Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Chrysanthemum Seeds

Chrysanthemum is a genus which has contributed several species to the flower garden. Hardy chrysanthemums are among the popular and important garden flowers oust of the long, colorful show they put on in summer and fall. By choosing carefully the hundreds of varieties, the gardeners have chrysanthemum blooming nearly all year round. They can be grown in containers and watered carefully. The dwarfs can be dug with a generous earth when in bud or flower and moved to a dull corner of the garden. Few have such a variety of color and form, are excellent for cutting.

Hardy chrysanthemums require a great maintenance to keep them in top form. If you are a person who has little time to work with, you should avoid having large plants. While they can be propagated, cuttings and seed, most gardeners will divide. Indeed, (or at most, biennial) division in spring may help keep them flowering well. When looking at the clump, you will notice many pale usually with a tuft of small leaves spreading out among the darker roots base of the plant. Each one of these can grow into a large flowering plant by cut off as many as you will need and the rest of the old clump. If you started with larger divisions, use a sharp knife and cut pieces with several new crowns. Small divisions or stolons make the best and they should be set out in full sun in compost or rotted manure, which supplemented with bone meal or sludge are heavy feeders and will benefit from dressings of compost during the growing season. They must be watered carefully at all stages of growth: Drying of the soil in the heat of summer will stunt growth and diminish flowering.

When the young plants have grown six or eight inches tall, pinch out the tip of each stem to induce side-branching. Pinch again after each six inches of growth until mid-July, after which the plants should be left alone so they form flower buds. This early pinching induces heavier flowering and helps to keep tall varieties more compact. The cushion mums, which mature at 12 inches or less, are self-branching and should not be pinched. Some varieties, such as the football and spider mums which develop very large flowers, should be disbudded to make them look really spectacular. All secondary flower buds are removed, allowing each stem only one bud at the top which opens into a flower that can be five to eight inches across. Such varieties usually bloom too late to mature before frost and the flowers can’t take heavy rains, so they are best left to florists and greenhouses. While some-times advertised as being suitable for the open garden, they are really not.

Almost everyone knows of or owns chrysanthemum plants which seem to survive and bloom year after year with little or no winter protection. Even so, the term “hardy chrysanthemum” can be misleading because too often a newly bought variety which was planted in spring and bloomed in fall dies in the winter. This is often caused by poor drainage; while mums require abundant moisture during the growing season; their soil must never be soggy in winter. Try not to plant them in heavy clays if you wish to winter them in the garden. To prevent alternate freezing and thawing, cover the plants with airy mulch such as straw, evergreen boughs or an inverted basket in winter. To be sure that choice variety survives, dig them with earth balls after frost has killed the tops and store them under light mulch in a cold frame for the winter. In spring, plant several of the stolons and compost the old plants. Treated this way, any hardy mum will grow and bloom well each season.

There are several recognized flower types of hardy chrysanthemums of which the button, pompon, decorative, and single-flowered types are most suitable for the open border. There are many named varieties to choose from in each class, so check the catalogs for those which appeal to you most. The cushion or dwarf types might be the best for busy gardeners because they do not need pinching.

Planting Sunflower Seeds

The sunflower is a tall, coarse annual herb that resembles a colossal daisy. Commercially it is one of the most important herbs in the world today. The plant is grown as an ornamental or for its seeds, which are a valuable source of vitamins and minerals.

The sunflower is native to the Americas. The Indians used its seeds as a source of meal, and the sun-worshipping Incas of Peru attached a religious significance to it and used the plant as an accessory in their religious rites.

The Spanish conquistadores and other visitors to the New World carried the seeds of the “floure of the Sunne” back to their home-lands where the exceptional nutritional worth of the plant was at first ignored.

From the point of view of the gardener, growing sunflowers is an enjoyable occupation. When the plants are young, their heads will turn to face the sun each morning. There are many varieties, including some that do not produce seed. These are used chiefly as ornamentals. Some flowers resemble giant black-eyed Susans, while others are huge, beautiful pompons resembling chrysanthemums.

The head of the giant sunflower is packed protein-rich seeds suitable for both livestock human consumption.

Sunflower Planting and Culture

Sunflowers very well with mild, organic fertilizers, and have few insect pests, so seldom need LI sprayed. For giant-sized heads, space them at least three or four feet apart, but for option of seed, space them more closely.

Grown on a large-scale, sunflowers can be valuable cash crop. They will grow on any land that will produce a fiat corn. A light loam is preferable to a wet soil. The field should be prepared by and smooth harrowing.

The soil should be tested for ground limestone applied if necessary. The pH should be between 6 and 8. There are plenty of nutrients and manure applied at the rate of ten tons per acre, three pounds of seed per acre, using corn planter. Space the seeds at intervals in rows 36 to 42 inches apart. These should be cultivated twice.

As the plant matures, the head will grow the stalks may need some kind of a gentle looping of two or three others which will help the plants withstand winds. In a small garden, sunflowers planted in the back or along the side of the property.

Sunflower Harvesting

Sunflowers can be harvested if the backs of the seed heads are dry. At this time, the inner rows are iced drying. To harvest, cut off about a foot of the stalk attached that are tied together, and the heads hung barn or loft to dry. When thoroughly the seeds by rubbing the heads. If stored in airtight containers, the vitamins will remain for a long time.

Sunflower is a remarkably versatile plant. Each part of the plant has its use: the entire plant can be used for livestock and poultry, the flowers, yellow dye; the pith of the stalks can make paper or be used as a mounting medium. Since it has a specific flower than cork, pith also can be used as life preservers and belts.

Sunflowers is used primarily as a protein-rich livestock, sunflower seed and oil are also eaten by people. The seeds can be used like nuts or ground into a meal and used in baking or as a supplement to a variety of dishes. Sunflower seeds are increasingly sold as a snack which is particularly popular in Russia. Industrially the oil is used in the manufacture of soaps, candles, burning oils, Russian varnishes, and Dutch enamel paint.

Sunflower Varieties

The most interesting sunflowers are those that produce seed. While these come in dwarf, semidwarf and tall varieties, the best kinds for the average gardener or homesteader are the common garden sun-flower (H. annuus) and the giant sunflower (H. giganteus), also called the Indian potato. The common garden sunflower sometimes reaches heights of ten to 12 feet, with blossoms one foot or more in diameter. The plants are widely cultivated in the United States, the Soviet Union, India, South America, Canada, and Egypt. It is the state flower of Kansas.

The giant sunflower is a strong-growing perennial that climbs to 12 feet or more and bears a huge flower packed with big seeds suited for harvesting and eating. Most popular and widely grown of the giant varieties is the Mammoth Russian, which matures in about 80 days. Besides being the largest and tallest of all sunflowers, it bears big, striped seeds that are thin-shelled, meaty, and rich in both flavor and food value. The plants’ towering, husky stalks make excellent screens or field back-grounds. When grown close together, their broad leaves block the sun from weeds.

Sunflowers suitable for growing in the flower garden are the small-seed types such as thin-leaved sunflower (H. decapetalus) and ashy sunflower (H. mollis). These grow from three to five feet high and branch freely from the leaf axils, producing many small flower heads rather than a single large one. The seed is about one-third the size of a corn kernel.

