How to Start Garden Vegetable Seeds Indoors for Transplanting

Ask any gardener what his favorite gardening job is, and the chances are he will say propagating from seed. There is something magical about sowing your seed and then peering into the container, looking for the first signs of life popping through the soil that you prepared. In just a few days, you can be watching the tiny green leaves make their appearance. It feels like you have created life itself.

Why Grow from Seed?

Why grow from seed,  is a fair question, given that many nurseries will now sell you ready to plant seedlings. You can save time, and you can eliminate the risk of your seeds not taking or succumbing to some fatal disease during that vulnerable early stage in life.

Well, there are many good reasons to grow those seedlings yourself. First, a packet of seeds is always cheaper, sometimes way cheaper than a tray of seedlings. Secondly, you will often end up with far more seedlings if you grow them yourself. This may seem a waste but as every gardener knows, sharing seedlings with other gardeners is a good investment. It inevitably leads to them giving you some of their excesses, and pretty soon, you have a much wider array of varieties and different plants. Some of the excess plants can be held back and planted later so that you have a succession of ripening dates and, therefore, a longer crop availability time.

The third reason is that growing from seed is just so much fun. During those cold winter months, you can sit down indoors with a cup of coffee and page through those seed catalogs to decide what you will be experimenting with the following spring. In the gardening world, this is known as seed porn. You also get to use seed that you harvested yourself, and there is something special about having controlled a process from start to finish.

A Little about Seeds

Although each plant produces seed with different characteristics, there are certain characteristics that are common to most seed.

  • Testa: This normally hard outer layer is mainly to protect the inside of the seed.
  • Hilum: The small mark or scar where the seed was attached to the parent plant.
  • Micropyle: You may just be able to make out a tiny hole near the Hilum, which is there to allow water to penetrate the seed after sowing.
  • Cotyledon: Inside the seed is a food reserve composed of starch and which will provide enough food to help the seed germinate and make it through the soil to the light.
  • Radicule: This is the embryonic root that is normally the first thing to emerge from the seed.
  • Plumule: The embryonic shoot that will start pushing outwards and upwards as the seed begins to grow.

Common Germination Requirements

Germinating seed requires three things: water, warmth, and light. The trick lies in knowing which quantities of each to supply. Don’t worry. There are common rules that we will look at a little later. Once the moisture penetrates the seed, it dissolves enzymes that trigger the growing process and supply the first food. The Taproot normally emerges first and pushes downwards, and soon after that, the first shoot will begin pushing upward in search of light.

A gardener must provide the correct growing medium in which all of this can happen and the ideal temperature. One of the main reasons for planting your seeds in trays indoors is that the extra warmth will encourage the seeds to germinate earlier than they would if they were outdoors and thus to extend the growing season.

The Growing Medium

The growing medium is the mixture into which the seeds will initially be sown and where they will quickly germinate. One might think that seeds could just be planted into ordinary potting soil or even garden soil, but seeds can be fragile. The nutrients and acids that exist in these products could damage the seeds and cause rotting, so they are planted into seed compost instead. This is a fine growing medium that is chemically neutral and has been sterilized. Although it contains no nutrients, remember that your seed already contains those starch reserves by way of the cotyledon, and these are ideally suited to getting those seeds off to a good start. Only once the first true leaves appear will you have to start thinking about feeding your plants.

You can place your seed compost into trays, pots, or even ice cream cartons. Just make sure that there are plenty of holes in the bottom to allow drainage. Fill the tray or chosen container and then gently press down to firm the medium but do not compact it. Make sure there are no big gaps in the soil but that there is still some air. You should water before planting as this will stop the pressure of the falling water from moving or uncovering the seed. Prepared soil should be damp but not wet.

Sowing Options

Now that your trays or containers are prepared, it is time to sow the seed. Your options vary mainly due to the size of the seed itself. For larger seed, you can make drills. This is a fancy term for rows, and you can make these using the back of a pencil or the side of a small trowel and drawing it through the soil.

The accepted rule is to plant your seed at twice the depth of its diameter. With large seed, this is easy because you can pick them up with your fingers and place them in the drill as you want them. Most seed packets give you a standard depth at which they recommend you plant, and it is almost inevitable you will have more seed than you require actual plants. It is better to plant too much than too little. That way, you can thin out weak or spindly plants or give away extra seedlings. Many seeds deteriorate over time, so rather plant too many and share than have too few plants.

