Lesser known Health Benefits of Spinach

Spinach SeedSpinach is one of the world’s most popular green vegetables, thanks largely to one Popeye, the sailor and of course, its amazing nutritional wealth! Spinach is rich in iron, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K and proteins. When it comes to the culinary uses of spinach, the list is never ending, with still newer spinach recipes being invented every day! Surprisingly, spinach has still more to offer… Take a look at some of the lesser known health benefits of spinach.

  • Spinach is low in calories and contains ample quantities of dietary fiber which makes it valuable for improving digestion and preventing obesity. The flavonoids present in spinach help in prevention of cancerous growths and, considering their effectiveness in slowing down the growth rate of cancer cells, are invaluable in cancer treatment. Spinach also contains selenium, beta-carotene and zinc, all, powerful anti-oxidants that are beneficial in cases of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
  • In addition to being a good source of vitamin C, spinach is also rich in folic acid and thiamin which are essential for proper working of bodily functions. While vitamin C boosts the cardio vascular system, folic acid is crucial in production of red blood cells and is deemed invaluable as a part of pregnant women’s diet.
  • This might surprise you- this showy vegetable is very good for beauty! A diet rich in spinach will endow you with healthy skin and help prevent acne, psoriasis and wrinkles. Eating spinach is good for the vision, helps prevent eye diseases and curbs muscular degeneration that comes with old age.
  • There’s hardly a body part that doesn’t benefit from regular spinach consumption! Spinach has been scientifically proven to enhance the body’s immunity, improve bone density and strength and boost the nervous system. Also, it helps in prevention of strokes, migraine head aches, osteoporosis and asthma.

Packed with health and nutrients, spinach is a truly wholesome food. And even if all its benefits and a reference to Popeye himself fails to make the kids take a bite, you can always retort to delicacies like casseroles, lasagna and other baked pasta recipes reinforced with spinach. Now, who’d say no to a plateful?

Get Yourself a Clover Lawn!

Clover PlantsEasy on the eye, and to maintain, Clover is a wonderful choice for ground covers. Clover plants have an inherent resistance to weeds and the ability to thrive in poorly drained, shady locales, conditions, that few other plants can survive in. Clovers also help replenish the soil’s nitrogen content and are pretty good looking too. Anyone looking for a cost effective, easy maintenance lawn take note, a Clover lawn is just the thing for you!

White Dutch Clover is one of the most popular clover varieties. These low growing plants have lovely white blooms and are known to grow more vigorous with age. A perfect pick for your lawn! Gurney’s Premium Cover Crop Blend, a superior mix of yellow sweet clover, oilseed radish, oats and annual ryegrass is another exciting prospect! This remarkable blend makes for eye-catching displays and aids weed control, soil building and checks erosion. Also, it attracts earthworms and other beneficial insects and adds nutrients to the soil.

One of the best things about growing clovers is that the seeds can be sown round the year, given that there’s no threat of frost. Here’s the golden rule of sowing clover seeds– Plant 4 seeds per square inch of the soil. Top the seeds with about ¼ inch of soil and moisten the soil using a gentle stream of water (a strong current can wash away the seeds.) Clover seeds usually take about 2 weeks to germinate. Irrigate them once a week until the plants establish, avoid foot traffic and do not fertilize. Clovers are carefree plants, they won’t take too much of your time. So relax and indulge in your favorite pastimes… your clover lawn will be up and ready and ravishing pretty soon!

Early Spring Veggies You can Grow From Seed

Carrot SeedCold, snow and little to do out in the garden… Factors that make the period of late winter to spring both relaxing and uncomfortable for us gardeners. The ones that resent inactivity normally use this time reviewing the year past, planning ahead and shopping for the next season. But there’s something else that we can do… like prepare to grow some Early Spring Vegetables from seed! Many popular veggies, including peas, carrots, lettuce and spinach can be started from seeds very early in spring, while snow and frost are still around. Take a look.

