How to make a rain barrel

There is an effortless way to reduce our water footprint and water bills.

Rain barrels collect water with the help of a downspout coming from the roof or gutter, directed into the barrel through a diverter. The water is filtered through a screen that covers the top, catching any debris. You can then use the water for plants, gardens or even to drink in a drought. All in all, these barrels are one the most efficient ways to save water at home.

Luckily, you can make and install a rain barrel in as little as one hour.

Materials & Tools
Rain barrel
Drill
Hacksaw or utility knife
Spigot
Rubber & metal washers
Hose clamp
Waterproof Sealant
Landscaping fabric
Extra downspout material or diverter
Pencil
Measuring tape

Rain Barrel Installation
Determine the location of your rain barrel, preferably right under a downspout. Then, place it on a flat, raised surface. You can use cement blocks or bricks.
Remove the rain barrel from the raiser and place it sideways on the ground. Drill a hole towards the bottom, on the side of the barrel. This is where you’ll remove water from the rain barrel. The hole should be a bit smaller than your spigot hole.
Add both metal and rubber washers to your spigot.
Apply waterproof sealant around the rubber washer. Place inside the hole and hold in place for 20 seconds.
Reach inside the barrel and add a rubber and metal washer onto the other end of the spigot. Some homeowners add a hose clamp if they experience heavy storms. This ensures the spigot will hold in place.
Cut an entry hole on top of the barrel. This is where your downspout or diverter will go. The hole should be just big enough for the diverter to fit. You can use a hacksaw or utility knife to cut.
Drill two exit holes, on the sides of the barrel, towards the top. In case your rain barrel is filled, these holes will release some of the water and unnecessary pressure.

Cut enough landscaping fabric to fit over the rain barrel. This fabric will prevent mosquitos, leaves and other debris from entering the rain barrel.
Open the lid and place the cut fabric over the open rain barrel. Close the lid. The fabric should be sticking out of all ends just a bit.
Cut your downspout so it can be placed inside the rain barrel.
If you’re adding a diverter, measure the diverter and saw off your downspout as needed.
Attach the diverter as instructed.
Place the connecting tube to the port and place in the rain barrel.
Test the system by pouring water into your gutter from a ladder. Always have someone hold the ladder. If water is not entering the rain barrel, there is likely a blockage or hole in the gutter or downspout.
Rain Barrel Prices
Beyond all the benefits of a rain barrel, they’re also inexpensive. While you can go to your local hardware store and buy all the necessary parts and tools, you can also purchase rain barrel kits for less than $200. In fact, a 55-gallon standard rain barrel kit can range from $100 to $150, depending on the style.

Furthermore, many cities, water districts, and water conservation agencies offer rain barrel rebates, lowering your rain barrel cost even more. Check with your local water department or city to see if you’re eligible.

Water Conservation

Rainwater is the best water you can use for your plants. Treated water from your hose has salts and chemicals that are tough on plants. Rainwater has nutrients and minerals that your garden will love.

As you can see, collecting water from a natural resource doesn’t only save you money and improve your health, but it also protects and conserves our environment!

Adapted from:the spruce

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Make a mini zen garden

For those who don’t have the time or space to make an outdoor zen garden but still want one,this is the perfect solution!

1:

Create a base of soil, rocks, or other material.

Another thing to consider: there is no such thing as a plant that does not need light. But those of you creating a desktop garden for a windowless space need not despair. Hannah at Winstons recommends choosing plants adapted to low light situations and then moving them into a bright conference room, or taking advantage of your boss’s corner office, over the weekend.

Note that if you choose to plant a mini tree, you will need to treat it as a bonsai, trimming it (hand pinching recommended) regularly to keep it small. But part of the idea of a Zen garden is that it does require interaction and considered care.


anchored the mini european cypress(Chamaecypari Iawsoniana “Ellwoodii) with club moss (Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’) and Calocephalus (also known as silver bush)

With a final layer of granite stones.Texture is also an important principle in Zen gardens. Here feathery plants contrast with spiky sticks and smooth stones.

Tip:When choosing a group of plants, be sure to select varieties that prefer the same soil, light, and water conditions.

Adapted from: gardenista

2.
Supplies
bowl or plate
sand (i prefer white)
river stones (any color)
bamboo skewer (or a mini rake if you can find one)
Craft supply stores have sand available in many colors. The finer sands will show designs better than the coarse ones.

Fill your plate of bowl with sand. Give the plate or bowl a gentle shake to get the sand to settle evenly over the surface. Use the bamboo skewer to push any grains of sand off the sides of the plate or bowl.

Arrange your rocks. In traditional zen gardens, the arrangement of stones is the most important part of the garden. In fact, here are very specific rules for stone arrangement in Japanese rock garden manuals. Place your stones mindfully with the best sides facing out. You can also place them randomly or in a specific pattern.

Draw in your ripples. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Traditionally, the “raking” of the sand is suppose to look like water. The garden is meant to resemble a dry river. That’s the great part about sand: if you don’t like what your draw, it’s just a simple shake to “erase” the pattern and start over.

Try swapping out the sand and rock colors for a different look. Draw swirls instead of lines. There are so many ways to personalize your Zen garden.


Debbie Wolfe(Errr use finer sand if you want the ripples nicer)


Note:watering real plants placed in the sand will make you have to redo the ripples again so many people opt for fake plants.