Once the seed is in the drills, cover with soil and firm down lightly. You can now cover your seed tray with clear plastic or a sheet of glass and place it on a sunny windowsill. Within a few days, the first signs of life will start to appear. You can purchase an electric propagator that warms the trays from underneath, and this speeds the germination process. If you are keeping the seed trays in a heated house, then it probably won’t be necessary, but it is handy if you are leaving them in a cold potting shed.

Smaller Seed

Some seeds are tiny, and you won’t be able to pick them up individually. These you can sprinkle across the surface of the growing medium by rubbing between thumb and forefinger. Really tiny seed should first be mixed with some fine sand to make the spreading process easier and to keep spread as evenly as possible. After that, place some of the growing medium in a sieve and gently shake it over the seed until it is lightly covered. Remember that seed is better off being planted too shallow rather than too deep because they contain a limited amount of food, and you don’t want your seedlings to use all of their available energy just getting to the surface of the soil.

An important note here is that you should label the seed trays with whatever it is you have planted. Some seedlings might look different from others, but when you are growing different cultivars of the same plant, it can be all too easy to forget what you planted where.

Thinning Seedlings

Your seeds will start to sprout their first two leaves after they appear through the soil. The timing for this will vary depending on the conditions and mainly on the crop. These first two leaves are not true leaves but are what we call cotyledon or seed leaves. These are actually part of the original seed and provide the first food for the young plant. Now, you can remove the plastic or glass covering. You need air to circulate freely now, and excess humidity can lead to a disease known as damping off, which we will look at later.

If you have just sprinkled the seeds, then things will start to get too crowded and you may need to do some thinning. As they grow, the next leaves to appear will be the first true leaves. You can now gently removing excess plants by tugging them out by pulling one of those two true leaves. Keep the healthier plants and thin those that are weaker. Don’t be tempted to pull on the stem but stick to pulling the leaves. The stems are very fragile at this point, and if damaged, the plant will die. The excess seedlings can be planted into containers as reserves for unforeseen casualties later in the season, or as giveaways. You don’t want to leave the thinning process too late. Otherwise, the roots will get established, and they will interfere with the plants you want to keep as you tug them out.

Your seedlings should end up evenly spaced and looking healthy. They can continue to grow indoors until they are bigger. It is important to make sure that the soil remains damp but not too wet. If you suspect that things are starting to get dry, then water by standing the tray in a sink of water and allowing it to absorb from the base, always allow the tray to drain well after doing this.

With the appearance of the first two proper leaves, the plant will start to photosynthesize, and light becomes more important. If they are on a bright windowsill, then that will be sufficient, but if they are somewhere else indoors, they will need artificial light either from a grow lamp or a neon light source. Aim to provide twelve to sixteen hours of light per day.

Potting Up

Smaller plants will be happy to remain in the seed tray they were planted in until you are able to plant them outdoors. Larger plants will need to be put into individual pots so that they have room and depth to continue their rapid growth. Potting up is performed when the seedling has developed several leaves and is starting to look a little bushier. The plants can be potted up into pots individually or in twos and threes.

Fill the pot with potting soil and plant the seedlings into their new temporary home at the same level as the top of the soil at the base of the plant from the seedling tray. If more than one plant goes into a pot, then keep them far enough apart that their roots don’t become entangled as they continue to grow. The potting soil will contain nutrients because the plants will no longer have any reserves from the seed, and the first soil was nutrient-free. Those that remain in their initial trays will need to be fed with a lite general-purpose fertilizer.

Hardening Off

Once you decide that your seedlings are sturdy and large enough to be planted out into their beds, there is one more crucial step that you must take. Your seedlings have been getting mommy coddled in their nice warm environment. If you transfer them outdoors without giving them time to adapt, there is a strong possibility that the sudden change in the environment will kill or damage them. You can avoid this by placing the trays outdoors during the day and then bringing them back in at night for three or four days. This process, called hardening off, makes the adaption process more tolerable. When outside, place the trays in a semi-shaded position so that they are spared the shock of sudden exposure to bright outdoor light.

Planting Out

After several days of hardening off, your plants are finally ready to be planted into the bed, which should be their final home. Before planting the bed and or the pots should be watered. Congratulations, you have just successfully propagated your first vegetables.

