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Delicious Backyard https://deliciousbackyard.com Fun & Easy DIY for Backyard Food Abundance Fri, 23 Mar 2018 18:21:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://deliciousbackyard.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/cropped-garlic_purple-32x32.jpg Delicious Backyard https://deliciousbackyard.com 32 32 Weight Loss Success with Gardening https://deliciousbackyard.com/weight-loss-success-gardening/ https://deliciousbackyard.com/weight-loss-success-gardening/#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2018 04:09:18 +0000 https://deliciousbackyard.com/?p=36 How to Shed Pounds Without a Gym Membership You’ve tried training at the local gym, but it’s just not your thing. Using those machines is too boring, or maybe you just don’t want to drive across town several times a week. For whatever reason, the gym isn’t helping you achieve …

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How to Shed Pounds Without a Gym Membership

You’ve tried training at the local gym, but it’s just not your thing. Using those machines is too boring, or maybe you just don’t want to drive across town several times a week. For whatever reason, the gym isn’t helping you achieve your weight loss goals. Plus, that membership isn’t cheap.

What you really want is some kind of exercise that’s convenient and enjoyable. An activity that feels rewarding in its own right — not just running nowhere on a treadmill. And it has to give you a good cardio workout to burn that fat.

If you’ve been wanting to start a garden or spend more time in the one you already have, then good news! Grab a packet of seeds and kiss the gym goodbye. Here’s how you can meet all your goals at once.

 

Garden Cardio?

First, we should mention that gardening won’t enable you to bench press your own weight in iron dumbbells. If that’s your goal, you might have to start dead-lifting your lawn mower or something. (On second thought, just keep the gym membership.)

Garden activities, especially the rhythmic exercise of hoeing, can provide an aerobic workout. It’s similar to walking briskly on a treadmill or using a rowing machine on the lightest setting.

You might not think this type of exercise would make you stronger, but over time it really does increase your strength and stamina. And of course, the immediate result is that it gets your heart rate up, raises your metabolism, and burns calories!

 

What Cardio Does for You

Have we talked yet about why you would even want to start a cardio routine? Okay, listen up: It makes your body better in a million ways.

Regular cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart muscle, which improves blood flow to your brain — lowering your risk of stroke and possibly reducing your need for coffee to think clearly. (Wait–nah–let’s drink the coffee anyway.) Better circulation in your skin gives you a clearer complexion.

Regular cardio workouts lead to a healthier pancreas and better blood sugar control, reducing your chance of Type 2 diabetes.

And of course, cardio burns calories, which helps you get rid of body fat. It also increases sexual arousal in both genders. (You read that right.)

When you’re just starting a cardio routine, you’ll want to exercise for 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. As you gain stamina, you can increase that to 30-45 minutes, 5-6 days a week. (Thanks, Cleveland Clinic, for giving us the medical scoop.) I personally prefer bigger blocks, like 2 hours per session, 3 days a week. I didn’t look that up on any medical website though, so check with your doctor or something.

Personally, I just know that “garden cardio” is the best way I’ve ever found to lose fat. (Well, besides nursing a baby a dozen times a day for two years. That works equally well for weight loss, but if you like sleeping all night long, then I’d recommend the garden workout instead.)

The nice thing about hoeing in your garden is that you can go at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Want to work at a leisurely rate and enjoy the spring sunshine? That’s just fine; think of it as “garden tai chi.” Want to whiz down the rows and really work up a sweat? Choose your own adventure!

 

Garden Layout and Size

Ready to turn up a patch of sod? (You weren’t using that section of lawn anyway. Whoever has to mow it will thank you.)

Plan your garden area with wide paths between rows of plants. This will give you plenty of room to swing a hoe. We’re talking about a traditional in-ground garden with long rows, not a raised bed.

Your plot needs to be big enough to keep you busy, working at a moderate pace, for 10-30 minutes per session. That way you’ll get a good workout.

What size garden is right for you? If you’re new to this type of exercise, start small. Try an area that’s 100 feet square. You can always add another row when you’re ready for a bigger challenge.

My garden was about 2,000 square feet, but that’s at least twice as much as I needed to keep me very busy. I had the plot so spread out because 1) I wasn’t irrigating it, so each plant needed to control a big space to get all the water it needed and 2) the neighbor guy brought over his tractor and tilled it up for free, so what the heck.

I REALLY MISS that garden. These days, I live in a city and grow my plants in raised beds. The problem is that maintaining these raised beds is virtually effortless, so I don’t get the exercise I need. Argh. What were we talking about?

 

Tools

You’re going to need a hoe. But don’t worry, a quality hoe is fun to use (yes, really!).

