Nature Walk and Plant Identification at the Nature Center

On May 23 from 6:30-8:30 pm we will learn how to use a dichotomous key to identify woody stem plants. You will receive a hand out. We will be at out new home the Nature Center located at 430 Riverside Drive. This will be a great meeting place with lots of room inside and out close to our mission. Bridgett Phillips will be our guide for our walk and teach us how to use the dichotomous key to identify plants.  We will walk around the nature center and surrounding areas.  We will be having a brief meeting afterward with job descriptions for new officers to be elected. Come and join in on the fun, sign up to be a volunteer or an officer today as well.

Tomato Contest

Tomato

A contest can be a lot of fun so we are challenging you to grow tomatoes, and we want to see pictures.  Take pictures of your first tomato of the season.  The person with the first outdoor tomato, not in a greenhouse will win a pack of heirloom tomato seeds. Send your photo with the date into ediblesanmarcos@gmail.com

There is another contest for the plant with the most tomatoes on it at one time, take photos.  Count the tomatoes, and take pictures we want to see how many you have on the plant at one time.  The deadline for the number of tomatoes will be Deadline is July 30.

At another point this summer we will do the biggest and best tasting tomatoes where we will have a judging downtown. So stay tuned.  As you can tell we are interested in your garden.  We want to get pictures and see how your garden is growing. Send in pictures so we can share your garden with others.

Central Texas Seed Varieties List

If you want to be a successful gardener in Central Texas you need to know what varieties to grow and when to plant them.  These are two crucial items that will play a big role in whether your garden will succeed or not. Let me explain a little further.  Scarlet runner beans are a beautiful bean coveted for the beautiful edible flower.  It grows in the northern states without a problem.  In Texas you can grow it in the very early spring but it is tricky as our weather turns hot so very fast. Therefore it is not a recommended crop as it burn out really fast.  Now the Rattlesnake pole bean however grows like crazy and performs well in the heat.  It is made for  the heat as are tepary beans which are also drought tolerant.

All of the seeds on this list are open pollinated.  This means that you can keep the seeds from the current year and save them for the next.

All of the varieties have been grown and tested for a minimum of three years.  You cannot grow a crop for one year and say it does well.  You need to have a trail that is consistent.

If you grow an open pollinated vegetable that is not on the list please email me and let me know.  Please let me know how long you have been growing it.  I will collect information.  Even if you have only grown it for one year it will help as it will add up if many of you email.  We need to all work together. If you have been growing it for three years it can go directly on the list. Sharing is a valuable resource that gardeners have with each other.

The list is also posted under our Library tab any time you want to go and look at it.

Seed Varieties List Page 1

Seed Varieties List Page 2

Seed Varieties List page 3

Farmer’s Markets Add Joy to Your Life

Buying local keeps money in our community and supports our local farmers and vendors.  This is great as we want to keep our local people in business and keep the money circulating locally as much as possible.  Keep our local people in business.  By buying locally you are also keeping the amount of fossil fuels down by not buying food that is shipped in from other states and countries.  Eating what is fresh and in season helps with keeping down your carbon footprint.  We print a seasonal produce chart each month to help you understand what is in season each month so you can buy fresh, even if you have to go to the grocery store.  When you buy at farmer’s markets you get to know the vendors and their families.  It becomes personal as you know the names of their children and what is happening in their lives.  The produce is fresher and healthier for you as there are more vitamins and enzymes in the food.  The hand made soaps and lotions are crafted with care and do not have all of the preservatives that are bad and harmful for you in them. The jewelry is amazing and has distinction that you do not find from machine made items. The soy candles do not create soot when burned and are sustainable.

I urge you to come out to our markets.  We will have our next market on March 3  from 11-3 at Texas State University on the Quad.  The following dates will be April 6 and May 4 from 11-3 on the Quad as well.  There is always parking in the LBJ Garage.  You can always walk, ride your bike or carpool. Some vendors will take pre orders.  You can find the link to our vendors here.

I would like you to read this essay from a student at Texas State to show just what a difference a farmers market made in their life.

