Monday, February 28, 2011

Grow Your Own: Supermarket


Recently, a friend asked me why I had decided to become a Georgia Master Gardener. After hearing my goals (thank goodness I didn't fall off my soapbox during my explanation! It's slippery up there!), she sent me the above image. I think that summarizes my reasons better than hopping back up on my soap box right now. Really, I had a tough workout this morning that included a 6 minute wall sit and so my gams are a little (read: LOT) too unreliable this afternoon to withstand any time on a slippery box. Having just healed from a fractured kneecap, I see no reason to risk further injury.

At any rate, this post is for anyone who would like to grow something this season but doesn't think they have the time/energy/equipment/know-how/resources/etc. Maybe you have visions of plucking a fresh tomato off your vine, slicing it and putting it, still warm from the sun, right onto some bread slathered with mayo. Or, you can think of few things better than biting into a crisp, cooling cucumber on a hot summer day. You could grow beans or peas or some fresh, leafy greens. Or, all of the above. And, the best part? You don't need a traditional garden, lots of space or all your spare time and money. But, you could use this:
These come in a variety of sizes and are not terribly expensive. To give you an idea, a 5 gallon Smart Pot, which would give you plenty of room to grow a tomato plant, is under $6. They are lightweight and space-saving. I could easily see these on a balcony. This website/store also has some excellent soil selections. And, even better, right now, you can buy a voucher valued at $100 for only $50 at Half Off Depot. Click here for the deal!

I bought the deal because I am planning to grow in a few of these this season. And, I am planning to start some seeds and want a prettier light fixture than what I could find at Home Depot or Walmart. I know, I know. But, in my own defense, it is not THAT much more and it will be in plain sight, not hiding out in the basement or laundry room. And, I just have a thing for that crisp, clean white. I am also going to build this, but that is an entry for a different day...

Here's the store's website --> FloraHydroponics

And here's the store's new Atlanta location:

1239 Fowler St. NW

Atlanta, Ga

Phone 404-532-0001

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blooming Bulbs

People, this weather is amazing. I have to keep reminding myself that it is not even March. I am afraid to jinx it, but it sure feels like spring has sprung. Normally, we would have a few more weeks of chilly weather left. But, don't let the fact that the beautiful weather has already begun prevent you from taking advantage of this almost-free, kid-friendly event at the Dekalb County Horticulture Extension. Even if you have enjoyed seeing the daffodils blooming outside as much as I have, it doesn't mean they should be limited to outdoors! Bulbs would be just as pretty blooming in your home!

Blooming Bulbs

Bring your own container or pot and we'll supply the bulbs. It's still chilly outside, but bring a touch of spring indoors by forcing your own bulbs to bloom.

When: Saturday, March 5, 2011
@10 AM

Where: Main Extension Office Kitchen
4380 Memorial Drive,
Decatur, GA 30032

Contact: Sarah Brodd,, 404-298-4080

*Class is open to adults and children
*There is an $8 materials fee
*Limited number of spaces, so call or email beforehand

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

pHabulous Gardens

pH is not a typo.
pH is not an error.
pH is not being used because I am trying to be ultra-hip and cool.

pH is my way of emphasizing to you, fellow growers, the single most important thing I have learned to date through my Master Gardener training. This has come up every single day of class multiple times. It doesn't matter if we are talking about pesticides, fertilizers, plant type or location. Pretty much any landscaping project you can begin should begin with an understanding of your soil's pH. And, if you want a pHabulous garden this season, which by the way is right around the corner here in Georgia, do this one very important thing NOW.

Learn your soil's pH and fertility through a Soil Test.

A Soil Test will tell you:

  1. Soil's pH
  2. What nutrients are available in your soil and at what rate
  3. Liming Rate

Why oh why is this so important? Because it will save you time and energy and it could save your plants.

Let's say you are in the garden and your tomatoes are looking nasty on the bottom, all black and un-edible. You immediately think, ROT. Ugh. Off to the big box store to buy fungicide and herbicide by the gallon. Before you know it, you are spraying it all over your 'maters and anything else in the 'mater family like peppers and eggplant (yes, that's the solanaceous family for all you smarties out there). Well, guess what? You don't have a fungus or a disease or a virus on your crop. Nope. That there is a nutrient deficiency. Specifically, a calcium deficiency. Had you known that, you could have saved yourself time and money and saved your fruits and veggies from unnecessary chemicals. Same goes for your lawn and ornamentals, by the way. And, Calcium, along with other macronutrients, is reported in your Soil Test results.

There is another reason why this is important. Let's say your Soil Test shows your soil is, in fact, deficient in a variety of macronutrients. Well, you can add all the fertilizer your finances will allow to your garden beds, but if your pH is not right, then your plants won't benefit from any of it. When your soil's pH is too high or too low, plant growth nutrients become tied up and unusable. Further, other soil elements (such as aluminum) can express toxicity and actually cause damage to your plants or worse. Ouch! Our soil in Georgia is naturally acidic. In order to correct this, you need to add lime. This is where liming rate comes into play. The test results will tell you how much lime to add. It needs some time to work though, which is why this is the time to prep those beds for late spring and summer gardens.

So, I hope I have convinced you about the many benefits of Soil Testing. However, if you are still on the fence and need more information, read this or this or this.

I'll make it even easier. Attached (below) is a copy of the form to submit along with your soil. Now, grab a bag, collect a sample (instructions here) and take it to the Horticulture Extension (4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, -OR- contact me and I'll take it for you) and you are well on your way to a pHabulous garden!