Possible Problems

Nature is incredibly robust, and seeds are no exception. There is one problem that may face you, and that is a disease called damping off. This is a collective name for several different fungal diseases that can affect small seedlings. It often happens overnight. One day the plants are looking fine and healthy, and the next day they are dead. Because this is not caused by one particular problem, it is difficult to isolate it or to cure it. Sometimes the initial problem starts in the root and in other instances in the stem. If you look at the plants and see that some of them have gone over, immediately remove any dead material to try to prevent contamination of the remaining plants.

The best way to avoid damping-off is through good hygiene.

  • Use a sterilized planting mix with no nutrients. You can steam your soil by placing it in a covered container in a microwave for around seven or eight minutes. In small quantities, this is doable, but it is too much effort for anything more than that.
  • Clean trays and pots well so that no disease can be introduced. Bleach is a good disinfectant if reusing old pots and planters.
  • Make sure that air can circulate. Fungal diseases thrive in conditions of damp humidity.
  • Water from the bottom up and always allow excess water to drain away. Don’t leave the trays standing in water for too long.
  • Don’t overwater. One of the most common ways of killing plants is by giving them too much water.
  • If you spot dead plants, then act quickly to get rid of the dead material.

The only good news about damping off is that it only attacks small and vulnerable seedlings. If you can get them through that fragile stage, then you won’t have any more problems with this one. Obviously, the quicker you can get them past the vulnerable stage, the better. You do this by ensuring they have ideal growing conditions and as much light and air circulation as possible.

There are chemical fungicides on the market, but I would suggest that you avoid these. The disease strikes so fast that by the time you apply them, the plants are likely to have either recovered or died. They are expensive, and most importantly, they diminish any organic advantage you were hoping to gain by growing your plants.

Some people apply biological treatments such as sprinkling with cinnamon, but in most situations, it should be early enough in the season to replant and start the process again. 

So there you have it. Starting your seeds indoors is an exciting adventure for all gardeners.  There’s nothing more rewarding than watching the entire process of going from soil to seeds to plants.

The Perfect Time And Best Methods To Fertilize

Introduction.

Gardening has got several benefits that make it one of the best and indeed a popular hobby. It’s not only a great stress reliever and good for your heart, but it also gives you a sense of achievement.

If you love gardening, you’d agree that one of the biggest sources of confusion relates to fertilizers.

  • What’s, is the best time to fertilize?
  • How to apply fertilizers?

Most people make a mistake in either of these aspects, only to repent later. In this article, we discuss these key facets.

What are Fertilizers and Why Do We Need Them?

Fertilizers are nothing but the nutritional supplements for plants. Just like any other living being, plants also need certain nutrients to grow and survive. Generally, they obtain these from the soil; but if the soil doesn’t have an adequate quantity of these constituents, you need to substitute with the help of fertilizers.

Fertilizers can be of natural or synthetic origin and can have different percentages of chemicals; available in granular or liquid forms. The primary nutrients that constitute a fertilizer are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K); that’s why term NPK is a common terminology in fertilizers.

Which Fertilizers to Use?

To decide upon the type of fertilizer to use for your garden, you’ve to find out what nutrient is lacking in your soil. Which fertilizers to use can be accurately determined by observing the symptoms of deficiency in your plants. While a lack of nitrogen results in yellow leaves, phosphorus deficiency causes fewer flowers, and a shortage of potassium affects the stem strength.

Now that you know the basics of fertilizers let’s find out more about the right timing for applying and the application process of fertilizers.

The Right Time to Fertilize.

As you can now appreciate, it’s difficult to generalize the best time for fertilizer application. When best to fertilize depends on the kind of plants, levels of nutrients in the soil, and the type of fertilizers used.

Remember is that the fertilizer manufacturer knows best about the optimal application rates; therefore, you must follow the instructions given on the pack. Even if two fertilizers have a similar nutrient content, the application will depend upon their types. Fertilizer may be organic or synthetic, water-soluble liquid, granular, or time-released. More so, different plants will need varying quantities of fertilizers at different stages. Here are a few guidelines:

1.      Shrubs and Trees.

Applying fertilizer at the root level while planting shrubs and trees allows the plants to get a continuous supply of nutrition from the soil at their desired rates. Applying fertilizer at the root level while planting gives a constant and steady reserve of nutrients for the plants, from where they can draw their dose as required.

On the other hand, for trees and shrubs, you need to apply fertilizers on an annual basis. You can fix anytime for application, but the early spring season the best for fertilizing. Note that, if there are no signs of malnutrition shown by the plants, they may be getting their share of nutrients directly from the soil. In such cases, you need not use fertilizers.

