Thursday, June 2, 2016

Gardening: Tips, Tricks, and How To Grow From Scraps!!!

Before I begin today's post, I just want to say thank you to all of you amazing people. I officially received a grand total of over 3000 views on my blog last night! Yes I've been doing this every week day for a couple months now and it may not seem like a huge deal to some, but I'm not "some". To me it's an enormous triumph! That's 3000 times people have checked out my blog. That's 3000 times you guys have taken the time out of your busy schedules to read what I have to say. That's 3000 times my hard-work has paid off! I can't even begin to thank you all for your kind words, awesome support, and continuous involvement. I do work really hard at trying to keep my material diverse and help anyone I can. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart!!!

Now that I've let you all know how happy you've truly made me, let's get into today's topic, shall we? (Disclaimer: I'm not a professional and I don't know all the tips and tricks. I merely am only here to talk about what I've learned and how I've personally managed my own plants.)

Gardening can be a real pain in the butt. It can take countless hours of love, sowing, and watering, only to have it all go down the drain with all the dead plants you've killed. Don't worry, I've ruined a few myself. Not proud of it, but it's the truth. 

After a bit of research and MANY trials, I've finally gotten the hang of herbs, radishes, and carrots. I've also learned how to handle bamboo and grow from scraps! Did you know that was a thing? Because I JUST learned about it and now I'm actually seeing results! I was pretty amazed at just how easy it truly was to start your very own miniature garden. Not only can you yourself start a little "plant project", but you can do it all in a small space! That's right, I grow my herbs indoors, radishes and carrots on a small patio, and my scraps in a windowsill! Sound too good to be true? It isn't and I'll show you just how to do it yourself! Green thumb optional.

Tips and Tricks:

1. Don't over water: Most plants require a watering once a week, so don't water them until their drowned, every single day. In fact, don't drown them at all. When it comes to water a garden that's in the ground, just give each of them a nice glass of water. If they are in a pot, there is a very easy trick to see if your plant is thirsty. Simply tap the pot. If it sounds dull, it means the dirt is wet and probably good to go. If it sounds hallow, a watering is needed. Watering too much can cause a few problems. One is that your plant can drown and die. If the leaves look yellow and wilted, you've already over watered them. A way to fix it would be to add soil to your potted plant or replant in a raised garden bed. Sometimes poor drainage from the container can result in the drowning of your plant's roots as well. 

2. Soil Nats and pests: This problem goes hand-in-hand with over watering. They absolutely love soaking wet dirt and often go after your roots. They will literally cover your plants, eat the leaves, and drive you crazy! They recently attacked my carrots and I was devastated. I didn't know if they would survive. After careful research I learned what these pesky, unwanted visitors were and how to get rid of them. I've noticed this seems to mainly be a problem with potted plants, as ground plants have much more dirt around them, which allows for proper drainage. Again, don't overdo it. Everything has it's limits. The main key here is to get rid of as much wet dirt as possible. This can be extremely tricky. The two main ways I've seen this to be taken care of is by re-potting them with dry dirt all around or simply digging around it and pouring sand into the sides and on the top. Now, I personally dug out my carrots EXTREMELY carefully (I just left a very wide circle around it, being careful not to rip any roots), rid the pot of any wet dirt and cleaned it out completely, refilled the pot with dry dirt, placed the carrots in their dirt clot into the pot, and covered the surrounding areas - including the top - with dry dirt. It's been 4 days since I've done the transplant and my carrots are flourishing with no more guests. So far so good! Neem oil or an insect killing soap will also take care of any pests that may be attacking your precious plants.
carrots from seeds

3. Sunlight: This is where research come in. Some plants can require much more sunlight than others. For example, tomatoes may need about 8 hours of full sun, while lettuce may only need 4. Doing a quick search on your specific plants needs, could mean the difference between dehydration (the leaves will look dry and have a crunchy feel to them) and a beautifully flourished oregano plant. Be sure to give them as much - or as little - sunlight that they truly need. This doesn't necessarily mean you're screwed if you don't have a sunny gardening area. If you have a really sunny windowsill, you may be able to simply place your plants in the window for the allotted time and boom! You have yourself some happy plants. My herbs love the windowsill I have them in, as I'm able to get just the right amount of sun they need while sitting on a mini bookshelf I rescued for free. 

4. Nutrients: Your plant can suffer from a nutrient deficiency just like you or I. Oh, you weren't aware? Don't fret, neither was I until I came upon THIS "pin" on Pinterest. After doing a follow up through books, websites, plant businesses, and gardening communities online, turns out it's all true. It's the big reason why composting can be extremely beneficial for gardeners and their "garden babies". I will admit I talk to my plants and compliment them on how gorgeous they look. I take pride in my herbs and veggies, so why not praise them for just being them! ANY WHO... Just like over watering, there are signs to what your plants may need. If you click on the link I provided for the "pin" I found, you can see the major ones. If you just want to know, I will tell you. A few things your plants could be lacking are potassium (edges and tips of leaves become yellow - add compost rich with veggies and fruit waste), nitrogen (tips and center veins become yellow - add compost like manure or COOLED coffee grounds), calcium (leaves become misshapen - if soil is alkaline use gypsum, if it's acidic use lime), zinc (light discoloration between large veins - spray with kelp extract), iron (leaves become yellow and have small green veins - make sure pH balance of soil is under 7), and magnesium (leaves start having white lines along the veins - add compost rich in magnesium or add Epsom salt to the soil. Apparently lime works as well). Few, talk about problems!

