Seed Germinating Using Hydroponics
hydroponics has several advantages over using soil. Many common diseases can be avoided because the hydroponic medium is clean while soil may contain fungus or insects that can harm vulnerable seedlings. Root rot can also be avoided by using a good hydroponic growing system.

The area where hydroponic growing really shines over using soil is control of the growing environment. With hydroponics, the gardener is no longer at the mercy of the soil’s nutrient or water content. Every aspect of the plant’s growing conditions can be controlled by the grower, not Mother Nature. This can be a tremendous advantage for young seedlings because they will get the proper nutrients right from the start of their life, leading to much healthier plants in the long run.

Choosing a Growing Medium for Germinating Seeds
While germinating, seeds require both oxygen and water to sprout. This means that your growing medium must provide sufficient amounts of both to the seed or it will not germinate. Porous mediums such as perlite, rockwool, or vermiculite will do this along with having great drainage capabilities. Rockwool cubes can be used for quick set up and easy transplanting as the seeds sprout and grow into full-size plants. Simply place a larger cube around the cube holding the plant. The roots will expand and grow through both rockwool cubes, allowing your medium to easily adapt to the size of your plant.

Perlite makes another good growing medium for germinating seeds because its porosity allows for good drainage and oxygen availability. Just be sure to use the gardening-grade perlite rocks and not the finer grade masonry-quality powder. Plant your seeds about a half to one full inch deep in the perlite medium and cover them with a thin layer of perlite. The easiest way to set up a seedling tray with perlite is to use a plastic tub or similar container covered in black plastic to ensure that no light will penetrate to the roots of your plants. Add a drain hole about an inch from the container’s bottom to cycle your nutrient solution through while keeping a minimum level of solution available to the plants at all times.

Nutrients for Germinating Seeds
Many seeds contain nutrients within their shell to provide initial nourishment to jumpstart the germination process. However, this is not true for all species. Orchid seeds, for example, contain very little nutrients, so be sure to research your particular plant before setting up your garden. To avoid stressing the seed at a vulnerable point, it is best to use a medium that is pre-prepared with a low concentration of nutrients. The first few initial waterings will give your seeds a small dose of nutrients until it is ready to absorb more. After a few days, switch to a regular nutrient solution in your water, but keep it at a lower dose than normal until the seed shows significant growth. Once the plants have developed strong, healthy stalks, you can change them over to your normal feeding and watering program and use your seedling tray for the next batch of germinating seeds.

Tree Pruning

Tree Pruning Tips
There are two kinds of winter gardening. The first method usually starts in January as the gardening catalogs begin to arrive in the mail. This type of gardening is as easy as sitting in your favorite chair, browsing the catalogs, and either dreaming about what you’re going to do this spring, or actually drawing designs for the gardens you intend to work on.The second type of winter gardening is to actually get out in the yard and do a little work. Of course if it’s bitter cold, you’d be better off waiting for a good day. Winter is a good time to do some pruning if the temperatures are around 30 degrees or so. I don’t recommend pruning if it’s considerably below freezing because the wood is brittle and will shatter when you make a cut.

One of the advantages of pruning during the winter is that you can see much better what needs to be cut out and what should stay. At least that’s true with deciduous plants. The other advantage is that the plants are dormant, and won’t mind you doing a little work on them.

Ornamental trees should pruned to remove competing branches. Weeping Cherries, Flowering Dogwoods, Flowering Crabapples etc. have a tendency to send branches in many different directions. It is your job to decide how you want the plant to look, and then start pruning to achieve that look.

But first stick your head inside the tree and see what you can eliminate from there. This is like looking under the hood, and when you do you’ll see a lot of small branches that have been starved of sunlight, that certainly don’t add anything to the plant. They are just there, and should be cut out.

Any branch that is growing toward the center of the tree where it will get little sunlight should be cut out. Where there are two branches that are crossing, one of them should be eliminated. Once you get the inside of the plant cleaned up, you can start shaping the outside.

