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This holidays, I visited my family in England and Ireland, most of whom are fanatic gardeners.Â My father, Mike Evans was complaining that at his age of 94 he was having trouble keeping up with all the growth from the QLC.Â His grape vine produced over 200 bunches of grapes and was quite a pruning ordeal.Â We dined on one of John’s giant leeks (he is the holder of those world records) — it was sweet and tasty, even with a diameter of 2 1/2″.Â I was particularly jealous to see that his broccoli was already 9″ high and I have not even started my seeds.Â In London I spent a wonderful day with my sister Veronica looking at the trees on Hampsted Heath and talking with the knowledgeable gardeners.
I returned home to find my house plants limp and tired.Â I instituted a regime of nourishment and replanting and even got around to finding pots for all the unplanted bulbs.Â Now is a great time to pay attention to your indoor garden and our first article has tips and hints on what to do.
January is seed time.Â I ordered my seeds in December so they should arrive soon.Â Our local gardening club made a bulk order to Fedco and managed to get a 24% discount on their already reasonable prices.Â Our second article explores the process of choosing and propagating seeds.Â Â It is still a little early to start most seeds but it is a good time to dream of that wonderful garden to be!
Are youÂ experiencing the January gardening doldrums?Â Then focus on those houseplants and seeds to cheer you up.Â Next month I will talk about how create a new garden bed from scratch and how to prepare soil for planting Â In the meantime, if you want more, go to theÂ Bountea ForumÂ and look under Gardening Articles.Â We love to hear from you with feedback and suggestions.
Keep your garden fertile and look after the soil withÂ BounteaÂ gardening products.
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|Caring for House Plants
I have a confession to make -Â house plants make me uneasy.Â They remind me of caged animals in a zoo and I wish they could be growing free.Â However, I also know house plants are totally necessary to create a natural living environment: they lend beauty, clean indoor air and provide an outlet for our frustrated gardening urges.Â House plants make a sacrifice to provide us with health and joy; they deserve our special appreciation and care.
Too often, house plants are stuck in a small plastic pot with their roots buried in a lifeless soil-like medium.Â Â This medium is mostly peat moss with various additives such as chemical fertilizer, perlite, vermiculite and polymer wetting agents.Â Potting soils are supposed to include compost but this is not always true.Â Researchers have found that most popular brands of potting soil have only one thing in common — they have too many chemicals!Â Â Also, most potting soils are sterilized.Â This may reduce diseases and weed seeds, but means that all the natural microbial life has been killed.Â Â Without good compost and microbes, the plant depends on added chemical fertilizers to grow.
Tip: Make sure your potting soil has microbial life and nourishment around your plant’s roots.
It is not necessary to repot indoor plants often; especially do not repot a plant immediately after you buy it.Â If a pots dries out fast and needs rewatering more than once every 2 to 3 days, or there are roots peeking out of the bottom, think about moving the plant to a pot the next size up.Â Root balls can occupy up to 3/4 of the volume of the pot without harm.
Tip: Do not repot too often or into too big a pot.
When repotting, I make my own mix:Â 4 parts of peat moss, 2 parts ofÂ Alaska HumisoilÂ and 1 part sand.Â You can create something as good by adding 1 part ofÂ Alaska HumisoilÂ to 5 parts of organic potting mix.Â That amended soil will hold more moisture, resist disease and contain the necessary microbes for healthy growth.Â If you wish to further boost the quality of your potting mix, add a tablespon ofÂ Soil Life StarterÂ to every gallon of soil.
Tip: Potting soil needs both good drainage and good moisture retention.
Soil with good compost or humus provides a balance of natural nutrients without chemicals.Â Poor potting soil causes nutrient deficiency and weakness in a plant, making it more susceptible to disease.Â While chemicals such as Miracle-Gro will keep your plants alive, they will not help them flourish.Â Plants need more complex food than simply nitrogen, phosphates and potassium (NPK) and they should not have to be fed every week.Â Â Adding just a teaspoonful ofÂ QLCÂ to your watering can
each month is all you need.Â Â QLCÂ provides a full range of minerals, microbes and micronutrients to keep your soil and plant healthy. You will notice the difference in just a few days.
Tip: Feed regularly but not too often with QLC.
As many house plants are killed by over-watering as under-watering (leaves get yellow at the ends).Â Always allow your plants to almost dry out before rewatering and then give them a good soaking.Â Â If your plant looks sick, mix 1/4 teaspoon of QLC with 1 gallon of water and spray the leaves all over.
Tip: Use QLC as a foliar spray for plant problems.
Take care of your house plants during the Winter and they will thank you by filling your home with greenery, fragrance and flowers for all the year.
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|Seeds: Dreams of Spring
It’s January and at last, the days are getting longer.Â I have that itchy feeling that I should be out in the garden — but the snow is still deep on the ground.Â Still, there isÂ plenty of dreaming and planning needed to get ready for Spring.Â This is the time to think about thoseÂ packets of potential life — seeds.
Deciding which seeds to buy and who to buy them from is one of the most excitingÂ activities for the gardener.Â You can order any number of seed catalogs online.Â Most companies are reputable and sell seed that will germinate at a rate of 90% or above.Â MyÂ own preferences are Fedco and Pine Tree Seeds.Â Always check the shipping and handling charges — these vary greatly and can add unforeseen cost.
Large corporate seed wholesalers like Monsanto produce the majority of standard varieties available through catalogs.Â If you wish to avoid supporting them, look for smaller companies that sell organic or heirloom seeds.Â Buy seeds that have been grown in a similar latitude or environment to yours.Â I use Northern growers, as these are more likely to produce plants that suit my altitude.
Gardeners make two opposite mistakes: buying too many different types of seed or getting overwhelmed by choice and heading to the local store to grab an early boy tomato and some bedding plants.Â Seed buying should be a balanced mix of rational decision (I know what grows reliably in my garden) and pure excited impulse (I just love the name of that one).
I use the 60-40 rule: 60% of my seeds are for varieties that I grow each year; the other 40% are for fun and experimentation.
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Care for the earth and care for the soil withÂ BounteaÂ gardening products.