Petals can be shades of yellow, mahogany and purple, and some flowers have a broad band of a contrasting color around the center. All make very good cut flowers for large arrangements. These sunflowers are especially attractive to the smaller seed-eating birds such as goldfinches and chickadees, which will harvest the seeds themselves. Hummingbirds will visit them for nectar and small insects. Color Fashion, Autumn Beauty and Italian White are single-flowered mixtures. Teddy Bear grows to three feet, produces fully double yellow flowers, and is one of the best for cutting.

Preparing for Paperhanging

Unrestricted access is a must for paperhanging. When working on just the walls, move all the furniture to the centre of the room and cover it with dust sheets (drop cloths). When tackling the ceiling too, it is best to remove all the furniture completely if there is space to store it elsewhere in the house; otherwise group it at one end of the room so that most of the ceiling can be done, and then move it to the other end to complete the job.

Next, take down curtains and Hinds (drapes and shades) and remove wall-or ceiling-mounted tracks. Turn off the electricity supply at the mains, then disconnect and remove wall or ceiling light fittings as necessary, covering the bare wire ends thoroughly with insulating tape before restoring the power supply to the rest of the house. In the USA, ceiling roses, wall switch plates and socket outlets can be unscrewed and removed without disconnecting the wall receptacles or switches. Isolate, drain, disconnect and remove radiators, and unscrew their wall brackets. Call in a professional electrician or plumber for these jobs if you are unsure of how to do them safely.

Take down pictures, and remove other wall-mounted fittings such as shelves and display units. To make it easy to locate the screw holes afterwards, push a matchstick (wooden match) into each one.

Start paper hanging at the centre of a chimney beam (fireplace projection) if the wall covering has a large, dominant pattern. Otherwise start next to the door so the inevitable pattern break can be disguised above it.

Work outwards from the centre of a dormer window so the design is centred on the window recess.

If the walls and ceiling are at present painted, they need washing down to remove dirt, grease, smoke stains and the like. If they are decorated with another wall covering, this will have robe removed and any defects in the surface put right. Finally, they need sizing — treating with a diluted coat of wallpaper adhesive to even out the porosity of the surface and to help to improve the ‘slip’ of the pasted wall covering during hanging.

Measuring up

The next job is to estimate how many rolls of wall covering will be needed to decorate the room. If using a material that comes in standard-sized rolls, simply measure the room dimensions and refer to the charts given here for the number of rolls needed to cover the walls and ceiling. They allow for atypical door and window area; fewer rolls are needed for a room with large picture windows or wide door openings. If using a paper-backed cloth covering which comes in a non-standard width, measure up each wall, and ask the supplier to estimate what length of material you will need; such materials are too expensive to waste. Walls are sufficient roils with the same hatch coverings in the USA vary in width number; colours may not match exactly and length but arc usually available in-between hatches.

Table Flower Decorations

A garland is a lovely way to decorate a table indoors or out — for a special occasion such as a wedding or christening reception, a birthday, or any other celebration. You can make the garland to loop across the front of the table, to encircle the rim, or to drape on all four sides of a free-standing table. Long, leafy stems work extremely well for this type of decoration. With its pliable stem and mass of bright green leaves; this forms a natural garland, and makes an attractive instant decoration, even without the addition of flowers.

Smilax is usually sold to order in bundles of 5 stems. Keep the stem ends in water until just before you assemble the garland, and the foliage should stay fresh for several days. Mimosa, gypsophila and spray chrysanthemums all make a good accompaniment for a bright, summery look.

GARLAND TIPS

Floral and foliage garlands are very simple to make and as they are almost invariably composed of short-stemmed plant materials, they can utilize clippings from larger designs. Side shoots of delphinium cut from stems arranged in a pedestal design; individual spray-chrysanthemum flowers that formed too dense a cluster; florets and leaflets that would come below the water level in a vase— you can form them all into posies and hind them on to a garland using silver wire.

Garlands can be composed on a central core. According to the weight of the plant materials, this may vary from tightly coiled paper ribbon, thin string, twine or wire, to thick rope or even a roll made of wire-mesh netting filled with off cuts of absorbent stem-holding foam. This latter core has the advantage of providing fresh flowers in a garland with a source of moisture.

It will save time just before the event if you make up the posies in advance. Choose materials that will contrast well with the bright foliage of the garland. Cut the flower stems short, using 5 or 6 pieces of gypsophila, 2 small snippings of mimosa, and either 1 or 2 spray chrysanthemums, according to their size. Gather the stems together and bind them with silver wire.

You can space the posies as close together or as wide apart on the garland as you wish, so make up as many as you will need. As a general rule, the smaller the table, the smaller the gap should be between the flowers. Once you have assembled the posies, place them in a shallow howl of water before attaching them to the garland.

Measure the length, of garland needed for the side drapes and mark the centre. With the stems of the first posy towards the end of one of the lengths of foliage, hind the posy to the main stem with silver wire. Bind on more posies in the same way, reversing the direction of the stems when you reach the centre of the draped garland. Repeat the decoration with the remaining lengths of garland, but without reversing the direction of the flowers of the side trails.

Pin the garland to the cloth, adjusting the fall of the drape so that it is equal on all sides, and pin on the side trails. Check that the garland hangs well. Sometimes the weight of the posies will cause it to twist, with the flowers facing inwards. If this happens, pin the garland to the cloth at intervals. Pin lengths of ribbon to the corners, and tie more lengths into bows and attach to the centres of the drapes.

A garland of dried flowers, wired on topper ribbon and finished off with an extravagant bow, makes a beautiful table decoration. The garland will retain its crisp and colourful appearance throughout the day, and can be carefully packed away and used another time.

How to Make a Rock Garden

When rock garden was introduced to the United States from England in the Iwo’s, it soon became a craze. Those early rock gardens were developed in the English tradition, with emphasis on the beauty of composition of both rocks and plants, but after a while many of these man-made gardens became an ugly con-glomeration of rocks and stones. Soon, they were overdone, followed by a decline, but after World War II, a fresh approach was introduced in the Japanese style, with stress on openness and simplicity.

A rock garden may be defined as an out-cropping of rocks—natural or devised—where alpine plants from the mountainous regions of the world are grown. Usually it is on a slope, and although the plants chosen generally come from rocky places, usually at high elevations, many are simply low-growing perennials, annuals, bulbs, and shrubs that fit into the category.

Many gardeners are fortunate in having natural rock gardens, where their choice treasures are brought in and arranged in an artistic manner. In other instances, they are constructed with rocks—and boulders—that have been hauled in. This requires great skill, and the best are the result of the skillful execution of outstanding landscape architects and plantsmen. Unless well done, a rock garden can be an eyesore, nothing more than a mere pile of rocks among which plants are set and often allowed to grow rampant.

The natural rock garden is characterized by light, poor, gravelly, well-drained soil. In the constructed garden, this kind of soil is essential. It provides the kind of medium in which most of these plants survive. A heavy soil in winter becomes water logged. By remaining too damp, plants tend to rot, especially where winter rains are heavy. A too-rich soil promotes lush, soft growth that likewise is inclined to become winter-killed.

