Does soy food consumption explain why Japanese women appear to be so protected from hot flash symptoms?
When women hit menopause and their ovaries shut down, the estrogen level in their body drops 95 percent. This is good news for the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. Otherwise, the constant estrogen signaling could eventually result in endometrial cancer. In fact, that may be why menopause evolved: to protect the uterus from cancer. Lower estrogen levels are also beneficial for lowering breast cancer risk. In postmenopausal women, relatively high blood levels of estrogen are associated with a more than double increased risk for breast cancer. But why do estrogen levels drop 95 percent at menopause, but not all the way down to zero? Because estrogen can be made by other tissues, like our own fat cells, and “this probably explains the increase in [breast cancer] risk in obese postmenopausal women.” More fatty tissue means more estrogen production.
In my earlier video How to Block Breast Cancer’s Estrogen-Producing Enzymes, I discussed how soy phytoestrogens can block the production of estrogen, such that drinking a glass of soy milk with each meal can cut estrogen levels in half in premenopausal women. But estrogen levels in postmenopausal women are already down 95 percent, and, because of that, many women, approximately 8 in 10, suffer from hot flashes. Might lowering levels even further with soy make menopausal symptoms even worse? That’s the subject of my video Soy Phytoestrogens for Menopause Hot Flashes.
Estrogen treatment reduces menopausal symptoms very effectively, but, unfortunately, its downsides include not only the uterine cancer, but blood clots, strokes, and cognitive impairment, as well. Taking progesterone-type compounds with the estrogen prevents uterine cancer, but increases the risk of heart attacks, more stroke, breast cancer, more clots, and dementia. What’s a woman to do?
The 80 percent hot flashes figure is not universal. Eighty to 85 percent of European and American women may experience hot flashes, but as few as 15 percent of women may be affected in places like Japan. In fact, there isn’t even a term for it in the Japanese language, which supports how relatively rare it is. Could the phytoestrogens in soy be helping?
Researchers examined the “association between soy product intake and the occurrence of hot flashes” by following a thousand Japanese women over time, from before they started menopause, to see who developed hot flashes and who didn’t. As you can see at 2:34 in my video, those women eating around four ounces of tofu a day appeared to cut their risk in half, compared to women only eating an ounce or two a day, suggesting soy products are protective. But, could it be that soy intake is just a marker for a healthier diet over all?
A study in China found that consumption of “whole plant foods” in general seemed to be associated with decreased menopausal symptoms, so in order to see if soy had a special role, you’d have to put it to the test.
As you can see at 3:10 in my video, soy phytoestrogens in pill form showed extraordinary results, including a significant decrease in hot flash “presence, number [frequency] and severity.” At the start of the study, 100 percent of women suffered hot flashes, and that dropped to only 31 percent by the end of three months. The average number of hot flashes also dropped, from about 120 a month down to only 12 in 90 days. Exciting findings, but the problem with this study and some others like it is that there was no control group to control for the placebo effect. If you look at all the hormone trials, even the women who got the placebo sugar pills had up to around a 60 percent reduction in hot flashes over the years. That’s why any “therapies purported to reduce such symptoms must be assessed in blinded trials against a placebo or a validated therapy because of the large placebo effect…and also because…menopause symptoms often decline” on their own over time.
To illustrate this point, see the findings of a study I show at 4:00 in my video. Researchers gave women a soy protein powder and saw a nice drop in hot flashes over the next 12 weeks. Those results on their own make the soy supplementation look pretty effective, but those were results from the placebo powder group. The study subjects who actually got the soy achieved results significantly better than placebo, which demonstrates how important it is to recognize how powerful the placebo effect can be. Over the past 20 years, more than 50 clinical trials have evaluated the effects of soy foods and supplements on the alleviation of hot flashes. Compiling the best ones together, the placebo groups got about a 20 percent drop in hot flash severity, while the soy groups achieved about a 45 percent drop. So, on average, the soy did about 25 percent better than control, as you can see at 4:31 in my video.
There have been two studies that compared soy phytoestrogens head–to–head against hormones. In one study, they actually seemed pretty comparable, in terms of reducing hot flashes, muscle and joint pain, and vaginal dryness, compared to placebo, as you can see at 4:50 in my video. In the other study, however, soy did better than placebo, but estrogen and progesterone therapy did better than both. But, soy has “the benefit of no increased risk of breast and uterine cancer or cardiovascular disease,” such as heart disease and stroke.
