SQUASH BUG 101 UPDATED!

Garden Fresh Salad & Squash Bug Damage 001I’m here to tell you there is NO CURE FOR ADOLESCENT OR ADULT SQUASH BUGS…We did make the homemade recipe that we found on another blog that I listed in Squash Bug 101, I think because of the vegetable oil (which I used more heavily than required) it did some damage to babies just hatched. I even resorted to spraying bleach on these insane bugs…We are thinking of trying Habanero Pepper spray or electrocution…We’ve lost 2 plants and the others are greatly wounded! Zucchini is far worse than the yellow squash. They multiply every hour on the hour, their resiliency is unlike anything known to man! They are more hated than the disgusting cockroach! I’ve never hated any garden creature quite like this, until now…not even the gross tomato worm tops these jerks! They are so bad, I’m considering not growing squashes for another season or two. We will bake the soil by covering with plastic when there is absolutely no more production and we have removed the plants.

Oh, by the way, the photo, they killed the plant on the left, now they are on the healthy one!
I pray they don’t get on my awesome cucumbers….

With love for God & most things natural…except the squash bug!

The Dirt Diva xoxoxoxo

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Spicy Grilled Japanese Eggplant

Recipes + First BEEF STEAK TOMATO june 16 fathers day 011Good morning! Happy Sunday! The Dirt Diva has been harvesting lots of Japanese Eggplant. We wanted to share a Yummilicious recipe with you. This can be grilled indoors, outdoors or browned in a sauté pan ♥ 2 Tbl olive oil in a bowl, squeeze 1/2 a lemon. Shake each of these ingredients into the bowl, each to your taste, mix them in the oil. Slice the Japanese Eggplant in half then in 2 lengths. Toss to coat them evenly in the bowl, or you can brush on the marinade. Grill outdoors or indoors or brown in a saute pan (both sides) for approximately 2 to 4 minutes each side depending on your heat.

Be generous w/ the ingredients, add more heat, or more garlic…stick you finger in the marinade and taste before using….this is great served w/ Jasmine Rice (flavored with Thai basil) & Chicken or Pork that you are grilling.

With love for God all things natural, The Dirt Diva xoxoxox

Heart & Soul of it all

garden20hands3.jpg
Last year I wrote about food banks in my article titled “The New Face of the American Recession.” I spoke about “share the love, share the food.” Well, I’ve changed that to; “Share Your Love, Share Your Food.” and the heart & soul of this is just that…share!

“Share Your Love, Share Your Food” made its unofficial debut May 18, 2013 at the Champion Center and we were honored to share the harvest with others!

The desire and the goal of this is to share with people not only fresh food but empower them with knowledge about that fresh food. You don’t have to be rich to eat well, you don’t have to be rich to share well. Everything begins with love. Without love, sharing is meaningless.

In 2010 we began this garden because I had stopped smoking and began researching information on becoming a vegetarian and eating organic foods. I WANTED to make a positive change in my body. TODAY I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER! In 2011 this garden became more than an adventure in learning and changing, it became a passion to reach out and help others make positive changes in their lives.

This simple little garden is The Dirt Diva Farms, and the Heart & Soul of this to share our passion in hopes that you will then share your passion and one by one we can each make a positive impact on someone else’s life. One small step is all it takes, come, lets to do this together ♥

With love for God & all things natural,
The Dirt Diva xoxoxoxox

Squash Bug 101

CIMG6533Good morning fellow farmers ♥

Once again we are facing the INVASION OF THE SQUASH BUG! We have multiple generations, adults, adolescents and infants.

The most informative web site I have found on this dilemma is
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05609.html” title=”Squash Bug: Management in Home Gardens by W. Cranshaw 4/08″>

This is what I have learned: Plant your squash late in the season. How late is late in Las Vegas? I planted toward the end of March, which was an entire month later than the previous season.
Many people have home remedies that may or may not help. I have posted a recipe below which I am currently trying. Also, I was told to sprinkle dill weed in the beds; that did not help. The squash bug seems to prefer zucchini over yellow squash, but they are in both.
The best advice is to:
1. Wear garden gloves & long sleeves to protect your skin. Squash plants have pickers on the stems & leaves to protect them and this can be very irritating on your arms.
(I smash the bugs between my gloved fingers)
2. Keep your beds free of mulch and dead leaf and aborted baby squash.
3. Check for eggs on the leaves regularly. Squash bugs lay eggs on top of the leaves and underneath. They are bronze in color. You can scrape them off with a knife, or cut the leaf or portion of it and place in bucket of water to drown.
4. You can drown the adult squash bug as well. Make sure they don’t have leaves to scurry onto to save themselves & crawl out of the bucket

Squash bugs can destroy your squash plants. Don’t give up, you will not completely win but you can help your plants to survive.

