Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's in Your Garden?

Chili Pequin

Every year I find myself believing it's a lot more productive to garden in fall than in Summer.  I can battle the 40 degree evening temperatures easier than the 100+ degree sizzling summer days.  Maybe I'm just fortunate enough to live in an area that will keep my garden producing well into fall. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Transplanting Plants

Possibly Impatient
Plants are sometimes fragile.  Like any growing thing they need plenty of room to remain healthy and productive.  Weather transferring plants from indoors to an outdoor environment, or bring a precious seedling indoors to continue growth it's best to be safe and cautious. 

Why and When to Transplant?

 There are several purposes for transplant.  On the right is a picture of what looks to be an Impatient.  These annuals were growing in my flower garden.  This one was found outside my garden in the yard.  I didn't have the heart to just let it go so I transferred it to an indoor planter and brought it inside. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Protecting Plants From Cold Temperatures

I love this special time of the year.  The mornings are crisp and fresh.  The afternoon sun shines bright with temperatures that are comfortable.  Fall is a beautiful time with a special blend of colors.  It is also a time of year that can be stressful on outdoor plants.  The evenings can get a little cooler than most foliage will appeciate.  The days are warm enough to leave room for continued growth.  It is an important time to protect plants and avoid possible frost damage.  If you still maintain a vegetable garden during fall it is important to keep a close eye on your harvest for possible signs of distress. 

Damage caused by frost is fairly evident.  Leaves will turn droopy and brown spots will show, often appearing transluent.  The only solution for frost damage is to head it off before it has an opportunity to appear. If your plant does subcom to the cold remove any discolored leaves. Keep a watchful eye on the plant for signs of recovery.  If the spoliage is not too severe the evidence of improvement will apear withing a few days to a week.  If signs of deteroriation continue it's likely your plant is not savable.

Moving plants back indoors may  be the most practical solution.  Allowing them the last few weeks of suitable weather to enjoy warm sun and fresh air is more beneficial.  Transferring plants between indoors and outdoors constantly will only add to the stress.  There are several methods to assure plants can remain in a consistant environment.  With the right preperation you can continue to enjoy watching your foliage progress. 

My Pequin Pepper is surving the cold well
with the right care
You'll want to make sure your plants are suitable for the climate. Although some tropical plants will survive in cold temperatures many are accustomed to warmer climates. Always  know your plants expectations and requirements. If necessary move these sensative plants into protection.  See Transferring Plants for tips on safely moving plants indoors. Never water in the afternoon or evening if the temperatures are expected to be lower than your plants willl endure.  The reflective qualities of water projects temperatures of all ranges.

A sheet covers my peppers
When the weather is forcast to be cooler than you are comfortable with add a nice heavy coat of mulch to the bed of your garden.  Hopefully you have saved leaves and grass clippings throughout the spring and summer months.  Once you  have properly treated the mulch for insects give your plants a nice blanket of protection.  See More Pests to Eliminate for checmical free ways to treat your mulch for insects. 

When I learn the weather is turning cooler in the evenings I pull out my stack of sheets to cover the plants at night.  I like a nice, light sheet that won't weight down the plant.  It still provides protection from the cold without harming the foliage.  It leaves plenty of breathing space so my gardening is not interupted.  I can find plenty of sheets at the local thrift store for less than $2 apeice.  Just make sure you wash them well before using them.  If you prefer a havier sheet be sure to use tall sticks to droop the sheet over so it won't smother the plant.

In summary when the weather turns colder it is important to take action and provide protection to your garden and plants.  Transport any plants that will not handle cold temperatures indoors.  Mulch the beds of your gardens and use sheets to cover plants.  Most of all don't panic.  The cold snap will more than likely only last a few days at this point.  Warmer weather will be back before you know.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Transfering Plants Between Indoors and Outdoors

I love houseplants.  They add such atmosphere and color to my home.  When not adorning my interior with vibrancy I like to give them a natural environment of sun and fresh air.  Transferring these plants between the two climates needs to be done with caution.  A drastic change in surroundings and temperatures can cause irreversible damage.  On the other hand leaving plants outdoors in weather that is too cool for survival is certain disaster.  Most house plants are tropical or sub-tropical in nature.  They are not typically bred to survive in weather that turns too cool.  It is best to plan on bringing house plants back indoors before the evening temperatures reach a low of 50 to 55 degree.   You'll want to beginning to plan the move a week or two in advance.
First you will want to treat you plants with a chemical free insect control product before you begin action.  You never want the disadvantage of harboring these tiny troublemakers indoors where they will thrive and multiply in the warmer conditions.  You can find simple and quick homemade remedies for controlling unseen agitation.  For some tips on treating your plants with simple homemade and chemical free remedies check More Pests to Eliminate.  Clean the outside of all planting containers to remove soil and chemicals that do not belong in the house.  Check the plant to make sure no unwanted visitors have arrived. Occasionally you will find a blade of grass or tiny weed has drifted into the pot. Remove them as quickly as they arrive.
Preparing the indoors for your foliage's change of scenery is important if you wish to minimize damage.  A gradual transference of conditions is mandatory for adjustment and survival.  Temperatures and sunlight should be as compatible as possible so the growth and health of indoor plants continue to progress.  Refrain from moving plants from a seasonal temperature of 65 or 70 degree into a manufactured temperature of 75 or above.  Provide essential direct sun light for at least six hours each day. 
This is definitely not an appropriate time to attempt a transplant of indoor plants.  They are comfortable in their current container, so let them rest there.  Your plants need time to adjust to the new surroundings.  Transplanting will require more work from the roots than they are prepared to give.  Take time to remove any clearly damaged foliage.  Plants will need to concentrate on maintaining the growth that is healthy.  Do not go overboard and prune and plants that have been transferred at this time.  Pruning will add the additional stress of promoting new growth that your plants are not prepared to handle.
Once indoors keep the soil slightly damp, but never too wet.  Over watering a plant is one of the most common ways to damage any foliage.  A suitable amount of water on a weekly basis should provide plenty of moisture.  Now is a good time to give your house plants a good feeding.  Once you have given the soil a boost continue to maintain the level of nutrients with a monthly feeding.  There are plenty of items around your own home that will give you plants the nutrition and boost they require.  Visit here for a few tips on  Feeding Plants From the Kitchen.
Moving plants between outdoors and indoors can be somewhat stressful if the process is not handle with care and thought.  To keep your plants healthy throughtout the season and ready for a new spring be sure you handle all plants with caution and thought.