Transplanting from Soil to Deep Water Culture

Do you have plants that you want to save from frost? Transplanting from soil to deep water culture can help save your beloved herbs or greens. We will offer a few quick ideas on how to safely move your plants from the ground to a deep water container.

In order for any transplant to work, you need to understand your plants and the soil around it. In order to transplant from soil to deep water, you will need to be able to easily remove the dirt from the roots. If the soil is heavy clay or compacted, survival may decrease. Certain plants also do better with transplanting than others.

You’ll have a better chance at keeping the roots happy, if the soil is loose. While it is always advisable to gently scoop up the plant with a small tool, some plants with shallow roots or really loose soil may just come up with a light tug.

When the plant is free from the garden bed, gently remove as much soil as you can with your hands. Be careful not to disturb the roots too much.  Then, you can simply rinse away any excess soil by lightly sprayer or running the plant under water. In some cases, there may be small deposits left on the roots. Just keep running the water until it runs clear. A tiny rock or piece of bark shouldn’t throw things off too much.

Once your roots are free from dirt, you can place the plant directly in water. You may support the plant in any way that helps. Some plants like mint can sit in water without any clay pellets, as long as the top is supported by the rim of a hole or pot. Heavier roots may enjoy being buried in light clay pellets. If roots are in clay pellets and not directly touching the waterline, you will need to hand water until the roots reach the water. Watch the plants for a few days and see how they do.

As a final tip, pinching just a tiny bit off the top of your plant can encourage root growth. Use your own judgement, but don’t go too harsh. If you remove too much, you may kill the plant.

Enjoy your Mr. Stacky product!

Cheryl

Deep Water Culture – Part 2

Hello, everyone!  If you have been reading and watching my deep water culture updates  on Facebook with this newer Mr. Stacky product, you will know that I love this system. It is so much cleaner than trying to grow plants in soil indoors.

What I also like about the system is that the plant nests can be moved around.  This can help you move smaller plants that may be overshadowed by something else or simply allow you to make a prettier plant display. Since I’m using two deep water culture growing containers and an additional nursery for seedlings at times, I have the advantage of moving plants around for maximum light and viewing. Thus, having more than one deep water culture system can be even more fun!

If you’d like to order your own deep water culture system, visit this page.

Cheryl

Deep Water Culture Exploration

Hello, everyone!  Be sure to join me on the Mr. Stacky Facebook page. I’ll be talking about my exploration in Deep Water Culture. I started some seeds and also am transplanting by using a relatively new system for Mr. Stacky.

If you’ve ever wondered what an indoor grow tent looks like, you can watch videos and ask questions on Facebook. Let me share my Mr. Stacky adventure with you!

Warm regards,

Cheryl

FREE Shipping Deals

Order now with FREE shipping from Mr. Stacky on several of our products.

Here are some ideas that ship free:

3-Tier Herb Garden Planter – $19.99
Colors available are terracotta, hunter green and stone!

(Price is for the planter only.)

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5-Tier Strawberry Planter – $29.99
Colors available are terracotta, hunter green and stone!

(Price is for the planter only.)

More Mr. Stacky product ideas – www.mrstacky.com

Winterizing Your Mr. Stacky

How do you store your Mr. Stacky in colder weather?

Caring for your Mr. Stacky throughout the winter can help you be better prepared for the next season. What you do with your pots is dependent upon the severity of the season in your area. We’ll overview a view tips here.

For those growing in soil only, you’ll want to let your pots dry out in the sun. This will reduce the moisture levels and the prevent any expansion of water in the soil due to freezing. Once the soil is dry, you can move your pots to a covered area like a patio, garage or shed. If they are too heavy to move, you can empty out the soil or cover your entire Mr. Stacky with a heavy gauge plastic bag.  (Note: Starting with fresh soil every year can make gardening easier. Don’t be afraid to compost your soil at the end of the season and start fresh the next year. This will also give you a chance to clean your pots to inhibit disease.)

If you are using Mr. Stacky to grow hydroponically and are in an area that freezers, you’ll want to take a few extra steps. First, make sure you let your growing medium dry out and remove any water from the tank. Secondly, remove the motor and store it inside. This will prevent any leftover water from freezing inside the motor. Also, be sure to check your sprinkler head and tubes to be sure they are dry. Then, either move the Mr. Stacky to a covered area or cover it with a heavy gauge plastic bag.

If you live in an area that doesn’t freeze, you may only need to cover your Mr. Stacky with a plastic bag or store it in a covered area. If your in an area where you can garden all year, then you can rejoice and enjoy.

Feel free to post on questions on our Facebook page.

Cheryl

Updated 9/24/2017 2:51 PM

Fall Vegetables

Do you have an itch to grow something one more time before the cold of winter sets in? Let’s talk about things you can plant that have a short growing season.

As temperatures begin to cool, your growing options change. Mother Nature is telling you that it is time to grow cool weather crops. What are some things that you can grow in cooler weather?

The most easiest and quickest options are lettuce and radishes. There are varieties of each that can be planted by seed and harvested in under 50 days.  Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension for the date of the first frost. (This is the last day you can grow without providing protection.)

If you’re not sure what to plant, I’ve provided a couple ideas below and a couple vendors that I personally enjoy using.

Little Gem Lettuce – This smaller lettuce is great for your Mr. Stacky.  It’s been pretty low maintenance for me. I’ve used seed from Sustainable Seed Company and was pleased. Organic and conventional options are available. I believe the pictures of lettuce in this blog are from spring, but fall planting is great as well.