The artificial rock garden should be constructed with the proper growing conditions in order to display plants that generally cannot be grown elsewhere. It is intended for alpine plants, which are found growing wild on mountains between the tree line and the lower limits of snow. The rocks not only show off the plants to best advantage, but perform other important functions. They help to keep the soil cool and to conduct moisture to the plant roots. Excessive moisture through evaporation is prevented, and the soil is held by them in place. Even when all these conditions are provided, the rock garden may not fare well, but for another reason. It has to do with the length of the growing season, usually varying with that of the natural habitat of the plants.

The well-designed rock garden, especially if large, will be represented by many different kinds of topographical areas. It may have a rocky hillside and a steep slope. It may display a low plain, a hidden valley, a bog, a brook or stream, and a quiet pool, as commonly found in nature. At some point, it may even possess a high and windy mountain peak where few plants grow.

In extensive stretches, larger, bolder plants maybe used. The smaller the rock garden, the smaller the plants should be. Most rock plants are under a foot in height when full grown, but dwarf shrubs, may be up to 3 feet. Although alpine and rock plants are usually selected, others qualify if their size and height are right. They may be mat-forming or spreading and may come from meadows, woods, prairies or bogs. Many that are typical rock plants are often grown in borders with other flowers, among them Arabis, Aubrieta, Gold-dust, Cerastium, Hardy randy-tuft, Dwarf Iris, Ground Phlox, and Epimedium. These can be added to a wide variety of small bulbs and low annuals, like Sweet Alyssum, Lobelia and dwarf French marigolds.

The classical rock garden, with its need for hand and knee labor by skilled gardeners has become a thing of the past. It was intended to copy nature and to display many interesting and unusual plants, some of them rare. Today’s rock gardens have changed to meet the needs of the times. Simplicity and ease of maintenance is the keynote. Yet there are many lovely compositions that have resulted from this new concept which have combined the best and most practical elements of the British and the Japanese, the styles that have helped to mold the contemporary rock garden of today.

As with other forms of gardening, certain basic principles apply—scale, proportion, balance and good design, which includes a pleasing arrangement of the various parts into a harmonious whole. Most of all, it is originality and imagination that count.

Rock Garden Location

The site of the rock garden is of prime importance. If there is a natural outcropping of rocks, such as found in New England, the Appalachians, the Rockies and other mountainous areas of the country, and then select it, since there is nothing more beautiful than an arrangement of rocks placed in position by the forces of nature.

In any case, allow for full sun for at least part of the day. Yet charming rock gardens can be established on natural outcroppings where large trees, too precious to cut down, exist on the property. In such instances, the rock garden will not be gay and colorful in spring and early summer, but it can impart simple charm and a feeling of coolness. In summer, bits of color can be added with Coleus, Patient Plant, tuberous begonias, Madagascar periwinkle, fancy-leaved caladiums and Thunbergii. In early spring, before trees drop their leaves, miniature bulbs and species daffodils and tulips will unfold their pretty flowers.

Rock Garden Design

Before starting to build, whether you will plant around existing rocks or start from the beginning, make sketches on paper. A rock garden, like any other type of garden, is based on principles of design. If it is large, it will need paths and walks, or at least stepping stones and the paths should be of a winding, informal nature. Straight, rigid lines are not appropriate. Paths not only make delightful wandering, but make it possible to reach the plants in order to care for them. Unless comprised of stones, they should be covered with natural material, like pine needles, tanbark, shredded tree bark, or stone chips or pebbles. Be certain that these paths blend in with the surrounding plants.

If working with a steep slope, it will be necessary to make several terraces to hold back the soil. Areas can be leveled off every 2 feet before rocks are arranged on them. In many cases, this can add to the appeal of the rock garden, adding interest because of the level variations.

It is also a good idea to jot down on paper the positions of several plants. At this point, it is advisable to get to know their growth habits.

Rock Garden

A rock garden can be built on level ground, although it takes far greater ingenuity to make it look as if it has always been there. Some of the great rock gardens of the world, often found in botanic gardens, are made, and are so artfully executed that they have every feeling of being natural.

When choosing the location, look for a spot that receives abundant sunshine, away from the shade of large trees which cut out the sunlight and rob plants of precious nourishment and needed moisture. When dealing with a slope, this is not always possible, but sometimes, there is a choice. Keep away from artificial surroundings, since a rock garden is essentially a casual, informal type of garden expression that should harmonize with its immediate surroundings. Avoid as backgrounds high, austere wails, porches or the facades of houses, driveways and sidewalks, and a strictly formal garden, with clipped hedges and plants arranged in geometric patterns.

Exposure should also be taken into consideration. Rock garden and alpine plants are sun loving, although this does not mean full exposure to the all-day sun in some instances, especially if the shone faces south, this can be harmful in the case of winter sun and winds. One that faces east is considered ideal, but northeast, west and northwest are also excellent. When dealing with alpines from high mountaintops, north exposure, open to the sky, without any interference from trees, is recommended. This is because these small plants are covered, in their native haunts, by a thick blanket of snow all winter, and are not exposed to the sun or biting winds.

Southern exposures, particularly in the case of more rampant plants such as Ground Phlox, Aubrieta, Arabis, Gold-dust, and Dwarf Iris, are not to be neglected altogether. Many out-standing rock garden specialists have thriving sides of reeks where they present a glorious sight when in full flower. Less vigorous kinds, like small alpines, should be placed in narrow crevices where they will not be overpowered.

When designing the rock garden, avoid pockets where water collects, since good drainage is essential for success. Secure rocks well by placing them deeply. Any that are loose can cause damage when accidentally walked on. Look for rocks that are native to the region. Weathered rocks of any kind are good, but obtain stones that are irregular and asymmetrical and dark in coloring. Rounded stones are bad because they do not look natural.

Select rocks of different sizes, but avoid the use of too many. A rock garden is not a collection of rocks, but a collection of plants arranged around carefully selected and placed rocks and stones. Few types of gardening are easier to overdo than this. A mountain of rocks presents a jarring note that not even a healthy grouping of flowering plants can ameliorate.

Soiling Rock Garden

In a way, soil and construction go hand in hand. If soil is not the right kind, it can be especially prepared to meet the needs of the plants. In the case of existing rocks, poor soil will have to be scooped out and replaced with the proper mixture.

Most rock garden plants are not fussy about soil, and will grow in almost any kind, provided there is good drainage. Some plants require an acid soil; others prefer one that is alkaline. Yet most thrive in soil that ranges between pH6 and pH8. A thin, porous one is best, more so in sections of the country where rainfall is heavy.

Where droughts prevail during the growing season, the soil should be heavier and more moisture retentive to meet the needs of plants. In this case, it should be prepared beforehand with humus. Other aids consist of using mulches of fine gravel or stone chips to hold in the moisture. These will also help to prevent weeds from taking over.

A simple preparation consists of equal parts soil, coarse sand, and peat moss, leaf mold or compost. Another combines equal parts loam, leaf mold, peat moss, sand and fine gravel. Since most rock garden plants are lime-loving, add agricultural lime. Unless soil is very acid, a heavy sprinkling will do. Bone meal or superphosphate, slow-acting phosphoric fertilizers, can be added at the recommended amounts. Some rock plants do not need it, but others like Dianthus and campanulas appreciate it.

