Fast Growing Seedling Vegetables

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Posted by admin | Posted in Planting vegetables on balcony | Posted on 10-09-2012

Vegetables such as lettuces, radishes and sprouts can be grown within a matter of days to a month. Microgreens are vegetables that are picked at the sprouting stage. Greens are loaded with nutrition and taste and grow quickly

Lettuce
Individual leaves from lettuce plants are harvested in approximately 30 days from planting time. Leaf varieties are Lolla Rosa, Key Lime, Waldman Green, Buttercrunch and Salad Bowl.

Radish
Radishes are root vegetables that add a spicy zing to salads. Varieties such as Champion, Cherry Belle, Easter Egg, Early Scarlet Globe mature in 22 to 30 days. Radish greens are edible and make a tasty addition to a salad.

Microgreens
Microgreens and sprouts are the young seedlings of vegetable plants such as broccoli, cabbage, beet, kale, mustard, mizuna, alfalfa and Swiss chard. They are harvested when 2 inches tall, which takes from 7 to 21 days to reach, depending on variety. Microgreens are planted in water-holding mats and do not need fertilization.

Sprouts
Sprouting seeds from radish, alfalfa, sunflower and broccoli is accomplished in a gallon-size jar. A teaspoon of seeds is soaked overnight and rinsed in the morning and twice a day thereafter. Sprouts are ready to eat in five to seven days.

The Best Layout for a Vegetable Garden

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Posted by admin | Posted in Planting vegetables on balcony | Posted on 08-09-2012

        The best vegetable gardens are full of sun. The placement of your garden in relation to the sun is of chief importance for proper layout. Design should also take a back seat to considerations of wind resistance, watering needs and soil slope and drainage. Once the basic needs of plants are adequately met, the size and shape of the vegetable garden is generally a matter of personal taste.

Sunlight

        In the northern hemisphere, the sun, traveling east to west across the southern sky, gains height daily until it reaches its seasonal peak around June 21 — at which point, its track takes it directly overhead. Its light casts shadows to northwest in the morning, due north at noon and northeast in the evenings. Facing the garden south along its long side, while orienting rows north to south and keeping taller plants to the back of the garden, minimizes the hours that shorter plants are in shadow. Ideally, most plants need 6 hours of light daily.

Drainage

        Placing the garden on a slight south-facing slope allows for good drainage. This is critically important, because most garden plants will not tolerate soggy soil. If it is not possible to site your garden on a slope, use some other means to ensure that the garden drains adequately. Raised beds work well, or you can lay drain tiles in gravel paths between beds. If only one spot in the garden tends to stay damp, place your compost pile there or grow moisture-loving plants like watercress, kale, collards or broccoli in that area.

Othere Site Considerations

        Avoid planting in windy areas. Winds sometimes bend or break fragile stems — especially on tall plants like corn. Wind blowing across the bare ground of garden beds also reduces soil moisture needed by your plants. You should also avoid trees. Even if they do not directly shade your plants, some trees, like junipers and walnuts, contain chemicals designed by nature to repress competitive growth beneath their branches. Invading tree and shrub roots also suck water from garden plants. Avoid buildings as well; they may shade plants or introduce toxins into the soil from paints and other household chemicals.

Layout Considerations

        You need not limit your garden plot to a traditional rectangle, although that works well. Any design that places taller or shade-loving plants to the north and gives adequate sunlight to sun lovers or shorter plants is fine. Include wide paths in the design to accommodate a wheelbarrow or garden cart so that you can harvest your crops. For easy maintenance, keep vegetable beds narrow enough that you can reach all the way across, or to the center of beds with paths on either side. Consider the path your garden hose must take for watering and plan your beds to avoid dragging it across them.

 

 

Do you know when carrots are ripe?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Planting vegetables on balcony | Posted on 07-09-2012

Carrots are a hardy root vegetable that can be planted early in the growing season with other frost-tolerant vegetables. Raw and cooked carrots are high in fiber and beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A by the human body. Vitamin A promotes eye and skin health, a strong immune system and healthy mucus membranes.

