Survey of the yard, May 2020

Plants added and mulched across tbe front of the house. A few years ago this bed was chock full of johnson grass. It is invincible. We finally dug everything out and super tilled with my mantis tiller. The roots go deep so I moved the loosened soil and tilled some more. The mantis tills really fast and makes mince meat of the roots. This was the only cure I could find online for johnson grass other than repeated spraying with roundup. I dug out every bit of visible root before tilling. It worked but there is still the odd sprig and I will have to be diligent about pulling it every week this summer. I am using small animal bedding as mulch.
The end of the same bed, planted in succulents, iris and day lilies … basically whatever I had that needed a home while I was working on it. Mulched in small animal bedding.
This end is not mulched yet. The soil is horrible clay. I am slowly adding compost as I add or move plants.
Deep red crepe myrtle. I discovered that 2 of these 3 are actually on my neighbours property. We are sharing custody.
Jasmine arbour … needs pruning …
This bed only gets morning sun. It is being converted from veggies to shade loving perennials. I will add some lettuce and veggies that can handle shade. I have limbed the dogwoods that border this garden in hopes of letting in a little more light.
Broccoli and cauliflower started indoors from seed. I have never actually grown broccoli successfully. It has always been eaten before it produced, hence the fine netting. I plan to have plants ready to go in early in September to grow over the winter.
Last fall I planted this bed in cabbage (Red and Brunswick). Only one plant survived but it is beautiful. I will have more ready to go in early in the fall and both the beds covered in netting will be covered in row cover for the winter.
I have a bad habit of heeling things in as a temporary fix then never getting around to finding a permanent home. This was some japanese iris and daylilies that have been left to their own devices. I am planning on moving some of the irises to a tricky spot on either side of my driveway. They came out of a ditch at my bf’s place and should be able to handle this ditch that gets mowed regularly
This 4×4 bed has a worm farm, some bloody dock, yacon and two kinds of rhubarb. The bee bath is also there though since the irrigation is not on yet it is dry. This bed is super shady. We don’t eat the yacon as it is to high in carbs for our low carb lifestyle but it is interesting and will stay for now. The rhubarb is an experiment. It doesn’t like North Carolina and the only reason it is here is sentimental reasons.
This is a large patch of greek oregano in the sunnier end of a bed that gets only morning sun. It is loving it. I was in the process of harvesting to go in the dehydrator when I realized I had no pics. Hence, it is partially cut.
This bed has chives and greek oregano at the far end, some onions I put in last fall, a couple of perennials and something I have absolutely no clue what it is … I have added a few herbs.
The near end has some wee baby onions started from seed. There is garlic at the far end (4 plants), one red leaf lettuce that survived the winter and cilantro that I am letting go to seed.
This is my anual herb bed were I put a clematis to climb. I have seeded basil, summer savory and marjoram to go here.
My baby tomatos, cukes, zucchini and herbs. I am hoping the freezing night last night is the end of the potential frost nights. Last frost date is supposed to be 15 April. The Japanese maple is doing great. I have added a few more annuals in pots and scattered about to attract bees and birds.
I have told Jason that anytime I start talking about adding some plants he is to remind me of the mint … This bed was/is overgrown with mint. I have pulled out everything that I can but i will have to be diligent about pulling it as soon as it is visible. It started in a sunken pot and quickly got out of hand … never again!!! I have added some perennial herbs.
I fell in love … I have a stand that holds 4 hanging baskets … the colour is extraordinary. Baskets are on order. Lowes didn’t have any allysum to go with. Maybe next week.

