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Neat Gardening Tips & Tricks: 2016

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Dear Readers, 

This Post was originally written around this time last year.  Since then, I’ve learned a little bit more about gardening and made some cool additions to the front, side and back yards respectively, and I thought I’d update this little post with some things that came into my head today.  So, some of it’s a re-read and some of it’s new.  

My hope is, you’ve acquired a year’s worth of new gardening tips & tricks to share with me! 😉 Kristen 

 

While I was working in my garden today, I took pictures of the plants that have recently improved, bloomed or yielded crops.  While doing so, I began to think about some of the neat tips and tricks I have learned through my own gardening experiences.  I thought I would share some of that knowledge with you in this post in the event you were considering planting a Spring Garden this year.  Also, if you notice any incorrect information, or have any suggestions for me to try in my own garden, please share as I am continually learning.  

While it would be a boost to my ego for you to just blindly follow my instructions, I will explain why these gardening tips and tricks work.

There are opportunities to improve the quality of the plants in your garden that you may be missing daily!

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My beautiful picture

Dr. Candy Crush, Dogs, & Triggers

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 I saw my psychiatrist today for a medication management appointment.  Yes, Dr. Candy Crush, again. 

In her defense, she was actually pretty focused today.  

I attribute this mainly to the brevity of the appointment and the fact that I came straight in, disregarded the usual pleasantries, and immediately stated my request.  I’m growing fairly certain she’s ADHD.  

Although, the perpetual communication breakdown probably lies with me.  I’m the patient and am therefore, the affected one.  

Hard-knuckling through a bi-monthly face-to-face of endless, repetitive droning about my *horrible life cognition* has got to be brutal, whether her time’s compensated or not.   I mean, who would sit, hands steepled, transfixed, while I regale them with fresh hell from neuron-to-synapse-to-mouth?

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Lara Croft & Writing

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Hold on for one second, can we all just acknowledge that some random Facebook App 

has deemed my countenance most closely resembling that of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider?  

Compared to…Mickey Mouse, I guess?

I don’t care, I’ll take it. 

Please and Thank you. :-) 

Now that we’ve dealt with housekeeping matters most pressing, I’ll let you know what I’ve been doing, and that is not been preparing much new *quality* blog material, unless you count my diatribe on Running! 

In the last 19 months or so, the subject matter of my writing has remained largely the same: organic gardening, fitness, running, eating disorders and mental health.  When I first began publicly sharing my life, the ratio of posts devoted to gardening and fitness was much more balanced.

Just as I explained in MY ECOTONE, the blog was launched to document my out-of-the-box gardening activities.  That wasn’t enough, so I began writing EXACTLY what I’ve been living.  It was real, raw, and mortifying.

It’s was also self-indulgent and woe-is-me.  Sorry about that.

Yes, my posts can seem redundant.  My subject matter can be tedious, monotonous, repetitive, obsessive, what-have-you.  You know why? Because not every reader has been following from Day One, and I have a message.

If I were pressed to state two goals I had for this blog, I’d have to say 1.) Personal Catharsis, 2.) Public Awareness. 

Writing privately is therapeutic.  Writing publicly–especially about the ugly, shameful, humiliating, terror in my brain, my head and my life is surprisingly restorative.

I’m not looking to be told I am brave, strong or virtuous for sharing unattractive and embarrassing details.  I’m weak and sick.  I’ve done such incredible damage to myself and much more to my family.    I’m that nasty fault line under my parents’ and siblings’ homes. The structural damage reaches it’s treacherous, spiky thorns across the country, insidious, cracking foundations, separating lives and relationships.

*There I go again.*

Not everyone has the time for (or interest in) reading every last Mental Health or Eating Disorder Related post in chronological order.  I don’t even want to do that.  Some of my posts are horrifyingly self-indulgent, narcissistic and just plain garbage.

With that being said, the Blog is still Here.  I am still writing and am still passionate about the message.

But, for the heavier writing about mental health and eating disorders, I am realizing a blog is simply too disjointed a forum for the subject matter.

I want to write on this Comprehensively, Provocatively, and Articulately.  Hence, the project.

So, what I have been up to recently, besides deluding myself into thinking that Angelina and I might share some facial features? 

