Amazing Quality of Grow Tents These Days

It’s amazing the quality of grow tent. I remember having to do a makeshift set up in the living room, with plastic wrap and this awful venting material we would buy for cheap off the area HVAC guy.  It was crazy.  But we really felt we’d done a job well when it worked, you know?  When we plucked our yield and enjoyed our plenty.  We had to use lights with mirrors and even a little magic, and even a good crop was measly really.  Now, there’s much less left to chance.  I mean, you need to push air around, get some inline fans for your air purification system.  No more trial, no more error.  Sure, it’s fun to feel nostalgic for the way it used to be, everyone likes to wax about the old times.  But I’ll be honest, I don’t care much for that, and I much prefer the way things are now, with technology getting us more for less work.  Not that I’m lazy, but it’s fun to know your garden is going to produce.  I found all these things at and am always amazed by the things I find there that I didn’t even know existed, in order to help my garden.  I love it.  It allows me more time for the finer things in life, like enjoying scotch and watching spring training baseball.  It’s exciting that the new season is about to start, it’s much like a garden.  Same crops, same things each year, but still, at this time, there’s so much hope.  It’s beautiful.  It’s a wonderful time of year, for the baseball fan and the indoor gardener.  Both of which I happily am.  I’m hoping that my plants have a bumper crop this year and I think back on 2013 as the best year ever, but I also hope my Dodgers get all the way to the World Series and beyond.

Aged old "superfoods" and their relevant benefits

Whilst the term “super food” has only entered into social circulation during the past few years. The idea of super-nutritious and life giving foods have been around since the beginning of time.

It's very much likely that our ancestors were far more educated about what true superfoods are as we evidently wade through supermarket aisles picking up cans, boxes, prepackaged and processed foods. But in the age of information, you can compile a good list of superfoods for your next shopping trip.

There are foods that have been around for centuries, even millennia. Many of these foods are just as good now as they were then. So which foods should be on your superfoods list? Here are some timeless superfoods that you should include in your diet today:
  • Quinoa - you’ve likely heard of it because it’s experienced a growing resurgence in the past few years. But, quinoa has been around for ages. The Incas of South America refer to this food as chisaya mama, or the mother of all grains. It’s high in protein, calcium, and iron, and is very versatile. Cook with herbs and diced veggies or form with legumes and seasonings into veggie patties. Due to it’s high protein content, it's great in assisting with a high protein vegetarian diet. It can be used as a natural remedy for hair loss and hair thinning.
  • Spirulina - is an algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is said to be one of the oldest life forms on earth and has been eaten as long ago as the 9th century in the Kanem Empire of Chad. It’s good for your eyes, your skin, allergies, and stabilizing blood sugar.
  • Sacha Inchi - This food is a little more obscure... But has been consumed in the Amazon jungle for ages. It’s considered a superfood of the ancient Incas and is reported to contain concentrated Omega-3 fats. It’s also rich in iodine, and vitamins A and E.
  • Maca - Another ancient Incan superfood, Maca can be found in the mountains of Peru. It’s said to be an excellent all-natural energy source and also contains numerous plant sterols, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iodine.
Let’s not forget other amazing superfoods like turmeric, ginger, honey, garlic etc. All these edibles help fight cancer and protect you against numerous infections and diseases.

How can you prepare these foods? While quinoa is easy to find and super easy to cook. The others may be more of a challenge. Both spirulina and maca supplements can be conveniently purchased at most health food stores. Sacha Inchi can be found in an oil form which can be used on salads as you would use olive oil.

The ancients knew a thing or two about natural living. As we probably would as well in the absence of modern agriculture and readily available food. With trial and error you would soon learn the benefits of each and every individual type of edible. On this bases the majority of the food they consumed would be classed as superfoods. Of which you should try and add to your shopping list!

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The Winter Garden

As the seasons progress and the cold winter months unavoidably approach. The life so abundant in the natural world is slowly brought to a steady halt in the winter garden.

