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Thread: Gardening

  1. #11
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    On the assumption that the book is still happening this fall, I'd like to encourage everyone to contribute to it-- especially the gardening chapter! Wouldn't it be great if we could get a minimum of 10-12 articles per chapter? :-)

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  3. #12
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    Rooting Boost

    Gather young fresh willow twigs. Any willow will do, but you can easily find some scrubby black willows along streams rather than butchering your neighborís pussy willow or weeping willow. Snip the twigs up, stripping and discarding any leaves, and place short lengths of one, two, or three inch twigs in the bottom of a bucket. Cover with water. Thatís it. You could mash it around a bit, or use warm water, or only make it in the spring of the year. All you really need is willow cambium and water. (Cambium is the inner bark, the pale yellowish or greenish soft layer that is just above the woody part, and just below the bark.)

    Soak the twigs over night, and then drain off the liquid into a jar or watering can. Discard/compost the twigs.

    This liquid contains two things that are beneficial to rooting plants, cuttings, and encouraging seed sprouting. The salicylates from the willow bark are the precursor to aspirin. They discourage rot, fungus and nematodes, and salicylates make the soil a bit more acid. The other part of the willow water is the major player: Enzymes, baby! Those prevalent enzymes in the bark are fragile but powerful. Water your cuttings or seeds with this enzyme loaded liquid to promote the cell growth for rooting.

    Enzymes will break down quickly, so donít store the water, donít let the twigs soak for too long, donít use heavily chlorinated water, donít expose to the sun. Do make and use willow water only as you need it.

  4. #13
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    Source (almost) free plants for your garden or patio- part 1

    Weíve all sprouted apple seeds and avocado pits, havenít we? Maybe weíve grown carrot tops and a chunk of sweet potato in water, and taken a slip from Aunt Suzyís pothos. What else can we grow for free?

    Do you have any garlic or shallots or green onions that are going to waste? Pop them in a little seed starter mix and wait. You probably wonít get a fully developed garlic or shallot bulb, but you will get fresh and tender tops sprouting from something you might have thrown out.

    There are plenty of things from the grocerís that can be satisfying plants. And if you were buying that hand of ginger anyway, whatís a knuckle less?

    Ginger is easy if you have the warmth and the long season. If you are in a cooler or darker area, youíll have to supplement those needs if you plan to harvest any ginger. I live in a hot sultry area, and even I donít grow giant hands of ginger, but I do get marvelous bamboo-looking clumps of dark green lance shaped leaves, tiny yellow orchid like flowers, and tender pink ginger nodes, followed by the fall harvest of a couple of fingers of ginger. I need part sun, but you may need full sun for most of the growing season. Ginger also requires a rich moist soil, well drained but watered frequently.

    Lemon grass is fun and cool and will eventually forma large clump, sort of like pampas grass. Also a warm wet area crop needing good drainage. Check out the fresh stalks of lemon grass in your grocery, or an Asian food store. Look at the base of the stalk for the tiny little nubs of roots coming through the base of the outer leaves. Just the tell tale nub is sufficient for rooting. Sometimes they are cut off above that area, though, so check what you buy first. Keep only three or four inches for planting. You donít want all the energy to go into maintaining the foliage, but into making new roots. Stick your sections in a prepared pot, clustering several together for the best effect.

    Malanga, yucca, or other rough looking tropical root vegetables can produce beautiful foliage as well as an edible root. Yucca is often coated with a heavy layer of wax when you buy it. You can scrape off most of the wax. Donít use hot water or flame because that will kill the cells you need for rooting. Plant sprouting end up if you can tell. These plants grow a large leaf often called an elephant ear. Only a few varieties produce an edible leaf. Most species will have large amounts of oxalic acid in them. Tastes lemony but forms burning crystals in your mouth and digestive system. Donít eat the leaves unless you know what exactly you have planted and that itís edible. I grow these for the pretty foliage and for the edible roots.

    One more tropical and then Iíll talk about the more temperate stuff available. Chayote! Have you ever tasted chayote? AKA christophene? It has a mild squash flavor, looks like a cross between a pear and a pale avocado, and has an edible large seed. I love it steamed with butter. It is a tropical vining plant, and one good producing plant can feed a family of four all season. Look for a chayote that has a peek into the bellybutton. Youíll know it when you look at it. The blossom end will be puckered like a babyís behind, but sometimes you can peek between the firm cheeks and see a tiny bit of sprouting leaf. It doesnít matter if that leaf is dark or pale or dry. If the chayote itself is still plump, you can plant it in shallow well drained soil. The tender vine that sprouts will climb and will eventually take over a trellis or fence section, but that makes it easier to pick the fruits.

