Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Garden container

Once you’ve chosen a spot for your container water garden – remember, 6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day, no overhanging trees, and a nearby water source (and power source if you’ll be using a circulating pump for a waterfall) – you get to the fun part. Most home and garden supply store chains carry all the materials you need to create small ponds, including plastic liners – but you’re only limited by your imagination and a few basic rules in choosing a container for your water garden.

It must be easy to drain.
It must be non-porous.
It must be deep enough to support the plants you want to grow.

I’ve seen water gardens that use everything from old bathtubs to an assortment of terracotta pots (with plastic liners) to large baskets (also with plastic liners).

For a container water garden, you won’t actually be planting the plants in the bottom of the ‘pond’. Instead, each plant will be planted in its own separate pot and submerged in the water.

Assemble your equipment
You’ll need your containers, plants, bricks or terracotta pots, gravel, heavy soil, aquatic plant fertilizer tablets and a garden hose.

Pot your plants
If they’re not already in suitable pots, you’ll need to pot your plants. Do not use potting soil, vermiculite or peat moss – all of which will wash out of the pots and foul the water. Instead, you want a very heavy, mud-clay like soil. Fill the pot 2/3 full with soil. Push a fertilizer tablet into the soil, then carefully spread the roots of the plant over the surface of the dirt. Add a few inches of dirt and lightly tamp it down, then cover with an inch or so of pea gravel. Repeat until all of your plants are potted.

Arrange your plants in the container
This is where the bricks come in. The tops of the plant pots should be no more than a few inches below the surface of the water. Stack bricks, upended terracotta pots or construction blocks in the container and place pots on top of them to vary the heights of the plants.

How to plant a small vegetable garden

For many people, growing big juicy tomatoes is part of what makes vegetable gardening so enjoyable. Whether purchasing plants from your local nursery or starting tomatoes from seed, there are a few basic steps to follow to ensure that you harvest an abundant crop at the end of the growing season. There are many different varieties of tomatoes to choose from, depending on whether you will be cooking, canning, slicing, or eating miniature or grape-like varieties right off the vine. Sweet 100ís are very abundant, and are good for salads as well as eating fresh from the garden. Roma tomatoes are good for making salsa, because the peels are not as tough as others so you donít need to peel the skins off. Romas are also known as the classic paste and sauce tomato. There are Early Girls, Early Boys, Big Boys, Big Mamas, Sweet Baby Girls, Beefsteaks, French Rose hybrids, Big Rainbow, specialty tomatoes and many more. So start by choosing the kind of tomato you would like to grow.

Planting Tomatoes from Seeds

Tomatoes grown from seed will require six to eight weeks before they can be planted in the garden. Purchase individual containers or flats, starter soil or mixture, and the seeds of your choice. Fill each container with soil, pressing it tightly to remove air and to avoid settling problems after watering. Typically, seed companies print instructions for planting right on the tomato seed package. Each variety is a little different so follow instructions carefully. Prepare a label identifying the type of tomato and the date started. You can make your own from Popsicle sticks or purchase them at the store or garden center.

Insert your label in the pot and mist with water. Place containers in a sunny window and keep seeds moist by placing a plastic bag over them. Small greenhouse containers are also available at your local nursery. Watch for seeds to germinate and remove plastic when plants emerge. Wean out weaker looking seedlings to give strong ones more room to grow. Keep moist by misting or watering tomatoes when needed. When plants have a second pair of leaves it is time to transplant these seedlings to your garden or a large pot in which they are to grow.

It is a good idea to harden off or acclimatize a plant to outdoor conditions before planting by setting it out in direct sun during the day and bringing it in at night. After a few days, the tomato plant will have adapted to the new surroundings and can be transplanted in the desired location. Place plants directly outdoors after the threat of frost in a shady location, out of the wind and protected from heavy rains.

Purchasing Started Plants

If you prefer to purchase plants from your garden center or greenhouse, select dark green plants that are stocky in size and that do not have any fruit. The fruit will stunt the plant growth and the total yield will be reduced. Tomatoes are one of the few plants that will tolerate being planted deeper than they sit in the pot. So a taller plant can be placed a little deeper if preferred. As mentioned, harden off the plant before moving it to a final location.

Preparing Garden Soil For Tomato Plants
The soil should be deep, loamy, and well-drained for the best harvest. Tomatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. The term pH balance refers to acidity or the alkalinity of your soil from a numerical scale of 1.0 to 14.0. The neutral point on the pH scale is 7.0. Higher than 6.5 indicates alkaline soil, lower than that indicates acidic soil.

