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Why it is worth going the extra mile to get heirloom seeds for your garden

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Sowing heritage seeds can result in better flavour, a true connection with nature and hope for the future, expert Ellen Ecker Ogden explains. Hannah Stephenson reports.

By Hannah Stephenson
Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 4:45 pm
Source: Yorkshire Post
Feature Photo Source: Unsplash, Markus Spiske

When we can buy so many vegetable and flower seeds designed to give us great harvests, why would we want to search harder, and possibly spend more, for heirloom varieties?

Conservation of edibles that may have been grown by your grandparents, feeling more connected to nature and being aware that the seed you are sowing hasn’t been tampered with, is all part of it, says garden lecturer Ellen Ecker Ogden, author of The New Heirloom Garden, a guide to having a beautiful and self-sufficient garden, in which she shares the secrets of heritage vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

“Many of the best tasting fruits and vegetables are heirloom varieties because often the breeding companies have been breeding for a bigger, better, taller, stronger, disease-resistant plant, and have not been paying attention to what cooks really want in terms of flavour,” says Ecker Ogden, who is a keen cook herself.

As the need for responsible, ethical growing continues to nip at the consciences of gardeners, some are moving towards a more organic approach by selecting seeds that haven’t been genetically modified to make the harvest more uniform and disease-resistant.

F1 hybrid seeds, the ones so many of us buy, are produced through the manual cross-pollination of two related parent plants that offer particular growing traits. For instance, one parent may taste great while the other might produce large fruits and from that, breeders can produce a seed which, when grown, will possess both traits. However, in future years, saved seeds from hybrid plants may produce different results in either taste or appearance, so it may not be worth saving the seed.

“It may be inconsistent,” says Ecker Ogden. “It may not germinate at all and it can cross pollinate so easily.”

Heirloom seeds are open pollinated, meaning they’ve been pollinated naturally by insects, birds and the wind. They cross pollinate randomly, so you may have a different result in subsequent years, but you are letting nature take its course. Also, they may develop a natural tolerance for regional conditions, she notes.

The work that goes into hybridisation to cross-match beneficial traits of two parent plants is time-consuming and costly. So unless the heritage seed is extremely rare, you shouldn’t be paying more for it, notes Ecker Ogden. And you can cut your seed bill year on year by saving seeds from your heritage plants, she observes.Ecker Ogden says they generally taste better.

“Carrots, for example, used to be sweeter than they are now. Today, they are bred to have really strong tops so they can be mechanically harvested, and a lot of the flavour from the roots has been taken away in order to increase the productivity,” says Ecker Ogden. “Tomatoes are the biggest example. Most people who grow tomatoes in my region will grow some heirlooms which aren’t necessarily as disease-resistant as some of the hybrids, but better flavour comes from ‘Brandywine’, ‘Big Rainbow’ and ‘Green Zebra’.”

Keeping history alive is all part of it as we grow vegetables enjoyed by previous generations, Ecker Ogden adds.

“A lot of these heirloom seeds have been handed down and they get stories around them and you can research the heritage. It creates a curiosity of wanting to know the story behind the seed, creating a sense of longevity,” she says.

“It’s about the cycle of life. When you have a seed you’ve put in the ground, seen it grow and then save the seed for the following year, you are creating that connection with your garden that takes it to a higher level.”

What will you be planting this season? Why are heirloom seeds so important? What would you like to know about the types of seeds available?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Looking toward spring: how to start seeds

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
  • BY Alena Steen
  • Feb 12, 2021 Updated Feb 12, 2021
  •  Source: Coastal View

Starting seeds directly in garden soil is the simplest way to get a spring garden started. Make sure to label what and where you’ve planted to avoid surprises.

  • Joel Patterson

These large purple and black podded scarlet runner beans are delicious both fresh and dry, and one of the most beautiful seeds around. Beans are very easy to start from seed once the weather warms: Wait until mid to late May to plant out on the coast. Beans are also very easy to save for seed for next year’s crop. Simply allow beans to dry in their pods in the fall until they rattle, then remove the beans and store in a sealed glass jar or paper bag for next spring.

  • Alena Steen

Seeds come in all shapes, sizes and colors, from the tiniest specks of white sand which are chamomile and lettuce seeds to thick and robust pumpkin seeds and corn kernels. All seeds, no matter how tiny, contain a combination of genetic material from two parent plants. For as long as plants and humans have co-existed, humans have worked with the variability and diversity of plants’ genetic inheritances to create different varieties (or cultivars) of a plant, such as a more vibrant or fragrant flower, tastier pepper or cold-tolerant tomato.

