- 5 Simple Steps To Grow Your Organic Garden
Soil Preparation Before going for organic farming, go for soil testing where you check your soil for various parameters including pH, nutrient levels, humus, and moisture retention. These factors build a friendly home for important soil organisms and also effectively enhance plant growth. You can add optimum organic nutrients to the soil and treated manure to improve the soil quality, texture and pH. Making good compost Compost serves as food for your plants and it helps retain the water. Make sure your compost has optimum levels of carbon and nitrogen-rich waste mixed thoroughly in soil, water and air. How to make your own compost? a) Take a plough and dig out a little soil in your garden. b) Add layers of carbon and nitrogen material (leaves, kitchen wastes, leftover foods) separated by thin layers of soil in between. c) Cover the compost pile with soil and add water to trigger microbe growth. d) Within a month or two, your compost will be ready for sowing. e) If your compost smells bad, add more layers of dry carbon wastes (leaves, straws, etc) and mix the layers often. Selecting seeds Organic farming is possible when you choose the plants that adjust to your geographical location and climatic conditions. Look for plants that easily adjust to varying temperatures, soil, moisture and drainage. When buying seeds, go for seeds that grow independent of chemicals. If you are unaware of which seeds to select, look for native plant seeds and seed varieties that can grow efficiently at your location. How to plant the seeds? Maintain sufficient space between two sowings to promote proper aeration, avoid weeding and fungal attacks. Watering Your plants need only one to two water applications per week to grow strong and deep. The best time to water your plants is daybreak when the roots absorb all the water in. It is recommended to avoid watering during the evening as it leaves your crop damp overnight making a home for harmful fungi and bacteria. Always sprinkle water on the base of the plant, on the roots and never the leaves. This is because your plant leaves are tender and more susceptible to damage. Apply water at room temperature or alternatively, you can use rainwater. Weeding and harvesting If your garden is invaded by pests and weeds, you have a big job to do! The easiest way to handle weeds is to grow diverse plant varieties in your garden. You can let natural predators like frogs, birds and lizards take care of the pests or insects. If not, you can use nets, covers and hot pepper sprays to keep your plants safe. Collect your vegetables and fruits during the harvest season. Herbs used for flavours can be collected freshly. Seasoning spices that need storage and drying can be harvested just prior to flowering to retain the maximum flavours. Pick some ornamental flower and vegetable seeds and exotic floral varieties to adorn your organic garden.
- Where did I go wrong with germination?
A handy guide to problems with seed sowing, germination, general growing pains and how to avoid them. This guide to germinating seeds, has been designed to both widen and enhance the pleasure and success you get from growing your own flowers and vegetables from seed. Why didn’t my seeds germinate? There are many reasons why seeds may fail to germinate, and not all of them are your fault! Most problems are related to the sowing conditions and once you know what can go wrong, these setbacks can be easily avoided. What went wrong? The seed was old: Check the sow-by date on the packet. Seed that is beyond this date will often still germinate but the success rate is likely to be reduced. Some seed, such as parsnip, lose their viability rapidly so it is worth buying new packets each year to avoid a disappointing germination rate. It was too hot/ too cold: Indoors: Invest in a soil thermometer. Most species can be sown successfully indoors at temperatures between 13C – 21C which are easily achieved in a heated propagator or on a windowsill indoors. However, extremes of heat or cold may prevent seeds from germinating so it is well worth monitoring the soil temperature. Always check the recommended germination temperature on the seed packet. Once germinated, you can move your seed trays to a slightly cooler position. Outdoors: Keep an eye on the weather and avoid sowing if the soil is cold and wet, as this will cause the seed to rot. Seed packets usually advise when to sow but this will vary between warm southern gardens and cold northern locations. In the north it may be necessary to sow a month later than the seed packet suggests if the soil remains cold. Help early sowings along by using cloches to warm the soil. The soil was too wet/ too dry: Indoors: Seeds need moisture to germinate, but