Growing Watercress Using Hydroponics (Guest Post)

About the Author: Chris Wimmer is an urban hydroponic hobbyist who uses hydroponics to maximize his 400 square foot yard and extend the short Chicago growing season. Chris blogs about his hydroponic experiences at HealthSmartLiving.com (formerly CaptainHydroponics.com) and is on facebook.

Watercress

Watercress

The Hydroponic Produce Debate: Healthier or Not?

Traditional plants grown in soil get the nutrients they need to grow from that soil. Organic matter is composted over time, giving plants the essential and non-essential nutrients they need to grow and produce healthy greens, fruits and vegetables.

Nutrients that make our produce nutrient-dense and healthy include:

Carbon (air and water)
Hydrogen (air and water)
Oxygen (air and water)
Calcium
Magnesium
Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Sulfur
Various non-essentials (chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, sodium, nickel, molybdenum)

How it (Hydroponics) Works

Hydroponics takes soil out of the equation and feeds nutrients to the plants directly. While soil is considered “more natural”, it’s also the limiting factor in plant growth. Environmental impurities, bacteria, insects, man-made chemicals, and poor soil conditions limit every living plants true potential.

Growing your produce using hydroponics allows you to give your food, herbs, spices and flowers exactly what they need all the time – never too much or too little. You control all the critical growth factors: oxygen, water, fertilizer, pH (acidity), and pest prevention.

Plants are suspended in, flooded with, drip fed, or sprayed with a feeding solution at set intervals, to keep the roots supple and healthy. There are a variety of popular methods used; six of the most popular are detailed here: captainhydroponics.com/popular-hydroponic-systems

Benefits of Growing and Eating Hydroponic Produce

1. Hydroponic food can be just as healthy as organics (which we pay much more for at the supermarket), due to the lack of growth-inhibiting soil contamination issues, and the possibility of increased vitamin/mineral content by maximizing the plant’s growth factors.

2. Chemical pesticides and herbicides aren’t necessary, meaning you aren’t consuming cancer-causing, fertility-curbing chemicals that build in your body over time and shorten your life.

3. Being independent from society’s food supply means that you don’t have to deal with the ups and downs in seasonal pricing or sudden food shortages.

4. Hydroponics requires fewer natural resources than soil growing.

5. Much higher yields (30 – 100x) are possible.

6. After a small equipment investment, you’ll be saving hundreds a year in groceries, while eating fresher food.

Growing Healthy Hydroponic Watercress

It’s a great addition to any salad, and the most divine healthy nectar when run through a juicer.

Watercress is one of the best-pound-for-pound veggie greens available to us (protein, calcium, and iron) – and it’s one of the easiest greens to grow in a home hydroponic setup. If you want to learn more about the health benefits, check out this whitepaper.

Watercress, as it’s name implies, loves water. It grows best in flowing water, so those of you who love the health benefits of Hippocrates’ favorite food, and want to start your first indoor hydroponics system, we’ve got just the information you need!

It’s also a great starter plant for hydroponic newbies, because it’s very tolerant to pH fluctuations and will thrive in very low light conditions, meaning you can make a few mistakes with your feeding solution, and don’t need to blow the bank on grow lights and fixtures to get started.

Deep Water Culture

A deep water culture system which is also known as a raft system is perfect for watercress. In fact, all you need to do is follow this guide to create a simple lettuce raft but where it says ‘lettuce’ substitute ‘watercress’.

Lighting

If you’ve decided to use the storage tote method described in the guide above and wish to grow inside during the winter then you can check this simple DYI home lighting system. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and will only cost you about $10 at your local Home Depot.

That’s all there is to it!

Watercress is easy, healthy, and highly sustainable for growing in a home hydroponic setup.

A note from Treesa

Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to share with us!

I hope Chris has inspired you to try growing watercress (or other veggies) hydroponically. Watercress was the one veggie on the Gerson juicing list that I have had a hard time finding (organic). Thank you, Chris, for giving us a way to grow it at home. I am going to try it out and wiil post my personal ‘first time’ experience with hydropincs in my next post.

Please note I do not approve of, nor endorse, any adds that WordPress may put below my blog posts. WordPress requires bloggers to pay extra to remove these ads.

Indoor Garden and Sprouting Station

I received several emails, following the Growing Microgreens post, about my indoor garden set-up. For those who are interested this post highlights how I set-up my indoor garden and sprouting station. Trust me you don’t need any fancy set-up, or even very much space, to grow sprouts and or microgreens indoors. That said once you catch the indoor gardening buzz, I can’t promise you won’t want to transform your space to accommodate more!

Here is my basic set-up for my indoor garden. It is a simple metal shelf you can get at any home improvement store or online.

