What Are Microgreens?

img_0338 What are Microgreens?

Microgreens pack a nutritional punch!

Not only are they vibrant and delicate and an obvious choice to really give your dishes that necessary pop. But studies have shown that microgreens are loaded with nutrients, such as vitamins, C, E, and K, lutein, and beta-carotene, 40 x more than the mature leaves of the same plants. As stated in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry… “In comparison with nutritional concentrations in mature leaves (USDA National Nutrient Database), the microgreen cotyledon leaves possessed higher nutritional densities.”

Like its full-grown counterparts, the levels of these nutrients vary across the wide array of microgreens. Of course, mature vegetables could never be replaced, providing you with the necessary fiber that your body needs, but microgreens fill in the other gaps in your dietary needs.

Microgreens are a vegetable green typically grown in “1020 trays” and harvested after sprouting. They are used both as a visual and flavor component or ingredient primarily in fine dining restaurants but are gaining popularity for home use. Fine dining chefs use microgreens to enhance the attractiveness and taste of their dishes with their delicate textures, distinctive flavors and color. At home, microgreens are used in much the same way. However, those people who use microgreens at home often have an interest in the higher nuetrient density.

Smaller than “baby greens,” and harvested later than sprouts, microgreens can provide a variety of leafy green flavors, such as sweet and spicy. They are also known for their various colors and textures. Among upscale markets, they are considered a specialty genre of greens that are good for garnishing salads, soups, plates, and sandwiches. On our farm, we use them in many different dishes and add them to just about anything including our breakfast eggs.

Edible young greens and grains are produced from various kinds of vegetables, herbs or other plants. They range in size from 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm), including the stem and first leaves. A microgreen has a single central stem which has been cut just above the soil line during harvesting. It has fully developed cotyledon leaves (first leaves) and usually has one pair of very small, partially developed true leaves. The average crop-time for most microgreens is 10–14 days from seeding to harvest.

Savvy Organics Farm grows microgreens such as peas, broccoly, radish and kale and would love to produce them for your family, chefs or restraurants.

Contact Us To Get Your Microgreens! And, Check out our YouTube Microgreens Playlist!

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Read Any Good Books Lately?

IMG_1598The age-old question, “read any good books lately?” I love to read and learn as much as I can. My favorite topics to read are about God, faith, small-scale farming, permaculture, homesteading, gardening, raising chickens, food and related business books. There just isn’t enough time in a day to read everything I want to read and actually get the work done that has to be done in my home inspection business and on Savvy Organics Farm.

Like I said, I love to read. I usually read things with an idea or goal in mind. Sometimes books just provide some “head knowledge” that may be needed to accomplish a task or a goal. My true favorites are those books that inspire me to do things that I may not normally do, like start a small-scale organic farm, CSA and Market Garden. Whatever your interests are, get a good book about it. You never know what it might inspire you to accomplish.

Reading books about our favorite topics can entertain, inspire and guide us. Have you read any good books lately? If so, I hope you will share the titles with us in the comments. Below is a short list of some of the best books my wife and I have read recently. Enjoy!

Folks, This Ain’t Normal – Joel Salatin

The New Organic Grower – Chelsea Green – Elliot Coleman

Compact Farms – Josh Volk

High-Value Veggies – Mel Bartholomew

The Berry Growers Companion – Barbara L. Bowing

The Market Gardener – Jean-Martin Fortier

The Big Book of Kombucha – Hannah Krum

Fiery Ferments – Kirsten K. Shockey

Vegan For Everybody – America’s Test Kitchen

The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide To Keeping Chickens – Andy G. Schneider & Dr. Brigid McCrea

The Beekeepers Bible – Sharon Sweeney-Lynch

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The Great Bean Mystery​ of 2018

We have been avid gardeners for many years and can’t remember a time we had a hard time growing green beans. Green beans, simple right? Over the years, we have always grown green beans with great results, sometimes all season long.

IMG_1545Not this year. We planted 4 different varieties in our new market garden beds including bush and climbers. The green beans sprouted and were looking good. We noticed that only a few of the plants flowered then yielded only a handful of beans. There were 3 rows that were 36 feet long each.

Soon, these dried up and died. No obvious explanation. No obvious reason.

IMG_1936As a test, we planted the same varieties in our traditional family or kitchen garden. We were shocked when the results were the same. Great germination, nice plants and then, no flowers and no beans.

Possible Causes of the Bean Mystery?