If scooping out soil in pockets and between crevices in natural rock outcroppings, dig to a depth of about a foot, where this is possible. Place a layer of stones, pebbles, or pieces of broken bricks at the bottom. Then add a layer of coarse sand or gravel before placing the soil on top. Wash each layer with the hose to make it settle firmly and eliminate air pockets.

Constructing Rock Garden

Constructing the rock garden is not the easiest task. It is advisable to do considerable reading beforehand and, where possible, employ the services of a qualified landscape architect. In either instance, observe and study rock formations in nature. The idea is not to copy them, but to receive inspiration and understand how they comprise a harmonious whole. Small rock can be lifted easily, but with larger ones you will need suitable tools. One or two crowbars will be among the handiest.

If proceeding on your own, first bring together the rocks to be used. Unless you have mastered your design so it is clearly in your mind, keep the plan sketched on a piece of paper close at hand.

Start to work at the lowest point. After placing a layer of drainage material at the bottom, add prepared soil in that particular spot, leaving the rest to spread around the rocks when in their final position. Generally speaking, keep the largest rocks for the base. In some instances, existing soil will have to be removed to make room for these boulders. Place them on their broadest bases, making certain they are secure. When completed, more than half of each rock should be under the surface of the ground. Arrange each so it leans toward the soil in order to catch rain water. Most of the rocks will have to be concentrated in steep places to hold back the soil. Use fewer where the grade is less abrupt, and allow for large levels where quantities of vigorous rock plants will be permitted to spill over the sides. Here and there small rocks can be used to give the impression that they have tumbled down. The key of the successful rock garden is to make it look as natural as possible, rather than man-made.

Before setting each rock in its permanent position, stand back to see how it looks. Turn it around a few times, and you will discover that, what was previously the bottom, may well be on the top. At this stage, it is easier to make changes.

When completed, and before you start to plant, let the rock garden rest for a few days. Up to this point, you have been too close to it and need to get away from it. You will have the opportunity to stand back and see the rock garden from several different angles at various times of the day, under divergent condition of sunlight and shadows. Strive for unity, harmony, with pot grown plants, as is often the case nowadays, you can do the work any time during the growing season, if water is available. Set out plants when soil is moist and crumbly. Avoid a very wet soil, which tends to cake and pack the roots, cutting down on the air supply.

When planting, firm the soil around the roots. You will have to take special precaution to get rid of air between rock crevices. Work slowly, ramming the soil as you proceed. Where space permits, use 3 or more specimens of the same kind in order to produce a broad splash of foliage and color. In small crevices and nooks use small alpines. They look more endearing, and are protected from vociferous neighbors by surrounding rocks. Dwarf types, as saxifrages, primulas, aubrietas, and small achilles, can be spaced 6-8 in. apart. More spreading thymes and Ground Phlox will need at least a foot.

Always strive for informality in the rock garden. A formal rock garden does not exist in nature. Plant singly or in clumps, but never in rows. Allow an occasional plant to stray here and there. Tuck one in a sheltered crevice, another in a narrow opening between stones. Always permit some to cascade, for they impart a special charm. Bring together beguiling foliage textures and patterns, not so difficult if you put your imagination to play.

Maintaining Rock Garden

On the whole, the rock garden requires little care, no hoeing or cultivating and very little weeding, once weeds are pulled up and thick mulches are applied. A minimum of feeding is needed, since a too-rich diet will promote lush growth that tends to rot or winterkill.

Even so, like any other form of gardening, general upkeep must be practiced if the rock garden is to look its best. It can quickly become an eyesore.

In the early spring, after winter covers are removed, gradually, according to the dictates of the weather, check plants to see if they need to be firmed back. Winter thawing and heaving will loosen them, but with the hands or feet this is easily done when soil is moist, but not wet. Some plants may require replanting if they have been pushed out of the soil too much.

A light scattering of a high phosphoric fertilizer, such as 5-to-5, can be spread on the surface of the soil and scratched in with a weeder where this is permissible, if it does not interfere with plant roots. Top dress the rock garden, using a mixture of 3 parts garden soil, 1 part leaf mold or peat moss, and 1 part coarse sand. To this add a 6-in. pot of bone meal to each wheelbarrow of prepared soil.

Planting in Rock Garden

Planting the rock garden requires a special kind of skill. First, become acquainted with the different kinds of plants. Some are shy, others are vigorous. Some are very hardy, others will need winter protection. It is important to know the forms and growth habits of each, as they vary to include the prostrate, rounded, spreading and upright forms.

As a beginner, start with some of the easier kinds, but this does not imply a limited variety. In fact, much of the interest in the rock garden stems from its varied number of plants. As you become familiar with these easy kinds, brine in the more difficult. They call for more specialized attention, but they offer keener pleasure.

A harmonious composition between rocks and plants is the aim of every rock garden, be it large or small. In a way, it is no different from other forms of gardening. Colors of many rock garden plants and alpines are bright and vivid—magentas, rose-pinks, golden yellows, orange-reds. Yet this does not mean they cannot be brought together into a harmonious unit. Where colors tend to clash if placed side by side, break them up through the use of white, the “peacemaker.” Also in the unobstructed sun-shine, where rock gardens are located, bright colors go together more easily, as is often seen in tropical gardens.

Early spring is a good time to plant, but better still is late summer or early fall when most rock plants are dormant. In spring, they are making rapid growth to come into bloom.

Wall Garden

The wall garden is more difficult to construct than the rock garden, but the same principles of design are involved. In it are gown small plants that abound in crevices and on cliffs, some that are tufted, some that droop, some that cling. The early spring is the best time to build and plant the wall garden which allows enough time for roots to become firmly established before the ground freezes.

A wall garden is usually placed in front of a bank to hold back the soil behind it. To do this properly, it should be solidly built, able to with-stand the pressure exerted by freezing soil behind it. Properly made, it can be as much as 55 ft. high.

As with the rock garden, the largest rocks should be used at the bottom, and the smallest at the top. Since no mortar will be used, it is the weight of the stones, one on top of the other, that will keep the wall firm and make it last for years. It is preferable to use local stone, although exotic vines can be brought in. The kind of stone to be used will depend, in the end, on the desired effect and the overall surroundings.

The wall garden inclines backward, so that it is lower at the back than in the front. The individual stone also tilts the same way toward the bank. This way the wall is held more firmly in position and the sloping angle permits rain to seep through the crevices to reach the roots the plants as they stretch out to the soil beyond.

When gathering stones, avoid those that are rounded, and select those that are flat any narrow. The largest, that will form the foundation, need not be below the frost line, but they should be secured firmly. Place them in a sloping position that is toward the soil, to about an in. deep, which is sufficient to provide a firm hold and prevent them from moving after heavy rains or cold winter weather. The width of the base should be about one-third of the height of the wall.

The larger the wall, the larger should be the stones. First place a row of the heaviest at the base, each leaning backward. Then add a few inches of soil, and it is well to use the specially prepared mixture recommenced for rock gardens. Always place about 6 in. of this soil in back of each rock or stone. Pack is in firmly to avoid air pockets, which dry out quickly and usually result in poor growth.

