Staying Lean – Tips For Staying Lean

“What goes up, must come down.” When ’70’s music sensation Billy Preston immortalized those words in his catchy tune, he must have been thinking about some of the professional bodybuilders gracing the posing dais these days. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s in vogue again to “bulk up” or should I say, “pork out” in the so-called off-season. This was a common practice from the 1950’s through the 1970’s, but I thought that common sense had prevailed during the bodybuilding renaissance of the 1980’s and that bulking up was as passé as bell-bottom jeans. I was wrong! These days, you’d think that reverse anorexia and dysmorphia were spreading like SARS in the pro bodybuilding community. I mean, in the off season, some of these guys look like they are pitching their tents at the local all-you-can-eat buffet!

Let’s look at the facts. You DO have to eat extra calories and protein to pack on quality muscle. But bloating yourself up with a lot of extra pounds of fat and fluid doesn’t just look bad, it hurts your health, not to mention not doing a thing for gaining muscle mass. My philosophy is that you can get just as BIG as the guys that are porking out, without overeating. That means you can stay leaner and healthier, not to mention looking better, year-round. I mean, who wants to look like a porker for 9 months out of the year? I want to be able to proudly display the results of my training efforts when I have to take my shirt off, without making excuses for my condition! And now, with summer just around the corner, you can’t afford NOT to look good!

Here are some thoughts on those things that help me to stay in my best shape year round, while still gaining muscle…

Tip #1

Consistency is at the heart of any successful program, regardless of what your bodybuilding goals are. The surest way to succeed is one day at a time. That means planning your meals in advance, so that you’re not caught off guard with nothing to eat at regularly scheduled feeding times. That also means planning your training on a calendar, so that at a glance you can see not only you’re your planned workouts are, but the “big picture” ; how all of your workouts are fitting together over the course of a month. It’s amazing what this little habit has done for me. My calendar holds me accountable. At the beginning of each day I look at what body parts I am training that day. At the end of the day, I put a check mark on the calendar, indicating that I have succeeded. And at the end of month, I can tally up how many workouts I did for different body parts, and make adjustments if I need to. If you don’t do this, you are setting yourself up for haphazard results: “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Tip #2

Another success factor is having a good training partner. Yes, that’s right. A training partner can help keep you consistent by showing up and helping you stay motivated. Just make sure that you choose a reliable partner that shows up and is truly interested in working out, not wasting time yapping or visiting. It’s more fun training with someone than by yourself, and it will help to keep you on track when you know that you are accountable to someone. What’s that? You say workouts aren’t supposed to be fun?

Then get a partner because misery loves company. Consistency is key when it comes to bodybuilding. Training partners help.

Tip #3

Staying lean year round is also easier when you commit to exercising every day. This is a mentality that has served me well. Now, I don’t lift weights every day, but I do some form of exercise every day. On days that I don’t lift, I do aerobics, typically riding the stationary bike, swimming, or running. (Running to the fridge doesn’t count.) Doing some form of activity every day stimulates your metabolism and helps you burn unwanted calories. It also improves recovery time from workouts, as long as it’s not overdone. That’s because anytime you exercise, your blood circulates through your body, bringing muscle-building nutrients and oxygen to your muscles, and improving your body’s ability to eliminate waste products that are generated during weight training.

Tip #4

When it comes to weight training, keep your workouts short and intense to stimulate muscle growth along with your metabolic rate. I find that working out at a fast pace helps me get leaner and more muscular. But how fast is fast enough? I usually perform a set, then rest only long enough to catch my breath before beginning the next set. In that manner, I don’t exceed my cardiovascular capacity by not resting long enough, nor do I let my muscles regain all of their strength before starting the next set. After all, my goal is to fatigue my muscles more and more with each succeeding set until they hit what I call the “growth threshold.” The growth threshold is the point at which the level of fatigue in the muscle is high enough that a growth response is elicited. Your goal during a workout should be to fatigue the target muscles you are training more and more with each succeeding set. In other words, you want the muscles to progressively get more and more tired out, until you reach a point where the muscles are functionally “worn out.” What you are doing is creating overload in the muscles. Creating overload is a good thing, because this is a stress that your muscles are temporarily unable to handle. Signals are sent to the brain that set up the compensation, or growth process during the post workout period, so that in future workouts, you can handle the increased workload.

Tip #5

Rely on your weight training workouts to stimulate your metabolism and keep you lean. Weight training stimulates muscle tissue and muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in your body, burning large amounts of calories, even at rest. If muscle is the currency of the bodybuilder, this is definitely where the “rich get richer.” You see, the more muscle you carry the more calories you burn. The more calories you burn the leaner you get. Get the picture? Train with weights 4-5 times per week. Do cardio on your off days, and on days when you can tag them onto the tail end of your weight training. Personally I like a two-on, one-off, three-on, one-off program, alternating push muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps), pull muscles (back and biceps) and legs. Abs and calves get worked three times per week.

Tip #6

Cardio is fine for the heart, lungs and circulation, but do little for body fat levels and overall body composition when compared to the combined effects of weight training and a high protein, controlled-calorie diet. Aerobics are great to improve your recovery from workouts and keep your heart and lungs in good shape for those 400 pound squats!

Tip #7

When it comes to fueling yourself for those 400 pound squats, there’s nothing that beats small frequent feedings during the day. You should be eating like a bull, and not a pig, if you want to get big and lean. Bulls graze all day long. Bulls carry a lot of muscle. Pigs eat too much at one time. Pigs carry a lot of fat. Pretty elementary, right? Eating excess calories does not “force feed” your muscles at all. Once your muscles have all the nutrients and calories they need from a meal, excess calories are deposited as body fat. By eating small, frequent meals during the day, you will stimulate your metabolism more, especially when they are foods that are high in protein, such as chicken breasts, egg whites, fish, turkey, and protein drinks. Protein is a metabolically intensive macronutrient, requiring more calories to digest than carbohydrates or fats.

Tip #8

Eating smaller meals will also help to keep your stomach smaller and tighter. Abdominal distension is a reality for those who are in the habit of gorging themselves. Over time, the stomach stretches. To compound matters, over-eating can result in excess intra-abdominal fat, which further exacerbates the “beer gut” look. Check out the bellies on some of the current pro bodybuilders. Where did the tight, wasp-like waists that the bodybuilders of the 70’s and 80’s go?

Tip #9

Eating smaller meals throughout the day will be easier when you pack your meals ahead of time. Don’t wait until it’s time to eat and start scrounging up food. That leads to no-win situations where your appetite gets the best of you. I usually cook up a bunch of potatoes, yams, rice, beans and chicken breasts on the weekends, then bag up individual serving size portions in Zip Lock bags and freeze them. Then, at the beginning of each weekday, I pull what I need from the freezer, and pack it into my cooler along with fresh fruit and water. I’ll throw in a couple of Lean Body® RTD’s or MRP’s for extra measure, and I am off to the races. I like to eat my own food whenever I can, because that way, I know that I am not getting any hidden fat calories, which is often the case with restaurant food.

Tip #10

Some last words on your diet: Don’t deprive yourself. Look, you can’t eat everything you want, whenever you want because you’ll end up looking like a sack of guano. But, on the other hand, if you constantly deprive yourself of every single food that catches your fancy, you’ll derail your dieting efforts, and you’ll end up binging on the wrong foods, which is an unhealthy behavior. The key word here is behavior, and when it comes to the psychology of eating, what we want to develop are sustainable behaviors, or habits. Food deprivation or the perception of food deprivation is as much a mental thing as it is a physical thing.

Tip #11

Often times, the more you deny yourself a food, the more the craving for that thing grows. That’s why I recommend a cheat meal at least once a week. I can stick with my diet all week if I know that I can splurge a little at one meal on the weekend. That doesn’t mean I scarf down a half gallon of ice cream and a pizza in one sitting either. I always only eat until I am comfortably full, and then I stop. What happens if I crave something during the week? One of two things. First, I make sure that I eat a meal with some protein in it, then I wait an hour. That usually normalizes my blood sugar levels, which is often at the root of any sort of cravings. If that doesn’t work, I go to step two; choosing a healthier alternative to what I want. For example, if I crave ice cream, I will have a low-fat frozen yogurt. If I crave a candy bar, I will have one of those delicious Lean Body® GOLD bars with nuts and caramel. Heck, I’m getting 30 grams of protein and only a few measly grams of sugar, so why not?

Try some of these ideas and keep your physique leaner as you pack on the muscle. You’ll feel better and look better year round. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in one day, so stick with your program. Nothing worthwhile is accomplished over night, and it takes consistency to keep your physique sharp.

Yours for a Leaner Body,

Lee Labrada,

Your Lean Body Coach

How to Clean Ear Wax

Ear wax plays an important role by trapping dirt and foreign microbes that could possibly cause injure in the ear. Ear wax also acts as lubricant in the ear canal and the eardrum. However, excessive ear wax that hardened in the ear canal can cause hearing loss. Ear wax may be cleaned on your own following the simple steps:

  1. To remove the accumulated wax, load up the dropper half full the with drops. You may use baby oil or mineral oil as an alternative to commercial ear drops.
  2. Lean your head towards the opposite shoulder of the affected ear. Make sure the affected ear is facing up, and to hold the ear dropper 3 inches from the ear. Place 3 – 4 drops into the ears, and let it set for 3 minutes while your head is kept tilted.
  3. Do the same procedure if the other ear is affected as well, by leaning your head towards the opposite shoulder of the other ears. Place 3 – 4 drops and keep your head steady for 3 minutes.
  4. Use the same dropper to rinse your ears. Fill it up with warm water. Rest your head on your shoulder, hold your upper ear up and pull back a little for an easy access into the ear canal. Insert the dropper and squeeze out gently small volumes of warm water.
  5. Do the same procedure for the other ear. Tilt your head on the opposite shoulder, hold your upper ear up and pull back. Squeeze out the water gently and allow it to work for a few minutes to soften the wax from the ear canal. After this, tilt your head on the opposite side to allow the water to drain from the ear.
  6. Use a cotton wash cloth or towel to dry them. Simply pat dry, and do not rub to prevent causing irritation or damage. You can now dispose the excess ear drops in the ear dropper, and make sure to wash all soiled materials with antibacterial soap and hot water. Make sure that the water isn’t too hot.

If you’re finding that these steps don’t work, there are many other options that you can partake in. While earwax generally can’t cause that many big problems, you can always consult with a local doctor to see what he/she believes. There are some great over the counter medications, as well as prescriptions that you may want to use.

Holding An Umbrella

Can you imagine yourself getting out during a rainy day without holding the beloved shelter of an umbrella in your hand? Even if your raincoat matches your outfit and keeps your clothes dry while walking under the rain, the use of an umbrella has transcended generations, royal customs and cultures, becoming a necessity, a cheap but highly desirable device that can indeed protect the beholder as well as improve his or her overall appearance.

Primarily the umbrella was used as a   sunshade  device, usually carried by ladies in order to protect their fair skins’ tones from the harmful sunlight. According to ancient scripts and representations, the parasol, or commonly referred today as the umbrella, was first seen in China, roughly 2,400 years ago. A human invention that according to historians its present form is based on the simpler practice of tiding together large leaves to form a protection shelter against the rain or the sun. Waving the original designs in the air in front of a high ranking individual, was a practice that was transferred through trade and the “Silk Road” to other ancient civilizations, like the Persians, the Egyptians, or the Greeks, from whom the Romans first saw it and continued to carry it as a symbol of class or even royalty. Religious leaders or people with higher social status were the usual beneficiaries who enjoyed the umbrella’s protection characteristics.

Nevertheless, things changed over the years and in 17th century England, umbrellas were already used as rain protectors. In particular, Jonas Hanway, was the first Englishman credited with having habitually carried an umbrella during his frequent travels. Those years, the umbrella had a long heavy handle, with ribs of whalebone or cane and sometimes even made of metal. The covering material consisted of oiled silk or cotton and it was William Sangster who in 1848 patented the use of alpaca as an umbrella’s covering material. A few years later, in 1852, Samuel Fox was the one who introduced the innovative “U” design for the umbrella’s steel-ribbed skeleton so as to combine lightness, increase strength and improve its ribs elasticity.

Today, umbrellas are used by all both as a sun and rain protection mechanism. As classes and power roles are now signified by a different, more expensive set of apparatus, umbrella manufacturers have promoted a different image for the contemporary umbrellas’ uses. From the famous Hollywood scene in which Gene Kelly is singing in the rain and dances around the city’s streets holding an umbrella, to the hot summer beaches where umbrellas are used as sun protection devices, umbrellas are always in fashion and most importantly, always in need. Found in a great variety of rain, beach, patio, pool, or parasol umbrellas, and produced in different sizes and color schemes, umbrellas have been an element of focus for centuries and a device that once even signified social class, royalty and power.

Exterior Awnings

By virtue of their function, all  awnings  essentially work as exterior  awnings . In residential dwellings,  awnings  are usually found in backyards for entertaining guests, covering parking spaces, and on windows along the side of the home.  Awnings  are also installed on the exterior face of the buildings, above either doors or windows, or on top of areas along sidewalks.  Awnings  installed in the backyard protect people from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays on hot sunny days. They also provide protection from rain, snow, and other elements during winter.  Awnings  are also mounted over open balconies and patios to offer respite from the elements over a larger area.  Awning  can also be used as temporary car parking shades in open areas to protect the paint and the interior of the cars from fading.

Small sized lightweight exterior  awnings  are usually made from aluminum or hollow galvanized iron sectional frames and tough fabric or canvas roofs. Larger  awnings  can have roofs made of aluminum slats. They are designed to be durable, strong, and have the ability to withstand winds and storms. They are an ideal choice for those who wish to cover a relatively large area and prefer a heavy-duty structure. However, the disadvantage to  awnings  with metal slat roofs is that it can get noisy as a drumbeat during rain and storms. Also, aluminum  awnings  offer only limited sizes for selection and are usually difficult to customize.

 Awnings  made from cloth and canvas, on the other hand, are available in countless colors and designs. They can be easily customized to the required size and shape, so consumers can always find one that matches the exterior of the home. These types of  awnings  are cheaper than  awnings  with metal slat roofs. They are also relatively less resilient to adverse weather conditions and the color of the material will gradually fade due to ultraviolet rays. Also,  awnings  made from vinyl, canvas, or cloth require more maintenance and have to be regularly cleaned to avoid permanent stains and mold growth.

