Lifestyle

Seasonal Gardening

Articles, Gardening, Lifestyle

The concept of seasonal gardening is an ancient practice that follows the cycles of the Sun and Moon. Awareness of the seasons and what planting tasks are best suited for which time is a tool for gardening success. The Farmer’s Almanac, Biodynamics and the Hawaiian Moon-Planting Calendar are all examples of seasonal gardening that utilize natural light cycles.  A balanced system can be created by understanding how light cycles are effected by the sun, moon, gravity and water as well as the specific ways plants react to them. Ideal planting and harvesting schedules can be developed by tracking the natural reactions and effects of water, light and growth. This schedule varies based on location and is used more as a guideline than a science.

Seasons can be categorized as winter, spring, summer and fall but the season can also be be broken down into cycles. Cycles of light, cycles of growth, cycles of planting and harvesting. Knowing what type of crop correlates with each season and their light cycles is vital for optimum plant growth and successful harvests.

The common belief that summer is warm so plants grow and winter is cold so plants are less fruitful is only partially accurate. While temperature does play a roll, a more relevant factor is sunlight. After the summer solstice on June 21st the Sun sets earlier and rises later, shortening each day throughout winter. Plants store their energy during this time and don’t grow as vigorously. Once the December 21st Winter Solstice passes the light cycle reverts; the days begin to get longer. The increasingly long hours of sunlight correlate with the plant vegetative growth cycle. Light is instrumental in plant growth and in the transition of seasons.

Types of plants can be broken into warm weather and cold weather crops. Crops like corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers, and tomatoes require higher temperature soil and air for vigorous growth and therefore are labeled warm weather crops. Cold weather crops, or crops that require cooler soil and air temperatures include many plants with edible roots and leafs like carrots, onions, beets and potatoes.

After the Summer Solstice warm weather plants begin flowering and producing seeds because there are fewer hours of light each day. The light shift is a signal to plants that they are at a half way point in their life cycle. The sunlight available for photosynthesis has decreased, this shift tells them it’s time to flower and make seed.

In temperate places like San Diego it is never too late to plant but generally best results happen when you plant according to the season. The Sun is the more obvious seasonal gardening guide but the moon is also a large factor to consider. The moon cycle reoccurs monthly and is especially important to consider if you are planting “off-season”. During the full moon there is significantly more light and just as the ocean tides are effected by the moon’s magnetism- all water reacts (even water in the ground and in plant roots). For off-season planting success, be sure to follow the moon cycles and plant during the ideal time of month (a few days before the new moon and the full moon) as to maximize the water and light effects of nature. Properly planted and moistened seed’s can’t help but germinate a few days before the moon is at it’s fullest because of the relationship between the water and moon. Rain is also more common around the full and new moon so by transplanting just before this time, your plants experience less shock..

Timing is always an important factor to keep in mind so that you are prepared and planting with the season. Every move you make should be for the following year which means it’s time to start thinking about what the upcoming season offers. It’s important to fall into the rhythm of nature’s seasons for best gardening results. For instance, from December 21-June 21 is ideal for sowing warm weather seeds and planting your garden beds so the plants can absorb the increasingly long sunlight rays going into summer. While moving through the late summer months and into the early fall is typically a time for harvesting and planting cold crops and perennials such as herbs, flowers, and leafy greens like lettuce and kale. Depending on your location the seasons may vary or seem invisible.

Seasonal growing is a natural balance that is not meant to be conquered but is an intuitive and natural tool.  Think of the process as the movement of the ocean; fighting it is an uphill battle. Fall into the pattern of the Earth’s flow and success will surely follow.

How to Plant a Resolution Tree

Gardening, Grow Tips, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

The New Year is a time for rejuvenation, replenishment, and growth. What better way to celebrate a fresh start than by planting a tree rooted in your intentions for the coming year? A Resolution Tree is just that, a tree that’s roots literally grow through a penned resolution and nurtured with your hope for the future.

To plant your Resolution Tree you will need:

  • Scrap Paper
  • Writing Utensil
  • Tree (Ready for transplanting)
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Soil (SDHydro Recommends Roots Organic or Fox Farm soils)
  • Compost (SDHydro Recommends Humisoil from Organic Bountea)
  • Mulch or Bark (Optional)
  • Mad Farmer B1 (Optional)

1)Begin with taking a piece of biodegradable scrap paper and writing your 2014 resolution on it then place to the side.

