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Thread: Gardening

  1. #1
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    Gardening

    These contributions can go here...

    ***Edited by artgeek: After you've added some green ideas to this thread, please provide your contributor info here. Thanks!***

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  3. #2
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    Growing Your Way to Winter Happiness

    Every December I give myself a present; I go to the farmer's market and buy potted flower bulbs. I try to get them as small as possible so that they will have the longest growing period in my hot apartment.

    The best flower bulbs for winter are narcissus, hyacinth, daffodil, and crocus, because you get the most flowers for your money. If you start them in mid-December with a bi-weekly watering, you should have flowers by mid to late January. Narcissus and daffodil come in all white, all yellow, and trumpet shades of ivory, red and coral. Hyacinth and crocus come in solid and striated white, blue and pink.

  4. #3
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    Start Your Own Apartment Farm!

    I'm a big fan of gardening, especially in the edibles department. The satisfaction I get from starting seeds and raising them into big healthy plants that give me something back in return is immense. And I love a good, fresh salad. And do you know what's extraordinary about my salads? I grow them all inside my apartment!

    You don't have to have a quarter acre, or even a balcony, to be a garden. I'm a firm believer in gardening where you are.

    But where to start? Get yourself a few good seed catalogs. A few of my favorites are Landreth Seed Company, Territorial Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Pinetree Seeds (especially affordable-- lots for 75 cents!). There are a ton to choose from, so just browse which ones look interesting to you online.

    Once you have your catalog in hand, choose your veggies. I think a simple salad garden is the best way to get acquainted with indoor food production-- so some lettuce, green onions and cherry tomotoes are good to start. You'll want to pick varieties that are small in size, and good for container growth. For example, this year I grew Tom Thumb Lettuce (a butterhead the size of a softball), green bunching onions, and Tiny Tim Cherry Tomatoes (the plants grew about 3 1/2 feet tall).

    Once you've got your seeds, you'll need containers. I like to grow lettuce in rubber maid flats that are about 6-8 inches deep. You can run two rows of lettuce in one of these. Spread about an inch of pea gravel on the bottom and then top it off with container potting mix, leaving about an inch of room at the top so things don't get messy when you water. For the tomatoes, a round pot is great-- about 8 inches deep and 6-8 inches in diameter. Same concept in setting up the pot-- gravel in the bottom for drainage then soil on top. Since the bunching onions are so small, you can put a row in between the lettuce (a practice called intercropping) or put them in a smaller rubber maid flat of their own.

    Follow the directions on the seed packs for instructions on how deep to plant the seeds and how far apart. Since the quantity you're planting is relatively small, you can plant just as many seeds as you want plants right into the containers (as opposed to starting them in smaller containers or seed starting flats). Planting just as many seeds as you want plants also prevents you from having to thin (a tedious, heart-wrenching chore) but you will have to re-seed any spots where the seeds don't germinate. Once everything has been planted and watered in, put the lids on the rubber maids and a layer of plastic wrap on the tomato containers. This will create a nice greenhouse effect which will help your seeds to germinate.

    Once your seeds have germinated and you see a mini field of green, remove the coverings from the containers and let there be light! If your window doesn't get a steady 8 or so hours of pretty direct light, you should supplement with lamps. Grow lights are fancy (i.e. expensive) and flourescent bulbs will do the trick-- get one "cool" and one "warm" and put them in a desk lamp over your containers. You can even get all high-tech and get a timer to plug the lamp into so they will go on and off automatically. Remember to water but not overwater-- while the seedlings are young the soil should never dry out, but it shouldn't be sopping wet either.

    So, keep them watered and well-lit and watch your farm flourish! Gardening isn't hard, and the learning curve is half the fun. For further tips and instruction on the wide world of gardening, a few great books include "You Grow Girl" by Gayla Trail and Rodale's Guide to Gardening by the Organic Method.

  5. #4
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    I love your article, but I need some help! My apartment is like the Sahara year 'round- I've found it can get up to 115 degrees on a sunny summer way in my apartment. How do I best grow herbs under those conditions? They just seem to wilt and die no matter what I do. On the other hand, my tropical plants flourish. What can I do? And what advice would you have for those of us with big windows, lots of heat, and very little temperature control?

