3 Big Reasons to Get Hooked on Gardening From Seeds

Gardening from seeds can be immensely rewarding. The variety of seeds is immense and they are inexpensive, too. And seeing a sprout emerge from a tiny seed is exciting for most gardeners. So, here are three things to keep in mind if you plan to try gardening from seeds.
  1. Gardening from Seeds is Not as Hard as You May Think

Flower lovers have almost nothing to lose here, as there are copious, colorful flowers you can easily start from seeds. Marigolds, morning glories, and sunflowers are among the easiest seeds to start, according to Better Homes & Gardens. All three will sprout in about a week and you can plant them directly into the garden instead of sprouting them indoors. Sprouting your seeds indoors is a great way to get ahead of the growing season. Also, it can spruce up your living space. Learning how to start seeds indoors is easy. It just takes a little soil, some seeds, and something to plant those seeds in. Repurpose items like old milk cartons, egg crates, and many other things to use as planters. In fact, you don’t have to spend much to get some seeds sprouting.
  1. You Might Just Feed Yourself

The purchase of greenhouse-grown plants can add up quickly. Growing from seeds is the best way to garden economically, according to this Denver Post article on gardening from seeds. And if your intention is to grow some food, that’s a perfectly realistic expectation. While some fruits will benefit from being sprouted and then transplanted, many leafy greens grow best when you plant them directly into the soil. Planting seeds for food will inform you about what you’re eating in a way that buying store-bought food doesn’t. You can use organic seeds and soil, and you can control whether to douse them in pesticides or herbicides, or not. Gardening your own food from seeds can be immensely rewarding. Also, you’ll gain knowledge about the plant itself. It literally grows before your eyes. How much more informed can you get about where your food is coming from?
  1. Expect to Get Hooked

If there’s one potential drawback to gardening from seeds. You may find yourself with a new hobby that begins to border on an obsession. Many gardeners, like British author Charlotte Mendelson, say gardening from seeds is addictive. The reason is simple: seeds are readily available in nearly every supermarket or hardware store your likely to find yourself in. They come in affordable little packets that supply you with hundreds, if not thousands of potential life forms that you can grow and tend to. Soon, you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment from nurturing your sprouts. Beware though, because you may find yourself sprouting seeds all year round and reading entire books on gardening. You might cease to care about saving money, or growing food, and instead come to view gardening as a means to an end. It’s a meditative practice through which you connect with the natural world and gain insights into the deepest mysteries of life. Okay, maybe not. But you can absolutely expect to see something grow. For some, the prospect of picking and choosing the proper flora for their garden presents a conundrum; a paradox of choice that never gets resolved. For others, a trip to the local greenhouse and the purchase of an armful of already-grown plants will suffice. Perhaps it’s only the most patient planters who will go the hard route of starting from scratch. But these are the folks who arguably get the most satisfaction out of the hobby. This year consider getting your spring garden going with seeds.

Easy Tips to Make Your Hydrangeas That Beautiful Blue

The color of the blooms of the mophead-type hydrangea with the scientific name hydrangea macrophylla is somewhere between blue and violet with a flash of silver. Blue hydrangeas almost defy description. But when you see them, you know there is nothing like those blue flowers. So how do you make this kind of hydrangea change from pink to blue? The key is to change the acidity or pH level in the soil. The more alkaline your soil is the pinker the flowers. Conversely, a higher acidity level yields bluer blooms.

Make Your Hydrangeas That Beautiful Blue

But before you move on to testing and adjusting soil acidity to make your hydrangeas blue, make sure that you’ve taken these measures to encourage them to thrive:
  • Provide protection from the winter cold. Move your hydrangea bush to a sheltered location near the house or behind a windbreak of trees. If you can’t move the bush, place a cage around it and cover it with shredded leaves.
  • Prune correctly. Avoid pruning your hydrangea when the buds are forming in the spring. Fall or late winter are better times to prune when its stalks are dry and have finished blooming.
  • Fertilize at the right time. Apply an organic fertilizer like Rose-Tone as soon as the leaves of the hydrangea start to come out. And then apply it again when you see buds on the plant. If the bush blooms a second time, it’s a good time to follow with another application of fertilizer.
  • Water properly. Too much water produces leaves and no flowers. So, wait until the leaves look a little dry after the sun is off the bush. If the plant doesn’t rebound, it needs water. Try running a hose at the base to avoid encouraging fungus if the leaves get wet.

