Hydroponic Tomato Experiment ⑤ – Growth during Winter

Please take a look at the pictures.

These pictures were taken in January 2013, about one month after the previous transplant stage. Due to the different picture angles, it’s hard to see the growth from the previous month. However, there was no big change from the past month. Since the room temperature was low, there was a decrease in growth rate. Also, there was no big difference in the amount of sunlight, but the tomato plants receiving a lot of sunshine seemed grow faster than the other ones. Overall, the plants had thin, frail-looking stems. They did grow upward guided by poles but I was concerned about further growth with such a thin foundation. I had hoped the stems would have been stronger.

From this stage, more and more branches and leaves sprouted. It is important in growing cherry tomatoes to remove extra branches and leaves. By doing this, you provide nutrients to the whole plant and will have fine fruit. In this hydroponic experiment, however, I refrained from removing extra branches and leaves as much as possible to make sure this was a convenient growing method and to see how the tomato plants would grow under such conditions. When compared with growing plants in soil, hydroponic culture can provide plants with nutrients more efficiently because hydroponic settings provide plants with water and liquid fertilizer at all times. Therefore, I expected to be able to harvest fine cherry tomatoes without removing extra branches and leaves. I haven’t removed any extra branches or leaves so far. However, you will need to perform some work on the plants at later stage; details to come in future articles.

I planted seeds in autumn and had them sprout in early winter. Since their high growth period was in the middle of winter, I noticed that their growth had slowed down. I remember wondering how many of them would survive the coming winter.

Hydroponic Tomato Experiment ④ – Transplant 2

I don’t think you will have any problems if you skip the last procedure. At this stage you need seedling pots, trays to house the pots, mesh net, Vermiculite, and liquid fertilizer.

For seedling pots, I recommend those with small holes in the bottom and good water penetration. For the liquid fertilizer, I used Hyponica.

I spread the mesh net inside the seedling pot. I filled the pot with Vermiculite one to two centimeters high. I then put some seedlings with tea filter bags into the pot and covered the pot with Vermiculite. When the pot was filled with Vermiculite, I poured in some water to even out the contents of the pot. At this point, if the pot is not filled, add Vermiculite.

This time, I put four or five seedlings in a pot. However, if you grow the plant at home, I recommend you put one to two seedlings in each pot. Four or five seedlings in one pot can grow well, but as they grow their leaves and branches get tangled, growing so many seedlings under such limited conditions as an indoor setting seems inadequate. It’s also hard to put so many poles in one pot.

As you see in the above picture, some seedlings are put into pots, which are housed in a tray. I used a large tray to house two pots. Then I poured in water with an appropriate amount of liquid fertilizer. I used enough water to keep the bottom part of the roots soaked. At this stage the seedlings absorb the water much more than before so adjust the amount of water according to the growth.

When I transplanted the seedlings, I used a commonly-used planter instead of seedling pots.
Like using plastic pots, I spread mesh net in the planter, then put Vermiculite one to two centimeters high, on which I placed seedlings, and I filled the planter with Vermiculite.

The part of the experiment is an aggressive transplanting setting. I put as many seedlings as possible into a large sieve basket to observe how well they would grow. Nourishment conditions were the same as the other two settings – exposure to the sunlight and watering with liquid fertilizer.

From here on, you don’t need to exert any particular effort beyond maintaining appropriate water levels and substituting longer poles as needed to guide the growth of your cherry tomatoes. When winter arrived, I was concerned whether the tomatoes would be able to survive the cold. Although all were grown indoors, there were differences in growth between those in the well-heated room and those in the unheated one. I will show the differences between these cherry tomatoes grown during winter in the next article.

Hydroponic Tomato Experiment ③ – Transplant 1

When the tomato sprouts develop firm leaves, it’s time to move on to the next step. At this stage you need a new tray and its matching sieve basket, Vermiculite, mesh net, and liquid fertilizer. For the liquid fertilizer, I used Hyponica.

For the tray and sieve basket, I got a dish drainer basket and tray from a 100-yen shop. I put mesh net on the bottom of the dish drainer basket and covered it with Vermiculite, about one centimeter high.

Then I put the tea filter bags with seedlings on top of the Vermiculite base. I used bamboo skewers as poles and put them into each filter bag. The bamboo skewers were used temporarily: the seedlings grew fast, the bamboo skewers were soon too short.

