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If you’re fairly new to farming and have just started planting vegetables in your backyard, it’s safe to say that you haven’t thought about crop rotation yet. So for those of you who don’t know, crop rotation is the practice of growing a different series of crops in the same soil over a period of time. This is so that the soil you prep in an area isn’t exhausted of just one type of nutrients. Not only are nutrients not sucked out of your soil, but pests won’t be able to settle when you’re moving your crops around.

A full crop rotation cycle is completed over four years since the types that need to be rotated are usually annuals and can be divided into four categories; legumes (edamame, beans, peas), roots (beets, garlic, radishes), fruit (cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers) and leafy varieties (lettuce, herbs, cabbage). To make things easier, try dividing your garden area into four parts where you plant the varieties mentioned above.

Let’s go over how crops are supposed to be rotated by using the example of a single part of your garden. Let’s say that you’ve planted a fruit-bearing crop in your first bed that takes up a lot of nutrients, so after the first year of growing tomatoes or squashes, you’ll have to replace them with legumes. They use the remaining nutrients while adding nitrogen back to the soil, an important mineral that can help you grow leafy vegetables that have to be planted in the third year.

In the third year of your crop rotation cycle, you can plant spinach, lettuce or herbs. Then, in year four, you can plant root vegetables like carrots or radishes in the same bed. Now follow this chain; fruits, then legumes, then leafy vegetables, and then, roots. Now let’s go over how you’ll work in each bed.

1st Bed

This is where you previously grew roots and it’s depleted of nutrients and needs to be replenished. Hence, you’ll grow ‘fruit’ types that feed on many nutrients. During fall, start adding a good amount of organic matter such as compost to your soil. Come spring, your soil will be nourished to plant your crops. After you’ve harvested, you can plant some of the legume variety.

2nd Bed

This is where you’ll start by growing legumes and it’s not necessary that you prep the soil or were previously growing ‘fruit’ types of crops. However, they could do with some mulch because they grow pretty tall and thin.

3rd Bed

Preferably, you can start growing your leafy vegetables wherever you were previously growing legumes but if not, simply add some nitrogen-fixing matter like manure. You can add compost to this soil during the spring before planting your crop. Later on, you can add some mulch to keep the plants protected throughout autumn.

4th Bed

You’ll be growing roots here in the first year and these don’t need much prepping at all. During the winter, use some green manure for the soil so that it’s filled with nutrients for the upcoming ‘fruit’ types.

Follow these simple steps so you can get a fantastic yield that makes you proud each time. Happy farming!

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Why Your Lifestyle Needs Proper Skin Care

Your skin is the first line of defense against disease and infection as it helps to protect your body from all the contaminants we come across each day, and gives protection against the ultraviolet rays. As useful as the skin is to us, it is also the first organ that shows signs of aging. While we might have lived without things like wrinkle creams or moisturizers when we were younger and more resilient, as we age some degree of skin care is inevitable. Keeping your skin healthy should be the most important part of your beauty routine.

Skincare Dos

Wear sunscreen

As much as everyone loves to feel the sun on their skin, it’s good to protect yourself from the direct rays of the sun. UV rays can cause wrinkles and skin cancer, so apply sunscreen whenever you are going to be in the sun, even if only for a little while. Skin around the face, chest, neck and hands, are the most sensitive to UV rays and yet these are always exposed, so make sure to always apply sunscreen to these areas.

Eat healthy foods

Vegetables and fruits are packed full of antioxidants which are chemical compounds that cam help in breaking down cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Free radicals also cause cell damage to the skin. Include colourful vegetables and fruits in every meal for healthy and glowing skin. Also take a lot of vitamins C, E, A and beta carotene.

Treat your skin gently

Contrary to some recent news, scrubbing the skin or exfoliating too often is not good for your skin. Be very gentle when massaging cleanser into your face. Do not rub but go in upward circular motions until whatever you are using is properly absorbed. The skin loses its elasticity as you grow older, so avoid rubbing or pulling it to prevent sagging.

Exfoliate only to remove dead skin cells

The skin renews itself by generating new cells and shedding the old one at the surface so exfoliation helps to remove the dead skin cells. But if you have dry skin, ensure that you do not over-exfoliate because it may become flaky and unattractive. Exfoliating once or twice a week is okay for people with dry skin. People with oily and normal skin however, can exfoliate more frequently; up to 3 or 4 times per week. Make sure to use a gentle exfoliator that is appropriate for your skin type and again, don’t over do it.

Drink plenty of water

Water flushes out toxins and improves circulation. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water to keep your skin looking soft and supple.

Get enough sleep

Apart from the fact that lack of sleep tells on your skin, it also affects your overall health. If you are always tired you are not at your most productive anyway, so why not call it a night and get the rest you need? Sleeping well will not only help to reduce your stress levels but it will also give your skin time to regenerate itself.

Apply eye cream

The skin around your eyes is some of the most sensitive, delicate skin on the entire body. Take care of it by applying a nightly eye cream.

Always moisturize

Moisturized skin is happy skin! Your skin will naturally plump up after applying moisturizer which helps to straighten out the wrinkles. Apply moisturizer when your skin is still damp from your shower or bath – this will lock in moisture and keep your skin looking plump and healthy all day long.

Skincare Don’ts

Don’t smoke

If you need motivation to quit, just take some time to examine the skin of long-term smokers. No offense to them, but even a smoker will admit that it will make your skin yellowish and unattractive with lots of wrinkles around the lips. So quit. Today. Your skin will thank you for years to come.

Never use body soap on the face

These types of soaps are meant for use below the neck. Only use cleansers that are made for the face because they are much gentler on delicate skin.

Don’t be sporadic about your skincare

Cleanse and moisturize every day to offset the pollution and other toxins your skin is exposed to on a daily basis. When you apply skincare products, use them properly. Five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening can make a huge difference for your skin over a lifetime.

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