Radishes – Okay, I have to admit that I really don’t pay attention to the variety of radishes I plant. They are easy to scatter on the ground and quick to harvest. Pick something that visually interests you or has a story to tell. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a solid choice as a place to purchase heirlooms and things of intrigue.

Enjoy growing!

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

Peppers

Protecting Your Mr. Stacky in Bad Weather

If you’re experiencing inclement weather in your area, you may be concerned about what you are growing in your Mr. Stacky. Hail, frost, wind, repeat rains  and heat can destroy delicate plants.

Covered pot
Demonstration photo of how to cover your Mr. Stacky with a sheet. More than one rock will be needed to hold the sheet in place.

Demonstration photo of a Mr. Stacky covered with a sheet. (More than one rock is suggested for holding the sheet in place.)
The best way to protect your pots is to move them, if they are light enough. Placing your pots indoors temporarily or under an overhang can give a bit of protection. However, some of your plantings may be too heavy to move. In this case, protecting them takes a bit of homespun engineering.

If frost or hail, is a worry, old sheets can be lightly placed over the plants in the evening before you go to bed and removed in the morning.  Tie ropes around the planters or use rocks to hold the sheets in place. While this may not protect your plants 100%, it may give you a slight advantage in keeping them alive. However, it is possible that the weight of the sheet may break the tops or branches of plants. Also, be sure not to leave the sheets on top of your plants too long, as they need sunshine to stay happy.

When wind is concern, you might try carefully scooting your planter closer to a house wall or an area that is less breezy. A mover’s trick that might help move something heavy is to place a moving blanket on the ground and push the heavy object onto as much of the blanket as possible. Then, you drag the blanket (with the object resting on it) carefully to your destination.

Too much water on a consistent basis can lead to plant disease. If repeat rains are a problem, make sure your pot is draining properly. If for some reason your pot holds water and the rain has stopped. you can gently tilt the pot to remove some of the water. If rains continue to be an issue, moving the pot under a patio or against the wall of the house may decrease the amount of water intake.

It only takes a small amount of extreme heat to fry delicate plants. During dry heat spells, try watering plants in the morning or temporarily moving them to the shade. When it is really hot, I will actually drench potted plants to give them protection. However, you have to watch them to be sure you’re not drowning your pots.  It’s also not a 100% solution, if the weather and the plant are not designed for one another.

Be sure to post your gardening questions on our Facebook page and I’ll do my best to help you on your growing journey.

Cheryl

Keeping Plants Alive in the Summer

No one enjoys dead plants. If summer’s heat is killing what you are growing, let us offer a few tips to make gardening easier.

The best way to have healthy plants in the summer is by planning your plantings. Do a little research in advance to make sure that you are planting what is appropriate for your weather conditions. For example, if you live in a really wet climate, you may not want to grow desert cactus.

Secondly, choose the right place to plant your garden. (This can also be enhanced by understanding what type of plants go with your climate.) Look up your desired vegetable or flower on the Internet. Learn what it needs and plant it where it will be most happy.

If you are using pots, don’t forget to pick a container big enough for what you are planting. The more soil that you have around the roots, the easier it will be for the plant to survive if it encounters a dry spell. Small posts will dry out faster.

Peppers growing in the Smart Farm

Check your plants every morning and water as needed.  (Put your fingers in the soil to see if it is dry. If the soil feels hot and is bone dry, you need to water. If the soil is cool and squishy, you may want to cut back on the watering. Consistently wet soil can invite disease.)  By watering in the morning, it will be a cooler time of day and will create a rhythm for your plant care cycle. If you get in the habit of watering every morning, it will decrease the likelihood that you’ll forget to do it. If you see the forecast is suggesting extreme heat, go ahead and really douse your plants. It will help keep them cool and happy.

If extreme heat is prolonged, you may need to water more often or even multiple times during the day.  If you don’t have time to check your plants more than once a day, you may want to consider installing drip lines and using a timer. It will take a bit of experimenting to figure out a good match of watering times to the requirements of your current temperatures. However, you’ve already planned to check your plants every morning, so you’re partly there.

If you make a mistake and your plant wilts, you may be able to save it. If it is in a pot, move it to a shady area , over water it and drop the pot into a couple inches of water inside another container for a few minutes. (Don’t let the water go all the way up to your potting soil or you might lose it.) This may save your plant. Once you’ve given it a chance to perk up, remove any dead leaves. Leave the pot in the shad for a couple of hours and move it back, once it is refreshed. If you can’t move your plant, water it until the soil puddles. The extra water may help save it.

Being diligent about checking on your plants will help keep them alive and make you a happier gardener. If you have questions, please post them on our Facebook page.

 

How to Grow Vegetables in Hanging Baskets

Green beans & a tomato plant

Do you have limited space, but still want to growing vegetables? This article will share with you simple steps to growing vegetables in hanging baskets.