- After menopause, a woman’s estrogen level drops by 95 percent, which benefits her endometrium, the uterine lining, and lowers breast cancer risk.
- Soy phytoestrogens can block estrogen production, such that drinking a glass of soy milk at each meal can halve estrogen levels in premenopausal women.
- Although estrogen treatments may effectively reduce symptoms of menopause, they have myriad downsides, including uterine cancer, blood clots, strokes, and cognitive impairment, and taking it with progesterone-type compounds may also increase heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, clot, and dementia risks.
- Hot flashes are suffered by approximately 80 percent of postmenopausal European and American women, but only about 15 percent of women in Japan, for example.
- Researchers found that those eating around four ounces of tofu a day appeared to halve their risk of hot flashes, compared to those who only ate one or two daily ounces, suggesting soy products are protective.
- More than 50 clinical trials have studied the effects of soy foods and supplements on hot flashes, and the best studies found about a 25 percent improvement by soy over placebo controls in the severity of hot flashes.
- Of the two studies comparing soy phytoestrogens against hormones, one determined soy to be fairly comparable with regards to reducing hot flashes, muscle and joint pain, as well as vaginal dryness, compared to placebo, while the other found that soy did better than placebo but the estrogen and progesterone therapy exceeded both in effectiveness.
- Soy, however, provides the benefit without the increased risks of cancers of the breast and uterus or heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular disease.
Why does soy help some women, but not others? See my video How to Convert Into an Equol Producer.
I discuss more about the risks of hormone replacement therapy in How Did Doctors Not Know About the Risks of Hormone Therapy?.
What about Plant-Based Bioidentical Hormones? Check out the video and find out.
For more on soy, see:
- Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?
- GMO Soy and Breast Cancer
- Flashback Friday: Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy?
Michael Greger, M.D.
PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:
- 2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss
- 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers
- 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet
- 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food
- 2013: More Than an Apple a Day
- 2012: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death
You can help your celery crop thrive with companion planting. Companion planting is a centuries-old method of organic gardening that places plants that support the growth and development of each other, near each other.
Companion plants deter harmful insect pests, attract beneficial pollinators, provide support and shade, enhance the soil, suppress weeds, and conserve moisture. Companion planting—also known as good neighbor planting—adds color, scent, balance, harmony, and health to the homestead garden.
Companion planting is an environmentally friendly, integrated method of pest management, which allows the garden to flourish without the use of toxic chemical herbicides and pesticides.
As an example, celery is a powerful defender of cabbage plants. The white cabbage butterfly can destroy a cabbage crop. When cabbage is planted near celery, the cabbage butterfly is repelled by the strong scent of celery. The cabbage plant, in turn, provides a windbreak and shade for fragile, young celery shoots.
If you love to munch on raw celery, or enjoy the crispy vegetable as a crunchy addition to salads, stir-fry, salsa, sauces, and soups, but worry about the noxious chemicals found in supermarket non-organic celery, grow your own with help from companion plants that protect celery the way it protects cabbage.Best (And Worst) Companion Plants For Celery
Pungent herbs attract pollinators to the garden while repelling insect pests that can damage the celery crop. Helpful herbs to plant near celery include thyme, sage, basil, hyssop, horehound, tansy, cilantro, and dill.
If you garden in a rural location, strongly-scented herbs also help deter rabbits and deer from grazing on the garden. The taller herbs provide shade for delicate celery shoots while thyme and sage help smother competitive weeds.Celery grows next to an excellent companion plant, thyme. Zach Copley / Flickr (Creative Commons)
Experienced gardeners suggest planting bush beans, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, onions, spinach, and tomatoes as companion plants for celery.
Employ flower power to drive off insects that could harm your garden while attracting beneficial predators, such as parasitic wasps, that devour other harmful garden pests. Marigolds, snapdragons, daisies, lavender, and cosmos emit scents that act as a deterrent to while flies, aphids, ants, and cabbage moths.
Avoid planting parsley, parsnips, turnips, or carrots near celery. These plants fight vigorously for the same nutrients and moisture. They do not make the best of neighbors.A Gardening Challenge
Cultivated since antiquity, celery (Apium graveolens) a stately green marshland plant with long fibrous stacks tapering into leaves, is a cousin of the carrot. It’s a part of the plant family formerly known as Umbellifera. There are three different forms of the parent Apiaceae species: celeriac, stalk, and cutting celery.