Shaping the outside is actually quite easy. Just picture how you want the plant to look, and picture imaginary lines of the finished outline of the plant. Cut off anything that is outside of these imaginary lines. It is also important to cut the tips of branches that have not yet reached these imaginary lines in order to force the plant to fill out.

For the most part plants have two kinds of growth: Terminal branches and lateral branches. Each branch has one terminal bud at the very end, and many lateral branches along the sides. The terminal buds grow in an outward direction away from the plant. Left uncut they just keep growing in the same direction, and the plant grows tall and very thin. That’s why the trees in the woods are so thin and not very attractive.

When you cut a branch on a plant, the plant sets new buds just below where you cut. When you remove the terminal bud the plant will set multiple buds; this is how you make a plant nice and full. Don’t be afraid to trim your plants, they will be much nicer because of it. The more you trim them, the fuller they become.

Lots of people have a real problem with this. They just can’t bring themselves to prune. Especially when it comes to plants like Japanese Red Maples. It kills them to even think about pruning a plant like this. Just do it! You’ll have a beautiful plant because of it.

Look at the plant objectively. If you see a branch that looks like it’s growing too far in the wrong direction, cut it. If you make a mistake it will grow back. Not pruning is the only mistake you can make. I hope this helps and doesn’t get you in trouble with your significant other. Many a family feud has started over pruning.


Plants That Love The Dark

 Indoor Plants That Love The Dark: A Tip From The Garden Center Nursery
It was a long search that took me more than ten years. But finally I found it – the indoor house plant that will brighten up the end of a corridor 5 meters from my front door. The Aspidistra, commonly known as the Cast Iron plant, has graced the drawing rooms of many an otherwise drab Victorian English manor, and now graces my suburban Sydney brick home.

Many gardening experts describe the Aspidistra as one of the toughest and most adaptable house plants. Its long blades of slender dark green or variegated dark green and white leaves shoot straight out from the soil but in clumps and up to 75 cm in height and 15 cm wide.

It is such a low maintenance plant much like an even-tempered woman who does not need any fussing over but still maintains its sweet nature. It needs very low light, average temperature and humidity and just occasional watering.

Other plants that do not need much light

Low-light plants are usually defined as those that can survive in 25 to 75 foot candles – that is, a spot that is 4 to 5 metres from a bright window, just enough light to read by comfortably, but where artificial lighting switched on by day would give a brightening effect.

You can easily find the Aspidistra in your local garden center nursery. In addition, five other plants that will suit very low light situations are the following:

Aglonema (Chinese Evergreen) which are among the few plants that prefer only moderate light and adapt well to low light. It has large dark green oval then tapering leathery leaves later developing a caney base.

Drachaena deremensis varieties (also know as Happy or Fortune Plants) which are slender leafed and usually white variegated. The Drachaena family are caney plants crested with decorative rosettes of straplike foliage.

Holly fern which adapts to low light and Boston fern a fishbone type of fern that will remain in low light for many months but need a spell in brighter light to rejuvenate.

Neanthe Bella or Parlor Palm which is more suited to low light situations than most palms.

Sanseviera (also known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue) which stands low to very bright light has waxy, erect straplike leaves usually with cream-colored margins and an unusual banding of the grey-green center.

If you are finding it difficult to find a plant that will brighten up that dark corner, why not try one of these hardy and lovely favorites of mine?

What Vegables To Grow

Some plants, are bothered a lot by insects or plant diseases — corn is
one of them. If you’re not willing to deal with these problems as they occur, this type of crop is going to cause you more disappointment than satisfaction.

Are you trying to save money? Another factor to consider when you’re deciding what to plant is the practical matter of economics — is the vegetable worth growing, or would it be cheaper to buy it?

Some vegetables are readily available and inexpensive to buy, but would produce only low yields from a large space if you grew them in your garden.

