Archive for the ‘Winter’ category

Starting Seeds Indoors Under Lights

February 8th, 2010
seedlings growing under lights

Seedlings growing under lights

I started some seeds today in my “plant work room” and I thought you might be interested.  I start seeds in regular plastic nursery trays that I get from a local greenhouse – and that I save from store-bought plants.  I do recycle my plant containers from year to year –  If you reuse containers like this you really should wash them thoroughly in a weak bleach solution and dry them in the sun before storing them away for reuse.  » Read more: Starting Seeds Indoors Under Lights

Home Made Bottom Heat for Seed Starting (or pet bed)

February 17th, 2009
These tomatoe plants were grown under shop lights in only 4 weeks from planting the seeds!

I always had problems starting seeds in our plant room, but these tomato plants were grown under shop lights in only 4 weeks from planting the seeds!

These seedlings were planted only one week ago.  I used to wait weeks for germination that was spotty at best in my cool plant grow room.

These seedlings were planted only one week ago. I used to wait weeks for germination that was spotty at best in my cool plant grow room.

The answer was simple…
Recycling rope lights turn out to be a great way to make bottom heat for seed starting under lights.

Recycled rope lights turn out to be a great way to make bottom heat for seed starting under lights.

I built our “plant room” about 2 years ago – just a small well insulated room with a lot of windows and shop lights – and since then I’ve tried starting my own seeds with varying degrees of success.  The problem that I’ve had is that over night temperatures in the room routinely fall into the 50s which is fine for maintaining tender plants over the Winter, but makes seed germination spotty at best.  I knew that what I needed was bottom heat.

The thing is that retail bottom heat is expensive – I saw one “kit” at a local garden center that was big enough for 2 flats and was $79 – wow!  You can buy a lot of tomato plants for eighty bucks!  A low cost alternative had to be possible for a dedicated scrounger like myself.

Whatever I decided upon had to be:

  1. Safe – neither an electrical shock nor a fire hazard!
  2. Cheap
  3. Simple
  4. Big  enough to start all of our early Spring seeds.

Before proceeding – You the reader must agree that you will not hold the author or anyone associated with doorgarden.com responsible for your use of this information.  What you see being done in this article may not be safe (and probably isn’t), and could cause injury, death, destruction, mayhem, fire, dammage to your home, and prolong the economic downturn by preventing you from spending money and thereby stimulating the economy.  It might not even work.  In any event thou shalt not hold me responsible.  If you don’t agree with any of that then turn back now – don’t even look at the pictures. » Read more: Home Made Bottom Heat for Seed Starting (or pet bed)

February in the Garden

February 4th, 2009
Cold weather and snow concentrates birds near food supplys

Cold weather and snow concentrate birds near food supplies in February.

What to plant in the garden in February – Cool Season Vegetables – February is not too early to begin planting the spring vegetable garden.  Take action now and your family will be eating fresh garden fare months before your neighbors.

  • Cool season crops such as broccoli, cabbage, radishes, kale, turnips, Irish potatoes and onions planted now will yield their harvest soon.
  • Arugula, lettuce, and other salad greens can also be planted out in the garden this month, but will do better if started under cover of a simple plastic tunnel, or a cold frame.  Plan on succession plantings every week or two to keep the homegrown goodness coming.
  • Spinach – plant out in the garden around the middle of the February – cover spinach seeds with 1/4″  of peat moss or screened compost instead of garden soil so that the tiny plants don’t have to fight heavy crusty soil just to emerge.  Plant plenty to share with family and friends.
  • Potatoes – toward the end of the month plant potatoes in trenches or pits leaving room to add additional soil as the plants emerge.
  • Black berries, grapes, strawberries and other small fruit and hardy perennials can be transplanted out this month.
  • Asparagus crowns can be set out or moved, as can almost any dormant hardy perennial. » Read more: February in the Garden

Plant Spacing for Intensive Gardening Methods

January 26th, 2009
That sweet corn is way too close together - the yield was very small, and much of it fell over after a big rain because of the shallow restricted roots.
That sweet corn inter-planted with pole beans (an experiment) is way too close together – the yield was very small, and much of it fell over after a big rain because of the shallow restricted roots.