  • First, decide what you like growing and want to eat. If you hate spinach, you won’t enjoy growing it.
  • Once you know what you’d like to grow, take some time to study what does well in your area in the current season. Your local agricultural extension can often provide you with guidance.
  • Consider the size of what you are growing and how you will grow it. For example, due to the height of corn, it wouldn’t make a great choice for a hanging basket. However, things like tomatoes if grown upside down may work well. Cucumbers are also an excellent choice, as the vines can provide interest to your basket. Pick them when small to avoid weighing down your vines.
Flowers, tomato, cucumber & oregano
  • Think about the position of the sun. Most vegetables benefit from a lot of light. Shady locations aren’t a great choice. Choose a place that receives light for the majority of the day.
  • Choose the potting soil that matches your needs. If you live in an area that is really hot and sunny, materials like coco peat that can help hold moisture. If you get a lot of rain, choose a mixture that contains sand for drainage.  (There is also difference between potting soil and garden soil mixes. Thus, be sure to ask questions about what you are purchasing. Garden soil may be higher in clay, which is heavier and doesn’t give roots as much freedom to move. Quality may not be the same from vendor to vendor, either.)
  • Fill your hanging planter with soil and scoop out appropriate size holes to make room for your plants.
  • Transplanting plants from the original container to the hanging basket is the fun part. Simply place your hand around the base of the plant to hold it in place and turn the container upside down. If the plant doesn’t fall out, squeeze the container lightly (if you can) or tap it. Once the plant slips out, turn it right side up, place it in your pre-scooped hole, cover it with soil and water.
  • Hang your basket, check it every day to see if it needs water, fertilize as recommended on your fertilizer package and watch your vegetables grow. (If you see bugs or your plant doesn’t grow as expected, write us on Facebook and we can help.)

How to Make Herb Flavor Cubes

I remember seeing some herb cube ideas on the Internet a summer or two ago and developed a simple way to do it myself. If you’re in a hurry and want to save your summer’s herb bounty, the directions and pictures below should help. While I used basil in the photos, you can try any cooking herb that makes you happy. Experiment with it and enjoy! Cheryl

Step 1: Pic your basil, rinse and drain.

 

Step 2: Pluck the leaves, place them in a food processor. Add just enough oil to provide lubrication. Pulverize the basil according to your food processor’s directions.

 

Step 3: Pour the basil/oil mixture into ice cube trays and place the uncovered trays in the freezer.. (The trays in the picture are the miniature type that you might find in a camper’s refrigerator/freezer. )

 

Step 4:  Once the mixture has frozen completely, remove the trays from the freezer. Loosen the cubes by gently twisting the trays. (If the cubes are stuck, running warm water across the bottom of the tray for a few seconds may help.) Place your cubes in a freezer bag, label and refreeze. You now have flavored herb cubes to use in the recipes of your choosing.

Why Is My Plant Dying?

Do you have a plant that is dying in your garden? Figuring out plant problems can really be frustrating and you may feel like you’ve failed. Don’t worry. Even seasoned gardeners lose plants. This blog will give you a light introduction into diagnosing your growing issues.

In order to understand why your plant may be struggling, you need to assess its quality of life. Start by running a web search without quotation marks for “requirements for growing [insert plant name].” This should lead you to knowledge on the basic needs of your plant.

Unhealthy squash plant with bugs

After reading a bit about your plant,  take a look at the plant and its surroundings. Put your fingers in the soil and observe the leaves and stem.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the soil too wet or too dry?
  • Are the leaves wilting, falling off or changing colors?
  • Am I giving the plant too much or too little sun?
  • Is the temperature too hot or too cold for this plant?
  • Are there bugs crawling on the plant? If so, does it look like they’ve chewed holes in the leaves or fruit?
  • Has anyone sprayed anything recently near the plant that could have damaged it?

Once you run a quick diagnosis with the questions above, you may be able to understand a bit more about why your plant is suffering and can run a web search on possible remedies. If you find yourself stuck and in need of assistance, post a question on our Facebook page and we can walk you through suggestions on solving your issues. You can also contact your local agricultural extension office. Diagnosing plant problems can be really hard, as there are a lot of variables. Extension offices most likely will have the ability to test soil (for a fee) and experts that may be able to make a diagnosis from a photo or sample of your plant.

 

How to Grow Vegetables in a Raised Garden Bed

Do you love to garden, but have poor soil or have difficulty bending your knees?  Consider growing vegetables in a raised garden bed.

A raised garden bed gives you the ability to plant in fresh soil in an area that is off the ground. This may reduce the amount of bending needed, while allowing you to have better control over the quality of your growing medium.

How do you grow vegetables in a raised bed?

  • Begin by choosing your container and location. You want a raised bed that is large enough to plant the vegetables you desire, while holding enough moisture to keep your plants thriving. Where you plant is also important. While under a shade tree may be fantastic for shade-loving flowers, vegetables need to be in the part of your yard that gets a significant amount of sun throughout the day.
  • Secondly, choose and fill your raised bed with a potting mix recommended by your garden center and fill your bed.
  • Next, add your plants and water well. (If it is really hot in your area, you may need to give them extra water the first couple of days to help them transition into their new home.)
  • Finally, be a good friend to your raised bed and check it every day. Stick your fingers into the soil to check to see if it needs water. If it feels dry, add water to the base of your plants. (Splashing can spread disease. Watering in the morning before the heat of the day is a great habit to choose.) Fertilize as recommended by your plant food manufacturer.
  • Harvest your vegetables when they are ready and enjoy!

Garden Pests: Squash Bugs

Living with insects is part of gardening. There are good bugs and there are pests. Knowing how to control the bad insects naturally can help save your garden. One of the more destructive and frustrating enemies is the squash bug. Let’s talk a bit about what to do with them.

Squash bugs can suck the life out of your squash, if you are not vigilant. They love hiding and can be quite frustrating to control. If you are an organic or sustainable gardener, harsh chemicals are not your favored choice. Thus, as disgusting as it may appear, the best control measures are searching and destruction.

Searching for squash bugs means that you need to get close to your plants and move the leaves around. You will find the insects crawling anywhere on your plant. When you see them, simply pick them up with your hands and drop them into a bowl of soap water.  If they don’t drown, you can remove them one by one and crush them with a stone.

The second thing you need to do in your search is look for eggs. Typically, the eggs will be lined up like soldiers in a pattern on the underside or top of leaves. Scrape the eggs into your soap water. You can also remove the leaf and crush the eggs with a stone.