Also by Debbie

Adapted from: DIY network

Making your own zen garden

Buddhist monks originally created Zen gardens for contemplation. A classic Zen garden represents a miniature landscape with water and mountains. Homeowners creating a dry landscape improve their property and save time and money on maintenance and water.

1
Mark a site in the desired size on a relatively level area. For example, mark an 10-by-16-foot rectangle in the side yard that’s farthest from sources of noise with branches placed at the four edges or as large as you can afford to.

2
Check the site with a carpenter’s level and adjust as needed. Use a tamper to compact the soil.

3
Line the Zen garden with edging stones, such as rectangular rocks, to create an enclosure. Alternatively, place a two-by-four along each edge, and hammer the boards to seat them in the ground.

4
Mark with the tip of a shovel the desired spots for the garden’s large, weathered stones and any plants, benches, statues or lanterns. For the stones, dig holes at least 6 inches deep and the diameter of each stone. Seat the stone at their desired locations in the Zen garden, creating a natural landscape that appears symmetrical yet random.

5
Dig holes 2 inches deeper than the root balls of any plants. Center the plants in their respective holes. Press the removed soil back over the roots gently. Water the plants immediately. Set each additional Zen garden feature in place, including a meditation bench, Buddha statue and pagoda lanterns, if desired.

6
Pour small pebbles or crushed granite into the site to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Spread the material evenly with a hoe around all of the elements of your Zen garden. Rake ripples into the crushed granite, if used, to create the characteristic sandy waves that symbolize the water element in traditional Zen dry landscapes. Spread pebbles with a hoe, if preferred.

7
Prune any plants to fit the scale and mood of the garden. For example, remove lower branches of maples to create a spreading canopy of foliage above a meditation bench with clear space below, or trim low shrubs into compact, symmetrical shapes to resemble low stones.

Things You Will Need
Measuring tape
Shovel
Tamper
Level
Landscaping fabric (optional)
Edging stones or two-by-fours in desired lengths
Large stones
Plants, such as moss, low shrubs or trees
Stone bench, Buddha statue or pagoda lanterns
White or beige crushed granite
Rake with wide-spaced tines
Hoe
Pruning equipment
Tips
If you prefer not to dig, level the ground and set the wooden or stone edging on the surface.
Hardware and home improvement retailers will generally cut wood to the desired size.
Although inorganic mulch such as pebbles and crushed granite help to deter weeds, in a weed-prone area, laying landscaping fabric before filling the Zen garden will offer greater weed control.
Landscaping suppliers provide material calculators to simplify ordering the correct amount of rock for your Zen garden project. They can also cut edging stones to make them fit the garden site correctly.
Add a pond in your zen garden if you want to!
Add moss on rocks and ground for more ‘zen’ effect.You can either buy them or collect them locally in humid places(usually near water bodies)

Japanese cherry blossoms are the most gorgeous and relaxing blooms and if you can’t add a Japanese cherry tree, think plants that offer the same color scheme for that Zen effect.
Add a stone path!A stone path, built into wooden squares, is a great way to add that Zen effect to your backyard. This is also a really easy project, depending of course on how large you want your path to be. Create a path between your plants or just make a small one from your backdoor to the area where your Zen garden stops. You will need 2X4s and a few stones – or river rocks – to create the path and you can build it into any design that you want.

Add some bamboo!
Bamboo will definitely give you the feeling of being in Japan, where Zen gardens originated so adding it to your backyard is sure to give off the same effect. Add a DIY bamboo water feature, which is a pretty easy thing to make. Or, you could add bamboo fencing around your garden.I personally prefer to plant bamboo in a zen garden!

But keep the zen garden simple-not cluttered or it will lose its zen effect!
Warnings
Beach sand won’t hold the raked waves traditional to Zen gardens. Use crushed granite to create this effect
Use a hand truck or get assistance to load and move heavy objects such as pagoda lanterns, benches and large trees.

Growing herbs

Annual or Perennial?
When creating a herb garden or deciding which herbs to grow in containers, it’s worth knowing whether your chosen herb is annual, biennial or perennial. Annual and biennial herbs such as Basil, Coriander, Parsley, Dill and Chervil are fast growing and may need to be sown at intervals throughout spring and summer to ensure you have a continuous fresh supply.

Perennial herbs such as Oregano, Mint, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Chives are slower growing and will require a more permanent home.

Annual and Biennial Herbs Perennial Herbs
Basil Oregano
Coriander Mint
Parsley Thyme
Dill Sage
Chervil Rosemary
Chamomile Chives
Summer Savory Comfrey
Marjoram (sweet) Sorrel
Purslane Fennel
Borage Russian Tarragon
Lemon Grass Hyssop
Purslane Lemon Balm
Mexican Marigold (Sweet Mace) Meadowsweet
Rocket Horseradish
Lovage

Growing Conditions
Ideally herbs should be grown in a sunny, sheltered location with well drained soil. If you have heavy clay soil then incorporate organic matter such as compost or recycled green waste to improve drainage. You may benefit from growing herbs in a raised bed to ensure sharp drainage.

