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I'm not sure there is anything more frustrating than trying to replenish your supply of herbs from every shop in town.  Not only are some very difficult to find but the price tag attached is mind-boggling!  On top of that, if you want "fresh" herbs, check your bank balance and hope they stay in good condition for a whole week!  Herbs do not last for a long period of time and are rather disappointing in both flavor and cost.

Grow Hydroponic Herbs:

Some people have chosen not to grow their own herbs with hydroponics due to limited space, the tubes, buckets, lighting and filtering systems taking up what little space they do have.  On top of that it can be time consuming and that's tough if you have many other commitments.  They look for other solutions or for something that will work well in their living space and their busy lives.

Modern Sprout:

Founders Nick Behr and Sarah Burrows have come up with a really sweet solution with an contemporary and trendy hydroponic system that will surely be embraced by busy folks.

Nick and Sarah had tried just about every form of gardening from containers to hydroponic and found very little was working for them in their small Chicago apartment.  So, they sat down and decided to design the perfect gardening system that is easy to use, looks really nice and is built from materials close to their Chicago area.

The Light Came On:

In April, they started a Kickstarter to find out if they were the only ones who were dissatisfied with indoor gardening. They were amazed at how quickly they were able to discover market interests and they were not alone regarding indoor gardening woes.  They formed a community and in turn this community gave them many great ideas for their design.

Asking questions regarding so many aspects of the design ultimately brought about a great design.  From a slimmer planter to a very simple timer, these were things everyone was looking for.  The planters come in a variety of finishes from chalkboard, white, weathered gray and wood.

Another question they brought to their community was involving a solar panel vs a plug for the air pump. They received an overwhelming "yes" response.  One-third of the backers were already purchasing solar powered planters!

Another high-end product they are implementing are brass valves vs plastic valves.  Again, others thought the brass valves were worth paying a little more for.

Nick and Sarah are now working on their site and hoping to have their initial backers serve as the forum.  They can test items, answer people's questions and get more people interested in their product as well as offer new ideas.  They are hoping to add more inventory to their product, including grow lights, in the near future.


Living in a small apartment, Nick and Sarah fully understood other wannabe farmers and their frustration with no space.  They are loving their new life as full-time hydroponic farmers!

Whether using grow boxes or planters, solar panels or grow lights hydroponic gardening is constantly changing and offering more alternatives for fresh produce without the pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.

Understanding the value and importance of indoor gardening and wanted fresh produce and herbs available any time of year is what hydroponics is all about.  Nick and Sarah understood busy lifestyles and the need for a system that would allow people to  have their busy commitments and still have access to fresh herbs at their fingertips!


Although hydroponics allows would-be urban gardeners to grow plants anywhere without the need for light or soil, the method of growing is only now beginning to take off among those who consider themselves part of the growing organic movement. This is because the nutrient solutions used for hydroponic gardening are considered by many to be incompatible with organic growing. Recently, an experiment in Montreal has shown that organic and hydroponic growing methods are compatible.

The Purpose of the Project

Funded by the Canadian government, the Montreal Project sought to compare the success of growing tomatoes in an organic hydroponics system and in an organic traditional soil system. The purpose of the experiment was to help determine the most beneficial way to grow plants on rooftops in the urban environs of Montreal. At the end of the project, the tomatoes grown in the organic hydroponics system were much larger than their soil-grown counterparts. In addition, the hydro organic vegetables were less damaged by aphids than the soil-grown variety.

Organic Materials for Hydroponics

To be organically grown in a grow room or grow box under grow lights or outdoors in a hydroponic system, seeds must get the benefits of nutrients. Typically, the nutrition is provided by chemical solutions, but there are alternatives. Chemical nutrient solutions can be replaced with entirely organic growing solutions, such as an organic compost tea or a mix of 1-1/2 teaspoons of emulsified fish, 1-1/2 teaspoons of liquid seaweed and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of bloodmeal. Perlite and vermiculite, made from lava and mica, respectively, and ordinary sand can be used as the growing medium for hydroponics boxes.

The Feasibility of Hydroponics

Those who champion organic growing often criticize hydroponics, saying that it is too expensive to be a practical choice for the every day person wanting to grow flowers or an herb garden. Many assume that the cost of plant lights, water filters and the other component of a hydroponics system must be very expensive. The Montreal Study found that because higher yields were possible with hydroponic growing, the comparative cost per tomato grown was not much more than that of standard organic growing outdoors. In terms of indoor growing, the cost is even less, as you can continue to grow vegetables and other plants year round when you would otherwise be unable to grow with an organic soil system.

While the Canadian government does intend to continue to study the benefits of hydroponic organic growing, the Montreal Project does prove that hydroponic and organic growing methods are compatible. If you'd like to get started growing plants the organic way without traditional soil, check out the selection of supplies in our grow shop. We have all of the essentials that you need to set up your organic hydroponic garden system.

Hydroponics,Gardening,Fresh Produce,Fruits,Vegetable,IHidro

Hydroponics vs Dirt:

Some of the obvious reasons people are turning to hydroponics for their foods are fresh produce, the high quality of nutrients and foods can be grown and enjoyed all year long.

Another really big persuader for growing hydroponically is not having to wash your produce!  Let's face it, how many times have you gone to the supermarket or the local farmer's market and upon returning home, having to washing everything.  From removing unwanted pesticides to that clump of dirt hanging off the roots!

No matter how you slice it, dirt is dirt and there is nothing appetizing about eating dirt!

Not only are novice farmers jumping on hydroponic gardening, so are large and small farms alike.  Large greenhouses are popping up everywhere with state-of-the-art plant rooms, grow lights, extensive watering and filtering systems.

Recycled water uses a tenth of the amount of water needed for conventional gardens.  This nutritionally rich water travels down channels encompassing the young roots of every plant from an assortment of greens to herbs.

About Gotham Greens:

In an area of Brooklyn known as Greenpoint, founders Viraj Puri and Eric Haley along with their director Jenn Nelkin have set gardening on a whole new path with the largest greenhouse, to date, in the urban USA.  This $2 million dollar greenhouse is constructed on the space of a former bowling alley and light manufacturer.

All plants are grown from seeds that are embedded in tiny sponges of fiber created from volcanic basalt.  This greenhouse provides the very best produce on the market to restaurants and high end retailers.

The Tug Of War:

While there are many restaurant owners who enjoy hydroponic produce, they also believe that some foods should fall within the season they are preparing menus for.  Although they enjoy the fresh produce they purchase from hydroponic greenhouses, they aren't ready to give up on plants grown in soil.

Others feel having fresh produce directly at the fingertips is a heck of a lot better than shipped produce that is over 3 days old.

From restaurants to food stores, the biggest plus for hydroponics is without doubt freshness and accessibility.  Endives, lettuces and herbs do so very well in hydroponic gardens that this is a big step forward for this kind of gardening.  Many chefs like working with chervil, an herb in the parsley family.  Unfortunately,  chervil is very difficult to grow and does not travel well at all.  Now chervil is being grown in hydroponic greenhouses and is literally at the reach of chefs.  This is a huge win for hydroponics!

Those unmoved believe that if produce is not grown in soil, the plants lack in flavor.  Yet, due to weather conditions, too much sun or the lack thereof can also affect the final outcome of those plants too.  Management, growing conditions and various species can also dictate the final taste of any grown plant in any condition whether hydroponics or soil.

The More The Merrier:

With the growth of hydroponics and more farmers developing hydroponic greenhouses, the accessibility of fresh produce is definitely on the rise.  People are finding fresh food literally a block away and are willing to pay a little more for this quality of food.

There are those that argue growing hydroponic plants takes a great deal of labor and high-end maintenance and that water cannot replace the richness of soil.  Others cannot tell the difference between a plant grown in soil or grown in water because of the ability and knowledge of the farmers.

The Pluses in Hydroponic Gardening:

Without doubt, we are running out of land mass, people are growing their own foods on roof tops and they are not being affected by pesticides, herbicides, pest controls, etc.  Those same roof top gardeners are learning new techniques and enjoying hydroponic gardening.  They are setting up grow boxes, plant lights, adding vegetables and herbs into their gardens and feeding them all with rich nutrients.

Like anything new, there will always be negative thinkers believing - The Old Way Is The Only Way. With that kind of thinking, we'd still be getting around in a horse and buggy instead of in cars.

seafood, seafood restaurants, seafood allergies, allergic reactions, nutrition, hydroponics, hydroponic gardening

Seafood allergies are caused by the protein that is found in fish. Fortunately, seaweed doesn't contain any fish protein.

Seafood Restaurants:

If eating at a seafood restaurant, you should be cautious because seaweed can become contaminated by fish protein. They can share the same countertops, cookware and utensils. Even if you are not eating any form of seafood, sushi rolls that are vegetarian are being prepared on the same countertops as sushi with fish.

Seafood Allergies:

Some people are only allergic to a specific fish but it is advised that you check with your doctor before moving on to other seafood dishes. Seafood allergies cause your immune system to react to fish protein on a very high scale.

Some of the most common symptoms from seafood allergy reactions are inflammation and swelling. Swelling takes place in skin, lungs and sinuses. If you suffer from arthritis and have a seafood allergy, you could suffer from a good deal of joint pain. Therefore, it is highly recommended you steer clear of seafood.

If you suffer from seafood allergies, you will probably have an allergic reaction to other forms of seafood products, such as gelatin. In case you're unaware of the content in gelatin, it is often made from the skin or bones of fish. Some people cannot take fish oil supplements for the same reasons.

Kelp Allergies:

Kelp is used as an herbal supplement and found in some medications. Should you consume these supplements, there's a good chance you will have an allergic reaction.

Severe allergic reactions are facial swelling, hives and shortness of breath which could lead to anaphylactic shock. If this should happen, contact a doctor immediately. Consult with your doctor and have the clinic test you for a possible kelp allergy. You should probably stay away from ingesting any form of kelp until you receive your medical results.

About Kelp:

Kelp is a type of ocean seaweed that looks similar to a tree, and is harvested in the ocean. It comes in a variety of colors: green, red and brown. Kelp is widely used medicinally for various conditions such as thyroid disorders, digestive disorder, arthritis, and iodine deficiencies.

Always be cautious if you suffer from any form of seafood allergies. Seaweed that is packaged and sold without any contamination of fish protein will not give you a reaction. Do your homework and look into the origins of the seaweed before incorporating it into your diet.

Should you have a condition that is commonly treated by medications containing kelp, make sure your doctor is aware you have seafood allergies. He or she will prescribe something else for your treatment.

Hydroponic Gardening:

Seaweed has amazing benefits, along with other plants on this planet. It would be a shame to limit yourself to just a small selection. Why don't you start your own hydroponic garden in your home for excellent, fresh produce?!

Hydroponic gardens are a snap to setup. Purchase a grow box, plant lights, some water filters and excellent nutrients for your plants. Grow your own herbs or vegetables, and throw in a few flowers along the way!

You can enjoy fresh foods in the dead of winter, by harvesting directly from your indoor garden! Add healthy seaweed to your salads today. Bon Appetit!


Want to take up vegetable gardening at home? If you choose to grow plants in a hydroponics system over a traditional soil-based system, you can enjoy higher yields, conserve water and avoid the hassles of dealing with pests. You can even grow your vegetables indoors in a groom room under plant lights in any season. Just follow these steps to start your grow hydro system.

1. Start your seeds by placing two to three in a starting cube. Leave them under grow lights or in the sun, watering as needed until the roots begin to poke out of the cubes. This should take roughly 1 to 2 weeks.

2. Purchase a flood table, a rectangular plastic container that can hold 10 to 12 gallons of water.

3. Buy 2 drip emitters, which you can find in the irrigation section of hardware stores and at many nurseries. Choose ones with a 2 gallons per hour rating.

4. Create a setup with the flood table placed on a bench or stool, so that the ends protrude over the edges of the bench or stool.

5. Heat a nail over a hot stove using pliers. When it is red hot, drive it through the bottom of the tray in two spots.

6. Use a sharp knife and sandpaper to make the holes large enough to fit the drip emitters through them. Seal with hot glue to keep them in place and prevent leaks.

7. Hydroponic growing requires nutrients, so you'll need to create a planting media mix for your gardening. Try mixing coconut fiber and perlite. For dry climates, use more coconut fiber than perlite and vice versa for more humid environments.

8. Purchase 4-inch square planter pots with holes in the bottom.

9. Fill the bottom third of each pot with your growing media.

10. Place one of your started seeds into each pot and then fill in with media.

11. Water the pots and then arrange them in your flood table.

12. Purchase a plant food of your choosing. Make sure that the nutrition it contains is suitable for the plants that you are growing.

13. Mix the plant food with 5 gallons of water, following the instructions on the plant food packaging.

14. Pour the mixture into the flood tray, not into the plants.

15. Place the bucket under the flood tray.

16. After dripping stops, cover the bucket with a lid.

17. Every day, pour the plant food and water back into the flood tray. If it begins to smell, dispose of it and make a new batch. Even if it does not begin to smell, pour it out and make a new batch every week.

18. Always keep 5 gallons of water in your bucket to pour onto the plants. This will require you to add extra water during the week.

19. Monitor the growth of your plants and harvest when ready.

This method is best for growing plants outdoors, but you can also start an herb garden or garden of flowers and vegetables indoors with grow lights. You'll find all of the supplies that you need to join the ranks of gardeners who are using hydro growing to enjoy lush, bountiful gardens in our grow shop.

With the advancement in technology - everything from cable services to iphone carriers - are allowing consumers to program settings in their homes and their cars remotely. Now, Honda and UC Davis are joining in with this high-end technology. Honda has built their Smart Home on the campus of UC Davis to study and learn more "Green" efficient technologies for "Smarter Homes". This home is built from FSC certified lumber, metal roofs, and other materials of the highest standards.

Businesses and consumers alike are opting for technologies that will save us money when cooling our homes, or recharging our electric cars! How about the actual design of smart homes from the framework up?

Google, Bosch and GE are all using their technological skills to design thermostats, heating pumps, and sensors for the next smart home.

Solar Design:

Honda's Smart Home, technology, electric car, solar design, environment friendly, green, hydroponics, hydroponic garden

Using their best technical minds, they have studied the best ways to reduce cooling and heating costs by studying various angles of the sun and various times of day - when full sun or shade come into play.



Using Grade A exterior double stud walls made from two 2x4 stud walls on 24" centers that eliminate thermal bridging, except at the fire blocking. Wall cavities are insulated with cellulose, and windows are constructed with triple-glaze. The home is tested at 2.0 air changes every hour at a difference of 50 units of pressure.



Concrete is accountable for 5% of all man-made emissions. These emissions are the result of producing concrete by heating limestone to more than one thousand degrees Celsius. This form of heating requires burning fossil fuels which causes a natural porous variety of volcanic ash. This is then injected into the Honda Smart Home's concrete, replacing the typical amount of cement needed. Post-tensioning is a technique that uses steel cables to compress the concrete slabs and thereby reduces the amount of concrete and steel normally used.

Intricate Ground Resources:


This home also has the most intricate, complex heat recovery systems anywhere. Gray water travels into tanks in the garden, and is then renewed and placed through heat pumps for heating and cooling the home. The downside is these systems are extremely expensive and not necessary for high-efficiency homes in the first place.

On the other hand, combining domestic hot water and the use of radiant cooling and running everything out of one heating pump, is highly cost efficient. This would lead to savings in hardware and software.



Honda has worked with researchers at California Lighting Technology Center at UC Davis to look into a new day-to-day color control lighting. This copies natural light throughout the course of the day and provides the best lighting alternatives for night hours. At night, hallways will provide ample light for one to walk through without overbearing light fixtures.



Should the electrical grid become overloaded, this smart house is perfectly capable of restoring back power. This will allow for the distribution of renewable energy to electric vehicles without deterring the grids reliability.

With the level of technology being poured into this smart house, the most impressive aspect is the house and car working together. This alone, will equate to zero energy consumption and zero carbon emissions. It doesn't get any better than that!

The Honda Smart Home is revolutionizing technology for the future of home building and electric cars.

Hydroponics and The Future:


Hydroponics has grown in leaps and bounds due to consumer concerns regarding healthier, green living. Imagine tending your hydroponic garden 24/7 with an iPhone. Such technology is steadily on the rise for gardeners today. Adding nutrients on time, or setting timers on plant lights, has never been easier. It's literally a click away!


0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Karen B. Vance


Hydroponic gardening is on the rise in popularity.  Understanding exactly how to successfully grow fresh vegetables and herbs starts with the basics.  In Hydroponics 101, the main heart and soul to a successful hydroponic garden is the reservoir!

Understanding that the reservoir is the single most important part of the hydroponic growing system is a must.  Maintaining your nutrient solution reservoir will dictate how successful your gardening efforts be.

Your Tap Water:

You need to test your water quality before putting it in your reservoir.  Tap water registers around 300 ppm or higher.  Your water's ppm should stay between 0 to 50 ppm before the addition of nutrients.  Start off by checking a small amount of your water quality with your TDS/PPM EC Meter. 100 ppm or higher is acceptable but there is a chance that micro nutrients will show up in your test.

All vegetables are not created equal.  There are so many varieties of vegetables and so are their nutrient and pH level demands.

Your Nutrient Solution:

Your nutrient solution should be checked every day, around the same time of day, to measure the strength of your nutrient and its pH.  Using a digital probe, measure the strength and pH and right this down in a log or notebook.  Keeping track of changes will help you develop healthy plants.

You should run tests on your solution after it has run through your system at least once, twice is best.  Purchase good test equipment because paper strips and test tube kits will not do the trick.

Adjusting the pH Levels:

The best level for pH is between 5.5 to 6.2, do not go over 6.5 and do not go below 5.5.  Although various vegetables need various levels, they all need to be between these levels.  Also note that adjusting your solution's pH will affect its strength. When adjusting the pH use propriety solutions as: pH Up or pH Down.

Check Your Solution's Strength:

Grab your TDS/PPM meter and check the strength of your nutrient solution.  If it's too strong, add water -- if it's too weak, add some fertilizer.  Always re-check your pH after making changes.

A top-up nutrient should only be used 3 to 4 times between full nutrient changes.  Never use full nutrients for top-ups.

It's advisable to have a nutrient reservoir as large or larger than the empty volume of the containers or tubes.  If you have a 20L container, at least 20L of nutrients should be used, though twice that amount is better.  It is a good idea to use the largest nutrient reservoir you possibly can.

Your Nutrients:

Depending on the volume and your plants requirements can vary greatly.  It is a really good idea to nutrient the water every day when you are first starting off.

When your nutrients come to the end of their usefulness, you can simply pour the solution into your plants grown in dirt.

Outdoor Hydroponic Gardens:

Although many enjoy their hydroponic gardens outdoors, keep in mind that any runoff water, including rain will affect your solution.  Rain, for instance, will dilute your solution rather quickly.

Indoor Hydroponic Gardens:

If your garden is indoors, you will have better control over the nutrient solution and other aspects of growth.  You will need plant or growth lights, your grow box or grow room can vary enormously and you will be able to grow herbs, vegetables, greens and even flowers year round.


Hydroponic gardening is catching on like wildfire.  Whether you live in an apartment or in a cold climate that restricts your outdoor growing.  Hydroponics can offer you fresh produce and herbs whenever you want them.  There is a fountain of information online for you to study up on before starting your own garden.  Visit your local nursery to talk with someone knowledgeable in hydroponics.  Hydroponic gardening is not difficult and the rewards can be awesome!

vegetarian, vegan, semi-vegetarian, vegan society, food, healthy, diet, vegetables, hydroponics

A vegetarian obstanes from eating any form of animal product that is made available through the slaughtering of animals. A vegan also obstains from consuming or using any animal products from meats to dairy products to lotions or creams.

The term Vegan was first coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, co-founder of the Vegan Society in England. Originally the term meant non-diary vegetarian. Later on the vegan's doctrine said man should live without exploiting animals.

In the early 2000s, due to the growth in popularity, many supermarkets and other stores started selling foods and products catering to vegetarians and vegans. They have several top athletes and celebrities that have been practicing veganism for some time now to share their stories.

The Vegan Diet:

Researchers have found that vegan diets are higher in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C, E, iron, magnesium and phytochemicals. Vegan diets are also lower in calories, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, saturated fats, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. It is suggested that those on vegan diets should take a vitamin B12 supplement.

A really well-balanced vegan diet may offer protection against various generative conditions, including heart disease.

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diets


Vegans, as a general rule, will not consume or use any animal products.

Dietary vegans will not consume any animal products, including diary products and eggs.

Ethical vegans will also stay away from any products such as shampoos, lotions, etc that have any form of animal components or products tested on animals.


Vegetarians, similar to Vegans, will steer clear of red meat, poultry, seafood, any flesh from an animal or by products of slaughtering animals. Many object to meats in their diets because they feel animal meats are unhealthy, or due to religious beliefs, or the rights of animals.

Semi-Vegetarians normally stick with vegetarian foods but may also include fish or poultry. Once in a while they might consume read meats but rather infrequently. Some who incorporate fish and poultry in their diets will not eat red meat because they are mammals.

Ovo-Vegetarians will consume eggs and diary products mainly because they suffer allergies from various other foods such as seeds or various beans.

Most long-term strict vegetarians and vegans will stay on strict vegetarians diets, and not revert back to any form of animal products.

In many cases, vegetarians and vegans feel the consumption of animals is unhealthy. Due to products used for raising beef or chickens, the processing of eggs and many other health reasons.

For whatever reason, should you choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are many wonderful recipes and dishes that will leave you more than satisfied with your choice to move away from animal products.


vegetarian, vegan, semi-vegetarian, vegan society, food, healthy, diet, vegetables, hydroponics

While collecting wonderful recipes for your new found vegan/vegetarian diet, why not start your own indoors hydroponic garden? You can grow fresh vegetables and herbs in the comfort of your home and enjoy every morsel of freshness!

Hydroponic gardens are easy to setup and easy to take care of. There are so many gardeners that have been successful with hydroponic gardening -you'll get a lot of help in getting started.

Start off with a nice size grow box, a few plant lights, a good nutrient for feeding your plants, a water filter and read up on water treatments. Depending on what vegetables or herbs you want to grow and your available space will dictate the size of garden you want to start off with.

Research online, talk to people growing hydroponic plants, or visit your local plant shop for tips and tricks. You'll discover a whole new world of fresh and healthy produce.


With the ever growing popularity of hydroponic gardening, along the way come questions regarding the nutritional value of hydroponics vs soil grown vegetables and fruits. Nutritional value has become a very important part of our lives, therefore knowing what you are growing and consuming is an important factor.

Without doubt, hydroponics is an environmental giant but are the nutritional values on the same scale as soil grown plants? Elements and nutrients found in soil have a strong impact on the plants' values. Hydroponics, on the other hand, are grown in water vs soil. It could be said that hydroponics are therefore lacking in important nutrients and elements. That is not the case though because hydroponic growth relies on a liquid nutrients fed to the plants and therefor hydroponic plants are given the same essential elements and compounds as soil grown plants.

Some will say that soil grown plants will always have a higher level of nutrients than those grown in water. If the hydroponic gardener chooses his or her nutrient supplements wisely, they will have plants that are just as robust and loaded with great nutrients as those grown in soil. There are higher-end nutrient solutions on the market that are probably a good investment to ensure the bumper crops within your home are top quality.

Pros and Cons:

Hydroponics, grown the proper way, have exactly the same values as plants grown in soil. Those interested in hydroponic gardening must do their homework and learn how to grow plants the proper way in a hydroponic system. Without the proper lighting, nutrients and water, whether grown in soil or hydroponically the plants will not do well.

If you are just starting off with a hydroponic garden, it is strongly suggested that you get with someone who has been doing this for some time. Your local nursery might have hydroponic systems and people experienced in how to grow plants correctly.

Humidity must be controlled regularly because these plants are using water for their base of growth. Too much water can cause rot and wilting but this can be said with plants based in soil as well. Getting advice and learning from knowledgeable hydroponic gardeners is going to save you from unexpected mishaps and get you on the road to great gardening success.

Some of the Pros for hydroponics is not needing soil which makes for a great alternative for apartment dwellers. Hydroponics can be grown in the middle of a desert as long as you have an ample water supply.

As the water stays within the system, you will save on your water bill unlike soil gardening. Nutrients can be controlled as well as deciding whether you want a lower end nutrient or a higher end, it's your choice. You will not have to worry about pesticides and other chemicals that are sprayed on produce you purchase from the store. Hydroponics is extremely environmentally friendly and cost efficient.

Learn from those with experience and you will have year round wonderful produce for your table and fresh aromatic herbs for your many wonderful dishes. You will have the same high quality nutritional value as you have come to experience in an outdoor garden.

Always include a good amount of vegetables and fruits in your daily diet. These foods are loaded with vitamins and proteins that your body needs to stay healthy. Experiment with a variety of vegetable and fruit dishes for a wonderful change of pace.


Red blood cells carry oxygen to your body's tissues and in exchange remove carbon dioxide.  Protein rich in iron, known as hemoglobin, are what cause blood cells to become red.  Bone marrow continuously makes more red blood cells as blood cells die over a period of time.

Foods High In Iron:

The consumption of iron-rich foods aid in supplying oxygen to your cells and can prevent anemia.  Some of the leading foods that supply iron include red meat, beans lentils, leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, raisins, prunes and egg yolks.

What Is Anemia:

Anemia is a condition in which your body cannot produce enough red blood cells or causing a low level of hemoglobin.  Iron-deficiency is the most common form of anemia due to a low intake of iron.  Vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits will help increase your absorption  of iron.

Folic Acid - Known as Vitamin B9:

Folic Acid is a B-complex vitamin and exceptional provider of new healthy red blood cells.  People who have low levels of folic acid are also prone to anemia.  Foods you should consider consuming are enriched breads, green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, nuts, peas, beans and cereals.

Vitamin B-12:

Vitamin B-12 is also a B-complex vitamin that is extremely important for the production of red blood cells in bone marrow and for DNA synthesis.  An abnormal cell division within bone marrow resulting in large immature red blood cells is known as megaloblasts.  This is caused by a low intake of vitamin B-12.  Megaloblastic is a form of anemia causing red blood cells unable to store or move oxygen into tissues.  Good sources of B-12 are found in animal products such as beef liver, fish, red meat, milk, dairy products, eggs, nutrtional yeasts and fortified cereals.

Now that you have a keen idea of what can cause anemia and how to prevent it with many iron-rich foods, let's look at other alternatives of food choices high in iron.  At the top of the list is seaweed.  Yes, seaweed, the stuff you see washed up on shore from the ocean.

That said, no one is expecting you to run out to the beach and grab a handful of seaweed and start snacking on it!

There are approximately 20 different types of seaweed including nori, kelp, Irish moss and kombu to name a few. Seaweed has more concentrated nutrition then other  vegetables.  It can prolong life, aid in beauty and health and prevent diseases.  This mineral-rich vegetable has existed for thousands of years.

Some types of seaweed have higher calcium levels than cheese, greater levels of protein than eggs and better contents of iron than beef.  Seaweed's healing abilities include lowering cholesterol, treating cancer, dissolving tumors and cysts, reducing water retention, aiding in weight loss and shrinking goiters.

Here is an example of cooking with seaweed:


Nori is best known as the outer wrap of sushi and one sheet of nori has the equivalent omega-3 at in two avocados.  Nori is an excellent resource for healthy skin because it creates a healthy, natural oil protection for your skin.  It also reduces acne and dry skin which is a major plus for those living in arid or cold environments.

Making Your Own Sushi:

Take one flat sheet of nori, add brown rice, shredded carrots, thinly sliced avocado, other raw vegetables and roll it up.  Then dip it in seasame oil and ginger sauce - it's healthy and so very tasty!

There are many wonderful recipes at your disposal to experiment with incorporating seaweed into your diet.  You would quite amazed how wonderful and delicious these dishes are.  So experiment have enter into a new world of optimal health!

In A Nutshell:

You can find edible seaweed in health food or Japanese stores.  Seaweed is one of the oldest and greatest sources of nutrition that you can possibly find on this planet.  For thousands of years people have know the benefits of seaweed and now it's your turn.

If you decide to incorporate seaweed into your diet, why not start your own hydroponic garden and grow veggies and herbs to make your new recipes exceptional!  Hydroponic gardening is a great way to enjoy fresh, robust vegetables and flavor-rich herbs year round!

Check it out - you will be glad you did!

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Karen B. Vance


For far too many years people's diets lacked fats and proteins believing these nutrients would pack weight on and offered little to no value.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Dieters often failed in losing weight and maintaining good nutritional health by blocking these extremely important factors from the their diets.

Good Fats:

Fat not only assist your body in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K but serves as a trigger for your inner furnace to burn off unwanted foods and calories.  Fats also help you maintain a healthy, properly functioning brain, controls inflammation and enriches your blood for proper clotting.

Good Proteins:

Protein is essential in maintenance and muscular development as well as developing healthy  glands, skin, hair and your organs.  Protein is essential in children for proper growth and development.  Without protein children can develop poorly and have an enormous loss in vitality and energy.  Without good proteins and fats in your diet, you can suffer from malnutrition, hair loss, loss of muscle mass, suffer from sickly skin, fatigue, a poor immune system and in some cases can lead to death.

Protein and fat are found in many different foods.  A healthy diet should consist of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and high protein foods.  Choosing the correct fats and proteins is critical to assure you are consuming healthy fats and proteins vs saturated fats and low value protein.

Medical research has shown that an adult woman should consume 46 grams of protein every day and women who are pregnant or nursing should consume 71 grams per day.  Medical journals strongly believe a woman should take in 20 to 25% of her daily calories from fat.  A 1,600 calorie diet should consist of 35 to 62 grams of fat while a 2,400 calorie diet should have 53 to 93 grams of fat.

Won't Consuming Too Much Protein Put On Weight?

If you do consume more proteins than your body needs, excess calories may be stored away as fat.  However, by eating a low calorie diet and consuming excessive protein can actually cause weight-loss.

Burning stored fats for energy is quite common when including exercise in your daily routine.  A high protein, reduced calorie diet can bring about lean muscle mass while reducing body fat.

All Fats Are Not Created Equally:

Burgers from a fast-food place have approximately 13 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat.  A broiled burger consisting of 95% lean hamburger will give you 22 grams of protein and only 5 grams of fat. Always choose to purchase extra lean hamburger when you get a burger craving. Hamburger is saturated fat and too much consumption of saturated fat can lead to many ailments including heart disease.

Good sources of fats can be found in peanuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, olive oils, soy beans and cocoa butter.  Some vegetables such as lima beans are high in fat and protein but are natural fats and proteins.  Too often consumers shy away from vegetables that have a higher levels of fat than others, these foods are not saturated fat and are good for you.  Vegetables are excellent sources of fats a proteins.

