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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 07, 2013

Dear Mark: Periodization Training, My Ideal Garden, and “Real” Strength

By Mark Sisson
93 Comments

GardeningFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a quick three-parter. First, I briefly cover periodization training, explaining how and why I think everyone participates in it (even if they don’t know it yet). Next up is a question about my ideal garden. Now, I’m no gardener, but I do have some ideas about what kinds of food I’d like to grow. I give my personal list of calorie-dense and nutrient-dense produce (green thumbs, criticism is welcome). Finally, I discuss the difference – if any actually exists – between “real” and “neuromuscular” strength.

Let’s go, shall we?

Hey Mark,

I’ve searched around the blog but I found nothing. I was really interested in hearing your opinion, if any, on periodization training like so many athletes and fitness enthusiasts incorporate for better results?

Cheers

Oliver

I think it’s a very sound, very solid concept of training. At its most basic, periodization refers to alternating training intensity and training volume. If volume is high, intensity is low; if intensity is high, volume will be low. You don’t lift heavy weights for high reps, but rather heavy weights for low reps and lighter weights for more reps. Periodization training breaks up an athlete’s training schedule into periods of varying intensity and volume, usually depending on a number of factors including fatigue, markers of overtraining, timing of competition (intensity will often be reduced before competition in favor of technique work), and (most importantly) how the individual athlete responds to training. This guy might handle longer periods of high intensity better than that guy, who needs more frequent breaks from the intensity.

It’s usually applied to serious athletes who are going to be competing, whether at the elite or amateur level, but anyone who works out likely does a kind of periodization training – even subconsciously.

One easy example is dropping intensity after recovery from illness – I know whenever I’m coming back from feeling under the weather, I’ll keep the training real light for a few days until my body is good to go. I want to keep things moving, but pushing too hard will only extend my recovery.

Autoregulation training is a kind of intuitive “on the fly” periodization where the athlete increases and decreases intensity/volume at his or her own pace according to how they feel on a day to day basis. This is how I “periodize,” and some evidence suggests that with accomplished, experienced athletes, it’s even more effective than linear periodization, where the periods are predetermined. Note that these were experienced athletes with extensive lifting experience, not newbies with a brand new gym membership.

Anyone who trains and listens to their body is going to naturally fall into periodization. It’s the people who push, push, push without paying attention to their performance and how they feel doing all that pushing who will fail to shift toward a lighter period when necessary and hamper their training in the process. At the same time, if you always have a ton left in the tank but fail to push yourself, you’ll be relegated to suboptimal results.

Thus, even if you’re not formal about your periodization, modulating intensity and volume according to your needs and performance will generally elicit favorable results. I wholeheartedly approve.

Dear Mark,

I’m planning on putting together a garden. I want the most nutrient dense and calorie rich foods without resorting to beans and white potatoes. Basically, I want it to be the closest thing to primal that agriculture can be.

If you were to grow the perfect garden, what would you grow?

Thanks,

Sarah

You want nutrients and calories?

Without worrying about soil health or interspecies relationships or seasonal congruency or climate or anything like that (in other words, real details that anyone growing a real-life garden would have to think about)…

I’d start with a variety of leafy greens: several types of kale, chard, lettuce, and spinach. These will provide phytonutrients, minerals, and bulk for Big Ass Salads. Plus, they are self regenerative. If you pluck a leaf of kale, it will regrow several times over. Almost no calories, though.

I’d do some squashes. Butternut, delicato, acorn, etc. These are nutritious, for sure, but they also provide calories in the form of healthy carbs. And nothing quite compares with some cinnamon-ginger-grass-fed butter slurry atop baked butternut squash.

Berries. If you can get them to take, they’ll spread like wildfire. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, plus any of the other more obscure berries will provide high plant pigment-based polyphenols, soluble fiber, and a fine companion to fresh whipped cream, coconut milk, and/or Greek yogurt.

Sweet potatoes will get you calories in a major way. If you go for purple Okinawan potatoes, you’ll even get the benefits of polyphenol pigments (and great taste).

Other green things are good, too, so I’d probably have to grow broccoli, asparagus, and tatsoi.

Green beans are easy to grow, they stay out of the way by climbing up trellises, and they too go well as a side dish to just about everything.