The best soil pH for growing herbs is neutral to alkaline although most herbs will tolerate a slightly acid soil. If you have very acid soil then add some lime when preparing the planting area. Many herbs such as Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Lavender are useful for coastal gardens(because they come from a Mediterranean climate)

Although most herbs prefer a sunny position there are a few which will happily grow in shady conditions and moist soil, such as Chervil, Parsley, Meadowsweet, Mint, Lemon balm and Chives.

When to Grow Herbs Outdoors
If you are growing herbs from seed then hardy annual or biennial herbs such as Parsley, Coriander, Dill and Chamomile can be sown from March until August.

Sow at intervals of three to four weeks to ensure a continuous supply of fresh leaves. All of these easy to grow herbs can be sown directly into their final position outdoors – this is especially important for Chervil and Dill as they are difficult to transplant successfully.

Alternatively you can sow many of these herbs under cover in seed trays or modules and plant them out at a later date – always follow the instructions on individual seed packets. Basil is only half-hardy so must be sown in spring under cover in warmth. Seedlings can be pricked out and grown on in warmth; planting out after all risk of frost has passed. You may find basil performs well indoors on a sunny windowsill if the summer is particularly wet or cold.

Seeds of perennial herbs such as Sage, Rosemary, Chives and Fennel should be sown in the spring under cover in warmth, and then potted on when large enough to handle. Harden off plants in a cold frame before planting out into their final positions.

Where to Grow Herbs Outdoors
Growing herbs outdoors in a dedicated herb garden makes harvesting easier and will create a rich scent on hot sunny days! You could make a herb garden quite ornamental by combining the silver-grey foliage of lavender or sage with the blue flowers of borage or the orange flowers of Calendula (Pot Marigold) (both of whose flowers are edible). There are also great variations in foliage colour with herbs such as Thyme, Basil.

Herbs also make a great addition to flower beds and borders if you don’t have the space for a dedicated herb garden. Use herbs with colourful leaves to offset flower colours or to provide different textures throughout the bed. Try using low-growing herbs such as Chives and Thyme as an informal edge to a path. Herbs such as Thyme and Creeping Savory can also be planted in the gaps in paving and patios and will withstand light foot traffic; releasing their delicious scent when walked on. The tall, feathery foliage of fennel looks good in a herbaceous border and the yellow flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies.

Growing herbs in the vegetable garden is a good way to obtain large quantities of your favourite herbs and to allow for successional sowing of fast-growing types. Parsley, Coriander, Dill and Chervil can be sown in rows directly into the soil amongst the vegetables, or as an edging to beds. Sown in late summer, herbs such as Coriander, Parsley and Chervil will continue to grow throughout winter if given protection with a cloche.

Growing Herbs in Pots and Containers
Growing herbs in pots and containers is a great way to grow fresh produce if space is limited. Place them outside your back door for easy harvesting when cooking! Choose relatively deep pots, especially for large shrubby herbs such as Bay trees and Rosemary. The best compost to grow herbs in is loam-based compost such as John Innes.Apply mulch in the form of compost like dried leaves and grass clippings. Bad soil quality can cause the leaves to lose their pungent flavour so don’t be too generous. Make sure the container has drainage holes and is raised up on bricks or ‘pot feet’ to prevent water logging in the winter. It is also worth protecting pots in severe icy weather by placing them against a house wall and/or wrapping the pot in bubble wrap or just taking them indoors.

Some herbs such as mint and Sweet Woodruff can be invasive and it is a good idea to grow them in sunken containers (old buckets or plastic pots) in the ground to restrict their root growth. Make sure the container has drainage holes as water logging will kill the plant. Plant the container so the top is level with the soil surface and cover over with a thin layer of soil to hide the pot. When growing mint in a container it is beneficial to lift and divide the plant each year to maintain health and vigour.

Growing Herbs Indoors

Growing herbs indoors is convenient for harvesting and great for those without gardens. It also extends the season for annual herbs so you will have fresh produce all year round! Suitable herbs to grow indoors on the windowsill include Chives, Parsley, Basil, Coriander, Marjoram, Dill and Mint. Try our ‘Herbs for Windowsills’ collection for a good start to growing herbs at home. mint in pot Simply sow the seeds on the surface of damp, free-draining seed compost and sprinkle lightly with vermiculite. Cover the container with a clear plastic bag or piece of glass and place somewhere bright and warm for the seeds to germinate (about 18-20C). Once germinated remove the cover and grow on. Herbs need a bright position to grow well. You can treat windowsill herbs as cut-and-come-again crops, harvesting regularly to encourage new growth.

A few herbs growing outside can be lifted, divided and brought indoors for the winter. Chives and Mint are ideal for this technique. Simply lift the plants in autumn and divide the clumps into smaller pieces. Plant up the divided pieces into pots of ordinary multipurpose compost, water well and cut back the top growth to leave about 10cm. In the spring, plant the herbs back in the garden to allow them time to recover over the summer.

It’s also best to dead-head your herbs as the flowers start to fade to channel their energy into leaf growth. Make sure you clear any debris and fallen leaves off low-growing herbs such as Thyme and Lavender to prevent fungal diseases and unsightly gaps forming.

Tips:Herbs like rosemary that are from a Mediterranean climate prefer to have their soil dry out and not moist like the other herbs so its ok to underwater to them.Its better than overwatering.