Recommended Spacing for Intensive Planting  Methods

Plant Inches Plant Inches
Asparagus 15 – 18 Lettuce, head 10 – 12
Beans, lima 4 – 6 Lettuce, leaf 4 – 6
Beans, pole 6 – 12 Melons 18 – 24
Beans, bush 4 – 6 Mustard 6 – 9
Beets 2 – 4 Okra 12 – 18
Broccoli 12 – 18 Onion 2 – 4
Brussels sprouts 15 – 18 Peas 2 – 4
Cabbage 15 – 18 Peppers 12 – 15
Cabbage, Chinese 10 – 12 Potatoes 10 – 12
Carrots 2 – 3 Pumpkins 24 – 36
Cauliflower 15 – 18 Radishes 2 – 3
Cucumber 12 – 18 Rutabaga 4 – 6
Chard, Swiss 6 – 9 Southern pea 3 – 4
Collards 12 – 15 Spinach 4 – 6
Endive 15 – 18 Squash, summer 18 – 24
Eggplant 18 – 24 Squash, winter 24 – 36
Kale 15 – 18 Sweet corn 15 – 18
Kohlrabi 6 – 9 Tomatoes 18 – 24
Leeks 3 – 6 Turnip 4 – 6

Arizona State University Master Gardener Manual: Intensive Gardening Methods. » Read more: Plant Spacing for Intensive Gardening Methods

Grow All Winter In a Cold Frame Made From Recycled Materials

January 8th, 2009

A simple cold frame is an easy, economical way to get more out of  your garden.

Fresh salad in the cold frame in January

Salad ready to eat in January

You might know that I built a small greenhouse this fall.  Unfortunately by the time I finished it in early November it was pretty late to get started – I have a few things going in there now, but I’ve not really been able to use it to full advantage.  Being able to enjoy the sunshine while I’ve worked in there out of the cold has been nice.  But the truth is that so far this cold frame has been at least as productive as the greenhouse.

While I built my greenhouse on the cheap ($50 out of pocket) building this cold frame actually cost nothing – 100 percent recycled materials» Read more: Grow All Winter In a Cold Frame Made From Recycled Materials

January in the Garden

January 3rd, 2009
One of the first harbingers of Spring is the first glimpse of crocuses, and daffodils peaking through.  But, in January?

One of the first harbingers of Spring is a glimpse of crocuses or daffodils peeking through. But in January?

So far in middle TN we haven’t really had very much cold weather yet, and we’ve had highs in the upper 60s several times in the last couple of weeks – thus the daffodils peeking through the mulch.  Actually they weren’t really peeking through – I uncovered them by accident while grubbing out chick weed yesterday – New Years Day.  Anyway, they’ll be fine – I covered them back after taking that picture.  BTW fear not, although it might be a bit early those bulbs will be fine.  Just sprinkle a bit of loose mulch over them if you must – or not. » Read more: January in the Garden

Free Seeds for Life

January 2nd, 2009
Many seeds such as this basil can be easily saved from year to year.

Many seeds such as this basil can be easily saved from year to year.

Winter is a great time to sit down with a nice warm beverage and a seed catalog to plan your garden for next Spring.  Unfortunately sticker shock usually strikes when you start tallying up everything that you would like to grow.  But it doesn’t have to be like that. » Read more: Free Seeds for Life

December in the Garden

November 29th, 2008

photo by Michael Smith - New Windsor, Maryland

What to do in the garden in December? The truth is, even here in the sunny south there isn’t a  lot of excitement garden wise going on in the month of December – which isn’t an entirely bad thing of course.  At the very least it’s a chance to look forward to next season.

Nonetheless, there are a few things that need to be done.

  • If you are an on-the-ball fall gardener you don’t need to be told that you have cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, greens of all kinds, carots, jerusalem artichokes, celery, radish, spinach and all manner of good stuff  to deal with.  The rest of us need to remember this next August when we should be planting instead of lounging by the pool.
  • If you haven’t already done so it’s high time to get rid of any crop residue that’s left – mummified fruits are very likely to harbor disease or pests – remove or burn anything like this.
  • As ground becomes available it can be dug and left rough – compost, manure, and other amendments can be spread and left for winter weather to work on for a while.  The freeze thaw cycles will do a lot of the work for you. » Read more: December in the Garden