Indoor Garden | My Kitchen Apothecary

As you can see it is near multiple windows, which provides a lot of light but no direct sun. However, since I live in the Pacific Northwest sometimes extra light is needed. So I hung lights on the shelves to be used when needed.

Light fo rIndoor Garden | My Kitchen Apothecary

Our house is nicely insulated and has double pane windows, but even still a little extra warmth is sometimes called for in the winter. Seedling heating mats do a nice job, safely, without causing your electric bill to skyrocket.

Heat Mat Indoor Garden | My Kitchen Apothecary

Wheatgrass, I’ve discovered, does better with circulating air. It can be prone to mold otherwise. I improvised and bought a small fan and zip-tied it to the shelving unit upside-down so that it would work the way I wanted it to. It works really well.

Wheatgrass | My Kitchen Apothecary

Fan for Indoor Garden | My Kitchen Apothecary

The lights, fans and heating mats all require electricity, of course. With a simple power-strip, zip-tied to the shelf, I was able to bring power to the unit. All I did was zip-tie everything in to place and run the cords nicely down the pole to the power-strip. You’ll notice there is a timer too, which is helpful if you want to control your lights, or entire unit, to go on and off at specific times.

Power for Indoor Garden | My Kitchen Apothecary

All of my microgreens are grown in trays with holes and then set in trays without holes. This way I can water, in place, without any problems!

So that’s the indoor garden in a nut-shell.

Now on to the sprouting station…

I have a little corner in my kitchen designated for sprouting.

Sprouting Station | My Kitchen Apothecary

Since I don’t do a lot of baking anymore I turned my glass loaf pan into the stand and water collection site for the sprouting jars (I use the lids from SproutPeople but you can easily create your own).

As you can see it is easy to use everyday items to create your own indoor garden and sprouting station!

Now, go grow your own food!

In Joy,

Treesa

Stay tuned for the next post as we have a terrific guest who is going to share a way to expand your yields with little space and time, as well as help us (we’ve got your back Gerson folks) grow our own organic watercress.

Please note I do not approve of, nor endorse, any adds that WordPress may put below my blog posts. WordPress requires bloggers to pay extra to remove these ads.

Our Family Favorite Hummus

Are you a hummus lover? I never was, but my husband is and so years ago I set out on a mission to find a husband pleasing hummus recipe. We sampled a few store-bought varieties and tried a couple different recipes to make at home. Still I was not a convert. He seemed happy with whatever variety I put in front of him, but as much as my husband loves to eat (as long as it’s vegan) I didn’t want to settle with an “it’s ok” kind of recipe.

It’s not like hummus making is exactly rocket science, but still I wanted something that my husband would love and not just think was ok. Finally I scrapped the recipes and just started playing around with quality ingredients in different combinations. Eureka. For the love of hummus I struck gold. Not only did I create a light, fluffy hummus my husband loves; I actually loved it too. It has since been appropriately named: Our Family Favorite Hummus.

While it has all the standard ingredients you’d find in most hummus recipes using organic, fresh, high-quality ingredients in specific quantities made all the difference to our palates.

While the original recipe is yummy and healthy all on its own, if you are a food medicine maker as I am you probably like to sneak in extra healthy goodness into each dish you make to bump up the nutritional profile even more. Rest assured this recipe lends itself beautifully to adding in more food medicine! Simply make the original recipe and then add in some kale, red pepper, carrot, etc. You can also garnish with olive oil (as is popular so it seems) or smoked paprika, although I prefer not to do so.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Our Family Favorite Hummus

2 c chickpeas (soaked, sprouted, rinsed, cooked, rinsed, cooled)
¼ c pure water
3 Tbl lemon juice (fresh pressed)
2 Tbl tahini
1 clove garlic (minced)
½ tsp sea salt

Soaking and sprouting your chickpeas first will help with digestion, but you can, if you prefer, cook your chickpeas as you normally would.

Also, I prefer to make the hummus once the chickpeas are cool.

Once your chickpeas are ready simply place all ingredients into a food processor and process until it’s nice and smooth. It should have a light, fluffy consistency.

Once you’ve made the original recipe eat and enjoy as is or add-in other healthy goodness, as mentioned above. I suggest incorporating add-in items in small quantities working up to your desired taste. Otherwise you might overpower the hummus.

Spread on pita, flatbread, dip crudité or eat on its own. However you eat your hummus I hope this becomes a favorite in your family too.

Enjoy,

Treesa

Microgreens E-book: And The Winner Is….

The winner of Susan Alima Friar’s e-book Growing Microgreens Step by Step: From Seed to Table in Seven to Ten Days is:

radnom

Entry #6 is Kathleen

Congratulations, Kathleen. Expect an email from Alima with your e-book!