Oh, and herbs. I’d be sure to grow tons of herbs. I want so many herbs that I could have a rosemary, basil, and sage salad if I wanted.

Round it out with some cabbage (purple and green), some carrots (purple and orange), heirloom tomatoes, garlic, and onions? I think you’ve got yourself a realistic, attainable, nutritious, calorically-dense garden.

What about you? What would you have in your garden?

Dear Mark,

How long does it really take to add strength? In coach Somers book, “Building the Gymnastic Body”, he states that it takes 6 weeks to add actual strength. He goes on to say that the gains in reps and weight experienced in the beginning are the product of neuromuscular facilitation. What’s your take on the subject?

Dillon

That’s the widely accepted timeframe for actual structural strength – muscular hypertrophy, the physical growth of skeletal muscle. However, a recent review of the evidence found that “morphological” changes commence immediately upon initiation of strength training (PDF). Your muscles won’t grow right away, but the changes that eventually result in growth begin right away.

What is “actual strength” though? I think making a distinction between “real” and “imaginary” strength is confusing and unnecessary. Neuromuscular facilitation is just as legitimate and “physiological” a way to build strength as hypertrophy.

You’re learning how to synchronize and activate the motor units (a bundle of muscle fibers with a nerve cell) that make up a muscle cell, to utilize them as a cohesive group rather than a ragtag bunch of misfits. Groups of motor units contract (flex/move) the muscle, so the more synchronicity your motor groups have, the more effective (read: strong) your muscular contractions will be.

You’re learning how to selectively activate the agonist and synergist muscles of a movement while inhibiting the antagonists of the movement. In other words, you’re figuring out how to activate the right muscles for a given movement. Strength is a skill, and learning that skill is part of getting stronger.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and keep the questions coming!

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93 Comments on "Dear Mark: Periodization Training, My Ideal Garden, and “Real” Strength"

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Michelle @ Primal Smoke
3 years 8 months ago

Interesting tidbit about the training, I have always intuitively trained like this anyways, I did not realize that there was a name for it.

Michelle @ Primal Smoke
3 years 8 months ago

One more thing…for someone who is new to gardening, you should start with the “easy” veggies to grow, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini may not be the best bang for your buck so to speak, but they are good for a beginner because they are pretty easy to grow.

Robbyj
Robbyj
3 years 8 months ago
+1 Those creeping vines like squash, green beans, and big growers like tomato are always a hit! The berries are a great idea, but they can be very frustrating (especially for a novice), because you most likely will be waiting a year or three before you get a decent crop on them! I have to throw in a recommendation here. If you’re growing fruit, try and find space for a tree! Around here people with apple and plum trees get way more food than they can eat, even if they dry it and snack all winter long on the stuff.… Read more »
Shary
Shary
3 years 8 months ago
A caveat regarding tomatoes… We grow heirloom tomatoes. Delicious but fussy. They don’t like long, cold springs and short summers; they don’t like being either too wet or too dry; and they don’t like dirt that is either too rich or hasn’t been sufficiently amended. Any or all of these variables, plus a dozen others that come to mind, can result in small, thick-skinned tomatoes, tomato plants that have bud drop, tomato plants that have beautiful bushy foilage but few tomatoes, etc., etc. In short, good heirloom tomatoes really aren’t that easy to grow because there are a hundred things… Read more »
Tina
Tina
3 years 8 months ago

Speaking as a person who works at a garden center, ditto on what Shary said. Living in the southeast, I don’t think of tomatoes as easy but they are sure as heck rewarding!

Rocket Jones
Rocket Jones
3 years 8 months ago

Something else to consider is that you aren’t necessarily going to save a ton of money by growing your own veggies. The exception is probably the hybrid tomatoes as suggested above (and cherry tomatoes). They cost a fortune in the stores, and you can get a really nice crop out of just a few plants in large pots.

So grow veggies for the other good reasons like satisfaction or controlling the chemicals used, etc. not because you think it’s uber-economical.

