Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seed Starting Tips from Thompson & Morgan

I love starting seeds. It’s a lot cheaper than buying transplants, and there’s nothing better to us gardeners than watching something grow from a tiny speck into a full mature plant. I’ve always considered it the “second” or intermediate stage of gardening. If you’re a new gardener, chances are, you’re starting with plants and flower bulbs, because they’re so simple.

Seed starting is admittedly more complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult. It’s actually quite the opposite, especially when you have the right resources and a little ambition! So for those of you who are hesitant to try seed starting, fear not! There is a way to make seed starting simple, quick and fun. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an elaborate basement operation with fluorescent lights and elegant light fixtures!

I’m really excited about Thomspon and Morgan’s new Seed Starting Kit. We’ve assembled the absolute best way to start seeds. You’ll get healthy and hearty plants every time! The best part is it’s clean…no fussing with messy potting soil or Dixie cups.

Our Seed Starting Kit allows you to quickly, easily and successfully start all kinds of seeds. Each kit contains everything you need for fast germination and vital root growth. The soil-less grow plugs are made of natural, biodegradable materials so that each plug can be directly transplanted into the garden greatly reducing transplant shock. Each grow plug contains beneficial bacteria to aid in maximum seed germination.

The lightweight 55-cell growing tray wraps each grow plug in warmth and floats them in the water-filled reservoir tray, allowing each seed to get the perfect water-to-air ratio. The humidity dome holds in the warmth and moisture, ensuring early and uniform seed germination
I recently had the opportunity to give the Seed Starting Kit a try, and let me tell you, it works! This is by far the easiest method I have ever used. It allows me to do more – and easily. Give it a try today!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Composting: Save Your Leaves!

For most gardeners, November is a month for raking leaves and racking your brain trying to figure out what to do with them. You could put them in the street or bag them, but why let them go to waste? Here’s a suggestion: Composting. Besides being extremely earth-friendly, composting is the best way to build fertile, productive soil.

What and When to Compost

You may be surprised what kinds of materials can be composted. Leaves, dead plants, grass clippings, vegetable scraps and other organic material can all be composted. The fall season is the best time to start a compost pile – the composting process continues throughout the winter.
Chop or shred leaves before adding them to your compost pile, because intact leaves tend to mat down. Remember, you should always add roughly equal amounts of “green” and “brown” material at any given time, and your compost should contain a mix of nitrogen and carbon-rich materials. Green, leafy waste is high in nitrogen, and brown, woody scraps are high in carbon. You may not be able to use all your leaves at once; bag up the rest and hold onto them for next summer, when you’ll surely be looking for more “browns” to add to the “greens” you’ll have coming out of your ears!

Composting is great for your garden, and it’s very easy. All you need is a small area in your garden for a compost pile, or a compost bin. If you don’t already compost, you can buy or construct a bin, or purchase a barrel-sized crank-operated composter, which are far more efficient than traditional composting methods. See, with a composter, the two main ongoing jobs as each batch “cooks” are to turn the compost often to aerate it, and to add water if it gets dry.
Fall is the best time to start a compost pile. So get out there in your garden in the crisp fall weather and have fun!

Check out these great Thompson & Morgan composting products!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Grow and Care for Asparagus

I love picking asparagus straight from the garden and eating it fresh. It’s one of the best reminders of spring turning to summer. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that can produce annual springtime harvests for up to 20 years, following an initial three-year period while the bed gets established after planting. It’s a popular vegetable, so I’m sure many of you are growing it in your gardens.
That’s why I’ve come up with some general facts and care tips about asparagus:
First and foremost, asparagus is a hungry plant. Keep it well fed and it will remain happy. This is the basic maintenance requirement, along with mulching and weeding. A slow-release fertilizer will work great, adding nutrients as needed; apply it in the spring and again after harvest.
Also, you’ll want to check the makeup of your fertilizer to be sure your asparagus gets plenty of phosphorus and potassium. You can provide those nutrients by adding bonemeal and wood ash to the soil. Pellet fertilizers are fine, but make sure you combine them with organic matter. A top dressing of these materials after harvest and in the fall will help ensure good growth. Asparagus grows best in a sandy loam with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
After harvest and through the fall, leave the plant alone. Let them just do what asparaguses (asparagi?) do naturally! If your asparagus turns yellow, don’t worry, that’s normal. Even as it yellows, the foliage is still feeding the plant, so don’t cut it back until it totally dies back. At that point, usually in early winter, remove all remaining foliage. This will protect your plant from pests and disease.
And speaking of pests, the most common asparagus pest is the appropriately named “asparagus beetle.” Cutting the foliage back in the winter should keep the buggers away, but if not, you can always pick them off and drop them in soapy water to kill them.
That about covers asparagus care. Just remember the best protection against pests and disease is to keep your plants healthy and strong through feeding, weeding and mulching!