One of the easiest gardening activities to plan for 2015 is setting up combination containers. The most important aspect of growing in containers is using the correct “soil,” which is not soil at all. In fact, there is no soil in the correct growing media. If the bag says “garden soil,” that really means it is good for in-ground plants. Growing plants in containers requires a totally different kind of mix.
For the best growth and flowering performance in containers, use a soilless, peat-based mix. Bagged mixes for container plants are often called potting or container mixes and contain no soil. They are found under a variety of trade names but are similar in their basic recipes. They are composed of organic components like peat moss, coir fiber or bark. Potting mixes for containers need to be light and airy and drain well. This is why container mixes also contain vermiculite and perlite, inorganic components that are produced by heating mica or pumice.
These container mixes are readily available at local garden centers and come in a variety of bag sizes — from quarts all the way up to multiple cubic feet. The selection of materials and bags can be confusing, so pay attention to the information printed on the bag.
The whiskey barrel as a planter has been a attempted and genuine process of acquiring a prominent screen for your back garden. The size of these wooden planters makes them ideal for big shrubs or tiny trees, or even as an herb back garden, suitable for outside the kitchen door. More, these barrels final for many years, even many years, in advance of needing to be changed.
Utilizing whiskey barrels for gardening will recapture the rustic nostalgia of the earlier and build a charming planter for your perennials, shrubs, trees, or herbs, which will be the talk of your neighborhood. You will need to come to a decision irrespective of whether to use a full-size whiskey barrel or a 50 percent-size barrel. If you come to a decision on a 50 percent barrel, you will then need to come to a decision irrespective of whether you will use it standing upright, or put it on its side and have your bouquets flowing out of it. Furthermore, think about where you will put your barrel and make certain this is the appropriate location, as once full, the barrel will be far too heavy to shift all over the back garden. Also, consider the size plants you will be utilizing in the barrel. These containers have a whole lot of soil ability for a much bigger plant.
Plastic tray, plastic bag and a marker to build a mini-greenhouse
Starting your own transplants
By MINNIE MILLER, T&D Garden Columnist
How much money do you spend every spring buying vegetable and flower transplants to fill your garden or make up containers? Make this the year you save a little cash by growing your own starter plants. You will be able to pick and choose the exact varieties you want by selecting your seed. The sense of accomplishment you will gain by growing your own, start to finish, will be priceless.
Now is the time to start gathering the supplies you will need including containers, seed starting mix, liquid fertilizer, labels and seeds. Seeds ordered online take time to be shipped as do related supplies. If you are going to need to set up grow lights you will want to come up with a plan and implement it as a first step to successful transplants.
Be sure you can supply the right conditions for starting seed or you will not be successful. Seeds do not necessarily need light to germinate, but most do need warmth. Once they have sprouted, you will need to supply them with 16 to 18 hours of light daily to grow strong seedlings. Grow lights or regular florescent lighting can be used.
You don’t have to purchase special containers to start seed, but there are some handy ones out there that include trays and “domes” that help keep moisture regulated. Ordinary flats that have drainage holes, used pots and even recycled plastic produce containers (such as greens or berries are packaged in) can be used. The container simply needs to hold soil and provide drainage. You will want saucers or solid trays underneath to catch excess water.
Have on hand a supply of liquid or soluble fertilizer for watering the seedlings as they grow. Regular light doses of liquid fertilizer, along with adequate light, will keep plants strong and stout so they will be more successful transplants.
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:
Kitchen waste and grass clips in compost box (pallets)
Composting turns kitchen scraps into black gold
by Betsy Voorhies
Building materials you can use can include discarded wooden pallets, horse fencing or chicken wire. Compost piles should be at least 3 feet high by 3 feet wide and 3 feet long in order to work efficiently. Composting requires three key activities: aeration, by turning the compost pile; moisture, and the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio. Attention to these elements will raise the temperature to around 130 degrees Fahrenheit to140 degrees Fahrenheit, and ensure rapid decomposition.
To begin, create a stockpile of leaf and grass clippings (mowing with a bag attachment is a great way to acquire these and keeps your yard debris out of the land fill). Your compost pile is a great place to recycle used potting soil from dead or transplanted potted plants. I keep my organic material in large nursery pots next to the compost bin.
To start your compost; begin with a 6” layer of dry organic material (the leaf/grass clippings and old soil). Next add a layer of green stuff such as vegetables, fruit scraps, banana peels, egg shells and even unbleached paper towels. After every layer, water the pile well and keep it moist for best results. If you have chickens, horses, cows or any herbivorous animal, their manure can also be added at this point.
Keeping a covered pail in your kitchen makes it easy to collect your kitchen scraps. Make sure, no meat, oil, cheese, dairy or anything that is not plant-based gets into the kitchen scrap pail. You can find wonderful pails at garden centers or online at gardening websites.
Container plants let you garden even when you don’t have a patch of earth to call your own. Container gardening brings plants up close, adding color and interest to patios, decks, and porches, and providing indoor rooms with a touch of nature. Growing plants in containers allows you to maintain control over the quality of soil, and makes it easier to manage weeds and pests. Yet many find it challenging to keep container plants thriving. When container plants go bad, often the culprit is the method of watering.
Most people water plants in containers from the top. Some prefer watering from the bottom. While there are certain circumstances where one method is preferred over the other, it is important to remember that to plants, all that matters is that roots get the moisture they need to thrive, neither too little, nor too much. Before deciding whether to water from the bottom or from the top, other factors need to be considered. To reach the right balance of moisture, plants need more than water. They need the right soil and the right amount of drainage.
Soil for Container Plants
Ordinary garden soil is generally too heavy for use in container plants.
It seems everyone is concerned about the environment and trying to reduce their “carbon footprint”. I hope this trend will continue and grow as a nationwide way to live and not turn into a fad. Composting has been around for MANY years. Composting is a great way to keep biodegradables out of the landfill and to reap the reward of some fabulous “black gold”. That’s what master gardeners call compost and it’s great for improving your soil. Plants love it. Check out 10 Rules to Remember About Composting.
Layer your compost bin with dry and fresh ingredients: The best way to start a compost pile is to make yourself a bin either with wood or chicken wire. Layering fresh grass clippings and dried leaves is a great start.
Remember to turn your compost pile: As the ingredients in your compost pile start to biodegrade they will start to get hot. To avoid your compost pile rotting and stinking you need to turn the pile to aerate it. This addition of air into the pile will speed up the decomposition.