Superfoods That Fight Stress

Some superfood

Stress levels can soar when you overbook your life with work and social activities. That’s when many people turn to fast food and vending machines for a little nourishment. After all, it takes time and effort to eat healthily.

You might be surprised to know that there are groups of “superfoods” that can fight hunger and stress and take very little to no preparation before eating. These unique foods can help to balance blood sugar and calm emotional responses that may increase your stress levels.

The five stress-busting superfoods include leafy green vegetables, berries, beets, garlic, and sweet potatoes. These helpful foods can be eaten raw or added to meals you’ve prepared to get the most out of their natural stress-relieving powers.

How “Going Green” Relieves Stress

When you think of the difference in what fast food and junk food do to your body, you should be even more impressed by what leafy green vegetables do for your body. Leafy greens such as spinach contain folate – a nutrient that produces a chemical called dopamine – which causes feelings of calm and pleasure in the brain.

Studies clearly show that those people who consumed large amounts of folate in their diets suffered much fewer depression symptoms than those who consumed the least. This is true especially in middle-aged to elderly people participating in the studies.

Toss leafy greens in a salad or cook them lightly by sautéing or boiling. You’ll lower your risk of depression while doing your body a big favor by consuming the healthy nutrients found in all leafy green veggies.

Today, all types and flavors of greens can be found at your local supermarket. It’s also healthy and relieves stress if you grow your own. If you don’t have a garden space you can choose from methods such as container or hydroponic gardening.

While you may not think of greens as a “comfort” food, it actually does have more of a lasting comfort effect than fast foods or rich, sugary goods. Only a cup of spinach gives you almost half of your daily requirements of magnesium – the essential mineral that helps balance cortisol and stimulates feelings of well-being.

Sneak some spinach in your eggs for a delicious omelet, sauté or steam it with some garlic and be sure to add it (or lettuce) to sandwiches. Kale “chips” are a healthy alternative to other snacks.

Simply wash and dry the kale leaves, arrange them on a baking sheet, sprinkle some garlic or other herbs over them and bake until crispy. The kids will never know they’re eating something healthy for them.

If you’re concerned about your stress levels and find it difficult to control your weight when you reach for junk food during your highest times of stress, try the sweet, yet healthy, snack or meal of these five stress-fighting superfoods.

Unfortunately, today’s population has moved away from nature’s way to fight stress in favor of the fast and crave-satisfying junk foods. Most plant-based foods contain the best stress-reducing components of raw vitamins and minerals, so those should be your food choices when you’re trying to fight the onset of stress.

In today’s world, stressful days are the norm, rather than the exception. Rather than resort to anxiety and depression pills to fight the stressful life you have, reach for the five super foods explained in this report.

These foods will help take the edge off a stressful day and provide a broad spectrum of vitamins and nutrients to help your body, increase your energy, and calm your mind. Fortunately, all of these foods are inexpensive and readily available at your local farmer’s market or food store.

It’s always best to choose organically-grown foods when you can – or grow your own. There are many methods today that let you plant and harvest in small spaces – or even indoors.

Find a way to get these five great superfoods into your diet plan each day and let go of the harmful foods that cause stress, fatigue, mood swings, and anxiety.

Related How To article: 3 Methods to Choose Superfoods Good for Your Heart

Hydroponics’ pros and cons

Hydroponics’ pros and cons

There are many hydroponics’ pros and cons of exploring and using hydroponics for gardening, but for every good thing, there is a downside as well. If you are considering starting hydroponics, you might want to do a lot of research to find out if these gardening techniques are right for you and your commitment level.

Here is a closer look at both the pros and cons of using hydroponics for farming and gardening.

The pros of hydroponics

1. Cost-efficient for the grower

If you are interested in trying hydroponics at home, then you should know that this can be very cost-effective to you. You can purchase a small kit for about $50. If done correctly, you can produce about two hundred pounds of tomatoes per year with this kit, that means your tomatoes are less than three cents a pound.

2. No need to rotate cropsrotate crops

The hydroponic gardener does not need to worry about rotating crops. This is because the nutrients are fed to the plants through the water, and not sought out by the soil.

3. Cleaner way to garden

There is no soil when you grow plants hydroponically. That means that this form of gardening is much cleaner. You do not have to worry about manure, fertilizer, or messy insect repellent. There is no digging, no pulling weeds and it is always controlled and neat.

4. Good lessons for young ones

Kids will be fascinated with hydroponics. Why? Because they can see the root systems and they do not have to wait so long to see results. Hydroponics offers a wonderful lesson on farming to children in schools and in homes.

5. Lots of information

Because many people are interested in hydroponics, you will find a wealth of information out there that can help you learn how to start growing and how to expand your knowledge. You can find books, magazines, and even entire websites solely dedicated to hydroponics.

6. No soil gardening

There are many advantages to soilless gardening. The soil varies all over the world. Some people have the advantage of living in areas where the soil is wonderful for gardening and growing crops. Then there are people that are faced with an impossible task of gardening in areas that are rocky, too hot or cold for growing crops or even areas where there is little to no spare land for growing. Soilless gardening gives people a way to grow fast crops no matter where they live.

7. Speedy results

Another great advantage of using hydroponics is that it yields very fast and efficient results. You can grow a large crop or a very small plant and find that you will get faster and more abundant results using hydroponics.

8. No weeds weeds

You will not get weeds when you grow hydroponically. This means that you do not have to fight weeds or apply dangerous herbicides to your crops. No weeds give you more time and no hard manual labor.

9. Year-long gardening

With hydroponics, you can garden no matter what time of the year it is and you never have to worry about what is in season or not in season. It will let you grow whatever you choose when you want it.

10. Without diseases

Hydroponics means less disease in the plants. When you use soil, it can be contaminated and this is not the case with hydroponics. This produces a superior product.

11. Everyone can grow using this method

Hydroponics brings crop growing to everyone-no matter where they live.

12. Anything can be grown

Except for a handful of woody shrubs, you can grow almost anything hydroponically. That includes herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and houseplants. This gives you a great way to experiment with crops that you like and work with each one.

