DIY and latest topics
DIY and latest topics
Regardless of whether you are a serious gardener or you just grow a few flowers and tomatoes, a garden journal can be a tremendous asset. Each year, you will have successes and failures. This is true if you are a novice or a master gardener. It’s just the nature of the endeavor. Keeping a journal to record these successes and failures will help you avoid the same mistakes or repeat what you did right from season to season.
Planning the Garden
Your journal can be used to plan what you want to plant in the new season. Some plants can’t be planted in the same plot year after year, so knowing where you planted them in season A, will help you avoid planting them in the same place in subsequent seasons (crop rotation). Additionally, plants have their likes and dislikes as to other plants. The journal will help you avoid placing plants together that aren’t compatible (companion planting). Both crop rotation and companion planting will be addressed in more detail in the next few articles.
Making a simple drawing of your garden in the journal will help you make decisions about what to plant, whether by starting seeds or buying plants at the garden center. When you have decided on where you want vegetables or flowers to grow and have put their names on your garden plan, you will be ready to select seeds and/or plants.
It is very helpful to include pictures of seed packets and plant tags in the journal so you will know from year to year which brands or varieties worked best for you. Perhaps you put one or two see packets or plant tags per page and leave space between them to make notes about how long the seeds took to germinate, how fast or well they grew in the seed starting mix, and when you planted them into the garden. You may also want to document how much fruit or flowers they produced or what diseases they had. All information that you include will be useful in future gardens.
Seed packets have arrived in the store and are ready for your selection to start planting. Right now, you can start onions and peppers indoors. It’s possible to grow seedlings in a south window, but your seedlings will start growing toward the light and you’ll have to turn them frequently. They may also get leggy.
Seed Starting Trays
You can start seeds in almost any container, but seed starting trays are the most convenient. You can purchase seed starting mix at the store that will give your plants the best start and they can grow longer before needing to be transplanted. Only grow what you and your family like to eat. If you can do some calculating and determine how much produce you will use during the summer and how much you want to store, can or freeze for the winter, you’ll have a good idea of how much to plant.
Be sure to read the seed packets for how deep to plant the seeds. Some seeds won’t germinate if they are covered. The packet will also tell you how many weeks before planting outside you need to start the seeds.
Growing Under Lights
The best way to start seeds indoors is to grow them under florescent lights. Regular shop light fixtures with one warm and one cool bulb will work just fine, but you can also use grow lights if you want. The lights should be placed about two inches from the seedlings and should be moved up as the plants grow. If you have a small fan, a gentle breeze blowing across your seedlings will make them stronger and they will be used to wind when they get outdoors.
Temperature is Key
Your seedling trays should be in a place that is between 65-85 degrees, depending on the seeds. Tomatoes and peppers usually like warmer temperatures than plants that can grow in a cooler environment.
Build Your Own Seed Starting Rack
I use a 30-inch-wide by 6 foot long table in my basement and hang the florescent lights from the rafters on chains that I can raise and lower. A timer keeps the lights on 16 hours each day and shuts off automatically. If you’d like to build a seed starting stand from 2x4s, check out these instructions at one of my favorite web sites, Old World Garden Farms. https://oldworldgardenfarms.com/2013/01/08/how-to-build-an-indoor-seed-starting-rack-cheap/
When you hear someone refer to the HVAC system, the initials refer to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The air is constantly circulating through your home and flowing through the furnace filter before being sent through the ventilation system to your rooms.
Some furnaces require the filter to be changed every month for the most efficient filtering of the air and if you have pets in the house, it can be critical to do this once a month chore. Not only do filters protect the air coming out of the furnace, but they also protect air going into the furnace through the filter so the insides of the furnace stay cleaner.
Other newer systems may use a filter that can go six months or more. A good HVAC system exchanges indoor air with outdoor air to reduce indoor moisture, odors, and other pollutants. As the air is exchanged, the filter collects the dust, pet hair, and other particles in the air and filters them out so the air in your home is cleaner. If the filter is left dirty, or full of particles, this residue makes your system less efficient and shortens the life of the furnace.
Schedule Filter Changes
If your furnace requires monthly filter changes, pick one day of the month to take care of this on the same day each month. Keep a supply of filters so you only have to buy more a few times a year. If you can go longer between filter changes according to your owner’s manual, do this on the same date, such as June 1st and December 1st, or whatever length of time is recommended.
Changing filters is too important to leave it to chance. You will be protecting your family against dust, odors, allergies, and pollutants.
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