Seat Belts: Safety On The Road

Volvo has the honor of being the first to implement seat belts in 1849. The first U.S. patent for automobile seat belts was issued to Edward J. Claghorn of New York, New York on February 10, 1885.

This patent was described as a Safety-Belt for tourists that was “designed to be applied to a the person, and provided with hooks and other attachments for securing the person to a fixed object.”

Failure to wear seat belts is responsible for more fatalities than any other single traffic behavior. In all of the traffic accidents reported for 1999, 63% of fatalities were not wearing seat belts.

Wearing a seat belt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to prevent unnecessary traffic deaths and injuries on America’s roadways.

Traffic data suggests that education alone is not enough to convince young people, especially males from ages 16 to 25 of the dangers of not using seat belts. This age group is caught up in the belief in their immortality due to their young age.

It is this age group that also exhibits the most violation of drunk driving laws. They are also the most prone to speeding, and other traffic related law violations.

Because of this, it has been suggested that stronger seat belt laws and higher visibility enforcement campaigns be enforced to make them buckle up.

Seat belts are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today, estimated to save 9,500 lives each year. If 90 percent of Americans buckle up, it could prevent more than 5,500 deaths and 132,000 injuries annually.

The cost of unbuckled drivers and passengers goes beyond those killed and the loss to their families. Everyone pays for this negligence. It may be in the form of higher taxes, higher health insurance fees, and higher medical costs.

Imagine running as fast as you can, into a wall. You’d expect to get pretty banged up. What if while running at full speed a wall suddenly appeared in front of you? Would you be able to stop instantaneously?

This is exactly the situation one faces when the front of his or her car hits something at only 15 miles an hour. The car stops in the first tenth of a second, but you keep on at the same rate you were going in the car until something stops you, the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield, if you’re not wearing your safety belt.

If this could happen at 15 miles an hour, imagine what a 30 mile per hour collision would result in? It would be the same as hitting the pavement after a 3 story fall.

A properly worn safety belt keeps that second collision – the human collision, from happening.

“Properly worn” means with both straps safely fitted to transfer the impact of the collision to the parts of your body that can take it, the hipbones and shoulder bones.

With just the shoulder strap on, one can still slide out from under and get strangled. The lap belt alone doesn’t keep one’s face from hitting the steering wheel or other parts of the car.

Wearing seat belts is the law in most countries. There really isn’t any reason not wear them aside from plain laziness. But imagine, that investment of a couple of seconds before you carry on to drive could save your life. Why not make that commitment to invest now?

Connect the Bridge

Our lives seem microwave prepared, and we struggle to connect the bridge between communicating, compassion, and character. In our society we sprint through life, focusing on insignificant misunderstanding, indifference, loneliness, and self-righteousness. We are gasping for the next technology update. Instead of bridging the gap between generations, communities, and cultures; we isolate ourselves further via technology tools. We should place a stop gate to communication barriers like, unfamiliar clichés, medical jargons, business abbreviations, and slangs. Speaking of the cliché, water under the bridge, misunderstanding spans a generation between generation and families.

Additionally, Instead of communicating with our parents, friends, colleagues, and relatives, we text. Effortlessly, we email, send secure messages, instant messages, faxes, and internet global communication, instead of face to face encounters. We zoomed through drive-in cleaners, drive-in banks, drive-in fast food restaurants, drive-in churches, and drive-in grocery stores. Whatever happened to essentially gathering for coffee without glaring or playing on your iPhone, iPad, and laptop? Can we swing open the bridge of communication, and express ourselves up close and personal minus the modern electronic devices.

Besides, we lost the ability to care for others. Especially driving on the highway, road, and local bridge traffic. Abruptly, a driver swishes pass you, and mistakenly run you off the road. In the meantime, you are taken to the hospital, and wait for hours in the hospital. After leaving the hospital, you call in sick, your insensitive supervisor threats to fire you. Your loved ones ignore hearing your tiresome misadventure. Does this seem familiar? You wonder whatever happened to the bridge of compassion, and families desiring to support one another.

Moreover, the bridge of caring is a lost art, as well the bridge of character. What is character? Character is respect, trust, having a moral conscience, and self-control. What does that mean, doing what is right, not doing what I say, or not what I do? We lie, we disrespect authority, and treat the church as a social club. We lack self-control, because we have no moral conscience. We purchase videos on how to have self-control, attend customer service classes on respect, and watch YouTube sermons on moral conscience. Perhaps, we learned these traits during childhood, and carelessly omitted them as we matured.

Unquestionably, we can bridge the gap, and link to our community, aging generation, co-workers, and most importantly our families. The methods to bridge the gap is turning off the television, waiting to text, even writing a letter to loved ones, and have prepared meals with families. Hopefully, dining more than once or twice a year, like during the holidays. Road rage will be outlawed, and the elderly driver is screened prior to driver license renewal. Students are taught to respect the teachers in the school, pastors are allowed to teach about morality, and children learn self-control from infancy. Most important reconstruct the bridge, and reconnect the bridge of relationships, one steel cable at a time, and see where the bridge will take you!

DaimlerChrysler Inaugurates Charleston Assembly Plant

On March 27, a new plant for DaimlerChrysler was opened with the Governor of South Carolina present during the inauguration. The new plant is located ion Ladson, South Carolina and this is found just on the outskirts of Charleston.

The new assembly plant will be producing the Sprinter – a full size van for the Dodge and Freightliner brands. The Sprinter has been sold in the U.S. since 2001 and it has received quite a good response from American business owners. Since these vans are not designed for private buyers, the primary buyers of these vehicles are those from the commercial sector.

The demand for the Sprinter has been growing steadily in the United States. In response to this, DaimlerChrysler see it fit that a new assembly plant be constructed to meet the demands for the practical vehicle. Until recently, DaimlerChrysler’s only plant producing Sprinters is the facility in Gaffney. The former assembly plant has an annual production capacity of 22,000.

Meanwhile, the new plant will be able to produce 32,000 units of the Sprinter every year. The plant is located in a 42,780 square meter site and the company has invested $35 million on the said project.

Wilfried Porth, the head of the Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Unit of DaimlerChrysler AG, has this to say at the inauguration: “The Dodge Sprinter and Freightliner Sprinter set standards in their sector for safety, variability and environmental protection. We are proud to be able to offer our latest product in the van segment also on the American market so soon after its presentation. I thank all colleagues who made the opening of this plant possible today through their personal effort and commitment.”

The Sprinter sold in the U.S. under the Dodge and Freightliner brands is dubbed as North America’s top performing van. The full size van is offered in three different vehicle lengths and two options for the length of the wheelbase. The vehicle also offers three different roof heights which is the most offered by a full size van. Consumers can also pick between two V6 engines to power the Sprinter and both of which are as reliable as Volvo S40 parts. A 3.0-liter diesel V6 or a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 is the choice offered by the Sprinter to its potential costumers.

Aside from the massive powerplant, the Sprinter is also equipped with an ADPTIVE ESP. This technology is said to be the latest in electronic stability program. The ESP gives drivers of vehicles equipped with it adequate control of the vehicle even on tight cornering. The new ADAPTIVE ESP has additional sensors which makes it much safer than the original stability program used by its predecessors. The new Sprinter produced at the newly opened plant will be available for consumers this spring.

