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Container Gardening Tips

When growing plants in containers there are some things to keep in mind for the best chance of success. Choose a container 2”larger than the pot the plant is already in. Choose a pot that can handle temperature changes. If the pot will stay outside year round choose a material that can handle these changes. Fiberglass, resin, concrete, and heavy duty plastic will last longer than unsealed terra cotta. Provide drainage. If the container does not have drainage drill holes in the bottom so water does not sit in the bottom of the pot. A unsealed terra cotta pot will allow water to evaporate through the sides of the pot.  This may be desirable when planting cactus and succulents especially if there is a chance of overwatering. This may not be the best thing for hotter weather and non drought tolerant plants. Use potting soil –not garden soil. Potting soil will drain better and not contain weed seeds. Some brands I like are Dr. Earth, Black Gold, and Patio Plus. Rocks or gravel are not necessary for drainage and may actually prevent water from draining. The only time I would recommend something in the bottom of the pot is if there is a chance the pot could fall over or blow over or if it is a huge pot that would require a large amount of potting soil. To weight the pot down put a few bricks or large rocks in the bottom where they will not block drainage holes. Placing smashed pop cans or upside down pots will take up space in the pot so less soil will be required in huge pots. If you are concerned about a little soil coming out of the bottom of the pot place a coffee filter or piece of landscaping fabric in

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Choosing Edible Houseplants

What can you grow as a houseplant that you can also eat? First: What would you eat?  If you aren’t going to eat it then why grow it? How much light do you have? You may have more light than you think. Note what times of day you get light and for how long. Generally direct sunlight is not required. My Aloe always bleaches out in direct sunlight. All of my plants receive less light than at my previous homes due to my plant room facing East and large trees outside. The plants listed can be grown in more light than as listed but won’t do well in less. The only time I have used artificial lighting is when starting seeds. If you don’t have much light: Spinach Chives Arugula Mint Cilantro Chervil Parsley Lettuce Beet greens Bok choy Celery Kale Peas Swiss Chard Medium Light: Ginger Turmeric Lemongrass Rosemary Banana Sweet Potato – vine Pomegranate Higher light: Basil – an annual but if you can delay flowering long enough you may be able to keep it around for awhile Aloe Vera (Yes, it is edible. See Herbs To Grow) Choosing edible houseplants Pepper in bloom Choosing Edible Houseplants Lemon almost ready to harvest Salvia including Sage and Pineapple Sage Scented Geranium – rose, lemon, peppermint, and more Thyme Oregano Savory Most fruiting plants including Peppers (yes, they are perennial and are grown as an annual in many climates because they freeze) Tomatoes – smaller varieties such as patio types would be better for most of us since the plants are smaller. The size of fruit has no relationship to the size of the plant. (perennials same as peppers Avocado Lemon Lime Grapefruit Orange Squash (bush style unless you have room for a vining type) My edible houseplants include three

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Planting Perennial Herbs

Perennial herbs such as sage, thyme, lavender, rosemary, oregano, winter savory, and mint have medicinal use as well as culinary. This is certainly not a complete list of the possible perennial herbs you might want to grow. These herbs are also good at repelling pests. Many people are interested in the medicinal use of herbs for a variety of reasons from concern about “traditional” medicine to concern about emergencies where medical personnel and supplies may not be readily available. Herbs also can provide some interest to food when fresh food may not be so readily available – especially if you are already in the habit of eating food that is not bland.  Whatever reason you have for growing herbs if you plant and begin using them soon you will already be familiar with their uses when you may need them.   Perennial herbs once planted can give pleasure and usefulness for many years. However, the woodier perennial herbs grow slower at first so if you get them planted you will be able to harvest sooner.   Why wait to plant them? Maybe you have just been putting it off.  Or, don’t know where to plant them or where to purchase plants? Search this site for the herb you want to grow to find tips for growing locations. My books also provide information about how to grow and use a variety of herbs. If you need help with where to buy them many local nurseries sell herbs or you can check the resources on this site on in the back of my books for some online nurseries that I like. Are you renting or otherwise not in a permanent location? Plant in pots for easy moving to a new location or ask your landlord about improving the landscape with some herbs.

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5 Ways to Control Mosquitos

You finally get outside and mosquitoes show up! What can you do? Here are 5 ways to help you control mosquitoes. For controlling mosquitoes in the landscape (and on you): Empty any water containers that are unnecessary. For pet water dishes, bird baths, and ponds there is another option. Bacillus thuringiensis v. israelensis is deadly to mosquito larvae and fungus gnats but safe for pets, birds, and fish. Also called B. T. var israelensis, it is available in a liquid but also a dry form as donut shaped “dunks” and small “bits”. There are other types of B.T. – one for controlling caterpillars and one for Colorado Potato Beetle so be sure you are getting the right one.   Planting mosquito repelling plants can also be helpful especially when planted around patios and decks. This is most helpful if the plants will be brushed against as people are walking past so the essential oils of the plants are released. Lemongrass (a relative of Citronella) is a famous one but is not hardy above zone 11 so for most of us will either need to be overwintered indoors as a houseplant or you will have to buy a new one each year. If you want to cook with lemongrass you may want to just bring it indoors. More cold tolerant herbs which are also mosquito repellents are mint and lavender. Mint should be grown in a pot anyway to avoid taking over your yard. Lavender can be planted in the ground in most climates and should overwinter just fine in a pot in many climates as long as the pot is large enough to provide insulation for the roots. A pot of 14” – 16” should work for either lavender or mint. Keep in the mind that plants in pots still

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