2)Select a tree type and planting location. Determining the type of tree and location where it is to be planted are interdependent. Factors such as the maturing size of the tree, available space and desired purpose of the tree (fruiting, flowering, wind or shade protection, erosion prevention, restoration of native species or a combination thereof) should be considered. Learn the specific needs of your tree (preferred sunlight,  companion plants, and watering needs) then when selecting a location be mindful of maturing root systems, sidewalks and other possible obstructions of growth. It is important that the tree have adequate space to grow, with abundant sunlight and access to water.

3)Clear an area and dig a hole. Remove any weeds, leaves or brush from the direct area to be planted. Give the planted tree about a three-foot circumference of clearance space. Generally you should dig two feet deeper and two-feet wider than the potted soil that holds the current root system of the tree to ensure that the roots are not restricted.

4)Place your piece of paper with written resolution at the bottom of the hole.

5)Add compost or fertilizer into the bottom of the hole then soak. Use at least 1/3 compost per 2/3 soil.  The more compost, leaf mold or rotted manure used the more likely to satisfy the tree’s nutrient needs. The type and amount of fertilizer needed will vary by variety of tree. If the tree you intend to plant is on the larger size (greater than 2 inches in diameter) the roots may benefit from up to a one-hour soaking in a water bath. Pre-soak the hole prior to planting. This is more important with dry soil that does not hold water well but in general prepares the soil to welcome roots.

6)Carefully remove the tree from the container. The goal is as little root disturbance as possible. Either use clippers to cut the container away from the tree or gently squeeze the sides of the plant container between your hands to loosen the dirt and roots from the container wall while simultaneously letting gravity pull the tree free. After the tree is out of the container, stimulate growth by gingerly massaging the root system before putting the tree in the hole.

7)Place the tree in the hole. Position the flare of the tree (where the stem meets the roots and dirt) to be flush with the ground and clear of debris once fully planted. The stem will rot if buried or covered with damp material (such as soil) and the roots will dry out if exposed to air. Before you begin filling the hole with soil, make sure the roots are resting flat in the hole without being smashed or curved upward into a “J” shape (this is why you dug the hole deeper than necessary).

8)Add a small ring of fertilizer around the base of the tree about four to six inches away from the stem. Take care not to use too much fertilizer or you may burn the plant. Consult the instructions of your specific fertilizer for correct quantities.

9)(Optional)Add mulch or bark around the circumference of the tree. Make a ring of wood chips around the tree about three inches thick. This allows the bark to hold water in the soil and protects the topsoil from the sun. Leave a foot clearance from the edge of the bark boarder to the neck of the tree, the space in between the tree stem and the raised bark boarder create a small water-retaining bowl that is great for efficient and effective watering.

10)Water the tree and watch it grow! We recommend using Mad Farmer’s B1 to assist the plant in healing during the transplant process.

The Eggplant Demystified – Health Benefits, Grow Tips & Recipe

Articles, Gardening, Grow Tips, Lifestyle, recipe

     The eggplant (aka aubergine) is perhaps one of the most misunderstood foods of all time. The staff at SD Hydro harvested these four gorgeous eggplants at our Bay Park location a few weeks ago. No one really knew what to do with them so I decided to take them home and turn them into a delicious dish.

Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables along with tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.  They are extremely high in fiber, magnesium and potassium; making them an excellent choice for a heart healthy diet and for aiding digestion. The skin of the eggplant is especially rich in nasunin, an antioxidant that helps to protect brain cells from becoming damaged.

Eggplants are quite easy to grow; they thrive in conditions similar to those favored by tomatoes. This means they grow top heavy (so a tomato cage may be necessary), need lots of sunlight and a soil that drains water well. In San Diego, eggplants will grow mid spring all the way though until early fall.

Eggplant is a highly versatile cooking ingredient; it can be stuffed, fried, rolled, mashed, baked and who knows what else. The recipe I decided to try is a traditional Georgian dish called Badrijani. Badrijani is usually served as a side dish or appetizer (though from personal experience it is also a tasty late night snack).