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

Or you could look up Paul Wheaton’s permies blog, specifically ‘hugelkultur beds, a sceptic’s experience’ (something like that) and grow anything with relative ease. Including trees and tomatoes apparently.
Permaculturepermaculturepolyculture.

paleo-curious
3 years 8 months ago

Herbs are hands-down the biggest bang for the buck, especially perennials like rosemary, sage, thyme & oregano– you only have to plant them once for years of yield– (at least here in NC). Basil grows like crazy too. Yum.

But home-grown tomatoes are my absolute must-have. SO much better than store-bought!

Vanessa
Vanessa
3 years 8 months ago
I am not a vegtable person I am a flower person but I still grow some veggies because it is really satisfying to put at least part of the dinner on the table from my yard. I always tell my husband “think of how much we are saving off our taxes.” Grow heirloom tomatoes along side the easy ones so you can have your own taste test in September and see the difference. Every failed plant type also teaches you something so don’t stress and call yourself a “black thumb.” Just tweak what you are doing and try again. Last… Read more »
paleo-curious
3 years 8 months ago

Oh, & how could I forget arugula? To me it’s like a cross between a green & an herb, it’s easy to grow, & I’m addicted to arugula salads.

Kat
3 years 8 months ago

High Mowing Seeds sells nice starter garden seed sets, including one for container gardening. http://www.highmowingseeds.com/gift-ideas.html

And check your farmers’ market in the spring for transplants, which give you a head-start, especially for things like tomatoes and cukes that need a little babying in most climates.

Mark A
Mark A
3 years 8 months ago
I like growing beets. They may be a little high in carbs, but you don’t have to eat much since they are so flavorful. They’re full of nutrients and you can eat the tops just like chard or other greens. Radishes and turnips also have edible tops. Butternut squash are also pretty easy, but make sure you have plenty of space, or maybe a trellis to grow them on. Start composting now so that you’ll have some good home-made soil nutrients to add when it comes time to seed or plant. Vegetable gardening is very taxing on the soil so… Read more »
Alyssa Luck
3 years 8 months ago

Also, if you grow beets you can pickle them! I just bought some lacto-fermented beets and carrots at the farmers market, and they are delicious!

Wayne Atwell
3 years 8 months ago

I have found that periodization is really good for breaking through lifting plateaus. If I stall on my bench press then I will stop my normal chest workouts and do a ton of push ups for a week or two to build muscle endurance and increase the size and depth of the capillaries in my muscles. It definitely works.

zack
zack
3 years 8 months ago

“One easy example is dropping intensity after recovery from illness – I know whenever I’m coming back from feeling under the weather, I’ll keep the training real light for a few days until my body is good to go. I want to keep things moving, but pushing too hard will only extend my recovery.”

Funny you should mention this as today is my first day back in a little due to some illness.

This is far from the first time an MDA post has directly lined up with my life at the most necessary moment.

leida
leida
3 years 8 months ago
As a gardener I prefer to grow the things that are a) either too expensive or not available; b) grow well in my Zone (I am in Zone 3), have short growing cycle or are perrannual with minimal watering + yield well and c) taste much better from the garden than even organic varieties. In addition, I like the crops to look aesthetically pleasing. The first rule for me is to pull out every conifer anyone planted on my property, with the exception of a couple small ones that I mercilessly chop to protect other plants for the winter. Berries:… Read more »
Tom B-D
Tom B-D
3 years 8 months ago

A relative of Tolstoy maybe? LOL

I don’t find blueberries a “scam” but they take some attention if you’re not in their acidic, swampy soil: keep the soil damp, mulch with pine needles, and add the sulfur tablets the blueberry farmer gave me.

Given how small our urban garden is, I like quick-growing crops, so salad greens, kale, and green beans are constants. Usually also plant brassicas, roma tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. This year I want to figure out onion and garlic too.

Michelle @ Primal Smoke
3 years 8 months ago

I just threw some cloves of garlic into pots a few months ago just to see what happens. I am getting little green shoots coming up out of the ground, I read that the garlic is ready when the leaves above ground start to die off, so that is when I will start digging 🙂

Alyssa Luck
3 years 8 months ago

Haha that’s awesome! I’ve always wanted to try that. I did grow an apple tree from an apple seed once, but it never got nearly big enough to produce apples.

