Hardening Off Seedlings (Seed Sowing 101)

Once your seeds have grown big enough to plant out in the garden it's time to find a way to get them into the garden.  Direct sowed seeds have a big advantage in this area as they have grown from the start in the great outdoors are are already well adapted to the weather.  Seedlings grown indoors aren't so lucky.  Bringing those seedlings outdoors too fast may result in planting shock because of the change in intensity of light or the weather conditions.  The method you use to transfer your seedlings outdoors is called hardening off.  Hardening off is where the plants are gradually adapted to the outdoors over a period of several days.  Each day the plant is exposed to more of the natural weather until it is ready to grow outside by itself without protection. How to Harden off Transplants The most common way to harden off seedlings…

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First Daffodil Blooms of 2012!

The first daffodil blooms of 2012 are now on display in my garden!  Every year I like to track the first daffodil of the season.  It amazing how much each year can differ.  The warmer the weather the earlier the flowers appear.  We're almost a month earlier than last year's daffodil blooms! Here's a look back at the dates and posts for the daffodils of the past several years! First Daffodils from 2009-2011 (Spring Hill, TN): February 12, 2009 March 17, 2010 February 25, 2011 As you can see this is the earliest the daffodils have bloomed in my garden yet.  It's been an extremely warm winter so far which is obviously the reason for the early blooms! Are there any daffodils blooming in your garden?

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5 Ways to Help Wildlife In Your Garden Without the NWF

By now I'm sure you've heard all about the National Wildlife Federation and their new found friend Scott's.  There are quite a few people upset about this arrangement since many of Scott's products are made from ingredients none of us would rather see in the environment.  The NWF exists to promote and help wildlife but it's pretty hard to do that when an "ally" is undermining the process.  The issue is very hot where it concerns the Backyard habitat certification program that the NWF promotes.  Its intent is to encourage gardeners and land owners to enhance their properties in order to make them more suitable for wildlife.  It's a nice idea and you get a fancy little sign to put up but I don't think you need to have a national certification to provide a great habitat for wildlife! For this week's Friday Fives post I thought I would share…

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2012 Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Ever been to the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show? Here's the info for 2012: Gardens Past, Present & Future Will Be Celebrated March 1-4 at the 2012 Nashville Lawn & Garden Show Discussion of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello gardens among the many free presentations at the show Nashville, TN – The timeless appeal, importance and fun of gardening will be celebrated at the 23rd annual Nashville Lawn & Garden Show on Thursday, March 1, through Sunday, March 4, 2012, at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Gardens Past, Present & Future is the theme for the 2012 presentation of Tennessee’s largest and most popular annual gardening event. The show’s centerpiece will be an acre of live gardens featuring thousands of spring flowers and plants, waterfalls and fountains, trellises and gazebos, and outdoor living spaces. More than 250 exhibit booths will offer horticultural products and services, outdoor living décor, gardening equipment, plants, flowers and…

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Planting Seeds in My Raised Bed Circle

Last year I put together the circular raised bed in my vegetable garden.  It's in the center of the garden layout which is in the parterre style garden layout I planned last year.  Of course my plans are changing a little this year too.  It never fails, the only thing I don't change in my garden is the fact that I am changing my garden!  I'll show you that plan soon, possibly next week.  For today though I'll share with you the seeds I planted in the center circle raised bed. My center circle is made from concrete retaining wall blocks.  Concrete can make some excellent raised beds since it doesn't rot and doesn't need much in the way of special assembly techniques if you keep the garden low.  Most of the concrete retaining wall blocks are recommended to go up to 2' high (or 4 levels) without needing mortar.…

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2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

In case you are wondering about where exactly you are situated in the USDA plant hardiness zone maps here are a couple to look at. One is the national map and the other is the Tennessee State map.  The maps are useful when determining which plants to plant in your area.  The zone map shows you the lowest expected temperatures in an area.  You have to take this with a grain of salt though.  If you live in a frost pocket or have various micro-climates in your garden the plants can perform differently.  Our house is situated in a frost pocket and despite the USDA zone map which shows us in a zone 7a location and has a 0°-5° Fahrenheit low. We typically end up with temperatures below 0°F once or twice a season.   National USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (Click on the Map to see a larger picture) Tennessee…

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Where to Plant Your Seedlings (Seed Sowing 101)

Once you have your seedlings growing strong and you've properly hardened them off (more on that next week) it is time to plant your seedlings in the garden.  But where should you plant them?  It may seem like a given that you'll just go out and stick them in a hole and watch them grow, but it's not always that simple.  What if your soil is rocky, clay soil that's water retentive?  (Then you just might live in Tennessee!) What if your soil is sandy and has trouble retaining water?  Not every gardener is gifted with the perfect soil but there are ways around it that will help your produce a great garden. What's Your Soil Like? First you should figure out what kind of soil you have before you plant your seedlings.  One of the best resources you have available to you is your local university agricultural extension service. …

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Timing (Your Seeds) is Everything! (Seed Sowing 101)

We've talked about how to pick your seeds and we've talked a little about the soil to use, but when should you start your seeds?  This is when good planning comes into play.  You want your seeds ready to go when it's safe to plant but you don't want to start them too early, so how do you figure that?  It's actually pretty easy. The easiest thing I can tell you is to look at the back of the seed starting package and see what it says!  Post done right?  Nope, I need to do better than that! Should I Start My Seeds Indoors or In-ground? There are two ways to start seeds: ahead of time in a pot or directly in the ground.  Plants that like an early start are plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.  Early starting plants are generally summer plants that need to start out of…

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5 Favorite Trees That I Grow In My Garden (The Friday Fives)

What is a garden without the trees?  Bare and boring!  Without a good tree you lose the shade they provide, the elegant grace that trees offer as a focal point, the fruit the tree may bear, the benefit to the wildlife around us - I think you agree, you just have to have a tree!  But what trees would you pick?  And which one's would I always want planted in yard? Here are my picks for this week's Friday Five! Japanese maple leaf When I was a kid living at my grandfather's house there was a row of trees on one side of the driveway.  The trees had been there as long as I had known and had knotty roots along the surface of the soil, thick branches that hung low, and were the perfect trees for climbing.  I can't tell you how many times I climbed this one tree…

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Randomness from Wednesday

Wednesday was full of randomness, although it wasn't all gardening.  A little bird watching, a little gardening, and a little bit of house stuff all rolled together to make a Wednesday. The day started with a trip to the home improvement store.  Not for gardening stuff this time but for painting materials.  A bathroom in our house needs redone so I ventured out to find what we needed.  Fortunately the garden center area wasn't stocked yet and the temptation to add more plants to the garden was not there. Later in the day I went out exploring the garden in the 30 degree weather.  And I found this: The hyacinths are rising!  Already.  It seems very early to me but the weather has been much warmer this year and it makes sense.  I looked back at a blog post from 2009 and saw that the last week of January was…

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