How To Grow Your Own Quinoa At Home

485575052Quinoa is a grain like crop that’s grown for its edible seeds. Its leaves can also serve as vegetables, albeit on a limited scale. The plant thrives in well-drained soils and needs a considerably long maturing season. It also requires warm temperatures not exceeding 90°F (32°C.

How to Grow Quinoa

Quinoa resembles lambs’-quarters especially during the early growth stages. Seeds should thus be sown in rows to avoid confusion with the weeds. Due to the small size of the seeds, one could preempt thinning by mixing it with radish seed or sand, as is at times done with carrot seeds.

The small seeds need good surface preparation and sufficient moisture for them to germinate successfully. They should be sown in quarter inch deep rows with about one and a half to two feet between rows. One could plant them by hand or use a row seeder.

After germination, the seedlings need to be thinned to yield a 6-18-inch gap between them. The thinned seedlings can be used as additions to salads. One gram of seed sows about 50 feet of row, with an acre requiring about a pound.

Quinoa Garden Maintenance

Though quinoa is a low maintenance crop, it’s normally affected by weeds, especially in the early growth stage. There are two ways in which they can be avoided, namely mulching and cultivating. If soil moisture is sufficient, germination could be achieved without irrigation.

In such a case, one should start watering the plants only when the reach the two- or three-leaf stage. Quinoa appears to grow slowly at first but is tremendously drought resistant. When the plants reach a height of 1-2 feet, they start growing rapidly with the canopy closing in.

This helps shade out the weeds and keeps moisture evaporation low. During inspections, one may notice symptoms of insect larvae munching the seedlings. This shouldn’t be much of a concern as it won’t impact the harvest significantly.

Harvesting Quinoa

The plant is ready for harvesting when all leaves have fallen and only the dried seed heads remain. One should watch the weather when the plant reaches this stage because the dry seeds could germinate if rained on. If the heads haven’t dried completely, they should be harvested when the seeds are hard enough to resist indentation when pressed with thumbnails. They then need thorough drying before storage.

To determine if the plant is harvestable, the flower heads should be shaken briskly but gently. If the seeds fall off readily, then one could commence harvesting. Ripe grain can be gathered easily in dry weather by bending the plants over a bucket and rubbing the seed heads between one’s hands.

The seeds need to be cleaned by winnowing using a fan. Further drying is usually necessary to keep off mold during storage. One can spread it on trays during hot days or use an indoor heat source. One should keep stirring them from time to time until they’re completely dry. Quinoa seeds should be stored in in a cool, dry place using air-tight containers.

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How To Grow Spaghetti Squash In Your Garden

487479144How to Grow Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squashes take 90 to 100 days to harvest, require regular watering, warm weather and a full sun. For this reason, the seeds should never be out before the frost day has gone by. Of course, you can start the seedlings indoors. For that, you will need to culture the seeds a month before the frost date.

Keep this in mind that you are not to bring them out until after two weeks of the last frost date. Dig up the soils well and loose when planting the seedlings and make sure to add some manure and compost to the soil so that it becomes nutrient-rich. When planting, you must allow a space of at least three inches between each hill.

Some consider the idea of planting vertical spaghetti squashes, but it is normally not a good idea. These fruits grow large and heavy in size and the mature ones cannot be expected to hang unless you provide enough structures and trellises to support the fruit.

For the first few weeks, weed out the space around the hills. Thereafter, once the plants have started to mature, they will create their own sheds and would be able to keep the weeds at bay. Once the peak of summer has passed, we advise you to remove any new blossoms that are there since there will not be enough time for them to grow.

As for insect care, a spaghetti squash vine is robust enough to withstand most insect damages. However, keep an eye out for big cucumber beetles and squash bugs. They can hide inside blossoms or under the leaves, so make sure to check carefully. If the large leaves turn mildew, apply some fungicide sprays and water the plants only at the soil and not on the leaves.

Unlike other varieties of squashes, you cannot pick spaghetti squashes when small. You can harvest them only when they are fully mature. You can tell that they are fully mature when the outer skin of the fruit becomes hard enough to withstand a hard push from your fingernails.