2. Perennial Plants.

While planting new perennial plants, incorporate an all-purpose organic fertilizer at the bottom of the pit. Incorporate an all-purpose organic fertilizer will help your growing plants to get their nutrition from the soil; an all-purpose fertilizer will provide adequate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc. to them.

For established perennial plants, just like shrubs and trees, applying fertilizer once every year is generally sufficient. Applying fertilizer in the early spring for perennials like rhubarb, berries, asparagus, etc. is effective.

3. Flowing Plants.

While the spring bloomers like hyacinths and tulips, generally don’t need any fertilizers, specific soils may need fertilizer application depending upon deficiency symptoms. You may fertilize perennial bulbs like alliums and daffodils post-flowering.

The flowers that bloom during summer, such as lilies, dahlias, and gladiolas, need fertilization while planting. A mid-summer fertilization may be necessary for dahlias and other flowering plants that need higher quantities of nutrients.

4. Annual Plants.

Annual vegetables and flowers need more nutrition to grow; therefore, annual vegetables and will require repeated application of fertilizer. Apply an all-purpose granular fertilizer while planting such saplings; this provides them a regular supply of nutrients during growth stages. After that, use liquid fertilizer to supplement their supply every month during mid-summer; the frequency of application should be no more than twice a month.

Optimum Application.

Contrary to the common belief, the growth and health of plants aren’t always directly proportional to the quantity of fertilizer used. If malnourishment is bad, an overdose of fertilizers can be equally harmful to the plants. Just like other living creatures, overfeeding of plants with a particular nutrient leads to problems.

Although you need to ensure that your plants get their share of nutrition, you don’t want to provide too much. An excess amount of nitrogen reduces the production of fruits and flowers while increasing foliage. Overdose of phosphorus hinders the plants from absorbing adequate zinc and iron from the soil, thereby affecting their overall health. If there’s too much potassium, the plants won’t be able to absorb their share of calcium.

Apart from adversely affecting plant health, the excess fertilizers may also cause water pollution by percolating into the groundwater. This polluted water then feeds the waterways, which leads to damages to the entire ecosystem. It’s therefore, essential to apply fertilizer judiciously.

Best Methods to Apply Fertilizer.

Now that we know the correct timings of the application of different types of fertilizers for different varieties of plants, you’re ready for the next step. Let’s have a look at the best ways of fertilizing your plants. There are several methods of applying fertilizers to your plants; broadcasting, placement, pellet application, and drilling are some commonly utilized methods.

Discussing them all is beyond the purview of this article, and it’ll be done in subsequent articles. Two of the most favorite and effective fertilizer application methods are:-

1. Topdressing.

Topdressing a type of the broadcasting method and frequently used for fertilizers rich in nitrogen. As the name suggests, the fertilizer applied from the top on crops that densely planted. This method allows the plants to easily absorb the nutrients as the fertilizer is in the top layer of soil. However, it has a few disadvantages, like promoting weed growth and underutilization of fertilizer.

2. Side-Dressing.

Side-dressing is a placement method of fertilizer application. The fertilizer is applied out placed in between the plant rows or around each plant. The following side-dressing methods can accomplish it:

Row Placement.

Nitrogenous fertilizer placed between rows of crops such as cotton, sugarcane, maize, etc.

– Individual Placement.

 For apple, papaya, mango, and similar trees and the grapes, the fertilizer placed around the roots.

Comparison Between Top Dressing and Side Dressing.

While the topdressing method is faster and less costly than side-dressing, it needs rains to make it effective. In the absence of rains, the top-dressed fertilizer won’t be able to reach to the place roots and hence gets lost or decomposed.

On the other hand, although the side-dressing method is slower and costs more, the fertilizer is less likely to be lost. It’s much easier for the plants to absorb the nutrients when fertilizer is placed near the roots.

Soil Amendments.

Soil Amendments are nothing but natural organic items that are added to the soil to amend its characteristics. Soil amendments may be necessary to improve soil fertility or other physical properties. In this section, we shall discuss soil amendments for enhancing its ability to support the growth of plants.

As already seen, fertilizers add essential nutrients to the soil; so, what’s the difference between fertilizer and a soil amendment element? Whereas the former can be natural or synthetic, the latter is always organic. Chemical agents can provide the necessary nutrients to the plants, but the amendments hi a step further as they improve the soil’s drainage and texture. The following are the two most effective and useful soil amendments:

1. Compost.

Compost is an organic matter that’s formed through decomposition of organic waste materials such as leaves, fruit, and vegetables remains, etc. This process called composting, and it breaks down organic waste to produce this excellent element. Compost is not only a great fertilizer, a natural pesticide, but also a perfect conditioner for the soil.

