Plant growth in a box

Photo credit: Instructables

Small Indoor LED Plant Grow Room

Since my light covers almost the entire top of the box I cut a hole in the entire top except for the side with a flap (left an inch or so) and the corners to keep some strength in the box. -
Since my light covers almost the entire top of the box I cut a hole in the entire top except for the side with a flap (left an inch or so) and the corners to keep some strength in the box. –

I have done a few indoor gardens before, mostly because the weather in Michigan does not allow for a very long season. I recently moved to Phoenix and tried container gardening outside and was disappointed in the amount of pests that decimated my small container farm. So here is my take on a very small indoor LED garden to see how it works out.

Read the full article: Instructables

Indoor Plants in Winter

Photo credit: The Record Herald

Rosemary in window-Turn 1/4 every few days to keep growth even (B.Petrucci)

Winter Care Tips for Indoors Plants

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener


From Master Gardeners I have learned a few key things, so here is my quick tip list followed by a number of great resource sites. It is important to check the needs of each plant since they can vary greatly.

Aloe roots crop -
Aloe roots crop –

1. Be sure the plant is potted in the right size container (with a drainage hole) and right potting soil.

If you are digging it up and dragging it in from the outdoors then potting it up, don’t use garden soil. It’s too heavy.

2- Water only as needed when the soil is dry.

Water from the top until water comes out the drainage hole (You do have a drainage hole, right?) into the saucer. About two hours later, drain any excess water from the saucer. Don’t allow the roots to stand in water. If you don’t see drainage but have watered well, check for a clog in the hole and clear it. Inconsistent watering is one of the primary reasons for plant loss.

3- Use room temperature water.

Leave tap water out overnight, uncapped or uncovered, to allow the chlorine and fluorine added to city water to dissipate. Although these probably don’t harm plants, you want the water to be at room temperature anyway. Rainwater, snow melt and well water are ok. Don’t use water run through water softeners.

4- Light should be appropriate for the plant. – See more at:

Winter sowing is great

Photo credit: Buffalo-Niagara Gardening

Start seeds outside now using milk jug, other containers in ‘winter sowing’

by Connie Oswald Stofko


Will opaque milk jugs work for winter sowing?

I had first tried winter sowing a few years ago with the translucent milk jugs that we used to get in stores around here. Find the directions for the milk jug greenhouse here.

I had good results, but wasn’t sure if it would work with the newer opaque milk jugs, so I tried it last winter.

This does work with opaque milk jugs!

I tried it last winter and by spring I had tomato seedlings. I worried that they were coming up later than they should, but our spring was cold, so they were probably on time.

I’m not sure why it worked with the opaque milk jug, but it did. When the top and bottom halves of the opaque jug were closed, they didn’t fit together as neatly as they did on the translucent milk jug. Maybe that let in enough light for the sprouts.

Other containers for winter sowing

If you don’t trust the idea of using containers that are opaque, there are lots of other options.


Read the full article: Buffalo-Niagara Gardening

Tips for winter sowing

Photo credit: Recordonline

Winter sowing in mini-greenhouses

Get a jump-start on veggie garden with winter sowing

By Susan M. Dollard
For the Times Herald-Record


Winter sowing is an outdoor method of seed germination that requires just two things: Miniature greenhouses (made from recycled milk jugs and various other containers) and Mother Nature. After planting in January-March, these mini greenhouses are placed outside to wait for winter to end.

Here are some suggestions for what to plant and when, based on zone 5b:

Read the full article: Recordonline

The big top ten organic gardening tips (Google / Beautiful Home and Garden)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

The big top ten organic gardening tips

By using only organic gardening supplies, your gardening tasks will be easier and more enjoyable.• Compost, an all natural soil amendment is made through the use of composters. Composters break down organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps to make a 100% organic, all natural soil additive. Composters come in varying shapes, sizes and designs. Research composters and choose one that meets your needs. Making your own natural compost is a great alternative to other organic gardening supplies you would ordinarily have to buy, and it’s free!

• Rain Barrels collect water from your roof and store it until needed. Rain water is softer and chemical free. Rain Barrels are great for keeping your plants healthy and saving water. Many rain barrels are made from reused food drums and recycled plastic, keeping with the commitment to sustainable living. You can collect approximately 675 gallons of rain off your roof from a single rain storm. Stored rain water supplies much needed moisture to your gardens during extreme dry spells where rationing is necessary.