13. It does not need large land space

Hydroponics brings gardening to apartment dwellers and others where land is a premium or not available at all.

14. pH levels are controlled

When you are in control of the pH levels that your plants get, you are also in control of the taste of your fruits and vegetables that you grow. Did you know that when you garden in acidic soils, it will affect the taste of your crops? You may end up with very bitter tasting tomatoes, for example. When you take control of the pH levels, you can give your crops just the right amount of pH and thus control the taste.

15. Basic kits are affordable

If you want to experiment with hydroponics, you will find basic kits to get you started are affordable, you can also learn how to build your own hydroponics kits that will have you growing your favorite flowers, fruits, and vegetables in no time at all.

16. Rapid technology

The technology for hydroponics is rapidly changing and improving. That makes hydroponics more workable and easier as the idea spreads. In fact, people are starting to experiment more with this type of gardening using easy to use home kits.

17. Use much less water  water

You may think that when you garden using hydroponics and no soil that it would take more water. That is not the case. In fact, this type of farming takes less water because the growing times are lessened. Water is also not lost through the soil and every drop is delivered straight to the source.

18. Certain areas can now have affordable crops

Why are fruits and vegetables sometimes expensive? A lot of the cost has to do with the shipping. If you want a banana, but live in an area where bananas have to be shipped far away, you will pay a premium price. With hydroponics, crops can be grown locally, and this cuts down on costs that are typically passed on to the consumer.

Cons of hydroponics

By now, you know a little more about hydroponics. You know that this form of gardening is growing in popularity and that it can be a cost-effective way to grow crops in any area of the world. There are certainly many benefits of growing using hydroponics, but there are also disadvantages as well.

Here is a closer look at the cons of using hydroponics.

1. Patience is a virtual

When you decide to garden this way, you will need to have plenty of patience. You will need to learn how to use the equipment the right way before you will see any results.

2. Hydroponics will not be forgiving

If you plant crops in the traditional method, you can sometimes neglect them and then sort of “bring them back to life” so to speak. In other words, if you forget to water them and they are droopy, many times that is no problem, simply add water and let it go. This is not the case with hydroponic plants. If you forget to work with your plants and they die, you cannot expect them to recover. Your plants need your TLC every single day and they will not thrive or grow without it.

3. You cannot skimp when you use hydroponics

There are lots of cost-cutting methods that work when you garden the traditional way, but this is often not the case with hydroponics. You do need special lighting, the growing mediums, and the nutrients. That is essential for growing this way. You can’t save money. It is true that once you put out the money for the initial costs, your spending will go down as you farm more and more.

4. Diseases

You have read that diseases are almost non-existence when you grow crops hydroponically and that is true, to some extent. Diseases can attack your plants, but they are different, rather than a soil-borne disease, your plants can get water diseases. The bad news is that water diseases can spread much faster and can be harder to control than soil diseases.

5. Relying on electricity

If you are gardening hydroponically, you are depending on electricity. If your electricity goes out for a long period of time, this could affect your crops. It is certainly something to consider if you are thinking about gardening on a large scale.

6. It is not an exact science

While hydroponics may certainly sound like an exact science the opposite is true. It is not. You can learn how to start your hydroponic garden using step by step guides and it will probably give you a good start. The problem is that is as far as it goes. It does not work that way for everyone and you will have to take the time to learn what works for you and your plants. It may even take a little trial and error to get the results that you want.

7. Take responsibility

You can’t simply throw the seeds in the soil and add water when you use hydroponics. You will need to understand that it does take work and responsibility to get the results you want. You will have to know before you plant anything that you cannot walk away from your crops and expect them to grow. While that may work for some crops grown outside in the soil, you will need to commit at least ten minutes or even more every single day to your plants. Some work and attention are critical in making hydroponics work.

8. Upkeep

As mentioned, maintenance is a big factor in hydroponics. You cannot cut corners. You have to take care of your garden on a daily basis. Before you go out and buy your equipment, you need to make sure you are ready to make that commitment.

9. Cost  cost

Depending on where you live and the plants you want to grow, you might be able to purchase some seeds and stick them in the ground. You might even be lucky enough to not need special supplies or tools and you may further find that your plants will grow and produce crops. That means that the lucky gardener can grow plants with the conventional method quite inexpensively. However, that is not the case with hydroponics supplies. It is less expensive in the long run, but for just trying it out, you will incur expenses. You can make a system yourself or buy a kit, but the bottom line is that you probably don’t have all the tools and materials you need, so you will have to put some money out upfront to get it started. Even the smaller mini-farms can cost up to $100 and even more depending on the hydroponics supply system that you choose to buy.

10. Hydroponics knowledge

You need to take the time to learn about hydroponics before you even start. This is not the knowledge that your grandma passed down to you. It is a fairly new technology and you need to learn all you can before you invest your time and money. You need to learn about the supplies and equipment you will need and you will also need to learn who or where you can turn to for support. Luckily, there are many good sources out there that can help you get the information you need to help you with your hydroponics endeavors. General hydroponics is not too hard to learn, it just takes some time on your part.

As you can see there are many advantages as well as disadvantages of growing plants using hydroponics. Proponents of this growing method will tell you that in the long run, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Related How To article: 6 Steps to Assess the Advantages of Hydroponic Gardening

Different Types Hydroponics Systems

There are several different types hydroponics systems you can choose when you want to garden hydroponically. The one you choose will largely depend on how far you want to take your gardening. You will often hear about the following:

Homemade systems:

These are hydroponic systems that you build yourself using plans that you can download online or find in books. These are often recommended for starting out or for small scale gardening.

Turn key systems:

These are the kits that you can order and have delivered to your home. These are usually the most expensive, but they are very simple to set up and easy to learn how to maintain. These are great for those who already know a little bit about hydroponics and wish to expand their own hydroponic gardening.

Small kits:

You can also buy small kits that will get your garden started. These range in size and price and may be easy or harder to operate depending on how it works.

