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Protein; it’s a staple of a basic diet but many people share the common belief that it can only be obtained from meat-based foods and animal-derived products. On the contrary, beans and lentils are a rich source of protein and are considered to be an important part of the vegan diet. So, if you’re looking to grow some protein at home and don’t want to start a chicken farm right away, why not grow some lentils? These are annual crops that grow better when planted in cooler seasons. Here’s what you need to know before you can grow your lentil plants.

Obviously, a single plant won’t nearly be enough and you’ll need around 5 to 8 of them if you want almost a yearly’s supply for a single person. The number of plants you’ll need also depends on your intake and if you lean more towards plant-based nutrition, it’s likely you’ll need more of them.

You can grow lentils in your garden, or if you’ve run out of space in your backyard, you can grow them straight out of pots. As long as the pots are thoroughly cleaned before planting, and have a height of over 8 inches, you’re all set. To prepare, you’ll need to make sure whether they’re treated with an inoculant or not. If they are, then you can move on to the next steps. If they’re not, then spread your seeds over a wide tray and apply some leguminosarum inoculant on them. Wait a whole 24 hours until you plant them; this helps the seeds prepare to absorb nitrogen.

Add loose soil and compost to a pot, and check the pH. Lentils like to keep it basic, so a pH of around 6.5 is preferred. Add a supporting structure to each pot, such as a trellis. Remember that one pot is only supposed to hold a single plant. Plant a few seeds one inch under the soil and keep the soil watered adequately, but not too much. Waterlogged soil has the risk of killing lentil plants, so stay on the drier side and give them plenty of sunshine. Soon, in each pot, you’ll begin to see growths rising upwards. Then, cut off the weaker plants and keep the stronger ones. While doing so, be careful not to damage or disturb the stem or root of the plant you wants to keep.

You’ll need to train your plants to rise upwards i.e. up to the trellis. To do this, you can give a little help by tying a loose thread around the trellis and stem of the plant. Once the plants achieve a height of around 5 inches, remember to add some compost every now and then because lentils love nutrient-rich soil.

Harvest your yield after the plants turn yellow and ripen. You can use some garden shears or hand pruners to chop off the pods, or you can cut the entire plant from the stem. Be careful of aphids attacking your plants, so use some organic insecticide and cleaning up well after the plant.

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Beekeeping And The Benefits of Honey

For many cultures over the centuries, honey has been a premium natural sweetener with amazing uses. With its natural properties and unique taste, it’s no wonder its benefits are unimaginable and impressive. Honey is a very beneficial food for our health & body – like immune system, skin, hair and even nails. Let’s take a look at some undeniable benefits of honey

Skin

Thanks to raw honey with its antibacterial and antioxidants properties, it can treat your body of skin problems and irritations such as:

  • Burns and Wounds: Where you experience burns (including sunburns), honey can be applied to the affected area to soothe and relieve the sting. With its antibacterial properties, honey heals wounds and burns effectively.
  • Acne and Spots: Honey acts as a cleansing agent with its antibacterial and antiseptic properties by absorbing the impurities from the skin causing acne and thereby treating the skin from acne and spots.
  • Aging& Wrinkles: Honey helps treat wrinkles and ageing on the skin. As a natural humectant, it moisturizes the top layer of the skin leaving the skin moisturized and refreshed which reduces wrinkles and slows down ageing. You can treat your body with a honey bath or mask.
Hair

For a healthy hair, honey has been categorized as the all-natural moisturizing product that can be used to treat dry hair. Combined with natural oils like coconut oil or olive oil to create a mixture for hair conditioning; it helps straighten the hair, remove dandruff and enrich the hair cuticles to prevent hair loss or thinning.

Health

To avoid and control the risk of diabetes or heart problem, consider adding honey to your diet. Honey as an antioxidant helps protect the heart as studies have shown that polyphenols in honey can reduce the risk of a cardiac arrest. Also, honey while consumed as a replacement for sugar helps reduce diabetes risk.

Excited about the benefits of honey, right? Well, there’s more to it as you can gain more than honey from beekeeping.

Beekeeping is the concept of “bee-farming” for profit in terms of honey, wax and great pollination – if you’re a fruit farmer or grower of berries, almonds or nuts; honey bees can help keep your plants healthy, as it is reported that 30% of the world’s most common food crops require honeybees.

A Quick Outline to Beekeeping

Learn about Beekeeping

Beekeeping is a different ball game to animal farming. Quite relaxing as it doesn’t require you changing water and food trays, cleaning the keep and faeces because bees do all their work themselves like the saying “Busy as a Bee”. However, beekeeping can be a tasking and patient work because it needs strategic management.

Where you’ve decided to start beekeeping, it’s best to learn and familiarize yourself with beekeeping, knowing the right set of beehives and supplies through guide books, research and joining a beekeeping community or association around you.

Order your Bees and Supplies

This is you being serious about being a beekeeper and you’ve armed yourself with enough knowledge but practice they say makes perfect. Choose the type of beehive you’ll like if you plan to set up a beekeeping in your backyard which will serve as a man-made hive for your bees. Langstroth(standard beehive for years) and top-bar hives are the most common types of beehives which are good to maintain the bee colony and for easy collection of honey.

Supplies of beekeeping consist of a hive, smoker, proper clothing (including hood&gloves), extracting equipment, hive tool and gears which shouldn’t cost much and a package of bees. Interestingly, bees can be ordered and delivered by mail, that’s right! You can also choose to get your bees from another beekeeper who can put you through.You can either order a “package bee and a queen” which is a set of bees that’s ordered with a grown queen or a “nuc colony” which is a more established set of bees with a queen that’s started laying brood.

Start Beekeeping

The European Honeybee “Apis Mellifera” is the common species kept in America with North America having 4,000 species; so beekeeping requires management which is influenced by the bee type, climate and beehive. The best time to start beekeeping is in the Spring because it’s the swarm season when bees get busy and you want to get your bees ready. Ensure to provide your bees accessibility to flowers, water and a good sunny view for them to survive. Also, build a high fence for easy and raised flight for the bees and to protect your neighbours. Always ensure your bees are doing fine, with periodic checks.

Harvesting Honey

I bet you didn’t know that 22, 700 bees are required to fill a jar of honey and the queen bee produces between 100,000 to 200,000 bees over the year, Impressive, right? A colony of bees can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year so it takes patience, constant learning and management to a successful beekeeping. As a new beginner, it will take the following year before you can start gaining profits in terms of honey.

To harvest honey, you need to:

  • Wear protective clothing, avoid perfumes or cologne which can attract bees around you.
  • Carry the smoker to keep the bees calm but use sparingly so as not to affect the flavour of the honey.
  • Remove the supers from the beehive and gently brush off attached bees
  • Remove honey from the comb with extractor (centrifuge or spinner) by uncapping the wax from the combs and strain honey with a strainer to avoid excess wax
  • Keep honey in a bucket to settle for 2-3 days allowing foreign object rise to the top for easy removal.
  • Skim off the foam on top of the honey and keep in jars.

Voila, you’ve successfully kept bees and harvested honey!


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