Animal fats can be a little trickier but not difficult to choose from. Higher cuts of beef are very lean and actually the best choices for your protein and fat intake.  They are more expensive but much healthier.  Chicken skins are high in saturated fats and should be removed before consumption.

Hydroponic Gardening and a Healthy Diet:

Many gardeners are turning to hydroponic gardening for a number of reasons.  If you are a city dweller or have little to no room for an outdoor garden, this is an excellent option for growing robust, healthy fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Hydroponic gardens are easy to setup and you can enjoy fresh foods year round. Growing your own produce will eliminate the risk of foods sprayed with pesticides and other unhealthy treatments.

Starting off with a small, simple grow box, a good plant light and the liquid nutrients will get you on the path of enjoying healthy fresh foods at arms reach.  Get with someone who is knowledgeable in hydroponic gardening and you will discover how wonderful gardening can truly be.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance


Seaweed, Kelp, Algae are in the same family and are commonly known as seaweed. The algae/seaweed family consists of red, brown and green algae. In order for seaweed to grow it needs seawater and enough light to form photosynthesis.

"Photosynthesis" is the process by which green plants and other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and from water. Photosynthesis in plants mostly involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.

Seaweed exists in a wide range of areas. The highest elevation is on top of sea spray while the lowest areas are several feet deep. Seaweeds that survive deep within the ocean are known as red algae.

Seaweed that grows on rocks must be able to withstand rapid temperature changes, salinity and some extent drying.


Seaweed is consumed by many coastal people, East Asia, Brunei, China, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Scandinavia, England, Ireland, California and Scotland just to name just a few.

Although there are many vegetarian restaurants popping up along coastal areas, it is not that popular in the U.S. Also referred to as sea vegetables, seaweed/kelp/algae are consumed elsewhere worldwide.

Asian cultures consume the largest level of seaweed but also found on menus in Scotland, Peru and Scandinavia. Nova Scotia consumes sea parsley while Siberians eat harvested kelp from the Bering Sea.

Seaweed is loaded with minerals ranging from calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, iodine and zinc. Sea vegetables contain some fats and omega-6 to omega3 fatty acids. Seaweed is also one of the very few sources of vitamine B12. On top of that, seaweed produces antioxidants as protective carotenoid pigments and vitamins C and E. Carotenoid is a group of red and yellow pigments contained in animal fat and plants. It is chemically similar to carotene.

Is Kelp Seaweed or Something Else?

Kelp is in the brown algae family and is large seaweed. It is believed that kelp first appeared approximately 5 million years ago. It grows in the form of a forest in shallow oceans requiring nutrient rich waters with temperature around 6 to 14°C (43 and 57 °F). In the 19th century, seaweed/kelp was burned in order to produce soda ash or sodium carbonate.

Kelp has an extremely fast growing rate; its decay creates methane and sugars that can be converted into ethanol. There have been many speculations regarding ocean kelp farms that could be a renewable source of energy.

The Healing Components of Kelp and Seaweed:

Kelp is often used for dressing wounds and for the production of dental molds. Seaweed is believed to have properties for curing tuberculosis, arthritis, influenza, common colds, infestations and tumors. Nori, a specific type of seaweed eaten in Japan is believed to cure radiation poisoning.

Seaweed extract is found in many diet pills, is an ingredient in toothpastes, ice cream and gelatins.

The photosynthesis of algae is enormous for nutrients. It is used to remove undesirable water elements such as ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, iron and copper. These elements are quickly consumed by seaweed and in turn, fish consume the seaweed.


Growing fresh, robust vegetables and herbs are also a great alternative for a healthier lifestyle. If you have not looked into or experienced indoor hydroponic gardening, you don't know what you are missing out on! Talk to fellow gardeners or gardening experts and discover the world of hydroponic gardening.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Karen B. Vance


As hydroponic gardening grows in popularity and technology, hydroponics is entering a new world of controlling your garden with smartphones!  A new European company called Niwa is a technological breakthrough for greenhouses.  This first-time technology allows you to setup the very best environment for your plants and is literally a smartphone growing system.

Their smart food technological device will literally turn your greenhouse into a smartphone garden!  Niwa is a small, smart-looking hydroponic farm ready to grow in your home.  Imagine fresh, succulent foods grown in your home with the latest cutting-edge devices and operated by your smartphone. Through your phone, you can watch the progress of your plants' growth or go for autopilot. 

Niwa offers two systems for indoor gardener. A small garden will run $199 and a much larger version is $399.  Whatever plants you are growing from tomatoes to strawberries the App will upload the appropriate program settings, including the correct values for each type of  plant.

Javier Mirrillias, Niwa's founder, said the idea came from a great deal of frustration over the globalized food system in place today.  His research brought him to "Almeria", which is the largest tomato producer on earth using hydroponic greenhouses.  Almeria is so enormous, it can be viewed from space.  He started meeting and discussing advanced technology with agricultural experts from around the world.  He wanted to know how to go about creating technology that could be utilized by ordinary people to grow their own foods.

After many prototypes and a great deal of research, Niwa was created.


Just What Is Niwa and Hydroponics:

Niwa is based on hydroponics which is a soilless technique for growing plants.  The plants receive their nutrients from water.  Hydroponics has become very popular in recent years, even though the technique has been around for a very long time.  The idea is to setup a grow box or grow room, purchase grow lights or plant lights and place your plants in a water-based formula of nutrients.

The difference between hydroponic gardens and Niwa is it's microcontroller with custom created software which is a built-in expert farmer.  You do not have to know how much water or when, what the ideal temperature is for each of your plant types or practically anything else.  Niwa has the knowledge and does it for you!

How Niwa Works:

Niwa comes with built-in sensors in order to create the best environment for your plants by controlling temperature, lighting, humidity and when water is needed.  As various plants have various needs, the App will ask for your input on some very simple questions.

For example, if you are growing flowers, the App will ask if you buds, if you answer yes, the system will start a new segment and new settings will be put into place.

You can control your settings from your smartphone App which will also allow you to keep track and understand your plants' progression.  More experienced gardeners can also setup incubation along with various experimentations for the growing process..

As mentioned earlier, grow lamps are a big part of hydroponic gardens.  Niwa offers a compact fluorescent lamp of 200 watts when running along with the heating system.  The reservoir of water should be changed out and refilled every other week.

Hydroponics is an extremely popular and easy way for everyone to grow fresh foods, house plants, veggies, fruits and herbs within their homes.  This is a wonderful alternative for those who live in cities or apartments.  Gardening could not possibly be easier or fun.

Should Niwa, while still new on the scene, be able to offer such great technology and place experience in the hands of novices, what a giant step this will be for hydroponics.  Only time will tell.

Photo credit: Niwa


The Story of Seaweed:

Anyone who has ever gone to the ocean is familiar with seaweed, it's that dark brown  stuff that washes up onto the beach.  Seaweed offers some of the most amazing nutrients and minerals for the human body - Bet you didn't see that coming!

People have been using seaweed for thousands of years and with good reason.  Seaweed is closely tied to many human cultures due to its availability and its chemical similarities to the human body.

People who have grown up by the sea have been using seaweed for their late night clam bakes for years with very good reason.  Anthropologists know that every living creature came from the sea and every living creature has elements of the sea in their bodies.  Before man got into agriculture, seaweed was the main basic staple diet  of early man who lived by the sea.  Seaweed is considered one of the oldest, nutritional food sources and one of the oldest life forms on earth.

The Magic Of Seaweed:

Seaweed is made up of minerals, vitamins and trace elements that form its composition.  Humans have the same makeup, internally, making seaweed's minerals and healing components easily absorbed into the blood and offers amazing healing benefits for various health issues.

Seaweed can offer detoxification in the human body, rejuvenate skin, destroy bacteria and give us a mountain of minerals.

Where Can I Get Seaweed:

You probably have been using seaweed and don't even know it.  Seaweed has been incorporated into many foods as well as in creams and lotions for your skin.  Seaweed pills have been available for quite sometime in health stores and can be found in an assortment of other consumable products.

How To Prepare Seaweed:

Short of washing it, there are no special processing steps involved in preparing it.  There are limitless foods cooked with seaweed worldwide.  Seaweed is an incredibly versatile food that can be consumed fresh, boiled, steamed, fried, etc. and served as a side dish with just about any type of entree.

You probably are not even aware that seaweed extracts are used in the production of gelatin, pudding, ice cream and toothpaste.  Seaweed is also used as a stabilizer and emulsifier in many everyday products.

Taking a Closer Look At Seaweed:

The benefits of incorporating seaweed into your diet are almost endless.  Seaweed is fat-free, one of the richest vegetables in minerals and low in calories. Sea vegetables  thrive without human intervention because they grow naturally in a marine environment.

This lovely food is high in phosphorous and calcium, higher still in magnesium, iron, sodium and iodine. That's better than the highest quality vitamin pill because seaweed also offers high levels of vitamin A,B1,C and E!  Adding to all this great stuff, add concentrated protein and healthy carbohydrates.

Seaweed is probably the most perfect, nutritionally loaded food source on this planet.

Are There Different Types of Seaweed:

Yes, there are two basic groups of seaweed - brown algae and red algae.  Adding to that, there are many variations to these two groups.  Each group has it's own nutritional properties and a number of different species:

Brown Algae:


This algae is from the Far East and contains the highest level of calcium of all the types.  It's harvested, steamed and dried to capture the highest level of flavor.


This is the commonly known brown algae and grows along the coastlines of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  It is usually dried and sold as a granular that is sprinkled on foods or sold whole for an added part to a salad.  Kelp has been used for many years as a supplement for people who suffer from thyroid disorders.


This  algae is often used for added flavor in soups.  Added to beans, Kombu can reduce the gas effects caused by bean consumption.

Irish Moss:

This is used mostly in relishes, breads and various delicacies.


Found in Japan, this algae is an ingredient in many recipes around the world.  It  is used in bread and sushi wraps. Nori is  extremely high in vitamin A and protein.

Incorporating Seaweed and Fresh Foods for a Healthier Life:

It would be a shame to consume seaweed with all those amazing benefits and then wash it down with junk foods!  Have you ever thought about starting your own hydroponic garden and taking the nutritional benefits a step further?

Hydroponic gardens are so hot that outdoor gardeners are bringing their expertise inside for fresh, nutritional vegetables and herbs year round.  Hydroponic gardens consist of a grow box or grown room, some plant lights, water filters and excellent nutrients for the production of the healthiest, most robust vegetables to place on your table.

Many gardeners and consumers are becoming less satisfied with the produce they find at the local supermarkets.  People are concerned about the chemicals that are applied at vegetable farms and the lack of flavor once they hit the shelves is disappointing.  A hydroponic garden is easy to start and the benefits are year round great tasting, healthy foods.  Growing your own herbs will give you the best flavor for your salads, soups and side dishes of seaweed!

In Conclusion:

Seaweed, in its raw state, has a less then pleasant taste, leaving few people beating down the doors to get it.  But, it is offered in so many excellent forms you needn't consume it raw.  The benefits for a healthy body, both internally and externally, are to extensive to ignore.  Used as a body wrap, the  seaweed literally draws out impurities or toxins.  From seaweed facials to seaweed sprinkled in soups, this amazing food has been benefiting humans for thousands of years and it's about time everyone found out about it.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Karen B. Vance

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Is Green Tea Really a Weight Loss Solution:

Did you know outside of water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world?  There are many reasons tea is so popular. It offers cleansing components and in some cases can remove stress for a higher level of health.  Green tea has been used for a long time in assisting people who need to lose weight.  Drinking green tea along with a well balanced diet has proven to be quite successful.

Should Green Tea Be Consumed Before Meals:

Water, green tea or low calorie drinks do curb one's appetite allowing the intake of less food.  You should show moderation with teas or other beverages that are high in caffeine, as these drinks can cause dehydration and have a negative effect on your overall health.  Some nutritionists believe that consuming green tea with meals will allow the caffeine to  serve as a fueling agent for your metabolism vs drinking the tea by itself which can cause blood sugar issues.

Some dieters prefer their tea with added sugar but realize an excessive amount of sugar will defeat their dietary goals.  According to the Mayo Clinic, taking in more than 6 - 9 teaspoons of sugar daily will lead to weight gain. Many soft drinks, such as soda, will use up your daily maximum sugar intake with one can or bottle.  Many dieters find there is a need for something sweet to satisfy their cravings.  If you suffer from sugar cravings, try adding sweets that are low in sugar content.  Some fruits, such as watermelon have zero calories and yet is naturally sweet.

Green tea, by itself, is not going to have much effect on weight loss if you continue consuming high calorie desserts, snacks or high-sugar beverages.  If you need cream and sugar in your tea, go for sugar alternates and use low fat milk.

How Often Should You Consume Green Tea Daily?

Studies have shown consuming 2 - 3 cups of caffeine-free green tea daily will offer overall benefits.  Two to three cups of green tea offers 240 to 320 milligrams of polyphenols which are antioxidants associated with anti-aging benefits and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Caffeine vs Caffeine-Free Tea:

Most people have a good tolerance toward caffeine if consumed in moderation.  Excessive consumption (500 milligrams or more) can cause insomnia, anxiety, nervous stress, high blood pressure and digestive problems.  It is recommended that you stick with caffeine-free green tea for overall good health and steer clear of the caffeinated varieties.

Adding Fresh Nutrients To A Diet Can Ramp Up Your Dietary Goals:

Many people wishing to improve their overall health and take off excess pounds have found fresh fruits and vegetables are a perfect alternative to processed, high-calorie foods.

Hydroponic Gardens And Your Dietary Needs:

Hydroponic gardens are becoming extremely popular for a number of reasons.  They are easy to grow and you can enjoy healthy, fresh foods everyday of the year.  Setting up a grow box or grow room, adding appropriate plant lights and purchasing the appropriate nutrients is not difficult to do and the end result is fresh, tasty, non-toxic foods for you and your family.

Fruits and vegetables purchased from your local supermarket are becoming extremely expensive and not necessarily fresh produce.  You should always wash these foods before using them because of unknown pesticides and other elements that have been added to grow them.

With a hydroponic garden you add nutrients that are safe, you never need to add pesticides and using water filters keeps your plants healthy and robust.


Diets can often be something no one looks forward to starting, but are necessary for overall good health.  Incorporating healthy nutritional foods, drinking lots of low-calorie or calorie free beverages and staying focused will bring you to your dietary goals.

Pay attention to the warning signs that you will encounter along the way.  Keep your caffeine level as low as possible, incorporate caffeine-free green tea and run from excessive sugar intake.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Karen B. Vance


Veganism (pronounced VEE-gunism) is the act of refusing to consume or use animal products, the participant is referred to as a Vegan (VEE-gun).  There are different types vegans from dietary to ethical to environmental.

Dietary Vegans:

Dietary Vegans do not consume animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy products or other animal related substances.

Ethical Vegans:

These Vegans not only refrain from consuming animal products but also will not use any animal products for other purposes such as products developed through the testing of animals. They do not use leather, wool or silk products as well.

Environmental Veganism:

Environmental vegans stay clear of any animal products on the belief that using animals as a product is not only environmentally destructive but also unethical.

Where the Term Veganism Comes From:

In 1944, Donald Watson created the expression "veganism" when he was the co-founder of The Vegan Society in England.  Originally the term meant vegetarians who also refused consumption of all diary products.  Later on, the concept evolved into man being able to live without the manipulation and abuse of animals.

Vegetarianism actually dates back to cultures in both ancient Greece and ancient India but the actual term came about in the 19th century meaning to avoid meat.

The American Vegan Society:

The American Society was first founded in 1948 by Catherine Nimmo (1887 - 1985) and Rubin Abramowitz in California.  Nimmo, a native of the Netherlands, had been a Vegan since 1931 when the society was first founded in England.

H. Jay Dinshah (1933 - 2000) had visited a slaughterhouse and read many of Watson's literature.  He turned from all animal products on Feb. 8, 1960 and started the American Vegan Society in Malaga, NJ.

Vegetarianism vs Veganism:

Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry or fish.Vegans go further by avoiding all animal products such as milk, cheese, eggs, honey, the use of leather, wool and silk.  Across the board, vegetarians find their diets healthier, it's better for the environment and their ethical beliefs.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics confirms that a vegetarian diet offers all nutritional needs and is key to healthier living.  As with other diets, the idea is to have a large variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, whole grain, seeds and beans.  Also, as with other diets, laying low on sweets and fatty foods.

Facts Regarding the Vegan Diet:

Research in 2009 showed that vegetarian/vegan diets are higher in fiber, folic acid, vitamin C and E, magnesium and phytochemicals.  These diets are lower in saturated fats, cholesterol, calories, long-chair omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

As a vegetarian/vegan diet does not provide vitamin B12, it is suggested that you incorporate a daily supplement of this vitamin.

The Growing Popularity:

More reports are showing the decline in consumption of animal meat.  Although there are various reasons for this decline, studies have shown that health concerns lead the list.  The higher costs of animal products, especially red meats, have also played a big role with consumers.  Although there is not a great deal of data regarding the well being of animals, many consumers are turning to leafy diets due to animal treatment.

Like all diets, dieters come and go with the latest trend. Those who have chosen vegan diets for ethical reasons seem to remain vegan dieters.  These people are really concerned about the treatment of animals, the raising of animals in order to slaughter them for food.


How To Transition From Other Diets to a Vegan Diet:

People have changed their diets in various ways by slowly changing their eating habits.  Some people prefer plant-based foods that resemble animal products while other simply removes animal products all together.  Some people have become quite creative by incorporating various international cuisines that are animal free. Many have found growing their own produce is not only healthier but also cost efficient.

Grow Your Own Foods Hydroponically:

Start your own hydroponic garden and grow vegetables and leafy greens for fresh, year-round excellent foods.  Hydroponic gardens are actually quite easy to setup from purchasing or building a grow box and setting up grow lights or plant lights.  Starting an herbal garden will add wonderful flavors to your salads.  Home gardening has never been easier or more rewarding.  More gardeners are turning to hydroponic gardens because there are no harmful additives and water filters and treatments allow for healthier plant growth. Hydroponic nutrients create a more robust plant growth as well.

Get Creative:

For years, many people have played around with salads by incorporating their own fruits, vegetables, spices and salad dressings.  With a Vegan Diet, grab a cookbook, experiment with various foods and find those that best suit your taste. Grow these foods in your own hydroponic garden and discover fresh, tasty foods right at home. You'd be amazed how easy it is to create wonderful dishes every day.

Some Suggested Replacement Foods:


Soymilk and other milk products that do not contain real milk.

Nut milks such as almond and coconut

Soy margarine and soy sour cream


Egg replacers found in natural food stores or other egg solutions for those who have no tolerance to real eggs.
Bananas are a great replacement for sweet dishes such as pancakes



Vegetariansim and Veganism in a Nutshell:

Go online and read up on people who have turned their eating habits in a healthier life style.  Find great recipes and talk with others to help guide you to the best choices for starting a vegetarian or vegan diet.  If you think your diet will be limited, you couldn't be more wrong!  There are so many wonderful, tasty, healthy foods out there that you will absolutely amazed!  So come on over and learn to live a healthier life.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Karen B. Vance


Almonds are one of the most popular nuts consumed to date.  They make for a great snack, loaded with flavor and very flexible in many dishes.  Almonds, in small amounts, are a great nutrient as long as you do not over indulge.  Eating a large quantity can lead to unwanted weight gain.

 Too many nuts can cause a gain of one pound per week.  Although the natural fats in almonds are relatively healthy, 3 oz will add an extra 42g of fat into your diet. Let's look at the components found in almonds and their benefits as well as their downside:


Manganese is a mineral that is quite high in almonds and one ounce will give you 0.6 mg of manganese.  Your daily intake of this mineral should be approximately 1.8 to 2.3 mg per day for proper bodily function.  If you are on various prescriptions or use antacids, blood pressure medications, antibiotics and laxatives, you should show caution with the level of manganese you take in.  This mineral can cause certain medications to alter their effectiveness.

Lower levels are attributed to poor bone formation, bone loss and itchy skin conditions.  Most American diets consist of higher levels of manganese then are needed, so it is unlikely increasing the level of manganese will prevent or treat osteoporosis.  Deficiencies of manganese can also cause low blood cholesterol levels and abnormal blood sugar levels.

Vitamin E:

Almonds provide a good source of vitamin E which gives you antioxidant protection. Per ounce of almonds will only give you approximately half the needed amount your body requires. On the other hand, if you are consuming a rich vitamin E diet consisting eggs, whole grains, spinach - you could end up with an overdose situation. Too much vitamin E can cause blurred vision, diarrhea, headaches and lethargy.


One ounce of almonds contains 3.5g of fiber.  Your body needs approximately 25 - 38g in order to prevent diarrhea and constipation. Unfortunately, if you eat too many almonds you can actually cause constipation and bloating.  It is advised that if you do consume quite a few almonds daily, drink a good deal of water to assist your body in handling the fiber intake.

Many dieters do enjoy incorporating various nuts into their daily consumption.  Nuts make for a good level of protein and are a very satisfying snack vs. chips and candies.  In appropriate levels, nuts are a good snack choice.

There are many other foods dieters consume every day that are rich in Manganese:

Cloves, Oats, Spinach, Pineapples, Raspberries, Collard Greens, Black Peppers, Kale, Sea Vegetables, Pumpkin Seeds, Brown Rice, Parsley, Dill, Cucumber, Corn, Onions, Bananas, Cashews and Peanuts.  This is only a small list of foods that are rich in Manganese.

Grow Your Own Fresh Foods:

Many people have already read a great deal about hydroponic gardening but have not yet taken the initial steps to set one up. Hydroponic gardening consists of plants grown in a growing box or room; plants are grown with plant lights in water instead of soil and are fed a rich nutrient solution for robust, healthy plants.

Many vegetable and herbal foods can be grown in a hydroponic garden. Wouldn't it be great to enjoy fresh, manganese-rich foods year round?  Setting up a hydroponic garden is not difficult.  If your local garden shop offers hydroponic supplies, talk to experts who are knowledgeable and willing to help you take the first step. They will assess your gardening abilities as well as your provided space to get you on the right track.

People are looking for healthier foods for healthier bodies and healthier lifestyles.  There are many wonderful vegetables and fruits that will help you out. Incorporate more greens and fruits in your family's diets. Junk foods, bad carbs and sweets are a way of the past and just not good for you.

Take an interest in the foods you consume, you might be pleasantly surprised what healthy alternatives are out there!

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Karen B. Vance
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Roughly 2.5 percent of the US population practices some form of vegetarianism, electing to eat few to no meats and other products that come from animals. While the decision to follow a vegetarian diet may be due to moral beliefs or health concerns, there are some distinctive health benefits to going vegetarian. Some studies have shown that vegetarians are less at risk for heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other serious medical conditions than people who eat meat; however, this may have less to do with avoiding meat and more to do with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are common staples in the vegetarian diet.

You, too, can get the health benefits of these foods without having to give up meat and seafood altogether. Here are some standard vegetarian favorites that can make a healthful addition to any diet:

- Beans - Beans are high in dietary fiber, which is needed for a healthy digestive system and important for keeping cholesterol levels in check. In addition, beans provide protein, iron, potassium, zinc and B vitamins. To get the most health benefits, purchase dried beans or use canned beans that are low in sodium and that have been well rinsed.

- Nuts - Nuts are smart healthy snack ideas because they have a satisfying crunch like chips, but are much more healthful for the body. Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which play a role in the health of the heart, brain and skin. Nuts are also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E that helps to fight free radical damage. Several essential minerals are also present in nuts as well as heart-healthy plant phytosterols. When choosing nuts to enjoy as snack foods or in recipes, choose varieties that are low in sodium. Also, be sure to stick to the recommended serving size to limit your calorie intake.

- Seaweed - Just as there are many different types of nuts, there are several delicious varieties of aquatic plants that can be added to the diet. Seaweed contains iron, iodine, magnesium, calcium, chromium and vitamins A, C and E, many of the key nutrients that are necessary for maintaining a well-balanced diet. Seaweed is usually used in cooking rather than enjoyed on its own. You can find many free recipes that incorporate seaweed online for experimenting with the aquatic plants in your kitchen.

- Dry Fruits - Easier to eat than whole fruits, dry fruits allow you to enjoy all of the vitamins and minerals found in your favorite fruits without all the mess. Perfect for on-the-go snacking, dry fruits can be eaten on their own, stirred into yogurt, added to savory dishes or eaten with cereal or granola.

Cantinstar has a wide selection of healthy snack ideas that can allow you to reap the benefits of vegetarian foods that everyone should eat.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Karen B. Vance
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Dehydration is a method of preserving foods that involves removing water from vegetables, fruits, seafood and meats to help them last longer. With dehydration, you retain many of the health benefits of the vitamins and other nutrients in foods without having to worry about botulism. Dehydrated foods are easy to store and don't require refrigeration or freezing.

Here is a quick guide to DIY food dehydration to help you get started enjoying the many benefits of dry-food.

Getting Started

  1. Carefully select the foods that you want to dry. Select fruits and vegetables that are fresh and ready to eat. Fish, crab, lobster and other seafood and meats should also be as fresh as possible.
  2. Ready your foods the way you would to enjoy them. You need to do all of the cutting, slicing, mincing, trimming and chopping of your foods prior to dehydration. Foods in thinner 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch pieces will dry more quickly.
  3. If you're dehydrating any fruits, vegetables or plants that include skins or outer coverings, such as grapes or herbs, be sure to wash the foods first.
  4. When you're drying light-colored fruits and veggies, coat the foods with lemon juice or an ascorbic acid product to help prevent drying. Vegetables should also be steamed or blanched to help prevent them from becoming tough during dehydration

Successful Drying

  1. You can dry foods in the oven, in an appliance called a dehydrator or even in the sun. Dehydrators are by far the fastest and most efficient way to dry, so you may want to invest in one if you plant to prepare your own dry-foods frequently.
  2. Before you begin to dry and throughout the drying process, you should get the temperatures of the oven or dehydrator to 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and then maintain the temperatures at that level. Air should also be allowed to circulate through the space to ensure optimal results.
0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Karen B. Vance


Cheese with fruit or even dried fruit makes for a delicious healthy snack

People concerned about their weight and health in general usually have a snack to provide themselves with extra nutrition and prevent overeating during a meal.

“The Journal of Nutrition” published a study in February of 2010 which revealed that about 97% of Americans have a habit of snacking. The article went on to say that on average Americans get about 24% of their caloric intake from snacks. Knowing that snacks are such a big part of our diet it is imperative that we know what kinds of foods to snack on in order to maintain healthy eating habits.

Snacking quells hunger which prevents overeating

When you become overly hungry this is when you end up overeating at meal time. Having snacks between meals helps you from becoming too hungry and thus can prevent you from eating too much at your next meal. When you start getting hunger pangs between meals you really shouldn’t wait until lunch or dinner to appease that hunger. It’s much smarter to just have a snack to help you hang on. But stay away from junk food. Have something healthy like vegetables, fruit or something made from whole grains, which are all rich in carbohydrates. Combine with a protein like nuts or a dairy product such as cheese. When you start early giving your kids snacks like these they will learn to like healthy eating and not be inclined later in life to fill up on chips and dip.

Healthy snacks help maintain even blood sugar levels

Healthy people strive to maintain even blood sugar levels in order to stave off Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and heart disease. When you make it a habit to have healthy snacks with a consistent number of carbs for every snack or meal you are way ahead of the game. If you already suffer from diabetes this is even more important in helping prevent huge spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels, which can lead to a resistance to insulin. A healthy diet is crucial to living a healthy productive life and if you go online you will find many free recipes that you can use to achieve this.

Healthy Snacks can provide essential nutrients

It’s okay to splurge on a junk food snack once in a while but you really need to learn how delicious and much more satisfying and filling healthy snacks can be. If you choose good nutritious snacks like whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, seeds or nuts you can gain the essential nutrients you need without adding unnecessary calories. These snacks can all be prepared without any cooking needed.

Things to remember

The important thing to remember is not to overdo it. Don’t have a snack if you aren’t really hungry and don’t have a snack right before you sit down for a meal. If you’re upset think first before you start soothing yourself with food. This can only lead to eating way too much, gaining weight and more reasons to be upset. The same goes for boredom. Don’t eat just to occupy or entertain yourself. According to MayoClinic.com a healthy snack should contain approximately 100 calories. If you don’t have time for a meal and want a heavier snack, don’t consume more than 250 calories.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Karen B. Vance

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Most of us probably do not consider seaweed a delicacy, but in fact this rich food offers an abundance of nutrients and health benefits. From being loaded with vitamins to detoxifying the body, seaweed is the food source that offers many of the benefits from food sources such as fish, calamari, crab, octopus, shrimp and the like. Plus, seaweed is a food source that has little in the way of detriments as well.

People have been cooking with seaweed for thousands of years, so it is closely tied to many different cultures around the world. This is because seaweed is plentiful and very easy to harvest and has a multitude of uses. In being part of the human diet either as snack or in recipes, seaweed offers plenty of dietary uses.

The Benefits of Seaweed

There are a number of advantages that seaweed brings to your dinner table. Reaping the benefits will lead to a stronger, healthier you.

Low Calorie & Fat-Free: Seaweed is very low calorie per serving and has very little in the way of fat, making it one of the easiest foods to fill up on without worrying about your waistline.

Minerals: This food product is also one of the richest sources of minerals as well. This is because it absorbs the minerals as well as the rich nutrients from the ocean. This is especially true of calcium and phosphorus which are very important for the body.

Vitamins: You can find plenty of Vitamins A, B1, C and E in seaweed along with being rich in protein and good carbohydrates for energy. You can get a great deal of your daily vitamin needs by including seaweed as part of your diet.

In fact, seaweed is arguably the most nutritionally packed food on the planet. A concentration of everything needed into one simple plant. It’s little wonder that more people are turning to seaweed for their nutritional needs.

Why You Should Choose Seaweed for Your Next Meal

Admittedly, seaweed is not the most pleasant tasting of foods especially in its raw form. However, when cooking it with a complete meal the overall taste definitely improves and the health benefits are certainly worth adding it to your dinner one or more nights each week.

You can use traditional cooking methods with seaweed or make it into a dry food source for snacks. One positive aspect of this food is that it is highly versatile, especially as a side item to your main meal. This means that you can eat a healthy, low calorie diet rich in the nutrients you need while not worrying as much about the sheer amount that is consumed. Like spinach, seaweed is very low in fat so you can consume more without worrying about the waistline.

Overall, seaweed is a food source that you can use on a regular basis and raw seaweed is often used for facials and other skin treatments. This is an all-in-one food product that can help you in so many ways.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Florence B. Harrell

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Seaweed is one of the most nutritious foods we have, yet it may seem difficult at times to find ways of fitting it into your general diet. It’s understandable since seaweed does have plenty of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins it also has a taste in many cases that you will need time to adapt.

