Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Senator Stabenow on GMO Labeling "Runs counter to...the public interest"

Dear Folks,

The Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee on GMO Labeling.

In other words the consumers are idiots.

I think Senator Stabenow needs to hear from us idiots, don't you?

Tell Senator Stabenow what you think

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Monday, June 10, 2013

Who Loves Basil? Around the Garden, and more on Monsanto's Shenanigans.

Dear Folks,

The Herb Society of America has a wonderful 45 page booklet out - all about basil, lore, facts, recipes and varieties - this is a booklet every gardener should have.  I think I have grown at one time or another all 46 or so varieties and I have my favorites: Dark Opal, Thai, Cinnamon and Lime are at the top of my list, but they all have something wonderful that answers an age old conundrum:  Chicken again!!  If you HAD to serve chicken each night of the week, for weeks, how could you get it to be 'oh boy' instead of 'not chicken again!'  Herbs are always the answer but with a plant like basil the flavor options create a real pallet to choose from.

Herb Society Basil Guide

Around The Garden:

Harvested the last of our beets (Deane loves beets) and sauteed up with some our crook neck squash.  The squash and tomatoes are still producing and I'm trying to encourage the last of the fruit set on the tomatoes before the nighttime temperatures stop fruit set.

My decision to plant 60+ yellow onion sets last fall has provided me with 'scallions' these last many months, and I have about 3 which I will let got to good storage bulb size before harvesting when they set flowers.  I may double the planting or at least go to 100 sets.

The method is this:  plant the sets in the fall (late September - November) about 3-4 inches apart.  After about 6 weeks you can begin harvesting 'green onions' by pulling every second or every third onion.  Gradually as you work your way through the winter and spring the distance between sets gets bigger and therefore the bulbs have room to expand.  As you get towards the end of their season  7 - 10 months later - the remainder are at 'storage' size, and can be pulled and cured (dry out of direct sun until skin turns papery) and you have storage onions like you would buy in the store.

Critters In The Garden:

We encourage many critters in the garden, occasionally we also encourage them to not stay long and other times we want them to take up residence.  Bees are one of the ones we want to hang around, although we do not want a hive in the yard (Deane is a former bee keeper and knows their needs and management considerations), so I bought a 'bee house' to encourage the independent Mason and leaf cutter bees to move in.  We have one tenant and that is after I moved the bee house to an area I thought more to their liking.

About the time we think we have critters figured out they surprise us.  Each year we know the leaf cutters are around because of the 'watermelon smiles' cut outs they leave behind after taking a wedge out to shape their cells for depositing eggs.

FYI for you folks who are too in love with your precious flowering plants - bees pollinate those flowers so give them some slack when they take pieces of your plants leaves - you are being blessed by their presence!

So anyway, 1 tenant in the bee house and no other indications of where they might be setting up housekeeping -- until . . . Deane has a work bench on the patio, on said work bench is a piece of carpeting he keeps there to cushion projects and also keep the bench from deteriorating.  So the other day he took the carpet off to get some sawdust or debris or something  off of the carpeting and look what he discovered!!!!  An entire straightline condo of leaf cutter bee nests!  If you have never seen these before - focus on the line of green running along the edge of the bench in the bottom photo.

We laughed and laughed - that is a lot better choice than the spout on our drinking fountain where in the past when we did not use it for a time, turn the faucet on and out shoots a bee nest like a projectile from a gun!.

So Deane carefully put the carpet back and there it will stay until the bees hatch and fly off.  And so goes our Garden TV as we call it - always something interesting going on in the garden. :-)


The chemical giant who turned our farms into chemical experiments are apparently now reaping some payback.  Lawsuits have been filed as class-actions in Washington state and Kansas on behalf of US wheat farmers.  I would not be surprised if more do not join in.  Normally I am not happy when lawsuits are filed - there is a lot of harassment-by-lawsuit in this country, a situation I do not endorse, but I have to say I am almost doing a happy dance over these filings.  Monsanto has developed a reputation for suing farmers, this may be payback.

But there is actually worse news --  After the discovery of GMO wheat in an Oregon field, Monsanto repeatedly stated: 1) they stopped the trials of GMO wheat years ago (references varied from 7-10), 2) they had no idea how the wheat seed go into the Oregon field, 3) made thinly veiled references to 'activists' maybe being responsible for the seed, and 4) re-affirmed what the USDA has said - there is not approved GMO wheat in the US.

WELL GUESS WHAT - Monsanto has been trialing GMO WHEAT in two states THIS YEAR 2013!!

Sorry for 'yelling' I am fuming at not only Monsanto's actions (after all they are the poster-child of corporate greed and Machiavellian rules -- the end justifies the means) but also the Monsanto 71 - Our Senators  who sided with Monsanto over our right as consumers to know what is in our food.

Monsanto 2013 GMO Wheat Planting

We as consumers have another chance to get our voices heard with Congress - a bill introduced at the end of April 2013 is specifically focused on labeling Genetically Engineered foods.

Currently it is considered 'unlikely' to make it out of committee.  Let's see if enough people want to change that to get it out of committee.

Below is the government track on the house and senate versions of the bill.  I've listed the page for the Chair of the committees assigned the bill.

"Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act"

Chair of the House Committee assigned this bill

Chair of the Senate Commiteee assigned this bill

Absent ANY effort by our elected Congressional representatives - I would continue to encourage everyone to contact their favorite grocery chain and ask them - politely - to follow Whole Food's lead and require GMO ingredient labeling on all foods they carry.  Whole Foods has committed to a 2018 target (because these things do take time).

Below are the facebook pages for some of the largest chain companies.

Mesa and East Valley residents - mark your calendars and save the date FREE SEED SHARE - Friday, July 5th, 9 a.m. - Noon at the Mesa Farmers Market.  Get together your home-harvested seed or organic or heirloom varieties you would like to share.  You do not need to have seed to get some seed :-)  Our heavy sowing season for fall begins July 15th through the summer. -- more details as we get closer to the date.

Be safe out there - make sure there is water for any one or any critter outside.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady