A Gardener’s Guide to a Cottage Garden

March 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20


Many people dream of a cottage in the country, with roses growing around the door and a feast of color in the garden in front. Well, the good news is that you do not need to move to the country or even have a cottage to create such an attractive garden.

What is a cottage garden? It is very difficult to define a cottage garden. We all know one when we see one, but describing them is not the easiest thing to do. Generally, they have an old fashioned look. The real skill in creating a successful cottage garden is to design the borders to look as if they have not been designed at all. There is not much in the way of hard landscaping, just flowerbeds, and these are full to the brim with colorful plants.

Traditionally, the plants would be tough, hardy ones that needed little care. Most would be plants that had been grown for generations, such as primulas, hollyhocks, foxgloves and aquilegias. Today many hybrids are considered suitable, especially if they are bright and brash.

So, what are cottage plants? Plants for a cottage garden tend, as has already been noted, to be old fashioned plants that have been around for years. Many are annuals and biennials that self sow, so the gardener does not have to think about new plants, they just appear.

One reason for using these old favorites, apart from their appearance is that they are usually less prone to pests and diseases and hardier than many modern cultivars (which is why they have been around for a long time). In other words, they need little looking after. Unfortunately, some of these traditional plants, such as lupins and hollyhocks, have now developed diseases and pests, which makes them less reliable than they once were, though they can still be grown to great effect as short lived plants.

Here are some examples of plants that can be used for a cottage garden. There are Alcea Rosea, Anemone x hybrida, Aquilegia vulgaris, Aster novae-angliae, Lupinus, Viola, Primula, Pulmonaria, Lilium candidum and Geum rivale.

How Green is your Garden?

March 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Canadians love their gardens – whether that means a patch of grass and a few sturdy shrubs by the deck, or a full-scale, blowsy English garden of roses, perennials and vegetables. Our little patches of green tend to be our personal sanctuaries and play spaces – away from the stresses of the world.

Well, for our gardens to be our sanctuaries, it would be best if they were health-inducing – and that means eco-friendly.

Here’s some tips for “green” landscaping to improve your outdoor living this summer:

Begin With The Trees

Your trees are your best landscaping asset. Deciduous trees let winter sun into your house when you need it most, and shield you from the sweltering rays of summer. If your house is blessed with shade, you’re already a leafy 10 degrees cooler than properties exposed to full sun. Mature trees provide the best air conditioning possible — clean, free, and majestic! Evergreens planted on the north side of your home will help stave off the winter chill. There are other important health benefits to trees, too: all types of trees will clean the air around you. It’s no surprise that many homeowners are paying big bucks for big trees. But if you start planting now, before you know it (with patience and minimal care). you too can enjoy the many benefits that trees freely offer.

Birds And Bees

Butterflies and ladybugs too. You want to attract all sorts of good creatures to your garden for pest control. Birds love thick shrubbery, shallow birdbaths, native plantings, and fruit, nut and seed-bearing plants. They also love to have a little trickle of water. A small pump will help create the best effect: the slightest stream of water flowing into a shallow plate or rock depression.

Provide butterflies with sheltered sunny spots filled with brightly coloured blooms, and a flat warm rock for butterfly sunbathing. Bees love nectar-producing flowers, ladybugs love Queen Anne’s Lace, and all of these treasures thrive in a chemical free environment.

These are the creatures that will help establish a healthy, happy garden – and protect your plants from the nasty pests.

Go Native

Nurseries offering indigenous plants are springing up everywhere now, making it easier for you to find native plants. There are all kinds of reasons for showcasing hardy native plantings in your garden; they are generally pest and disease free, resistant to drought, and attractive to beneficial wildlife.

Queen Anne’s Lace, tansy, all sorts of daisies and lilies – the roll call of our native plants is impressively long and beautiful.

Roll Out The Barrel

We’re talking rain barrels here — ideally several for maximum water collection. The volume of water captured after an even seemingly brief rainfall will surprise you. Your plants will be happier with warm untreated water instead of the freezing cold chlorinated water that comes out of your garden hoses — and you’ll save on your water bill too.

Black gold

Start composting now and by next year you will have the most amazingly rich black stuff to sprinkle onto your lawn and flowerbeds. Many communities offer plastic compost barrels, but it is more efficient (and aesthetically pleasing) to build a wooden three-solid-sided unit with a slatted moveable front piece.

Just remember not to put in any animal by-products — most kitchen and garden waste (not weeds) is acceptable. Keep your compost pile slightly moist (positioning it in a shaded spot helps) and poke a stick in it once in a while. That’s it.

Acceptable pest and weed control

Synthetic garden chemicals do your garden no favours – upsetting the balance of healthy soil, earthworms, good insects, birds and other creatures. Declare a no-chemical season in your garden. Kill weeds with vinegar, or a dose of boiling water. Use soapy sprays to control aphids, and diatomaceous earth to stop slugs.

