Posts by esSJay

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SFG : Plant Update (June) 0

So here in my Square Foot Gardening world, June has come and gone and there is much to update…

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Firstly, I cobbled together a couple of very primitive shades – made from weedblock – as the temperatures started to get overly hot in the area around the raised beds. I finally figured out that in addition to hitting the plants directly, there was a significant amount of reflected light (and heat) bouncing back off the house siding. The shades seemed to help and I had configured them in such a way that I could slide them down over the top of the plants if necessary. The tomatoes, beans, sugar snap peas, ground cherries and wonderberry all seemed to be thriving. The lettuces (Buttercrunch and Lollo Rosso), spinach, chives and onions have not responded so well.
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The sugar snap peas are doing well but I did make one intervention. They are supposed to be a bush variety, therefore not requiring support, but I have observed that they do better when support is provided (I just used sticks and a spare cane).DSC_0007

The beans are in the process of flowering : First, the Dragon Tongue bush variety and second, the Sunset runner.DSC_0013DSC_0011

The A Grappoli D’Inverno tomato resplendent with flowers…DSC_0005

The Ground Cherry with flowers and young fruit…
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The Wonderberry and the magic of pollination…DSC_0010Unfortunately, my pepper seeds did not do so well on my first germination attempt so I was forced to buy two pepper plants to replace the stuffing peppers that hadn’t grown – a ‘Purple Beauty’ and a ‘Yummy Snacking Petit Bell Pepper’. As it turned out three seedlings grew from the second germination attempt and those were planted in a spot in the garden as there was no space available in the raised beds. The Purple Beauty, also in flower…DSC_0009

I have also been struggling with my melon seedlings. They would germinate just fine, then as soon as they were transplanted they would wither and die, probably caused by the dreaded damping off. I took the soil from the SFG into which the melons had been placed and sterilized it with hydrogen peroxide, then put it back in position. Further melon seeds were germinated and once transplanted appeared to be doing fine. They survived the damping off threat and just as they were beginning to thrive a rodent or bird dug up my only Boule D’Or plant and killed it. The only consolation was that I had two Charentais plants such that one could be transplanted in place of the Boule D’Or. I had also taken the precaution of buying an established ‘Early Hanover’ seedling from Comstock Ferre and planted that as well in case none of my seedlings survived again.

 

The sweet potato duly delivered a couple of decent slips and I planted those in a separate square foot garden (1ft x 2ft). I plan on using a ‘volcano’ method with these which entails clipping lower leaves at the stem and burying with soil. Each of these nodes should produce a potato, should ! Every time there are more than three big primary leaves I clip and bury the lower ones.DSC_0002

 

The only other points of note are that the scarecrow is doing a wonderful job of keeping larger animals away from the beds – it also catches me out occasionally when I forget to turn it off before checking out the garden !! You will also notice from the pictures that I have planted Lemongrass in a pot and in the ground close to the beds. I have also purchased a Goji Berry plant (again from Comstock Ferre) and will watch to see if it bears fruit next year. Finally for today, my Sunflowers are all growing well and the mammoth is already over 5 feet tall !!

 
 

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SFG : Plant growth update (May) 0

A little time has passed since I last updated my SFG story and with everything that has happened it would probably be better titled ‘The Trials and Tribulations of Square Foot Gardening’.

First off, Once Spring arrived Mother Nature decided she wasn’t in the mood and provided very inconsistent, and largely wet, weather conditions which proved to be not at all conducive to strong plant growth. This produced very lethargic growth from many of the cold-tolerant plants, eg. sugar snap peas, carrots, spinach, lettuce and onions that had germinated. And the garlic seeds flat out refused to even germinate ! This was quickly remedied by planting several cloves of Whole Foods finest organic garlic in their place.

Once the weather changed for the better, it quickly became apparent that something else may be limiting growth of many of the plants and I had an inkling of what the problem may be due to some yellowing on a few leaves…Nitrogen.

