When you should harvest your vegetables from your garden

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There’s nothing better than growing your own vegetable garden. You spend a lot of time all summer taking care of your garden in order to get the most out of it. That’s why it’s important to know when it’s the right time to begin harvesting. This not only depends on when your crops are ripe, but also the length of your growing season.

Below is a list of garden vegetables ,along with the best time for picking each kind.

  • Asparagus: When spears are 6-8 inches tall and as thick as your pinky finger, snap them off at ground level and new ones will begin to grow. Stop harvesting about 4-6 weeks after the initial harvest.

  • Beans: Pick before the seeds start to bulge. They should snap in half easily.

  • Beets: These are ready as soon as you see the top of the beet above the soil line. You can leave them in the ground longer if you prefer larger-sized beets. Also, you can harvest the green tops and eat them as well.

  • Cabbage: When the head of the cabbage is solid all the way through when squeezed, it is fully matured and ready to pick.

  • Carrots: These are harder to judge, but can be picked when the carrot shows at the soil line and you can see the diameter of the carrot. They can be left in the ground longer once matured, and a light frost is said to sweeten the carrot.

  • Cauliflower: Similar to broccoli, when the head looks full and the curds of the head are smooth. They typically will not be the same size as ones found at the supermarket.

  • Corn: Once the silk turns dry and brown, the kernels should exude a milky substance when pricked.

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  • Cucumber: Check daily and harvest while they’re young. Timing and length will vary, but the cucumber should be firm and smooth. Over-ripe cucumbers can be bitter even before they start to turn yellow.

  • Eggplant: Slightly immature eggplants taste best. They should be firm and shiny. Cut the eggplant rather than pulling from the plant.

  • Garlic: Garlic tops will start to fall over and begin to turn brown when the bulbs are ready to be picked. Try to dig them up rather than pulling them, and allow them to dry before storing. It’s best to brush off the dirt instead of washing them.10584099_797756826923284_5225641105503497678_n

  • Kale: Kale should be deep green, with a firm texture. The flavor is best in cooler weather.

  • Lettuce (Head): Harvest once the head feels full and firm. Hot weather will cause them to go to seed quicker rather than filling out.

  • Lettuce (Leaf): Harvest the outer leaves once the plant reaches about 4 inches in height. Allow the younger leaves to grow, and repeat for most of the summer season.

  • Onions: Once the tops have ripened and fallen over you can dig up the onion, allow the onion to dry completely before storing.

  • Peas: These are best to be tasted to determine when to pick. If a sweeter pea is preferred, it is best to pick before the pea pods get too large and full.

  • Potatoes: “New” potatoes can be harvested when the tops start to flower. For full-sized potatoes, wait until the tops dry up and turn brown, then dig around the perimeter of the potato to avoid slicing it.

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  • Pumpkins: As soon as pumpkins have turned to the expected color and the vines are starting to wilt away, they can be picked. As soon as a pumpkin is cut from the vine it stops turning orange.

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  • Radishes: These mature rather quickly. As soon as you see radish pop out above the soil line is the best time to pick. Don’t leave them in the ground too long, as they will become tough and go to seed.

  • Squash (Winter): Similar to pumpkins, these can be cut from the vine as soon as they turn to the expected color.

  • Tomatoes: When a tomato has reached its color and is slightly soft to the touch, gently twist and pull from the vine.

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Now that all the hard work and harvesting are done, it’s time to enjoy the end results. There are many different ways to enjoy your harvest. Depending on how good a season it is, one way to enjoy your harvest in the winter months is to freeze certain vegetables or do some canning. Making spaghetti sauce or salsa is a great way to use up all those extra tomatoes and peppers. Happy Harvesting!

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Now that you are sunburned, here is how to ease the pain.

Man with a sunburn

We have all done it; forgot to put sunscreen on, or thought that maybe we won’t be long. We have all burnt ourselves by being in the sun without protection. Here are a few relief suggestions that are natural and will have you on the road to recovery in no time.

If you don’t have an aloe plant already it’s definitely worth investing into one, as nothing soothes better than natural aloe straight from the plant. If you are like me and have cats that think that all plants are a form of food for them, then having a bottle of pure aloe on hand is definitely the way to go. Aloe is great for cooling any hotspots and soothing the skin. It also helps to moisturize the skin and to keep it from drying out. If you apply it often enough you might be lucky and not peel.