Seeds contain genetic memory in the form of a plant embryo encased in a tough seed coat. Many seed coats are designed to facilitate one of several methods of mechanical dispersal away from the parent plant to reduce competition and increase the plant’s range. Depending on their structure, seeds can be wind-borne, snagged and carried along in an animal’s fur coat, dispersed and buried by foraging birds, awakened by wildfire or carried along in river or ocean currents to distant shores. Many of our tastiest fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, tomatoes, melons, peppers, cucumbers and eggplants evolved to tempt passing birds and mammals to eat their sweet fruit and deposit seeds in the ground as scat. 

Starting plants from seed is the simplest way to garden. You don’t need any special equipment other than a packet of seeds and some loose dirt rich in organic material. My method for direct seeding is to loosen compacted soil with a spading fork or shovel before layering about an inch and a half of homemade compost on top of the soil. I plant directly into the compost, which creates a weed-free seed bed full of fertility where seeds are quick to germinate. 

If you are planting a larger area, it’s easiest to dig a shallow furrow to plants seeds and then gently cover them with soil to the appropriate depth. In a smaller space, you can also simply tuck each individual seed into the soil. The general rule of thumb is to plant seeds twice as deep as they are large, though seed packets typically have a more precise suggestion. There are also several types of seed which should not be buried, since they rely on direct sunlight for germination. This is true mostly of certain types of cut flowers, and those directions should be clear on the seed packet.

Once you’ve dug your furrows or tucked seeds into the ground, it’s important to press the ground firmly to slightly compact the surface. Firm seed to soil contact is an important trigger for germination. As you wait for seeds to germinate, ensure the soil remains moist so that a thick crust does not form to inhibit germination. I gently water the soil surface every two to three days depending on temperature and cloud coverage. 

Once seeds have germinated (most veggies should take no more than a week, while certain cut flowers may take up to three weeks), it’s important to reduce watering to prevent soil-borne diseases and moisture-loving insect pests. Veggies and herbs that do well sown directly into garden soil this time of year include kale, lettuce, spinach, arugula, cilantro, dill, parsley, radishes, carrots, beets and turnips.

Many of our annual native flowers, as well as several cut flowers, germinate easily when broadcast on bare dirt just before rain for an effortless pollinator garden come spring. Flowers such as California poppy, phacelia, ornamental breadseed poppies, Queen Anne’s lace, love-in-a-mist and larkspur are all tough plants which grow quickly in cooler temperatures with some rainfall or supplemental hand watering. 

Another option is to start seeds indoors. This is a good choice if you have a lot of bird or insect pressure in your garden or are eager to increase the speed of veggie production, since seedlings often grow faster in a more controlled climate. The same techniques of seed depth, soil compaction and moisture retention apply. Make sure to choose a high-quality potting soil with enough fertility to ensure your seedlings a healthy life. My top choice is E.B. Stone Recipe 420 potting soil, which is certified organic and readily available at garden stores.

Some of my favorite sources for vegetable seeds with excellent germination rates and detailed growing instructions are Johnny’s Seeds, Siskiyou Seeds, Uprising Organics, Wild Garden Seeds and Plant Good Seed (based in Ojai). These are small to medium-scale growers saving and selecting seed on their farms and working toward a more diverse, sustainable and food-secure future. If you are curious to learn more about spring garden tasks such as building soil, preparing seeds beds and planting seeds or transplants, be sure to tune into the Garden’s upcoming Spring Gardening 101 Zoom class on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.

Alena Steen is coordinator of the Carpinteria Garden Park, an organic community garden located at 4855 5th St., developed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Community members rent a plot to grow their own fresh produce. For more information, visit carpinteriaca.gov/parks-and-recreation.

How will you start your seeds: in or outdoors? Last year the majority of our seeds began indoors. Select your space whether in or outdoors carefully. Where will your space be that you begin planting your seeds? Why did you choose that space?

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOIL AND DIRT

Posted under Home Gardening by Nan Fischer on 
Source: Natures Path

Why do we garden in soil, yet when we wash it off our hands or out of our clothes, it is annoying dirt? How can one item have two definitions, one positive and one negative? Soil provides food, trees, shrubs, and flowers, but dirt is a nuisance remove. Yet they are the same thing!