NPK Soil test kit

Armed with a Luster Leaf DIY NPK Soil Test Kit (1609CS)…I tested the Square Foot Garden soil and was more than a little surprised to find that the Nitrogen level was ‘Very Low’. On reflection it made some sense as I had not used as much real compost as was suggested in Mel’s Mix in Mel Bartholomew’s definitive tome, “All New Square Foot Gardening”. But had instead relied on potting mix. So now began the supplementation of the missing nutrients into the soil in an attempt to provide the optimal conditions that would enable the plants to thrive. The first supplement I evaluated was a soluble kelp supplement that I provided via foliar feeding – this involves spraying both sides of the plants leaves (and stems too) early in the day or later in the evening when there is no chance of leaf burn and the water evaporates before more sinister micro-organisms have a chance to attack. The theory states that the plants can absorb all the required nutrients within about 30 minutes from spraying and it was obvious that they were appreciative of the kelp (https://www.kelp4less.com/shop/kelp/) and urea (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IAXRN4/ref=pe_385040_30332200_TE_item supplements that I used. I will continue to supply these nutrients on an ongoing basis until this planting season is complete and then hopefully my compost will be ready to add to the soil in the square foot gardens to provide the nutrient boost in a more natural manner.

 

Here’s a few photos of the raised beds…

 

A few things to notice – marigolds as companion plants, deer ‘fence’ erected and the eagle-eyed will spot a scarecrow (3rd pic) that will give any critters a quick, high pressure blast of water if they get inquisitive and encroach. I am also experimenting with mulch around the plants. Planted are the peas, beans, spinach, garlic, onions, chives, lettuces, ground cherry & wonderberry seedlings, carrots and a sweet pepper. In the back corner of the right-hand bed is my sweet potato sitting in water where I await the growth of the slips. The sweet potato and seedling tray are brought in at night, but benefit from the warm, sunlight hours during the day.

 
 

 

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SFG : Indoor Germination Revisited and Revitalized 0

If you have read my square foot gardening posts entitled Starting the Seeds Indoors and The Miracle of Life you will already be familiar with my unsuccessful attempts at indoor germination. I outlined in the latter post, a change in strategy by attempting germination on top of my refrigerator using the wet towel method. I am excited to report that this protocol has proved to be far superior to anything else I have tried. After several days I was presented with numerous sprouts of tomato, ground cherry and wonderberry. I had got to this stage on all prior occasions so this time round I took a moment to analyze the environmental requirements for the sprouts to support strong, healthy and vigorous development. Clearly, I need to provide :

            • Water

            • Light

            • Heat

            • Nutrients

I had watered from below, and misted from above, even used paper towel underneath the peat pellets to provide more controlled and extended water supply. I placed the seedling on a sunny window-sill, I made a supplemental 2-bulb cfl fixture and suspended it over the seedlings in the window, I even put them outside once daytime temperatures increased. The seedlings were in a room that never dropped below 65oF, or they were outside in temperatures between 60-70oF.

All of these different approaches ultimately resulted in the demise of the seedlings.

 

Plant Basic Needs

Plant Basic Requirements

 

So this time, after much deliberation, I purchased a Burpee Self-Watering, Seed Starter Kit Greenhouse from Home Depot. It had a small, compressed peat pellet in each of the 72 cells awaiting addition of water before supposedly expanding to full size. I duly added the warm water and waited…and waited…and waited some more, before giving up after 20 minutes. Not one pellet had expanded in any way, shape or form, 100% duds. As you can imagine I was not amused. With a little quick-thinking, as I had the spouts ready to plant, I filled the cells with potting mix and carefully placed the sprouts in the soil. Where the roots were entangled into the paper towel, I just ripped the towel around the sprout and planted it sprout, towel and all. Several of these contained multiple sprouts as they were too close to separate.

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For lighting I rigged together a 4-bulb CFL fixture (2 warm, 2 daylight) a few inches above the 72 cells and used aluminum foil as reflectors. I also set up an old computer fan with a 12v dc wall-wart to remove excess heat, but that has not been necessary so far. The temperature has remained constant at 65oF under the tent. As can be seen from the photos, everything is growing well and appears to be accepting of the environment I have provided. I believe that the self-watering system is fundamental to my success, because as a novice I am prone to under- or over- watering and this system removes that variable (as long as I remember to top-up the water bath !)