Time to Maturity
Check the seed packet for the carrots you planted to find out how many days they take to mature; this is often between 50 and 70 days. The time they need to mature depends on the variety of carrot, weather, watering and soil temperature. Most of a carrot’s early growth is dedicated to the above-ground foliage. The root develops later in the growing season, so the early carrot will have a long, thin, white root.

Size
Many varieties of carrot are ready to harvest when they are 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Some varieties are larger and are ready when they reach 2 inches in diameter, so check the seed packet for information on your variety. Check the diameter of the carrots by uncovering the top of the root from the soil to measure.

Young Carrots
You can eat carrots at any point in their development, starting at 1/2 inch diameter. In this sense, it is more an issue of maturity than of ripeness. Small carrots can be tasty and tender, but you won’t get as much out of each vegetable. So you may not want to pull young carrots if you have a small crop. Pull young carrots and replace them with new seeds for a second crop, as long as the seeds still have enough time to mature.

Leaving Carrots in the Ground
Many people leave carrots in the ground after they have matured for storage. If conditions are cool and dry, carrots can be kept in this manner for months. Some gardeners contend that carrots turn out sweeter if they are left in the ground for a month after the first frost.

How to Plant Indoor Container Gardens

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Posted by admin | Posted in Three-dimensional Garden | Posted on 04-09-2012

If climate or space constraints do not allow you to have a traditional outdoor garden, then an indoor container garden is a viable alternative. Many flowers and vegetables you would grow outdoors also grow well in containers inside the house. Container gardens are not only a practical option for planting, but they add a fresh, natural look to your decor.

Instructions

1
Decide what type of indoor garden suits your needs. Do you want foliage, flowers or edibles? Weigh the practicality of your choices based on the space you have for an indoor garden. Once you make your decision, narrow down your choices to specific plants.

2
Select containers for gardening. Containers must have holes for water drainage and must be large enough to comfortably accommodate the plants’ roots as they grow. Shallow-rooted houseplants and vegetables, such as lettuce, radishes or herbs, require about 8 inches of depth. Larger plants with deeper roots require larger, taller containers — about 2 feet deep.

3
Fill the containers with potting soil to an inch or so from the top of the container if you plan to plant from seed. If you are transplanting nursery stock, add only a few inches of soil to the bottom of the container. In either case, use potting soil that is formulated for container growing; it contains additives that help retain moisture and oxygen. Garden soil or soil brought in from outdoors is too dense and can suffocate roots.

4
Purchase transplants or seeds. Flower transplants provide instant gratification — and blooms — instead of waiting for the plant to grow from seed. The same holds true for edible plants, such as herbs, greens or tomatoes. Root vegetables, like radishes and carrots, grow best when you plant them from seed instead of transplant stock.

5
Plant seeds in containers. A good rule of thumb is to plant seeds four times the depth of their width. For example, a seed that is 1/4-inch wide should be planted 1 inch deep in the soil.

6
Transplant nursery stock plants into the containers. Carefully remove each root ball from its transplant cup and place the roots on top of the layer of soil in the bottom of a container. Add more soil below the roots if the plant’s stem and foliage are not tall enough to stick out of the container. Add more soil to ensure the roots are completely covered.

7
Place the containers in a sunny or partially sunny location depending on the plant’s specific needs. Many plants need at least six hours of sunlight daily. A south-facing window will provide the most sunlight. If you do not have adequate light coming in through your windows, taking plants outdoors into the sun for a few hours or placing a grow light over the plants are good solutions.

8
Water transplants or seeds to set the soil. Keep seeds moist while they’re germinating; placing a layer of plastic wrap or waxed paper loosely over the container helps retain moisture and warmth. Remove the plastic once seeds sprout. Water plants whenever the top of the soil is a lighter color or feels dry to the touch, which may be as often as every day. Fertilize plants with a water-soluble fertilizer every other week.

When Is a Squash Ripe?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Planting vegetables on balcony | Posted on 03-09-2012

If provided with proper growing conditions, squash plants provide a bountiful harvest that can easily leave you with more squash than you can eat. There are many varieties of squash appearing in colors that range from green to orange, with different harvesting characteristics. Knowing the best time to harvest requires a grower be aware of these differences as well as other telling signs.