    There are many more tropical fruits and veggies to grow for foliage or for eating. Boniato, papaya, sugar cane, loquat, all the citrus, guava, pomegranate, et al.

  5. #14
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    Source (almost) free plants for your garden or patio- part 2

    The more temperate fruits are satisfying, and may produce edible fruit. Donít count on that, though. If you do plant some in your back yard or orchard, make a stake or plant tag identifying the specific fruit, such as Gala apple, Bosc pear, Red Globe grape, or ďChestnut from City ParkĒ. The reason is that five or ten years later, you may not remember exactly what it is supposed to be. If it requires more specialized treatment or is more susceptible to diseases, or is needed to pollinate another tree, you wonít know.

    Grapes are variable in taste depending on soil conditions. You can grow grapes of any kind, unless you are in the subtropics or tropics, like me. Fruiting vines take five or ten years to really get established and there is some specialized care if you plan on starting a vineyard. But for fun and some occasional nibbles, growing grapes from seed is easy. Not all grapes will sprout their seeds. Hybridized grapes, or most on the market, can be iffy.

    Every time you get a bunch of grapes, every time you get a few on a salad or fruit plate or garnish, every time you pass a fruiting vine overhanging a public right of way, thatís when you grab a few mature grapes. In the wild, they would sprout from the rotting fruit buried in leaf litter. Donít wait for Mother Nature. Split the grape and pop out the plump seeds, plant and label.

    Once a vine is established, you can eat the lemony leaves. They may feel kinda prickly, but you can steam them for a chewier leaf texture. More like cabbage than lettuce, eh?

    A lot of perennial plants that produce fruit are grafted onto specific root stock. Your peach pit or apple pips may never give you lush fruit because of that, but the trees are nice to look at and adapt to bonsai and large pot culture as well as providing flowers and shade in the yard.

    Most nuts you get in a store have been dried and cured to prevent sprouting. The shells may be waxed and polished and dyed. Still, some nuts in some places will sprout for you. Try pecans from a farmersí market, or raw peanuts from the grocery store. Chestnuts, beech nuts, black walnuts and others can be found in city parks occasionally. Theyíll take a long time to sprout, then a long time to grow into a tree. It could be twenty or more years for some nut trees to produce.

    Jerusalem artichokes, a sunflower relative, are also easily grown from grocery tubers. The flower is pretty and they can grow fairly tall. The tubers, while edible, are disagreeably gassy for some people. You can build up tolerance to that. If you only have the one plant, and you dig up what you think are all of the tubers that winter, you will probably still have them growing for the next year. There are always tiny bits left behind. Don't plant them if you can't stand policing your adventitious sprouting.

    Beans from the dried bean section will grow true, usually. Any of the squash and cucumber seeds from very mature fruits will grow. So a black watermelon seed will grow, but a tan one probably wonít. Cuke seeds that are still green wonít sprout, but the chewy ones that are yellow to tan in a somewhat sour cuke will. If the zucchini is still edible, the seeds are not ripe enough to sprout. Tomatoes and peppers and sometimes overlarge eggplants will have mature seeds. Iíve even seen seeds from them sprouting inside market purchased veggies.

    Sometimes sunflower seeds are roasted, but sometimes you can get interesting seeds from a bird seed assortment. Millet and sunflower, thistle, and others. Sesame seeds, like sunflower seeds, are often roasted so they wonít sprout.

  6. #15
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    Source (almost) free plants for your garden or patio- part 3

    How about herbs? You can buy packages of some herbs from some groceries and root cuttings. It will be hit and miss, but with enough slips you may be happy with a few plants. Get the freshest herbs you can, with nodes that donít look dried or shriveled. Most herbs do not like wet soil, and they donít like very rich soil.

    Stems of rosemary stripped of most of the leaves and all of the leaves on the bottom half will root fairly readily in plain water. Getting them to take transplantation to a pot or the ground is a little trickier some of the time. Rosemary doesnít like being transplanted for one thing. For my own personal gratification, I put a dozen or more prepared stems in willow water or plain water, and wait for a few days until I can see the barest little translucent white bumps on the lower stems. Then I transplant into peat cells, usually two or three to a cell. I keep them misted, but not dripping. Once they are established and growing a little bit on top, or show fine roots outside of the peat ball, I plant in pots Iíll keep them for a couple of years. They make a nice potted shrub, or in the subtropics you can plant them directly in the well drained ground.