if the soil is too wet then the seeds are likely to rot. Ensure that seeds are kept evenly moist by thoroughly wetting and draining the compost before you begin sowing. After sowing you can cover the seed tray with a sheet of glass or clear plastic to retain moisture – the compost should remain damp for several days or more. If the soil surface begins to dry out then simply stand the seed tray in water until the surface becomes moist – but be sure to let it drain again. Remove the glass or plastic as soon as the seeds begin to germinate to prevent the seedlings from rotting. Outdoors: Wet, poorly drained soils and dry, sandy soils can be difficult environments for seed germination. Both can be improved by adding plenty of organic matter such as well rotted manure or homemade compost. On wet soils this will improve drainage and air circulation, while on dry soils organic matter acts as a sponge, holding water in the soil for longer. The seed were sown at the wrong depth: Some seeds need light to germinate, but many don’t. The amount of light that the seed receives will be determined by how deeply it is sown. Check the seed packet before you bury your seeds beneath the soil, as they may only need a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite to get them underway. If no instructions are provided then seed size often gives a good indicator of how deep to sow them. Very small seed such as Begonia and lettuce only need a very light covering of sieved compost or vermiculite; while larger seed such as sunflowers and beans will need to be sown several centimetres below the soil surface. As a rule of thumb most seed can be planted at a depth of 3 to 4 times their own width. The seed needed special treatment: Did the seed packet mention pre-chilling, chipping, scarifying or soaking? Some treatments may sound a bit strange but they are essential to help the seed germinate. The seeds were eaten: Outdoor sowings of beans, peas, sunflowers and other large seed are often at risk from attack from the moment that you have sown them. Mice and birds love to dig them up for an easy snack. Protect your seed with cloches, chicken wire or netting to give them time to germinate safely. What’s happened to my seedlings? Transferring delicate seedlings from seed trays to individual pots will provide each seedling with the space, light and nutrients to develop into strong, healthy plants. But this can be a critical time in the plants development and things don’t always go smoothly. What went wrong? The seedlings were pricked out too early: As a rule of thumb most seedlings can be ‘pricked out’ when the first true adult leaves show (i.e. the second set of leaves after the initial ‘seed leaves’ or cotyledons). But before you begin it’s always worth checking that they have sufficient root to cope with the transplant process. Simply lift one or two seedlings out of the tray with a dibber and take a look. If the roots are still very tiny then postpone pricking out for a few more days, or until the roots have made sufficient growth. It won’t do them any harm and that extra time will make them more capable of coping with the transplant. The seedlings were pricked out too late: It’s easy to sow too many seeds and then find that you don’t have time to prick them out. Delays in pricking out, especially for fast growers like tomatoes can lead to competition for light and nutrients. If left for too long, your seedlings will start to look sickly as the nutrients in the soil are depleted and this can cause a significant check in their growth even after pricking them out. The seedlings were damaged during pricking out: Your delicate seedlings can be easily bruised and damaged so you should never handle seedlings by the root or stem. Seedlings emerge with two seed leaves called cotyledons before developing their first set of ‘true’ leaves, and these cotyledons can be used as convenient handles for holding your plants with. Once the ‘true’ leaves have formed these seed leaves are no longer required so it doesn’t matter if they get damaged. The seedlings just died: Did your seedlings mysteriously keel over, or rot away at the base of the stem? These symptoms are signs of damping off, caused by a number of fungal diseases, and often occur if the soil is persistently wet. Take the following steps to reduce the risk of damping off: Use fresh commercially produced compost instead a half used bag from last season. Always wash and dry pots and seed trays before re-using them. Disinfect them with a little diluted Jeyes Fluid. Don’t over water – let the compost dry out slightly between watering to keep fungal spread at bay. Water with clean tap water instead of using rain water. Keep seedlings well ventilated to ensure good air circulation.
