Weaving New Tradition: Adding Culture to the Holidays

 

Tribal employees Mietra Williams and Amber Ramos proudly display their handmade wreaths. Photo/Micheal Rios

Tribal employees Mietra Williams and Amber Ramos proudly display their handmade wreaths.
Photo/Micheal Rios

 

by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

When you think of the holiday season, what do you think of? Is it time off from work? Is it family? Or is it about the gifts you still have to buy? For most of us it’s probably a combination of those answers, with the emphasis on the stuff you still have to buy. Our holiday season has become overshadowed by the materialism and appetite for consumerism that invades modern times. Not only are we buying stuff to give to people, buying holiday foods to eat, but we are also buying stuff to decorate our houses. For those who attended the 3rd annual Wreath Making Class, offered at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center on December 10, they were able to celebrate the holiday season the traditional way; honoring the cause by creating a holiday wreath with family and friends that they chose to enjoy their time with.

In its third year, the wreath making event was coordinated by Inez Bill, Rediscovery Coordinator for the Hibulb Culture Center, Joy Lacy, Historic Records Curator, and Virginia Jones, Cultural Resources Secretary. They harvested resources such as cedar boughs, salal plants, holly, and ferns from the Tulalip woods that were used to make the holiday wreaths. Of having to go into the woods to harvest Joy Lacy said, “You forget about the little things in life until you get out in the woods and start gathering. It felt good being out in the woods. When you get back there you know what you are missing.”

Attendees of this year’s wreath making class were treated to a festive, communal gathering of Tulalip tribal members, tribal employees, and invited guests who came together with the common purpose of hand making a holiday wreath. “It’s my way of giving to the people. It’s an opportunity for people to make something, enjoy themselves, and to have something they’ve made by hand,” Inez Bill says of the wreath making class.

There was a variety of supplies on hand, so that each person could make their own unique wreath while creating connections with those around them. Even the creative novice would not have difficulty creating something to be proud of, as there was plenty of help and ideas to be offered by the event coordinators. The experience of creating something by hand, in such a welcoming, cheerful environment, makes the end result of having a wreath to giveaway as a gift or hang as a decoration so much more meaningful, something one simply can’t purchase from a retail store.

Among the attendees were three University of Washington students from the international and prestigious Restoration Ecology Network. They came to experience the ethnobotanical influence that the local environment has on traditional Tulalip activities. Inez Bill described the ethnobotancial influence of the wreath making class as being one of healing and keeping our connection to nature thriving.

 

Mother and daughter, Pat Contraro and Sara Andreas work side-by-side making holiday wreaths. Photo/Micheal Rios

Mother and daughter, Pat Contraro and Sara Andreas work side-by-side making holiday wreaths.
Photo/Micheal Rios

 

“To me, I think anything you do working with your hands can be healing. Here, at Hibulb Cultural Center, we follow the teaching and values when we harvest anything. We only take what we need. We move area to area while harvesting. That way we aren’t wiping out one area. We value those traditional values and teachings. I think a lot of the plants that we harvest have medicinal values and other uses but at this time we are using them for wreaths. Cedar boughs have always been important to our people. You can brush yourself off with it. Some of the other plants, like salal, we use the berries from it. These plants we are familiar with. To go into nature and harvest them and have them here, we are hoping to keep that connection with nature in doing events like this for our people.”

Also in attendance were five members of the local Tulalip movement Unity in the Community. They spent approximately four hours in the wreath making class creating holiday wreaths to give to Tulalip elders. “We are community members that have the ability to respond and so we want to do what we can. Utilizing resources that are already given seemed like the easiest place to start,” remarked Tulalip tribal member Bibianna Anchetta.

Offered to all those who participated in the wreath making festivity was a complimentary lunch comprised of traditional Tulalip cuisine. Inez Bill used her own elk meat to cook up an elk stew with nettles, Terri Bagley made a huge batch of fry bread, and Virginia Jones provided blackberry nettle lemonade and blackberry pudding. The blackberry used was the wild ground blackberry native to Tulalip. The stinging nettle used in both the stew and lemonade was harvested this past spring. “It’s a plant and fiber source that our people have used for a lot of different things. It has a lot of nutritional value and is one of the strongest fibers that anyone can use. It is nice to be able to offer our people some of these local, traditional foods when we come together,” Bill says of the stinging nettle and blackberry ingredients.

