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Friday, February 29, 2008

SPRING TUTORIAL CHALLENGE hosted by Artist Reborne










SPRING FLING TUTORIAL
Hosted by Dawn Rice - http://www.artistreborne.typepad.com/

For me, spring is all about the garden and getting back outside (and the nice weather and longer daylight and beautiful flowers blooming). I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt! Here are some tips on getting ready to plant this spring:


1. Choose Your Seeds: Whether your passion is flowers, vegetables or both, choose your seeds early. A friend of mine leant me a catalog that sells certified organic seeds. It’s called Seeds of Change and you can check out their website at: http://www.seedsofchange.com/. They have awesome products.





The thing I like best about their seed packets is that they are re-sealable, and for me, that means no more rolling the edge of the packets down, stapling them, and putting them in Ziploc bags (note the seal on top of the yellow packet above).

I used to buy young plants at one of the local nurseries to transplant, but found that it was costly (when I could buy a packet of seeds from between 45-90 cents), plus I didn’t know where their seeds had originated from. Also, about half of my transplants would die due to diseases that weren’t obvious when I purchased them. I’ve decided that from now on, I will only plant seeds that have been certified organic, not only do they yield more health benefits, but they are much heartier plants as well.

2. Start Your Seeds Indoors: I find it best to start my seeds indoors using a setup like the Germination Station in the picture below:




A germination station with seed plugs is a great was to get those seeds hearty and ready for transplanting. Make sure though, if you are going to start your seeds indoors, you don’t put them by a window for their daily supply of vitamin A (sunlight). This will create thin, spindly sprouts that will lean to one side (even if you rotate them) and will eventually collapse. Either put them under a grow light or cover them with a plastic lid and put them outdoors during the time you have the most sun (but don’t forget to bring them in before the sun goes down). I recently discovered a great article on this topic at:
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/ornamentals/seedlings/seedlings.html

If, like me, you don’t always have the money to buy systems like the Germination Station, you can always use the Styrofoam cup method. For this method, cut about an inch off the top of a Styrofoam cup, punch several small holes in the bottom for drainage, and place it on a plate or tray. I recommend putting no more than 1 to 3 seeds per cup. If you have a grow light, again that’s the best lighting method, but if not, cover each cup using plastic wrap and a rubber band and put them out in the sun for part of the day.

Try not to plant seeds using dirt from the ground if you can help it. It is best to start them in a planting medium, i.e., your basic potting soil mix from your local garden center or, if they’re available to you, seed plugs.

3. Know your Zone: Wherever you live, there is a recommended, beneficial time to plant for your area. Most seed catalogs will include a planting guide or chart like this:
If you don’t have a seed catalog, ride the internet to
http://www.dogpile.com/ and do a search for planting guides. Dogpile.com is a meta search engine and will search all of the other search engines out there, greatly widening your results. Make sure to find the zone that’s specifically right for your area or all of your hard work will be for nothing.

4. Planting: When it’s finally time to plant (I’m usually chomping at the bit at the first sign of nice weather), make sure your planting beds are tilled and plowed, incorporating mulch and/or any other planting medium you wish to use. Delicate new roots do not enjoy pushing through rock-hard dirt and will most likely perish. By loosening the soil and adding nutrients you double your chances for success.

5. Bed Design: I am an avid vegetable and herb gardener, but I also like to make my beds as pleasing to the eye as possible. One thing I do for presentation as well as bug-resistance is to plant orange and yellow Marigolds between each bed or every couple of rows of vegetables. They are beautiful as well as beneficial. I also plant as many other varieties of flowers as I can around my vegetables, not only for their beauty, but also because they attract bees and butterflies, the insects that aid in propagation.

6. Herbs: These days I grow my herbs in pots inside the house. I live in the desert and I find that herbs don’t seem to like the extreme heat from the sun here. Now, they simply thrive in the kitchen, and when I feel the urge to make the best pesto recipe in the southwest, I just go into the kitchen, snip the leaves from several basil plants, and get to work. 7. Pests: If you haven’t yet discovered it, Hot Pepper Wax Insect Repellant is awesome!!! I buy mine online at: http://www.gcspecials.com/. This keeps your garden pesticide free and won’t taint those certified organic seedlings. I spray it into the soil to fend off grub worms and sow bugs, two of which plague me every year. I find it even wards off rabbits. Apparently they’re not into hot and spicy veggies.



There’s nothing better than looking forward to grazing in my organic, home-grown garden, to kick off the spring season.

For a look at some other great Spring tutorials, check out these artists:

http://hubpages.com/hub/polymer-clay-tutorials-photo-transfer-beads-77

http://chelise.typepad.com/zne/2008/03/spring-fling-tu.html

http://backporchartessa.blogspot.com/2008/02/clay-bubble-charms.html

3 comments :

Dawn said...

Thanks so much for playing! I love this simple little beginner's how-to. I remember that first year we were in AZ planting pumpkins in my tiny little condo "yard"...boy was THAT a losing battle! I am definitely glad to be back in the midwest were, though as hard as a rock, the soil (and sun) is just a bit more cooporative *grin* Thanks for the tip on the organics and the spray...gonna look into that.

Cindy Lietz said...

Thank you Kimberly for your well thought through tutorial. I love to garden and would find organic seeds in a resealable package, much more convenient than the paper ones!

Thank you as well, for the link you gave above to my polymer clay tutorial.

Your site is fantastic by the way, I will be coming back often!

Cindy Lietz said...

Thank you Kimberly for your well thought through tutorial I love to garden and would find organic seeds in a resealable package, much more convenient than the paper ones!

Thank you as well, for the link you gave above to my polymer clay tutorial.

Your site is fantastic by the way, I will be coming back often!

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