  1. I understand that beans will drop some early flowers and not produce beans before they take off for the rest of the season. But in our case, they didn’t even produce enough flowers in the first place to yield more than a handful of beans.
  2. Lack of pollinators can be another reason for beans to perform this way. In our case, we have a beehive and pollination did not seem to be an issue anywhere else on the farm.
  3. Overfertilization can be another reason for beans to fail. Our plots were virgin ground and no fertilizer was added. This area of soil was amended with wood chips and dried molasses.
  4. To much water has been an issue that causes bean plants to sprout, grow and then die without production. In both our field rows and in the family kitchen garden test, water was not an issue.
  5. Bug pressure. Not sure if this was a cause or not. We did have some kind of worms but thought we had that under control and the plants were fine. Then, one row after another seemed to have a powdery mildew or something like it. Late in the season, we have had a lot of pressure from grasshoppers but by then, the green beans were nearly dead anyway.

Bean Erika!

  1. Soil and air temperature. Very important. By the time weather conditions and temperatures were right to plant outside this year the weather went from “ok! its time to plant” to “OMG it is too HOT”! Most varieties of green beans like soil temperature no warmer than 85 degrees. There were just too many temperature fluctuations to count on green beans making a crop on our farm this year. We attempted to reduce the soil temperature with additional mulch to no avail.

So if your green beans or other crops have a bad year, it may or may not be your fault. It does not mean you are a bad gardener. What it does mean when a garden plant fails is that nature is telling us something is off. Sometimes we don’t find the solution until it is too late.

Green beans like all other crops must have the right conditions to grow and produce successfully. Careful study of insect pressure, soil, air, and water conditions will often lead you to better understand what’s happening. In our Great Bean Mystery of 2018, I am convinced it was a combination of soil and air temperature issues that lead to this year’s failure to produce green beans.

Never give up! We will try again next season. So should you.

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Warning, I’m Going To Say A Bad Word

DIET!

james-harris-205441-unsplashThere I said it. It seems like almost everyone is on some kind of diet these days. Most of us expect fast results from our dieting efforts. We want fast results in the same way we want everything else to be fast and convenient, even our food.

But hold on! How long did it take you to get into the shape you are in? Weeks, months, or if you’re like me, years. I have come to believe that we can’t lose weight or get in better shape overnight. For some, it took decades of poor eating habits and a little exercise to get where they are now. The key is patience and learning new eating habits, and then maintaining those habits.

I think most people are realizing that our health and resistance to illness and disease are directly related to what we eat and drink. There have been many videos recently that speak directly to the effects of what people eat on their body and mind. Some of my favorites include; Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, What The Health, What The Wheat, Hungry For Change, Fed Up, Forks Over Knives, Sugar Coated, Rotten and many more. For me, there are a lot of truths in these videos and I think they are worth watching. If you have concerns about your health, illness, disease, weight or you just want to live better, these are a good place to start learning.

There are so many diets out there today it is just insane. How do you choose? Each of these diets touts a variety of benefits. They all claim to be right and they all claim they will work for you. If you believe it, I have some beach front property in Arizona that you should buy. Some of these diets include; Paleo, Whole 30, Atkins, Zone Diet, Dash Diet, South Beach and the list seems to go on endlessly.

There are a couple of the above mention diets that I actually like. I like them because the focus is on changing what and how we eat for the long term. I have used the Paleo and Whole 30 diets. I chose them because the focus was on long-term lifestyle changes and health benefits.  Near the end each of these diets, I could simply add one food item at a time back to my eating habits. As I did, I could see the results clearly and adjust accordingly.

For example, I have been allergic to cats nearly all my life. I also had allergies (hay fever) twice every year. While on Paleo and then Whole 30, I eliminated dairy from my diet. The result was that I had no more allergies at all. I thought it was pretty cool not to suffer from these or need doctors or medications to fight them.

Another example is weight loss. While not a quick fix, my own weight has slowly dropped and continues to do so.

Also, by removing bread and other food items that contain gluten, my skin irritations and itching came to an end. Now, my wife makes fermented bread like sourdough for us. Making sourdough bread is a form of fermentation and reduces or eliminates the effects of gluten.

Diet, Food And LifestyleDoctors and medicine, oh my! In several of the above-mentioned videos, there is clear evidence that making longterm lifestyle and eating habit changes can have a tremendous impact on our dependency on doctors and pharmaceutical medicines. There are also many scientific studies such as “The China Study” that clearly point to our foods as the cause of many illnesses and deceases. Doctors and medicine are very expensive and continue to drive health care costs higher and higher. By taking control of our food sources, diet habits and lifestyle, I believe we can reduce or even eliminate our dependency on many drugs and over the counter medicines.

