Skip the Supermarket: Grow a Kitchen Garden Instead

Now more than ever, growing your own organic, kitchen garden is essential. With stay-at-home orders still in effect, and grocery store shelves still rather barren, there’s no time like the present to embrace gardening and increase your sustainability to help provide fresh, safe products for you can your family. No matter how much or how little space you have, anyone with a patch of sunlight can grow a bountiful kitchen garden. Here’s how. 

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New Lettuce Recall Involves Potentially Fatal Strain of E.coli

Haven’t we all had enough stress for one year? An out of control virus that just won’t go away, civil and political unrest, and now….. An increasing number of food recalls continue to threaten our health and wellbeing. Do you buy produce at Walmart? If you have shopped over the weekend at Walmart and purchased single head romaine lettuce – don’t eat it! 

The most recent fresh produce recall applies to Tanimura & Antle bagged single head lettuce. E.coli was found during a test in Michigan that was traced back to a Walmart in Comstock. The worst part of all is that the strain of E.coli found (0157:H7) is one of the most likely strains of bacteria to cause hemolytic uremic syndrome ( HUS), which is a type of kidney failure that can be fatal.

The Center’s for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that up to 10 percent of people with this scary strain of E.col develop HUS. Signs of this condition include:

  • Decreased urination
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Loss of color in cheeks and lower eyelids

Young children and the elderly are most likely to develop HUS with long=term effects that can cause severe kidney damage and even death. The FDA urges anyone who is experiencing any of these telltale symptoms to contact a physician immediately.

Walmart has posted a list of all stores that may be infected by this most recent food recall, including 19 states and Puerto Rico. It is believed that the recall impacts  3,396 bags of lettuce that were packaged on October 15 or 16th. If you or someone you know has a suspicious bag of lettuce, throw it out or return it to the store for a full refund.

Food recalls continuing to pile up

There has been a long list of food recalls piling up over the past three months or so, including:

  • Trader Joe’s gluten-free battered halibut – recalled because it contained undeclared wheat and milk allergens.
  • Spice Hunter spice blends – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Sunshine Mills dog food – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Thomson International onions – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Natural Grocers organic whole elderberries – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • J&O mixed veggie cup with dip – recalled due to undeclared egg product
  • Kader Exports frozen shrimp – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Wegman’s store lemons oranges, in-store produced seafood –  recalled due to potential Listeria contamination.
  • Prima Wawona peaches – recalled due to reported Salmonella infections.
  • Progresso chicken soup – recalled due to undeclared allergens. 
  • Giant Food Stores House brand squash noodle medley – recalled due to found Listeria

What you can do to stay safe

Besides paying attention to any news of food recalls and throwing out any affected products, be sure to wash fresh produce thoroughly before eating. Doing this won’t kill bacteria if the lettuce is contaminated but will help remove any lingering pesticide residue. And though buying organic is a great way to avoid this, organic lettuce is just as susceptible to E. coli as non-organic lettuce.

Consider starting your very own garden to grow fresh food – you can even grow many edible plants successfully in very little space or even indoors if you don’t have outdoor space. This way, you know exactly where your food is coming from and can avoid human transmitted E. coli and other contamination. 

Shop locally whenever you can. Support farmers in your area and eat produce that doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to reach your table. This limits the number of people who come into contact with the product, decreasing the risk of contamination. As long as the farmers practice safe growing, you are better off purchasing locally sourced leafy greens. 

Susan Patterson – Master Gardener


7 Reasons You Never Want to Eat at a Salad Bar

A salad bar is the ultimate freedom in eating out. You get to choose just what you want on your healthy lunch or dinner. And the options are better than ever; your choice of lettuces and greens, shiny cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, peppers, cheeses, seeds, nuts, and the list goes on.

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Homesteading: How to Grow 100 Percent of Your Food

Many Americans believe that to feed a city, it takes miles and miles of machine-laid and chemically-grown crops. But in reality, with the right soil and a little space, you can grow enough food to feed your family in your backyard. A homestead garden is your ticket to becoming self-sufficient and less reliant on commercial grocery stores. In fact, there’s no better time than now to become self-reliant — especially with the pandemic still looming over our heads and climate change on the forefront. Here’s what you need to know to grow 100 percent of your food.    