Repotting
Repotting herbs
You will find after a few years that your container-grown herbs may start to look weak and dry out quickly; these are all signs the plant has become pot-bound. At this stage it’s best to re-pot your herbs into a fresh container, teasing apart the roots first and removing as much of the old compost as possible.

Harvesting Herbs
When harvesting herbs, remove foliage from the outside of the plant, allowing new leaves to develop in the centre. As a general rule don’t pick more than a third of the plant’s foliage at a time to enable it to recover. Herbs are excellent for freezing enabling you to enjoy their flavours all year round. This is especially useful for fast-growing herbs such as Coriander, Parsley and Dill and can help you resolve a glut! You can either freeze whole sprigs in a freezer bag or freeze chopped herbs with water in ice cube trays. Herbs are best harvested in the morning before any essential oils evaporate. You can harvest outdoor evergreen herbs such as Rosemary, Sage and Thyme sparingly all year round but be aware that no new growth will occur until spring.

Adapted from: thompson morgan website

How to grow Chilli peppers

Common Types of Chili Peppers to Grow
Besides the botanical classifications I mentioned above, chili peppers are often grouped by their SHUs and by the shape of their fruits. Here are some of the most popular varieties, in order of heat ratings:
Bell pepper-0 SHU(sweet)

Anaheim – Long, tapered fruits with moderately thin walls. Medium to mild heat (1,000 – 5,000 SHU)

Jalapeno – Short, stubby peppers with a slight taper and thick walls. Medium to mild heat (2,000 – 5,000 SHU)

Serrano – Short and slim with medium thick walls. Medium to high heat (10,000 – 25,000 SHU)

Cayenne – Long, thin, curving fruits with thin walls (perfect for drying). Medium to high heat (25,000- 50,000 SHU)

Tabasco – Very short and pointy, with thin walls. Medium high heat. (30,000 – 60,000 SHU)

Bird’s Eye Chilli- Small and slender, with walls. More heat than flavor. Medium high heat. (50,000 to 100,000 SHU)

Habanero – Short, squared fruits with thin walls. High heat. (150,000 – 350,000 SHU)

Ghost(Bhut Jolokia) – Short, squat, slightly tapered fruits with thin walls. Extremely high heat. (1,000,000+ SHU)

For the best and hottest chillies, start sowing indoors as early as January (although if there are late frosts, you can in some years get away with sowing in March) – the hottest varieties often need the longest growing period. Chillies need plenty of warmth to germinate so invest in a heated propagator for the windowsill or use a warm airing cupboard.

Sow Chilli pepper seeds on the surface of a moist, free-draining, seed compost and cover with a fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place seed trays in a propagator at a temperature of 18-25C (64-77F). If you don’t have a propagator, use polythene to cover your seed trays.

Germination usually takes 7-10 days, after which you can move your seedlings to a warm, sunny windowsill or a heated greenhouse. Keep the compost evenly moist but take care not to let it get soaking wet.
When your chilli seedlings are big enough to handle without breaking, transplant them into individual 7.5cm (3″) pots of compost and grow them on until all risk of frost has passed, and they are large enough to be transplanted to their final positions. From an early sowing, this will normally be from May onwards.

Grow chillies individually, transplanting them into 2 litre containers, or plant them in grow bags allowing three plants per bag. Place pots or growbags under cover in a warm greenhouse, conservatory, or polytunnel.

Alternatively, plant your chillies outside in a sunny, sheltered spot. Gradually acclimatise your plants to outdoor conditions over a period of 7 to 10 days before transplanting them into well prepared beds of fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Space chilli pepper plants 50cm (20″) apart. Short of space? Try growing them indoors on a sunny windowsill.
Water chilli pepper plants regularly throughout the growing season.

• Water regularly but sparingly. It’s best to keep your soil a little on the dry side because slightly stressing your chilli plants helps to produce hotter peppers. Taller varieties of chilli pepper may require staking.

• Add a thick mulch of organic matter around the base of the plants to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.
Growing chillies indoors? Do remember to open windows and doors to provide insects access to the flowers to ensure good pollination. Alternatively, hand pollinate the chillies by moving from flower to flower, tickling the centre of each with a fine artist’s paint brush.

Chillies require warmth and long sunny days to ripen properly. From an early sowing, this shouldn’t be a problem, but later sowings in the UK may leave your peppers feeling the cold as summer days begin to shorten.

If your crop has yet to ripen, bring your plants indoors and let them ripen on a warm sunny windowsill. Harvest chillies singly by cutting them from the plant with secateurs. Chilli peppers grown outdoors must be harvested before the first frost.
OPTIMAL GROWING TEMPERATURE FOR GROWING CHILI PEPPERS
The ideal growing temperature for chili pepper plants is between 70-90 F (21-32 C).

BEST FERTILIZER FOR GROWING CHILI PEPPERS
Tomato fertilizers work well for chili pepper plants, as do compost and well-rotted manure.
Once the peppers begin to appear, fertilize one more time. You can also use manure or compost, which releases more slowly into the soil. Much, however, is affected by your soil, so you may want to consider a soil test if you are having issues.