While this procedure may seem distasteful and brutal, it will help decrease the destruction in your garden. If you do not control squash bugs, they will keep multiplying and kill your plants.

Growing your vegetables in a raised container like the Smart Farm can reduce the bending needed when inspecting your vegetables. If standing is challenging, you can even pull a chair up to your Smart Farm to make gardening more comfortable.

Please visit the Mr. Stacky page on Facebook for gardening pictures and help in answering your growing questions.

Smart Farm Growing Update

Smart Farm

We introduced everyone to starting seeds in the Smart Farm in earlier posts. I thought it might be a good time to show you what the Smart Farm looks like approximately 24 days later. The picture on the right shows the current Smart Farm. Some of what you see is the lettuce that we started from seed, while other things are transplants. Can you find the basil, tomatoes and squash?

In less than a month, we have a gorgeous planter that is filled with green. The maintenance at this point is very easy. I just have to keep the bottom reservoir filled and the pump plugged into the timer. If you’re wondering how much fertilizer that I’ve used, I am still running off the initial small bottle that was sent as  a sample. I initially poured the whole bottle into the reservoir once the seeds sprouted. Although I have added water, I have not added new nutrients. However, it is overdue for a refresher.

What do you think of my Smart Farm?

P.S. The pic to the left is a reminder of how bare it was before the seeds sprouted and other plants were added. What do you think you can grow in one month? If you need help, please write me on our Facebook page. I’m happy to answer your questions and help you grow whatever you dream about.

The picture to the right is the nearly finished product after growth.  Cheryl

 

Why Garden with a Mr. Stacky?

Why garden with a Mr. Stacky? We could share with you a bunch of fancy marketing taglines to entice you to buy our product, but we’d rather just write from the heart and share four reasons why gardening rocks.

#1 Gardening gives you fresh food. If you’re hungry for a salad and you’re growing lettuce, there isn’t any need to go to the store. Just tiptoe over to your planter and snip.

#2 Growing your own food and eating at home is great for the planet. Had you decided to go out to eat or make a run to the store, you’d more than likely be driving a car. Staying put and not burning up fuel is better for the environment. (Plus, you can eat dinner in your pajamas, which is more fun.)

#3 Playing in the dirt is fun and can relieve stress. Make some mud pies and act like a kid. (Just don’t eat the mud pies, please.)

#4 Gardeners are cool people. You have to love folks that can talk passionately about radish varieties.

If you want to be part of our cool group, come hang with us on our Facebook page.

Cheryl

How to Start Seeds in the Smart Farm – Planting Lettuce

Lettuce is one of the easiest seeds to start. All you need is sun, warmth, a growing medium and humid conditions. Unlike many other vegetable seeds, lettuce tends to benefit from having light while it sprouts. Thus, you don’t need to worry about how deep the seeds need to be planted. This makes planting lettuce seeds great for beginners, as you’re just basically placing seeds on top of soil and brushing it around a bit before watering.

This is a picture of a Smart Farm covered with a plastic tarp to increase humidity.

If you really want to be sure your lettuce seeds are happy enough to sprout, you need to add humidity. How do you do this? Once you have planted your seeds and watered them, cover the container with clear plastic. The clear plastic will keep the humidity high, while allowing sunlight inside. A thin plastic drop cloth from the hardware store works great. Just be sure to weigh down the ends at the bottom with a rock to keep the drop cloth from flying away in the wind.

Please keep in mind that lettuce is a cool weather crop. If your temperatures are extremely high, you may cook your seeds under the plastic.

How do you know when is the best time to plant lettuce seeds? Your local extension office should be able to provide you a list of the best planting times for various vegetables.  If you’d like help locating your local extension office, you can click this link at NPIC.

The video below from our Facebook page shows a quick way to plant lettuce seeds. If you’d like to chat with our gardener, please visit us on Facebook.

Planting Lettuce Seeds in the Smart Farm

Have you tried planting lettuce seeds directly in your Mr. Stacky? Here is a video of me planting them in a Smart Farm. Cheryl

Posted by Mr. Stacky Pots on Thursday, May 4, 2017

 

How to Start Seeds in the Smart Farm – Preparing Your Growing Medium

Growing food using hydroponics can be easy with the Smart Farm.  Once you have your Smart Farm assembled, it is time to begin growing by adding your growing medium.  While you can use soil in the Smart Farm, we recommend using a mixture of 80% coco peat and 20% perlite, gravel or growstone for hydroponic growing.

Why grow hydroponically? Hydroponics can create a cleaner and more controlled environment for the even distribution of water and nutrients to your plants. The coco peat helps retain moisture without a lot of compaction, while the perlite, gravel or growstone that we recommend in the Grow Guide creates space for roots and encourages healthy drainage. Roots need room to grow and don’t do well when soggy.

Mixing your growing mixture is easy, but you need to make sure you have everything you need. Gather the following items:

  • Mr. Stacky coco peat block (You will need 12.5 gallons of the fully hydrated block)
  • Perlite, gravel or growstone (Hint: You will need 12.5 quarts. If you also raise chickens, a #50 bag of Cherry Stone #2 grit is just enough with leftovers.)
  • Smart Farm reservoir
  • Smart Farm shipping box (Seriously. Why waste a good container?)
  • 16 gallons of water
  • An old pitcher
This picture shows grit and coco coir being mixed to form the growing medium.