Yesterday I was picking zucchini, and it was COVERED with the adolescents bugs as pictured above. I carefully used my paring knife at the base of the zucchini to remove it, then I gently lifted it out with all the critters on it. I dunked the zucchini in the bucket of water to remove all the kids and saved my zucchini! If I had jerked it out, or tried to grab the bugs off of the fruit they would have just scurried away to where I couldn’t reach them.

After this growing season has ended; we are going to cover the beds with black plastic to “bake” the soil. After a month we will till the bed and “bake” again.

HOME REMEDY
This is the recipe I found on another blog:
Garlic juice concentrate-
4tsp baking soda (anti-fungal properties, also stops powdery mildew type problems)
1tsp vegetable oil (smothers) Neem oil would work well here. The amount could be doubled.
1tsp soap (emulsifier/sticker) Best to use a natural soap such as Dr. Bronner’s.
1 to 2 tbs garlic juice (kills)Juice: 1 med bulb (not clove) of garlic blended with 1 to 2 cups of water. Let sit a minimum of 15 minutes and strain.
Add concentrate to a gallon of water and spray liberally. Repeat as often as needed to drive off or kill the squash bugs.

I made this yesterday, only I have Dawn liquid soap on hand and I added lots of Cayenne Pepper. I blended everything in my blender and strained through a cheese cloth so I don’t clog the sprayer. I made 2 cups per her instructions above and I added 2 cups. I wanted it STRONG. I sprayed the base of the squash plants yesterday evening and this morning. I will let you know. I’m not counting on it to work.

With Love for God & all things natural,

The Dirt Diva xoxoxox

Where have I been?

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hail storm during & after 021

hail storm during & after 022Squash & Mammoth DillI’ve been asking myself that very question, “where have I been?” …life has been a bit crazy and the pressure has been a little more than usual the past couple of months and some changes have occurred. But one thing that hasn’t changed is my LOVE FOR THIS GARDEN. For Mothers Day I was given a beautiful Garden Journal. I love recording my daily garden moments. It is going to be so helpful as I continue to learn and grow in gardening.

The wind in Las Vegas can be brutal. And for the past few weeks we have had some very high winds. Two of our Black Beauty Eggplants were broken off at the soil line. One of them seems to be making a come back, but the other I think is sadly, no more. Yesterday we had the first thunderstorm of the year and it came with hail and high winds. This damaged some of the tomato plants, put holes in the large squash leaves, disabled some basil and crippled our first bush beans…but nothing we can’t overcome.

In spite of the wind & hail, we have never seen this garden look as sublime and beautiful as it does right now ♥

With love for God & all things natural,
The Dirt Diva xoxoxo

Live & Learn…here we go… all fresh shiney & new

Last Saturday the guys put in the new irrigation system!!!!  006

 

However, before the new system could be put in, we had to change out the soil mix in all the beds.  In the existing beds (12) we removed about 35% of the organic compost because of it’s “age.” It was 2 years old. We added the landscape sand in its place.  We also added some fresh new organic compost too!

In the (4) new beds we did 50-50 combo; 50% new “master” organic compost from a local company Whiting Brothers Rock City & 50% landscape sand from Star Nursery.  We will add Vegetable Food & Sulfur to each bed according to the directions.

We rented a Mantis tiller from Home Depot today and tilled each bed to thoroughly mix the compost & sand.  Tomorrow we set the lines 6 inches down in each bed… it’s almost planting time…I’m so excited ☺

This has been a lot of physically hard work, but I’m so happy to know it’s correct now!

With Love for God and all things natural…

The Dirt Diva xoxoxox

Share your love and share your food with someone today ♥

Just when you think you know…..

soilJust when you think you know, you find out you don’t.

We are adding 4 new beds to the backyard farm! I’m so excited!  The wonderful man who is installing the new watering system for the garden suggested we put in a 2 inch layer of gravel to help ensure proper drainage of the new beds because the beds sit level on top of our natural clay/sand dirt, which can cause the water to sit under the soil.  So, we went to Star Nursery yesterday to talk to their soil expert and we found out that we need to have a proper 50/50 mix of landscape sand & organic compost…that is when I discovered that I HAVE BEEN GROWING OUR FOOD IN STRICTLY ORGANIC COMPOST THIS WHOLE TIME!!!!!!

I’m utterly amazed at the great crops we’ve had considering per the soil experts I should have burned up every plant…..

All along I thought I had the proper organic soil for vegetable gardens.  No one told me any different when I said, “I’m a newbie backyard farmer, I have 12 raised beds and I want organic soil to grow my organic vegetables in….”  well live and learn.

There is nothing else to do but do it right and have a good laugh at myself!  In the future when I purchase something I’m new at, I will find the right person who has the right answers just to be sure THAT I KNOW WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO KNOW!

