Monday, October 13, 2014

A Bit of Gardening Terminology

Even though winter is coming quickly, I think it is important to start preparing early so you are not rushed because time can go by so fast!  I have always dreamed of having a big garden.  I think it is very rewarding to care for something, watch it grow, and see it transform into something useful.  

Unfortunately, since I moved out of my parents' house to go to college (a few years ago), I have never lived in a place that has allowed me to set up a big garden either because of space and/or because I am renting and can't really change the landscape...and I still don't have that opportunity.  However, I am now within a day's drive of my parents' place and they live in the country, surrounded by farmland.  So, I am planning on doing research now and setting up some raised garden beds at their place to use this summer!

So, I ordered a bunch of seeds and am planning on storing them in a cool place so they last a long time.  I am looking into setting up a compost area that we can eventually add the compost to the garden this spring (but more on that later).  

I have learned that not all seeds are created equal.  So, I did some digging and here is some of the terminology that I have found:

Aeration: Any method of loosening soil or compost to allow air to circulate.

Aerobic: Describes organisms living or occurring only when oxygen is present.

Alkaline: A soil with a pH between 7.0 and 14 (on a scale of 0.0-14.0). Often referred to as “sweet” soil by gardeners.

Anaerobic: Describes organisms living or occurring where there is no oxygen.

Annual: A plant that blooms, produces seed, and dies in one year.

Beneficial Insect: An insect that benefits your garden by eating or laying its eggs in other insects, thereby controlling their population.

Biennial: A plant that completes its full life-cycle in two growing seasons. It produces leaves in the first and flowers in the second.

Biodegradable: Able to decompose or break down through natural bacterial or fungal action. Substances made of organic matter are biodegradable.

Biological Pest Control: Using living organisms such as beneficial insects or parasites to destroy garden pests.

Cold Frame: An unheated structure usually made of wood and covered with glass or plastic. Cold frames are used to protect plants from frost and are helpful season extenders.

Companion Planting: The sowing of seeds in the garden in such a way that plants help each other grow instead of competing against each other.

Compost: Completely decayed organic matter used for conditioning soil. It is dark, odorless and rich in nutrients.

Cool-Season Crops:  Peas, lettuces, radishes, brassicas (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, collards), and spinach germinate and thrive in the lower temperatures of spring and fall and tolerate light frosts. Many cool-season crops can be direct-sown in the garden around before the last frost.

Cover Crop: Vegetation grown to protect and build the soil during an interval when the area would otherwise lie fallow.

Crop Rotation: The planting of a specific crop in a site different from the previous year.

Cutting: A vegetative method of plant propagation whereby a piece of plant leaf, stem, root or bud is cut from a parent plant. It is then inserted into a growing medium to form roots, thus developing a new plant.

Dead Heading: The act of removing spent flowers or flowerheads for aesthetics, to prolong bloom for up to several weeks or promote re-bloom, or to prevent seeding.

Deep Shade: A plant requiring less than 2 hours of dappled sun a day.

Determinate:  Determinate plants are bush-type plants.  They only grow to a certain height, produce their fruit, and then die off.  

Direct Seed:  To seed directly into the soil instead of starting your seeds indoors.
Acidic: A soil, compost, or liquid with a pH between 0 and 7.0 (on a scale of 0.0-14.0). Often referred to as “sour” soil by gardeners.

Fertilizer: An organic or synthetic material added to the soil or the plant, that is important for its nutrient value.

Fungicides: Compounds used to prevent the spread of fungi in gardens and crops, which can cause serious damage to plants.

Germinate: The beginning of growth in seeds, the action of sprouting, budding or shooting, above the soil. This occurs whenever a plant or seed begins to vegetate into leafy young plants. The breaking of dormancy in seeds or the sprouting of pollen grains deposited on a stigma.

Hardening Off: The process of acclimatizing plants grown under protection, in the greenhouse for example, to cooler conditions outdoors.

Heavy Soil: A soil that contains a high proportion of clay and is poorly drained.

Heirloom Vegetables:  Heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties that have been cultivated for at least 50 years. They are often more flavorful, colorful, and interesting than hybrids, but they may lack disease-resistance or require staking.

Humus: A fairly stable, complex group of nutrient-storing molecules created by microbes and other forces of decomposition by the conversion of organic matter. Typically its dark loamy earth.

