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  • Food Gardening Against Diabetes NWFGS Sneak Peeks

    February 03, 2014

    The 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show opens this Wednesday, and we’ll be there opening day with our seminar Food Gardening Against Diabetes during which we will share how we’ve changed what we grow, cook and eat in the face of a Diabetes diagnosis. Although we’ve eliminated a number of foods from our diet and plants from our garden, the ones we are adding and enjoying make for a beautiful garden, a healthy husband, and delicious meals.

    High Protein Blueberry Muffins

    High Protein Lower Carb Blueberry Muffins sound tasty? These are really good & very low carb!

    These eye-candy shots are just a few sneak peeks of the many the tasty foods that fill our plates, created from homegrown edibles that fill our garden. Neither the photos nor the foods themselves are likely to get your blood sugar boiling.

    Chips & Dips

    Like snack foods?  Yep! We’ve got you covered with tasty recipes for chips & dips!

    And, yep, we’ll be discussing these during our seminar and sharing details on how to grow them at home and create them in your own kitchen — easily!

    Latke & Salad

    Low carb latkes – perfect for breakfast, lunch or a quick supper!

    Join us in the Hood Room on Wednesday, February 5th starting at 4:15pm (plenty of time to catch the Seahawks victory parade beforehand) to learn more.

  • Gardening Against Diabetes at NW Flower & Garden Show

    January 11, 2014

    On Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:15pm join Robin at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show Hood Stage for her poignant, original, and educational seminar Gardening Against Diabetes. Whether you’re seeking to grow better crops for the blood-sugar challenged or just want to learn about an array of common-to-unusual, beautiful, delicious, blood sugar-friendly edibles to grow, cook and eat, this session is for you.

    Perennial Sunflower

    This bright sunflower offers pollinator forage in early autumn via its abundant blooms.
    Plus, come winter, this plant offers up tasty edibles as a part of the meal shown below.

    In recent years, Robin’s world was rocked when a quick checkup resulted in a Type-2 Diabetes diagnosis for her beloved. Before the diagnosis, they had spent a lifetime growing fresh, organic foods. They were avid foodies and passionate locavores, supporting organic farmers and ranchers. And, their home was an active one. Despite all of this, the big “D” diagnosis meant it was time for an even larger transformation. No longer was it appropriate to grow many of the staple plant foods that had regularly filled their garden and cellar. And, it was time to clean out most pantry staples and completely re-learn eating habits and cooking methods.

    Refusing to be beaten down by this disease and knowing there had to be alternatives to their first doctor’s recommendation to “take this pill & you’ll be fine,” Garden Mentors® founder and family stepped off the beaten path and bushwhacked their way to better health. They began exercising more — but not by a lot. They began rigorously researching and tracking food. Much of their pantry, cellar, and garden was cleared out and donated to others. And, as their diet and taste for foods changed, so too did Robin’s food growing and design programs transform and evolve to match these new needs.

    Gardening Against Diabetes Dinner

    Looks delicious, right?
    This simple meal is filled with homegrown foods regularly featured in our new diet.

    They didn’t do this alone. They visited their new Naturopathic, Diabetes specialist doctor frequently. And, there were a lot of blood draws and tests. They tracked calories, fat, carbohydrate details, and exercise inputs. They checked blood sugar levels multiple times a day (at first). And, they leaned on friends who have lived with this disease — Type 1 and Type 2 –  for years. And, Robin completely relearned menu planning and cooking thanks to any number of cobbled together resources. As she began adding new foods to their diet, she dug deep to locate and begin cultivating the plants themselves whenever possible — with gorgeous, rewarding results.

    This isn’t a seminar about managing Diabetes through a specific diet, exercise, or other program; that’s for you and your doctor to work on. It isn’t about medications you can replace or stop; again, work with your doctor on those things. This is a seminar about many beautiful, delicious, and easy-to-cultivate crops that one Diabetes-battling, gardening family now grows in abundance in their beautiful, tasty, healing, transformed garden.

    Just wait – you’re gonna fall in love with some of these amazing plants. And, believe it or not, you’re probably already growing at least a few of them!

    Check back here after Robin’s seminar for more information on her new favorite garden-to-fork plants. We’ll be offering leads to procure them, cultivate them, and design with them. Too, we’ll have a number of recipes for cooking and preserving our favorites — like the mashers and greens shown above and much more!

    Medical Disclaimer: The information in this seminar, on our sites, in any supplementary information, & social media outlets is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through these materials are for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on our site, through our seminars or via any related media, outlets or materials.

  • Stray Songbirds in Seattle at our Feeder

    January 06, 2014

    Songbirds in Seattle (especially at the DIY feeders in our garden) offer endless entertainment. The usual suspects around here: Chickadees, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Sparrows, Wrens, Finches, Juncos, and Bushtits. But, this winter a flash of yellow caught my eye. It appears we have a stray Townsend’s Warbler.

