Get a Head Start On Your Garden By Planting Seeds Indoors

It’s about that time to start getting ready for gardening season. I just bought my little Jiffy greenhouse and some seeds, so I’m ready to go! I’m so excited to get my garden going again. I’ve been planning for the last month on what I’m going to grow this year and yesterday I got my seeds started indoors. Here’s how I planned everything out.

The Last Frost Date

For many states, the last frost date of the year is somewhere around April 1st. For Colorado, where I live, it’s around April 20th. Knowing the last frost date is important, because a little plant won’t survive a freeze outdoors. Check out this handy list of first/last frost dates by state from Victory Seeds to find the date for your area.

Planting Seeds Indoors

Once you know your average frost date, look at the backs of your seed package to find out how early you should plant your seeds before the last frost date. Various plants have different planting schedules, for example the carrots package I have tells me to plant 2 weeks before the last frost, but the tomatoes tell me to plant 5-7 weeks before.

You don’t want to plant too early or those veggies are going to outgrow their containers. I had this happen to me in my first year of gardening and it was a lot of work transplanting them to larger pots. I also had some crazy large plants overtaking my kitchen table and counters. It was a mess, but also a great learning experience. 😉

Not all seed packages will tell you how soon to plant the seeds indoors, but you’re generally safe if you plant them at least 4 weeks before the estimated frost date. Even 6 weeks might be fine, depending on the vegetable, but you’re pushing it if you plant any sooner than that.

I’ve purchased a somewhat large (72 plant) Jiffy greenhouse to get my plants started this year. I bought everything that I needed a couple of weeks ago when it was still too early for me to plant my seeds inside, but I wanted to get everything in order and planned.

Based on the average last frost date for my area, I’m counting back based on that date and marking in my calendar when to plant indoors. I’m actually using iCalendar on my Macbook so that it pops up a reminder on that day, but you can use a simple wall calendar if you want.

Here’s an example of my planting schedule, based on the estimated last frost date of April 20th, here in Colorado. I used this online calendar to count back from my last frost date.

Start indoors 8 weeks before last frost date – Feb. 24th

  • Tomatoes
  • Green onions
  • Yellow onion
  • Peppers

Start indoors 6 weeks before last frost date – March 9th

  • Broccoli

Start indoors 4 weeks before last frost date – March 23rd

  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Kale

You might notice that there aren’t any root vegetables in my list, which is because root vegetables don’t like to be handled, so it’s best to directly sow the seeds into the garden.

Watch Out For a Freeze After the Estimated Last Frost Date

Weather is unpredictable. It’s impossible to know if there will be a freeze after the estimated last frost date. If you get a freeze, some of your vegetables could be toast. If you’re worried, you can plant your vegetables a little later or you can buy a cold frame. I haven’t actually used a cold frame myself, but I’ve been doing a lot of research about them recently. I’ll probably set one up over my garden near the end of the growing season to get a few more weeks out of my garden.

Plant What You Need

I’m so excited to get started with my garden this year. This is only my third year of gardening, but it has a whole new meaning to me this time. I became vegan back in July of last year, so plants are now a major part of my diet.

In the last couple of years, I sort of just planted random vegetables because they sounded good, but I found that I wasn’t using them as much as I should have. I still ended up going to the grocery store for stuff that I really needed. This time I’m only planting foods that I eat regularly. I’m not wasting space this year.

Update: If you live in Colorado, here’s a great planting schedule.

* image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/scrap_pile/3081087267/”>Scrap Pile

Fitness Articles of the Week #48 – Static Stretching, Vegan Diets for Athletes and 50 Free Fitness Courses

image courtesy of Tobyotter

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.


Q&A: Is Static Stretching Good?

Here’s a very detailed post about the different types of stretching and when you should do them. I almost always do dynamic stretches, but I think I’ll start trying to work in static and even some EQI’s, which I’ve actually never heard of before.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Vegan Dieting

Here’s a great follow-up to the interview that FitBodyHype did with Channa Serenity a couple of weeks ago. Channa makes two claims that I’ve never heard before, and I read a lot when it comes to nutrition. She says that you should never eat fruit with other foods and you shouldn’t drink water during meals. Interesting.