So guess what we are re-doing the rest of the week?  That’s right…making it right by re-doing the existing 12 beds with the proper mix of sand & the compost. And you know what that means…taking a shovel and digging, digging, digging…On the positive side, it’s exercise and burning calories♥

The truth: I felt so stupid I could have cried.

LIVE & LEARN….I’m so thankful for the amazing food I’ve received even in my error ♥  Just one more way to say…”I’m living proof there is a God!”  ☺

Well, the important thing is we are just in time to learn the truth about soil and make it right before spring planting begins!  I can’t wait for this seasons harvest, its bound to be amazing if we are doing it right!

With love for God, people and all things natural,

The Dirt Diva xoxoxox

Just another Miracle!

It’s been awhile since my last post.  A lot has been going on that I want to tell you….

Last night after a meeting at church a person whom I know, but not closely, approached me and said to me, “God has been telling me for a week to give you an irrigation system for your yard…….”  I want to say to this person, I’m grateful to the Lord for you, through you He answered prayer…there is a story here, an unfolding future and you are now part of it. I want to share the impact of your gift with others that they might be encouraged, so I’m sharing this.  I’m grateful you heard His voice & obeyed, I love you.  To God I want to say, I love you Abba Father with all of me, through this incredible gift you have once again showed your love for me, confirmed a part of my future for me.  When I can’t seem to find  a job, you’ve been creating one for me. That not only do you love me but that you care about the desires of my heart.  Psalm 37:4 (NKJV) Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart..

Share Your Love, Share Your Food is; I believe, a vision for my future… given by God that He birthed in me out of my own personal hardship that I wrote about on this blog April 17, 2012 titled “The New Face of the American Recession.”  It is my desire to “Share Your Love,” by sharing with others the love of God and my love, my knowledge and my heart for all things natural. To help & show others that they can eat healthy too…that if I can grow food, so can they!  I want to share God cares about YOU, your dreams, your desires!  Share Your Food…to share healthy, home-grown, non-processed, pesticide free food with others.

Prior to 2011 we were small business owners in a construction related industry for over 16 years.  The economy crashed and we ended up crashing right along too…As self-employed people we learned quickly over the years that we can do filet mignon, or we can do beans..we’ve had tens of thousands in the bank and we’ve had a few hundred…during this particular time we had $35 in our joint checking. If you are struggling right now, you are not alone…

I want to share with you a portion of my personal prayer journal earlier that day on April 17, 2012. 

 “This has been one of the most difficult moments in my life and at the same time an awesome time of learning, changing-growing, learning to really trust God because we know not where our survival comes from but from Him. I’ve learned I love simplicity, I neither crave riches nor poverty..both keep me in a state of battling despair. Just the mere thought of thinking I should cut back on eating meals on one hand brings me to tears, on the other it rises the God-given strength & willingness to sacrifice. My compassion has deepened for those like us- I don’t want anyone to go without food-…I want to be like the woman who gave her last coin  I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me eyes to see those in need who find it difficult to ask..ASKING IS SO HARD, IT FEELS SO BAD STANDING IN A FOOD LINE (for the first time)… yet my eyes towards others feels nothing like that, I just want to love on them.  My heart, SHARE THE LOVE, SHARE THE FOOD.. Oh God let me love the way you have called me to love.”

It was that day April 15th 2012  some pride was stripped away and humility came rushing in…Praise God for His mercy is great!  There have been times of fear, like at this time, wondering about the week to come…FYI, But at no time have we gone without what we needed BECAUSE MY GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD! 

There is a much bigger story at work, this is only a chapter of what God has done this past year. God is the person who gave me the passion for cooking and creating recipes… when He delivered me from cigarettes He birthed a passion for nutrition, to be healthy, a great desire and need to share with everyone everything I was learning and am still learning….Then came the passion & desire to grow my own food…hence the backyard farm.  I’ve been passionately telling people ever since, if I can do this you can too, even from your sunny dining room window!  I don’t fully know all that God has planned for me, whether it’s a full on non-profit org, a Yummilicious food company, or just a small backyard style farmers market complete with chickens..or all of it.  Whatever it is, it will be a blessing toward others.

This is a story in the making…

The birth pains over the past 2 years have created new life…a dream & a vision;  a new path, one I am so very excited to be on, the path that my Savior Jesus Christ has laid out for me….I’m gonna follow, cause His way is so much better than mine ♥

With love for God and all things natural,

The Dirt Diva xoxoxox

Holiday Immunity Tea

I’m a big fan of Kimberly Snyder,  a fellow blogger and now published author.  Kimberly is a nutritionist who I truly respect.  She has made a big impact on my nutritional life.  She is now an author of the book “Beauty Detox Solution.”  I’ve been following Kimberly’s blog for a long time and have been so inspired by her thoughts on the way we eat and her recipes. (www.kimberlysnyder.net)

One of her recipes that I love and swear by is the “Immunity Tea.”  I tell everyone I know about this tea.  I’ve posted multiple times on my Facebook!  Whenever I know of someone getting the sniffles, bam…I post the tea recipe.  It really does boost your immune system. I have successfully fought off colds with this tea.