Put up a bat box; a bat will eat thousands of mosquitoes, and don’t deserve their Halloween-y reputation. Garden-friendly insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis will patrol for a range of problem insects. Physical trapping is also good (i.e. dishes of beer for slugs etc.) Don’t hesitate to use the good old methods of hosing off, and squashing too!

Mr. Toad

A clay toad-house or other cool spot may attract a

toad: one of your garden’s best friends.

Push mower renaissance

Remember the delightful “clackety” sound of your grandfather’s old push mower? Cancel your gym membership for the summer: low-tech and clean, push mowers cut your grass efficiently, quietly, and give you a bit of a workout too.

How to Care For Your Garden

March 20, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Before any garden problem can be corrected, or plant damage prevented or controlled, it is necessary to know the cause. Sometimes this is very evident, but more often it is not. In the latter case, expert help is needed which can be had from county agents of your state agricultural service, some garden centers, botanical gardens and professional horticulturists.


Unfortunately, all too few local salesmen handling pest control materials are trained diagnosticians, or even experienced gardeners. In any case, no one can prescribe a cure without seeing the damaged plant, the pest that causes it or, in some cases, without having a soil analysis.


The Causes of Trouble


Before blaming an insect pest or disease, check the following possible causes, one or more of which may be to blame.


The soil. Has it been properly prepared by adding at least 5 per cent organic matter? Has sufficient fertilizer been applied to maintain adequate growth? If not, growth may be stunted. Has too much fertilizer been used so that the roots have been damaged? This may produce scorched edges on leaves, and in more severe cases the plants wilt and die.


Putting fertilizer in the bottom of a hole without thoroughly mixing it with the soil before setting in the plant is a common cause of damage. Applying more fertilizer than recommended on the package may injure plants. Letting fertilizer stay on the foliage may burn it. Always wash or shake off any fertilizer that falls on the foliage.


Sunlight is necessary for plant growth. Some plants require all-day sun to thrive. Without it they may not bloom or grow as well as they should. On the other hand, some plants cannot stand full sun and must be given protection, and they, along with shade-tolerant plants, are best used in shade plantings.


Climate. All too often we try to grow plants that are not adapted to our climate and although they may survive a few years, in less congenial seasons they may be damaged. For example, the evergreen magnolia of the South is being grown in many places in the North where it is never likely to live to a ripe old age. Many azaleas now being shipped from the South to northern gardens may also prove to be tender.


Temperature is often a limiting factor. Low winter temperatures will damage or kill plants that are not completely hardy. This damage may not be apparent until early summer, as is often the case with roses and broad-leaved evergreens. Sudden drops in temperature, especially in the fall before plants are sufficiently hardened, may damage them. High summer temperatures will restrict growth of some plants, whereas cold summers will limit the growth of more tropical plants, many annual flowers, and such vegetables as corn, melons, squash and tomatoes.


Wind is sometimes a limiting factor. Broadleaf evergreens and some needled evergreens (hemlocks) may be so dried by wind that the leaves scorch. The corners of a house, the narrow place between buildings, wind-exposed hilltops and open country are likely places for wind problems. Wind hitting a building and bouncing back may cause more damage than normal. All wind damage is usually worse on young plants before they have become well established.


Chemicals. Over-doses of chemicals used in the control of insects and diseases may damage the foliage. When the temperature is over 85 degrees, many dusts and sprays will burn even when used at the recommended strengths. Sulfur is especially dangerous to plants when the temperature is over 85 degrees F.


Another unexpected source of trouble is from careless use of weed control chemicals. Many of these are difficult to remove from the sprayer, so a separate sprayer is advisable. The drift of herbicide dust or spray onto particularly sensitive plants may do more harm to them than to the weeds themselves.


Pay attention to these details and you will have a thriving garden.

Hydroponics – Why Not Start Your Own Hydroponic Garden?

March 20, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants in a nutrient rich solution rather than in soil. It involves growing plants inside without using real sunlight. The word hydroponics comes from two Greek words, meaning “water working”.

If you enjoy gardening, but have limiting factors such as very little gardening space, problems with pests or unsuitable weather conditions, then hydroponics could be the answer for you. For many people, the thought of successfully gardening indoors all year around has only been a dream. However, with hydroponics this is possible.

General hydroponics is a hobby many people are picking up today. Hydroponics is simpler than what most people think, and is proven to have several advantages over regular soil gardening. The following are some of the many benefits of growing plants using hydroponics:

Less space is required, and plants can be grown closer together. Growing plants with hydroponics is possible almost anywhere.

Less water is required as there is no soil which soaks it up before it reaches your plant’s roots. Hydroponics is great in areas where there are water restrictions, as less water is lost to evaporation. When you water your regular garden plants, approximately 10% of the water actually makes it to the plants.

No pests or diseases. You don’t have to worry about pest control, and because your plants are grown indoors, there are fewer problems with diseases such as mould and fungi.