Types of kits that you can buy:

As mentioned there are all sorts of kits that you can buy. These will range a great deal in price and size, but the idea is the same. You will purchase these kits that will get you started with a basic garden or crop. It will come with everything you need to get you started. The kits are generally easy to set up and start. There is usually no special equipment you will need right away to get it started.

The following are all popular hydroponic kits that you can buy from online stores and garden centers that specialize in hydroponic gardening:

Aero Garden & Aero Garden Deluxe:Aero Garden

These are two very popular kits that are widely used by people who are interested in experimenting with hydroponics. This kit will allow you to grow all sorts of fresh vegetables including tomatoes, lettuce, and even a variety of herbs. It is small enough to fit in your kitchen, giving you a year round fresh supply of your favorite veggie.

The Deluxe version is a little larger and has twice the light intensity, which will make the plants grow much faster. The deluxe versions will also allow you to grow full sized vegetables and larger plants such as large tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. You can expect to pay anywhere from $150-$200 for one of these kits. The kits are widely available online and through stores that carry hydroponic supplies and equipment.


AeroGarden Pro:

aerogarden pro

This is another version of the AeroGarden and AeroGarden Deluxe. However, this system is a bit larger and give you a microprocessor controlled AGI (Adaptive Growth Intelligence). This will monitor the growth of the plant from germination to advanced growth. This kit will automatically adjust the nutrient delivery and the light cycles so your plants will get just what they need when they need it. This technology will maximize your crop yields. 


Ebb & Gro System:

Ebb & Gro System

This hydroponic kit is a multi-pot growing system and is considered the most versatile of these types of hydroponic kits. You will get 12 growing pots with the basic kit and you have the ability to expand that to up to 48 pots. This will allow you to move your pots around or grow a multitude of plants varieties in one system. It is consistently rated as a top rated hydroponic system.


Power Plant Deluxe:

Power Plant Deluxe

As the technology improves for hydroponic gardening, new kits are constantly being introduced to the consumer. One of the newer kits is the Power Plant Deluxe. This comes with everything you need to get started including a power grow lamp and bulb. The unique feature of this grow system is that it has a rotating surface that will give your plants the nutrients they need. It controls the watering so you don’t have to worry about over watering or giving the plants too much nutrients at one time. This is considered a no fail way to garden using hydroponics. 



Rainforest Aeroponic Systems:

Rainforest Aeroponic Systems

Aeroponics, which is similar to hydroponics, can also be grown from a kit. This kit will allow you to start and cultivate up to 18 small plants or up to 90 cuttings. It comes with a vortex sprayer that will lift and provide oxygen to your plants when needed. There is another system similar to this one called the Rainforest 66 Aeroponic kit. This one is similar but will grow larger sized plants. 


Waterfarm Complete System:

Waterfarm Complete System

This is a new hydroponic kit that is built using high impact plastic, which will give you long-lasting performance both indoor and outdoors. It is shaped in a square and that design will give you maximum efficiency when packing your plants. The kit comes with an air pump, growing container, reservoir, pump column, grow rocks and bottles of nutrients.

The WaterFarm 8-pak system is similar and uses a large reservoir of 13 gallons. This is a highly rated growing system for larger plants.




The Ecogrower is another hydroponic system that will allow you to incorporate an air driven drip system (also called the spider system. It features six inserts that holds pots up to six inches in diameter. This can also be fitted to grow very large plants. 




Along the same lines as the Ecogrower, is the Eurogrower. This system is perfect for someone that is new to growing with a hydroponic system. It is a simple and easy to learn method of hydroponic gardening. This kit comes with a 40 gallon reservoir, eight buckets, CocoTek bricks, Hydroton, a pH kit, a timer and a flora kit that will get you started with your gardening.


AeroFlo 20 System:

AeroFlo 20 System

This is a system that looks a little different from other hydroponic systems. Instead of around planting area or pot, it is rectangular in shape. This kit is highly recommended for those who are growing small plants and vegetables such as small tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and kitchen herbs. This kit is not recommended for plants that have a tendency to grow more than three feet tall. With this kit, you will get everything that you need to get you started. 

You can also purchase the Aeroflo 30. This is a more compact version and will allow you to grow smaller plants using a high performance system. It will grow plants that are up to three feet high.


Easy2Grow Autopots:

Easy2Grow Autopots

These are brand new and are full kits that will allow you to grow your favorite small plants right from your home. These are self watering, which means that you do not have to remember to water your plants every day. These also do not run on electricity, so you can use these kits almost anywhere. The kits cost about $80, which makes them quite cost effective to the beginner. These are also perfect for the lazy gardener or gardeners that are busy and do not want to commit to watering every single day. If you are planning on traveling while growing crops, you can count on this kit to work well for you while you are away.


Emily’s Garden

Emily’s Garden:Want to try your hand at hydroponics? Do you have a child that is interested in learning these wonderful gardening techniques? If so, this kit might be the right choice for you.

Emily’s Garden comes with everything you need to get started. You will soon have the ability to grow small plants such as small tomatoes, herbs and peppers. You can even try certain flowers with this kit.

Hydrofarm Mega Garden:

Hydrofarm Mega Garden

Another very easy to use kit, the Hydrofarm Mega Garden kit will have you growing your favorite plants in no time at all. This is a compact and versatile kit that will allow you to grow up to 15 plants. The system measures 24”x24”, which is much smaller from other system of the same capacity. This kit comes with a pump, nutrient, pH kit, pots, and growrocks. This is a good kit for someone that does not have a lot of space.


Vortex Sprayer:

Vortex Sprayer

The Vortex Sprayer is another hydroponic system that is quite popular. This kit has all the items you need to get a good yield on your plants. You will find that this sprayer will create a highly powerful eddy that lifts and sprays the nutrients to your plants giving them all the water and nutrition they need to thrive for you. There are several brands and types of Vortex sprayers—each one unique to your own use. These are wonderful additions to the hydroponic garden.

As you can see, there are many different types hydroponics systems kits that you can purchase for your hydroponic gardening. The one you will buy will certainly depend on how much gardening you intend on doing and what type of yield you want to accomplish. There are store-bought kits available for every budget in every price range and for every gardener’s needs.