The Soil Science Society of America defines dirt as ‘displaced soil’, which covers the scenario above, when you clean up after working in the garden. On a larger scale, think of how much soil gets displaced from a landslide and suddenly becomes dirt!

SOIL IS LIVING

Soil is alive with living organisms such as worms, fungi, insects, bacteria, and organic matter. It supports life with its naturally occurring nutrients and minerals, making it a perfect planting medium. It is a complete and self-sustaining ecosystem.

Sand, silt, clay, and organic matter make up soil. The different sized particles create texture and structure, which aid in aeration and drainage. Soil color shows its mineral content. Different soil types are described by their properties.

When this magnificent living thing called soil leaves the garden on your hands or clothes, it gets displaced and is now defined as dirt.

Source: Natures Path
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

DIRT IS DEAD

Dirt is made up of sand, silt, and clay, and it may be rocky. It has none of the minerals, nutrients, or living organisms found in soil. It is not an organized ecosystem. There is no topsoil or humus, no worms or fungi. Lacking texture and structure, dirt does not compact when wet, unlike a handful of soil. The result is run-off and erosion. An old dirt road comes to mind with this definition.

Dirt is dead and does not support life. You cannot plant a productive garden in dirt.

SOIL FORMATION

All soil began as dirt. Natural soil formation takes thousands or millions of years, as rocks erode into sand and organic matter decays and accumulates. To archaeologists, the resulting layers of soil represent time, each telling how and when it was created. To them, dirt has no history.

Think of that landslide again. Ancient layers of healthy soil wash away to a new location with no topsoil, no layers, no organization, and no history. Now it’s a pile of dirt, and the process of soil building must begin again.

There are five factors that affect soil formation:

  • Climate
  • Organisms
  • Relief (landscape)
  • Parent material
  • Time

These factors are known to soil scientists as CLORPT, which work together to create the earth’s crust.

There’s no need to wait a million years to transform dirt to soil in your yard, though. Soil is made by mixing dirt with the living organisms that make soil soil.

Source: Natures Path
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Build a compost pile, and add it to your dirt. Organic matter such as leaves, kitchen scraps, and grass clippings attract the beneficial organisms necessary to break it down into beautiful and productive soil. Worms, fungi, microbes, and bacteria are the natural result of good composting practices. Through this video, Dr Elaine Ingham, a renowned soil biologist, speaks in detail about soil microbiology and the importance of compost.

You don’t have to be a soil scientist to see that the difference between soil and dirt is compost. Healthy living soil is all you need to have a beautiful yard and abundant vegetable garden, so there is no need for synthetic, toxic pesticides and fertilizers.

Next time you go inside to clean up after gardening, maybe leave some soil in the garden to cut down on dirt in the house!

NAN FISCHER

What will you be growing this year? Consider this as you amend or develop your soil. Where will your garden be located? Why?

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Know Your Garden Soil: How to Make the Most of Your Soil Type

JUNE 6, 2013 WRITTEN BY RUTH BARTON
Source: Earth Easy

If you’re planning to get serious about gardening it’s crucial you get to know your soil type. No matter how much work you do in your yard and garden, all that careful sowing, weeding and tending could be in vain if the quality of your soil is not up to scratch.

The soil provides your plants with the vital nutrients, water and air that they require for healthy growth and development. But each plot of ground has its own blend of minerals, organic and inorganic matter which largely determines what crops, shrubs or trees can be grown successfully.

Ideal soil conditions for specific crops can be created in contained plots such as raised beds or planters, but for larger gardens and landscapes it helps to understand the characteristics of the soil you have to work with.

The Six Types of Soil

There are six main soil groups: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky and loamy. They each have different properties and it is important to know these to make the best choices and get the most from your garden.

1. Clay Soil

Clay soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Clay soil feels lumpy and is sticky when wet and rock hard when dry. Clay soil is poor at draining and has few air spaces. The soil will warm up slowly in spring and it is heavy to cultivate. If the drainage for the soil is enhanced, then plants will develop and grow well as clay soil can be rich in nutrients.

Great for: Perennials and shrubs such as Helen’s Flower, Aster, Bergamot, Flowering quince. Early vegetable crops and soft berry crops can be difficult to grow in clay soil because of its cool, compact nature. Summer crop vegetables, however, can be high yielding vigorous plants. Fruit trees, ornamental trees and shrubs thrive on clay soils.