Test kits are available at garden centers or through local horticultural organizations. To raise the soilís pH, work agriculture lime into the soil. Use sulfur to lower the pH of alkaline soil. Using fertilizers and compost amendments will also change the soilís pH over time. Adding decomposed organic compost will improve any soil structure. You can purchase or make your own compost. Once you have cultivated your garden area and prepared the soil, it is ready for the plantings.

Planting The Tomatoes

Inspect all of the transplants, looking for insects, wilting or blight. Plant only healthy plants. Tomatoes prefer full sun, so choose an area with at least six to eight hours of sun per day. Practice crop rotation in your vegetable gardening by planting tomatoes and other vegetables in a different spot every year. Tomatoes prefer to be planted by chives, parsley, marigolds, nasturtiums, garlic bulbs, and carrots. Avoid planting tomatoes by potatoes or members of the cabbage family.

For large healthy tomatoes, give them plenty of room to grow. Space plants twenty-four inches between rows and leave twenty-four inches between plants. With your shovel or spade, make holes slightly larger than the plants. Tap gently on the bottom of the individual container, loosening the soil and gently removing from the pot. Tomatoes are susceptible to cutworms, but placing a 3-4 inch nail next to each stem before planting or wrapping strips of newspaper around the bottom of the stems will help prevent these pests. A paper cup surrounding the stem also works well.

Place tomato plant in hole and back fill with soil until it is well compacted. Place a rack or cage around each individual plant to help support future growth. Water around the base of the plant, avoiding the foliage. Do not over water or soak the seedlings as this can promote disease and rot. Water early in the day to discourage blight.

Using a rake, spread organic mulch, such as weed-free straw, over plants at least two inches deep. These is an effective way to prevent weeds, preserve water and keep the soil warm, thus reducing the maintenance required for vegetable gardening. Fertilize the plants throughout the growing season with compost or organic matter. Water when needed and inspect leaves periodically for the signs of tomato blight and insects. If blight is discovered, remove any infected leaves and destroy them. Treat plant with a fungicide. Be sure to remove all debris from your garden in the fall, as blight can survive on the dried tomatoes over the winter.

Most tomatoes take 100-days to bear fruit, so follow these easy directions and get ready to harvest the fruits of your labors and enjoy that first BLT of the season.

Items Needed For Growing Tomatoes:

- Tomato seeds or plants
- Containers or flats
- A small greenhouse kit or plastic bags
- Starter soil or mixture
- Marking pen
- Popsicle sticks or labels
- Rake
- Spade and shovel
- Water, sun, adequate soil and patience

Vegetable container gardening

As the proud owner of a tiny vegetable plot one of the easiest ways to increase my plot is to grow vegetables in containers. Container vegetable gardening has become very popular to the point the seed companies now have special varieties for growing vegetables in containers. You cannot always use just any plants because some varieties like a wide spread root system while others grow perfectly well with a smaller root set.

This year I tried to grow sweet peppers in some flower pots but I found them pot bound and dying. I transferred them to the plot and within 2 weeks they were growing and much healthier.

Many people actually are constantly on the lookout for a good way to grow their own vegetables even when space is at a premium. Moreover, these people also wish to avoid purchasing vegetables that contain non-organic matter and they need to also find a way to avoid paying for highly costly organic foods.

An Ideal Solution

With problems such as E. coli to worry about as well, growing vegetables at home has now almost become a necessity and so, it is not surprising to find that container vegetable gardening offers an ideal solution to those who have limited space to grow their vegetables at home. Today, almost everything that we consume is a product of mass production which means that the vegetables that we are eating will have been touched by many hands which in turn can lead to these vegetables becoming unsafe to consume.

Even with little space in which to grow vegetables at home, thanks to container vegetable gardening it has now become possible to grow sufficient quantities of vegetables to feed your family on a daily basis. Container vegetable gardening also is advantageous to you because you can grow your vegetables on a patio or even a deck and even growing your vegetables indoors is possible as long as you use indoor grow lights.

Not all vegetables lend them well to container vegetable gardening, and so you may have to especially avoid planting vegetables that are on the larger size such as corn which grows to such heights that it would require using very heavy as well as large pots. Other vegetables that won’t lend them well to container vegetable gardening include large melons and even certain kinds of squashes and tomatoes that are better off being grown in larger gardens.