Hybrids:  These plants are the result of cross-breeding to produce offspring with certain desirable traits, such as disease-resistance or uniform color or size. Their complicated genetics mean that the seed inside the fruit you grow one season will not produce a plant like its parent. Each year, you will have to buy new seeds of this variety if you want to grow it again.

Indeterminate:  The plant continues to grow after it begins producing fruit.  Indeterminate plants can produce fruit all season long.

Micro-Nutrients: Some mineral elements are needed by plants in very small quantities. If the plants you are growing require specific “trace elements” and they are not getting them through the soil, they must be added.

Mulch: Any organic material, such as wood chips, grass clippings, compost, straw, or leaves that is spread over the soil surface (around plants) to hold in moisture and help control weeds.

No-Till-Gardening: This type of gardening calls for no cultivation (or tilling) of the soil after the initial tilling. In its place, regular mulches are added and plants are planted through the mulch. This saves on labor and eliminates weeds, which might germinate as a result of tilling.

N-P-K: An abbreviation for the three main nutrients that have been identified as absolutely necessary for plants are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These three are also known as “macronutrients,” and are the source of the three numbers commonly found on fertilizer labels.

Open-Pollinated (OP):  These plants come from a parent of the same variety and they can, in turn, produce offspring of the same variety. This is called "coming true from seed." The seed from open-pollinated varieties can be collected from the plants you've grown and saved to grow again next year.

Organic Gardening: This method of gardening is based on building a healthy, living soil through composting and using supplemental nutrients from naturally occurring deposits. The basic principle is to feed the soil so the soil will feed the plants. Healthy plants are better able to resist pests and disease thus reducing the need for control. If control is needed, cultural and mechanical methods are used first. Naturally derived pesticides are used only as a last resort.

Perennial: A plant that grows and flowers for years. They are either evergreens or may die back to the ground but will grow again the following season.

pH: A scale from 0-14 that explains the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the water or soil. Soil pH is very important because it affects the availability of nutrients to plants and the activity of microorganisms in the soil.

Rhizome: A fleshy underground stem or runner. Creeping grasses spread by rhizomes.

Season Extender: Any technique or piece of equipment used to extend the growing season in both spring and fall. Examples include; row covers, greenhouses, hotbeds, cold frames, and products such as Wall O’ Waters.

Soil Amendment: Material added to the soil to improve its properties. This may include; water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure. Soil amendments are mostly organic matter or very slow release minerals and are typically worked into the topsoil.

Soil Test: A measurement of the major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) and pH levels in the soil.

Topdressing: Applying fertilizers or some kind of soil amendment after seeding, transplanting or once the crop has been established.

Transplanting: The moving of a plant from one growth medium to another.

Vermicomposting: The use of red worms to convert food scraps or other organic materials into worm castings.

Warm-Season Crops:  Tomatoes, eggplants, summer and winter squash, beans, and corn prefer summer's heat. Plant these only after the soil has warmed. Many warm-season crops require a long growing season and should be started indoors in late winter or early spring or purchased as seedlings ready to be transplanted.

Worm Casting: The digested organic waste of red worms. Gardeners consider them the most nutrient dense organic compost available.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used to treat a variety of conditions for 4,000 years.  Studies show that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems.  

Turmeric is widely used in cooking and gives Indian curry its flavor and yellow color.  It is also used in mustard and to color butter and cheese.  Turmeric has been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat digestive and liver problems, skin diseases, and wounds.

Curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, is a power antioxidant.  Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death.  Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

In addition, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.  It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.

Plant Description

Turmeric is a perennial plant that grows 5 to 6 feet high in the tropical regions of Southern Asia.  It is a relative of ginger and has trumpet-shaped, dull yellow flowers.  Its roots are bulbs that also produce rhizomes, which then produce stems and roots for new plants.  Turmeric is fragrant and has a bitter, somewhat sharp taste.

Medicinal Uses

The roots, or rhizomes and bulbs, are used in medicine and food.  They are generally boiled and then dried, turning into the familiar yellow powder.

Curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, which some people think may help improve digestion.  The German Commission E, which determines which herbs can be safely prescribed in Germany, has approved turmeric for digestive problems.  

