Let the Sun Shine Through – Learn Proper Greenhouse Cleaning

greenhouse_cleanRegardless of what type of greenhouse you may purchase from Outdora, there will come a time when the covering of your structure needs to be cleaned.  But what is the proper way of cleaning the “windows” of a greenhouse and why is that important.

A clean greenhouse surface is very important in the success of any type of greenhouse production.  It allows the maximum amount of sunlight into the environment, reduces possible plant diseases and just gives the greenhouse area a professional appearance.  But before you jump onto a spring window-cleaning spree, one must first learn how to properly clean each type of greenhouse covering.  Keep in mind though, that regardless of the type of cover always clean the area with the vents and doors wide open.  This will prevent any buildup of toxic chemicals.

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The Pros and Cons of Greenhouse Coverings

greenhouse_typesGreenhouses can be covered in one of three materials.  This includes glass, polycarbonate, and plastic film.  Each one of these materials has pros and cons associated with it.  So before you decide on a certain greenhouse structure or shape, consider the covering.

All coverings should go through a checklist that includes cost, ease of repair, durability, weight, how much light goes through the material and how much heat is released through the material.

Glass Paned Greenhouse

The Large Royal Victorian Greenhouse sold by Outdora is an excellent example of a glass paned greenhouse.  This type of greenhouse covering is durable, has low maintenance cost, absorbs photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) easily, releases excess heat during the night and has a low transmission rate of UV light.

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Got Weeds? – Learn How to Take Care of them Organically

weedsIt seems that weeds just appear out of nowhere.  One day, the garden space is gleamed of all plant life that has gone into winter slumber.  The next day, you look out and find a jungle where your rose garden used to be.  When this day comes along, do not reach for a chemical solution, but instead try some of these time-tested techniques for organic weed control.

Natural Preemergant Herbicide

 

Treating your space before the weed seeds germinate is one technique that can be used to control weeds.  These seeds could have been disturbed by existing weeds in the garden or blown in from the surrounding area.  Regardless of where they came from the simple solution to this problem is the application of corn gluten meal.

Corn gluten meal is a by-product of corn processing and is normally used as feed for numerous animals.  It was only discovered by chance that it controlled weed seeds by preventing them from germinating.

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A Guide to a New Garden Season: Handling Seedlings

seedlingsPart of any gardening project that deals with seeds also deals with seedlings.  All seeds started indoors will need to be transplanted but knowing when and how is the trick.

The reason for transplanting is multifaceted.  The first reason is that it gives one the chance to examine their seedlings.  Separating those you will keep from those that you will not saves time, money and resources.  It gives one the chance to start over, if need be.  Without this personal connection with ones plants, the health and wealth of your seedlings may not be apparent.

Transplanting seedlings furthermore creates plants with stronger roots.  They no longer have to compete with their brothers and sisters for food or space.  It also allows the plant to absorb as much solar radiation as possible, which improves the effence of photosynthesis or the plant’s food making process.  Plants that can make their food without competition produce stronger stems and leaves.  This equates out to a healthier plant that can produce more and is less susceptible to pests and disease.

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The True Facts About Cold Frames and Hotbeds

cold_frame_greenhouseA great way of extending the growing season or getting a jump on the garden is by using a cold frame.  But are you aware that a cold frame and hotbed is the same thing?  If not, come join me in the world of cold frames, hotbeds and sustainability.

Whether you are talking about Outdora’s Redwood Cold Frame Starter Box Greenhouse or the Solexx Deluxe Cold Frame, the general definition is the same.  A cold frame is solely heated by the sun and is normally used for cool-season or Cole crops.  A hotbed is artificially heated in some way and is typically used for warm-season crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

Both of these structures can be directly planted into or seeded flats can be placed inside each.  To maximize the amount of sunlight that is typically available during the spring and fall when these structures are used, the cold frame/hotbed is normally painted white or silver on the inside.  Both of these colors reflect the light back onto the plants, which aids them in the photosynthetic process.