The holiday season is supposed to be about being around people you care about and showing them you care about them. For Inez Bill and the staff of the Hibulb’s Rediscovery Program, not only did they offer a wreath making class that allowed community members and guests to come together, but they showed their class attendees how much they care for them by preparing a traditional Tulalip lunch. It’s all part of adhering to traditional Tulalip values and traditions, Bill explains.

“Respect and caring. That’s what we try to share with our people when we work with them. A lot of people have forgotten those values. We are here to share that with our tribal membership. Something that was taught a long time ago by aunties and grandmothers and grandfathers we teach here, those teachings and values. Here we can keep that connection and share that connection to nature with our people. This is a living culture.”

 

It’s Nearly Thanksgiving: Try One of These 6 Recipes From the College Fund

This image of another variation on sweet potato soup is from TheVegan8.com, which provides 8-ingredient vegan recipes.


This image of another variation on sweet potato soup is from TheVegan8.com, which provides 8-ingredient vegan recipes.

 

 

Indian Country Today

 

 

The American Indian College Fund is featuring six Native recipes to help families prepare for a wonderful family dinner, whether it’s for Thanksgiving or any time.

Celebrate tradition and stay healthy with this vegan soup:

 

Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet Potato Soup

 

If you’re cooking salmon, these potato cakes are a perfect complement:

 

Smoked Oyster Potato Cakes
Smoked Oyster Potato Cakes

 

This tasty vegetable dish can be a light lunch, served with tortillas and cheese, or used as a side dish with your favorite Southwestern meal:

 

Calabacitas
Calabacitas

 

Clay Oden’s lean, hearty meatloaf is wonderful with a side of mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, or just sliced up and served on bread:

 

Buffalo Meatloaf
Buffalo Meatloaf

 

Warm, multigrain muffins are a wonderful way to start the day, and blue corn is a staple among Southwestern Pueblos. Add some butter and preserves for a decadent breakfast:

 

Blue Corn Buttermilk Muffins
Blue Corn Buttermilk Muffins

 

Want a hearty vegetarian meal with some kick? This delicious posole, a traditional dish among the Southwestern Pueblo peoples, is spicy and satisfying:

 

Posole With Red Chile
Posole With Red Chile

 

Check out the educational pieces the College fund is featuring for Native American Heritage Month below:

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/19/its-nearly-thanksgiving-try-one-these-6-recipes-college-fund-157703

Preserve the Harvest for Winter Meals and Holiday Gifts

 

Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique making a comeback.Photo: Gardener’s Supply Company

Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique making a comeback.
Photo: Gardener’s Supply Company


by Melinda Myers

 

The cucumbers have filled the vegetable drawer, you’ve run out of cabbage recipes and your family is refusing to eat one more BLT. Or maybe you just couldn’t resist that special deal on a bushel of tomatoes, potatoes or apples at the farmer’s market. So what is a gardener or shopper to do with all that produce?

Since properly stored vegetables will hold their flavor and nutritional value longer than those left in a plastic bag or set on the sunny kitchen counter, consider preserving some for the long winter ahead using one of several methods.

Storage orchard racks and slatted crates placed in a cool dark location have long been used to store squash, onions and potatoes. The stackable nature or drawers provide ample storage space, so fruits and vegetables do not touch.  Keeping stored fruit separated prevents rot from spreading from one fruit to the next. Plus, the slatted sides allow airflow to extend storage longevity.

Those in colder climates can store their carrots and parsnips right in the garden. Once the soil gets a bit crunchy, cover them with straw or evergreen boughs for easier digging in winter. Then dig as needed or harvest during the first winter thaw. If this isn’t possible or not your style, try out a root vegetable storage bin. The root crops are layered in sand or sawdust and placed in a cool dark location. Just remove and use as needed. No snow shoveling needed.

Drying is one of the oldest food preservation techniques. Most of us have grabbed a few bundles of herbs to hang and dry. Expand your drying endeavors to include fruits and vegetables. The goal is to quickly remove moisture without cooking the food.  You can make your own dehydrator or purchase one. Research has shown that blanching vegetables and fruit before drying helps destroy harmful bacteria. Blanching involves a steam or boiling water bath followed by a cold water bath. Timing varies with the fruit or vegetable you are preparing.