Early studies suggested that turmeric may help prevent atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque that can block arteries and lead to heart attack or stroke.  In animal studies, an extract of turmeric lowered cholesterol levels and kept LDL "bad" cholesterol from buildin up in blood vessels.  Because it stops platelets from clumping together, turmeric may also prevent blood clots from building up along the walls of arteries.  But a double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that taking curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, at a dose of up to 4 g per day did not improve cholesterol levels.

How to Take It

  • Cut root: 1.5-3 grams per day
  • Dried, powdered root: 1-3 grams per day
  • Standardized powder (curcumin): 400-600 mg, three times per day

Possible Interactions

According to the information found on Penn State Hershey

If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use turmeric or curcumin in medicinal forms without first talking to your health care provider.

Blood-thinning Medications -- Turmeric may make the effects of these drugs stronger, raising the risk of bleeding. Blood-thinners include warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin, among others.

Drugs that reduce stomach acid -- Turmeric may interfere with the action of these drugs, increasing the production of stomach acid:
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Omeprazole
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)

Diabetes Medications -- Turmeric may make the effects of these drugs stronger, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).


Turmeric Smoothie - So Tasty You Won't Believe It Has One of the Most Powerful Antioxidants In The World

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Garth Brooks

I started listening to Garth Brooks when I was little and I have never found a song that I dislike from him! I have yet to see him in concert, but am hoping that he will come to this area (or within a day's drive) during this current tour!

I finally caved and bought the digital bundle on! Even though I already own all of the cd's that have been released, I decided to purchase this set because it comes with the songs from the upcoming album, 30 videos, and all of the songs that are set to release with the 2015 album! So I decided that it was worth it to purchase the bundle instead of purchasing the 2 upcoming albums.

I am looking forward to listening to these on the way to school and work every day!

For more information about Garth Brooks, you can visit his website:

Garth Brooks has been certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as the top-selling solo artist of the 20th century with 134 million albums. He is also the fastest-selling album artist in RIAA history and the only solo artist to have 6 albums top the 10 million mark.

Garth spent more weeks at #1 on the album sales charts than any other artist since the inception of SoundScan. He has taken 25 singles to the #1 position on the country charts. When his recent boxed set “Blame It All On My Roots” debuted at #1, it marked the 13th time Garth had accomplished this feat – making him the highest country debut leader of all time.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Garlic Supplements

Since I am taking a class in medicinal botany, I have found that I really like to learn about different plants that can affect the human body in one way or another.  So, I thought that I would share some of the information that I have found with you!  Some of the information has come directly from my class and other information has come from internet sites that post their sources and that I believe to be reliable (I have posted their links further down in this post). 

Plant Description

Garlic is a perennial plant that is grown throughout the world.  It can grow more than 2 feet in height.  The compound bulb is the part used for medicine.  Each bulb is made up of 4 to 20 cloves (each clove weighs approximately 1 gram).  Garlic supplements can either be made from fresh, dried, or aged garlic or garlic oil.

Garlic, Allium sativum, contains several sulfur compounds and alliin. Alliin converts to allicin which gives garlic that characteristic smell when it is crush.  Allicin is thought to have antibacterial properties, but some studies suggest that it is a short-lived, unstable compound.


Garlic has been used as both food and a medicine for thousands of years.  Garlic cloves can be eaten raw, cooked, in a dried / powder form, in tablets and capsules, or used to make oils.  

 "Garlic is rich in antioxidants.  In your body, harmful particles called free radicals build up as you age and may contribute to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.  Antioxidants like those found in garlic fight off free radicals, and may reduce or even help some of the damage they cause over time."  - From Penn State Hershey

Medicinal Uses

Traditionally, garlic has been used for high cholesterol, heart disease and some cancers. 

Today, garlic is still used to prevent heart disease including atherosclerosis and lowering blood pressure.  Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup.  A 4-year long study found that people taking 900 mg daily of standardized garlic powder slowed the development of atherosclerosis.

In addition, garlic was used to lower cholesterol, but recent studies suggest that garlic does not lower cholesterol.

Garlic is thought to boost the immune system because of the antioxidants it contains.  In one study, people that took garlic supplements for 12 weeks during the cold season had fewer colds and if they did catch a cold, the symptoms went away much faster than the people that took a placebo.