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The History of Finials

finial_fleur_di_lisA finial is a terminal structure at the top of a spire, gable, gatepost, pinnacle or other point of relative height.  This height can also occur at the end of flagpoles and even curtain rods.  But are you aware that the concept of finials came from a unique type of architecture and culture?  They did and without them our buildings would simply consist of four walls and a roof.

Finials are just part of a building structure that was invented by Asian cultures around 711 A.D.  This type of style is referred to as a pagoda.  In this type of architecture a building of stone, brick or wood is built around a staircase.  There is always an odd number of floors and each eave is decorated with iron or copper accents and fancy woodwork.  A central finial is placed on the very top with small finials decorating the upturned corners of each eave.

From this point, pagodas begin to change with the influence of the Buddhist religion.  At this point, finials began to take the shape of an elongated lotus bud.  This bud represents several things depending on its shape.  A closed bud represents the potential for enlightenment while an open bud represents rebirth.

The Japanese designed roofs that were straight and topped them with a finial made of iron or copper.  Symbolism was still used and represented concepts from Buddhist history.  This included sacred wheel, the water flame, and nine rings stacked vertically to represent the Buddhist deities.  Ones topped by a sphere, such as the Avalon or Gawain finial, represent heaven and earth.

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The History of Common Garden Tools

garden_toolsGarden tools are not a modern day invention.  Their history coincides with human development and can begin around 10,000 years ago.  This is the period when the earliest record of garden tool use can be found.  This coincides with the Neolithic period and the domestication of plants.

The microlith was invented during this time period and consisted of a small sharp stone blade that was set into a handle made of wood, bone or antler.  This was the first multi-tool.  It resembles a small spade and can be used to dig, clip and cut plant material.  It can also be used to clear land but this time period also gave birth to many other gardening tools.  This included the hoe, garden plow, and scythe.  All these tools were made the same and consisted of a stone shaped tool that was attached to a handle made from natural material.

The Bronze Age saw the development of the smelting process.  This process took tin, copper, and iron and separated these into their ores.  The purified ore was then turned into metals that could be worked easily.  Tools made from this new material were solid pieces that were sharper and could last longer.

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The History of Container Gardening

Square Planter GardenContainer gardening history spans the globe.  The idea for container gardening actually started out as society started living in cities and wanted to mimic the natural growth pattern of plants close to their home.  This concept was utilized in one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

In Babylonia 604 B.C., the “hanging gardens” could be found.  These gardens were not planted in hanging baskets but instead were planted on top of stone columns.  The vegetation would hang over the columns and in doing so would resemble “hanging gardens.”  The plant material would be watered in a mysterious way and that is water would run from the tops of the columns down through the vegetation.  The water never seemed to end and came from nowhere.

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Today’s USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and How to Use It

plant_hardiness_zone_mapBefore you plant the first seed in your flat or plan your garden, you will need to check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.  This is a crucial step that many gardeners skip because they do not know how to use the map or do not understand the information on the map.

Past USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps have been divided into 10 categories.  These categories were separated by 10 degrees.  This 10-degree margin represents the average minimum winter temperature of an area.    These margins are then divided into areas labeled “a and b.”  These areas are separated by 5 degrees and add more climatic detail to a region.

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History of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

farmers_great_depressionAs gardeners prepare for the upcoming gardening season, many will be viewing incoming seed catalogues along side their morning cup of coffee.  Throughout the catalogue plant hardiness zones will be mentioned but do you really know the history behind these maps?  This tale is full of intrigue, competition, and human nature.

The story begins among one of the darkest moments in United States history and that is the Great Depression.  Two individuals working for two different agencies were honing in on an idea and that was a temperature map that could guide farmers in their plantings.  Before this idea was conceived, plantings were guided by family traditions and The Farmers Almanac.

So during the 1930’s The U.S. National Arboretum was working on a map that would divide the United States into zones that were separated by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  At the same time, Arnold Arboretum was developing its own map.  This map was divided into eight zones that could have a temperature difference of 5, 10, or 15 degrees.

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