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CR practitioners eat a lot of produce, and it can get kinda expensive. But I've found much of the cost can be defrayed if you grow your own food. Here is a couple photos of my summer garden. Things are growing well. (Click for larger images) As you can see, I've got hoops (made from PVC pipes) and nets over the raised beds to protect the plants from deer, which are ubiquitous here in Western Pennsylvania. FYI, the beds are both 8' long by 4' across. This list of plants in these two beds include: Kale (curly & dino) Mustard Greens Broccoli Arugula Leaf Lettuce (green and red) Endive Red Swiss Chard Nasturtium Red-veined Sorrel Basil (sweet, cinnamon, lemon) Sage Curly Parsley Lemon Balm Oregano Lemon Thyme Rosemary Stevia Alpine Strawberries Eggplant Not shown in these photos: Tomatoes (cherry, black russian, yellow pear) Tomatillos Lemon Cucumbers Onions (red & yellow) Garlic Acorn Squash - spontaneously growing in my compost pile! Cantaloupe - spontaneously growing in my compost pile! Most of these were grown from seeds, so cost me almost nothing. Between harvesting & watering, I spend about 30min every other day tending my garden. Coupled with the 3oz/day of sprouts and microgreens I grow indoors year-round, the harvest from these two beds provides about a pound (450g) of fresh organic leafy greens per day from late-June through October, saving hundreds of dollars over the season. Plus all the savings from the 'solid' vegetables/fruits listed at the bottom. The plants I've listed are the one's I've found through trial and error to grown the best and produce the most in this part of the country. All of them (except for squash, cantaloupe, onions, garlic & eggplant) can be harvested a few leaves / fruits at a time over the entire season, so I don't get overwhelmed by more than I can eat of any one item, and I can harvest a little bit from each of them every other day to maximize freshness and variety. Does anyone else have a garden or gardening tips they care to share, or any questions about my gardening practice? --Dean
Over on the Key Foods/Nutrients/Substances thread, I touted the benefits of sprouts, particularly broccoli sprouts, saying: Michael quibbled over whether I mean sprouts in general, or broccoli sprouts in particular are a special food. My view - there is strong evidence for the latter but that doesn't rule out the former, so I grow and eat other sprouts, in addition to broccoli. He colorfully then said: To which I responded that indeed they are a bit of a pain in the ass to grow, by my mileage does vary: I happened to be tending my sprouts this morning and figured I'd take a couple pictures to share my system with others, in case they want to give it a try - or take potshots at my obsessiveness First off, let me say I mix sprout seeds together to grow and eat them not just for nutritional diversity, but because I've found they grow better as a group, rather than in a mono-crop. Not exactly sure why, but that's what I've found in my many years of experimentation (I've been eating homegrown sprouts since ~2001). The particular sprouts seeds I purchase and mix in a 50/50 blend are from Todd's Seeds (but also available on Amazon) are organic sprouting broccoli seeds, and organic broccoli and friends sprouting seeds, which is a combination of broccoli seeds, alfalfa seeds, clover and radish seeds. The reason I mix broccoli seeds together with a mix that already contains broccoli seeds is to increase the percentage of broccoli (obviously). I also grow fenugreek sprouts as well, shown in the bottom half of the trays below - fenugreek is cheap, easy to grow, and tasty. Here is a picture of what my setup produces each day - a nice handful of sprouts (~50g) about 50-60% of which are broccoli sprouts: So here is picture of the setup where I grow them (the top have of each tray are broccoli sprouts & friends, and the bottom have of each is fenugreek: It is hard to tell, but the seven separate trays you see are all contained within a larger plastic storage container, purchased at Walmart, usually used to store stuff under a bed. It is about 3 feet long, 15" wide, and 10" tall. I also purchased the trays at Walmart. They are designed to hold silverware in kitchen drawers. I drill small holes along both short edges to allow drainage, as shown here: I also use a small piece of mesh screen to cover the holes during the first couple days of sprouting, so the seeds don't fall through the holes. So here is the routine to tend them. Every morning before breakfast, I "harvest the sprouts by simply removing the oldest, largest sprouts from the tray on the left in the image above. I don't even rinse them - I just throw them on my salad. I think rinse and wipe out the tray they were growing in, then