Another ancient food preservation technique, fermentation, is experiencing a comeback. Cultures around the world have fermented fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. Unique flavors, storage options and health benefits have many gardeners revisiting this tradition. Fermenting cucumbers into pickles, cabbage into sauerkraut, and berries into preserves are just a few options.  The ingredients can be as simple as water, salt, and spices.  All you need is a vessel, vegetables and fermenting culture. You can jump-start your efforts with a fermentation crock kit (gardeners.com) which includes the crock, cover and weights to make sure your veggies stay safely submerged in water.

Or quickly lock in the flavor and nutrition of your fruits and vegetables with freezing. You’ll need airtight containers or bags that are durable, don’t leak and won’t become brittle in cold temperatures. Some produce does not freeze well and others may need to be blanched before they are packed in the freezer bag or container. But frozen items can easily be retrieved from the freezer and included in your winter meals.

Canning is a bit more involved, but can be lots of fun. This process preserves the food and keeps it safe by preventing the growth of undesirable bacteria, yeast and mold. The sealed jars keep the flavor in and bad microorganisms out. So gather your produce, jars, pressure cooker, canner and friends to create tomato sauce, salsa, jams and jellies to enjoy or give as gifts.

Whatever method you choose, do a bit of research before you start. You’ll have greater success and a lot more fun. The National Center for Home Food Preservation website, http://nchfp.uga.edu, provides all the basic information for storage and food preservation.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

What beautiful berries you have!

Indigenious to the Pacific Northwest, Oregon-Grape resembles the Holly with its green leaves and produces deep bluish purple berries that have a tart taste when consumed, and are part of the traditional diet of tribes located in the Pacific Northwest. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil

Indigenious to the Pacific Northwest, Oregon-Grape resembles the Holly with its green leaves and produces deep bluish purple berries that have a tart taste when consumed, and are part of the traditional diet of tribes located in the Pacific Northwest.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil

Spotlight on the Oregon-Grape

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

You might have noticed the blooming of flowers, foliage, and other plant species occurring as our summer season kicks into high gear. The abundance of sunshine has increased outdoor activities where these blooming specimens have been the main attraction for people out for a stroll.

As you grab your walking shoes to enjoy some of that summer sun, keep your eyes peeled for a flowering plant native to western North America called the Oregon-Grape, or M. aquifolium for you plant enthusiasts.

The Oregon-Grape is a cousin to the Goldenseal plant and known to be bitter due to a presence of alkaloids including berberine. There are many types of Oregon-Grape, but the tall variety can grow up to 8 feet tall, while the dwarf variety will only grow a few feet in height. Other types include cascade, low, and creeping Oregon-Grape.

All varieties feature stiff branches with leaves that will remind you of Holly with their glossy prickly leaves, which are deep green on top and silvery underneath. Flowers are yellow and bloom in late spring, followed by the presence of small bluish-black berries sprouting in clusters from its branches resembling true grapes, from which it takes its namesake. Berries, ripe from July until September, and have a tart taste with earthy undertones.

As a Northwest perennial, Oregon-Grape is prized for its beauty and heartiness which has made it an excellent choice for city landscapers.

The plant also has a variety of medicinal uses thanks to that bitterness, which has been used by Coast Salish tribes to help stimulate liver function, aid digestion, and used as a laxative.

Oregon-Grape is a great addition to gardens with its vibrant foliage, flowers and berries which will create a colorful splash in shady or woodland plantings. Its ability to survive summer droughts and its tolerance for poor soils make it an easy plant for gardeners to enjoy.

For more information on Oregon-Grape check out www.thegardenhelper.com/oregon_grape for growing tips or www.wildfoodsandmedicines.com for medicinal and harvesting tips.

Oregon-Grape is used in herbal remedies for infections and to improve digestion and live function. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Oregon-Grape is used in herbal remedies for infections and to improve digestion and live function.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

 

Oregon Grape planted near the Tulalip Administration Building is used as a natural filter to clean water runoff before it reaches the Tulalip Bay, and should not be harvested for traditional use. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Oregon Grape planted near the Tulalip Administration Building is used as a natural filter to clean water runoff before it reaches the Tulalip Bay, and should not be harvested for traditional use.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

 

Alaska From Scratch: Crusted salmon with a kick

Sugar-crusted salmon with avocado-peach salsaMAYA EVOY

Sugar-crusted salmon with avocado-peach salsa
MAYA EVOY

By Maya Evoy

Alaska From Scratch July 4, 2014

 

There is nothing more seasonal in Alaska in July than a wild salmon caught directly from our local shores.