May 2020

… in the year of covid19…

…seriously misbehaved at Big Bloomers …
I haven’t cleaned out this be with hellebores for years. There is redbud and other assorted shrubs and trees growing in it. It needs to be majorly dug out and new soil mixed in, but for now …
…this will have to do. I added a new clematis to replace the confederate jasmine that didn’t like my pruning job …
This was that bed in 2005.
By 2010 the jasmine clearly needed to be pruned. I don’t remember when I did it, but it didn’t like it and that spot has been empty for some time.
Meanwhile, around the corner in complete shade, the hosta bed needs some work also… I didn’t get a before pictude, but I limbed the camellia and now I have more room for more hostas. That’s all my back would tolerate, but I will get some pics tomorrow…

June 2019

It was a sorry month for the zucchini. While I harvested quite a few lovely fruits, I had a problem with unfertilized Zucchinis. The picture below looks like a nice fruit forming, but notice the flower. It never developed and opened. The fruit started to turn yellow and shrivel up. I had this happen on all four plants this month.

This plant had two flowers never open at the same time…

Then I noticed I had an issue with squash bugs. Sad month for the zucchinis!

Parsley was a good crop and went into the dehydrator.

The mint has taken over …

… so I got serious! Not that it won’t come back, but at least the flowering will be under control!

The peppers are coming on nicely.

Basil (3 kinds), summer savory and sweet marjoram … oh and lots of wild morning glories …

Nce harvest.

My first ripe tomato. None on this plant since, though most of my other plants are heavily laden.

This is a dwarf variety called Praxxus (sp?). I had to prune it to see the tomatoes the growth as so thick.

Cucumber harvest is in full swing. This was a week ago or so and I pulled another eight off this weekend.

New baby cukes and zucchini. They will be planted this week for a second crop.

My sweet boy on a trip to Lowes.

Sunshine on my shoulders …

I have long had a problem with the whole idea that exposure to the sun is bad. After all, we evolved running around starkers in the sun for hundreds of thousands of years. Why now, is it bad for us?

In my research since starting a ketogenic diet, I have heard from various different sources, that they don’t burn since adopting a low carb lifestyle. I have not seen studies that prove that, but I am willing to think that since a high carb diet was bad for me in so many ways, it might have an effect of my sun tolerance also.

I always had a feeling that there was something other than vitamin D that the sun did for you. Turns out there is …

Nitric Oxide and Blood Pressure

I have been struggling with high BP for many years now. I have seen an improvement since changing my diet, but I am willing to do more to help lower my BP. I am exposing myself to the sun in a safe, time controlled way. Today was 13 minutes a side. Monday was 10 minutes a side.

It’s to soon to tell if this will help my BP, but the science seems to say that it will:

Sunlight: Good or Bad for Cancer Risk? Brief Sun Exposure Produces Vitamin D, May Protect Against Non-Skin Cancer Deaths

Sunlight Might Be Good for Your Blood Pressure Researchers figure out why, suggest not getting enough might raise risk for heart disease

Can You Lower Blood Pressure with Nitric Oxide? Nitric oxide created in the body relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Should you be eating more beets and spinach to boost your levels?

Sunshine May Lower Your Blood Pressure

Here comes the sun to lower your blood pressure

Nitric oxide in beetroot lowers blood pressure

What about other health benefits?

Vitamin D and Sunlight: Strategies for Cancer Prevention and Other Health Benefits

The Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention

Sunlight and Reduced Risk of Cancer: Is The Real Story Vitamin D?

So go out and leave the sunscreen behind. Get a little sun in a safe way and reap the rewards!

Carbs – an addictive drug?

A month or so ago, I was listening to the Low Carb MD Podcast and came across an interview with Dr. Robert Cywes. This guy blew my mind with his direct manner and bold statements about sugar and carbs being an addictive drug and should be treated as such. He is a bariatric surgeon who believes every patient who is contemplating a major surgery to loose weight needs to try a low carb approach first and deal with the emotional issues that contribute to carb addiction and weight gain. He maintains that bariatric surgery will enable you to loose weight but will only last about 2 years before you start to gain it back if you have not dealt with the carb addiction and emotional issues. He also states that 100% of people who have bypass surgery end up being malnourished. 
I have come across another interview on Youtube, on the Diet Doctor podcast. So much excellent information. Give it a listen!