Jasmine
Jasmine
3 years 8 months ago

Where are you from? Your gardening adventures make you sound like an Albertan (me too!). Seriously considering those haskap plants, but as we’re on military property I’m reluctant to plant anything long-term.

I try new varieties nearly every year, especially carrots as there are so many cool varieties out there.

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

Leida, a principle of permaculture is to put in ‘sacrificial’ plants alongside so bugs who decimate your most precious/delicate plants will be attracted elsewhere, sparing the plant you value.

Survival Gardener
3 years 8 months ago

Lingonberries are good where you are – they handle serious cold. You also might have better luck with blueberries in containers. In an area with bad alkaline soil, I saw them growing huge in half-barrels filled with nothing but pine bark. No lie. I imagine you’d just have to fertilize a bit with something acid forming once in a while.

Tommy
Tommy
3 years 8 months ago

The fruit fly which attacks berries, cherries, apples, etc. can be controlled by an organic spray made with “Spinosad” bacteria. This works, is safe for bees if applied at the right time, AND wipes out the local population of the “Apple Maggot Fly.”

mamab
mamab
3 years 7 months ago

What!! Chokecherries are not a useless plant. We search high and low for chokecherries every year – I just ordered 60 saplings for spring. The chokecherry juice boiled with honey makes an excellent syrup. We eat it on pancakes, poured over ice cream, mixed in water to drink – I even give it to my kids for sore throats.

tkm
tkm
3 years 8 months ago

How could you forget to recommend bell peppers??

Allison
Allison
3 years 8 months ago

Mustard comes in beautiful forms, grows easily and is delicious cooked. Snap peas and snow peas are always good. I wouldn’t be without tomatoes.

Old man Crossfit
Old man Crossfit
3 years 8 months ago

Asparagus a herbaceous, perennial plant you can enjoy in the spring while you work on everything else. Garlic, onions and you can make the most delicious of salads…Your fresh greens with sliced onions, garlic and fresh picked tomatoes doused in balsamic vinegar.

leida
leida
3 years 8 months ago

I keep dreaming about my own Asparagus! My whole household is addicted to it and can take a pound out at one supper.

I planted a few seeds 3 years back, when I first broke the ground, and one plant kept surviving, but I ended up moving it every year as I was adding new beds, so hopefully I will see actual edible asparagus this year! It’s certainly very hardy and wants to live. Just not yielding yet with all the move, heh.

jrVegantoPrimal
3 years 8 months ago
One tip i received when I started gardening was to only plant things that you know you will eat. If you try new foods that you are unsure of, you can be certain you will get a bountiful crop that you will end up wasting or giving away. Do a little research on the plants as well, I planted 3 eggplants and had way more eggplants than I needed, same with zucchini. Now that I know how much one plant yields, I will cut back on those and use the space for more lettuce and other things. That being said,… Read more »
Survival Gardener
3 years 8 months ago

Yeah. I grew okra multiple years even though I don’t much care for it. I just liked the way the plants looked. And it annoyed my wife. 😉

Graham
Graham
3 years 8 months ago

My garden is all leafy greens and root vegetables, since I grow at 8000 feet. Used to do broccoli, but takes up too much space and has limited window up here. Spinach, kale, bibb lettuce (burgers and tacos!), radish, beets, carrots, parsnips, purple potatoes. Progressively plant your greens so you don’t have it all coming up at once—10 heads of lettuce at the same time might sound great, but then it’s gone. The big ass salads I enjoy in the summer are truly amazing.

Chika
3 years 8 months ago

I’m seeing that a natural way to add strength to workouts is by consuming bone broth pre-workout. On days that I drink a cup (with sea salt) prior to heavy lifting, my workouts seem remarkably easier — I feel like Popeye. It’s a perfect more-natural way to get your amino acids instead of taking supplements or protein powder. Check out my slow cooker bone broth recipe and let me know if you see any difference in your strength workouts.

michael
michael
3 years 8 months ago

Nothing works like a placebo.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 8 months ago

Sixty percent of the time it works everytime.

Dr. Mark
3 years 8 months ago

Does anyone have an opinion on the hydroponic tower gardens for growing veggies on the patio or terrace? I work with a company that manufactures them, but would like to know if there are any negatives with personal experience?