If you are curious about growing microgreens check out Alima’s blog. You can also find her book at Amazon.com if you’re interested.

Until next time…

All love,
Treesa

Growing Microgreens (Guest Post & Giveaway)

Growing Microgreens

Guest post by: Susan Alima Friar

Each New Year feels like a fresh start to me and an opportunity to explore new ways to go deeper, have more fun and enjoy life. As winter digs its tendrils into the garden and sends its icy fingers everywhere, I enjoy being cozy in a warm house. Yet, I do long for the taste of spring.

For most of us, the garden has been put to bed. Eating from my garden is one of my greatest joys. Well, I found my winter solution. While living in New Mexico I had very poor soil and abundant light many days. I began growing microgreens—shoot peas and sunflowers. Inspired by others’ efforts, I expanded to broccoli, kale, cilantro microgreens,etc. In one to two weeks, in our 65 degree home, we had greens all winter long. An indoor garden helps lighten the winter blues, the grey, rainy or snowy days. Daily I checked for emerging greens. Much to my surprise, they thrived indoors– even on grey days…like in rainy Hawaii where we had more clouds than sun. And now I am growing microgreens in Colorado.

Do you miss the fresh taste of peas, beets, cilantro, gentle or piquant flavors to complement your salad, your soup or to add nutrition to your smoothie?

In my joy, I began selling them at our local farmers’ market and then teaching folks to grow their own. I found that most microgreens are easy to grow and inexpensive (less than store bought and much fresher. You can grow them in plastic pots with drainage holes, in fruit clamshell containers, or in anything with drainage holes. If you compost, you already have a good soil base. If you sprout or want to learn, you are on your way. And many seeds are just planted dry. You can maximize your nutritional content with these little gems and avoid bacterial problems from packaged greens. FYI my secret: it takes me 5-10 minutes a day to grow enough greens for 4 people.

A note from Treesa:

Thanks to Alima I finally took the leap from growing sprouts, which I have done for years, to growing microgreens. The how-to guidelines from Alima’s book, Growing Microgreens Step by Step, made the process simple and successful. In the midst of a snow storm I was growing an indoor garden and harvesting fresh broccoli and kohlrabi microgreens at the end of it! How cool is that?

microgreens

My first harvest.

Giveaway:

Alima wants to share her love of growing microgreens so she is gifting one My Kitchen Apothecary reader with an e-book version of Growing Microgreens Step by Step: From Seed to Table in Seven to Ten Days! Her book has step-by-step instructions for successfully growing microgreens and has several tasty recipes (mostly vegan) using microgreens in inspiring ways.

To enter the giveaway post a comment below. It’s as simple as that! For an ‘extra’ entry simply share this giveaway on Facebook and be sure to leave a comment below telling me you’ve done so!

The winner will be chosen by Random Generator on Wednesday March 5, 2014.

A BIG thank you to:
Alima for opening up a whole new realm of indoor gardening to me!

and

Todd’s Seeds for the high quality broccoli and kohlrabi seeds that made for a successful and delicious first microgreens harvest!

Dream Seeds – 2014

It’s that time of year, a new year! Hope and excitement for what is to come is at an all-time high. There is so much to look forward to. The possibility of three hundred sixty-five (three hundred fifty-two at the time of this post) brand new days of a new year captures us with delight.

People have set their intentions, made resolutions and or are already at work on their goals. For me it’s time for planting dream seeds and further nurturing the dream seeds I have already planted, but are not yet ready from the past year(s). In our winter garden seeds lie dormant, but full of life and possibility. So too do dream seeds. In my fertile mind and heart lie dream seeds in various stages of being and becoming. Some dream seeds I have been nurturing and tending to for a long time, like my dream to fully recover my health and my dream to experience optimal wellness. Every dream seed is waiting for the right time to be cracked open by the light and begin growing until, at just the right time, it blooms.

I have learned that not every dream seed will flourish. I have also learned that sometimes, just when you’re about to give up on what feels like a dead dream, the seed cracks open and starts coming to life. Once you plant your dream seed the only other thing(s) you can do is love, nurture and nourish it. Its becoming happens in its own time, in its own way.

I hope that your dream seeds will bloom abundantly this new year!

In January stillness
prayers reach down
into darkness
like winter roots.
Underground they
grow branches and
weave shadow nests
for the winged life
of our dreams.
Ellen Grace O’Brian (adaptation from December Stillness)

Wishing you many blessings and a beautiful 2014!

All love,

Treesa

Speaking of seeds, vegetable seeds in this case, My Kitchen Apothecary is pleased to have a lovely guest blogger joining us to share her passion and tips for growing microgreens. Look forward to that, and a giveaway, next time!