May 2019

I was so excited to see female zucchini flowers this morning.

The back garden is expanded by 3 2×2 tomato beds with built in pvc trellises, 4 pots with zucchini (already blooming), 3 tomatoes in large buckets and two new 4×4 raised beds for my peppers.

The herb beds are slow. I made the mistake of putting them outside to early.

Garlic, new tomato beds, lwttuce/spinach/kale/radish beds, zucchini.

We had 3 lovely meals of sauteed garlic scapes.

The snow peas are taller than I am and just starting to produce.

The side garden with lettuce and broccoli, tree kale and oregano … oh, also a tomato (to small to be seen).

House side of side garden with snow peas, cukes, cabbage, parsley, lettuce, eggplants that are doing terrible. I think they will come put and I will put some peppers in.

Looking back from side garden to back garden. The mess in the foreground is supposed to be the base of my new greenhouse that hasn’t happened yet.

LCHF: The science is out there …

In December 2018 my partner, Jason, and I made a big change to our lifestyle. We went Keto! There were many reactions from friends and coworkers. One person said I had been “sucked in”, several have said that it’s “not sustainable” or it was too extreme. Another person said, “Oh sure, you’ll lose weight on keto, but only as long as you stay on the diet. You will just gain it all back”. To which I reply, “This is not a diet, it is a change in my lifestyle. I would be stupid to go back to a high carb diet. That would be an early death sentence!”.

This last comment just illustrates how everyone knows dieting does not work. I have possibly been lucky. Even though I have been overweight since my late 20’s, I have not done the diet yoyo thing, which only serves to ruin your metabolism.

I tried to eat well and followed the food guides. I watched my fat intake but I wasn’t afraid of butter or red meat. Years ago I discovered that carbs and I don’t work well for breakfast. I would be more likely to eat leftovers for breakfast than cereal. I actually stopped eating cereal when I was in my 20’s. I quit pancakes and french toast when my kids grew up.

More recently, when my partner was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I lowered my carbs more, cutting back a little on pasta, rice potatoes and sweet potatoes. I basically followed the idea that natural, whole food was best and cut a lot of processed foods. I shopped around the edges of the grocery store. When it came to sugar, I ate real sugar rather than artificial sweeteners, EXCEPT pop. I was addicted to regular pop. I thought aspartame would kill you but I made excuses for high fructose corn syrup. I knew it was bad, but I was addicted. 

So what prompted me to get serious? It was the science. In November 2018 Jason’s boss sent him a link to a lecture by Ivor Cummins. This was my intro into the keto world. This guy is not a doctor, he is an engineer. He knows how to read and interpret the research. He was driven to learn about this stuff by his own health crisis. Thankfully, he is making his findings available and understandable to the general public.

I was so excited about the prospect of reversing Jason’s diabetes I immediately called him at work and we decided right then and there we could do this. All we had to do was cut the sweet potato from our dinner. Of course there was way more to it than that, but the realization that our basic meals would not have to change that much was a plus.

We decided to start after the new year. This would give me time to research.By mid December I was constantly telling him what I had learned … Keto flu, hyperinsulinemia, macros, blood markers, hyperinsulinemia, and much much more. There is an amazing amount of information on youtube. I don’t mean personal stories like this one. I mean real scientific information. There are heaps of knowledgeable “gurus” who are not out to sell you something. There are doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, chiropractors, and even better, scientists who present the science at conferences. The lectures have been made available for free.

Then Jason tells me that he “kind of already started”. He had been feeling off and like his sugars were wonky (can you tell I am a nurse, by the technical terms I use?). Well dang it all, I guess I just had my last pop then, eh? And that was my last pop, 16 December 2018 and I haven’t looked back. That’s not to say that I haven’t missed certain things, but really and truly it has been almost too easy. 

