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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Growing a Vegetable Garden In Containers

Having home-grown vegetables for lunch or dinner is a very satisfying experience. However, not everyone has the space to create a vegetable garden, especially city-dwellers who live in apartments. In such cases, vegetable container gardening is a very good option. Firstly, it lets you grow your own vegetables, and secondly, you can be sure that the vegetables you are eating are fresh and healthy. Doing this is actually quite easy, and if you choose the right vegetables and herbs to plant, along with the proper containers to plant them in, you can have a thriving vegetable garden, indoors.

When you decide to grow your own vegetables indoors, you should choose only those that thrive in small spaces and produce a good yield. You should also select the containers and decide where to place them, so that your vegetables grow better.

Choosing the Right Container
It is very important to choose a container that provides good drainage, and is big enough to support the weight of the plant. Containers made out of terracotta, plastic, or wood, work well for this type of gardening. However, you can be innovative and use old plastic bottles, plastic milk jugs, old, chipped teapots and sugar bowls, or empty cans, as containers. You can also use wooden boxes and crates, as well as empty barrels. Just make sure that these containers provide adequate drainage, otherwise there will be water logging and the plants will rot.

Choosing the Right Soil
After you have decided the containers that you will be using, it is time to select the soil. Any good-quality potting soil can be used. It should be fairly lightweight, with a good mixture of sand and soil that will allow easy drainage. Clay soil should not be used as it absorbs too much water, which results in the roots of the vegetables receiving very less air. Organic compost should be added to the soil mixture so that the plants receive adequate nutrients. Good-quality potting soil can be purchased from any gardening center or local nursery.

Choosing the Right Vegetables to Grow
Always select vegetables that thrive in small spaces. You can grow green salad leaves like lettuce, endive, spinach, and rocket leaves, or vegetables like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, vine tomatoes, baby potatoes, chilies, and beans. These plants do not require too much sunlight, and hence grow well indoors. Many dwarf varieties of plants like gherkins, baby corns, and snow peas, are also great for growing in a container. Other vegetables that are easy to grow and thrive in containers are squash, eggplant, radishes, beetroot, peppers, and cucumbers.

Square Foot Garden

The first garden of this type was prepared using an open-bottomed box for holding the soil in a limited space. Area of the garden is further divided into squares by means of a grid. These squares serve the purpose of incorporating a variety of different plants into the garden. Various plants have different space requirements. Needs of crops that are commonly grown are presented below.

  • Tomato: A tomato plant just like basil, oregano and similar other herbs require a whole square for healthy growth.
  • Strawberry: Four strawberry plants can easily be grown in a square.
  • Radish: As many as sixteen radish plants can be accommodated in a single square.

After popularizing the concept of square foot gardening through first edition of his book, ‘All new Square Foot Gardening’, Mel Bartholomew discussed the topic of controlling weeds in the second edition. He introduced the technique of using ‘weed barrier’. A weed barrier should be placed beneath the box in which cultivation is carried out. The weed barrier is filled with a special mixture called ‘Mel’s mix’ that contains equal proportions of sphagnum moss, vermiculite and compost.

Square Foot Garden Plan
The plan for such gardens includes preparing a 4 feet x 4 feet soil bed. The bed has to be divided into sections measuring one square foot each by means of a grid. A pathway that is wide enough for a person to walk around the garden should be prepared. Twines or sticks are used as grids in the garden. As stated earlier, different plants have differing needs and therefore, the square is divided into appropriate number of squares. However, for plants like cucumber, frames are installed in squares which aid the plant in growing vertically. For growing tubers like potatoes, the square is provided with a side that is one foot tall. Plantation is carried out on the surface of soil bed.

Maintenance and Care
Plants grown in a square garden absorb nutrients only from the raised bed and not the soil beneath. Hence, it advisable to add a little amount of compost to maintain the fertility of soil.

Benefits
Square foot gardens offer lot more benefits than those designed in a conventional manner; the latter require more space, effort and time for gardening. Let us have a look at the benefits of this form of gardening through points listed below.

  • Soil used in these gardens should be light in texture; it has to be rich in nutrients. Using such type of soil for gardening reduces expenses on fertilizers. Since chemical fertilizers are not at all used for this type of gardening, the ‘soil health’ also is maintained.
  • The ‘culture’ or soil used for growing plants in a square garden holds more water and watering should therefore, be done manually; it helps in retaining more water than in other irrigation methods. This way, the wastage water is minimized to a great extent.
  • Vegetables are planted closely in square foot gardens and hence, weeds don’t get enough space to grow. It helps in carrying out weed control automatically.
  • The methodology of ‘companion planting’ is incorporated in this form of gardening; it means that plants are grown close to each other. This helps control pests and diseases organically.