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What is a Chicken Moat and How to Build One

The concept of a moat to protect a piece of property is not a new one. In medieval times, a wide, deep trench was dug around the perimeter of a castles property and usually filled with water. This ditch or moat served as a unique natural defense system and deterred enemies from approaching the stronghold. This same concept can be applied to the modern garden. However, instead of using depth and water as the natural barrier, you use chickens.

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Top Garden Trends for 2019

Just as there are trends for fashion, makeup, and home design, there are yearly garden trends as well. It can be difficult to keep up on all of the exciting developments in the yard and garden. Keep in mind that, ultimately, the true heart of gardening is a timeless act. The therapeutic process of selecting a plant or seed and placing it into the ground, tending it with care and diligence will always remain the same. These steps of gardening have been around since the dawn of agriculture and contribute to the fact that gardening will never go out of fashion.


However, each year there are new innovations, landscaping styles, and plants that could spice up your garden and bring your yard to a whole new level. Here are just a few garden trends you may want to check out as the 2019 spring planting season kicks into full gear.

Growing food in any space

As more and more health-conscious people are coming to realize the importance of sustainability and healthy eating, many are turning to vegetable gardening in a more non-traditional sense. You don’t need to have 3 acres of land and a massive garden plot to begin growing vegetables. Even one tomato plant in a container on your patio, or adding edible plants to your flower garden can help supplement your fresh vegetables and give you peace of mind knowing where your food comes from.

Gardening apps

The saying “there’s an app for that” exists for a reason and is all the more true in the technology-driven world of 2019. These days you can find apps for nearly everything, from exercise and social networking, to, unsurprisingly, gardening. Obviously, technology hasn’t yet progressed to the point of your smartphone going to the garden and digging a hole for you. However, these apps could prove helpful for tracking harvest times, planning your new landscape, or even discovering fellow garden fantatics.

  • Seek. This app allows you to snap a picture of any flower or plant and it identifies it for you.
  • Perennial Match. If you love planting perennial flowers, this helpful app can let you know which flowers look good when planted together and even give care instructions for various plants.
  • My Garden. Getting connected with others passionate about gardening is one of the most rewarding things. You can find rich and rewarding friendships through a shared love of gardening and this social media app can help you keep track of your own plants and share in your friends gardens.

Ferns as houseplants 

Having ferns indoors is nothing new, but you may begin to see this even more in Instagram-worthy living-rooms and on gardening and lifestyle blogs. Ferns are catapulting to popularity as the hottest houseplant of 2019. And what’s not to love? They look great, fit in with any decor style and help purify and cleanse the air.

Low-maintenance is key

Not all of us have hours upon hours to spend in the garden every day (though we would absolutely love to) and the fast-paced nature of our world is paving the way for more low-maintenance, less time-consuming gardening. There are a few easy ways to help make your existing  space more suitable for your lifestyle and tricks to ensure that any future garden could practically grow itself, once established.

  • Focus on perennials. Though we all love the colorful bursts of seasonal plants, the investment isn’t always worth it. Focus the core of your garden on hardy perennials that will come back year after year. If you still want annuuals, try placing a cute container arrangement on your front porch or patio. 
  • Install an irrigation system. Watering plants can take hours every day, especially if you have a large garden. Installing some sort of drip irrigation system is well worth the investment in the long-run.
  • Focus on minimalism. Cultivate ornamental trees and plants that will make a statement in your garden without fuss and buy only hardy varieties that can withstand a little neglect.

Greenhouse kits

Adding a greenhouse to your yard can seriously take your garden up a notch, helping you get an earlier start on the season, grow for longer, and perhaps keep fresh food available all year long. But what if you don’t want to buy a premade greenhouse and can’t fork over thousands of dollars to pay to have one built? Since the greenhouse trend has been on the rise you can now order DIY greenhouse kits online and set up your very own hothouse in just a few ridiculously simple steps. These kits are totally customizable and you can choose one that suits all your garden needs. Plus, you can find great options for well under $500.

-Taylor Ramsey