According to the USDA, “The many cultivated varieties now in use have been derived from the wild celery, which is a native of the marshes of southern England and many parts of the Eastern Continent. This wild celery was for a long time considered poisonous, a very natural supposition, as it belongs to the same family of plants as Cicuta and poison hemlock.”Celery leaves growing up from the garden. Andy Roberts / Flickr (Creative Commons)
Celery cultivation began in Mediterranean coastal areas. Highly prized for its medicinal properties, the Romans and the Greeks used it only as a medicine. It was not until the early 1600s that historical records note celery’s cultivation as a food crop.
For hundreds of years, celery was considered an expensive delicacy, reserved only for garnishing and flavoring purposes. Today, celery is no longer a luxury item and is a significant ingredient in a wide range of dishes worldwide. India is one of the largest producers and consumers of celery.
As long-season crop, celery can be rather difficult to grow. Many experienced gardeners say it is the most challenging vegetable to cultivate in the homestead garden. Celery cannot tolerate heat. Celery requires nutrient-rich soil, consistent uniform moisture, high humidity, cool evening temperatures, and a long growing season of 130-140 days.
“Celery has a reputation for being a fussy, hard-to-grow vegetable,” writes the National Gardening Association. “There’s a lot of truth to that, but with the right climate and some care, you can grow large, tender plants. A dozen plants will take up five or six feet of row, and it’s worth trying.”Celery Growing Tips
In southern climates, celery is cultivated as a winter crop. In the far north, celery does well as a summer crop. It’s a fall crop in most other United Plant Hardiness Zones. Celery roots normally grow about 6-8 inches below the soil level but can extend as deep as two feet. Celery requires loose, well-tilled soil and won’t flourish in areas with compacted clay.
Celery grows best in nutrient-rich, medium-textured mineralized soils enhanced with a generous application of organic matter. Amend soil with well-aged herbivore manure (e.g. cow, sheep, goat, horse, or llama.) Adding peat moss to the soil helps aid in moisture retention.
When preparing an area in the garden to cultivate celery, turn over the soil to a depth of at least 18-inches: breaking up dirt clods and removing rocks, roots, and debris. Add equal parts of peat moss, well-aged manure or garden compost, and landscape sand. Work them well into the soil.Celery growing in a garden. Br3nda / Flickr (Creative Commons)
Celery grows well in soil with a pH of 5.8-6.0. After you have prepared the garden plot, test soil pH and amend as needed. Soil pH testing kits are available online or at local home and garden centers, or you may take a soil sample to your local county extension office for testing. If your soil sample indicates the soil is too acidic, you can raise soil pH by adding a generous amount of wood ash or liming material.
Celery requires lots of water and thrives in a garden plot where a drip system of irrigation can be established. If celery does not receive adequate moisture, its stalks will be tough, stunted, and bitter.
Celery can be grown from seed or transplants available from local garden nurseries. Favorite varieties include:
- Golden Boy
Because celery requires such a long time to mature, unless you live in a region with an extended growing season, celery seeds should be started indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost of the season.
- Celery seeds are quite small and rather difficult to handle. For ease in planting, mix 10 parts landscape sand with 1 part seeds.
- Lightly sprinkle the seed-sand mixture over a tray of potting soil. Cover with a thin layer of potting soil. Celery seeds need to be planted shallow. Keep soil evenly moist. It should about the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. Use a spray bottle to mist the potting soil, as direct watering will disturb the seeds.
- Patience is required: celery takes up to three weeks to germinate. Be sure to keep seed trays in a warm area where the temperature does not fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, If the seeds receive a cold chill, they will fail to germinate.
- Once seeds have sprouted and are sturdy enough to handle, transfer seedlings to individual pots. When seedlings develop 4-6 leaves, they are ready to be transplanted to the garden.
- It is wise to delay planting celery seedlings outside in the garden until soil temperatures rise to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Celery is very temperature sensitive and cold soil will weaken or kill the delicate seedlings.
Celery plants require at least six hours of full sun daily to reach optimum flavor and size at maturity. However, celery plants prefer shade during the hottest part of the day. Tomatoes, bush beans, and leeks, when planted as companion plants, provide noontime shade for shorter celery stalks.Blanching Celery Before Harvest
Experienced gardeners recommend blanching celery before harvesting. Celery that is not cultivated in this manner has a tendency to be bitter. Blanched celery plants have a much lighter color.