• All Natural and organic fertilizers supplies much needed nutrients to plantings. Natural and organic fertilizers generally have a slow release so nutrients last over time. Natural and organic fertilizers such as liquefied worm poop and tea from composters, are among the top natural and organic fertilizers and an essential ingredient to your organic gardening supplies.

• Push reel mowers are a great way to be eco friendly! Push reel mowers use no gas or electric, only your own energy. Push reel mowers are lightweight, easy to use and gives your lawn that golf course look. Owning a push reel mower is an important part of organic gardening.

• Grow native plants. Native plants require less water. They are also naturally more insect and disease resistant than other plants. Healthy, lush gardens made from indigenous plants also make a natural home for birds.

Container gardening is good for planting your favorite flowers and vegetables when space is limited! Use large containers such as steel buckets and wooden barrels for creative container gardening. Container gardens do not require a lot of organic material due to being enclosed. Many gardening containers such as green pots are all natural, made from all natural elements such as rice hulls and coconut fiber.

• Using only natural and organic gardening supplies such as Insecticidal Soap, Horticultural Oil or Organic Disease Control will keep your garden healthy, naturally. Organic gardening supplies leave no hazardous residue and break down naturally into the soil. Natural predators such as bats, praying mantis and ladybugs are great organic insect controls. Bat boxes are effective for keeping bats nearby and supplies shelter through the harsh winter months. Enjoying and benefiting from organic gardening is dependent upon the use of the highest quality organic gardening supplies.

• Mulch your flowerbeds and vegetable garden to retain moisture around plants. Mulch supplies your plants with much needed moisture throughout hot, sunny days. Mulching also keeps weeds away. Apply all natural worm poop fertilizer around plantings when mulching. Your organic garden will love you for it. • Create a bird habitat by placing bird houses, birdbaths and bird feeders in your yard. Birds are fun to watch and will control the insect population in a natural way. Pick a quiet section of your yard to keep a variety of birding supplies to attract birds of your choice. Bird food such as sunflower hearts and suet are great treats. • Whether you are working on your lawn, flowerbed or vegetable garden, have fun. Remember, all natural supplies will make organic gardening easier and more enjoyable. The following is a list of recommended all natural and organic gardening supplies: composter, rain barrels, organic fertilizers, push reel mower, natural gardening containers, birding supplies, natural homemade compost, These are the best equipment, tools and supplies for keeping your plants, turf and environment healthy.

Happy Gardening!

This article may be reproduced and/or distributed. This article was written by Mark & Vera Pappas, Co-owners of, suppliers of unique and eco-friendly garden supplies.

Living Breathing Plants: the Best Mulch of All (Google / Veggiegardeningtips)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

The Scoop on Mulching a Vegetable Garden

Living Breathing Plants: the Best Mulch of All

Recently I outlined the limits that I set when mulching the veggie garden. But I do away with all reservations when it comes to my favorite type of garden mulch — a living one! If you’re not familiar with the term, a “living mulch” simply refers to the use of live vegetation growing in the garden to produce many of the same benefits as your ordinary straw, wood chips, shells, needles, grass clippings, plastic films, shredded leaves, landscape fabrics, sawdust, newspaper, or stone mulches.

Mulching the Vegetable Garden with Plants

With a living mulch the same plants that are being cultivated to yield a delicious harvest will also provide the additional benefits of shading the soil to conserve moisture, reduce competition from weed growth, and protect the garden’s soil from exposure to the elements just as an organic mulch would.

This mulching strategy is best employed in concert with the use of raised beds, and works to perfection when the entire growing area is covered from one end to the other by a crop of veggies spreading their canopy of leaves across the bed.

The key is proper spacing when you seed or transplant the crops within the raised bed and keeping the weeds under control when the veggie seedlings are just starting out. Try to space the plants just far enough apart in each direction so that upon maturity the crop will fill out the beds and the tips of adjoining plants will just barely touch each other, as shown in the broccoli photo above.

If you plan and plant it right you’ll wind up with a garden bed that’s covered with healthy plants all shading the ground to conserve moisture, boost humidity levels, protect the soil, and provide a micro growing environment that your vegetable crops will love.

