Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 2013 Garden Planning Phase I

my garden
I did a little shopping for the garden today at Carpintino Brothers. Before I show you what I bought, I want to show you what I made for the garden. I started making the vegetable labels for the garden. I did not think of these cute labels on my own. I got the idea from pintrest, and posted the image to one of my pintrest boards.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ornamental Rosemary Plant

Its piney branches, woody stems and earthy fragrance makes rosemary one of my favorite herbs. Rosemary is the go-to herb for chicken, fish, lamb, and potato. Gardeners know that it is more than just an herb, but it is also an ornamental plant. Landscapers have long known that due to its drought resistance, rosemary plants are a great addition to warm climate gardens. Aphids, flies and other naughty garden creatures are turned off by the rosemary plant. .

Rosemary is a long living, semi-woody perennial herb that can be pruned any way that you like, and become a bonsai in a single year. Moreover, it does not take much effort. It can reach a maximum of forty eight inches in three years. How charming to have such a great herb plant grown as an ornamental bonsai shrub!

Rosemary does not require pruning to grow, however some strong cutting back will improve the look and vitality of the plant. Pruning also allows light to reach branches and needles located closer to the ground.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15th - Seed Germination

Today was a busy day. I started germinating my seedlings. It was a lot of work in one day because I made each one of the little cardboard beds by hand.

These babies are out on the balcony and will be hit with morning light. In about three weeks we will see some emerging baby plants. 

Learning more about seeds can help one's success with them. When you look at seeds, you are looking at their coat. The outer layer of the seed protects it from disease and temperature extremes. Inside the seed is an embryo. The seed is full of endosperm, or the nutrient that the seed needs to grow.

Seed germination is a charming process. Watching a dry, wrinkled baby seed emerge and transform is a wondrous thing. Creating plant life is truly one of my great loves in life. When the baby seed is placed in rich airy soil, the water activates an enzyme causing respiration in the plant cells to duplicate. This is why one should never plant seeds in firmly packed soil, we need water and air to reach the seeds. Soon the embryo becomes too large, the seed coat breaks, and the plant emerges, poking its baby head through the thin layer of soil above. The root emerges quickly, anchoring the seed in place and allowing the seed/embryo to absorb  more water and nutrients from the soil.

Sometimes, pre-soaking the seeds before planting will really move things along nicely. I did not do that today, but if I was planting other seeds, I would probably do it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Six Hundred Kinds of Mint

There are many things I love about horticulture. The variety of plants are far greater than what we find in the grocery store. This was something I discovered when looking for the right tomato plants to make pasta sauce.

I am looking for the right mint plant to make my extracts this year. While your local grocery store will sell you one kind of mint - online suppliers like Mountain Valley Growers sell over seventeen kinds of Mint. The Bruce Company offers pages of information discussing different varieties of vegetables. They offer some very useful information.

For example, I am interested in Banana Mint, the Bruce Company wrote: Banana Mint: Smells and tastes like banana candy. Smaller, low growing plant. Not as aggressive as some mints. Mint: 1-3' ht; prefers moist soil; full to part sun Hardy Perennial: Aggressive spreader, will take over an area if allowed to. Best grown in a pot, or contained area. Leaves can be dried, but are best fresh or frozen. Use in teas, jellies, vinegars, seasoning meat, fruit salads. Commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine.

Mint plants apparently grow rapidly and have a tendency to take over the garden. Growers suggest growing it in pots. If I have to grow my mint in pots, then I will grow them on my balcony instead of in my garden.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What type of tomato to plant?

There are so many things I have learned from Rays videos over the years. After watching the video above, I researched his specific featured tomato plants. I am still amazed at how many varieties we have. It is only a small amount compared to what we see at the grocery store. I am gearing up to start my garden, and am starting the process of finding seeds and bulbs. I decided that I will use the garden for sole purpose of producing food for my family.

 Here is a list of some of the pasta sauce ingredients I will be growing. This list will be modified in the next couple weeks.

Polish Linguisa
Roma VF Tomato
Amish Paste

Thime Rosemary Cilantro Basil
Runner Beans