2. Sandy Soil

Sandy soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Sandy soil feels gritty. It drains easily, dries out fast and is easy to cultivate. Sandy soil warms up fast in spring and tends to hold fewer nutrients as these are often washed away during wetter spells. Sandy soil requires organic amendments such as glacial rock dustgreensandkelp meal, or other organic fertilizer blends. It also benefits from mulching to help retain moisture.

Great for: Shrubs and bulbs such as Tulips, Tree mallow, Sun roses, Hibiscus. Vegetable root crops like carrots, parsnips and potatoes favour sandy soils. Lettuce, strawberries, peppers, corn, squash, zucchini, collard greens and tomatoes are grown commercially in sandy soils.

3. Silty Soil

Silty soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook


Silty soil feels soft and soapy, it holds moisture, is usually very rich in nutrients. The soil is easily cultivated and can be compacted with little effort. This is a great soil for your garden if drainage is provided and managed. Mixing in composted organic matter is usually needed to improve drainage and structure while adding nutrients.

Great for: Shrubs, climbers, grasses and perennials such as Mahonia, New Zealand flax. Moisture-loving trees such as Willow, Birch, Dogwood and Cypress do well in silty soils. Most vegetable and fruit crops thrive in silty soils which have adequate adequate drainage.

4. Peaty Soil

Peaty soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Peaty soil is a darker soil and feels damp and spongy due to its higher levels of peat. It is an acidic soil which slows down decomposition and leads to the soil having fewer nutrients. The soil heats up quickly during spring and can retain a lot of water which usually requires drainage. Drainage channels may need to be dug for soils with high peat content. Peat soil is great for growth when blended with rich organic matter, compost and lime to reduce the acidity. You can also use soil amendments such as glacial rock dust to raise pH in acidic soils.

Great for: Shrubs such as Heather, Lantern Trees, Witch Hazel, Camellia, Rhododendron. Vegetable crops such as Brassicas, legumes, root crops and salad crops do well in well-drained peaty soils.

5. Chalky Soil

Chalky soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Chalky soil is larger grained and generally stonier compared to other soils. It is free draining and usually overlays chalk or limestone bedrock. The soil is alkaline in nature which sometimes leads to stunted growth and yellowish leaves – this can be resolved by using appropriate fertilizers and balancing the pH. Adding humus is recommended to improve water retention and workability.

Great for: Trees, bulbs and shrubs such as Lilac, Weigela, Madonna lilies, Pinks, Mock Oranges. Vegetables such as spinach, beets, sweet corn, and cabbage do well in chalky soils.

6. Loamy Soil

Loamy soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Loamy soil, a relatively even mix of sand, silt and clay, feels fine-textured and slightly damp. It has ideal characteristics for gardening, lawns and shrubs. Loamy soil has great structure, adequate drainage, is moisture retaining, full of nutrients, easily cultivated and it warms up quickly in spring, but doesn’t dry out quickly in summer. Loamy soils require replenishing with organic matter regularly, and tend to be acidic.

Great for: Climbers. bamboos, perennials, shrubs and tubers such as Wisteria, Dog’s-tooth violets, Black Bamboo, Rubus, Delphinium. Most vegetable crops and berry crops will do well since loamy soil can be the most productive of soil types. However, loamy soil requires careful management to prevent depletion and drying out. Rotating crops, planting green manure crops, using mulches and adding compost and organic nutrients is essential to retain soil vitality.

Simple Tests to Help Determine Your Soil Type

The water test

Pour water onto your soil. If it drains quickly it is likely to be a sandy or gravelly soil, on clay soils the water will take longer to sink in.

Squeeze test

Grab a handful of soil and softly compress it in your fist.

  • If the soil is sticky and slick to the touch and remains intact and in the same shape when you let go it will be clay soil.
  • If the soil feels spongy it’s peaty soil; sandy soil will feel gritty and crumble apart.
  • Loamy and silty soils will feel smooth textured and hold their shape for a short period of time.

Settle test

Add a handful of soil to a transparent container, add water, shake well and then leave to settle for 12 hours.