DISEASES AND PESTS THAT AFFECT PEPPER PLANTS
Stay vigilant with your pepper plants. Keep a constant eye out for common diseases like bacterial spot, mildew or rotting. Pests like aphids or spiders are common as well, so watch out for them.
Growing tips

Do Not Over Water Your Pepper Plants

Pepper plants love their water, of course, and they need a steady supply, but peppers won’t grow well in overly saturated soil. It waterlogs their roots. Use soil that retains moisture yet has proper drainage. Mulch is useful to prevent water evaporation.

If you are uncertain about watering, don’t. Never over-water. Most diseases and growing problems are due to overwatering.

Do Not Overfertilize Your Pepper Plants

Using a lot of fertilizer may help the pepper plant to develop bright leaves and flowers, but hinders pepper production. A good 5-10-10 fertilizer is usually sufficient for peppers. Work it into the soil before transplanting.

Pinch Your Pepper Plants for Bushier Plants

When the pepper plant is about six inches high, clipping the growing tip will result in a bushier plant. Remove any flowers that appear early, as the early flowers diminish the plants overall energy.

Plucking tips:

Be very sure to wear gloves when plucking very spicy chillies(they could irritate your fingertips and never ever rub your eyes!)
Tips to increase the heat:
Hot air and soil temperatures seem to increase the heat level in peppers. While we can’t control the weather, you can cover the soil with black plastic, to trap and increase the soil temperature
To preserve your chillies, either dry them or freeze them:

• Dry chilli peppers: Take a needle and thread the stems of the chilli peppers together so that they form a “daisy chain” of peppers, then hang them in a warm, well ventilated spot and let the air dry them over a 4 to 5 week period.

• Freeze chilli peppers: Freeze chillies in freezer bags straight after picking, without any further preparation. After you defrost your chillies, you’ll find the flesh slightly softened, but don’t worry, they’ll taste just as fiery as they did when you picked them.

Common nutrient issues with plants

What Nutrients Do Plants Need?
Plants require a mix of nutrients to remain healthy. Nutrients that are needed in relatively large amounts are called the macronutrients. Plant macronutrients include nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium.
In fertilizers you might also see a C:P:N ratio which translates to carbon,phosphorus and nitrogen ratio.Tweaking this ratio allows the plant to either grow more roots, leaves or flowers.

There are a handful of additional nutrients that are required for plant growth but in much smaller quantities. These micronutrients include boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.

How Do Plants Receive Nutrients?
All of these nutrients are taken in through the roots. Water transfers the nutrients from the soil to the plant roots. So one requirement of sufficient plant nutrition is water.

A second requirement is the appropriate soil pH for the plant being grown. Each plant prefers a specific pH range to be able to access the nutrients in the soil. Some plants are fussier than others, but if the soil pH is too acidic or alkaline, the plant will not be able to take in nutrients no matter how rich your soil may be.

Plant Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms
Macronutrients
Calcium (Ca)
Symptoms: New leaves are distorted or hook-shaped. The growing tip may die. Contributes to blossom end rot in tomatoes, tip burn of cabbage and brown/black heart of escarole & celery.
Sources: Any compound containing the word ‘calcium’. Also gypsum.
Notes: Not often a deficiency problem and too much will inhibit other nutrients.

Nitrogen (N)
Symptoms: Older leaves, generally at the bottom of the plant, will yellow. Remaining foliage is often light green. Stems may also yellow and may become spindly. Growth slows.
Sources: Any compound containing the words: ‘nitrate’, ‘ammonium’ or ‘urea’. Also manure.
Notes: Many forms of nitrogen are water soluble and wash away.

Magnesium (Mg)
Symptoms: Slow growth and leaves turn pale yellow, sometimes just on the outer edges. New growth may be yellow with dark spots.
Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘magnesium’, such as Epson Salts.

Phosphorus (P)
Symptoms: Small leaves that may take on a reddish-purple tint. Leaf tips can look burnt and older leaves become almost black. Reduced fruit or seed production.
Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘phosphate’ or ‘bone’. Also greensand.
Notes: Very dependent on soil pH range.

Potassium (K)
Symptoms: Older leaves may look scorched around the edges and/or wilted. Interveinal chlorosis (yellowing between the leaf veins) develops.
Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘potassium’ or ‘potash’.

Sulfur (S)
Symptoms: New growth turns pale yellow, older growth stays green. Stunts growth.
Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘sulfate’.
Notes: More prevalent in dry weather.

Micronutrients
Boron (B)
Symptoms: Poor stem and root growth. Terminal (end) buds may die. Witches brooms sometimes form.
Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘borax’ or ‘borate’.

Copper (Cu)
Symptoms: Stunted growth. Leaves can become limp, curl, or drop. Seed stalks also become limp and bend over.
Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘copper’, ‘cupric’ or ‘cuprous’.

Manganese (Mn)
Symptoms: Growth slows. Younger leaves turn pale yellow, often starting between veins. May develop dark or dead spots. Leaves, shoots, and fruit diminished in size. Failure to bloom.
Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘manganese’ or ‘manganous’

Molybdenum (Mo)
Symptoms: Older leaves yellow, remaining foliage turns light green. Leaves can become narrow and distorted.
Sources: Compounds containing the words ‘molybdate’ or ‘molybdic’.
Notes: Sometimes confused with nitrogen deficiency.