An ideal compost will consist of the following three components in the right proportions:

– Greens.

Greens consist of vegetable and fruit waste as well as grass pieces. It provides nitrogen to your compost.

– Browns.

Dead branches, leaves, and twigs compose the brown portion. These add carbon to the compost.

– Water.

It not only allows perfect mixing of the browns and greens but also supports composting.

2. Alfalfa Pellets.

Normally used to feed animals, the alfalfa pellets have been found to have a high percentage (5%) of absorbable nitrogen. It also has some traces of triacontanol, which is known to be a natural growth promoter for plants. Its pelleted form makes it easy to apply. It acts as a slow-releasing fertilizer and hence provides nutrition for a long duration.

Conclusion.

Fertilization is an important activity to get good crops and a beautiful garden. For best results, use the right type of fertilizer at the correct time and apply it in the most efficient method. You must not only observe your plants closely to understand their requirements but also read the instructions given on the fertilizer pack. In case you’ve got any further queries, we’ll be happy to answer them. Happy Gardening!

Northern Meteorological Seasons – Everything You Should Know

The classification of the calendar in four groups of three months based on the prevailing temperature conditions is said called Meteorological seasons. This is a more precise way of segmenting the year.

So what are these seasons, and why are these seasons important? In this piece, we will try finding some answers to those questions. According to meteorological studies, all the seasons start on the first day of all months that either includes a solstice or an equinox. Based on the above, the seasons are grouped as:

  • The Spring season starts from March 1st to May 31st.
  • The summer season starts from June 1st to August 31st.
  • The Fall or Autumn starts from September 1st to November 30th.
  • The Winter that runs from December 1st to February 28th or 29th.

Let’s have a closer look at these four seasons.

Spring Season (March 1st to May 31st)

After the dreadful and cold winter season, this is the most sought after time of the year. When the flowers start blooming, and the sun is out with its subtle brightness – this season truly marks the beginning of a beautiful Season. This is the season when the entire landscape comes back to life. The sunlight is strong, and the temperatures begin to rise slightly and the days start to get longer. The weather can change from sunny to dry to wet in a moment during this season. This season is truly the season that catches every romantics’ attention.

In this season, you will find some trees blossoming and many low growing plants full of beautiful flowers. This is the time when all animals that had gone into their winter hibernation come out of their hideouts to enjoy the season. Many other animals and birds return home from their winter venues and start their breeding. Overall the weather is extremely pleasant, and there are glistening greenery and colorful blossoms and flowers all around.

Summer Season (June 1st to August 31st)

After the Spring follows the summers. Summer is the hottest time of the year when temperatures soar and can become uncomfortable. The temperatures may not drop much even after the sun goes down. The sky is clear, the sun is shining bright and hot, and it becomes difficult to stay out in the hot sun for long. This is, however, that time of the year when most of the game seasons are planned and played as the weather is clear. So, it is one of the high octane times of the year.

This is that time of the year when the trees are full of loads of leaves, and every plant is full of flowers. People spend most of their time outdoors enjoying the sunny days outside. You will see tourists flocking to many beach cities to catch some sunlight.

Fall or Autumn Season (September 1st to November 30th)

This is the season when the temperatures start falling again. You will see increased rainfall in some areas. This is the season when the trees start shedding their leaves. Many high altitude animals start growing fur as a preparation for the upcoming winter season, and many gain weight before they can get into a long winter season sleep called hibernation.

In this season, plants become less active and get dormant. This season witnesses some cultural harvest festivals, and in America, Thanksgiving is an important homecoming festival celebrated in this season.

Winter Season (December 1st to February 29th)

Here comes the season of chills. This is the coldest season characterized by short days and long cold nights. Trees lose their leaves and get inactive and dormant during the winter. Many animals enter a state of hibernation and start their deep sleep. Other animals move or migrate to warmer regions. People need to wear thick clothes to keep themselves warm. The winds are freezing and brings ice and snow or even cold rains at times.

This is that phase and time of the year when every creature – animal, plants, life takes a backseat. The landscape and the scenery go in a state of slumber, and many places get covered with snow or ice.

Conclusion

Knowing about these seasons is extremely important for many aspects of human lives. Knowing about the weather and its patterns beforehand helps in planning crops and their harvesting, horticulture, and garden planning, and to stay prepared for storms and bad weather or any eventualities.

