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The Organic Gardener’s Secrets of Seeds and Seed Collecting

Seeds of plants however small and seemingly insignificant, are by far more advanced than the tiniest microchip of human design. Formed by the fusion of the male sexual cells contained within pollen grains with female sexual cells in the ovule of the flower, the resulting seed (zygote) will contain the entire blueprint (full set of chromosomes) for a complete plant body including its fruits and flowers.

A dormant seed only needs the energy from the sun and moisture to trigger its germination. Collecting seeds from the garden can be a fun and rewarding hobby and save you lots of money. Here follow many interesting facts about seeds that may crack some of the myths that make you spend more and produce less.

* Most flowering plants are self seeding. This means that by leaving crops after flowering to complete their life cycle by producing seeds, you will never have to sow them again.

* Leave some mature plants and observe where and how they disperse their own seeds and realise that we are basically not needed for this process!

* When flowering plants are completely dried out and their seed capsules wide open, cut at ground level and shake the entire bunch out directly over the area you would like the seeds to germinate in.

* Keep in mind that germination happens sporadically and in harmony with the seasonal and planetary cycles, so you may spare yourself from counting the days to allow for that element of surprise!

* Alternatively a few plants can be kept especially for seed harvesting, you will not harvest the flowers or fruit but leave them to form seeds for harvesting especially.

* Some seeds are a valuable source of nutrients for the health enthusiast: Sunflower, Sesame, Tobacco (seed only!), Evening Primrose and Hemp to name a few. All these can be added to cereals.

* Viable Poppy and Linseeds can be bought in bulk from your health store. It’s important to get to know the plants and flowers that produce them.

* Take the time to notice the individual capsules drying and opening when seeds are ready for harvest. If you wait too long rain may cause fungus and rot in pods and dry weather may lead certain types of seed pods to automatically disperse their seeds.

* Bend the stems of seeding plants downwards carefully turning ripe capsules upside down over a container. You may want to do this at least once a week in dry weather.

* Alternatively when seedpods turn in colour from green to shades of yellow or brown, plants can by cut in bunches and hanged up side down to dry out over a clean sheet of material of some sort, to be collected more easily.

* Seeds from peppers, chillies, watermelons, melons, pumpkins and various other fruits and vegetables, bought from the supermarket can be kept, dried and sown again to create offspring with fruits true to the ones it came from. Keep in mind that green peppers are not entirely ripened and its seeds may still be immature. Appleseed can be germinated to create identical offspring. Try to germinate the exotic avocado or mango!

* Squeeze the juice and seeds from your favoured tomato out on a used envelope or sheet of paper to dry. Remember to mark the date and description or variety.

* Store seeds in a cool dry space and make sure they are dry if you want to store them in air tight glass containers (preferably of a dark glass variety). Metal tins may also work.

* It is important to catalogue your entire collection and make sure each container is marked clearly with a name, description and date of harvest.

* Add a few cloves to each container to ensure you are not harbouring seed consuming insect larvas that will devour your seeds in order to turn into tiny beetles.

Adding Groundcovers to Your Landscape

What are Groundcovers and why are they good solutions for landscaping problems? Here is why;

Groundcovers add color and texture to an existing landscaping space. When it is challenging to design your garden or yard, groundcovers are the much needed solution. When they are properly taken care of, they retard weed growth, provide dense soil coverage and also prevent erosion. They come in different height ranges and various types, textures and colors ranging from evergreen to deciduous, woody to herbaceous and clumping to running. They are responsible for unifying different components in a landscape and soften hardscaping features like driveways, walkways and steps.

Apart from defining space, groundcovers also provide a transition between the taller plants used in beds and the lawn. A green landscape can look dull and boring after a period of time, so a groundcover with colorful flowers, attractive foliage and fruit can provide beautiful contrasting effects with texture and color. This creates various moods in your outdoor space. Large and coarse textured leaves create a feeling of closeness while small and smooth textured leaves create a feeling of spaciousness.

Groundcovers are most productive during the spring and fall, so make sure to plant them during that time. Preparing the area prior to planting definitely pays off. Make sure you remove perennial weeds from the bed before planting. You can use herbicides or cover the area with a black plastic sheet for a period of 2-3 months. Groundcovers require minimum amount of maintenance once planted. You need to irrigate them well so that the roots are firmly established in the soul. Summer planting requires more water and fall planting require mulching to prevent frost. Space out fasting growing groundcovers with slower growing ones. Plant them in diamond or staggered patterns for best results. Frequent shallow cultivation should also be undertaken to prevent the onset of weeds. Some groundcovers may require pruning to allow younger and vigorous stems to grow back in the area with attractive foliage.

Here are a few tips to add groundcovers to your landscape:

    • Before starting on planting groundcovers, you need to make sure that the soil is prepared for it. As with preparing for any sort of permanent planting, its always good to prepare the site beforehand. After all, groundcovers give function and long lasting beauty to your landscape. Their growth and performance all depends on the effort you put into soil preparation.
    • Use groundcovers as visual guides and traffic barriers for problem areas in your landscape. They are known to unify divergent components in your landscape.
    • You can plant groundcovers if you think that your lawn grass is too difficult to maintain in confined landscapes or either wont grow properly.
    • To bring out a transition between the taller plants in the garden bed and the lawn area, try using low groundcovers.
    • Choose a look for your landscape by selecting the right type of groundcover. Do you want to add year round beauty to your outdoor space? For that you can use evergreen groundcovers. If not, you can use herbaceous groundcovers that die back into the ground during winter.
    • Always take into consideration the height of the groundcover. Will you plant a four foot fern or a six-inch ajuga?
    • Select groundcovers based on the region you live in. Is it humid or dry? Too much sun or shade? Does the planting area contain sand or clay soil? Only groundcovers suited for your region with survive and thrive. You don,t need to take heroic measures to keep them alive.
    • You can use moss as a groundcover simply because it adds great vocal interest, color and texture to the landscape. Many consider it as a curse because its heavy and dense. But its actually maintenance free.