Summer Squash
Summer squash doesn’t like cold weather and should be planted when it can optimize plenty of warm, sunny days. Given those conditions, it’s easy for the vine to take over your entire yard in very little time. Seeds should be planted once soil temperature is at least 70 F. As a heavy feeder, it does best in rich soil. Summer squash is distinguished from winter squash in that it is harvested during its immature stage, before seeds have developed and while the rind is still soft.

Harvesting Summer Squash
To boost the flavor of your crop, harvest often. Pick summer squash early when fruits are still small. In the case of zucchini, pick fruits once they are 4 to 5 inches, when they’re at their peak flavor. Zucchini yield and quality may drop after about a month. Pick straightneck yellow summer squash when it reaches 4 to 5 inches long. Pick crooknecks a bit smaller, before their skin thickens. Some varieties, such as Eight Ball zucchini, bear comparatively early in the season. Others, such as yellow crookneck, bear a bit later in the season.

Winter squash is just as vigorous as summer squash and needs plenty of space and sun for stretching and growing. The difference in winter squash is that it is considered ripe when it is much larger and fully mature. Allowing it to ripen to this point means skin has turned to a shell and it can be stored for winter. With the addition of fertilizer and lots of sunshine, the plant will get the nutrients it needs to produce large squash for delicious wintertime meals.

Harvesting Winter Squash
Harvest winter squash during late in the season, but before frost arrives. Certain signs indicate winter squash is ripe. It is near ready to pull when the shell is hard enough to withstand pressure from a fingernail, and stems are shriveled and dry. To boost its keeping time, cure winter squashes in the sunshine to harden the skins.

Beginning Flower Gardening Tips

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Posted by admin | Posted in Planting vegetables on balcony | Posted on 31-08-2012

A garden full of color and beauty is easy to achieve with the right planning. The success of any beginning flower garden is following a few basic steps before the flowers are even planted. Careful forethought and planning will produce beautiful blooms that last all growing season, and require little maintenance.

Location
The location of a flower bed is determined by the requirements of the specific flowers. Most flowers, like roses and lilies, prefer the warmth and light of the sun. Certain types of flowers do better in the shade, such as lily of the valley. If you are fortunate to have a spot with good drainage, bright sunlight and good soil, the blooms will be endless from spring through fall. Beautiful blooms are also possible in shady locations. Beginning gardeners who are planting in locations where there is full sunlight should choose flowers that are easy to grow, like marigolds, zinnias, morning glories and bachelor buttons. These seeds can be sown directly into the soil when the weather turns warm and the sunlight warms the soil.

Soil Preparation
Productive flower gardening begins with quality soil. There are three types of soil in most gardens: clay, sandy and loam. Clay soil is hard, does not drain well and compacts tightly so root systems do not have a chance to form and spread. Adding equal amounts of sand and compost, or organic matter such as peat moss, usually corrects the problem and creates a rich growing medium. Sandy soils drain much too quickly for flowers to gather the proper amounts of water. Sandy soils generally provide little to no nutrients for the growing plants, so blooms become scarce if they produce at all. Adding generous amounts of compost and top soil produces a quality planting bed. Gardeners that are blessed with rich, loamy soil need only worry about fertilizer and water.

Retaining Moisture
Gardeners who suffer from drought conditions during the growing season must keep flowers from drying out between watering by adding a layer of dried leaves under the planting medium before adding plants or seeds. The water will soak down into the leaves and be stored there for the plants during a dry spell. At the end of the year, turn the soil so the nutrients from the leaves gets added to the soil for the next year.

Weed Barriers
Landscaping fabric is popular in many beginning flower gardens because the flowers are able to grow and the weeds are kept at bay. Very little hoeing or weed pulling is necessary if landscaping fabric is installed. After the flower bed has been prepared, roll out the fabric right on top of the soil. The weed barrier can be held in place by garden stakes or staples, or the fabric can be completely covered with mulch. To add plants, create small incisions in the fabric with a pair of scissors. Plant the seeds through the fabric, at the cut, at the required depth. Water easily penetrates the weed barrier down to the soil, but the weeds cannot grow through it to reach the surface.

