Category Archives: Plant Care

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COMMERCIAL TOMATO GROWING EXPOSED: Convincing reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes!

Here are some REALLY good reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes. Read “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook. Or be convinced by these excerpts from the NY Times book review…

“South Florida, where nearly all of America’s winter tomatoes are grown, is nearly…(an)…alien…environment for farming. It’s insane that tomatoes are grown there at all.

“Florida’s sandy soil, Mr. Estabrook writes, is as devoid of plant nutrients as a pile of moon rocks. “Florida growers may as well be raising their plants in a sterile hydroponic medium.”

He continues, witheringly: “To get a successful crop, they pump the soil full of chemical fertilizers and can blast the plants with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides, including some of the most toxic in agribusiness’s arsenal.” Migrant workers are coated with these chemicals too. The toll that’s taken on them, in the form of birth defects, cancer and other ailments, is hideous to observe and should fill those who eat Florida tomatoes with shame.

And all this for what? Hard, tasteless, uniform green balls that barely dent when they fall off a truck at 60 miles per hour and that must be gassed to achieve the sick-pink hue they present in supermarkets.

To read the full review:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/books/tomatoland-barry-estabrooks-expose-review.html?_r=2&ref=books

To find the book:
http://www.amazon.com/Tomatoland-Industrial-Agriculture-Destroyed-Alluring/dp/1449401090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310152463&sr=1-1

gardentable

Top 10 Mistakes Gardeners Make!

Each year many gardeners ask themselves “What did I do wrong?” Don’t make the same mistakes twice. Here are the most common gardening mistakes and how to avoid them.

1] Choosing the wrong location – Depending on where the location is, most of these mistakes have an easy fix with a little effort and do not need to be re-located.

2] Pulling flowers instead of weeds – There’s a reason plants come with labels; use them!

3] Not preparing the soil – soil is different in each region, but you should test it annually because of varying weather conditions from year to year. Purchase an inexpensive soil test kit from the hardware store and then fix what you need to.

4] Too much watering – Watering plants too much drowns the roots which creates root rot. Watering too little, dehydrates plants. The best cure for this is to invest in a mid-priced self-irrigation system. It adjust watering levels automatically.

5] Planting an unruly variety – Some plants, no matter what you do, you just can’t get rid of. These types are best for container gardening. Keep an eye on the description of the plants before you purchase. Prolific reseeder and vigorous growth most likely mark an invasive plant.

6] Not considering wildlife – From squirrels to deer, even dogs. Install a fence around your veggie garden to help keep unwanted visitors out.

7] Too little sun – Make sure and pay attention to sun needs of plants when laying out your garden. Some plants, like tomatoes, need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Other plants such as peas need more shade.

8] Planting too many seeds – If you plan on planting larger vine type plants, go easy on the seeds. Although you don’t feel as if it’s enough, remember how large the outcome of these plants can get. Pumpkins and watermelons are two culprits.

9] Drowning plants in pesticide – Pesticides can remain in soil for long periods of time, some even years! The best way to clear up weeds is to use a natural, organic weed killer or mix equal parts of hot water and vinegar and pour over the area for a few days until the plants turn brown.

10] Too close for comfort – Planting too close together can deform your plants and sometimes strangle the life out of them. Follow the directions on the plants on how exactly to plant them.

What is your best advice for easy gardening?
Have fun and happy gardening!

rose-moss

Plant of the Month: Moss Rose

Moss Rose. This annual flower is perfect for hot and dry areas. It makes the perfect ground covering plant as well, so if you have large areas that you need to cover, Moss Rose is an easy plant to utilize in this situation. Moss Rose comes in many colors as well – so there are many choices available no matter what color palette you have planned for your yard or garden.

Choose blooms in bright reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and pinks! Moss rose grows 4-8 inches tall and spreads up to 2 feet.  Interestingly enough, the newer batches of this flower stay open longer during the day – the older batches open at noon and close at dusk. When its cloudy, they may stay closed all day.

Again, choose a hot, dry area. This plant needs full sun, at least 6-8 hours daily. Rock gardens, between pavers, along driveways, walkways and sidewalks are good spots. Keep in mind, they also need good drainage.

Make sure and dead head these as well so that you can enjoy a healthy plant.
Fertilize Moss rose twice – once in mid-summer and once in late summer.

Happy gardening!

WINPLNTR13 (plants)

Easy-to-Grow Indoor Herbs

Growing herbs indoors should not only be fun, but easy! Herbs are perfect to grow indoors in the colder months because you don’t have to go outdoors to reap the benefits. If you plan on growing your herbs in your kitchen, that’s even better. You can make so many delicious dishes with fresh herbs – you will be amazed.

Below is a list of the five best and easiest herbs to grow indoors.

1)    Chives – this is a must have herb. It is very versatile because of its mild onion flavor, and can be used in many savory dishes. The flavor of white or yellow onions can often be a bit on the strong side, but chives are perfect for those who just want a hint of onion flavor. Snip them back often so that they don’t get too out of control.

2)    Thyme – is a great, all around herb that can be used in just about anything – even desserts! Most all varieties of thyme are easy to grow. Remember to trim this herb regularly. The more you trim the better the flavor. Thyme is known for its slight lemon flavor. It is perfect for fish, chicken, or vegetable dishes. You can also use thyme in hot tea.

3)    French tarragon – French tarragon has a terrific flavor, similar to basil. Its hints of licorice are a bit stronger, but goes great with many things. From frittatas to chicken dishes to bruschetta – tarragon makes a tasty addition. No tricks to growing this herb just plant it and watch it grow.