Eating garlic regularly may also help protect against cancer.  Garlic has been found to kill cancer cells in test tubes.  In addition, researchers that reviewed 7 different studies found a 30% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer among people who ate a lot of raw or cooked garlic.  Unfortunately, garlic supplements do not seem to have the same effect.

How to Take It

  • Whole garlic clove - 2 to 4 grams per day of fresh, minced garlic clove (each clove is approximately 1 gram)
  • Aged garlic extract - 600 to 1,200 mg daily, in divided doses
  • Tablets of freeze-dried garlic - 200 mg, 2 tablets 3 times daily, standardized to 1.3% alliin or 0.6% allicin (Products may also be found standardized to contain 10 to 12 mg/gm alliin and 4,000 mcg of total allicin potential (TAP))

Possible Interactions

According to the information found on Penn State Hershey

Garlic may interact with a number of medications. Some of these medications are listed below. But this list does not include every medication that garlic may interact with. To be safe, if you take any prescription medicines, ask your doctor before taking garlic supplements.

Isoniazid (Nydrazid) -- This medication is used to treat tuberculosis. Garlic may lower the amount of isoniazid that the body absorbs, meaning it might not work as well.

Birth control pills -- Garlic may make birth control pills less effective.

Cyclosporine -- Garlic may interact with cyclosporine, a medication taken after organ transplant, and make it less effective.

Blood-thinning medications -- Garlic may make the actions of these medications stronger, increasing the risk of bleeding. Blood thinners include warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin.

Medications for HIV/AIDS -- Garlic may lower blood levels of protease inhibitors, medications used to treat people with HIV. Protease inhibitors include:

  • Amprenavir (Agenerase)
  • Fosamprenavir (Lexiva)
  • Indinavir (Crixivan)
  • Nelfinavir (Viracept)
  • Ritonavir (Norvir)
  • Saquinavir (Fortovase)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- Both NSAIDs and garlic may increase the risk of bleeding. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), as well as prescription medications.


I also thought that I would share a recipe that I found on pinterest that I would try out!  The recipe below looks amazing!  It comes from Kirbie's Cravings.  



1/2 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 extra large egg, whisked
1 tbsp white sesame seeds (optional garnish)
1 tbsp fresh chopped scallions (optional garnish)
for the sauce:
6 tbsp honey
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup water + 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp water


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Dip chicken pieces in egg and then roll in bread crumbs until fully coated and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all chicken is coated. Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken coating is a dark golden brown and is crunchy. I recommend using Kikkoman bread crumbs as they brown evenly, even at the bottom.
2. While chicken is cooking, make sauce on the stove. Add all sauce ingredients except the 1/2 tbsp cornstarch + 1/4 cup water. Bring to a low boil. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water, then add to the mixture. Stir until sauce boils again and cook until sauce thickens. Pour sauce on chicken right before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions if desired.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Medicinal Botany

I am taking several courses this semester and one of the most interesting right now is Medicinal Botany.  Learning about different plants and the effect that they have on the human body is fascinating!  In class, we were told that over 80% of the world's population uses herbal medicine for part of their primary healthcare.  It is a $34 billion per year industry!

One of the things that really caught my attention was how herbal medicines / supplements can interact with other things you take including medicines.  For example, St. John's wort can actually cause your body to metabolize certain medications faster which can make them less effective.  

Certain plants or plant derivatives, in general, can even affect medications that you might be taking.  Compounds found in grapefruit juice have been found to inhibit CYP3A4 in the intestine which cause increase the amount of a medication in your body because it is not being broken down which could lead to a possible overdose!

Another point to consider is how regulated (or not) supplements are.  The amount of the compounds from the plant can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer or even from different batches made by the same manufacturer!

Therefore, it is important to do your research if you make the decision to take herbal supplements.  I think that, if properly researched, certain supplements could be beneficial to living a healthy lifestyle.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I really love gardening.  I think that there is something special about planting and caring for something and watching it grow.  Unfortunately, last year I was living in a rather small apartment and I wasn't able to have many plants.  However, I had a friend that went on vacation for a couple of weeks and I was able to look after her lovely plants!  I was just rummaging through my camera, looking at old photographs, and came across these pictures and thought that I would share them with you!  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Some links!

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