Plant-Based Diet For Athletes

This article provides a lot of information a vegan athlete should think about when it comes to their diet and what they should and should not be consuming. I’ve been a huge fan of Ben Greenfield for a while, but some of my respect has been lost after reading one of his comments in this article. He says one of his reasons for not going vegan is that he “likes meat.” What a fucking terrible and selfish excuse.


Weight Training Program – Why It Should Be Part Of Your Routine

This one will cater more to the ladies. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard a woman tell me that they don’t want to lift weights because they don’t want to get huge and muscular. Well, it doesn’t work that way. Building muscle burns more calories and can get a female body into great shape, without causing bulk. There are plenty of other benefits too, as you’ll find out from reading this article.


The 50 Best Free Health & Fitness Courses on the Web (Voting Open!)

This is one of the coolest curated resources I’ve ever seen online. I wish there was a way for me to print out every single program with one click. There are so many great programs here, it’s not likely you’ll ever get bored in the gym. I can’t believe Stronglifts isn’t in this list though!


Ways To Burn Fat: 1 Insanely Powerful Dietary Change

It took a looooong time for this article to get to the point that we should cut wheat and gluten from our diets, but once the “secret” is finally revealed, there really is a lot of good information here about the negative effects that gluten has in our bodies and why we should remove it from our diets. With all of the research coming out about gluten and wheat these days, I’m thinking about cutting it out of my diet too.


Easy Ways to Give Any Meal a Powerful Nutritional Boost

This is great stuff, because these are foods that most people don’t even know about. What’s funny is that when I went vegan, these highly nutritional foods seemed to be in just about every vegan cookbook I own. If you want to take your nutrition to an even higher level, check out Thrive Foods from Brendan Brazier.


Pullovers: Bodybuilding’s Most Controversial Exercise

I’ve seen lots of articles for and against the pullover. I don’t currently do pullovers, but not for any reason specifically. I really like this move. If you need to be coerced into adding it into your routine, read this article.


Highly Effective Old School Back Training

Here’s another article talking about a classic exercise that we should be including in our weight lifting routines. I wish I had a better bar to do this one, but a straight bar will have to do. I can feel this exercise just by looking at the photos.


How To Breathe When Working Out

This is one of those things that a lot of us forget – breathe out when pushing or pulling the weight and breathe in when releasing. Even if you forget when to breathe in and out, it’s better than holding your breath. Don’t hold your breath when lifting! Read this article to learn why.


Vegan Diets, Critical Thinking, and 9 Blogs You Need to Read

If you haven’t heard of “The Vegan R.D” blog by Ginny Messina, you’re missing out and should definitely subscribe. She promotes an evidence-based approach to vegan advocacy and this great post links to nine other blogs which take a similar approach. I’ve subscribed to all of them!


The myth of the eight-hour sleep

There are lots of articles on the internet about hacking sleeping patterns, many of which I’ve read, but I’ve never come across something that explains this part of our history and sleeping. This is great stuff! I have problems with sleep myself, often waking up in the middle of the night, laying in bed and then falling asleep again. Maybe it’s not a problem after all, and it’s just the way my body is meant to work. I don’t know how much I believe that though, because it seems like it would be difficult to reach REM sleep within only four hours.


Antibiotic Use Causes Superbugs

It’s been long argued that antibiotic use could result in drug-resistant infections, yet farmers continued to use antibiotics anyway. Now a drug-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus is in nearly half of all meat in the U.S. Nice…

Fitness Articles of the Week #47 – Upcoming Wellness Symposium, a Possible Alzheimers Cure, and Congruent Exercise

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.


Wellness Symposium | Learn It Live

This is going to be huge! Register for free to get access to watch the top experts and authors in the health industry speak all next week, from Feb. 20-26. I can’t wait for this. I’ve registered to watch all of the featured speakers and then a few presentations from some of the others.