So far, the plants are like the picture above. Since this was my first experiment, I didn’t know how many filter bags I should put into the base. You just need to watch the seedlings grow, and then it’s a wait-and-see situation. The plants grew so fast that I soon found the setting with the dense seedlings to be inadequate as seedbeds. The result of this experiment, though I demonstrating how to make the base, shows that skipping this process may help the tomatoes grow more efficiently.

Hydroponic Tomato Experiment ② – Germination

In the previous article I wrote about how I planted cherry tomato seeds. Once you plant seeds, you have only to evenly refill the water daily if the water level has decreased. We had some hot days with daytime high of almost 30 degrees C at the end of last September as well as in early October. I remember that the water level dropped very quickly. The cherry tomato seeds sprouted a week after the seeding.

Slender sprouts resembling kaiware-daikon came out all at once. Since this was my first time growing tomatoes, I was concerned whether such frail shoots would grow well.

As you can see, both the sprouts from the tea filter bags and the sponges look good. You still have to refill the water when needed. After the germination, the sprouts grew amazingly well. At this point, you should place the plants in direct sunlight. The sprouts firmly grow seeking sunlight. They grow towards the sun. Take a look at the following pictures.

Eight days after germination

13 days after germination

Leaves got stronger. They are ready to be transplanted. You can transplant the seedlings before they have grown to what you see in the picture as 13 days after germination. I recommend that you transplant the seedlings as you see in the above picture as 8 days after germination.

You will need to transplant the seedlings from the tray to a new housing. From this stage, more effort is required and I bought some necessary tools for the transplanting work at a 100-yen shop.

Hydroponic Tomato Experiment ① – Seeding

As I mentioned in the past entry, “Easy Home Gardening using 100-yen store goods,
I’ve been experimentally growing cherry tomatoes since the end of September 2012. For cherry tomatoes, the time of seeding is usually spring but I planted seeds at the end of last September. I’ve been growing the tomato plants indoors using a hydroponic system, which is easy and allows plants to grow well, and I want to see if the plants grow vigorously during winter. Following is my report on the experiment and in this article I show you how the seeds were planted and how they sprouted.

This picture was taken at the time of seeding. I used a tray, Japanese tea filter bags, and Perlite. These are sold in 100-yen shops. I filled the tea filter bags with Perlite 3 centimeters high on the tray, poured the water into the Perlite so that it was level in the bag. Then I planted tomato seeds on the Perlite.

I didn’t know what the germination rates of the tomato seeds were, so I put 3 or 4 seeds in each tea bag. However, that was too much; putting in one or two seeds will do. Because the germination rates were 100%, I was surprised at the power of seeds.

After planting seeds in each bag, I covered the seeds with a small amount of Perlite, and then filled the tray with water to half the height of the tray (about one centimeter). You should keep your eye on the water level and as the level decreases, refill the tray with water. At this stage, perhaps all you should watch is the water level.

Notice the sponges at the top left in the above photo. Since there was space on the tray, I used those sponges as plant beds on which to put seeds. I cut a slot in each 1.5-centimeter cubic sponge and put seeds in the slot. I soaked the sponges in water. Both methods of seeding made the seeds sprout well. So far, all that was required was putting Perlite into tea filter bags and cutting sponges. Very simple!

Memorial Service for Ancestors in Okinawa: Shi-mi- 

On weekends of mid-April, you can see local people gathering in front of the graves all over Okinawa. This is called “Shi-mi-“and it is a memorial service for the family’s ancestors. It is an important Okinawan custom to visit their family grave once a year.

Electric Bulletin Board at Entrance to Expressway

Many Okinawan cultures have been greatly influenced by China. Even in recent days, we still practice many annual events based on the lunar calendar. The memorial service, “Shi-mi-”is derived from one of the twenty-four seasons of the lunar calendar in China, called “Seimei.” It falls on between February and March of the lunar calendar and it is the time when flowers and trees start to grow and things liven up. That is why Chinese made it a custom to clean their family grave and recall the deceased. In Okinawa, Shi-mi-, the Lunar Bon Festival, and Lunar New Year are the three biggest memorial services for the ancestors. Okinawan people do not have a custom to visit a grave as often as mainland Japanese people, so Shi-mi- is a very important annual event for the local people.

Okinawan grave has a unique shape and it looks a lot different from that of found in mainland Japan. Having a gate and an open space in front, it looks as if it were a house. When visiting a grave for Shi-mi-, the first thing to do is to clean around the grave to make enough space for everyone to sit down. Then, spread a picnic sheet and open the offerings that each family prepares.