One evening last summer, after 13 hours on the water, a friend of ours came home with a marvelous salmon. Although it was late, it was still light out, and he and my husband made quick work of filleting while I pulled up a recipe. It wasn’t long before the fish was sizzling in a hot pan, filling the house with the aroma of spices and saltwater mingling together. There is truly nothing better.

That night, I coated the salmon with a homemade spice rub, based on a recipe I found on my talented friend Heidi Drygas’ local food blog, Chena Girl Cooks. Together, we ooh’ed and ahh’ed over the smokiness of the paprika and the cumin, the kick of the chili powder and dry mustard, the nice sweetness from the sugar and a surprising pinch of cinnamon. And can we just talk about that beautiful charred crust for a moment? You get a stunning caramelization when a hot pan swirled with oil meets a perfectly fresh fillet of salmon, patted dry (this is key) and rubbed generously. “I have to write about this,” I said aloud between bites, squeezing a wedge of lime over my fillet before diving back in. “We have to make this again.”

Two nights later, we indeed made it all over again, and this time I made a bright, summery avocado-peach salsa to go with it. When I don’t have peaches on hand, I’ve used mangoes in the salsa with equally terrific results. Since last summer, we have looked forward to eating this dish again, as soon as the first fresh salmon comes through the door and into my kitchen.

Sugar-crusted salmon with avocado-peach salsa

For the salsa:

  • 2 sweet but firm peaches, pitted and finely chopped (or mangoes)
  • 2 ripe avocados, finely chopped
  • 1 small red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos (to taste), seeds removed and minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the salmon:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 11/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4-6 wild-caught salmon fillets (about 4-6 ounces each), pin bones and skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl, gently stir together the peaches, avocados, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, mustard, cinnamon, pepper and salt.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon fillets dry and liberally season the top of each fillet with the rub, patting it so it will adhere. Place the fillets, seasoned side down, into the hot pan. Cook about two minutes, until rub is fragrant and caramelized but not burnt. Flip each fillet and continue to cook on the other side 2-6 minutes more, being careful not to overcook (cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fillets and your preferred doneness. I like my wild salmon fillets medium in the center, so mine were ready after four minutes). Plate the salmon and top with the avocado peach salsa. Spice rub adapted from Chena Girl Cooks, originally adapted from Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Maya Evoy lives in Nikiski and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com.

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right to build houses for Native Americans, website reports

Brad Pitt posing with Janice Porter at the future site of Make It Right in the Lower Ninth Ward, 2007 (Doug MacCash / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Brad Pitt posing with Janice Porter at the future site of Make It Right in the Lower Ninth Ward, 2007 (Doug MacCash / NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

By Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation is partnering with two Native American tribes in Fort Peck, Mont., to build affordable, high design housing, the website beforeitsnews.com reported Wednesday.

According to the report:

“Brad Pitt has been partnering with Fort Peck, MT’s Sioux and Assiniboine nation tribes to build 20 super green homes for residents whose income levels are at or below 60 percent the area’s mean income, with a percentage of the homes reserved for seniors and disabled veterans.”

The Make It Right website defines the existing situation in Fort Peck in these terms:

“Currently, more than 600 people are waiting for housing. Overcrowding is a chronic problem on the Fort Peck Reservation, where multiple families commonly live together in two bedroom homes.
Make It Right’s work on the Fort Peck Reservation began in June 2013 with community-driven design meetings. Tribal leaders and future homeowners met with Make It Right’s architects and designers to discuss housing needs and vision for their new neighborhood. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014.
The solar-powered homes will have 3-4 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms … Home ownership will be structured through a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Rent-to-Own program with ownership transferring to the tenant after 15 years of renting.”

For architecture fans, the Montana development offers the opportunity to see Make It Right-style homes designed for a cooler, more arid prairie environment.

Pitt’s Make It Right began as an altruistic effort to rebuild one of the most flood-ruined neighborhoods of New Orleans. Since 2008 a part of the Lower 9th Ward near the Claiborne Avenue Bridge has blossomed with 100 new homes.