Directions:

  1. Place the unwrapped coco peat block inside the empty Smart Farm reservoir and add 16 gallons of water. As it expands, break up the coco peat block with your hands.
  2. Once the coco peat is hydrated, you want to create a four parts coco peat/one part grit mixture. (Use your pitcher to pour four equal parts of coco peat  into your empty packing box.)
  3. Next, add  one pitcher of grit on top of the coco peat in the packing box.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all the coco peat and/or grit is used.
  5. Use your hands to thoroughly mix the coco peat and grit together.
  6. Once your Smart Farm is fully assembled, use your hands to fill each stacking tray.
  7. Rejoice! It is time to plant!

If you have any questions, our gardener is available to help on our Facebook page.

How to Start Seeds in the Smart Farm – Choosing What to Grow

Growing your own fresh produce with Mr. Stacky can be an exciting adventure and we are here to help you learn. If you are a new gardener, starting vegetables from seeds for the first time might seem difficult. However, this series of blog posts will break down the steps for you and help make it a fun experience. This initial post will cover seed selection.

The most important thing when choosing seeds is to think about what you like eating. If you hate spinach, you won’t enjoy growing it. If you crave fresh greens on your salad, then planting lettuce is a fantastic choice for a beginner. It be easy to germinate and gives you results fairly quickly. Additionally, the showy leaves of lettuce look gorgeous in a pot.

What lettuce seeds are best? Little Gem is a favorite of this writer, as it sprouts easily and does well in a pot. If you plan on filling an entire Smart Farm with Little Gem seeds,  you may want to purchase more than just a little packet of seeds. It is better to plant more than you need, as you can thin the seedlings, later. You can purchase the seeds in various quantities here.

Lettuce is a cool season crop and there are a lot of different vegetables that you can grow in a Mr. Stacky. If your weather is really hot and sunny, you may want to consider gardening something that thrives in heat. Bush beans do well in warm weather and the seeds can be planted directly in a pot. While green beans are the variety you may know best, consider choosing something fun like Dragon Tongue that have spatters of purple on the full grown beans.

Be sure to check this blog regularly for more tips on growing with the Mr. Stacky Smart Farm. If you’d like to order a Smart Farm, click here and enter in “growjoy” as the coupon code to save $50.

How to Grow Strawberries in a Pot

If you love the flavor of fresh strawberries, growing this delicious fruit indoors can be a tasty experience. Nothing gets more local than harvesting your own berries at home. Here are a few simple steps that will show you how to grow strawberries in a pot:

Tools
Strawberry plants/plugs
Planting pot
Coco fiber (80%)
Perlite or Preferred Coarse Aggregate (20%)
Plant Food 
Spray bottle/water
5-gallon bucket or slightly larger container

Step 1: Pour coco fiber into a 5-gallon bucket until it is about 2/3 full and add just enough water until fiber is damp and cool to the touch. It should not be dripping or have water standing in the bottom. Break apart any clumps with your fingers and work the fiber with your hands until it is light and airy.

Step 2: Add four to five handfuls of perlite into your coco fiber and stir with your hands. (Approximately one handful per gallon of coco fiber is just enough.)

Step 3: Use your hands to scoop up your coco fiber/perlite mixture into your container until the soil is about one inch from the top.

Step 4: Use your fingers to pull back just enough of your planting medium in the pot to bury the plug even with the existing roots. Do not cover up the stems or pedals with the coco fiber. If planting more than one strawberry plant in a pot, be sure to space them apart to allow them room to spread. (The length of an average hand is a good measuring stick for the amount of space needed between plants.)

Step 5: Water each plant with liquid fertilizer as written on the package directions.

Step 6: Place your planter in direct sunlight where it will be exposed for the majority of the waking day.

Step 7: Rotate your planter once or twice a day to facilitate even growth. Spritz all your plants lightly with water each time you rotate the planter. (This will increase the humidity.)

Step 8: Water as needed. Your plants should never be soggy or bone dry. A good indicator that it may be time to water is when the coco fiber on the top begins to turn a lighter shade of brown. If you are a heavy spritzer with water, you may find that you may need to pour water on your plants less often.

For More Information on How To Grow Strawberries and 10 Best Strawberry Recipes click on the following link 

Indoor Herb Garden Ideas

ParsleyDo you desire to have fresh herbs all year, but have limited space? Growing herbs indoors can be a fun and delicious experience.  This article will share with you some fabulous indoor garden ideas for your home.

The first thing you need to do in order to plant an indoor garden is think about what you’d like to plant. Make a list of the herbs you commonly use, while also including a few new ones you’d like to try. For example, solid herb selections for Italian dishes are basil, oregano and Italian flat-leafed parsley. If you enjoy making fresh pizza or pasta at home, you will want to have a minimum of these three in your garden.  Thyme and chives can also be worthy additions, as they are also useful in winter soups. Having access to fresh sage for Thanksgiving stuffing may be on your dream list, while the smell of fresh rosemary is something you know will lift your spirits.

Once you have made your list, you need to consider the space needed for your plants and the types of containers you’d like to use.  While old dishpans or other upcycled containers offer affordability, they aren’t always a smart use of space. A stackable garden planter can turn a small place into a productive vertical garden. By planting herbs in several layers, you utilize less space and can grow more plants. Additionally, you may decrease the work needed by having all your plants in one compact area.

You will want to choose a place for your indoor garden that is accessible and has adequate light for most of the day. A favored kitchen window or glass patio door with a lot of sun is a good choice. If you don’t have a sunny location in your home, grow lights can be useful tools.

Thinking of new ideas for your indoor herb garden can be fun. If you’re new to gardening, an herb garden kit can make your selections easier, as the plants and pot have already been selected for you.  If you have any questions about herb gardening, please contact us. We’d love to help you grow.

What Are The Best Nutrients For Hydroponics?

