Tips For Growing Carrots In Containers

Learn how to effectively grow carrots in containers.
Growing carrots in a container garden is less difficult than growing carrots in the ground because you can control the variables. You will also get higher yields in a container garden per square foot.

Here are some quick tips to follow…

· You need a container that is deep enough for the carrots to grow down at least twelve to fifteen inches. Your carrots may not grow to this size, however you do not want them hitting a shallow bottom half way through the growing season.

· Soil is very important; you want a soil that is loose, not compacted. There should be no debris in your soil at all. This allows the carrots to grow straight down and you will have a higher yield. Use potting soil with a mixture of cow manure you can get at the store. If possible, it is better to use your own compost. If you use your own compost, make sure it is completely cured, smooth and smells earthy, not like manure.

· Depending on your zone, carrots do well planted in late winter early spring. Start your seeds inside as early as February and bring them out when safe from frost. In a container, you can put your carrot seeds side by side in a row with no spacing within the rows. The rows themselves should be about three inches apart. The reason spacing is not an issue is because your soft, nutrient rich soil will allow the carrots to grow downward. Half way through the growing season go through and pick an early crop of small carrots to make room for the others to grow.

· Place in full sun and do not over water, they do not grow well in mud, or in dusty soil. It is better to let the soil dry out a bit for a day than to over-water.

You should get two to three crops of carrots out of your container garden as you thin the rows through the season. Be sure to thin them at least once to allow your carrots to grow wider, and so you can have a reward for your work mid season.

Planting Radishes


Radishes are a wonderful vegetable to grow because they are easy to plant and maintain. Planting time varies according to the type of radish being planted. Spring radishes should be planted in early spring as soon as the soil is soft. This type of radish is extremely popular with most gardeners, because the radishes do very well in soil that is kept cool and moist. Spring radishes should be planted 1/4″ to !/2″ deep in the ground. They should be spaced 1″ to 2″ apart.

Plant summer radishes in late spring or early summer. Space them about 1″ to 2″ apart. Fall and winter radishes should be planted in late summer to early fall. Their roots are bigger so they must be spaced 2″ to 4″ apart.

Radishes are a wonderful plant to grow in container gardens. They don’t take up a lot of room and caring for them is not difficult. It is very important to keep the plants moist. Mulching the plants is vital. The mulch will keep the soil temperature cool and help to retain the moisture.

When choosing a site to grow the radishes, opt for an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. Check the soil’s PH level. A PH of 5.8 to 6.8 is just right. You can enrich the soil content by adding organic compost. Do not use fresh manure or any fertilizer with a high nitrogen content. High nitrogen levels are not good for the development of a strong root system.

Harvest the radishes when they are quite young. Usually it is best to harvest them three to five weeks from the time they were planted. Pull the radishes gently from the ground using your hands or a trowel.

Now it is time to enjoy the fruits, or rather the vegetables, of your labor. Enjoy!

How To Plant From Seed

Sowing Seeds


Sowing seeds is a process that is intrinsic to every home gardener and commercial farmer alike. Sowing seeds is an important beginning process no matter the size or purpose of the garden. It seems that no two gardeners do this process in exactly the same way. Nevertheless, here are some important points to consider with sowing seeds.

INDOOR SOWING

Seed starter kits are commercially available and many prefer to use these indoors. The benefit of this is that it is easy to control the growing conditions. Normally the seed sowing kits use potting soil that is purchased separately. The fragile sprouting plant can be sheltered from harsh winds and rain in this fashion.

OUTDOOR SOWING

Gardeners often choose to sow seeds outdoors when there is no room inside. Many times, direct seeding is used. Direct seeding is when seeds are sown directly into the ground instead of a container. Many times, seeds that are sown directly into the ground have less of a chance of survival. This is due to many factors.

For one thing, the quality of the soil may be inadequate to nourish the seed enough to sprout. Likewise, there may be harsh conditions such as driving rains that drown the seed. Many seeds do sprout when they are directly seeded but some will be lost. This is not a good method to use if there is very limited quantity of seeds or very low quality of soil.

It is certainly true that it is wise to sow extra seeds. This is because there is so much that can befall a young plant so that it does not survive. For instance, birds could eat the seeds. Disease may kill the young plant. Rain and wind could cause the demise of a young plant. Inadequate soil conditions can cause a plant to languish. Lack of proper space for vibrant rooting systems to grow can certainly be another problem. All of these are reasons to sow extra seed. When enough seed is sown, there is a more optimal chance that some of them will survive to become healthy plants.

The above is an overview of the process of sowing seeds. Some gardeners do this indoors while still others prefer outdoor seed sowing. There are many ways of getting the garden started and it just depends upon what is comfortable and works for each individual. Get started gardening now and see which way feels and works best.