in order from left to right: chocolate mint, lemon thyme, rosemary, oregano
These problems mostly pertained to my radishes and carrots growing outside, but I did apply a few of the nutrient deficiency tricks to my herbs. I currently have an oregano plant, a chocolate mint plant (she looks bare, because I trimmed her for tea. She's already sprouting new leaves), a rosemary plant, and a new lemon thyme plant. The oregano and chocolate mint were my first babies and have grown so much, I had to make popsicle stick stands for them, to help support their height. (See post HERE about my DIY garden stand)

Now that you have a few added tips and tricks to keep your beauties in pristine shape, let's talk about growing stuff front scraps!!! This is by far my favorite learning experience and it's still going on! You can search for this kind of thing and find that you can grow a WIDE variety of fruits and veggies from scraps! It's amazing. I personally am testing out broccoli, carrots, and an avocado pit. The best part? You can start it all with just water!!!!

in order from left to right : broccoli, carrot, avocado pit
I came across an article explaining how to grow from scraps and I was completely skeptical. I couldn't believe that it worked and if it did, I couldn't believe I had been wasting so many potential new free foods! I had gone to Trader Joe's prior to this discovery and had three of the foods mentioned. An avocado, broccoli, and carrots. Apparently all I had to do was cut off the tops of the broccoli and put the bottom portion (the big stem) half way submerged in water. So I did. That was roughly a week ago and it's already started growing roots! I also read that if you cut off the tips of the carrots (where the green leaves would come out) and half way submerge them in water, you'd have success. I did - again roughly a week ago - and one of them started to re-grow!!! The other two failed, so they were tossed. Hence why you only see one in the picture. The last re-grow project I decided to take on, was the avocado pit. I learned that if you simply insert 4 toothpicks - I used corn skewers due to my lack of toothpicks - into the sides of the avocado pit (being careful not to push it in too far, penetrating the core and after you've cleaned off any avocado on the pit itself), place the pit halfway into water, and wait, you'd see a beautiful thing happen. It would crack and start to sprout! Mine started 4 weeks ago (this apparently takes 6 to 8 weeks before you see the actual root fully emerge) and it's cracked! If I lift it carefully to check, I can actually see the core and what seems to be the beginning of some sprouting! Another re-grow project I plan on testing out, is the green onion. Supposedly they don't require any soil. Just the white ends submerged in water and time! I love those, so having a never ending supply would be awesome! 

Of course all of these will need a dirt home at some point, but apparently I'm not there yet. When I am, I plan on making an "update" post. I'll either add it here (don't worry, I'll link it to the most recent post) or make a completely separate post altogether. Either way, I'll keep you all in the loop! 

I do have two more babies that are flourishing, but they don't - or at least haven't so far - required much maintenance. I have a bamboo stalk who sits in a very sunny windowsill and get's a fresh batch of water once a month, who is actually growing a new little branch right now! He's grown so much in the past few days and I can only hope that when he grows, he will twist upwards. The new branch is underwater towards the bottom and the clear vase I have him in is tall and skinny. Again, I'll keep you posted on his progress. My last baby is a succulent. The "drought friendly" plant of California. Or at least that's what they've renamed it here since last summer. I found this girl in my father's backyard, in an old pot, where she had been for 18 YEARS! I didn't know she even still existed until I paid a visit to my dear ol' dad and saw her sitting on a table, alone and unloved. With my father's blessing, I gave her a new pot, new soil, and new love! She's doing fabulous on my kitchen table as a center piece, where she's admired and adored.

If you couldn't tell I have crazy love for all my herbs, veggies, succulent, and bamboo. I actually have names for my herbs, succulent, and bamboo. Why? Because I can and I think they deserve a name. They will be here the longest...I hope. In case you're wondering, their names are as follows:

Choco the Chocolate Mint
Octo the Oregano
Rocko the Rosemary
Thamina the Lemon Thyme
Balswick the Bamboo
Sally the Succulent

Yup, I'm strange. Always have been, always will be. 

An added tid-bit for you guys is that Walmart actually has an amazing bag of organic compost soil, perfect for flowers, veggies, herbs, and fruits. I forgot what it's called - I'll take a picture next time I go - but it's in a white bag with purple accents. It's HUGE and less than $3! I use it for everything. 

There you have it! Some extra knowledge for your growing adventures! Hopefully they help you with any and all troubles you may experience! Really I hope you don't have any troubles, but you know how life goes. If you guys have any tips or tricks you'd like me to add, feel free to let me know by commenting here, through an email, or on my Instagram! I love interacting with all of you guys. It's makes everything worth it! Happy Thursday everyone and don't forget! Tomorrow is Food Challenge Friday! What will I conjure up for the letter F?! Stop by tomorrow to see!

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