Mini Greenhouses are Valuable when Starting from Seeds

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” –WE Johns

Greenhouses allow gardeners to expand their growing season. For most of us, having a normal size greenhouse isn’t possible. However, you can easily make mini ones out of milk jugs or other non clear container. You want to use opaque containers where the sun won’t be so bright on the tender seedlings. Drainage holes need to be punched into the bottom of the containers. Cut the milk jugs in half almost all the way around, leave the handle section in tack. Fill the milk jugs with potting soil in the bottom half, moisten the soil with warm water but don’t saturate it.  Put your seeds barely in the soil. Tape the container closed around the middle with duct tape. Make sure to label it withe the type of seeds and date started. Now just place them in a sunny place outside where they can also get moisture through the opening (where you left the cap off). Seedlings should emerge within 2 weeks. The best seeds to start this way are hardy annual flowers, cool temperature vegetables, and herbs. I have several varieties of marigolds, thai basil, snow peas, and baby leaf lettuce. Milk jug greenhouses are easy to start and require little attention. Once the seedlings are seen to be established inside the jugs, you will need to remove the tape and open them up. At this point, you have small pot plants that can be transplanted into your garden or remain in the milk jugs.

Other mini greenhouses are the tray varieties. I have a couple of those to start in a few days. I will have tomatoes and peppers in those trays. But unlike the milk jug greenhouses, the trays remain inside. They also need additional heating and light sources by way of heating mats and special grow lights. Because the space for the seeds are much smaller in the trays, it is recommended to use seed starting mix instead of potting soil. I did this last year and it worked out great!

The body can be viewed as a greenhouse for God’s grace. The Holy Spirit will put seeds or ideas in our minds. Over time we tend to those ideas and allow them to grow into thoughts and actions. He gives us special resources by way of bible studies and each other to learn from and share his love with.

Colorful Flower Breakthroughs Focus Spotlight on an Early Spring

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” –Mark Twain

Here it is mid February and signs of spring are seen outside. Nature forgot to follow the calendar …. spring isn’t suppose to be for another month! However, daffodils are blooming, redbud trees are showing their pinkness, and the willow tree is bright green.

This is the time of year for planning. A time to look back and plan ahead. Questions to answer …What plants worked well for me last year? Where do I get my seeds for the garden? How much do I need to get? When do I start my indoor planting? Do I have supplies to do so? How does this early spring weather affect my planting?

“For everything is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

As Garden Slumbers Outside – Tend to Plants Inside

“Just because you’ve only got houseplants doesn’t mean you don’t have the gardening spirit – I look upon myself as an indoor gardener.” –Sara Moss-Wolfe

During the winter, I become an indoor gardener. The ground outside is hard and cold. The temperature inside is warm and inviting for plants to continue to thrive. I don’t have many plants to tend too, having 3 indoor cats limit the space and varieties of safe ones. Nonetheless, having live plants inside give benefits to everyone. They aid in air purification, improve mental wellness and concentration, add humidity to the air, boost productivity and make you feel better all around. Indoor plants need lots of sunshine and water. Tending to them will ensure to be tending to yourself. Getting sunlight during a time when outdoor activities are limited. Boosting your memory to watering them more often as the heat will dry them out quicker.

Winter is also a time to reflect. As we look back over our garden notes, we hope for better and bigger results in the future. For some though, it is a difficult and lonely time. Plants give a purpose to do things. God says he will always be with you, even in the difficult times. Just have faith and hope for the future. One with lots of sunshine of warmth, green grasses, and plenty of dirt to play in.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Talk you soon, keep dreaming.

 

How Do You Winterize Your Garden Plot?

“Gardening imparts an organic perspective on the passage of time.” –William Cowper

Fall is in full swing and winter is coming around the corner. The vegetable garden has stopped producing and the frost has killed off the remaining flowers. Time to think about how your garden is going to rest for a few months.

First off, how do you store your garden supplies? I stack my tomato cages together in groups of 5 or 6 of like sizes. Then I put them in front of my wood shed. Ideally, they would be stored out of the weather but I don’t have extra space to spare. My fence isn’t a permanent one. So with help from my boys, we pull up the stakes and roll the fencing up . I put it next to my cages – keeping all supplies together.

Secondly, is to clean the garden plot. Some people will pull up all the plants & weeds and put them in a compost bin. I don’t do this. Instead, I pull up the vegetable plants and leave them on the ground. We use the garden plot to burn our leaves that have fallen on that side of the yard. Burning the garden plot is beneficial for it too. Any diseases from that growing season would be killed. The ash of organic matter is added back into the soil as potash. This aids in balancing the pH value of the soil, helps with flowering & fruit growth, and is a pest deterrent for slugs and snails.

Thirdly, is to til the garden. This will mix in the added nutrients from the leaves and ash. It will loosen any remaining roots from the plants and weeds. Also, tilling will add more pathways in the soil where more air & water can penetrate and be stored.

The fourth step to winterizing the garden is to add mulch, compost, manure, or ground cover. Basically a layer of something to prevent additional weeds from taking over. This year, we have the opportunity to have a way to get some horse manure from a friend’s farm. This manure contains a great source of nutrients for the soil to absorb as it breaks down over the winter months.