Drug quickly reverses Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice

Wow, this is amazing! A possible cure for Alzheimer’s would be one of the biggest breakthroughs ever to happen in science. Just think of all of the families that could be reunited with a cure.


How Do You Know If You’re Gluten Intolerant?

I don’t have any of these symptoms, except for possibly fatigue. I keep reading articles about gluten and they always make me want to try giving it up. One of these days, I’ll try to put together a simple 7-day gluten free meal plan so that I can see if I notice any differences.


How to Be a Vegetarian Bodybuilder

I’m not usually a fan of posts like this when they are written by someone who is not a vegan and doesn’t have actual personal experience being vegan, because they often don’t understand the whole story. I get that feeling from this article too, but I think many of the points made are generally correct.


Bill DeSimone on Congruent Exercise – YouTube

This is an hour and a half, but is a must watch. You’ll learn about being aware of how your body moves and operates. There are some very interesting things about common workouts most of us do, such as the barbell squat, and how they cause damage to our bodies. This will definitely help me think more about my form while lifting weights and which exercises are forcing me into unnatural states.


Why Running Drills are Bad for You

As soon as I saw this title, I thought “Damn! and I was just going to start trying out running drills,” but after listening to the interview, I learned that they are only bad if you’re using bad form. Check out this interview to learn running drills that will teach you to run without putting strain on your joints.


The 21 Most Innovative Gyms in the U.S.

All of these gyms look amazing. It would be awesome to travel the country and visit each one. Too bad there aren’t any in Colorado. Well, there are some Curves, but since I’m a guy, I’m not welcome there 😉


Figure Out Which Oils to Use for Your Cooking Needs with The Cooking Oil Comparison Chart

I think most people tend to stick with canola, corn and olive oil, but if you like to cook, you’ve probably got many more. I’m a good example. In addition to the three I just mentioned, I also have hemp, flax, coconut, and grapeseed oils in my cabinet. I didn’t realize there were so many others though. Download the PDF chart to learn more about each oil and how they should be used.


Top 17 Dietitians You Can Count On in Social Media

Excellent list. Too bad there are only two vegans though. I still decided to follow them all on Twitter, but I also subscribed to the blogs of the vegans. The vegans get more love from me 😉


Weightlifting Academy

I haven’t listened to this podcast yet, but the description sounds good and it’s put together by some really smart people in the industry. If you want to learn more about olympic lifting, this looks like the place. I’ll probably listen to this over the weekend. Should be good! I hope they put the podcast on iTunes soon.


20 Minutes of Exercise a Day Is Enough to Get You Fit

According to a study from the Journal of Physiology, 20 minutes a day might be all the time you need to get into shape. 20 minutes per day? Count me in! Actually, I like to train for a lot longer than that, but this is good news for people who find it difficult to find time to workout. There’s no reason you can’t carve out 20 minutes of your day for a simple, but strenuous, workout.

Fitness Articles of the Week #46 – Vegan Girl Scout Cookies, a Sprinting Guide and Knee-joint Stretches

image courtesy of Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.


Vegan Girl Scout Cookies

I didn’t think I would be able to eat any Girl Scout cookies, but as it turns out, as longs as they don’t carry tagalongs, they are selling from one of the two commercial bakeries that doesn’t put whey into the Thanks-A-Lot and Thin Mints cookies. If they do carry the Tagalongs, you’re out of luck.


Food PH Chart – Most Alkaline and Acidic Foods

A lot of the foods that we grow up thinking are healthy are actually acidic in the body, for example chicken, grains, rice and peanuts. This handy chart will help you modify your diet to include more alkaline foods.


At the gym: who is looking at whom

A hilarious comic strip about what everyone at the gym is thinking about each other.


Denny’s Vegan Burger – Pretty Darn Good

I didn’t know Denny’s had a vegan burger. Another restaurant I can eat at with my friends.


Deadlifting From Blocks

I don’t currently have the need for deadlift blocks, because I’m still seeing good progress from the floor, but this is definitely good stuff to know. Check out the comments too. Paul gives some great answers to his readers.


