How Growing a Garden Can Assist Weight Loss

Yeah, it’s a little bit click baity. But it’s also true. First, nothing tastes like fresh, home grown vegetables. The stuff you buy at the grocery, is better than what comes in a can, or heaven forbid, a box, but stuff that you grow yourself, or get at a local farmer’s market, is night and day different.

Almost everything you buy in the grocery store, has to be picked early, and shipped, before it’s ripe and full of flavor. Often the truck is loaded with a kind of gas bomb to help the produce ripen. So it looks ripe, but the natural sugars, and vitamins, as well as minerals are often missing, or certainly depleted.

Strawberries from your own garden, or freshly picked from a U pick, are world’s apart from what you buy at the grocery store. The same is true of tomatoes, cucumbers, even Jalapeno peppers. It’s even true of lettuce and cabbage.

People often comment on the difference in taste when we give away excess veggies. BTW, it’s even true of meat, but I’ll save that for another post.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to have to change the way I eat, I at least want it to taste good. And I discovered years and years ago, that nothing compares to growing my own.

I never liked salad. I would always turn it down. I liked the blue cheese dressing and the bacon bits, but the salad was tasteless and boring. But when I had one with my home grown Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and Jalapenos, I couldn’t believe the flavor jump. It was delicious. I could even eat it without immersing it in Blue Cheese Dressing.

Home grown cucumbers and squash are as different as night and day from the ones sold in the supermarket. I didn’t even like the word, zucchini, now it’s my favorite vegetable to grow and cook. It tastes amazing grilled, stewed, baked, fried, and broiled. Fresh grown green beans and peas are so much better than store bought that I can’t even describe the difference.

My favorite thing to grow, and eat, are hot peppers. From Jalapenos, to Carolina Reapers, I love them all. I have to be careful right now, because we don’t have a lot of room to grow peppers. I used to grow over 20 varieties every year, now I only have room for 5 or 6 plants. This year I will grow, Poblano, Jalapeno, Fresno, Bhut Jolokia (Ghost), and Moruga Scorpion. Those last two are among the hottest peppers on earth. I had to choose between my favorite hot varieties, and this was what I chose. First, hot peppers are good for you. The help you burn calories. They also help prevent cancer. I eat hot peppers, or hot sauce every day.

Tomatoes are also not your enemy. Some diets, like the Mediterranean, are very high on them. Some keto purists, frown on them. I have never had a problem. I don’t eat them in major quantities these days, but they are full of vitamins and minerals, and are good for my heart. Again, due to space issues, I can only grow about 6 plants. So I choose wisely. Here in Scotland, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Cucumbers have to be grown in a greenhouse, so that has to be figured in.

I only grow one kind of cucumber, Socrates. They are 5 to six inches long. They taste great, and the plants are abundant with fruit. They are parthenocarpic, meaning they don’t need a pollinator, which makes growing them in a greenhouse easy. Two plants is all I have room for, and all I need.

As I mentioned earlier, I will grow several zucchini bushes. Oh I love those things. And they are expensive in the supermarkets here, so they’re great the give away to neighbors. I will also grow several spaghetti squash plants. My wife and I both love spaghetti squash. Giving up pasta was tough, but these squashes, make it much easier.

I’ll also grow beets, beans, lettuce, and some herbs. Oh, I’m going to grow a few cauliflower. They take up a lot of room, and you only get one head of fruit, so it’s not wise to grow them. They are fairly affordable at the grocery store. If you have a lot of room, I recommend growing plenty of Cauliflower and Broccoli. I’m only going to grow two or three cabbages, for the same reason. Just no room.

So far, I have started my hot pepper, tomato, cauliflower, and cabbage seeds. They are growing under lights right now. They will go out in May.

Another benefit of growing your own, is it provides exercise. And exercise is mission critical to good health. You will need to prepare your garden. That will take a while. You will have to plant your garden. You’ll have to go out and water your garden. And you’ll have to weed your garden. That’s daily walking, bending, lifting, and etc. It’s like a gym membership you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for.

Yes, seeds cost a little. But if you select correctly, you’ll save on your groceries. And if you save seeds properly, you’ll only have to buy seeds occasionally. And you’ll be able to give excess to your family and friends. Even with my limited space, I will give away, lettuce, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and beans.

You can order your seeds off the internet, or you can pick them up at a big box store. Heck, even dollar stores carry seeds. If you’re interested in eating well, and eating right, I encourage you to try and grow some of your own vegetables. You’ll be glad you did. If you have any questions, send them my way.