Aloe Vera Leaves

Another common side effect when you get burned is inflamed skin. Witch hazel is one of the best natural remedies for any kind of swelling. Dampen a cloth with witch hazel and put it directly on the affected area. If you do not have any witch hazel lying around, cold water will also do the trick while having a fan blowing directly on you.

If you don’t have the two above solutions in your house you could always turn to your fridge. Here are a few things that are a staple in most kitchens that will help with your burn.

  • Cornstarch – Add enough water to make a paste and apply to affected areas
  • Yogurt – Apply yogurt to affected areas and then rinse off in a cool shower
  • Teabags – Place teabags soaked in cold water on your eyelids. This will also help to bring the swelling down
  • Fat-Free Milk – Mix 1 cup of milk with 4 cups of water and add ice cubes. Use a cloth or cotton balls to apply to your skin
  • Freezer Packs – You can always use a freezer pack or bag of frozen peas. Just make sure to wrap the freezer pack in a cloth before applying to your burn

The key here is to keep your skin moisturized by applying non-perfumed moisturizer like Aveeno or something similar. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and veggies to stay hydrated. Often a bad sunburn is followed by heat stroke, so keeping yourself hydrated is very important.

Last but not least, get plenty of rest. Your body needs to recover from the trauma, and being active will not help.

Back-to-school sleep tips

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Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.

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  1. First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.

  1. About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.

  1. Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

  1. Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.

  2. Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.

  1. Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.

  1. Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety. 13717923_10205279444144540_1107853922_o.jpg

    These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.

Sleep Cool With OMI

Do you have trouble sleeping on hot summer nights? Are you in need of some new lighter bed linens that sleep cooler in the summer and keep you warm in the winter? If so, then OMI has got you covered!

CrepeWeave

OMI’s certified organic Thermal Blanket is great by itself or to layer with our Pearl Sheets and/or Wool Comforter. The pebbly textured fabric is 100% organic cotton in a crepe weave. It is offered from Crib to King size.

OrganicSheets

Our Pearl Sheet Collection features 300-thread-count GOTS-certified organic sateen cotton in a creamy ivory. These sheets are pure luxury. The organic Pearl Sheet Collection is available as a set in sizes Twin-Cal King.

Comforter

If you are one of those people who love to snuggle up in a blanket year-round, OMI’s certified organic Eco-Wool® comforter is for you! Wool is comfortable all year long because of its natural tendency regulate body temperature. The plush layers of our premium organic Eco-Wool® are quilted into our soft, certified organic sateen cover fabric. This lightweight comforter is available in sizes Twin-King.

 

Check out these top-of-bed accessories and more at one of your local OMI retailers!

Organic vs. Natural: What is the Difference?

Organic Farming, Natural Products

Why should you purchase an organic mattress? How is organic any different or better than “natural”?

First, “natural” is an unregulated, relative term. Since the FTC does not regulate the use of the term “natural,” companies can (and do) use it to describe an array of products. Natural does not necessarily mean organic. It does not necessarily mean healthy. Natural does not mean nontoxic or pure. Without regulation, the definition of the term “natural” has widened substantially.

Many “natural” mattresses contain polyurethane, formaldehyde, and other toxic materials. Companies do not have to prove the purity of “natural” products like they are required to do with organic products. Third-party organic certifications are the only way to prove the organic nature of a product.

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The majority of OMI’s products are certified organic. OMI’s raw materials and products hold only third-party certifications, which are non-membership-based. Non-membership-based certifications allow manufacturers to show consumers unbiased proof that their products are made with truly organic materials.

OMI’s raw materials and products hold some of the most reputable certifications available, through third-party organizations like the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Oeko-Tex, the National Organic Program (NOP), Greenguard, and the USDA. OMI’s factory is also the only GOLS-and-GOTS-approved clean manufacturing facility in North America!

So how do these organic certifications prove the organic nature of a product? Here is a short run-down on each of them so you can see how they provide the organics industry with regulations to protect the purity of the product. Some certifications even include social and environmental regulations, as well.

