FEBRUARY: Getting the Greenhouse Ready

It’s time to get your greenhouse ready for planting! Carlotta's  Little Greenhouse

Start with cleaning the shelves using 1 part bleach mixed with 9 parts water.
Read eHow for tips on cleaning a small greenhouse:
http://www.ehow.com/small-greenhouse_care.html

Sterilize your trays & pots with this same bleach solution. Purchase or make your seedling mix (which is a soil-less mix), gather your plant labels & permanent markers and you’re ready to plant.

Read how to make your own soil-less seedling mix Organic Gardening website: http://organicgardening.about./seedstartingmix.htm

To calculate greenhouse planting start dates, check each seed packet and plant according to the instructions. Count back the weeks needed for seeds to grow and when you want them really for the garden club’s plant sale or to plant in your garden after the last frost.  Seeds typically need 8-12 weeks to grow. For example: AGC’s plant sale is May 11 2013, 12 weeks back from May 11th is February 16th, 8 weeks back is March 16th . Check your seed packets for start dates.

Below is a list of flowers you can start in your greenhouse in February: Petunias, Impatiens, Lobelia, Lupine, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Salvia, Lavender, Scabies, Delphinium, Pansies, Shasta daisy, Forget-me-nots, Gaillardias, and Nasturtiums.

You can also start: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Lettuce, Cilantro and Spinach seeds. It is recommended for larger vegetable seeds, like beets, to soak them 12 to 24 hours before planting.

To begin: fill your sterilized trays with seedling mix, water the seedling mix thoroughly, and then let them sit until the next day to warm up.  On day two, plant your seeds, mark your trays/pots, then water them in.

Seeds need warmth to germinate. Check out Heirloom Seeds’ website showing seed germination/soil temperatures:
http://www.heirloomseeds.com/germination.html

You can provide warmth with heating mats (available at garden supply stores) which sit under your seed trays or you can warm your greenhouse with a portable heater.

Some seeds also need light to germinate, so place trays a few inches below a grow light or a florescent light, and keep the lights on 24 hours a day.

After the plants have developed several sets of true leaves, transplant them into sterilized pots with a good garden variety potting soil.  To avoid transplant shock water them in with a B1 solution; B1 is available at garden stores. Once plants are established in their new pots, fertilize them once a week with a 1/4-strength water-soluble fertilizer. During the rest of the time use plain water; keep the seedlings moist, but not wet. Keep plants under the lights, keep them warm and watch them grow!

By: Carlotta Lucas & Melody Jones

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Seed Swap: Feb. 5th 2013

Seed Swap
At the North Mountain Park’s seed swap you can save money, grow plants adapted to our local climate and exchange information with other gardeners. It’s fun and simple—just bring seeds you’ve saved from your garden and some bags or envelopes for taking seeds with you. The Nature Center will also be selling low-cost seed, harvested at the park by volunteers.

Pre-registration is not required
AGES: All ages welcome
DAY: Tuesday
DATE: February 5th, 2013
TIME: 7—8pm
PLACE:  North Mountain Park Nature Center
COST: Free
INSTRUCTOR: North Mountain Park Staff

Christmas Cactus

 Scientific Name: Schlumbergera

A Christmas Cactus in full bloom makes an extraordinary gift for gardeners, and non-gardeners, alike.  With proper care a Christmas Cactus is very long lived.  Mine is almost forty years old and still provides an amazing display of flowers every Christmas season.

Christmas Cactus Care:

Light/Temperature:  Prefers a warm location with bright indirect sunlight. Shade it from intense sun and keep the plant away from heater vents, fireplaces and cold drafts.

Soil:  Plant in well draining potting mix made for succulent plants. Its ideal soil is composed of equal parts of garden loam, leaf mold or peat, and clean course sand.

Water:  A Christmas Cactus is a tropical succulent, it is NOT a true cactus, therefore it requires more water than a true cactus. Its watering needs vary with air temperature and humidity, but in general keep the soil just barely moist throughout the year. But, do not over water or the stems will get flabby and droop,  and don’t under water either or the stems will be shriveled and limp. Note: if your plant tends to dry out and/or wilt frequently, then it’s time to re-pot it into a slightly larger container.

Fertilizing: Supply plant with a weak solution of houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.

Flowering:  The secret to good bud production is cool temperatures and extended darkness.

Cool temps: The best temperature for bud development is 55F-61F degrees for a period of 6 weeks.  Start providing cool temps in November for Christmas blooming.

Extended Darkness: The plant also needs 12 hours of darkness every night for 6 weeks.  You can accomplish darkness by covering the plant with a cloth each night or move it into a dark area overnight.  For cactus to bloom at Christmas time, darkness treatment should start in early October. Then, when buds start to appear increase its light exposure.  Do not move the plant when it starts blooming, because it is sensitive to location during this time.

Color:  Flower colors ranges from pink, white, yellow, salmon, fuchsia, red and any combination of these.

Rest time:  In February, after it has bloomed, the plant should have a rest period, so during this month water it sparingly and stop fertilizing.

Re-potting:  A Christmas Cactus blooms better if slightly pot-bound, so re-pot only when needed every 3-4 years.  Re-pot the plant into a slightly bigger pot in the spring when it is not in bloom.

Propagation:  Propagating Christmas cactus is easy. Cut a y-shaped segment off the tip of the plant, this cutting should have 2-3 joined segments.  Allow the cutting to dry for a few hours and then plant it in moist peat & sand soil mix, insert about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place it in a well-lit area, avoid direct sunlight and water it sparingly to prevent rotting.  In two or three weeks the cutting should show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves, these are usually reddish in color. Once it has rooted transplant it into a pot.

submitted by Carlotta Lucas

To Propagate Evergreens

A simple propagation method for many garden club members to do in preparation for AGC’s plant sale next spring.  

 This Information was taken out of an older August Sunset Magazine Article: 

“To propagate evergreens:  Take 5” cuttings of azalea, camellia, daphne, euonymus, holly, or rhododendron.  Strip off all but the top three or four leaves, dip cut ends into rooting hormone, then plant in 4” pots.  Put them in a bright, sheltered spot, and keep moist.  In spring, you’ll have rooted plants”.  

Growing Shiitake Mushrooms

An article in the Medford Mail Tribune’s January’s HOMELIFE magazine inspired me to order shittake mushroom spawn from www.mushroompeople.com.I called several tree pruners before I could obtain five white oak logs for growing the mushrooms, each logs was about 4-5 feet long and 4″-6″ inches in diameter. My husband drilled holes in them every 6″ and then we hammered in the pegs with the shiitake spawn. I didn’t use any wax to seal the holes as suggested, I just hammered the pegs in and called it good. Like the article says, all the work is done in a day, and then you just lean the logs in the shade, water them when it gets really hot and wait to see what happens.

by Melody Jones

Read the Homelife article here: http://www.mailtribune.com/HOMELIFE/mushrooms