Seed Germination


To understand how seedlings are formed during the germination of a seed, one must first understand the parts of a seed. Seeds are a small package containing the genetic material of fully developed parent plants. Fully developed seeds include a plant embryo and usually some basic food reserves. These two components are surrounded by the seed coat which is the hard outer layer of the seed.

Within every batch of seeds there will be some that never germinate. These are usually lacking the embryo. However, most seeds also go through a period where there is no growth. The time is known as dormancy. In this stage, seeds can be packaged, stored and transported without damage. In addition, seeds with a dormant stage will remain dormant until the environment which it is in is favorable to a healthy growth.

There are several factors necessary for seeds to germinate. These include temperature, water, oxygen and light. Different types of seeds require different temperatures in order to begin to germinate. Many seeds germinate around room temperature, while others require warmer air and soil temperatures in order to thrive. Other plants like lettuces require lower temperatures for germination. This is the reason that spring plants all seem to pop up at the same time. The seeds for those plants require a temperature above freezing in order to come out of dormancy.

Water is always required for germination. Seeds that are dormant are often very dry and thus need large amounts of water to moisten the seed. Water is taken into the seed via a process called imbibition. Once the water is imbibed, the process of germination begins. First, the water causes the seed to swell which breaks the seed coat. Next, the water causes hydrolytic enzymes to be released which change the saved food reserves into chemicals that are useful for the baby plant.

Energy for the young plant comes from oxygen. It is important to note that seeds must not be planted too deeply into the soil. If the seeds are covered by too much soil, the seeds will be oxygen starved and will not fully germinate. Until the plant grows true leaves and begins to produce food using photosynthesis, oxygen is needed for aerobic aspiration.

Light is a less common factor in germination. Many plants just rely on the above three environmental requirements in order to begin to grow. Some forest plants require a certain amount of light to germinate. This guarantees that there will be a sufficient break in the canopy above to provide the sunlight needed for the mature plant to thrive using photosynthesis.

The seed coat of many plants can require other things in order to weaken enough for germination to begin. Some plants require that the seeds pass through the digestive tract of an animal, go through the heat of a fire or soak in water for an extended period of time. Scoring a seed can mimic some of these harder to start plants so that the success rate of germination is higher. The germination rate of seeds varies based on the species but is often expressed in percentages. This percentage is often used to calculate the number of seeds a grower may need to plant in order to get a desired number of successful seedlings. Understanding the process of germination can increase your success at growing plants from seed.

Transplant Seedlings


Transplanting seedlings to a garden can seem like a daunting task, but with the help of these tips, anyone can do it.

Prepare the soil: The first step for transplanting seedlings to a garden is to prepare the soil. First, break up the soil until it is 6 to 10 inches deep. During this step, you can add manure, compost, fertilizer and all of the good things that will allow your seedlings to prosper. If you can, perform a soil test because it determines whether you need to add something to it.

Prepare for the elements: Before planting the seedlings to your garden, expose them to the elements. This step must not be skipped because if the seedlings aren’t prepared to brave the elements, they can suffer from shock and die.

Irrigation: Irrigation is a crucial step in this process. The simplest way to ensure your seedlings get the necessary amount of water is to install an automatic sprinkler; they are very easy-to-use and affordable.

Look at the weather: The best time to start planting your new seedlings to the soil is on a cloudy day. During this time, seedlings have a chance to adjust to their new outdoor setting. Also, the best time to plant your seedlings is during the evening.

Plant your seedlings deeply, not too deeply: The best depth for a seedling is 6 to 10 inches.

Take care of the roots: The roots are the heart of the seedling, so they should be handled with a tender hand. When removing the seedling from its pot, make sure to carefully turn it upside down and pat it gently; this helps the seedling come out quickly. During this process, most people commit the error of trying to pull the roots out by yanking and tugging on the stem of the seedling, but this can actually cause damage to the seedling. However, if your seedlings are planted in a peat pot, you won’t have to remove them from the pot; just plant them into the soil with the pot.

Water the plants: Once your seedlings are in the soil, water them because it helps the soil settle into the roots. You can also water the seedlings with compost tea; this helps boost their color and strength.

Salvia


Salvia is one of the biggest groups of flowers in the mint family. Also known as Sage, annual Salvia can be found in more than six colors. Its ability to withstand high heats, direct sunlight or shade, over watering as well as drought conditions makes it the perfect flower for potting, decorative landscaping and flower beds. Although Salvia is has a scent that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, the scent is somewhat volatile making it unappealing to many insects and herbivorous animals.

