Archive for the ‘Gardening Tips’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Growing Peas and Beans with Container Gardening

Is growing peas and beans in containers challenging for you? Have you always wanted to grow peas and beans but have no idea where to start? Peas and beans have always been rather popular among container vegetable gardening enthusiasts. In this article, we will show you how you can have your own home-grown peas and beans right in the comfort of your home.

Peas and beans are usually planted from seed; in most cases, they are usually grown in large quantity and close to each other. It is recommended to plant peas and beans in a window box with a minimum width of 30cm and depth of 20cm. You may plant a few rows of the plant; keeping each plant apart by about 10cm. Different species of peas or beans may have different growth habits. At maturity, the height of your vegetable plant can be quite different. Knowing which species of peas or beans you are planting will help you to decide the type of support you should use for your plant.

Growing Peas

Start growing peas with container gardening today

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There are two varieties of peas – shelling and mangetout (snap peas and snow peas). Shelling peas mature at different times; it may take 12 to 14 weeks. Shelling peas come in round and wrinkle-seeded varieties. Round seeds are for hardiness and early sowings; wrinkled seeds for sweetness and summer sowings.

Growing peas require plenty of sunlight and a nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive environment. It is recommended to add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure to the soil used for growing peas. This helps to improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture, especially in hot and dry summers.

The planting mixture used for growing peas should be rich in minerals and have the ability to retain moisture for long periods of time. You may use the same fertilizers as those meant for growing tomatoes. Adding calcium is essential to aid the flowering process, which in turn gives you a good harvest.

Growing Beans

Start growing beans in containers today

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For most of the bush beans and most peas, they will grow to a height of approximately 90cm. An appropriate support for such height is essential so that the plant can rest upon the support to reach its maximum growth height. You may fabricate a simple supporting structure for your bean plant by using strings between bamboo or posts. Alternatively, you may also use shrubs or branches to construct the support.

If you are planting pole beans, take note that this plant can reach a height of 2m or higher. Ensure that you have a robust support, preferably in the form of a wooden frame, to provide good support for your bean plant. An alternative solution is to use sturdy poles with strong strings to attach and support each plant.

Planting Mixture for Peas and Beans

Good quality planting mixture provides the nutrients needed for growing healthy pea and bean plants. You may refer to the planting mixture recommendation below for your gardening efforts.

  • Compost: 2 Parts
  • Potting Soil: 4 Parts
  • Coir/ Peat: 1 Part
  • Perlite: 2 Parts
  • Vermiculite: 2 Parts
  • Flowering fertilizer:  One handful per plant

How to Sow Seeds

Peas are best planted in warm soil instead of wet and cold soil. In early spring, cover the soil with polythene before sowing and then protect seedlings with a fleece. Sow shorter varieties in a flat trench, 5cm (2in) deep and 25cm (10in) wide or a window box.

Water the soil first, then sow the seeds 5-7cm (2in) apart in three rows along the bottom of the trench or container (if you are using one). Cover up the seeds with soil and firm it gently. For a succession of peas, sow at two-week intervals.

Peas are an early crop, traditionally planted in the early spring when it’s still quite cool outside. They are usually harvested by the early summer, but there are some longer season varieties available nowadays.

Beans are traditionally planted in late spring or early summer, once the soil has warmed up, but in containers this is not a problem. They are harvested from mid to late summer, with pole bean crops lasting much longer.
When crops of peas or beans have been harvested, you can remove them and use the same container to plant another crop of beans.

Harvesting

Here are some tips on harvesting your peas and beans. For a harvest of truly fresh peas, regular picking is an essential activity. Harvesting should be done from the bottom of the plant working upwards.

Upon harvest, refrain from pulling the plant as the roots are full of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Instead, cut off the stems at ground level, allowing the roots to rot down and release nitrogen back into the soil for the next crop to use.

Like other vegetable plants, growing peas and beans is not that difficult if only you know how to do it. We hope the vegetable gardening tips in this article will give you some confidence to get started in growing peas and beans. Feel free to check out other gardening tips on our site. We have gardening guides and tips on growing tomatoes, onions and other vegetables too.