In recent years, Pitt’s organization has taken on somewhat similar projects in Kansas City, Missouri, and Trenton, New Jersey. As of June, there was only one Make It Right home under construction in New Orleans.

Watch Pitt discuss his vision for Make It Right in Kansas City in the video below.

Squaxin Island Tribe unveils new green natural resources building

SQ-new-building-1-small-for-web-300x199

Joe Peters, salmon harvest manager for the Squaxin Island Tribe, examines a green wall in the tribe’s new natural resources building

Jun 3rd, 2014 NWIFC.com

The Squaxin Island Tribe’s natural and cultural resources departments recently moved into a new building that reflects the tribe’s dedication to the environment and their own culture. The new office includes elements of green building and reflects the cultural identity of the tribe. “It literally looks like a long house,” said Andy Whitener, natural resources director for the tribe.

“We are the People of the Water,” said Whitener. “Every time someone comes in here, they’ll be reminded of that.” All of the rain hitting the roof of the building is routed to two water features that bookend the entrance of the building. The rainwater will flow down two slopes that look like of fish scales.

Even the heating system indoors – driven by warm water pumped through the floor – will be reminiscent of the tribe’s connection to water.

Several systems throughout the building are lighter on the earth than traditional buildings. For example, much of the light will come from natural lighting. “When there isn’t enough light outdoors, the building’s system will kick in more light to make up for it,” said Jeff Dickison, assistant natural resources director. “In the end, we’ll use a lot less electricity.”

The building’s impact on stormwater is decreased by two large rain gardens and a pervious pavement parking lot. “Instead of water flowing off the property, increasing floods and pollution, it will seep into the soil in a more natural way,” Dickison said.

Even the computer networking system makes it easier to manage the temperature inside the building. “This building won’t have one big server room that will need to be cooled, using a lot of electricity,” Dickison said. “We’re using a cloud based system, which will take that work totally off site.”

“We have dedicated staff that work hard to protect our treaty rights and preserve and protect out natural resources,” said Whitener. “It makes sense that our new building would reflect that mission.”

5 Ways to Make Gardening With Kids Easy and Educational

Darla AntoineDarla Antoine's son Cuen holds a basket of strawberries he helped pick.

Darla Antoine
Darla Antoine’s son Cuen holds a basket of strawberries he helped pick.

 

Darla Antoine, Indian Country Today

 

It’s no secret that kids who help plant a garden are more likely to want to eat the fruits and vegetables that it produces—and growing a garden is a great way to get your kids interested in trying unfamiliar foods.

RELATED: 5 Easy Steps: How to Start a Community Garden

Whether you’re thinking of spearheading a school garden, you’ve got a plot in the community garden or you’re blessed to have a couple of raised beds in your own back yard, here are five tips for making gardening fun, easy and rewarding for your little ones:

1. Center the Garden on the Kids

Involve the kids in deciding what to plant and where to plant it. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about the balance between sunlight and shade, and even to help them learn to track to the path of the sun. You could even experiment and plant the same kind of plant or seed in three different locations with varying access to sunlight and water. Ask your children to observe the differences in the plants as they grow.

2. Designate a Specific Area for Their Gardening

If you’ve got your own ambitions for gardening it would be wise to designate a special bed or section of a bed specifically for the children to garden. This will keep them from over “helping” you and encourage them to take ownership over their own space. It may be a good idea to buy them their own gardening tools as well. Even simple plastic tools for playing in the sand could work well in a kiddie garden.

3. Make the Garden Interactive

Plant flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds and perhaps even encourage a cutting garden so that the kids can touch and smell the flowers. Release ladybugs into the garden and track their life cycle. Take photos of a favorite plant or vegetable once a week to track its growth. My favorite idea? Plant a sunflower house. Simply plant sunflower seeds or starts in a large circle, leaving enough space between two of the sunflowers for children to easily pass through without damaging the flowers. By the end of the summer the sunflowers will have grown up into a large round “house” with a gaping door—a perfectly shaded playhouse for the dog days of summer.

4. Keep it Simple

Your kids are likely to be more interested in the garden if they begin to see results sooner rather than later. Be sure to plant vegetables that grow quickly, like radishes, alongside more tantalizing varieties that will prove to be worth the wait, such as cherry tomatoes or sweet peas. Forgo seeds for starts to speed the “fruits of our labor” process up a bit more and don’t forget to plant herbs, which are ready to eat almost immediately.