Square foot gardening is a nice way to enjoy the gardening activity. It has proved to be a successful way of gardening in a wide topographical range and varied climatic conditions; from arid deserts to cramped spaces in urban areas the square foot method of indoor gardening has proved to be a great success. This form of gardening is thus, not only economical and easy to maintain, but has wider applicability and adds to the beauty of your backyard.

Steps to Grow Shining Azaleas Indoors

A deciduous and evergreen flowering plant, azaleas bloom during spring. Mostly found in damp mountainous spots, the flowers usually die only after a few weeks of life. As too much of sunlight is not an issue for these plants, growing them inside your home will require some special techniques.

Step #1: Purchase plants from a nursery that have a few blooms or buds. Make sure the color of the leaves is dark green leaves.

Step #2: Keep the plants in the porch or on a windowsill as this will provide them with maximum sunlight during the day; however, make sure the area has a shade as the plants require partial sunlight. But do make sure that the temperature in these areas is always between 55―60ºF. Growing the plants in controlled temperature will prolong blooming throughout the season, as compared to just a month.

Step #3: Keep the soil moist during the day. The soil should feel damp when you touch it, and not soaked completely. Do not drown the plants in water. If the flowers haven’t bloomed yet, use a spray bottle filled with water to clean the leaves at least once a day. You can use tap water to mist and water the plants. If you live in an area where you get alkaline water, add a tablespoon of vinegar to a gallon of water while watering, and not misting the plants.

Step #4: Always make sure to remove any dead or damaged flowers and leaves off the plants. Pluck them out and discard the deadheaded blooms as well. Also remove the dead flowers that may have fallen down in the dirt.

Step #5: Purchase an acidic houseplant fertilizer and use it on the flowers once a month. The bag should either say “acidic” on it, or should contain sulfur in it. The only time you will use the fertilizer is when the flowers have died, and not when the plants have proper blooms.

Step #6: Once the plants grow in number, repot them during late summer or early fall. Most azaleas need repotting every 2 to 3 years in bigger clay pots. For repotting, add peat-based potting soil in the new clay pot and then transfer the plant along with the root system. The correct way is by holding it from its base and gently tipping the old pot upside down. This way the plant will slide out of the pot with ease and can be replaced in the new pot immediately. You will need to use potting soil to cover the roots.

Tips for Indoor Planting

When you think about an indoor garden, you need to ensure that you take into consideration all possible points before actually starting it. First, you need to decide what kind of plants you’ll be planting. Then you need to pick a good location. If the plants that you’re planning to plant need sunshine, then you’ll obviously have to pick a spot near the window where they are exposed to sunlight. If they need shade, then you can have them under the window sill, where they are protected from the sun. Next, you need to make sure that the area is properly cordoned off. Nothing from the inside of the garden gets out, and nothing from the outside goes inside. This way, your garden remains clean and so does the rest of the home. The next thing you need to take care of is proper drainage of the water. All plants need water. So you have to make sure that the water that seeps out gets properly drained and does not mess up the entire room. Given below are some ideas that you may want to try out.

Herb Garden
Nothing looks prettier in the interior of a home than a herb garden. The lush green herbs, together with their tantalizing aroma all mixed together in the air, render a sense of peace and exquisite ‘flavor’ to the house. If you don’t want them on the ground, you can have them in hanging garden planters all around a room. Your options for herbs can be coriander, thyme, mint, etc.

Flower Garden
Nothing says garden better than flowers. And if you don’t have the space for a full-fledged landscape, you can have your own little miniature flower garden inside your home. Pick one flower that blooms in different colors. Roses, gerbera daisies, and orchids are good options but tulips definitely take the cake in indoor flower gardening. They look stunning, especially when they bloom against a wall in a contrasting color.

Vegetable Garden
Another popular idea is a vegetable garden. It is practical and very useful. While most of it will be container gardening, if you have a balcony, you can allot a corner and plant the vegetables directly into the ground too. Chillies and tomatoes are very good options. Avoid roots and tubers for indoor vegetable gardens as they could get quite messy.

Cactus Garden
An unconventional yet fabulous idea for an indoor garden is a cactus garden. Go to your local nursery and get different varieties of cactus plants. The best part of this idea is that since cactus plants are really hardy, you do not have to bother about watering and taking too much care of them. They do that for themselves.

Indoor gardening can bring a sense of peace and calm to your home. It beautifies your home and makes it appear more friendly and relaxed. So, get started on one for your home right away.