Lettuce and spinach as well as vegetables with plenty of leaves on them are what you need to consider for container vegetable gardening as these do well when grown in containers. To get the most out of container vegetable gardening you can also choose to plant small tomatoes of which salad tomatoes, plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are good examples.

Besides choosing an appropriate vegetable for your container vegetable gardening, you also will need to worry about the proper size of the container and typically, you need to choose a container that should at least be six inches in depth and which is also at least ten to twelve inches wide.

Some people – myself included – find the vegetable plants attractive in themselves. They are to my mind far more interesting because they produce something you can eat but still look good as a plant. Lettuce and cabbages can be very decorative

vndoor vegetable gardening

Spring is the time of year when we think about creating a vegetable garden, especially with all the emphasis on the damage that long transport distances do to the ecosystem, never mind the fact that we are eating vegetables that are not quite as fresh as they might be! When choosing the location for your vegetable garden forget the old idea that the veg patch must be an ugly spot. If carefully designed, thoughtfully planted and well cared for, it will be feature of your garden, bringing a touch of homeliness that no formal bed could ever create.

Bearing this in mind you should not restrict yourself to any area of the garden just because it is out of sight. In the average modern garden there won't be much choice as to land anyway. You will need to use what you have available and then do the best that you can with it. There will probably be more choice as to exposure and convenience. All things being equal, try and choose a spot reasonably close to the house with easy access. It may seem that the difference of only a few yards is hardly relevant, but if you are depending largely on snatched spare moments for working in the vegetable garden easy access will be much more important than you might realise. Only when you have made a dozen unnecessary trips for forgotten bits and pieces, or ended up getting wet as you dash in and out will you realise that it would have been much easier to have the veg garden just that little bit closer!

Alongside convenience you need to pick out a spot that has suitable exposure to Sun and rain. You don't want to use a spot that is blasted by cold winds and likely to catch a frost. Choose the "earliest" spot you can find, ideally sloping a little to the south or east, that catches the sunshine early and holds it late. Chill winds from the north and northeast can have dramatic effects on your yield so if you can pick a spot that gets some shelter be it from a garden building, fence or the house itself, your plot will be protected and your vegetables will get an early start. If there is no protection available think about planting a low hedge or putting some other form of protection in place if you are intending to grow all your own supplies.

It is unlikely that you will be able to choose the type of soil as most gardens are not big enough to have a variety of soils available. This is not really a problem as most soils can be improved quite easily to give the ideal growing conditions. The best soil for growing vegetables is said to be a 'rich and sandy loam'. That is a soil type that is almost never found but always made! It needs to be full of nutrients that are easily available for the plants to grow well. This can be achieved by the addition of compost and plant feed, either organic or chemical depending on your preference. The 'sandyness' refers to drainage. If your soil is too heavy the water will form a sticky mess that isn't good for your plants, equally if it is too sandy the water will pass through before the plants can take advantage of it. You can easily add sand or soil conditioners to get your drainage right.

Indoor vegetable garden

I suspect few children of today would spend countless hours putting together the perfect indoor garden. To us, as 9 and 10 year olds, the first step was begging an old biscuit tin lid from our mothers or grandmothers. The biscuit tin lid was ideal because it was just the right depth. Next, armed with our empty tin lids, we would make our way down to the end of the garden or, in my case, into the woods that grew around my grandparents' home. Here we would find the dank conditions ideal for the sphagnum moss to grow and plenty of leaf mould to use as compost. We would fill our tins just below the rim with the leaf mould and then gently press the sphagnum moss into place to completely cover the leaf mould in the tin lid.

The next stage was to obtain tiny stones or tiny shells - I was lucky there because we lived within a few yards of the beachfront so I had access to plenty of shells. We would then proceed to decorate our gardens - one year I was even able to get some alpine plants to grow in mine: I prized some of these little plants from the crevices of our garden wall. Making an indoor garden was often given to us as a homework task from school during our Easter holidays. Of course, it helped that we all enjoyed making them. Today, sadly, it seems rather a lost art.

A more modern interpretation - to the West, at least - is the Executive Meditation Zen Garden. This is probably better known as a Sand Garden. I actually bought one this year for my daughter at Christmas. The intention of this is to create an oasis of calm in people's busy lives and reduce the stress people are under today. These miniature sand gardens were inspired from Ryoan-ji, the Zen Rock Garden in Kyoto, Japan. If you purchase a kit, the Zen Garden comes with white sand, zen rakes and a range of polished stones, together with a booklet explaining the concept of Zen. Some kits include a Tori Zen chime, a tea light candle, a mallet and some incense sticks. All of this is set in a beautiful rosewood tray that is beautifully finished and makes an absolutely delightful and original focal point as part of any interior design project.

