Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Growing Plants Cheaply

Seeds - For the classically cheap.
You can use grocery money on plants if you buy vegetables!  It saves money in the end.  The garden produce is a level of delicious rarely found in stores.  You haven't lived fully until you've eaten a vine-ripe garden tomato.  Few things reduce stress like lettuce seeds that sprout in two days.

I want to live fully.  I appreciate wonderful food, great architecture, beautiful landscapes and skylines and captivating aromas.  

I want to live life fully, but cheaply.   

Gardening has the perfect balance.  It provides a healthy outdoor activity, exercise, sunshine and the high-end food ingredients that have become my unforgiving standard.  Without the massive amounts of basil we grow each summer, we would have to sacrifice a lot or not keep my son in fresh pesto!  Life would be hard.

We grow and harvest about a pound of basil a week, from to containers on the patio alone! 

Of coarse, I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on gardening supplies either...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Plant a Tomato Plant for Crazy Fast Growth!

If you don't know how to plant a tomato, you are not alone.  If I had a dollar for every person I've explained it to...I'd have a party!

Tomatoes root along their stems.  This makes planting them a little different from most plants.  It won't hurt them to plant them the same way you plant peppers or even trees, but you will get crazy fast results if you plant the tomatoes in the special tomato way.

The biggest difference is...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Low-Mainenance Gardening

Carrots with weeds!
I'm a lazy gardener.  I try to blame it on Multiple Sclerosis, but I think a lot of it is just me.  Certainly, all the people without MS blame me. 

When the Spring thaw finally comes, I have energy and I'm willing to spend it.  Groundwork in the Spring makes for lazy gardening when it's hot...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Whole Wheatgrass Table!

Day 8:  Finished!
Day 7!

Day 6
Day 4
Day 5
 Years before digital cameras, we grew the most amazing table.  Wish you could see it.  

I'd like to take credit for the idea, but all I was told was that a "Designer" from New York was coming to the beach to get married. He/she had asked the florist to create a table to put the cake on.  This person wanted the table completely covered with live, growing wheat grass.  There were also about 30 black bowls that would be centerpieces at the individual tables. 

The florist came to me.  We struck a deal and she delivered the 30 bowls and a 4-foot piece of plywood with plastic ribbon stapled to the sides making it into a shallow planter.

Growing wheatgrass on a big scale or for an Easter basket is the same process.  It's easy.  My kids used to grow it to sell at the farmer's market when they were 5.  Here is the process:

- Only the top four inches of soil matter, so fill the bottom with perlite or compost or mulch.  Really, whatever you want with the weight you need.
- The top four inches need to be good, crumbly, moist potting soil.  I always recommend going to a local garden center that grows some of their own inventory and get a bag of whatever they use.  It will vary by region.  Mix in some granular fertilizer.
- Cover the surface with grains of Hard Red Winter Wheat.  You can get this at the health food store in the bulk food section.  The more seed you use, the sooner your planter will be ready, but the sooner it will have to be used.  When it is grown very thick, it chokes itself out pretty quickly.
- Cover the grains with vermiculite.  You can use potting soil, but it will take two extra days to germinate.
- Water your container and keep it warm.  

You should see sprouts in 2-3 days.  The wheatgrass should look like grass in 7-14 days depending on the weather.  It should be ready to cut in 14-28 days.
Day 1

When we grew it for the wedding, I planted it a few days too early.  It was getting really long and falling over.  So I cut it with the hedge trimmers two days before the wedding with no ill effects.

 Please leave your questions in the comments section below and I will answer them!

You've read the blog, now see the movie!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tips From A Pro For Hard to Start Seeds Or Untalented Gardeners

In the professional world of growing, some plants are so hard to start from seed they are usually propagated from cuttings.  (Rooting cuttings is another special skill and there are greenhouses that specialize in that.)  But the seed companies keep selling those hard-to-germinate seeds anyway.  

Here are a few more tricks I haven't shared if you already bought rosemary seeds and want to try to germinate them:

Keep them wet.  Soaking them overnight is a common suggestion, but that just makes them sticky and hard to handle.  Soak them for about two days once they are planted.  Be sure to use a hose attachment that breaks the pressure of the water so you don't pack your soil.  Packing soil is a BIG no-no...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where's the Black Widow?

They hide under things in the shade, where it is black.  They are probably more common than you expect.  I have found them under the kids' yard toys, under the trash can lid, under the base of the siding, in the porch light and in the handle of the laundry basket - just to name a few!

Here's my first video!!

Where's the Black Widow? 

It will help you recognize where they like to live and the distinctive sound that will clue you in when you have just ripped through a black widow web!  Stay safe!  Merry Gardening!

(This video contains scenes that some people may find disturbing.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to Plant a Strawberry Jar That Lives! (Or Your Money Back!)

It was March and kind of cold and a customer brought in a strawberry jar for me to plant.

In a former life, strawberry jars never thrived.  I held a grudge against them.

This was not a product I ever planned to carry when I owned my own garden center.  But people started bringing them to me, whimpering and teary because they had taken a class and spent all this time drilling holes in a pipe and did everything and it still died.  I planted them and didn't hear back from anyone.

As I dissected the remains (They brought them still intact) I was amazed and bewildered at the work these people had put into their planters.  This was a group of people who LOVED their jars. 

Then came that lady in March with that great, big, 3 gallon thing.  The others had all been one gallon jars - I guess they all took the same class.  I turned her down.  She begged.  I told her not to hope for much.  She said she'd be back in two weeks.

I didn't have a pipe and I had always taken them out of the others anyway.  Also didn't have a drill.  At the first garden center where I worked we stuffed them with sphagnum, but I didn't have that either.

Mostly because I was too cheap to go and get anything, I came up with this:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Growing Cilantro, Basil and Chives from Seed

They don't look much like herbs yet....On top of the dryer is a great place to start seeds!  Warm soil temperature makes seeds germinate faster.  These are chives and garlic chives, both covered with vermiculite.  On top of those are 1/2 inch cell trays of basil and tomatoes!  I did not cover the basil and tomatoes, but I probably will today.  I also planted some cilantro seeds - covered in vermiculiteAny kind of heat makes cilantro bolt earlier so I left those in the garage.  They have all been watered until they are soaked.  I'll keep them soaked until I see a sign of life.  Almost everything I need for the kitchen garden is growing!  I'll probably have enough to sell some at the Braselton Antique and Gardening Festival too!

 Please leave any gardening questions below!  If you want some free arugula seeds, leave your email!