I have always been very skeptical of things that are to good to be true. You would never suck me in on some harebrained scheme to make heaps of money or some miracle cure. If I hadn’t seen the science I would have thought this was to good to be true, but the weight is just falling off and we aren’t hungry or feeling deprived. Jason has lost almost 70 pounds to date (4.5 months) and I am down near 25 (damn those men who loose easier than women!). The best part is we have reversed his Type 2 Diabetes. 

From a HbA1c of 11.9 in October of 2016 to 5.6 in March of 2019, after only 3 months of LCHF. We convinced his PCP to order an insulin level so I can track his HOMA IR. It’s still a little high, but I can’t even imagine what it would have been with a HbA1c of 11.9. Neither of us feels like this isn’t sustainable and we recognize that we would be extremely stupid to go back to eating carbs on a regular basis. Like I said before, that would be an early death sentence for him.

For him only, or for me too? Through all the research, I have learned a lot about lab results. After comparing Jason’s March labs with previous results, I went back to my lab history and it quickly dawned on me that I had “Metabolic Syndrome” also. Who knows, maybe I had full blown diabetes, but no one had ever tested my HbA1c so I will never know.

In November 2017 my fasting glucose was 124, my waist measurement was >40 inches, I was on two blood pressure medications (I added a third in the fall of 2018), my HDL was 44 and my Triglycerides were 139. I had 4 of the 5 traits. No doctor had picked up on this.

I had started this journey to be supportive of Jason and now I was realizing that it was my health on the line also.I have since had labs drawn and an very pleased with some of the results. My HbA1c was 5, fasting glucose was 85 and my Insulin level was 8, giving me a HOMA IR of 1.7. Apparently it should be <1 so I still have a little insulin resistance. I’m not so pleased with some other results. My hsCRP is high and I have an appointment to talk to my new PCP about that this week, so we will see what that means.

I say me new PCP because I was tired of having to beg my doctor to check specific labs. Last fall I had asked, for the second time, if we could check to see if my hypothyroid was just your plain ordinary hypothyroid or if I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I asked for a full thyroid panel and was told that several of the labs I was requesting were not available outside of research studies and that even if I had Hashimoto’s it wouldn’t change the treatment.

Eventually I convinced her to test for the antibodies. She also told me that the science was controversial. Same story when I asked for a fasting Insulin test. Can’t be done!. I decided that I am not nearly diplomatic enough to deal with this over and over again. I was seriously at risk for telling her to get her act together and do some research. I found a keto friendly doctor in my area.

So, what’s my point? I truly believe that there are several issues with people when it comes to diet. Most people are just following the mainstream food guide and think they are doing the right thing. They don’t realize how wrong the food guide is. They might be convinced to change. Then there are the people who are so discouraged by their failure in the past. They might also be convinced to change. Then there are those that are totally resistant, who think they know everything because they did some research 10 years ago and won’t listen. They will likely not change.

I am not saying that a ketogenic diet is the only way to go. There are lots of options. Some people can only tolerate a certain amount of carbs, some people work out like crazy and can tolerate more carbs. Some people are vegan (it is possible to do a LC version of vegan), some are carnivore. I don’t care what you do, but at least educate yourself. Have your doctor do a HbA1c at the very least. 

Over 60% of adults over 45 in Canada, America, the UK, Australia (add your western country here) are estimated to have Pre-Diabetes or Diabetes. You may be thin, you may be fat but you won’t know if you are insulin resistant unless you get checked. Type 2 Diabetes is not the only health concern if you are insulin resistant. Heart disease, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, PCOS, Alzheimer’s and cancer are all at higher risk if you have hyperinsulinemia.

Here are some links to some excellent resources. The information contain in these links applies to everyone, not just those looking to change to a LCHF (Low Carb/High/Healthy fat) diet. If you are looking to decrease your heart attack risk, lose weight, reverse your T2 Diabetes, or just trying to improve your workouts, these links are helpful.