Offerings for the ancestors in Okinawa are always packed in 2 layers of square boxes, called “Ju-bako.” There are strict customary rules for what to fill the boxes with and how many pieces to put in. There must be 3 rows of 5 pieces of round rice cakes in the first box. And in the second box, there must be 9 kinds of food; white and red kamaboko (boiled & semi cylindrical shaped fish paste), deep-fried tofu, tempura, deep-fried taro, shimmered kelp and burdock, konnyaku (jelly made from devil’s-tongue starch), and broiled pork. It is okay to change ingredients for tempura or shimmered vegetables and have different flavors of rice cakes besides plain kinds, but the numbers of pieces and kinds of foods must always be odd numbers.

We place the Ju-bako offerings, fruits, snacks, and each glass of water and Japanese wine in front of the altar. We burn black and flat incenses (peculiar to Okinawa) as we pray for the peaceful life and everybody’s health during the past year and for the coming year.
It is believed that the ancestors are enjoying the offerings while the incenses are burning so the family members enjoy chatting with relatives meanwhile. When the incenses are burnt, we pick out one or two pieces of food from each container and flip them over. (This means that the ancestors have eaten the food.) Then, we thankfully share the offerings together.

If non-Okinawan people see us doing “Shi-mi-” without knowing, I’m sure they will be so surprised and wonder “Why do they have picnic in front of the graves?” But in Okinawa, as many people believe in a concept of Ancestor Worship, Shi-mi- is like a having dinner with our ancestors who just happen to be unseen. Many Okinawan people don’t have religions. Instead, we believe that our ancestors for many generations become our guardian spirits after being passed away and they help us and lead us to take the right paths in our lives. When we are struggling, we regard it as the obstacles that our ancestors provide us on purpose so that we can develop to become more decent people. Ever since I was a child, my mother has taught me that we owe what we are today to our ancestors so we must not forget to be grateful for being who we are.

Also in a concept of Ancestor Worship believed in Okinawa, one’s spirit will reach the stage of a god at 33 years anniversary of their death only if the living descendants hold annual memorial services in proper ways. At the Shi-mi-, the elder members of the family always talk about such customs of Okinawa. They also tell us never to waste our precious lives that we were given from our ancestors, always to keep close bonds with family and relatives, and to be thankful for peace life.

In Okinawa, it is a custom that the first son of the family and his wife will rest in the family grave. For that reason, they inherit the house and become responsible for taking care of the family altars and holding the memorial services all through the year. It is my cousin, my father’s first brother’s first son, who is responsible for our family altars and grave even though he is much younger than my father. In my paternal family grave we visit every year, who are buried are my father’s first brother and his wife, my father’s parents, their parents, and four more generations. Of course, they were all first sons of the family in each generation. Tracing back where this grave was branched off, our family tree might have descended from a family in Shuri, an ancient capital of Okinawa. But this is a very old story that nobody knows the correct family tree anymore. This is also an established subject to talk about at Shi-mi-.

My father is the sixth son, so he cannot rest in his parent’s grave. When the time comes, he has to build his own grave. And my brother and his wife will go in sometime later and their son and his wife. This is how it continues.

Basically, we go for Shi-mi- where our parents rest in. Paternal side takes the first priority. Without exceptions, we visit my father’s family grave and if possible, we also visit our mother’s family grave. If they schedule on the same day, we deliver our offerings to the relatives in advance and ask them to pray for us.

If the weather permits, we usually stay at the grave for an hour or two, but it often rains in Okinawa around Shi-mi- time, so it is okay to leave right after providing offerings. (This year it was raining hard from the morning, so my parents and my brother went to serve incense only.) After sharing offerings, Shi-mi- ends when we burn “Uchikabi,” a farewell gift for our ancestors to take back which is regarded as money in the other world. Uchikabi is yellow and similar to paper towel. It can be purchased at any local stores.

How did you find Shi-mi- event?
Okinawa is a part of Japan but we have our own peculiar customs and culture.
I take Shi-mi- for granted since I was a child, but as I reflect on deliberately, I realize there are deep meanings in every small detail. I’d like to learn more about my own customs and cultures so that I can pass down to next generations.
To complete this column, I referred to a web site which introduces Okinawa in many different fields. I found it very interesting and useful for not only those who are interested in Okinawa, but also for those who were born and raised in Okinawa like me. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Please check it!!


Reported by Tomomi Tanaka, Sugahara Institute

Anti-Aging Foods For Women

Image courtesy of iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Today, people are searching for ways to keep themselves feeling and looking younger. In addition to keeping an active lifestyle, eating well can decrease risk of heart disease–the no. 1 killer of women in America—as well as other health issues.