CrazyCatLady
CrazyCatLady
3 years 8 months ago

We are actually trying aquaponics instead. Part of the reason is we don’t want to have to add extra liquid from who knows what fertilizers. The fish will help make a system that closed.

Benefits of hydroponics or aquaponics is that you can grow indoors usually. Cons included expensive grow lights if you plant indoors in winter.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

The third con (or maybe pro) is having your residence monitored for in case you’re using the equipment to produce, uh “medical marijuana”. 😉

Christa Crawford
3 years 8 months ago

I like your point about increasing strength. Whether strength gains are due to neuromuscular or physical changes, an improvement is an improvement. Still, it’s interesting to know how long the former phase lasts before feeding into the latter.

Onge
Onge
3 years 8 months ago

If you want a mega easy productive garden try “All new square foot gardener”. (book)

Its brilliant.

Hardly any work and multiple crops virtually year round.

Alyssa Luck
3 years 8 months ago

Haha I went through a phase where I got super obsessed with planning the perfect square foot garden, where the plants would only be next to other plants that were beneficial for them, and the vegetables would be rotated to keep the soil healthy…unfortunately my plan never came to fruition because we don’t have anywhere good to plant one!

We do have a rosemary bush though, and I can say that was a great investment. Rosemary year-round!

Kristina
Kristina
3 years 8 months ago

I really need to pitch SQUARE FOOT GARDENING.

It was designed by a civil engineer (Mel Bartholomew), and the new version eliminates the need to dig anything. you build a 4×4′ box, block it off into one-foot squares and you plant. No digging, hardly any weeding, no wasted space.

ANYONE CONSIDERING GARDENING MUST READ THIS BOOK.

I bought it, I know a man who uses similar concepts to container-garden, and I started my compost pile already.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

+1

It’s a really great book. We sink our gardens only because we hate weedwacking. But other than our tweak (which has some other disadvantages), you can’t grow (tee hee) wrong using his book.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
3 years 8 months ago
What zone is Sarah in? It’s tough to give someone advice on what to grow when we don’t know what their growing season is like! If they’re in Florida (like me!) or California, avocados would definitely be my recommendation! — Winter squash is rich, easy, and delicious but also takes up a lot of space (and needs a little bit of curing time for the flavors to develop fully). — Beets are also easy, delicious, and nutritious. However, it’s very easy to get sick of beets! But they are SO versatile- bottoms and tops can both be prepared and eaten… Read more »
Steve
Steve
3 years 8 months ago
Living in the desert (Sunset Zone 13), where our average daytime temps are over 100 for four months of the year, I frustrate myself reading about all of the wonderful greens that gardeners in other areas get to enjoy all summer. Of course, the tradeoff is that Mark’s suggested greens perform great here in our winter, but come March or April, they’re toast (or a Primal version thereof). For those of you who share my predicament, here are a few heat-loving greens that have worked well for me: Chaya, or tree spinach, grows like a weed here all summer long,… Read more »
Chris
Chris
3 years 8 months ago
Steve, I’m in Phoenix, Arizona and I’ve been quite a fan of red Malabar spinach. I’ve been growing it for almost 3 years now. It does quite well in the heat but does better avoiding that late afternoon sun. You know… the oven. It vines and climbs, looks pretty cool and is completely edible. All of it. Let it flower and go to seed; you’ll get hundreds to replant and give to friends and family. Also, it seems to be impossible to overwater.:) Oh. And every type of chard I’ve grown has done well at least part way through the… Read more »
Hilary
Hilary
3 years 8 months ago

I live in the high desert in CA. I have never tried any veggies here other than radishes, but over the summer I planted an herb garden outside – mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, and chives. Even though it gets below freezing at night now, my chives and thyme have hung in there. My mint is growing like crazy! What am I going to do with all that mint!!! By basil and rosemary died in the cold.

Thanks for the tip about the malabar spinach and chard. I think I’ll try some seeds this spring.

Hilary
Hilary
3 years 8 months ago

Also, apples, peaches, apricots, and pomegranites do well here in the desert too. We always get an abundant crop.

Steve – Do you think kale would do okay in the summer heat?

