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Are you planning to start a garden winds replacement canopy for the windsor gazebo standard 350 beige_700032 this year? Congratulations! It?s a big deal! Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, growing a garden is good for everybody. It feeds the soul and the soil, and can even feed your family. Organic gardens are as good for the earth as they are for its lucky inhabitants. The secret to growing a healthy, lush garden all begins with a single seed. Seed Starting 101: all you need to start a garden from seed this year

Starting a garden off right with healthy seeds sets the roots for how the garden will grow the rest of the year. Sure, yeah, you can help to manage sick plants and dried out leaves, but starting seeds with good intentions and mad skills will make the rest of the year?s jobs a whole lot easier. Some of you may think I?m crazy, but I believe that how you care for the seeds will be reflected in the plant that grows, and the fruit that ripens. The garden is resting now. Perhaps even covered by a blanket of snow. Now there is ample time to slow down, plan, and nurture the very best plants to grace your garden beds.

 Seed Starting 101:  Start your own seeds this spring and revel in your gardening wizardry

?I made this!?, I gloat while serving up a dish made entirely of food that I grew in my garden. Well, ?gloat? is probably not the right word. I prance around like the fantastical wizard I am, cheering about my mad skills in making real food from tiny seeds. It took me months. I had some fatalities. But overall, it?s fairly simple to grow from seeds. And more importantly, it?s awesome. Here are some basics for starting your own seeds at home.

Choose Your Seeds
Starting seeds early in the season is a great way to save money on annuals, which are flowers, herbs, and vegetables that will flower or fruit in the first year. More advanced propagatrixes could also start perennials from seed in many cases, but it is a more difficult and time-consuming process as perennials may need many months, or even years, to reach the size of a nursery plant.

Seed companies in your area should sell the right seeds for your climate, but do make sure that you pick the right plants for your experience level. If you?re a seedling yourself when it comes to propagation, don?t bother starting watermelons in Northern Ontario. Many seed companies will also list a difficulty rating that will help to guide you.

Read the Packet
Following the instructions on the seed packet will give you the best possible start, unless the growing directions read like my radicchio, ?sow seeds a few days after a moonless night?, which may as well be gibberish. The majority of seed instructions will list everything you need to start seeds, like when and where to sow, planting depth and spacing, special watering requirements and days to germination. Some will also list special information like germination temperatures, repeat sowing, transplanting, and thinning. Following the instructions gives you the best chance of success, so those map-hating, instruction-scoffing types out there best pack away their stubbornness for this project.

Containers
You can start seeds in just about anything you can find around the house that will create a mini-greenhouse, or you can buy all sorts of interesting setups to best suit your needs.

Greenhouse Kits
Many different are available now. Most will have a plastic tray with a clear plastic greenhouse dome. Some come with a soilless mixture for starting seeds, like peat pellets that expand to a mini seed pot when soaked in water. Others may have coconut fiber pots that you can transplant right along with your seedling. Others may even have a that gently warms soil to improve germination.

The beauty of these kits is that you can start a large number of seeds individually in one tray (up to 72) and . The drawback is that the seedlings will need to be replanted, either in the garden or a larger pot, in a few weeks. Leaving seedlings in small pots with no nutrition will cause unwanted stress to the plants.

Seed-Starting Trays
Garden retailers will sell many different types of professional-grade seed-starting trays, domes, and inserts with features like root training, moisture control, automatic watering, and grow lights. Certainly, many of these features have value in starting the year?s plants off on the right foot and can be used over and over.

Household Items
An inexpensive and creative way to start seeds is to use household items as seed containers. Lining a seed tray with pots made from toilet paper tubes, newspaper, or egg cartons will cost nothing. At times your family may think you?ve gone mad given how excited you will become when you get to take home the plastic cake dome from the party. But come on, that?ll make a really great greenhouse dome, right? Search for biodegradable paper products you can plant right in the ground or food-safe plastic containers that you can use as mini-greenhouses for your containers if you are on a budget.

Growing Medium
You can buy a pre-made seed starter soil or you can make your own with a mix of three parts peat, two parts compost, and ten percent perlite. This mixture is light and holds moisture well, so it is wonderful for helping seeds germinate. All growing mediums will need some time to absorb water, so add moisture and let it soak in for an hour before planting.

Be sure to use a sterile mix if you are starting seeds indoors. Soil or compost from the garden will bring in all sorts of critters, like soil gnats, which will drive you freakin? crazy as you run around your propagation trays like a mad person swatting and squashing an endless supply of teeny tiny flies.

Moisture
Germination will be best in a moist environment for most seeds, so keeping the soil damp and a greenhouse dome on top will keep the right amount of humidity for optimal germination. Keep the soil from drying out by checking it daily. Water gently, from the bottom where possible, so as to not damage the seedlings about to emerge.