Eggplant Rollups

Walnut, Garlic & Pomegranate Eggplant Rolls (Badrijani)

Ingredients:

  • 2 small – medium sized Eggplants
  • Olive oil
  • 1.5 cups Walnuts
  • 1 cup Cilantro
  • 4 Cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs. Pomegranate seeds
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Serves 4 -6

Directions:

1. Cut the tops and the bottoms off the eggplants and cut lengthwise into 1/2″ slices.

2. Fill a bowl with water and add a generous amount of salt. Place the eggplant slices into the salt water mixture and let sit for 30 minutes. This step will draw out bitter flavor from the vegetable.

3. Meanwhile, combine the walnuts, cilantro, garlic and 1 tbs of water into a food processor. The end result should be a paste-like consistency. Add more water if necessary.When the mixture is the proper consistency, fold in the pomegranate seeds. Set aside.

4. Next, remove eggplant slices from water and pat dry with a paper towel. Add 2-3 tbs of olive oil to a frying pan and turn stove to medium heat.

5. After the oil has heated, place the eggplant slices into the frying pan and fry both sides until golden brown. NOTE – the eggplant will absorb the oil very quickly. You will need to continually add oil throughout the frying process. After each slice in done, set aside on a paper towel to cool.

6. When the eggplants pieces have cooled to room temperature, take one and evenly spread the walnut mix onto one side; roll  into a spiral.Repeat this step with each piece of eggplant.

7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

DIY Vinyl Record Hanging Planter

Articles, Lifestyle, Newsletter

 

There are endless ways of re-purposing items around our homes to create unique gardens. For this DIY I used scratched vinyl records to create retro-inspired hanging planters. These planters are easy to make because of the low temperature malleability of vinyl but for the same reason should not be hung in direct sunlight or in places of extreme heat.

The materials you will need are:

  • Oven
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Oven Safe Bowl
  • Oven Mitt
  • Drill
  • Quick Link
  • (4) 2ft lengths of Chain (I used Black Everbilt Jack Chain from HomeDepot)
  • Vinyl Record (Some records have high sentimental or monetary value- Be certain that you want to destroy the record you use.)

 

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place oven-safe bowl upside down on top of cookie tray in the oven.

3. Center your record on top of the upside-down bowl.

4. Let the record heat up for 2-3 minutes. The vinyl should start to droop.

5. Remove tray from oven, be sure to wear oven mitts.

6. Flip record upside down and mold into the desired shape and let the record cool completely.

7. Drill four holes as evenly as possible apart 1” from rim of record.

8. Hook jack-chain through holes. I was able to pry the chain open by hand but for heavier chain this may require pliers.

9. Connect chains at top with quick link.

10. Hang and add plant.

RECIPE: Chunky Vegan Chili Stew (Gluten Free, Oil Free)

Articles, Lifestyle, Newsletter

Warm summer weather is synonymous with gearing up for backyard barbeques which means loads of hot dogs and ketchup. In fact, Americans eat nearly 20 billions hot dogs a year – mostly during July 4th festivities. This year, think about adding a healthy side dish to your summer spread to offset all those dogs! This chili recipe is vegan, gluten free and contains no oil. Its loaded with protein and fresh veggies you can grow in your own backyard.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  • 2 1/2 tbs. chili powder
  • 1/2 tbs. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper

 

*Tip: If you do not have all of these chili spices on hand it can get pretty expensive buying them individually from the grocery store. Some markets, such as Sprouts and food Co-operatives, sell spices in bulk. Buying spices in bulk allows you to get just the right amount of spices needed for a recipe. Additionally, other larger super market chains, such as Ralph’s and Vons, will have most of these spices for $0.99 in the ethnic food section. This tip has saved me tons of money on spices and has allowed me to experiment with a lot more recipes (especially Indian dishes).

 

Directions:

1. Roughly chop the celery, carrots and onion.

2. Drain the liquid from one can of black beans into a soup pot and add 1/2 cup of water. Turn heat to medium high. Add the celery, carrots, onion and bay leaves.

3. Saute’ the vegetables for about 15-20 minutes, or just until soft. While sauteing, sprinkle vegetables with salt and pepper.

4. After the vegetables are soft remove the bay leaves and add the 4 cans of diced tomatoes, garlic and spices (chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder) to the pot. Stir well and let simmer for 5 minutes.

