Gardening 101 Post : Gardening Beginner Pro Tips

Gardening 101 Post

“Gardening Beginner”

Gardening seems difficult during the sudden rain and immediate blazing heat. It may seem futile to begin your garden during this part of the year. But you are persistent. You start to say “nay” to the blistering heat and the heavy rains. So now you head to the nearest gardening center, pick up gardening tools, gloves, and dust off those overalls you have hiding in the back of your closet. Geared with your proper tools like the Batman of gardening, you set off.

Now before you start planting the lettuce head remains or using your egg shells as part of your compost, you need to think about your soil. How is it? Seriously. A lot of gardening starters think their soil is ready to go. That is sadly not the case. While it may look just as brown as Farmer Bob’s looks, it may not be so.

Experts mention to take a first look at the soil before you begin. If you have used chemical fertilizers in the last few years, ditch the dirt. The dirt that has been filled with these fertilizers has lost a substantial number of essential microbes and earthworms. You should remove the top 12 inches from your garden soil, just to make sure you are starting with a clean slate.

Once you've removed the first feet of soil, fill the basin with water to flush down fertilizer salts deep in to the roots of the garden. This will create a rich bed of nutrients for your plants to gain roots with, making for strong and healthy plants. You should perform this process three times for maximum effect. Full article on getting your garden started found here.

Now, you can fill with compost. Think “would a worm want to eat this?” If so, then you’re on the right track. Composting does plenty to offer benefits for you and the world around you. It becomes a soil conditioner and acts as a recycling mechanism for kitchen and yard waste. It also introduces beneficial organisms (those worms we mentioned earlier) to the soil while being great for the environment. For a full list of what to compost, check out the article on composting written the Earth Easy website found here.

Have fun gardening, remember to crush your eggshells before composting and wear sunscreen. Add a comment below in the comment section and let us know how you began and what motivated your gardening expedition.

Alfonso Cavada – Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern

Environment & Green Living : Biking to Work

Environment & Green Living Post

“Biking to work”.

Tucson is a great town for biking anywhere. I bike to work, to the grocery store, and even for 45 minute trips to school from Valencia to the University of Arizona. I always remember having to share a bike as a kid and vowed then to own my own bike when I became an adult. Though I don’t bike as much now as I always swore I would, I do every now and then. It is a great way to be environmentally conscious and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Biking may seem difficult if you are not used to doing this. It was definitely a difficult thing I had to get used to when I switched from four wheels to two. I, like many other newbies, did not own the proper safety gear like a helmet or pads nor did I have a roadside emergency pack that most experienced bikers often carry. It also took several weeks of trial and error before I overcame Tucson’s many hills and incline roads.

I initially started biking a few weeks after I moved to Tucson from Fort Worth, TX which is a large city, several times the size of itty-bitty Tucson. Fort Worth has the benefit of having freeways and large roads that require a car or truck to get from point A to point B.

Tucson however, is a bit different. It is small and the roads here are generally designed to be cyclist friendly. This is especially true around and near the University of Arizona where cycling is encouraged. The speedy and narrow roads are ideal for cycling but one should always be cautious of cars even when they aren't.

You can follow these pro-tips for beginners created by Steven Pease from The Examiner when you start your new lifestyle as a cyclist. For more info on these, read the full article

I have even included a link to The City of Tucson’s very own webpage that has several bike maps which direct which roads to steer clear from and which ones to hit that top gauge on your two-wheeled speedster. Located here.

Always remember to bike safely, follow the pro-tips, drink plenty of water, and mostly, have fun. I like to use my Spotify account for the most influential biking playlists the app offers and it does in fact help. It is scientifically proven that working out with music can lead to better results and an improved psyche. If you would like to read more about the research that has been done on pairing music with exercise, Scientific American has done a great just with this article “Let's Get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music.”

Continue to cycle if you already do so! If you are beginning, don’t become discouraged. I support you in all your cyclist endeavors.

Alfonso Cavada-Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern.

 

Recipe of the Week : Chinese Red Date Tea

Recipe of the Week.

Drinking tea has many benefits. It’s brings comfort to the soul and strengthens relationships when shared with a chat. Tea time chats are my favorite way of getting to know people. The warming feeling that comes with tea relaxes and relieves stress from any troubling feeling.

According to the UK Tea & Infusions Association, tea is commonly thought of as a British drink but its history goes much further than that. It actually goes all the way to 2737 BC China. As legend has it, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung, was sitting under a tree when leaves fell in to a pot of hot water his servant left for him. Since Shen Nung was a well-known herbalist, he thought he should at least give it a try. The tree was a Camellia sinensis, and the resulting drink was what we know call a tea. Full article here.

Whether that legend is true or not, it cannot be argued that tea has a long history of consumption before western expansion. Many ancient tombs, in fact, have been found with containers of tea since the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 BC). It took a while for tea to become the national treasure in China that it is today and soon it was part of a large tea trade where it first went to Japan, Europe, United States and finally the entire Globe.

Since the Red Date aka "Jojobas" have been a huge project for Iskashitaa, it may be interesting to make it part of this week’s recipe of the week. Included in this blog post is a Chinese Red Date Tea that will help keep the drinker healthy as an ox.

Ingredients:

 

3 dried red dates (around ½ inch in diameter)

1-teaspoon honey (manuka is best)

1 cup water

 

Instructions:

 

Boil ½ cup water and rinse the red dates. When the water is boiled, place the red dates in the cup and pour over boiling water.