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Growing Eggplants The Right Way

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Heat-loving eggplants are easy to grow where summer is long and warm. They produce the biggest fruits during this growing season and will give you a handful of eggplants a week. Eggplant varieties differ mainly in size, shape, the color of the fruits, growth habit, and maturation period. Here are some methods on how to grow eggplant to get a bountiful harvest and a glowing garden in return:

Any fertile soil with a pH level ranging from 6.3 to 6.8 can satisfy this plant, but raised beds enriched with composted manure are the best growing sites. Gardeners in cool climates grow their plants in a large and dark-colored containers for warmth. Although the eggplant’s leathery leaves can withstand hot weather, make sure to leave a generous mulch of hay or any biodegradable materials beneath the plants to keep the soil cool. This method will not only hold the moisture, but it will also keep the weeds down.

Another important thing to consider is your gardening space. This factor is important because eggplants usually grow tall and with angular plants. Your space should keep them 24 to 36 inches apart. To fertilize plants, mix a balanced timed-release or organic compost by following the rates provided on the label. Make sure to keep your plants watered so they will not be small and bitter. Tie them to stakes to avoid the fruits from falling over. Alternatively, you can use small tomato cages for additional support.

In some areas, a common soil-borne fungus called Verticillium Wilt is the reason eggplants wilt and die. To avoid this problem, fill your eggplant containers with premium potting mix. You will know that the eggplant is ready for harvest if they have hard flesh and small seeds. A perfect fruit has a glossy skin and well-formed but immature seeds. They will taste bitter when underripe or overripe, so knowledge in harvesting is a must if you want to master how to grow eggplant.

Eggplants may be considered a finicky plant, but if you can keep them warm and free from pest damage, you can enjoy an excellent harvest.

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Growing Fresh Stevia In Your Garden

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Stevia is an exciting plant for herbal garden because of its natural and calorie free sweetness. The perennial plant loves the warm sun but dies back in a freeze. In zone 9 and warmer conditions, the roots survive the winter and often come back in spring. With protection, it can also survive winter in zone 8. Herbal gardeners in frost-free areas love growing the plant all year-round and allow it to grow into small scrubs. Its vigor tends to decline after the second year, so replanting is encouraged if you want maximum amount of foliage.

Planting and Care

Stevia needs around 18 inches space or room of its won. If you are gardening in containers, give stevia at least a 12-inch pot with the right potting mix. It’s better to place it in full sun and remember to water it when the top inch of the potting gets or feels dry.  It grows up to 1 to 3 feet in height in loamy and well drained soil. However, this depends on the growing season. Don’t plant during frost: wait until all the danger of frost have passed before you plant stevia. You can also mulch to prevent it from drying during hot summer days.

Good Drainage Is Important

Stevia doesn’t do well in soggy soil, so ensure that it has good drainage to prevent its roots from drying out. One tale-tell sign of rot is wilting, especially if doesn’t recover after you’ve watered it. The great thing about stevia is the fact that few insects bother it.

Harvest and Storage

Stevia’s leaves are sweetest in cool temperatures and taste best prior to blooming. To preserve it and make it more convenient to use, you can dry it. One day should be enough to dry stevia leaves. Ensure that you bring the leaves in before dew dampens them again. Food dehydrators can be used to dry the leaves. Once they are dry, crush or powder them with a food processor. Store in a cool dry and airtight container.

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The Basics Of Growing Leeks In Your Garden

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Leeks are sweet, easy-to-grow, elegant cousins to onions—they play the role of onions in our dishes, only that they are a bit toned down. Unlike onions, they don’t produce bulbs; they store their flavor in juicy stems, similar to giant scallions. They are famous for leek and potato soup and are also great when steamed like asparagus, chopped in quiche, oven-roasted, or when wrapped in ham and baked.

Growing leeks is pretty simple and doesn’t require much space in the garden. Frost-tolerant leeks can survive well in cool weather conditions. In zone 7 and warmer areas, they can overwinter, making them suited for planting in fall.

Planting and Care

Leeks do well in sunny spots with fertile and well-drained soil. They need to be spaced 6 inches apart during planting and can thrive in conventional garden beds, raised beds, or containers. Leeks need lots of nitrogen and consistent moisture. Accordingly, endeavor to add organic fertilizer or compost to the leek garden or bed prior to planting. After planting, try to mulch the leek bed with organic materials to help the soil around them retail moisture.