 

As an aside, one of my sweet potatoes has exploded with baby slips, the other is still in the root-growing phase. Both are still half standing in water.

 

And last but not least, I am very excited by the growth of the lemongrass stalks that I purchased from Whole Foods and placed in a container of water. There is significant new growth shooting out of the middle of the stalk and I am hopeful that roots will start to appear very soon. These will not be planted in my square foot gardening beds, but as companion plants near-by to repel pests.

 
 
 

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SFG : Irrigation Upgrade 0

In my post Situating and Filling the Beds I mentioned that I had acquired a drip irrigation system from Harbor Freight. After poking holes into the tubing, I placed it either on, or slightly below, the surface of the beds. You can see the black tubing in this picture…

Square Foot Gardening Irrigation System v1.0

I have the water on a manual timer and noticed after a couple of minutes of watering that there were jets displacing the soil and causing surface pooling. As I had plenty of black tubing remaining, I decided to try a different approach. I would replace the pieces that pass down the middle of each square, running from back to front. The biggest difference on mk2 was that I drilled the holes into the tubing rather can cutting them with a knife or poking them with needle-nose pliers which produced a wide (and mostly unacceptable) range of spray sizes shooting from somewhat random locations, sometimes upwards !

By drilling I was able to precisely control the location and hole size. The holes were placed at 0 and 180 degrees, ie. on the horizontal axis of the tube. I then dug a small channel in the soil mix, around 1″-2″ deep and buried the tubing. As there are already seeds planted and several with shoots emerging, care was needed to avoid disturbing them.

Square Foot Gardening Irrigation System v2.0

I tested the new system immediately after burying and it was obvious that this method was achieving far superior watering than the original implementation and there are no jets or pooling in sight.

 
 
 

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SFG : The Miracle of Life 0

After situating the square foot gardening raised beds and filling them with Mel’s mix, the first few seeds were planted (details here) and thank goodness they were the frost-hardy ones as Mother Nature hit us with three consecutive nights of 28-30F temperatures. I did cover the beds with tarps to try and afford them some measure of protection and it appears to have been successful (phew). Failure at this juncture would have been deeply disappointing.

 

Following my planting schedule (details here) I duly sowed Tokyo Long Onions, Ramson’s Garlic and Chives on April 12th. Imagine my excitement when some of the seeds germinated and the shoots started their journeys toward the sun. Thus far there are shoots emerging from the Snap Peas, Spinach, both Lettuces and more latterly the Carrots and Chives. The supplemental sunflower seeds planted outdoors are also surfacing !

 

Square Foot Gardening shoots emerge

Snap Peas

Square Foot Gardening shoots emerge

Spinach

Square Foot Gardening shoots emerge

Chives

 

Square Foot Gardening shoots emerge

Lettuce

 

Following the relative lack of success growing out the indoor seedlings, I decided to try germinating further Ground Cherry, Wonderberry and Tomato seeds using the wet paper towel method. It is as simple as it sounds…you take a paper towel, fold it in half and place the seeds inside. Fold the sheet over and wet – allow excess water to drain off. Then place in a sandwich bag or sealed box and store somewhere warm, I placed mine on top of the refrigerator.

Square Foot Gardening seed germination 2Four days later (April 17th) the Ground Cherry and Tomato had germinated, now I will let the cotyledons emerge then transfer to an environment more conducive to sustained growth (I haven’t quite decided where yet though).

 
 
 

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SFG : Situating and Filling the Beds 0

So with the construction of the Square Foot Gardening beds completed (details here) and the indoor sowing done, it was time to look forward to the outdoor seed plantings that were due to start on April 5th – namely, Sugar Ann Snap Peas, Parisienne Carrots and Gigante d’Inverno Spinach.

 

In preparation the beds needed to be situated outdoors, filled with the soil mix and 4×4 string grids attached. Prior to placing the support legs on the ground, the soil was leveled and compacted to keep the beds horizontal and prevent future subsidence. Then the legs were positioned on this firm soil foundation and the raised beds carefully seated on top of the support platform.