Lately I’ve been using the Indian spice ‘Garam Masala.’  As I wrote Sunday morning it is loaded with great healthy spices.  When I was finished blogging, I went to make the Immunity Tea to keep up my good health now that the flu season is upon us.  Well one thing led to another and I began adding other ingredients to the original recipe, and before I knew it, I had a warm, soothing, yummy drink with a holiday flavor fare!  IT IS DELICIOSOAND OOO SO GOOD FOR YOU!

The Original Immunity Tea ingredients are; fresh ginger, lemon, stevia & cayenne.

Holiday Immunity Tea

Ingredients:

Fresh Ginger, peeled  & diced large chunks, approx 2 full tablespoons, 1 fresh lemon, 2 packets of stevia or 1 tbl honey (sweeten to your taste), literally a pinch of cayenne, pinch of garam masala, 1/2 Organic apple, peeled and diced.

I used a large 28 oz old spaghetti sauce jar.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Place ginger in the jar, pour the boiled water in, let steep 10-15 minutes.  Add the apple slices, squeeze the lemon, stir in spices and stevia or honey, gently stir and let everything incorporate into each other.  Drink warm or chilled.

*Note, you must let the water cool down to a nice warm before adding the lemon, or you “kill” the enzymes in the lemon and they will serve you no good.  The pinch of cayenne is very spicy, so you may want to consider using less than a pinch.

I keep my jar in the frig and sip on it through out the day.  I like the jar because it has a lid and I can swirl the tea to keep the ingredients incorporated.

Merry Christmas Cheer!

With love for God and all things natural,

The Dirt Diva xoxoxoxoxo

Who needs egg for breakfast!

       That’s right, who needs eggs for breakfast?  Being the Non-Traditionalist in food that I am, how about a delicious piping hot bowl of Carrot Ginger Kale Soup with Garbanzo Beans to warm your heart on a chilly winter morning ♥

After overindulging in some of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, I feel the need to re-vamp my energy & cleanse my body.  I began yesterday with a 4 mile power walk with my grandson and today I’m starting my day off right with power food straight from the earth and some from our garden!

As I’m writing you, I’m enjoying this delicious soup for breakfast!  Not only is it delicious, it is so good for you!  I love cooking on the fly.  Creating something out of what you have on-hand. And that is how this soup came into being just a little while ago.

I used the Indian Spice Garam Masala spice which contains some amazing spices: Cumin=boots your immune function, aids in digestion and is anti-carcinogenic; Cinnamon=is believed to lower blood sugar & cholesterol, reduce inflammation, beneficial for yeast infection, fight bacteria, & antioxidant. Cloves=antiseptic and germicidal properties that help fight infections, relieve digestive problems and arthritis pain, includes manganese, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin c, calcium. Coriander=other studies have shown it to lower blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol & it can help reduce the amount of damaged fats in cells. Cardamom=also known to have antioxidant properties, magnesium, calcium, iron & manganese. Manganese is believed to be essential for utilisation of vitamin B.

One of our kitchen staples is Ginger.  This root is essential in my diet because of its anti-inflammatory effects, helps with stomach nausea, I believe it has helped keep me well by increasing my ability to fight off the cooties.  The other major staple is Tumeric=good health. It is also an anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, improves liver function and lowers cholesterol.  Studies done in India indicate that because of the regular daily use of this spice in their diet, their rates of cancer are lower than many other nations!
All I can say is, wow, happy tummy, happy heart,  happy everything♥

Recipe

Carrot Ginger Kale Soup

Serving 1 large. Time 10-15 minutes

1 teaspoon Coconut oil, 2 Carrots, peeled and sliced, 1/2 cup organic Garbanzo beans rinsed and drained, 1 large clove of garlic minced, 1/4 cup red onion finely diced (you can use any onion)  2 large kale leaves, rolled up & rough chopped, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley rough chopped, 1.5 cups of Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth. Spices: 1/2 tsp Garam Masala,  a dash or 2 of Red Pepper flakes, 1 heaping teaspoon chopped or grated fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp Tumeric, salt & pepper to taste. Heat small pan on medium high, add oil, carrots, garlic & onion with spices. Saute’ for a minute or 2. Add broth & garbanzo beans & simmer for 8 minutes or until carrots are the tenderness you like, add kale & parsley, stir well and now it’s ready to enjoy!  You may want to increase the amount of spice you use..it’s all about your taste buds….bon appetit’!

With love for God & all things natural ♥

The Dirt Diva xoxoxox