Posts Tagged ‘peat moss’

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March Gardening Madness

March 5, 2012

The bridge between winter and spring

March is a maddening interval for gardeners. Oftentimes, the soil is still too wet or cold to work. Gardeners go stir crazy itching to dig into the soil, amend beds, and plant until his or her body aches from bending over. Flipping through garden catalogs and magazines only worsens the desire to get close to nature. My solution is to repot, replace potting mix, or create new plantings in unused or new containers.

Conditions for repotting:

Start by checking the existing potted plants around your landscape to see if the plants are root bound or if the mix has hardened, a sure sign it no longer allows good oxygen circulation needed for healthy roots. There are three ways to check the condition of the soil in potted plants:  1) look for roots reaching outside the drainage hole; 2) if the soil is moist, gently lift the plant out of the pot. If there are more roots than soil, it’s time to repot; 3) stick a hand trowel into the soil six inches deep to see if the soil is compacted or fluffy.

Type of outdoor potting mix

These days, most gardeners can’t afford the ‘best’ potting mix but if possible avoid purchasing the ‘cheapest’. Choose an all-purpose blend of organic matter like peat moss, garden loam, or manure, and perlite. Together these will provide proper drainage and oxygen flow to the roots.

Now comes the fun part

Before heading to your local nursery, note the size pot required of each plant being repotted and how much potting mix you’ll need for this task or if you’re simply replacing the old mix. If you’re starting from scratch select plants with same light and water requirements. When freezing temperatures is a danger, protect frost sensitive plants.

Planting up a pot or two will help diminish the stir-crazy itch of waiting to cross the bridge from winter and spring.

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Seed Jargon

January 16, 2012

New to growing seeds? Here are definitions for words you may read on seed packets or in catalogs:

  • Sow:  To scatter or to place seeds in a systematic matter in the soil or in seed starting cells for germination.
  • Seed starting cell, 6-pack, or plug tray:  Reusable plastic tray containing individual cells for starting seeds. Tray can contain a pack of six to 200 cells.
  • Fiber Pots, peat pots:  Starter pots made of biodegradable matter. Both pot and seedling are transplanted directly into the soil without disturbing the root system. Eliminates plant shock.
  • Soilless Mix or Seed Starter: A soilless blend, with fewer disease-free problems, that provides aeration, drainage, water retention, and holds nutrients. Often contains perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss. Soilless mix does not contain natural soil.
  • Seed master, seed sower, mini seeder, or dial seed sower:  A small hand tool used to control the flow and number of seeds sown at whatever spacing is required. Saves seeds and thinning time.
  • Germinate:  When a seed starts to sprout above the soil.
  • Seedling:  A young developing plant grown from a seed.
  • Thin or Thinning:  The removal of crowded seedlings in cells or ground for proper air circulation, light, and growing space for full development of the remaining seedlings.
  • Hardening-off:  To gradually toughen plants for new environment prior to transplanting into the garden. This is done over several days, increasing the time outside each day. Usually done when taking seedlings or transplants home from the nursery, out of the greenhouse, or moving them outside to a cold frame or protected area.
  • Transplant:  To plant a seedling (or mature plant) from one place to another, i.e., from cell to pot or soil, or from soil to pot.
  • Zone:  Regions in which particular plants grow well according to climatic and growing seasons.

Note: For help with catalog seed ordering read, Shopping for Seeds via Catalogs: Part I.

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