Choose Plants for Container Gardening

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Posted by admin | Posted in Growing Vegetables In Pots | Posted on 30-08-2012

        Container gardens offer you the ability to garden in a small area and the flexibility to rearrange your plants in countless interesting variations. Container gardens also give you more freedom in choosing your plants, since you can take tropical plants inside during freezes and cool weather plants in during heat waves. The downside to having so many options, however, is that it can be difficult to choose your plants. Carefully consider your space, climate, gardening skills and decorative needs to pick the best plants for your container garden.

Instructions:
        1. Choose plants that fit into your space requirements. For a windowsill container garden, you may be confined to herbs, air plants, small cacti and other small plants. In a living room container garden, by contrast, you may have room for ferns or even small trees and, on a patio, you may be able to accommodate medium ornamental trees such as Japanese maples. Also, consider whether you plan to move your containers around frequently. Large plants in large pots will be much more difficult to rearrange than smaller ones.
        2. Pick plants suitable for the microclimate you are growing them in. Water plants, fruiting vegetables and flowers require eight hours of daily sunlight, rooting veggies need six hours and leafy veggies, four. Other plants such as ferns and other understory plants require indirect or filtered sunlight. If you are growing your garden indoors, the window space you have available for your garden will determine what plants you should grow there. Also, consider humidity. If you live in a climate with cold winters, your house will be dry inside during the winter. If your garden is inside, you will have to run a humidifier or build a miniature greenhouse to nourish plants that crave moisture.
        3. Choose plants that fit with your diligence and skill as a gardener. If you tend to forget about your plants, restrict yourself to plants that handle neglect well such as cast iron plant and mother-in-law tongue. If you are a more attentive grower, however, you can chose plants that require frequent watering, fertilizer and care as well as plants that don’t.
        4. Chose plants that complement each other. The University of Illinois Extension, recommends that a container garden have a combination of tall plants or “thrillers,” round plants or “fillers” and overhanging plants or “spillers.” In addition, chose plants with different leaf shapes and textures. This variety will provide visual interest in your container garden. Also, choose plants with pleasing colors. Use an indoor container garden to accentuate the colors used to decorate the room, and an outdoor one to harmonize with the landscape.

 

Caring for a vegetable garden

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Posted by admin | Posted in Growing Vegetables In Pots | Posted on 29-08-2012

Caring for a vegetable garden takes some work, but it is well worth the rewards you can reap. Whether you are planting a small home garden for tomatoes, or plan something more substantial, following a few simple steps will help you get the most out of your vegetable garden. From soil type to sunlight, there is a lot to think about when you plant a garden, but it is a lot easier than it seems. Even if you live in an area with less than ideal growing conditions, it can be done.

Step 1
Enrich your soil. Most vegetables grow best grown in rich soil. If you have poor soil, add manure or compost and work into the soil to a depth of about 3 or 4 inches before planting anything. Mix high-quality top soil in as well.

Step 2
Choose vegetables, or varieties of vegetables, that grow well in your climate. Tomatoes can be grown in the desert and in Minnesota, as long as you plant the right kind of tomato.

Step 3
Plant your garden early in the season. Prepare the soil in advance, and plant just after the last frost for spring planting, and at the end of summer for fall.

Step 4
Use supports for beans, peas and other climbing vegetables.

Step 5
Water your vegetable garden regularly. Hot and dry climates need watering more often than wet climates. In a dry climate, water your vegetable garden every other day for five to ten minutes each time. Wet climates need water only about two or three times a week for five minutes each watering.

Step 6
Pull any weeds as they appear in your garden so they don’t crowd out the vegetables. Apply mulch around the base of vegetables to prevent weed growth.

Step 7
Deter pests from your vegetable garden. Put up fences to keep out rabbits and deer. Pluck off any predatory insects when you see them. Use pesticide as a last resort.

Step 8
Prepare your garden for winter. Pluck out any short-season plants, such as tomatoes, and cover your garden with mulch to protect any remaining vegetable plants from frost or wind damage.

