GARDEN, GARDENING

Seed Starting Mixture

Getting a head start on planting means getting your seeds started indoors. In order to give sees the best environment to thrive in, choosing the right soil is a must.

One

1 part sterilized compost

1 part sand, vermiculite

1 part peat moss

Two

4 qt shredded sphagnum peat moss

4 quarts vermiculite

1 tbsp superphosphate

2 tbsp ground limestone

Three

1 quart sphagnum peat moss

1 quart vermiculite

1 quart perlite

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Seedling Care

Once you have planted the seeds according to the instructions on the packet, cover them with plastic and place them in a warm spot so that the seeds can germinate. 

Once the seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic covering and allow air to circulate around the plants. At this point the seedlings need a lot of light (min 12hrs a day) . If you see that the plants look long and thin, that means that they need more light. For best results place the seeds in a location such as a south facing window that receives sunlight through the day.

Mist the seedlings daily. You can feed the seedling every two weeks with a weak fertilizer solution. 

Thin out seedlings that grow to close to each other. Choose the weaker/smaller one and either pinch it back or remove it by lifting it gently out with a spoon. You can then transplant that seedling to a new container. 

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GARDENING, GARDEN

How to Test Stored Seed for Viability

Nothing is more frustrating than sowing tons of seeds and then after a few weeks finding that only a few if any have sprouted. You can save yourself a lot of disappointment by testing your stored seeds for viability first, before going through the trouble of putting them into the soil. 

 

How to Test Stored Seed for Viability

Materials needed:

  • Seeds
  • a plastic tray
  • paper towels or coffee filters
  • plastic bags
  • water
  • water spraybottle

Seeds must be soaked for several days to remove the hard seed coats. To do this follow these simple steps:

  1. Moisten the papertowel and place it on the tray
  2. Remove 10 equally sized seeds from your seed packets and place them on the moist paper towel.
  3. Cover with another moist towel 
  4. Spray with water if you notice the paper towel drying out
  5. If you place the paper in plastic bags( see video) , make sure to not seal it all the way so some ear can get in. 

In a couple of days seeds should start to sprout giving you a good indication if your seeds are ready for planting. 

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GARDENING, GARDEN

Gardening with Pots

Pots are a common staple regardless if you own a large garden or have plants on a balcony. Planted pots add such character and can give the garden a rustic, sleek, vintage and even whimsical look. 

Regardless where you garden, potted plants introduce interesting shapes, textures and colors that can act as great plant complements. If you visit any garden center in late spring, you are bound to found great low maintenance candidates for potting.  Egyptian star flowers (Pentas) , fragrant Zaluzianskya, globe amaranth, autumn sage and African daisies are great candidates.

If you are very crafty, this sculpture made entirely out of pots could be a great conversation piece at your next garden gathering. 

Sometimes the most dramatic effect can be achieved by selecting just one unique specimen of pant for a specific pot to make a visual statement. 

CONTAINER TIPS

  • Choose large pots - at least 16 inches in diameter to reduce watering frequency
  • Fill your potd to within 3 inches of the rim with soil-less mix formulated for containers.
  • Combine plants with similar light and watering requirements.
  • Apply water-soluble organic fertilizer every 2 weeks
  • Move heavy pots with a cart to prevent back aches and pots getting damaged. 
  • Mix it up - plant plants with three different growing habits: pillars, fillers and spillers. Pillars go in the middle for height, fillers around the upright one and spillers, to spill over the rim.

WHERE TO PLACE CONTAINERS

  • Next to an architectural element, such as an arbor, gazebo or even a piece of furniture
  • By the entrance  - front door, gate, etc. 
  • On steps, by a path or atop a stone wall or pillar.
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REVIEWS, GARDEN

Keeping Plants Alive While on Vacation

Keeping plants alive while on vacation can be challenging, especially when you are gone for more than just a couple of days. I am always on the lookout for gadgets that will provide my plants the water they need and have learned over time that it's best to test these gadgets well before I turn the key and take off. 

When I went on a month long vacation I was very surprised that after being gone for so long I had lost only one plant. So today I will share a couple of things I did. 

Tips to keep your plants alive 

Create a Greenhouse in your Bathtub

I used four very large plastic storage container (for two greenhouse set ups) and placed them in the bathtub. Then I placed some smaller plastic containers as risers that fit the base of my potted plants upside down on the bottom of the containers. Next, the potted plants were placed on top of the small plastic containers. This is done so you can water the potted plants and catch the water without the roots of the plants sitting in the water. Fill the large plastic container with enough water just below the base of your potted plants. To finish my little greenhouse set up I used the bottom of another equally sized plastic storage container as a roof to the first one. Overtime the moisture inside the box created a little greenhouse effect that gave my plants just enough moisture to prevent them from drying out. 

This system worked well for smaller potted plants, but was not an option for the large pots. For those I found that using reusable plant watering sticks work really well. The trick here is to find something that has a large water reservoir. I used a 1 Litre plastic soft drink bottle and found these reusable plant water sticks that can be screwed on them.

