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Indoor gardening with 2 liter bottle and USB LED light

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I came across this pretty cool Kickstarter from Vegetronix where they are putting together a neat little kit that includes an adjustable 1 watt that can plug into any USB port on your computer.  All you need to supply is an old 2 liter bottle and you have a nicely contained growing environment.

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Personally, I think this could make an awesome addition to my windowless office and bring a little plant life to my personal space.

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If the Vegetronix name sounds familiar, I use their moisture sensors in my grow box which I wrote here.

How to grow brussel sprouts

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This past year I started something new in my garden, I attempted to grow brussel sprouts.  In my area these plants are very hearty throughout winter.  What I discovered is growing brussel sprouts is truly and exercise of patience.

I started by starting my seeds around September of last year and let them grow all winter in the grow box until springtime came and I moved the strongest plant out into the main garden.  I then did pretty much nothing, just ignored it, maybe gave it some water when I was watering other plants but just let it be.

Sometime in later August I did see some sort of insects bothering the plant but a quick high pressure spray of the hose seemed to take care of that problem.

Finally by this last Thanksgiving (over a year later) I had a full crop of brussel sprouts to enjoy with my Thanksgiving feast.  In case you were curious I did a paleoish brussel sprout recipe for these and they were delicious.

So in the end if you have some extra patience and space in your garden you might want to give brussel sprouts a try, though for me I seem to be lacking both of these and next year will just buy mine on the stalk at Trader Joes or my local farmers market…

Things to know before making home garden greenhouse

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There are so many options these days when you decide to own a greenhouse. You can buy a lot of greenhouse structures and modify them or just do-it-yourself. Also there are guides for you to build your own greenhouse. These guides are available on the net, and also on print.

But before you start, you first need to decide on what you need. It is also important to know or understand what you can build and what you want to grow.

Other important aspect that needs to be considered is the expenditure and the climate of your region. Space that you have at your disposal is also one of the key factors. Mentioned below are some of the things you must know before you start your dream project.

1. Location:

Always try to place your greenhouse in such a spot that enjoys a lot of sunshine. It is better that there are no shady trees around. This will have two benefits, during storms the chances of branches falling on your greenhouse is nullified, and shade from the trees will not affect the heating up of your greenhouse. More importantly shedding of the leaves from these plants can prove to be a problem to the greenhouse too.

In case the greenhouse tends to overheat, using a cover or painting it can be good options.

2. Cleaning:

If you are planning to reuse your old greenhouse or even set up your new one, make sure to clean and scrub all windows and glass parts. Also clean the outer surface. Using brown soap for cleaning seems to be the best option. In case you are cleaning the old one make sure to remove insect protections if any before the cleaning jobs starts.

3. Temperature:

The temperature in the greenhouse should range between 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) and 59 degrees F (15 degree Celsius) on the positive side. There can be lots of options to heat your greenhouse, which is very essential for the success of a greenhouse. Electrical heaters, oil or wood fuelled ones are also available with the gas powered ones; but all these heating systems particularly the last three must be ventilated to the outside properly.

These days passive solar green heating options are also available which are very much environment friendly as well. They also have a heat sink which stores the heat and uses it to heat the structure during the dark phase.

The heat needed in the greenhouse is proportional to the size of the greenhouse and also varies with the crops. Consult a professional to help you calculate the proper temperature to be maintained.

4. Ventilation:

Proper ventilation of the greenhouse is extremely important.

Ventilation will circulate air inside the greenhouse and fresh air is necessary for proper plant growth. Stale air is not conducive for proper plant growth.

5. Insulation:

Insulating the greenhouse is very important for it to function properly. The structure need to be airtight in order to bring in the best result.

6. Moisture:

The moisture inside the greenhouse needs to be maintained along with a good drainage. Overwatering and under-watering can both be harmful to the plants. So make sure to have the right amount of water, and a good drainage to ensure that its does not remain water-logged. Automated water sprinklers can be very useful. Rainwater harvesting and recycling can be environment friendly options.