4)    Sweet marjoram – this herb is closely matched with the flavor of oregano, yet not as robust or bitter. Sweet marjoram is great on pizza dishes and in home made breads. It also holds up nicely when used to season the hearty flavor of steak. Anyone who loves herbs will appreciate marjoram.

5)    Sage – Sage is one of those must have herbs. It is very easy to grow, versatile and packs quite the flavor punch! Sage is great around Thanksgiving, because it goes nicely with turkey and other poultry dishes. It is also great to use in vegetarian meals when you want to add some flair to your dinner. Use this herb in tea for sore throats and colds. Sage comes in many varieties, so feel free to choose more than one!

Chrysanthemum

Top 10 Indoor Plants

If you love your foliage and are stuck inside because of the cold, don’t worry, you can still have your plants and grow them too!

Here is a list of the top 10 indoor plants to help you get through the cold winter months.

1. Peace lily – This is a great indoor plant that is small enough to be placed on your table top or anywhere you like. It has long stems and elegant white flowers, perfect for any décor!

2. Philodendron – If you’re thumb isn’t the greenest, this average sized plant is perfect foryou! It requires little light and works well in hallways or darker areas.

3. Weeping fig – This is one tough little tree, but great for indoors. Its leaves are small and shiny and is sometimes available in other forms such as a ‘lollipop’ tree.

4. Dracaena ‘Happy Plant’ – This plant needs moderate watering and does best in spaces with medium light.

5. Syngonium – Not keen on bugs, consider this insect resistant plant! The Syngonium loves humidity and loves to be misted regularly.

6. Silver queen (a.k.a. Chinese evergreen) – Very attractive indoor plant that normally runs on the small side, enjoys a mild climate and does well in low light.

7. Lady palm – This plant sounds high maintenance, but you’ll be surprised! Keep it watered and out of direct light, and its happy. Keep in mind it grows very slow and can be quite pricey.

8. Stromanthe – Double your pleasure with this gorgeous mult-color plant. The leaves are a deep green and underneath present a rich purple hue. This plant loves bright light and misting.

9. Rubber plant – This plant is great for households that might have children eager to touch plants and explore. It is bred for toughness and survives in low light. It tends to grow on the large size and is content in a dry environment.

10. Kentia palm – Very elegant, and quite tall, this plant has feather-like fronds and survives in low light as well as brighter areas.

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Don’t Let Your Plants Get Thirsty…

Do you have problems keeping your house plants watered?  Not sure what to do with your house plants when you are on vacation?

Now on sale, the CobraCo® Plant Sitter™ Water System is a patented automatic watering system that provides a healthy well-balanced diet of water & fertilizer for your plants.  Includes a 1 quart tank and ceramic sensor and fits almost any planter.

The CobraCo® Plant Sitter™ provides drip irrigation for a houseplant up to 3 weeks, so it’s ideal for when you are away from home on vacation. This patented automatic watering system includes replacement sensors. And right now you can save $10 with your purchase.

Growing Flowers Outdoors

Before investing time…and labor…in planting and cultivating flowers, you might want to invest a little time into some research and planning before you begin.

For openers, you’ll want to choose the right plants and flowers for your gardening beds. With a little research, you can make some decisions among the three classifications of flowers. Annuals grow from seeds, bloom the current year, then die. Perennials grow from seeds the first year, but don’t produce flowers until the following year. After that, they will re-grow and bloom for years to come. Biennials grow as small plants in the first year they are planted, bloom in the second year and then die.

As for planning, there are four factors that should work together to make your garden a success: sun light, temperature, the soil/fertilizer, and the amount of moisture Continue reading

Suggested Plantings for Sun and Shade

Typically, when most of us think about gardening, we’re thinking about plants and flowers planted, cultivated and grown in full sunlight. But there are abundant opportunities that can produce pleasant results when we expand our planting to partial sun and shade.

Some definitions: Full Sun means at least 6 full hours of direct sunlight. Partial Sun / Partial Shade are used interchangeably to mean 3 – 6 hours of sun each day, usually better in the  morning and early afternoon.  Partial Shade means the plant need some relief from intense late afternoon sun. Dappled Sun is similar to partial shade but sunlight is filtered through the branches of a deciduous tree.  Examples are some Continue reading

Gardening and the Environment

You’d don’t need to become an eco-warrior to get on friendly terms with the environment. In fact, you can start small…literally in your own backyard. Here are a few suggestions.

In the Yard
Plant a few trees, shrubbery or flowers around your property. Weed and mulch shrubbery beds. Don’t over-water your lawn. Make sure you completely shut off the water source when you’re finished. Use your mower to mulch lawn clippings as a good self-fertilizer and to help re-seed. If you bag clippings, recycle them as mulch laid in thick layers in the areas between rows of your vegetable garden.

On the Deck, Patio and Porch
If you’re growing plants in containers, consider biodegradable coco liners. They’ll help Continue reading

Starting with Seeds

Want to really begin your gardening experience from the ground up? Then you might want to start with seeds.

If that sounds like a challenge you’d like to take on, you have some decisions to make from the very beginning. Namely, what do I want to grow? Flowers? Vegetables? Herbs? Fortunately, whatever you decide, you’re probably going to purchase seeds that are commercially-produced, so that’s a leg up.

Commercially-produced garden seeds typically are packaged with valuable information to make your garden a success. After all, you won’t buy more seeds next year if they don’t take this year. Consequently, these packages will tell you when to sow your seeds, whether they require full sun or partial shade, the ideal temperature for gemination, when and how to space the seedlings, and how large the plants are likely Continue reading