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DIY Seed Starting: Seed Packets (Part 1 of 6)

Read the back of your seed packet to find details essential to successful germination.
Starting seed indoors is the best way to get your garden off to an early start. It also provides for earlier and longer harvest by extending the growing season. Not all plants are suitable to start indoors–these include large-seeded or fast-growing vegetables that produce quickly, such as beets, radishes, squash, and melons […]

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DIY Seed Starting: Damping Off Prevention (Part 2 of 6):


You wouldn’t put your newborn child into dirty blankets for fear of dangerous germs in the bedding, so don’t germinate your garden seed in anything but fresh, soilless seed starting mix. Used or natural soil is riddled with fungal microbes, called Pythium and Phytophthora fungi, which are fatal to seedlings. They quickly cause roots and tender stems to rot.
Under warm, wet conditions ideal for […]

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DIY Seed Starting: Containers (Part 3 of 6)


Gardeners that start seeds at home have lots of containers to choose from. You can buy seed-starting flat kits, peat pots, reused containers, or even make seedling soil blocks. Some are more costly, while others allow you to grow more for less. My preference is to germinate seed in recycled containers to save your money and reuse plastic waste. Here is what to look […]

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DIY Seed Starting: Proper Sowing (Part 4 of 6)


The first step of any seed sowing project is to read the entire label of the seed packet. That tells you how deep to plant each kind of seed and under what growing conditions. Those that are usually started indoors may be surface sown or planted 1/2 inch deep, depending on seed size and growing preferences. Each plant’s seeds have there own needs for […]

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DIY Seed Starting: Watering (Part 5 of 6)


Every gardener has done it at least once. Watering newly sown pots too aggressively, which dislodges seeds, moving them all across the soil surface. That’s why watering indoor seedlings properly is essential in the first weeks after sowing.
Watering Seeds
How you water seeds depends on the sowing depth, pot size, and available watering tools. Shallowly planted seeds need more gentle watering tools, such as misters, […]

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DIY Seed Starting: Transplanting Seedlings (Part 6 of 6)


 
Most seedlings will need to be transplanted as they grow. Larger containers and a more robust mix with added fertilizer will enable seedlings to become large, vigorous plants. (Note that good seed starting mix contains no added fertilizer because it keeps some seeds from germinating.). As long as the light is plentiful, repotting will help your seedlings develop stronger roots and shoots.
Seedling Pot Size
A […]

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The Best Garden Mulches and Decorative Covers

Garden stone is a longterm cover that must be applied correctly from the start.
Mulches define a garden’s character. Organic options give landscapes different looks, and all break down to help feed the soil. Others have more permanency. Either way, organic and decorative garden top dressings add beauty and distinction to plantings. Some take outdoor spaces to new visual heights, while others are simply functional in their […]

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Bottle Gourds: Growing Ancient History


The calabash or bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) has been valued worldwide since ancient times and believed to be one of the oldest plant introductions into the Americas. Early botanical research has long attributed the origins of American bottle gourds to Africa, believing specimens floated across the Atlantic to reach the New World, though some studies tell a different story. Regardless of their path of arrival, […]

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A Vertical Vegetable Garden in the City


Salem, Oregon gardener Harry Olson has taken vertical gardening to new heights, (literally).  Harry’s home is on a small city lot and because of space constraints and shade issues from neighboring trees, Harry has, out of necessity, created a vertical garden.  This has challenged him to creatively experiment and find innovative ways to maintain a productive edible garden.  Many of his methods could easily […]

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Green Tomatoes! Are Your Tomatoes Stunted and Late this Year?


“If weather promises to be uncompromisingly unpredictable in years to come, choose tomato varieties that will be resilient to unexpected weather.”
It’s early August and most of my 15 tomato vines—beefsteaks, paste, and salad types—still have green fruit. Two lean-to-ripen cherry tomatoes are the only yielders, so far.
For loads of the Mid-Atlantic gardeners, it’s the same story. The summer of 2018’s tomatoes are a month […]

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