    Towsend's Warbler

    Townsend’s Warbler guarding his favorite feeder in the Vine Maple

    According to Birdweb, they’re not common in our area in winter. But, this little guy has joined up with flocks of Juncos and Chickadees to winter at our feeders. And, when he’s at the feeder, it’s a fight for even the most defensive Chickadee to get near any seed or suet. He’s a brave little guy, and he’s bossy too. Here’s hoping the suet and seed get him through the winter, and he sticks around, lures a mate, and devours aphids, cabbage caterpillars, and other pesky insects when spring comes into bloom — gotta love those songbirds as beneficials in the garden! Perhaps we’ll even grow a few more birdhouse gourds just for him this summer, too.

  • Grow Your Own Asparagus Guide

    December 29, 2013

    Try our step-by-step tips & tricks to grow your own asparagus at home!

    Young asparagus shoots almost ready to eat

    Young asparagus shoots almost ready to eat

    The biggest mistake you’ll make as a gardener is waiting to plant certain things. Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for giving yourself time to experience a space before you go crazy putting in an entire garden, but if there’s one thing you want to get into the ground as early as possible, it’s asparagus.

    Why plant it on the hurry-up?

    As with many perennial crops, asparagus needs at least two to three years to become established in the garden before you harvest a single spear. Sounds frustrating, but once this long-lived crop hits its stride, it will feed you an abundance of tasty, nutritious spears.

    Tightly budded, short asparagus tips ripe for the picking

    Tightly budded, short asparagus tips ripe for the picking

    Plus, these plants are incredibly beautiful, so encouraging them to grow beyond the edible spear stage will reward you with gorgeous, tall, ferny foliage spring through fall.

    Here’s a step-by-step, year-to-year guide to get your asparagus growing strong: (more…)

  • Garden Season Extenders Galore at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

    December 18, 2013

    In February, Robin will be offering up her garden season extenders expertise at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show on Saturday, February 8, 2013 beginning at 9:30am on the DIY Stage. She’ll be covering everything from up-cycling trash into tiny cloches to residential greenhouses that really rock — and everything in between.

    Update as of 1/30/2013: Swanson’s Nursery, Glass Gardens Northwest, and Sunshine Greenhouses have each donated season extension tools that Robin will demo and giveaway following her talk. Yep, really amazing freebies to DIY your own extended gardening season right after you leave the show!

    Hoop House & Greenhouse

    Join Robin at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show on Saturday, February 8th on the DIY Stage
    to learn about easy to use hoop houses & greenhouses like this — plus so much more!

    After learning at her talk, you’ll easily be able to go from seed (the moment her class ends) to fork before the first day of Spring. (Psst: pick up your tickets before the show opens & save on admission!)

    Just imagine gardening on a timeline that yields these early and mid-season results!

    Seeded Mustard in February

    Robin will introduce you to lots of edibles — like Mustard — to start as early as February,
    using season extending tools & techniques.

    Mustard Baby Greens in March

    If you seed in February & use season extenders, you’ll easily have an abundance
    of young plants like these Mustards by March.


  • Why & How to Fill a Frozen Bird Bath

    December 05, 2013

    When I wake up to a rock-solid frozen world as happened today, I know my winged garden visitors will appreciate it if I fill frozen bird baths for them. Sure, they’ll peck at frost covered leaves and rooftops, but there isn’t much in the way of liquid water to slake their thirst. And this week, as cold air from the North Pole continues to seep southward into much of the US, there’s little likelihood they’ll find much liquid in the neighborhood. Even ponds at sea level are beginning to freeze up around here — not a common occurrence.

    Basalt Dish Stone Birdbath Filled with an Ice Cube of Water

    After two nights of frigid temperatures, our basalt dish stone’s bird water was a shrinking ice cube.

    So, in addition to providing seed and other bits of food to supplement their diets, I add fresh water to our basalt dish stone bird bath. Weeks ago, I stored ceramic and glass dishes that are otherwise out for the birds. These have a tendency to crack or just plain shatter during a freeze — especially if they’re filled with water. But the frozen rock isn’t as likely to break in cold weather — even if it has contact with water. Sure, over time rocks do break, but this one has held together for who knows how many hundreds of years, so I’m trusting it’ll continue to do so.

    Chickadee eating sunflower in winter

    Chickadee enjoying a the seeds of a sunflower I harvested & preserved from last summer. In winter, having access to fresh food & water is important for these darling songbirds.

    Still, I take care when I melt the ice that froze over night.

    To provide the birds with some liquid refreshment, I pour cold tap water over the ice. I focus the slow stream into the center of the ice, which is thickest. By using cold rather than hot water, I reduce the risk of a rapid, crack-inducing temperature change. Plus, when it’s 20F outside, cold tap water is relatively warm. So, adding it will defrost a bit of the giant ice cube resting in the bird bath.

    Adding Water to a Frozen Bird Bath

    Slowly, I pour a few cups of cold tap water into the center of the frozen birdbath water, defrosting the ice a bit and providing liquid refreshment for wildlife.

    Tomorrow, after another below-freezing day and way-below-freezing night, everything will refreeze, so I’ll be adding in a little bit more water again.

    Today, the birds will drink and maybe even take a quick, chilly dip to refresh themselves during this very dry, very cold time of year.

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