For those who are following my progress, my current weight is 226.5. I have slowed down a lot. My goal to reach 200 by Easter will not happen. I will set a new one on Easter. Stay tuned.

My 2021 Garden Plan – Driven By Keto

Weight on 1 February 2021 = 230.5

Free photo: Vegetables, Garden, Frisch, Food - Free Image ...

I know it’s the beginning of February, because I have my garden all planned out, except for how I’m going to lay it out. I’ll do that in March, when I go to clean out all the beds. Mostly I’ll be using containers, and they can pretty much go anywhere. I’m really excited. I have a much better plan than last year. I’m more organized in my head, as well as on paper.

All of these are low in Carbs. And all of them are healthy. There is nothing in this list I am ashamed of, or afraid to say I eat.

First, and the only thing already sown, are my super hot peppers: Moruga Scorpion, and Bhut Jolokia (Ghost). I am limited for space, so I can only grow a couple of these, so I chose two of my favorites. They are very hot. Both have had their place as the hottest peppers in the world, though neither has that title currently. But for space, and flavor, I chose these. I already sowed them, because they take up to 6 weeks to germinate.

I will also have Poblano, Jalapeno, and Bell Peppers. The Bells will be last to go in, because of space, and the fact that I can buy them pretty cheaply at the supermarket. I just like to grow my own.

Next, I will have three varieties of tomatoes. Back in GA, when I had acres of room, literally, I grew about 20 varieties of tomatoes, Now I have space for maybe 6 plants. I will grow, Moskvich OG, some purple cherry, and a miniature plant variety of red cherry tomatoes, called, Maskotka. I will probably plant two of each variety. 6 plants is going to be crowded, but no pain, no gain.

I will plant one kind of lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson. It is by far my favorite type of lettuce to grow. And I love to eat it. I will grow three or four of these at a time. I will also grow some herbs. I have oregano, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro seeds. That will be enough for this year.

I will not plant potatoes for the first time in a long time, because of space. Northern Scotland is potato country anyway, so I can buy them from a farm store as easy as I can grow them. But for root vegetables I will grow beets, and radishes. No carrots or parsnips this year for the same reason as not growing potatoes. When you have limited space you have to make choices. That’s also why I will only grow spring onions. I love them, they grow quickly, and they don’t take up much room.

I will grow some green beans and some wax beans. I had ok luck with them last year, and The garden could use the benefit of the extra nitrogen they’ll fix in the soil.

I will grow one kind of cucumber, Socrates. It’s my favorite. It grows and produces well, and since I have to grow them in a greenhouse, I need a variety that doesn’t require a pollinator. I don’t know whether one plant will be enough or whether I’ll grow two. I may just put them in a largish container and grow two.

My main crop will be squash and zucchini. I’ll grow three kinds of zucchini, and one or two crooked neck yellow squash. I will grow lots of spaghetti squash as they are my wife’s favorites. And I will grow some Butternut squash.

As space permits, I will grow some cauliflower and cabbage. I’m not sure how many because I don’t know about the space. They take up a lot of room for what they provide. Stay tuned.

As I keep saying, the garden will be small, but it will be mighty. I’ll keep you posted as I go, and I’ll probably do some posts on individual varieties as time allows.

Oh, for the record, I will no doubt grow some flowers among the veggies. Last year, I grew Nasturtium and some dwarf sunflowers. I will likely grow both of those again, and maybe some Zinnias. Come to think of it, I had some of those last year, too.

Gardening provides me exercise and sunshine, both are very important to weight loss and good health. They are both extremely important during this time of lock down. And here in Scotland, we don’t know when that will end. These veggies will save me some money during the growing season, and a little afterward. And the taste of fresh veggies, makes a Keto eating plan, exquisite.

Supermarket Produce – A Rant

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Morning, Y’all. I have very little to say today, but I wanted to get something out there, so please indulge me in some thinking out loud. I hope you all are doing well. We’re doing alright. I didn’t lose any weight this week. Now I remember why I normally only weigh myself every other or every three weeks.

For several years my wife and I were farmers. I loved every day of it. I loved working the garden, planting seeds, experimenting with hydroponics, and aquaponics. I loved my raised bed garden and my amazing greenhouse. We had a pretty big garden.