Control Union Certifications: GOLS and GOTS

Control Union Certifications (CU) is an independent, internationally operating certification body that carries out inspections and audits and issues certificates. Control Union developed the GOLS and GOTS certifications, and has had years of experience certifying organic products in other industries. Their organic certification is accepted by authorities in every country and is accredited by RvA (Dutch Council of Accreditation).

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The Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) is a latex certification available to mattress manufacturers. This certification ensures that all materials and manufacturing processes adhere to strict and specific international organic standards. OMI’s Dunlop latex and OrganicPedic® latex mattresses are the first to be certified to the Global Organic Latex Standard.

GOTS Logo

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is dedicated specifically to fiber and textile handling and production. The aim of the standard is to define requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way up to labeling, in order to provide credible organic assurance to the end consumer. OMI’s Eco-Wool, textiles, ticking, and thread, as well as our innerspring mattresses and bedding products, are certified organic through GOTS.

Greenguard®’s mission is to identify consumer products that can improve quality of life and public health standards within indoor environments by testing finished products for VOC offgassing. All OrganicPedic® mattresses meet the stringent criteria of the Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI). GEI’s mission is to boost public health and quality of life through programs that improve indoor air quality. OrganicPedic® mattresses were the first natural rubber mattresses to receive the coveted GEI certification. OMI’s OrganicPedic® line of mattresses holds the coveted Greenguard Gold certification, which has the most stringent requirements and was designed for products that would be used for children and schools. No other adult mattress can make this claim.

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Oeko-Tex

In addition, both our Dunlop and Talalay rubber has been independently tested and certified to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, so it’s guaranteed to contain no harmful substances. Oeko-Tex is respected throughout the world for its stringent testing methods, guaranteeing the absence of substances that are harmful to human health.

USDA/NOP

While there is still no USDA organic standard for manufactured mattress cores (regardless of what you see on the Web), USDA/NOP certification does provide a third-party raw-material assurance for cotton and latex sap. OMI’s cotton is certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture to be in compliance with growing and handling standards set by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), and both our Talalay and Dunlop latex sap is certified.

Rubber Tree Sap

As you can see, reputable third-party organic certifications make a huge difference when offering organic products to consumers. They provide consumers peace of mind when purchasing organic options. The strict requirements of the certifications allow the consumer to trace the product back to the field and/or animal that provided the product’s raw materials. “Natural” products do not provide the same trail of proof.

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With OMI, you can know that we provide the purest possible products to our consumers, and we offer proof through our organic certifications. We also go a step farther by manufacturing our products in a clean organically dedicated facility.

For more information on our products and organic certifications, visit our website at www.omimattress.com.

How to keep your pets safe during hot summer days.

As we go through the summer months with rising temperatures, it can be uncomfortable and dangerous to not only people, but our pets too. As pet owners, we need to be aware of these dangers and how to keep our pets cool and comfortable.

Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safe and comfortable in the summer heat.

  1. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Temperatures inside a vehicle rise rapidly. For example, on an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. This will cause organ damage and even death for any pet.

  2. Limit exercise on hot days. On really hot days, limit your pet to early-morning or evening-hour exercises. Also, be especially careful with pets that have light-colored ears, since they are more susceptible to skin cancer. Pets with short noses, who typically have difficulty breathing, may also have a lot of difficulty in extreme heat. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pets’ paws, so walk them on grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your pet hydrated. 

  1. A fan isn’t enough. Pets respond to heat differently than humans do. Dogs sweat through their feet, and fans don’t have the same effect on dogs that they do on people.

  2. Give them plenty of shade and water. Make sure your pet has protection from the heat and sun, and plenty of fresh cold water. During heat waves, add ice to water to keep it cooler longer. You may think that a just because a doghouse provides shade it can keep your dog cool enough, but it doesn’t. There isn’t enough air flow in a typical doghouse to keep a pet cool.

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  3. Take your dog swimming. If your dog enjoys water, this can be a great way for him to cool off and get some exercise. If you don’t live by water, you can use a kiddie pool in a shaded area. FullSizeRender.jpg

  4. Watch for signs of heat stroke.  Warning signs to look for include, heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep-red or purple tongue, seizures, and unconsciousness.

Certain animals are more prone to heat stroke than others including, Senior pets and very young animals, overweight pets, pets that don’t get a lot of exercise or that have heart and respiratory issues.

