How To Grow Thyme From Organic Seeds Found On Amazon

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 30-07-2015

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5500477321_380d0c061a_bThyme is one of the most beautiful and tasty herbs. Being a plant with medicinal properties, but also beautiful and decorative, thyme must find a place in your garden, no matter how big or small it is.
Thyme is a long life perennial plant that grows spontaneously on arid hills around the Mediterranean. There are about 30 different species of thyme. It has small leaves, green-gray interior with curved edges, thin branches and woody stems. From May to August small white or pink flower cones appear.

Thyme has a shaped shrub with a height of about 19 inches. The root is well developed and well branched. The leaves have a short petiole that is lacking for some varieties.

The flowers are small, with sharp aroma and they are arranged in an inflorescence. Brown fruits are very small and may be stored 2-3 years, during which they keep their ability to germinate in a proportion of 70%.

Thyme is a resistant plant and not quite demanding to environmental factors. It needs a lot of light and heat in summer, but it feels perfect at medium temperatures of 77ºF.
It is not demanding in terms of water, being satisfied with what it receives naturally, if in the garden. Thyme grown in pots should be watered only when the soil is dry. A dripping wet drops the essential oil concentration and therefore the flavor.

It can be grown in almost all soil types, but it is sensitive to weeds instead. It should be taking into consideration that in the beginning, plants grow slowly and may be overgrown by weeds.

Thyme Herb Seeds

Thyme is cultivated well in the garden and very well in large pots, to make way for high root systems. Thyme requires nitrogen fertilizer, especially in spring.

Find Them On Amazon

Seedlings are formed from the herb seeds on Amazon, which should be sown directly in the garden or in pots in late March. 0.1 – 0.2 ounces of seeds per square meter are quite enough.

The bushes should be cut in order to grow and extend faster. The plants can be harvested after the first flowering and the branch harvesting should be done at flowering.

You may use thyme to flavor the meat and it also goes well with all kinds of vegetables. It can be used for aromatherapy, but also as a decorative plant.

Basic Home Gardening Tips

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 10-11-2013

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Green leafy vegetables and other healthy produce have become expensive nowadays.  With the current status of the economy, prices will not go down any time soon. If you are worried about not being able to eat healthy produce because of its price, why not try growing your own.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a homeowner or an apartment renter. Homegrown vegetables can be planted in a vacant lot in your backyard or in small pots. These pots can be chosen from a wide variety. They are suited for those people who rent apartments and do not have enough space for vegetable gardening.small garden box

How to Make a Small Garden Box

If you are a homeowner with a vacant space in their yards, you can try to make a small outdoor garden. This can be as small as four square feet. A small vegetable garden will allow you to easily manage it. Here are some tips on how to make your small garden box:

  • Location. This is the first thing to consider in making your small garden. Ideally, the location of a small garden should receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. It should also be clear of shrubs and trees that might interfere in your plants’ growth. The location should also be far from puddles and should not have excess moisture. The garden should also be close to your house. This will make it a lot easier for you to do your gardening.

  • Create a plan. Remember that you are making a small garden. Always think within the area of a 4×4 foot square. This will help you decide which plants to choose according to their size and produce.

  • Choose the material for the box frame. Any material can be used to make the box frame of your small garden. However, do not use treated wood as it contains chemicals that could go deep into the soil. You can try visiting a lumber yard and ask for a suitable lumber to use. You can also have it cut for little or no cost at all.

  • Nourish your garden box. You can do this by mixing 1/3 compost, 1/3 course grade vermiculite and 1/3 peat moss. There are organic varieties to choose from to ensure that your garden is chemical free. You can also make your own compost. You can use this to fill boxes and cover afterwards.

  • Create the grid. After you have nourished the soil and covered the compost for two weeks, you can now put the grid. This can be made shorter for it to fit in the box. This will keep make your garden easy to manage and organize. You can choose from materials including wood, plastic strips and nylon rope so long as it does not contain any chemicals.

What to Plant in Your Vegetable Garden

homegrown vegetablesThere are numerous vegetables to choose from for your vegetable garden. You can choose from cabbage, lettuce and even squash. Eggplants and tomatoes are also good choices and bring produce shortly. You can also plant chili that would look good after it bears produce.

The produce you get out from the vegetables you plant is healthier compared to what you buy from supermarkets. You are also assured that no harmful chemicals were added to enhance the growth of your vegetables. Make sure that you start planting during the summer. This will make it successfully thrive. However, start making your garden box at the end of the winter when frost is already minimal. This would allow you to start planting right away when winter finally ends.

 photo credits: serenejournalJames P. Mann

The Cozy Gardens: Cottage Garden Must-Knows

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Gardening | Posted on 22-04-2013

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cozy gardenDo you want to have the old “English” theme in your backyard? If so, then having a cottage garden is the best idea for your home and yard beautification purpose. Besides, having a little cottage with plants inside is kind of classy, right?