How to Mount a Plasma LCD TV on the Wall

So your considering getting yourself a flat screen (or you already have) and now want to explore the benefits to mounting it to your wall. All the terminology and acronyms may be overwhelming at first but I will do my best to explain what you need to know. If you already own a flat screen you can skip over Step 1.

Step 1: Selecting your type of screen, LCD or Plasma.

It is safe to say your interested in a high definition television (HDTV). If your looking for a traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) television you must look elsewhere, they are a dying breed and will not be covered in this article. HDTV’s come in variety of types, the major players being LCD’s, plasmas, rear projections and front projections. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, it is not important to understand what that is, just know it is the same technology that is behind the flat screen computer monitors you see everywhere. The focus of this article will be on LCD’s and plasmas as they are considered flat panels and can be easily mounted to the wall through commonly available mounts.

Let me squash a common misconception right now. LCD technology has come a long way and now produces a picture that is very similar to plasma screens. For the purposes of mounting I will tell you a few of the differences between LCD and plasma. LCD televisions are almost always going to be lighter for their respective size than plasma screens. This makes mounting a little easier and less expensive, as you might not need a mount that is rated for higher weight capacities. You might not need to reinforce the mounts insertion point into your wall either. LCD’s are also easier to transport in the event of a move, plasma screens are notorious for cracking/crushing under their own weight when not transported properly.

For those of you that are conscious of “going green” or saving money on your electrical bill, consider LCD’s as they consume much less power per respective size than plasma screens. There are many other differences in specifications and performance between LCD and plasma but none that are applicable to mounting. The average consumer/enthusiast would not be able to tell the difference, personally I gravitate towards LCD screens. Hopefully now you have an idea of which television type you will be going with and can proceed to step two.

Step 2: Selecting your screen size.

One of the most commonly asked questions is what size TV to get. Selecting the proper TV size is very important and should not be overlooked. Whenever talking about the screen size remember televisions are measured diagonally (bottom left corner to upper right corner). This assumption should always be made when measuring unless specifically stated otherwise. The biggest thing to consider is how far the majority of viewers will be from the screen. Keep in mind that after mounting your television the majority of screens will sit about 3 inches off the wall. Measure how far your seating is from the wall you plan to mount your screen to. Add 3 inches to your estimate to take into account the mount which will sit between the wall and your screen. The general rule for HDTV’s is the viewer wants to be approximately 1.5 – 3 times the distance in TV size (inches) from the screen. Translation: If your television is 36 the viewer should be sitting at a minimum of 54 inches from the screen and at a maximum of 108 inches. You do not want to be too close to a HDTV screen as they are designed to be viewed from certain distances. Sitting too close will make you question your HDTV picture quality and also lead to some serious eye strain. If you sit too far from your screen your eyes cannot appreciate the level of detail as they will not be able to resolve the full resolution of the screen. Sitting too far will also sacrifice the “immersion” feeling your HDTV screen is meant to provide. I highly suggest sitting somewhere in the middle of the recommended viewing range. This should be ample sizing information for any home video/audio enthusiast.

Step 3: How to select the proper TV mount? All things considered.

Selecting the proper TV mount is not difficult at all. There are a few different styles out there to choose from. The first type of mount I will discuss are the Low Profile TV Mounts, they are also referred to as flat mounts or flush mounts. These mounts have no range of motion and hold your television screen about 1 inch from the wall. These are perfect for people that are looking for a very low profile and sleek look for their HDTV screen. These mounts will keep your television flush to wall and minimize wasted space in tight areas or small rooms. It is important to note, with Low Profile TV Mounts, you will most likely need to remove the TV from the mount to attach/detach cables.

The next type of mount is the Tilt TV Mount. Tilt mounts do exactly what the name implies, they allow the screen to pitch downward for situations where you need the screen mounted higher than viewing level on the wall. Examples of when these mounts come in handy are retail stores, board rooms or bedrooms for when you want a nice viewing angle while lying down. Different models have varied ranges of motion, the average mount provides 15 to 20 degrees of tilt, usually more than enough to meet people’s needs. Mounts with further tilt are available, just be sure to check the specifications before buying.

The third and final mount to be discussed is the Swivel TV Mount, also referred to as articulating mounts or cantilever mounts. Swivel mounts have the ability to extend the TV away from the wall and rotate the screen in either direction. The typical swivel mount can allow the TV to sit anywhere from 5 to 20 inches from wall and rotate approximately 60 degrees in either direction. Most swivel mounts also allow for around 15 – 20 degrees of tilt much like a Tilt Mount. I highly recommend Swivel Mounts for those who want the most flexibility and customization of optimal viewing angles. They are perfect for those who require maximum adjustability of their Flat Screen TV. Tilt and Swivel Mounts are also ideal for those constantly connecting different wires to the TV as they allow some work room behind the screen.

Now that you have a style of mount in mind you need to consider the size screen. When purchasing a mount you will notice they can accommodate a range of TV sizes. How is this so? Most mountable HDTV’s conform to agreed specifications set by the Video Electronics Standards Association or more commonly known as VESA. VESA refers mostly to the hole mounting pattern on the TV and mount. Most mounts and TV’s will conform to this standard but be sure to double check before purchasing. What if you already purchased a television that is not VESA compatible? No problem! There are many commercially available adapter plates which allow you to mount your television to VESA compatible mounts. What does this all mean you ask? Basically, TV’s of many sizes will have the same hole configuration on the rear of the screen to make finding and installing a mount as painless as possible.

The weight of your TV is also important. The weight of your screen can most commonly be found in the instruction manual or on the box, sometimes it can also be found on the rear of the screen. If all else fails it should be listed on the manufacturers website. When browsing for mounts they will usually give you a maximum weight they can safely accommodate. Do not EVER exceed the maximum recommended weight! Worst case scenario your screen rips out of the wall and falls to the floor leaving you with a broken TV and holes in your wall. If your TV is within 20 pounds of the maximum weight I always recommend going with a beefier mount with a higher weight rating. The maximum weight guidelines do not take into account the weight of the wires plugged into the back of the TV screen. The weight or tension of the wires is not negligible! Most people have anywhere from 2 to 14 wires plugged into the back of your screen, this additional load adds up. Do not forget people may be tempted to touch or lean on the screen, you even exert force when tilting/swiveling it to a new position. If your within 20 pounds of the maximum weight consider getting the beefier mount, the extra few bucks spent here may save you hundreds in the long run.

Step 4: Installing the TV mount.

This article is only to be used as a general guide, always follow supplied instructions. When deciding how high to mount your TV, the best viewing angle is always straight on (eye level). If you were to draw a horizontal line across the middle of your TV (don’t actually draw a line on your screen), this line should correspond to the eye level of your viewers. In the case of Tilt Mounts, you can mount the screen even higher and tilt the screen to compensate for the height. The first step should be to identify a section of wall suitable for the mount. I never recommend installing TV mounts into drywall alone, regardless of the weight! Drywall cannot support the weight of your screen and will easily break causing your set to fall to the floor. Your best bet is to identify a stud (wooden beam) behind the drywall that you can screw into. Mounts can also be installed into brick and concrete, these installs are rather simple as you do not need to worry about finding studs, the brick/concrete is sturdy enough on its own to hold the weight. Always make sure your mounting hardware penetrates into the stud. If your home/office makes use of metal framework instead of wooden studs, I recommend commonly available toggle bolts. They can be found at a local hardware store or online. Environmental factors should be considered as well. There has been a recent trend to hanging flatscreens above the fireplace. While this looks nice, the temperature fluctuations have shown to decrease TV performance and even to damage the screen. It can be done however, but first verify the wall/chimney above the fireplace does not have temperature fluctuations of more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Trace amounts of smoke can also lead to discoloration over time. The same thing goes for baseboard heat and radiators. Make sure the TV is far enough away that it is not subject to extreme temperature fluctuations.

