How to Grow Broccoli in Containers

broccoliBroccoli is a delicious vegetable, and it’s time to get planting! For zone 5, broccoli seeds should be planted outside on May 1. I’ve already started mine inside the house in a mini greenhouse. But in general, we want to plant the seeds two to three weeks before the last frost.

What we need:

  • Broccoli seeds or plants
  • Vegetable soil
  • A pot that is at least 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep with good drainage
  • Rocks or coffee filters
  • Fertilizer (I am using a combination of Epsom salts and sugar–1 cup each)
  • Water

How to Plant:

  1. Place your container in a sunny spot–broccoli needs at least three hours of sunlight a day.
  2. Add the rocks or coffee filters in the bottom of the container.
  3. Add in the soil. I am using an organic vegetable soil. If you want to go this route, it isn’t hard to find–I purchased mine at Target.
  4. Mix the fertilizer into the soil.
  5. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep or plant the small plants slightly deeper than their current growth.
  6. Space the seeds 12-24 inches to give the broccoli room to grow. Leave around 36 inches between rows, or use another container.
  7. Cover with soil.
  8. Water.

That’s it! Wasn’t that easy?! In about three weeks, you’ll want to fertilize the plants. Be sure to water the plants regularly, avoiding getting water on the broccoli heads.

When to Harvest
I wish I could give you a clear date–like eight weeks after planting–but that never works. Harvest the broccoli when the buds are firm and tight–before it flowers. If you see a yellow flower, harvest immediately! Off shoots from the main plant will continue to produce broccoli for several weeks–or all summer, depending on how hot it gets.

The Uglies
There are a few pests we have to watch out for–aphids (awful) and cabbage loopers (ick!). If you see curling leaves or small holes in the leaves, take action immediately. I generally spray with a combination of water and dish soap.

Overall, broccoli is easy to grow and will provide your family with a super food throughout the summer! Broccoli may also be planted again for a fall harvest–just keep an eye on the first frost date!

Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

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Grapes: Delicious and Excellent Plants in the Garden

grapesWe’ve been busy! My husband kindly built a new cedar arbor for our grapes. They are just starting to send out green buds, but I’m looking forward to some tasty black grapes this summer!

We have the Glencora seedless grapes, but I was really worried about them after the last brutal winter. Honestly, it’s still not really warm here–today was around 50 degrees. Glencoras do grow in zone 5, and they usually winter over just fine.

These vines produce medium sized juicy blue/black grapes, and once the foliage turns green, they are an excellent garden feature. Glencora grape vines are self pollinating, so no worries there, either!

Don’t be afraid to branch out to grapes–these are hardy, easy to grow, and require little care. In August, you’ll have a wonderful harvest!

Happy Gardening!

Starting Seeds!

seedsLast weekend, we worked on starting our seeds for the spring/summer. We did this last year six weeks before the last frost, and my mini greenhouse was seriously out of control. So this year, we started them four weeks before the last frost. But right now, I’m not really sure when the last frost will be given that we just had snow yesterday.

So, I germinated the seeds over night by soaking them in a luke warm bowl, and then just planted each seed in a container. After just three days, I have broccoli, chamomile, datura, and other herbs coming up already!

I’m so looking forward to warmer weather and planting these outside!

Happy Gardening!

Snapdragons: An Early Spring Favorite in Our Garden

snapdragonsOn our last trip to Vite’s Greenhouse, our son asked us to bring back tropical snapdragons…..well, snapdragons aren’t tropical, but it might seem like they are up here in the frozen section of zone 5! When a bloom is gently pressed together, it really does look like a dragon.

For us, snapdragons are annuals. They may still be planted, though! Usually, the seeds are planted outside in a sunny or partially sunny spot a few weeks before the last frost date. These plants may also be purchased from a local vender, such as a greenhouse, Lowes, really anywhere they are selling outdoor plants.

Snapdragons begin flowering early–so they can add an incredibly punch of color into your garden before it’s time for the full summer blooms. Snapdragons come in a variety of stunning colors–some people like to plant a mixture of colors while others stick with one color for a larger effect.

Snapdragons may be cut and used for bouquets in the house, but mine usually do not last long in vases. Still, they provide a vibrant and attractive plant in your garden for audiences of all ages! This behavior might well be tied to the flower’s meaning in the language of flowers–deception and graciousness!

Happy Gardening!

Warning: Purchasing Seeds

During the winter, I was busy purchasing seeds. I thought I’d been buying them from a local, U.S. company. Not so! My seeds are coming from China.

Now, I have nothing against the Chinese, but this is taking way too long. Every four weeks, a few seeds will arrive via the mail. They always send extra seeds, like celery and saffron, but these are seeds I really didn’t want. I ordered three types of seeds from this company, and I’ve gotten two of the same type of seeds, plus the extras. And I’m guessing the Chinese does not translate well, or the translator is unable to communicate effectively.

The first time, I received purple datura and the saffron. The next time, I received purple moonflower, which is misnamed, and the celery.  I don’t think I ordered this.

I’m going to be really, really sad if the cat whisker seeds don’t show up, and I have a bad feeling about it.

Sigh. Next time, I will thoroughly investigate the seller before placing an order if I am not familiar with them.

Where do you order seeds from?

Happy Gardening!

Sweet Pansies–a Bridge to Summer

pansiesSometimes it is hard to wait for spring and summer blooming flowers, but Pansies help to bridge the gap between winter and spring/summer’s abundance of blooms.

Pansies are hardy plants that can withstand the colder temperatures of early spring and late fall. They add excellent color into an otherwise dreary landscape.

In the language of flowers, Pansies are associated with loving thoughts, and as the Pansy is quite an old plant, can also be found in Greek legend. In the legend, all pansies were once white flowers, but after Cupid struck the flower with an arrow, the flowers became colorful. It was believed that the Pansy could be used in love potions.

Pansies come in a variety of colors, with their most distinctive feature being the “face” on the flower. They can be grown from seeds, but I buy some in early spring from the local nursery. Once they are planted in a partially shaded area, all you have to do is remember to water them and enjoy the bright color!

Happy Gardening!