Reduced maintenance time. Once your hydroponics system is set up, all you need to do is change the nutrient solution on a regular basis. This only takes a few minutes. There is no need for any weeding.

Types of plants grown with hydroponics:

Nearly all plants can be grown using hydroponics. The most common are vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers. Other plants include flowers and herbs.

Although hydroponics is possible for most plant species, a limiting factor is the amount of physical support required. If you are growing climbing plants, you will need to provide them with extra support.

Hydroponics supplies:

Hydroponics gardening supplies can be found at most good gardening stores nowadays. Before visiting your local store, it is a good idea to do some research online first, so you know what you need. You can also purchase supplies online.

Your grow lights are one of the most important factors for hydroponics gardening. Hydroponics stores sell individual parts as well as complete growing systems. These will include the hydroponics and lighting systems, fans, and timers, etc.

In conclusion, a hydroponics system will initially take a bit of time and effort to set up, but in the end it will be well worth it.

For further detailed hydroponics information go to Hydroponics – For more home and garden articles visit Home & Garden

Common Garden Flower Diseases

March 19, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Gardening can be a fun and relaxing hobby but it is not without it’s downsides. That downside comes in the form of pests and diseases that can ruin your plants if you are not careful.

No garden is immune from disease and your best way to deal with it is to educate yourself as to the common pests and diseases in your area. Bacteria, fungi and viruses can attack both flowering and non flowering plants. Fungi are able to survive in the soil, independent of the plants, while both bacteria and viruses require a plant host for their survival.

Fungi are primitive organisms that reproduce through spores which are very hard to kill. Fungi make spores in huge quantities and they spread rapidly. Some spores can affect a plant through the roots and others through the leaves. Fungi can lie dormant for years in the soil just waiting for the right conditions to activate it. A single infected plant can release up to 100 million spores, so it is important to completely eradicate any fungal infection.

Bacteria, on the other hand, need both warmth and water to multiply and grow. Therefore, the majority of bacterial diseases are more of a problem in climates that are both warm and wet. Bacteria can be spread thorough splashing water such as rain or overhead watering. Many times it enters plants through a natural opening like a flower, or through a wound or cut in a stem or leaf.

Viruses can only reproduce from within the cells of the plant. They are smaller even than bacteria and can be transmitted by insects or carried by infected seeds or pollen. Like bacteria, viruses often enter plants through cuts or wounds in the stems, leaves or other parts of the plant.

As with all other disease treatment, the first step to effectively treating a viral, bacterial or fungal infection in the garden is to diagnose it properly. Every gardener should keep a book or guide on hand which shows the effects of common plant diseases. This guide will prove invaluable when trying to figure out what is bothering your plants. If you are still stumped for a diagnosis, be sure to seek the assistance of the staff at your local garden center, or the help of a more experienced gardener.

If you need to treat your garden for any of these problems, you should first try natural non invasive methods. Try to avoid harsh chemicals and fungicides or same them for a last resort. While you may have to turn to using them, remember that they are not good for the environment so keep to using only the minimum amounts recommended.

Lee Dobbins writes for Backyard Garden and Patio where you can find more articles on gardening, garden ponds, garden decor and much more.

An Eco-Friendly Backyard Garden

March 19, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Imagine a healthy, green backyard garden: perfect for lounging, great for ball games and barbecues, a real asset to your home. But did you know that your bakyard garden, and how you take care of it, can also help the environment?

Healthy grass provides feeding ground for birds, who find it a rich source of insects, worms, and other food. Thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants, like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.

Caring for your bakyard garden properly can both enhance its appearance and contribute to its environmental benefits.

Your backyard garden can be tough but you don’t have to be an expert to grow a healthy backyard garden. Just keep in mind that the secret is to work with nature. This means creating conditions for grass to thrive and resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests.

It means setting realistic goals for your backyard garden, whether you or a professional garden or lawn care service will be doing the work. And if you choose to use pesticides, it means using them with care so as to get the most benefit and reduce any risks.

Let’s talk a little about organic gardening. We will discuss the term “Organic” in a gardening context, it might be a useful start to define exactly what that means, so here it is, “Organic gardening is the way of growing vegetables and fruits with the use of things only found in nature”. Really simple isn’t it, but most certainly not commonplace any more in today’s world I suggest.

Having led up to all of that, a good question might arise as to exactly why you would want to indulge in organic gardening as such! Well, as the title of this articles suggests, here are six good reasons why you should do so, in my opinion at any rate.

1. You can easily make compost from garden and kitchen waste, alhough this is a bit more time consuming than buying prepared chemical pesticides and fertilizers. However it certainly helps to put garbage to good use, and so helps the environment.

2. Organic farming does not use chemicals that may have an adverse affect on your health, which is especially important when growing vegetables. The chemical companies do tell us that the chemicals we use are safe, provided that they are used according to direction. Research has shown however that even tiny amounts of poisons absorbed through the skin can cause such things as cancer, especially in children. Quite a sobering thought is it not!

