Growing Mandrake — Beyond the Basics

Mandrake Fruiting Plant

Growing mystical plants requires a certain amount of consciousness on the part of the gardener, and for best results one allows the plants to call the shots.  This is only to the extent of one’s willingness to let go of control.  One never really knows where it will all go.  Simply wishing the plant to do well seems to…

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Advanced Seed Planting Tips

Know your seed.  Examine the seed before planting.  Large seeds, especially those from the Legume (Fabaceae) family, have impermeable seed-coats that may require scarification (nicking or rubbing) before planting.  Smaller seeds in the Lamiacea (the mint family) also appreciate scarification to wake them up — rub on a #8 seed-screen or on medium grit sandpaper.   Needle-like seeds in the Asteracea…

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Why Grow Open-Pollinated Seeds

  Cultivating a direct connection to the earth and all her goodness is the core value of gardening.  One trades the sweat of the brow for sustenance at table, for remedies in the medicine cabinet.  This is the birthright of humans, and can be accomplished simply, locally, inexpensively, and without advanced education.  You plant a patch of pumpkins, and…

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How to Grow and Use Saffron

An aura of mystery surrounds Saffron (Crocus sativus), both the bulbous plant and the spice derived from its luminous red stigma. In actuality planting the corm and raising a few saffron plants to produce a small supply of the spice is easy, fun and rewarding.  One of the simplest ways to provide the right conditions for healthy saffron and assure…

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Cover Crop Planting Guide

As an organic grower I think about where good plants come from, and the first elements that come to mind are sun, water, nutrients and good soil structure.  We know that when we nourish the substrate of life, then life will manifest!  The quintessence of this is found in a single statement, “Keep it covered.”  If we cover the soil from the…

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Growing Tulsi (Holy Basil) Indoors

  Tulsi grows best in the summer garden or in a greenhouse environment.  Lacking these conditions, a solarium or very bright south facing window may be adequate.  Growing Tulsi during the winter will require grow lights.  You can purchase T-5 grow lights online that will work quite well.  Keep the light 18 inches above the top leaf, and keep the light…

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Tomato Growing Tips

One almost avoids giving instructions on growing tomatoes since there are so many tomato growing aficionados out there—tomato culture is part of almost every gardener’s DNA. I see a lot of nice caged tomatoes when I drive around and snoop on other people’s gardens a bit. Yes, you can bury the stems horizontally at transplant, that’s a good one….

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Pepper Culture

Peppers prefer a scanty, even water supply, good drainage, full sun, and a long, hot summer. Start indoors 40 to 50 days prior to the last frost. Plant seeds in pure organic compost in pots in the greenhouse. Thin to one best seedling per pot. Do not overcrowd peppers in a flat—they will get crinkly and stop growing. Transplant…

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Aloe Transplanting Advice

To plant (any) Aloe, first cover the hole in the bottom of the pot with a pot shard, put a layer of sand in the bottom of the pot (2 inches or so deep), then a 2 inch or so layer of compost or any kind of humusy potting soil will do, then finish off with more sand on…

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