Before you pay good money for one of these kits, take your time to look at them and compare the features of each one. You will find that most of them will come with everything that you need to get you started, however, keep in mind that there will be additional expenses for your garden as you continue.


DIY Hydroponic Gardening


So, you are interested in tackling the world of hydroponics, but you are not too sure about buying an expensive kit. The good news is that you do not have to. You can get plenty of hydroponic plans that will allow you to make your very own hydroponic system out of common items that you may already have, or from things that are easily obtained.

There are several ways to go about building a hydroponic system. The type of system that you build will depend on what you want.

Do you want a small system that grows herbs or cherry tomatoes on your kitchen counter?

Is your child needing a very basic system for school experiment or science project?

Do you already have the hydroponics know-how and are interested in doing more with your garden?

How much time and money are you willing to spend to acquire and build the system for your gardening needs?

Perhaps you already have a kit and now you want to expand. With a DIY hydroponics kit you can do all of these things in no time at all.

You can save your money and build a system that will work for your unique needs. If you have a large greenhouse and want to fill it with all of your favorite flowers, herbs and vegetables, you can do this by building your very own hydroponic system. There are no limits to what you can build when you do it yourself.

What are the various ways that you can go about building a hydroponic system?

Where can you get plans for them?

Let’s explore some of these questions.

Getting the plans:

Many people want to build their own hydroponic gardening system wonder how they can get started. The first step is to determine which system is right for you and then begin your search for plans. There are many plans to choose from—from very small systems to large ones that will fill a greenhouse.

Which plan is right for you?

Here is a closer look at the various plans that you can get to build a hydroponics gardening system.

Dutch pot:

Dutch pot system

A Dutch pot system is also called the Bato bucket hydroponics system. This system is especially good for people that love to grow roses and vegetables. It is an easy to build system that you assemble out of planters filled with the growing medium. This type of system is often called the “poor man’s hydroponics” because it takes common and easy to find items to build it. You will find that this system is lightweight and does a very efficient job at growing your favorite plants.

In order to build this type of system, you will need items such as BATO buckets, PVC pipe, pipe fittings, feed line, a water pump, PVC fittings, a riser, drippers, end camps, and Perlite. There are many plans that you can find online that will give you step by step instructions and help you get started with this project. If you want an easy to build project, this is the way to go.

Hydroponic bubbling planter:

Hydroponic bubbling planter

Another inexpensive and easy to build hydroponic planting system is the Hydroponic bubbling planter. This is a very simple system that works by bathing the plant roots in oxygen infused nutrient. This nutrient stays contained within the planter, making your job much easier. The roots are exposed to a lot of oxygen and this causes rapid growth in plants.

With this system, you can build it with easy to find materials. These materials include a plastic container such as a paint bucket or storage container, several thick plastic cups, an air pump, an air stone similar to those used in aquariums, air tubing, and growing media.

These DIY plans are simple to follow and are widely available on the Internet and in hydroponic books and magazines.

Lettuce Raft System:

Lettuce Raft System

If you love having fresh green lettuce in your home year round, then you may want to consider a lettuce raft system. As with all other do it yourself hydroponic systems, you can choose from a variety of plans to help you.

You will find that this type of system is very easy to build and use and that the parts that it requires are cheap and easy to acquire. This system operates by floating plants above an oxygen infused bath of nutrients, which allows the roots to grow fast and more efficiently.

You can use this system to grow lettuce and herbs for your kitchen.

When you are ready to build this one, you will need a plastic tub or container, nutrients, and a power pump.

Creating your own system:

Of course, you can follow these plans to build your own hydroponic system, but once you get the hang of how to garden this way, you can create your very one style and make a unique hydroponic system.

Look at the plans that are out there and see what is different and similar to each one.

Figure out how large or small you want your system to end up and then construct your plans. You know that you will need a few key parts to make it work correctly.

These include:

  1. Growing medium
  2. Plastic tub or container
  3. Air pump
  4. Air tubing
  5. Nutrients

After you have decided how you want your system to run and how you want it to look, you can begin experimenting with your system.

Many gardeners like to rely on systems they have built themselves. Home made systems are often more reliable and they are much cheaper than the kits that you will buy. In addition, many of the items you need are easy to find at your local home improvement store.

Related How To article: 3 Methods to Build a Homemade Hydroponics System

Berries Chases the Blues Away



When you’re stressed, the best relief can come from a food you may not expect – deep-purple-hued, delicious berries.


Blueberries, especially, have the power to provide antioxidants and phytonutrients to help your body fight stress-causing free-radicals.

Free radicals are produced by the brain and can cause serious damage to your body. They’re sometimes caused by viruses and other bacteria entering the body, but environmental factors such as herbicides, pollution, radiation, and cigarette smoke are also reasons they may disrupt your body function.

Your body desperately needs antioxidants to fight these life-threatening body invaders which may accumulate rapidly as you age. Studies show that people who eat blueberries experience an intense boost in free-radical killers.

These nutrients in berries also provide a boost to your immune system, which can also counter stress. Besides the medical problems that stress can cause, you may also suffer from depression and mood swings.

Stress can become a vicious cycle that’s hard to break free from and diet can play a huge part in relieving stress – or making it worse. If you eat the stress-busting foods such as berries on a regular basis, you can help balance your physical and mental well-being.

The purple-hued berries such as blueberries and blackberries get their color from anthocyanins – pigments which give the berries their deep color. They are antioxidants that act as a medicine to the brain, helping cognitive functioning, moods, and even body and limb coordination.

Managing stress by adding some superfoods such as berries can be an effective preventative measure to keep side effects of stress at bay. Add delicious berries to your cereal in the morning or to yogurt for a healthy snack and ensure your daily dose of this stress-busting food.