I also loved raising chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats, cows, pigs, and even donkeys (not to eat, silly. The donkeys were livestock guardians). It was a hard life, but it was a good life. We knew where our food came from. We even knew what we ate ate. Now, we’re not so lucky.

Today we live in a small town. We have a tiny garden that supplies a few items during the growing season, but we can’t raise enough of anything to can, or freeze. That means we’re dependent on the supermarkets.

We don’t eat highly processed foods. We might buy some canned tomato sauce, but I read the label very closely. We buy fresh and frozen vegetables. We do buy canned tuna, but only about two cans a month at the most. Most of our meat is fresh, though some is frozen, especially if we have to buy chicken breasts.

When it comes to vegetables, the stuff we buy is just not as tasty as what we grow, with the exception of carrots. My wife and I call supermarket tomatoes, ‘notional’. They look right, but the taste is bland. The same is true with everything. It is so disappointing. Nothing has tasted right for 3.5 years.

My point is, if you can grow your own food, consider it. If not, shop at Farmers’ Markets if you have access. If you can’t do either, then, like us, you’ll just have to suck it up, and do the best you can. But avoid tinned food as much as possible. And avoid boxed things like the plague. If it comes from a factory, it’s like a car or a toy, it’s inedible. Plus, it will be full of sugar or flour, or both.

In a spirit of full disclosure, I love instant potatoes. Before Keto, I ate them all the time. I think they’re yummy. Weird, I know. But we don’t eat them at all now. They are not diet friendly, and they’re not healthy.

If you can eat organic, do. If you can get grass fed, or pasture raised, meat do. If you can get free range eggs, do. If not, do your best. It’s better to eat whole food, even if it is factory farmed and tastes like a cardboard box. Some of the highly processed food will taste awesome. Beware, it’s still poison. That’s a strong statement, but the evidence supports it.

One final thought while I’m ranting, we have not eaten, nor will we buy, any of the vegetarian imitation hamburger, like ‘impossible burger’. I know some of you are vegan and vegetarian, I respect that, but look at the ingredient list. It’s like a chemistry set. The technology and ingenuity is phenomenal. But the thought is more than I can take. Whole foods, and grass fed, pastured meats, is fine what we do. Those served the human race for thousands of years just fine, I think it will do nicely for me.

Changes Coming

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First, I want to thank all of you who read this blog regularly. You rock. I want to tell you that I’m going to be making some changes in the near future. This is mainly to do with the fact that I have several blogs and can’t keep up with everything, so I’m moving everything here. The only downside is you might receive notices of posts that don’t interest you. I hope you’ll be patient with that inconvenience.

Beginning in September, I will be making posts regarding my Ketogenic Transformation, Dogs, Money Management, Farming, Gardening, and the Bible. I will also be posting occasionally about my books, including my adventures in fiction. I’ve written two Novellas, Isitoq’s Hound, and Night of the Rougarou. I have a couple more that I’m writing and will be updating readers here.

I am hoping that all my readers, where non fiction, or fiction lovers will be able to become one big family. I know this is a risk, but here’s hoping.

 

2019 – Here We Grow Again

aztekI’m really excited. It’s garden planning time. For the first time since early 2016, I actually feel like planting a garden. It’s only now that I understand how bad my heart was the last few years. I had bypass surgery in June. Now, my brain is more awake than it’s been in years.

My only problem is, I have so little space to grow anything. We live in a small upstairs apartment in the North Eastern part of Scotland. I have no yard at all. That’s a big change from our acreage in Georgia. Fortunately, I’ve found a couple small spots the used to beĀ  for trash cans, where I can put up a couple rather small greenhouses. And I’ve had to be choosy on varieties and even how much I can grow.

I’ve decided I can grow several bags of Potatoes. I can plant them at the Church building. I tried growing them last year, but did something wrong. Mostly, I think I was just so ill after my surgery that I didn’t take care of them properly. This year will be different.

I have ordered 4 dwarf tomato varieties. Two reds, one yellow, and one orange. There won’t be enough to can, but maybe next year. I think I might plant one Green Zebra.

yellow morugaFor peppers, I’ve really had to put my thinking cap on. I know that if I grow them in small containers and top them, I should be able to grow them shorter and bushier. I will plant two Jalapeno, 1 Yellow Moruga Scorpion, 1 Ghost Pepper, and 1 Carolina Reaper. I haven’t decided on sweet peppers yet. I also have Cayenne seeds. I might grow 1 of those too, because they have so many uses.