The Five Kings Of Intermittent Fasting

I thought there was only one king of intermittent fasting, Martin Berkham, but it turns out there are several other gurus in the IM field that I should be following. I haven’t tried intermittent fasting personally, but I hope to find time to put together a meal plan one day.


Losing Weight with Wolfram|Alpha

I think it’s really cool that Wolfram|Alpha put together an entire post on using their super-nerdy tools to help you lose weight. I’m a nerd myself, so I have a great appreciation for amazing research tools like what these guys have built.


The 6-Week Sprinting Solution

I keep coming across sprinting articles lately and I think it’s a sign that I should give it a try. This program is perfectly laid out and I think I’m going to give it a try sometime soon. I don’t have access to a treadmill right now (but I’m thinking about buying one), so I’m going to have to wait a month or so until the weather gets a little nicer.


How To Stoop And Reach Without Hurting Yourself

Bending and lifting properly seems so simple, but this instructional video is a great reminder of how we should all be doing it to prevent damage to our bodies over our lifetime.


5 Steps I Used to Take 104 Minutes Off My Marathon

It’s getting closer to the season of marathons, and if you’re planning on doing one yourself, you should consider downloading this 15 page report from Matt Frazier, the No Meat Athlete.


5 Myths About Intermittent Fasting, And Why They’re Not True

Intermittent fasting doesn’t seem to be a topic that many traditional health advocates understand, because once they hear about it, they’re shocked that anyone would do something like this to their bodies. There’s a science at work here. It just needs to be understood. By the way, I only counted 3 myths here, but maybe the other two were accidentally edited out.


Exercises Saved From the Dumpster

It’s not often that a health professional will admit to being wrong about something. Many are hard-headed and stick to their guns, even when evidence has been provided. It’s awesome to hear that Michael Boyle has changed his mind about not teaching his athletes the “get up,” loaded carries and the deadlift. Read the article to find out why.


Knee Joint Stretches with Kevin Cornell of California Strength – YouTube

Great stretches for improving your position in the lower part of the squat exercise.

How Falling Out Of The Fitness Routine Affected My Body

For the first time in probably 2 or 3 years, I’ve taken an extended break from working out. I shouldn’t even call it a break at this point. I became lazy.

I haven’t exercised at all in a month and a half. No weight lifting. No jogging. Not even simple stretches or yoga. I’m extremely disappointed in myself. Every morning, I wake up and I’m disgusted that I won’t bring myself to go into the basement (my gym) to do a simple workout.

First let me explain how it happened. In early January, I caught the flu. As much as I wanted to lift weights, I wasn’t going to make my sickness worse. My body needed to fight off the flu, not spend time repairing my muscles. So I took a week and half off until I was all better.

I had planned on starting my routine back up the following Monday, but over the weekend, I started feeling dizzy and sort of nauseous. I thought it might have something to do with the cold and I figured it would work its way out of my system. It got worse and worse, so I went to the doctor, where I found out I got an ear infection from the cold. It was messing with my equilibrium and that’s why I was dizzy all the time. I can’t remember ever having an ear infection before so I was a little scared of the symptoms before finding out what the problem was.

Anyway, there went another week, for a total of about three weeks.

I hadn’t worked out for about at all during this time and I got used to sleeping in. I didn’t have the drive to work out anymore. I took 2 more weeks off, for no reason other than that I wanted to sleep longer.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling a bit sluggish lately and working out in the morning has always given me tons of energy. It prepares me for the day ahead. I wasn’t feeling that way anymore so I knew I had to force myself to start working out again.

Yesterday, I had it in my head that I was finally going to start working out again. I think I was truly ready to get back into the gym this morning, because my internal clock woke me up at my normal training day time, 4:45am (I know, super-early). I was wide awake and ready to go.

It felt great!

Sadly, I lost some strength during that short amount of time I took off. I can still lift the same amount of weight I was lifting a month and a half ago, but I can’t do as many reps in the same amount of sets. 🙁

It sucks, but it’s a great reminder of how important it is to keep going and and to never stop. I’ve made a ton of progress in my lifts over the last 6 months and it’s all for nothing if I don’t continue putting in the work. I’m not going to let that happen. I feel so much better today and I’m determined to feel that way every day!

