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10 Steps to Help Get Those Seeds Started Print E-mail
Written by Maree Gaetani, Gardener's Supply Company   

SeedlingsWe've noticed a significant increase in consumers wanting to either try seedstarting or elevate their capability with new equipment and lights. Here are 10 steps along that make seedstarting simple and successful:

1. Choose Seeds Wisely. If you're new to seed starting, stick with easy-to-grow vegetables and flowers such as tomato, cucumber, basil, squash, morning glories, bachelor buttons, calendula and cosmos. Don't start your seeds too early. Find the last expected frost date in your area and count back from that date based on the seed packet recommendations to determine when to start seeds indoors. Starting too early will create monster plants that need to be tamed because the outdoor environment isn't ready for them yet.

2. The Right Equipment. You can start seeds in just about any container, provided it's sturdy and allows for water drainage. However, for those new to seedstarting, complete systems are also available.

3. Start with the Right Organic Mix. For best success, use a seed-starting mix that contains peat moss and vermiculite. These ingredients provide a medium that holds moisture, drains water, and is light enough to germinate and grow even small seeds such as pansies.

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Celebrating the Gardeners at Esalen Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Amigo, Shirley and WendyThe article below was first posted on this site on May 5, 2010, after I attended an organic gardening workshop led by three people I call the rock stars of the gardening world: Amigo Bob Cantisano, Shirley Ward and Wendy Johnson (pictured, from left to right). I recently attended another workshop they led up at Esalen Institute, this one called "High Summer in the Full Moon Garden: Growing Food and Ourselves on the Esalen Land." As with the last one two years ago, it was surprising to me -- given the level of knowledge being imparted (one participant said she felt she'd wandered into a Harvard-level education) -- that there were just seven of us taking the workshop. On the other hand, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to spend such quality time with three such amazing people and feel that not only my gardening but my life is fuller as a result. Should they offer the workshop again (and I sincerely hope they do), I highly recommend it. In the meantime, here are some great starter tips for gardeners that I compiled after the last class.

A funny thought occurred to me midway through the organic gardening workshop I took last week up at Esalen: In recent years, we’ve turned a lot of chefs into celebrities or even, really, rock stars. And yet the gardeners and farmers – who are so important in providing the actual materials for that food – remain anonymous. I think that's too bad because, let's face it, I don’t care how good a chef you are, you can’t make a good caprese without a great tomato.

So, here’s to the rock-star gardeners, three of whom  -- Amigo Bob Cantisano, Shirley Ward and Wendy Johnson – led our workshop. All three are passionate and knowledgeable but also offer their own unique perspective when it comes to gardening, with Amigo providing the science, Wendy the art and Shirley the intuitive. The information they provided was amazing (if, at times, a little overwhelming) and could (and has) filled books. After awhile, though, some patterns emerged and I was able to coalesce at least some of the information into four categories that provide a good place for newbie gardeners to start (click "read more"):

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Gardening in the City Print E-mail
Written by Cameron Tyler   

City GardenBy now, everyone knows the benefits of growing your own food, such as lessening the chance of allergies and other adverse reactions when you eat something that's been exposed to pesticides and other chemicals. Additionally, people who grow their own food are more likely to eat more vegetables, which improves your overall health and a healthy lifestyle now can mean fewer medical expenses later.

If you live in an apartment, you may think it's impossible for you to have a garden until you move into a home with a backyard, but this is simply not the case. You can easily have a small garden inside your apartment or on your balcony. If you're concerned about eating food that is organically grown, why not grow your own?

Make some space. Making space is going to be the hard part. You will want the garden in an area of your apartment where it will not disturb your normal movements. Also, there are bugs to think about. Like it or not, pests will come. You do not want to put your garden plants right next to your sofa or bed, so opt for a nice corner instead. Choosing a place that gets a good amount of sunlight will give you the best of both worlds when it comes to lighting. You can use both sunlight and artificial light for your plants. Make sure that there are electrical outlets nearby for any lighting you will need. Lay down covering on the floor.

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Choosing Good Land for Gardening Print E-mail
Written by Megan Brown   

good land for gardeningStarting a successful garden begins with choosing the right land. Whether you're planning to start a garden in your backyard, or perusing land for sale to start a community garden, knowing what makes good ground and what doesn't can be difficult. If you aren't quite sure what type of land is best for your garden, check out these tips to get a starting point and learn the basics of choosing the perfect location for your new plants!

Check the Surface: You can learn a lot just from judging a plot of land by its soil. If you do not own the land, be sure to obtain permission from the landowner before treading on their grounds. Feel the soil and give it a look. Loose, dark soil is best for growing all types of plants and also good for proper drainage. Basic home soil tests can also give you a feel for the land and what amendments it might need before it's ready for gardening.

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Transplanting Yourself -- and Your Garden Print E-mail
Written by Megan Brown   

Ann garden sample imagePreparing an upcoming move is a lot of work. Between hiring a mover, packing your whole house, buying and selling a home and getting settled in a new town, you already have plenty to keep you busy.

However, if you're planning on moving your garden or houseplants along with you, you'll need to get an early start on the process.

1. Preparation and Planning: The earlier you start, the easier your plant move will be. For outdoor plants, you'll want to begin several months or even a year before the move. Begin by digging a six-inch wide by 12-inch deep trench around the base of the plant. You'll want to dig around the root ball, which is usually about an 18-inch diameter, but can vary depending on the plant. Dig the trench by slicing cleanly through the roots with a sharp shovel. Fill the trench halfway with compost or shredded leaves, which helps the plant create a high volume of roots in a concentrated area. This built up store of roots will help the plant stay strong for the move and will make up for roots that are lost during the trenching. If roots began to grow into the root ball, slice through them with the shovel. When the time comes to move, you'll have a strong plant that's ready to be dug up and replanted elsewhere.

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