Zinc (Zn)
Symptoms: Yellowing between veins of new growth. Terminal (end) leaves may form a rosette.
Sources: Compounds containing the word ‘zinc’.
Notes: Can become limited in higher soil pH.
Once you get your plants back to health, keep them growing that way by amending your soil every year with fresh organic matter and have your soil tested periodically using a ph pen.



Adapted from: the spruce blog

Umami foods that are vegetarian

Introduction

Umami has been variously translated from Japanese as yummy, deliciousness or a pleasant savoury taste, and was coined in 1908 by a chemist at Tokyo University called Kikunae Ikeda. He then learned how to produce it in industrial quantities and patented the notorious flavour enhancer MSG. It has been recognised as the fifth taste recently by western scientists.This taste is imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products.” Its all the rage now as many chefs try to infuse ‘umami’ flavour into their dishes-no MSG please!

Foods that are high in umami

Tomatoes can often stand in for meats because they appeal to our desire for the protein. French fries lacking without ketchup? Umami could be the reason.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g): 246

Mushrooms
Mushrooms can substitute for meat because they appeal to our taste for protein thanks to levels of umami-related compounds.
Dried shiitake mushrooms: Levels of naturally occurring guanylate (mg/100g): 150

Soy
Japanese and Chinese food is often enhanced by the versatile soy bean. The flavor of fermented soy beans was what sparked the search for umami.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g): 66

Potatoes
Who can deny the appeal of the French fry? Potato chips are another claim to glutamate fame.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g): 102

Carrots
Carrots are a low-calorie and delicious way to appeal to your umami desire.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g): 33

Parmesan cheese
All cheese has the umami taste, but Parmesan cheese can be off the charts.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g): 1200

10. Green tea
This healthy source of umami is becoming more prevalent thanks to the increase in the number of people cooking with green tea.
Levels of naturally occurring glutamate (mg/100g): 668

Vegetarian umami recipes

Asparagus and Shiitake Sauté

Served with rice, this asparagus and Shiitake mushroom sauté is a 10-minute vegetarian dinner
INGREDIENTS
Scallions, chopped
Garlic, chopped
Ginger, peeled, chopped
Shiitake caps
Asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
Chiles, sliced
Oyster sauce
RECIPE PREPARATION
Sauté chopped scallions, garlic, and peeled ginger in vegetable oil. Add shiitake caps, 1-inch pieces raw asparagus, and sliced chiles and sauté until tender. Toss with oyster sauce; cook about 1 minute more.

Apricot-Miso Jam

Makes two cups
INGREDIENTS
2 cups dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
1/2 cup sake or dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 whole star anise
1 small bay leaf
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons miso

RECIPE PREPARATION
Combine apricots, cherries, sake or wine, orange juice, lemon juice, and 1 cup water in a large saucepan; let soak for 2 hours.

Place star anise, bay leaf, cinnamon, and ginger in the center of a layer of cheesecloth. Gather up edges; tie with kitchen twine to form a bundle. Add to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

Stir in miso. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened, 5–10 minutes. Let cool.

Ginger-Miso-Glazed Eggplant


6 to 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 min
This Japanese eggplant recipe is all about that umami-rich miso glaze. Can’t find long, skinny, Japanese eggplants? The glaze is good on all varieties of eggplant (and hey, carrots, too).

INGREDIENTS
6 Japanese eggplants (1 1/2 lb. total), cut on a diagonal into 1-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
1/3 cup white miso (fermented soybean paste)
4 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons sesame seeds, divided
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, divided

RECIPE PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 425°. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast eggplant, flipping once, until very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Arrange a rack in upper third of oven and heat to broil.

Meanwhile, whisk white miso and next 5 ingredients with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 2 Tbsp. scallions. Smear top of eggplant slices with miso sauce. Broil until golden and charred in places, 4–5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp. scallions.

Miso tofu ranch dip

INGREDIENTS
4 oz. drained soft (silken) tofu
3 tablespoons white miso (fermented soybean paste)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives plus more
Raw vegetables (for serving)
RECIPE PREPARATION
Purée tofu, miso, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper in a blender. Transfer to a medium bowl; mix in sour cream, parsley, and 2 Tbsp. chives. Top dip with more chives and serve with raw vegetables for dipping.

DO AHEAD: Dip can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Soy glazed shiitake mushrooms

 

easy to make and tasty!

recipe preparation

Bring 3 cups dried shiitake mushrooms (about 3 ounces), 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover pan; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened and all liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.

Let mushrooms cool slightly, then thinly slice. Transfer to a small bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Oil poached tomatoes


4 Servings
Chop up these tangy, meaty tomatoes and use them as an all-purpose summer condiment on sautéed vegetables, salads, pasta, or cooked grains.

INGREDIENTS
1 head of garlic, cloves separated
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 cup olive oil
1 pound plum tomatoes (about 6), halved, cored
1 tsp. kosher salt

RECIPE PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 300°. Toss tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and thyme sprigs, oil, and salt in a large baking dish.

Bake tomatoes until they are soft and skins begin to shrivel, 35–45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slip off skins. Discard herbs.

DO AHEAD: Tomatoes can be made 5 days ahead. Cover tomatoes and oil and ­chill.

Recipes courtesy of bon appetit blog

Seaweed in cooking

Like fish, seaweed can’t just be lumped into groups like salty or sweet. Each has a different taste and texture, and since seaweed is packed with glutamates­—the building blocks of umami—it accentuates the flavor of anything it accompanies. It’s basically (healthy, totally legal) steroids for your food. You’ll see it dried and packaged.