The next layer of rocks will require careful placement. Do not rest a rock on top of another but between two, so that its weight is borne by the rocks and not the soil. Continue in this manner all the way to the top. Always place each rock in a horizontal position. When completed, the weight will be carried by the rocks, and there will be no vertical crevices in the dry wall. The ideal way to plant is as you go along. After the rocks arc laid and 2 or 3 in. of soil is placed over them, rest plants in position and spread out the roots, covering them with 2 or 3 in. of the soil preparation. Plant layer at a time, and be certain to tamp the soil carefully.

In many instances, it is not possible to plant as you build. When the construction is completed, scoop out 1 or 2 trowel full of soil from a crevice, insert the roots of the plant, and replace as much of the soil as possible, pressing it firmly. Use smaller plants than you would by the other method, but also be prepared to expect some losses. Water and keep moist until plants are established.

Seeds can be sown in the wail garden in the spring. Mix the seed with moist sandy loam and press into the openings and crevices. A small piece of moss placed on the soil will help to prevent excessive drying out.

Planting Hickory Nut Trees

The genus, Carya, contains several valuable timber and nut trees. Members of the Walnut Family, all of its major species are native to North America. All are tall stately trees with alternate compound leaves. Male and female flowers appear on the same tree, but indifferent clusters. The fruit is actually a fleshy drupe, though popularly called a nut. The nuts of several species are highly desired for eating. In the last 30 years several tree selections have been made, based on the flavor of the nut kernel or on the ease with which the shell can be cracked.

Growing pecans for their nuts has become an industry of considerable importance. Originally commercial Pecan-growing was largely restricted to Tex., Okla., Ark. and La. More recently named varieties are being grown throughout the South and as far north as southern Ind., Ill. and Iowa. The production of pecans in the United States has increased steadily during the last 40 years, presently totaling over 200 million pounds annually. This represents more than 10% of all nuts. The texture, aroma and appetizing flavor of pecans makes them valuable for flavoring baked goods, candies, dairy products, salads and desserts.

Several hundred varieties are now being grown. They vary in yield, bearing habit, resistance to insects and diseases as well as response to cultural practices and climatic conditions. Varieties commercially imported number about 15. Percent of kernel in the named varieties varies from 37 to slightly over 50.’Bradley’, ‘Stuart’, ‘Moneymaker’, ‘President’, ‘Pabst’, ‘Farley’, ‘Success’ and ‘Desirable’ are among the leaders in the Pecan orchards of Ga. and Fla. and in some of the states to the west.

Northern Pecan strains are growing in Mich., Ohio, Pa., parts of N.Y. and nearby states. Even in these states the cold does not harm the tree, but the nut crop usually fails to mature because of the shortness of the season. The northern limit of Pecan growing is Zone 4. Here the varieties ‘Busseron’, ‘Butterick’, ‘Green River’, ‘Indiana’, and ‘Niblack’ do well. In Tex. and the Mississippi Valley ‘Stuart’, ‘Schley’, ‘Van Demand’ and ‘Curtis’ are most commonly grown.

A young Pecan tree has a long, stout taproot. Successful planting is not easy because of the sparsity of lateral roots. Great care must be taken, when planting, to prevent injury of the taproot. A deep hole must be dug to accommodate it. Use rich sandy loam when planting the tree and remember that pecans become large, broad trees with a massive root system as they become older. They should be planted at least 75 ft. apart.

Once a young tree is established, it sends out long lateral roots in all directions. They are generally within 10 in. of the soil surface, so only shallow cultivation is practiced. Mulching with a variety of materials to conserve moisture and prevent weed growth is common.

Because of its commercial importance insect pests and diseases of Pecan require special attention. The hickory shuck worm is a destructive pest which destroys shucks and prevents normal nut development. Case-bearing caterpillars, weevils, scale insects, aphids, curculio and round-headed apple tree borer can all be troublesome. Their prevalence varies from state to state. Methods of control also vary. The extension service of the state university should be sought out for current control methods.

The Shellbark Hickory, C. laciniosa, becomes a tree, tall and broad, with light gray shaggy bark. The leaflets vary from 7 to 9. The nut is thick shelled, but the meat or kernel is delight-fully sweet. Of the several named Hickory selections, at least one is a Shellbark, originating in Pa. The nut is quadrangular, while the shell is thick, but reasonably easy to crack. The kernel is plump and of good flavor.

The Hican, a hybrid between C. illinoensis and C. laciniosa, has aroused considerable interest, because it can be gown successfully in the northern tier of states and will mature a crop of nuts. It is of special interest to members of the Northern Nut Growers Association. These varieties of the Hican, ‘Burlington’ and ‘Bixby’, produce the largest nuts. Bearing is often light. Nut quality is superior. Cultural practices are similar to those for Pecan.

The Shagbark Hickory, C. ovate, may reach 100 ft. in height. The leaflets are 5 in number (rarely 7), the margins fringed with hairs. The attractive gray bark loosens and comes off in wide plates during the growing season. Several named selections of trees with superior nuts are available in nurseries that specialize in nut trees. Among them are ‘Hales’ which originated in N.J., ‘Kirtland’, a rather large nut with a thinner shell permitting easy cracking and ‘Kentucky’ which has a kernel plump and angular, rich and sweet.

In times past the Mockernut, C. tomentosa, was gathered from the wild in those areas where trees were plentiful and productive. But the percent of kernel is so small the results were seldom worth the effort. The Pignut, C. glabra, is difficult to crack and has a minimum of meat. The Bitternut, C. cordiformis, is bitter, astringent and inedible.

Hickory trees are difficult to propagate vegetatively, although new techniques are simplifying the practice. All hickories have large tap roots when quite young, making trees difficult to handle in the nursery, limiting the number of nurseries that carry in stock.

Preparing Surface for Covering

Once the previous wall and ceiling decorations have been removed the next task is to restore any defects in the surfaces to be covered, and then to prepare them so that they present the perfect substrate for successful paperhanging.

The first step is to put down some heavy-dory plastic sheeting on the floor to catch splashes, and then to wash down the hare wall and ceiling surfaces thoroughly with strong household detergent or sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner), working from the bottom upon walls, and then to rinse them off with clean water, working this time from top to bottom on walls. Turn off the electricity supply first in case water gets into light switches and socket outlets (receptacles). Leave the surfaces to dry out thoroughly.

Next, repair defects such as cracks, holes and other surface damage which may have been concealed by the previous decorations, or even caused by their removal.

Finally, treat the wall and ceiling surfaces with a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste, and leave this to dry before starting paperhanging. Size seals porous plaster, providing a surface with absorption, and also makes it easier to slide the pasted lengths of wall covering into position on the wall.

Wash wall surfaces with sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner) or detergent, working from the bottom up , then rinse them with clean water, working from the top down

Wash ceilings with a floor mop or squeegee, after disconnecting and removing light fitting.. Again, rinse off with clean water.

Fill cracks, holes other detects in the wall and ceiling surfaces as appropriate, leave the filler to harden and then sand the repair down flush.

Apply a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste to wall and ceiling surfaces that are to be papered, and leave them to dry before starting paperhanging.

CROSS-LINING

If the wall surface is in poor condition, has been previously decorated with gloss paint or is being decorated with a thin fabric wall covering, it is best to hang lining(liner) paper first. This is usually hung horizontally rather than vertically, with butt joints between lengths and with ends and edges trimmed just shun of adjacent ceiling and wall surfaces. Use the same type of paste for the lining paper as for the subsequent wall covering.