Peas

Peas can be grown both by starting peas indoors and by directly planting the seeds outdoors. Seeds can be planted as early as 4-6 weeks from the expected last frost date for your region. Plant peas at a depth of 1 to 1-1/2 inches and allow a separation of at least 1 inch between adjacent seeds.

Carrots

Carrot seeds can be planted directly in the garden, 2-3 months from the expected last frost date. Carrots prefer partially sandy soil. Loosen the soil and plant carrot seeds at a depth of about 1 inch, at least 4-5 inches apart. Carrot seed germination can take a long time and require a little care but considerable patience.

Lettuce

Lettuce seeds can be sown directly in the garden, 4-5 weeks from the expected last frost date. Prepare the planting site by loosening the soil and mixing good quantities of organic material to it. Top the ground surface with a thin layer of potting soil and sprinkle the seeds. Water lightly.

Spinach

Spinach seeds can be started indoors about 6 weeks from the expected last frost date of your region. Plant the seeds shallow, partly covered by a layer of potting soil. Spinach seeds can also be sown directly in the garden, just as soon as you can work the ground. Allow a separation of 10-12 inches between the seeds and keep the soil moist at all times.

Tough Ground Covers

Ground CoversIn our eager endeavors to grow more and merrier, we often forget that a garden’s a place not just for healthy food and lovely flowers, but also for having some fun! I’ve had the privilege to step into the loveliest of gardens only to be cautioned to watch my step, lest I end up damaging the delicate turf or the dainty flowering plants. That, I tell you, can be really irksome! Why don’t they have a wider, more carefully laid out pathway or better still, a Tough Ground Cover? Yes, a tough ground cover, one you can walk on, the kids can run and roll on, and your beloved kitty or dog can catch some fresh air on!

Sedum, thyme and vinca are some of the most obvious choices for ground cover in the high traffic regions of your garden. These resilient plants will give you the freedom of a casual stroll while still keeping the ground attractive. Low growing ground cover plants, especially the creeping varieties, too, are good candidates for the job. One of my favorites is Gurney’s Healthy Lawn Grass. It’s perfect for both moderate sized lawns as well as large, open gardens. Not to mention, my dog Archie just loves rolling around on it! But if your pet’s even half as mischievous as Archie, I’d make sure there’s a low fence in place to keep him off your prized flowers. Alternately, you can grow rose bushes or bamboos to create natural barriers. And don’t forget to bring a couple of your pet’s favorite toys when you let him out in the garden. That will hopefully keep him from digging the turf for other fun activities!

Growing Zinnias from Seed

Zinnia SeedElegant, classy and ever so presentable, Zinnias can be rightfully called the ladies of the plant kingdom. These vibrant beauties bring an old world charm to modern garden settings that is pleasantly peculiar and very delightful. And here’s the best part- Growing Zinnias is exceptionally easy!

If you’re interested in growing zinnias from seed, I’d suggest you start early, at least 4 weeks from the last frost date for your region. Plant a couple of zinnia seeds in a pot and top them with a thin layer of soil. Move the pot to a warm spot and irrigate often enough so the medium stays moist at all times. Seed germination usually takes 3-5 days. Thin the seedlings once they develop a couple of sets of leaves, leaving a single seedling per pot.

Transplant zinnia seedlings only after the threat of frosts is over. A sunny site with rich, well drained soil is perfect for planting zinnia seedlings. Clear out all weeds from the site and dispose of. Allow a separation of at least 8-12 inches between adjacent plants. Don’t forget to soak the soil once you’re done planting.

Regular irrigation and a good 2-3 layer of mulch. That’s about all these wonderful plants need to fill your space with brilliant color. Not to mention flocks of hummingbirds and butterflies- they just can’t resist the appeal of zinnia plants.

Zinnias offer a stunning range in flower color, form and plant height, meaning there’s got to be a zinnia for every garden. All you need to do is- look for the one that’s best for yours!