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Starting some onion seeds

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My three year old was really excited to start planting some seeds so we planted some red onions and put them in the grow box.  This is a little ahead of my usual planting schedule but only by about a week.

Though the grow box does have automated watering my daughter insisted on watering them herself with her favorite yellow elephant watering can.  If all goes well should have some decent sprouts by Valentines day.  Plan on starting leeks next weekend and possible try growing celery for the first time this year.

What’s your garden plan this year?

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Handy Tips for a Great Garden

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Put an end to the mini-gardens you have been planting along the windowsills and rooftops. They are well kept and easy to look after but are in no comparison to the garden you can plant around your house. Let this be the time when you decide to go with the urge of planting a proper garden and experience its beauty and charm.

Garden lovers do plan to plant their own garden every year, but without proper information they expect that it may soon turn into a disaster.

A well-planned garden may save you from many problems. Once saved from these problems, your garden will be your admiration and the best part of your territory.

Here are just a few handy tips for a great garden. Keep these in mind before you pick up a trowel or open a seed packet.

1. Plan Your Garden

A complete plan should be made to plant a healthy garden, which may save you a lot of time and energy later. Everything is important, from selecting the right place for a garden to choosing what you can grow according to the season. Seeds are usually sown in spring, while Fall is favorable for planting trees, shrubs, bulbs and some other perennials.

You should keep in mind what kind of garden you want to grow, a fruit garden, a vegetable garden or a flower garden. Know when to sow and when to reap. And the area should also be selected according to your plants’ need of sunshine.

It is your garden and it is up to you to plant whatever you wish to. As in the beginning, we suggest that start on a small level and once you understand the nature of your plants then go expand the boundaries of your garden.

2. Clean up the Area

You need to clean up the area where you are planning to start growing a garden. You can get rid of the sod covering by smothering it with newspaper. Place a layer of five sheets of newspaper with a 3-inch layer of compost (or combination of potting soil and topsoil) on it and then wait for about four months to let the compost and paper to decompose.

3. Your Soil Matters A Lot

If you know your soil type, then you can easily manage it and get the best out of it. The three basic types are – sand, silt and clay. And if you can’t recognize which one is yours, then take help from a nearby nursery on garden center.

Soil needs a boost as well, which can be done by adding some simple organic matter to it. Such organic material includes the addition of a 2- to 3-inch wide layer of compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clippings, or old manure. It enhances the nutrient level and encourage life-giving soil microbes and worms.

Know when to dig the soil. Though, digging loosens the soil so roots can penetrate more easily, but digging when the soil is too wet or too dry can ruin its structure. You should dig only when the soil is moist enough to form a loose ball in your fist, but dry enough to fall apart when you drop it.

4. Mulch, the best friend of your garden

Sun, rain and mulch are known as the best friends of a garden. A couple of inches of mulch will help in keeping weeds out and water in. The different sorts of mulch which are available are pine needles to cocoa hulls to bark chips. As for a vegetable garden or bed of annuals, you may choose a mulch that decomposes in a few months. Longer-lasting mulch is used for perennials, such as bark chips.

5. Bring seedlings home

Bring all the seedlings outdoors (whether home grown or store bought) and expose them to a steadily increasing amount of sun, wind, and temperatures lower or higher than what they were used to indoors. This process of hardening off gradually introduces seedlings to the conditions in your garden. It may take about 2 weeks.

6. When to Plant

The ideal time to plant is when there is rain in the forecast and no frosts or heat waves expected. Incase forecasts are not that helpful, then try to plant in the late afternoon or early evening to minimize the time the seedlings bake in the sun. And before planting anything, water the soil a day before to keep it moist.

7. Planting

You should know which species to plant together depending on their similar requirements of soil, light and nutrients. You can either plant a single type or multiple types. Planting different species together may eliminate the risk of facing attacks from plant-specific pests.

Keep some space between your plants. Spacing is good for their growth and the bare patches can be filled with flowering plants.

8. Water Wise

The most important element in a plant’s life is water. Seedlings should never dry out; they should be watered daily while they are small. New transplants also need frequent watering, every other day or so, until their roots become firm. The rest of the water requirements depend on your soil and climate.

Watering should be done slowly and deeply. The way you water a plant determines its health.

9. Pests and Diseases

Once you have decided to plant certain species, then make sure you know what kind of pests and diseases attack them. Find organic ways to keep your plants healthy enough to avoid any pest problem. And be prepared to tackle their arrival. It is better to know your problem beforehand.

10. And the hard work continues…

A healthy garden is not a single-day story. You have to keep watering your plants properly and keep maintaining your garden. Fertilizers may change according to the season and you shall need to fertilize the soil halfway through the season. Keep up with your plants’ needs and take care of them.

Get ready to have a garden of your own and rejoice its pleasure. You just need to keep investing time and effort. It will all pay off when the plants will grow up and you will be sitting back enjoying the blessing of having your very own garden. A little hard work today will bring in plenty of joys later.

Author Bio:

Christine Rudolph is a content writer at B&C Pest Control, a Lake Mary Pest Control Provider. Serving homeowners and business owners with its effective pest management and extermination solution.