Related How To article: 3 Methods to Boost Your Health by Adding Berries to Your Diet

Foods To Relieve HBP Caused by Stress

super foods

You can make a difference in your health when you grow foods in your garden that lower your risk of high blood pressure caused by stress. Hypertension (high blood pressure caused by stress and diet) is known as “the silent killer” and may lead to medical issues such as kidney, stroke and heart disease, among others.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet recommends changing your diet to include foods high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium and to lower your consumption of alcohol, fat, and sodium.

If you love to garden – or want to try out your green thumb, you can add foods to the table that can play a big role in reducing your high blood pressure and lowering your risk for those dreaded medical problems.

Leafy greens are an easy-to-grow place to begin your gardening experience – or to add to your garden if you’re already practicing this life-altering activity. Leafy greens are rich in potassium and help counteract the effects of sodium in your diet.

Choose from greens like spinach, romaine lettuce, kaleKale, turnips, and collard greens. The fresh taste from your garden is far better than canned (which often contains high levels of sodium) and provides a much better taste than frozen.

Berries are another great source of flavonoids, a natural compound that can help lower high blood pressure. Strawberries are often one of the first plants a beginning gardener attempts to grow.

They’re easy and quick to yield. You can easily freeze them and add to your cereal or grab a handful for a quick and healthy snack. Hypertension, caused by stress and anxiety, may be prevented by adding a variety of berries to your garden – and your diet plan.

Potatoes are another easy-to-grow superfood that you can easily add to your garden space (or grow in raised beds and containers). They contain valuable minerals, magnesium, and potassium, which can greatly help to lower your blood pressure naturally.

Fiber is another reason to grow Potatoespotatos. Getting enough fiber in your diet helps create a healthy immune system, which can reduce your risk of depression and other maladies caused by too much stress in your life.

Rather than add butter, salt and sour cream to your fresh potatoes, try other low-calorie and low-fat options such as salsa and plain yogurt. Potatoes are a go-to comfort food when you need a filling and tasty meal, but without the calories and sugar that can raise your blood pressure.

Beets are also easy to grow and are delicious straight from the garden. Plus, you can eat the entire plant. The root of the beet can be a delicious addition to soups and stews or you can roast and grill them.

Valuable nitrates present in beets can help you lower your blood pressure within 24 hours of consumption. They’re great for your overall health and mental well-being, too.

Try growing these and other amazing superfoods in your garden and add them to your diet plan to lower blood pressure and to counteract the effects of stress and anxiety.

Related How To article: 6 Methods to Naturally Reduce Blood Pressure

Rose Plant Information

Roses Buds


The following will explain many rose plant information. Budding is a term rosarians use when a portion of one plant is grafted onto the rootstock of another — as opposed to growing on the original plant’s roots.

This has been a fairly popular way of propagating roses, especially among commercial growers. You look puzzled. You’re wondering why?

Many commercial growers believe that roses just grow better using this method. First, the plants themselves take less time to establish their root systems.

And the growers enjoy a larger percent of roses thriving on the rootstock than they do with roses on their original stock.

The growers simply take the canes (or branches) from the one rose plant, cut off the bud eye at the junction of the cane and leaflet and then insert it under the bark of the cane of a rootstock plant. A simple, uncomplicated operation.

When the canes and foliage above the bud are cut off, all the plant’s energy is then focused toward making the newly budded eye grow.

Bud eyes from the desired variety have all the genetic material to create a new plant that’s identical to the original.

The point at which the bud is inserted into the bark of the rootstock plant is called the bud union. On mature plants, the bud union looks very similar to a knob. As the plant grows in your garden, though, new, large canes grow from directly above this bud union.

In the colder climates, the bud union is the portion of the plant that’s most important to the plant’s survival during the harsh, winter months. As you learn later, you’re going to plant the bud union several inches below the ground in the cold climate and then protect it by covering it with a mound of soil.

How to Bud Roses video

Rose Flower Petals


She loves me, She loves me not!

Hmm. Remember that old game you used to play with wild daisies? With each “she loves me” or “she loves me not” you’d utter, you’d pull a petal of the flower. The last petal told the truth. So how often did she really love you?

No one would ever dare play such a destructive game with a rose. Yet, the rose — depending on its variety — has a host of petals — sometimes too many to count.

And sometimes, they’re just unique. Take, for example, the famous Green Rose. Formally called the Rosa chinensis viridiflora, the flower of this rose is green. But, upon closer examination, rosarians explain that what appears to be petals of a bloom is actually a host of sepals.

The petals of the rose.

rose petals

Normally, a rose bloom is defined as having a minimum of five petals. But as you’ll soon learn from the vast varieties of roses, this is seldom the case. In most cases, roses have more — many more — petals than just five.

In some cases so many petals exist on a single bloom that there are literally too many for the bloom to open fully except in the hottest of weather.

In many cases, the number — as well as the color — of the petals are just so fabulous that even if the plant blooms only once during the summer. . . Well, it was well worth the wait just to witness this gorgeous flower.

The most common of the petal formations — and yes, there is some uniformity and commonality to these! — fall into three major categories: single, semi-double, and double or sometimes called fully double.

The single formation is explained in its name. It’s simply a single row of petals — and yes, the most usual number of petals is five.

The semi-double formation contains only two –sometimes three — rows of petals with 12 to 16 petals in all.

The double formation or fully double formation contains lots of petals. A bloom is considered as part of the formation if it has more than 17 petals.

Sometimes you’ll find several more formations. And this is where the names get a little tricky and can cause some confusion. Some rosarians call a fully double formation of any flower that has between 26 and 40 petals.

If you speak with other rose hobbyists be aware of this overlap in names. But some roses have even more than 40 petals (imagine the beauty!). These are normally called “very double.” (No, I agree it’s not a very imaginative name, but it fits the description!)

And then there’s the arrangement of the petals.

While we’re on the topic of petals, let’s go into just a little bit more detail. Because in addition to the classification of roses by the number of roses, these beauties are also classified by the arrangement of the petals as they unfurl. (Do you ever think that rosarians just love to classify things?)

But, it’s true. And this classification comes into use when the flowers are in exhibition.