However, there are many ways to prepare seaweed which eliminates that particular taste and makes it well suited for your lunch or dinner table. The first step is understanding that there are different types of seaweed available so you can pick and choose. For example, Sea Lettuce has the strong taste of the ocean which makes it perfect for seafood platters. Nori is a Japanese ingredient in their cuisine and Dulse is red algae which is a common food source in northern countries with an ocean coastline such as Ireland.


Perhaps the most common way that seaweed is incorporated into Western cuisine, salads offers a great way to mix seaweed into lettuce and other vegetables for a tasty appetizer for meals. You can chop up seaweed to serve in many different types of salads with oil and vinegar dressing or sesame seed oil to spice it up. If anything, seaweed makes for an excellent side dish for your meal when included in a salad.


Another great appetizer for your meals is having seaweed in your soup to add flavor and texture. One advantage is that unlike standard vegetables, seaweed will not break down or fall apart in your soups when heated. You can create wonderful treats such as bouillabaisse or cioppino, added dried seaweed to clam chowder or combine it with other seafood for a soup treat that you will never forget.


Sushi and seaweed are a natural combination and it’s easy to incorporate both into your meal. You can use dried Nori seaweed to create the rolls that wrap the fish or barbeque chicken if you so desire. Chicken and sushi make for a great combination, especially when wrapped in a sheet of seaweed that provides good texture as well as many nutritional elements to your meal. You can even add green peppers, sautéed onions and other vegetable delights to augment sushi to your personal tastes.


We often don’t think of seaweed being a snack food, but it can be baked or fried to create a healthy, hearty snack that have the consistency of potato chips. However, seaweed has far less calories and a lot more dietary fiber. Use them with your favorite dip or create your own crisps of seaweed for a delightful treat.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

You can have seaweed at all three of your meals and snacks, too. Dice up some Nori and add eggs for a delicious breakfast that you can augment with various spices. Plus, you can add seaweed to omelets complete with bamboo shoots or shitake mushrooms as well. Let your imagination soar as you can create many delicious meals with seaweed as one of the ingredients.

Cantinastar offers many seaweed snacks and free recipes that provide health benefits for you and your family. Perfect with crab, lobster, shrimp or calamari, seaweed is the perfect ingredient whether you use the freshwater or saltwater varieties.

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Florence B. Harrell

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The New Seafood: Cooking with Seaweed

Gourmet seafood isn't just fish, calamari, crab, lobster, shrimp and other shellfish. Plants from the sea are becoming a culinary craze all across the country and are cropping up on menus at some of the finest restaurants around the world. Seaweed can be a delicious addition to your diet, and one that offers incredible health benefits at the same time.

The Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed

Seaweed has long been a staple of Asian and Scandinavian cooking, where aquatic freshwater and saltwater plants are readily available. Now, more and more people are adding seaweed to recipes, largely for the health benefits of the plants. A single serving of seaweed provides more immune system-boosting vitamin C than a serving of orange, grapefruit and other citrus fruits. In addition, seaweed is a natural source of vitamin D, providing more than what's found in a glass of milk. A serving of seaweed also treats your body to iron needed for producing healthy red blood cells, iodine for supporting thyroid function and the essential immune system mineral zinc. You'll also get a heaping dose of omega-3 fatty acids, the essential healthy fats that many people take fish and krill oil capsules to treat their bodies to get the benefits of.

Types of Seaweed for Cooking

There are many types of seaweed available at Asian food stores and online with which to experiment in recipes. The three most commonly used types are:

  • Nori - these Japanese algae is usually sold as a dry-food in sheets. If you've ever eaten a maki sushi roll, you'll quickly recognize the crispy blackish-green seaweed as the wrapper most commonly used by sushi chefs.
  • Kombu - Made up of broad leaves, kombu is a staple in Japanese cuisine and can be purchased fresh or as a dry-food.
  • Wakame - Sold as a dry-food and then rehydrated, this type of seaweed has a bright green color and a flavor that is slightly sweet.

Ways to Enjoy Seaweed

There are a number of ways that you can enjoy seaweed at home. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Take sheets of nori and bake them in the oven as a potato chip alternative that is great for dipping and rich in vitamins and minerals.
  2. Add a small bit of kombu to a sauce to bring a touch of unique flavor.
  3. Use crumbled nori in marinades for fish, chicken or seafood.
  4. Rehydrate wakame and serve it in an Asian dressing with octopus, shrimp or crab for a DIY version of a seaweed salad.
  5. Crisp kombu in a skillet and then crumble it. Use it in place of salt on all types of foods for delicious, healthy seasoning.
  6. Soak wakame and add it to a stir-fry with mushrooms, vegetables and your favorite protein like seafood or chicken.

Adding seaweed to your diet will please your palate and supply your body with essential vitamins and minerals. Don't be afraid to experiment. Dry-food seaweed is simple to work with and guaranteed to bring nutritious results.


0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Florence B. Harrell

There are many kinds of beans that provide a very rich source of protein as well as an abundance of vitamins, minerals and that all important fiber. Protein is used by your body to build healthy cells which make up everything. When your cells are compromised, so is your bloodstream, your bones, skin, muscles, tendons and cartilage. Cells also make up the hormones and enzymes in your body. In order to stay healthy you must have a well-balanced diet that includes foods that are high in top quality protein, and that have low amounts of saturated fats. You will be able to achieve health benefits if you choose to make your meals and snacks from an assortment of beans and lean meats, which can include turkey, chicken, seafood, even pork and beef.

Lean meats are the cuts that are lower in fat

Beef and Pork

Lean meats can be found in many different varieties of meat, including pork and beef. So you do not have to give up your favorite meals when following a low-fat diet. What you do need to do is be picky, you need to choose the cuts that are lower in fat. Both beef and pork are rich in iron and they do have good quality protein, but you’ve got to know which cuts have less fat.

For steak, which is beef, the leanest cuts would be:

  • Top sirloin
  • Top Loin
  • Arm roasts
  • Top round
  • Eye of round
  • Bottom round

For a recipe that calls for ground beef such as hamburgers you would look for extra -lean ground beef. It should say on the label what percentage of fat is in the ground beef. You should be able to find 90%, 93% and 95% lean written on the label.

There are the cuts of pork that are leaner than others and if you want to stay true to your low-fat diet choose among these:

  • Tenderloin
  • Center loin
  • Pork loin
  • Ham

Don’t forget to cut away any slivers of fat that you see once you’ve taken it out of the package.

Chicken and Turkey

Chicken and turkey tend to have less fat content than beef and pork. The leanest cuts would be chicken breasts and boneless is the way to go as it’s got less fat than if the bone is in. For turkey the leanest cuts would be the turkey cutlets. There’s always a layer of fat beneath the skin of both chicken and turkey and that is why you need to remove the skin before cooking, whether or not your recipe calls for this. If you fry or sauté chicken in oil you are adding fat to your diet so instead cook poultry by roasting, broiling, grilling or even boiling. Any excess fat can be drained off after cooking. If you avoid recipes that call for breading the meat you’ll be way ahead of the game. The same goes for fatty sauces and gravies. Left over chicken or turkey sandwiches make for a great kids’ snack and if you serve with fruit and nuts you’re teaching your children that healthy eating can be delicious.

Fish and Shellfish

Seafood is rich in many important nutrients including Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. There are many different kinds of fish that can make delicious meals including shellfish like shrimp, lobster, crab, clams and mussels. Everyone should have at least 8 ounces of seafood included in their diet every week as this is known to help reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease. When seafood is cooked correctly it can be very beneficial but if not, it can be harmful. Stay away from recipes that call for breading or frying or any that call for a sauce made of butter or drawn butter. These only add triglycerides to a really good source of lean protein. When you’re cooking use a fresh lemon squeezed over your seafood or cocktail sauce it’s delicious so no added fat is needed at all. When making snacks from left-over seafood dishes avoid using mayonnaise. You’ll find that all you need to flavor and moisten the fish is a freshly squeezed lemon and maybe a slice of tomato.

Beans are a better source of nutrition

The reason I say this is because beans provide a wider range of nutritional benefits than do animal sources that mainly provide just protein. Beans contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that are critical to good health. These include the B vitamins and folic acid, selenium, and zinc. There are many kinds of beans to choose from which are easily available and can be included in many different recipes:

  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Soy beans
  • Chickpeas

You can easily add them to your diet if you’re not already doing so by using them to salads, soups, stews, and stir-fry vegetable recipes. Beans come dry, usually in clear packaging and if you read the directions you will see that you need to rinse them before cooking with them so soak them in water and boil beans before you use them in your recipe. Otherwise you can buy them already prepared in cans and of course this is more convenient. Don’t add any fat when cooking them and when you go to a restaurant make sure the dish isn’t prepared with fat, like in the case of refried beans. Avoid ordering those and perhaps ask for fruit instead.


0 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Florence B. Harrell

While a vertical hydroponic system can look impressive, its real value is turning a normally underutilized space in your home into a productive and space-saving garden. Instead of just having photos or a bookshelf on your wall you can have a beautiful garden growing flowers, herbs, and vegetables for you to enjoy. With a tower system you can grow a larger number of plants in a smaller area, and still have room to move around freely.

What is the difference in growing plants vertically? Normally, in a standard garden with soil or in a hydro grow box the plants are grown on a horizontal surface. This layout requires space for the grow area as well as extra space for you to move between or around the plants to care for them or to harvest. If you don’t have much space available this limits how many plants you can grow, and it can make it difficult to have access to the plants to care for them and make sure they are healthy.

A vertical layout allows you to have a larger area that can hold more plant sites, and with more sites you can grow a wider selection of plants and have larger yields. For instance, let’s say you like to eat fresh salads. You can grow a variety of lettuce to make a spring salad mix, and then have fresh herbs growing alongside to add more flavor, like basil, dill, mint, oregano or thyme. Think how much you can save by growing your own instead of purchasing each of these items at the grocery store, and how much better your food will taste with the herbs being fresh picked right before dinner.

There are several benefits of a vertical hydroponic system that are especially good for older gardeners who may have issues with their knees and back, or for people with disabilities that limit their movement. First, as the plants are growing in a nutrient solution you will not need to lift heavy bags of potting soil into your home. Also, with the plants arranged neatly in rows on a wall or in a tower this allows much easier access to the plants for tending and harvesting.

A vertical hydro system also makes maintenance simple. An electric pump in the reservoir below the system pumps the nutrient solution up through connecting hoses that run along the plant sites. These systems often use drip emitters at the base of each plant to deliver the solution to the roots, which then drains back down into the reservoir. Sometimes these emitters get clogged or need to be adjusted so they are flowing correctly. With a vertical hydroponic system each of the emitters is easy to reach and adjust. It is also easy to manage your plants, and if you need to remove a plant it is simple to lift it out of its site and move it to another site.

If you want to start growing fresh vegetables and herbs indoors but you are limited for space, or if you have mobility issues that make it difficult to reach around a conventional growing table, then a vertical hydroponics system could be for you.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

The red blood cells in your body carry the oxygen to your vital organs and tissues while removing the carbon dioxide. The blood cells are red because they contain hemoglobin which is very rich in iron. The marrow of the bone generates the production of red blood cells, but you can increase that production and create a healthier you in the process.

This is because not consuming enough iron in your daily diet may cause anemia, the state in which your body produces fewer red blood cells than normal. Iron-deficiency anemia can affect your health and energy levels in a number of negative ways. Therefore, it is important to consume foods that are rich in iron as well as other vitamins, minerals and nutrients that provide your body with what it needs to stay active, healthy and strong.

Foods Rich in Iron, Folic Acid and B-12

There are several foods that offer plenty of iron for your body to use and create new red blood cells. Red meats, organs such as livers and kidneys along with dark, leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. In addition, dried raisins, beans, lentils and dried prunes are also great sources of iron that keeps your blood supply rich in oxygen.

You’ll also want to consume foods rich in folic acid or Vitamin B9 as well since it helps in the development of red blood cells. Increasing the amount of folic acid in your body may prevent anemia from occurring. Many of the foods that contain plenty of folic acid include sources of iron as well, such as leafy green vegetables, kale, spinach and dried beans. There are also other sources such as breads, cereals, nuts and peas that also contain folic acid.

The Vitamin B12 also helps in the production of red blood cells as well by helping to prevent abnormal divisions of cells in the bone marrow which may create smaller, immature cells known as megaloblasts which do not transport enough oxygen to the body. Foods rich in B12 include breakfast cereals, dairy products, fish, beef liver, eggs and nutritional yeast.

How Seaweed Increases your Red Cell Count

Of all the foods listed that helps in the production of red blood cells, seaweed is arguably the best in terms of combining iron with plenty of other vitamins and minerals. Seaweed offers many health benefits and is one of the plants people have been cooking with for thousands of years. Whether you choose freshwater or saltwater seaweed, it makes for excellent recipes and snacks that provide many benefits to the creation of red blood cells.

Sea life such as crab, octopus, shrimp, krill and foods such as calamari offer plenty of seafood recipes for the diet. Seaweed contains all the benefits of these creatures while having very little fat and few calories, which makes it a great compliment to your dinner table. While seaweed may not be the complete answer to increasing your red blood cell count, it is a vital one that offers many other benefits as well.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

Many people hear the terms “vegan” and “vegetarian” and believe that they mean the same thing. Actually, there are differences between the two when it comes to their respective diets.

What is the Vegan Diet?

The Vegan Diet or veganism is the practice of not consuming animal products both in terms of meats and in the products that animals produce such as milk and eggs. Being an Ethical Vegan also means abstaining from using animal products in any form which would include clothing for example. However, in terms of the diet a vegan does follow strict rules about what they eat.

The actual term vegan was first used by Donald Watson in 1944 when he co-founded the Vegan Society in the UK. The vegan diet has certainly increased in popularity over the years, especially after the turn of the 21st century when many restaurants and grocery stores began carrying more vegan-oriented foods. This popularity was increased when many high profile athletes, especially those in endurance sports began training while eating a vegan diet.

Vegan diets are generally high in dietary fiber, folic acid, Vitamins C and E, magnesium to name a few while being low in bad cholesterol, saturated fat and calories. However, vitamin supplements are often recommended for vegans because their diet is low in Vitamins B12 and D, calcium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids which are considered vital towards maintaining good health.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

A vegetarian diet appears at first to be much like the vegan diet in that it avoids the consumption of animal products that includes poultry and fish. There are a number of reasons people choose a vegetarian diet, including respect for animals as well as protecting their own health. However, there are greater varieties to the vegetarian diet than the vegan one. In particular, the consumption of dairy products is generally accepted, although eggs are not included.

The practice of vegetarianism does go back for centuries in various forms. The modern version does offer some flexibility and variety that stretches from strict veganism to a more relaxed consumption of animal by-products. However, there are those that object to food packaging which often contains ingredients that are derived from animals.

A vegetarian diet in the traditional form does resemble a vegan diet to a great extent. However, the type of vegetarianism that is being pursued will dictate the types of foods that are consumed along with their packaging whereas a vegan diet is more strict and adhering to the avoidance of all animal products and by-products in general.

How Seaweed can Play a Role in Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Seaweed is a vegetarian food that is gaining in popularity thanks to its many health benefits, including the vitamins and minerals it possesses for helping vegans and vegetarians lead stronger, healthier lives. Online stores such as Cantinastar for example offer seaweed snacks and free recipes that demonstrate how to prepare this particular food whether from freshwater or saltwater sources.

If you are pursuing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, then adding seaweed to your diet can help fortify the body with iron and other important vitamins and minerals that leads to a healthier life.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

It’s not always true that eggs are harmful to a healthy heart.

It’s complicated. Cholesterol is not easily understood and over the years people have developed many misconceptions on the topic. It is known that high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream do contribute to the risk of heart disease. But other things we supposedly know about cholesterol simply are not true. It’s important to know what is true and what is myth and in doing so you may actually be surprised.

Not All Cholesterol is bad for Our Health

Some cholesterol is actually needed for the body to properly function according to the American Heart Association. Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance which is produced by our livers. Cholesterol is necessary in the formation of certain hormones and cell membranes. This means that there is good cholesterol that our body makes naturally but there is cholesterol which we ingest from food. It’s an excess of cholesterol that comes from food that is bad for us because it can cause a narrowing in the arteries which increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Eggs are a Good Source of Protein

No one disputes that eggs contain a high amount of cholesterol. If someone’s diet contains too much cholesterol there is a risk for heart disease due to a build-up in the arteries. But according to the American Heart Association eggs can be included in a healthy diet by decreasing the amount consumed of other foods high in cholesterol. It should not be ignored that eggs provide a great source of not only protein but nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin which are essential to healthy eyes. We can consume up to four eggs in a week without risking heart disease. The AHA suggests that on days we enjoy an egg in our diet we can just cut back on other foods which may contain high levels of cholesterol such as whole-fat dairy foods and red meat.

Kids Can Actually Develop High Cholesterol

Physicians treating adults are concerned about middle-aged people developing a problem with high cholesterol. But pediatricians have discovered that children who have a diet high in junk food and sugary desserts and who become obese as a result are developing high levels of cholesterol in their bloodstreams. This can eventually lead to heart disease. The Nemours Foundation recommends that kids in age groups 2 – 8 and in 12 – 16 who suffer from obesity, who have a diet high in fat or who are from a family with members who have high cholesterol need to have a cholesterol test when they see their pediatrician. If high cholesterol is found early it is much easier to control than when it’s discovered later in life. Parents must watch their kids’ diet and use recipes low in fat and sugar for snacks and meals. Healthy eating habits are learned early in life and can last a lifetime.

Cholesterol Medication is Not the Best Treatment

Although there are many effective cholesterol drugs on the market a healthy diet, exercise and losing weight can very often lower cholesterol in the bloodstream. Any medication is bound to have bad side-effects but living a healthier lifestyle only has good side-effects. If you log onto MayoClinic.com you will find that they recommend having less fat in your diet, reduce your intake of meat and dairy products, exercise for a minimum of a half hour a day and if you’re overweight, lose those excess pounds. Try this first before you take prescription medication. There are many free recipes online to help you change your diet. Whether it’s for a healthy snack, or an entire meal, you will discover that a healthy diet can be very satisfying and delicious to boot. Happy cooking!

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

It’s rather amazing that in the US people consume an average of just over 2 snacks each day which accounts for 1/4th the daily calories we consume. Unfortunately, most of the snack foods that are consumed have high amounts of sugar, carbohydrates, fats, starches and so forth that can add additional weight to our bodies and have a negative impact on our health.

However, eating healthy snacks can actually be beneficial as long as the calories consumed do not exceed the amount that is burned off on a daily basis. Foods that are loaded with nutrients can provide you with the nutrition your body needs while providing plenty of energy as well.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Of course, the question is just what type of snack foods do we consume in the place of the junk food that fills up our diet? Consider that on average Americans eat less than 60% of the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products. This means that there are plenty of sources for snacks that are perfect for adults and kids alike.

There are many snack ideas to choose from, including putting vegetables in yogurt or adding fresh fruit to oatmeal. Taking healthy foods and combining them results in getting more good nutrition in your body while helping to eliminate the fats and sugars that add unnecessary weight.

Increase Your Energy

One of the main reasons we eat snacks is to give our bodies a quick boost of energy. Healthy snacks can prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping too much between meals. You’ll want to avoid sugar filled snacks because the energy burst will be fast and over with leaving you worse off than before.

Instead, eat snacks that are rich in fiber and protein such as carrots or even better, dipping your healthy snacks in bean dip which offers plenty of protein as well. Being slow to digest, you’ll feel full without being bloated and stave off any additional snacking between meals. When you finish exercising, your body will need some energy to properly recover and increase the recovery of your muscles. A mix of protein and good carbohydrates will provide the energy your body needs and the materials for your muscles to properly recover. Try peanut butter on whole wheat toast or yogurt and a banana to get the right mix of snacks for your body.

Kid Snacks

Kids love snacks probably more than adults, but it still proper to provide them with plenty of healthy foods. Try trail mix which has plenty of tasty nuts and dry fruits that will provide them with plenty of potassium and fiber so that they conquer the cravings and have the energy needed to get on with their day.

Cantinastar offers many healthy snack foods and free recipes to fit your diet while providing the health benefits that your body needs. Eating healthy foods is what our company is all about, including main dishes such as calamari, lobster, shrimp, crab and other healthy snack ideas that include kelp and seaweed which has many different uses in popular foods. Let Cantinastar be your place for snack foods and healthy meals.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

sundried cherry tomatoes on dehydrator

Healthy snacks are an important part of any healthy diet, and ensuring that there is plenty of variety in the snack foods that you eat will help you to maximize the health benefits of healthy snacking. If you're interested in cooking your own snacks, using a food dehydrator is one way to experiment with different ways of preparing seafood, fruits and vegetables.

What Is a Food Dehydrator?

A food dehydrator is an appliance that removes moisture from foods. It can be used with plants, meats and fish to eliminate moisture. Most fruits and vegetables get 80 to 90 percent of their volume from water while meats are half to three-quarters water. Food dehydrators remove this moisture and with it, the likelihood of food spoiling. Without moisture, bacteria can not readily grow in food, so dry snacks last for a long time.

Why Eat Dry Food?

There are many reasons why dry food recipes are great snack ideas. For one thing, dried foods are easy to take with you on the go because they typically don't require refrigeration, so they can be packed in a lunch bag or backpack as kids snacks or snacks for work without worrying about ice packs and other cooling solutions. Dry food is also incredibly nutritious. Unlike cooking food with heat, dehydrating food does not typically cause vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and other essential nutrients to break down. You also don't need to add fat, sugar or salt to foods to dry them. As a result, dry fruits, dry vegetables and dry fish provide plenty of health benefits while remaining low in calories, saturated fat, sugars and sodium.

How Do Dehydrators Work?

There are two main types of dehydrators: those that receive power from the sun and those that run on electricity. Most food dehydrators consist of three main parts. A heating element is used to raise the temperature inside of the dehydrator and cause the moisture in the food to evaporate without causing the food to fully cook. The fans and vents keep air circulating throughout the dehydrator and release the water vapor from the food to the outside of the appliance. The amount of time that it takes for a dehydrator to remove moisture from food depends on which type of food is being dried and the efficiency of the model. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours for foods to become fully dried.

What Are the Benefits of Dehydrators?

Foods can be dried without food dehydrators in the oven or outdoors in the sun; however, dehydrators greatly simplify making dry food at home. This is because dehydrators not only provide heat but also adequate air flow, helping to ensure best results. Of course, you don't have to purchase a dehydrator or hunt for free recipes to enjoy the health benefits and taste of dry food. Cantinastar has a wide range of dry seafood and dry fruits that make great snack ideas.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

Garden Delights In Every Season: Growing Vegetables Indoors With Hydroponics

Imagine plucking a juicy red tomato right off the vine to top off your burger or put in your salad. See yourself picking a freshly grown spicy hot pepper that you can use to flavor your dishes. Picture yourself harvesting your own cucumbers or squash for your recipes. Now, imagine that you're picking these veggies in your pajamas inside with a foot of snow covering your backyard!

This delicious vision isn't just a dream; it can be a reality with a hydroponics vegetable garden. Hydroponics is a way of organic gardening indoors in any season without having to deal with messy potting soil. You can grow a wide variety of vegetables indoors in a hydroponics system, and this step-by-step guide will tell you how.

1. Take a plastic seedling tray and fill it up with peat moss, which you can purchase online and at home and garden stores. Spritz the peat moss with a water bottle until it is wet to the touch. You want it to feel like a sponge that is damp but not dripping wet.

2. Plant your vegetable seeds according to the depth instructions on the packaging. For best results when you're starting your first garden, pick vegetables that grow low to the ground and that grow quickly, such as leafy greens like kale or lettuce, broccoli or cauliflower.

3. Put plastic on the tray and place the entire setup on a windowsill that receives light but not direct sunlight.

4. Check your plants every day. If the peat moss is dry, spritz it the way that you did in Step 1. When the seeds sprout, remove the plastic.

5. Continue checking the seeds daily. Continue until the plants are beginning to outgrow the tray.

6. When the plants are too big, take each one gently out of the tray. Use water on low pressure to clean the peat moss away from the roots.

7. Take an aquarium fish tank and encase it with aluminum foil to block out the light and help the plants grow.

8. Purchase a hydroponics nutrient solution and mix it with water as directed on the packaging.

9. Pour the nutrient and water solution into the fish tank.

10. Connect a fish tank bubbler to a tank air pump with plastic tubing and gently put the bubbler down on the bottom of the tank.

11. Use scissors to trim a piece of Styrofoam sheeting to slightly smaller than the length and width of the fish tank.

12. Make holes inside of the sheet that are slightly smaller than the mouth of the Styrofoam coffee cups that you purchased.

13. Use an exacto knife to make slits in the sides of the cups.

14. Fill each cup up completely with vermiculite.

15. Make a depression enough to accommodate your plants inside of the vermiculite-filled cups.

16. Carefully set one plant in each cup.

17. Put the Styrofoam cups into the holes of the Styrofoam sheet.

18. Put the Styrofoam sheet with the cups inside of the fish tank.

19. Turn on the bubble.

20. Put the fish tank underneath hydroponics growing lights.

21. Monitor your plants and wait for your vegetables to grow!

These simple steps will have you enjoying your own fresh-from-the-garden vegetables all year round in no time!

0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Seafood is one of the foods recommended by nutritionists and physicians to serve as a foundation for a healthy, balanced diet. Fish and shellfish like shrimp and crab are rich in lean protein, low in saturated fat and packed with healthy vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Still, despite all the health benefits of seafood, many people are hesitant to work with lobster, octopus, calamari and fish in their home kitchens.

If you'd like to start enjoying fish and seafood dishes at home, here are some tips to help you get started:

- When choosing freshly caught fish, look for four signs of freshness: red gills, clear, shiny eyes, a mild odor and shiny skin.

- When purchasing skinned fillets, choose fish that is all one color. You should not see brown spots, and its hue should be vibrant throughout.

- Keep fresh fish and seafood in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic surrounded by ice. It will keep this way for one to two days.

- If you do not intend to cook with fish or seafood within one to two days, you can freeze fish.

- Shrimp, crab, lobster and other shellfish can be purchased pre-cooked and flash frozen for simple use in recipes. You can also cook many recipes with dry fish if you're concerned about freshness.

- When you thaw frozen fish or seafood, do so in the refrigerator, not in the microwave or by running it under warm water. Always cook with the fish or shellfish the day that you thaw it.

- Pin bones are best removed from fish fillets using needle-nose pliers. Just press down on the fish to expose the bones and pull them out.

- Over-marinating fish can leave it being mushy and unappealing in texture. Keep marinating times to a maximum of 30 minutes. Do not pour leftover marinade over the cooked fish, as this can result in food poisoning.

- Overcooking fish is the biggest reason for unpleasant odors in the kitchen. Always cook your fish for a few minutes less than what is suggested in recipes. Make a small cut in the fish and examine the meat. It should form flakes easily.

- When cooking with shellfish like clams and oysters, discard any that are open. This indicates that the seafood is already dead and no longer fresh.

- Avoid cross-contamination when preparing seafood dishes. Don't put cooked fish onto a plate or cutting surface where you had placed raw fish and don't use the same utensils with cooked and uncooked fish. Clean counter tops with an antibacterial solution after cooking to remove microbes.

- Serve cooked fish with sliced lemons or limes to enhance flavor and balance any strong tastes.

If you'd like to try your hand at cooking with dry fish, be sure to shop Cantinastar for a wide variety of options for use in recipes or for enjoying as snacks.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

Each day, more and more people are finding out just how fun and how profitable it can be growing herbs in hydroponics. The fun part is being able to grow plants in your home grow room any time of the year, and the profitable part is the growing demand for produce picked fresh from a home herb garden.

It is easy now to grow plants in hydro, and gardeners who were used to growing in soil are now finding they can enjoy gardening growing the plants in a nutrient solution under grow lights. There are some differences in the techniques, but the fundamentals of growing plants, flowers, or vegetables, from seeds or from cuttings, are the same. The major differences are providing a light source with plant lights rather than the sun, and controlling the pH and the levels of nutrients with routine water treatment.

There are two drivers of the demand for hydroponically produced food; the quality of the vegetables and herbs in your local grocery store, and the ‘foodie’ movement. With many vegetables now being imported from Mexico and South America, even though they may look good, they may not be of the quality people want for themselves or their families. There may be unhealthy pesticides used when growing the plants, and since they are shipped such long distances the food is picked before it is ripe, causing it to lack flavor and nutrition.

The foodie movement is leading a push to high quality foods with the maximum flavor and nutrients. This has led restaurants and groceries to seek suppliers of fresh vegetables and herbs that are locally produced, without the worry of harmful pesticides or a lack of flavor. Another example of this growing trend is how farmers’ markets are popping up in most cities and towns, and how the prices are higher than you see in your local grocery.

These premium quality products bring a premium price, and a gardener who can grow the best herbs and vegetables will have no problem selling them to this eager market. If you can supply a product that is different from what you can normally find, grown with care, free of pesticides, and picked at the peak of freshness, you will find that customers will begin to contact you to make sure they are the first in line at harvest time.

The best plants to start out with when you are beginning to sell to restaurants and markets are heirloom tomatoes, specialty lettuces, and uncommon herbs. Restaurants, in particular, are always looking for ways to set themselves apart, and a wide selection of produce allows them to update their menus and keep the customers coming in.

In a grow room with a hydro system and grow lights you can offer a selection of products, and grow them fast. A plant grown in a hydroponic grow box will grow between 30% and 50% faster than a plant in soil, and you won’t have to worry about pests or weather affecting your crop.

As the gardener who has the best produce, the quickest delivery times, and the ability to provide a variety of herbs and vegetables, you will find that being a hydroponic gardener can be both fun and profitable.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Since 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs, everything from crack cocaine to marijuana has been illegal in the United States. Forty years later the war on drugs has been anything but successful. These facts make it pretty clear that ridding of drugs in the U.S. is pretty much impossible.

Most law enforcement agencies still focus on the illegal trafficking using of hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, but bringing in pot smokers or those possessing pot has not been on the top of the list where crimes are concerned.

Over the past 10 years, the overall attitude toward the use of marijuana has changed drastically. When studies first showed that marijuana could be a medicinal solution to numerous health issues, many states dropped pot off the illegal list and onto a legal list for medicinal purposes.

Many Americans believe that pot is a great deal less dangerous than alcohol and various studies have backed that claim. During the elections in November, 2012 voters chose to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington as a recreational drug. Whether pot is more or less dangerous than alcohol will probably take a great deal more research.

Is Marijuana Safer Than Alcohol?

Recent studies have shown that pot is just as likely to impair judgment and motor skills behind the wheel of a car as alcohol. A study performed at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has shown an increase in fatal accidents, nationwide, involving the use of marijuana.

Studying auto fatality statistics in California, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Illinois from 1999 to 2010 showed an increase in accidents involving marijuana. These 6 states were chosen for the study due to their constant toxicology tests given to all drivers involved in fatality accidents. This study examined more than 23,500 deaths that happened within one hour of a collision.