More Science based:

Jason Fung

Low Carb Down Under

Ivor Cummins

Ted Naiman

Keto Chow

High Intensity Health

The LCHF Dietitian

… and many many more. The science is out there people. No matter what level your understanding of science, there are resources out there for you.

More in layman’s terms:

Keto Connect – Youtube and web

Dr. Ken Berry

Dr. Eric Berg

Adapt your life

Diet Doctor

Dr. Boz

… I could go on …

Just as I would not make a huge change in my life based on the personal anecdotes of any Tom, Dick or Jane out there, I don’t expect you to either. Do the research, educate yourself and make a sound decision based on science. Decide what your goals are and research that more specifically. Then go for it. The science is out there …

April 2019

Just a few pics. I’m really happy with how things are coming along this year.

Purple and green cabbage

Chard, kale, parsley, eggplants and some lettuce.

I have run out of space and the new bed isn’t in yet. I thought I would try zucchini in pots.

Same with the cukes.

I really need to get the irises out of this bed. The snow peas are doing fab.

My Japanese maple is really starting to look like something.

Garlic planted last October.

Broccoli and cauliflower.


Lettuce, kale, spinach and radishes.

Another lettuce bed … needs weeding and mulching.

Set up of the newest beds. Still don’t have enough space. I have more tomatoes to go in the new trellis beds on the right.

Tree kale, tomatoes and oregano.

Bloody dock, rhubarb and worm farm … must weed and mulch.

Invention of farming … a good thing for mankind but not so hot for the individual man?

I admit I was always dismissive of the “Paleo” diet. First of all, I have never believed in “dieting”. Watching those around me it was obvious dieting did not work. The diets were not sustainable, no one ever seemed to keep the weigh off, then just gained more. What made more sense to me was just eating a healthy balanced diet and making small changes over time where you wanted to make improvements.

Being interested in anthropology I thought about what would a true “paleo” diet be? I administer a DNA project, so I have some basic knowledge of the history of man. When I was found to have an extremely low Vitamin D level, I did some research and learned more about the evolution of man. I also realized that we are talking about evolution in the millions of years, not thousands. (If you have any problem with the notion of evolution I suggest you tune out now because I have no polite comments to make on evolution vs. creation theory, so don’t even bother to comment on it. (Did anyone ever tell you that I was known for my bluntness?) Basically we evolved for millions of years roaming the African continent, naked. We evolved making vitamin D (which isn’t really a vitamin) in our skin. As we migrated north our skin became paler (Yes, we were dark complected). Except for those that went into the extreme north. The Inuit maintained a darker complexion because they ate a diet of whale, seal and fish and got their vitamin D from their diet. But this isn’t about vitamin D …

What was a real Paleo diet? Knowing that farming has been around only 10,000 years or so (my ancestors were among the first farmers and I know this from my DNA). Knowing what I know about evolutionary timelines, 10,000 years is nothing. We were hunter-gatherers long before that and that is where the true Paleo diet evolved. We ate a large amount of meat and yes, we gathered tubers and berries and such, but only as long as they were available and where they were available. They were different in paleolithic times. Potatoes were only domesticated 7,000 years ago. Before that they were a significantly different plant. The same goes for any fruit, vegetable, or grain for that matter. Pre-domestication corn was not what it is today. Veggies and fruit were the least of our paleolithic diet.

Recently I was told by a couple of friends that LCHF eating is not “sustainable”, not “healthy”, and just a “fad” diet, that I had been “sucked in”, and that carbohydrates are a required macronutient that we must ingest to be healthy. This is simply not true. These were intelligent people. They insist that they have done the “research”, that I am wrong, and that out new lifestyle is unsustainable and unhealthy.