How to Test the pH of Your Soil

Here is a simple way to check if your soil is acidic enough to grow blue blooms on your hydrangeas:
  • Take a handful of the soil from near the plant’s roots and place it in a container.
  • Pour distilled white vinegar over the soil.
  • If the white vinegar solution fizzes, the pH level is high, and the soil is alkaline. You will definitely need to amend the soil. If it doesn’t fizz, the soil is neutral or acidic, and you may not need to amend it as much.

How to Amend the Soil

Although you could use coffee grounds and ground-up citrus peels to adjust your soil’s acidity, there is a lot of guesswork involved in this method. A more straightforward way to do this is to use aluminum sulfate, which you can purchase at your local garden center. The chemical composition of aluminum is responsible for creating those coveted blue hues. To use aluminum sulfate for encouraging your H. macrophylla to turn blue, follow these steps:
  • Dissolve one tablespoon of aluminum sulfate in a gallon of water.
  • Drench the plant’s root zone with the solution in early to mid-spring, but don’t overdo it. You may need to adjust the application depending on when the buds form in your growing zone.
  • Mulch your hydrangea with pine needles, pine bark and/or leaf litter.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid applying fertilizers that contain phosphorus. This element binds with aluminum and reduces the effectiveness of the solution you’ve just applied.
If you are willing to take the time and effort to give your hydrangeas the care they deserve, they might just reward you with those big, beautiful blue blooms. All it takes is a little time and know-how on your part.

The Big Benefits of Growing Your Own Vegetables

Growing your own vegetables and herbs can bring many benefits. By gardening, you could save the environment and some money, too. Many people don’t know all the benefits gardening has on the earth and their lives. So, read on to find out about the big benefits of growing your own vegetables.

Gardens Filter the Air and Water

Gardening helps reduce Co2 levels and raise oxygen levels. Plants, as we all know, improve our air quality by taking in Co2 and releasing oxygen. As humans, we require oxygen to continue living. Through this, you can see how important it is to keep planting. Not only do plants help your oxygen levels, but they also help keep your groundwater clean. Plants have a complex root system, which allows them to filter water. Filtering water, in turn, helps clean our groundwater. So, by planting a small garden, you could increase your freshwater significantly.

Make Your Own Garden Compost

If you want to take gardening to the next level, then try composting. Composting is a beautiful way to help the environment while saving on fertilizers. All you must do is purchase two 50 gallon drums and start filling them up with organic waste. Or, you could merely throw your compost in a pile. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. According to the EPA, you should keep your compost pile in a dry, shady place that is kept moist. You should also keep a good variety of composting materials to ensure favorable conditions. In addition to the organic waste, you should add some hay or grass to speed the decomposition process.

Save Some Money

So, does gardening save money? The simple answer is yes, gardening saves money by ending the need to purchase produce. For example, a Jalapeno plant, at the Home Depot costs $1.67. And one jalapeno plant can produce 25 to 35 pods. That’s anywhere between 1.5 to almost three pounds. Three pounds of fresh jalapenos go for over $12 on Amazon, which is significantly more than buying the seeds. In addition to buying seeds, you may need to buy fertilizer. However, if you use the composting method, this expense could be cut entirely from your budget. Growing your own vegetables is an alluring task that can make your day brighter. Start gardening to save money and the environment in one go. And you could even save money on trash removal by composting.

How to Use Container Gardening to Make the Most of Your Small Space

For apartment dwellers with green thumbs, few things can be more disappointing than watching another planting season come and go with nothing to show for it. But there is hope. Container gardening can be an excellent solution for those who love to grow but have limited space in which to so. These tips and tricks will help you make the most of what you have, while still providing excellent results.
  1. Remember, Plants are Still Plants

Whether you’re container gardening outside or inside, plants still need air, sunlight and water to flourish. So choose plants that will thrive in your available conditions. For example, if your window is partially obstructed, choose plants that don’t require full sun. Or if you’ve been known to forget to use the watering can choose hardy plants that can handle a little neglect.
  1. Pick the Right Materials

Different plants have different sized root systems, so be sure to research the root depths of your dream garden before committing to a container. Or, go the opposite way: choose your containers, then find plants that will do well in them. Whichever way you go, make sure the planter has holes to drain water and get soil appropriate for indoor growing.
  1. Strategize to Optimize

You can save space by growing vegetables together in the same pot, as long as they’re not competing for resources. For instance, if you plant climbers like beans or peas in a pot with a trellis, then plant root vegetables like carrots or radishes around them. That way, you can maximize your available space and still have healthy greenery. You can also mix plants that grow quickly with those that take longer to mature. No matter where you are, there are ways to have your garden in a small space. By taking these container gardening tips into account, you’ll soon be ready to start your indoor nursery. Soon, you’ll have your harvest ready to enjoy, even if you are new to planting in small spaces.