Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How to raise the Humidity for your house plants?

Well winter still has a strong hold of us here in Iowa. The airs out side is dry and with everyone running our home furnaces on full force our houses are dry too. Most tropical house plants like humidity levels around 50%. Most homes are only around 15%. So here are some helpful idea’s to raise that humidity levels in your home.

1. You can always put a small humidifier in the room where you have the most plants.

2. Group house plants together. Be sure to leave some room between them so you do not create other problems, like insects or molds.

3. Pebble trays are great ways to raise the humidity direct around the plants. All you need to make a pebble tray are 2 things:

First get a plastic plant saucer several inches bigger that the base of the plant or take 2-3 small 4” pots and place them on a 14”-16” plastic tray. You are grouping the plants and using a pebble tray in one step. Next you will need some pea size gravel. Pet stores carry this in their fish departments and it is usually cheaper buying it there then at a garden center. Pour the pebbles into the plastic tray; the pebbles should be 1” deep. Place plants in tray and fill with water leaving the top of the pebbles out of the water. The pots will be setting on top of the pebbles and with the water level staying below the top of the pebbles you will not get water in your pots. As the water evaporates off the surface of the pebbles this provides the need humidity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Winter Gardening Blues

With winter here, it's a little hard to go out and play in the dirt, but there still is "gardening" things to do. Most of us have started to get seed catalogs. So there is no time like the present to start thinking about what you want to plant. If you are a veggie grower you can draw up your garden plans now. Don't forget to rotate your crop. You can try a new veggie this year you have never planted before. Take this time do some reading up on problems you may have incountered last growing season.

In the winter you can give your house plants a little more of your time too.

Take a trip to your local garden center, many are starting to get their garden seeds in too. Many garden centers are not too busy this time of year, and you can visit with them about problems you may have had last year. Or talk to them any new project you are thinking about.

Winter does not have to be blue. It can be GREEN!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Planting & Growing Garlic Part One

The best time to plant garlic in the mid-west is in the fall. Garlic is a very easy plant to grow and it is nice having your own supply, especially if you like to cook.

A little about garlic first: Garlic’s botanical name is Allium sativum. Garlic is in the Liliaceae Family. Onions, Leek, and Shallot are all in the same family.

The first year you will have to buy your garlic cloves to plant, but once you harvest your first crop you will be able to plant garlic the following year from your own yield. There three main types of garlic, Stiff-neck, Soft-neck, and Elephant. Stiff-neck has fewer cloves but is generally larger and easier to peel. Soft-neck has many smaller cloves but is harder to peel. Elephant is the mildest of the garlic and is used a lot for stews; garlic mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. The smaller you cut up garlic the stronger the flavor. This is true for your Stiff and Hard – necked varieties.

Plant your garlic in the fall before the first hard freeze in a location that receives full sun. Garlic is a bulb similar to tulips and needs time to grow in the warm weeks before frost to germinate and get their roots started. It is okay if they sprout up before frost. Be sure to water them in well in the fall. The soil should be well drained and have plenty of organic matter (Compost). You should plant Stiff-neck or Soft-neck cloves about 2 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart. Elephant should be 3-4 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. Use only the biggest cloves for planting; they produce bigger bulbs for harvest. Do not break the gloves off of the bulb until you are ready to plant. Before the ground freezes, mulch the garlic in. Shredded leaves work great to protect the garlic cloves during the winter months. The mulch helps keep an even temperature; it also helps with retaining moisture and controlling weeds! It acts like a warm blank for the garlic during our cold Iowa winters.

There is nothing more to do till spring so we will pick up with the rest of growing garlic in the spring.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Here is a Female Black Swallowtail. The males do not have as much blue, but they have more yellow. She is feeding on my Zinna plants.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Don’t Forget to Admire your Flowers

We have worked hard so far this growing season weeding and watering our flowers. Now is the time to cut some and bring them in to the house to ADMIRE. Here I have Zinnia’s, Cosmos, and Northern Sea Oat Grass. The blue bottle is an empty wine bottle. You don’t have to use a traditional vase, using different sizes and colors or grouping of vases give you different look. Just have fun. So go cut some flowers and bring some color inside.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hot Summer Heat--Tips for Plants

During July and August the weather is generally very HOT.. Here are some tips to keep your Annual flowers blooming and looking healthy.

1st-- Make sure they are being watered regularly. When they get too dry that put stress on the plant.

2nd-- You should also be fertilizing your flowers at about 1/2 strength 1-2 times a week.

3rd--If you are going to be gone for a day or two you can move some of your sun loving plants to a shady spot out of the direct sun while you are gone. This will give them a little rest from the heat and help with the watering while you are gone.

Don't forget to stay cool yourself!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Parsleyworm Caterpiller

This Parsleyworm is feeding on dill in my garden. They also like to dine on parsley, celery, fennel, and other plants in the carrot family Apiaceae. After he or she is done dinning for 3-4 weeks they will then form a pupa in a grayish chrysalis. After roughly two weeks an adult Black Swallowtail Butterfly will emerge. This butterfly will feed on nectar, mate, and lay eggs to produce more Parsleyworm caterpillers. In the midwest there is generally two hatchings of Black Swallowtail Butterflies. When fall comes the caterpillers form a chrysalis and stay in their chrysalis until spring of the next year, when they start this process all over again. I will be watching for the Black Swallowtail Butterflies when they hatch and post a photo at that time.