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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Planting Spring Peas: Container Plantings

Planting Spring Peas:Container Plantings

Coming Soon: Lettuces, Kales, and Other Early Spring Greens

Peas love the cold and can handle the frost. What they don't like is prolonged wet cold soggy soil. It often leads to their death. A bit less dramatically... they mold and don't germinate. I am in Maryland Zone 7 and you can give peas a try, starting in late February if you want to push it. Container plantings can help you do this.

Planting Container Peas - The Rusted Garden Blog

The key for peas is to plant them several different ways over many weeks, until you get a batch that sprouts and takes. If you do this in your area, you will get a sense of when the best time is to plant them come the following years of gardening. In my area you can start late February and plant through mid April for best success.

The key for peas is to get them in the ground when the soil isn't frozen and isn't soggy. Some slightly warmer days (50'S) mixed with cold and little rain... brings them to germination. That is hard to predict though. Once they get established they can do their thing. Late winters and early springs are tricky when it comes to weather. A rainy soggy week could knock out most of your peas. That why it is important to plant a patch every week or 10 days until some take. You don't want to be waiting around for them to sprout when they died out.

I recommend planting peas in the later winter and early spring using different methods.  The way I most recommend in the early part of the planting season is in 5 gallon containers.


Container Peas - The Rusted Garden Blog

Peas fix their own nitrogen and can handle old container soil. But if you have the option, new container soil is the best way to go. Any basic bagged gardening soil will work. Just fill a 5 gallon container with soil and poke drainage holes in the bottom.

The peas should be planted about 1 inch deep and you can plant 5 to 8 peas per container. You can plant two peas to a hole and thin as you see fit.  It is a good  practice to use 2 seeds in case one doesn't germinate. You can always remove plants. Peas, although they can handle the frost, are fragile and have hollow stems. They need to climb and grow up supports. They break very easily if they don't have something to grab onto and climb. I recommend a tomato cage or several tomato stakes for containers.

The containers help to mitigate the cold sogginess of late winter and early spring. Container peas warm faster and the conditions are better suited for getting those early peas germinating and growing.










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Videos: Everything About Seed Startng Indoors

I am in the process of reorganizing my blog and videos. I am making pages of specific categories.

I just completed a page that shows you everything you need to know to plant seeds indoors. It focuses on preparing the starting mix and seeds cells. Lots of examples of how to plant different vegetables, perennials and herbs. There is also a video on building a grow-light station.

Everything You Need to Know About Starting Seeds Indoors



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Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Prepare Your Starting Mix and Seed Cells Indoors


 How to Prepare Your Starting Mix and Seed Cells

Starting your seeds indoors saves you time, money and frustration. It is a lot easier to do then people realize. It does takes some work to set up a grow-light station but that is also easy to do and relatively inexpensive since it can be used for years. I have a video for building a collapsible indoor grow-light station. Starting seeds indoors also allows you to grow transplants that you wouldn't be able to buy elsewhere. The cost saving for starting your seeds indoors is huge compared to buying transplants. It is pennies versus dollars.

The most important thing you can do when starting seeds indoors is to make sure the seed starting mix and seed cells are well prepared before planting the seeds. The video highlights the key aspects to this process fully. Following these steps will get your seeds germinating in no time.

Here are the three keys and a personal tip:

  1. Pre-moisten your starting mix before you use it. Dry starting mix will delay germination and it slows initial water absorption. It will work if you use dry mix but it will take longer to get things rolling.
  2. Thumb-pack your starting cells. Make sure you fill the seed cells and then press the starting mix into the bottom of the cell with your thumb. Refill and you know have a well packed and stable starting base for your seeds to be planted and germinate.
  3. Water from the bottom. Watering from the top only splashes the seeds and seed mix all over the place and it takes a lot more of your time to water that way. It also spreads disease. Just fill the seed flat with water and let the seed cells absorb water from the bottom. Whatever isn't absorb after 20-30 minutes, just dump out.
  4. My tip from experience is NOT to use the seed dome. It only creates a disease filled humid environment that aids in 'damping off' diseases.

Check out the video for full details. I'll be doing a series called Three Minute Garden Tips for the 2013 season. This is the first video in the series. If you find this helpful, please pass it on. Thanks!




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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seed Starting Onions and Leeks Indoors: Save Money!