  • Clay & silty soils will leave cloudy water with a layer of particles at the bottom.
  • Sandy soils will leave the water mostly clear and most of the particles will fall, forming a layer on the base of the container.
  • Peaty soils will see many particles floating on the surface; the water will be slightly cloudy with a thin layer at the bottom.
  • Soils that are chalky will leave a layer of whitish, grit-like fragments on the bottom of the container and the water will be a shade of pale grey.
  • If the water is quite clear with layered particles on the bottom of the container with the finest particle at the top – this soil is likely to be a loamy one.

Acid test

The standard pH for soils usually ranges between 4.0 and 8.5. Plants favor soil which has a pH between 6.5 and 7 because this is the level where nutrients and minerals naturally thrive. You can buy a pH test kit here, or from a local garden center. As a general rule, in areas with soft water you will have acid soil and hard water areas will tend to have alkaline soil.

Soil test kit

Use a soil test kit to assess primary nutrients (N-P-K) as well as pH levels. By testing your soil, you determine its exact condition so you can fertilize more effectively and economically. Soil should be tested periodically throughout the growing season.

How to make the most of your soil, whatever the type

Plants generally prefer neutral soil but it’s worth bearing in mind that some favor slightly acid or alkaline soils. Regardless of the pH of your soil it is possible to adjust the level slightly to make it more hospitable to the type of plants you want to grow. Remember this is only temporary, so it’s advised to make the most from the soil type you have.

Adding ground lime to your soil will make it more alkaline and aluminium sulfate or sulfur will help to make your soil more acidic.

If your soil is low in nutrients (like sandy soil), try supply it with organic matter such as compost and manure to enrich the soil and improve its texture. Use organic mulches such as straw, dried grass clippings and deciduous leaves. These mulches break down and incorporate into the soil, building a new supply of organic nutrients while improving the soil structure.

Clay soil is often not aerated enough and is deficient in good structure which makes it more difficult for successful growing. To get the most out of clay soil it’s best to add large quantities of well-rotted organic matter in the fall and peat a few weeks before planting. Greensand can also be used to loosen heavy clay soils or bind sandy soils.

It is often difficult to cultivate in chalky soil due to its alkaline nature. To help rectify this add bulky organic matter which breaks down over time, adding nutrients and minerals to the soil.

Make sure your soil is healthy.

It’s a good idea to regard your soil as living as your plants – it too needs food and water. Make sure it contains the three main nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) which are vital to growing plants effectively. Organic matter and fertilizers are rich in these.

After a crop is harvested the soil needs to be renewed before planting a successive crop. Many gardeners plant ‘green manure’ crops such as legumes, buckwheat, vetch and clover which fix nitrogen into the soil while building texture, improving aeration and drainage and adding organic matter. These cover crops are tilled in before they go to seed, and break down quickly so a new harvestable crop can be planted without much delay.

Crop rotation, green manures and cover crops, the use of mulch and the periodic addition of organic materials like compost and fertilizer are standard ways of restoring soil health after crop harvests. Rock phosphate, or rock dust, is also a valued amendment to restore phosphorus levels needed for vigorous plant growth.

If you can, introduce and encourage living organisms to your soil. The fungus Mycorrhize will aid your plants in the absorption of water and nutrients and worms will help speed up the composting process and help spread fertilizer through the soil.

When you first start out this can all seem very complicated but by identifying your soil type it will make the growing and maintaining of a healthy garden a lot easier. Remember, it’s well worth the trouble as your soil type is never going to change!

Garden beds
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

About the Author

Ruth Barton
This article has been written by Ruth Barton on behalf of William Morfoot, soil and land drainage experts with over fifty years’ experience in creating and maintaining healthy soils.

What type of soil do you have? How has this article helped you determine your soil type and how to amend it? What will you grow this year and how does your soil influence that?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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The 8 Best Indoor Plants: Top Picks From Plant Experts

Leah Koenig, Contributor
Source: Forbes

When it comes to caring for house plants, some folks are born with a green thumb while others swear they could kill a cactus. As a member of the latter category (or so I thought), I understand the hesitation that goes along with becoming a plant parent. I loved the idea of filling my space with the best indoor plants, but I was scared to end up with a bunch of dead foliage.

Indoor house plants from The Sill
Source: Forbes
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Then two years ago, a friend (who is also a gardening teacher) brought over a plant clipping to my apartment. She helped me settle it in a pot and shared advice on how to care for it. That gifted plant ushered me into the wide world of indoor greenery—my collection has grown to 11 house plants spread over three window sills—brightening my home and offering fulfillment along the way.