 

Square Foot Gardening Raised Bed FinishedNext job to do was to mix the soil. The three components were Organic Soil (Just Natural), Sphagnum Peat Moss (Lambert, organic) and Vermiculite (Whittmore, coarse) blended in a 1:1:1 ratio. I started mixing on a tarp, but found it easier to just mix it in the boxes. One thing I didn’t do, but have subsequently read would have been beneficial, was to add the mixed material in layers which are thoroughly wetted out before adding the next layer. Wetting one thick layer from the top is not so easy.

Square Foot Gardening Raised Bed Finished

I also bought a cheap irrigation system from Harbor Freight which was affixed to the beds. Finally, I added the green string grids – notches had been pre-cut in the boxes and the string was permanently attached with a staple gun on two sides only (top and left). This allows the strings to be removed for easier access to the beds.

 

The beds are being well-watered on a daily basis to saturate the mix components.

Square Foot Gardening Raised Bed Finished

Several days later, on April 5th, the Peas, Carrots and Spinach were duly sown. In addition I decided that rather than add the sweet potato box (2′ x 1′ x 12″) into the square foot garden as originally planned I will put a layer of weedblock on the bottom and place it on the ground when the slips are ready to be transferred. This opens up two square foot sections for additional planting. I chose, and have subsequently sown, Lollo Rosso and Buttercrunch lettuce seeds in these locations. Now I await the emergence of the seedlings and I have my fingers crossed that they germinate successfully.

 

One final note…I have also started bringing the indoor germinated seeds outdoors into the sunlight as temperatures are in the 50’s and 60’s Farenheit during the day. They go back in at night though as it is still too cold to leave them out. They are not doing as well as I had hoped indoors on the window-sill with supplemental CFL lighting so hopefully this helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be continued…

 

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SFG : Starting the Seeds Indoors 0

The day finally arrived to plant some of the square foot gardening seeds indoors and my (almost) three year old and I were excited to begin. I am using a 6×6 peat pod ‘greenhouse’, so I drew up a planting plan accordingly…

Square Foot Garden Indoor Seed Layout

Following the instructions that came with the peat pods, I pre-soaked them and watched the pods expand upwards…in much the same way that I hope my seeds will too 🙂 .

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A minimum of three seeds were sown in each pod and then very gently covered over with a little peat, being careful not to compact it too much. The finished greenhouse was then placed on a bright and sunny window-sill. This is probably sufficient on it’s own, but I have placed a CFL fixture above to provide additional heat and light as needed.
 

Three days into the germination process and I noticed that the sunflower seeds are already germinating… 

 

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So I moved them out of the greenhouse into an open egg box. I also observed a white, cotton-like growth on the top of the peat pods which caused a little concern. Researching online confirms that this is Sclerotinia, a pathogenic fungus which causes white rot. Treatment options include physical removal, allowing the pods to dry out a little, or chemical treatment. My plan of attack will be all of the above ! Firstly, I have scraped the visible fungus off the pods. Secondly, I have left the top off the greenhouse for a while to encourage the pods to dry out slightly. Finally, I added a little (approx 5%) hydrogen peroxide (bleach) to my spray bottle and will use this in future mistings. Obviously, handle bleach with the utmost care and ensure that there are no additives that could contaminate your plants (and your harvest).

 

 

 

 

 

To be continued…

 

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SFG : Construction of the Square Foot Gardening Raised Beds 0

So while the snow is taking it’s time to disappear outside and the temperatures are sub-zero, I have been busying myself inside with the construction of the Square Foot Gardening Raised Beds. Over the past few months I have been collecting odd bits and pieces of scrap wood that I have spotted on my travels. As I mentioned in a prior post, “Getting the Lay of the Land“, I will be using virgin, untreated wood for the construction of the actual beds to preclude chemical leaching, especially considering I do not know the history of the scrap wood I have acquired. Despite the apparent removal of arsenic-containing chemicals from pressure-treated wood, I prefer the untreated route so I know for sure that the food I am giving my family is safe. Of course this means that the raised beds will rot significantly faster, but I’m still confident of getting at least 5-6 years out of them.

