingredients that are certified organic and Fair Trade Certified™ whenever possible. We seek suppliers who uphold good manufacturing practices and who make a positive impact on their employees, communities, and the environment.”

Wild Alaskan Company says this about their products.

“We proudly ship a wide variety of wild-caught species from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, including sockeye salmon, coho salmon, pacific cod, pacific halibut, and wild Alaska pollock.”

Stay safe and stay informed,

-The Backyard Vitality Team