Choking Out Weeds While Building Soil Fertility

Another good example of a living mulch is a thick and lush cover crop such as oats, buckwheat, rye, or legumes. The right cover crop can blanket the garden all winter long or during periods when the beds are temporarily vacant in order to prevent erosion, loosen soils, and increase the garden’s fertility.

Planted thickly, a cover crop will deprive weed seeds of the sunlight and favorable growing conditions that they need to germinate and thrive in the garden. Some cover crops are useful for attracting beneficial insects, or can even yield an edible harvest of their own if you desire.

Growing mulches of cover crops is also a great way to produce large amounts of organic matter for use in building compost piles to further enrich the garden. You really can’t go wrong by incorporating cover crops into your planting rotations.

If you like the idea of allowing your plants to shoulder some of the responsibilities of water conservation, weed control, and general maintenance, then it’s time to put living mulches into play in your own veggie patch. The result will be a productive and attractive garden with soil that is healthy and fertile, along with increased resistance towards weed growth.

Mulching house and container plants (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter

Add a little zing to your pots! Mulching house and container plants.

By Glynis Ward (girlgroupgirl)
May 1, 2008

Want to take your houseplants from potted plant to living art? Try some creative mulching ideas! Mulches retain moisture, help keep pets out of soil and keep your “dirt” from looking so dirty. This little extra touch will have your indoor (and outdoor) potted menagerie looking like you paid a bundle for something that cost you a buck!

I admit, my houseplants are naked and bare. They probably shouldn’t be, especially the plants that are not yet very full, but they are. To tell the truth, I just haven’t thought much about it. A few years ago a friend of mine began mulching all her plants with Spanish moss. It looked great! I did try a few with decorative stones, one of which still survives today (which tells you how hard I can be on houseplants!!).

When I started to work at a garden center, my garden partner, LeAnn dutifully set to making gorgeous containerized plantings. She has a real knack for them, and part of her artfulness is in the decorative mulching she chooses. Continue reading Mulching house and container plants (Dave’s Garden)

Tips for Transplanting Seedlings into Your Garden (Dave’s Garden)

Read at : Dave’s Garden Weekly Newsletter

Seed Starting 101: Planting Out – Tips for Transplanting Seedlings into Your Garden

By Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

April 17, 2008

For me, spring planting is one of the best times of year in the garden. I bury my hands in the rich, warm soil. I gently pop each plant from its pot and tuck it into the garden bed, firming the earth around it. I take my time, admiring each seedling and imagining the plant it will become. Here are a few tips to help your spring planting go smoothly…

Prepare your garden bed in advance, digging it over and breaking up the soil to a depth of 6 to 10 inches. If you have soil amendments to add, such as well composted leaves or manure, till them in. A soil test can tell you if you need to add anything else to your soil. If you’re using a no-till method like lasagna gardening, this might be a good time to top up with a nice layer of compost. I like to dig up my garden a couple of weeks before planting out. Any weed seeds that come to the surface and germinate can be hoed up without disrupting my little plants.

Harden off your seedlings by exposing them gradually to outside conditions. Don’t skip over this step! Tender indoor seedlings planted directly out into the garden can get shocked enough to keel over and die. This also applies to seedlings and plants bought at a garden center, if they’ve been sheltered. See last week’s article, “Seed Starting 101: Hardening Off” for more information. Continue reading Tips for Transplanting Seedlings into Your Garden (Dave’s Garden)

Plastic bottles and bags: precious jewels for container gardening (Willem)

On September 12th, 2007 Riziki SHEMDOE sent the following message :

“I have been reading on the container gardening experiments that you have been doing. This has encouraged me to put up a proposal on introducing this technology to the rural semiarid areas of Tanzania where normally crop production is very poor due to drought and poor soil fertility. I am requesting to know whether there are some best practices from the third world countries that you have come across regarding the use of this technology in improving rural food security and poverty alleviation? I will be grateful if you share with me some of the best practices so that I may use them to strengthen my proposal. I look forward to reading from you.
Kindest regards,
Riziki. “

Riziki Silas Shemdoe (MSc)
Institute of Human Settlements Studies,
University College of Lands and Architectural Studies
P.O.Box 35124 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Here is my reply :

The easiest and most practical way for people in developing countries to practice container gardening is to collect a large number of plastic (PET) bottles and plastic shopping bags. It’s clean and cheap. Moreover, it helps to take care of our environment !