From testing & studying various brands we believe it is Dyna-gro. The linked article below labeled “What Are The Best Nutrients For Hydroponics?” goes over complete plant nutrition and should give you plenty of information on why we feel this way about Dyna-gro. They have a trade-secret process and is the only nutrient that has figured out how to add all 6 essential macro-nutrients into 1 formula. Macro-Nutrients are required by plants in large amounts. This is why Dyna-gro advertises that they are the only complete formula in 1 bottle because no other nutrient company has been able to figure it out. Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro is complete, simple, and well balanced which is everything we were looking for when recommending to our backyard and commercial growers.

What Are The Best Nutrients For Hydroponics (pdf)

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How To Build A Vertical Garden

Vertical gardening or gardening in general has never been so fun and easy. I am going to teach you how to build a vertical garden with the Mr Stacky planters plus a few items found at your local hardware store.

Below is a list of item you will need:

1. 6-10 Mr Stacky Stackable Planters
2. 1″ PVC Pipe For 18″ Pots or 3/4″ PVC Pipe For 13″ Pots
3. 1″ PVC Coupling For 18″ Pots or 3/4″ PVC Coupling For 13″ Pots
4. 3/4″ Steel Conduit Pipe 5′ Long for 18″ Pots or 1/2″ Steel Conduit 5′ Long For 13″ Pots
5. Block of wood to put over conduit when hammering.

Step 1: Drive Conduit 2.5′ into ground; Use block of wood over top of conduit when hammering
Step 2: Cut PVC pipe 12-18 inches long & place over conduit
Step 3: Attach coupling to PVC pipe for pots to rest on and rotate
Step 4: Attached next PVC pipe 5′ long to coupling
Step 5: Stack your pots one by one on the pole

Finished! Yes it is that easy. Just Plant and Water The Top now.

Note: For extra support on the 18″ pots you may want to use a 1/2″ conduit and 3/4″ conduit driven into the ground.

Tomatoes Will Hang Down (Right)(2 Large Pots)
Greens (Left) (6 Small Pots)

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Growing Day Neutral Strawberries

Unlike the common June-bearing strawberries, the day-neutral strawberries flower and produce fruit anytime temperatures are between 35° F. and 85° F. These strawberries will not produce a single “bumper crop” of berries in June, but will instead produce berries throughout the summer and as late as October in some seasons. Unlike June-bearing strawberries the day-neutral types will yield well during their first year when they are planted. Day-neutral strawberries do not send out runners profusely like the June-bearing types and therefore you will be managing the planting differently.

Site Selection:
Day-neutral strawberries grow best in a sunny location on deep, well-drained, sandy loam soil with a pH of approximately 6.2. The day-neutral strawberries are also ideal for planting as “annuals” in containers. Strawberries do not tolerate extremes in pH (less than 5.5 or greater than 7.0). Limestone and other soil amendments that are used to adjust soil pH require at least two months of warm weather to work, so plan ahead to leave enough time to amend the soil if necessary.

Plants can be productive over a broad range of soil types, but extremes should be
avoided; clay soils retain moisture but are often poorly drained, and sandy soils
require irrigation. The addition of organic matter such as high quality finished
compost can help improve sandy or clay soils.

Adequate soil drainage is essential for healthy strawberries. Home gardeners
should plant on a ridge or in raised beds if soil drains poorly or consider selecting a
more suitable site. Strawberries are shallow-rooted plants and benefit from
irrigation. Raised bed plantings may dry out sooner that conventional planting.
Irrigation provides frost protection as well.

When plants arrive, keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant. Just before planting you will want to soak the roots in water for a few hours.

Early Care

Planting:
Place plants in the soil as soon as possible in the spring. Avoid exposing plants to sun and wind. Cool, cloudy weather is ideal for planting. When plants are set, the roots should extend vertically into the soil and be completely covered just to the crown level; do not bury the crowns. It may be necessary to cut the roots back to 4 inches before setting. During the first few weeks after planting, be sure plants have adequate water. Fall planting is not recommended.

Cultural Systems and Runner Removal:
Day-neutral cultivars do not produce runners profusely, so attempting to establish a matted row is not practical. Plant them 5–9 inches apart in single rows that are spaced 42 apart. With this system
remove the runners for the entire first season, which will increase yields significantly. Another option, which will reduce competition and increase yields, is a staggered double
row planting system. With this system plants are spaced 10–18 inches apart, alternating them in two narrow rows that are just 8 inches apart. Space each staggered double row in your
garden 42 inches apart.

Flower and Fruiting:
Day-neutral plants produce flowers from the time of planting through frost in autumn. Fruits will form in about 30 days after flowers open. Cover the plants with 2 inches of mulch in the late fall when temperatures approach 20° F. Remove the mulch in early spring around the
end of March to mid-April after the threat of severely cold weather has passed.

Maintenance

Watering: Strawberry plants should receive 1 inch of water each week, either by rainfall or irrigation.

Mulching: Day-neutral strawberries perform best when mulched with straw immediately after planting. Mulched plants have cleaner fruit and suffer less drought stress.

Harvesting: For maximum sweetness and flavor pick fruit a day or two after they are ripe. Berries picked before they are completely red will ripen, but they will not sweeten off the vine. Slightly unripe berries can be used for making jam. Under favorable conditions, expect a total yield of about one quart of fruit per foot of matted row. Immediately remove berries that do not ripen because they harbor diseases and attract insects.

For long-term storage of fresh berries, select firm berries that are not yet fully ripe, cool them immediately after harvest, and wrap in plastic after cooling. Store as close to 33 degrees F. as possible, but be sure the berries do not freeze. Before using, allow the berries to warm inside the plastic wrap to prevent condensation from forming directly on the berries. When these steps are followed, strawberries will be of acceptable quality for several days.