The final step before drilling is to pencil the mounting holes on the wall. You want to make absolutely sure they are level. You can use a wall level or simply measure up from the floor and make sure the distances are equal. Take the time to do the measurements now, an un-level installation will result in a crooked TV, no good! This can be very difficult to correct and detrimental to your dry wall as you will have to re-screw. Just as dad always said, “measure twice, drill once.” If you are not “hardware/construction” savvy or familiar with the construction of your home, you should consider investing in a stud finder. Most Stud finders will identify metal and wood beams you can anchor into, the one I featured will also indicate the presence of live electrical wiring. Never drill into a wall if you are unsure whether there is live electrical wiring or plumbing behind it! If you are unsure, confused or not very confident at this point I suggest you spend the money on a professional installation. They can be done rather cheaply and most companies do very good work. For inexperienced people, the cost of the drill, wall level and various other tools may be more expensive than a professional installation. If I convinced you on a professional installer I can recommend one of the best. ArmorMount provides an excellent on-site installation service. I have used them myself and have nothing but great things to say. Visit ArmorMount’s website directly for information regarding ArmorMount’s installation service, I provided a link below.

Step 5: Where can I buy a TV mount?

There a many websites to choose from. Having done a multitude of installations I can personally recommend one website that is truly great. offers all three mounts I spoke about earlier. They can supply mounts for almost every size, weight and brand of television. What I really like about this company is their Mount Finder utility. On the main screen of the website you simply enter your TV brand and the screen size, the website instantaneously displays the different style mounts you can choose from. They supply all the hardware (nuts and bolts) you will need for the installation. Their install kits come ready to accommodate drywall, brick and concrete installations. You also have the option of adding their professional installation service I mentioned earlier (highly recommended for the rookie handyman). I also find their pricing to be highly competitive, they consistently provide the lowest prices and sell quality products. They also advertise free shipping and a 6ft HDMI cable with every purchase. If you had the pleasure of shopping for HDMI cables recently you will agree they are very expensive and what I consider to be the most overpriced item of the home entertainment setup. HDMI cables are rather convenient however, they carry both HDTV video and digital sound up to 1080P. They potentially eliminate up to five separate cables (3 Component Video / 2 RCA Audio). ArmorMount also has friendly customer service representatives which I found to be very informative and quite pleasant.

I hope you found this guide informative. Remember to always consult a professional if you are unsure regarding an installation and always refer to your instructions/specifications for the final say.

Anvil Or the Hammer

Someone once told me that when they first entered a Karate dojo on their first visit to Japan many years ago and saw everyone sitting in seiza (kneeling position) all lined up in a military fashion without a smile on their faces, he was surprised that he felt through the quite and stillness, a feeling of gentleness.

He believed he had experienced the true spirit of Japan.

People often ask me which martial art I consider to be the best. I think that those who ask this question do not really understand the martial arts world.

Here’s why, in the feudal days of Japan, if you met an opponent you knew that he was out to kill you and it was then a case of kill or be killed. Consequently, the Bushi (warrior class), learnt techniques that would now be considered extremely dangerous.

In order not to cause injury to our training partners, modern Budo (Martial Arts) has incorporated special rules banning such techniques. I covered this in my last article Kata or Combative.

Even in Japan there are very few true martial arts schools that teach and practice killing techniques.

The result is that many of the techniques you are taught today are just for sporting competition and therefore not for real world situations and are not the original Budo techniques at all.

Remember, these rules were developed to avoid injury, which is counter to what they were actually intended for. Real Budo has no rules and execution of a technique in a real confrontation could result in serious injury to the aggressor.

I will leave to your imagination to realise the terrible consequences and the dangers of fighting without rules.

So much of what is taught is nothing but a game. Real combat can never be competitive.

The question which martial art is the best? Well in my opinion no one art is any better than any other, each has its own advantages. No one art has all the answers.

You must understand this one simple fact, the martial arts have a link with the feudal era. So in order to begin to understand the meaning behind any particular martial art you must first learn about traditional Japanese etiquette.

The way of the warrior has been passed down from generation to generation and has survived from those feudal days.

We live in a time of violence, where shootings, and stabbings are commonplace. Budo and sport are different. If it’s budo then we disregard our own life but in sport, then we take safety measures, you must differentiate between the two.

Have We Come Full Circle?

What goes around comes around.

In modern day combative training you don’t fight for sport. You fight to WIN.

Thus, you must strike first be pre-emptive and resort to any tactics as viciously as possible because that is the best form of self-defence.

But also please realise that if you are aware of what is going on around you then you’ll avoid any potential danger areas and won’t end up in a difficult situation in the first place.

Attacking the eyes, gouging, smashing a kneecap, head butting are valid in combative training. One of the most important lessons you can learn is that fancy moves and aerobic kicks being taught in some dojos as self defence just don’t work in reality.

That’s why, combative and experienced martial artists alike are discarding many conventional actions they thought were effective.

What’s more, a lot of practitioners do not want to learn just how to do a Kata (form) or a fancy high kick. They want to learn practical self-protection for today’s environment.

Street Gutter Tactics.

Literally means the techniques of striking vital parts of the body. You cannot burst someone’s eardrum and call it sporting tactics.Indeed, if a Karate person used this technique in a contest he would be disqualified on the spot

To be proficient in any martial art takes years of dedicated practice but as I have said before in today’s high-pressure society many people have neither the time nor the inclination for lengthy training sessions.

As a result, they want a more practical street orientated system, which teaches them to dispose of an assailant as quickly as possible. See my manual: (The Secret Power Of Simple Self Defence Tactics), available on line. They want the best way to zap any attacker.

Some May Even Call It Barbaric!

Mindset and 100% aggression and commitment will win the day. Not sport. When your life is at stack anything goes. All options are viable.

I don’t believe in the philosophy of turning the other cheek. It’s your duty to defend yourself and I’ll certainly retaliate with kind if attacked. If someone tries violently to change my life then I will certainly change theirs that’s for sure.

But learning the craft of close combat does not make you invincible I describe it like learning to swim. It might not necessarily save you from drowning if your ship goes down, but your survival odds are a heck of lot higher than a non-swimmer. Get my point?

In summery, the western military arts have a lot to offer someone who wants to learn about self-protection and until recently civilians were excluded from learning a lot of these extreme end techniques.

But not any more, because with a slight adaptation for civilian life they are now becoming very popular via combative type training clubs and with some excellent enlightened instructors and specialist fighting men who will tell you what really happens when you have to react under stress.

So if you want to learn what really works you ‘de do well to seek them out as they have a wealth of knowledge to impart.

When your backs against the wall you must enter, suffer or triumph.

Train Hard.

Buzz Campion.

How To Get Rid Of Warts Fast – In About 3 Days

How To Get Rid Of Warts Fast If you are ready to learn how to get rid of warts there are respected, natural, effective and painless wart removal remedies that will accomplish true wart removal.