I intend to grow Partenon Zucchini. and Socrates Cucumber. These are both Parthenocarpic and should grow well in a greenhouse. I will plant them in succession to save on space and maximize the amount I can grow. socrates

I also haveĀ  Yellow Crooked Neck and Spaghetti squash. they will not grow in the greenhouse so I’ll have to take special care of them and watch over them.

That will be all the things I’ll be able to grow. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I have plenty of bags so I could grow carrots, but they are so cheap here that it’s foolish to waste the space. Brittan wants me to grow some strawberries, so I’ll try. I have some doubts but it’s worth the risk.

I guess that’s it. Just had to share the news. Pepper seeds will be planted next week. Tomatoes will be about a week behind the peppers. I have my seed trays and my heat mats. All systems are grow!

Confessions and Evolution of an ‘End Times Prepper’

In late 2008 I became a Prepper. A Prepper is someone who wants to be ready when disaster comes. It was fun, hard work, and extremely exciting. But I must confess, I did it for some bad reasons. I did it for some good reasons. I’m going to lay it out here. Judge me, if you must, but please recognize that sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reasons.

We moved from Maine to Georgia in January of 08. Later that summer, the economic world started melting. First, the housing market blew up. Our house lost 25% of its value the first 6 months we owned it. That was tough to swallow. Especially since we had bought a big house with a half an acre yard.

The next thing was the stock market. It crashed and burned. My 401k turned to dust. At the same time, I was a senior manager in a publicly traded company and began to see the ugly side of those companies. My attitude went from trust, to disillusionment, to outright disgust and hatred. Someday I’ll tell you all about it. But by the beginning of 2009, I wanted nothing at all to do with the stock market.

Thirdly, Barack Obama was elected president. I believed that was going to produce a disaster for America. Before you go there, race played 0 part in why I thought he was a mistake. Anyone who knows me, will vouch for that. I believed his extreme left wing policies would take us down a hole from which we might never recover. Frankly, I believed his was a nice person. I loved the way his family was presented. He was someone I would like to go to dinner with and talk about things. I think it would have been great to go to a basketball game with him. He loves basketball and I’m from Kentucky. Instant room for rapport. But as a conservative, I found his fiscal and foreign relations policies a nightmare.

Finally, my wife and I had begun to be concerned about GMOs, the issues of highly processed foods, big Agra, the severe cruelty in the meat industry, and other health related matters. We began thinking about growing some of our own food.

Then, I heard about the Prepper movement. People, some like us, and others for different reasons, were starting to take matters into their own hands to make sure they could survive anything, from an economic meltdown to a zombie apocalypse. I was attracted and jumped into the pool head first.

First, I bought guns and ammo. I bought lots of both. I bought a huge gun safe for my basement. I filled it with hand guns, shotguns, rifles, a crossbow, two sling shots, and thousands of rounds of ammo. Each pay day I purchased ammo.

I bought it all for hunting, for self defense, and as an investment. As I already said, I was no longer even remotely interested in the stock market. The morality in that industry was directly opposite of my core values. For those who care about such things, I never purchased an AR, although I wanted to. Prices went through the roof and I didn’t want one that badly. Besides, hand guns, shotguns and hunting rifles were still extremely affordable.

In the spring of 2009, I planted my first garden. My wife was, I think in Florida, and I planted. The first year was tomatoes, peppers, kale, cabbage, and green beans. Later that year, we bought a freezer and my wife also learned to can. We were on our way.

We had a few problems. Primarily because we lived in a Home Owners Association. The rules didn’t allow for livestock. Heck we weren’t even allowed rabbit hutches. We figured out a way to keep rabbits without making a scene. We bought 6 of them and cages. We set them up in the basement of our house. I wheeled them out in the mornings about 6 a.m to empty the cages and clean them. Rabbits are great, but you have to keep them clean or the stink will run you out. All the waste went into a compost pile in the garden. The rabbits had a duel purpose. One, there is no fertilizer like rabbit dung. It’s the best. Secondly, rabbits are a phenomenal protein source. They reproduce quickly and the meat is really good for you. Some people can’t get past the cute factor and that’s unfortunate.

We also put bees in the Garden. That was against the HOA rules too. But bees are essential to pollination and honey is so good for you. They are also easy to hide.