Blanching is accomplished by wrapping the plant with multiple layers of paper or cardboard to block harsh direct rays of the sun from reaching the plant. Secure covering with landscape twists or cords. Another method of blanching involves gradually mounding up soil around the base of the plant until soil reaches the leaves.
Although blanching involves a bit more work, the result will be sweet, succulent, and tender celery you will be justifiably proud to share with family and friends.Harvesting And Storing Celery
Stored in the refrigerator crisper, celery will keep well for up to two weeks. Celery can be canned, dehydrated, pickled, or frozen.
“Celery stores really well – you can keep it for many weeks with no trouble,” writes the National Gardening Association. “Dig up the plants carefully, disturbing the roots as little as possible. Replant them in boxes of sand in your root cellar or set them close together in a trench in your cold frame where you can keep them from freezing. As long as the roots stay moist and the stalks dry, they’ll really keep. Temperatures in the range of 35F to 40F are best for good storage.”Harvested celery at the grocery store // USDA / Lance Cheung>References:
Growing Celery, The National Gardening Association
How To Grow Celery, Library Of Congress
Celery, United States Department Of Agriculture
Yesterday afternoon we headed down the road to go pick pears from our neighbor’s huge sand pear tree.
The days have been hot and exceedingly humid, so we didn’t go on our excursion until around 6PM when the weather finally approximated the inside of a sauna instead of the inside of a volcano.
The pear tree is loaded with fruit right now.
These are a hard cooking pear, or a “sand pear,” as the natives call them.
It’s a good fruit for making pies, jams, sauce, perry, moonshine or even salsa.
Pears are best when they aren’t too ripe but aren’t overripe. Our favorite method to “pick” them is to just shake the branches.
My younger kids shook the lower branches.
And my eldest daughter climbed about 20′ up into the tree and shook the upper branches.
With the help of the children, we filled our buckets in short order.
The pears are big and sweet this year. I gave the tree a couple of gallons of Steve Solomon’s micronutrient solution earlier in the year and I think it helped.
Now we have to peel and core them, then I’ll be making salsa. Rachel’s also been roasting them and canning “pear sauce,” which is just applesauce made with pears.
Pear trees are very easy to grow in the south if you plant sand pear varieties. They’re lovely trees and quite productive, year after year. This tree was originally planted in 1979 – the same year I was born – and has been producing fruit for decades.
When we first got here last year, the neighbors let us pick the tail end of the pears that had fallen after the hurricane. This year we get to pick our way through the entire season.
Guess we’d better get back to peeling!
Note: The images in this post were taken with a Takumar Bayonet lens, 1:2.8, 135mm, originally made for a Pentax camera. Mom sent me this lens along with her old Pentax K-1000 earlier this month. The lens had some fungus in the front element which I cleaned out yesterday afternoon. Then I added an inexpensive adapter to the back of the lens so I could adapt it to my Canon 80D and take it shooting. The pears were its first test. Sure looks good for a 1980s lens! Thank you, Mom.
There is little denying our DIY Adirondack 2×4 outdoor chair plans have been one of the most popular projects we have ever featured on the blog. In fact, they have …
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Ducks differ in their needs from backyard chickens, and it can be straightforward to create a DIY duck house with some readily available, basic materials. When starting your flock, making your own duck house instead of purchasing an overpriced product from a retail store, can save you time and money.
If you want to add waterfowl to your current flock, they will require adequate living space to protect them from predators and extreme weather conditions. However, if your existing barn or chicken coop is not ideal for ducks and would be too difficult to modify, it is easy to find simple DIY duck house plans and get started right away.Important Details to Consider When Building a Duck House
Before you rush out and select a duck house DIY plan, you should consider some important details. With careful planning, you will end up creating a structure to suit your birds and fit into your outdoor living space.
As mentioned, ducks will have different needs than chickens, so using a DIY duck house can be the best solution to ensure all of your birds are healthy, happy, and protected.Duck House Height and Size
Ducks do not roost like chickens do when they retire for the evening. Instead, they are content lying on the floor in warm, dry bedding. Because of this behavior, you do not have to create a tall DIY duck house containing various levels.
How large their entrance door is will depend on the type of duck you own. The door should be wide enough for two ducks to fit through at once since they often will not wait their turn and like to push and shove.
These birds can be quite clumsy since their bodies are heavy, and their webbed feet are often wet and slippery. Therefore, the structure should not be far off the ground, making it easy to go in and out. If there is a height difference between the ground and the opening, you will want to include a wide ramp.