For aspiring plant parents who feel apprehensive about embarking on their own plant journeys like I once did, know that there are plenty of great indoor plant options for every skill level and environment. I sought out the advice of a few notable plant experts: Eliza Blank and Erin Marino, founder and marketing director, respectively, of The Sill; Christan Summers, CEO and co-founder of Tula Plants & Design; and Summer Rayne Oakes, founder of Homestead Brooklyn and Plant One On Me. They not only shared their extensive flora wisdom, but they also offered their picks for the best indoor plants, for beginners, less than hospitable conditions and beyond.

Check out their recommendations below, then read on for their expert tips on how to care for all your indoor plants.

  • Best Low Maintenance Indoor Plant: Marble Queen Pothos
  • Best Indoor Plant For Low Light: ZZ Plant
  • Best Indoor Plant For Small Spaces: Snake Plant
  • Best Flowering Indoor Plant: Anthurium
  • Best Indoor Plant for Clean Air: Parlor Palm
  • Best Indoor Plant For Pet Owners: Bird’s Nest Fern
  • Best Indoor Plant to Build Confidence: Philodendron
  • Best “Next Level” Indoor Plant: Monstera

Best Low Maintenance Indoor Plant

Known to be one of the easiest house plants to grow, the Marble Queen Pothos has lovely heart shaped leaves and growing vines that will quickly fill your plant shelf with beauty. Because it can thrive in low-light environments and with less-than-ideal watering practices, this very undemanding species is excellent for beginners or for anyone who is less than diligent about their plant care.


Best Indoor Plant For Low Light

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia, better known as the ZZ plant, is another reliable house plant option for beginners. It can withstand all sorts of less than ideal factors, like infrequent watering or dry air. And, most importantly for apartment dwellers or those who live in other shady spaces, they can easily tolerate low light environments. Attractive as a standalone or grouped with other plants, the ZZ plant is a happy option for the kitchen or bathroom.


Best Indoor Plant For Small Spaces

Available in a number of different varieties, this cheery succulent grows straight up, which makes it a great choice for people with small spaces. Snake plants are also said to purify indoor air, so some folks like them for their supposed purification qualities too. Group a few in different sizes near a bedroom window and you’ll have a nice arrangement to bring a little green to your sleeping space.


Best Flowering Indoor Plant

Known for their lipstick red (or dusky pink) lily pad–like blooms, anthurium are gaining traction on the list of best house plants. “They have a retro, ‘Mad Men’ vibe to them,” Marino says. “And the flowers are actually a modified leaf so the plant is in bloom year round.” Use your anthurium as an entryway or living room centerpiece, or add it to a green collection for a pretty pop of color.


Best Indoor Plant For Clean Air

The Parlor Palm is a tropical choice that’s often touted for it’s ability to clear out benzene and trichloroethylene, two chemicals that are commonly spread from furniture off-gassing. It’s also really low maintenance, thriving in indirect to low light and only requiring watering once every one to two weeks, and pet-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it locked up away from your fur babies.

While the science is still out on whether or not plants really purify the air—one study says that you’d need to have about 93 of them to really notice a significant difference—there’s something about being surrounded by greenery that just makes things feel cleaner and fresher.


Best Indoor Plant For Pet Owners

While ZZ plants and snake plants are inarguably great choices for beginners, they are unfortunately toxic to animals. “If you have a curious kitty or doggy, then I would recommend keeping those plants away from them,” Oakes explains. Instead, choose a Bird’s Nest Fern, a tropical houseplant with ruffle-edged leaves that provides a splash of green while being safe to furry friends.


Best Indoor Plant to Build Confidence

There is nothing like a healthy, quickly growing plant to amp up a new plant owner’s confidence. Philodendron vines deliver on this front, sprouting robust trails of vines dangling with heart-shaped leaves. “Philodendrons are easy to propagate, so before long you can take a cutting and make another plant,” Summers says. “Getting that positive affirmation makes you feel like a pro.”


Best “Next Level” Indoor Plant

Once you unlock your inner house plant mojo, Blank recommends graduating to a Monstera. The vibrantly green leaves are speckled with natural holes and lend a tropical vibe to the room. “They are still relatively easy but have a wonderful texture,” Blank says.