Fitness Articles of the Week #45 – Cruciferous Veggies, The Perfect Guacamole and a 56 Day Juice Fast Summary

image courtesy of photofarmer

It’s snowing like crazy here in Colorado, so I’m working from home today. I love being able to watch the snow from my home office window, knowing that I don’t have to drive in it. I’m guessing I’m going to be snowed in all weekend, but I might make the trip to my Mom’s house to watch the Super Bowl. She’s only 10 minutes away, anyway, so I’ll probably go if the family decides to get together. It should be a great game. Have a good weekend!

Here’s a recap of the best health and fitness articles I’ve read over the past week.


Power Plants: Feast On These Vitamin-Dense, Cancer-Fighting Veggies

I didn’t know what cruciferous meant, so I had to look it up and basically, cruciferous veggies are simply those that come from the Brassicaceae family of vegetables. These are the best cancer-fighting vegetables you can eat, but this article claims that not cooking them can lead to thyroid gland problems. I’ve never heard of that before. I guess I should limit how often I eat raw cruciferous vegetables from now on.


Why Running Drills are Bad for You

I’m sad to say that I’ve never even done running drills, but my new goals this year consist of doing more cardio-based activities, such as 5k runs and military-style mud runs, so drills will probably become a new part of my routine.


How To Make The Perfect Guacamole

I love guacamole, but I’ve never been able to find a really good homemade recipe. My favorite guacamole comes from the pre-mixed stuff that comes in a packet near the avocados in the grocery store, but it isn’t vegan, so I can’t use it anymore. Next time I make some guac, I’ll try the recipe and the tips in this article.


How to Make Rice Milk and Horchata

Ooh, this looks so easy. I’m actually not a big fan of rice milk, but I am a fan of horchata. I can’t wait to make this.


A Beginners Guide to Biking

This is such a fun and entertaining article that I was sad when it ended. If not for the great writing, you should read it because you’ll probably learn something along the way too 😉


Power Rack Fun Time! | DIY Power Rack and other stuffs

If you’ve got $400 laying around and have the time to build your own power rack, this post is for you. I would rather just buy a nice used one on Craigslist for that price, but this is still pretty cool.


Recipe: Blueberry Buckle

Mmmm, this sounds tasty and it’s nice and healthy.


The Best Nut Milk Recipe Ever {Really!}

Yep, this certainly sounds like the best nut milk recipe ever, based on those ingredients. Personally, I would rather drink plain almond milk without the sweetener and salt, but I’m still probably gonna try this one.


Pull Pause Clean Press Dip Power Jerk Drill

I’m way too scared to try anything like this myself. I don’t have the right weights or space to do this anyway. I’m fascinated by lifts like this though.


Swole.me – The automatic diet planner

This is a great idea for a dieting tool. It’s completely free and you don’t even need to create an account to use it. Simply enter the amount of calories you want to eat, in how many meals per day and that’s it. You can remove options containing dairy and meat for vegan/vegetarian meal plans too. You’ll probably notice that it still needs some work. Sometimes the meal plans seem a little wonky, for example, one plan suggested eating 3oz of ground beef and cup of oranges for breakfast.


My 56 Day Juice Fast Summary – How I Lost Weight Every Day! – YouTube

People say that juice fasting is extreme, but as long as you do it right, I don’t see it that way. It’s super-healthy, you get plenty of calories and tons of nutrients and your body doesn’t waste energy by digesting food. Difficult not eating food, yes, but I don’t think it’s extreme. Check out this guys amazing 56 day juice fast transformation.


12 Reasons You’re Not Losing Fat

In my own experience with the amount of fat I’ve placed on my body while trying to bulk up, I will agree with a lot of the advice here. I plan on creating some lower carb meal plans for myself to get some of my current body fat off, and I hope to replace more of the nuts and fruits in my diet with vegetables. It’s hard making changes like this as a vegan, but even eating more carbs, in my opinion, is healthier than putting animal fat, cholesterol and cancer-causing foods in my body.