Many-petaled rose flowers with great or formal form are often called exhibition roses. These blooms are gracefully shaped whose petals are symmetrically arranged in an attractive circular outline coming to rest in a high pointed center. Yes, indeed, it is really a thing of beauty.

The arrangement of this unfurling of petals is judged on the symmetry as well as the spacing of the gaps. The center of the bloom — for judging purposes — should be well-defined, rising high within the flower and pointed.

From the side, you should notice the natural symmetry of the structure. The petals unfurl — ideally – uniformly from the center.

The outer row of the petal should be as close as possible to a horizontal plane.

Of course, each variety has its own inherent characteristics, as you might expect. But each exhibition rose is at its unique perfect phase of bloom when it is between half and three-quarters of the way open.

When you’re growing a garden, decorative or an informal rose, the bloom itself is not held to quite the same high standard. The flower itself is not as well-defined as an exhibition rose, nor does it need to be as high or as pointed in the center.

Ruffled, sometimes called wavy petals, as well as cupped, those turned inward are accepted. This variety also has fewer petals than most of the other classifications.

If rose forms are so important, just exactly, you’re wondering right now what affects the formation of the petals themselves. Well, if you’re thinking that it’s mostly genetics, you’re right… to a point

Three of the most important factors — after genetics — in rose formations are climate conditions, cultivation and the exact weather conditions as well.

A rose of substance.

roses in a vase

Petals are also viewed and judged by their substance. This is defined by the petals’ stability and durability. Most importantly — and this should come as no surprise — substance is also judged by how long it retains its quality in a vase.

The substance of a rose petal also depends on the amount of moisture the petals have absorbed. But, perhaps most importantly, the substance is demonstrated in the texture, firmness, crispness, thickness, and toughness of the petals.

You can determine the substance of petals for yourself. Touch a petal. Go ahead, the chances are it’s not going to fall to pieces (not if it has any substance at least!). Is the petal thick? Look at it closely. A true petal of substance has an opalescent sparkle and sheen to it. And if it’s a red rose, it’ll have a velvety appearance to it.

The color of petals

Of course, rose petals are also judged by their colors. The elements that contribute to the petals degree of cover are . . . dare I say elementary. As you can imagine the bloom whose petals are bright, clear and vivid are usually prized more than others.

But in addition to that, the hue of the color is a factor as well. This factor includes the visual impact the petals have on the eye as well as how it distinguishes itself from other colors.

To this end, rosarians refer to something called chroma. This is the intensity and purity of the hue. Ideally, the petals should have no gray or white in their hue. And in fact, the idea petal of substance would be an amazing blend of brightness and chroma.

Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticide

The following article and video will tell you what the National Pesticide Information Center has to say about Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

What is Bacillus thuringiensis? (Bt)?

Bt is a microbe naturally found in soil. It makes proteins that are toxic to immature insects (larvae). There are many types of Bt. Each targets different insect groups. Target insects include beetles, mosquitoes, black flies, caterpillars, and moths.

With Bt pesticides, routine testing is required to ensure that unwanted toxins and microbes are not present. Bt has been registered for use in pesticides by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1961.

What are some products that contain Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)?

Currently, Bt strains are found in over 180 registered pesticide products. Bt products are used on crops and ornamental plants. Others are used in and around buildings, in aquatic settings, and in aerial applications. These products are commonly sprays, dusts, granules, and pellets. Some of these products are approved for use in organic agriculture.

Commercial Bt insecticide

Some crops have been engineered to make the Bt toxin. These plant-incorporated protectants include corn, cotton, and soybeans. Photo is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) biological insecticide label. Douglas-fir tussock moth control test.

How does Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) work?

Bt makes toxins that target insect larvae when eaten. In their gut, the toxins are activated. The activated toxin breaks down their gut, and the insects die of infection and starvation. Death can occur within a few hours or weeks.

The different types of Bt create toxins that can only be activated by the target insect larvae. In contrast, when people eat the same toxins, the toxins are not activated and no harm occurs.

Each type of Bt toxin is highly specific to the target insect. For example, the ‘kurstaki’ type targets caterpillars. The ‘isrealensis’ type targets immature flies and mosquitoes. Little to no direct toxicity to non-target insects have been observed.

How might I be exposed to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)?

People are most commonly exposed to Bt through their diet, at very low levels. Exposure can also occur if you breathe it in or get it on your skin or eyes. For example, this can occur while applying sprays or dusts during windy conditions. You may also be exposed after using a product if you don’t wash your hands before eating or smoking. Since Bt is commonly found in soils, exposures not related to pesticides are also possible.

microscopic Bt

Pets might be exposed to this product in treated birdbaths or water fountains. You can limit your exposure and reduce the risk by carefully following the label instructions.

Photo depicts the colonial growth displayed by Gram-positive Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria, which were cultured on sheep blood agar (SBA) medium, for a 48 hour time period, at a temperature of 37°C.

What are some signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Bt is low in toxicity to people and other mammals. Several studies have found no evidence of sickness or infection as a result of exposure. However, some products with Bt have caused eye and skin irritation. In one study, rats breathed in very high doses of concentrated Bt. Some had runny noses, crusty eyes, and goosebumps. Others were less active or lost weight.

In another study, people were surveyed before and after aerial applications of Bt. Most people were not affected. However, some people with hay fever reported certain symptoms. These included difficulty with sleep and concentration, stomach upset, and nose/throat irritation. Seasonal factors, such as pollen, may have contributed to some of the effects.

Scientists also evaluated whether Bt can cause allergic reactions. Researchers found that farmworkers exposed for one to four months did not experience any problems related to their airways, nose, or skin. However, further exposure showed evidence of an immune response and the potential for skin allergies to develop.

What happens to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) when it enters the body?

When eaten, Bt is confined to the gut. It does not reproduce, and the toxin is broken down like other proteins in the diet. Bt leaves the body within 2 to 3 days.

If breathed in, Bt can move to the lungs, blood, lymph, and kidneys. Bt is then attacked by the immune system. Levels of Bt decrease quickly one day after exposure.

