Tag Archives: gardening

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

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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

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.)

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.

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.