Step 9
Add manure or compost to the soil every spring to fertilize the ground and ready it for a new season of planting.

Which Vegetables Grow Best Together in a Container Garden?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Growing Vegetables In Pots | Posted on 27-08-2012

Container gardening is more than just a fad; it is a long-term solution that allows gardeners without the ability to garden in the ground to still grow a variety of fresh vegetables. Choosing which vegetables grow best together in a container garden will require some work on your part. First, you will need to choose which vegetables you wish to grow and then you will need to find out if they are suitable companion plants.

Container Garden Advantages
Container gardening offers many advantages over conventional soil gardening. There is no cultivation required with containers. Add compost yearly to top off the containers. This will add fresh nutrients and keep the soil loose. Healthy soil that is full of nutrients will produce more vegetables than poor soils lacking in nutrients. Depending on the type of containers you choose and their placement, you may be able to sit in a lawn chair or even stand when working with them. When choosing which vegetables grow best together in a container garden, consider their light and water requirements. For example, a cool weather vegetable such as lettuce grown in a container with cucumber will be mutually beneficial. The lettuce will benefit from the shade offered by the cucumber and the cucumber will benefit from having its roots shaded by the lettuce. Both plants will benefit from evenly moist soil.

Container Vegetable Varieties
New varieties of vegetables suitable for container gardening are being constantly introduced. If you prefer heirloom varieties, your selection will be a bit more limited, but it is possible to find varieties suitable for container culture. Most seed packets will say if the variety is suitable for growing in a container. Many seed catalogs will have a container garden section and if not, they will mention in the description if the variety is suitable for container growing. Most miniature varieties will work well in a container. Beans, carrots, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, onions, peppers, radish, spinach, squash and tomatoes are a few of the possible choices for container gardening.

Vegetable Companion Combinations
Companion planting is about finding out what vegetables, flowers, fruits or herbs benefit one another when grown in close proximately. The plants benefit one another by repelling pests, trapping pests to keep them off the main crop or helping each other grow better. An example of this is the three sisters’ garden, which consists of corn, beans and squash grown together. The corn provides a natural pole for the beans to climb on, the beans fix nitrogen in the ground increasing the soil fertility and the squash provide shade for the roots of the corn and beans plus the vines act as a predator deterrent. It is possible to duplicate the three sisters’ garden in a container. Choose a large, oblong container. Plant varieties to try are Baby Blue OG Corn sometimes sold under the name of Blue Jade Corn, Royal Burgundy Pole Beans and Gold Rush Squash. Other good companion plantings are tomatoes, basil and carrots; beans, carrots and squash; eggplant and beans; tomatoes, basil and onions; spinach, chard and onions; or cucumbers and lettuce.

How to Keep Veggies Fresh

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Posted by admin | Posted in Three-dimensional Garden | Posted on 22-08-2012

Keeping vegetables fresh and crisp requires the correct temperature, humidity and air circulation. Although it is difficult for most households to meet these standards simply because of inadequate storage space, it can be done. You can keep more of the vegetables you buy or grow, instead of giving them away or losing them to spoilage, by storing them properly. In the process, you’ll save time and money — and have better access to fresh, wholesome vegetables.
Instructions:

1 Choose only healthy, unblemished vegetables for storage. Handle them carefully, and store larger quantities in mesh bags so they get adequate air circulation. Do not wash vegetables before storing them. Also, do not stack mesh bags of vegetables; instead, store vegetables in a single layer.

2 Store most vegetables in a cold, moist environment of between 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure there is plenty of air is available in the storage space. Root cellars or basements provide the best conditions. A cold, moist environment is best for beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, beets, carrots, potatoes, corn and spinach.
3 Provide a cool spot of approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash and watermelons. Locate an area out of direct sunlight in the kitchen, pantry or unused room in the house. Make certain heating and air-conditioning vents are not directed at the vegetables.

4 Place onions, garlic, leeks and shallots in a cold, dry spot. The vegetable drawer of the refrigerator will provide the correct conditions.