 

nb. the pictures have been edited (very roughly !) to blur out some of the distracting backgrounds.

 

Step 1. Build the Sides…

Square foot garden raised bed sides

Using four pieces of 1″ x 8″ x 48″, I made a box which will form the sides of the raised bed. As you can see from the picture, two of the pieces are placed on top of the supporting sides so the finished box will not be exactly 48″ x 48″, but it will be close enough and will keep the job simple. Three holes were drilled through the top into each upright and #10 x 2″ stainless steel screws inserted. Keep in mind that the big box stores will usually cut the wood to size for you, which can be a big time-saver.

Square foot garden raised bed joint

 

Step 2. Covering the Base with Weedblock…

 

The next step is to cover the base of the box with weedblock. Due to the narrow width of the roll, two runs of material were required. The material was attached with a staple gun…

Square foot garden raised beds weedblock

Square foot garden raised bed weedblocks 2

If you plan on placing the beds directly on the ground then I have good news…you’re finished !

Square foot garden raised bed weedblocks 3

Square foot garden raised bed weedblocks 4

 

My plan is to lift the beds off the ground, so I need to add additional support to the base without impacting drainage. I also need to build legs to elevate the beds.

 

Step 3. Supporting the Base…

 

First measure the distance between the two sides of the box. Using 1″ x 3″ x your measured box width strips, attach the base support pieces…

Square foot garden raised bed supportSquare foot garden raised bed supports 2

Next I added cross-supports [I also added an extra upright as I had the wood spare]…

 

Square foot garden raised beds cross-supportThe cross-supports are simple studs.

 

Step 4. Elevating the bed…

 

Using the scrap I had on hand, I made four legs (for each box) and attached them together to create a strong, and hopefully very stable, foundation that will sit on the ground and support the weight of the square foot gardening bed above. The leg height is 12″ and my plan includes planting companion plants and flowers in front of the box that will grow up and cover the empty space between the ground and the bed.

Square foot garden raised beds legsSquare foot garden raised beds legs 2

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SFG : The Joys of a New England Winter… 0

 

Just a quick photo update :

 

square foot gardening future location

January 2014

 

The first photo showing the future location of my square foot gardening raised beds was taken in January 2014 with a trivial amount of snow on the ground, all of which had melted a day or two later. Then along came February, not content with a quiet and subtle approach, it prefered a shamelessly melodramatic entrance with four five snow storms in less than 2 weeks…

 
 
square foot gardening snowboundsquare foot gardening snowbound
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

and as if that isn’t enough, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has us down for snow storms until the second week of March, oh great !

 
 
 

Of course I do realize that there are many other places that receive significantly more snow than this every year, but understand that this is my place and I am impatient to get outdoors and start doing !

 
 

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How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 2 0

In How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 1 I described how I discovered the negative impact on nutrition of sugar/carbohydrates on good health, but where, and how, did it fit in to the elaborate jigsaw puzzle known as life ? In part 2, I will delve a little deeper on the topic of sugar (and carbs) and some of the problems arising from over-consumption.

 

Jigsaw Brain v2.0 (sugar)

 

Sugar, is the common name for sucrose, a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose. The chemical formula is C12H22O11.

 

Sucrose is rapidly absorbed following ingestion and prompts a rapid elevation of blood sugar levels, which in turn initiates a powerful endocrine response that is designed to mitigate the increases in blood glucose. Hormones released from the pancreas and adrenal cortex include insulin, glucagon, epinephrine and cortisol. Insulin lowers blood glucose level and glucagon elevates it – they work antagonistically attempting to maintain it within acceptable bodily limits.

 

Let’s take a step backwards to help us better understand the present and the future…

 

For thousands of years, humanity’s exposure to sucrose was typically limited to the content found in fruit. Prior to the late 18th/early 19th century sugar consumption was usually less than 25lbs per year, however mechanization of the production process reduced the cost and created vast new untapped markets ready to be exploited. All of which led to today’s massive consumption of on average, between 130 and 150 lbs of sugar each year in the US. Many people do not realize that sugar is frequently used as a cheap filler in processed foods and can be as addictive as cocaine ! It also possesses no nutritional value beyond pure calories.