Their research showed that alcohol was a contributor in 40% of fatal accidents and remained the same throughout this time period. With constant ads and education showing the results of drunk driving, there has been little to no effect on those that choose to drink and drive.

Unfortunately, in 1999 16% of fatalities were blamed on drugs and grew to 28% by 2010. Co-author Dr. Guohua Li, "If This Trend Continues" believed in another 5 to 6 years, drugs will overtake alcohol as the leading contributor of death related car accidents.

This particular test does not differentiate between illegal drugs and marijuana or even legal drugs such as painkillers. The tests did show that the most common drug found in the blood streams of drivers was marijuana. In 1999 that number was only 4% and in 2010 reached 12%.

Further Research Is Inevitable:

Alcohol only remains in the blood-stream for a certain number of hours where marijuana can remain for weeks after smoking. Some studies state that 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood weren’t enough to impact drivers. These studies do not indicate that a driver is impaired from pot at the time of the accident; only that pot has been used in the recent past.

THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the active ingredient in marijuana or "cannabis" which gives narcotic and psychoactive effects to the drug.

On the other hand, advocacy groups such as MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving) back other studies that believe there is a connection between fatal accidents and the use of marijuana.

Now that more states are considering legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, more studies will be inevitable. Only time will tell at this point whether the states that have legalized marijuana's, if it is a good or bad choice.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Tasty Fresh Vegetable Recipes from Your Hydroponic Garden

Everyone loves the taste of fresh vegetables straight from the garden, but unfortunately the summer and fall harvest seasons are much too short. The good news is that you can enjoy the same wonderful flavor year round from a hydroponic garden in your home. With a simple grow box, nutrients, and plant lights you can enjoy vegetables that taste as good as anything you can grow in the soil.

One of the most popular vegetables to grow hydroponically is tomatoes. In North America in the wintertime the tomatoes you can buy at the grocery store are usually imported from Mexico, or are grown in giant commercial greenhouses and shipped. The tomatoes are picked before they are ripe, the texture is tough and the flavor is bland. But if you have a tomato garden in your grow room you can wait to pick them until they are so ripe they are about to burst with flavor.

Basil is an herb that also grows well in hydro. It doesn’t take up much space and grows a pretty little plant that is easy to maintain. It is also a very versatile herb that goes well in Italian dishes such as tomato-basil pasta sauce or on a Caprese salad with mozzarella cheese, fresh sliced tomatoes, and sprinkled with basil.

Another plant that grows really well in your indoor garden is pepper. It is happy to grow in a media like clay pellets where its roots can dig in firmly and hold the plant up straight under the weight of the heavy peppers. Just put the grow light about 8 to 10 inches above the top of the plant so the heat from the lamp doesn’t burn the leaves and raise the light as the plant grows. Give it 10 or 12 hours of light and it is happy.

You can make a wonderful roast pepper dish that is easy to make and tastes delicious. From your garden select 3 fresh peppers, a pint of cherry tomatoes, and a half a cup of basil. Cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds, then fill the pepper halves with tomatoes and place them in a baking dish. If you have any mozzarella left over from your Caprese salad add a little bit to each pepper. Chop up the basil in a bowl and add 8 chopped garlic cloves, cover the tomatoes with the garlic and basil, then salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the peppers with aluminum foil and put the dish in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and put the dish in to bake for another 15 minutes. Take the peppers from the oven and sprinkle them with about a tablespoon of herb vinegar, then enjoy. This dish is very healthy, with low carbohydrates and full of nutrients.

When you have a hydro grow room you are able to create gourmet meals like this every night. Just grow a selection of your favorite vegetables and herbs, pick up a recipe book, and enjoy fresh-picked veggies on your table all year long.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Hydroponics growing gives you the ability to enjoy fresh from the garden produce all year round. When you grow plants in a hydroponics grow room or grow box, you won't have all the hassle of using soil, keeping pests away from the garden, weeding or fertilizing. Everything is done through a system of grow lights and feeding tubes. It's simple, eco-friendly and organic.

Once you've decided to set up your a grow box and plant lights and get down to some hydro growing, you'll have another thing to decide: what to grow! To determine which plants would be best, follow these tips.

Consider your likes

Decide what vegetables you're likely to eat the most of. Planting vegetables that your family does not really enjoy won't give you very many benefits. Pick things that you eat often and that everyone likes.

2. Maximize your space

Instead of planting lots of one type of vegetable in a small grow room, try just one or two plants of all of your favorite veggies. This will help you determine just how much your family can eat in a timely manner. You can always add more later.

3. Think seasonally

If you pay attention to prices in your local grocery store, you'll quickly see that some vegetables are more expensive during the winter months. By growing these in your indoor grow box, you'll save money. For example, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are often very pricey in December, January and February, making them better choices than beets or broccoli, which are in season even during the winter.

4. Know what not to plant

Corn, zucchini, summer squash and melons all take up a lot of space in a growing environment, so steer clear of these unless you plan to invest in a very large grow room.

5. Plant the Dirty Dozen

Every year, the Environmental Working Group identifies vegetables and fruits that are likely to be contaminated with pesticides. By planting these in your hydro grow box, you can help to protect your family from toxins. Items on the 2013 list that you can grow indoors include celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, hot peppers, potatoes, spinach, sweet bell peppers, kale and collard greens.

6. Try herbs

If you love to cook, devote at least some of your growing environment to an herb garden. Herbs that you pick fresh right before you cook are far more flavorful than dried and even the fresh ones available at the grocery store.

7. Consider availability

If you often cook ethnic foods that require special chilies or other vegetables that are difficult to find in local grocery stores, planting these in your grow room is a wise idea.

Now that you have an idea of what you can grow with your hydroponics system, you're ready to get started. If you still need supplies like grow lights, a grow box or an exhaust fan, you can get those essentials here in our grow shop.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

There is something so wonderful about watching little seeds turn into sprouts from an indoor container. Many gardeners are skeptical when talking about growing seedlings or just about any outdoor plant indoors. Little do they know, this is a great way to start plants off in a strong and healthy way while having a great deal of fun. Starting seeds from indoors is actually quite easy and fills those winter month voids with sprouts appearing before your very eyes.

Why Start Seeds Indoors?

One, it'll give you a jump on spring planting and it's a great way to get through the doldrums of winter. Seeds are a great way to start plants that can be quite difficult to find as a full plant at your local nursery. Starting from seeds vs a grown plant will save you a great deal of cash as well because you will get great deal more for your money. A packet of seeds will have at least a dozen seeds and only cost a few bucks. One full plant will cost more than that packet of seeds. Again, buying a packet of seeds and starting them indoors will be a rewarding experience during the cold winter months.

Can I Choose Any Seeds I Wish and Get Great Results?

If you are a seasoned gardener who has worked with seeds, yes. If you are new to seed starting, it's a good idea to start with those that are easier to grow. Tomatoes, Basil, Peppers, Marigold, Zinnias and Cosmos are really easy to grow and germinate very quickly. Once you have mastered some of these easier varieties, go ahead and try some of your favorites that are little more on the fussy side.

What Type of Soil Works Best for Seeds?

A light weight mix formula created for seeds is your best bet. Garden soil and other soils are too heavy and will not drain as well. Garden soils also carry organisms that can kill or damage your seedlings.

Are There Specific Pots I Should Use?

Containers with excellent drainage holes and designed for seeds such as trays and/or pots are the best choices. Some people like using biodegradable pots such as Paper Pots, Cowpots or Reusable Trays. You may also purchase self watering systems that are literally foolproof.

How Deep Should The Seeds Be Placed?

Your seed packet will give you needed information including the depth of the seeds. You must be careful not to plant seeds too deep. Plants have a very limited amount of food stored for nourishing the seeds. If the seeds are planted too deeply, they will run out of food before they ever reach the surface. Each packet has very concise and clear planting instructions that should be followed.

A Windowsill vs a Grow Light:

Although you are welcome to place your seedlings on a sunny windowsill, it's advisable to use a grow light. First, seedlings will develop more quickly with a light vs your sunny window. Secondly, the light coming through the window is not as intense as the summer sun, so they might not receive the desired light for good growth. Plants grown under a grow light will be larger and stockier and therefore adapted better once transplanted outdoors. If you use a grow light, make sure the light is a few inches above the seedlings' tops. As the sprouts start getting higher, adjust the light's height.

Should Grow Lights Remain On All Day and Night?

Seedlings will grow better if they have the grow light kept on for 14 to 16 hours a day. They do need some hours of darkness in order to rest, so you might want to purchase a timer for the lights.

Should They Be Watered From the Bottom or the Top?

As a general rule, you should water from the bottom so the surface soil remains dryer. If surface soil becomes really wet you could run into disease issues. If you have small seeds or those requiring surface sown, use a mist to keep the surface moist for germination.

When Should I Remove a Greenhouse Cover?

Greenhouse covers are great for holding in moisture and humidity for a faster germination. At the first sign of sprout growth, remove the cover. This gives the sprouts air circulation and keeps them away from various diseases.

Should Seedlings Be Thinned Out?

Once they start growing, they might start crowding each other out. That's the time to start thinning the seeds. You need to choose the strongest ones to stay and remove the weaker ones. Some gardeners choose to remove the weaker ones and replant them. Roots can become damaged but if you want to give it a try go ahead. If you choose to just thin out the plants, snip off the seedlings, that are being removed, at the soil line.

When To Fertilize:

When the seeds' food storage structure starts appearing, they look like leaves but aren't. When the second sets of real leaves start developing. These are the times to start your fertilization.

When Should Plants Be Placed In Larger Pots:

Some of your larger, fast growing seedlings will need to be moved to larger pots before it's time for them to go outdoors. Tomatoes are a good example, so when they get around four inches tall, gently remove them from their smaller pots.

When Should Plants Be Moved Outdoors?

Depending on the climate you live in and when the last frost arrives in the spring will dictate when you should move your plants outdoors. Seed packets should offer planting suggestions regarding their sowing requirements.

You should also consider whether your plants like cool or warm growing conditions. If the packet doesn't give you enough information, there are reference books that address all plants and their ideal environment.

I Don't Know The Last Frost Date, What Should I Do?

If you have moved from a different part of the country or are new to gardening, others will help you out. Ask a friend, a neighbor or contact the local gardening center, these people will be glad to help you out.

How Will My Plants Inoculate To Outdoor An Environment?

The process is called "hardening off", it simply helps the plants to become used to outdoor conditions. Outdoor conditions are harsher than the soft life they have experience indoors. Approximately one week before planting your seedlings into the garden, place them in a protected area outdoors for a few hours a day and bring them in a night. The protected area should be partial shade and out of the wind. Gradually expose them to more sunshine and wind, leaving them outside but moving them around, for approximately one week to ten days.

Problems Along The Way:

Poor germination can be a problem with some plants. Usually this is caused by seedlings that take a little longer to germinate. The packets should have the germination period and growth rate for that specific plant. Some seeds will take two or more weeks to start sprouting.

Poor germination may also occur from too wet or too cold soil which will cause them to rot. Sometimes the soil is too dry and the seeds are not capable of absorbing the moisture needed to sprout. Their roots are very fragile and this will cause them to die before any shoots can emerge. Seeds that are not properly stored or are too old will also not germinate.

Soil borne fungi will attack stems, causing the plants to fall over.You will have to start over by cleaning the containers and sterilizing the mixture. The soil should dry out or be mostly dried out before applying water. Make sure their is good air circulation such as a fan if needed. In order to clean and disinfect used containers, use a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water.

If you notice white fuzzy growth or green slimy parts on the surface of your mix or the outside of your biodegradable pots, it's more than likely mold or algae. This is a sign that the mix is way too wet. Although the seedling will probably be fine, you need to get that mix partially dried out. Again, use a fan or other options to bring about good air circulation.

Leggy plants are not getting enough light. Place them under a grow light with the light only a few inches above the plants. Keep the lights on for 14 to 16 hrs a day. If your room temperatures are too warm, this cause leggy problems as well. Over crowding and poor fertilization will cause weak and pale plants.

Pale leaves that are green, yellow or purple are probably a sign of poor nutrients. Once the seedlings are approximately one to two inches in height, start feeding them fertilizer. Use a water-soluble fertilizer that is diluted to half strength for a few weeks. Then start applying full strength each week. Always follow the directions on the labels.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Sage (Salvia Officinalis) is an attractive plant that grows between 2 and 3 feet and is a member of the mint family. Used as an herb to enhance many dishes as well as an beautiful ornamental plant for gardens. It is a hardy perennial commonly used to season poultry.

Sage is an ancient herb used for medicinal purposes from wounds to broken bones. It was also believed to help relieve stomach disorders and helped one's memory. The Greeks used sage to treat ulcers, snake bites and consumption. To the Romans, sage was considered sacred including a ceremony in honor of it. They would gather sage dressed in clean robes and make a food sacrifice. It is also believed they used sage as a form of toothpaste.

Unlike other herbs, Sage seeds do not germinate well and can take as long as two years to reach maturity when grown traditionally. Sage cuttings are a more popular alternative for growing.


Sow approximately six to eight weeks before the last frost.Planted in soil, seeds will take about 3 weeks to germinate. Using a hydroponic system, proper light, and in a controlled environment germination, time can possibly be cut in half.

Planting sprouts in a hydroponic system with a nutrient solution will give you a better growth rate and healthier stock. As sage loves high sun, a fluorescent light should be placed approximately 2 inches above the sprout growth. As the plants grow, raise the light. You may also use a windowsill if it offers bright sunlight. Keep your water level high enough for the roots to reach at all times. Hydroponic systems water your herb garden with a rich nutrient solution that will promote a healthier and faster growth than outdoor gardening can possibly do. You will experience less diseases and a lack of outdoor insect infestations.

Hydroponic Solutions:

There are many wonderful ways to grow your herb garden with hydroponics. Visit your local gardening shop that offers hydro growing. Many gardeners like to use either a partially enclosed grow box or a completely enclosed grow box system. These boxes are ideal for those winter months when outdoors is a complete impossibility. Growers are thrilled with having fresh herbs and vegetables in the dead of winter.

With a partially enclosed or completely enclosed grow box, the world is open to a huge selection of plants and herbs to enjoy year round. Your only limitation for a grow box is your available space, as they range from small to large containers. Some of the tremendous features include a large variety of lighting options such as grow lights to ventilation systems.

Grow Boxes:

Partially enclosed boxes will require grow lights that are placed appropriately above in order to grow plants. Grow lights come in a variety of bulbs from fluorescent to more energy efficient lighting such as LEDs (light emitting diodes).

Many completely enclosed grow boxes come with added features including built-in grow lights and fan ventilation systems for air circulation to prevent the onslaught of various molds and fungi.

Grow Rooms:

Grow rooms offer a controlled environment for your plants. In order to grow plants in one of these rooms depends on your available space as they come in a good array of sizes. You should acquire a good ventilation system, such as a fan, because these rooms can become extremely hot and air circulation will be extremely important to keep temperatures down.

With the growing popularity in hydroponic systems, there has never been a better time for indoor gardeners. The sky truly is the limit from herbs to fresh vegetables and even exotic flowers. New systems, products and techniques are constantly on the horizon and gardeners are ready to jump on it.


Cut the leaves sparingly in the first year of growth and prepare to dry. Tie the cuttings into small bunches and hang upside down in a dark, well ventilated room. Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and store whole.

Disease & Insects:

In an outdoor environment various diseases are carried by insects or are often found within the soil. Spider mites and slugs are the two biggest problems for sage. Use a natural insect controller to combat these pests. Hydro growing will help prevent this from taking place because of the nutrient solution vs soil.

In an indoor hydroponic system, regulate the nutrients and watch the temperature. Keep air circulated with a fan to keep the possibility of insects and diseases developing. Using a sandy soil will promote good drainage which will keep diseases down as well. A good insecticide soap or natural insect controller are in order should you find problems developing.

Collecting Seeds:

Once the blooms start turning brown and the heads are totally dry, gently crush them between your hands and carefully fan away the bracts.


Growing sage indoors allows you to enjoy these wonderful herbs year round and especially during the winter months when all else is barren. Sage has a wonderful aroma and delightful flavor. Pull out those dusty old recipes that call for sage and prepare delightful dishes!

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Pickling foods for abundance during the fall and winter months is nothing new. Your great-grandmother, your grandmother and possibly your mother were doing this long before you were around.

Some very popular pickled foods are: cucumbers, carrots, beets and peppers. Canning these foods is actually a lot easier than you might think, it just takes a little simple instruction.

The History of The Pickle:

Pickles go back as far as 2400 BC during the time of the Mesopotamians. Pickling is a preserving process and therefore were necessary throughout the centuries before refrigeration came into existence. The British were big believers in pickles since the Middle Ages and still are today.

Did you know Julius Caesar gave pickles to his troops because he believed these little pickles offered physical and spiritual strength.

Aristotle believed pickles offered great healing properties.

The benefits of pickling your vegetables is the fermenting process. This process increases good bacteria that promotes a healthy immune systems and bodily functions.

Let's Pickle:

Peel, slice (1" thick) 3 pounds of cucumbers

Place your cucumbers into canning jars.

Each jar should consist of:

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 to 3 dried chili peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Place In A Sauce Pan:

3 cups of white vinegar + 3 cups of water + 2 tablespoons of Sea Salt + 2 tablespoons of organic coconut sap or sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil for approximately two minutes or until the sea salt has totally dissolved.

The Jar:

Fill the jars with this mixture short of 1/4 inch at the top.

Put the lids on the jars and then seal and secure the them. Refrigerate for 48 hours or longer and enjoy!

About The Mighty Pickle:

Although pickles only have 16 calories, the sodium is 1,181 mg or 49% of your daily intake. That's a great deal of sodium!

Americans consume over 8.5 million pounds of pickles each year and twice that amount for dill and sweet pickles.

In 1500's NYC hosted the largest group of Dutch commercial picklers!

It is believed pickles will last 2 years which is past the expiration date on the jar.

A Crunchy Moment:

People love pickles! We enjoy them with hamburgers, at any form of barbecue, as a snack at any given time and are forever popular in homes across the country. NY Delis believe they created and perfected the giant pickle, which is always sitting on the counter top in a huge jar! With their own special herbs and spices, Deli customers would never dream of leaving the establishment without at least one huge pickle in tow!

Whether you would enjoy pickling cucumbers for the almighty pickle or enjoy other vegetables, pickling is a history old culinary delight! Try various pickling techniques and what vegetables appeal to you the most. Pickled foods are lasting and a great way to enjoy your summer vegetables in the dead of winter.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Hydrogen peroxide (H202) has been used for years in treating minor cuts and burns within households. It gets rid of infections and various bacteria without any discomfort. Hydrogen peroxide also prevents future infections in your hydroponic system, protecting your ability to grow plants in many positive ways.

Using hydrogen peroxide in your Hydroponics System offers many good outcomes. If your nutrient reservoir solution maintains 72 degrees, hydrogen peroxide is a necessary ingredient. Warm water decreases the oxygen level in the water causing many bacteria, viruses and fungi. Hydrogen peroxide adds oxygen and cleans the water of these pathogens. Your herb garden and other hydro gardens will love you for it!

Grow lights can cause a temperature increase in your grow rooms or grow boxes. Hydrogen peroxide will help bring the water temperature down and protect your plants. Plant lights are commonly used in partially enclosed grow boxes and completely enclosed grow boxes. Watching your temperatures is extremely important to insure you grow plants with great success.

Hydrogen peroxide counteracts the chlorine that many water providers use to sterilize your drinking water. Well water is high in methane and organic sulfates which hydrogen peroxide will also remove. As you draw your water from one of these sources, the purity of water in your will have a strong effect on your herb garden, vegetable garden or flower garden.

Bacterial, fusarium fungi, pythium fungi and many other organisms are destroyed by free oxygen released by hydrogen peroxide. Many herbs are effected by various fungi and mildew, using a little precaution and providing hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the potential of these diseases is important.

Plants must have oxygen as it is a major part of a plant's structure, allowing nutrients for the plants to feed on and assists in critical functions for all metabolic processes.

When using a grow room, keep in mind these rooms can become extremely hot. Good ventilation and oxygen are critical to proper growth. When applying hydrogen peroxide, follow label instructions carefully and other instructions included with your hydroponic system.

Extra oxygen provided by hydrogen peroxide benefits many functions including:

  • Breaks down carbohydrates brought on by photosynthesis
  • Gets more nutrients to your plant by increasing root zone movement
  • Creates thicker stems
  • Aids oxidization of metallic elements
  • Provides plant energy
  • It enhances photosynthesis by stimulating the level of protein production
  • Boosts the survival rate of plant cuttings
  • Escalates seed germination
  • Disinfects and cleanses your hydroponic system providing less disease
  • Excelling seed germination will greatly help seeds in sprouting while protecting them from molds and mildews.

Wet Sprouting:

Once a day, place a wet paper towel or cloth onto a flat surface and spray the outer surface of the material encasing the seeds. Supplement watering with a 3% solution once the sprouts start growing. Should you notice any form of bacterial growth, spray a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide onto the foliage, blooms and barks.

Regular strengths of hydroponic peroxide (3%, 5%, 8%) are safe and very easy to use. Look for "hydrogen peroxide (stabilized) 3% on the label.

Three percent hydrogen peroxide should be in a solution of 2-1/2 teaspoons of peroxide per gallon. You should start off at a lower concentration and then increase after a few weeks.

Changing Out The Reservoir:

When changing the reservoir, every two or three weeks, start off with 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per gallon and slowly increase to the full 2-1/2 teaspoons per gallon.

Allow your hydroponic system to fully circulate the peroxide and water solution for approximately 30 minutes. This allows the peroxide to rid of pathogens and allows the solution to stabilized before you add the nutrients.

Take The Advise of a Professional:

Your standard peroxide can be purchased in most drugstores and many times at your local supermarket. You may also purchase a hydrogen peroxide solution from your hydroponics retailer. You should also consult with them for any professional advise regarding the solution strengths and when it should be applied. Take their advise and follow the instructions that are clearly listed on the bottle. Your hydro grow shop professionals are just a phone call away should you have any questions or concerns.

We have used hydrogen peroxide for healing minor wounds and killing off diseases. Now you know it will serve the same purpose for your hydroponic herb and vegetable gardens!

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

If you want to grow plants indoors simply and easy, there are two methods of growing that do not require the hassle and mess of dealing with soil. The first is hydroponics, which involves the use of a growing medium. The second is a specialized form of hydroponics called aeroponics. With aeroponics, plants are grown under grow lights in a groom room or box like hydroponics, but there is no growing medium used at all.

So which type is right for you if you want to plant an herb garden or grow vegetables indoors? Read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of indoor growing.

Growing Medium Differences

In a grow box or room for a hydroponics system, you won't need any dirt. Instead, you'll use a medium like the fibers from coconut shells, perlite or pebbles made of clay. Plants are fed nutrients through a system of tubes to help them grow. In an aeroponics growing environment, you will not use the medium. Instead, you'll need to turn off the plant lights periodically and spray the roots of your plants with a nutrient solution.

Advantages of Hydro Growing

Some of the advantages of hydroponics growing include:

- Large degree of control over the nutrients your plants receive

- Less water wasted as systems recycle the water. A high quality system can use 90 percent less water than traditional methods used to grow plants indoors

- No pesticides or herbicides are required

- Plants can be grown in every season since grow lights are used in place of natural sunlight.

- Less expensive to maintain than a traditional garden

Disadvantages of Hydro Growing

Although there are many distinct advantages of using a hydroponics system in your grow room or box, there are some disadvantage as well:

- Water based diseases can be easily transmitted through hydroponic systems due to the recycling of water

- The plant lights consume energy, and there is a need to have back-up generators in place in case of power failure

- There is a high initial expense for setting up a grow box or room

Advantages of Aeroponics

Aeroponics growing offers many of the same advantages as hydroponics; however, it does have one distinct advantage over hydro growing methods. Since there is no growing medium, plants are able to absorb more nutrients, which can lead to lusher growth and bigger harvests.

Disadvantages of Aeroponics

Like hydroponic growing, aeroponics is expensive to set up and requires electricity. In addition, an aero system requires more maintenance, as you will need to consistently monitor the pH of the plants and the amount of nutrients your plants are receiving. Generally, aeroponics systems are more difficult to use than a hydro growing environment, so the growing method is less ideal for beginners.

Whether you're interested in hydroponics or aeroponics, the iHidro grow shop has all of the supplies that you need to grow plants indoors. Check out our selection of products and get on your way to that indoor herb garden or vegetable garden.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is an herbaceous, perennial plant. Native of the Mediterranean region, lovage grows wild in the mountainous districts in the south of France, in northern Greece and in the Balkans. Growing tall, the stems and leaves are a shiny green, has a hint of celery flavor and also a smell of lime when the herb is crushed. Cultivated as a sweet herb, with its roots used for medicinal purposes, its leaves can be used in salads, or to make soup of broths. The bottom of the stems can be blanched and eaten the same as celery.

This article will explain how to correctly sow lovage by means of soil propagation and hydroponically.

Growing Lovage in Soil:


Traditionally, out in the garden, the hardy lovage herb prefers rich, damp soil and a shady site. Before planting, it is important to consider how much space a gardener would devote to growing this herb. Lovage can grow very tall, with adult plants reaching 4-6 feet high. One large lovage plant is enough to keep a family sufficiently supplied with its fragrant leaves throughout the year while many plants create the perfect backdrop for a garden in the ground or set in planter pots.


Lovage grows well from seed. Start indoors 6-8 weeks before planting out at a depth of 2.5 cms in small peat pots. Seeds require on average 10-20 days for germination. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed. It is advised to transplant the seedlings again in autumn or spring to positions 2 feet (60 cms) apart. By the time the seedlings are four years old; they will have most likely reached their full size and should be spaced about 4 feet (1.2 m) apart.


Lovage may be harvested after the first growing season if the plant is growing healthily. If very large, aromatic leaves are desired for flavoring, the plants must be watered especially well throughout the course of its life. If the lovage plant has enough water, plentiful cuttings can be taken from the plant a few times a year. As with most culinary herbs, the best time to do cuttings are in the morning after the morning dew has dried. Best used fresh, lovage can, however, be stored frozen in plastic bags or even dried. If only the leaves of the plant are desired, then the plant should be kept from flowering and seeding.

Lovage can successfully be dried in a cool oven, at a temperature of a little less than 200ºF (94ºC with the door left a little ajar). It is important to check the leaves often to prevent burning. Lovage can also be dried by tying cuttings in small bunches and hanging them upside down in a well-ventilated, dark room.

Lovage has also been noted as having a high amount of quercetin, a plant flavanoid said to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The plant has been used medicinally for generations as it can relieve abdominal pains due to gastrointestinal gas. When consumed as a tea, lovage is also said to decrease flatulence.

Insects and Disease:

Lovage, like many leafy vegetables and herbs, is sometimes the target of leaf mining insects such as burrowing worms. Unfortunately, control of these leaf miners, even with pesticides, isn't very effective. The only thing that can be done is manually pick the affected leaves as soon as they are spotted. If the problem becomes widespread, then a cover over the crop is a good option in order to limit the flying leaf miners from leaving its eggs inside the lovage leaves.

Seed Saving Instructions:

The plant produces huge flower heads of seed. To properly dry for storage, allow the flower heads to dry on the plant. Once dried, collect the seeds and store in a cool dark place. Seed heads may also be bagged to capture ripening seed. Dry seed head can be brittle, so collect over a bowl, basket, bag or other container to collect all seeds.

Growing Lovage Hydroponically

Hydroponics and Growing Lovage

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants, like vegetables and herbs, without the use of any kind of soil. All the nutrients a plant needs while growing primarily in water are provided from a water-based nutrient solution. Anchors such as rockwool, pumice, sand or perlite are desired, so that the seedling can keep itself anchored.

The advantage of hydroponics over conventionally planning in soil is that when gardening with this method, plants can be placed close together. This in turn increases the yield in the space being used. There are also no weeds in hydroponics and normally no pests. Hydroponics, however, does more often than not cost more for the needed equipment as well as taking a little more training to learn the process as compared to the standard soil gardening technique.

Lovage can be grown hydroponically and has been noted to grow much more quickly in water than in soil. To grow lovage in this way, large amounts of equipment needn't be purchased as a small DIY hydroponic garden can easily be set up with reusable materials. This method of hydroponics is called hydroponic organics, and is currently one of the most popular methods of hydroponic growing. It allows the gardener, no matter the level of expertise, the freedom and flexibility of choosing their plant’s container, organic solution, and fertilizer (if desired) as they water the plants directly without the use of an automatic water on a timer. Hydroponics, although having the image of being a complex operation is in fact a moderately simple and inexpensive process when done on a small scale.

DIY Hydroponic Organics

  • One 2-liter soda bottle, emptied and cleaned
  • A pair of scissors
  • Heavy tape (duct tape is a good choice)
  • A Styrofoam cup
  • A pencil or screwdriver
  • Perlite
  • A lovage seedling with the soil gently cleaned from its roots
  • Hydroponic nutrient solution


  1. Cut the top from the soda bottle. The hole should be large enough to hold the styrofoam cup. Make the cut level so that the Styrofoam cup will sit evenly in the hole.
  2. Cover the cut top of the bottle with the heavy tape. This is to keep both the styrofoam cup in place while hiding sharp edges of the plastic bottle.
  3. Using the pencil or screwdriver, poke several holes into the bottom of the cup. The holes should be large enough that the roots of the lovage plant will have a way grow through to reach the water, while the pieces of perlite do not fall through.
  4. If the seedling was started in soil, wash the roots gently before planting the seedling in the perlite. Make sure that there is no soil on the roots of the seedling. With clean roots, plant the lovage seedling into the perlite. Put enough perlite in the cup to fill it almost to the top.
  5. Follow the instructions written on the label of the hydroponic nutrient solution. Carefully mix enough hydroponic nutrient solution to fill the 2 liter bottle that the cup now sits in. Fill the bottle with enough of solution mixture so that the mixture is touching the lowering roots of the seedling within the cup. Ensure the solution does not cover all of the roots of the plant because the seedling’s roots also need access to oxygen in order to grow.
  6. Preferably, lovage does well with a relative humidity and at least six hours per day of light. This is the optimum conditions for the seedling to grow. If this cannot be adequately supplied to the seedling by natural means, grow lights and timers are also available from grow shops. These allow direct control over the amount of light the plant receives.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

If you've decided to try hydroponics gardening to grow plants indoors, you may be uncertain exactly how to begin, but don't worry, you're not alone. Many of the questions that we get at our grow shop are from new gardeners who need a little help getting started. To help get your vegetable or herb garden underway, just follow these simple steps.

1. Make sure you have all of the essential components for your hydroponics environment. You'll need grow lights and a ballast, a grow room or grow box and a hydroponics system with water filters.