Writing, writing, writing.

Running (about 3-4 times a week).

Gardening (Yep, it’s already started…I planted a new Pomegranate Tree today and I am in the process of transplanting 9 (Little) FIG TREES).

So, coming up, you will be seeing a great deal of gardening and fitness related posts, with some light discussion on mental health issues.  :-)


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Grow Your Own: Avocadoes

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Why am I posting this Tropical Insanity during the frigid Snow Flake 2 emoticonSnow Flake 2 emoticonWinterSnow Flake 2 emoticonSnow Flake 2 emoticon? Because the indoor-to-outdoor process takes a while and, before you know it, Spring will be here, and it’ll be time to move your little

Avocado Tree outside for planting!

*Growing from seeds*
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FAQ’s

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My Florida Avocado Tree: 6 months after planting from seed/pit.  

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My Florida Avocado Tree: 12 months after planting from seed/pit.

**Haas Avocado Tree Grown From Seed** 

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The Elusiveness of R.E.M.

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One very unpleasant manifestation of Bipolar Disorder is the symptom of Sleep Disturbance.

In the same extreme manner which characterizes other behaviors, my sleep has deteriorated to an pattern of all or nothing. I am either awake for days on end or I over-sleep, losing between 16 and 24 hours.

Moreover, when I do get sleep it is of inferior quality; I awaken expressly devoid of refreshment or rejuvenation.  There is almost certainly no R.E.M. happening. I can’t seem to get on track.

In an attempt to coax my unwilling mind into a calmer, less hectic state, I am seeking relief with tea.

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Tea animated emoticonThis is my first experience with kava and valerian root combined which, according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, have sedative properties when taken together.

 

This is also my first experience with loose tea.

104_2129Personally, I think it looks identical to potpourri and, to be honest, tastes just how I’d imagine a perfumed medley of dried petals and spices might.

104_2130Because the blend is loose, I am straining it with a filter prior to drinking.

As a supplementary measure, I am fully stocked with calming Chamomile tea which, on its own, has historically aided in reducing some anxiety, but has not sedated me to the point of all-out slumber.

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Although similarly floral, I find Chamomile more palatable that the kava and valerian root blend.

104_2167104_2059104_1292 104_1262sleeping hello kitty emoticon

(This blend of Yogi Tea has kava but also contains cinnamon and sarsaparilla which make the tea quite delicious).

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And let’s not forget my all-time-favorite, limited edition, which contains Stevia Leaf & raspberry!  I know my brain needs sleep, so I am willing to forgo the yummier teas, until I have improved my Sleep Cycle.  

Why Your Brain Needs Sleep.  104_0656

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Have you ever struggled with Sleep Disturbance? 

How did you overcome it?


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All-Inclusive Staycation: Running!

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The main impediment to my own pursuit of recreational

“tri-athleticism” has always been reticence.

That’s it.  I’m shy; unsure of myself.

I don’t have the “proper jargon” down for the swim/bike portions of the program.  I don’t have the right gear or proper technique.  And you have to know a lot of stuff.

Additionally, I’m patently uncool.

I’m always doing massively lame things like forgetting to refer to my bicycle seat as a “saddle”.   I ride a slow, heavy bicycle from Walmart which I’ve no objection to using, in fact, I think a heavier bike provides a more challenging workout, but I wouldn’t dare bring it to a Bicycling Meetup Group.

I can just hear the (imaginary?) elitist snickers now.

I couldn’t clock a respectable 100 yard freestyle swim because I’d be doggy-paddling halfway through.  I couldn’t demonstrate a decent butterfly stroke for $1000 tax-free dollars.  And I can’t do the cool flip turn at the end of the lane, although I really, REALLY want to.

So what if I could eventually work past these hurdles? In my mind, approaching my local Tri Club would result in my being laughed straight out of Florida.

Someone might respond to my declaration of (irrational?)fear like this:  “Kristen, you were new to running once,  you got over it, and now you are natural and relaxed in that environment.”  No one has, but that would be a reasonable assertion to make in this context.

