Garden Soil Preparation 

Written by David Selman,

Different types of plants each require varying degrees of soil acidity or pH. Some plants are very sensitive to soil pH levels. Some garden plants will prefer acid soils while others prefer an alkaline soil. The acidity or alkalinity of soil is measured by pH (potential Hydrogen ions). pH is a measure ofrepparttar amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil, andrepparttar 113424 type of soil that you have. Soils in moist climates tend to be acid and those in dry climates are alkaline. A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an acid soil and one with a pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline. The soil must be adjusted to suitrepparttar 113425 plant which will occupy that area if it is not already within that plants requirement range.Testing Your Soil pH Many garden centers will pH test a soil sample for you, or you can buy an inexpensive pH test kit at a nursery, or hardware stores. These test kits generally consist of a test tube, some testing solution and a color chart. You put a sample of your soil inrepparttar 113426 tube, add a few drops of test solution, shake it up and leave it for an hour or so to settle. The solution inrepparttar 113427 tube changes color according torepparttar 113428 pH of your soil. Comparerepparttar 113429 color ofrepparttar 113430 sample withrepparttar 113431 color chart that came withrepparttar 113432 kit. Matching colors will tell yourepparttar 113433 pH of your sample. Quality pH test kits will have a chart to help interpretrepparttar 113434 test result.Adjusting Your Soil pH Levels Once you have determinedrepparttar 113435 pH you can make any needed adjustments torepparttar 113436 soil. Materials to adjust your soil pH levels are available at your local garden center.Raising The Soil pH To Make It More Alkaline It is generally easier to make soils more alkaline than it is to make them more acid. Because different soil types react in different ways torepparttar 113437 application of lime you will have to add more lime to clay soils and peaty soils than you will in sandy soils to achieverepparttar 113438 same result.