MEASURING AND CUTTING TO LENGTH

1. For quick and easy calculations, mark the length of the pasting table at 30 cm/12 in intervals using a pencil and metal straight edge.

2. Measure the length of wall covering needed for the drop, including trim allowances., and mark this on the paper. Cur the first piece to length.

PASTING WALL COVERINGS

1. Face the light to make it easy to spot any unpasted areas – they look dull, nor shiny. Apply a generous hand of pastedown the centre of the length.

2. Align one edge of the wall covering with the edge of the pasting table, then brush the paste out towards that edge from the centre band.

3. Draw the length across to the other edge of the table, and apply paste out to that edge Rio. Check that there are no dry or thinly pasted areas.

4. Continue pasting until the end of the table is reached. Then lift the pasted end of the wall covering and fold it over on itself, pasted side to pasted side.

5. Slide the paper along the table so the folded section hangs down. Paste the rest of the length and fold the opposite end over on itself.

Planting Jerusalem Artichokes

The Jerusalem artichoke, a large, potato-shaped tuber, is characterized by its sweet nut-like flavor. Contrary to popular notion, it neither tastes nor looks like the green or globe artichoke, and is not even related to it botanically.

Jerusalem is actually a corruption of the Italian girasol, meaning “turning to the sun,” and this artichoke is really a prolific member of the Sunflower family.

Jerusalem Artichoke Culture

Jerusalem artichokes grow in almost any type of soil that gets a little sun-shine, including sandy soil. They are free from disease, highly productive and completely frost-hardy, but spread very rapidly, and unless cultivated with some care, will become trouble-some as weeds. For this reason, it is best to give them an out-of-the-way planting a reasonable distance from other vegetables or flowers. To check spreading, dig roots in late fall or early spring and thoroughly remove them.

Planting artichoke tubers is very much like planting potatoes, and is done from cut pieces each having a seed or “eye.” Unlike potatoes, this frost proof vegetable can be set out in the fall as well as early spring. A good location may be along the garden edge where the six-to eight-foot-tall artichokes won’t overshadow other plants. They are also useful where their screening effect and large, colorful blooms will improve the landscape. (Some grow to heights of a modest 12 feet or so!)

In two rows, plant one medium piece per hill, a foot apart, in two or three-foot rows. In beds, set tubers four by four feet apart. As indicated, plants multiply quickly and soon choke out any venturesome weeds. Mulching is a good idea in row plantings, and compost applications maintain desirable fertility—although soil and climate extremes won’t stop this persistent plant.

With the arrival of spring, tubers left in the ground should be dug either for eating or replanting. If an increased supply is wanted, some may simply be left to multiply.

Native to the Americas, Jerusalem artichoke is cultivated for its fleshy tubers which are fine, nutritious and low-starch substitutes for potatoes.

A 25-foot row will supply the average family for one year.

Jerusalem Artichoke Nutritional Value

The artichoke is 100 percent starchless. It stores its carbohydrates in the form of insulin rather than starch and its sugar as laevulose the way most healthful fruits and honey do. It has practically no caloric value. Because of these facts, medical authorities strongly recommend it as a substitute for other carbohydrates on the diabetic’s menu, and in the diet of all who should or must restrict their starch and caloric intake.

The Jerusalem artichoke offers a good source of some minerals and vitamins (particularly potassium and thiamine)—a result of its being a plant-world union of tuber roots and luxuriant sunflower growth.

Hydroponic Gardening

From the Greek roots hydro, water, and meaning work, hydroponics is the science of growing plants in water, without soil. Plants are supported in an inert, non-organic medium such as sand, fine gravel or mica compositions, which are saturated with nutrient solutions for short periods. These solutions typically contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium, urn, sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, and copper. All of the essential foods are available to plant roots quantities.

Hydroponic gardening requires a trough for the plants, an aggregate such as gravel or vermiculite for root support water supply with a pH rating of between 6 and 8.5. Nutrient solutions need to be added with water regularly.

Hydroponics has intrigued scientists because it eliminates the need for ordinary cultivation. Its main cost in the labor is saved by automatics and fertilizing, although installation costs are generally pretty high. So greater crops yield result from hydroponic gardens. Until very recently, corn-acceptance and implementation of hydroponics methods have been impeded by the reliance on chemical nutrient solutions and frequent testing.

With mounting interest in urban agriculture and rooftop food production, however, hydroponics seems destined to assume greater significance. The organic grower can either use a tea made from high-quality compost, or can mix a basic solution of one tablespoon fish emulsion, one tablespoon liquid seaweed, and a teaspoon of blood meal to each gallon of water. The mix varies, depending on the type of plant to be grown. Less blood meal should be used with flowering and fruiting produce than with leafy crops. Other nutrients can also be added: blended eggshells, for example, might be helpful when added to a cabbage crop. Organic hydroponics is very much in a developing stage, and a taste for experimentation is essential.

While soil is cheaper than perlite or vermiculite, it is significantly more difficult to cart up to a rooftop in bulk. Moreover, container soil is prone to rapid leaching and usually requires repeated fertilization, so the actual cost of organic fertilizers for hydroponically grown plants is comparable with that for conventionally grown plants. Hydroponics advocates also point out that since hydroponic roots do not need to grow as far in search of nourishment as the roots of soil-grown plants, planting densities can be more intensive and higher yields can be achieved.

The equipment for hydroponic production can be constructed simply and inexpensively. The container must be elevated slightly at one end and have drainage holes at the opposite end. One-inch plastic pipes with holes drilled every three inches are laid about an inch below the medium and raised at both ends of the box. Smaller rubber hoses coming from the nutrient supply are inserted into the pipe at one end; the upward bend in the pipe at the opposite end stops the flow of the solution. A gravity system for controlling nutrient flow composed of two five-gallon buckets elevated on boxes and standing two feet above the top of the growing container, makes it easy to add nutrients and care for the hydroponic plants.

How to Make a Greenhouse

Traditionally defined as any glass building or adjoining structure which contains plants, today’s greenhouse comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and compositions.

There are several advantages that all-year gardening greenhouses afford. Summer and fall crops yields can be stretched one season longer often through the otherwise deadly winter season. Gardeners also use their greenhouses to gain a head start on springtime planting.

Frosts, blizzards, heat waves, and other weather can be virtually ignored behind the greenhouse windows and walls. Tending fresh fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers throughout the year is considered by many doctors to be a tranquilizer for daily stress and work tension.

Greenhouses today fall into several general attached (units adjoining the house, window box, basement, patio, or sun-porch greenhouses) or freestanding (full-sized units separate from the house, either above or partially below grade).

Attached Greenhouse

The gardener seeking to minimize construction and maintenance, and possibly even capture some heat for the house, may find that an attached greenhouse is more suitable than a freestanding be most effective, a south wall of the house could be chosen for this type of greenhouse. The spot should not be heavily shaded by trees or other buildings, but it should be protected from strong winds that could chill the greenhouse and possibly weaken it structurally. Greenhouse designers and builders agree that the most efficient use of space and solar heat gain can be obtained by making the length of an attached house about twice as great as its width.

