THE ASPARAGUS, ASPARAGUS OFFICINALIS.

February is the prime time to be out, roaming around in search of asparagus. Green asparagus is a hardy vegetable that can be found alongside the roads and in almost all abandoned fields and countryside in the Mediterranean climate. You can easily recognise the plant because of its length and spikes, with variations depending on the variety; there are more than 60!
Asparagus contains amongst other things saponins in its roots and shoots. Saponins in food have repeatedly been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and their intake has also been associated with improved blood pressure, better control of blood fat levels and also improves blood sugar regulation. Alongside these anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, asparagus provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin A, C, E and B (B1, B2, B6), beta-carotene, iron, calcium and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. Once it arrives at our large intestine, it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria that are associated with better nutrient absorption, and boosting of your immune system (Note: the properties and nutritional power of white asparagus are reduced by being deprived of the sun).
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For Hydrops, rheumatism, jaundice, diseases of the liver and heart it is suggested to boil 15 grams of asparagus roots in a pint of water, strain your broth very well. Take it several times during the day. Some studies have shown that the frequent and permanent consumption of asparagus contributes positively in the prevention of the cancer, reason why its habituation in the diet is advisable. To increase the benefits of asparagus it is prudent to avoid consuming too much red meat, since there is some relationship between that type of meat and the disease.
People suffering from diseases of the kidneys and bladder should not consume this plant, as it is contraindicated for these organs. It is also contraindicated in people who are nervous or who suffer from insomnia. With a really high respiration rate asparagus has one of the shortest shelf life amongst the vegetables, so it is advisable to consume it within 24 to 48 hours of acquiring. It is always worth to keep an eye out for this delicious veg; sometimes you can find big bushes with more than 10 asparagus on it!
​Happy Foraging!
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GROWING AVOCADOS FROM SEED

Avocado’s are easy and fun to start of, you caIMG_1554n do this yourself by saving the peep when
eating an avocado.  To do this successfully simply remove any excess flesh from the seed and once its dry you then peel its dark coloured outer coating. If you wait for it to dry it will flake off eventually but to speed up the process you can use a knife to peel this layer away.  Next choose the cup you want to use, after many attempts we noticed that they will grow faster if the cup you are using is opaque so that the sunlight doesn’t hit the newly formed roots. You will need 3 to 4 toothpicks with which you proceed to prick the seed tightly so as to make sure the toothpicks are secure and will be able to hold the seed properly for a couple of months. Take care of not pricking the seed where the centre line runs through, otherwise it can cause problems when it opens and may harm the core. Then place your avocado seed on top of the glass and top up with water, until the seeIMG_1551d is half covered or more. It is important to change its water regularly (On average once a week) so that the water doesn’t develop bacteria and mould that may cause your plants to suffer and impede its growth.

Choose a place for it, It shouldn’t be in direct sunlight and it should be warm, so ideally indoors is a controlled environment for it, with minimal temperature fluctuations. You can place it near a window , although avoid sun exposure. After a month or depending on your seed you will start to see the progress, The line that runs through the centre of the peep will open on the base and the first root will be visible and growing. If you notice any mould or rot forming rinse the seed under the tap and change the toothpicks for new ones, as well as replacing the water and container for clean ones.To prevent this from happening again simply change the water more regularly than before.IMG_1553.JPG

In 3 to 4 months you should have the root further developed and a stem come out the top of your peep. Depending on the variety of avocado its leaves should form. Your plant will be ready to transplant into the soil in a pot when it reaches around 20 to 30 cm in height,
it should have by then nice big leaves and a solid cluster of roots. Enjoy the process of planting your own avocado and watch it grow. Avocado trees start giving fruit after 3 years of maturity providing you give them the right conditions. It grows well in the Mediterranean climate, which you can always try and simulate with a greenhouse.
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DIY NEEM OIL INSECTICIDE AND FUNGICIDE

Neem oil insecticide is a very effective method to prevent pests and at the same time boost your plants. Neem oil is extracted from the seeds and other parts of the neem tree in india, it is therefore a natural and ecological way of treating your plants and edible crops as it leaves no dangerous residue in the soil and effectively reduces or kills pests, prevents root rot and protects the plants form powdery mildew.

Neem oil foliar spray has been proved to be more effective during the first stages of maturity of the plant, as it is in the beginning stages that the plant is more susceptible to diseases.