How to Care For Indoor Plants

Each expert I spoke with began with the same basic mantra: Light is food for plants. “Fertilizer offers extra nutrients and water helps, but your plant needs light to survive,” says Marino. She suggests standing near the window in your house or apartment around noon and noticing how hot and bright it feels. “You should be able to estimate if your apartment is relatively low light, medium light or high light at midday,” she explains. Assessing your home’s light situations serves as a guide for which plants you should choose to populate your sill (or mantle, shelf or desk).

“We think of plant buying a bit like matchmaking,” says Blank. We want your plants to fit your home, your style and your lifestyle.” Set yourself up for success by starting with low maintenance plant varieties, like a Marble Queen Pothos or ZZ plant, that can withstand a little accidental neglect while you travel up the learning curve.

Plants need good care in order to thrive, but new plant parents have the tendency to over-care for their plants. “Over-watering is the easiest way to kill your plant,” says Blank. “It’s easier to bounce back from under-watering than from over-watering.” Marino adds, “some people go into diagnosis mode the second they see a browning tip or yellowing leaf.” Her advice: don’t panic. “Just prune it right off and know that shedding is a natural part of the growth process.”MORE FROM FORBES14 Easy Indoor Herb Garden Kits, Plus Expert Tips For Growing SuccessBy Rachel Klein

Summers, meanwhile, advises against repotting plants too frequently. Some plant owners see a plant growing well and think that’s the time to switch it into a roomier pot. But that well-meaning impulse can backfire. “Repotting disrupts the plant’s root system, which means it has to focus on reestablishing its system instead of on new growth. You’re making it work harder than it needs to,” she says. Instead let your plants thrive in their current pots. “When you’re getting absolutely no growth — especially in spring and summer — then it is time,” Summers says. 

Just because some plants don’t need frequent watering doesn’t mean you should forget about them for too long. Take some time each day to touch base with your plant babies. “Developing a routine and ritual is important,” says Oakes. “If you get up to check on your plants when your coffee is brewing or tea is steeping, then you’re on the right path.” 

From YouTube and gardening books, to walking into a shop and chatting up the staff, there are endless sources to continue educating yourself about the house plants in your life. For those who can’t make it to a store, Tula offers robust educational resources like a plant care library. The Sill offers online workshops that answer burning plant care questions. And Oakes recently launched a 12-part mini course called Houseplant Basics that teaches the fundamentals of plant care. 

Which plant do you like for your home? Why? How was this article helpful?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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The Seed that Saved a Life – Seed Saving

Introduction to Seed Savers Exchange (excerpt from Garden Guardians)

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Seed Savers Exchange
Source:Edible Gardens
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

So its a pandemic and you decided to start your own garden or you have another reason for wanting to start your own garden. What do you do with the left over seeds you have? Where do you get seeds in the first place? If anyone remembers the Potato Famine and the devastation it caused because certain varieties of potatoes could not be grown, then the Seed Savers Exchange program makes a tremendous amount of sense. In the wake of a pandemic, there is no better time to be reminded that pro-action can save a lot of lives as well as heart ache. That is why we are particularly fond of this Exchange and the work they are doing. What do you feel is important to preserve? Why? What kind of impact can it have on your life or your neighbors life? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

Pumpkin Flower in Bloom shidonna raven garden and cook

We used what we learned from “Beginning Seed Saving for the Home Gardner” to help us save seeds for this Pumpkin plant pictured to the left. She is just getting started and should produce pumpkins around fall. Stay tuned for an updated on the progress of our Pumpkins.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Mahatma Gandhi & Saving Seeds

mahatma gandhi and seed saving shidonna raven garden and cook

If you know even a little bit about Gandhi, then one can easily understand what Gandhi means to seed saving or what seed saving would have meant to Gandhi. Gandhi was very much a promoter of the freedom of man and his country man. Like King he saw freedom in both simple and profound ways. A seed in itself is simple. Yet seed saving is a revolutionary concept even today. Where there is industry and money to be made, there is always controversy. More specifically where the industry is not truly needed is where the controversy seems to begin. Gandhi believed that people should have the right, yes right to grow their own food rather than being subject to purchasing food at prevailing prices. To this day there are many industries that surround the growth of food. Even farmers struggle against this industrial corporate complexes.