2. Decide what you're going to grow! If you're not sure what to place in your hydro grow environment, check out our earlier blog post on selecting vegetables and plants for hydroponic gardening. You'll also need to decide if you intend to buy starter plants or germinate seeds. If you're going to start with seeds, continue on. For plants, skip to step 11.

3. To get your seeds started, add 1 quart of water to a large container. Be careful not to make it too hot or too cold.

4. Check the pH level of the water with a tester. You want the pH to between 5.5 and 6.5. You can use water treatment products to alter the pH, but a simple, organic way is to add drops of lemon juice gradually. If you end up with a pH below 5, add a little more water in until you're in the perfect range.

5. Soak rock wool cubes in the water for at least 1 hour. Make sure that you wear protection over your face like a surgical mask to protect your lungs from the small fibers in the cubes.

6. Shake the cubes off when you take them out of the water. Wringing them will damage them.

7. Place the seeds inside the cubes. Typically, you should put just one or two seeds for vegetables in each cube. For an herb garden, 7 to 8 seeds can be placed in each cube.

8. Use a plastic planter tray to hold the cubes. Cover with a lid and let them stay in an environment that is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not use plant lights.

9. Each day check on your seeds and give them a spritz with water.

10. Once your plants are at least 2 inches tall and have at least 3 leaves, they are ready for transplanting.

11. Set up your grow room or grow box with your growing lights, the nutrients delivery system and the other components. Follow the instructions provided with your growing environment.

12. Place your seedlings or plants in perlite in growing pots.

13. Fill the hydroponics system with the liquid for nutrition, according to the directions.

14.Congratulate yourself! You're on your way to organic, hydro gardening indoors!

You can purchase many of the growing supplies that you need for your hydroponics herb garden or vegetable garden right here at the iHidroUSA grow shop.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Edible flowers are wonderful garnishments for so many different dishes for that creative touch as well as an interesting flavor for your salads.Five star chefs love working with edible flowers for their own creative touch to some of their finest dishes. Due to their profusion of beautiful colors and shapes, your garden will be magnificent! Edible flowers also attract the wonderful world of bees, pollinating and promoting your garden's rejuvenation.

Although many gardeners only use them for decoration purposes, you would be quite surprised how tasty they can be. Nasturtiums offers a wonderful spicy or peppery flavor while repelling aphids and other garden pests as well. Their heavy vines literally kill underlying weeds, saving you some serious weeding time.

Always grow edible flowers organically because other soils and treatments can produce insects, insecticides or pesticides.

Growing Edible Flowers with a Hydroponic System:

Getting out of the garden and moving indoors for the best, organic solution for growing these edible flowers is not only a great deal of fun, but a healthy alternative.

Hydroponics do not use soil, but instead a nutrient solution that helps grow plants more quickly and produces a healthier plant. Herb gardens will fit nicely in your home, taking up very little room and offering a wonderful nutritional outcome. You place your plants in a grow box which can be either a partially enclosed system or completely enclosed system. These boxes are ideal for growing your plants during the winter months and will protect them diseases and pests while growing them in the summer months.

Grow Boxes:

A completely enclosed grow box is an excellent choice because it comes with so many features. There is a built in grow light enhancing advanced and healthy growth. You will also have a fan system for excellent ventilation for circulation of air and preventing any fungi or mold development.


The hydroponic systems water your plants with a rich nutrient solution that many growers find far above growing in soil. Some of the advanced features include their own air conditioning to prevent temperatures from increasing as well.

Grow Lights:

Grow lights are fluorescent bulbs that offer a certain amount of light for plant development. Other plant lights can be hung approximately 2" above the height of the plants in a partially enclosed grow box and should be lifted as the plants continue to grow. There are other bulb options for grow lights that are slightly more energy efficient than fluorescent bulbs.

LEDs (light emitting diodes)
High intensity lamps
Sodium vapor lamps

Grow Rooms:

Grow Rooms can be just about any size where plants are in a controlled environment. You may choose from a variety of sizes, depending on your space availability.There are many reasons why gardeners prefer to use grow rooms. In many cases, there are no other alternatives for growing various plants then indoors due to outdoor elements. As plants do very well growing with plant lights, these rooms are perfect. Keep in mind, these rooms can become quite hot, due to these lights, and therefore it is highly recommended you acquire a ventilation system such as a fan.

In order to purchase the right hydro system for your needs, you should visit your local hydroponics grow shop. If you don't have someone local who deals in hydroponic systems, you will find what you need online. You can ask questions, receive great advice and purchase all your needs in one place!

Edibles and Non-Edibles:

There are literally dozens of edible flowers to choose from, if you have never grown this variety of flower always check with professionals for what is truly edible or what could possible make you extremely ill, even causing death. Therefore it is extremely important that you know the differences.

When Serving To Others:

Also, keep in mind, just like other foods we consume, some people do not react well to these flowers or they might have an allergic reaction toward them. If you or a friend have never consumed an edible flower, it is strongly suggested to try only a tiny piece and then wait for an hour or so to see if there are any negative reactions.

Never feed these flowers to your family or friends unless you know they are Ok with it. Again, check first to make sure they won't have an adverse reaction from consuming them.

There are so many edible flowers for you to choose from and grow. Whether you are purchasing to enhance your herb garden's appearance, or to just add an accent to your favorite dishes, always check with experts before purchasing. This is for you and your family's well being as well as your friends.

So Many Varieties and Flavors:

The beautiful blue star shaped Borage blossom is a wonderful choice if you like the taste of cucumbers. They work really well in salads or as a pretty added touch to your tropical party drinks.

Try chive blossoms with your grilled fish or other favorite summer grilled dishes. How about adding a very small amount of lavender blossoms to that homemade ice cream! Just don't go overboard because lavender can be extremely potent.

For Decoration:

Even if you are not quite sold on eating flowers, you will want to include them in your herb garden designs. They are absolutely exquisite to see, adding awe to your garden. Use a little creativity when planning your hydroponic garden and include these flowers, you will not be disappointed.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details By Charles R. Sword

Hydrogardening has become extremely popular over the past decade due to the ability of growing healthy, nourishing produce indoors. With so many products being treated with pesticides and chemicals, more people are looking for better ways to incorporate their favorite vegetables and herbs into their diets. Hydroponic gardening is the best alternative for those wanting a better produce on their table.

What Is A Hydrogarden?

A hydrogarden is a method of gardening using hydroponics. Hydroponics is a subdivision of hydroculture and method of growing plants in water instead of soil and administering a mineral nutrient solution. Hydroponics is Greek for: hydro (water) + ponos (labor).

In the 18th century, researchers discovered that plants absorb mineral nutrients in both water and soil. Soil performs as a mineral nutrient reservoir but is not an indispensable element for growing plants. It was discovered that when mineral nutrients were dissolved in water, roots were able to absorb them without soil.

It is believed that the Gardens of Babylon was one of the first hydroponic gardening techniques in the world.

Through the use of hydroponics, roots have shown faster growth and plants are developing a greater yield. It is no wonder that gardeners, both experienced and beginners, are getting more involved in hydrogardening. The labor gardeners are putting into hydrogardening is a great deal less than they experienced with outdoor gardening. They have also discovered their produce is much more flavorful with both fruits and vegetables and freshness exemplory.

Hydroponic Gardening and the Environment:

Hydroponic gardening does not use harmful pesticides or chemicals and is very environmentally friendly. Hydroponic gardening uses a great deal less water than standard outdoor gardening and you never have to worry about weeds because there is no soil involved. One major plus to hydroponic gardening is your being able to enjoy your favorite fruits and vegetables year round. There are no limitations for producing these wonderful foods in the dead of winter because everything is grown indoors within a controlled environment.

For those gourmet chefs, you will have fresh, flavorful herbs at your finger tips for those exquisite recipes for family and friends.

Say Goodbye To Tasteless Produce:

As you probably know, by the time produce are grown and shipped to your local store, most of the nutritional values and flavors are gone. Freshness is a word totally remote for what you are paying and you are paying for them, high-end!

Gardeners have known for a very long time that the foods they have grown in the gardens are far superior to foods presented at their local supermarket. With hydroponic gardens, they are discovering even higher levels of freshness and flavor. By growing hydroponic gardens, you are serving up foods that are healthier to your body with the total lack of toxins.

Going Green:

Over the past decade everyone has been talking about "going green". In many cases, everyone associates this term with recycling or buying products that have little to no added chemical processing additives. Whether it's a hand lotion, facial cream or fast foods.

Growing vegetable gardens, fruits or herb gardens is also going green. Hydroponics deals with no soil which incorporate fertilizers and dangerous chemicals. These elements are also very harmful to plants and water, causing environmental problems. Plants grown hydroponically are healthier, stronger and offer a much better yield. Hydroponic gardens are very easy to start and produce great results as well as being highly cost efficient.

What Is Urban Gardening?

If you have lived in or visited a large city, you have probably seen gardens being grown of the tops of buildings. Urban gardening is developing a garden and growing plants where actual land and soil are not available. Urban gardening also refers to plants that are grown on windowsills across the country.

Most city dwellers live in apartments or town homes and do not have access to a great deal of space to grow gardens. Hydroponics has turned that completely around and made it possible for these folks to grown their own fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers within their own small spaces.

Large cities, including New York City, have started incorporating hydrogardening within the city for communities. This has proven to be a great way for people to come together and grow wonderful gardens within their own neighborhoods. Not only is this great for individual growers, but has helped create foods for those less fortunate who are in need of healthy foods for their families as well.

Going Organic But With A Price:

Over the years, many people are skeptical about produce in their local stores because of chemical hazards. Their only alternative has been to hunt down places that only grow organic foods. The downside is these foods can be much more expensive and if you do not know the farmer, are they really organic?

Being your own gardener will alleviate your concerns about the quality of produce you are placing on your table. Setting up your own hydrogardens, you know exactly the quality you are getting.

Learning and Sharing The Wealth:

There are many other upsides to growing hydroponic gardens including forming new friendships around your neighborhood, learning and teaching the values of hydroponic plants to your children, discovering a great long lasting hobby and sharing the abundance of your harvest.

A Neighbor In Need:

You might have a neighbor who just can't afford the high cost of produce but would definitely benefit from the gift of a hydrogarden. You can teach them the benefits and show them how to get started and let them know you are available with any questions or problems they might run into, when starting off.

Your neighbor might be elderly and weeding, dealing with soil and the overall hard work of an outdoor garden is out of the question. A hydrogarden is the perfect solution for them to enjoy fresh produce year round and be able to do it themselves.

Teach Your Children Well:

Kids are like sponges, they absorb information and new ideas faster than anyone else. Introducing a hydrogarden into their lives is a great way to teach them the importance of nature, having a healthy environment and how to eat healthy foods that they have grown themselves.

These kids could take the newly found knowledge and bring them into their classrooms as a class project or just to share with other classmates and their teachers.

Your Church and Community:

Educating your church members and pastors to the advantages of creating and growing hydroponic gardens could help out those less fortunate. Churches are always setting up food drives, canned goods, etc. What if they started growing their own fruits and vegetables to help out those with very little? Members of the church coming together and sharing their own skills specific skills is very positive. Some of these members might be quite knowledgeable in gardening and offer valuable suggestions. This is working together to make great things happen in a very positive way.

Summing It Up:

Hydroponic gardens have more benefits than can possibly be imagined. You are not using soil, so there's no need for pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. You are using less water because the water recycles. Plants grow healthier and offer a much higher yield than any other form of gardening. You will enjoy fresh, nutritional and tasty foods throughout the entire year.

On top of all the healthy reasons to start a hydroponic garden, there are many other positives springing up everywhere. These gardens can bring communities together by sharing ideas and offering assistance to those who want to learn. Family and friends will discover a whole new insight into "Going Green" and along the way, you can reach out and help others less fortunate than yourself. The gift of food, a hydroponic garden and teaching children to understand and respect the world around them is pretty powerful!
Hydroponic gardens have been around for centuries but only in the past couple of decades has the concept spread throughout the entire world. Gardeners growing healthy produce on their roof tops or in a spare room are catching on every day. Senior adults are able to grow their favorite produce easily and with little effort. Hydroponics is proving to be an important part of protecting and caring for our environment and without doubt is here to stay.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

More often then not, going to the grocery store is depressing due to the high costs for produce and the low quality. Many times vegetables look like they are on their last leg and flavor is nonexistent. It's no wonder we opt for processed foods and every unhealthy food just because it's cheaper!

Starting your own indoors hydro garden is not only inexpensive, but a nutritionally perfect solution. Many gardeners have turned from store produce, opting to grow their own. They have discovered the wonderful world of hydroponics for the very best, highly nutritional vegetables and herbs you will ever experience.

What Is Hydroponics:

This is a method to grow plants, from vegetables and herbs to flowers, using rich nutrient solutions in water vs traditional gardening with soil.

Here are some of the advantages of gardening with hydroponics vs soil:

  • No soil is needed
  • The water in the hydroponic system recirculates meaning the use of less water
  • Greater nutritional value
  • Pests and diseases are a great deal more controllable
  • Healthier plant growth
  • High yields
  • Enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs during the winter months

Starting Your First Hydro Garden:

As hydro gardens are grown indoors, you must first decide on the space available for your herb garden or vegetable garden. Grow boxes come in small to large sizes so there will be a perfect fit for you.

What vegetables and/or herbs are interested in growing? Common sense dictates that you choose produce that you are now purchasing and consuming.

You need to evaluate your sunlight and whether you can place your grow box in a sunny window or use artificial light from a plant light. The plants you choose will help you decide the light you will need for a healthy garden.

Grow Box:

A grow box is a structure with a base to grow various plants in small spaces. You grow plants with their roots in a nutrient solution or with a medium such as perlite, coconut husks, mineral wood and perlite (to name a few). The nutrients are absorbed by the plants' roots. Grow boxes are either partially enclosed with a base structure or completely enclosed with a frame and walls.

Talk With An Expert:

Once you know your space, your natural light offerings, what you want to grow, it's time to get with an expert in hydroponics. Visit your local gardening shop that offers hydroponic systems and accessories. They will be able to guide you to the best choice of grow box and grow lights that work with your chosen plants. They will familiarize you with water treatments and filters essential for healthy plant growth.

Grow Rooms:

Grow rooms are more sophisticated and also come in a variety of sizes. Your herbs and vegetables are grown in a controlled atmosphere. You are flexible regarding their light source from artificial grow lights, natural sunlight or a combination of both. The downside to grow rooms is the amount of heat that develops in this environment. As they become excessively hot, you must provide good ventilation (such as a fan) to prevent harming your plants.

Water Filters and Treatments:

Your water supply must always offer a proper pH balance in order to assure healthy plant growth. Your water filter should deliver pH balanced mineral water by cleaning the water and removing contaminants.

Purification should remove chlorine, chemicals, metals, sediments and other contaminants that would otherwise alter your happy plants.

Water treatments provides more oxygen in your water and reservoir. It will promote constructive Microbes in your root zone, prevent slime buildup and odors and allow for better absorption of nutrients.

In Conclusion:

Take your time and make a list of everything essential for starting your first hydroponics garden. Get professional advise and make sure you have all the equipment and supplies you need to start growing your favorite herbs and vegetables.

You will discover how easy it is to grow fresh, healthy foods to enjoy all year round.


Parsley is a member of the carrot family and is an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals. This fabulous herb is grown as an annual and depending on your taste you can grow flat leaf varieties or curled leaf varieties. Flat leaf varieties are excellent for stews and soups where curled leaf varieties are best for garnishing dishes or salads.

The Right Environment for Growing Parsley:

Parsley needs a well draining soil and plenty of water. This herb also requires afternoon shade especially if you reside in a hot climate. The beds should consist of compost and manure, mulched into a depth of approximately six inches.

Planting Parsley:

The best options for growing parsley are a nursery stock or seeds at the beginning of the growing season. When there is still a slight chance for light frost, sow the seeds outdoors approximately 1/4 inch deep. The seeds will germinate within 14 to 21 days, then soak in warm water for 24 hours before actually planting.

Parsley demands a good fertilizer with one application of slow releasing organic fertilizer in the spring and then monthly to ensure a healthy growth.

Is Parsley Prone to Insects and Diseases?

You can cut down on the chance of diseases by making sure your plants have good air circulation. Apply a good organic fungicide early if you see signs of disease. As a general rule, parsley is rarely pestered by pests! An occasional butterfly leaving larvae might occur as they love parsley. As butterflies start off as caterpillars, you will find one or two from time to time, just pick them off. All in all, parsley is a robust, healthy plant and you shouldn't run into many of the problems other plants are haunted by.

Harvest Time:

Once your plants have produced leaves with three branches you should start harvesting. You will want to cut and collect the plants during the summer when they are plentiful. You can bag them and dry them for the winter months. To dry parsley simply tie the cuttings in small batches and hang them upside down in a dark, well ventilated area or room. Once they are dry, remove the leaves and stems and place the rest in storage. Crush only small amounts that you are going to use immediately.

About Seeds:

Parsley loves to cross pollinate so you might want to isolate large areas by the second year. Dig up the roots in the fall season before the danger of a hard frost. You should trim the tops of the plants approximately by 2 inches. Take the plants and store them in leaves, sawdust or sand. Their roots will store well for approximately 3 to 4 months in an atmosphere of 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the plants are dry, harvest the seed heads and separate them by hand.

Along with butterflies, this wonderful herb also attracts "beneficial" insects such as ladybugs! You might want to read up on beneficial insects so you aren't destroying them.

Growing Parsley Hydroponically:

  1. Parsley grows very nicely hydroponically! In order to go this route, you need to know how to hydroponically grow! Hydroponic gardens do not consist of soil, the only medium is a nutritional solution that gives plants oxygen, excellent nutrients and water!
  2. The nutritional solution drips into the plants and drains regularly, allowing your plants to receive the proper nutrients they require.
  3. So if you are interested in hydroponically growing plants, you'll need to learn how to go about it.
  4. The first step will be to plant the seeds and steps that need to be followed for absolute success!
  5. Parsley is opposed to germination unless they are exposed to moisture within a 12 hour period. Keeping the seeds in warm water, will discourage any opposition and not harm the parsley seeds.
  6. Soak rock wood cubes overnight then plant the seeds within the cubes, this will help germination.
  7. Place the rock wool cubes mix in a flat low box and then plant the seeds in the box approximately an inch apart, assuring there are two or three plants in each rock wool cube.
  8. You should sprinkle a fine thin layer of moist soil over everything about one-fourth inch high. Keep the soil temperature around 70 degrees and water regularly. Sprouts should start appearing after 2 weeks of planting.
  9. Once there is an appearance of leaves you need to place a florescent light approximately 2 inches above the plants and provide them with nutrients.

How To Transplant Your Parsley:

Start by setting up your hydroponics container and filling it with hydroponic fluids. You must prepare your hydroponics garden before you start your transplant process. Depending on the hydroponics system and planter you choose there are various steps you must take to prepare before transplanting your plants. Always follow the instructions in your manual and then test it.

Clean Your Plants Before Transplanting:

Hydroponics planters require the removal of soil from the plants. Carefully remove your plants from the rock wool cubes and then gently clean the roots with water. Each plant must be carefully placed allowing enough space for the sprouts to grow. There should be at least 2 to 3 inches between each plant.


Good drainage and proper refilling of fluid is extremely important. Maintaining constant care will allow your plants better, faster growth and stronger plants. You must pick off leaves once the parsley reaches 2 to 3 inches in growth from the stem. Done properly new leaves should replace the old ones.


Parsley is a popular and wonderful herb. Taking a little time to grow fresh parsley, you will experience the very best flavor and aroma.

Follow instructions, whether you are growing your parsley in your backyard or hydroponically. You will have a treasure trove of one exceptionally amazing herb for all your culinary needs.

Bon Appetit!

0 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Growing Marjoram is highly popular among gardeners due to it's wonderful aroma and spectacular flavor for seasoning. Although it tastes similar to oregano, it is quite a bit sweeter.

Marjoram is a perennial but is often grown as an annual and averages around one to two feet in height. The leaves are a grayish green with small white flowers.

What is the Best Environment for Marjoram?

This versatile little herb can be grown in pots, herb gardens or various other containers. It will grow in just about any soil with little water and wants full sun. Consider sandy soil because it drains very quickly and Marjoram likes good drainage.

How Should Marjoram Be Planted?

You should start growing the herb indoors for approximately six to eight weeks before the last frost. After this period, sow the seeds that are just beneath the soil surface. The seeds will germinate within ten days, then plant them outside once the risk of frost is no longer a danger. You should separate the plants a good eight inches apart when planting.

You do not need to use fertilizer, they will do very well on their own. Once the plants have become robust in growth, approximately 5 to 6 weeks after transplanting you may start harvesting.

How to Harvest:

Once the plants have reached 3 inches, you can starting harvesting. If you pick the shoots before their flowers open, you will get the best flavor from these herbs.

Drying the Herbs:

Marjoram offers the best aroma and highest level of flavor when dried. Take the cuttings and tie them together in small bunches. Hang them upside down in a well aired/ventilated dark area or room. Once the marjoram has dried out, remove the leaves and stems and store the rest. Do not crush them until you are ready to use them, then just take a small batch and enjoy. Do not crush them until you are ready to use them, then just take a small batch and enjoy.

Does Marjoram Suffer From Insects or Disease?

Once in a while marjoram will be attacked by fungal diseases and/or spider mites and aphids. You can use an insecticide soap or any variety of natural insect controllers.

You can help prevent diseases by providing good air circulation and by watering during sunny mornings in order for the leaves to dry out by evening. As mentioned earlier, a good sandy soil will allow quick drainage which will also help to keep diseases down.

Can I Grow Marjoram in Water?

You most certainly can grow this herb in water. This process is called hydroponics and is actually inexpensive and easy to do in small amounts.

What You will need:

  • 2 liter size plastic bottle
  • Scissors
  • Heavy duty tape - electrical or duct tape
  • A styrofoam cup
  • Screwdriver or pencil
  • Perlite
  • Seedings free of soil around the roots
  • Hydroponic nutrient solution

How To Put This All Together:

Take the bottle and cut the top off. You want to be sure that the whole is wide enough to hold the styrofoam cup. Also when cutting around the bottle keep it even because you want the cup to sit squarely in the whole without tipping on one side or another.

Take your heavy duty tape and cover along the top of the cut. You don't want sharp edges cutting into the cup once it's inserted in the whole. The tape will also help keep the cup in place.

Using your screwdriver or pencil, puncture some holes in the bottom and sides of the cup. These holes will allow the roots of the plant to get to the water.

Fill the cup almost to to the top with the perlite and then plant your seedling in the perlite. Again, make sure there is no soil on the roots, if there is, rinse the roots throughly but gently to remove all soil.

Now you are going to take your hydroponic nutrient solution and mix up enough to fill the bottle. As these solutions come in various concentrations be sure to follow the directions/instructions on the label carefully. You want to make sure that your solution is a normal strength and not more.

Fill the bottle with the mixed solution where it will reach the roots of your plant. Do not over fill the bottle so the roots are submerged under the solution. The roots of your plant must be able to get oxygen.

Set your plant-filled cup in the bottle and place the bottle in a bright area. Marjoram will grow nicely if it can absorb six or more hours of bright sunlight each day.


  • Your hydroponic system will fit nicely on a windowsill or a counter area. If you do not have good natural light, you can use a fluorescent light.
  • The light should be hung four inches above the plants and should be adjusted as the plants increase their height.
  • Always keep your water high enough for the roots to reach it at all times.
  • Replace the water and nutrient solution every one to two weeks in order to insure a good chemical balance.
  • Should algae appear inside the bottle, remove it completely when you are changing out the water. Algae will take nutrients away from your plant.


You can make your own hydroponic nutrient solution if you wish. Take a teaspoon of water soluble fertilizer and half a teaspoon of Epsom salts and mix in a half gallon of water.

In Conclusion:

Marjoram is a wonderful herb that will enhance your culinary delights. Its aroma and flavor is one of the finest amongst herbs. You can grow this delightful herb with very little effort if you simply follow the simple needs and care this plant requires. You might want to add oregano to your herbal garden as well. They are similar yet they are so exceptionally different with their own very special aroma and taste!

Bon Appetit!


The food industry and manufacturers of additives have once again shown the all mighty dollar outweighs the health concerns of the consumers. Stripping the veil away from the food industry reveals the food industry has absolutely no problem or concern about exposing people to trillions of toxics known as nanoparticles. Our foods are riddled with these poisons and making consumers sicker with each passing day. What are Nanoparticles and what affect do they have onpeople? Nanoparticles are microscopic objects that act as whole units in terms of properties and transport.

Because the food industry has been usingnanotechnology in countless applications from the foods we eat to paints we roll on our walls,there is no wonder the industry is against honest GMO labeling (genetically modified organism).

Studies have shown that Nanoparticles form a whitening agent known as titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is capable of inducing tumor-like alterations in the human cells of people exposed to it.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) has proven to be cell damaging and studies have shown when it is exposed to normal cells these cells turn cancerous.

Gastric Epithelial Cells:

Translated:Stomach tissues that cover the surface or line a cavity that performs various secretory, transporting or regulatory functions.

Researchers tested humanstomach cellsthat comein direct contact with foods we eat. Food products incorporating nanoparticle (TiO2) are causing deep concerns within the medical community.

Is Titanium Dioxide Used in Other Applications?

Unfortunately, yes! (TiO2) has a broadrange of industrial applications including a white pigment for plastics, ceramic glazes and paints! It is also found in sunscreens as a sun protection because of its refraction abilities.

We are overly exposed to this nanoparticle in drugs, binding the contents of pills and tablets, toothpaste and adhesives similar to gum. Because (TiO2) is used in far too many consumer products, chances are you have already been exposed in large quantities.

Why Has The FDA Not Regulated This?

Because these industries promised the quantity levels as significantly low, the FDA has not seen a need to regulate and still allows titanium dioxide to reside in many of the products we use.

Nanoparticles are microscopic in sizewhich is why it works so well in products such as sunscreens because they won't leave a white coat that the human eye can see. Nevertheless they are still there whether you can see them or not. Our skin is extremely porous and these nanoparticles will seep into the skin and the blood stream.

It is extremely importantyou read the labels for sunscreens and only purchase those that clearly state "non-nanoparticle" or "0 titanium dioxide".

Size Truly Doesn't Matter:

For some unknown reason, the mainstream believes if something is microscopic in size, it's less dangerous than something larger or higher in quantity. In many cases, it has shown that extremely smaller sizes can actually transmit an even higher toxicity and become a lot more dangerous.

So Who's Protecting Us?

Industries are not stopping their bad practices because the FDA sits in the pockets of food and drug manufacturers. Unless Congress were to start regulating the FDA and their practices, chances are nothing is going to change anytime in the near future. This is shown over and over when the FDA allows these manufacturers and industries to govern themselves.

The continued practice of nanotechnology is completely unconscionable and somewhere around total madness! These industries (and the FDA) do not seem to have a firm grasp on the inevitable self-implosion of their products once consumers wake up and realize they are being treated like test animals. Most people have become abhorrent in the testing of animals for product safety, so how are they going to feel realizing they have taken their place?

What Can Be Done?

As long as there is a growing dishonesty in labeling and hiding any written knowledge of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), consumers need to turn away from these products. With enough pressure placed on manufacturers and loss of their obscene affluence, they will have to rethink their formulas.

Consumers are, eventually, going to follow the steps of their forefathers and start producing their own foods in gardens. Look around the country, more and more people are starting gardens, whether in their backyards or on their rooftops in city environments.

Growing their own foods, free of chemical pesticides and poisonous additives will help dwindle poor health and alternatively have a healthier lifestyle. More people start realizing the food industry is making them very ill and then throwing them back into the arms of the pharmaceutical industry. A strong message is starting to emerge, They Have Had Enough!

Wake up food industry and stop poisoning the people who are allow you the exorbitant wealth you have become accustomed to!

0 Comments | Posted in News By Charles R. Sword


Over the past few years, people with sensitivities toward gluten have also developed certain diseases such as celiac disease. Consuming a great deal of gluten can have a pretty negative impact on your overall health.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a "sticky" protein found in many grain products such as wheat, rye, barley and many other grains. It's called "sticky" because it literally hold nutrients together within the plant. This sticky ability is why it is used in processed foods as a filler and a binder. It is a two part protein that consists of peptides gliadin and glutenin.

Why Are People Turning Away From Gluten?

One of the biggest reasons we are turning away from gluten is that we are not eating the wheat that our parents grew up on. In order to produce a bug-resistant, fast growing and drought resistant product, we have to hybridized the grain. ( Hybridized = to breed or cause the production of a hybrid.) Approximately 5% of the protein found in hybridized wheat is considered a "new form of protein" and this is where the problem lies. This new form of protein leads to increased inflammation within your system, causes an intolerance to gluten and can bring about systematic problems.

How Is Wheat Now, Different Then It Was Years Ago?

Wheat has been de-amidated or in other words, amino groups have been removed from the product. This is done in order to allow the wheat to become water soluble and therefore able to be mixed into just about every single packaged food. Unfortunately, this process has shown to create a large immune response in many people. In this fast-paced world that we live in, we are surrounded with fast foods available at a snap and we are eating a great deal more wheat then our ancestors ever did.

So, What Goes On In Our Bodies When We Eat Gluten?

While you are consuming that "whole-grain" pasta that every health nut under sun claims is good for you, or that 12-grain sandwich, it's eventually is going to enter your intestines. (TTG) tissue transglutaminase is an enzyme that breaks down the gluten into building blocks, gliadin and glutenin.

So, what does all of that mean? Let's break it down so it's more clearly understood. Everything you intake must make its way through your digestive system, your lymphoid tissue or GALT which is the term used for the immune system within your gut! Your system literally reviews everything to make sure there are no harmful substances trying to make their way through.

Now, if you do not have any issues with gluten, the entire process moves along very smoothly and there are no problems. Unfortunately, if you have a sensitivity to gluten , your system identifies "gliadin" as a dangerous substance and starts producing antibodies to attack it. Gliadin is a prolamin derived from the gluten of grain. Prolamin is a simple class of proteins. Those with Celiac’s Disease, these antibodies don't just attack the gliadin, they also go after the TTG which originally broke down the gluten.

Symptoms Within the Digestive System Can Cause Serious Conflicts:

The enzyme, TTG, has numerous jobs and one of the most important duties is pulling together the microvilli, or little finger-like projections on the surface of the epithelial cell within our gut.

Your body collects nutrients by absorbing them through the walls of your intestines. The more surface space there is, the more they can absorb. These Microvilli exist in your intestines to increase the surface area and absorb nutrients. When these fingers become blunt, this is an indication of celiac disease.

When the production of antibodies are cut back within your body to defend against gliadin, these microvilli will erode and decrease your ability to absorb needed nutrients and can cause the walls of your intestines to become leaky.

