How to Keep Cilantro Fresh-A Farmer’s Advice

There is nothing more disappointing than going to the refrigerator, reaching into the vegetable bin, and pulling out a bag of rotten cilantro that was purchased not more than a week earlier.  A few weeks ago we visited an outstanding farmer’s market-the best we have ever been to.  At one of the stands we purchased, fresh, organic cilantro. (I should have taken a picture, but I will explain in detail how to preserve your herb.)  I must admit, I was a skeptic, but not anymore.  The friendly farmer, after I had paid for my purchase, put my cilantro into a clear plastic bag and put air in it like it was a balloon and tied it off at the end.  She cheerfully, with a big smile, told me it would make my cilantro last longer.  She was right.  I recently used the remainder for some salsa I made with tomatoes just harvested from our garden.  I was regretting going to the refrigerator thinking that it would surely be rotten since it had been 11 days since my purchase.  It was as fresh as the day I bought it.  Not one leaf was rotten.  I had opened the bag a few days after purchasing and used about half for another recipe and resealed the way the farmer told me at the market.  Air in the bag really helps keep cilantro fresh longer!

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Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Backyard Gardening

Backyard bounty

Using permaculture philosophies we are healing the soil. We used chicken manure and compost to fertilize.

Our garden began with two tomato plants in 15 gallon pots and a naval orange tree. Once established, the tomato plants in pots would become infested with tomato worms. We used many types of methods to rid the plants from worms. They were minimally effective. At the end of our work day, we would manually pull the worms off our plants. Finally, in frustration, we turned the hose on them and sprayed them off our plants. It literally rained worms. We did have amazing tomatoes, in fact, too many tomatoes. Each vine grew very tall to the top of its cage and beyond; producing hundreds of tomatoes. Over time, the raccoons destroyed our lawn in our backyard. In frustration, we tore the whole thing out and planted raised beds. We began composting, planted more trees, had backyard chickens, and the gardening adventure developed. We were known as “farmers” by our friends and neighbors. We learned about permaculture and “Back to Eden” gardening methods. We brought in wood chips, top soil, organic mulch, and used our own compost. We really did begin having our own “garden of Eden”. The birds come every day and eat the worms off our plants. They do not eat our fruit, the raccoons, opossums, and skunks do. There are a variety of insects and the whole yard smells great and is green all year. It smells earthy. The soil has changed over time- from black adobe clay to a spongy airy type. We began with raised beds, but pulled most out since our soil has changed. We have learned to grow certain foods in the micro climates of our yard. We tried crop rotation, but that did not work. There are certain plants that enjoy growing in particular locations of our yard. We perk up the soil every year when we begin our spring planting. We sprout seeds in the spring and fall according to what grows in those seasons. We enjoy tomatoes year round in the right location of our yard. We save seeds as much as possible and like to buy from Seed Savers and heirloom organic varieties. We have a small milkweed patch for the monarch butterflies. Lizards eat the insects too. We use companion gardening methods and have found onion and garlic work well to keep pests and critters out of beds. Our neighbors enjoy hanging out on their balcony and watching the life in our living garden.  The food we grow tastes much better and makes the work worth it.

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What to Teach for Home School Science

Many parents ask me what to teach for home school science.  Well, the possibilities are really endless.  You are surrounded by science since all of creation is observable “Science”.  At an early age, plant seeds and study the life cycle of living organisms like butterflies, bees, insects, plants, animals like chickens, etc.  Plant seeds in pots or in a garden.  Document the entire cycle in pictures/and or writing.  If you are allowed to have chickens (I cannot see why not since chickens are very “green”, but this is another subject) hatch chicks and raise chickens.  If lifestyle does not permit this, visit a farm and draw pictures about the process.  At the farm, milk a cow or watch a cow being milked.  Make butter.  Plant milkweed or consider purchasing a butterfly hatching kit.  Visit an aquarium.  Visit an aeronautical museum.  Go to a used bookstore and buy used science books.  Visit the library and check out books about the solar system or watch You Tube videos about the solar system, human body systems like circulatory, nervous, respiratory, etc.  Build a robot.  Go rock digging at a specified site or visit a geologic museum.  Take a fishing trip.  Visit tide pools if you are able.  Check out Scholastic and buy science kits:  https://store.scholastic.com/search/search/Science?N=4502~4518

Consider edible science:

https://shop.nationalgeographic.com/product/books/kids-books/science-and-space/edible-science  Visit a craft store and paint a volcano onto a wooden canvas, make a collage, etc.  You may want to consider buying a microscope kit, etc.    These are a few considerations for you and your family as you enjoy the process of teaching science at home.

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We want our snacks!

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Our first female Monarch butterfly just hatched!

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A Lesson About the Role of Government

In 2008 and 2012 our family campaigned for Ron Paul’s presidential runs.  People would ask us about our stickers on our cars, “Who is Ron Paul?”  Everywhere we went people were curious about this man.  My students, after learning about “peace, prosperity, and liberty” would state that they would vote for the man if they could.  Sadly, our own orthodox Presbyterian church outright rejected his philosophy and voted for the mainstream conservative candidate.  Ron Paul is an American hero.  He believes the role of the U.S. government is to protect liberty, politicians should have integrity instead of power corruption, and promotes reason in our foreign policy.  Personally, our family studied what are just wars as taught by Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen.  We learned a lot about peace and prosperity, as well as, the incredible cost of war, not only monetarily, but in human life.  As Dr. Paul consistently states, that “wise consistency” is needed in our foreign policy and “justness” in our interventions.  You will be educated in peace, liberty, and prosperity after watching this 45 minute video.

 

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Gardening for Education

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Teach Science at an Early Age: Periodic Table

Begin with a periodic table place mat.  While eating a meal, the learner may enjoy investigating the different colors on the table, the numbers, symbols, and weights.  We purchased these books to support what was taught on the table.

https://www.amazon.com/Painless-Learning-Periodic-Table-Placemat/dp/B000H6F4W6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1490974010&sr=8-5&keywords=periodic+table

https://www.amazon.com/Periodic-Table-Elements-Style/dp/0753460858/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490974394&sr=1-2&keywords=basher+science+periodic+table

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One Reason We Grow Our Food

At a recent get-together we harvested fresh rhubarb and used store bought organic strawberries to make a strawberry rhubarb custard pie.  It was absolutely delicious because the rhubarb was picked the same day as we made the pie.  Our soil is healthy and alive as observed from our happy and healthy plant.  This was the recipe we used:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223069/strawberry-rhubarb-custard-pie/

 

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