My Response:

Running is Unique.  One thing I’ve observed, and this is just my opinion, is the vast difference in permeability between running and other sports.  Unlike everything else, running is wide open.  I’ve always taken pride in being part of the running community; for it’s all- inclusiveness and ease of transition between other recreational sports.

Want to be a runner?

Ok, Go Run. boom.⇒   You are one.

It’s that simple.

It would break my heart to know that someone felt that their body type, running style, disability, etc could or would exclude them from being part of this fantastic, amazing, rewarding, addicting, All-Inclusive Sport that’s an All-Inclusive Resort for Your Mind and Your Troubles.

Running’s a Staycation that’s only a pair of shoes (or not) away.  That’s it.  There’s no stopping you.  Except maybe, injury.

9 times out of 10; I’d be willing to bet, they are over-use injuries.  Why?

Because Running is just that good.

So forgive me if I get a little defensive about the sport that I’m so proud to be a part of.  As far as mainstream exercise goes, it’s the simplest, most accessible, and most welcoming of communities.  I’d be very sad to hear that someone might be deterred from the happiness of running because they felt alienated by their physicality.  There’s simply no room for that nonsense; figuratively and literally.

And as far as organized racing goes, there have been some additional divisions created to broaden the competitive field and encourage participation by all runners.  The new divisions are by-weight categories: Athena, for women, and Clydesdale, for men.  Runner registration is completely optional; the purpose is to give more runners an opportunity to “place” in different categories and,

I don’t know about you, but my fondness for accolades and medals has held pretty steady since childhood.

So don’t worry about having all the right gear or the ideal runner’s physique, because there is no such thing.  Don’t worry about having a clumsy or awkward-looking stride, because running shouldn’t be about judgement.  I’d like to think that running is the sport that’s closest to being free of elitism, or at least, has the capacity to be.

 Running is All-Inclusive.  Everyone Willkommen.

***Disclaimer:  I know many triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, and other athletes who are not elitists in the slightest.  I used other sports as illustrative comparisons and to demonstrate my personal experience with the way running has made me feel included (relative to other sports).


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Rodrigo!

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***Full disclosure: this is a frivolous and fluffy post.***  

Cons: Possible waste of time to read.

Pros: Likely minimal time wasted & one can always click the little ‘X’ button, yeah?

 Ahem.  I was pretty unsure about Mozart in the Jungle.  

Adverts for the series were plastered everywhere.

This Face.

Rodrigo!

I’d clear my internet browsing cache, and within minutes, they’d be back.  Taunting me. Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.

Mozart.Mozart.

Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.

I’d lay down to sleep, close my eyes, and there the ensemble cast would be; poised, waiting, instruments at the ready.

When the Golden Globes came and went,

I did not watch either-the awards show,

nor the recipient of 2 nominations and 2 wins.

The face, it implored me; watch the show.

My mom and two oldest brothers are fond of classical music, as am I.

If nothing else, I’d hear Debussy.  Bach.  Haydn.

↓ This.

But well and truly, what sealed the deal, is I’ll watch anything and everything with Bernadette Peters.  

And that’s a fact.

This Glorious Clip is from the year I was born.  Three Very Talented Performers in one of my favorite numbers of all time which has nothing to do with Mozart in the Jungle with the exception of Ms. Peters:

And I am rather pleased I finally gave in to Mozart in the Jungle because:

1.) There is some amazing music.

2.) It’s a thoughtful script.

3.) There are no perfect Hollywood-looking people in the cast.  Everyone is flawed.  And Interesting.

4.) Jason Schwartzman.

Seriously, don’t not watch it because you’re feeling so hassled by all the hype.  It’s a good show; I like it.  I’d watch more of it if there was more.  And if the show itself wasn’t that great, or I didn’t like the looks of the actors, I’d just play the episodes like a Classical soundtrack for cleaning, cooking, or drawing, because the music is that great.  

Check it out & Let me know what you think of Rodrigo!  :-)


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Grape Ape

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So far, the crops for which I have developed the most passion are my Grape Vines.  I established half of them in 2014, when I first began

My Front Yard Garden.  They were so tiny back then:

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2014

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2014

The other half, which I just planted this season, are the same size as the others were starting out.  I am confident that they will flourish in the same manner as their predecessors.

As you can see, the established vines have grown a lot (2015).