7. Protection:

Protecting the plants from pests and other elements need to be one of the priorities. Make sure to use good quality soil, and treating them before use, and also use pesticides and fungicides regularly. Bio-pesticides and bio-fungicides will help for greener environment.

8. Fertilizers:

Depending on the soil quality and nutrient choose fertilizers. But do not use excessive fertilizers, as they harm the plants much more. Use bio-fertilizers like compost for best results.

Conclusion:

Take into account the climate you live in and choose the crops accordingly. That will save you a lot of pain. Non-heated greenhouse can be fine, but that will only reduce your choice of crops, and the growing season possibly. Try not to make the green house too low, or the roof flat as that may cause unforeseen trouble, as the roof might cave in at some point of time.

About The Author: Alia is a writer/blogger. She loves writing, travelling and blogging. She contributes in Morris Gad

2012 Gardening wish list

 

Maybe you are looking for something to add to your Christmas list or a fellow gardener you still need to buy for here are a few items on my list…let me know if anyone needs my address (smile).

Indoor Grow Tent Though my homemade computerized grow box works pretty good there is something appealing about having something like this Indoor Grow Tent to provide some more growing space and also clean things up in my growing area in my garage and well as improve the light efficiency with the light reflective properties of the sides of the grow tent.
Seedling Heat Mat Even with my grow box I am always running out of room for my seedlings each winter/spring so having an extra Seedling Heat Mat is a pretty inexpensive way to start some seeds with just the cost of a seedling mat and cheap seed flat you can enable a head start to your garden.
Gardening Kneeling Pad For many years I did most of my gardening squatting down or hunched over now I am getting order I can not maintain these positions as long as before so the addition of a classic kneeling gardening cushion can be just the thing to save my knees as well as my back during prolonged weeding and planting.
Square Foot Gardening Book I have mentioned the book “All New Square Foot Gardening” at least a few times previously and do already own a copy and is a great resource which I turn back to at least once per season.  This is on my list to pick up for friends and family just starting out with gardening as a gift this season.
Kid Friendly Gardening Tools I originally purchased this same set of kid friendly gardening tools when my oldest daughter (11 now) was just barely walking.  Now with our third daughter using them (almost 2) they have held up well but probably is about time to get a new pair.  Not only does this give the kiddos their own tools to “help” in the garden but I must say these are actually quite functional to do a little weeding or minor digging when in a pinch, which I have done at least in a few occasions.
Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook No matter how carefully I plan each year I always seem to miss some dates on either ordering seeds on time or getting seeds into the ground.  The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook helps with this problem by providing weekly reminders of what vegetables you should be order/planting and what preparations you should be doing in your garden.  This can be a very helpful tool in getting a little more organized in your vegetable garden.

 

Looking for more ideas for yourself or a gardener in your life?  Check out our previous gardener gifts post.

How to make a home garden greenhouse

make a home garden greenhouse

As the world is speeding up its pace of development every second, we are losing many important things on earth. Saving environment where we live is the need of the hour. We are losing so much greenery every hour around the world that the time is not far when greenery will be hard to find. Though governments are making efforts to save the environment, it’s not enough- our efforts value the most. Greenery is very important for humans life cycle as it takes in carbon dioxide and give us oxygen to breathe in.

Greenhouses are generally built to somewhat gain control over the environment suitable for plants. Greenhouses are generally build to create an atmosphere for growing off season vegetables all-round the year. One can easily make greenhouse garden at home with some easy to make a home garden greenhouse.  Below are a few popular varieties you can create yourself or purchase a kit to save a considerable amount of money.

Frames

The greenhouse frames are of three types- the “Quonset” which is simple tunnel shaped, ridged beam with taller gothic shape having arched sidewalls and third one with vertical side walls having able roof. Choice of greenhouse generally depends on cost and gardening goals. The ridged beam and Quonset are mainly for rookie gardeners who have less gardening experience.

