HOW TO GROW AN ANTI-ACNE, ANTI-AGING CONTAINER GARDEN

 

I was recently inspired to up my organic veggie game after watching a YouTube video of the awe-inspiring “ageless woman,” Annette Larkins.  She is a very sharp, vivacious 74-year-old woman who doesn’t look a day over 40.   Talk about inspiration!  She attributes her overall health, not to mention her stunning looks, to her raw vegan diet.

She has never had surgery and she doesn’t blow off her wrinkle free skin on genetics.  According to her, if it were up to genetics she might not be alive at all.  Cancer runs deep in her family.   Annette lost both her grandmother and mother to that dreadful disease while they were in their 30’s and 40’s. She decided she wanted a different path.

Annette made up her mind to not only survive in this life, but to thrive.  In order to do that, she turned her yard into a flourishing garden complete with a lush noni tree, aloe vera plants, and enough green produce to rival Whole Foods.  I have to admit, as impressed as I was with her green thumb, there was something else that roused my admiration.

This woman uses pots to plant her veggies!  Now that might not be a big deal to you, but to someone who screams at the sight of a worm, trust me, it’s huge.  Believe it or not, I wasn’t always terrified of the little wigglers. I used to play with them as a kid.  But that childish fearlessness went away around the same time I stopped making mudpies.

Fortunately, I don’t have to try to recapture my youthful bravery.  The great thing about putting your plants in pots is that you get to use store bought dirt.   Translation: no little wiggly, eyeless, earless surprises to jump from the earth to greet you.  Can I get an amen?  So how does one go about creating a thriving, acne, and wrinkle fighting container garden?

PICK YOUR POT

If you’re a newbie, like me, go with a large pot.  They are more forgiving.  The bigger the pot, the more soil it can hold, which means it will hold moisture longer.  You’ll end up watering less often.  So how big is big enough?  Opt for 10-inch-wide and 12-inch-deep containers.

If you decide to plant a vining crop like tomatoes, 20 inches or more across is your best bet.  They need room to grow.  Throw in a wire cage to keep them supported.  Tomatoes are great for anti-aging because they are a rich source of lycopene.  A type of carotenoid, lycopene, reduces oxidative damage.  Higher levels of skin lycopene have been shown to reduce skin roughness.

That’s not all.  Lycopene also helps block harmful ultraviolet rays that can age skin.  You’ll still need to use sunscreen daily, but adding tomatoes to your diet will boost your level of protection.  Even tomato sauce and tomato paste are full of lycopene.  From salads to gluten free pasta dishes, you can find a ton of ways to add tomatoes to your diet.

Tomatoes aren’t the only veggie that likes a roomy pot.  Peppers like to be placed in containers that are at least 16 inches in diameter.   Peppers are a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber.  They are loaded with antioxidants including ascorbic acid, carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols.  This powerhouse of antioxidants fights free radicals and attacks acne by reducing inflammation.

Also, they help keep your hormones in balance by not spiking insulin.  Excess insulin leads to more of the hormones called androgens.  More androgens lead to more acne.  A diet rich in veggies is great for promoting clear skin.  Just keep in mind that tomatoes and peppers need an open spot with lots of air circulation to avoid diseases.

Another plant that is packed with antioxidants is spinach.  It is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6.  The antioxidants in vitamins C and E attack free radicals that create oxidative damage.   Research suggests oxidative stress does play a significant role in the development of acne.  Kale is also rich in vitamin A and vitamin C.   Like spinach, kale is a powerful anti-inflammatory food that fights free radicals and reduces the damage they cause.

PLANTING MADE EASY

To give your veggies the tender loving care they crave, use organic potting mixes designed for containers.  Go to a nursery and ask for potting mix specifically created for larger outdoor containers.

Check out the below if you’re not sure how much potting mix you’ll need:

  • 3 pints of soil per 6-inch pot
  • 3 ½ gallons of mix per 12-inch pot
  • 6 ½ gallons of mix per 20-inch pot

Now you know what type of potting mix to use and the amount.  What’s next?  You’ll need to soak the potting mix.  After it is completely soaked, let it sit for a few hours.  Letting it sit will drain excess water from the mix. Make sure your pot has drainage holes so excess water can escape.

You are now ready to start planting your garden.  Go to a garden center and choose seeds or transplants depending on what you want to grow.  Follow the package direction when planting seeds.  Don’t expect all of the seeds to grow because they won’t.  Simply plant more than you’ll need and thin it out later.

If you buy transplants, pay attention to the level they were in while growing in their pots.  That is the same level you’ll need to place them in their new container home.  If you’re looking to put more wrinkle fighting lycopene in your body, buy 1 tomato transplant per 5-gallon container.   Acne fighting pepper requires 2 transplants per 5-gallon container.  Use seeds to plant antioxidant rich spinach.  Place seeds 3 inches apart in a 1-gallon container.  Kale seeds need to be placed ½ inch deep and 3 inches apart per 5-gallon container if direct sowing.

WATER REGULARLY

Once you get your plants potted, gently water them enough to settle the transplants or seeds.  Weekly feed your veggies with a water-soluble fertilizer to keep them from drying out.  Always follow package directions.  You can also place straw or compost around plants to help retain moisture.  Keep your plants healthy by removing or treating plants with insect damage or disease.  Once they reach a point where you can eat them, pluck and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Bon appetit!

WEEKLY TIP

To reap the full benefits of eating home grown, pesticide and germicide free food, follow these tips:

Place plants in appropriate pots.  Avoid containers made of treated wood.  Chemicals can leach into your veggies and contaminate your precious greens.  Also, opt for light pots.  Dark colors absorb heat – just like clothing.  Have you ever worn head to toe black in the thick of August?  If so, you get where I’m going with this.  The lighter the color, the less the pot will heat itself.  The last thing you want to do is make the soil too warm for your crops to grow in the summer – especially if you live in a hot and humid climate.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is provided as an information resource only.  It is not to be used or relied upon for any treatment or diagnostic purposes.  This information is not intended to be patient education.  It should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  The statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.   This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition, such as if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a mental condition.  Please read all product packaging carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program. Cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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Sources

Jonathan V.  Straumfjord, “Vitamin A: Its Effects on Acne,” Northwest Medicine 42 (August 1943): 225.

Al-Shobaili HA, “Oxidants and anti-oxidants status in acne vulgaris patients with varying severity. “ Ann Clin Lab Sci. 2014 Spring;44(2):202-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24795060

“How to Grow a Plentiful Container Vegetable Garden,”

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/growing-vegetables-in-containers/