Supplemental heating can be minimized—or eliminated entirely—by taking advantage of some features that are being incorporated into new solar and energy-efficient houses, namely, the use of multiple-layer glazing; nighttime insulating shutters, curtains and shades; and the addition of thermal mass, such as concrete, stone, or brick floors and house walls and rock-filled containers to store solar heat during the night and on cloudy days.

A truly efficient attached greenhouse can actually provide heat for the house in winter. Vents near the floor allow cool house air to enter the greenhouse, where it is warmed and then circulated back into the house by means of another vent near the ceiling of the greenhouse. Since warm air naturally rises, no fan is necessary in many instances to move this air. Such venting not only helps to warm the house, but it also permits good air glow throughout the greenhouse, raises the humidity of the house and distributes plant-loving carbon dioxide from the house to the greenhouse. Of course, vents to the house should be closed during the summer months, and vents from the greenhouse to the outdoors should be opened during this time so that neither the house nor the greenhouse gets overheated.

Although space in the attached greenhouse id limited by the upright building wall, every inch can be put to work by the use of plant benches, ground beds, eave shelves, ledges, and hanging baskets. Straight sides accommodate eave shelves better too, and they provide better ventilation and temperature control. The straight-sided houses are somewhat more expensive, however, because there is more glass area. On the other hand, slanting sides capture more sunshine.

Window Greenhouse

This variety is one of several “mini-greenhouses” designed to produce healthy flowers and herbs at a low cost. Window greenhouses are also used for starting seed in winter and spring before transplanting into the outdoor garden.

Almost any window opening into the house can be use for these small conservatories attached to a windowsill and framing. For gardeners planning to use the window greenhouse year-round, a southeast-facing window is recommended. This direction will obtain ample sunlight even in winter. Small heating units which fit into the window extension, or heating cables, may be used to keep the greenhouse sufficiently warm and insulating shutters or shades can be pulled over the glass at night.

Basement Greenhouse

From the outside a basement greenhouse looks like a sloping cold frame built against the foundation. Inside, it is an alcove in the cellar wall, and a concrete floor raised above the basement floor. Like the foundation, it is built of concrete blocks.

The floor should be at least 3.5 feet above the basement floor because of the sharp angle for the midwinter sun. The foundation wall in front should be about two inches higher than the greenhouse floor to prevent water from running out on the cellar floor to prevent water from running out on the cellar floor.

A shelf placed beneath the glass at one end is used for sun-loving plants and can be duplicated at the other end. The greenhouse should face south, southeast or southwest. With only one hot air vent in the basement, the temperature should stay between 55 and 60 °F (12.78 and 15.56 °C).

Freestanding Greenhouse

To many people, the freestanding greenhouses offer distinct advantages. Most of these greenhouses can catch sunlight from every direction, and they are more adaptable for ground beds. The more energy-efficient free-standing greenhouses have north walls built into a hillside.

The pit-type house, except for sever sub-zero (F.) weather, is sun heated. The only additional heat needed under conditions of extreme cold is usually a 200-watt electric light bulb or a small electric heater. Temperatures in the pit-type house make daily watering unnecessary. Usually only the south side is glassed in, and this is set at a 45-degree angle to admit the most sunshine. Ordinary hotbed sashes can be used.

To add warmth to the pit house, the ends and unglazed side should be double walled with about 31/2 inches of insulating material between. Doors and ventilators should also be insulated. After sunset, the glassed areas should be covered with padding or another insulated covering. When pads are used to cover the sashes, tarpaulins are rolled down over them to keep them dry. Wet padding makes poor insulation.

The Dutch door is best for the pit house because the upper half can be opened for ventilation during the winter. The door should be at the east end of the house to be better protected from prevailing cold westerly winds. A ventilating window can be placed at the west end. This is most important in the pit green-house. It should be open during the warmest hours of every day. Some pit houses use sky-light openings on the top of the unglazed side for ventilation.

Greenhouse Location

Choosing the best greenhouse site is an important step requiring several considerations. Convenience, accessibility, yard space, and general land conditions are variables to consider. Attached greenhouses enable the gardener to enter the greenhouse quickly and easily through adjoining, enclosed entrances. They best suit gardeners with little yard space, but with sunlit base—windows and sills suitable for a house “box,” or enclosed porches.

Contrary to popular belief, the precise direction in which a greenhouse faces is not a crucial consideration. Some plants in attached greenhouses grow best in a southern, southeastern or exposure, in that order. Western provides ample sunlight but lack the shade needed in summer.

Greenhouse Construction Materials

Once the style and location of your future greenhouse selected, construction materials need to be chosen. Gardeners can select from plastic, fiberglass and glass materials.

Above Ground Greenhouses

These greenhouses are made with panels that can be put together with a driver, wrench and hammer. All the parts are furnished, cut to fit in place. The glass is cut to size and is not putty glazed. It goes into glass grooves in the sash and is held weather tight with a special caulking rope.

While the prices for the materials for a prefabricated greenhouse are higher than parts such as glazing bars, sills, eaves, ridge and fittings of a conventional-type greenhouse, the time they save in labor greatly offsets difference.

Greenhouses with polyethylene film or plastic instead of glass are becoming popular for reasons of economy. They are light, so require less rigid supports, but they can rip in heavy winds and the constant exposure to strong sunlight causes them to deteriorate in a short as six months. Thin flexible films are best used as inner glazing only under thicker plastics or glass.

Fiberglass is another popular alternative in greenhouse construction. It is sturdy and transparent material, especially when coated with Tedlar. Fiberglass also makes a good heat insulator, retaining up to 70.8 times more hat than polyethylene film and some plastics. Fiberglass houses provide natural shade, even during intense sun exposure. Fiberglass has its shortcomings as well, however. It is highly flammable and often wears down reducing light transmission and increasing dust and don’t break as easily.

Rigid acrylics come closest to resembling glass, but they are easier to work with because they are five times lighter than glass and don’t break easily.

Glass has a tendency to turn brittle and crack, and while it is good-looking and clean, it is a difficult material for do-it-yourselfers to work with.

Greenhouse Foundation

The walls below the sills of the greenhouse are the hardest part to build. Masonry walls are best because they are more permanent than those of wood. They also offer some thermal mass for heat retention. Poured concrete, brick, cut stone or cinder blocks may be used. Cinder blocks provide the easiest means of building a wall. For appearance’s sake, the outside can be coated with stucco and painted. The attractiveness of a greenhouse depends a great deal upon its walls, for this is the largest solid area.

If you live in the northern United States, the walls of a prefabricated greenhouse should extend below the freezing line. This would be about 21/2 feet in most areas but may be less in the southern states and more in the far North. The footings below the ground can be of poured concrete and gravel. A conventional-type greenhouse is built with steel posts set on footings and encased in piers that extend below grade. The side walls need only go down to solid ground, a few inches below the grade.

After the greenhouse has been selected, located and constructed, the continual task of greenhouse management begins. Managing the greenhouse can be divided into two categories: controlling of the greenhouse climate and handling of the plants.

Greenhouse Heating and Cooling

In areas that seldom get colder than 20°F (— 6.67°C), more traditional greenhouses may need only an electric heater. The heater is inexpensive and can come equipped with an automatic thermostat to turn on the heating element and fan.

For colder environments, gas or hot-water heating systems arc necessary in traditional greenhouses. A no-vent gas unit for heating is highly recommended by many gardeners, since it creates no noxious fumes and costs a few hundred dollars. Coal or wood-burning furnaces can also be used to heat greenhouses.