While you may not think so, there are still plenty of things you can do in your vegetable garden even during winter. The most important of all being, preparation for next year.

With the coming and perhaps already present winter. Gives us time to sit back and recollect over the previous growing season. Considering our mistakes, new discoveries made, preferable changes for next year, new ideas that we may want to implement. Also considering things like crop rotation, what you may want to grow next year, what seeds to order etc.

Below you can find a few pointers consisting of things to keep you busy during the winter. Hopefully ensuring a greater success for your vegetable garden come next year as well.

Enriching your soil with compost is important. There is quite a bit of physical labour that can be done and is recommended during or just before the cold months in the winter garden. Many others including myself spread manure or well rotted compost around our plot as this will be broken up by the many insects and elements during your absence leaving you with rich fertile soil come spring. Some people choose to dig fairly deep trenches, filling them with vegetable waste and soft mulch such as leaves, shredded paper etc. This will also be broken down and can work in your favour by enriching the soil gradually however it's probably most best to use compost that's already primed for use.

Get out the seed catalogue. Unless you have stockpiled seeds from your previous crops or you have generous seed donators. Now is a good time to reach for your seed catalogue. If you haven't got a catalogue you can easily request one online from one of the many reputable seed bank companies. Or more simply, just order your seeds online.

I always tend to have bags of seeds left over from last year. However I'm always trying new and different strains in my vegetable garden. There are so many varieties of one vegetable. I enjoy experimenting, growing and tasting them all.

It is wise to choose disease resistant varieties when buying your seeds though. It will definitely prove worth while in comparison to a crop that would be susceptible to such a disease if you had not used a resistant variety.

Thinking about crop rotation. Crop rotation, if you didn't already know, is a method for reducing the probable build of diseases within the soil and to also replenish and rejuvenate your soil by planting different crops in different places every other year.

For instance, if you planted potatoes in one bed last year it would be wise to plant a legume or a brassica in the same spot the following year. Crop rotating generally occurs in 4 year periods, this however can be extended to introduce 6 or event 8 yearly crop cycles. I like to keep it simple with my limited space though. I've included a simple chart to the right.

If you like to grow numerous different vegetables in one single bed like I do. You can still rotate your crops by again, following the chart above. Last year I grew my broad beans fairly close to my potatoes so this year , in that same bed I will grow either brassicas or alliums.

Some say it's still safe to grow one vegetable in the same spot consecutively for a minimum of three years and then attempt rotating crops. I've never tried this personally as I'm always moving things around but it sounds reasonable.

Thinking ahead is important. As with all things, your garden will see great benefit from previous thoughts on preparation put into motion. This could be anything from crop rotation, wanting to plant new and interesting strains, switch out old methods for new ones in light of new ideas etc.

As for me, I will be making greater use of my space next year by trying to grow large rows of peas up my garden fence, both in the back garden and out front. I will also be introducing many more containers for easy vegetable growing, expanding my raise beds, building a more aerated, open and spacious compost bin as well as a new polytunnel.

These are just little changes I want to make as I'm pretty satisfied with my results so far. Although given the space, I'd be doing things a lot more differently. But that all depends on your circumstances. What's important is you find the time now to think about the coming year.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. If you want to prevent the build up of nasty diseases and parasites it's wise to clean the majority of your garden instruments. I'm not implying you take your garden fork in the shower with you but giving your pots and seed trays a good wash definitely helps prevent the build up and probability of such diseases.

As a final note. There crops that can persevere through the cold in the winter garden. This year I will be leaving out my winter cabbage which will be done come next spring. Hopefully. Besides cabbage you can grow leeks, garlic, brussel sprouts, you can even grow some strains of legume. There are many late varieties of many other vegetables on the market that you can grow prior to winter. However, you won't be able to harvest very much until the frost has finally departed and weather tilts to something a little bit warmer.