So in the midst of a pandemic when many people have begun to start their own gardens, seed saving is more important than ever. Understanding the profound yet simple practice of seed saving is important. Knowing and being able to save seeds gives one freedom to contentiously produce their own food sources. One might say, I buy food out of convenience and to save time. During a time when money is short for many but time is long, one might say, like many have, I will grow my own food. Exercising the right to grow ones own food has become important to many in the midst of COVID 19. Jim Ulager “Beginning Seed Saving for the Home Gardener” helps one to understand the background of seed saving as well as the application of seed saving.

We have saved several seeds of our own such as pumpkin, green beans, lentil beans, pinto beans, cantaloupe and more. A few of these seeds are in our garden and did sprout. Pumpkin is our largest saved seed. How has COVID 19 impacted you and yours? How could you and yours benefit from saving your own seeds? How has this article helped you? How could this article help your friends and family especially during these times? “Beginning Seed Saving for the Home Gardener” can be found below or by clicking the link. Share your experience with seed saving with the community by posting your comments below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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MiMi’s Flower

cynoglossum amabile shidonna raven garden and cook

MiMi’s flower has come a long way since they were just a couple of seeds. Her flowers’ have begun to finally blossom into beautiful clusters of deep lavender. They began as a few seeds in a growing kit. MiMi and Mom have since gotten their own growing kit with 2 different flowers. MiMi’s gift blossomed into a wonderful exploration between MiMi and Mom into starting their own kitchen garden. And the Cynoglossum Amabiles are a wonderful addition to our front porch. What easy and simple ways can you start your own garden along with MiMi, Mom and many others. Since the beginning of the pandemic many people have begun their own gardens for various reasons. Do you think starting a garden as a response to the pandemic is a good idea? Why? Share your thoughts below by posting a comment. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing!

Cynoglossum Amabile – MiMi’s Flower
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

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Sow What! The Basics of Sowing

apple seed gala shidonna raven garden and cook

Sometimes its good to get back to the basics so, lets talk about the basics of sowing. Sowing is the beginning of gardening. After you prepare the soil, form your rows and select your seeds, one must sow the seeds in order to get started. There are a few different ways to sow. One can have a water garden, container garden, a garden with beds, a garden in a greenhouse or in the ground directly. This basically boils down to 3 forms of sowing: in a container. That may include a pot or a bed. Or in the ground. Or in water. We will be covering the 2 main ways to sow: either in the ground directly or in a container such as a pot or a bed. This will cover the basics, should you require more information just post a comment and we will give you more specific details.

Sowing in a Container

Sowing in a container involves selecting soil rather than preparing the soil on the ground. You will also have to select a container. Its important that your container has a hole in the bottom to allow for water to drain. This prevents over watering. We are partial to clay pots because its organic and ideal. Metal can scorch a plant. Glass can be difficult to find but a good choice. Plastic is just not apart of our Organic Journey. The clay pot can be glazed or not. It is recommended that your tray be glazed to prevent the surface your container is on from getting moist from the water from your pot. Choose a location with the proper amount of light. Give your plant the proper amount of water and fertilize the soil so the plant can continue to pull nutrients from the soil.

Sowing in the Ground Directly

Sowing in the ground directly involves tilling, fertilizing and forming the soil into rows that will allow enough space for specific plants to grow. Each plant will need a different amount of space. Preparing the ground soil is a lot more involved since it is not all in the bag. This can get very involved including testing the soil, composting and green manures. Similar to container gardening you want to give your plants the correct amount of water and light for the plant as well as fertilize your soil on a regular basis to replenish the soil with nutrients as the plants pull the nutrients they need. This is why crop rotation is popular with farmers because different plants will pull different nutrients from the soil. To even this process out they move crops around to prevent one nutrient from being pulled from a particular spot until there is not more.

Many people are beginning gardens because of COVID 19. Now is the time to get started! What would be the benefit to you and your family to start a garden? How much do you think you can save on your grocery bill? How much do you think you could save by obtaining a plant from us to maintain and continually harvest?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

sowing flower seeds shidonna raven garden and cook
sowing flower seeds shidonna raven garden and cook
These are the seeds from MiMi’s Flower
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Cynoglossum amabile flower
Cynoglossum amabile flower
Today Mimi’s plant is bigger than this!
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
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Sow, Everything!

Sowing Seeds: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

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Everything you need to know about Sowing
Source::Grow Veg
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

You are fully informed on the basics and then some when it comes to sowing seeds. Now is a great time to start a garden and to join the many others who have started their own gardens since COVID 19. How did this article help you? What did you learn? What will you sow? Email us photos and we will share them with the community.

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.