    Basil and mint can root from grocery purchased cuttings. Mint is a cinch if you have any trace of the rhizome or whitish fleshy root trailing from the slip. Both like a more moist soil than most herbs. Trim off any funky stem ends, the lower leaves, and then clip the remaining leaves in half. Donít leave flower buds or very soft new growth on the cuttings. You can root in water or in soil.

    Thyme, oregano, marjoram, and even sage can root in soil for you. Chives will not unless you have a substantial bulb bit showing.

    Many herb whole seeds from the spice section will root. Some are treated to not sprout, and some may be cured, but fennel, caraway, dill, celery seed, and others will grow readily for you. Iíve scattered dill seed that was six years old on a dry patch of earth, thinking that the scent was gone and maybe the birds or the bugs would eat it. Maybe so, but I also had a surprise crop! I did the same with flaxseed, too.

  7. #16
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    Source (almost) free plants for your garden or patio- part 4

    Sometimes the floral section of markets will have bits you can grow, other than the ubiquitous African Violet. (You do know how to propagate them, right?) You might find some alstroemeria stems with a bit of root attached, or a black berry or tiger lily with fruiting bodies near the flowers. Sometimes the greenery will be rootable woody shrubs. Trim off most of the foliage and any flowers to allow the stem time to grow more substantial roots. The lily bulblets may not grow true to type, but the belamcamda or blackberry lily always has for me. Some of the feathery fillers may have seeds forming that will continue to mature. You can shake them over paper to see if any seeds come out. If you know there are seeds to be harvested, trim the leaves and soft growth, tie the drying stalk in a paper bag and let it sit until it rattles. Things like amaranths or goldenrods will do this.

    Outside of grocery and ethnic markets, there are many other places to get free or almost free plants. (Sure you have to pay for the ginger at the market, but growing a new ginger hand and plant is all on you!)

  8. #17
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    Source (almost) free plants for your garden or patio- part 5

    If you live in suburbia, you will most likely have a yard waste trash pick up day. Cruise or walk around on those days and look for interesting things trimmed from peopleís yards. Someone thinning out their daylilies or iris? All you need is a bit of fleshy rhizome to grow them. Branches cut from lilac and crape myrtle, from magnolia and from rhododendron? Try rooting them. Some of them are harder to establish than others, but you may find you have the perfect conditions for growing azaleas from cuttings.

    I know I have a green thumb. But Iíve had one yard that rooted crape myrtle and another that couldnít. Azaleas that rooted on one side of the house, but not another. Try different spots with different soil conditions and different lighting to root your finds.

    Some people cruise the curbs on those pick up days just to get compostable material. Thereís always something for a gardener.

    You wonít likely know the flower color or size of the shrubs you root this way, but thatís part of the charm to my mind. If you plant in pots, you have more latitude in placement when you do discover the traits. Sometimes, if you have a good memory, you may know that your cuttings came from a house with huge standard pink azaleas, or from the church with the rusty colored chrysanthemums. This is another time when attaching a plant stake with that information on it is a good idea.

    Occasionally youíll find bulbs or roots, other than the daylilies. Daylilies are the sluts of the lilies. Theyíll spread for anybody and their joy of living is so obvious. I love them. But amaryllis and cannas and crinums (all big southern blooms from bulbs) can outwear their welcome. I donít know how, but they do get cast off from time to time. Whatever the reason, I scoop them up. You canít easily tell a large amaryllis from a modest crinum bulb with only a blade of foliage, but you will know that you can eventually get it to rebloom if you feed it with calcium. Bone meal, either purchased or made in your pressure cooker from roast or chicken bones and egg shells, is your stinky friend. People also discard tired caladiums and cannas (which also go to seed: hint, hint) and mounds of ground covers like pachysandra and ajuga. Both of those will root and spread easily in the right conditions.

    Around holiday times, even before holiday times, people will toss seasonal plants. Look for azaleas, tulips, poinsettias, chrysanthemums, crotons, Norfolk Island pines, and so much more. Think about it: People buy them sometimes in anticipation of the season, perhaps for a party. They bloom or put on a display and then die back, drop the remaining blossoms, or just seem too seasonal to be kept by a non gardener. So they toss them, and maybe buy another if the season is still ripe.

  9. #18
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    Source (almost) free plants for your garden or patio- part 6

    Another very odd place for the conventionally minded to scavenge for plants and cuttings is some cemeteries. You have to check at the cemetery you choose. Itís sometimes very not okay to scrounge, and you always have to be wary of offending any of the bereaved, even if you are just removing some trashed plants.

