Monday, March 30, 2009

Gardening 101

This week we will be learning how to grow plants from seeds. There are a lot of reasons to start your garden from seeds. Buying seed packets can be a lot cheaper than buying the plant itself. You can not only get these seeds started inside, but if you use containers, you can continue to grow them inside even in the winter.

So what do you need:

Seed packets (choose small versions of plants if you are doing this inside or if you have a very small area to plant in, such as: cherry tomatoes instead of the bigger versions)

Containers to plant in (egg cartons, milk cartons, yogurt cups, butter bowls, etc)

Potting soil

What to do:

Put the potting soil in your container. Using your finger, make a little hole and plant one seed in each hole. Make sure you put your container in a sunny spot in your house (a window sill works very well for this)...if you don't have any windows that let in a lot of sun, then you can purchase "grow lights" or "grow light systems" that you can use as artificial sun.

You can stick the seed packet over an ice cream stick and keep this with the containers that you have planted the seeds in. This way you will know what is coming up and you will have the further directions if you need them.

You need to keep the soil moist (but don't over water, when your seeds/small plants are in these smaller containers you can use a spray bottle and spray water over your plants...this will be like a little indoor rain for your starter plants).

It won't be long and your plants will start to sprout. They are officially called "seedlings" when you have a green plant with two leaves.

If you are going to put these plants in your outside garden then you will want to get your plants use to the cooler weather of the outdoors. When it gets a little warmer out during the day, you can put your plants outside to get them use to this outdoor weather but make sure you bring them inside at night so the frost doesn't get them. After the last frost (check with your local greenhouse to find out when that might be), then you are ready to plant your plants outside.

This is where you will plant your new seedlings in your little raised garden that you created last week. Follow the directions on the seed packet as to how to plant your new plants.

If you are going to keep your new plants inside or on your back porch, you will need to 'transplant' your seedlings into larger pots. Put potting soil in your larger pots, poke a hole big enough for your new seedling. Carefully remove your seedlings for their small pots (ask for your parents help). Put your seedling in its new pot and water.

How do you know when you should water your young plants? Stick your finger down in the dirt, the dirt should be moist up to your large knuckle on your pointer finger (where your finger bends) .

If your plants are starting to look like they need a quick pick-me-up, ask your parents to save their coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are really good for your plants.

With a little care, it won't be long now and you will be enjoying your home-grown garden vegetables.

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