I began to learn about aquaponics and hydroponics. Our basement and garage became home to several tanks of Tilapia, catfish and bluegill. I was having the time of my life. And breaking every rule of the HOA. I was such a rebel.

In the spring of 2010, a friend from Church offered to rent us some land for grazing livestock. I was ecstatic. The price was cheap and the place already had a barn, electricity and water. We installed some fences and brought in chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats (dairy and meat), Dexter Cattle, pigs, donkeys as guardians, and our biggest mistake two beautiful, huge, draft mules.

When the goats had babies, we took the babies home and kept them in the basement for about 8 weeks to care for them. Yep, at one point we had 8 baby goats living in our basement. See the land was about 5 miles from where we lived, and we had to bottle feed them, because we were milking the mothers. So to make that easier, we build a stall in the basement.

In 2011, we raised 150 chicks in our garage and the HOA never suspected a thing. Obviously, we took them to the farm once they got big enough. What a rush, keeping goats, rabbits, bees and chickens right under the noses of our Home Owners Association. We bribed our neighbors with fresh veggies, eggs and meat.

I was blogging about it, and writing articles for online magazines. We had people contacting us about eggs, chickens and ‘how to’ advice. We had a group of teachers come out and visit the place to see what we were doing. It was all great fun. We even had a national television program ask to come out and film at our place. We were having discussions about it, but 5 days before the cameras were scheduled to show up, we backed out. First, we didn’t want our secret to become public and secondly, the program was pushing me on some things that we weren’t ready to do. And I didn’t like their pushing. Especially since it was going to cost me some considerable coin to do it. So I missed my chance at television fame.

By 2012, we had gone from Preppers, to suburban homesteaders, to small farmers when we found a repossessed farm in a nearby county. We purchased it, moved there, and sold our big home in the suburbs. We didn’t make any money. In fact, we had to take $5,000 to the closing table. Our house was still slightly underwater.

But out in the country, we weren’t breaking any rules and life was great. We loved our simple, sustainable life. We had blankets, bandages, tents, extra fishing lines, knives, matches, candles, light bulbs, batteries, lanterns, heck we even had toilet paper. We had bug out bags for each of the cars. And we had very large dogs. Dogs who were big enough to defend the homestead, or to backpack with if we had to walk away. We provided most of our own food. We had stored up 2 years worth of supplies, seeds, and cash. Life was good.

Then in 2014, what we were prepping for came to pass. I lost my job. Its a long story. It wasn’t personal. I hadn’t done anything wrong. The company was making all kinds of changes and I was let go. For that matter, so was our boss, and his boss. It was devastating. Except my wife and I were prepared. We had food, seeds, livestock, supplies, and cash, and we kept right on going. During that time, my wife had begun making goat’s milk soap because of the excess milk our girls produced. That business became our primary source of income. We also sold eggs, pork, vegetables, rabbits, goats, and starter plants.

In 2017, we decided to move to Scotland. I had lived here in the 1980s and we had a chance to come back, so we sold off everything and moved in July. We live in a 2nd floor apartment with no yard at all. I miss my animals, my land, and sometimes my life. But, I still have seeds in the freezer, candles in the drawer, and have all the knowledge we gained stored on flash drives and my memory.

I’m still a Prepper. I have learned all about how to live off the land. I can do plumbing, electricity, and other basic maintenance. My wife can make soap, fix a car, milk animals, and a hundred other things. We learned those skills. We are still prepared. If society goes crazy, we can take care of ourselves. And we can help others do the same. I am not afraid.

Prepping is not much of a thing these days. It has run its course as a fad. A lot of Preppers have become homesteaders. Some have become strong voices in animal management, gardening, and care of the environment. A few have gone off grid. And a small minority have become end of the world hermits.

The U.S. Election in 2016 oddly killed off the Prepper movement from public view. Frankly, that’s odd to me, because the choice between Trump and Clinton scared me senseless. I didn’t vote for either one. I wrote in my choice. He wasn’t elected. Prepping, though, is not about presidents or congress or the supreme court. It’s about taking responsibility for yourself. Its about budgeting and being wise with your money. Its about being able to adjust to the circumstances of society and thrive.

What would happen to you if you lost your job tomorrow? What if you lost your house? What if the economy collapsed? What if something went wrong with the grid and you didn’t have access to the supermarket and were forced to rely on yourself. Could you do it? Are you sure? That’s what prepping means to me. Developing the skills and resources to be able to do more than survive a crisis. I sleep well.