Reusable Plant Watering Stick

The set comes with four spikes that have small holes on the side. Once you screw them on a soda bottle filled with water it will start to deliver water through little holes on the side as the soil starts to dry out. What I like about this set up is that you can use different sized bottles that fit best for your plant and add as many watering holes as needed. I received my Ramini Brand Spikes at a discounted rate via Amazon

  • COMPLETELY CUSTOMIZABLE: Every plant is different. Follow the instructions on image 6 and open the desired holes.
  • MULTI-PURPOSE: You can use it to simply water or add a little fertilizer in the bottle and let it nourish your plants when needed.
  • NO MORE DEAD PLANTS AFTER VACATION: No one likes to be greeted by dead plants. This is the perfect baby sitter for your plants while you are out enjoying yourself. SAVE MONEY: No need to pay someone to come over and water your plants while you are gone. This is a reusable and economical watering system.
  • BOGO OFFER: Buy 1 Get 1 FREE. Add 2 to cart and use code LDRQSKD5 .
  • RECOMMENDED USES: Perfect to use during vacation or for indoor plants. Makes a great gift for the gardener, house warming party or for the teacher who loves to keep a plant in the classroom.

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GARDEN

How to Grow Potatoes in Bags

Happy Sweet Potatoes Fabric

Growing potatoes is very easy and very rewarding. All you really need is a container in which you can pile more soil as the plant starts to grow. The process of piling on more soil is called to "hill" and it is done to cover and encourage the tubers to grow. As the plant grows you are rewarded with little purple flowers on green foliage that are really pretty to look at. It takes avout 16 to 17 weeks for the tubers to mature into potatoes that can be harvested. 

There's nothing like the taste of fresh, home-grown potatoes. Learn how to grow potatoes the easy way in potato bags on your patio!

Best Time to Plant Potatoes

Plant potatoes in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Soil Temperature should be around 50 F . 

Growing Potatoes in Bags

This year I am planting my potaoes in these good looking green Lawn and Garden bags by #TrekProof. I ordered them at a discounted rate for review purposes. I like these tall 32-Gallon TrekProof pop up bags, because they are easy to store when not in use and super leight weight, self-expanding. The bags stand 28 inches tall and are made of polyester fabric that is very durable. They have handles so I can easily move the bags around when needed. I also like that I can use the same bag to haul 120 liters of yard waste when they are not being used to grow things in. 

I just planted my potaoes and have nothing but dirt in a bag to show. I will post my harvest photos as soon as they are available.  

I found a great read for times when you are experiencing problems with your harvest due to diseases and pest. 

TIPS FOR GROWING POTATOES

Potatoes can also be grown in raised beds. To keep direct sunlight off the beds and to prevent "greening" put a layer of grass clippings on the soil. It will also keep the bugs off. 

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GARDEN

How to Grow Bok Choy

Bok choy or pak choi is a type of Chinese cabbage. Chinensis varieties do not form heads and have smooth, dark green leaf blades instead, forming a cluster reminiscent of mustard greens or celery. Wikipedia

I have planted one store bought Bok Choy that still had lot of roots on it and planted it in my new vertical garden planter. 

A deep green leafy vegetable that resembles Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom, Bok Choy is a crucifer more closely related to cabbage. The entire vegetable can be used, in stir fries or in salads.

 

Most vegetable gardeners growing leafy vegetables will have heard the term 'cut-and-come-again'. As a harvesting technique the term is often poorly understood, and many gardeners may not appreciate quite how useful the system is -- especially if they have just a small piece of land.

How to Harvest Bok Choy Seeds

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GARDENING

How to keep Mosquitos at Bay in Ponds and Water Fountains

#submersiblepump

I love the sound of water and have several fountains and bird baths set up. As beautiful as these water elements are, they are also wonderful breeding grounds for mosquitos if they are left unattended.

The key to managing mosquitoes  is to stop them from being able to breed. Even one ounce of standing water can support a population of larvae.

Larvae prefer shallow water (24inches deep), which means that water fountains and birdbaths are ideal breeding grounds for them. However if you add a water pump you can add movement to the water and thereby increase the water circulation. Mosquitos love stagnant water and tend to avoid water that moves.

One of my fountain's pumps just quit working and I ordered the Tiger Pumps 72GPH Submersible Water Pump. This pump can be used in ponds, Aquariums , Fish Tanks and Water Fountains and even for Hydroponics. The pump has 72 GPH and comes with a 5 Feet power cord. The pump is only 1.18" x 1.89" x 2.16" and is extremely lightweight, durable and is secured by four individual powerful suction cup feet that will lock onto any surface.

These pumps are 100% submersible and are designed with the next generation of acid and salt resistant material throughout, making this the most quiet, durable and environmentally friendly submersible pond pump with excellent GPH pump flow. I received my pump at a discounted rate and like how well it work to keep the water moving.

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