W. J. Purifoy
W. J. Purifoy
3 years 8 months ago
Here in south central Texas, for greens in the summer I grow orach, turks cap (the fruit, flower and leaves are edible), purslane/Portulaca, malabar spinach. I also grow lettuces in pots under shade trees – they get morning sun and shade when it gets hot and this keeps them going until it gets really hot. I also grow a lot of edible flowers and herbs like tagetes lucida, pansies (in the colder months) and there are some good lawn weeds like purslane, spiderwort and dayflowers, henbit, and dandelion. Also, the greenbeans and blossoms from redbud trees are edible. Too many… Read more »
W. J. Purifoy
W. J. Purifoy
3 years 8 months ago

I forgot about amaranth leaves – they should be cooked to get rid of some of the oxalic acid.

Survival Gardener
3 years 8 months ago

We eat them raw and cooked – and feed the grains to our chickens. The level of oxalic acid doesn’t worry me too much. From my research, you’d have to eat a ton to have trouble.

Julia
Julia
3 years 8 months ago

I grow nasturtium as an easy care summer green as lettuces etc turn bitter in our summer heat. They look great in the garden, the flowers are pretty in salads and I love the peppery/rocket taste either raw in salads or thrown in a stir fry at the end.

Survival Gardener
3 years 8 months ago

Cassava leaves are edible if boiled. “Florida cranberry,” (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is another good hibiscus with delicious lemony leaves. “Shepherd’s needle,” (Bidens alba) a common weed through the US, is also a good green when sauteed. We’re growing chaya, moringa, and sweet potatoes for their leaves as well. I’ve been profiling various survival crops on my website – it’s hard to find good greens that will handle the brutal summers.

One other plant you might try: basswood. The tilia species have edible leaves, though most people only know them for their wood.

Tim
3 years 8 months ago
Hi Mark found you via Sebastian H! My fiancee and I moved from Melbourne (Australia) to near Byron Bay onto 10 acres. We have the opportunity to pretty much plant whatever we want (except some select cold climate nuts). We have about 1/4 acre veggie patch and here’s what we have. Whilst our focus has been on what we like to eat, I also like to think they are all nutrient dense or very healthy in some sense. – tomatoes: loads of different tomatoes – chinese cabbage and wombok: good for inflammation and great in stir fry and salad –… Read more »
Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

About to buy 10acres just north of Melbs, great info thanks Tim.

Terry H
Terry H
3 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the post . Very informative and inspiring. Hard winter is just beginning here but I can dream, can’t I?

Vanessa
Vanessa
3 years 8 months ago

Wow Tim, citrus, mangos and avocados! I’m jealous.

Minerva
Minerva
3 years 8 months ago

For the beginner, or someone who rents/has a small space/moves alot

http://www.sqarefootgardening.org

I have the traditional in the ground garden and did two of these last year. Hands down the square foot did better and was easier to tend.

Canada Zone 3a on a good year

Bush Beans (yellow, green and purple)
Snow Peas or other edible pod variety
Yellow Summer squash
Pickling cukes
Swiss Chard (Rainbow)
Spinach
Roma type Tomato from hanging planters
Peppers (in South facing planters)
Broccoli
Red beets (for the tops)
Golden beets (for the root)

I get all my seeds from Veseys Seeds located on Prince Edward Island.

Fred Timm
Fred Timm
3 years 8 months ago

On the subject of compost:
Make your own. Compost bins are not that
difficult to make.
I read somewhere the average household generates about 200 lbs of compostible waste a year.

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

“Without worrying about soil health or interspecies relationships or seasonal congruency or climate or anything like that (in other words, real details that anyone growing a real-life garden would have to think about)”

Mark, thanks for the laugh!! Just like my parenting, my gardening was best (and most ambitious) when it was theoretical. 🙂

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago
Mostly repeats of advice here – 1. Grow only what you’d look forward to eating. Kale may grow easily and be nutritious but if it ends up as fornlorn stocks next March, it was still a waste of time. 2. If budget is an issue, focus on growing what is expensive (especially as organic) in the grocery store. Berries and fragile vegetables require special handling, which is what makes them expensive. (They also tend to benefit from personal attention on the bug front as well.) Sweet potatoes are calorie dense, but they’re also 70 cents a pound year round near… Read more »
Shoshie
Shoshie
3 years 8 months ago
Save some space for ground cherries, if you can find them! They are like sweet, mini, tomatillos. They thrive on neglect and are so delicious. And it’s so exciting to give people a taste of something they’ve never had before. Bush beans are incredibly easy to grow. My favorite variety is Jade, though I’m trying a variety called Slenderette this year. Sprouting broccoli is super easy to grow and expensive in stores. I really like purple sprouting broccoli. It’ll get huge if you let it grow for a while. I started mine in August and let them overwinter– they were… Read more »
Victor Dorfman
3 years 8 months ago