Domestic waterfowl require at least 4 square feet of space per bird to ensure they are comfortable even at a mature size. Before you begin constructing their new home, you must determine the number of ducks you want to shelter. If the duck house does not have enough space for the number of birds you own, problems can occur.Types of Materials to Use
For a simple DIY duck house, you can use various materials, including plywood, two-by-four lumber, vinyl flooring, and welded wire.
You will want a sturdy wood or cement floor to keep any predators from getting into the duck house and using your pets as their next meal.
Since ducks are messy eaters and drinkers, there will be water and wet feet everywhere. Installing an inexpensive, vinyl flooring material will keep the wood from rotting due to excessive moisture. You can also use flooring tiles (or a tarp that will lie over the bottom) which you can remove for easy cleaning later.
Installing sticky vinyl tiles along the walls approximately a foot above the floor will help with cleanup since these waterfowl are notorious for splashing and throwing water and mud around.
Using traction strips or a mat can be a terrific addition to their entrance ramp to ensure your ducks have secure footing as they travel up and down. Again, duck feet can be wet or muddy, and you do not want them to slip and fall off the ramp as they go into the duck house.Duck House Type and Purpose
When choosing the best DIY duck house, deciding on the type and purpose should be your first step. Many of these structures will vary in size and where they will fit in your yard. There are several types of duck houses you will find.
- Completely predator-proof styles to lock up your ducks at night
- Protective homes enclosed inside a predator-proof pen
- Floating duck houses for ponds or lakes
- Plans that reuse old building materials
- Houses that add onto existing runs or enclosed yards
- Portable duck houses to move around your yard
When finding your duck house DIY plan, ventilation is a critical factor for waterfowl. Ducks can get wet, track in water and mud, and even their breath is moist. Proper ventilation will ensure that the environment will remain dry and comfortable.
Some pet owners will remove the ducks’ food and water dishes in the evening. They do not need it during this time anyhow, and if it is there, there is a good possibility they will make a mess. Ensure the coop plans have easy access to the inside to remove dishes whenever you wish and for proper cleaning.
Ducks do not need nesting boxes as chickens do, so many duck house DIY plans will not include it. If you prefer to supply them with an area in the house for a nest, ensure there is still enough space for all your feathered friends.
Related Post: 10 Considerations for Your Backyard Duck CoopFree Duck House Plans to Consider
Let’s look at 19 of the best DIY duck house ideas we found.4-by-4 Standard Duck House From My Outdoor Plansphoto courtesy of my outdoor plans
This standard DIY duck house plan will not take long to complete. It is a nice size to house several ducks but is not too large for anyone with a smaller space.Find the plans at My Outdoor PlansDIY 6-by-8 Duck Hotelphoto courtesy of backyard chickens
This hotel plan is a unique choice for duck owners looking for a personality for their DIY wood duck house. This structure has ample space for several birds and can be easily modified from a chicken coop to a duck house by removing the roosting bars and the additional nesting boxes.Find the plans at Backyard Chickens3-by-4 A-Frame Duck House photo courtesy of diy diva
This A-frame structure is simple to construct and will give your ducks ample space to curl up for the night. In addition, the compact design makes it easy to customize your ducks’ home with wood or asphalt shingles, exterior paint colors, and personal touches, like shutters.Find the plans at DIY Diva4-Foot Cable Spool Duck House photo courtesy of instructables
These DIY duck house plans use 4-foot wooden spools. By placing this house into a predator-proof pen and duck run, you will not have to worry about adding a door to keep your ducks safe.Find the plans at Instructables2-by-6 Portable Quaker Box Duck House photo courtesy of tyrant farms
This 2- by 6-foot Quaker box duck house has wheels and a handle to quickly relocate your ducks to another section of the yard. Move it daily to cut down on cleanup and keep your insects and pests at bay.Find the plans at Tyrant FarmsUpcycled DIY Duck House Planphoto courtesy of bepa’s garden
If you have spare building materials around your shop or yard, your structure can be as large or small as you wish, depending on the materials. Keep waste out of the landfill and reuse old building materials to create a perfect home for your waterfowl.Find the plans at Bepa’s GardenPallet Duck House and Run
With some pallet wood and a few extra supplies, including some roofing material, predator-proof welded wire, and latches, you can have a complete house and run finished in just an afternoon.Find the plans at Tactical House WifeSpacious Duck House and Pen photo courtesy of hip chick digs