The Salvia plant is typically an annual plant, meaning it will only grow for one season. However, some Savlia flowers become perennial in warmer climate zones. In addition to how easily it grows in different conditions, part of the appeal of this plant is the range of colors it comes in. Shades of blue, purple, red, yellow and coral are just a few of the vibrant color choices.

Generally, Salvia can grow as tall as five feet high. It blooms in early summer and lasts until late summer or early fall. Although it’s a hardy plant that tolerates most weather and climate conditions, Salvia does not thrive in cooler climates, so it is best to plant when there is no chance of frost.

Growing Ivy On A House


Growing ivy on your house can help you add beauty to any home. Growing ivy does not harm anything but the wood on your home. Ivy is very easy to grow and must be constantly trimmed on a regular basis to control its speedy growth. There are a few different types of ivy to choose from. Some require a lot of sun and some will grow good in the shade. Once you determine the area you want to plant the ivy, you can choose the ivy that best suits your needs.

Before planting the ivy, you must prepare your soil. Most types of ivy will grow very good in well drained soil. If needed, add some peat moss to improve the soil. Ivy is a very hardy plant and will do well with some peat moss added. If you decide to plant with seeds or plants that are already started, try to plant them as close to the house as possible. Depending on the type of ivy you chose, read the package good to determine how far apart they should be planted. Some types may require 12 inches apart while others may be 18 inches apart. After you complete your planting, water them good and you will be amazed of how quickly they grow.

Pruning is a major job with growing ivy. You will need to keep them under control. Prune them away from window sills and your roof due to any damage that may occur. Keep them trimmed back from the rain gutters because the ivy can pull the gutters away from your home. You do not want to create any additional expenses planting ivy. Trimming your ivy on a regular schedule with decrease the chance of any damage to your home and then you can enjoy the beauty of ivy for many years.

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Garden Slugs


Slugs are a common problem for gardeners. Slugs damage plants by eating their stems, leaves, and roots. While chemical products are available to keep slugs out of the garden, they contain toxins that may be harmful to pets and children. If you have slugs in your garden, try utilizing some of these natural solutions for getting rid of them.

Copper: When a slug comes into contact with copper, it receives an electric shock. Thus, placing copper rings, mesh, or tape around individual plants will deter these pests.

Eggshells: One way to prevent slugs from entering your garden is to create a barrier of eggshells around your garden’s perimeter. Crush the eggshells into small pieces and create a barrier two inches wide around your garden. Slugs won’t want to cross the barrier as they find it painful to crawl over the eggshells‘ sharp edges.

Coffee: Put leftover coffee into a spray bottle, and spray it on problem plants’ leaves and stems. Be sure to spray the underside of plants’ leaves as well. Also, spray some on the surrounding soil. Slugs don’t like coffee, so they will stop eating your plants when they taste the coffee on them.

Beer: Dig some holes in your garden that are large enough to fit a paper cup into. When you place the cup in the hole, its rim should be level with the ground. Fill each cup about three-fourths full of beer in the evening. Then, place each one into a hole. Slugs are attracted to beer, but after they fall into the cup, they will be unable to get out. Dispose of the slugs in the morning, and refill the cups each evening to get rid of these pests.

Encourage Predators: Birds, toads, garter snakes, and turtles like to eat slugs. Encouraging these predators to live in and near your garden will help you control your slug population. You can set up bird feeders near your garden to attract birds. Amphibians like shade, so ensure you have a lot of shady spots near your garden as well.

Slugs don’t have to be a problem in your garden. Utilizing these safe, natural tips will help you get rid of slugs who are feeding on your plants, and prevent new ones from entering your garden.

Aster Flower


The aster flower is an annual flower belonging to the family Asteraceae (Sunflower family,) with about 180 different species in North America. Around the world more than 600 species exist and known as starwort by the English. The Latin terminology for wort is root and symbolizes healing properties. Other asters such as marigolds act as an insecticide in a garden by putting off a scent that is undesirable to many pests.

Asters are hardy flowers and produce an abundance of flowers in a large assorted color range and size. Six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day and good drainage is a must for these plants.

Good organic compost mixed in the planting soil will ensure that nutrient rich soil is available for the delicate root system. A balanced triple ten fertilizer applied once a month is recommended for asters.

To encourage more blossoms and a more compact bush, the aster should be pinched back periodically as it grows and any dead or dying flowers should be removed to promote more blooming.

Asters are prone to diseases such as aster yellows, which is carried by leafhoppers, mold and fusarium wilt, a soil-borne disease. Select varieties that are resistant to diseases, spray to control insects and rotate plantings every other year.

All in all, this is a great annual flower to use in a landscape.