PostHeaderIcon How To Start Growing Tomatoes in Pots

Growing tomatoes in pots is fun and rewarding

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Have you ever thought of growing tomatoes in pots? Tomato plants remain one of the most widely planted vegetable plants and this trend seems to be universal. Ask around and you are likely to discover that most vegetable gardening hobbyists started off with planting tomatoes. The bright and cheerful colors of tomato plants make it a beautiful plant to have, not to mention the nutritional benefits of tomatoes. And, do you know that tomatoes come in several colors and not just red alone? Tomatoes color ranges from yellow, green, red and white to even purple!

Research has shown that tomatoes contain an element lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease and many cancers, particularly prostate cancer. Tomatoes are also a superb source of phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins A, B and C. In addition, tomatoes offer a good amount of potassium and iron, with almost no sodium or fat content.

With such great health benefits, it is no wonder the tomato plant is a favorite among vegetable gardeners. Just imagine how convenient it would be to have tomatoes all year round in your own garden. Planting tomatoes require some skills in addition to tender loving care. Here in this article, we will discuss about gardening tips and what it takes to start growing tomatoes in pots.

Tips for growing tomatoes in pots

The dwarf varieties of tomatoes usually yield higher success in container vegetable gardening. However, if you want to plant full-size tomatoes, you can choose a determinate variety of tomato, which should have no problem fitting into a container. Determinate tomatoes are more manageable in terms of size; they also tend to bear fruit much closer together and last longer.

Here are the items you need to buy to get started with growing tomatoes in pots:

1. Container / pots
2. Tomato plant
3. Gravel
4. Potting soil
5. Fertilizer
6. Compost

Buying a container
It is imperative that you select the right kind of container for growing tomatoes. The roots of tomato plants grow wide and need ample space to develop strong and healthy roots. Buy bigger pots for your tomato plants; the diameter of your pot should be at least 12 cm. There should be plenty of drainage holes on the pot to ensure adequate drainage for your plants.

Planting your tomato plant
Now that we have the pot and tomato plant, the next course of action would be to prepare the pot for planting the tomato plant. First, fill the pot with a few inches of gravel to promote drainage. Next, add the potting soil till it reaches the half mark of the pot and place the plant inside. Cover up with the rest of the soil and fertilizers, leaving about 2 inches from the edge of the pot.

Add the finishing touch by laying compost over the soil. You may also add perlite to the compost to help retain moisture and air; this actually helps in root development as well. Fertilizers may be added once every 2-4 weeks.

Tomatoes thrive in warm temperatures. Place your tomato plant at a location where it can get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Water your tomato plant regularly; they need an inch of water per week. Lack of water will result in your tomatoes having split or cracked skin. It can also cause fruit rotting during harvest if there is insufficient water. Always water your tomato plant from below; you can place your pots on a saucer or tray.

If you want to give your tomato plants growing supports, you can place a cage or poles during the planting stage. Growing supports help to support the plant and keep the fruits clean. It is recommended to place the supports during the planting stage as doing it later will disturb the roots.

Conclusion

Get more tips on growing tomatoes in pots with this tomato-growing guide

Grow tomatoes in pots successfully with this tomato-growing guide

Growing tomatoes in pots is more than just than planting them into the soil. Besides adding fertilizers, compost and exposing it to ample sunlight, there are other concerns to be taken care of. For instance, you would certainly want to protect your tomato plants from harmful pests and killer diseases.

Prevention is always better than cure. How do you avoid soil-borne diseases and what can you do to protect your plants from fungal diseases. All these information (and more) can be found in the comprehensive tomato-growing guide “Now that’s what I call a tomato!”

If you are serious about growing juicy, tasty tomatoes, get a copy today. You will not regret it.

PostHeaderIcon Plant Care Tips for a Beautiful Garden

Taking care of plants can be an enjoyable past time, especially when you are rewarded with the fruits of your labor. Many people treat plant care like an experiment when they first started gardening. How do you know when or how much to water, how much sunlight do my plant need, when do I need to add fertilizers? These are just some of the common questions that most gardeners have at the top of their mind.

Gardening is meant to be a relaxing hobby, so plant care should not add on to your stress. If you are one of those trial-and-error gardeners, here are 3 gardening plant care tips to guide you along.

1. Watering

Plant care tips on watering your plant

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Water is life. All living plants need water; hence it is a must to have a watering can in every garden. To ensure your plants have sufficient water, it is recommended that you buy a watering can with a narrow spout. It should also be noted that plants absorb different amount of water at different stages of its life cycle. More water is absorbed during the growth stage and lesser during rest periods.