But this is the most important thing. If you want your garden workout to be fun, then AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE those clunky mass-produced tools you see in all the hardware stores. They are exhausting to use and get dull fast, turning the work into drudgery. Using those awful things is like driving a broken-down car with the muffler dragging on the pavement. Nothing fun about it.

What you want is an elegant tool that glides through the soil like it’s chocolate mousse, leaving decapitated weeds in its wake. (Orgasmic, right?)

Quality tools are ergonomically designed to feel comfortable in your hands and to hold a sharp edge. Rogue Hoe and Johnny’s Selected Seeds are two American companies that offer garden tools of this quality (I LOVE THEM and they’re not even paying me to say that).

The cost is less than you might expect. When you include the price of shipping, it might cost about double the price of those horrible hardware store tools. And think about this — it’s the cheapest piece of exercise equipment you’ll ever buy. Probably cost you less than a one-month gym membership.

 

Push-Pull Hoes

Buy yourself a scuffle or collinear hoe. (You only need one, but watch out — collecting garden tools is addictive.)

Just watch some YouTube videos and pick a style that appeals to you. Both the scuffle and collinear hoes are easy and comfortable to use. You hold

them lightly, thumbs up, without much downward pressure. This allows you to stand upright and work your arm muscles.

The scuffle hoe is used with a push-pull motion, whisking the triangular blade just under the top layer of soil to slice weeds at their roots. (Nothing at all like the chopping motion we all imagine when we think of using a hoe.) A collinear hoe is used the same way, but it has one sharp edge instead of three.

Both of them can clear large areas of ground very quickly without straining your back, as long as you maintain good form. Stand comfortably upright and use the muscles in your arms; resist the temptation to lean over and “put your back into it.”

(Note: Do not get a stirrup/hula hoe. With those, you really do have to lean forward and apply downward pressure, and your back won’t thank you.)

 

Plants

Grow anything you like! Vegetables, flowers, and herbs are all good choices.

You may find that it’s the most fun to hoe around large, upright plants such as dahlias or corn. Small plants require short, careful strokes of the hoe, or you risk maiming one of your babies. Big plants don’t require such a delicate touch. You can whisk that hoe fearlessly and speed down the rows at a pace that will raise your heart rate.

Cultivating potatoes is an especially good way to get exercise because the rows need to be hilled up frequently throughout the summer.

To do this, you’ll need a more traditional style of hoe that’s designed to move dirt. The method

is to scrape soil from the path between rows and pull it up around the base of the plant, giving it more material to set tubers into.

This work isn’t difficult, but you may find it slower and more tiring than just hoeing weeds. If your garden consists entirely of potatoes, you might like to start with a smaller plot. On the other hand, the more calories you burn, the faster you’ll crush your weight loss goals!

 

Tips

Site your garden in a convenient spot close to your house so you can easily step out for bit of work on sunny days. The joy of seeing your weed-free

garden will inspire you to visit it often (and maybe bring some friends or family, for bragging purposes).

 

Garden Your Way to Weight Loss

So there you have it. If your membership at the athletic club is getting you nowhere with your weight loss goals, try this real-world activity instead. A backyard (or front yard!) garden gives you the chance to work up a sweat without the commute, and to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. If you like gardening at all, I think you’ll agree that garden cardio is way more fun than walking a treadmill.

I find that the blissful feeling of growing healthy plants motivates me to go out and get some exercise so much more often than I would ever go to a gym. Try it! I think you’ll find that your yard–and your physique–will look fantastic.

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Fabric Pots: Container-Gardening Magic https://deliciousbackyard.com/fabric-pots-container-garden/ https://deliciousbackyard.com/fabric-pots-container-garden/#comments Thu, 04 Jan 2018 02:38:51 +0000 https://deliciousbackyard.com/?p=26  Your container garden  Do you enjoy growing potted plants on your balcony or patio? Maybe you’ve noticed how your plants’ roots tend to circle the inside of their pots. It’s a big problem because those twisted roots can strangle the plant, preventing it from drawing moisture and nutrition from the …

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 Your container garden 

Do you enjoy growing potted plants on your balcony or patio? Maybe you’ve noticed how your plants’ roots tend to circle the inside of their pots. It’s a big problem because those twisted roots can strangle the plant, preventing it from drawing moisture and nutrition from the soil.

But what can you do, right? That’s just how plants grow when you put them in containers.

Nope! There’s a new kid on the block: soft-sided pots made of breathable fabric. Also called grow bags, they’re shaped like traditional flowerpots but sewn from sturdy non-woven material similar to landscaping cloth. And if you don’t think they’re as cute as your ceramic pots, you can hide them inside a decorative container and get the benefits of both.

 

Why would you want fabric pots?