So now that you are aware of these four weather seasons, you will now be able to plan things better based on the season. So next time when you plan a holiday or want to go to watch a game, you would know when to plan one.

Commonly Used Perennial Culinary Herbs

Perennial herbs are an excellent choice for your garden. Perennial herbs continue to grow and provide fresh herbs for your kitchen for many years if given a little care.

You can prepare a mouthwatering recipe by using Perennial herbs. Perennial herbs are good for your health, and you can also use them to make salads, stews, and soups.

Perennial herbs can be grown at ease, and the best part is that you can harvest them at any time of the year. Some of the most commonly used perennial culinary herbs are:

Mint

Mint is recognized to be one of the well renowned perennial culinary herbs which are used for cooking on an extensive scale. Though it is lemony or bit-peppery in its raw form, mint leaves a cool after taste.

Mints have slightly dented, pointy, oval, and bright green leaves along with the sturdy stem. Mint is used for cooking on an extensively in Middle-Eastern and North African recipes.

This herb emanates a refreshing smell. The intense flavor of this herb makes it the best option to cook fish sauces, peas, lamb, vegetables, and chocolate. You can also use mint to prepare tea and other beverages. The most popular varieties of mint which are used for cooking include spearmint, good old peppermint, and apple mint.

Rosemary

It is another popular favorable herb that can be used for cooking vegetables, meat, and poultry. In addition to this, you can also use it with apricots, garlic, roasted potatoes, and roasted chicken. You are going to love this plant for its delightful scent.

They are used on an extensive scale in different types of floral arrangements. The intense flavor of this herb contributes to being one of the prominent reasons why this herb is used for cooking across the globe. It has needle leaves along with hard woody stems.

Sage

This is another worth mentioning name in the list of perennial culinary herbs, which is used for the preparation of Balkan and Italian dishes. You can fry it with light batter for preparing pork, sausages, and bacon.

You can also make the best use of this herb for preparing fresh stuffed pasta, butter, rabbits, eggs, to name a few. Furthermore, you can use this aromatic herb for making sauces, seasoning meats, and vegetables. Sage in its dried form emits strong flavor.

Dill

This herb has earned a high reputation for its fresh aroma and amazing delicate flavor. The leaves of this plant are soft and light. It is used for the preparation of Eastern and Northern cuisines. Dill is an ideal choice for cucumbers, green soups, salmon, beetroot, cream, pickles, and other recipes. Dill can also be used to season peas, potatoes, lamb, and fish.

Oregano

This perennial herb is primarily grown in the warm climate of Mediterranean and Eurasia. Also referred to as the wild aroma, it is used to flavor a plethora of American and Italian dishes. Oregano is commonly used in the preparation of Turkish, Grek, and Mediterranean dishes. Oregano, also, goes well with olive oil, tomatoes, lamb, pizza, yogurt, and kebabs.

Spring is the ideal season for growing this herb. This delicious herb comes with a lovely smell, and you can use it for different purposes in your kitchen.

Winter Savory

It is recognized to be the perfect herb for the preparation of cold and warm dishes. You can use winter savory to make tasty teas. winter savory is useful in adding an aromatic flavor to a plethora of recipes.

Besides this, it boasts of a bunch of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. The intense flavor of this spicy herb makes it an ideal choice for the preparation of poultry, beans, and fish. You can also use it for garnishing the salad and flavoring the liqueurs.

Lemon Balm

This perennial herb comprises of medicinal properties, and it is regarded as an ideal option for the kitchen. You can use lemon balm to garnish meals. It can also be used for the preparation of teas and other beverages.

Lavender

This perennial herb produces a variety of purple flowers which add to the beauty of the garden. It is used for the preparation of dressings and salad. It offers a bit of sweet flavor to a plethora of dishes.

The dried lavender buds and lavender syrup make it the ideal choice for the preparation of Lavender marshmallows and scones. This herb also consists of different health benefits, which make it the prime choice for cooking.

Thyme

The perennial herb tyme can found in most kitchens. Tyme is known to have a pungent, earthy, and lemony smell. tyme is used widely in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries recipes.

Tyme can be used in barbecue meats, eggplants, mushrooms, chicken, roasted vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and goat cheese. You can also add this herb for preparing stews and soups.

Conclusion

The above-mentioned herbs are regarded as the best option for the preparation of different cuisines. They are used primarily after drying, and their flavor and aroma enhance the taste.

