The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil {and Coupon Code}

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The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil (e-book)

There’s a lot of internet chatter – good chatter! – going on about the brand new e-book by Susan Vinskofski.

She’s a VERY knowledgeable and successful gardener who knows what it takes to grow not just a harvest but a HEALTHY harvest. As she explains in her e-book [... Click here to continue reading this post.]

How to Make Your Own Seed-Starter Mix

seed-starter-mix

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If you live in an area that has cold and snowy winters, the best way to feel like winter is shorter than it really is or that spring is here before it really is is to start seeds indoors. You’ll observe seedlings emerge 4 to 6-ish weeks before you can place seeds in the ground.

Optimal seed-starter mix will allow for the following:

  1. Retention of Moisture
  2. Drainage of Excess Water
  3. Aeration
  4. Emergence of Seedlings (upward growth) and Penetration of Roots (downward growth)
  5. Nutrients
  6. Beneficial Microbes

Seed-Starter Mix Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Parts Pre-Soaked Organic Coir or Sphagnum Peat Moss
  • 1 Part Perlite
  • 1 Part Vermiculite
  • 1 Part Vermicompost or Compost

coirbrick

Sunleaves 100% Organic Classic Coco Coir Mulch-Soil Brick – Growing Media & Soil Alternative

(affiliate link)

Coir or Sphagnum Peat Moss

Probably the two most common mediums used for “soil”, moisture retention, and the “glue” that keeps everything together are coir and sphagnum peat moss. (Compost also has these characteristics.)

Coir is the by-product of coconut processing. Other names for coir are coco/coir peat, fiber, pith, or dust. You’ve probably picked up on the fact that “coco” is short for coconut NOT cocoa. :)

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Would You Like a Natural Garden?

natural-garden

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Yeah, for most of us it’s still too early to be sowing seeds outside, but it’s the PERFECT time to plan for gardening. Spring will be here in no time at all.

If you had a neighbor who always had the most beautiful flower garden and bountiful vegetable garden, year after year, and they invited you over for a cup of tea and offered to pour out their brain full of gardening knowledge and tips, would you say, “Nah … but thanks anyway”? Yeah, me neither. I’d be a sponge!

The internet is full of such gardening knowledge, but, let’s face it, we just don’t always have time to be a part-time researcher. I understand. I get up for work at 4:00am, and I don’t get back home until ~5:30pm. That’s almost a 14-hour day BEFORE I get to feed the dogs, start dinner, check on the garden (in warm weather), and blog. I’m so grateful for late nights (when it works out) and weekends!

Your day may look different than mine, but I’m guessing it’s still a long and busy one.

Consider this post an invitation for a virtual cup of tea and a plethora of gardening knowledge and tips delivered to your computer screen or front door.

These authors will share from their own gardening experience or their long hours of internet research.

Here are three books I highly recommend, all of which I own. Look through their table of contents, reader reviews, etc. (where provided), and pick and choose as you will. Or, simply bookmark this post and come back to it later. However, we know how that usually goes. Something we put off for later ends up more like never.

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of

Natural Insect and Disease Control

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control
(affiliate link)
Available in Kindle version and paperback.

If you want a well organized book to walk you through how to identify WHAT is causing your plant problems and HOW to NATURALLY remedy it, THIS is THE book to have.

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An Easy 2-Step Process to Shine Your Indoor Plant Leaves

shiny-plant-leaves

While outdoor plants are my preferred plants, I’ve had house plants for as long as I can remember.

Even in a well kept house with only one occupant, dust will find its way onto surfaces, even plant surfaces. Then, take someone like me who has a household consisting of two humans and a couple four-legged dust collectors (a.k.a. dogs), and the house can get embarrassingly dusty. Plants are no exception.

I do a [almost] weekly vacuuming and dusting of our downstairs/main level, but the dusting only gets done in the living room. Since we spend 90 percent of our in-the-house waking hours between the living room and the upstairs home office, it’s no surprise the living room gets so much dirt.

When life gets a little busy, or I choose to just take it easy, two weeks may go by before the vacuum and cleaning rags come out. That’s a scary time. When I see just how filthy the room gets in a two-week period, you’d think these dogs have marsupial pouches they cram dirt into all day long. As soon as we get home and turn our backs … that’s got to be when they reach into those DEEP pouches, grab hands paws full, and just throw it … everywhere.

I can’t imagine what our house will be like when we get a couple goats. JUST “kidding.” The goats won’t be allowed in the living room. That’s what the spare bedroom is for.

Stay focused, Holly. Shiny leaves.

Even if you don’t want to shine your plant leaves, it’s important to periodically clean the leaves. If the leaves get too much dirt on them, it can hinder the plant’s photosynthesis process.

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10 Things You Can do With Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin-seeds-outdoors

Pumpkin puree has center stage this time of year. There seems to be no limit to the ways pumpkin puree can be used: pumpkin pies, cakes, breads, drinks, and even body treatments.

Annually, pumpkin puree struts on stage like some kind of crazy peacock. All the while, the humble little pumpkin seeds sit quietly in the corner cheering and supporting them.

I felt sorry for the little guys, so today’s post is all about the pumpkin seeds. (Okay. Maybe a little too goofy.)

Here are 10 ways pumpkin seeds can be used.

1. Pumpkin Seeds for Next Year’s Garden

To have your pumpkin seeds make more pumpkins next year, here’s what you do.

Before baking your pumpkin (if you like to bake it whole) remove the seeds. Thoroughly rinse the seeds to remove all pumpkin guts. Place the rinsed seeds, singled layered, on a paper towel. After an hour or so place them on a new dry paper towel. (We like to reuse our paper towels.) Depending on the room humidity, the seeds may take as little as one week to a few weeks to dry. Periodically check on them, and toss any moldy seeds. Once they’ve dried, place the seeds in a paper envelope to save for next spring’s garden.

2. Baked Pumpkin Seeds

The flavors you can come up with for roasted pumpkin seeds are limited only by your imagination. If you can think of a spice you enjoy, then you’ll probably like pumpkin seeds with that spice.

Here’s one of the simplest roasted pumpkin seeds recipes you’ll find. I’m ALL about simple recipes.

3. Cornucopia Cookies

I recently tried some cookies that had pumpkin or squash seeds in them. I had intended to bake my own special concoction, but we’ve had some oven issues. We now have a working oven, but you know how it goes. Too many things you want to do and not enough time.

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How to Use Worm Castings

how-to-use-worm-castings

This is, by far, one of the easiest posts I’ve written because using worm castings is so easy to do. It’s also not a real “exciting” post, though, either. I’ll try to make up for that in some future posts. :)

In the last Compost Worms 101 installment, I walked you through how to harvest worm castings. Today, we’ll talk about how to use the castings.

Just as there are a number of ways worm castings can be harvested, there are also a number of ways they can be used:

  1. Mix the castings into the soil.
  2. Use the castings as a top dressing.
  3. Make a vermicompost “tea.”

It’s pretty much how you’d use any other compost.

This is technically called vermicompost since you’re not using ONLY worm castings (pooh). You’re using the worm castings, composted kitchen scraps, and anything else in the worm bin.

Mix the castings into the soil.

When you’re transplanting your plants, dig the hole and toss in a handful (or two, or three) of the castings. Mix in a little of the garden soil, and plop the plant in the hole with the rest of the needed soil. You’re done.

Use the castings as a top dressing.

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