1st Common Experience Event

by Taylor Jones

My first Common Experience Event was the Farmer’s Market on campus at the end of September.  I had seen the sign flashing in the Quad announcing it and we had discussed it in class, so I decided to visit on my way back home from my Nutrition class.  My class usually gets out at five but I got out almost an hour early, so I arrived as they were still setting up.  It had such a great atmosphere.  I loved seeing all  of the small vendors out with their stand set up.  I felt like I was in some rural towns farmer’s market, even though it was right in the middle of campus.  It was cool to see all of the students walking around talking to the vendors, buying fresh foods.  It made me feel like part of a community. I was expecting to see just fruits and vegetables in the stands, but to my surprise they also had organic lotions and soaps as well!  I was amazed that local people still made those themselves.  The local honey stand stuck out to me the most for some reason, maybe because of the sheer amount of it they had on display.  I wanted to buy some, especially because it was local honey, which is supposed to desensitize you to local allergens, and I need all the help I can get with that.  However my money was at the dorm and I couldn’t return to the Farmer’s Market because I had to take my roommate to the Emergency Room when I got home!  I didn’t get to spend too much time there because my roommate needed me, but the time I did have to walk around got me thinking about a lot of things.

One thing the Farmer’s Market sparked my thought son was how beneficial buying food locally can be.  In No Impact Man, Colin Beaven talks about how much distance most products have to travel to get to our local grocery stores.  He mentions how much gas is wasted in driving or flying them in from exotic locations or just across the country, and how much waste is produced to package and transport them.  At the Farmer’s Market on the Quad, I hardly saw any plastic packaging.  Only what is necessary was used.  Thy had no need to make their products more appealing by wrapping them in bright colors and stamping on manipulative health claims, buying local from places like Farmer’s Markets would immensely reduce pollution and waste and encourage healthier habits.  Since many of these local farmers farm organically, it would also reduce the chemical load on average we take in by eating processes foods and produce grown with pesticides, or animals that are fed antibiotics and hormones.

Another thing that buying from Farmer’s Markets would do is bring families closer together and revive the lost art of cooking.  It seems like now a day, home-cooked meals are rarities and many kids in my generation couldn’t cook a meal for themselves if their lives depended on it.  Whenever I’m home, my grandma gives me cooking lessons, which is especially helpful since I have to make all of my food myself because of my allergies.  When I cook at home, it’s so nice because the whole family comes to the kitchen and we all sit down and eat together.  I end up hearing about how work is going for my Dad, or what my sister is doing in school and with friends.  These are things that I usually miss out on and the things I find myself looking aback on the most fondly  when I’m missing home.  I hope that when I have a family of my own, I remember these things and start traditions like these in my own home.

Join Us For Our Annual Meeting

You are cordially invited to the first annual meeting of Sustainable San Marcos


Sunday, March 6  3-5pm

The Tap Room Meeting Room, 129 E. Hopkins


So you want to find out more about our organization and get involved.  Or maybe you just want to meet more like minded people.  Well here is your chance. This is a great way to find out what is going on and have a great impact on future policies and events in the city. Come out and spend a little time getting to know us and having fun.

Sustainable San Marcos (SSM) was founded 3 years ago to help residents of San Marcos “live an earth-friendly lifestyle in their home or place of business”.  Realizing that there were many areas that needed addressing, we (Steve and Debbie Harvey, Tom Wassenich, Mark Taylor and Betsy Robertson) formed SSM as an umbrella organization, with 4 areas of focus:  Food, Waste, Transportation, and Energy.   The Food committee has evolved into Edible San Marcos a highly successful organization in its own right, spearheaded by Suzi Fields.  To encourage waste reduction, we formed Waste Not San Marcos currently co-chaired by Daniela DeJongh and Matt Akins.  Transportation and Energy have not yet become separate entities and are covered by our core group.
In our short lifetime we have been very effective at educating citizens and encouraging public policy.  We were instrumental in getting out information about single-stream recycling and encouraging its extension to multi-family residents.  We have had numerous education booths at conferences, on the Texas State campus, in the public schools and at the last three Earth Day celebrations.  Edible San Marcos has published an informative monthly newsletter, started 3 gardens at public schools and is now working to create a network of community gardens.  And we have accomplished the hard work of incorporating the organization and achieving 501(c)3 approval.
Now it’s time to “take it to the people”, to expand our horizons.  We invite you to join us in a quick review of our progress and to participate in setting priorities for the future. There will be light refreshments and Jo Secrest of the City of San Marcos will update us on the City’s sustainable initiatives.  All are welcome. Bring a friend.