A wart is a small, rough tumor normally found on feet and hands that can possibly look like a cauliflower or a solid blister. Warts are very common and are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) a viral infection and are very contagious from skin contact.

There are many different types of warts that have been identified:

Common Wart – Raised wart with roughened surface on hands and knees

Filiform Wart – Finger-like wart that appears on face and around eyes & lips

Plantar wart – Hard sometimes painful lump, with multiple black dots in the middle; usually found on pressure points on the bottom of feet

Donkey wart – Found around the genital area

Mosaic wart – Cluster of plantar-type warts on the hands or bottom of feet

Flat Wart – Small, smooth flat flesh colored wart that might appear in large numbers on the face, hands, wrists, knees and neck.

Warts may disappear in a few months or in some cases last for years and reoccur for decades. Some types of wart-causing papilloma virus types are known to cause cervical cancer. Knowing how to get rid of warts is important because the longer you have warts the more chances you have of developing harmful side effects.

Several home remedies exist out there for people that want to know how to get rid of warts. Some folk, some myths and others that are outright dangerous. As a rule, wart sufferers should stay away from remedies like cutting warts off using knives, digging warts out with tweezers or using duct tape. These wart removal procedures are not safe and could actually lead to further problems by aggravating the warts themselves.

A recent study tested several wart removal remedies, Dr. Amy Paller, chairman of the Dermatology Dept. at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said “I have plenty of patients come in having tried duct tape. That’s why they come in, because it didn’t work,”.

A new guide has been published that can teach anyone who is interested in learning how to get rid of warts specific steps to take for guaranteed wart removal in 3 days and keeps warts from coming back permanently.

Click here to visit the How To Get Rid Of Warts Fast website and read the guide.

How to Eradicate Moles in Lawns

Your lawn is looking beautiful after all of the hard work you have put into it, and then suddenly mole hills appear. There is nothing worse than seeing your beautiful lawn ruined by the sight of these heaps of soil. Soil is pushed to the surface so the moles can make runs to travel under the surface of your lawn. These runs are also unsightly as they create sunken areas and raised edges on your lawn. Any type of lawns that contains the moles food source (worms) is vulnerable to moles.

Because of the damage that these creatures cause, prevention is better than cure. Moles only invade gardens to feed on worms; therefore reduce the worm population by changing the conditions that are causing the worms. This could mean reducing the organic matter content or lowing the soil pH. If your lawn does have a mole problem, steps will need to be taken to remove them, or encourage them to move on.

There are many methods and techniques on discouraging moles. These include moth balls, disinfectant, burning paper, and used cooking oil amongst many others. Feel free to try any of these methods but unless the mole has been completely removed or killed it is likely to return at some point in the future.

The most effective method is to trap the mole and move it to a safe area away from your lawn. Trapping is quite a skillful operation, but if you follow the correct procedure you should be successful.

The trap needs placing in a run created by the mole. If the runs are raised they will be easy to find. If not, you will need to use a thin stick or bamboo cane to locate the mole run. The run will be between mole hills, so push the cane into the ground and when you feel an area with no resistance you will have located the mole run.

Once you have located the run, dig a small hole with a   trowel  down to the run. It needs to be just large enough in which to place the trap. Before placing the trap in the run, rub your hands in the soil from a mole hill to disguise your scent as moles have a very keen sense of smell.

Once the trap has been correctly set in the run, cover it with some turf and soil or a bucket that has been turned upside down. This is to prevent any light entering the hole.

Check the mole trap 2 to 3 times a day. If the mole has pushed any soil into the trap clean out the soil and repeat the above steps. Once the mole has been trapped it can be relocated to a suitable area, away from your lawn, if it is still living.

If you’re unsuccessful using traps you can enlist the services of a professional contractor. Professional contractors can also gas the moles using phosphine pellets, something amateur gardeners cannot legally carry out.

A Brief Note on Trench Mouth

Trench mouth disease is a type of gingivitis disease that is also termed as gum disease that causes bacterial infections, bleeding gums, ulceration of gums, etc. This disease is very painful, but it can be easily cured, if you take a proper prescription at the right time. Although, you can find this type of disease very rarely in the developed countries, but it is still common in developing countries because of the poor living conditions and deprived nutrition.

It is also known as acute necrotizing gingivitis and Vincent’s Stomastitis in medical terms. This disease came into existence during World War I, when soldiers started getting it. This disease is caused when there are lots of bacteria in the mouth and also the gums in the mouth start developing ulcer.

The exact cause of this condition is still not completely understood, but it may occur because of the following reasons:

• Stress

• Nutritional deficiency

• Poor oral hygiene

• Smoking

• Lowered immune system due AIDS.

If this disease is not treated at the proper time, then it may lead to complications like pain, loss of teeth, dehydration, loss of tissues in the cheeks, jawbone or lips, spread of infection, a serious gum disease called as Periodonititis.

The symptoms for trench mouth are:

• Red or swollen gums problem

• Bleeding from gums when press faintly

• Severe gum pain

• Bad breath

• Fewer

• Swollen lymph nodes around your head neck or jaw

• An older layer on gums and stinking taste inside mouth

Trench mouth disease symptoms can develop very swiftly. As soon as you develop any symptom, visit a good dentist. Frequently, it can be only symptoms of gum problems other than trench mouth disease, but all types of gum disease can be serious. The sooner you take proper treatment, the sooner your gums will return in healthy state and prevent loss of teeth or other tissues.

Ditch the Kibble – The Rise of Dog Food Recipes

Why are so many dog owners turning to dog food recipes instead of sticking with the convenience of commercial pet food? Many have trusted the industry all their lives, but are now learning that the nutritional value of the ingredients are sub-standard. The over-processed ingredients in the store brands greatly lessens it. Furthermore, as we have seen in the news, they may even be using unhealthy, harmful ingredients and chemicals. You are about to learn why dog food recipes are a healthy alternate source for your dog’s nutrition and why their popularity has risen in recent years.

Good dog food recipes contain healthy, wholesome, and sometimes organic ingredients without additives, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, fats, or sweeteners. You’re in control by choosing the recipes that have the healthy ingredients that you are looking for. You will be pleasantly surprised when you see all the great, nutritious meals you can prepare for your dog in your own kitchen.

Besides all the health advantages of feeding your dog homemade meals, the number one benefit is how good you will feel knowing that you are giving your dog the best nutrition which will increase his quality of life and longevity.

And wait until you see all the great ingredients you have to choose from. Ingredients such as lean meats, grains, and vegetables. These are all very healthy and there is no guess work involved. Because you are following dog food recipes, you will always know every ingredient that goes into your dog’s meals. This knowledge and control will give you peace of mind.

However, not all recipes you find out there will be good for your dog, so be sure to learn what foods can be dangerous for him. Most people foods are safe for our dogs, but it isn’t true of all foods. Some can be fatal, so be sure to do your research. Once you find the right dog food recipes and begin making your dogs meals, you will notice that he looks healthier and has a lot more energy. When you see these positive results, it will make the switch to homemade dog food worthwhile.

Dog owners are becoming wise to these facts and are switching to homemade meals for their dogs in increasing numbers. If the pet food industry doesn’t clean up their act, the number of people making the switch to dog food recipes will continue to increase, but that may be the best thing for our dogs.