What happens to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in the environment?

with and without Bt

Toxins created by Bt are rapidly broken down by sunlight and in acidic soil. Other microbes in the soil can also break it down. Bt does not readily leach in soil. It typically remains in the top several inches of soil. Bt remains dormant in most natural soil conditions. However, there has been some reproduction in nutrient-rich soils. On the soil surface, dormant Bt cells last only a few days. However, below the soil surface, they can last for months or years. The half-life in unfavorable soil is about 4 months. Bt toxins break down much faster. In one study, 12% remained after 15 days.

The photo shows Top: Lesser cornstalk borer larvae extensively damaged the leaves of this unprotected peanut plant. Bottom: After only a few bites of peanut leaves of this genetically engineered plant with Bt.

In water, Bt does not readily reproduce. A study found Bt toxins in the air were broken down rapidly by sunlight. Forty-one percent (41%) of the toxin remained after 24 hours. On plant surfaces, sunlight breaks down Bt; the half-life of Bt toxins is 1-4 days.

Can Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) affect birds, fish, or other wildlife?

Bt is practically non-toxic and non-pathogenic to birds, fish, and shrimp. No adverse effect or infection was found in rats given large doses of two different Bt strains. There is no evidence that Bt can cause a disease outbreak among wild animals.

Little to no direct toxicity to non-target insects and other shelled invertebrates has been observed. Bt does not seem to hurt earthworms. However, the aizawai strain is highly toxic to honeybees. Other strains have minimal toxicity to honeybees.

Water fleas exposed to the kurstaki and israelensis strains showed moderate toxicity. The aizawai strains are highly toxic to water fleas. However, evidence suggests that toxicity to these non-targets may be related to impurities from the production of Bt.

Always follow label instructions and take steps to minimize exposure. If any exposures occur, be sure to follow the First Aid instructions on the product label carefully. For additional treatment advice, contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If you wish to discuss a pesticide problem, please call 1-800-858-7378.

Related How To article: 3 Ways to Buy Organic Insecticides

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List of Organic Fertilizers

Do you want to help the environment and grow those big tomatoes?


I believe the key to a favorable outcome of organic fertilizers is to be loyal to its application and use. Know that when you use plant food and organic fertilizers that the results will take a little longer but the lasting results are much longer and more healthy. The list here is not all there is but what has worked for me. They represent materials found all around us and have been there for many centuries.

Alfalfa Meal— A plant food growth regulator, rich in vitamins and minerals. NPK is 3-2-2. A green manure crop made from alfalfa that has a plant growth regulator hormone. It starts or re-starts vigorously millions of microbes that will then trigger soil organisms that convert the bordering nutrients into an useable form to plants.

For more information about alfalfa meal please watch my VIDEO

Azomite— NPK is 0-0-2.5 and 5% Calcium. A natural volcanic mineral-rich in trace elements. Azomite may be used with potting soil, indoor plants, gardens and mix in with compost and your favorite organic fertilizer.

Bat Guano— Bat excretions or bat guano, a natural fertilizer containing nitrogen and lots of trace minerals.

Blood Meal— A dried blood material with nitrogen of around 12%. One of the highest non-synthetic sources of nitrogen. Use in the compost pile. Blood meal is a slow-release source of calcium and phosphorus used to increase phosphorus levels. NPK is approximately 12-1-1.

Bone Meal, steamed— The NPK is 1-13-0. Bone Meal is the best source of phosphorus and also has calcium and some trace minerals. It is a slow-release therefore, it is a safe fertilizer when potting young or new plants.

Coffee Grounds— The world is finding out that a tossed material is rich in nitrogen and should be added in the garden and compost piles. Ask your local coffee shop for their supply of coffee grounds.

Compost— Considered the best organic fertilizer because it is high in microorganisms, humic acid, enzymes, vitamins, and humus. Make your own compost.

Corn Gluten Meal— A natural fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide. Apply Corn Gluten Meal at the right time of year – before spring growth.

Cottonseed Meal— Made from cottonseed. Compost 1st to rid toxic chemicals. Use in the compost pile. NPK is 6-1-1 considered by many to be the second-best source of nitrogen after blood meal. It is a slow-release fertilizer. It also adds acidity to the soil.

Cover Crops— They are leguminous plants like clover, grains, rye, and oats. Cover Crops are planted for use as a green manure.

Crab Meal— NPK is 5-2-0.5. A soil improver which is a by-product of the crab industry. Once kiln dried they are ground up into the meal. Crab Meal will add life to the soil by furnishing a protein chitin food for microorganisms.

Earthworm Castings— (vermicompost, vermiculture, vermicompost) An organic fertilizer high in useable minerals and bacteria. The NPK is high with over 60 trace minerals, considered an ideal additive to soil. Earthworm Castings is made from worms digesting organic matter and passes the castings. Ammonium sulfate is toxic to earthworms.

Epsom Salt— Hydrated magnesium sulfate, used as a quick-acting reservoir of magnesium and sulfur. These are elements that are required in the soil. Epsom Salt is an outstanding fertilizer.

Feather Meal— NPK is 12-0-0. Feathers are ground up into a meal. Nitrogen is released over a long period of time. Feather Meal is used to enhance green leaf growth, initiate compost decomposition and get better soil structure.

Fish Emulsion— An organic fertilizer produced from fish or fish by-products. Add seaweed to it and it will make an excellent fertilizer. Fish Emulsion‘s NPK is approx. 4-1-1 to 7-2-2.

Granite meal— Ground from soft granite into rock powder. Good potassium to help produce starch and sugar for the plants. Granite meal‘s job is to furnish trace mineral content where the soil has been used too much and deficient in trace minerals.

Greensand— An organic fertilizer which is a good source of iron, potassium, and trace minerals. Greensand is mined from ancient seabeds.

Gypsum— An excellent source of the micronutrients sulfur and calcium. Because of Gypsum‘s draining capabilities and provides aeration it is added to clay soils.

Humates— (Humic substances) A source of humic acid which is a natural organic lawn fertilizer with trace minerals and is the result of nature successful compost. Humates smells like the forest decayed leaves.