The best thing about these perennial herbs is that perennial herbs can easily be grown in pots, in your yard or in your garden. All you need is an adequate amount of water, right exposure to light, and care and you are good to go.

Easy Gardening – Garden Seed Tapes

What are Seed Tapes?

Seed tapes are products designed with seeds perfectly attached between narrow strips of biodegradable tissue layers, which are ready for planting in both the garden and house. They are ideal for sowing in containers, large empty garden plots, as well as fill-ins in tighter areas.

The seeds are applied at the correct distance along the tapes to reduce overcrowding of newly germinated seedlings. The tapes can consist of a single variety, custom mixtures, and multiple species of seeds. You can find products with flower, vegetable, and herb seeds embedded into them.

What are the Advantages of Seed Tapes?

  • Provide an easy and efficient way to plant tiny seeds quickly.
  • Seeds are planted at the same depth allowing for a more uniform germination rate.
  • Seed tapes enable you to space plants evenly and eliminate seed wastage. This helps avoid overcrowding that may call for thinning of young seedlings, which is a tedious and time-consuming task.
  • Less thinning also means less disturbance to the root of plants left in your garden. Otherwise, you risk delaying or inhibiting the growth and even performance of the plants.
  • Prevents birds from eating the fresh seeds that you sow.
  • Makes the sowed seeds less susceptible to wash away in a downpour and ruining the evenly spaced rows.
  • Almost all the seed tape products are biodegradable and considered to be environmental-friendly.
  • Very convenient for senior gardeners, particularly those suffering from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other mobility complications.

What are the types of Seed tapes?

Seed tapes

Seed tapes are one of the most common types, which are ideal for growing most vegetable seed varieties, salads, as well as flower seeds. They are usually available in different lengths, especially between one to six meters. However, it is possible to have the garden vegetable seed tapes produced in specific lengths to suit your unique gardening needs. Also, the seed tapes can come as a single track containing one variety of seeds or multiple tracks with different seed varieties.

Seed discs

Seed discs are designed in different sizes. You’ll find smaller and larger seed discs. With smaller seed discs, the diameter often ranges from 8cm to 12 cm, a size that easily fits most typical flowerpots. They are perfectly suited for sowing herbs indoor, such as in the kitchen or windowsills.

The larger discs, on the other hand, range from 14cm to 46cm in diameter. You can use them for sowing seeds in outdoor pots, as well as hanging containers or baskets.

Seed mats

If you want to sow seeds in big planters, garden borders or window boxes, then seeds mats are a great option. With seed mats, you can easily produce a great color display of stunning bedding plants. Well, good examples of such plants include marigolds and pansies.

The size of seed mats vary. Often than not, you’ll find mats available in the size of a small business card and up to 100cm in length.

Seed carpets

Seeds carpets are suitable for planting salads, mixed vegetables, and wildflower fusions in large borders or other large garden areas. They are simply ready-made “mini-gardens” or “allotments,” which are usually one meter or larger in length.

How to Use Seed Tapes

It’s an incredibly easy process. First off, you’ll need to prepare the soil for planting, just like you would with any new seedbed. Once you have a weed-free garden bed, it’s often recommended to follow the guidelines on the package of the seed tapes, discs, carpets, or mats.

In most cases though, you’ll be required to place the seed tapes in a straight line on the soil using the proper rowing space. After that, gently cover it with the top layer soil and then water the area. However, you should avoid prolonged watering after sowing.

If the soil has not been moistened by Mother Nature, consider watering it several hours before sowing. But don’t make the garden bed sopping wet.

Where to buy Seed tapes

You can find the different types of seed tapes we’ve discussed above at most local garden centers or nurseries, DIY stores, and grocery stores. Alternatively, you can just buy from reputable online garden retailers.

How to Freeze Green Beans at Home

Do you want to know how to freeze green beans? Are you looking for the best storage option to use green beans throughout the year? Green beans are healthy and can help you to boost your digestion. However, fresh green beans are not available in all seasons. But you can store them in your freezer and use whenever you want.

Storage is easy, and you can store frozen green beans for almost a year. You might be thinking about how. Here are a few tips that can help you to store green beans in your freezer. You will have to take care of every detail, such as to pick the beans at the right time as well as following the right storage method.

How to Choose the Best Green Bean for Freezing?