Damping Off Fungal Disease

Damping Off
?Damping off? is a term for a fungal growth which looks like fuzzy hairs on the stem of the seedling. This fungal growth will kill the seedling so it?s bad, real bad. To prevent damping off, occasionally spray with a bottle of 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide and vent the greenhouse dome on a regular basis to regulate humidity.

Light
Seeds won?t need light until they emerge from the surface of the soil, but then they will need strong sunlight for most of the day to prevent them from becoming leggy (overly tall and spindly = weak). You can supplement a lack of sunlight with fluorescent lighting, either buying a set of grow lights made for seed starting or by making your own with florescent shop lights.

Thinning
Generally, the seed instructions will suggest that you plant 2-3 seeds per pot and thin out all but the strongest. This seems to be the thing that some gardeners have the hardest time with. If three strong tomato seedlings have popped up in one tiny peat pot, then the gardener rushes off to get tweezers and separate out the three wee plants and re-pots them all. More inexperienced gardeners will damage each plant, giving none a strong chance at survival, so it?s best that you grab a clean pair of scissors and snip all but the strongest seedling in each pot and be done with it.

Hardening Off
As the seedlings grow into plants and the date to plant outside is getting near, it?s time to start hardening them off, or toughening them for their natural environment. I like to start by opening a window a few hours a day so they get a breeze. Then start moving the trays outside, out of direct sunlight, for a few hours. Start at one hour and gradually increase to a full day outside. By the time your plant date has arrived, you can safely transfer your tough little soldiers directly into the ground, with some delicious compost and a thorough watering, to brave the elements on their own.

Seed starting is such an interesting and magical process, especially for children, so it?s the perfect activity to do as a family this coming spring. The months that you?ve spent germinating and raising seedlings will be a series of trial and error, so expect some loss. Not every seed will germinate, not every seedling will survive being transplanted, and not every kind of plant will do well in your garden.

The gains will be clear when you have piles of leafy greens taking up every inch of your windowsills, bursting to get outside. Starting the plants off yourself ensures that you are in charge of the health of the plant and can control what goes into it. And the satisfaction you?ll feel from starting your own seeds is tremendous.

 

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This sweet and succulent valentine is just what Dr. Love ordered for the winter blues. It?s a thoughtful way to brighten up someone?s day without all the extra calories. A colorful collection of succulent cuttings set in a heart-shaped candy box will surprise and delight your lucky loved one, and it?s also just the right size to root a collection of cuttings. Make your own DIY succulent cutting propagation tray for Valentine?s Day and these beauties will be ready to head out to the garden by the time the frost has passed.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

It wasn?t easy, but I gave up sugar almost two years ago to help reduce the inflammation that was causing me to have Fibromyalgia flare ups. By ?gave up sugar,? I mean that I stopped eating all sugar, honey, maple syrup, and fruit. I did it cold turkey and I haven?t had a taste since. When I say ?It wasn?t easy,? it wasn?t just the cravings that were hard. I missed the celebrations that come with eating sugar. Two years worth of birthdays without even a bite of cake. Christmas cookies, pumpkin pie, and even cranberry sauce were left off my party plates. Since I love to celebrate, it has taught me to look for ways to treat myself without sugar.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

It?s a good thing I?m a gardener, because there is really no end to the treats that can be found at a garden center! It?s hard to think beyond candy for decadent Valentine?s Day goodies. Of course, there are flowers and cards. I won?t turn down either of those. Just in case you are looking for the perfect gift for me this February, let me show you the way to my heart with this succulent valentine.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

Materials

  • Metal with plastic insert
  • Bamboo skewer
  • (potted or cuttings)
  • Small paintbrush

Make it!

You can make a succulent valentine with either small succulents in pots or with cuttings (my preferred method). If you have some or , those will work well. When shopping for succulents, look for ones that are growing pups or have multiple stems. You can divide them up and root them for summer projects.succulents

Remove all of the candy from the box and give it away. I won?t judge you if you eat it yourself! I know that?s what I will be doing when I?m able to indulge again.candy box

Use the bamboo skewer to poke a hole in each one of the candy cells to provide some drainage.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

Fill the candy tray with cactus and succulent soil mix and water it to give the water time to absorb before planting.

Prepare the Succulents for Planting

If you have potted plants, remove them from the pots and shake the soil off the roots. If the roots are long, give them a trim.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

If you have plant divisions, remove them from the parent plant. Remove a few of the lower leaves to get a good stem to set into the soil. Allow these to dry for a few days before planting.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

Arrange the succulents in the tray by varying color, shape, and size of the plants. Use a paintbrush to dust excess soil off of the leaves.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

Fill in the spaces around the plants with reindeer moss to give the arrangement a finished look.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

Care Instructions

Your succulent valentine is a great way to root and grow new succulents until they are ready to move to larger pots. Rooting them around Valentine?s Day in the house will mean they will have strong roots by May when they can be used for a whole variety of projects.A sweet and sugar-free way to say I love you - make a succulent valentine

More Succulents!

 

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