To develop succulent stems, leeks need to be blanched—hidden or covered from the sun. So ensure that you plant them in deep holes. Inconsistent moisture yield leeks with tough stems, so it is best to water leeks as appropriate—an inch of water in a week.

Harvesting Leeks

You can begin harvesting leeks just about any time. Typically, it’s recommended to allow them get at least 1 inch or bigger in diameter; however, you are allowed to dig young ones to eat like scallions. In zone 7 and warmer areas, you can harvest them all winter long. In cold areas, however, it is advisable to extend the harvesting season by deep mulching (up to 1 feet deep) before a hard freeze. Leeks can still be harvested until they are locked frozen in the ground. However, there is no need of waiting for that to happen; you can harvest and store. Before you store leeks, wash the stems to remove the soil or grit which may have been trapped between the leaves.

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Growing Brussel Sprouts In Your Garden

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Brussel sprouts are an incredibly delicious vegetable. The tiny cabbage-like heads are readily available all through the year and they are delicious roasted, pan-fried, or braised. The good news is that you don’t have to spend money buying these vegetable as you grow them quite easily at home. Here are a few tips that should get you started:

o Brussels sprouts are a hardy plant and sprouts are ready for harvest in 90-120 days of planting. In fact, you do not need a large garden patch for the plant and you can cultivate the plant in a garden box, terrace box, or window box.

o Seeds are readily available. Plant the seeds indoors for 6-8 weeks. Once the seeds sprout, you can then move them to a well-watered window box. Plant the seedlings 12-24 inches apart. Make sure you plant before the frost as the plant does well in light cool weather.

o The plant requires six hours of sunlight and soil pH should be on the higher side. Use a soil pH tester to ensure that the soil has the acquired nitrogen content. Fertilize the seedlings three weeks after they’ve been transplanted.

o Do not cultivate as the plant has very shallow roots. Mulching is preferred as the plant likes cool sand and cool weather. Try to use a liquid fertilizer as this is absorbed much faster than solid fertilizer.

o Sprouts start at the bottom and are ready to harvest when they become 1-2 inches in size. Remove sprouts by twisting them off the plant. You can refrigerate the sprouts for up to five days after harvest.

o The plant continues to produce sprouts as it grows and it has an extended harvest period. A single plant can produce up to three pounds of sprouts in a single season.

As you can see, you can learn how to grow Brussel sprouts quite easily. All it requires is a little hard work and effort. In case you are having problems, you can always write in to us at suppliesforgreenhouses.wordpress.com. We welcome queries and our staff will be happy to help you with any problems.

Winterizing Your Garden For Winter Wildlife

459617923Most animals are looking for reliable sources of water, high-energy foods, and places to take cover from winter weather and predators. Your winter garden can provide these needed habitat elements for such animals to stay active and healthy all winter. Here are a few ways that you can apply in winterizing your garden for the winter wildlife:

Provide Food

The best way to provide winter food for animals during winter is to plant vegetation that can produce nuts, seeds, and berries. Berry-producing shrubs and other small trees that produce fruits are great food sources for birds and other mammal species.

Place Bird Feeders

Bird feeders see the most activity in winter when food is scarce. Place feeders at strategic places where they will be protect from the wind and where you and your family will have easy viewing. Feeders will not only provide food for the birds, but for squirrel, mice, and other predators like owl and foxes that feed on small seed-eating animals.

Create a Brush Pile

By collecting yard debris like twigs, fallen branches, and leaves, you can create a cover for birds, and other small animals such as rabbits. You will also create hibernation places for insects, box turtles, and salamanders. Fallen leaves and branches can also be used for mulching to protect roots from freezing temperatures.

Provide Water

Water can be scarce for wildlife animals in winter as most of their natural sources are frozen. Keeping your birdbath clean and ice-free will help birds and other animals survive the winter. Heated birdbaths are even better as they keep water warm enough to keep the animals from freezing.

Create a secure Cover for animals

Planting evergreens such as fir, spruce, and cedar can provide vital cover for songbirds and other small mammals. Dead trees that don’t pose hazards to your family can also be left standing to provide safe cavities for raccoons, flying squirrels, and many other wildlife species. You can also install roosting boxes.

If you are avid backyard wildlife watcher, winter is the right time to brush up your identification skills. We provide resourceful ideas and tips on gardening. Follow us for more articles that keep your garden looking great.