On average, a child ingests four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than an adult, which could lead to various diseases later on in the child’s life. Remember, pesticides contain toxins that have only one purpose, which is to kill living things!

With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened.

3. Less harm is caused to the environment, because poisons are not washed into our waterways to give but one example, causing death to the native fish and polluting their habitat in most cases.

4. Organic farming practices also help prevent the loss of topsoil through erosion. The Soil Conservation Service says that an estimated 30 – 32 billion tons of soil is eroded from United States farmlands every year, and that’s only one country.

4. Cost savings, because you do not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard, and sometimes other plants can even be grown as companions to the main crop. One example of this is the marigold, which helps to repel aphids from vegetables.

Mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap, and 1 cup of cooking oil, can make a cheap garden pest spray for example. Put 3 tablespoons of this mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on to your plants. You will find this to be very effective!

5. A simple mulch of pine needles will help to suppress the growth of weeds, as well as keeping the moisture in. Another simple and much safer solution!

6. Organic gardening practices are much more likely to help keep the environment safe for future generations, and all of us who are responsible ciitizens, should always bear this in mind

The whole subject which is part of an on going worldwide debate, is far too complex to cover in such a short article, but I do hope that at least I have left you with some food for thought.

Imagine the overall benefits to be had in our environment, by many people undertaking even some small changes.

Caring for your bakyard garden in an environmentally sensible way can have a bigger impact than you might think. Your backyard garden is only a small piece of land, but all the bakyard gardens across the country cover a lot of ground.

That means you and your backyard garden care activities, along with everyone else’s, can make a difference to the environment. And that’s why taking care of the environment begins in our own backyards.

James Paul is an avid gardener and specialized in an eco friendly approach to gardening and lawn maintenance for the homeowner. Visit his blog to ask questions and learn more here backyard garden

Hydroponic Gardening – Managing Pests & Diseases

March 19, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

As with soil-based gardens, hydroponic plants require good pest and disease maintenance controls. Failure to do so creates the same results as with ‘ordinary’ gardens i.e. spindly or dead plants. Since the majority of hydroponic plants are fruits and vegetables, that means the plants are not worth eating.


However, managing the hydroponic garden is even trickier, since disease and pests have it much easier in this setting. Plants are continuously kept wet, either immersed in water (‘true’ hydroponics) or continually sprayed (aeroponics) or reside in a permanently wet medium such as perlite or sand. Fortunately, as with soil-based gardens, there is an large array of available methods to manage the problem.


Using beneficial life forms is one popular way to control unwanted pests, including certain types of bacteria and fungi. These can help to control spider mites and other invaders by crowding them out, eating them or releasing compounds toxic to the pest. They’re known as beneficial organisms because they do all that without damaging the plants themselves.


Different types of pesticides are available, too.


Pesticidal soaps have been in use for centuries and still provide effective and non-toxic ways to keep the pests down. One category called botanicals are compounds released by plants themselves that have been combined into an easy-to-use pest control method. Botanicals break down naturally from exposure to air and water and are brilliant because they leave no harmful chemicals behind.


Neem oil can control over 400 different types of pest that commonly invade gardens, including hydroponic ones. A simple spray to the leaves can often eliminate common pests. The bugs absorb the oil, which limits their ability to reproduce, leading to a lower population.


For more serious infestations, many commercial pesticides continue to work well.


White flies, aphids, mites and other pests can be a problem in hydroponic settings, just as in soil-based gardens. Powdery mildew is common. In fact, because of the continual moisture bugs and pests have a ‘friendly’ environment. Making it ‘unfriendly’ is straightforward enough, using fungicides and organicides. Sulfur-based compounds can help control white flies, mealy bugs, thrips and more.


Pyrethrum continues to be a safe and effective means of control. Though it sounds man made it is actually derived from flowers. This class of natural compounds released by plants are extracted and used in many commercial insecticides. Dosage is low, so the compound is very safe when used correctly (always read the label). Azatrol is a broad spectrum insecticide that provides another easy control method over most common pests.


Hydroponic gardeners have to exercise additional care when using any disease or pest control method, though. Since no soil is present to hold on to the roots, it’s easier to damage a plant when manipulating the leaves and stems. That means that if you pick off mites by hand – an effective method for low-number infestations – it’s important to exercise extra care.


Since moisture is present, mildew and other fungi are more common in hydroponic gardens. Keeping leaves dry and just the roots wet will help. Any insecticide sprayed on to your plants or vegetable should be allowed to dry under the grow lights. For aeroponically grown plants, for example, that may require a temporary relocation of the indoor garden.

Container Gardening For Vegetables

March 17, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

CONTAINER GARDENING FOR VEGETABLES 

Vegetable production is not only applicable in the countryside or in the  gardens but can be grown now within the heart of the city or just in your home even with only a limited space. 

If your home has an area with ample sunlight – a requirement for growing vegetables, you can grow them successfully. What are the locations that can be used for container gardening ? You can use your patio, balcony, terrace, rooftop, deck, window sill, pathways, etc. 