5. At this point, add in both cans of black beans (one full and one strained). If liquid levels are looking low, add another 1/2 cup of water to the pot. Continue cooking at a simmer for 20 minutes.

6. After 20 minutes add the corn and edamame to the chili. Cook for another 5-10 minutes at a simmer.

7. When chili is done, take off the heat and serve. The chili can be served with toppings such as sour cream, cheese, green onion and red onion.

Serves: 8-10

RECIPE: Munchie Bites (gf, raw, vegan)

Lifestyle, Newsletter, recipe

This recipe introduced me to dates and I am in love. They are nature’s candy. So amazing! (And inexpensive-but full of sugar so be careful.) I was overwhelmed by how many different varieties of dates were offered at the store but at  $1.99-3.99 a pack (each container has enough for two batches) I was happy to try a few. I’m certain that any of the dates would work for this recipe-but I noticed the softer and larger dates were easier to de-pit and sweeter so that’s what we used for the recipe. These bars are a sweet treat that are packed with fiber (click here for detailed information about the health benefits of the ingredients we used).

Munchie Bites Recipe
(gf, raw, vegan, energy bars)
*makes 12 bites or 6 snack size bars

1 cup raw cashews (try hazelnut or walnuts!)
½ cup pitted dates (try substituting other dried fruit: cherries, figs or prunes)
1/3 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)
2 T chia seeds (bulk spice section of People’s Organic Food Cooperative)
1 T honey (or agave)
1 T hemp seeds (buy in bulk from the coolers at People’s Organic Food Cooperative)
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (bulk section of People’s Organic Food Cooperative)
¼ cup raw pepitas (bulk section of People’s Organic Food Cooperative)

Food Processor or Blender
Parchment paper and hemp twine
9” x 5 “ loaf pan

We bought all the ingredients from People’s Organic Food Cooperative in Ocean Beach but you can get everything from any natural/health food store.

 

1. Blend 1 cup raw cashews (or other nut) in the blender or food processor for 20-30 seconds.

2. Add ½ cup dates (after removing the pits) , 1/3 cup almond butter, 2 T chia seeds, 1 T honey and 1 T hemp seed into the food processor and blend with the cashews until everything is well combined.

3. Line a 8” x 4” or 9” x 5” loaf pan with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides.

4. Transfer the blended mixture into the loaf pan, using a spoon to press, flatten and smooth it out.

5. Sprinkle and gently press pepitas and coconut into the surface of the bars.

6. Fold the sides of hanging parchment into the loaf pan, use your hands to press down and even out the surface of the bars one last time.

7. Refrigerate 1 hour (or freeze for 20 minutes) before pulling the wax paper lining out of the loaf pan to slice the bars.

8. Wrap each bar in parchment paper (we just re-purposed the sheet we lined the loaf pan with) and secure with a piece of hemp string.

9. Refrigerate the remaining bars.

SD Hydro Named 2013 Recycler of the Year

Events, Lifestyle, News, Uncategorized

San Diego Hydroponics & Organics Recognized by the City for “GREEN” efforts.

 

SD Hydro’s Earth-friendly nature has been noticed by the City of San Diego. We have been selected by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department as one of the “Recyclers of the Year” in the 2013 Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards Program!  This award is given to local businesses who have the most innovative and comprehensive recycling programs in San Diego. Our recycling and waste reduction program includes post-consumer recycled paper products, the minimization of plastic bags at checkout, bulb recycling, growing food in-store that is passed along to customers and staff, as well as community outreach and education efforts.

Here at SD Hydro we work hard to implement environmentally responsible practices in all aspects of our store. For instance, if you’ve ever used our bathroom the thought may have crossed your mind that our TP situation might need some consideration. But actually we choose to forgo the 7-ply paper bliss in the name of reduced waste and eco-friendly toilet paper. Too much information? Just keeping it real and letting you know that your sacrifice was not in vain-I’m sure we must have saved a tree or two by now.

SD Hydro representatives will be attending a special media event to receive recognition by Mayor Bob Filner for our green efforts on Earth Day, April 22, at the San Diego International Airport.