  6. #5
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    Ooo, that's a good one, as I have the completely opposite situation! For overheated apartments, I would suggest setting up a dehumidifier and cracking some windows to promote air circulation. Also, start your seeds earlier in the year to promote growth before the heat of the summer sets in-- mature plants can handle extremes better than seedlings. Also, look for plants that are heat/drought tolerant, such as Rosemary, lavender, lemon grass, lemon verbana, and aloe. Plants native to the Mediterranean are good choices. For big windows that are providing TOO much light and heat, place plants slightly away from windows, or filter the light by putting up a sun shade or tint in your windows.
    If you have your heart set on growing chives, oregano, thyme and the like that are less accepting of hot, humid conditions, grow them during the winter. If you give them a good start by growing the seedlings under grow lights so they don't get leggy and weak, they will do just fine as winter plants, and though you won't get the prolific growth that you would during the summer season, you will be able to harvest enough to use occassionally.

  7. #6
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    Thank you so much! I love growing plants, but I have been a total bust with herbs for this reason. I will take your advice and add a shade by my window- I may also start gowing some of my plant in my bedroom during the winter, with a grow ligt. I have a water fountain up there, and a humidifier as well, so the plants might like it better. Could you add your comment to your article as a special note for those of us who havethe duboius joy of overheated apartments?

  8. #7
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    Prompted by the above exchange, I decided to do a seperate article on common apartment gardening problems, so here it is:

    Gardening in the Problem Apartment

    Very few people have the perfect apartment for gardening—too hot, too cold, too shady, too dry. The problems are numerous, but fortunately so are the solutions! Here are some easy ideas for gardening in your micro-climate:

    Too hot/too sunny: Plants that will work the very best are tropicals and heat-lovers, like peppers, tomatoes, rosemary and lemon grass. They won’t mind the sun or the warm spells. To help everything else along, you can put a translucent window shade or film on your windows, so the plants are getting light, just not direct, burning sun. You can also put plants near the windows instead of in them, out of direct light. Keeping air circulating around your plants by cracking a window or running a small fan will help them stay cool, and if it's overly humid, you can run a dehumidfier or put charcoal in the trays of the pots in order to draw excess moisture out of the air.

    Too cold: Hopefully your apartment will never get so cold that you worry that your plants might suffer! But it is possible that your apartment is too cool and/or drafty to get seeds started well. First, you don’t need to stick your newly planted seeds in a drafty window—they won’t need light until they germinate and are pushing their little green selves above the soil. You don’t have to spend cash on one of those seedling heat mats (though they are quite nifty)—there are some opportune spots around the house that are warm enough to get seeds off to a good start. The top of the refrigerator, microwave, computer, or hot-water radiator are all great spots to germinate seeds.

    Too shady: Plants that will work the best in shady spots are lettuces and greens. These types of plants bolt in hot weather, so they will thrive in cool, shady locations. To grow plants that want a bit more sun, you can always supplement with grow lights—a warm bulb and a cool bulb together in a florescent shop light will do the trick, and it’s pretty inexpensive to install. Hang it from your window or a shelf with chains so that you can adjust the height as your plants grow.

    Too dry: Most plants like a bit of humidity, and indoor air can often be a bit dry, especially during the winter months. A quick fix is set your plant pots on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water. The pebbles will keep the pots elevated over the water so the soil doesn’t remain constantly soaked and your plants drown, and the water will provide a humid microclimate that your plants will love.

  9. #8
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    Great article :)
    I was interested if you knew
    of seed companies that sell sample size of seeds.
    A co worker told me about this company that sells mini packets ( in case you don't want 100 sunflower seeds but want like 20).
    So far I haven't been able to find this company in my google searches. Thanks!

  10. #9
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    Sort of. Pinetree sells smaller packet of some, and the prices are super cheap, so if you have extra you can swap or share them. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sells some of their packs in smaller sizes, and the prices are also excellent.

    These are two of my all-time favorite catalogs, and I would whole-heartedly recommend them to anyone.

  11. #10
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    Equipping the Garden Toolshed

    So, you want to garden but don't know where to get started? A basic toolkit will help you on your way to gardening success.

    -- Hand tools: a cultivator (looks like a fork or mini rake), a soil scoop, a transplanter (the thin, long spoon) and a spade (the wide spoon).

    -- Bamboo poles and twine for trellising.

    -- Watering can or coiled hose with faucet attachment.

    -- Pots with drip trays (it's nice to have an assortment of sizes).

    -- All-purpose organic fertilizer.

    -- Pea gravel (for drainage or mulching).


 
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