Be aware of the sunlight requirement for each kind of crop. For leafy vegetables, the required sunlight should be about four hours  the whole day, for fruit vegetables, at least 7-8 hours sunlight is needed daily, and root vegetables requires around 6 hours of sunlight a day. 

And besides of producing your own vegetables in a safer way, the attack of common pests and diseases can be greatly minimized. You can also improve the soil conditions  by adding some soil amendments; like manure, compost, and other essential food nutrients needed by the plants. 

Everything in your home that are considered as garbage can be utilized to the maximum by making them into compost. Even your household waste water can be used to irrigate your plants. 

In other words, container gardening is considered to be the practice that makes use of useless things. 

What Containers Are Ideal For Container Gardening? 

Growing vegetables can be executed in any type of containers such as;   cans, plastics, pails, split vehicle tires, cement bags, feed bags, bottle water plastics, gallon cans, cylinder blocks, milk container, bamboo cuts or any containers that have been thrown away. Even coco shells, banana bracts, leaves of coconut is ideal as potting materials especially for short season vegetables, like,  pechay, lettuce, mustard, etc. 

Good growing containers should possess the three important characteristics as suggested by Relf (1996); 

They must be large enough to support fully grown plants.  They must have adequate drainage.  They must not have held products that are toxic to plants and persons. 

Containers that drain poorly can affect the success of a container garden. It is therefore vital to have your containers above ground or any support that would raise the containers such as; slats, hollow blocks or anything to provide space below them to allow excess water to drain freely. 

For bigger plants, you should use big containers and for small containers use small plants. 

Small containers (1-2 gallons) are suited for lettuce, spinach, mustard, pepper, radish, green onions, carrots, beans, and dwarf tomatoes. Medium size containers (3-10 gallons) are best for eggplants while for larger ones (bigger than 10 gallons) are good for cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes. 

 For most plants, containers should be at least 15 cm deep minimum especially for shot season vegetables. 

Recommended Container size and type/crop 

5 gal. window box – Bush beans, Lima beans

1 plant/5gal.pot, 3plants/15 gal. pot –Cabbage, Chinese cabbage

5 gal. window box at least 30 cm deep – carrot

1 plant/gal. pot – cucumber

5 gal. pot – Eggplant, tomato, okra

5 gal. window pot – Lettuce

1 plant/2gal. pot; 5 plants/15 gal. pot – Onion

5 gal. window box – Pepper, spinach

Plants grown in containers will depend on the kind of soil mixture to provide a maximum growth development. It is a must that you should provide the best soil media composition to give the possible return of your toil. Failure to give the plants with the necessary food nutrients in their growing period would results to  poor growth, lanky, and stunted plants that will results to your failure. 

The ideal soil mixture for container-grown vegetables crops are as follows: 

It should be light in weight and porous.  It should easily drain excess water.  It should have high water holding capacity.  It should be free from soil borne disease, nematodes and insect pests.  It should supply the right and balance amount of nutrients for the plants. 

The best mixture of soil media should compose the following; synthetic mix of horticultural-grade vermiculite, peat moss, limestone, superphosphate and complete fertilizer. 

Compost can also serve as an excellent growing medium. 

In your  country where the above media are not available, you can make your own potting media by mixing 1 part loam soil or compost manure,  1 part fine river sand, and coconut coir dust. 

If your country is producing rice you can replace coconut coir dust with the rice hull charcoal (carbonized). But this should be thoroughly sterilized to kill some deadly microbes that are detrimental to the plants. 

Sawdust is another medium that could be used in preparing your growing medium in the absence of coco coir dust and should also be sterilized. 

Sowing Seed and Transplanting 

Before going into the sowing procedure, give your utmost attention to the selection of seed you’ll use as planting materials. Good quality seeds should be your first concern. 

Good quality seeds possesses the following characteristics:  

damage free   free from other mixture with other varieties free from seed borne diseases  and with good vigor and germinating capacity. 

To get a quality and reliable seeds, you should buy from certified seed producers or seed suppliers. 

All vegetables that undergoes transplanting are excellent for container gardening. Transplants can be purchased from local nurseries or other successful gardeners in your locality. 

Before transplanting, fill plastic or germinating tray with the growing media preparation using the following ratio: 60% rice hull charcoal(carbonized), 30 % coconut coir dust, 10% chicken manure (60-30-10 ratio). 

In the absence of the above materials in your country, you can use the old soil media preparation – 1 part sand, 1 part compost, and 1 part garden soil (1-1-1 ratio). Make sure to sterilize them before the seed are sown. This is to kill some microorganisms that may cause damage to the seedlings. 

You can also purchase a prepared growell medium sold in local agriculture stores in your respective country. Inquire from your agriculture experts available in your area. 

Once the growing media is ready, fill the holes of the germinating or potting containers. Press  the soil medium lightly with your fingers in every hole filled with the medium. Then follows the sowing of seeds. 