Cottage gardens are traditionally found in small English villages for the purpose of growing crops to sustain families that are poor or have little abundance in life. It was in the later years, more specifically in the age of renaissance, that the cottage gardens were used by wealthy families to grow beautiful and fragrant flowers, and ornamental plants.

If you want to have a cottage garden of your own and take care of plants closely or in a more “controlled” environment, then you should have enough knowledge at hand in this type of gardening. Let me share to you a few tips and must-knows in the field of cottage gardening.

The Basics

Before you try to dig deeper with the idea of having a cottage garden of your own, you should first be aware of the basic elements and principles used in this specialized form of gardening. You should get to know more about the foundations of cottage gardening.

The following features are what are found distinctive to cottage gardens:

A Cozy Atmosphere. The cozy feeling of having entered a garden with a refreshing scent and beauty of flowers and vines is the unique characteristic that can only be found in cottage gardens. It is such a wonderful feeling that you would definitely like to stay in that place all day long.

Mixture of Just Any. It is not only flowers and vines that can be found in a cottage garden. There are also trees, shrubs and vegetables that can add more texture to the scene and without you even noticing it. The beauty of this type of garden is such a marvel that it can fool you at times.

Welcoming. The cottage garden is like a person who is ushering visitors to come in and guiding them around. This is because most cottage gardens have beautiful walkways and pathways that make the strolling and looking around the garden easy and accessible even though it is filled with so many plants.

The Bench. This is one of the unique characteristics of a garden that has been imitated by other types of gardens – a peaceful area to sit down. Benches can be mostly found in cottage gardens and is a very unique idea to have a place where you can sit down and relax and watch the whole garden at the same time. Most of the time, traditional benches that are made of wood are being used.

Keeping Formality

This is the main idea in keeping and maintaining a cottage garden – keeping it formal. As you have noticed, the things that are being used in this type of garden are those that are traditional and mostly made of wood. Simplicity is beauty in the first place, right?

Texas Azalea

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Posted by Julien Stern | Posted in Plants | Posted on 22-02-2013

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Texas azaleaAzaleas have a reputation of being quite exacting plants in their growing requirements – yet few vistas can surpass a garden or a flower bed of azaleas in full bloom. And, well, rumor may be exaggerated sometimes.

While modern horticulture has created hundreds of variations of this spectacular and delicate shrub (each with different tolerance thresholds to the various conditions that characterize a given garden), there’s this one among them that is especially fit for our Texas gardens – for the simple reason that it’s native to our area.

The name of this beautiful lady is Texas azalea, and, if taken care of properly (which is not at all difficult, as we shall see in a moment), she’ll be embellishing your outdoors – with her dainty white flowers, her lush deep green foliage, her lemonish, slightly spicy fragrance, her discreet yet powerful presence – like few other plants can. Yes, you can call me a bit prejudiced here…

So, let’s get down to exploring a few facts about Texas azalea and its optimal growing conditions:

Texas azalea (rhododendron oblongifolium)

Soil
The natural habitat of Texas azalea is the sandy, organically enriched, slightly acidic (pH 4.5-6.0) soil that can be found in pine forests, wooded stream banks, and boggy areas. This is a light soil, unlike the heavy clay that abounds in several Texas areas and can cause root rot (indicated by yellowing, wilting foliage and collapse of the plant) – but that can be amended with proper preparation of the ground.

Incorporating peat moss, bark mulch (especially pine bark), and compost rich in leaves down to a depth of 12” will increase acidity of the ground and improve aeration, so much needed by the shallow root system of Texas azaleas. Constructing raised flower beds will work fine with these plants, although it’s not a sheer necessity, if preparation is done correctly. Another way to make pH levels more suitable is to add agricultural sulphur.

Texas azaleas don’t like limy, alkaline soil either, as it can lead to iron deficiency and, subsequently, to chlorosis, characterized by yellow leaves with distinct, dark green veins. However, there’s a number of ways to treat chlorosis such as:

  • applying copperas (iron sulphate), which is a soil acidifier and will allow iron to return to an available form;
  • applying granular iron to the soil; some gardeners simply drive iron nails or iron shards into the ground, waiting for them to rust and release the substance;
  • applying a foliar spray of an iron compound – this method will have much shorter residual action, though, and it must be repeated frequently.

