Sunday, April 11, 2010

Putting some Spring into your step! Or your lawn, or your terrace, or your patio...

I've been covering a lot of heavy stuff lately, it seems.  Not to say that any of that is unimportant - I wouldn't have posted about it if it wasn't.  However, I do feel that it's time for a much-needed change of mood!

Spring in GreenSwamp, Florida is a BEAUTIFUL sight.  There are so many different shades of green that Crayola would pee their pants if they came and hung out for a while.  Azalea bushes, Orange trees, Wisteria, Magnolia trees, Plum trees... the list of things blooming with beautiful flowers and scents is endless.

It is also THE time to start your gardens in GreenSwamp.

Here we have Kinder Major showing off her greenhouse and the seedlings we've started for our vegetable garden:

Those seedlings were planted by her in re-constituted growing pellets (the flat, hockey-puck looking discs of soil they sell exactly for that purpose,) and she also helped assemble our mini-green house.

Show right to left are Bell Peppers, Big Boy Tomatoes, and Zucchini and Crookneck Squashes.

Planting seedlings is probably one of THE best activities you can do with a younger child.  Their tiny little fingers are perfect for poking seeds down in the soil, and they (as I'm sure you well know,) really love to get their hands dirty.

You also don't need a fancy green house like ours to have seedling success.

There's a couple of different options available to you if you really want to actively ensure a proper sprout and start for your seedlings.  You can build your own green house for indoor seedlings, or you can build little individual greenhouse covers for seedlings you start directly in the ground outside.

For an indoor greenhouse, you can do one of two things:  You can buy a kit like I did, or you can DIY your own out of upcycled materials.

The kits can be found at any home improvement store and run from $50 and up.

Building your own can be done for under that amount, depending on what you have on hand and what you think you can get from freecycle/yard sales.

Start out with a three (or more) shelf bookcase.  I like the ones that have slats with spaces between them for shelves, because they allow the light to filter through to the shelves below, so you only have to use one light.  Install a shop light with a full-spectrum grow bulb under the top shelf.  (you will only be using the shelves below the grow light.)  Using a large piece of plastic sheeting like those used for painter's drop cloths, cover the bookcase on all sides.  Depending on how you arrange your plastic sheeting, you may need to cut yourself a flap for access.  Make sure to tack the sheeting down, you don't want it falling off the shelf unit.

Ta-da!  Easy, cheap greenhouse.  There are some excellent tips to be found at Charley's Greenhouse.  (I have no affiliation with Charley, I simply stumbled across his site when I was looking for ideas long ago, and have been visiting it faithfully ever since.)

The other option you have available to you  is starting your seeds outside, in the ground.  To ensure that they have the best chance at germinating, you may want to place individual portable greenhouses around them.  This... is ridiculously easy.

Get yourself a two-liter bottle, like the kind Coke or Pepsi come in.  Trim off the very bottom.  Wash out.  Place on top of planted, watered seeds.  Push down 1" to secure.  Remove cap.  Voila!  Insta-green house.  Removing the cap is important, because you want that area to be able to get air without letting out too much of that valuable condensation or heat.

These tips are guaranteed to help even those with the blackest of thumbs.  At the very least, we can lighten your thumbs to a lovely shade of beige. ;)

Go forth, plant and enjoy!  Live, Love, Garden.  :)

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