Newsletters & Company News
Greenhouse Gab March 2012
March 27th, 2012:
March NewsletterSpring fever is almost here! Most gardeners will be itching to plant their flower and vegetable gardens. This issue includes our Greenhouse Calendar, How to Harden Off Plants, Planning a Garden Color Scheme, Solarizing Soil and Company News.
The Greenhouse Calendar - March
March is perfect for planting seeds, allowing you to get a jump start on your upcoming garden. This also saves you money, as seeds are inexpensive to purchase compared to buying potted vegetables, perennials and annuals. Keep in mind that some seeds like Tomato, Melon and Cucumber need an extra heat source to germinate. Other seeds like Antirrhinum, Lobelia and Petunia do not. March is also a good time to take cuttings to start more plants. Petunias can also be started easily with cuttings. If you already have seedlings, transplant them into bigger pots.
Feeding your growing plants is very important. Do not overfeed as it can burn your plants. Read the labels on the fertilizer. Fertilizer with a higher percentage of nitrogen to phosphate and potash is best.
Watch for any insects, especially greenfly, whitefly and red spider mites. You can use a home-made insect spray or a store-bought insecticide. There are plenty of home-made recipes on the internet.
You've taken the time to pamper your seedlings and plants in the greenhouse, and it's very important that they be hardened off before being planted outdoors. Your seedlings have not yet been exposed to weather elements such as temperature changes, wind and sun. If you do not harden the plant off, there is a good chance they will get wind or sun burn, or they may not survive the temperature fluctuations outdoors. Have you ever heard someone say that they had to get "acclimated" while travelling to a different climate. Plants are the same as people -- they need to get gradually acclimated too!
How to Harden Off Plants and Seedling
So, what's the best way to toughen up your plants? The best way to start is by placing your plants outdoors in a sunny, sheltered spot for a couple of hours during the day. Gradually increase the time they are outside. Make sure they are well watered and never leave them out during the night. Most plants take about a week to toughen up.
What should you do if you planted your garden a little too early and there is a frost warning? Cover your plants with a blanket or newspapers - never use plastic.
Don't assume that any store-bought plants have been hardened off by their greenhouse owners. Always harden them off before planting as well. I made this mistake one year with a basket of hanging petunias. They were not yet acclimated to nighttime temperatures and their growth was significantly stunted compared to the other plants that were hardened off. It took a good month for them to catch up in growth. If you don't have a greenhouse, try placing your plants in a garage or other sheltered structure and gradually expose them to the outdoors.
Planning a Garden Color SchemeIf you want to create a spectacular garden design, you'll need to know how to combine colors and textures. It's handy to use a color wheel because the colors are arranged according to their relationship with each other. You can stick with shades within the same color family, or choose contrasting colors to add interest. For contrasting colors, select colors that are across from each other on the color wheel, like purple and yellow or orange and blue.
Colors also create a mood. Warm colors like red and orange make us feel warm. While, colors like blue and green make us feel cooler. There also many different shades of green from dark green to silvery grey green, and the leaf color should be taken into account as well.
Remember to use white. Using the color white not only breaks up color blocks, but it also stands out at night. I've seen many all white gardens that are extremely beautiful.
This garden picture is a private backyard garden in Beaune, France. I thought the color scheme was magnificent!
Solarizing your garden soil not only heats it up, but can also get rid of weeds, insects and even diseases. It's easy to do. Cover your soil with a plastic tarp, the darker the color, the better. The soil should remain covered for 4 to 6 weeks. The top 6 inches of soil can heat up to 125 degrees F and give your tender plants a boost.
Garden Tip - S
olarize Your Soil
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