The setup gives several ducks 4 square feet of space each, along with room to roam outside. The roofing material will keep their house dry and warm, as well as protect them from predators.Find the plans at Hip Chick Digs4-by-4 Square DIY Wooden Duck House
These plans are simple to follow and will have your ducks in new living quarters in only one day. This 4- by 4-foot structure will house up to 16 ducks without problems. Choosing DIY duck house plans larger than you need will allow your flock to grow in the future.Find the plans at HowTo SpecialistRecycled Wooden Packing Crate Duck House
Packing crates are sturdy, and you can modify them easily to add charm and personality with only a few additional materials. Remember to add ventilation holes and waterproof roofing material to ensure the new home will last for years.Find the plans at Poultry KeeperDIY Wood Pallet Duck House photo courtesy of yellow birch hobby farms
You can purchase pallets from companies, but many businesses will give them away to anyone willing to take them. With some imagination, you can turn leftover pallets into a terrific duck house that will provide shelter from the elements and predators.Find the plans at Yellow Birch Hobby FarmRustic Duck House photo courtesy of the cape cod
If you want to add ducks to your existing flock of chickens, this rustic duck house is the perfect solution. Using scrap wood and leftover building supplies, you can construct a suitable habitat for your waterfowl while still keeping their wet messes away from your chickens.Find the plans at The Cape CoopSimple 4-by-4 Cottage Duck House
These DIY plans make constructing your next duck house easy. It contains a removable floor layer for easy cleaning and a food cupboard to help secure it from predators.Find the plans at Yellow Cottage HomesteadFloating DIY Duck House photo courtesy of goods gome design
If you want to spoil your pet ducks and have a large body of water they can access, this floating duck house is perfect. The plans do not require complex supplies or tools and add charm to any garden pond or duck pool.Find the plans at Goods Home DesignConvert a Chicken Coop Into a Duck House
If you have a small chicken coop that you do not use anymore, you can easily convert it for ducks. All you need to do is widen the door opening, install a small ramp, add extra ventilation, and remove any roosting bars or nesting boxes.Find the plans at Modern FarmerTiny Waterfront Pallet Oasisphoto courtesy of the homesteading boards
If your ducks are lucky enough to have a pond, this tiny waterfront pallet oasis is ideal. You can create it in no time and have your birds resting comfortably after a day of swimming.Find the plans at The Homesteading BoardsConvert an Old Dog House for Your Ducks photo courtesy of fresh eggs daily
An old dog house can be the perfect house to protect your ducks from predators. Add some ventilation for proper airflow and ensure that it sits within a predator-proof enclosure, and you and your birds will be happy.Find the plans at Fresh Eggs Daily Simple Barnyard Duck Housephoto courtesy of needles and nails
Anyone who can use hand tools can make this simple barnyard duck house for their birds. Added touches include nonslip mats and a small pool to splash in while staying safe from predators.Find the plans at Needles and Nails BlogAccessible Slanted Roof Duck Housephoto courtesy of the project lady
This DIY duck house uses a slanted roof to ensure water runs off instead of inside. The top also lifts for easy cleaning and to retrieve eggs.Find the plans at The Project Lady
Having two different edible plants both called Fireweed and Burnweed can be confusing. This species is showy, a tall wildflower with noticible pink flowers. The other is not showy at all, in fact its greenish flower barely open, see photo right. You won’t confuse the two in person though some of their territories overlap. For the other one see a separate entry under Burnweed which is Erechtites hieracifolia, the wallflower of the two.
Fireweed is call that because it is ruderal, that is, it takes advantage of burned ground and sprouts soon after a fire scorches through. It can tolerate bombing and volcanos. When London was blitzkreiged in WWII Fireweed was one of the first flowers to emerge from the rubble. It was also the first blossom to appear after Mt. St. Helens blew her top in the spring of 1980. In the Evening Primrose family, it was in the genus Epilobium but was recently changed (as are so many plants now that DNA testing tells us botanists really got it wrong… an often.) Now it is Chamerion angustifolium.
Nutritionally fresh Fireweed shoots have per 100 grams 20 calories, 0.3 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of fat, 6.4 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.8 grams of fiber. They have 32 mg of calcium, 31 mg of phosphorus, 20 mg of magnesium, 0.7 mg zinc, 0.6 mg sodium, 0.5 mg iron, 0.18 manganese and 700 mcg of copper.