I’m not sure if it’s the same “periodization” that Oliver was asking about but there’s also Pavel Tsatsouline style periodization where you essentially start lifting and once you burn out your max, you start the cycle over with a higher initial weight. Thought I’d mention it since it also happens to be one of the best ways to build strength, “real” strength that is. 😉

trackback

[…] For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a quick three-parter. First, I briefly cover periodization training, explaining how and why I think everyone participates in it (even if they don’t know it yet). Next up is a question about my ideal garden. Now, I’m no gardener, but I do have some ideas about what […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Fiji Chris
Fiji Chris
3 years 8 months ago

I always grow ‘hedges’ of lemongrass around my garden – keeps the pests down and can be used in many dishes and for tea. Good to keep Mozzies down too!

John
John
3 years 8 months ago

Ok,I give. What’s a ‘Mozzie’?

paleo-curious
3 years 8 months ago

I’m guessing mosquitos, since they don’t like lemongrass. Theoretically. Here in NC they seem oblivious!

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

Mosquito.

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 8 months ago

I live in Australia. I’ve got citrus trees and herbs and herbs and rhubarb at the moment. Disasters of the past include: blueberries and pumpkin (I think you call them squash)and broccoli and eggplant and lettuces (always going to seed before I can eat them). Successes include: zucchini (I agree 1 plant is enough), tomatoes and cucumbers.

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 8 months ago

and spinach always does well!

Arley
Arley
3 years 8 months ago

I’m not much of a gardener, but I have a small plot. About the lettuce and broccoli, if it goes to seed too early, or “bolts” is the term I’ve read, what worked for me was planting the lettuce and broccoli in a place that doesn’t get all-day sun (for me, the one side of my house that gets morning sun but gets shady toward the afternoon). Hope that helps!

Jen
Jen
3 years 8 months ago

ARTICHOKES! Can’t say enough about ’em! Yum!

Jen
Jen
3 years 8 months ago

AND they have gorgeous purple flowers too!

David Marino
David Marino
3 years 8 months ago

I have been roughly following a periodization for training (or physical efforts) based on the moon cycle, for years, because it works for me. I make peak training efforts on or just before the full moon. When trying to really challenge myself (as long as I am rested) I noticed that I always did better near or at a full moon, so I now time efforts accordingly.

Erok
Erok
3 years 8 months ago

That sounds awesome! I’m getting towards the end of a linear progression right now, so I’m starting to collect programming methods. I’m totally trying this. I hear it works for gardening, too.

kem
kem
3 years 8 months ago

We grow a lot of veggies, fruit berries, (and meat); but we couldn’t without thinking of soil health, rotation and two greenhouses (and lots of bird protection). Climate isn’t always your friend. We do lots of nice pasture.

Beth
3 years 8 months ago
I am starting out on my Primal journey and had been thinking of growing some of my own vegetables. Rabbits!!! Little, cute.. but eat their way through anything I plant. I have areas netted off but you can only go so far with that. I am also horrified at how little upper body strength I have. I started carefully doing the exercises, I walk a lot, do pilates and cycle so thought I was fairly fit. Then tried press ups. Can’t do a full body press, have to bend my knees. That galvanised me into ordering a door bar to… Read more »
Joelle
Joelle
3 years 8 months ago

When I fence off my garden, I make sure that the fencing meets the ground and maybe even have the pointy ends poke out. I’ve also planted marigolds in my garden. Deer and rabbits don’t like how they smell. (My mom recommends laying human hair around, but that’s kinda gross.)