A time for rest isn’t a new practice. God started it in the very beginning. The Bible tells us he created for six days and then took a rest. It was not because he was tired. It was to show us to have faith that he will take care of things while you rest. Just because you aren’t working the topside of the garden, it doesn’t mean things aren’t happening in the soil underneath. So be obedient and rest your garden and yourself for a season.

 

Do You Save Seeds to Repeat Success?

“Flowers and fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.” –Marion Zimmer Bradley

Saving seeds from plants for future plantings has been around for generations. However, thanks to technology advancements, not all seeds from produce will be successful in developing into a new plant. The plant varieties with a better chance of reproducing itself are known as open-pollinated, heirloom, and organic. These varieties rely on nature to pollinate them. Hybrid or GMO (genetically modified organism) plants are made to be hard to reproduce themselves. The actual process of seed saving can be tedious and requires strict guidelines in order to not get a new plant that has cross pollinated with another one during the previous season in the garden. For this reason, I do not try to save seeds from my vegetables. If you would like to try seed savings, I would advise you to do more research on the internet.

Despite the fact of seed saving of vegetables is difficult to do, saving those from flowers is much easier. Once the flower is brown & dead, pluck it from its stem. If the flower petals are not super dry, lay them on a plate to allow them to continue to dry. Now that the petals are brittle, carefully pull them apart to find the flower seed pod or seeds on the inside. Put the seeds in a seal able bag or container and don’t forget to label them. I have saved my dead zinnia and marigold flowers this year. I didn’t bother separating the two either. I want to be surprised to see the color and variety mixture next year in the garden.

Seed saving for a repeat success is unknown til the next growing season. Seeds contain nutrients for that particular plant to grow and bloom. God also saves seeds and plants them in his own time. The Holy Spirit acts like the gardener ensuring that those seeds of faith show themselves at the right time. No one person knows whether the saved seeds will survive to bloom. But God knows that if the seeds are not sown at the right time, saving them won’t matter. Let him grow your seeds and let others see him in your success.

Flowers Bring Life to the Garden as Vegetable Dwindle

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful: they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.” –Luther Burbank

Leaves are falling to the ground as the wind loosens them from the tree branches. The garden is in a state of transition. Vegetable plants that don’t contain produce are being pulled up. Why continue to feed plant leaves with no reward of vegetables? Saves those ground nutrients for the next garden. The weeds have changed to yellow-brown coloring. However, the temperature changes have fooled some tomato plants to making new tomatoes on top of the dead looking plants. Silly plants it is fall not spring! Although, the flowers still continue to bloom.

Having a variety of flowers in the vegetable garden make transition times enjoyable, beautiful, and helpful to the garden. Marigolds are early bloomers in the spring, which will continue to do so until a hard frost kills them. I have found the dwarf varieties bloom more consistently. Marigolds are also beneficial to deter pests with their pungent odor. Zinnias flowers bloom in the heat of the summer all the way to a hard frost. They attract beneficial pollinators like wasp and butterflies. This was the first year planting a row of zinnias and I have seen a ton of butterflies. I definitely will plant more of them next year. Cosmos flowers are late summer bloomers as they grow rather tall for flowers, up to 3-6 feet! These flowers attract beneficial insects to the garden (to actually feed on other pest). Of course, flowers any where bring beauty to the space.

Flowers bring life to the garden as well as the gardener. God is the ultimate gardener and we are his flowers. God said he will supply you what you need. He wants us to be happy, even when seasons change. Flowers bring delight to the soul, a smile to the face, and often a memory to the heart & mind. Garden flowers have purpose throughout their life span. You have a purpose too. Have faith and follow his path. Pause from your journey every once in a while and enjoy these beauties he provides.

 

 

Plants Change to Adapt to the Weather

“Unlike your favorite painting or sentimental vase, a landscape is alive and constantly changing.” –Author Unknown

As it has become autumn on the calendar and in the weather, the garden has changed in production and appearance. The cool days and even cooler nights has made it difficult for the plants to absorb enough nutrients to stay healthy. Add wet weather or excessive dew that doesn’t dry up quickly cause of lack of sunshine, mold and other disease can settle into the plants.

Tomato plants are heat loving plants. Mine has stopped putting out new fruit and the leaves have turned brown and dropped off. The same has happened with the purple hull peas. My pole beans and peppers are confused though. A lot of the pole bean vine has turned brown and dropped leaves. But then we had a week of hot weather again. Guess what – new flowers appeared and even new sprouts came up from the ground. Did you know that pole beans can produce right up to the frost date? The pepper plants reacted similarly, new flowers and veggies growing.

To extend your vegetable garden, one could plant crops suited for cooler climates. Some of those would include broccoli, greens, cabbage, radishes, beets, pumpkins, and numerous others. I personally do not plant for a fall garden. I can’t have the roughage (that most of those vegetables have) due to my Crohn’s Disease. So as the fall season begins so does the ending of my vegetable garden for the year.

The Bible verse says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, ‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Now that the garden isn’t needing a lot of attention, look around and see where you are needed next. Just because the visible growing season may be coming to an end, doesn’t mean life isn’t still growing. Rely on God through all your seasons.