Simple pumpkin cheescake recipe

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I made my first pumpkin cheesecake a few years back and has been a recurring addition to our Thanksgiving dinner ever since then…though baking cheesecakes can be/sound a bit intimidating with a few techniques mentioned below it can be pretty easy to have success on your first attempt.  In addition this is also a great way to get rid of my masses of pumpkin puree in my freezer saved from this years pumpkins

Pumpkin cheesecake recipe
 
Ingredients
  • 1 graham cracker crust (homemade or store bought)
  • 16 oz. of crème cheese (2 – 8 oz. packages)
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 cup of pumpkin puree (or one can of store bought pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees
  2. Beat cream cheese until it appears fluffy
  3. Add sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and and beat until well combined
  4. Add eggs one at a time and beat until creamy
  5. Place empty graham cracker crust to a cookie sheet and place in oven with rack pulled out. Fill with mixture until full and carefully push rack (and cheesecake) into the oven. You can attempt this pour and move away from the oven but unless your day job is working on a bomb squad most likely this will lead to some filling on the floor and yourself.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes keeping a careful eye on the edges if you start to see some browning your cheesecake is done cooking.
  7. At this time I turn off the oven and crack open the door a few inches to let things cool down gradually, optionally you can pull it out and place the cheesecake on a cooling rack for 1-2 hours. Though if you are in a hurry you can speed up the cooling by placing your cheesecake in the refrigerator after 10-15 minutes though you significantly increase the chance of causing a ugly split down the middle of your nice cheesecake.
  8. After cooling for 1-2 hours cool or overnight(if you can wait that long)

Crossbred pumpkin and zucchini? Is that a pumpzini or Pucchini?

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So past few years I have been collecting seeds from my luxury pie pumpkins to plant the next year.  Everything was going as planned, they sprouted on the grow box brought them outside when the temperature was right and planted them in the garden.  They made a long vine and sprawled throughout my hard, then came the fruit…

Instead of the typical nice small round baby pumpkin, I saw something that more closely resembled a zucchini.  So my best guess is I made a crossbreed, which is not surprising since I have a pretty small area in my yard of southern facing full sun so pumpkins and zucchinis are planted in near vicinities.

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Not expecting to be the first person in history to do this I went online and found a few other references of other people doing this as well.  Sounds like my best bet is to roast it like other squash and is supposed to have a pretty creamy texture.  Will let you know how it turns out in a couple weeks…

How to make your tomatoes turn red?

While going searching my logs I noticed the query in the topic. My first response, in my sarcastic mind was, “Uh red paint, maybe a red permanent marker?” After some more serious thought I did get some more helpful ideas.

Don’t be greedy: I know it is hard when you want to get as many delicious tomatoes as possible and you let your plants go wild producing as many fruit as possible but unfortunately you hit the end of your growing season with 70% of those tomatoes to never to become ripe before the first frost. You can prevent this by pinching off any suckers that are not part of the main vein of the plant. Sure you may not get as many fruits but your plant can spent more of its energy getting that fruit red instead of growing more green tomatoes to throw in the compost.

Be light on the nitrogen: Do not give your plants too much nitrogen during its growth period. You will get a big beautiful plant, but unfortunately fruit will bear too late in the season to mature into ripe red tomatoes.

Get supermarket quality tomatoes from your garden: Of course tomatoes ripened on the vine will have the better taste but when your season runs out and your tomatoes are still green what can you do?  One option is to take any flawless tomatoes (no bruises, no cracks) place them very gently in a cardboard box padded on bottom with newspaper and place in a cool humid location. You may also add a ripe banana to speed up the process by adding a little extra ethylene.  If you are luck in a couple/few weeks you should have some red tomatoes.

Just eat the green tomatoes: If all else fails there is always the option of breading them with some bread crumbs, salt, and pepper and fry up until golden. There is also the green salsa option which I am planning on trying out this year…ok I may have been a little “greedy” this year.

How to save jalapeno seeds

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I am attempting to grow the best pepper plants I can indoors (grow box) so I started with jalapeno peppers.  They grow relatively small 2-3 feet and require 2-3 gallon container for growing.  While this is fine for an outdoor garden, though indoors I can only sacrifice 1 gallon container.  This summer I grew several jalapeno plants which spent half of their life in the grow box and spent our warm summer outdoors.  All of the plants produced but there was definitely a clear winner which had incredible early yields even with its small growing quarters.

I used several immature peppers (green) for salsa this year but allowed several peppers to mature (red) which I will be saving the seeds for planting this winter and next summer for future plants.  By hand selecting the best parent plants should be good old natural selection at work.

The process to collect pepper seeds is pretty simple though I must first provide this warning:

WARNING: Peppers are hot, especially the veins.  When handling peppers use caution and wash your hands well with dish soap.  Under no conditions do not rub your eyes or pick rub your nose before washing your hands or you will be regretting it for a couple hours.  Using gloves is also recommended.

That being said slice the peppers lengthwise with a sharp knife.

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Use a fork or spoon to gently dislodge the seeds into a small bowl.

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If you are lucky enough to have hot sunny weather still (week of rain here) lay they out in the sun for a couple days and store them in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant them.  If you are sun challenged like me set them on a windowsill for a few days.

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As I have said before saving you own seeds is very easy and free and as an added bonus you can personally pick the best plant to be the donors of seeds for your future plantings.  In my case I also have the benefit of a plants that is genetically grown to following my sporadic watering and care patterns.