In sowing seeds some techniques should be followed to insure germination: 

I Watermelon (Seeded) (Citrulis lunatus).  Soak seed 30 min.- 1hour in top water. Incubate by using moist cotton cloth. Spread the seeds and cover. Place in an improvised cartoon for 24-36 hours. After this period, sow the seeds at I seed per hill. Seed must be level in the soil guided by a finger or stick at 1 cm deep. For the seedless type the procedure is the same as the seeded but the tip near the embryo should be cut with the use of a nail cutter before inserting to the soil. Cutting the end portion of the seed hastens germination.

l  Bitter Gourd/Ampalaya  (Momordica charantia). Soak seeds for 30 min.-1 hour. Cut the tip near the embryo and sow  with the seed deep of ¾ of the soil at 1 seed per hole. 

l  Upo (  Lagenaria siceraria   ) and Patola ( Luffa cylindrica ). Cut the tip covering only near the embryo and sow seed at 1 seed per hole. 

l  Squash (Cucurbita spp). Soak seeds 30 min.-1 hour. Then pinch the tip near the embryo and sow seed at 1 seed per hole. 

l  Pepper (Capsicum annum L.), Eggplant (Solanum melongena), and Tomato (Lycopersicum  esculentum). Sow the seed directly to the germinating tray at 1-2 seeds per hole. 

l  Pechai /Pechay (Brassica pechai), Lettuce (Lactuca sativa), Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis ), and Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Italica ). Sow seed directly to the germinating at 1-2 seeds per hole. 

l  Cucumber (Cucumis sativus), Honey Dew / Muskmelon (Cucumis melo). Sow the seed directly to the germinating tray at 1 seed per hole. 

l  Carrot (Daucus carota) and Raddish (Rafanus sativus).  Directly sow the seed to the field at 2-3 seeds per hill. 

l  Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis ) and Beans (Phaseolus limensis ). Sow the seed directly to the field at 1 seed per hill. 

l  Corn (zea mays). Sow the seed directly to the field at 1 seed per hill. 

l  Papaya (Carica papaya). Soak the seeds for 30 min.-1 hour then sow to the germinating tray at 1 seed per hole. 

l  Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus  ). Directly sow the seed in the field at 1-2 seeds per hill. 

Container size for specific crops. 

Medium – Beans, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, broccoli  Large – Cuccumber, eggplant, tomato, pepper, okra, squash, papaya  Small – Onions, parsley, radish 

Light Requirements 

Sun – Beans, cucumber, eggplant, tomato, pepper, carrots, okra, squash, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli papaya  Partial shadeLettuce, onions, parsley, radish 

 Fertilizer Requirements 

To get the right amount of fertilizer for your vegetables, you should analyze your soil media mixture. And if you can do it, organic or inorganic fertilizer should be used. 

Fertilizer combination of organic and inorganic would be much better with the correct proportion depending on the plant requirement. 

When using inorganic fertilizer you should prepare a base nutrient solution by dissolving 2 cups of complete fertilizer in 1 gallon of warm water. 

A growing solution is prepared by diluting 2 tablespoons of the base solution in 1 gallon of water. 

Application starts by pouring 2-3 tablespoons of the growing solution on the soil media around the plants at the time of transplanting. 

The frequency of application may vary from one crop to another, but one application per day is adequate. It is advisable to leach all unused fertilizer out of the soil mix once a week by watering tap water to cause free drainage through the holes in the bottom of the container. 

This practice will prevent buildup of injurious materials in the soil media. If you want to use organic fertilizer, you should use pure or 2/3 compost in the growing media. 

If both the organic and inorganic fertilizer will be used, at least one part of the growing media should be compost and one tablespoon of the growing solution applied at least once a day. 

If you’ll use synthetic mix growing medium, which is already enriched with superphosphate and complete fertilizer subsequent fertilization may not be necessary for early maturing crops. 

For late maturing crops, daily application of the growing solution is necessary until maturity or shortly before harvesting. 

Water Management  

Water is the life for container garden plant. It’s important that you should not neglect this requirement. Proper water management is vital for a successful container gardening. 

Basically, one watering a day is enough for container-grown crops. But for vegetables grown in small containers may require 2 times of watering a day. 

Plants grown in clay pots needs more frequent watering since pots are more porous and extra water is allowed to drain out from their sides. 

If the  growing medium appears to be excessively dry and as the plant shows signs of wilting, the containers should be grouped together so that the foliage creates a canopy to help shade the soil and keep it cool. 

Poor drainage of the growing media or container can lead to water-logged condition that may results to plant death due to lack of oxygen. 

To make sure you have a vigorous plants, always check the containers at least once a day and twice on hot, dry, or windy days and to feel the soil to determine whether it is dump. 

To reduce water evaporation for container plants, you should apply mulching materials such as plastic mulch or putting windbreaks. 