Onions and leeks take about 120 days to mature.

They are both very hardy and thick rooted vegetables. The roots can be tugged firmly to seperate them. They aren't fragile!

I over seed my onions and leeks in seeds cells and let them grow tightly together. I will have to use a liquid fertilizer with them to keep them healthy while I wait to get them in the garden.

You can grow 150+ transplants for under $5 and as long as you keep them fed and moist, they will stay viable until you get them in the garden.

Starting them 6 weeks before the lighter frost weather comes (it's dead 25 degree weather here now) will give you quite a few transplants for your garden There are actually over 200 transplants in this video. After 3 weeks, start using a light liquid fertilizer when you water them.





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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Video: How to Grow Large Tomatoes in Containers

I am cleaning up and dusting off my old garden videos and updating them with new Google options.

Here is one of my first videos: How to Grow Large Tomatoes in Containers






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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Growing Coleus Indoors is a Great Way to Save Money!



Coleus Seeds - The Rusted Vegetable Garden  Blog

You might notice my blog is following what I am doing at the moment for 2013. It is seed starting time here in Maryland. It isn't quite time to start this year's Coleus. They grow well indoors and don't like any cold as in under 60 degrees. I collected my Coleus seeds from last year's plants so I am looking forward to free seed.

A great way to save money is to start vegetables indoors as I have mentioned a few times. If you don't want vegetables then seed starting flowers will also save you a lot of money. Coleus are expensive to buy at nurseries. They are really easy to start indoors as seen in the pictures.

You will have to spend about $10 if you need all the supplies in the pictures. If you already have the materials, you might have to spend $3 for seeds and a portion of soil. You can easily spend $30, $40 or more on Coleus for your annual beds. Once you buy the seed  trays and cells, you can re-use them for many years.

Coleus transplants are expensive to buy from nurseries. They do great indoors as seed starts.So why not give it a try? I over seed my cells as you can see and then divide the cell plugs into 2 and put them in cups. I pretty much put in about 7-10 seeds per cell and lightly mix them in to a 1/4 inch. They germinate and grow well indoors.

That is only one pack of seeds that made 36 plugs. The total cost... maybe $3. You can end up with 72 clumps of plants or more, depending on how you want to divide them up. Cheap!


Coleus Seed Start  - The Rusted Vegetable Garden  Blog


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Friday, January 11, 2013

Test Germinating Seeds: How to Test Your Seeds


Test Germinating Seeds

Most seeds are stamped on the back of their packs with the growing year. Seeds have a small amount of moisture in them and they can naturally last years. Some seeds 'dry out' faster than other seeds. You can save a lot of money by test germinating your old seeds. 

Why test germinate? Do you really want to spend more money if you have seed or wait several weeks only to realize your seedlings aren't sprouting.? Besides it is something to do in the winter!

You can increase the shelf life of your seeds by storing them in air-tight containers in the house. I have tomato seeds that have lasted 3-4 years. 

Testing them is pretty easy. The video shows you all the steps but here is how you do it.
  • Moisten a paper towel and wring out the excess water
  • Put 10 seeds,  scattered on the towel
  • Fold the towel in half and then in half again
  • Put the towel in zip lock back and label it.
  • Store it out of the sun at around 70-75 degrees
  • Check on it at day 5,7, and 10.        

If 8 out 10 seeds sprout you then have an 80% germination rate. If you have 2 seed germinate then you have a 20% germination rate.

Don't worry if the towel grows mold in colors of red, green and black. It happens.



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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Starting Herbs & Perennials Indoors - Seed Mix & Planting Techniques

Starting Herbs and Perennials Indoors
Seed Mix & Planting Techniques

Starting seeds indoors is easy to do and pretty inexpensive. You can re-use a lot of the materials year after year.  And it will save you a lot of money.

Oregano and Thyme Planted Over-Seeded - The Rusted Garden Blog

This video covers seed mix preparation, filling your seed cells and some basic planting techniques. Watering, fertilizing, lighting and transplanting will be subjects of future videos. So please check back!

Most seed starting mixes come dry. It is important to pre-moisten your starting mix before you fill your cells. It helps with preparing the cells for planting and seed germination.

It is also important to bottom water your planted vegetable seed cells. Watering from the top can splash out seeds, it is time consuming and it creates an environment for diseases like 'damping off' disease. It kills seedlings.