Sun exposure
Texas azalea’s natural habitats are very telling of the kind of sunlight it prefers: partial sun or filtered light beneath trees with high limbs. This means that azaleas do not fare well in places that receive excessive amounts of our hot Texas sun, especially during the afternoon hours. Excessive exposure to sun will initially bleach the leaves (due to the deterioration of chlorophyll) and then burn them, with brown spots and edges appearing on the foliage.
On the other hand, complete shade invariably leads to lanky growth and to insufficient blooming. Plant your Texas azaleas in a spot that receives afternoon shade – the east or north side of your home are usually the best picks. Another advantage of optimal sunlight conditions is that they will help increase the plant’s hardiness to low temperatures.

Temperature
Texas azalea is generally spread in regions included in the USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9 – in other words, areas that manifest lowest temperatures of 0-25º F. It is also tolerant of high heat. The secret to always remember is to keep the plant’s “feet” cool, and this is accomplished by adequate mulching (2″-3″ deep).

Apply mulch in spring, just after the blooms fade. This will help lock moisture in the ground, and it will also protect the roots from summer heat. On the contrary, avoid mulching in fall, as this will hold heat in the soil, thus delaying the onset of dormancy and increasing the odds for winter damage.

Texas azalea

Watering
Texas azaleas love moisture, but need a well-drained soil to develop properly. Try planting them on a slope: besides seeing your shrubs thriving, you will have the additional advantage of preventing soil erosion.

Watering the azaleas is finding a delicate balance between keeping the ground moist, but not soggy, without letting it get too dry either. When the plant is new, check the soil around it every day to ensure it is slightly damp. Mature plants need about 1″ of water per week during cool seasons, and more during hot summer spells, as azaleas have shallow root systems that dry out quickly. Curling, twisting, or drooping leaves are a certain sign of water deficiency.

Prefer watering deeply and infrequently rather than in regular small amounts. Apply mulch to prevent evaporation, and amend your soil with compost to improve texture and water holding or draining capacity. Avoid drip irrigation, as it will benefit only a very restricted area of the widely spread roots.

Texas azaleas also absorb water through the foliage, which means that you can water both roots and leaves. In this case, prefer to water early in the morning in order to avoid leaving moisture on the leaves, thus preventing the onset of fungal diseases.

Pruning
The best season for pruning Texas azaleas is during the first two to three weeks after flowering is finished, and definitely before budding begins around late July. Any pruning that takes place after that point must be done with major attention, as it will affect the overall shape of the plant and the flowers of the following blooming season.

Don’t be afraid of performing minor shaping of your plants throughout the growing season; this will help the shrub maintain its fullness and compact shape. Just pay close attention and be very selective with your cuts after budding, as they will significantly impact the display of flowers for the following season.

Texas azaleas are deciduous shrubs, meaning that during winter (and until March) they are dormant and leafless; this makes it also a good time to prune – always keeping in mind the above cutting restrictions.

Fertilization
The best time to fertilize Texas azalea is in spring, right after the blooms fade and the shrub is pruned. Use a slow-release, acidic fertilizer such as cottonseed meal or commercial azalea-camellia-gardenia dry fertilizer, applying it evenly around the roots. Fertilizing in a concentrated area will most probably cause fertilizer burn. At any rate, avoid lawn fertilizers; they are too high in nitrogen and they may burn or even kill the shrub.

Never fertilize late in the growing season, like after budding (July) or in the fall, as this can cause tender new growth to develop right before winter — with its chances of severe frost — sets in.

Texas azalea flowers


Other Considerations

A Texas azalea in full growth can reach up to 6 ft in height and 3 ft in width. Be sure to provide 36” to 48” spacing when planting your azaleas, thus leaving adequate room for the shrub to develop.

As mentioned above, Texas azalea has a shallow root system —the roots tend to spread horizontally near the surface rather than drive deep into the ground. When planting Texas azaleas, perform 2-3 vertical cuts in the root ball, so as to help the roots spread apart. In the opposite case, the plant won’t be able to hold fast on the ground, and the plant will be severely under-achieving in growth and appearance.

The family of Rhododendrons, to which Texas azalea belongs, has leaves and flowers containing poisonous substances that are dangerous when ingested by humans and animals. What’s more, honey made from these flowers may also be toxic.

Native plants are generally pest and disease free, or they wouldn’t have survived and propagated in the regions where we see them thriving today. It’s a law of nature, and it’s called adaptation. This doesn’t mean that these plants are plastic and invulnerable to natural enemies, pests, and diseases – and Texas azalea has its own share of this type of problems. One thing’s for sure, though: given the proper environmental and growing conditions, your native azalea shrubs will fare much better than rumor has it.

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Photo credits:
– Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
– treegrow in Flickr