How do you know if your plant has enough water? One way is to use the finger test. Insert your index finger into the soil and feel the moisture level of the soil. If the soil feels damp, don’t water your plant. Alternatively, you can use a soil moisture meter to test the moisture level if you don’t wish to dirty your finger.

The size and type of pots and containers that you use has direct influence on the moisture level too. Porous clay pot will require frequent watering as compared to a plastic pot. Meanwhile, water in smaller pots tends to absorbed more quickly than a large pot.

2. Fertilizers
Fertilizers are added to plants to provide nutrients and help them to grow strong and healthy. Does that mean it is the more, the merrier when it comes to adding fertilizers? The answer is no. Over-adding fertilizers to your plants will cause it to have wilting leaves. The edges of your plant leaves will also appear scorched; sometimes there might be pigmentation that looks like brown spots on the leaves.

The type of fertilizers you should use depends on the type of plants you are growing. Generally, fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in different proportions depending on the plant type that it is meant for. Read the labels before you purchase and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on usage. Do not over fertilize your plants.

Here are some signs that indicate your plants need fertilizing. Weak stems, slow or weak growth, dull colored leaves, dropped leaves and lacking in flowering. It is worthy to note that newly repotted or relocated plants are not suitable for fertilizing. Plants can get stressed too and will need a month or so to get used to its new home.

3. Lighting
Sunlight is needed for plants to thrive and stay healthy. Different types of plants have different needs on the amount of light it requires. If you are planting tomatoes, ensure that your tomato plant has lots of sunshine. Tomatoes thrive in warm temperatures. If you have insufficient sunlight for your indoor tomato plant, consider using artificial grow lights.

Most flowering house plants require adequate sunlight to bloom. If you have plants like Begonia, Bromeliad, African violet or Orchid, ensure that they are exposed to sufficient sunlight. Likewise, if your indoor lighting conditions is less than satisfactory, use artificial lights to supplement lighting.

When we talk about lighting for plant care, it is not just the amount of light but its intensity as well. How do you know which spot in your house is best for your plant? You can get more information on getting the right location and learn more about plant lighting here.

In this post, we have covered the three basic elements in plant care tips. In our next post, we will discuss more about the other 3 tips that you should not miss if you are serious about caring for your plants.

 

PostHeaderIcon Garden Soil (Part 2) – What is Good Soil and How to Improve Soil Health?

Previously, we talked about the composition of soil, its functions and the different soil textures. Loamy soil has the most ideal texture and is the best soil you can ever ask for in gardening. If you have missed our earlier post, click here to read more about the basics of garden soil.

Create healthy soil with compost and organic fertilizers

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One of the basic requirements for having a bountiful harvest is to have quality, good soil. Healthy, good soil is determined by the soil structure and soil fertility. Fertile soil has abundant nutrients and a suitable pH value to create the best environment for plants to thrive. It should contain essential nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous. Nitrogen boosts leaf growth while phosphorous is vital to root growth and the overall health of the plant. Apart from nitrogen and phosphorous, healthy soil should also contain trace elements such as calcium and magnesium.

The pH level of soil refers to its acidity or alkalinity. Plants can be fussy living things and it is not uncommon to find each plant having its own preferred pH value. Planting your vegetables (or other types of plants) into fertile, healthy soil will yield good crops, if other conditions like lighting and climate are favorable too.

Soil texture also plays a part in determining the health level of soil. Previously, we have learned that loamy soil is the best for gardening. Loamy textured soil retains nutrients well and has the right drainage system for water and air to permeate through.

How to Improve Soil Health

To improve soil health, you have to learn how to create healthy soil. If your soil texture is not ideal, simply add organic matter to it. This will help to replenish the nutrients in the soil and improve its texture. You can create organic matter by decomposing your kitchen leftovers, animal manure and plants. You will need to get a compost bin to compost your own organic matter.

The Tumbleweed 200003 Rotating Compost Bin
has 58 gallon capacity and is perfect for your kitchen waste, grass, leaves or animal manure. Its steel frame design is easy to assemble and its stainless steel central helps to aerate each time it tumbles. The Tumbleweed compost bin comes with dual locking lids with 4 vents to provide oxygen to your compost. Composting with the Tumbleweed compost bin is a breeze as composting can be done as quickly as 21 days.

To see the Tumbleweed compost bin in action, click on the video below.