Seed to Table – Spinach

Spinach

Spinach is thought to have come from ancient Persia or Iran.  Spinach was brought into China where it was termed as the “Persian Vegetable”. It was said to have come into Nepal around 647 AD.

Next spinach found it’s way into Sicily then Arab and Germany by the 13th century. England and France came into Spinach in the 14th century.  In 1533 Catherine de’Medici not only became Queen of France but she insisted on having spinach at every meal.  This is why dishes made with spinach are named Florentine.  Now that is my kind of Queen!

Why do  you think that spinach was such a hit?  It is so nutritious!  it belongs to the amaranthaceae family.  It is chock full of phyto-nutrients that are life savers in many  areas. Spinach is very low in calories and fats while providing about 25% of your daily iron.

Fresh leaves also  provide you with vitamin A, lutein, zea-xanthin and beta Carotine as well as omega3 fatty acids.

Spinach can also pack a whopping 402% of your daily needs of vitamin K, This helps with bone mass and preventing Alzheimer’s.  Like that is not enough Spinach has high levels of B-6, B-1, Folate, Niacin and  Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc.

This is all very exciting for me as it is getting a lot of iron and strength with out eating meat.  I always feel energized when I eat spinach.  There is one thing that you are probably not aware of.  You need to eat citrus to make the protein complete, when eating raw spinach.  So have an orange with your salad today.

Planting

Choose a sunny well drained location for your spinach.

Spinach germinated well in cold soil that is between 38-40 degrees F and up to about 60 degrees.  It gets fussy over that.  It does not like acid soil either so we are very lucky in that regard.  The trick is to plant your spinach early and then replant every 2 weeks. Spinach also likes nitrogen and boron.

There are two different types of spinach the savoy or  darker crinkled type, and the smooth leaved type.

It is advisable to soak your seeds for 6 hours or overnight to help them to soak up some water and become more pliable. Then plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and about 3 inches apart. You want the plants to be about 4 inches from each other in the end.  It takes 37 to 50 days for spinach to reach maturity.  You can snip off the outer leaves when they reach 3 inches long or you can cut the entire rosette off.

Strawberries grow well with spinach.

Make sure to water in the morning not in the evening as wet leaves spread disease. The diseases that you have to worry the most about is Downy Mildew and fusarium wilt. The insects that attack spinach are Aphids and leaf miners.

Do not store spinach next to apples, melons or tomatoes as they give off ethylene gas in the fridge and will make your spinach spoil.

here are some healthy spinach recipes

and more recipes and still more.  Happy Cooking!

Best Food Fits

Here at Edible San Marcos you know that children are very important to us. That is why we are so determined on making sure that we have good gardens in our schools for our kids.  We want them to learn about nutrition from the beginning.  We feel that if they learn young then they have a chance at keeping the good habits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Our school gardens continue to be a success and now we have another partner to introduce you to, Best Food Fits.  It is a research project funded by the Texas department of State Health Services and is headed by Dr. Sylvia Crixell and Dr. BJ Friedman in the Nutrition and Foods Program of Texas State University.

The primary goal is to improve the health if children by reducing the risk for obesity.

The ways that this goal is obtained is by ;

1. Increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables

2. Decrease the intake of sugar sweetened beverages.

Best Food Fits got buy in from local restaurants, when they were approached to make their menus  healthier for children.  I am personally glad that our local restaurants are on board with this, it makes it easier for you as a parent to go out when you have healthy choices for your children. Below are a list of the participating restaurants and as more come on I will add them so you can take your family out and have a nice dinner out that may be a little healthier!

1 Grin’s Restaurant

2. Palmer’s Restaurant

3. Cool Mint Cafe

4. Euro Cafe & Market

5. El Rey de Pollo – El Rey de Pollo is located at 209 North IH 35

6. The Coffee Pot Bistro

7. Mana’s Restaurant – Mana’s is located at 807 Alabama Street

8. Rogelio’s Restaurant – Rogelio’s is located at 625 S LBJ Drive

9.  Asian Garden

10. China Palace Buffet – China Palace Buffet is located at 900 Bugg Lane

11. Gil’s Broiler – Gil’s Broiler is located at 328 North LBJ Drive.

12. Herbert’s Taco Hut – Herbert’s Taco Hut is located at 419 Riverside Drive.