Found in most of North America except Texas and the Old South, Chamerion is from two Greek words, chamai and nerion, together meaning “dwarf oleander” (as it has a leaf shape like the Oleander.) That’s seems a waste of name space as angustifolium means narrow leaf.
Green Deane’s Itemize Plant Profile
IDENTIFICATION: Spikes of red to pink to white four-petaled flowers, boom begins in the middle of the stem, leaf veins are circular and to not terminate at the edge of the leaf. To six feet tall. Blooms most of warm weather, seeds are in pods.
TIME OF YEAR: Young shoots and stems in spring, older leaves for tea.
ENVIRONMENT: It likes disturbed ground such as where logging occurs, woodland borders, meadows, roadsides and after fires.
METHOD OF PREPARATION: Shoots raw or cooked, young stems and leaves cooked, steaming or boiling works, leave can be used for tea. Older stalks can be peeled. Old stem peelings twisted into twine for fishing nets.
We are absolutely thrilled to share with you the 10 finalists of the Hildur Jackson Award! The jury has had a challenging time deliberating, as we have received outstanding 25 applications from 18 countries and across all of the 5 regions. Together with Gaia Trust, GEN developed the Hildur Jackson Award, a €3,000 annual prize …
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Though we’ve had a few weeks of dry weather, the gardens are still doing well – particularly the Grocery Row Gardens. Lately we’ve been getting a lot of okra and a lot of hot peppers.
First, this is just one of the okra beds:
Behind it is a patch of black-eyed peas and Sudan/sorghum grass we are growing for compost.
And now for the peppers!
These are being made into sauces, both by me and my eldest son, and by our friend Matthew who is brilliant with making home-fermented hot sauce. I planted lots of extra peppers this year just to feed his fermenting crocks. It’s selfish, too, because I know he’ll give me some of the finished product.
We’re getting over a gallon of peppers a week now, maybe more.
Pests have been a minor issue in the gardens, causing a little trouble here and there. Leaf-footed bugs, grasshoppers, fire ants and aphids are in effect. Some of these guys are sneaky and just leave evidence behind of their midnight snacking.
Others are brazen and hang out in plain sight right in the middle of the day.
But don’t worry, the good guys are on the job.
We have a lot of spiders, as well as toads, stick bugs, praying mantises and wasps. Don’t spray and life will come your way. It would be a travesty to spray these life-filled gardens. My children play in them every day, as well as help with the maintenance.
Some more beans are coming up now and the Black Coco sprouts look good so far.
The raspberries and blackberries are making another round of fruit.
And my angle gourds are finally producing – and producing well!
We had some for breakfast today and the taste and texture are excellent. I’ve written about this unique crop in the past and am quite pleased to be able to grow it again. We were never able to get the seeds down in the Caribbean, but I missed it.
The winners in the garden over the last couple of weeks, however, were the pumpkins
Many of those are the mixed-up Seminole pumpkin varieties we got from multiple sources. The deeper orange and the green ones are mostly from the Walmart pumpkin I brought home last fall. We cleaned the seeds and planted them and got a crazy mess of crossed types. The dark green pumpkin to the lower right, with the bright orange spot, is a spaghetti squash that volunteered in the compost pile. We ate that one the other night.
Though this isn’t the most productive season of the year for most vegetables, it is a good time for seed saving. Some of the crops of spring are being allowed to grow to full maturity so we have seeds for next year.
Like these snake beans:
And this (unprintable) vegetable:
The Grocery Row Gardens are performing quite well. A chunk of them are now in full cassava production mode.
They take a little work to maintain, but not much. The dirt paths are easy to weed with a wheelhoe.
I love these Grocery Row Gardens. The new booklet goes live on August 25th.
If you want to help get it ranked high up in the Amazon charts, please pre-order the ebook here. We’re at the top of the “Garden Design” section of Amazon right now, and a good launch will help the book rank high in the charts for months or years to come. The paperback version should be finalized this weekend and will be up for sale in week or two. Right now I’m concentrating on the kindle launch so we can get the algorithms to promote the book in the future.
Finally, we are truly blessed to be here and to have space to garden. I feel for those of you that don’t have land to use. Even though we’re renting, it feels good to plant trees and vegetables and have roots in the ground.
No matter what, though, we can’t trust just in ourselves – garden space or no space.
I read this passage in Jeremiah 17 this morning:
Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Keep your eyes on things above, and garden if you can. If you can’t, I hope you’ve enjoyed a few pictures from our garden.