Oregano Ready to Be Divided - The Rusted Garden Blog

Most seeds should be planted 6-8 weeks before outdoor planting is viable. However, some seeds take 2-3 to germinate and grow slowly. Herbs like oregano and thyme fit this bill. You can start a lot of seeds 10-12 weeks early so they are ready come spring.

Finally, over-seeding is a technique I use for extremely small seeds. You don't always want to plant 1 seed in cell.


 Need to Build an Inexpensive Collapsible Grow Light Station? Learn How Below




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Monday, January 7, 2013

Starting Seeds Indoors - Perennial Flower Plugs for the Vegetable Garden: The Rusted Garden 2013


I use coconut husk as a seed starting mix. Perennial flowers are a great way to bring pollinating insects and 'good' bugs to your garden. I recommended starting perennial plugs in your house. You can do this about 6-8 weeks before the time you would put peas in your garden. If you have room for holding bigger transplants in your house, you can go a few weeks earlier.

I use a perennial seed mix and over-seed the cells. The perennials are a pretty hardy group. You are making a plug with lots of plants and just tucking them in your vegetable garden or wild flower garden. The strongest will survive and grow and spread seeds.




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Burpee Vegetable Seed Starting Coconut Husk Brick - A Product Reveiw: The Rusted Garden 2013

Burpee Vegetable Seed Starting Coconut Husk Brick - A Product Reveiw: The Rusted Garden 2013

This video shows you a coconut husk brick which is a new way to make 8 quarts of wet seed starting mix. Coconut husk is really absorbent. I do recommend it. It is not pre-fertilized so you will need to use some sort of diluted liquid fertilizer with your transplants. I will probably mix this with a peat moss  and perilite mix.





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Friday, January 4, 2013

Indoor Seed Starting Basics

Facts About Seed Starting Indoors


Seed starting indoors will save you a lot of money and it isn't difficult to do. You need four things for it to be a successful experience.
  1. Seed Trays and Flats
  2. Sterile Seed Starting Mix
  3. Seeds (but of course)
  4. And Sunlight

 Here are some pictures to give you a visual on what you will need.

Seed Flats and Trays - The Rusted Garden Blog

These seed flats (the big rectangles) are life-savers for seed starting. They hold the cells and typically there are 72 cells (left of picture) that you fill with the seed starting mix and plant. The flats are absolutely needed for bottom watering.

Never water the seeds your are starting from above. You not only run the risk of splashing the seeds out but you set up an environment for 'damping off disease'. It is the white fuzzy fungus that grows on the stems of your new seedlings. It kills them. End of story. Fill the flat from the bottom and forget it for a week.

A Small Flat & Seed Tray - The Rusted Garden Blog

If you don't need a big set up as many of us don't, you can buy a 6 pack with a tray. The same principles apply. You can see the water in the flat in the picture. I recycle and reuse these year after year.

Seed Starting Mix -The Rusted Garden Blog

See my thumb... gee your... ah I'm old and that was from my childhood. You can buy any seed starting mix that you find at your local stores. It is sterile and typically very very dry. Before you put in the cells, like above, add water to it and let it get saturated. If you don't do that it will have a hard time absorbing water from the bottom... it is that dry. I typically put it in a large container, add water and mash it around with my hand.

My thumb is important. Fill the seed trays with the seed starting mix and then press every cell down with your thumb and refill the tray. If you don't do this your seed starting mix will be too loose. You run the risk of the seeds dropping down to the bottom of the cell and you give the roots less mix to grow in.

Starting Pepper Seeds - The Rusted Garden Blog

I am planting pepper seeds in the pictures. Plant more seeds than you need and thin to 1 or 2 plants depending on what your are planting for large vegetables. You plant a few extra so you have a better chance of getting a germinating seed. You simply thin the extra plants out. I place the seeds on the medium and press them in with a stick. Just follow the seed pack directions for depth.

Water and Light - The Rusted Garden Blog

You need to use an indoor grow light or a windowsill that provides 8 our of sunlight. Make sure the plants get light and you water them from the bottom. Before you know it, you will have hundreds of plants ready to be transplanted and you will save 100's of dollars.


Lupines and Carnations - The Rusted Garden Blog

Heirloom Tomatoes - The Rusted Garden Blog



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