They’re great for healthy root development. When roots touch the porous material, they don’t turn and start circling the perimeter like they would in a solid-walled container.

Instead, the roots encounter air through the breathable fabric and get “air pruned.” Basically, the root tips are pinched off (this is a good thing) so that they stop growing laterally. Then they produce masses of fibrous smaller roots. All the better for drawing more water and nutrients from the soil.

Fabric pots also allow for better air flow and drainage so that roots don’t become waterlogged. A 2005 study conducted by Texas A&M University found that plants in fabric pots did not require more water than plants in plastic pots, and yet the soil in fabric pots was comparatively more cool and moist.

This means that fabric pots can protect your plants from shock due to roots getting overheated in direct sunlight. The same study also found that rose bushes grown in fabric pots produced larger flowers than their plastic-potted counterparts.

Another thing is that fabric pots are very lightweight. Now, the soil is heavy, don’t get me wrong. But large planter boxes and shrub-sized ceramic pots weigh a TON, even when they’re empty, and you pretty much need a pickup truck to relocate them. Whereas an empty fabric pot folds up like a grocery tote and weighs only a few ounces.

 

Lots of options

You can find fabric pots at your local garden store as well as Amazon. They cost less than ceramic pots. Companies like Root Pouch and Smart Pots make them from BPA-free plastics (but other companies may not, so check the label).

Some styles have handles for ease of rearranging your garden, although I’ll warn you that this only works with the small ones — a 15-gallon fabric pot full of wet soil can NOT be moved by its handles without popping a seam.

You can get them in lots of colors (check out these ones from Bootstrap Farmer), although black seems to be the most common. There’s a huge variety of sizes available, ranging from 1 gallon to 200 gallons (put those monsters in a permanent location).

They’re reusable for several years. If you’re a neatnik, you can even launder and fold the pots for winter storage. (Just don’t try to iron them.)

 

The down side

Let’s be real — there’s a down side to everything, right? I’ve found that my outdoor fabric pots provide great drainage over the wet months (here in the PNW, that’s 9 months of nonstop downpour).

But in the drought-y summertime, I have to think strategically if I want those plants to survive. Because fabric pots provide such great airflow and drainage, they allow the soil to get bone dry in the heat of summer.

And because water can seep through the fabric, guess what happens when I pour water into the pot? Yep, it doesn’t stay in the pot long enough to wet the soil; it runs right off the top and drips out the sides.

My black elderberry bushes love their fabric pots in the spring. The drainage keeps them from drowning (that’s actually a problem here) and being above the ground, their soil warms up on the first sunny days of spring. They burst into leaf and bud in a way that just makes a gardener’s heart glow. But when the dry weather hits and I can’t keep enough moisture in their soil? They drop their tiny green fruits and go into survival mode. No elderberries that year. Ouch.

So I’ve developed a few techniques to make the best use of fabric pots during the dry season:

  • Set your plant in a pan or tub with several inches of water in the bottom and let the soil absorb water overnight.
  • Use a soil blend that contains plenty of organic matter (compost, coco coir) to help retain water. Sandy soil drains too fast.
  • Position the fabric pots in a part of your yard that receives shade for a portion of the day (so the sun doesn’t fry your plants if the soil gets dry).

 

Fabric pots inside your home

I had similar challenges with using fabric pots for my houseplants. Until I started putting the fabric pots inside larger (non-draining) conventional pots.

I know. That sounds redundant. Just hang with me a minute.

Have you ever had problems watering your houseplants? The water runs down the inside of the pot and flows out the bottom, leaving the soil dry and the plant wilted.

Fabric pots solved that problem for me. When the soil felt dry, I just lifted the fabric pot out of the hard-sided container and placed it in a pan of water overnight.

Or I used a regular watering can. Then if the water ran out the sides instead of soaking into the soil, it would just pool at the bottom of the ceramic pot and slowly absorb into the soil overnight. The next morning, I’d remove the fabric pot and pour out the excess water.

That way my plant wouldn’t get root rot from excess water. So fabric pots allow you to better control the moisture level in your houseplants’ soil.

 

Try something new

Whether you grow your garden in permanent containers or start seeds indoors for spring transplanting, fabric pots can benefit your plants. They are versatile for use in a hydroponics setup, a patio garden, and in your living room.

Growing plants in fabric pots is a bit different than hard-sided containers, but it offers advantages too. I’d say, if you can manage the soil moisture levels during the dry season, fabric pots are pretty dang awesome.

There are some Japanese roses in 15-gallon fabric pots out in my yard. I really don’t want to want have to re-pot those huge things every couple of years.  So I love not having to worry about my roses getting root bound. Those fabric pots are like magic.

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