Be Green Ideas, Nifty Bug Trap, Mailbox in the Garden and Yummy Spring Spinach Topped Tomatoes

Welcome me back!  Well I do apologize for being gone for awhile here at For Dragonflies… my computer was giving me some issues for a bit over a week and then we have been busy here planting all the good stuff that fills our farms CSA share boxes each week and provides the lovely spread at our market tables.  But this is one of my happy places and I am glad to return!  Right now at The Garden Gate we are very busy… raising piggies and chickens and getting the raised beds and field planted.  I love the busyness of this time of year… it is exhilarating for me… I feel refreshed and alive and cherish every moment I can be outdoors.  We just planted the raised beds outside the hoop house with chard & beets today… the cherry tomatoes, lettuces and basil are growing beautifully in the hoop house beds, the sausage garden raised beds are full and growing beautifully!  Green is good in more ways than one.  I will give you some fun ideas on how to be green that won’t tax your time or wallet! 

Being ‘Green’ has been around for awhile now and I think more and more people are finding out that it isn’t that much more expensive or time consuming to do the ‘green thing’.  Here are a few easy tips for those of you that want to try to make a change in improving your ‘foot print’.
*Use compostable garbage bags… this way even though you have to contribute to the mounding piles of debris in the dumps, at least the plastic will break down.  We use Compostable Plastic in our fields to make our beds that we grow in.  It is corn based and breaks down into the soil by mid season by the sun.  No more piles of plastic getting burned or going into the land fills.
*Re-cycle!  If you live in the country and have to pay for trash pick up- like we do- find where your local re-cycling station is.  We purchased several laundry hampers to put our junk in- one for each paper, metal, glass and plastic.  We have several stations in our area.  Just plan on doing the drop when you are going into town.  It really doesn’t take that much more time! You will be able to find one in your location in the phone book or of course you can always ‘Google it’.
*If you have either flower beds or veggie gardens use your newspaper to lay under your mulch.  I love to garden but I am a lazy gardener and don’t want to do a lot of extra weeding or tilling.  We lay newspaper- (not the colored sections- b&w only-)  in layers and then cover with grass clippings or straw in our veggie gardens & raised beds; in my flower beds I use wood mulch on top of paper.  It keeps the weeds at bay and helps hold the moisture in even better.  By the end of the season it is broke down completely and ready to be tilled in with the grass or straw!
*Paper towel and toilet paper card board rolls can be donated to any daycare center or school.  Of course call or go on in and ask before you do the donation.  These can be used in a lot of fun arts & crafts activities for the children… not to mention it saves tax dollars on supplies!
*Egg cartons can be given back to your farmer!  We love when our customers bring us empty egg cartons- we are happy to refill them each week and re-use!
*Plastic clam shells- you know, those containers that strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, etc. and organic lettuces come in!  We are always happy to get these from our customers- we like to re-use them in our CSA share boxes!
…. these are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head… be creative and be green!

Well we know that spring has come and along with all the beloved blooms and birds, we also get the good & bad bugs.  Here is a nifty was to get a few of the bad guys without using chemicals! 
Build a bug trap~ to get rid of those very nasty yellow jackets that love to pester us and hang out when ever we are trying to enjoy a nice meal on the patio, try this!
*First cut the top off a plastic soda or water bottle about a quarter of the way down- 2 inches from the shoulder; invert it inside its base to make a funnel, securing the edges with tape- water proof type.
*Next, mix 2 cups of warm water with 1/4 cup of sugar; mix until completely dissolved; pour into bottle.
*With a nail or screw poke one hole on opposite sides of top of the bottle, about one inch from top edge; use craft wire to create a hanger by inserting into each hole and twisting so it doesn’t fall off.  Hang in a tree or where you know they are active.
The wasps will climb in to reach the liquid and will either drown or be unable to climb out!

Mailbox In The Garden… a truly charming way to add a bit of country to one of your flower beds in to mount an old or new mailbox on top of a post in your bed!  You can keep your garden gloves, trowel and scratcher right inside it… no more wondering where you left them!  To make it even cuter get one of those pretty mailbox covers or even  better hand paint it!  Of course plant some Shasta Daisies around the post to add that perfect final touch!

At market we will soon have fresh tomatoes grown right in the dirt in our high tunnels- vine ripened and delicious- right here in Michigan.  Here is a super yummy treat right here, right now!  Enjoy!
Spring Spinach Topped Tomatoes

2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 tsp. instant chicken bouillon
1 tsp. sea salt
3 large tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated- plus extra reserved for topping
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 cup herb seasoned corn bread stuffing
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 garlic clove
1 egg, beaten

1.  Follow bouillon instructions to make 4 cups of broth; bring to a rolling boil and add spinach leaves, reduce heat to medium; cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes; drain well.  Cool and press out excess liquid.
2. Lightly salt tomato halves and place with cut side down on 2 paper towels for about 15 minutes to absorb excess moisture. 
3. In a small bowl, combine spinach with corn bread stuffing, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, onion, butter, egg, garlic and pepper; mix well.
4. Place tomato halves, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish; divide spinach mixture over tomatoes; sprinkle with extra shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Happy Day,