- How to take care of flowering plants in pots
Tips for keeping plants healthy; plus our favourite flowers and plants for container gardens. How to take care of flowering plants in pots 1. Choose the pots. Make certain there are one or more holes in the bottom of your container to allow water to flow out freely. Insufficient drainage can cause roots to drown, and the plant to die prematurely. Almost anything can be used as a container for plants, so what type of pot you choose depends upon your style preference and budget. If you prefer lightweight containers, which are easy to move around and can weather winter temperatures, look for resin, fiberglass, and plastic. Bonus: These materials are not porous, so they absorb less moisture than unglazed clay or wood―leaving more for the plant. 2. Choose the potting mix. Do not use soil from the yard or garden. It can be filled with weed seeds, insects, and fungal diseases. Buy potting soil at your local garden center. It is a loose and light mixture of materials like peat moss, vermiculite, and, often, decomposed organic matter. If you are planting succulents or cacti, use a mix especially formulated for them. To reduce plant maintenance, buy potting mix containing a time-release fertilizer and moisture-retaining polymer crystals. If that type of mix is not available, buy a time-release fertilizer (such as Cockadoodle Doo) and a jar of water-retaining crystals (like Soil Moist) and follow the package directions for adding to the potting mix. 3. Choose the plants. Make “Right plant, right place” your motto. You must take into consideration the conditions of your space. Don’t try to grow a flower like a rose―which requires six hours of full sun―on a porch that gets only an hour in the early morning. Do your homework (read books and plant tags), ask for advice at the garden center, and determine which plants will thrive in the available sun or shade. When deciding what to buy, the simplest approach is to use one kind of plant per pot. If you choose to combine multiple types of plants, make sure they all like the same light and moisture conditions. Don’t put a cactus and a pansy together in one pot and expect them to get along. 4. Prepare the pots. If your containers are large, place them where they’ll ultimately go before filling them. Once they are full and watered, they may be too heavy to move. Put a basket-type coffee filter or a shard of broken pot over the hole(s) in the bottom of the empty pot. This will prevent the potting mix from washing out but will still allow water to escape. Before pouring in the soil, check its moisture content. Read directions on the bag for wetting it properly. Generally, you need to add water a little at a time and knead the mixture with your hands. A good rule of thumb is to wet the mix until it feels like a damp sponge. Fill the container with the soil. Put in enough potting mix so the base of the plant (where the stem sprouts from the soil’s surface) is about 1 inch from the top of the pot (to help visually estimate, position your plant while it’s still in its nursery container). Before planting, pat down the soil lightly with your fingers to eliminate any big air pockets. Don’t pack it down too hard. 5. Pot the plant. Remove the plant from its nursery container. (It’s a good practice to water plants in their original containers at least an hour before transplanting. This will ease their removal and diminish transplant shock.) Support the top of the “root ball” (the semisolid mass of soil and roots) by placing a finger on each side of the stem; then tip the pot and let the plant fall gently into your hand. Never pull a plant out by its stem. If it is stuck, tap the sides of the pot to loosen it. If the roots are circling around and around, the plant is “root-bound.” Gently tease the ends of the roots free before planting. Set the plant on top of the mix. If you are potting more than one plant, leave at least an inch or so around each root ball so you can add mix in between them. Carefully fill in with small handfuls of soil. Pat gently to eliminate air pockets. Do not pile soil on top of the plant―make sure the stem is completely above the surface. Leave about an inch between the soil surface and the rim of the pot. Water the container. This will settle the roots into their new home. If the soil level drops below the top of the root ball, add additional mix to bring it back up.
- Designing a Garden
Follow these 10 easy steps to have your own wonderland at your home and design a beautiful garden. Observe the space Doing some research is highly suggested. Research will help you understand more about gardening and it’s many concepts. Consult a gardener if required. Pick a style/theme like urban garden, village garden, formal garden, geometric, wildlife, zen garden, vertical garden & many more….. You can pick any theme for your garden and then slowly work your way through it. Have a blueprint- The blueprint is very important. Blueprint is nothing but a master-plan for your garden. Plan out each and every step. Sketch a layout/drawing of your garden site and be sure to include every feature present in your garden, including fences, walls, all the immovable objects and all the natural features as well. Get appropriate measurements of your garden site. Decide and select plants & pots Decide growing medias Watering system, irrigation Place plants as per their & your requirements. The position of every plant should be in accordance with its requirements. Plants which love direct sun, should be planted where they can get ample sunshine, whereas plants which do not have a strong affection towards the sun should be planted in the shade. There are many different elements available that you could add to your garden to make it attractive. The elements like containers, furniture, planters, hedges, paths, water fountains enhances the beauty of garden. Make sure you have pavements & easy access to the garden. You can plant perennials which can serve as the basics of your garden. They will last a long time and add a splash of color to your garden. Perennial beds can be made, according to the space available. If you do not have much space, you can add smaller beds whereas an area with large space will be able to accommodate larger beds. Taller plants should be placed at the end of the beds. Use plants of different shades and colors to add a dash of vibrancy in your garden. Place your annual plants in such places where it is not hard for you to access them for weeding or any other significant activity. Usually, annuals should be placed near pathways or fences. Start slow and then keep adding new features to your garden. Pick out any theme, style and get innovative. Let your imagination run wild. Put in your best and the end result will be definitely worth it. Happy gardening!