You can also install trickle or drip irrigation system to the plants base if you think you can’s attend to your plants daily. 

Pests and Diseases Control 

Control of pests and diseases in containers needs your careful assessment because wrong use of pesticides may cause damage to  the environment, especially children who may often come closer to your container plants. 

To be safe, you should implement the Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This approach is focused on the so called systematic pest management which means to prevent problems before the pests and diseases appears. 

How you can do this? 

It is done by monitoring pest population, identifying pests, and choosing a combination of control methods to keep pests population at a minimal level. These methods includes cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods (which is the last resort to be applied  when serious condition is discernible). 

l  Select insect and disease-resistant varieties of vegetables. Avoid insect attracting plants in the garden or those that are susceptible to pests. Beans, peas, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce and squash are more resistant to insect pests. 

l  Water the plants adequately to keep them healthy. Fertilize and thin plants to reduce competition for moisture and nutrients. 

l  Remove weeds to conserve soil moisture and eliminate hiding places of pests. 

l  Encourage natural enemies of insect pests, such as predators and parasites. Attract beneficial insects like; Western Damsel Bug, Lady Beetle, Green Lace Wing, and Minute Pirate Bug into your garden by planting small flowered plants such as; daisies, cosmos, marigold, and clover. Be sure they are in flower bloom throughout the growing season. 

l  Avoid growing the same types of vegetables in the same spot year after year. A 4-year rotation cycle is recommended. 

l  Exclude pests from plants by using fiber materials, row cover, and other barriers such as plastic bottles and plant collars. 

l  Remove infested part of the plant right away. Remove all plant residues from the containers after harvesting all the crops. 

l  Use traps to disrupt mating cycles of insects. Yellow sticky boards catch winged aphids, whiteflies, and leafhoppers. 

l  Handpick pests or knock them off plants with a stream of water from a garden hose. Kill the insects by putting them a soapy water. 

l  If all other control methods fails, the least toxic insecticides includes botanical control such as neem and pyrethrin. Insecticidal soap, horticultural oil may also be used for insect control. Always identify the pests before choosing a pesticide and use according to label directions. 

Harvesting 

Harvesting varies with vegetables. Leafy vegetables may be harvested when the desired leaf size is required for every use they are intended. Others harvest leafy vegetables after the required age is meet. For fruit vegetables such as, Luffa, Cucumber, Eggplant, beans, Okra, and Upo they are harvested when their size are big but tender. For squash varieties, they are harvested either matured or big but tender depending on the preference of users. 

Cabbage, cauliflowers, and broccoli should be harvested when their heads are already compact. Peppers and tomatoes may be harvested when their fruits have started to ripen. 

If you’re growing container-grown vegetables just for home consumption, you can harvest only some part of the plant and retain the rest for future use. But if you think you have more than enough  for family use, you can harvest them all and sell or give them to your neighbors. 

Never allow your vegetables to bear flower before harvesting them except when your purpose is to collect the seeds for future planting.  

Maturity Indices of some Vegetables 

White potato, onion, garlic – Tops begins to dry and topple down   Cowpea, sitao, snap beans, batao, sweet pea, winged bean – Well-filled pods that really snap   Okra – Full-sized fruits with the tips that can be snapped readily   Lima beans, pigeon pea – Well-filled pods that are starting to lose their greenness   Upo, luffa – Immature (if thumb nail can penetrate easily)   Tomato – Seeds slip when fruit is cut, or green color turning pink   Sweet pepper – Deep green color turning dull   Musk melon – Color of lower part turns creamy yellow, produces dull hallow sound when thumped   Cauliflower – Curd compact  (over mature if flower clusters elongates and begin to loosen)   Broccoli – Bud cluster compact (over mature if loose)   Cabbage – Heads compact s (over mature if heads cracks)   Sweet corn – Exudes milk sap when thumbnail penetrates kernel   Eggplant, ampalaya – Desirable size is reached out but still tender   Honey dew – White color cream with aroma   Squash – Big enough with dried leaves   Watermelon – Dull hollow sound when thumped and lower color part turns yellow   Water spinach – Leaves at their broadest and longest  

  Problems Encountered in Container Gardening

 In container gardening you’ll  meet some problems that may hinder your daily operations. This is sometimes discernible when you’ll not attend the plants due to negligence.

 However, you can prevent these problems if you’ll religiously observe your plants closely. Small pests and diseases can’t be seen visibly if you’ll not see the plant appearance  closely. You’ll only see the affected plants once you come closer and actually touch them.