Quonset

Quonset home garden greenhouse

 

This basic inexpensive Quonset greenhouse structure is made from 1/2 inch PVC plastic pipe. Quonset is suitable for rookie gardeners who wish to increase the growing season and are interested in cultivating early spring seedlings. Quonset base is egg shaped, two-by-four frame directly placed on the ground. The roof has several half cut plastic lengths attached to each other with the insides of longitudinal base at distance of three to five foot. It comprises of a UV-resistant heavy plastic film, which is used for covering the roof. The walls at the ends have door frames with adjustable sliding doors on both ends providing access and ventilation to greenhouse.

Gothic

Gothic home garden greenhouse

Gothic greenhouses are tall as compared to Quonset shape. They have central ridge and have arched sides. Gothic greenhouses provide better headroom and storage along with the sidewalls. This type of greenhouse can be raised on ground or concrete slab if user is planning to use growing tables or raised beds. In Gothic greenhouse wooden arches are used on inside edges of the base frame on longitudinal sides. Flexible polycarbonate or see-through panels made of fiberglass are fixed to wooden frames with screws. Adjustable sliding doors are used to cover ends for ventilation and access. Gothic greenhouses can be of great use to serious gardeners who want to increase the cultivation seasons up to four times.

Rigid Frame

Rigid frame home garden greenhouse

These greenhouses are built by professional contractors. Rigid Frame greenhouses have permanent structure without supporting pillars in center. These types of greenhouses need building permit plan approvals. Rigid Frame greenhouses are built on concrete foundations with vertical sidewalls. They have full facility of controlling humidity, lighting heating and ventilation. Its exteriors are built with fiberglass sheeting, polycarbonate panels and glass. These greenhouses can be used for cultivation all-round the year and used by professional farmers and horticultural nurseries.

These are some of the garden greenhouses which one can make according to his/her requirements and budget.

About The Author: Alia is a journalist and blogger. She is a contributor to several sites such as Marnie Bennett.

How to make pumpkin puree

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It is that time of year again to stock up on some pumpkin puree from some fresh pumpkins.  Not sure if it is the 3rd daughter or just getting older but this year I have come up with an ever faster way to convert pumpkins into puree.  Not only does this give you a better tasting pie, but given a organic pumpkin cost $6 a can you also save quite a bit of money with just a little additional work.

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Step 1: Clean the pumpkin. Use a little water and scouring pad to remove loose dirt

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Step 2: Remove stem and cut pumpkin in half.  This will take a little muscle to get through but using a serrated blade should make quick work of this little pumpkin.

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Step 3: Scoop out seeds and innards.  Using an ice cream scoop. scrape out the seeds and the stringy innards, you don’t have to get this completely clean as you can see below.  I also decided to save a few seeds with hopes to grow my own sugar pumpkins next year using the seed saving techniques I have wrote about last year.

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Step 4: Cook the pumpkin. Places halved pumpkins on a cookie sheet. Place in a preheated oven at 350F and cook the pumpkin for 1.5-2 hours. The pumpkin is done cooking when you can slice through the pumpkin flesh with an edge of a fork with almost no effort.

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Step 5: Scape out cooked pumpkin.  When the pumpkins are cool enough to handle simply take a large spoon and scrape out the cooked pumpkin and scoop into a large bowl being careful to not scrape too hard and accidentally get some pumpkin skin in the mix.

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Step 6: Blend.  Use a large metal spoon to scape the pumpkin away from the skin and place into a blender and blend until smooth.  Typically this can be as much as 1/3 water to 2/3 cooked pumpkin to get a good vortex going like above.

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That is it.  With my 5 pound pumpkin I purchased for $5 I got 6 cups of pumpkin puree, which is enough to make 3 pumpkin pie or 6 loafs of pumpkin bread and if my math is right about $30 compared to buying the canned variety.  After making a pie and a loaf of pumpkin bread this left me with 3 cups of pumpkin goo, which I put in 6 half-cup containers which I froze to make some more pie for Thanksgiving.

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