throw it (empty) in the microwave for 60sec to kill any bacteria that might start to grow in it. I then slide the six remaining trays to the left, and insert the empty one at the right-hand end. This is my crop rotation. I then spritz all seven trays with a handheld water sprayer (see image below), including the empty one - so that the seeds will stick to the bottom of the tray and not bounce around. I then sprinkle about 1/2 of a tablespoon of the above seed mixture into the tray, making sure the seeds are evenly distributed. I then spritz the new seeds again, to start the germination process. I then put the lid back on the storage container in which these seven trays are located, and put them on the wire shelving I have installed on above my sink and counter in my (basement) kitchen - aka "man cave". That way, water can drain through the hole I've drilled in the bottom of the storage container into the sink. Throughout the day, whenever I happen to be in my basement kitchen, I spritz all seven trays. I probably do this about 3-4 times a day. Here is me spritzing the sprouts: I estimate the total time spent on these sprouting activities is about 5-10 minutes per day. Michael et al, you might consider that a lot of time to devote to procuring such a small amount of food. But I like the benefits of broccoli sprouts and I like being able to grow at least some of my own food, even in the middle of a Pennsylvania winter. And if you think I'm obsessive about sprouting now, you should check out my sprouter system circa 2003! [Note: the note at the beginning about me not sprouting anymore is now also woefully out of date. I restarted my sprouting operations using my current technique around 2009, if I remember correctly). Questions or comments happily answered. --Dean Broccoli Sprout References from NutritionFacts.org video: J D Clarke, A Hsu, K Riedl, D Bella, S J Schwartz, J F Stevens, E Ho. Bioavailability and inter-conversion of sulforaphane and erucin in human subjects consuming broccoli sprouts or broccoli supplement in a cross-over study design. Pharmacol Res 2011 64(5):456 – 463. Y I Yashin, B V Nemzer, V Y Ryzhnev, A Y Yashin, N I Chernousova, P A Fedina. Creation of a databank for content of antioxidants in food products by an amperometric method. Molecules 2010 15(10):7450 – 7466. Y Gu, Q Guo, L Zhang, Z Chen, Y Han, Z Gu. Physiological and biochemical metabolism of germinating broccoli seeds and sprouts. J Agric Food Chem 2012 60(1):209 – 213. Y Li, T Zhang. Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol 2013 9(8):1097 – 1103. Z Bahadoran, P Mirmiran, F Hosseinpanah, M Hedayati, S Hosseinpour-Niazi, F Azizi. Broccoli sprouts reduce oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes: A randomized double-blind clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2011 65(8):972 – 977. P Mirmiran. Effects of broccoli sprout with high sulforaphane concentration on inflammatory markers in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Funct Foods 2012 4:837 – 841. Z Bahadoran, M Tohidi, P Nazeri, M Mehran, F Azizi, P Mirmiran. Effect of broccoli sprouts on insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind clinical trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2012 63(7):767 – 771. Z Bahadoran, P Mirmiran, F Azizi. Potential efficacy of broccoli sprouts as a unique supplement for management of type 2 diabetes and its complications. J Med Food 2013 16(5):375 – 382.
In years past, the day before a killing frost, I've always picked all the tomatoes that were fairly red, and left the rest to die on the vine, figuring unless they're pretty ripe already they aren't going to ripen enough after picking to be edible. Boy was I wrong! This year, I decided to do an experiment. Two weeks ago, before the killing frost here in Western PA, I picked all the cherry tomatoes, (orange) grape tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes in my garden, even the extremely green ones, like the one in my hand in the photo below. The photo shows the results of two weeks of ripening in bright window in my 65degF basement. They've all been ripening nicely. By now, all the tomatoes left in the image are ones that were very green when I picked them, including all the nicely ripe red/orange/yellow ones in the containers. The small container has the one's I'm planning to eat tomorrow. At this rate I should be enjoying organic, homegrown tomatoes through Christmas. I started harvesting in early July, so that is six months of harvest and at least 100lbs of tomatoes, from a 5x10ft plot, with very little effort. Pretty amazing for this part of the country! So for all you gardeners out there, next year, don't give up on those green tomatoes when a frost hits. Bring them inside to ripen and enjoy fresh tomatoes for weeks to come! --Dean