Essential Elements Of A Valid Contract

A contract is an agreement that can be enforced by a one of the parties to it against the other party through a court of law. Thus, when an agreement is backed by law it is said to be a contract. It is essential to understand the basic concepts and elements of a contract as contracts are at the heart of every commercial transaction. When we purchase a loaf of bread from the supermarket, we enter into a contract of sale of the said loaf of bread with the supermarket owner who in turn has a contract of selling the said bread with the manufacturers of the bread. We also enter into a contract with the manufacturer of the bread whereby we can make them liable for any defect or quality/standards lower than the one made known to the consumer or for any other misleading information which resulted in the purchase of the said loaf of bread. Therefore, there may exist a multiple number of contracts behind every commercial transaction that we enter into during our day to day lives.

The contracts entered into in the Emirate of Dubai are governed by the Dubai Contracts Law of 1971 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the law’). This law also has a retrospective effect and therefore also applies to contracts that were entered into prior to the coming into force of the law. This article analyses the law and considers the essential elements that require to be present in a valid contract in accordance with the law.

According to the law, a contract is defined as an agreement that is enforceable by law. Article 12 further elaborates on the same point by describing the terms that may constitute to be a contract. It reads as follows. “It shall be deemed as a contract any agreement made with the consent and election by parties having the capacity to contract against a lawful consideration and for a lawful purpose unless expressly provided hereinafter to be deemed invalid.” Thus the following conclusions about a valid contract are arrived at:

1. It is an agreement.

2. The consent of and election by the parties entering into the agreement has to be present.

3. The parties must have the capacity to enter into a contract.

4. The presence of lawful consideration is a must.

5. The contract should be entered into for a lawful purpose.

6. The contract should not fall into the categories of invalid contracts that are provided by the law.

The first necessity is that of the presence of an agreement, which is defined as a set of promises with consideration. Thus it is a promise to do or to abstain from doing some act in exchange for consideration. The important question to be answered here is how a promise comes into being, the answer to which is through ‘offer’ and ‘acceptance.’ Offer and acceptance’ are the two most important elements of a contract.


The law defines the term ‘offer’ as ‘the proposal made by a person to another to do or omit to do any act, purported to obtain the consent of the other party to such act or mission.’ In the above example of a supermarket, the consumer while purchasing the loaf of bread puts forward an offer to purchase the said bread for the price inscribed for the same with an intention to obtain consent of the supermarket to accept the same. It is important to note that the display of goods does not amount to offer but only amounts to the invitation to make an offer.

The offer is said to be complete when it is notified to the other party. It can be withdrawn before the acceptance of the other party but not after the other party accepts the offer.


‘Acceptance’ is defined by law as ‘the expression of consent by the person to whom the proposal is made, and thereby the proposal becomes accepted. When the proposal is accepted, it shall become a promise.’ Thus in the example of the loaf of bread, when the representative of the supermarket owner at the billing counter accepts your offer to buy the loaf of bread for the said price, the promise is said to have come into existence. As this promise is backed with consideration i.e. the price of the bread, the transaction is an agreement where the supermarket promises to give you the loaf of bread in exchange for the consideration which you provide to the supermarket in the form of the price in exchange of the loaf of bread.

The acceptance is said to be complete when the person offering is notified of the same by making him aware of the same through any means of communication.


The term consideration is defined by law as anything done or omitted to be done, is being done or omitted to be done or shall be done or omitted to be done by the promisee and anything that the promisee arranges to do or omit to do, subject to the provisions of this Law, provided that all is done or omitted to be done as demanded by the promisor. Here the promisee is referred to for the party who accepts the proposal and the promisor is referred to for the party who provides an offer for the proposal.

In the example of the loaf of bread, the promise of providing the loaf of bread is the consideration for the consumer in exchange of the promise by the consumer to pay the price of the loaf of bread which is the consideration for the supermarket for providing the loaf of bread.

One of the most important criteria to appreciate is that the consideration must be lawful and must not be prohibited by the law.


Consent of the parties is said to be free when the following conditions are satisfied:

1. Both the parties have full knowledge and complete understanding of the nature of transaction and the facts. The facts of the transaction should not be hidden by anyone of the parties.

2. There must not exist coercion on any party to enter into the contract.

3. No party should be under any unlawful and undue influence to enter into the contract.

4. It should not be a case of fraud or temptation.

5. There should be no mistake of facts which leads to the entering of the party into the contract.

Contracts entered into without the free consent of one of the parties are revocable by the same party.


The parties are said to have the capacity to enter into contracts when they have the mental capacity to understand the nature of transactions and the consequences of entering into such transactions.

The criteria for a party to have the capacity to enter into a contract are as follows:

1. Must be of the age of majority.

2. Must be of sound mind, he must be sane.

3. Must not be interdicted from entering into the contract by any other law or by the order of a court of law.


The purpose of entering into the contract must be lawful, must not be prohibited by law or in contradiction with any of the existing laws. The purpose must not be to defraud another or any such illegal or penalized acts.


Certain agreements are pronounced to be invalid by the law and thus they are not enforceable.

1. Agreement to prevent marriage.

2. Agreement to prevent free trading.

3. Agreement to prevent legal proceedings.

4. Agreements that are not clear and suffer from ambiguity.

5. Wagering agreements.

The above enlisted agreements are not enforceable and thus cannot form valid contracts.

Green Gardening Tips – Top 10 Summer Fruit & Vegetables For Container Gardening

Green gardening is a very rewarding activity. It allows gardeners to work with nature rather than against it and can be enjoyed by anyone & everyone. Those lucky enough to have a large garden can really develop their green gardening skills with big compost heaps, crop rotation, water butts & ‘grey water’ irrigation systems. Fortunately, green gardening is also possible for those with small gardens or even no garden. A patio or balcony can easily be turned into a fruit or salad bowl. The answer is to grow green using containers.

The good news is that there are many types of fruit and vegetables which can be grown successfully in containers. These range from salad leaves to miniature fruit trees. Using containers you can even ‘choose’ your soil type by buying compost that is suitable for the plants you wish to grow, rather than putting up with your garden’s natural range. But for beginners, or those who have less time to plan and tend their patios/balconies/window boxes etc, some plants really do take to life in a pot more than others. Here are just a few suggestions to help ensure that you get great big juicy rewards for your efforts!

Before we look at these plants in more detail, there are some basic tasks that are essential for good growth. This is because plants in pots are more reliant on you for food & moisture than those in garden beds. To get good crops you will need to:

o water your containers every day (& possibly twice a day in hot weather)

o use a natural, organic plant food to help your plants keep producing all season

This is vital for producing strong, disease resistant plants.

Watering is best done out of the heat of the day so that less is lost through evaporation & more moisture is available to the plants. Adding a layer of mulch to the surface of your compost can also help it to stay moist. Another good idea for hanging baskets & containers is to add some water retaining crystals to the soil when you plant up, this will help to hold water in the compost. For larger tubs & pots, you could cut the bottom off a small plastic bottle & bury it in the compost with the widest part uppermost & at the surface. This allows water to be directed deeper into the compost & nearer to the roots of the plants. Don’t forget, even if you don’t have room for a water butt, you can still use ‘grey’ water from your washing up bowl or bath to water your plants.