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2015

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2015

And they’d begun producing.

I first noticed just a few grapes last week, which I mentioned previously.

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2015

At the time, I only spotted these few grapes on a singular plant.

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2015

What a week of mostly sunshine and one downpour can accomplish:

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2015

They are literally everywhere:

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I don’t drink wine or grape juice, but I love fresh grapes.  Because of their high sugar content, they were on my list of fear foods for a period of time.  Thankfully, I have made peace with that particular neuroses and have embraced the phyto-nutrients.  I can consume an obscene amount in one sitting with nary a tummy ache.

I know that some people have food allergies which prevent them from enjoying this delicious pleasure and I am truly sorry for them.  If I were confronted with this limitation, I might just keep an EpiPen on standby.

 

↑If I were a Hanna-Barbara character, I would be Grape Ape.104_1776

Do you like grapes?

Or grape juice?

Or wine?

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We should totally just stab Caesar!

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As I am planning out my Springtime garden once again, I’m looking forward to:

Planting Everything
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Planting Lettuce    

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And as much of everything else as time allows.  :-)

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Get started early indoors 

There are 4 distinct types of lettuce: Crisphead, Loosehead, Looseleaf and Romaine.  Within each type of lettuce, there exists many varieties and hybrid varieties.

The fact that Romaine lettuce makes up one quarter of the market share is pretty impressive!  It is my favorite kind of lettuce and I literally eat it every day, without fail.   Romaine hearts are fairly pricey:  a three-pack runs about $2.99-$4.99 depending on Organic status and the grocery store.  At the rate I consume my salads, it could run me upwards of $30 a week…just on one type of lettuce!  And yes, I realize that’s a lot of lettuce.

A brief history of my much-beloved salad staple:

The Romans were also rabid fans of Romaine lettuce and its radiant healthy properties (hence the name). Emperor Caesar Augustus may have been even more obsessed than I am.  He commissioned his craftsman to build a statue in praise of Romaine lettuce.

Kind of makes the whole “Caesar Salad” thing make sense though.

 Or not.

Regardless of whether you can shovel in lettuce around the clock or if you want to provide a delicious and healthy salad for your family, it is INSANELY EASY to grow lettuce without using any pesticides, chemicals or unnatural fertilizers.

First, pick an area (in your yard, on your deck, in a box, with a fox, etc.)  that gets decent sunlight.  We’re talking 6ish hours per day.104_0158

Second, choose the right lettuce type for both your geographic location and culinary preference.  The seed packages have color-coded maps on the back that will tell you how to make an informed decision.

Third, prepare the area you are planning to use for planting.  Lettuce seeds can be sown directly into the ground once spring arrives.  Alternately, you can start the seeds indoors in containers with potting soil.  I did the second option because I was so antsy-in-my-pantsy to get going and the last of our cold weather was not quite over.

Tip: Lettuce seeds are MICROSCOPIC so very carefully and deliberately space them in the ground or in the containers.  Make sure to check the seed package for spacing-specifics.  I used an organic potting soil mix to get the seeds sprouting, and then once they were about 2 inches tall, I transplanted them to an exterior row in my garden.  I chose this spot because it was accessible for weeding and tending a crop so low to the ground and also because the borders of my garden share space with marigolds,  a natural pest repellent.

104_0063104_0061                           Make sure to water your plants.  :-)
104_0065104_0064Harvesting the lettuce is the best part and it is so neat!!  When you are craving some rabbit food, simply walk out your door with kitchen shears and snip what you want, starting with the outside leaves, working your way in.  Since you didn’t use any nasty pesticides, just lightly rinse the dirt off and enjoy.

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Resume caring for your plants as you had been.  One day, you will wake up to discover the lettuce leaves have not forsaken you; they do indeed grow back.  At first I suspected black magic, but then I read that both Loose-leaf and Romaine are are “cut and come again” lettuce types. They really do  keep on giving.  Do not pull the lettuce out by the roots unless you are prepared for it to be your last supper,  near the end of the summer.

What questions do you have for me regarding Growing Your Own lettuce?

What is your favorite lettuce type/variety?

What other greens do you enjoy in your salad besides lettuce?

I really like baby kale, too. 


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