There are several modes of action by which sugar can impact normal bodily function, including tooth decay and direct irritation of Gastro-Intestinal tissues. However, it is increased hormonal responses – of which higher insulin levels appear to be the primary instigator of degraded health – that are the most significant.

 
 
GI pic

Many people are familiar with The Glycemic Index or GI, (a measure of the rate of increase of blood sugar following ingestion of a specific food, expressed relative to the standard, glucose, which is defined at a GI of 100). A few years ago there began a push to focus dieters on the GI for the various foods being consumed. Now in the absence of better nutritional information, the index would help, but unfortunately it is not a panacea and leaves a lot to be desired. For example, it takes no account of the size of the serving of the individual food item, rather it is based on testing 50g of the said item. Clearly many foods are eaten in greater or lesser quatities per serving. The GI also considers foods in isolation, rather than in the traditional meal setting consisting of multiple food items eaten together. Finally, different food storage and preparation methods which can influence the GI number are not taken into consideration.
 
To counter the serving size issue the Glycemic Load was developed which merely takes the GI value and multiplies it by the typical serving size.

Well this is better than the GI alone, but still has some glaring deficiencies, primarily the fact that there are several foods with low GI/GL scores that can instigate unexpectedly high insulin responses. At this point I was getting very frustrated as I could not find a clear answer to my nutritional dilemma. Enter the Insulin Index and a closer examination of the effects of insulin on the body.

 
 
 
 
 

Coming next : How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 3…Insulin, the hormone that quite literally shapes your life.

 
 

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SFG : Planting Schedule 0

In my last Square Foot Gardening post I detailed my planting layout plan and provided the identity and sources for the seeds I will be utilizing. This post will focus on my proposed timing schedule…

 

SFG Schedule graphic

Square Foot Garden Planting Schedule

 

The first, and possibly the most important, thing to determine is the date for the last frost. This will serve as the starting point for the planting schedule to then compute starting dates for seeds that will be germinated indoors and those that will be sown directly into the soil in the square foot gardening beds.

 

As you may already know, I live in Connecticut, in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6b, so the first point of order is to check a few independent online sources and gather together their estimated last frost data :

 

About.com : April 15th

Plantmaps.com : April 21st – 30th

Old Farmer’s Almanac : April 26th

Dave’s GardenApril 26th – May 10th

 

As you can see there is a wide variety of dates. This occurs because different sources use different probability data. To clarify, take Dave’s Garden, April 26th has a 50% probability of a frost occurring, yet May 10th has a probability of only 10%, ie. almost no chance of frost. As it happens I prefer to use Dave’s Garden as it lists in a grid the range of probabilities and the associated dates as prepared by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC). You could also visit the NCDC site directly, but I find it to be difficult to navigate and full of politically-motivated pseudo-science which is quite frankly, best avoided.

 

So having read the grid, next get a feel for the trends in your local weather (speak to other experienced gardeners in your area) and make an educated prediction of when would be best for you to directly sow your seeds outdoors. Once you have established that date, it is easy to work backwards to calculate when to begin the germination process indoors for those seeds that require it.

 

Planting Schedule for Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening Planting Schedule

 
 

For the indoor germination I will be using an NK Lawn & Garden 36 pellet greenhouse that I picked up cheaply at a local discount store and plan to place the unit in a warm and sunny window. You can purchase your own here.

 
 
 

So with a little over a month before the germination begins in earnest, it’s time to ensure the plans are in place and the necessary materials bought and available. Which leads nicely in to my next task, namely building the square foot gardening raised beds themselves and their support structures.

 
 

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SFG : Planting Layout Plan 0

So the location has been selected and my foray into square foot gardening continues…

 

I have decided to go with heirloom seeds for the most part and have included companion plants in the design for the sole purpose of controlling pests. OK, maybe not the sole purpose as the plants will look beautiful when flowering too ! 