Vegetable gardening in winter

You have a green thumb and you find pleasure in getting yourself down and dirty in your garden of plants. You enjoy this not only for leisure but in knowing that you feel a sense of accomplishment when you see your plants starting to flower and flourish. But then you feel that winter is coming and you don’t relish the thought of not being able to see some greens let at least be able to do the one thing you really love to do. Now, don’t fret for it doesn’t mean that just because winter will be fast approaching soon you can’t do some gardening.

You can actually still put your green thumb at work, this time by doing your gardening indoors.

It is such a delight to have plants indoors during the winter season. It gives us a chance to look forward to spring when the flowers start to bloom in vibrant colors once again. Be aware though that there are really certain plants that won’t last long so it is best that you give your focus on plants that will withstand during the winter months. When you buy an indoor plant find out as much as you can about it like how much sunlight it needs and on whether or not it doesn’t require that much watering during the cold months. It is important that you don’t over water your plants during the winter. Most plants during this time are in a resting period so even if they look dry or brown on the outside don’t water them too much cause you don’t want your plant’s leaves to be falling off.

Your plants still need some sunlight. Position them in your house in such a manner where they will get enough sunlight. If your plant requires a lot of sunlight place them near the window where it will get much of the winter sun.

You cannot avoid the fact that you may find some insects or bugs on your indoor plants. Ensure that you find out first how to get rid of these before buying any sort of chemicals in order that your plants will be properly cared for.

How to garden vegetables

In any recipe calling for herbs, use fresh herbs. Preparing the herbs for your dish is easy. The more tender herbs like mint, parsley, basil and cilantro can be gathered in a bowl and snipped with scissors. This is the fastest and safest way to chop the herbs. If your recipe calls for the more hardy herbs like oregano, rosemary, or thyme you should use the stripping method. Hold a branch of the herb upright in your fingers and run the fingers of your other hand down the stalk stripping the tiny leaves free. The flavor will be more intense if you have gathered the herbs from your herb gardens or container gardens because they will be absolutely the freshest herbs available.

The best way to have fresh herbs is to plant and grow them yourself. No longer is there a designated “herb garden”. They can be found in your flower beds, along walkways or in pots on your porch. Many ambitious gardeners are finding new ways to incorporate herbs into their garden beds and their container gardens.

Many gardeners are unaware of the beauty of flowering herbs and never consider planting them within their flower beds. Some herbs that have beautiful flowers are purple coneflower, catmint, bee balm, yarrow, pinks, lavender, pot marigold, borage, feverfew, and nasturtium which is particularly lovely in fresh salads.. Many other herbs, such as parsley are excellent next to flowers of all sorts because of their spectacular foliage. When planting red or blue flowers, place purple basil around them for an artful arrangement.

Another area to consider is to use herbs as ground cover. The herbs that are suitable to this are the low growing oregano, chamomile, woolly and other creeping thyme, mint, and rosemary. Not only will it look pretty but it will be absolutely fragrant. Just be careful of the mint family, they tend to take over everything.

One of the best ways I have grown herbs is in containers. In fact, I like container gardening so much I wrote my eBook “Container Gardening Secrets” (available at ContainerGardeningSecrets.com), so everyone could enjoy this type of gardening. The beauty of a container garden is that it is portable and can be changed at a moment’s whim. When there is no more room in your garden, start a container garden which you can place on your door step or patio. Use them to fill in bare spots that come up during the gardening season or put them on a sunny window sill in your home for easy harvesting. Best of all you can bring your herb containers inside over the winter months and continue to harvest for months to add to your tasty meals or to be used for medicinal purposes.

Another way to employ pots in your garden is to plant invasive herbs such as mint into a pot and then plant pot and all into the ground. This is an easy trick to keep those “creepers” from taking over your garden beds.

Plant a container garden near your door with the cherry pie scented blue flower heliotrope and other fragrant herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil. Every time you walk by you will be greeted with there delicious scent.

Some herbs that have grown on rocky hillsides over the centuries such as thyme, oregano and lavender are perfect for cracks in flag stone paths or walls and rock gardens. They thrive in hot dry areas with good drainage. Some believe that those herbs grown in these conditions produce much better flavor.