Some suggestions for conserving fuel include keeping the greenhouse as airtight as possible; using two outside doors and having one serve as a storm door; using mulch to insulate and retain heat; installing heavy-gauge aluminum foil between the heat source and the outside wall to reflect and retain heat; and planting a windbreak of trees and shrubs nearby to retain heat and protect against wind turbulence.

The most important companion to any greenhouse heating system is ventilation. With-out fans to circulate air, the greenhouse temperature can vary from 45°F (7.22°C) on the ground, to over 90°F (32.22°C) nearby in winter. Mount the fan so that it is away from the heat source. This way, warmer air will mix with cool air and pick up moisture in the process. Proper air circulation is an important safeguard against plant infections, since it reduces fungus and mildew buildup.

Shade must be provided during summer months in the greenhouse, in order to grow plants which cannot be set outside. Bamboo or slatted matting may be spread over the glass or whitewashed.

Excessive humidity invites plant diseases and decreased fruit and flower production. Insufficient humidity in the greenhouse hastens development of flowers and fruit at the expense of leaf growth. To increase humidity, the gardener can install mist systems, plastic sheets or glass panes over seed flats or benches.

Handling of Greenhouse Plants

In caring for your plants, try to simulate all conditions favorable to the plants growth and development needs. If this demands a period of rest in the garden, a period should be allowed in the greenhouse. Sun, shade and soil requirements outdoors should be duplicated as much as possible in the greenhouse.

Soil

Concocting the proper soil mixtures is another important requirement for the successful greenhouse gardener. Good soil is an investment in the well-being of greenhouse crops, and it should be well fertilized and cultivated for that reason. Rich topsoil with living organisms, dead organic matter is best for hardy plant growth. Medium-texture soils, rather than fine or coarse compositions, are best for holding moisture, air and soil nutrients. Adding organic matter to sandy soils improves water and mineral retention, as well as helping loosen clay soils.

For most greenhouses, a loam soil is recommended, because of its good drainage and aeration. Greenhouse soils today are often mixes, high in organic matter content. A good mix for bench or potted plants is two parts topsoil, one part sphagnum peat moss and one part sand. Your soil mixture should always be kept fairly moist, in order to sustain the living organisms inside.

Many fertilizers and additives offer vital nutrition to organic matter in greenhouse soils. Poultry and rabbit manures are packed with nitrogen, phosphorus and humus. Both are applied at the rate of eight to ten pounds per 100 square feet of bench planting space. Sheep, cow and horse manures are organic fertilizers which add humus and make good soil conditioners.

Bone meal is a slow-releasing plant fertilizer. The steamed variety breaks down quicker for plant nutrition than raw bone meal.

Lime and wood ashes help neutralize highly acidic soils. Sawdust and wood chips complement successful potted plant propagation. The chips repel snails and provide good drainage.

Peat moss, which puts humus into the soil and holds nutrients particularly well, makes a fine soil conditioner, rather than a fertilizer. Moisten peat thoroughly before mixing into the soil. (Dry peat often resists water absorption.)

Gypsum conditions and alkalizes green-house soils. It also offers calcium to plants and indirectly to gardeners who harvest and eat them.

Vermiculite and perlite lighten dense soil and help start plant cuttings or seed. Fertilizers and plant nutrients are added after roots are established in either medium.

The salt concentration and pH level of soils must be watched carefully in the greenhouse, the state agricultural extension service will check field soil for high salt or pH levels, which can damage plant roots, cause wilting, or slow plant cutting or seedling growth. Loosening the soul and thorough watering help dissolve high concentrations.

Watering

Greenhouse gardens should be watered in the mornings of sunny days. Water should be supplied sparingly to minimize the dangers of fungus. Watering should be thorough. Watering should be withheld, if possible, in cloudy weather, since these conditions make evaporation slow and fungus spores cannot be destroyed as well as they can by hot sun rays.

Here are still more tips on proper watering in the greenhouse:

  1. Try to avoid ice-cold water. Room temperature water is preferred by most greenhouse plants.
  2. Water can run freely over the bench or tub, but be sure that roots are not left soaking.
  3. Keep soil loose for good drainage. Organic matter and sandy loam make the soil healthy and properly drained.
  4. Water plants less in winter, especially those that go into dormancy during cool weather. Their need for water decreases at these times.
  5. Avoid water softened with a commercial water softener. This water contains chemicals harmful to plants. Flushing salty or hard water usually prevents salt buildup.

Insect and Disease Control

In handling plant life in the greenhouse, special care and attention must be given to prevention of pest and disease infestation. Insects and diseases which commonly plague greenhouse crops are easy to control through the use of good-quality, clean seed and plants, in addition to the maintenance of an overall sanitary growing environment. Insects, bacteria, viruses, and fungi which thrive in “hothouse climates” can be battled by following these simple sanitation tips:

  1. Remove diseased and dead plants; keep them far from the greenhouse.
  2. Prevent wild weed growth near the greenhouse. Such growth attracts insects and promotes disease.
  3. Keep the greenhouse neat and free of plant clutter.
  4. Be certain that new plants introduced into the greenhouse don’t harbor new germs and pests.
  5. Start seed, roots and cuttings in soilless mediums. Sterile perlite, vermiculite and peat moss are commended for controlling seedling and cutting diseases.
  6. Provide proper greenhouse ventilation.
  7. Finally, avoid soaking foliage when watering. Also avoid over watering or over fertilizing greenhouse plants.

The organic greenhouse gardener can turn to several safe insect controls, dusts and sprays for disease outbreaks, especially those in the beginning stages. Commercially available controls include sabadilla, rotenone, pyrethrum, and nicotine sulfate. Many gardeners develop their own recipes for homemade pest or disease control.

Not all greenhouse or garden insects are enemies to the propagation of healthy plants, however. Ladybugs, praying mantis, lacewings, spiders, and horse hair snakes are among the many winged or crawling “comrades” in the garden who eat harmful insects.

Cool Greenhouse

In cool temperature and organic soil, bulbs such as tulips, Dutch Iris, Lilies, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Ranunculus, and Anemones are easy to grow and give fine blooms. Lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, kale, and scallions do very well as do carrots, cauliflower, peas, red and green cabbage, and beets, if you have the extra space they require. Many herbs thrive in the cool greenhouse. A few pots or boxes of rue, sage, mint, marjoram, parsley, chives, and the like will provide garnishes for winter meals.

Farm Greenhouse

While it costs almost twice as much to bring the home greenhouse up to moderate or warm temperatures in comparison with a cool house, many exciting plants can be grown that make it worthwhile. Orchids are among them. With a collection of 75 plants of different varieties, it is nice to have something in bloom every part of the year. Cymbidiums will keep as long as three months. Insects are not a serious problem. Orchids can be grown in greenhouse where it is possible to maintain even temperature and keep the atmosphere fresh and healthy.

Other flowers and plants that do well in moderate to warm greenhouse include amaryllis, azaleas, begonias, ferns and tropical foliage plants, bougainvillea, cactus and gardenias. Tomatoes, cucumbers and melons can also be grown in the warm greenhouse where temperatures are at least 60°F at night.