 Some symptoms, causes, and corrective measures you should observe:

 l  Tall, spindly and not productive. The plants receives insufficient sunlight and excessive supply of Nitrogen. To correct them, you should transfer the containers to a place where there is sufficient sunlight.

l  Yellowing from bottom, poor color, and lack vigor.  The plants receives too much water and low fertility. To correct this, you have to reduce watering intervals and check the pots for good drainage.

l  Plants wilt even with sufficient  water. The plants has poor drainage and aeration. To correct, you should use a potting mix with high percentage of organic matter. Increase the number of holes of the container for good drainage.

 l  Burning or firing of the leaves. The soil medium is high in salt. To correct this problem, you have to leach the container with tap water at regular intervals.

 l  Stunted growth, sickly, and purplish color of leaves. The temperature is low and low phosphate. To correct, you should relocate the containers to a warmer area. Increase phosphate level in base solution.

 l  Holes in leaves and distorted in shape.  The plants are pests infested. To correct, you should use non-chemical insecticides or other biological control for insects.

 l  Spots on the leaves, dead dried areas or powdery or rust occurrence. The plants are affected with a disease. To correct them, you should remove the disease affected parts or the whole plant in serious condition. You can use non-chemical pesticides if the disease is in the early stage of infestation.

 ___________________

 Crisologo Ramasasa, Freelance writer, writes articles on home gardening and Internet marketing tips. Get a copy of his latest ebook FREE, titled; “How to get Started in Flower Gardening” and “Vegetable Gardening Made Easy” and Free articles, tools, tips and bonus  at: www.crisramasasa.com

Hydroponic nutrients Gardening Guide – Hydroponic nutrient solutions composition

March 17, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Nitrogen (N)

The most essential of all nutrients for leaf and stem development. Nitrogen consumption depends on a plants growth cycle and in a vegetative growth phase of plant nitrogen consumption is greatest. Hydroponic nutrients solutions labeled as “grow” or “flower” contains more concentrations of nitrogen. Nitrogen deficiency is the leading cause of plant growth in indoor hydroponic garden systems. Yellowish, soft and weak plants and leaves are tell-tale signs of nitrogen deficiency.

Half-strength nitrogen solutions are ideal for plants between growing phases. This will prevent plant stretch while it’s switching its energy over to flower development. Normal feeding is resumed once the plant reaches the flowering stage.

 

Phosphorous (P)

Phosphorous plays a major part in root and flower development. Phosphorous deficiency signs are slow and stunted plant growth. Phosphorous is crucial to a plants flowering stage. “Bloom” type formulas contain a 0-50-30 concentration, containing no nitrogen and high levels of phosphorous and potassium.

Potassium (K)

Different in action from the previous two nutrients, it doesn’t feed the plant directly in any specific stage of growth. It merely facilitates plant intake of other primary and secondary plant nutrients. Potassium deficiency cause irregular plant growth and susceptibility to pests and disease. Potassium inhibits fruit production and should be lessened during this stage.

 

Secondary Hydroponic Nutrients

Calcium (Ca)

Facilitating and filtering the absorption of other nutrients Calcium is one essential nutrient. It is also a natural base that increases the pH level is needed. Commonly used in the vegetative phase of plant growth, calcium consumption is decreased during the flowering stage.

 

Magnesium (Mg)

Mainly for chlorophyll production in photosynthesis, deficiency causes yellow leaves.

 

Sulfur (S)

Yellow leaves are a sign of sulfur deficiency and are only used in small amounts.

 

Iron (Fe)

Used in small amounts, iron deficiency is similar to sulfur deficiency. Yellow leaves are the general signs of deficiency. High pH causes iron absorption problems so constant monitoring is advised.

 

Molybdenum (Mb)

Mainly for nitrogen absorption and converts nitrates to ammonium

 

Boron (B)

Facilitates carbohydrate transport in the phloem, it is not essential and maybe disregarded. Boron overdose causes plant kill, it is not found in regular soils and only supplemented.

Friendly Neighbors – Gardening in Style

March 16, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Gardeners growing vegetables find that companion planting provides many benefits, one of which is protection from garden pests. A major enemy of the carrot is the carrot fly, whereas the leek suffers from the onion fly and leek moth. Yet when leek and carrot live together in companionship, the strong and strangely different smell of the partner plant repels the insects so much that they do not even attempt to lay their eggs on the neighbor plant. They take off speedily to get away from the smell. This is why mixed plantings give better insect control than mono-culture, where many plants of the same type are planted together in row after row. Even when plants are affected by plant diseases, a mixed plant culture can usually alleviate the situation.

It is important to remember that not all “protective” botanicals act quickly. For example, marigolds, to be effective in nematode control, should be grown over at least one full season, and more is better, for their effect is cumulative. One should also realize that certain companion plants will diminish each others natural repelling ability as they grow together.  The effects of plants on one another are important outside the vegetable garden, among trees and shrubs as well as grains, grasses, and field crops.

Wild plants also play a vital part in the plant community. Some are accumulator plants – those that have the ability to collect trace minerals from the soil. They actually can store in their tissues up to several hundred times the amount contained in an equal amount of soil. These plants, many of which are considered weeds, are useful as compost, green manure, or mulch. Some are “deep diggers,” sending their roots deep into the ground to penetrate hardpan and helping to condition the soil, and some have value as protectors of garden plants.

Next Page »