The plastic bottles should be cut in two : a shorter bottom part (the cup, used as a water tank) and a longer top part (with the stop still on), to be filled with potting soil. In order to cut the bottle in two optimal parts, define the length of the two parts approximately so that, turning over the top part (that will contain potting soil later on) and sliding it into the bottom part, the stop is touching or almost touching the bottom of the cup. If this is not the case the bottle will be rather unstable. Then, a small slit should be cut at the edge at two opposite sides of the bottom cup so that the top part of the bottle can be pushed into the cup until the stop reaches the bottom (short slits will open a bit). It is better to have the bottom cup a bit too long than too short (stability). One can always cut the two slits !

The bottleneck should be perforated at two opposite sides, close to the stop, to create drainage possibilities if too much water is poured in the bottle and to create water absorption possibilities from the bottom cup. Holes of 5 mm diameter are sufficient.

When filling up the inverted top part with potting soil, the soil should be well compressed in order to avoid larger air cavities in the bottle. I recommend to mix a water stocking soil conditioner with the potting soil, but if this is not possible for financial constraints, don’t hesitate to do it without.

During the first days, watering should be abundant to eliminate too much air in the potting soil. As the infiltrating surplus of water will run through the two openings in the bottleneck into the bottom cup (water tank), and as evaporation will be limited (only through the top opening of the bottle), one can save a lot of irrigation water and produce significantly more biomass with less water (less leaching of nutrients from the potting soil, and less evaporation).

Isn’t this a nice solution for some of our main environmental problems in the drylands ?
The same advantages are offered when growing vegetables or young trees in the classical plastic shopping bags.

Fill up a plastic bag with potting soil for 2/3, and keep the two handles of the bag upright, simply by pushing them up and sustaining them with two pieces of a small branch or another support (one at each side of the bag). Thus, a shallow cavity is created above the potting soil in which water can be poured from time to time.

Don’t forget to perforate the lower part of the plastic bag a couple of times at the two opposite sides of the bag, e.g. 2-3 little holes (not slits !) at both sides approximately 1-3 cm ( 0.5 – 1 inch) above the bottom (and not in the bottom itself, so that a bit of water can be kept temporarily in the bag). Vegetables can be seeded or planted in the potting soil. Young tree seedlings can also be grown in such a simple plastic bag.

Considerable advantages :

(1) more biomass with less water (because of less leaching and less evaporation).

(2) eliminate plastic from the environment by burying the used plastic bottles and bags at the end of the growing season, e.g. when planting the tree seedlings in a planting hole (ecological cleaning).

Caution : avoid heating in the bottles or bags by keeping them in half-shade or in places where the number of hours of sunshine is limited (not a full day).

Please set up some experiments and discover the real advantages of gardening in plastic bottles and bags, not in the least the provision of food security and the alleviation of poverty. That’s what I call a success story or best practice for sustainable rural development. I hope that once my preaching in the desert will be heard.

PS. Have a look at my former postings to discover pictures and drawings.



“Thank you so much, Prof., for the explanations and the methodological approaches. I will try something in this area. This will really relieve our poor people in the dryland-areas to improve their nutrition. Similarly this will assist in improving the environmental sanitation by giving use values to the plastic bottles that are being thrown everywhere in our cities. Thank you.

Non-flowering strawberries in window boxes (J. TOLLEDOT)

Here is a question coming from my friend Joseph TOLLEDOT :

“I remember you had a flowering and fruiting Strawberry plant in a bottle…I planted some 10 bare-root Strawberry plants in March in window boxes – only one plant flowered and gave some fruit only once and then stopped. All the others have produced plenty of healthy leaves and many runners but no fruit – very disappointing! – What can I do now? Any ideas? I have seem much contradictory advice on the internet so I am unsure what to do!”


Joseph referred to my former posting:

My very simple strawberry bottles (Willem)

Strawberries flowering and fruiting in plastic (PET) bottles

I don’t have see a clear reason for the fact that Joseph’s strawberries are not flowering in the window boxes.  I can only make a couple of suggestions :

1. Can it be that temperature is sometimes becoming too high in the boxes?

2. Can it be that inside the boxes (behind the window) there is a lack of UV rays?

Who can help us out ?