Resource: Cornell Guide to Growing Fruit at Home. Cornell University. Horticulture diagnostic laboratory.

How Often Should I Feed My Plants?

For soil growers, plants can be fed once every second or third watering. If plants are fed with every watering then nutrient buildup and lockup becomes a problem causing stunted growth, “crows foot” (curling downwards of the leaves), leaf burn, deficiency symptoms, burnt and damaged root system and decreased yields.

For hydroponic growers, plants can be fed with every watering. The watering cycle will depend on plant growth stage, size, room temperature, growth medium and hydroponic system. Small plants, such as seedlings and clones recently transplanted and plants in early vegetative stage, growing in rockwool, will require watering only once every 4-6 hours. As the plant grows bigger and enters flowering and fruiting then the water requirements of a plant increases. The watering cycle will then be every 2-4 hours. TAKE YOUR CUES FROM YOUR PLANTS! A grow room temperature of 80 – 90 °F will require more watering cycles per day than a grow room with a temperature of 65 – 70 °F. This is due to the higher transpiration rate of plants at higher temperatures. Hydroton Rocks and perlite require MORE frequent watering than coco fiber, which requires more watering cycles than rockwool. For an outdoor drip system using coco fiber and growing strawberries a feeding schedule might be feeding for 3 minutes 3 times a day (10am, 2pm, 6pm).

1 tsp/ gallon – non-recirculating system
2-3 tsp/gal recirculating systems

Why is checking pH important?

pH stands for “Potential of Hydrogen” and is the symbol for the hydrogen ion (H+) in liquids. pH has a range from 0 (acidic) -14 (alkaline), with 7 being neutral. For hydroponics we are aiming for a pH between 5.5 to 6.2 (slightly acidic); this is suitable for most hydroponic crops. For soil, we want the pH a little higher but still slightly acidic; around 6.0 to 6.5. Ensuring that the pH remains within this range will help maintain good plant health. Keeping the pH in this range ensures that nutrients are readily available to the plant. Once the grower goes above or below this optimal range certain nutrients start becoming unavailable to the plant (e.g. iron deficiencies will appear at a pH of 6.5 and above).

All hydroponic growers need to test the pH of their nutrient solution for successful growing. The pH of a solution can be tested using a standard pH test kit (sample vial with drops of indicator solution), litmus test strips, or a digital pH meter. Litmus paper and standard test kits are cheap and easy to use; however, the degree of accuracy isn’t very high. Digital pH meters, although more expensive than the alternatives, are easy to use and very accurate.

Which Growing Medium Should I Choose?

COCO COIR – most suitable for: container gardening • drip systems • raised beds

Coco coir is made from the husk of a coconut. Coco can vary in appearance and type and may be purchased as pith, fibers or chips. Each coco blend varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. It may be heavy in fibers, light in fibers, contain chips, contain no chips, etc. Coco may just be the most forgiving grow media out there. Like soil, it acts as a filter for nutrients – this useful feature helps restrict nutrient burn to your plants. Additionally, coco coir has excellent water retention properties allowing you flexibility in your watering schedule. It holds on to water allowing a buffer if you forget to water your plants one day, but at the same time, coco makes it difficult to over-water your plants. Unlike potting soil, coco has a sponge-like quality that discourages compaction. It also has a great oxygen to water ratio and is naturally pH neutral. When choosing a brand of coco, you will want to look one that has been properly buffered and rinsed. Coco is known to bond with specific minerals and manufacturers have offset this with rigorous washing and buffering processes. When mixed with perlite, Hydroton or Growstones, coco is a preferred media.

ROCKWOOL – most suitable for: all types of gardening and hydroponic techniques

Over the years, rockwool has been a favorite growing media of many gardeners. Because of its clean, sustainable and easy-to-use qualities, rockwool is widely used in commercial hydroponics. It usually comes in the form of a block, but can also be found in bales and small cubes. Rockwool has a high water absorption capability, but like coco coir has great oxygen to water ratio – this helps keep plant roots happy and thriving. Rockwool can work as an aeration amendment to soil and has become a popular choice for soil or peat gardeners. Generally you do not want to re-use rockwool.

PERLITE – most suitable for: amending soil or coco

Perlite should not be used as a standalone grow media, but it is a wonderful media amendment. When blended with soil or coco, perlite provides excellent media aeration, does not affect water retention and helps to keep soil from compressing as it breaks down.

CLAY PEBBLES (HYDROTON™) – most suitable for: amending soil or coco • NFT systems • flood & drain systems • aeroponics • aquaponics

Clay pebbles (or Hydroton™) can be used as a standalone media or as an amendment to coco or soil. Because clay pebbles are easy to clean and re-use, they are popular among hydroponic growers. Similar to perlite, clay pebbles do not hold water well, therefore the use of clay pebbles allows gardeners who want to create an aggressive feeding schedule water as often as they like. Because of their low water retention, clay pebbles also act as a great media aerator while not affecting media moisture levels. While there are advantages to the low water holding capacity of clay pebbles, this may also be their biggest fallback. If for some reason, your pump fails and your plants don’t get watered, they are likely to be dead in a short time. It is wise to monitor your watering systems when using clay pebbles to avoid under-watering your plants.