The way the oil works is by entering the vascular system of the plants either by foliar spray or watering the plants with your solution. The insects will then feed of your plant and the natural chemicals will cause them to stop feeding. It is a useful repellent against mites, whiteflies, scales amongst a long list of pests. It also prevents your plants from developing root rot and other fungal diseases making it the perfect ally for a gardener that wishes to protect their plants and crops ecologically.
You can either buy an already made solution or you can make it yourself as we did as it allows you to make a lot more of it. We bought some neem oil from Indian manufacturers and proceeded to make the solution.
To do this simply use a old bottle and dilute 5ml of neem oil into 1L of water and 1-2 ml of natural ecological detergent (optional, If you do not use soap the mix will leave some oil residue, this is not a problem as you can further dilute it with more water).
To apply the solution to your plants you can either spray the foliage or water the plants soil, we suggest using a spray bottle to spray your plants.
​Do not apply during direct sunlight and before spraying a an entire plant, test a small area on the plant and wait 24 hours to check to see if the leaf has any damage. If not then its is safe to fumigate the entire plant. It is also important to avoid application to plants that are stressed due to over watering or drought.

We have used this mix on our Avocado trees and it has had a very good result in getting rid of the insects that were sucking on the sap, curling their leaves. Now the young trees are thriving again.

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Step by step on how to make your own Sourdough, Tips and Tricks.

Making the yeast from scratch, for home made bread, is a really simple process that you can do yourself at home, which will save you from buying processed yeast sachets ever again. To start with, get hold of whole grain rye flour , the reason is that the husks from the rye flour contain more yeast contents than the refined flours that have no husks.

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Getting started. (Day 1)
To start with choose a container, a glass jar with lid will do. Place a cup of your flour and a cup of lukewarm water inside the jar and mix it thoroughly until we obtain a “liquidy” but thick dough. We then close the jar and leave it to rest for 24 hours.
(Day 2)
We open the jar to check on our dough, but don’t do anything to it, as it will not be completely ready.
(Day 3)
There should be some bubbles and a strong smell coming out of your jar, this indicates that the yeast has already started to eat away, and will need food. For this reason what we do is , remove a couple of spoonfuls of our mix and discard them, and we add a couple of spoonfuls of new flour to it. At this stage we can use all purpose flour, although you can also carry on using your wholegrain, it will work just as well. Also add a couple of spoonfuls of lukewarm water and mix well so that you end up again with a glupy result.
(Day 4)
Repeat the same process as we did on day 3.

(Day 5)
Again repeat the same process as we did on day 3.
How to know if your sourdough yeast is ready?
Take 3 spoonfuls of your mix and place it in a jar. We add to this 3 spoonfuls of flour and water, we cover it and leave it. Mark the level of your mix inside the jar , so that when we come back to it we know if it has raised or not. Place it in a warm place for 2 hours. Take a look at it, if it has doubled in size then the sourdough will be ready. If this is not the case we feed the mix as we did the previous days and we continue the process one day more. Do this until the dough is ready.
How to know if its has gone off? It will smell rotten. Note: it naturally smells of fermentation, but not rotten.

How to preserve it?
If we make bread a couple of times per week we can feed it then, at room temperature. Even feed it every day to have a strong yeast. If we plan on making bread less than once a week we can store the sourdough inside the fridge , taking it out the day before making the bread to feed it and “wake her up”, so that is ready to use. To store it for longer or giving it as a gift you can also dry it. Simply spread some of your sourdough in a oven paper and leave it there for a couple of days. It should turn dry and flaky , when we want to use it we place some of it in a jar with lukewarm water and mix, after a day or so, this mixture should be ready to use.

When making the bread:
It is important when we make our bread that we add the water slowly to your flour, not all flours allow the same water quantities. For making a 500g. bread we will require 200g of sourdough approximately to make your bread rise. Replace the quantity of sourdough that you have used, with new flour and water so that the sourdough stays alive , you should mix and see instantly bubbles forming on the top. We mix the 200g. of sourdough with 300g. of flour plus salt and any seasoning, then add some water while you stir your dough constantly with a fork. (tip: add flour if your dough is too sticky, if its too crumbly add more water.)Once you have your dough ready , leave it aside to proof (ferment) for at least 1 hour. After this we push the air out of our dough, kneading it for a bit. Then proceed to leave it to rest for a couple more hours. Shape it as you wish or place it inside a bread tin. Bake and ready to enjoy. As you get confident with the technique you will get better results.

We hope this gets you motivated to DIY your own delicious bread !