So what to do? Here are the top 10 tips that have worked for our family:

  1. Stay away from the middle isles of the grocery stores and shop the perimeter. Most of the processed foods and “fast food” items are located in the middle isles. The perimeter isles are mostly plant-based and meats.
  2. Choose your food sources carefully. Purchase food items from organic growers, local sources, farmers markets, CSAs and market gardens.
  3. Cook and prepare meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and reduce or eliminate the consumption of fast foods.
  4. Prepare your own food and eat out less often. Many restaurant foods contain preservatives and other things we should not be eating.
  5. Read food labels carefully. Avoid buying food products that contain chemical additives and sugars.
  6. Choose a diet that is sustainable and includes overall changes to eating and lifestyle habits.
  7. Choose doctors and medicines that make use of dietary changes as medicine over pharmaceutical medicines when possible. There are many foods and herbs that target specific ailments of the human body.
  8. Do your own research through videos, studies, and trials.
  9. Cook! It is fun and a great way to spend time with those you love.
  10. Grow your own food. No matter whether you live in town or on a farm, you can grow at least of few food items that reduce your food bill and provide healthy alternatives.

Today, based on what we have learned from research and testing several diets, we have chosen to eat an organic plant-based diet with limited meat and dairy. The health benefits have been remarkable. So remarkable in fact that it has lead us to start Savvy Organics Farm with the purpose of helping others find and make healthy food and lifestyle changes that last.

“Let food by thy medicine and medicine by thy food” – Hippocrates

“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”” – Genesis 1:29

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Work, Money, Stuff & A Simple Lifestyle

david-alice.JPGLike most Americans, my wife and I have worked outside our home for most of our adult lives. We have both worked several jobs in the corporate world during the early years of our marriage. For the last 15 years, my wife has worked at our church as the church administrator. About ten years ago, I started Selman Home Inspections which is now a successful small business serving all of North Texas and the Austin, Georgetown areas. And now, we have started a new adventure we call Savvy Organics Farm.

We have lived and raised our kids on a small five-acre farm in Red Oak Texas for about 23 years. When the kids were growing up, we raised Texas Longhorn Show Cattle, chickens and we always had a family or kitchen garden.

Today, our kids are grown and we are officially empty nesters! Two of our kids are married and have blessed our family with four wonderful grandkids (and another one on the way). Our youngest daughter is engaged and will be married in May 2018. God has further blessed us and answered my prayers because I have always prayed that our kids would know, trust and walk with God. Our oldest daughter is married to a pastor, our middle son and his wife are heavily involved with their church and our youngest daughter is marrying a pastor as well. God is good.

When we were raising our kids, working in corporate America, working at church and starting a home inspection company, I realize now that most of the time, I was working for “money and stuff”, always thinking about what we needed to be “successful”, or at least my own perception of success. We were always working to pay bills and provide for our family like everyone else. But I was never satisfied and always wanting more. I have been caught in the trap of not seeing all that God has blessed us with. Maybe you are too.

Now that I am getting a little older and maybe a little wiser, “money and stuff” are slowly losing their hold on me but there are still days that I struggle with wanting more. It is funny how God works. I say this because my wife and I are polar opposites. She is usually care free and content with whatever situation we find ourselves in. God knew exactly what kind of wife I would need. He has always watched over me and our family even when I don’t see it.

Over the past year or so, we have had more time to pursue our interests in homesteading, holistic medicine, organic gardening, and small-scale farming. We have gone from watching “TV” in the evenings to spending our late evening hours watching YouTube videos about things that interest us. Now we are creating our own videos on YouTube.

IMG_5139.JPGWith God’s direction, we are moving slowly towards a simpler lifestyle. “Simple” does not mean that it is not hard work, because it is. Alice still works at our church and I still operate a home inspection company. We are also committed to working together to build Savvy Organics Farm over the coming years. To us, a “simple lifestyle” means that we are taking responsibility for our faith, health, and finances as well as our independence.

In a complex world, we have forgotten the simple things. Savvy Organics Farm is about celebrating God’s blessings, the simple things, each season of life as well as the four seasons. It is about getting our hands in the soil, growing vegetables, small-scale farming, egg production, honey bees and other homesteading methods that empower us and make us independent.

Our goal is to provide local, healthy, high-quality organic products for ourselves and the community around us (soon). It is about creating a connection with more urban people that want a farm connection. As we develop and grow Savvy Organics Farm, this may mean we become a market garden, CSA (community supported agriculture), farmer market or some blend of all of these. It is God’s call, we just do our best to follow where He leads us day by day.

Our hope is that we can inspire others to live simply with less “stuff”, more faith and take responsibility for the direction of their lives.

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