When this leakage takes place, you can develop digestive symptoms such as bloating, constipation, weight loss, diarrhea, malnutrition and fat malabsorption. Malnutrition can be in the form of lack of iron, anemia, low vitamin D or even osteoporosis.

How Does Gluten Cause a Leaky Gut?

In order to absorb nutrients, our system must be accessible to small molecules. Regulating our intestinal attainability is one of the leading functions of the cells that line the intestinal walls.

That said, people who are sensitive to gluten can have their gut cells release "zonulin". Zonulin is a protein that will break the tight junctions of your gut apart. Once this happens, you will experience a "leaky gut". When this occurs toxins, microbes and undigested foods particles escape your intestines and travel throughout your body via your blood stream. Adding to that, this also allows antibodies to escape as well and these antibodies were formed to originally fight off gliadin.

The Link Between Gluten, Inflammation and Auto-immune Disease:

Antibodies often confuse more than TTG for gliadin and attack other organs and systems. From your skin to your thyroid or your brain can be at high risk. This is precisely why gluten sensitivity is often associated with auto-immune conditions and the onslaught of Celiac Disease. Once this has manifested, this can cause a second auto-immune disease as well.

What To Do If You Are or Suspect You Are Gluten Intolerant?

One of the best tests you can run is to remove any form of gluten from your diet for approximately 3 to 4 weeks before reintroducing it back into your diet. You need to run this test for a good amount of time because gluten is a very large protein and takes a long time to get it out of your system. If you can keep out of your diet for a longer time frame, all the better.

Once you introduce gluten back into your diet, should you feel significantly worse then you were before chances are you have a low tolerance to gluten. You may also request that your doctor run a series of tests:

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • Total IgA antibodies
  • Tissue Transglutaminase antibodies
  • Genetic Testing
  • Intestinal Biopsy

Tests are not always accurate because gluten is made up of hundreds of peptides and gliadin that are broken down into 12 different sub fractions. Quite honestly, your body knows more than any test can possibly show. If you rid of gluten from your body and you feel great and then reintroduce it back into your system and you feel terrible, it's time to unload gluten permanently!


How To Treat Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity:

You should eliminate gluten by 100% from your diet. Even low amounts of gluten from supplements, medications, cross-contamination can cause serious immune reactions. The mentality that gluten is only eaten when out at restaurants is a poor excuse. An article published in 2001 stated that those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating gluten just once a month increases the risk of death by 600%.

For some people, just removing gluten from their diets 100% isn't enough. The damage that has been caused must mend. Even those who only show signs of bloating or headaches, these effects can last up to six months and in some cases longer.

Because the damage has already been done, the gut lining must totally heal. Because of years of ignoring gluten sensitivity, other infections could arise such as parasites, bacterial overgrowth and bacterial imbalances, to name a few. In some cases some folks might need to go completely "grain-free" due to damages that have incurred.

Keep in mind, you are not losing any needed nutrients by cutting out gluten. You could very well be saving your own life or the life of someone you love. The wheat products we consume in this day and age are not what our ancestors consumed, nor did they consume as much as we have in recent years.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell


The technique of growing plants through hydroculture is catching on in leaps and bounds. These plants are grown without compost or soil, instead replacing these components with a nutrient solution. Due to this method's growing popularity, hydroculture has come a long way in foolproof houseplant development and growth.

With a little practice and starting off small, you will be up and running in no time at all and will discover what a fantastic method of growing plants this truly is!

Hydroculture is more expensive than your ordinary soil and compost, therefore it might not be in your plans to grow all your plants this way. Picking plants that are special to you will pay off in the long run, because you will experience healthier plants that will grow with minimum care. You will also be thrilled with your accomplishments!

Hydroculture is also ideal for an office environment where plants get little to no attention and suffer enormously. Watering is only required infrequently and feeding takes place twice a year. We've all passed by windows, corners in hallways or on a desktop somewhere and stared at these poor plants that are one root in the grave. Hydroculture is the perfect remedy and takes little to know maintenance.

Is There a Specific Unit Right for Me?

Although there are several variations, all units are based on the same principle. These units have an outer container that holds the nutrient solution, an inner pot that holds your plant, an aggregate or clay granules that hold the plant while providing capillary action and air space and formulated fertilizer.


The Clay Granules:

These aggregates play an important role in the development of your plants. The normal type of aggregates are a very light grade of expanding clay granules. These granules are very similar to those used in concrete mixes for construction sites. They are approximately 4 inches (12 mm) in diameter, with a dense outer layer, while the inner core is a honeycomb structure. These granules service as an excellent anchor and provide the ability to absorb water which helps to create a capillary action which keeps these pebbles moist.

Fertilizer Technology:

This technology has contributed enormously in making hydroculture a "home suitable" method of growing plants. Soil serves as a cushion against poor feeding, where there is little margin for error when plants are in a nutritional solution alone. This is due to an enormous breakthrough by introducing an ion-exchange fertilizer that releases just the right amount of food over an extended period of time.

Ion-exchange fertilizer has a complex chemical base as it bonds to tiny plastic beads and to major plant foods. Trace elements are then exchanged for impurities in the water such as calcium, calcium, chlorine and fluoride. This exchange goes at a rate that is far more suitable for the growth of the plants then you can possibly imagine.

The fertilizer comes in a batches or loose granules. A batch is placed into the base of a compatible post while the granules are spread over the pebbles and washed into the post. If applied at recommended rates, this should be more than acceptable for at lease six months.

Caring For Your Plants:

Growing and caring for hydroculture plants is relatively simple and trouble free. Periodically checking the water level indicator is the only routine maintenance required and that takes little to no time!

Like conventionally grown plants, these plants require proper lighting, humidity and heat. When provided with these basic requirements, they should be fine. Keep in mind they can also suffer from pests and diseases just like soil grown plants. Fear Not -- they can be treated with insecticides equivalent to soil plants, including systemic types.



We all know that over watering is one of the biggest failures in growing healthy plants. Watering hydroculture plants has got to be the easiest step. Your water indicator will show you maximum and minimum levels. Before adding more water, you should wait two or three days, allowing air to penetrate between the aggregates. Your plants' roots must be able to aerate and that will not happen if you continually add water.

Always use tap water at room temperature. Rainwater or soft water will not contain the chemicals necessary to trigger the ion-exchange process. If you only have soft water, add a few drops of liquid plant food to start the process and that should do the trick. Again, I cannot emphasis this step enough, always use tap water at room temperature!

There's a darn good reason for keeping water at room temperature. Roots can become chilled with this method of growth, especially if the water is too cold. Should the roots become chilled, this is one of the biggest reasons for failure in hydroculture system. You will know if your water is too cold because the leaves will turn yellow and the plant will start dying. Understand, air temperature is not as critical as root temperature.


Potting should only happen when a plant becomes to large for the container it's in. You can either transfer to pots or buy a larger container. If you wish to buy a larger container, be sure and buy appropriate amounts of aggregates and recharge the fertilizer. Wash the pebbles before placing them in the containers. Place the filler tube at one corner and insert the water indicator and then place pebbles around the tubing.

Converting Plants:

Although this is not recommended for beginners, if you wish to try there could be a great deal of satisfaction once you succeed. Start in late spring or early summer so your plants have several months of warm weather ahead of them. Wash the roots, removing all traces of soil, but show caution not to damage the roots.

Once the roots are clean, place your plants in pots with open slatted sides, these can be purchased from your hydroponics supplier. Be careful not to cause much damage to roots when placing the pebbles around them.

Now the pots can be placed in the outer containers. Two critical issues are warmth and humidity. Keep your plants as warm as possible yet shaded from direct sunlight to reduce moisture loss.

Spray with a light mist at least twice a day or cover them with a polythene tent for approximately one month. During this period, try to maintain a minimum temperature of 70 degrees (21 F). After approximately two months, the transition from soil to water roots should be completed.

What Plants Are Suitable:

Some plants are very successful in a hydroculture environment while others are not. Experimentation may be the only way to find out which works and which doesn't. Ivy does not do well, but almost all Ar-aceae plants within that family work well. Philodendrons, sscindapsus and aglaonemas are excellent choices.

Buying your plants from your hydroculture's store will give you the option to grab plants that very suitable for this method of grown..

Talk with your plant shop that specializes in hydroculture growing and you will not go wrong. Start off with plants that are relatively easy to grow if you are new to this method. You can always move up as you become more experienced.

If you have any questions or you are confused somewhere in these instructions, go talk to the experts who are advanced in hydrocultural growing. They will be happy to take the confusion out of growing plants in a hydrocultural method!


Choosing to eat healthy means steering clear of some foods for better alternatives such as organic. Meats, vegetables and fruits grown with little to no processing, often referred to as organic, contain relatively low amounts of additives.

Some of the foods we consume are processed with additives and are neither clean nor sustainable. These foods are harmful to our health and/or the environment. There are foods that experts feel very strongly should be avoided, so let's take a look at these foods. Although these foods are not "banned", they are better left alone and replaced with alternatives.

Canned Tomatoes:

Tin cans are lined with a resin that contains bisphenol-A which is a synthetic estrogen. This estrogen is linked to various health issues including heart disease, Diabetes, Obesity and reproductive problems. The bisphenol-A exceeds acceptable levels and can cause suppressed sperm production or damage to eggs of animals.

Fredrick Vom Saal (Endocrinologist) stated, if you get 50 mcg of BPA per liter in a tomato can, that level is going to impact people, especially the young.

He went on to say that he will not go near canned tomatoes!

If you prefer tomatoes that are in containers vs fresh from produce, choose those that are in glass bottles. These bottles do not use resin linings.

BPA Causes Damage In OffSpring

Microwave Popcorn:

According to studies from UCLA, the bag lining contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and attributed to infertility in humans. Tests done on animals have shown these chemicals cause testicular, liver and pancreatic cancers. Adding to that, the microwaving process causes the chemicals to vaporize and end up in the popcorn.

Olga Naidenko, Toxicologist, believes these chemical remain in your body and also continue to accumulate every time you consume microwaved popcorn.

Researchers are concerned that the levels in humans could reach the amounts that are causing cancer in animals. Some manufacturers, including DuPont, will be phasing out PFOA by 2015. Unfortunately, there will be millions of bags sold between now and then.

It is strongly suggested that you return to the good old days when popcorn was prepared in a skillet. You can opt for real butter or other alternatives such as soup mix, vegetable flakes or other herbs.

You can make your popcorn organic by using coconut oil instead.

Stop Eating Microwave Popcorn?

Corn-Fed Beef:

Cattle, by nature, eat grass and have forever. Unfortunately, farmers want their cattle to fatten up and are therefore feeding them corn and soybeans. This equates to a higher price tag on cattle and lower prices at the grocery store. That also means, less nutritional value for the rest of us. Studies conducted by Clemson University and the USDA found that grass-fed beef is higher in vitamin E, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, omega-3s and more. Grass-fed beef is lower in inflammatory omega-6s and saturated fats that are linked to heart disease.

Joel Salatin is co-owner of Polyface Farms and Author of many books on sustainable farming. He said that cows are herbivores but that doesn't mean they should be fed corn and chicken manure.

You can find grass-fed beef at specialty stores and farmers' markets. You may also find grass-fed beef, nationally, at Whole Food. As grass-fed beef demand a premium, most are labeled very clearly.


Farmed Salmon:

You will not find salmon's natural environment in crammed pens being fed soy, poultry litter and hydrolyzed chicken feathers! Farmed salmon are much higher in contaminants such as pesticides, carcinogens, PCBs and brominated flame retardants. Do you really want your family or yourself eating this?

According to Dr. Carpenter, the highest contaminated fish come from Northern Europe and found on American menus. He went on to say that it's pretty bad when you eat only one of these dinners every 5 months without running the risk of cancer.Dr. David Carpenter is the director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University at Albany

Preliminary tests have revealed this salmon can be linked to DDT, diabetes and obesity. Some do believe the level of omega-3s counter the risks. Concerns are in the high levels of antibiotics and pesticides that are treating these fish. When you consume these farmed salmon, you are taking in the same drugs and chemicals that are treating the fish.

You might want to choose wild caught Alaskan salmon instead. Packages that read "Fresh Atlantic" are actually farmed and therefore a false statement. There are absolutely no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon. How Healthy Is The Fish You Are Eating?

How Healthy Is The Fish You Are Eating?

Nonorganic Potatoes:

Potatoes are a root vegetable that absorb nutrients as well as harmful pesticides, fungicides and herbicides from the soil. Potatoes are also treated with fungicides during the growing process, and then sprayed with herbicides in order to kill off the vines before harvesting.

Richard Moyer, farm director of the Rodale Institute, stated that if you buy a potato from the store and try to make it sprout, it will not happen.

He has spoken with many potato growers who told him, quite frankly, they will never eat potatoes they sell. They have separate plots without chemicals for themselves.

Richard Moyer is the farm director of the Rodale Institute, owned by Rodale Inc. the publisher of Prevention. He is also chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

Washing potatoes will not remove the chemicals that have absorbed into the flesh. Buying organic potatoes will only cost approx. $1 a lb. more and is worth it for your health.

Milk Production with Artificial Hormones:

Farmers treat the dairy cattle "recombinant bovine growth hormone" (also called rBGH or rBST) in order to boost milk production. This also increases the risk for utter infection and pus in the milk. This also causes high levels of hormone "insulin" like growth in the milk. This high level of insulin can lead to prostate, colon and breast cancers.

Richard North is project director of Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO - Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.

Mr North said that when the government approved rBGH, that IGF-1, from milk, would break down in the human digestion. He went on to state that even though there is not a 100% proof that there is an increase of cancer in humans, it is banned in almost all industrialized countries.

Look for labels for rBGH Free, rBST free milk products or purchase raw milk instead.

Do you Still Drink Milk?

GMO Unfermented Soy:

Genetically engineered food causes a great deal of concern because of the manipulation of DNA and genetic coding including one species to another.

Always check labels to make sure soy is Non-GMO or organic. Never consume unfermented soy and if possible, ask the company where exactly Non-GMO soy was obtained.

Buy Only Femented Soy - Foods Fit for Human Consumption



Out of all fruits that are harvest in the fall, Apples would win hands down in being treated with pesticides. Apples are descended from a singular tree in order to retain their individual flavors. As apples do not have a resistance to pest, they are continually sprayed. Although the industry maintains that the low residues are harmless, that might not be necessarily true.

Mark Kastel is a former exec. for agribusiness, co-director of Cornucopia Institute that supports organic foods. He believes it is only common sense to avoid the most treated produce, i.e. apples. He also stated that most farm workers have a higher risk of many cancers.

Studies from all sources are concerned with the startling increase of higher body levels of pesticides being linked to Parkinson's disease.

With the onslaught of Thanksgiving, preparing everything from potato dishes to apple pies, it might be to your best interest to start off with organic ingredients. Use common sense, read labels and have a healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

2 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell


We all have a plant or two that are favorites and we want to continually harvest from. Whether you are taking cuttings from your outside garden or want more harvesting from your indoor garden, it's essential that you go about it correctly.

Before you even start considering a constant supply of cuttings, you must start with a mother or donor plant. This plant should always be productive or abundant and healthy.

Choose a plant to grow that offers as many nodes as possible. An abundance of nodes will assure the plant's stress will remain low when you are making your cuttings. Also, be sure your mother plant is well watered at the time of cloning, as dehydration can be a serious problem for the clones.

Cutting Your Branches:

You are going to cut the side of the branch, approximately 6 inches long. Then emerge the cutting under water and make a second cut about two to three inches in from the cutting's end. This is to prevent an air bubble entering the inside tissue of your clone.

Once you have completed the above step, dip the clone in the rooting gel and place it in your choice rooting medium.

Rooting Gel:

A rooting gel is better than a powder because the gel will stick to the end of the clone and not wash off when watered. The gel also serves as a capping element for the end of the clone, preventing embolisms. IBA is a hormone that generates essential root formation.

Please Note: Never dip your clones into the bottle of gel. This could contaminate the gel for any future use. Pour a sufficient amount into another glass container or place on wax paper.

Rooting Medium:

Rockwood and peat plugs seem to be the favorites for root mediums. You can see the development of the roots without having to tug on the clones to find out if they are taking root.

Minimize Moisture Loss:

You want to make sure your cuttings have a high level of humidity by using a flat cover to maximize the moisture. This is important because moisture is lost during transpiration Transpiration is the passage of water through a plant from the roots and then into the atmosphere.

If you cuttings have large leaves, cut them in half to decrease moisture loss.

The Hydroponic Cloning System:

If you are planning on having many clones on a regular basis, you might want to seriously consider buying a hydroponic cloning system. These systems offer a much higher rate of returns on your rooting success. These systems do not require a medium to plant the cuttings into before they root. Clones can either remain in these systems or can be planted in soil afterwards.

The two most popular systems:

Bubble Cloners:

You can make a bubble cloner very easily, all you need are:

  • One three to five gallon bucket
  • One Air Pump
  • One Stone
  • Some 2-Inch Net Cups
  • Neoprene Collars

Maintain a water level that is just under the net cups in order for your stems to remain moist.

Aeroponic Cloners:

Although these systems are somewhat expensive, they offer the easiest and most efficient way to clone your plants. You should see visible root growth within 8 to 10 days and in some cases as briefly as 5 days.

You can then transplant your rooted cuttings into soil, a hydroponic medium or a soilless medium. Whatever you choose!


It is very important that you keep your cloning system clean. This will prevent the chance of bacteria and fungi developing, which will rot your clone's stems very quickly.

Between uses, run H2O2 through the system for a few hours. Should you find areas that are not cleaning well, take a brush and dilute H2O2 or a bleach solution and apply to the stubborn spots. This will also insure there are no micro-organisms remaining in the system.

To Sum It Up:

Make sure your 6 inch cuttings have few large leaves and maintain a temperature of 75 degrees. Provide anywhere from 60% to 80% humidity.

Use cloning gels that contain micro nutrients with IBA hormones to hasten root development. Water your cuttings with a light, liquid fertilizer that is made specifically for clones and seedlings.

Cloning plants can be a great way to have extra harvests throughout the year. If you are new to cloning, ask your local nursery for assistance. If you are interested in purchasing a hydroponic cloning system, check with a nursery that specializes in them.

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Charles R. Sword


Without doubt, the white potato is the most consumed potato on most consumers tables. Although the skins of these potatoes offer a certain level of nutrients, as a general rule they are not on the top of the list for good food value.

That said, there actually is a potato out there that is loaded with nutrients and packed full of mega antioxidants. It's the purple potato! I'll bet almost none of you have eaten or even seen a purple potato. It's time you did become acquainted with this perfect little gem, because it's extremely good for you.

The purple potato is from South America and is named for its rich, dark purple skin and flesh. These potatoes are loaded in antioxidant phytochemicals which aid in creating a lower blood pressure.

Vegetables and fruits that are rich in color often reveal the nutritional value and that value is quite high. Nutritionists have stated over and over that the deeper and richer a fruit or vegetable appears, the more dense it is in nutrients. It has always been suggested that your diet should consist of a combination of colors to ensure you are getting the best possible nutrients into your body.

Purple has the characteristics of rich and powerful antioxidants also called anthocyanin. From the flavonoid family, anthocyanin boosts the immune system and offers fighting agents against cancer.

Varieties of Purple Potatoes:

  • Purple Viking
  • Purple Majesty
  • Purple Peruvian

There are other foods that offer anthocyanin including blueberries and pomegranates. These foods, as well as the potato, have the ability to protect the structure and integrity of DNA. Anthocyanin also produces cytokines which are extremely important in prompting a proper immune return.

Other Antioxidant Benefits:

Antioxidants offer anti-inflammatory values that will protect the health of capillaries and strengthen membranes. It has also shown to regulate estrogenic activity, thereby lowering the risk of hormonal related diseases.

Lowering Your Blood Pressure:

A study that was presented in 2012 at the American Chemical Society national Meeting in Denver, stated that consumption of purple potatoes actually lowered the blood pressure of those consuming these potatoes. It is believed the consumption of these potatoes had an effect on the capillaries and blood vessels.

Purple potatoes have a high concentration of chlorogenic acid which lowered the blood pressure in mice.

What About Flavor:

Most consumers are accustomed to eating white potatoes for their flavor and texture. Given the nutritional values in purple potatoes, what do they taste like? Actually, the purple potato tastes very much the same as your standard white and is actually a little creamier in texture.

Cooking Purple Potatoes:

You should cook these potatoes with the skin on, as you should with the white potatoes. Keeping the skin on allows moisture to remain within the potato and prevents the loss of their nutrients.

The skin on these potatoes are loaded with vitamin C along with polyphenols and potassium.

The best ways to prepare purple potatoes are through steaming or baking. If you must have fried potatoes, use a clean healthy oil such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Some folks believe in just taking a big bite out the potato from the onslaught! Now granted, as this potato is a new concept and you are still trying to get over the color, this might not be the best time to just chomp down on its royal rawness!

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Mint (Mentha) is one of the most popular herbs due to its excellent aroma and wonderful flavor. This herb spreads profusely and is an easy herb for beginners to grow. It is a perennial and is easily recognizable by its sweet aroma and square stems.

Preparing for Growth:

Mint is not particular regarding the soil it is grown in or the amount of light it acquires. Mint thrives on ample amounts of water and actually grows from underground runners.

You will want to mix your soil with a great deal of compost but stay away from manures. Manures will cause weeds and weeding is extremely difficult within a mint patch.


Even though many opt to grow mint from seeds, it is advisable to select small plants instead. Choosing small plants will give you the ability to select a specific variety. Mint should be planted 1 to 2 feet apart from each other and mulch in order to retain enough moisture. If you have older mint plants, they can be divided every four to five years.

As mint will take over your garden, it's a good idea to actually plant them in a container that is sunk into the soil approximately 10 inches deep.

Harvest Time:

The best time to harvest mint is in the morning before dew evaporates. In order to dry the mint, cut the stalks above the first set of leaves as soon as buds appear. Hang them upside down in a dark, dry and well ventilated room. They should remain there for approximately 2 weeks or more. Mint can be harvested quite often for your enjoyment.

Diseases and Insects:

Mint is highly vulnerable to fungal diseases. Remove the infected leaves by hand and apply an organic fungicide when fungus first appears.

Aphids, flea beetles, spider mites and cabbage loopers are common pest ailments for mint. You should apply a natural pesticide to prevent further infestation and damage.

Seed Harvest:

Harvesting can begin once the blooms start turning brown and dry and the heads are completely dry. Very gently crush them between your hands and carefully fan away the debris.


Growing Mint Hydroponically:

Hydroponics is a way of growing plants without soil and is replaced with a special mixture and nutrient water system. The water system supplies the roots with needed nutrients regularly.

You can purchase hydroponic kits at your local gardening center that specializes in hydroponic gardening or online. For those with limited space, these systems are ideal. They take up less room than other gardening venues and produce healthy produce. Due to their versatility, they can be used both indoors and outdoors. As mint loves water and requires plenty of it, this is the perfect plant for hydroponic systems. Mint is also extremely easy to grow making it ideal for the beginner as maintenance is light once its been planted.

What you need to grow mint hydroponically:

Getting Up and Running:

Place the soilless growing medium into the growing kit and follow the directions that came with the kit. Each kit can vary, thereby needing a particular medium. Sand, perlite and peat are only a few soil-less mixtures available.

Next, prepare the nutrient solution and water mixture, then add it to the kit. The brand and strength of the nutrient solution can vary as different solutions require different nutrient ratios. Again, follow the directions supplied with the kit.

Place the mint plants into the kit. Although it is best to purchase seedlings that have been rooted in soilless mixtures, do not remove the planting medium from the roots of the plants. Place the mint plants in separate containers as ideally each plant should be separate.

Ideally, the kit should be placed in full sun. You can place the mints outside during the summer months and then in cooler weather move them inside. Place the hydroponic system under a grow lamp for approximately 12 to 16 hours daily for ideal growth.


Hydroponic systems are an excellent alternative to outdoor gardening. You can enjoy numerous herbs and vegetables year round without the hard labor entailed with a garden.

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Charles R. Sword


When the Fukushima nuclear plant suffered a massive radiation leak in 2011 after the record-magnitude earthquake 9.0 and the tsunami, it seeped into the soil surrounding it. This included the soil of the farming village Kawauchi, located 19 miles from the plant, bringing to halt farming and possibly the village’s future.

Before the leak, Kawauchi was the country’s fourth-largest rice producer. However, in 2012, it slipped into seventh place because the amount it outputted slipped 17 percent. Over 105 billion yen has been lost from the nearly 100,000 prefecture farmers since the catastrophic event. Many farmers cannot even begin farming again including the imperial-family suppliers Sonoko and Yoshitaka Akimoto.

Despite repeated lab tests that showed there was no cesium in their crop last year, both farmers are suffering. Certificates have shown that they have organic produce but the nuclear blasts that decimated their area have also decimated their livelihood because no one trusts the food to be free of contamination.

In fact, not even half of the farmers have come back to the area after the disaster to revive the farming industry.

Factory Farming and Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a sub-category of hydroculture and is used to grow plants, not in soil, but with mineral nutrient solutions or another kind of medium like mineral wool, gravel, expanded clay pebbles, perlite, coconut husk, etc. The method is widely used in teaching and biology research.

Although the method was initially discovered in the 18th century, hydroponics didn’t really gain a foothold until the 20th century. In fact, the method, which is now being used to rebuild and revive the contaminated area, was initially tried in the country in 1945 by U.S. occupation forces. Why did they try it? Several local area farmers were fertilizing their fields with human excrement.

Enter in Local Government Official Takeo Endo who came up with the idea of farming without soil to combat the problem with soil contamination. Endo, along with a local government team, has pioneered a project to cultivate food in a sealed-off hydroponics factory.

The factory, which will be the size of a soccer field, is currently being constructed and will be able to grow 8,000 heads of lettuce every day. And, if all goes well, more factories will be built to grow strawberries, tomatoes and other fruits.

The 36-year-old said he was worried farmers were not going to be able to cultivate vegetables and rice for at least 10 years, and growing them in a building ensures that contamination from radiation doesn't happen.

Using a water-solution mixed with fertilizer and LED growing lights, people who once thought they were out of a job may find themselves back in one thanks to the cooperation of the government, researchers and the industry who wants to give farmers an opportunity to compete in the market and let Japanese consumers know their food is safe for consumption.

No Limits To Hydroponic Farming

Hydroponics doesn’t have to be limited to decimated areas; it can be also used in urban areas like New York City, which has a large proportion of people living in it and little farming space to grow food. Hydroponics factory farming could reduce the time it takes to get fruits and vegetables to grocery store, which also reduces the costs paid for the transportation of these foods.

The Past and Current Costs Behind Factory Farming

A big reason factory farming didn’t take off is how much it costs to do. However, with some time and development, the costs have dropped significantly. For a head of lettuce it costs 60 yen to grow; 10 years ago, it cost 300 yen. Today, hydroponically lettuce needs just one percent of water with 25 percent of fertilizer.

Last year, roughly 100 fruits and vegetable factory farms were developed and used in Japan. In 2009, that number was only 34.

Kawauchi’s Factory Farms

The lettuce plant is going to use filtered groundwater and is free of contaminants, and about 25 employees will be hired initially. The produce is set to be sold in supermarkets around Fukushima and will be labeled Kawauchi.

Hydroponics works for fruits and vegetables, because it doesn’t take long to grow the foods. For now, grains cannot be cultivated using this method because they still take months to grow. It’s a new kind of farming that will assist the community affected by the contamination to move forward in the industry.

1 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Charles R. Sword

More people have become environmentally aware, and work in various ways to be greener. One such way people have become greener is to create and cultivate roof gardens. And, once limited to buildings and other similar structures, roof gardens can now be found on moving vehicles.

That’s right! Moving vehicles like buses and vans. That means the next time you are waiting for the bus, you could get an environmentally friendly ride to your destination. Roof gardens on bus tops are showing up in various parts of the world.

How Are Rooftop Gardens Created On Vehicles

Now, you might be wondering, how in the world can gardens be grown on rooftops of vehicles? That’s a good question. And, it’s not as hard as one might think. These phytokinetic gardens created out of aquaponics foam are rooted in a steel grid that ensures the plants stay in place even in cases of sudden stops. A sedum carpet of succulents keeps the flower bed moist along with ferns and small shrubs. The entire area is covered using a protective mesh.

The vehicle’s air conditioning system waste waters the plants. And, with rooftop gardens, the buses see an automatic cool-down of 3.5 degrees Celsius, which saves on the vehicle’s air conditioning.

A roof garden also helps to reduce how much weight is on the roof of the bus. And, since soil isn’t used, additional weight isn’t a concern.

Hydro, Hydroponics, grow plants, grow lights, grow shop, grow room, grow box, herb garden, plant lights,

What Benefits Are Associated With Rooftop Gardens?

There are several worthwhile benefits to the rooftop gardens of moving vehicles including but not limited to:

  • It increases the aesthetic value of the bus.
  • It provides both Thennal and Acoustical Insulation
  • It increases the absorption of CO2 emissions.
  • It reclaims real estate that has long been forgotten.
  • It boosts public awareness and recreation.

What’s so popular about moving roof gardens? Well, the idea behind them is to lessen the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere while also boosting the amount of overall vegetation and bio-diversity in crowded cities, especially in cities that are limited in space due to infrastructure such as Tokyo, Barcelona, etc.

One Creator of Rooftop Gardens

There hasn’t been just one creator of the rooftop gardens, and the design’s birth was for various reasons. One such creator is New York City designer Marco Cosio, who used the idea from his graduate thesis. He designed rooftop gardens to make use of forgotten space on the city buses while also bettering urban life with greenery.

A prototype of his design was installed on the BioBus’ roof. The BioBus is a mobile science laboratory and has become the first bus to have the detailed green roof system. It’s been seen in areas around New York City and has even traveled to Ohio and other places in the Northeast United States. Of course, the BioBus is just one several other mobile gardens, which have been found on trains, trucks and other various other moving items.

Cosi said the public transit buses have a surface space of 340 feet with the Metropolitan Transit Authority owning about 4,500 buses. The amount of green space in the city could expand exponentially. Basically, that means an additional 35 acres of green space.

With so many benefits behind this concept, and the ease in which to implement it, it can definitely be viewed as being the wave of the future. And, there is little doubt that moving roof gardens – be it in the form of buses, trucks, cars, or trains - could be the best in carbon-neutral motoring. You can create one yourself, if you think a home roof garden of plants is doable, than you should go and take part in saving the planet. 

1 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Manufacturers continue to use various additives that studies have shown to cause anything from heart disease to diabetes. Although there are several alternatives that would make their foods safer, the price tag is more than they are willing to pay.

Jeopardizing the well being of their consumers for their profit margin seems to be the sad state of the manufacturing world. That said, there are certain additives that should be checked off your list now and forever. You are about to discover some of the horrific chemicals that you and your family are consuming on a daily basis.