Green gardening generally relies on improving soil condition and structure to add nutrients and encourage strong growth. This is more difficult to achieve with container gardening, so additional nutrients may be required. Organic plant foods are available from a wide variety of online & other garden stores and will come with instructions on how & when to use. Some are liquids which can be watered in giving immediately accessible nutrients. Others are pellets or granules which need to be spread on the soil and release nutrients more slowly.

Now, onto the good bit – which delicious summer fruits and vegetables to choose? My top ten suggestions for a good range of versatile, mouth watering produce are:

1. TOMATOES: not just a key ingredient of salads but an integral part of so many wonderful summer dishes from gazpacho (cold tomato soup) to pizza toppings, pasta sauces & salsa. There is a huge range of tomatoes available from the large ‘beefsteak’ tomatoes which are great sliced & served with a herb vinaigrette or on top of barbequed burgers to tiny cherry tomatoes that are sweet as sugar. For our purposes, the smaller tomatoes that will grow in hanging baskets & strawberry pots, or pot grown cordon tomatoes, are likely to be most successful. Tomatoes do need a minimum temperature (10ºc) to grow well & a good deal of sun to ripen, so a sunny spot is needed for your pots or baskets. However, the trusses can be removed from the plant & ripened indoors, on a window sill, if necessary. Trusses are the long branches on which the tomatoes grow, so if you are planning to ripen your fruits in this way, take off the branches rather than the individual tomatoes for best results.

Tomatoes are definitely high on the list of plants needing frequent watering & regular additional feeding. Liquid feed can be added when watering to keep things simple, but wait until the first fruits have formed before feeding, otherwise you will encourage the plant to produce leaf growth rather than fruit. Many varieties of tomato need to have side shoots removed for the same reason. These are small shoots that appear between the main stem of the plant and an existing truss. Just cast your eye over your plants each week and take out any of these unwanted shoots manually.

The list of tomato varieties is vast and includes orange, yellow & even green striped fruits as well as the more traditional red, so if you are going for a colourful display, branch out & try something new (it’s good for surprising your dinner guests too!). Any good seed catalogue will give you all the information you need to decide whether a tomato is right for you, but varieties such as Tumbling Tom, Gardener’s Delight, Suncherry, Sungold & Sweet Millions should work well in most situations, given the right conditions.

2. SALAD LEAVES: again a huge variety of salad leaves is available these days, from mustard leaves & Mizuna to wild rocket, spinach, lambs lettuce & chard. The great thing about these leaves is that they can grow relatively quickly and you can pick them as you need them. The ultimate ‘cut & come again’ summer vegetable! To make sure you have leaves available all summer, try starting seeds off on a window sill in February or March so that you can put them out early in the season. If you sow a few seeds at a time every other week, the leaves will be ready in succession rather than all at once. Don’t worry too much about spacing them out in the pot – the leaves will happily grow quite densely as long as you are careful not to include proper lettuces which form a ‘head’ or ball.

3. STRAWBERRIES: well what can I say – can you imagine summer without strawberries? For me the smell of ripe strawberries is the essence of summer, reminiscent of hot days, sunshine, picnics & new mown grass. Wonderful! Even more wonderful is the fact that some thoughtful person has designed a container especially to allow lots of strawberries to be grown in a small space! The design of the pot means that it grows the strawberries in vertical layers so even a fairly small diameter pot may be able to take 10 -20 plants. Strawberry pots come in different sizes & materials (mine is terracotta) so they can be decorative as well as functional. But remember, the idea is to grow as many strawberries as possible – any excess makes great jam or dessert sauce (which can be frozen for later in the year). So look for pots that are double skinned to help warm up the compost & get your plants going. It is advisable to cover the pots with netting too otherwise birds & slugs will be enjoying your strawberries rather than you.

4. DWARF BEANS & PEAS: broad, French or runner beans & peas; all will do well in pots if you choose dwarf varieties. If your patio or growing area is in a windy spot you may need to stake your plants to prevent them from being damaged. A good early dwarf pea variety is Feltham First which can be sown the previous autumn, in a protected spot, where space allows.

5. HERBS: some may feel that this is a bit of a cheat, after all herbs are not what we normally think about as fruit or vegetables but they do lend themselves to container gardening and can really add an extra dimension to your home grown dinners. Chives, coriander & basil can give a salad a whole new life; tomatoes & basil are a heavenly combination; thyme and oregano make pizza toppings & pasta sauces something special and lamb with rosemary or mint cannot be beaten. Mint is so successful it needs to be planted in a small pot to stop it taking over the whole container but then it is so versatile it really is worth the risk! How many herbs complement lamb, potatoes, peas & strawberries and can be made into tea too? Mint tea, fresh from your garden is an enjoyable alternative to alcohol or juice on a hot day.

6. COURGETTES (Zucchini): you will need quite a large pot for a courgette as they can spread out quite wide. Like the tomatoes, they will need lots of water and feeding to make sure of a bumper crop and prefer a warm spot on the patio. Pick the fruits while they are still small, that way the plant is stimulated to produce more and you are more likely to get them before the slugs do. The flowers are also considered to be a delicacy and can be stuffed & fried. Worth a try if you are feeling adventurous.

7. BEAUTIFUL BERRIES: strawberries may be summer incarnate but let’s not forget the other mouth watering soft fruits. It is perfectly possible to grow gooseberries, blackcurrants, blueberries & white & redcurrants in pots too. The size of the pot can be important here – there should be enough room for the plant’s root system plus a small amount of room for expansion but more space than that will probably not achieve good results. That is good news for those with limited space or resources! It is better to re-pot soft fruit plants into a slightly larger container every year or two years (depending on size) than use an over large pot to start off with. The other main requirement is plenty of water! Juicy berries need water & sun to develop & ripen, they will also benefit from regular feeding

Anyone wanting to grow blueberries or bilberries will need to use ericaceous compost rather than the usual sort. This is because, like heathers & many conifers, bilberries & blueberries need acidic soil. They need a mulch, to stop water loss from the soil and special feed to keep their soil acidic. Organic gardeners can use pelleted chicken manure but this is alkaline and so may need to be supplemented with some form of potash (mainly non-organic!). There are very few sources of organic potash although wood ash can be effective.

8. SWEET PEPPERS: colourful & tasty, peppers are easy to grow in pots. They germinate easily in small, plastic covered pots, on your window sill, and will grow to around 30cm. At this height the growing tips need to be pinched out to encourage new branches to grow. Keep potting up as the plants grow; they will probably need a 5 litre pot once they are ready to be put outside and a stake for support. If you have a wall to grow plants against, peppers will benefit from the warmth & reflected heat as will tomatoes & aubergines. Pepper Marconi Rosso is a good variety to try.

9. AUBERGINES (Egg plant): like the sweet peppers, aubergines make very colourful & attractive patio plants. They are grown in the same way as peppers and respond equally well to warmth. For an unusual variety, try aubergine Mohican which has white rather than purple fruits & is compact, only growing to around 60cm.

10. LEEKS: lovely, fresh & tangy either served raw & finely chopped in a salad or soft & melting under a coat of béchamel sauce. Leeks are easy to grow & can be densely planted in pots for picking while still young. That way you get lots of tender baby leeks rather than the big, tougher skinned more mature specimens.

So there we have it, just a few of the huge range of fruit and vegetables suitable for container growing. Remember, if it grows in soil it can probably be grown in a pot as long as the climatic conditions are right. So why not try growing some of your favourites in containers and see what happens – you may be pleasantly surprised.