Having been researching LCHF since mid December 2018, I have earned a lot, but I am no expert. So I was thrilled last night when I came across a video with Dr. Michael Eades MD explaining the origins of the paleo diet. Even better, (since I am a person of science and want to see the studies to back it up) he loves looking into the scientific literature. I had no idea that there are actual scientific methods for determining exactly what hunter-gatherers ate and comparing their diet to that of the early farmers. I had no idea that there is actual scientific evidence that hunter-gatherers (meat eaters) were actually healthier than farmers (carb eaters). The video I am referring to is Paleopathology and the Origins of the Paleo Diet available on youtube. He does a really good job explaining the science behind finding what a true paleo diet was and the decline in health and life expectancy when we became farmers, not to mention the higher infant mortality rate. Basically, “… agriculture was probably good for mankind but bad for the individual man.”

Interesting points (with links to some of Dr. Eades’s blog posts):

3:34 presents a lovely chart that puts into total perspective the minimal time we have been involved in agriculture, compared to our total evolutionary time. 0.4% or 333 generations of the 76,667 generations since we evolved into the first Homo species. That is NOTHING in an evolutionary time-frame.

4:23 “The Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis“, looks at brain and gut metabolisms in humans vs. primates. Brains got bigger and guts got smaller because, as we evolved from primates to humans, we went from vegetable eaters to meat eaters. “We didn’t evolve to eat meat – we evolved because we ate meat”.

12:51 Stable isotope Analysis is the meat and potatoes behind finding the real paleo diet. Looking at Carbon12, Carbon13 and Nitrogen15 they have determined that as early man basically ate all the large animals, they went on to add marine animals into their diet. Nitogen 15 isotopes prove that the early modern humans were carnivores.

21:58 Health concequences a study by CM Cassidy, comparing Hunter-gatherers and Farmers. (Two populations living in the same general area, both pre-contact with Europeans, 5,000 years apart.) Concludes that the farmers had lower life expectancy, higher infant death rates, more dental caries, more iron-deficiency anemia. An interesting note is that the hunter-gatherers may very likely have been the ancestors of the farmers.

32:15 Ancient Egyptians. Essentially they ate a diet similar to that of today, high in carbs, and there is extensive evidence of cardiac disease in that culture.

So, I suppose you can say that 10,000 years of agriculture makes carbs paleo because it still falls into the Paleolithic era, but 0.4% of our evolution is nothing and explains why so many people have issues with carbs. We just haven’t been eating them, in any kind of quantity, long enough for our bodies to have evolved a tolerance.

I am certain that the development of agriculture was a positive development for us as a whole. As Dr. Eades says (30:55) , “…without agriculture we probably would never have had the Metropolitan Museum of Art …”, but there is overwhelming evidence that a high carb, low fat diet is detrimental to our health and surely it’s time that that information spread. Unfortunately for that to happen government would have take an objective look at the evidence and not let business influence the recommendations. I’m not that hopeful.

February 2019

Welcome to my 2019 garden. There is lots of planning going on, but we shall see how much gets accomplished. Took some pics today (Feb 25). All in all a very productive day!

Jasmine arbour with heaps of buds.
Gizzy, age 17 1/2 years, blind, deaf and walking in circles. He is a sweet boy!
Garlic planted October 2018
I think this must be new shoots of the Yacon I moved last fall. I have no idea if it will survive, but this looks promising. Last year was the first season I grew Yacon. I didn’t get much.
Last week we had a beautiful day and I felt like planting. I put a bunch of lettuce, spinach and kale in this bed and covered it.
This is another bed of lettuce I planted the same day…nothing is up yet.
I must have missed this one when I pulled the rest…
Dock, planted 2017, transplanted 2018
Tree kale, planted 2018, moved to shade fall 2018.
Lettuce planted fall 2018. Most of this did not do well. There are some wee red plants also…
Three of these four beds are weeded and ready to go. The closest on had snow peas planted after this pic was taken. I also moved the worm farm closer to the edge to make it easier to manage.
I have also started some seeds. Today was tomatoes, peppers, cukes and a few herbs
Earlier this month I started Broc, Cauli, onions, cabbage etc.
I had to go out and buy a few set of lights today for the new seeds.
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