For centuries food additives have been added to boost the flavor and appearance of foods. Additives also increase their shelf life, but what about their contributing value in foods?

Why Additives:

To help the processing of foods, packaging and storage, food additives are in almost all the products we consume. You have to ask yourself, what exactly are these food additives and what do we really know about them. Why do foods have to have an increased shelf life that is leaning toward the ridiculous? Are any of these additives offering any nutritional value or offer even a small amount of health benefits?

Approximately 90% of U.S households purchase processed foods, loaded with artificial additives. That said, how many of these additives hold serious health issues that, as consumers, we are totally unaware of?

Believe it or not, there are actually additives that are worse for your health than others. Here are some of the worst food additives that you should avoid at all costs.

Artificial Sweeteners:

Equal (Aspartame) is just one of many sweeteners on the market today called artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that accounts for more adverse reactions than all other food additives put together. It has been known to affect your short term memory and erode your intelligence. These sweeteners could possibly lead to a variety of diseases including lymphoma, diabetes, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Other serious disorders include: depression and anxiety, Alzheimer's, dizziness, nausea, migraines and seizures. This is just a small list of the affects artificial sweeteners can have on you.

Aspartame is found in most of your artificial sweeteners and should be avoided.

Another, relatively new sweetener, called Acesulfame-K can be found in many baking goods, gelatins and gum. There has not been enough research done on this product yet, but is linked to kidney tumors.

You might well want to steer clear of artificial sweeteners and consider the natural components of sugar instead.

High Fructose Corn Syrup:

HFCS is the number one source of added calories in the U.S. It is a very refined artificial sweetener and is found in almost all processed foods. At lightning speed, HFCS will add more pounds on you than any other ingredient. It can increase your cholesterol and has contributed to an increasing percentage in diabetes and damage to tissues. Flavored yogurts, salad dressings, breads, candies and cereals are just a few foods containing HFCS. You might want to look at those labels a little closer.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Many Chinese restaurants used to add MSG to their dishes. Most of these restaurants have since pulled the additive due to its negative affects. MSG is an amino acid used to flavor soups, salad dressings, chips and frozen entrees. Excitotoxin is another name for MSG, contributing to depression, fatigue, obesity, headaches and disorientation. Neurological pathways to the brain and the removal of your ability to feel full are effects of MSG. Ergo, you eat beyond your fullness and gain weight.

Some of the foods containing MSG are: chips, cookies, many other snacks, seasonings, some Campbell Soups, frozen dinners, lunch meats and some restaurants.

Trans Fat:

Trans Fat is another additive used to increase the shelf life of foods and is considered one of the most dangerous. Deep fried fast foods, some processed foods containing margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils when processed, form trans fats due to their contents.

Studies have shown that trans fats increase bad cholesterol levels while decreasing good cholesterol levels. This increases the risk of heart diseases, strokes and heart attacks. Trans fats also contribute to diabetes, inflammations and other serious health issues.

Trans fats are found in chips, crackers, fast foods, margarine and many baked goods.

Food Dyes:

Artificial colorings found in sodas, fruit juices and salad dressings may contribute to behavioral problems in children. This in turn can lead to a serious reduction in their IQs. Other food colorings have also been linked to cancer.

Blue #1 and #2 (E133)

This food coloring is banned in many countries including France, Norway and Finland. These colorings are found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, pet foods and sports drinks.

Red #3 (Red #40) (E124)

This dye has been banned since 1990 after years of debate regarding their incorporation into foods and cosmetics. Unfortunately, it is still on the market until the products, still out there, run out. Red dye has shown to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in animals and could be an interference in brain nerve transmission.

This dye is found in fruit cocktails, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, maraschino cherries and bakery products.

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)

These dyes have increased the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in animals. They are both banned in Sweden and Norway.

You can find this dye in American cheese, lemonade,candies and carbonated beverages.

Please Note: Macaroni and cheese was on this list. As of Nov 6, 2013 Kraft announced they are removing the yellow additive from this product! Give a big hand to Kraft!!

Sodium Sulfite (E221)

According to the FDA, one in 100 people are highly sensitive to foods containing sulfites. As most of these people suffer from asthma, it is believed their is a strong link between asthma and sulfites. These people usually suffer breathing problems, rashes and headaches. In extreme cases sulfite may cause death by closing down the airway and therefore leading to cardiac arrest.

Sodium Sulfite is found in wine and dried fruit

Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite:

Many foods, including many processed meats, bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, ham, corned beef and smoked fish use sodium nitrate as a preservative and for coloring and flavor. Sodium nitrate is highly carcinogenic once it enters the digestive system. It then forms many nitrosamine compounds that enter the bloodstream and may damage many internal organs including the liver and pancreas. It is considered extremely toxic and should have been banned a long time ago. The USDA tried to ban it in the 1970s but was vetoed by food manufacturers complaining there were no alternatives for preserving packaged meat products.

The biggest reason sodium is still used is because it makes old meat look fresh as it's a color fixer. Sodium nitrate is found in hotdogs, cured meats, corned beef, bacon, luncheon meats, ham and other processed meats.

BHA and BHT (E320)

Known as butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene are preservatives that keep foods from changing color, changing the flavoring of foods or becoming rancid. It can alter the brain, behaviors and possibly cause cancer. These additives are oxidants which can form cancer causing compounds in your body.

BHA and BHT are found in gum, frozen sausages, cereal, potato chips, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candies and jello.

Sulfur Dioxide (E220)

This additive is considered toxic and both the United States and the Federal Drugs Administration have prohibited its use on raw fruit and vegetables. It has an adverse reaction on bronchial issues, especially those prone to asthma, low blood pressure, tingling or flushing sensations or anaphylactic shock. It should be avoided if you suffer from emphysema, bronchitis, asthma or cardiovascular disease, says the International Labour Organization.

Sulfur Dioxide is found in beer, dried fruits, cordials, wine, soft drinks, juices, vinegar and various potato products.

Potassium Bromate:

Potassium Bromate is used to increase the volume in white flours, rolls and breads. It is known to cause cancer in animals, even with the small amounts found in bread can cause problems in humans.

In Summary:

Even though the United States and the FDA are not coming down on food manufacturers and their bad habits of using additives, you can stop buying their products. In this day and age, there are healthy alternatives to these dangerous additives but manufacturers don't want to spend the money to implement better practices.

Read labels carefully and weigh the percentage of additives added to your purchases. For the sake of your health and the health of your family, it's up to you to just say no, I can live without your products. Sometimes the best way to know what is in your food is to grow it yourself, growing vegatibles and fruits hydroponically way is easier than you think.

1 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

Hydro, Hydroponics, grow plants, grow lights, grow shop, grow room, grow box, herb garden, plant lights

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is most commonly used for flavoring Italian and Asian dishes. Fresh or dried its versatility has graced many a dinning room table. These annuals grow between 18 to 24 inches and are extremely prolific. Lets first take a look at growing basil in your garden or in containers:

How To Grow In Your Garden or Containers

This herb thrives in either garden soil or containers and prefer full sun, regular watering, a fast draining environment and rich soil. Prior to planting, be sure to mix compost or aged animal manure into the soil.

Planting Basil

You can either sow seeds indoors for approximately 4 to 6 weeks before moving outdoors or when the soil is warm and the temperature does not go below 65 degrees F. You should space the plants 4 to 5 inches apart from each other.

Seeds should not be planted deeper than just below the soil surface. Germination will take from 5 to 30 days and you should keep the soil moist. It is suggested you apply organic fertilizer once or twice during the growing season to ensure robust growth.

Be sure and pinch back the flower spikes to promote bushiness and prevent spindly growth. Sow regularly for summer use and then freeze the rest for winter needs.When summer comes to an end, allow Basil to go to seed, this will attract bees and other beneficial insects.

How to Harvest

When the plants reach 6 inches in height they are ready for harvesting. You want to wait until morning dew has dried just above the leaf nodes. Basil's aroma is important for many dishes, therefore do not wash the leaves or you will lose their aromatic oils.

To dry basil, hang the plants upside down in a dark, dry, well ventilated room then store in air tight containers.

If you harvest basil frequently it will encourage new growth from the plants.

Treating Diseases and Insects

In order to prevent fungal diseases make sure your site has good air circulation. Should you notice symptoms of fungus, apply a fungicide.

The most common pests that can plague basil are aphids, slugs and Japanese beetles. Use natural pest controls if any of these pests surface on your plants. Natural pest controls include keeping your garden weeded and clean. Use good composts and mulches in the soil and only use organic pesticides when necessary.

Harvest Seeds

Basil forms seed capsules that contain four seeds. You should allow these capsules to dry before harvesting and then separate them by hand.

Now that we have covered outdoor gardening, let's take a look at growing basil hydroponically. Growing basil year round makes this great herb available for all your fine cuisine. You could collect and freeze basil from your garden, or you can enjoy fresh basil by growing it hydroponically!

What you Will Need

Getting Started

First off, purchase basil seedlings from your local nursery or transplant from your garden early in the year.

Once you have your seedlings, remove them from their containers (if applicable) and rinse the roots completely. Hold the root ball under a gentle flow of water while working the root mass apart with your fingers. Remove any clinging soil, being extremely careful when cleaning the top area of the root ball where it joins the body of the plant.

Select four or five plants for each hydroponic container. Add water, following the manufacturer's instructions for the particular container you have purchased.

Once the plants are in place, put your container in direct sunlight. Southern exposure is really the best, but if you do not have that luxury, buy a fluorescent growing light and place your container under it.

Take your hydroponic nutrient and fertilize the plants. The rate should be 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. If you will be harvesting often from the plants, increase the fertilizer to 25%.

The Sky's The Limit

Growing hydroponic basil is really very easy to do and will give you wonderful crops to enjoy year round. As you become more knowledgeable with hydroponic containers, you'll want to add other plants to enjoy fresh produce even in the dead of winter.

2 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Hydro, Hydroponics, grow plants, grow lights, grow shop, grow room, grow box, herb garden, plant lights,

As you have stopped by iHidroUSA.com, you are probably considering growing hydroponic plants at home. You have your eye on a particular unit and are now considering what plants to grow. When choosing your system, keep in mind there are certain plants that will work better than others. Let's take a look at the best choices and which ones should be left along.

If this is new to you, you want to start off with easily grown plants and a relatively simple unit.

The Freshness of Vegetables

Vegetables are always an excellent choice for those wonderful salads that you and your family enjoy. If you are starting off small, stick to vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and celery. If you're wrinkling your nose at radishes, don't be so hasty, you might be pleasantly surprised. Radishes grown fresh have a wonderful taste vs buying them at the store.

If you have ever grown tomatoes in your garden, you know how much better they taste then from those from the store. The same can be said about fresh grown lettuces and celery. You would be amazed how little flavor store bought onions have compared to freshly grown. How about leaving some space for those wonderful herbs that add the perfect touch to your salads?

Stay Away from Root Vegetables

You will need a great deal of space for root vegetables and would actually be a waste of your time and energy. Potatoes and turnips are not going to taste any differently then buying them in the store, so why bother. Root vegetables are much harder to grow in a hydroponic system because they require a great deal of depth.

What to Steer Clear of

There are some plants that would be great to grow but are not good choices unless you have a great deal of space. Steer clear of zucchini, summer squash, corn and melons are not good choices for hydroponic systems. You can grown them if you want, but they are enormous space hogs!

I'd stay away from vine crops for now, as your time is better spent on more compact plants. Once you have mastered growing hydroponic plants, go ahead and give them a try!

The Traditional Garden

Those of you who have worked in a traditional garden environment, you know how much work goes into it. You head off to your local nursery and hopefully you will get there before everyone else!

You race through the aisles for baby plants, grab a few flats of tomatoes, eggplants squash, etc. Head over to the seed racks then, on top of that, load up on those heavy bags of manure, moss, fertilizer and sand! Yikes!

By the time you return home, you are already spent but you must get to work! You will probably spend the next week laboring to finish that vegetable bed. You know the rest: constant weeding, applying bug sprays or end up with bug infestations and whatever else comes down the pike!

The Advantages of Hydroponics

Granted, you will have to think "space" and therefore be a little selective in what you are going to plant. How about two or three peppers, numerous onions, lettuces and spinach? Don''t forget to grab a tomato plant and a selection of herbs.

That's the hardest part of growing hydroponic plants, choosing what you want. You will never weed or worry about bugs! By planting fewer plants of each type will give you the ability to grow a much greater variety with less waste.

Welcome to the World of Hydroponics

Now that you have a good idea of what will work and what will not, it's time to get your hydroponic system and go for it! You are going to be amazed at the plants you produce, their flavor and the little effort going into growing them. As you become more familiar with these systems, you can always upgrade to larger units, where space allows.

2 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details By Charles R. Sword

Using the hydroponics growing medium requires placing plants in objects that support the plants. Then adding a nutrient rich solution through this medium, providing rich food for plant growth. Coconut husks, perlite or clay pebbles are examples of some supportive elements used.

There are two different schools of thought regarding growing plants through hydroponics or aeroponics. There are pros and cons to both methods and pretty much it comes down to a personal choice. Horticulturists have know for some time that removing plants from soil and using other methods of growth reap healthier plants.

Plants expend a great deal of energy growing roots in search of the nutrients within the soil. Nutrients are what plants need to grow and to retain health, not soil. Let's look at the two non-soil methods, covering the positives and negatives of both.

Growing With Hydroponics

The dictionary definition of hydroponics is: "the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil."

Advantages of Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems give horticulturists total control over the distribution of nutrients throughout plants. Plants that are grown using a hydroponics system show greater productivity than plants grown in soil. Many gardeners experience water restriction during the summer months. Many of these systems recycle water, reducing the amount of water used and the headaches brought on by city and town restrictions. Hydroponic systems only use approximately 10% of the water required by conventional gardening.

For those concerned with herbicides or pesticides used in conventional gardening, hydroponic systems never use these chemicals.

As hydroponic systems can be setup and plants grown inside, these systems take very little space and do not rely on seasonal changes.

The Disadvantages of Hydroponics

One of the biggest concerns with this system is water based diseases working their way through the plants. This is caused by the nutrients being passed between the plants constantly. Another concern is the amount of electricity consumed using hydroponic or aeroponics systems alike. The setup for the hydroponic system is expensive because of the equipment involved. The upside is, once the system is up and running, it's still cheaper than conventional gardening methods.

Growing With Aeroponics

The dictionary definition of hydroponics is: "the method of growing plants without soil by suspending them above sprays that constantly moisten the roots with water and nutrients."

Also referred to as Aeroculture, the aeroponics system uses absolutely no growing formulas. The plants are suspended in a dark area while nutritional solutions spray the roots at set intervals.

The Advantages of Aeroponics

Using this system allows plants maximum nutritional absorption. This is due to the plants being totally isolated and no plant chemicals or formulas are applied.

The Disadvantages of Aeroponics

Aeroponic systems required a great deal of attention to ensure the pH levels or nutrient density ratios are exacting. The systems are quite difficult for inexperienced or beginner gardeners to master. Therefore, aeroponic systems should only be attempted by those experienced gardeners who are familiar with its workings.

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In a Nutshell

With more and more people seeking healthier foods and wanting to take charge with what their families consume, the popularity of these growing systems could well become common place in future homes.

Purchasing a simple system and seeing the results of growing your own vegetables and fruits can be extremely rewarding. As you become more profuse and upgrade to a more sophisticated system, you can expand your assortment of plants and experience a significant savings on your supermarket purchases.

2 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell


Leading experts at the Houston Space Center are working on environments that could eventually allow humans to live on the moon and grow their own food. Growing fresh foods in space stations and space shuttles could lead to many more possibilities, including moon habitation. NASA is working with students from the University of Lund to design a system that will allow astronauts to cultivate their own food while in orbit or on space stations.


In the past, astronauts had endured freeze-dried, tasteless concoctions that, though offering nutritional values, were miserable to digest. There just has to be a solution far superior to that!

Welcome Piotr Szpryngwald's Plant System that might actually allow the growth of fresh foods in outer space. In collaboration with NASA and Mirko Ihrig, a design has been created sealing soil and seeds in packets (also called pillows) that will remain preserved in compact areas of the shuttles. These little packets contain all the needed growing materials and are created to allow plants to except the existing water onboard these space crafts.


When astronauts on space stations or in a space shuttle need to plant more food, these little packets can be punctured and planted. The planter is taken and placed into a multi-layer jacket. Szpryngwald's Plants are watered in an unconventional manner of gardening by sucking water through to the bottom of the packets. This should be followed by a successful yield of healthy, nutritional foods for those residing in outer space. These packets can also be used again!


This plant system is one of the most promising designs to date. The system will also allow plants to grow even with the artificial light aboard shuttles and space stations. Making the plant design more durable than plants would be able to withstand on Earth.


How the System Works

The system forces water to move through a trough made of a sponge like material. The packets or "pillows" contain a grainy filling which sucks the water through a membrane in the bottom of the packaging.

These packets will be kept in a circular growing environment which will keep the plants out of the way of the crews dealing with zero to minimal gravity situations.


The Future of Plants

Plant cell cultures have accompanied astronauts to the International Space Station in these special packets. Exposing them to micro gravity or zero gravity and still producing healthy crops is the hopeful end results.

If a new plant system can cultivate produce in outer space, think of what value this could hold for countries who have little to no food nor the soil or ability to do so. If you would like to get more information about the hydroponics system and learn in-depth, click here.

There are those that believe there are little to no differences regarding organically grown foods or foods grown conventionally. Others believe organic is a healthier choice, but the price tag is not worth it. Let's look at both sides of the table and alternatives to store bought organic products.


Pesticides are the biggest concern among consumers. Pesticides do absorb into fruits and vegetables, leaving low level of residue. There are certain fruits and vegetables that are more often contaminated than others. Apples, Spinach, Bell Peppers and Potatoes are a few. It is always advised when purchasing fruits and vegetables that all items be washed before consumption. Most people do not have particular problems eating conventionally grown products as long as they wash them off first. If this does concern you, then do some research to see which foods run a higher risk of pesticide treatments vs others.


Vegetables grown with conventional fertilizers grow quite rapidly, allocating less energy for nutrient development. Soils and fertilizers also play a big role in the overall nutritional value within these foods as well. Composted soil, commonly used in organic gardening, allow plants to grown at a normal pace with an excellent balance of nutrients. Nitrogen is released at a much slower rate when using composted soil.

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Nutritional Value

Studies have shown that organically grown foods offer 40% higher nutrients including zinc, vitamin C and iron. Some vegetables and fruits yield 58% more antioxidants when organically grown. On the other hand, foods purchased from local farmers will offer fresher and more nutritionally sound products because they are not being shipped from somewhere else.

Indoor gardening with Grow tents or Grow room boxes

For those who wish to grow their own organic vegetables and fruits, grow tents and grow boxes have become extremely popular. They take up a great deal less space and various methods have cut down on the high levels of labor.

Hydroponics is a method that will cut back on labor because it requires less water and yields a higher quality then using conventional methods of growth. As hydroponic gardening offers various setups, there's something for just about everyone. From continuous flow solutions to drip methods and passive-sub-irrigation to deep water cultures and setups are quite easy to install.

For those who wish to find an alternative to soil, you may wish to choose a growth medium. Growth mediums replace soil using a base for the plants such as coconut husks or clay pellets.

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Summing Up

Whether you are of the conventional school or the organic school, eating more fruits and vegetables is a much healthier choice. Organic can be a bit more expensive than conventional products, you might want to only purchase organic foods that are more often associated with contaminants such as apples, bell peppers, etc.

Growing your own vegetables and fruits is a nice alternative to the above. It's less expensive and you know exactly what is and what is not in your food. Whatever option works best for you, eat more vegetables and fruits because they are good for you!

2 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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Gardening outdoors isn’t your only option. You can use plants indoors, whether it’s in your bedroom, bathroom or living room for your guests to see. The problem with indoor gardening is they need extra care and attention. They don’t get the natural light or water your outdoor plants get on a daily basis. Here are some tips on growing beautiful plants inside your home.

Watch Out for the Lifespan

Plants don’t live forever—they’re organic material just like humans. Instead of trying to revive a dying plant that’s been in your home for years, consider getting a new one. You can put the dying one to some use by adding it to your compost heap for your outdoor plants. Some plants, like chrysanthemums, will only flower once.

Get Right Type of Soil

You need soil that is specific for the type of plant you are growing. This allows the plants to get the right nourishment and plant roots to be able to grow well. If you are in doubt, you could check with your local garden store for soil types for different plants. It will also depend on the state of growing. Seedlings need light mixtures that retain moisture while older plants can deal with heavier soil.

Try to Follow the Outdoor Climates

This can be hard indoors but plants need a certain temperature during the day and night. They can cope with the sudden drops and thrive when they get this, but it isn’t always possible in a home. The plants also need resting periods, especially those that flower during the summer. In the autumn and winter periods, you need to cut back on the fertilising and watering. This gives the plants a similar experience to the outdoors.

Offer Good Humidity Levels

50% humidity is the optimum level for the majority of plants but 30%-40% is acceptable. Try to keep the area for your plants at this level. This is why the bathroom is often a great option for plants—the humidity from the shower or bath can really help a plant to thrive. When out of the bathroom, invest in a humidifier to help grow beautiful indoor plants.

Try to create a natural environment for your indoor plants. This is the best way to make them look beautiful and as they would if they were in your garden.

2 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

“Never drink the water here.” That is what local newspaper articles have reported, indicating that; in some rural areas of San Joaquin County, the water supply from privately owned water wells is Unsafe for public consumption. More importantly, recent notification to customers of high levels of Arsenic in groundwater wells in two cities in San Joaquin County indicated unsafe drinking water. In light of this, the 2012-2013 San Joaquin Grand Jury (Grand Jury) reviewed the inspection reports of five drinking water treatment plants and toured plant facilities. This was to ensure that water provided by the municipal entities is of the highest quality and safe for public consumption. This informational report is a result of Grand Jury tours and information gathered on how and where our water supplies originate. The question remains: “is our drinking water safe?”

City water supplies come from both under the earth and the rain water left on the surface, called surface water. The water that the people living in the country drink is water that comes from the local rivers, streams, channels, lakes, and underground aquifers. These people are county residents, as opposed to city residents. The population is exceeding the borders of the city and the city is busting their seams open by opening all the borders between the country and the city. Moreover, the development of industrial buildings and factories, places of gainful employment for us humans, but nevertheless, these industrial developments are sucking the county’s water supplies bone dry. Currently, the excess agricultural runoff, commercial, and industrial, excesses; and all lake and river related activities are seriously polluting the water, bringing the quality down to a threatening unhealthy mark.

The water systems are both publicly and privately owned. The systems are maintained in a manner of the highest regards for, clean, reliable, drinking water to the area in the community that they serve. The fact remains, the different water systems may not all look exactly alike because their size and shapes are different, but their intentions are all the same, giving us clean, healthy, drinking water all the time. The origins of the groundwater supplies are basically in more of a pristine condition then the other sources and do not require a treatment for harmful contaminants unlike surface water. The water treatment systems undergo testing for harmful contaminates throughout the entire system to prove to the federal government the safety and the quality of the drinking water provided to the citizens of the area which that water system serves.

Monitoring the dangerous contaminates includes keeping a watchful eye out for:

  • (Chlorinated solvents and fuel components), synthetic organic compounds (herbicides, pesticides)
  • Inorganic compounds (chemical elements containing no carbon atoms), radionuclide’s (radioactive Contaminants)
  • Volatile organic compounds

After the reports are in from the testing’s done; the federal and state standards may or may not have been met. Subsequently, the EPA also calls for a set of standards for the community to uphold and practice regularly. Evidence of the findings can be viewed by the public at your local records office, water treatment facilities and your court house.

Credit: San Joaquin County Grand Jury

1 Comments | Posted in News By Charles R. Sword

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You would think that growing a houseplant would be easy, yet many people struggle to get it right. Knowing the type of soil to use, how often you need to water and how much water is needed is often enough to do people in. The process can now be made a whole lot easier by using a process known as hydroculture. There is no soil or compost used in this growing technique, with a nutrient solution used to make the plants grow. This is something of a dream come true for those who would love to have houseplants, but have had issues in the past.

What should be pointed out, though, is that the costs associated with growing plants this way is quite expensive. What that means is that the cost of filling your entire home or office with plants may be prohibitive, but once you see how easy it is, you might just become hooked. In order to get started, you will need to invest in a hydroculture unit. Once you have it set up, you will only be required to add water once or twice a year. The unit itself is usually comprised of a plastic container, an outer container that houses the nutrient solution and an inner container that holds the plant. You will also need an aggregate, which is often clay granules, to anchor the plant, and you may also find that the unit contains a water reservoir that shows the current water level.

The aggregate plays a major role in the growing of the plants, as they are able to absorb a great deal of water. It is the proper delivery of water that often causes normal plant growing to fail. The soil can also cause a problem when trying to feed plants properly, but that is taken away with the use of the nutrient solution used in hydroculture. The effect here is that the plants are steadily fed exactly what they need, with very little needing to be done to look after the plant you are growing. Pretty much all that is required is to check the water level, which will probably only have to be topped up every 6 months.

This doesn’t mean that you can simply pot the plant and do nothing else, as you will still need to make sure that the plants are placed in an area that affords enough light and humidity. Plants grown using the hydroculture process are still prone to the same pests and ailments as other plants, so you will also need to be on the lookout for those issues, too. The temperature of the water is also important, so make sure that you always add room temperature water in order for your plants to thrive.

You need to be aware that not every type of plant is a good fit for the hydroculture growing process. It’s best to check with a professional at your local garden center before choosing a plant to grow in this way. They should be able to set you up with your first hydroculture system unit, as well as being able to help you choose the perfect plant for your home or office.

3 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Indoor Gardening Tips

Fall ushers in cooler days and nights, beautiful foliage and wonderful festivities surrounding Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Your garden is now preparing itself for much needed rest.  You probably have some plants you would like to enjoy throughout the fall and winter months.

This is the perfect time of year to start grabbing your favorite outdoor plants and bringing them inside.  Coleus, Hibiscus and Geraniums do very well indoors and are often considered indoor plants anyway.

This also is the time to start paying closer attention to your "indoor" house plants.  As the nights get cooler, rooms are being heated and taking a great toll on your potted friends.  Heat can dry out plants, cause leaves to dry out and can start an onslaught of unwanted pests.

You should remove any debris or dead leaves from the pots while circulating the soil and checking for any insects.  This is a good time to add small amounts of fresh potting soil and/or moss.  As plants start to slow down their growth, the administering of fertilizer should become less frequent.  A light, slow releasing fertilizer is best for this time of year.

Plants with wide or thick and rubbery leaves should be wiped down in order to rid of any possibility of pests.

Indoor plants need fresh air and various level of light, depending on the plant.  This is also the case with plants you transfer from your garden into your house.  To determine what is a "house plant" is almost impossible to do because all plants were outdoor plants at one time.  Here are a few plants that most gardeners have found to be very adaptable in both environments:


These plants adapt very well both outside and indoors.  During the winter months they will need some pruning to prevent spindly growth.  A sunny window is the choice environment for Hibiscus.  The sun will cause the soil to dry out more frequently but that's fine because the soil should dry out completely between waterings. Hibiscus are susceptible to aphids, so keep a watch out for these insects.

If you don't have a sunny spot, place your plants in a cool spot with moderate light.  They will drop their leaves and go into dormancy.  Fear not, they will come back in the spring.


Coleus make for great house plants if given proper light and nutrients.  Their ideal temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees and require several hours of high light.  Although they prefer continually moist soil, watering should be cut back in the winter months.  A great deal of water along with indoor heat can cause problems with pests.

If you have these plants in your garden, they should be brought in at the first hint of frost.  Leave them inside until garden soil stays above 55 degrees. Then you can return them to their flower beds and continue to enjoy them all summer long.


Geraniums are a favorite with gardeners year round.  You can either allow them to go dormant until spring time or place them in a southern window.  As these plants are commonly grown in pots, both outside and inside, they are easy to transfer.  Once you bring them in, give them a trim and feed them once a month.  Only water when the soil has dried out.  These plants are very easy to care for and should continue to bloom for you year round.

Indoor plants need as much, if not more, attention as your garden plants.  They are indoors and therefore not open to the natural light or elements of the outdoors.  Their feeding and watering needs will alter during the winter months. Understanding this is crucial to their health.  All plants slow down during the fall and winter months, therefore, their tending needs alter as well.

2 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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Fall Gardening Ideas

Fall is such a wonderful time of year, with temperatures cooling down from overbearing heat of summer and the anticipation of upcoming holidays.  It's time to gear up for cooler days and colder nights.  It's time to move your favorite plants into pots and relocate them until next spring.

The weather, this time of year, is perfect for digging up plants from your garden and placing them in pots.  Herbs do very well indoors and will continue to flavor your favorite dishes and make great gifts for friends and neighbors.

So let's look at some great tips for transplanting herbs from your garden into your home.

I'm sure you have stacks of pots accumulated from purchased plants from your favorite garden place.  Now is the time to clean them up and put them to good use one more time.


Almost any herb from your outdoor garden can be transplanted indoors so you can continue to harvest and enjoy them throughout the winter months. Rosemary, oregano, thyme, mint, chives and even lavender will adapt very nicely and add a beautiful touch to your sunny window sills.

You should transplant your outdoor herbs before the first frost in your area.  Carefully dig up your herbs, showing caution not to damage roots.  Pick only the healthiest of herbs as withering, sickly plants will not do well in transplant.

Herbs require soil that is rich in nutrients and offers good drainage.  Your pots should contain rich soil, moss and sand for good drainage and growth.  Once your herbs are repotted water them immediately, saturating the soil.

Before moving them inside, you must make their move gradual, otherwise they will go into shock.  Leave your pots outdoors for approximately one week, moving them away from direct sunlight.  Then bring them inside for a few hours each day for approximately another week.  Once this process is complete, you should be able to move them indoors for the fall and winter months.

You might prefer to start an herb garden from seeds, creating a miniature indoor garden.  Seeds usually germinate with temperatures between 68 to 85 degrees.  They will require moisture and warmth, but not wet!  Cover your seeds with either wet paper towels or wet newspaper until new growth starts appearing.  At that time, move them into direct sunlight.

Whether herbs you have moved from outdoors to indoors or growing herbs from seedlings, be sure they are mature before processing for your use.  As you have been enjoying your herbs from the garden, I am sure you know how to cut the plants before dicing.  Should you run across an herb unfamiliar to you, be sure a read up on the best ways to get them ready for your favorite dishes.


Fall is known for harvesting and what better harvest can there be then the pumpkin! Pumpkins represent all those wonderful fall festivities such as Halloween and Thanksgiving!  They are the perfect decorations, make delicious pies and roasted seeds just for snacking.


There are absolutely no other vegetables that represent Fall better than the Pumpkin.  Pumpkins should be harvested before the second light frost as pumpkins can be damaged by extreme cold weather.  If your pumpkins are getting inundated with leaf growth and other foliage, cut it back so the pumpkin can ripen more quickly.