Eating a fresh whole-food diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals will keep women of all ages feeling and looking their best.

Here’s a brief list of foods that have been shown to fight the effects of aging in women:

Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries and gooseberries are all foods that are rich in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants, one of the greatest anti-aging assets found in organic foods.1

Berries protect against the deterioration of cognitive and motor functions, reduce oxidative stress, lower inflammation and improve brain cell signaling, according to Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D.

They’re also a great source of vitamins and can even ensure proper blood flow. Besides flavonoids, berries also are loaded with other nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium and folate (vitamin B9).

There’s a large amount of fiber in a daily serving of berries, which also offer digestive benefits. Consuming berries on a consistent basis provides the body with minerals and salts that destroy free radicals, which helps protect women against aging. Shukitt-Hale suggests 1 cup of berries per day to prevent memory loss, lower disease risks and curb weight gain.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil provides the clean, healthy fats the body needs to maintain healthy skin and hair throughout life. In general, “good” fats—monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil’s case—are lacking in the diets of most North Americans. Extra virgin olive oil represents your best choice because it is minimally handled and processed, and it tastes delicious.

When cooking with olive oil, never heat the oil so much that it begins to smoke. Use low to medium heat only, and monitor the oil. Once it starts to smoke, olive oil actually turns rancid.

In order to keep skin supple, women are encouraged to eat about 12 ounces per week of wild salmon, as suggested by the American Heart Association.

Salmon also contains omega-3 fatty acids, is rich in vitamin B12, vitamin D, reduces inflammation and slows the progression of chronic disease. Salmon is known to reduce blood pressure, a common health issue for women over 50.2

Dark, Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, collard greens, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard are dark green vegetables that are full of vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The vitamin B in greens guards the heart and memory. Vitamin A supports skin cell turnover, and the lutein found in many forms of green vegetables protects vision.

According to Martha Clare Morris ScD, director of the Center of Nutrition & Aging at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, those who eat three to four servings of greens a day will experience less of a decline in memory, recall and other mental functions. Morris and her team have tested 37,000 people.

The antioxidants in greens prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene–commonly found in green vegetables–help block UV rays that cause skin to age rapidly. The nutrients in greens help fight against cardiovascular disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and may even prevent certain types of cancer.

Garlic is equally as delicious as it is good for you. Garlic is part of a class of vegetables known alliums, which help support your liver’s natural ability to neutralize and remove toxins and carcinogens. To prevent cell degeneration, garlic keeps blood thin and also prevents heart disease.3

Like many of the other foods on the list, garlic is rich in antioxidants. It can help limit the growth of abnormal cells and increases blood flow that goes to the brain for awareness.

According to Dr. Ian Smith M.D., garlic also helps fight acne, prevent dandruff and kill bacteria.

What You Can Do
Eating healthy is not about depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about fulfilling your body’s needs for vital nutrients. With the right dietary information, you can keep your body looking and feeling fantastic for life.

To get the nutrition news your body needs, contact your nearest Maximized Living doctor, or subscribe to our newsletter, which features all the latest health news.

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Check the original site for more detailed and useful information!
URL: MaximizedLiving:

Tips for a Safe and Healthy Life

Take steps every day to live a safe and healthy life.

Eat healthy.

●Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
●Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
●Eat a balanced diet to help keep a healthy weight.

Be active.

●Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen your muscles.
●Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. Include activities that raise their breathing and heart rates and that strengthen their muscles and bones.
●Physical activity helps to:
  ○Maintain weight
  ○Reduce high blood pressure
  ○Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer
  ○Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability
  ○Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls
  ○Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety

Protect yourself and your family.

●Wear helmets, seat belts, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
●Wash hands to stop the spread of germs.
●Avoid smoking and breathing other people’s, or (second hand), smoke.
●Build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends.
●Be ready for emergencies. Gather emergency supplies. Make a plan. Be informed.

Manage stress.

●Balance work, home, and play.
●Get support from family and friends.
●Stay positive.
●Take time to relax.
●Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Make sure kids get more, based on their age.
●Get help or counseling if needed.

Get check-ups.

●Ask your doctor or nurse how you can lower your risk for health problems.
●Find out what exams, tests, and shots you need and when to get them.
●See your doctor or nurse for regular check-ups and as often as directed. Get seen if you feel sick, have pain, notice changes, or have problems with medicine.
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Check the original site for more detailed and useful information!
Source: Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease control and Prevention