5. Don’t Stop at the Garden

Use the garden as a resource and an excuse to get your kids in the kitchen all summer long too. Teach them how to cook and prepare delicious meals with the vegetables and herbs that they grew—even set the dinner table with a bouquet of fresh flowers from the garden as well. Begin to teach them delicious and simple food pairings, like fresh basil with tomato. If they’re old enough challenge them to find a new recipe once a week, whether they scour the web, your cookbooks or their imagination.

Happy Gardening!

Darla Antoine is an enrolled member of the Okanagan Indian Band in British Columbia and grew up in Eastern Washington State. For three years, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the Midwest, reporting on issues relevant to the Native and Hispanic communities, and most recently served as a producer for Native America Calling. In 2011, she moved to Costa Rica, where she currently lives with her husband and their infant son. She lives on an organic and sustainable farm in the “cloud forest”—the highlands of Costa Rica, 9,000 feet above sea level. Due to the high elevation, the conditions for farming and gardening are similar to that of the Pacific Northwest—cold and rainy for most of the year with a short growing season. Antoine has an herb garden, green house, a bee hive, cows, a goat, and two trout ponds stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/23/5-ways-make-gardening-kids-easy-and-educational-155354

23 Ways to Improve Your BBQ

 

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istock

May 22, 2014 | By Pamela Nisevich Bede, M.S., R.D.

Sure, your backyard barbeque is meant to be a party, but that’s no excuse to offer foods that will ensure you’ll avoid stepping onto the beach — and the scale. In fact, every BBQ has room for a few entrees and sides that keep your health-conscious guests happy, and your body looking and feeling good. Try the following tips and you are sure to wow your guests and keep them asking for more — without them ever knowing they were “indulging” in healthier options.

See all 23 tips here, at Livestrong.com

Fruitful Container Gardens

 

Strawberries in a potPhoto: Gardener’s Supply Company

Strawberries in a pot
Photo: Gardener’s Supply Company

   

                      
By Melinda Myers

Picture yourself harvesting a few fresh strawberries for your cereal in the morning or perhaps picking a few apples from your own backyard tree to cook up into a pie.  It is possible, even if you garden on a balcony or small lot. And even if you have plenty of space, you will still appreciate the fun and convenience of reaching out the backdoor and harvesting some homegrown fruit.

Strawberries are excellent container plants. Grow everbearing or day neutral varieties, so you will be harvesting strawberries throughout the growing season. Reduce your workload and increase success with a self-watering hanging basket (gardeners.com).  Or dress things up a bit more with a decorative container.  The haystack hanging baskets have the beauty of the coco fiber lined planters, but require half the watering. The AquaSav™ liner is a combination of coir and recycled plastic designed to conserve moisture. This means better results with less watering.

But don’t stop there. Add some dwarf fruit trees to your patio plantings. A dwarf apple, peach or pear will provide beautiful spring flowers, nice foliage for the summer and fruit for you to enjoy. Select self-fertile varieties, those that only require one plant to produce fruit, if space is limited. Grow your dwarf trees in large weather-proof pots with drainage. Those in cold climates will need to provide some winter protection, but the first harvest will make that extra bit of work well worth the effort.

Or try your green thumb at growing lemons, limes and other citrus in a container. The fragrant flowers and glossy green leaves are a beautiful prelude to the tasty fruit. Even cold weather gardeners can put their green thumb to the test by growing a Meyer lemon, Kaffir lime or other citrus in a container.  Just move the potted plant indoors for the winter and back outdoors next season once the danger of frost has passed.

And don’t forget the blueberries that are high in antioxidants and flavor.  These nutritious beauties require moist well-drained acidic soil. Something most gardeners do not have. This makes growing them in containers, where you control the soil, a good option. Blueberries provide seasonal interest with their nodding white bell-shaped flowers in spring, colorful fruit in summer and yellow, orange or red color in fall.  Though only one plant is needed to bear fruit, keep in mind that your harvest will more than double if you grow two.  

 

So survey your patio, deck, balcony or garden for space to add a container or two of fruiting plants that are sure to add beauty and flavor to your garden and meals this season.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.