You want to leave the pumpkin on its vine until it has reached its full color.  Once you cut off the vine, the pumpkin will stop developing color.

You will know a pumpkin is ready for harvest when you press your thumb against its shell and the shell is not punctured.

Pumpkins should be cured before using.  Place the vegetable in a sunny window or on a sunny porch for one to two weeks.  This allows the skin to harden and will deter any scratching or dents.

Storing pumpkins is quite easy.  The best climate condition is between 50 to 60 degrees and they can be stored in your basement, root cellar, garage, etc.  In order to prolong the life of your pumpkins, dip or spray them with a solution of bleach and water to kill off any organisms.  The solution should be one gallon of water to one teaspoon of bleach.

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Give Your Seedlings the Best Chance with the Right Light

Your seedlings need the right light intensity and specially designed stands will help ensure that.

Replacing the Bulbs

Seeds usually start to grow inside, which means light is really important. However, you also need to ensure you have a good routine for watering and have the best mix for starting the seeds. To get the right grow lighting and give your seedlings the best start, you can use artificial lights. When used in the right way, they offer the seeds the right amount of growing light.

Here are some factors that affect seedlings when under lights:

The Intensity of the Light:

Seeds require a lot of light that is bright. Without this, they will grow leggy and tall. You may not get enough just by placing your plants on the windowsill. Fluorescent lights are often not the best option to ensure healthy pants, since they give off some heat. LED grow light system is safer on long running hours, that saves electricity and does not create unnecessary heat in the grow room area. 

You can change the space between the plant and light or switch the bulb for a lower wattage, or use a digital dimming ballast. Fluorescent options are great since they emit very less heat than halogen bulbs, so they can sit about two or three inches above your plant. The regular bulbs (known as incandescent ones) let off a lot of heat and can burn the foliage.

You will need to raise your light fixture every week as the seeds grow into plants. You always want that three inch, or so, gap between the foliage and the light itself. This is really easy if you choose a stand that is adjustable.

The Amount of Light:

There are many “long-day” plants, especially vegetables, that need between 14 and 18 hours of light (artificial or natural) every day. At the same time, the seeds need eight hours of darkness in between. The best thing is to set up an automatic timer so the plants get the perfect amount of light every day.

The Light Color:

Seeds thrive under natural light but you can get close to that with light bulbs offering the full-spectrum. About 94% of the spectrum from the sun is replicated through these. Technology is always advancing too and currently there are bulbs with high efficiency but a lower profile. You will be able to give your seedlings a good start with cool-white bulbs.

LED and Hydroponic Technology

Hydroponics is the essentially growing plants without the use of soil. Instead, inert material or mineral solutions are used to provide the nutrients that the plants require. Hydroponics is a science that has actually been around for centuries, but today is being expanded thanks in large part to the lesser amount of land for agricultural purposes.

Current hydroponic technology has certainly advanced over time, but one potential problem it faces is the need for constant light to help grow the plants. Generally speaking, many hydroponic gardens are located indoors and need plenty of artificial light in order to properly grow the plants. Given the energy consumption costs of keeping lights operating over an extended period of time, the price of hydroponics may be too great to sustain using traditional lighting technology.

However, LED growing lights offer a solution to the issue of providing enough light without causing an energy drain. With predictions that the world’s need for light will expand threefold by the year 2050, the LED solution provides real answers to this growing problem.

STW & Philips

The technology companies STW and Philips have launched the “Advanced Sustainable Lighting Solutions” partnership which is designed to meet this growing demand for lighting solutions. With the first results due by 2014, the efforts behind this project are multi-fold.

  • Improve efficiency of LED lights
  • Find new materials for use in lights
  • Optimize the production of LED lighting

LED grow lights offer a potential long-term solution that can be used for hydroponic plants, in particular algae which can be used for both biofuel and improving the quality of fruits. Algae as a source of fuel and animal feed is an important part of the hydroponics research with LED lights. Algae in particular are not very light sensitive because their photosynthesis capabilities are quite low.

One research project is examining how pulsed LED lighting can improve the photosynthesis process of the algae to create more of it.

Engaging in this research are several components designed to provide solutions for the future. Included in this research are the following;

  • Mega-LED: Designed to reach 100 watt lamps from this technology.
  • Green NanoLED: This is for the development of white LED lights that use no phosphors.

The Mega-LED as developed by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Eindhoven University hopes to create more powerful LED lamps which in turn will create the powerful wattage without the energy consumption. Meanwhile, the emphasis on the Green NanoLED is based on removing phosphors that degrade over time.  

  • Optimize Optical Systems

This new “ray-trace” technology is designed to create better, faster and less expensive optional system using LED as light sources.

For hydroponics, one application of LED grow light was shown to double the Vitamin C content of tomatoes. This use of LED lighting to help improve the potency of vitamins in fruits is an ongoing research project that hopes to provide many benefits in the future.

The Benefits of Dynamic LED Lighting

Interesting element of the research has revealed that how people feel about the temperature has a great deal to do with the light present in the room. By using LED grow light to manipulate the color and intensity of light, people can actually save more money on their heating bills by adding more light and adjusting down the actual temperature.

2 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

Advances in Hydroponics

There have been many advancements in the development of hydroponics. Fogponic systems have been the latest advancement to aeroponic systems. Fogponics is exactly what you think: it uses fog. Before recently, giving nutrients through fog was unheard of. Hydroponic systems were allowing growers to save on water already but fogponic systems use up to 65% less water.

Still, all hydroponic, aeroponic, and any like type system follows basic principles. People are still trying to make it even more efficient. The true advancements, however, are from the success stories around the world!

Take Japan as an example. Land is extremely valuable due to the population. To feed the nation, Japan uses hydroponics to grow rice. They are grown in underground vaults without the use of soil. The environment is so well monitored that four cycles are harvested annually, instead of the traditional single harvest. Israel is known for its dry and arid climate. A company called “Organitech” has been growing crops in shipping containers with the help of a hydroponic system. They grow berries, bananas and other fruits that are not suitable for Israel’s environment. There have been many talks of using hydroponics in third world areas where water supplies are limited. Hydroponics has the ability to feed many people in Africa and Asia.

NASA has been extensively researching hydroponics system in space that will benefit space exploration. NASAs goal of long-term colonization of Mars or the Moon is one step closer through hydroponic research.

2 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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History of Hydroponics

Hydroponics has been around for thousands of years. It is believed around 600 B.C. the famous “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” used hydroponic principles. Babylonia had a dry and arid climate and it is believed the garden was watered using a primitive form of hydroponics. Another early record dating back to the 10th or 11th century shows the Aztecs had developed a system of floating gardens. The Aztecs built rafts out of reeds and roots and topped them with soil from a lake. This idea allowed crops to grow on top of the rafts while roots seep through to the raft floor to collect water.

It wasn’t until 1627 that publications on hydroponics began by a British scientist named Sir Francis Bacon. Sir Francis Bacon, a British scientist, philosopher and politician did research on soil-less gardening in the 1620s. His work on the subject was published posthumously in 1627 and sparked an incredible wave of research into hydroponics. His publications sparked an interest in hydroponics.

In 1699, English scientist John Woodward experimented with water culture. He published his work on growing spearmint in various water solutions. He discovered that water mixed with soil then drained yield the fastest and healthiest plants, and concluded that plants grew better in less pure water than they would in distilled water. He attempted to grow spearmint plants in rain water, river water and water that had been mixed with soil and then drained. He found that the mint grew faster and produced healthier plants in the water solution that had been mixed with soil. His conclusion was that plants would grow better in less pure water than they would in distilled water. We know today that his results were due to minerals that remained in the water after it had been mixed with the soil

In 1859-1865 two German botanist Julius von Sachs and Willhelm Knop developed techniques for “soilless cultivation.” This technique is called “solution culture” now and is still widely used today.

By 1929, Berkeley scientist William Frederick Gericke actively promoted the use of hydroponics in commercial agriculture. William originally named this technique “aquaculture,” but later in 1937 when he found out it was a term used to describe the study of aquatic organisms he called it “hydroponics”. Hydroponics was derived from the Greek word “hydro” meaning water and “ponos” meaning labor. He quickly stirred a buzz by growing massive tomatoes in his home by using his techniques of water and nutrient solutions. His tomato vines grew 25 feet high in his own back yard. Gericke’s work eventually led him to writing his book “Complete Guide to Soilless Gardening.”

Expanding on Gericke’s research and claims were two other Berkeley scientists, Dennis Hoagland and Daniel Arnon. In 1938, they published “The Water Culture Method for Growing Plants Without Soil,” and is now regarded as one of the most important texts ever published about hydroponics. The two researchers also developed several formulas for mineral nutrient solutions known as “Hoagland solution.” Modified Hoagland solutions are still used today.

According to a 1938 Times magazine article, one of the first successful commercial uses of hydroponics occurred during this period. Tanks of mineralized water were used to grow beans, tomatoes, and vegetables on tiny Wake Island, a small island in the Pacific Ocean, once a refueling stop for Pan American Airlines. By using their techniques, food was grown successfully to feed the airline’s staff and crew.

Today, research is being conducted by NASA to allow hydroponic systems to grow in space.

2 Comments | Posted in News Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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What is an Ebb and flow system? (Flood and drain sub-irrigation)

Another simple form of hydroponics is the ebb and flow system. It is known for its simplicity, reliability and, most importantly, low initial investment cost. It is used mainly by home gardeners and hobbyists.

An ebb and flow system uses a submersible pump in a reservoir to pump solution and water up into a flood tray. It gets flooded for several minutes while a drain is returning water into the reservoir. The flood cycle happens every hour or so to supply the growth mediums with moisture. Once the mediums are soaked it retains moisture and nutrients needed by the plant.

An ebb and flow system consists of a flood tray, nutrient reservoir, growth medium, a water pump and fittings for the growth tray.

Sadly this is the least used system today outside of hobby-type systems. The method is inefficient because root diseases and nutrient solution insufficiencies can occur. A recirculated nutrient solution will require filtering and sterilization and rooting mediums require washing to remove debris. Since water is being reused, pH levels will rise if not monitored regularly which can be disastrous to the plants. So unless you have the time to maintain this system regularly, it is not recommended that you build this type of system.


3 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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What is passive sub-irrigation?

Passive sub-irrigation is another form of hydroponic farming. Like all hydroponic farming it requires no soil at all but uses hydro system growth mediums. The mediums allow space for fresh oxygen to be pumped throughout the root systems thus eliminating the use of an air pump. Water pumps are still required so don’t think you have a garden without one.

There are many types of growth mediums. Rockwool, for instance, is a man-made mineral fiber. It is chemically inert which makes it an ideal growth medium. Perlite is a type of volcanic glass and is a popular choice for growing medium. Vermiculite is a natural mineral that retains moisture well. Vermiculite is usually used with perlite as the two materials complement each other. Diatomite is rock that contains elemental minerals required for plant growth, making it a very popular growing medium. There are many other mediums like gravel, clay pellets and coconut husk to name a few. These contain more air space, allowing more air to be delivered to the roots.

A traditional set-up consist of a grow rack or buckets with growth mediums set up, so plants have a sturdier foundation to grow in. Water and fertilizer/solution are held in a reservoir and irrigation is provided to the roots when necessary. This allows the plant to receive an adequate amount of oxygen while being nourished with nutrients.

However, regular maintenance is required. Cleaning is crucial to make sure no bacteria or fungus develops. Science professor Douglas A. Cox of the University of Massachusetts quotes “An investment in sub-irrigation may not pay for itself for as long as a decade.”


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What is deep water culture?

Deep water culture literally means to put plants in deep water. Plant roots with the support of a net are fully submerged in nutrient rich water. The earliest form of this was recorded by Marco Polo when he traveled to China to see floating gardens. It is another form of hydroponics that requires the use of growth mediums. Again, using the use of pellets, Rockwool or whatever growth medium you choose.

Plants are suspended over a reservoir while a submersible pump sends solution to the plant. While water trickles down through the holes from a net pot back into the reservoir. Oxygen is pumped through each deep water culture system using either aeration devices or water of several buckets that are connected and continuously re-circulated. Plants absorb more oxygen directly from the air than oxygen dissolved in water. With deep water culture systems plants roots absorb large quantities of oxygen and absorbing necessary nutrients.

This is a very easy and affordable setup for novice gardeners and requires little care to maintain being an average of 10-15 minutes a day.


3 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Charles R. Sword


You have a complete hydroponics tent or grow box set up; you have your carbon filters and fans, your seeds, so you’re ready to roll…almost! One of the most crucial steps in ensuring a great crop outcome is maintaining a consistent temperature inside your hydroponic system. This is very important as temperature inside is impacted by the temperature outside as well as the changes in humidity and the difference in weather during the daytime and the nighttime. So, without further ado, let’s explore some ways of ensuring an ideal harvest.

1. A thermometer: It sounds simple enough but this is one of the best tools for determining sudden rises and falls in external temperature as well as daytime and nighttime as temperature should NOT rise and fall more than 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit.  Daytime readings should be between 70-75 F for optimal growth and for the most produce.

2. Temperature in your water supply/reservoir: Acquire a floating water thermometer and leave it in there.  The readings should be about 10 degrees lower than the room temperature which will adjust inside of your hydroponic contraption. If you’re having trouble maintaining the temperature of the water, a simple reservoir chiller or aquarium heater is a great addition.

3. Thermostat or central air: If you are lucky enough to have central air in your home or install an air-conditioning unit in your grow room, then attaching a thermostat to it and regulating the temperature ranges as discussed above will be a quick and easy improvement to your crops.

4. Change your light bulbs: This seemingly obvious suggestion is overlooked by even some of the more experienced hydroponic gardeners. Especially effective are T5 fluorescent light bulbs as the light they emit encourages vegetable growth.

Hopefully, the above suggestions will alleviate some concerns you may have had prior to acquiring your hydroponics set up. Rest assured it is easier than it seems and you will be up and running in no time with some great, home-grown goodies!


3 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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The European Commission is making a very bold and imposing move that will undoubtedly affect every country worldwide if this particular proposal is ratified. The Commission is proposing that the planting of any seeds and plants that are not registered in their database will be considered a criminal act. The law will also make it illegal to trade and reproduce any such seeds and plants.

The law itself is referred to as the Plant Reproductive Material Law. The final draft of this proposed law is dated May 6, 2013. Should this law be approved, it would be the beginnings of total government control over food supply. The repercussion of such control is far-reaching. When any government in the most powerful countries in the world have total control over food supply; that power could eventually very well be used to bring other countries to their knees as a means of sanction.

One of audacities of this law is the fact that everyone will be required to pay to get their seeds and plants registered. Under this new law, commercial farmers will be the first target followed by home gardeners.

In an effort to make this proposal sound righteous to the masses; the European Commission is using terms like:

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • The environment
  • Food security and safety
  • Sustainable intensification
  • The nutritional value of food
  • Adverse environmental impact
  • Greening of food crop production.



4 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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Hydroponic gardening is a soil-less method that allows for the growth of just about any plant with their roots suspended in a mineral-rich solution. There is also the option of the use of an inert medium culture such as coir, sand, expanded clay aggregates, wood fiber, sheep wool, pumice, perlite, vermiculite, rock wool, and many more.

There is recorded evidence of this type of gardening that dates back to the seventeenth century. The benefits of hydroponic gardening are far-reaching and this gardening methodology is fast gaining in popularity. Let us review a few of the reasons hydroponic gardening is advantageous:


  • Plants that would otherwise not grow in a certain region can now be grown just about anywhere in the right hydroponically controlled environment.
  • It allows for most plants to be grown in urban settings which would otherwise not be possible because of soil requirements.
  • It is a reusable and sustainable system.
  • Mineral levels can be controlled which not only cuts down on wastes, but also allows for adequate levels being provided to the plants at all times.
  • The versatility of the system allows for easy mobility which is ideal for pest control as well as disease control.
  • Plants thrive in a hydroponic environment therefore higher harvests of crops are normal.
  • Since this system is soilless; the use of harmful chemicals that would often be necessary to control the various issues of the soil is negated. Therefore, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, et cetera; no longer pose as health risks to individuals.
  • Harvesting of mature plants is a simplified process in comparison to soil-based gardening.
  • Plant growth and harvest are constant.
  • It is a user-friendly system that is independent of weather conditions and users’ gardening experience.



4 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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In life, choices are often more confusing than they are helpful. The world of hydroponic farming is no different, from tents to grow room boxes, fans, filters, and now lighting. First it was conventional lighting, then induction lighting, and now Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting technology. Before you write it off as a trend, or a waste of money due to its higher upfront cost, let's take a closer look at this promising lighting source for the hydroponic gardeners and enthusiasts out there!

If you are already using an LED lighting setup, the first thing you may have noticed is that it’s a whole lot cooler. That’s a great plus for keeping your plants from overheating, as well as your pocket, for obvious reasons. Though an LED setup is more costly upfront, over time it is much more cost efficient. This is due to the fact that LED lights last longer than conventional lights by a few thousands hours and also utilizes up to 70% less electricity. That is A LOT if your energy bill is several hundred dollars a month. The savings are enormous to say the least. LED growing lights are also easier to control temperature wise due to their digital nature. And because their heat is more stable, your fans and filters aren’t struggling to keep the temperature optimal, thus saving your initial setup costs, long term costs and giving you a piece of mind in its ease of use.

As with many angles in hydroponics, cost and budgeting are important. If you’ve a few extra bucks to spend upfront, you will be saving more in the end.



3 Comments | Posted in News By Florence B. Harrell

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What growth medium to use?

There any many types of growth mediums to use. People have different opinions on which to use. Most of the time mediums work equally well for any of your particular needs. For consumers it boils down to availability, price and personal preference.

Coconut Husk/Fibers

Coconut fibers are an organic growing medium that offers top performance in hydroponic systems. It maintains a larger oxygen capacity than rockwool and retains more water as well. Coconut fibers are also believed to have root stimulating hormones and offer some protection against root diseases. Many people use a 50/50 mixture of coconut fiber and clay pellets.

Since it is an organic product this is a pricey buy. Always make sure you purchase high grade coconut fiber because low grade coconut fiber might have high sea-salt content and can lead to disappointing results.


Perlite has been used in mixtures with soil for quite a long time. It is a mined material formed of volcanic glass and is highly oxidized. Many people use a 50/50 mix of perlite and vermiculite giving it a good mixture of water retention and aeration.

Perlite is very inexpensive. However, the biggest drawback is that perlite doesn’t retain water and will dry out quickly.


Vermiculite is another mined material. It has the ability to hold 200-300% more water. As mentioned above, people use a 50/50 mix to allow plenty of water and oxygen, an in-line hydro exhaust fan keeps the air ciculating correctly.

Vermiculite is very inexpensive. However, the biggest drawback is that if you overwater vermiculite it can retain a lot of water and suffocate the plant.

Expanded Clay Pellets



Clay pellets are often called grow rocks and used pretty commonly as a growing medium. It is made by baking clay and the insides of the pellets have tiny air pockets inside them. They do not retain much water so they need to be watered often so as to keep roots from drying out.

Clay pellets are expensive but they are one of the few mediums that can be reused. After a harvest you just have to wash them and sterilize them and you are set for reuse. These pellets are definitely a smart buy for long term growers.


Sand is usually packed tightly reducing the amount of air available to roots. People often use builder’s sand or a mixture of sand and perlite.

Sphagnum Moss

Another natural medium that is used quite often is sphagnum moss. It retains water and air very well. However, the major problem is that since it’s a natural medium it can decompose and cause problems to drains and other problems.


The only setup that requires no medium is aeroponics where plant roots are hung over a reservoir and are sprayed throughout the day. The cost of air is obviously free and there are no disposal problems.

The biggest problem is if a there is a power, pump, or timer failure you have no buffer. Roots can dry out in minutes and killing the plant.


Rockwool is also one of the most popular mediums used today. Rockwool is made by melting sand and rock together and spun into a fiber. Rockwool retains water incredibly well and holds 18% air at all times. It is very clean and convenient so requires little maintenance to keep.

However, rockwool is not environmentally friendly and naturally has a high pH which means you have to adjust the pH levels to neutral before roots are fit to survive. Rockwool is also susceptible to pH shifts so routine maintenance is required.


Gravel is another medium that has been used for many years. Gravel supplies plenty of air but, like perlite, dries out rather quickly.

Gravel is fairly cheap and easy to find. It is easily reusable as long as you wash and sterilize it between uses.



What not to use


Brick Shards

Brick shards are like gravel. However it may alter pH levels quite often and so requires constant maintenance.

Saw Dust



There are stories where some growers have success with saw dust. Some woods may give off chemicals that deteriorate the plant’s health.


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Winter is approaching with the flu in tow.  It is important to start consuming tons of vitamins and minerals and there’s no better or tastier way to get vitamin C into your diet than with kiwifruits.  A medium sized kiwi, about 100 grams or 3.5 ounces will give over 100% of your daily recommended dose!  Another awesome thing about the kiwi is that it’s easily grown in a hydroponic set-up.  Now that you know a little about the kiwi, let’s get right into the ins and outs of this super fruit.

The ideal pH balance for kiwifruits is usually between 5.0- 6.0.  Don’t worry if the pH falls down to 4.5 or rises as high as 6.5. It will not be disastrous for your harvest as kiwis are very resilient. Kiwis also do well in colder temperatures, so keep it at about 35-40°F during the night time and no higher than 55°F during the daytime hours.

As usual, keep an eye out for any abnormalities in the leaves, vines or the flowering fruit and you should be expecting a delicious harvest in about 5-7 weeks. Armed with this information you are ready to grow some delicious, healthy and immunity boosting fruit. Bon appétit!



2 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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Fall is here along with cooler temperatures and if you're looking for something new to grow in your hydroponic system, my suggestion is to look into tomatoes. These nutritious and tasty fruit (yes, that's right, they are technically fruit) are easy to grow and come in a plethora of varieties, shapes and colors, not to mention tastes. Tomatoes are some of the healthiest produce you can cultivate and cultivate rather easily, too. Tomatoes are traditionally associated with cardiovascular health and contain lycopene, a very powerful antioxidant, as well as high levels of vitamin A, C and potassium.

But enough bragging on the behalf of the tomato, let's take a look at ideal growing conditions for this super-food! As usual, the grow room temperature is a crucial aspect to a great harvest and as such should be kept 60-65 °F during the night and 70-75° during the daytime. PH levels of the water or nutrient solution should be 5.8 - 6.3 for tomatoes.

Also, keep an eye out on the physical characteristics of the flowering fruit. Leaves should be green and vibrant. If they are yellowish, check the pH and nutrient solution to ensure highest quality of the harvest. If the leaves are curling up, then the nutrient level is actually too high so add more water and a bit less nutrients.

After about 7 weeks your fruit will began to flower and the hard work is over.  From there it's only a few more weeks until ripening and enjoying some great, homemade, marinara sauce, tomato puree, or freshly sliced tomato salad. Bon appetite!



3 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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What are static flow cultures?

Static solution cultures is a method where plants are full grown in a reservoir filled with artificially made nutrient solution. Static solution is sometimes referred to as hydroponics for novice gardeners and is known for its simplicity and effectiveness. The system requires the least number of devices and hassles.

The water and solution remain static and supply nutrients to the submerged roots where the roots come in contact with air, water and nutrients. Nutrient solution is aerated using an electric pump to provide oxygen to the roots. If there are no pumps in the system, plant roots can be kept above solution level. Plants are placed in nets or containers which allow the roots to absorb from the solution below them.

In another modification called raft solution systems the plants are grown on a sheet of plastic floating on the surface of the nutrient solution. This prevents the solution from dropping further than root level.The work is minuscule however does require more attention when water/solution levels drop. Each time the levels drop either fresh nutrient solution or water is added. Maintaining pH levels of the water is also a must.


What are continuous flow solution cultures?

In continuous flow solution cultures a constant flow of nutrient solution is provided to the plant around the roots. This is a more advanced method as compared to the static flow solution. However, it is a lot easier to mechanize since adjustments can be made and temperature and concentration levels can be sampled easier. A popular technique used is the nutrient film technique, a very low flow of water and solution is re-circulated constantly around the roots of the plant in a solid mat. A correct canal slope along with the correct stream speed and the correct canal length can designate a proper nutrient film technique.

A huge advantage is that the growth of plants is given ample water, nutrients and oxygen. This allows high yielding and nutritious crops. However, a little negligence can result in negative impacts.

Still, nutrient film technique has been considered the most practical technique. It is easy to adjust and automate the temperature and water flow. Hydroponic conditions result in no pollution of nutrients or insects.

3 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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Most Popular Produce

So, you have your hydroponic system all put together and you're ready to grow? Great! But, what is it that you're growing? Since the sky's the limit, it's really hard to recommend or suggest anything but here's a list of the most popular produce to grow with a hydroponic system!

1. Lettuce - One of the easiest, and thus more popular options for hydroponic farmers. This leafy vegetable doesn't require high temperatures or too much maintenance.

2. Tomatoes - Who doesn't love a fresh, plum, ripe tomato? Make sure to maintain the growing of your tomatoes (which is a fruit, yes, tomatoes are a fruit), in the upright position.

3. Peppers - Let's face it, almost any recipe for just about everything asks for some sort of pepper. Jalapeno, habanero, paprika, cayenne are all both tasty and zesty, not to mention nutritious! Just like tomatoes, they should be kept in the upright position as they mature and ripen.

4. Arugula - A vitamin and mineral powerhouse, this great green, leafy vegetable is easy to grow and yields a generous amount for minimal time and effort on the grower's part!

5. Spinach - Yet, another powerhouse in the nutrition sense, spinach of any variety is not only plentiful and easy to grow but yields in as little 2 to 3 weeks! That's right, if batched out a week apart you can have a fresh batch weekly! Another benefit is that you can pick the leaves young for what is called "baby spinach" and is just as tasty and nutritious as the larger, more ripened variety!

Mint, basil, spearmint, cucumbers, radish and even some fruit like watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupe all thrive in a hydroponic system and are great all year around! So, now that you've an idea of what you can grow, get to work and soon you'll be enjoying fresh fruit and vegetable salads that are all of your own making!



4 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydroponics

There are many advantages of using a hydroponic system however there are also disadvantages of using one of these systems.



  • Plants grow quicker and have higher yields
  • No need to prepare soil
  • The risk of plants developing soil borne diseases is eliminated
  • Reduces the use of water
  • All nutrients are recyclable
  • Requires small space grow growing
  • Less labor intensive

These are just of the few advantages of owning a hydroponic garden.



  • High initial cost to set up, for decent size kits are about 200-300 dollars minimum
  • Requires daily attention (monitoring water, nutrients and pH levels)
  • Electricity cost
  • Since all the plants share the same nutrients, a disease can spread like wild fire
  • Not all plants can be grown hydroponically
  • Requires perfect control of environment
  • Any slip can be seen immediately in plants

Hydroponic systems have their advantages and disadvantages. If you can commit to a hydroponic system the advantages usually outweigh the disadvantages.



3 Comments | Posted in Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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Common Hydroponic Systems That are Used Commercially

Many commercial growers adopt certain hydroponic techniques to grow commercially. One of the most common systems are drip systems. These systems never fully submerge the roots or grow medium while also never allowing it to dry out. The process is simple: a timer controls a submersible pump and water/solution is dripped onto the base of each plant via small drip lines. When it is done the water drips back down into the reservoir where it is reused.

Another common system is the continuous flow system. Water is pumped constantly through pipes while plants are placed on the pipes, allowing solution to bathe the roots before returning into the tank.


Some commercial growers opt to use a nutrient film technique. Plants are grown in equally spaced holes in plastic gullies. A nutrient solution of minerals and water is pumped into the higher end, supplying roots with nutrients before returning to the tank where the process is repeated.

It can be a small system for home gardeners and for a commercial grower it is scaled to fit. Virtually any system can be scaled to commercial size.

3 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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Growing your own fruits and vegetables means that you know what goes into your food and exactly where it comes from. You will be getting healthier as well. You will be eating your own produce as well as exercising. You could save money on expensive items like salad leaves. If you have children, it can be a very fun experience for you and your family. Personally, I believe the sense of achievement is worth more than anything.


For the urbanized dweller we know that there isn’t much space (if any) to grow fruits and vegetables produce in the dirt. However, taking advantage of a hydroponic kit allows you to grow your own vegetables and fruits indoors. So even people that live in apartments can grow their own type of produce without the use of a outdoor garden. It doesn’t require much space depending on the size you want. Some produce cost much more when it is out of season and often supermarkets must inflate their prices to keep up with the rising cost. Think about having tomatoes in winter, cucumbers in the fall and romaine lettuce all year round.


It’s never too late to start growing your own produce. You can find hydroponic room box to setup gardens, big and small, become a hydro gardener today and grow organic fruits and vegetables in your own herb garden. Look forward to growing your own produce and enjoy the rich taste of your own food when it’s time to harvest!

3 Comments | Posted in Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

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Organic farming uses naturally occurring chemicals and/or traditional remedies to control pests and diseases. In other words, no additional chemicals are being used in the growth cycle of the vegetable/fruit being grown and no pesticides are added or sprayed on the vegetation. Organic farming practices are designed to promote soil and water conservation as well as reducing pollution. Farmers who grow organically don’t use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds. Organic farmers use sophisticated crop rotations and spread manure to keep weeds at bay.

Non organic farming is what most major commercial producers use. They spray pesticides and apply chemicals to promote growth. It is the exact opposite of organic farming.


Here are some key differences between conventional farming (non organic) and organic farming:

Non organic farming uses:


  • Chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth
  • Synthetic pesticides to reduce pests and diseases
  • Herbicides to manage weeds
  • Animals are given antibiotics, growth hormones and medication to help prevent disease and spur growth


Organic farming uses:


  • Natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost
  • Natural resources such as the use of beneficial insects, birds and traps to reduce pest and disease
  • Environmentally generated plant killing compounds like manure.
  • Crop rotation and hand weeding to manage growth of weeds
  • Animals are fed organic food and are allowed access to the outdoors while using balanced diets and clean housing to help minimize disease.


The debate has been going on forever. Pro organic supporters are saying that organic foods are more nutritious and healthier. Pro non organic supporters are saying they are the same as organic foods.

It’s believed that organic farming limits damages to health and the environment due to the fact chemicals are not being used. Intensive farming is said to destroy the fertility of the land.

A study done by Stanford shows that organics are no more nutritious than non-organic foods. However they are healthier because of the lack of pesticides and chemical run offs.

A down side to organic foods is it is indeed more expensive versus non organic food. One fear in organic farming is the use of manure which may cause E.Coli to be in produced. To make sure if your food is organic or not the U.S. department of Agriculture (USDA) has establish an organic certification program that requires organic foods to meet strict government standards. Look for an USDA organic seal.



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