Starting Vegetable Garden Seeds & Plants Indoors

Written by David Selman,

Starting Plants IndoorsSeeds can be germinated and seedlings started in a box, pan or flowerpot of soil in a window. In addition to having at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day,repparttar room must be kept reasonably warm at all times. Washed fine sand and shredded sphagnum moss are excellent media in which to start seeds. Place a layer of easily drained soil inrepparttar 113423 bottom of a flat and cover this soil with a layer - about three-fourths inch thick - of either fine sand or sphagnum moss. Pressrepparttar 113424 sand or moss to form a smooth, firm seedbed. Then, using a jig, make furrows inrepparttar 113425 seedbed one-half inch deep. Waterrepparttar 113426 sand or moss thoroughly and allow it to drain. Sow seeds thinly inrepparttar 113427 rows and coverrepparttar 113428 seeds lightly with a second layer of sand or moss. Sprinklerepparttar 113429 flat, preferably with a fine mist, and coverrepparttar 113430 flat with a sheet of clear plastic film. The plastic film diffuses and subduesrepparttar 113431 light and holds moisture inrepparttar 113432 soil and air surroundingrepparttar 113433 seeds. Plastic films offer advantages over glass coverings in that they are light in weight and are nonshattering. Placerepparttar 113434 seeded and covered flat in a location that is reasonably warm at all times and has 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. The flat will require no further attention until afterrepparttar 113435 seedlings have developed their first true leaves. They are then ready to transplant to other containers. It is seldom possible to keeprepparttar 113436 transplanted plants in house windows without their becoming spindling and weak. For healthy growth, place them in a hotbed, coldframe, or other place where they will receive an abundance of sunshine, ample ventilation, and a suitable temperature. Strong, vigorous seedlings can be started under 40-watt fluorescent tubes. These tubes should be 6 to 8 inches aboverepparttar 113437 seedlings. Temperatures should be about 60F at night and 70F duringrepparttar 113438 day. Best results are obtained ifrepparttar 113439 fluorescent fixture is next to a window to increaserepparttar 113440 amount of light reachingrepparttar 113441 young plants. Soil pellets arerepparttar 113442 simplest and easiest method for starting plants and are readily available from garden supply stores and other sources. Soil pellets are a well-balanced synthetic soil mixture and are free of soilborne diseases and weeds. Special Devices for Starting Plants In determiningrepparttar 113443 type of equipment for starting early plants,repparttar 113444 gardener must considerrepparttar 113445 temperature and other climatic conditions in his locality, as well asrepparttar 113446 nature ofrepparttar 113447 plants to be started. Hardy plants, such as cabbage, need only simple inexpensive facilities, but such heat-loving, tender seedlings as peppers and eggplant must have more elaborate facilities for successful production. Inrepparttar 113448 warmer parts ofrepparttar 113449 United States, and inrepparttar 113450 well-protected locations elsewhere, a coldframe or a sash-covered pit onrepparttar 113451 sunny side of a building usually suffices. In colder sections, or in exposed areas elsewhere, some form of artificial heat is essential. Where only a little protection against cold damage is needed, a coldframe in which a temporary bank of lamps can be placed may be sufficient. The hotbed, lean-to, or sash greenhouse heated by manure, pipes, flues, or electricity are all widely used,repparttar 113452 choice depending on conditions. A comparatively small plant-growing structure will provide enough plants for several gardens, and joint efforts by a number of gardeners will usually reducerepparttar 113453 labor of producing plants. The plant-growing structure should always be on well-drained land free from danger of flooding. A sunny, southern exposure on a moderate slope, with trees, a hedge, a board fence, or other form of windbreak onrepparttar 113454 north and west, makes a desirable site. Plenty of sunshine is necessary. Hotbeds and other plant-growing devices require close attention. They must be ventilated at frequent intervals, andrepparttar 113455 plants may require watering more than once daily. Convenience in handlingrepparttar 113456 work is important. Sudden storms may necessitate closingrepparttar 113457 structure within a matter of minutes. Plant growing at home should not be undertaken by persons obliged to be away for extended periods, leavingrepparttar 113458 plant structure unattended. A tight well-glazed structure is necessary whererepparttar 113459 climate is severe; less expensive facilities are satisfactory elsewhere. Covers for hotbeds and coldframes may be glass sash, fiber glass, plastic film, muslin, or light canvas. Inrepparttar 113460 moderate and cooler sections ofrepparttar 113461 country, standard 3- by 6-foot hotbed sash is most satisfactory. Even this requires supplementary covering with canvas, blankets, mats, or similar material during freezing weather. The amount of covering is determined byrepparttar 113462 degree of heat suppliedrepparttar 113463 structure,repparttar 113464 severity ofrepparttar 113465 weather, andrepparttar 113466 kind of plants and their stage of development. Farther South, where less protection is necessary, a muslin cover may be all that is needed and for only a part ofrepparttar 113467 time. Many substitutes for glass as coverings for hotbeds and coldframes are onrepparttar 113468 market. The most widely used substitutes are various kinds of clear plastic film. Some of these have a lifespan of only one season, and others a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. Clear plastic film transmits as much light as glass inrepparttar 113469 visible range, and more than glass inrepparttar 113470 ultraviolet and infrared ranges. The film comes as flat sheets (on rolls) and in tubular form. Flat-sheet film is used for tacking onto wooden frames;repparttar 113471 tubular form is used for enclosing metal tubular frames with a tight double layer of film. Large plant hoods made from semicircular aluminum or galvanized steel pipe and fitted with a sleeve of tubular plastic film make excellent coldframes or seasonal row covers. When used in this way, a double layer of plastic film provides an air space that insulates against 4 degrees to 7 degrees of frost temperature change. Electrically heated plant beds are ideal forrepparttar 113472 home gardener, provided electric rates are not too high. The beds may be built any size. Because they are equipped with thermostatic control, they require a minimum of attention. It is not possible to buy frames - completely equipped with heating cables, switches, and thermostats - ready to assemble and set in position. Fillrepparttar 113473 frames with soil or plant boxes and connect to a source of current. Small frames may be removed atrepparttar 113474 end ofrepparttar 113475 season and stored; larger frames are usually treated as a permanent installation. For more detailed information, see USDA Leaflet 445, Electric Heating of Hotbeds.

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