SOIL – most suitable for: container gardening • drip systems • raised beds

Soil is the most common and most familiar growing media to both the hobbyist and professional grower. Potting soil tends to be the most affordable and easy to use. It can also create a great support system for large plants when planted in a suitable container with a premium blend. Not all soil or potting mixes are created equal. When shopping for
a potting soil, you want to consider factors such as aeration, fertilizer content, amendments, etc. The majority of the potting soils available are peat-based soils. Peat is not necessarily the best standalone grow media, but when mixed with quality amendments and charged with nutrients, it can be a good choice. Keep in mind that peat tends to break down and will compact, not allowing for adequate drainage. This will create a favorable environment for harmful pathogens and can restrict oxygen availability to plant roots. You want to look for a mix that is blended with perlite or some other amendment to help create a good oxygen to water ratio. You will also want to look at what fertilizers are mixed into the potting soil. Most added fertilizers and organic additives will be time released and should last you a few weeks. It is important to look at the manufacturer’s recommendations on when to start fertilizing your plants. If you choose to use a potting soil that contains only a few additives, there are several quality dry amendments available. Many potting mixes are pre-mixed with fertilizers and organic additives and are ready to use out of the bag. Pre-mixed blends will typically still require supplemental fertilization after the first few weeks. You want to be careful not to over water your soil. Overwatering can be detrimental to your plants. Even though the soil on the top of the container appears dry, it does not necessarily mean that it is time to water. To check for adequate moisture, lift up your container to check the weight – a heavier container can be a good indicator of moist soil. If you are still unsure, you can check the deeper soil with your finger or you can purchase a moisture meter at almost any garden store.

Hydroponics vs Soil

Why hydroponics plants?

People nowadays are highly focused on healthy diet procedures and consuming organic produce. This results in the growing demand for the hydroponic plants. Hydroponics is a wonderful system of agriculture which utilizes nutrient-laden water instead of soil for plant nourishment. The vegetables grown in this way contain more vitamins, the taste is amazing and is without doubt better than soil grown produce.

Today, many countries have adopted this wonderful scientific method to grow terrestrial plants and found incredible results. It is also quite important to note how this system helps the environment. This system really is doing wonders in the agricultural field allowing the recycling of water and hydroponic nutrients, so that no materials are wasted.

Important things to be considered

The essential ingredients required to grow hydroponic plants are:

Light
Carbon dioxide
Oxygen
Water
Nutrients

Hydroponics Vs Soil

Believe it or not, growing hydroponically is many times better than using soil. Below are some good reasons you should know why hydroponics win over soil grown plants:

Fast Results – This is an excellent benefit that you can enjoy. These plants grow 30-50% quicker than soil grown plants under the same conditions. It helps to save a lot of valuable time in weeding, pest controlling and watering. Definitely benefitting the hydroponic growers.

Pesticide and Harmful Chemical Free – The pests and diseases are significantly reduced in hydroponics. Eliminating soil really helps to eliminate different soil borne diseases and pests which cause plant health problems. In this type of growing field, farmers don’t need to use harmful pesticides. Also, there is no need to conserve water.

Space Saving – It is the major reason why there is a tremendous demand for these systems. As these plants do not grow in the soil, their roots don’t have to struggle to search and spread out to locate nutrients. All they need is a bath of oxygenated nutrient solution where they are placed. This helps to save an incredible amount of space when compared to traditional soil gardening. Due to this, you can get to pack your plants in a closer manner which results in a huge space saving.

Extreme Control for you – In this wonderful system, you are the master of your plant’s environment. You have complete control over these plants and it’s up to you to create the perfect temperature, humidity, nutrient mixture, and growing schedule.

Flexibility – With the extensive research done on these growing techniques, researchers finally came to the conclusion that they could also be used in places such as deserts. This shows the flexibility of this system.

Best Way To Grow Strawberries In Containers

Have you ever wondered what is the best way to grow strawberries in containers?  Strawberries are one of the most popular berries in the world.  They are also ideal for growing vertically. Strawberries grown vertically use less water and produce more fruit than those grown in traditional rows.  Another key element is drainage; you never want your roots to just sit in water so a flow through design is essential.

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For beginning gardeners, the best way to grow strawberries is to begin with plant starts.  Pick out your strongest plant starts and insert them into your plant containers.  Strawberries grow best where the soil is fertile, well-drained, and amply enriched with organic matter.  If you are growing outdoors hydroponically in a drip system you will want to use coco fiber.  Coco fiber holds moisture extremely well and also allow your roots to breath.  Hydroton clay pebbles can be mixed in with soil or coco fiber.  Hydroton has tons of tiny air pockets that will add more oxygen to the root system and prevent root rot.

After inserting the strongest plant starts in your containers, your strawberry plants will begin to produce fruit within 28 days.  These starts will also send off daughter plants that will be capable of producing fruits. Once the daughter plants are long enough to reach a lower container it will need to be set and pinned into the container to ensure rooting.  Using containers will keep your strawberries off the ground away from ground pest because as we know we are not the only ones that love to eat strawberries.

How Much Light Do Strawberry Plants Need? Strawberries do best with ten or more hours of sunlight a day. However, they can still be productive with a minimum of six hours of light a day.  The more light strawberries get the more fruit you will pick. Just remember, strawberries can’t get too much light!

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What Temperature Do Strawberries Grow Best At? Ideally the temperature for strawberries should remain between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 55 to 63 degrees during the nighttime.  Strawberries tend to prefer a pH range between 5.5 and 6.5 for this sweet fruit-producing plant.

When Is The Best Time To Pick Strawberries? Ripe strawberries should be ready for picking about 30 days after blossoms form.  Once the plant starts to produce fruit you will be able to harvest berries about three times a week.  Make sure you leave a small piece of the stem still attached to the fruit when you harvest.  The premium time to pick berries is in the morning when they are at their coolest temperature.