    Very nice memorial gardens of the perpetual flavor will usually have a gardeners shed or work area where the excess of bouquets from interment services will go once or twice a week. They might have a huge pile of blooms tossed willy nilly. Among them will be faded shrubby things and bulbs and perhaps some branches that might be rooted, such as forsythia.

    Some really old and not perpetually cared for burial grounds will have a few newer graves or even some from fifty years ago that get floral attention from relatives. In this sort of place, the dumping area is most likely in the wooded areas on the edges of the grounds. You wonít find so many fresh plants there, but could find dried up potted plants that need a lot of TLC. Iíve gotten a few azaleas over many years from such places. The way to tell if there is any life in that old brown scruffy thing with the dead leaves is to bend a few twigs. Dead ones snap. Live ones bend. Trim the tips radically, then soak the pot thoroughly, drain, then wrap in a tent of plastic to hold in the humidity. You will be rewarded with new growth.

    Iíve also found that the old neglected cemeteries will have more native plants. Rarely, you might find something in seed or a small offset you can discreetly remove. Itís more likely to be a place for you to see what will flourish in your local climate, as long as the soil is similar to yours. For my area, I can see what wild flowers grow best, what subspecies of pine or oak will tolerate the heat and drought, and how mature specimens will look.

    The last source Iíll mention for providing plants to the creative gardener is dumpster diving. Again, not for the squeamish. Garden nurseries are absolutely the best, but in some areas you can go behind the big box stores to their dumpsters for them. Also apartment complexes at the end of the month will often have cast off plants by their dumpsters.

    At a chain store or nursery, youíll find out of season plants and trees. Aside from holiday related things you might find overgrown tomato plants at the end of June or spent bulbs once springís rains are past. They might discard a shrub that happened to be beneath a rip in the awning during a sudden rainstorm. So the soil washed away? Itís not like you canít replace it. These plants will often not be in great shape. If the fix was immediate, they would have done it already, like patting it back into the planter or cutting off the broken twig.

    At an apartment complex, expect larger plants especially. Dracaenas and Ficus trees, Scheffleras, palms, monsteras and that sort of plant. Anything people find awkward to move. Small ones are usually tossed into the dumpster, and may not be visible at all. Iíd rather get the ficus and leave the Pampers alone, if you know what I mean. Often Iíve had to do the radical trim and then tender loving care to get the plant back in shape, but with some plants thatís only a matter of days. And with the larger plants you can determine that your two months and minimal expense was worth it to get a specimen that could have cost you two days pay.

    All of these things are not past usefulness to you, the crafty gardener. You can nourish them and nourish yourself by watching their renewed vigor.

  10. #19
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    Excellent Article
    For some people, gardening is a hobby, while for others it is simply an addiction. Nature lovers are simply a fan of gardening. Gardens can be created in a number of ways. Or you can create a garden of fragrant flowers, a garden of fruits, vegetables or a landscape full of plants without flowers. A beautiful garden can be created both indoors and outdoors. Whatever the location, some things must be considered when deciding to create a garden. Here in this section, we have taken some tips for outdoor gardening, and in the interior.

    Gardening tips outdoors
    If you want to make your gardening experience a pleasant outdoors, then you should follow the important aspects of gardening, including the right choice of tools, the choice of location, irrigation, soil, fertilizer use , etc. The basic tools needed manure outdoor garden hoe include, rake, shovel, water hose or sprinkler and garden stakes. It is easier to work with them only if kept in good working condition. Wash well after finishing the job. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline on the sharp edges of the tools so that they are protected from oxidation. Choose a place free of moisture for storage of tools.

    Gardening begins with proper planning. Therefore, always start the project with an outline of the plan. Then, choosing the location. The best location for the creation of a landscape is the place that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. In addition, the site should have plenty of drainage. To begin the project of outdoor gardening, you can start with plants that are easy to grow, such as tomatoes, lettuce or carrots. Plants can be grown either from seed or plants. Next, get a soil test for your garden. This will let you know the fertility, the nature of the soil (if acidic, basic or neutral) and type of fertilizer needed. The soil should be perfectly adequate for the growth of the plants you choose. Taking into account the above, will ensure a good harvest of the season.

  11. #20
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    Nice thread of gardening, there are lot of useful ideas regarding the gardening. Thanks for sharing your opinions.
    samson smith
    Wind Chimes
    samson[dot]smith009[at]gmail[dot]com


 
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