This recognition is a big deal for us as a company and for some of the staff on an individual level. It acknowledges and validates the time, energy and money (in addition to friendly fights between employees) spent on appropriate recycling etiquette.

We rarely have an appropriate opportunity to brag about how awesome we are and this just happens to be one of those times so we wanted to take a moment and give ourselves a big pat on the back! GOOD JOB TEAM AWESOME!

 

DIY Succulent Terrarium

Lifestyle, Newsletter

For this DIY project we have decided to highlight succulents. Not only do most varieties of succulents thrive in San Diego’s warm climate, but they are nearly indestructible. When it comes to my outdoor garden, I seek out plants that are low maintenance but still aesthetically pleasing. Succulents satisfy both these criteria. There is an almost endless variety of succulents to fit any decor scheme or outdoor space. As a bonus, they are especially easy to clone yourself.

Succulents have adapted to dry dessert regions with thick leaves to retain water during droughts. For this reason, succulents do not need to be watered as often as other plant varieties. This attribute makes them perfect for the novice or busy gardener; skipping a water every now and then won’t kill your succulents.

 

Most succulents need direct sunlight and grow well in a wide range of temperatures, even in temps as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer water succulents about once a week. Make sure the soil is completely dry between waterings. In the winter reduce waterings down to about once every other month.

Materials Needed:

– Jar or container

-Soil Mixture – We used Sanctuary Soil’s Victory Mix then added in Growstones for better drainage.

-Activated Carbon -Can be found at a pet supply store.

-Drainage material – We used Growstones and seashells

– Succulents in 2 inch pots – Armstrong Garden Center had a great selection.

 

Directions:

1. Place a layer of drainage material in the bottom of your container. We used a mixture of Growstones and seashells. Rocks and pebbles also work well.

2. Next, add a layer of activated carbon over the drainage materials. We purchased our activated carbon from Pet Kingom for $9.99. The carbon removes impurities from your terrarium.

3. Make sure the soil you choose is well aerated. We mixed in smaller Growstones to the soil for better aeration. Succulents require a lot of aeration near their roots, so this step is extremely important.

4. Finally, add a layer of your soil and then plant the succulents in the container. Fill in any gaps with soil. I found that the succulents were delicate, and I used a paint brush to remove any excess dirt that had accumulated on the leaves.

5. Lightly water the soil so that is damp all the way through. Do not over water, you don’t want an excess of water at the bottom of your container.

Energy Dense Super Foods

Glossary, Lifestyle, recipe, Uncategorized

Below is a list of ingredients full of fiber, that if worked into your diet, will add that extra punch of energy you need to be energized all day long. Each ingredient has its own benefits but we used all of them in one awesome energy-packed snack bar. Check out this recipe for our Munchie Bites if you’d like to try them for yourself!

 

 

Dates: for extra energy in thirty minutes eat a date. Rich in vitamins and minerals they have the added benefit of fiber (dates are a solution to both constipation or diarrhea. Versatile!) They do have a lot of sugar in them-which is a great natural sweetener so don’t overdo it.

Chia Seeds: a complete protein that provides energy and a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, good for weight loss, hydration, balancing blood sugar, feeling full and fiber. (also got information from here)

Hemp seed: they carry many of the same benefits of Chia seeds-also being one of the few complete plant based proteins-(meaning it contains all 8 essential amino acids that your body needs to ingest and cannot produce), they contain essential fatty acids and are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Coconut Improves digestion, boosts energy and endurance while killing viruses, bacterium and fungi. It relieves symptoms and lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease and inflammation.

Cashews Rich in omega-3 fatty acid, raw cashews lower the risk of cardiovascular disease; they have healthy monounsaturated fat which is linked to lowering “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.

Almonds: The protein, folic acid, mono-saturated fats and potassium in almonds aid in a healthy heart, blood pressure regulation and an uncomplicated pregnancy (folic acid reduces risk of birth defects). Almonds also boost energy levels, contains nutrients for brain development and are good for hair and skin.
(caution: those with kidney or gallbladder problems should avoid eating almonds)

Pepitas: Loaded with essential minerals, vitamins, amino acids, carbohydrates and healthy fatty acids such as Omega-3 which reduce inflammation, while lowering risks of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Pepitas also produce chemicals associated with improving mood, sleep, anxiety, depression and appetite.