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Grow your own superfoods

Marketing pros are always trying to find the next ìsuperfood.î We’ve been conditioned to think there are mystery berries, leaves or waters out there in the world just waiting to be discovered to solve all our ills. Surely, there is a natural tree bark unknown to modern science that will cure cancer, acne, male pattern baldness and protect your car from hail damage.A long list of foods have the title ìsuperfood,î and some you can buy in supermarkets; some you can only get from network marketing companies. They are often imported from tropical areas. Acai berry, seaweed, agave and coconut water can’t be grown in Colorado.However, if you’re craving wonder-cure nutrient-dense magic foods but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a month to meet your New Yearís resolutions, there is a solution: gardening. Some of the ìsuperfoodsî of the last few years actually can be grown in Colorado, even in backyard gardens. Kale, sweet potatoes, goji berry, microgreens, quinoa, beets and pumpkin for seeds can be grown in El Paso County climates and soils.What are superfoods? They can be any especially nutrient-dense food or supplement beneficial for health and well-being. It doesn’t have to be something fancy that has to be imported or something you can’t grow and cook yourself. The soils of most of eastern El Paso County are ñ- or can be amended to be ñ- well-suited for home-grown superfoods. For example, our soils and the foods that gardeners grow in them are rich in magnesium. This important mineral helps prevent migraines and fatigue, and improves energy metabolism and calcium storage.No matter how good or poor your individual property’s soil, there are probably more micro-nutrients present in your garden (or future garden) than in most commercial farms. In general, vegetables that home gardeners and small-scale organic market farms grow tend to be higher in many micronutrients than food grown in cropland that has been plowed and re-planted for many years.Many gardeners only fertilize with the three primary macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These are represented with the ìN-P-Kî numbers labeled on the front of fertilizers. But it is the many other macro-and-micro-nutrients that turn food into superfood. Sure, your soil could have the right amount of those three nutrients, but you could also feed yourself and your kids with the right amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates from fast food, too. Your soil needs to eat healthy, just as much as you do.How does a home gardener or small organic market farm make sure their soil ìeats its veggies,î so you can later? A great answer is ó bluntly ó poop. As an escapee from the finance industry with a homestead and market farm, I now see manure in the same way I used to see Gordon Gekko’s ìgreedî from the movie ìWall Street.î ìThe point is, ladies and gentlemen, that manure, for the lack of a better word, is good. Manure is right, manure works,î a gardening Gekko might say.Bagged manure soil blends aren’t the only way to add some brown gold to garden beds, nor is cow manure the only poop worth using. Gardeners in Colorado can even raise their own poop in the dead of winter, using holiday and Super Bowl veggie scraps as food for ìlivestockî that you can store under your kitchen sink: worms.Worm castings, the marketing phrase for worm poop, is taking the gardening world by storm as a ìsuperfoodî for soil. Pure worm castings, not to be confused with worm compost, sell for $2 to $3 per pound. A plastic tote with a hole for ventilation and drainage nested inside another can be a comfy worm hotel in the space under the sink or in a warmer part of a utility room. There are plenty of plans and instructions online. Red Wriggler worms work best, and can be purchased at local garden shops or by mail order. The night crawlers at the bait shop may do well in the outside soil after the fishing trip, but not in shallower worm bins.Starting a worm bin now is a great way for Colorado gardeners to get their gardening fix in the winter. Your new wiggly pink friends will be able to eat their way through your veggie scraps and shredded paper to give you a good batch of castings and baby worms by the time planting season comes along. Worm castings aren’t rich in the N-P-K macronutrients, but are bursting with calcium, magnesium, sulfur and 60 other minerals and organic compounds. Castings also add a huge amount of water-holding capacity by weight to the soil, which is enough of a reason to use them in Colorado.Some network marketing companies claim to have miracle foods and supplements that will improve your metabolism or burn fat even when you’re not eating or drinking them. Every bite of food from a gardener’s plot does that, too. How? Not from a patented ionic widget, but from the exercise and fresh air the gardener gets at every step, from bed prep through harvest.Moderately intensive gardening will burn between 350 and 600 calories per hour ó 10 times the calories of a bunch of kale and twice that of a baked potato from the garden. If the hail gets your veggies first like it did for most gardeners in 2016, then you get the full benefit of the exercise without any of the calories.So make your resolutions last by setting yourself up now for gardening success once spring returns, long after you stop going to the recreation center fitness classes and throw out the last of the seaweed smoothies.

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