Dulse
Ruddy-colored dulse is usually ground up and sold in flake form, which means it hydrates on contact when stirred into a vinaigrette or showered directly on top of seafood stew to add a punch of salt and minerality.

Hijiki
When dried, hijiki looks like tiny black twigs that resemble tea leaves. But once it hydrates, it grows to three times that size, ready to add an oceanic burst to everything from a stir-fry to a salad.


Arame is a dark brown Japanese kelp that is characterized by its long fine strands. It has a sweet, mild flavor, making it one of the more versatile seaweeds. After it’s been soaked, try sautéing it with hearty greens in a bit of oil or butter.

Wakame
Pleasantly slippery and lightly vegetal, this is the seaweed you’re most likely to find floating in your miso soup. It’s delicate and wants to be added to hot dishes at the last minute, or drained and tossed with crunchy cukes and a soy–rice vinegar dressing.

Seaweed dishes

Snapper Sashimi with Seaweed and Fennel

6 Servings

The type of fish you use is less important than its quality. Black bass, striped bass, and fluke all translate well; ask your fish guy for what’s freshest.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 teaspoons dried cut wakame seaweed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Small pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 2 small radishes, trimmed, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • ½ pound skinless, boneless red snapper fillet, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ½ cup chervil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen (optional)
  • Flaky sea salt

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Soak wakame in 1 Tbsp. cold water in a small bowl to rehydrate, 5–8 minutes; drain. Combine lime juice, oil, horseradish, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sugar in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt. Add fennel, radishes, and seaweed to dressing; toss to combine.

  • Arrange snapper on a platter. Spoon dressing and vegetables over and top with chervil and fennel pollen, if using; season with sea salt. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

    Optional:Garnish of Wasabi on the top(beware its

    Tip: Practise proper food hygiene!Wash your hands before preparing dishes-especially sashimi. You dont want to get food poisioning do you? And for this very reason purchase fresh fish(or sashimi grade fish from japanese supermarkets).

    Swordfish with Seaweed Salsa Verde

    8 Servings

    Chef Kenney says that combining the herbs for the salsa verde with seaweed really gives this dish that “fresh-from-the-sea flavor.” In oahu, he uses just-harvested lime, but hijiki, which is widely available, works well, too.

    INGREDIENTS

    • 3 tablespoons dried hijiki (seaweed)
    • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 anchovy packed in oil, drained, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
    • 8 6-ounce swordfish steaks
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    RECIPE PREPARATION

    • Place hijiki in a small bowl, add boiling water to cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Drain. (You should have about 1/2 cup.)

    • Combine hijiki, shallot, anchovy, parsley, olive oil, capers, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Set salsa verde aside.

    • Prepare a grill for medium heat. Rub fish all over with vegetable oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until firm to the touch and opaque through- out, 8–12 minutes. Serve fish with salsa verde.

    • DO AHEAD: Salsa verde can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

       Yudofu

      JEFF LIPSKY
      2 main-course

      INGREDIENTS

      • 2 4×3-inch pieces dashi-kombu (about 1/5 ounce)
      • 4 cups water
      • 1 cup dashi
      • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
      • 1 teaspoon bonito flakes
      • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
      • 1 cup 1/2-inch cubes mushrooms (such as king oyster or stemmed shiitakes)
      • 1 12-ounce package tofu, cut into 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
      • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mizuna
      • 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

      RECIPE PREPARATION

      • Place dashi-kombu in medium saucepan. Add 4 cups water and let soak 2 hours. Remove dashi-kombu; reserve dashi-kombu broth.

      • Mix dashi, soy sauce, and mirin in small saucepan. Bring to simmer. Add 1 teaspoon bonito flakes. Strain sauce into medium microwave-safe bowl. DO AHEAD Dashi-kombu broth and dashi dipping sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

      • Place green onion in small bowl. Add enough water to cover. Let stand 5 minutes, then drain well. Bring dashi-kombu broth to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and simmer until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Add tofu and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add mizuna and simmer until just wilted, about 1 minute. Rewarm dashi dipping sauce in microwave. Divide between 2 shallow soup bowls. Using slotted spoon, divide tofu, mushrooms, and mizuna between bowls. Sprinkle green onion and ginger over and serve.

        Nori salt

        makes about 2 tbsp.

        INGREDIENTS

        • 2 toasted nori sheets, torn
        • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

        RECIPE PREPARATION

        • Pulse nori in a spice mill to a powder. Mix with salt in a small prep bowl until well combined.

          Use as an alternative to salt to give an umami flavour!