In separate bowl, mix room temperature water to dissolve manuka honey. Since the honey has active cultures, its best not to dissolve it in hot water or it will significantly lose its health benefits.

Slowly add the honey water to the cup and enjoy!

(Source: https://www.doyouyoga.com/easy-chinese-red-date-tea-for-health-recipe/)

 

Alfonso Cavada – Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern

Harvest August 9, 2017

Today we had the pleasure of harvesting with students from the University of Arizona's Public Health department. We assisted the students and volunteer farmers at Felicia's Farm, a nonprofit farm located in Catalina Foothills, Arizona.

Harvesters looking for roots, plants, and leafy-greens this morning

Harvesters looking for roots, plants, and leafy-greens this morning

The first group of volunteers left from the Iskashitaa office at 8 am and the second group followed shortly after.  The farm is located on River Road.  We were assisted throughout the day by the farm's own Ashton Inskeep and Sofia Forier-Montes.

Several volunteers hard at work.

Several volunteers hard at work.

The harvesters enjoyed learning about the items they were collecting as well as proper usage. Sweet Potato leaves & Amaranth. Both of which were in abundance today.

Amaranth leaves

Amaranth leaves

Sweet Potato Leaves

Sweet Potato Leaves

We left the farm after having cleared much of the amaranth and sweet potato leaves. But before we did we made sure to take a group photo right in front of the farm as a testament to the hard work we put in today.

"Say 'Amaranth'!"

"Say 'Amaranth'!"

If you would like to be part of our volunteer and harvesting efforts, feel free to contact the office through the contact tab at the top of our website.

As always, have a great day!

Alfonso Cavada-Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern

Harvest August 2, 2017

As Iskashitaa continues it's gleaning efforts, we had another harvest this past wednesday. The two items harvested were Jojobas and Jujubees.

Jojobas (pronounced ho-HO-bas) refers to the desert prominent plant and to the oil that can be extracted from the plant's seed. We have found them all over Tucson and the plants look like this.

We are still attempting to harvest as much as possible to reach out goal in order to mill the seeds in to an oil. Feel free to contact Iskashitaa and let us know where you find the jojoba plants.

Jujubes (pronounced jü-ju̇-ˌbē) are an invincible. They grow in almost any temperature, even in Tucson summers. Jujubes have a long history of cultivation, roughly 4,000 years. Originating in China, they have spread to Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and the southwestern United States. For more information, please enjoy this further reading on Jujube's culture, descriptions, recipes, etc.

The Jujubes, not to be mistaken with the famous fruity candy, will be used during Iskashitaa's kitchen exercises to enrich the community and bring together refugees that are living among us. Stay tuned for those recipes and pictures of the family friendly fun.

Alfonso Cavada-Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern

Well-being During Monsoon Season

The Monsoons this month have been in full effect. You may have noticed your grass needs another trim. You also may have been caught behind drivers that don't quite know how to navigate themselves during a flash flood.

These and more nuisances of the rain will continue for a few more weeks. Do be careful. Because with this much rain, health concerns are possible. As the rain comes down, try to find shelter. While, a shelter will keep you safe from the rain, it won't save you from illness. This time of the year is when your immune system could be lacking.

7 Common Illnesses during the Monsoon Season

  • Dengue
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Food infection
  • Water infection
  • Cholera
  • Leptospirosos is caused by bacteria that can be carried either by a man or some animal. Its severe form can damage kidney, liver, meningitis and respiratory failure.

Fear not. Just like any common cold, there are remedies. A calming chicken soup and a warm cup of tea does it for me. But if that doesn't work for you, the following may do it.

7 Precautions During Rainy Season

  • Keep Rain Gear With you Always – The most effective thing that you can do is to keep your rain gear always ready when you go out in the rainy season. A raincoat with hooded jacket and waterproof shoes are the best items.
  • Vitamin C – Increasing the intake of Vitamin C either in natural form or as food supplement will help you drive away the cold virus faster. It is still a matter of debate among doctors whether Vitamin C is cure for cold. However, a healthy supply of this vitamin will activate your antibodies and reduce the severity of cold, undoubtedly.
  • Shower After Being Caught in Rain – Although it sounds very unusual because if you are drenched in rain, you will never want to take another shower. But taking a shower after you have been caught in the rain will protect you from many infections.
  • Hot Drinks – This is the one season when you would like to take hot drinks. After taking a good bath, dry yourself and wear dry & clean clothes. The best thing is to make a hot soup for yourself or at least drink a cup of hot milk. This will help you from catching cold or save you from catching any kind of infection that can occur due to sudden change in the temperature of the body.
  • Cleanliness – Micro-organisms are susceptible to grow in the rainy season, try to maintain hygiene around you Cleanliness is very important during rainy season. Even if you catch a cold, you should clean your hands regularly and use a sanitizer always after that.
  • Drink Plenty of Water – Water intake may reduce naturally because of the sudden drop in the temperature of the environment. It is good to drink plenty of water and do not wait to get thirsty to drink water. This will help you drain toxins from your body.
  • Watch Out your Intake – Try to eat nutritious food and avoid eating out during rainy season. Prepare meal with full precaution and maintain health and hygiene throughout the house.

As you venture and occupy yourself during this monsoon season, carry on with caution. I try to keep an extra pair of socks and a clean shirt as well as an umbrella with me in my car because you never know when you will need them. It is better to be safe and sorry than to not be and be drenched.

Alfonso Cavada-Tavares

Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Social Media Intern