Please note I do not approve of, nor endorse, any adds that WordPress may put below my blog posts. WordPress requires bloggers to pay to remove these ads.

Free of Cancer (repost)

I feel drawn to send this out today. If any one has cancer and or knows someone who does please see this ‘old’ (albeit newly updated) post: Free of Cancer.

There is always hope.

Wishing you the best of health in all ways, always,

Treesa

P.S. – I will be back to post an update on what’s been going on in my kitchen apothecary, soon.

 

Bottled Sunshine

My Grandma has a huge, old (I’m in my thirties and it’s older than I am), lemon tree growing in her backyard. So when my mom was recently down in Southern California for a visit she stocked up on some lemons! Yeah!

I wanted to make:

Tess Masters Raw Lemon Cheesecake Smoothie

and

Susan Powers Lemon Thyme Pine Nut Cheesecake

However, my Vitamix is in the shop (I broke it). So instead of blending up some amazing lemon concoction I opted for a simple, no-fuss, lemonade.

Bottled Sunshine | My Kitchen Apothecary

Bottled Sunshine
1 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 c coconut water (or water kefir)
desired sweetener of choice, to taste (I used stevia)

Juice lemons. Stir in coconut water (or Kefir). Add in sweetener to taste. Chill. Serve. Enjoy.

Note: It would be delicious with a little mint infused into the lemonade, but since I did not have any mint on hand I had to go without.

Cphotobomb
My sweet kitty, Chance, investigating the photo-shoot!

What are your favorite vegan recipes using lemons?

In Joy!

Treesa

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Broccoli Pine Nut Paté (Part 2)

Did you enjoy the Virtual Vegan Potluck? There were 139 participating bloggers this time around! Wow. It took me days to click through all the yummy eats and collect new recipes to try. How about you?

I brought Broccoli Pine Nut Paté bites to the virtual table, and as I shared on that post there are more ways to enjoy this paté.

DSC_8951
Of course you can never go wrong with crudités, right?

This paté also works really well for a fast, healthy, filling meal. All you need to do is toss the paté with kelp noodles (as I did), veggie noodles or your favorite noodle of choice.

DSC_8974

I have not tried this yet, but I bet it would also make a nice raw veggie soup (by adding veggie broth to the paté and blending).

This paté is very accommodating as you can see. Have fun turning it into a new favorite, healthy eat!

Enjoy!

Treesa

Please note I do not approve of, nor endorse, any adds WordPress may put below my blog posts. WordPress requires bloggers to pay $30.00 a year to remove these ads.

Broccoli Pine Nut Paté Bites (Virtual Vegan Potluck)

Finally, after great anticipation, today’s the day bloggers from all over the world are gathering for the Virtual Vegan Potluck! Since we all can’t get together for a potluck in person, bloggers are posting vegan potluck recipes today, at the same time, on their blogs. I’m really excited to be playing a part. I can’t wait to see what everyone is bringing to the table!

If you’ve never attended a virtual event like this here’s how it works: Participating vegan (and vegan ‘friendly’) bloggers are linking their blog posts to each other, so you can travel through the event clicking from post to post. The virtual buffet table starts with appetizers and ends with dessert. Each post will feature forward and back links that will take you to the next participating blogger.

If, for some reason, a link is broken and you’re not able to move forward you can visit the hosting potluck page to pick up where you left off. You’ll no doubt meet wonderful new-to-you bloggers and come away with some great new vegan recipes.

Thank you Annie, Somer, Jason and Lidia for coordinating this wonderful event!

Enjoy the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

My contribution to the potluck is a quick, easy, healthy appetizer…
brocpate

Broccoli Pine Nut Pate
3 (well-packed) cups broccoli florets*
¾ c pine nuts**
1 clove garlic (or to taste)
½ tsp sea salt
drizzle of olive oil (or oil of choice) for desired texture
1 Tbl nutritional yeast, aka: nooch (optional)
¼ c fresh parsley (optional, but great)

Put broccoli florets in a food processor and process until broken down. Add in all remaining ingredients except oil and process until smooth. Add in a small amount of oil, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Taste test and adjust as needed.

* Don’t throw out your broccoli stems. Save them for juicing or for a stir-fry.

**If you can’t have nuts you can substitute sunflower seeds.

Using a rubber spatula scoop the pate into a large zip-lock bag, cut off one bottom corner of the bag and pipe the paté onto cubed jicama, into olives, onto crackers, crudités, etc. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

In my next post I will share alternative ways to serve/eat the broccoli pine nut paté (one is a main entrée the other a quick snack).

Until then, I hope you enjoy the rest of the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

Thanks for visiting My Kitchen Apothecary.

move on to Juicy DIshes

return to Holistic Health Vegan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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