    Adapted from bon appetit blog

How to grow bamboo in pots

One of the most fascinating things about bamboo is the exuberant growth of the new shoots each spring. For the bamboo grower, this is the equivalent of a colorful spring flower. Some bamboos can only be identified by the color and shape of their new shoots. Each year we hope for larger and more numerous shoots. Some types are edible as well, and large enough to provide a reliable vegetable crop each spring.Most bamboos are happiest in a moderately acidic loamy soil. If your soil is very heavy you can add organic material. It can be dug into the soil where the bamboo is to be planted, but you can also mulch very heavily and let the earthworms do the work, building a berm of nutritious soil (this also helps with bamboo control). Spread two or more inches of mulch in the area around the bamboo, and where you want the bamboo to grow. Bamboo is a forest plant and does best if a mulch is kept over the roots and rhizomes. It is best not to rake or sweep up the bamboo leaves from under the plant, as they keep the soil soft, and moist, and recycle silica and other natural chemicals necessary to the bamboo. Almost any organic material is a good mulch. Grass is one of the best, as it is high in nitrogen and silica. Home made or commercial compost is great. Hay is a good mulch too but hay and manure are often a source of weed seeds, so that can be a problem.
Timing and winter protection
Bamboos can be planted at any time of the year in areas with mild climates such as we have in the maritime Pacific Northwest. In colder parts of the world they should be planted outdoors early enough to become established and to harden off sufficiently to survive their first winter. If the bamboo is planted late in the year, one should mulch the plant heavily and provide extra protection from any cold and drying winds. In colder climates where bamboos may be marginal, successful growers usually protect their bamboos through the winter with a heavy mulch. Even in very cold climates in an established bamboo grove with a heavy layer of bamboo leaves covering the ground, the soil will be soft and friable during periods when the surrounding soils are frozen hard and deep. In very hot climates, where summers routinely get over 100 degrees, it is best to wait until Fall or Spring to plant bamboo, unless it can be given a shady area or some kind of protection from the sun.

Fertilizing
Many different types of fertilizer work well for bamboo. In general, apply a high nitrogen grass or lawn fertilizer once in early spring and again in the summer, to match the two main growth seasons of bamboo. If using more mild, organic fertilizers (which we recommend), apply at a higher rate, so that the bamboo gets enough nitrogen. Follow application directions specific to the type of fertilizer you use to determine how much to apply. This can be usually be found on the fertilizer label. If you want a healthy, attractive, and vigorous bamboo, you should fertilize 2 to 3 times per year.

Growing bamboo in containers
Many people ask us if bamboo can be grown in containers. The short answer is yes. However, there are a few key points to consider. Every two to five years they will need to be repotted or divided.

The Black Bamboo on the right, has burst through the thin plastic nursery container

Repotting or dividing is best done in the springtime. If over grown and root bound, most bamboos can escape or even break their confinement. The larger the space, the larger bamboo will grow. Bamboo in containers require more care because they are much more susceptible to environmental stress. Strong winds tip them over, and the restricted root space causes them to dehydrate quickly. A well established bamboo in a container should be watered 3 to 5 times per week during the summer, ensuring that the pot drains well. In containers bamboos, especially those that are not well adapted to hot sun, require more care in placement as they can be damaged if the pot overheats. During winter, container bamboos are susceptible to freezing and if not protected may die. Bamboo in containers is not nearly as hardy as the same bamboo would be in the ground. Bamboo can be a fine container plant if its needs are met.Wood planters or containers that have some insulation for the root mass.

Yellowing and falling leaves
In the spring there is considerable yellowing of the leaves, followed by leaf drop. Some species do this more than others (Phyllostachys aurea, P. eduis Moso, see image on right, Fargesia murielae in the fall) This is natural and should not cause concern, as bamboos are evergreen and naturally renew their leaves in the spring. They should loose their leaves gradually as they are replaced by fresh new ones. In the spring on a healthy bamboo there should be a mixture of green leaves, yellow leaves and newly unfurling leaves.

If you are interested in eating bamboo shoots,you might want to try planting edible bamboo.However not all bamboos taste the same and most species are from warmer climates like Guangxi, China, Thailand , Indonesia and new guinea.

More rainfall More water = sweeter shoots.

Harvesting before the shoots are sun exposed = sweeter shoots.

Based on Lewis Bamboo’s website, Phyllostachys nigra ‘Giant Gray’ is apparently the most tasty and productive edible bamboo.
Phyllostachys Nigra ‘Henon’ Giant Gray Bamboo is an impressive giant bamboo. This bamboo can form a great screen from about 6′-35′. Giant Gray is my favorite bamboo not only for its size and unique color, but also its ability to grow great in shaded sites with poor soil and watering. Known best for its drought tolerance once established.
From Guangdong Sichuan, China this cold hardy giant has very erect canes. The new olive green canes turn to a ghostly gray color with age. The culm sheath have wavy blades with prominent oral setae, auricles and ligules.’Giant Gray Bamboo’ grows well under a large varieties of conditions, even in heavy clay soil. This is the third most grown bamboo in Japan for timber.

Remember to cook them first to remove any cyanogenic glycosides present. Dont worry as cooking will cause the cyanogenic glycosides to degrade making it safe to eat.If you are not sure whether the bamboo you have at home is edible, you can do this test.

How to Detect Cyanide in Bamboo Shoots?

There are simple test kits to determine the presence of cyanide in bamboo shoots that can be used by an unskilled person for looking at cyanide levels in bamboo shoots, cassava roots and products, as well as other cyanogenic plant parts such as sorghum leaves, and flax seed meal.

The general principle is that a small sample of the plant or product is placed in a container with filter paper containing the required catalyst and a piece of picrate paper that reveals the amount of poison produced. The bottle is left overnight at room temperature. Next morning, when the breakdown to poisonous gas is completed, the color of the picrate paper indicates the level of toxicity.