Read customer reviews for Tumbleweed 200003 Rotating Compost Bin


Compost is at its best when it reaches the advanced stage of decomposition, where it is dark and odorless. The rampant microorganism activity encourages soil particles to clump together and form aggregates. Spaces in the soil are then created, thereby improving its drainage.

Suppose you do not have access to compost heap, an alternative to increasing the nutrient level of your soil is to use inorganic or organic fertilizers. Inorganic fertilizers are chemically manufactured inorganic salts. While inorganic fertilizers will work fine, they tend to release their nutrients too quickly. It has also been found that plants tend to develop resistance to inorganic fertilizers, thus requiring a greater amount of fertilizers to achieve the same effect over time.

Organic fertilizers are the preferred option as they are naturally created from the remains or by-product of an organism. Organic fertilizers gradually improve soil health rather than acting like steroids to quickly fix a problem.

Regardless of the soil structure, you can improve your garden soil by feeding nutrients to it. Healthy, fertile soil requires maintenance but the rewards of a good harvest will surely motivate you to work on the soil basics.


PostHeaderIcon Garden Soil (Part 1) – Understanding the Basics

Garden soil is one of the most basic elements required in gardening. A gardener cannot do without soil, regardless of the type of plants he is planting. Good quality soil is essential to your plants’ health but have you ever thought what the humble garden soil is made of?

What is Soil Made of?

There are four main components of soil – mineral matter, organic matter (humus), water and air. Within the soil contains inorganic elements such as stones and gravel. These are the mineral matter and they make up to 40%-60% of the soil volume. Mineral matter originates from the bedrock that is under the soil.

Organic matter or humus is the decomposed remains and waste products of plants and animals. Soil nutrients or the chemical properties of the soil are largely affected by organic matter. In between the mineral matter and organic matter is the space occupied by water and air.

Purpose of Soil

The role of garden soil is much like the role played by parents. They provide support and help the plant to grow strong and healthy, just like the way our parents supported and provided for us when we were young. Soil is needed to support the plant by allowing its roots to grow through the soil and hold itself in place. With its ability to store nutrients and water, soil also plays a vital role in the biological support for the plant.

In addition to supporting plant life, garden soil also supports other life forms. Microorganisms and insects rely on soil to survive while contributing to the plant by decomposing organic material and adding structure to the soil. Microorganisms like fungi and bacteria that live in soil are used to produce antibiotics, which have benefited much to mankind. Soil is also used to support vegetation growth for mankind’s consumption to ensure survival. All life on earth is dependant on it either directly and indirectly.

Now, let’s explore further the different types of soil texture.

Different Types of Soil Texture

Soil texture is determined by the different mineral particles and its respective size distribution. These mineral particles are sand, silt and clay. Sand particles are 2 to 0.05 mm in diameter, silt particles are 0.05 to 0.002 mm in diameter and clay particles are less than 0.002 mm in diameter. These particles exhibit different properties and their combinations in different proportions will have favorable outcomes for certain plant life. Let’s take a look at the most common classes of soil texture:

Sandy soil
As the term suggests, sandy soil feels gritty to the touch and contains a high percentage of sand particles. There is a lot of space in between the particles and therefore, it does not hold water well. Hence, essential plant nutrients also get washed away due to the free draining nature of sandy soil.

Clay soil
Clay soil has small size particles which makes it clump together easily. What this means is, there is less room for air spaces and drainage capability is relatively poor. Besides, clay soil does not hold nutrients well, thus it’s not an ideal garden soil. Clay soil is heavy, feels lumpy and becomes sticky when it’s wet, making it difficult to work with.

Silty soil
Contrary to clay soil, silty soil feels smooth to the touch. It contains a high percentage of silt particles and has good drainage capability due to the small size of the particles. Water is able to permeate through easily with silty soil. Silty soil holds nutrients better than clay soil and is easy to cultivate but it can be compacted quite easily.

Loamy soil
Loamy soil has the best soil texture and is a gardener’s dream soil. It has a good proportion of clay, silt and sand particles thereby providing the perfect amount of drainage. Unlike sandy soil, it does not lose water excessively. Loamy soil is able to retain nutrients for your plants. Thanks to its good structure, loamy soil is also easy to cultivate.

Healthy soil provides the basis for healthy plants. In the second part of our Garden Soil series, we will look at what constitutes healthy soil and how to create healthy soil.

Stay tuned.