Compost Tips For The Home Gardener


Fall and early winter are perfect times to start composting leaves that you will use the following spring and summer. Composting is not as difficult as one would believe. It is just a relatively simple process of expediting the decaying organic material using a uniform method, that in turn, will naturally change it into a very nutrient filled and rich soil. Although every home gardener has their own specific method, they all generally follow the same guidelines; therefore, we will give you the basics to begin composting from several different organic materials from around your home. Eventually, you too will probably develop your own special recipe derived from the local materials that you will be utilizing.

Composting leaves are a favorite among home gardeners because it not only helps dispose of the falling leaves, but leaves are easy to find and produce some of the best mineral rich soil that will provide plenty of food for your plants and flowers. Shredding your leaves is not necessary, but shredded leaves will break down faster than whole leaves. Always bury the new material deep in the pile and add some type of cover to it to speed up the process; furthermore, the cover will protect your pile from absorbing unwanted water and retain the heat the compost needs to break down. Lastly, you’ll need to take a pitchfork and turn your compost pile from bottom to top at least every 5 to 6 days to promote an even and consistent end product.

Home gardeners will also utilize the method of composting fruit and vegetable scraps that they would normally throw away every day. This method usually involves a container with a lid to be placed in your kitchen. Mark this container as a fruit and vegetable depository. As you go along your daily routine discard your vegetable scraps, scraps of fruit, egg shells, and any other organic material into your kitchen compost container. Once the container is full, remove the container from your kitchen and dump its contents into your outdoor compost container or pile. A general rule of thumb will be to maintain your compost pile with 50% of your organic kitchen scraps, and 50% of the usual yard cleanup materials such as leaves, hedge clippings, and even newspaper or discarded paper shopping bags. Maintain his pile the same way as you would your normal compost pile.

Composting plants also provide a rich soil that can be high in nitrogen and nutrition that is very healthy for plants and flowers. Readily available green items such as grass clippings, hedge trimming, pruning cuts, weed pulling, deadheaded flowers, and certain tree limbs and bark.

There are a few items that need to be avoided when developing a compost pile and when managing any compost odors that may arise. Any type of feces, either human or animal, are usually not a good idea. Meats and fish are carriers of harmful bacteria, and will attract rodents and flies. Wood that has been pressure treated will contain harmful chemicals and solvents that will also have an adverse affect. Use common sense and regularly tend to your compost stock. The rewards will be well worth the efforts.

Vincas


Vincas are one of my go-to plants. They thrive in the heat, survive my periodic neglect, bounce back and look great doing it. They aren’t picky about where they are planted as long as they get plenty of sun, and even some afternoon shade. Pest free and self cleaning, once these beauties are in the ground or a container they don’t require much maintenance beyond a drink every once in a while. Vincas grow to 12-18 inches tall, with a 12 inch spread, and an upright, bushy habit with medium green leaves. It will reseed itself, and you may end up with volunteers where you don’t want them, but they are easy enough to pull.

The flowers have traditionally been white, or shades of pink or purple, some with a stunning contrasting eye. In the last couple years shades like cranberry and peach have come out. The plants are covered with blooms from late spring until first frost. Vincas are usually sold as an annual, but are actually tender perennials. That first night of freezing temperatures will kill them fast, though. For those of you in zone 10, your vincas will probably survive the winter. When planting in the spring make sure all danger of a frost has passed.

Storing Seeds For The Winter


To ensure quality seeds for a beautiful garden, start by storing the seeds in an environment opposite from the one you have been using for all your flowers and plants. For starters, there’s no water, and no light, the two things you definitely do not want when storing your seeds. After you have collected all the seeds from your favorite plants, you want to store them in a container that is moisture-proof, so no envelopes or plastic bags. I have used a small amount of silica-gel inside my storage containers to help absorb moisture from the air, you can find it at any craft store.

Another way to absorb moisture is powder milk, but make sure its fresh, and the box was just opened recently. Take a teaspoon of the powdered milk, wrap it in a tissue, or something breathable, tie it up, and place it in the container. This will helps absorb moisture and prevent mold, mildew and rotting from occurring. If you plan on storing your seeds for a long period of time, always make sure the seeds are dry. The drier the seed the longer it can be stored, 10 years if the seed has less than 8% moisture.

Everyone stores their seeds in different places, but if you store your seeds outside, you should use metal or glass containers, like an old paint can work great, and they prevent critters from making your seeds into a snack. The ideal temperature for storage is between 32º and 41º degrees, so the refrigerator is an ideal place for storage. Most people store their containers in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, so the seeds are out of the way.

Make sure each container has been marked with the type of seed and the date you harvested it. When you label your containers you stop needless opening of the container, and in turn prevent any contamination. The two most important factors for storing your seeds are maintaining the temperature, and decreasing the moisture. As long as you keep this in mind, you should always have productive seeds coming from your storage every spring.