Square Foot Gardening Planting layout

Square Foot Gardening Plant Layout Plan

Several other possibilities that I am considering adding to the list are Nasturtiums (Empress of India and Jewel mix), Lemon Squash and Red Corn Poppies – the latter two were received as free gifts and as such were not initially included in the planting layout and the nasturtiums an afterthought to jazz-up my Summer salads. I’m still not certain whether I will include them all but suffice to say, they will not replace anything already allocated a spot in the square foot gardens.

 

All of the plants, except the sweet potatoes, will be grown from seed. The seed was purchased online from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. based in Mansfield, MO (www.rareseeds.com) or at their Comstock Ferre & Co. retail outlet in Wetherfield, CT. The Wethersfield store is worth a trip if you are within striking distance as it is being developed as a “living history museum dedicated to agriculture and our diverse inheritance of heirloom seed varieties that are in danger of extinction, some of which have already passed through the sands of time.” There are charming old buildings and antiques galore – even the staff dress in 19th Century period costume, and of course they stock a multitude of non-gmo seeds.

 

Each segment of the square foot garden will be 8″ deep. The sweet potatoes will require additional depth to grow properly so their 2′ x 1′ section will be increased to a depth of 12″.

 

In the next post I will go into more detail regarding which seeds will be germinated indoors, and when. Followed by those that will be direct sown and the likely timings…

 

 

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Psoriasis Relief 2

Psoriasis clickthru

 

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that manifests as scaly, red, inflamed and itchy patches that can cause considerable discomfort. The condition is considered a genetic disorder with five typical forms that occur in around 2% of the population. The most commonly observed form is plaque psoriasis which is characterized by scaly, red plaques that frequently occur on the knees, elbows and the scalp. A significant proportion of plaque psoriasis sufferers will develop psoriatic joints where inflammation creates an arthritis-like condition.

psoriasis plaque

Plaque Psoriasis

Modern medicine states that there is no cure and the causes are not well understood, however it is believed to be an auto-immune disorder triggered by environmental influences.

 

I, and members of my family, have endured plaque psoriasis on and off for quite some considerable time. During those years, numerous different doctors have attempted to control the condition with a wide array of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications and natural remedies with limited success or risks of significant side-effects. With my background in biochemistry and a strong interest in natural medicine, I decided to carry out my own research and try to formulate my own concoction. I spent many, many hours trawling through the PubMed database (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed) and this is a list of some of the research that piqued my interest…

 

If you are not interested in the research then please skip this section !

PMID 20212509   Topical isoflavonoids reduce experimental cutaneous inflammation in mice.

PMID 20221619   Control of cutaneous antimicrobial peptides by vitamin D3.

PMID 20218931   Itk inhibitors: a patent review.

PMID 20192957   Psoriasis and extra domain A fibronectin loops.

PMID 20188517   Neutrophil-dominant psoriasis-like skin inflammation induced by epidermal-specific expression of Raf in mice.

PMID 20173395   The first decade of biologic TNF antagonists in clinical practice: lessons learned, unresolved issues and future directions.

PMID 20171437   The role of dendritic cells in auto-inflammation seen in psoriasis.

PMID 20163421   1,24-Dihydroxyvitamin D₃ (tacalcitol) prevents skin T-cell infiltration.

PMID 20128791   Interleukin-1 from epithelial cells fosters T cell-dependent skin inflammation.

PMID 20074471   Proinflammatory cytokine production in HaCaT cells treated by eosin: implications for the topical treatment of psoriasis.

PMID 19459144   Potential skin antiinflammatory effects of 4-methylthiobutylisothiocyanate (MTBI) isolated from rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds.

PMID 19383492   Study on the levels of trace elements in mild and severe psoriasis.

PMID 19218914   Aloe vera in dermatology: a brief review.

 

This list is far from exhaustive, but the possible mode of action by which plaque psoriasis impacts the epidermis was becoming clearer to me. More importantly, from this new understanding I was better equipped to research natural compounds that could negate these objectionable activities. Following more lengthy investigation, including analysis of Western, Traditional Chinese, Orthomolecular and Natural medical systems, I settled on a blend of botanical and orthomolecular ingredients. All components selected were natural, and free of synthetics and pharmaceuticals. I had high hopes and was eager to test my theories.