Kelp Meal— Ground-up dried seaweed. A good source of copper and boron. Abundant in plant food growth hormones. Kelp Meal is a natural source of chelated trace elements that enhances the health of the soil and plants.

Lava Sand— Ground up lava, rich with trace minerals, Lava Sand has a water-holding ability.

Lime— Gives soil an adjustment of the pH, reduces acidity, Lime contains calcium that keeps magnesium low.

Manure— Not human’s in this country. Manure is rich in nitrogen and can be obtained from many different animals, even horses. It should be composted before using because it’s nitrogen and ammonia can burn plants.

Molasses— A food for soil microorganisms. It contains trace minerals, sulfur, and potash. Molasses is a very important part of the complete organic program.

Potash— A material containing potassium. It can be potassium carbonate from wood ashes. Where potassium is deficient in the soil, potash fertilizers can correct the problem and boost crop yields and quality.

Rock Phosphate— A dry organic fertilizer. NPK is 0-25-0. A natural source of phosphorus, calcium and essential trace elements. It gets to build phosphate fertility, increase root activity in seedlings and transplants. Rock Phosphate enriches the soil and quality of the crops.

Seaweed— A saltwater plant that will accelerate root growth and has more than 60 trace minerals demanded by plants. This organic fertilizer, Seaweed, if added with fish emulsion will make the best complete fertilizer.

Soft Rock Phosphate– Aka Colloidal Rock Phosphate. A soft, natural colloidal clay releases its nutrients slowly. Unlike other phosphates, it has colloidal clay that can tie up sandy soils and contribute to their nutrient holding volume.

Sulfate of Potash— NPK is 0-0-52. A natural potash that is 51% soluble. Sulfate of Potash is second only to nitrogen in the amount required for plants. It can be applied as a supplement or mixed with other materials. Do an accurate soil test before applying.

Sul-po-mag— Natural fertilizer. Sul-po-mag is a source of 22% sulfur, 22% potash and 11% magnesium.

Sustane, aka composted turkey manure.– A very fast acting 100% composted organic fertilizer. NPK is 5-2-4. Made from real turkeys.

Related How To article: 3 Ways to Choose Organic Fertilizer

What is in the Name of a Rose?


Here’s a piece of trivia I bet you didn’t know: roses are the third-largest plant family. It’s true! What is in the name of a rose? It would be extremely difficult for it to become the third-largest family if it were as difficult to cultivate them as their reputation leads you to believe.

But the more interesting point is the various members of the rose family you can find around us all the time. Like what?

Well, the “rose family” includes such plants as apples, cherries, raspberries, and many ornamental landscape plants!

Wild roses generally have two names (no not quite a first and a last name like people!). Each wild rose has a scientific or botanical name with at least two parts, sometimes more. These names are always based on the Latin language. In addition, each wild rose also contains a common name as well. For example, there’s the Rosa eglanteria — the plant’s botanical name. Its common name is eglantine.


There are times when changes occur naturally in the plant. A normally red-flowered rose, for example, may suddenly sprout a white-flowering seedling. This is called a variety. When the variety is produced artificially as a result of something a person has done, it’s called a cultivar. While that looks like an impressive word, it’s really rose-language shorthand for the term “cultivated variety”.

This cultivar could have several origins. It may be the result of a hybrid. Technically, a hybrid is when the pollen of one plant is placed on the female reproductive parts of another plant. The results are seedlings with genes from both parents.

But the cultivar could also be the result of people who actively seek to reproduce roses through rooting cuttings. In this case sections of the stem of the plant they want are grafted to another plant.

Knockout rose

You can recognize a cultivar just by its name. They are usually only given one name (there’s not Latin-based scientific name linked with these plants). When you see a rose is named ‘Rainbow’s End’ or ‘Knock Out’ you know instantly that the final product is a man-made cultivar. You’ll also notice, as you learn more about your new-found hobby, that these single-named cultivars are always set off by a set of single quotation marks — never double!

If this particular man-made cultivar is sold in more than one country, then don’t be surprised to discover that it’s also known by more than one name.

Name of the Rose

But the name of the rose doesn’t end here! (Whew! Roses have more names than the FBI’s top listed Most Wanted!). The situation grows even more complicated if the flower is registered with the International Registration Authority for Roses, which by the way is a function of the American Rose Society.

If it is registered with this group, then it may also receive a “code name”. This code name starts with three capital letters that denote the hybridizer or the person who introduced the variety. Then, this is followed by additional lower-case letters. There’s a rose called the TANorstar. This code name is always the same — no matter in which country the rose is sold.


Names of Roses is Pretty Cut and Dry

After taking the time to describe all this, you would think that everything about the names of roses is pretty cut and dry. Oh, no! That’s just not the case, not by a long shot!

As you begin to read more, you’ll realize that names are really listed in many different ways in all sorts of publications.

Now that I’ve completely confused you and while you’re still scratching your head looking completely puzzled, we might as well plow ahead to one more point. Some older varieties of roses will have a common name as well. You can view these as nicknames. These have been adopted over the years and used so much that they’re just accepted, affectionate ways of talking about these particular roses.

Now that you’re wondering why you need to know all of this, I’ll tell you right now, sooner or later (and probably sooner) you will encounter all the names. And it very well could be the next time you open a rose catalog.

Many catalogs print all the possible names of the roses. This helps everyone to know what rose we’re talking about. The names are usually listed in the following order: fancy names; scientific names; common names and code names.

Here’s an Example of What I’m Talking About.

For the rose called “Alba Maxima’ you’ll find a listing like this. It has a fancy species and common names:

Synonyms are ‘Great Double White’, ‘Maxima’, Rosa alba maxima, and Jacobite Rose.

If the rose has two alternate fancy names and a code name, the entry looks like this:

Rosa Alba Meidiland

‘Alba meidiland’

Synonyms are ‘Alba Meilandecor’, ‘Meidiland Alba’; MElflopan.

With all the thousands of roses in the world and all the names just one rose can be given, it’s no wonder that the rose experts use various methods to group the roses as well. Now you know what is in the name of a rose.