Mark A
Mark A
3 years 8 months ago

I saw a great idea for growing lettuces and other shallow-root greens. Attach some lengths of rain gutter to a fence or the side of the house, at a slight angle. Fill with dirt and then add seeds. You’ll have zigzags of greens growing in no time. They’ll also be high enough off the ground to keep the bunnies out.

Tom
Tom
3 years 8 months ago

Beth,
Just start with negative chins. Step on a stool to get your head over the bar and then lower yourself slowly, in about 2 to 3 seconds.
Make sure to lower through the whole range of motion. You’ll be doing full chins in no time!

Beth
3 years 8 months ago

Thanks Tom, I will try that – when no one is looking! I am building up my arms this weekend in another way. We have about a foot of snow, so clearing our long and rather steep drive is giving me a fairly decent workout!

Joelle
Joelle
3 years 8 months ago
I live in an apartment, but am fortunate to have a landlord that gives me some garden space. It’s only a small segment, but we make the most of it. I grow tomatoes, zucchini or yellow squash (not both, not enough room), jalapenos, basil and dill, and lettuce. I live in the Midwest, so that limits what I can grow (bell peppers and cilantro have been no-shows for me when I’ve tried them). I’ve also tried onions, but uprooted them too soon. They were still babies. My advice is to plant things you know you’ll eat and use a lot.… Read more »
RAE
RAE
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t think I could go through a summer without planting a big garden. The fresh veggies you get from a home garden are so much better than the stuff you get at the grocery store, it’s incredible. My favorite garden crops are these: Cool weather veggies: broccoli, kale, snow peas, snap peas, carrots, beets (golden and red). Warm weather veggies: tomatoes, peppers, pole beans Compost is an absolute must!! Build a simple compost pile/bin, and throw all your veggie scraps and other biodegradable materials into it, and spread the finished compost on the garden every year. I have been… Read more »
Survival Gardener
3 years 8 months ago

Yeah – it’s incredible how the fertility can increase when you don’t keep busting the ground up and exposing it to the air. Good work!

Diane
Diane
3 years 8 months ago

We grow avocados. We also have a passion fruit vine to feed our parrot, a tiny tangerine shrub and a lime. Nothing else grows in our yard due to all the shade from the avocados. I have learned that a lot of the weeds in the yard are edible so now what used to be my roof-top herb garden is a weed garden and I eat the weeds.

Survival Gardener
3 years 8 months ago
I’m a Master Gardener, writer for Mother Earth and other magazines and the creator of floridasurvivalgardening.com. Your choices are excellent and echo our own. My family and I are all primal (thanks to you) and we grow a ton of our own produce organically, share it with friends and church members… and also share the knowledge on our site. On green beans, I grow “yard-long” beans because the yield is incredible – and the taste is excellent. Also, kale is a killer winter crop. A lot of you could probably plant it now, provided you’re in roughly USDA zone 8… Read more »
Pierre Johnson
3 years 8 months ago
Periodization is a method of sport-specific athletic training for competitive sports. Since most do not train for competitive sports, hardly anyone uses it. It’s not accurate to suggest periodization is little more than alternating training intensity and training volume. People merely working out to be fit are not doing periodization. Specifically, periodization applies a timing method to training for sport so that when the day arrives for a competitive event, the competitng athlete has his body ready for peak performance. Back in the days when commie Soviets were desperate to show communism as superior to Western republics and capitalism, the… Read more »
JenP.
JenP.
3 years 8 months ago
Garden tips for Northeastern US, if you only want a few large Winter squash plants (like Butternut, which are resistant to bugs and wilt) and don’t have a lot of space, trellis them on a sunny fence, treat the root zone to plenty of compost and compost tea during the growing season, and in late Summer when the vines are heavy with green fruits, start pruning off the new vine growth at the nodes and commence pruning off all baby squashes (they are delicious in a saute). This will help all your others mature before frost. I got fifteen large… Read more »
JenP.
JenP.
3 years 8 months ago

OH- and if you enjoy spicy greens, grow some Osaka purple mustard greens in your garden for fresh eating. They take up less space than Southern mustard, are prettier in the garden, have the same fiery character, are easier to clean, and are wonderful in salads or served as an edible bed for any meat.

Great as the greens on a roast beef sandwich too, when I’m being bad 😉

drea
drea
3 years 8 months ago

you forgot beets!

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