 

To cut a long story short, I found that the optimum blend was a mixture of dry powders and filtered water that was delivered to the skin as a ‘mudpack’ of sorts. My results were amazing. A smaller test patch (several square inches) was diminished in a few days and completely eradicated after a couple of weeks of continuous application. My method of application was to apply the ‘mud’ prior to sleep and cover it with a piece of gauze. The following morning the mud was washed off and the area moisturized with petroleum jelly, aloe vera or coconut oil. A pleasant surprise was that the plaque did not reappear after treatment was discontinued. The only way the plaque would return was following trauma to the original area that broke the skin and prompted bleeding. Thereafter, another cycle of treatment, once the broken skin was healed, would reverse the psoriasis breakout once again.

 

Further information can be found here :

>>Psoriaphree Page<<

 

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SFG : Getting the Lay of the Land 0

Connecticut may be gripped tightly in Winter’s frigid embrace, but my enthusiasm for square foot gardening has not been dampened. All it took was one afternoon where the temperature peaked in the mid-forties Farenheit and I was out selecting a location for my square foot gardens and clearing out the brush and weeds accordingly. It is a typically sunny

square foot gardening future location

Before the brush removal

location in the growing season and I have successfully grown beans, peppers, asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, grapes and tomatoes in-ground in this spot in prior years, but thanks to some tough, deeply rooted perennials, it took a little longer and required more effort than I had envisioned. After several hours of toil, the area was sufficiently cleared and the top layer of soil sufficiently workable that I took the opportunity to roughly mark out where the square foot gardens would sit. I have it in mind to raise the raised beds somewhere between 18 and 24″ off the ground and companion plant insect repellent flowers and plants around the beds too. It did strike square foot gardening bed locationme that with woods close by, and by association deer, that the raised beds could serve as a very nice dinner table from which they can feast !! I am formulating a plan for the critters and will detail that in a separate post. I have also been collecting free wood to construct the elevated platforms for the beds, but with the concerns over chemicals leaching from treated wood, especially that of uncertain origin, I will purchase the materials used for the actual square foot gardens myself so I am confident of the source.

 

Coming up soon in the next post will be all of the details of my plan for planting…the seeds, the layout and the companion plants.

Recommended Reading:

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How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 1 0

It was always a mystery to me – a brain-twisting, utterly frustrating mystery that appeared to defy logic. How could I exercise so much yet never quite eliminate all of the chub around my belly ? It was disheartening, but thankfully never turned into an unhealthy obsession. It was all the more irritating because I had studied biochemistry and human physiology at university and believed that I should be capable of solving this ‘corporeal conundrum’. To this end I read several very highly regarded books that certainly improved my understanding of the dynamics involved, but never fully resonated with me as I was always left with a key unanswered question, or two. Of course it doesn’t help that we are all so unique in our design and function that one person’s resolution does not necessarily apply to another.

 

Some years ago, I was immersing myself in the teachings of the leading proponents of Orthomolecular Medicine (Linus Pauling, Abram Hoffer et al) when I was compelled to read ‘Mega-Nutrition’ by Richard Kunin. Published in 1980, it detailed the author’s program which was designed to utilize vitamins and minerals to optimize health. Within the over 300 pages, there are two very interesting chapters related to diet – the first implicating sugar intolerance in many disease states and the second a brief outline of Dr. Kunin’s recommended diet, the Orthocarbohydrate diet, that suggests reducing carbohydrate intake to improve health. I found the entire book fascinating, but in the context of weight-control those two chapters succeeded in tightly focusing my attention on the potential harmful effects of sugar (carbohydrates) on my body. There are even several paragraphs contrasting today’s ‘Standard American Diet’ with that of primitive man’s !

Jigsaw Brain v2.0 (sugar)

So now I had the first big piece of the puzzle, sugar/carbohydrates, but where, and how, did it fit in to the elaborate jigsaw puzzle known as life ?
 
 

Coming next : How the Pieces Fell into Place – part 2…