Corn, for instance, is inexpensive to buy when it’s In season, but
in your garden it needs a lot of growing space and often only gives you one harvest able ear from a whole plant.

You may decide not to grow corn and settle instead for a crop like endive, which is expensive in the store but as easy as leaf lettuce to grow.
Potatoes, too, are readily available and fairly inexpensive to buy, but they’re space-hungry in the garden. You might like to plant an asparagus bed instead— it requires a little initial work, but gives you a gourmet crop for years afterwards.

The economy question, however, is not clear cut. The fact remains that the vegetables you pick fresh from your own garden taste a whole lot better than the ones you buy in the store, so saving money
may not be your prime purpose in growing them.
You may be perfectly willing to give up half your garden (or all your balcony) in order to have a couple of ears of wonderful, milky, homegrown corn come harvest time.

You may consider the delicious flavor of fresh carrots a more Important issue than the fact that store-bought ones are inexpensive.

The only way you can get corn from the garden to the table in a matter of minutes is to grow your own, and the freshest possible carrots are the ones you pull out of the backyard at dinner time.

These are judgments you make yourself, and they’re just as important—if not more so — than whether or not a crop is easy to
grow, economical in its use of space, or will save you money.

How much is enough — or too much? Your initial decision about the vegetables you’d enjoy growing and eating—and that you think you
can grow successfully In the conditions you have to deal with — is the first step to planning a well-thought out, productive vegetable garden.

But this is the point where you discover that you still have very little
Idea of how much of each vegetable to grow. You know you want to eat some of your crop and freeze, pickle, or preserve some.

But how many seeds should you plant to enable you to achieve those ends? Again, advance planning can help you avoid getting swamped with squash or overrun by radishes — it’s amazing how energetically your plants will prosper under your care and how large a plant a little seed will produce.

Planning for the yield you want Some gardeners start off in an orderly manner by planting all their vegetables in rows of the same length, but space means something different to a carrot and a cauliflower.

A 10-foot row of broccoli will give you a manageable amount of produce; a 10-foot row of parsley will provide enough for you and the entire neighborhood, but it isn’t a big problem because you can freeze or dry parsley and use it all year around.

A 10-foot row of radishes, however, can be a big mistake — no family can eat all those radishes, and they don’t store well, so you could
end up with a lot of wasted radishes.

Cucumbers sprawl all over the place and need a lot of room; carrots are fairly picky about soil conditions, but they do stay where you put them.

So you have to estimate how productive your plants are likely to be.
That is why you need to sit down and plan your garden before you ever begin to plant anything.

Make A Plan

What should I Grow

Any gardener will tell you that gardening is one of the most absorbing and rewarding occupations you can undertake.

Any gardener will also tell you — probably loudly and at length — that
gardening requires patience, resilience, hard work, and a lot of planning.

Paperwork is probably the last thing you have in mind when you think about growing your own vegetables.  More likely you see yourself leaning contently on your spade as all sorts of lush, healthy plants shoot up in front of your eyes.

The fact of the matter, though, is that gardening begins not with seeds and a spade but with paper and a pencil.

A successful garden begins with a well organized plan of your garden space. Drawing a plan may not sound as exciting as getting outdoors and planting things.

But if you don’t spend the necessary time planning what to grow in your garden and when and where to plant it, you may spend the rest of
the growing season correcting the mistakes you made because you didn’t have a plan.

It’s a lot easier to erase a bed when it’s a few lines on a piece of paper
than when it’s an expanse of soil and plants. Your plan should include not only the types and quantities of plants you’re going to grow and how
they’ll be positioned in your garden, but also planting dates and approximate dates of harvest.
Making a plan may seem like a lot of work to get done before you even start gardening, but careful planning will help you make the best use of your time and available space and will result in bigger, higher-quality crops.

We will be discussing all the questions you need to take into account when you’re planning your garden — the hows, whats, whys, whens, and wherefores.

The specific cultural requirements of each plant need to be given in detail so that you can plan your garden and enjoy the fruits of your labour