Archive for January, 2011

GG’s Latest Dig: Spring is on the way… Or is it?

A few tidbits from around the web to help with those wintertime blues:

  • Thinking ahead to starting vegetable seeds indoors?  The National Gardening Association has a video that can help.
  • This past Saturday, January 29th, was National Seed Swap day. If you missed celebrating it this year, check out the Food Not Lawns website for some great advice on how to organize your own seed swap.
  • The current garden club teacher at Youth Grow partner school Vernon K-8, Sarah Canterberry, has partnered with two other inspiring women to start a new business: A CSA called Living City. This is not your traditional CSA-you get your weekly fill of fresh veggies by learning to grow them in your backyard! Check it out!

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Growing Gardens’ Latest Dig: Milk Debates and Garden Tips

Many thanks to volunteer Katharina Steinmeyer for collecting these news bits and garden tips from all across the World Wide Web:

  • Get the scoop on the flavored milk debate: This article questions if encouraging kids to drink milk by adding sugary flavorings to it really is better than them drinking no milk at all.  And 15 teaspoons of sugar in our kid’s school breakfast? Getting sugar out of schools means getting it out of milk too, says head of Harvard nutrition.
  • Finally, a garden journal provides a year-to-year record. Now is a good time, while gardening has moved into low gear, to start a gardening journal to reflect on what happened in 2010 and to begin planning for the coming season.

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Winter Blues Cure: Grow an Indoor Herb Garden

It’s easy to get stuck in the garden doldrums this time of year. January’s cold, dark, wet weather can make you wonder if warm summer days and home-grown veggies will ever return. There is one way to bring back the fresh and fragrant feel of summer, though: growing herbs indoors! Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow in containers, don’t need a lot of care, and are a great addition to your everyday meals. Here’s what to do to keep your green thumb happy while waiting for spring.

Put a lid underneath your container to catch any overflow water.

What you’ll need:

Medium Size Containers: Cleaned yogurt cartons, clay pots, or any other container. Punch 3-4 pea sized holes in each for drainage.  You can put lids, saucers, plates, or shallow bowls underneath the pot to catch water.

Potting Soil: Any commercial kind will do, or make your own. Here’s a recipe from OSU Cooperative Extension.

Organic Fertilizer: Liquid fish emulsion, worm castings, or well broken down compost.

Drainage Helpers: A handful of gravel, broken clay pot shards, marbles, or crushed Styrofoam.

Herbs!: Look for seeds at garden stores, from catalogs or online. Having trouble deciding what to plant? Thyme, marjoram, basil, chives, mint, rosemary, oregano, and lavender are all excellent and easy herbs to grow. Check out this online guide for more information about these and other herbs.

You can also take fresh cuttings from already established herbs. If you decide to take cuttings choose an herb that has a soft stem rather than woody, as these are easier to start.  Basil is a good choice. Cut a stem 4-6 inches in length with new baby leaves forming at the top. Put the stem in a glass of water in a well lit area, but out of direct sunlight. You should notice tiny, hair like roots forming in 8-12 days.

Preparing a yogurt container

Planting:

1) Place your drainage helper in the bottom of each pot so it takes up about 1/6th of the depth of the pot.

2) Add your prepared potting mix. Mix in any compost or worm castings you’ve got—a handful or two in each pot will carry your herb garden through the winter.

3) Fill your pot up about 2/3 of the way if you are transplanting, then carefully center and spread your plant’s roots, filling in with soil to just under the first leaves. Gently tamp down and add more soil to your pot until the top feels firm and stable. If you’re using seeds fill the pot with soil to about an inch from the top, spread the seeds over the top according to the directions on the seed packet, then sprinkle soil over seeds and lightly tap it down.  In either case, water once you’ve finished planting.

4) Once your herbs are planted, place in a well-lit location in your home away from drafts or drying heat, such as heater vents or drafty windows. The sill of a south-facing window works best. Keep your little garden consistently moist. You can add a teaspoon of liquid fish fertilizer to two quarts of water for consistent nutrition as you water. You may also want to pick up a spray bottle to give your herbs a quick freshening, as humidity in homes is much lower then out doors. Once your plants get established, feel free to pluck and trim a sprig here and there. Herbs love being groomed and will usually respond with rapid new growth.

Enjoy!

-Written by volunteer Sara Dysinger

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