Certain breeds of dogs, like boxers, pugs, and shih tzus, have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

If you think your pet is experiencing heat-stroke symptoms, move your pet into the shade or to an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest. Give your pet fresh, cold water or ice cubes to lick and call your veterinarian.

For more information, check out the Humane Society’s website for tips to keep pets safe in the heat. Let’s work together to keep all pets safe this summer.

5 Festive Fourth of July Recipes

Independence Day is this weekend. I am excited for one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions: the cookout. Each summer, I search for new and delicious fare to serve for this festive occasion. This year, I found some great recipes on Good Housekeeping’s website and also on azcentral.com.

Firecracker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

If you’d like to add a little spice to your holiday lineup, this sandwich will really hit the spot.

Ingredients

Sandwiches
  • ½ c. hot sauce
  • ¼ c. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Hamburger buns
  • ½ c. ranch dressing
Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw
  • 1 c. packed shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 1 small apple
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1½ oz. bleu cheese
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Add chicken to the remaining mixture and toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
  3. Grill chicken, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Grill buns until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread dressing on buns.
  4. Serve chicken topped with Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw and drizzled with reserved sauce between buns.
  5. To make the slaw:Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl.

 

Smoky Barbequed Shrimp & Peach Kabobs

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

For lighter fare, these flavorful skewers kick it up a notch.

 Ingredients

  • 12 metal or bamboo skewers
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 lb. shelled de-veined shrimp
  • 3 medium peaches
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  2. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add shrimp, peaches, and onion; toss until evenly coated.
  3. Thread shrimp, peaches, and onion alternately onto skewers.
  4. Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and shrimp become opaque throughout, turning once. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Red, White, and Bleu Potato Salad

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

This fresher version of a traditional staple is a welcome accompaniment to any summer barbeque.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. red potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ c. aged sherry vinegar
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bleu cheese
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 oz. watercress
  • 2 green onions

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in an 8-quart saucepot. Add water until potatoes are immersed. Add 2 tablespoons salt and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium. Boil 10 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked through, but not soft. Test by piercing a potato with a thin skewer or toothpick; when skewer meets some resistance but can slide all the way through, drain potatoes immediately. Potatoes can be drained and set aside at room temperature up to 4 hours ahead.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, bleu cheese, and 1/3 cup oil. This vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead.
  3. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  4. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, then sprinkle with a 1/2-teaspoon of salt and a 1/4-teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Place potato slices on the hot grill grate. Grill 5 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on both sides, turning over once.
  6. Place watercress on large serving platter. Top with the potatoes and green onions. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top. Serve immediately.

 

Firework Fruit Skewers

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids (and adults) will love these colorful and festive fruity fireworks.

Ingredients

  • 1 set of 10-inch skewers
  • Watermelon
  • Star cookie cutter
  • Blueberries
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Red grapes (optional)
  • Raspberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash fruit and skewers.
  2. Slice watermelon into 1-inch pieces that fit your cookie cutter’s width.
  3. Cut out stars from the watermelon using your cookie cutter.
  4. To assemble the skewers, slide a blueberry onto a stick. Follow with a mini marshmallow.
  5. Repeat, rotating between berries and marshmallows until there is about an inch of stick left.
  6. Place a star-shaped watermelon slice at the top of each skewer, making sure the pointed stick is not exposed.
  7. If desired, add red grapes or raspberries after the marshmallows to make a red, white, and blue pattern on the stick.

 

Star-Spangled Sangria

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

Don’t forget a crisp and refreshing beverage to beat the summer heat.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 3 oz. elderflower liqueur
  • 2 c. blueberries, washed
  • 2 c. strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 3-4 Granny Smith apples
  • 12 oz. sparkling water
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a pitcher.
  2. Slice the apples into 1/4-inch pieces, wide enough to fit your cookie cutter.
  3. Cut out stars from the apple slices using your cookie cutter.
  4. Chill beverage for at least 4 hours.
  5. Just before serving the sangria, add sparkling water.
  6. Serve sangria in a tall glass with ice and garnish with an apple-star cutout.

Now that you have some delicious ideas for your holiday cookout, you can have peace of mind going into this busy holiday weekend. Just remember to hit your local farm stands and farmers’ markets to get the freshest local organic ingredients.

Click here >> for more fun OMI recipe ideas.