For the storage, you will have to be a little choosy while picking green beans. Picking is important since if you choose wrong beans or at the wrong time, then you might not store them for long. Also, beans might lose the freshness and flavor if not chosen properly. The peak season to store green beans is from May to October. You can choose any day between these months to ensure the best outcome. In the peak seasons, yummy and fresh green beans will be available in your local store. Visit your local store and choose blemish-free, crisp, and bright-colored beans. Take extra caution to avoid the green beans with shivered ends or limp.

Make sure that these beans do not have small beans inside. Though the small beans do not affect the quality and taste of the green beans, still, these are not considered good for the storage. The size signifies that the bean is past its prime.

You will have to choose the freshest possible bean and freeze soon after picking them from the store or your garden. It is suggested to freeze on the same day. If you want to wait for some obvious reason like a busy schedule, then keep them in the freeze in the meantime.

Prep Your Freezing Containers

Your freezing container does not need much preparation. You can use jars, bags, and a freezer container to store green beans. All you need is to clean those containers and then make it completely dry. Any moisture is not suggested since it can damage the beans. After keeping green beans in the container or bag, you can simply shake them to compact beans.

How to Prep the Green Bean for Freezing

Now you have the fresh green beans and freeze containers. The next is how to prepare the beans for storage. You can consider any with or without blanching. We will discuss both the methods. To start with, use cool tap water to wash green beans. After washing, take a small handful of green beans and line up their stem ends and use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the stems. Repeat the process with the remaining beans. If required, you can trim off its tapered tail ends. As a lot of recipes need cut green beans, you can cut your beans into one-inch pieces for easy storage. If you want, you can store whole green beans depending on your preference. Both ways will offer the same benefit.

Wash your beans with water again to get rid of any dirt and then dry beans completely. Proper drying up is important to ensure better storage. You can use a paper or cloth towel to dry green beans completely. The drying up process will not take more than half an hour.

Now pack the beans into the jars, bags, or container. Seal the container following the manufacturer instructions and press hard to get rid of all the possible air. You can also use a freezer tape around the container lid edges to get a tight seal.

The above method will enable you to freeze green beans with blanching. Some suggested blanching for more effective storage. Blanching will demand one more step. You will have to boil beans in water for a few minutes and then dunk them in ice water. It will help green beans to maintain the flavor and color during freezing.

For boiling, get water in a large pot and boil them. Place beans into the boiling water for two to four minutes depending on the size of beans. While using large beans, you can boil for four minutes and small beans, the time should not exceed two minutes. Soon after, you will have to cool the beans quickly in rice water. Once the beans are cooled down, drain them and follow the same process for the storage. Pack the drained green beans into containers, bags, or jars. Shake the container to compact green beans and add more beans while leaving 1-2 inch headspace.

Package and Label Your Green Bean

After packing the beans in the container by following the above instructions, the next step is to label those containers. You will have to label each container with the content name, packaging date, and amount. It is important to mention all the details in the labeling. Otherwise, you might forget the packaging date and might not use them at the right time.

How to Freeze Your Green Beans

If you are using bags, then rearrange your bags in such a way that you can lay them as flat as possible. This will ensure quick freezing and will preserve the original flavor and taste of your beans as well. Lay the containers or bag flat to the freezer in the batches. Besides, leave some space near the container so that air can easily circulate. Now, your beans are safe in the freezer. You can use them whenever you want for cooking.

How Long Can Frozen Green Beans Be Stored?

As stated earlier, frozen green beans can be stored for a long time up to a year if you follow the right freezing method or choose the right green beans. You can store frozen beans around nine months while using a conventional freezer. If you want to store even longer, then you can use a deep freeze appliance.

The dark green nymph was the fly of the day

Heading out to the lake early in the day and hiking in before the heat set in to do a little flyfishing, the dark green nymph was the fly of the day. While I did catch a few panfish on a dark green woolly worm, the action wasn’t nearly as active, nor the strikes as hard, as it was in the dark green nymph. I tried a variety of other things, but the fish didn’t seem interested in much of anything else.

As I travel along the banks were, and waited in and out of the water, I tried to take some pictures of some of the critters I saw on the shore to get some ideas as to what might or might not work. Here are a few photos of the animals and insects I found onshore that had the potential to be fish food and give some inspiration as to what the fish might be eating in the local area.

As a matter of fact, the dark green nymph was so popular that I managed to catch a catfish on a very aggressive strike, which doesn’t happen to me very often. The fact that I was catching fish that one would not normally expect to catch on the fly, tends to indicate that I was using the right type of fly and that they were plentiful enough to attract other varieties of fish to feed.