DIY Yards and Health

DIY Yards and Health
Helping the Do It Yourself home owner in making themselves and surroundings healthy

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Picking up leaves frozen to the ground

How to get frozen leaves off your lawn

The quick freeze caught many of us with leaves now frozen to the ground. So how do we get these leaves peeled off the grass to pick them up?

A steel (not plastic) rake can do it, but it really is hard work. A mechanical option that works well is to use a de-thatching attachment on your lawn mower.

These come in many different designs ranging from metal prongs mounted on the front or back of the mower.
 This one attaches to the front of mower
 like this
And the other option is to remove the mower blade and replace it with a dethatching blade like this.
I prefer the blade option, because the prongs in the front will clog up with leaves and have to be cleared out, whereas the blade with the springs does a good job of tearing the leaves up so they will break down faster in mulching and is less likely to clog.
Both methods will do two jobs at once for you, not only are you breaking free the frozen leaves, but you are dethatching the lawn at the same time as shown in this video.
The main problem a DIY Homeowner will have is the surprising amount of material being gathered, filling your bagging system within one or two passes. A way to speed up this process is to either get the trailer or pickup you are using to haul off the material as close as possible, or, buy a dozen small tarps and put them all around the lawn so you do not have as far to walk to dump your bag.
A quick note on throwing away or burning leaves, leaves are one of the highest nutrient compost you can put into your lawn or put around your trees. If possible, take the mulched leaves and use them as ground cover in your tree wells. At the very least you should compost them and incorporate them into your garden. This includes Maples, Willow and most Oak leaves. Be careful not to use Black Walnut in that these trees produce the toxin juglone which can harm plants (see link).

This is a fun video discussing leaf composting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter Yard Check List

A quick Yard check up list for this early winter.

1. Have you wrapped or covered the trunks of your younger trees to prevent sun scald

2. Remove the snow and wrap your evergreens so they will not break under the extreme snow loads

3. When the weather breaks (which we usually see windows of warmer weather) be ready to prune your shrubs and trees while they are dormant. Keep in mind though, you do not want to prune when the branches are frozen and the cell structure shatters.

4. Do NOT throw away those leaves, they are the best mulch you can build for your garden.

5. Keep up the worm farm even in this weather, this will be your jump start for great soil next year.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall Applications

TREE FEED time for Evergreens

Brown needles on the inside can be normal but when they get this severe and clear out to the outside you're going to have to change some practices.

The first thing is WATER in the fall and spring - water as late as you can and as early in that evergreens still transpire and grow through the winter, often going dormant in the heat and pushing root growth in the cooler temperatures. In their natural environment they would have three feet of snow slowly releasing water and nutrients but here in the Idaho desert we tell them good luck and turn the water off. So do a deep soak as late and early as your watering situation allows.

The next is I deep root feed (which is not a fertilizer as much as a soil amendment) in the fall for evergreens because they are going into a stressful time of neglect in the winter and my trees show the fact that it works.

So water and a deep root feed in the fall.

The next thing to keep in  mind is to not prune too early in the fall and end up getting some new growth push that get's nipped by the first freeze especially with shrubs.

As you know, I prune in the winter when trees are dormant, then do the dormant oil spray to protect the wounds.

And don't forget to get fresh soil amendments for your garden now.

So fall leading into winter is a busy time.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ALL plant growers must watch this documentary!!

WHAT PLANTS TALK ABOUT is a video anyone growing plants must watch. It opens your eyes to the real world of how plants work underground and how they use scents to communicate with pest predators and other plants.

The most important part of the video is the underground networking of how fungi works in our plant root system and it is explained in a very observable way that helps growers understand the relationship plants have with what is growing around them.

Trees of course are my main focus and a break through understanding of how smaller trees under a canopy can not only survive but thrive, is very important for tree people to understand.

Great stuff and only 45 minutes of your time but WELL worth it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Time to feed the garden

Especially if you have a raised bed, it is time to feed your garden. You'll notice some yellowing and plants starting to not perform as well this time of year and this is because they have exhausted the nutrient base their roots are in.

To replenish this naturally you can brew your own organic fertilizer.

organic tea kit

This is a good video on the simple process.
 However I use different ingredients to replenish the minerals we need in out food to help us be more healthy.

One is fresh worm castings, these are rich with micronutrients you can not substitute out of a plastic bottle. We discussed a worm farm earlier, to get the fresh worm castings simply go to the bottom tray and dig out the most digested dirt. Pile it up on small cones and any worms will work their way to the bottom in a few minutes, then take the top of the pile and put it in a nylon bag as the video discusses.

Number Two is Volcanic Ash or Azemite from Amazon.
Number Three is Sun Dried Kelp from Nova Scotia you can again purchase on line.
The fish emulsion mentioned is a good idea too.
So now you have nutrients along with the micro organisms needed to convey these nutrients into the plant.
This is a very strong brew so a five gallon bucket as shown in the video will actually go a long way doing most back yard gardens.

Do this every few weeks as your plants mature and you will be well rewarded for the effort.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Trees Turning Yellow

Chlorosis in Tree
We are seeing a lot of Iron Chlorosis in Trees

Before you make that determination though, I want you to make sure you do the water probe check we've talked about on this blog. Is the tree getting dry at least once in a 10 day cycle or is it always extremely wet?

The problem with quick online diagnosis or taking a branch to a nursery or extension office, is the problem is often around the root base of the tree or from a landscape situation.

With that in mind; I want you to take all things into consideration over the past four to six months of what this tree has been experiencing in water, pesticide and weather related issues.

This is where most DIY folks look too hard for a quick answer. Take your time, trees are so slow to react that you have to take everything carefully into consideration. If you make snap diagnosis, or trust people who do, you will often do more harm than good.

If a "landscape professional" is quick to give you a cure by injection or some other costly sales approach, ask them for a money back guarantee on the work and this will often slow them down. If they know anything about tree treatments they will have to admit that it is very difficult to make a positive diagnosis and therefore very difficult to give a guarantee. That is the kind of honesty you want to hear before allowing someone to operate on your tree. If you do not think there has been any undue stress in these areas, then we can move onto Iron Chlorosis issues.

As the link talks about, the ph may be too high. However, those little $10 meters that claim to be able to read the ph are a joke. It takes very sophisticated equipment to accurately read ph, so only trust a soil sample test by the local extension office.

If it does come back with too high a ph, you can inject the tree with iron, but if it is later in the season you will get little results. This is where tree health care comes into play. You will have to start amending the soil around the tree early in the spring every year to try and lower that ph and any iron injections should be done in the early spring when the leaf is still forming. It's not a bad idea to start that process with a small amount of the supplement on the left of this blog now. The more in the spring time.

Trees will eventually decline and die if this is not remedied. Soil amendments will help, but remember, if anyone is selling a quick fix, trees don't do anything fast, so it may not be the best thing for the tree.

The power of Beats, Spinach, Kale and Swiss Chard

I have talked and talked about how Jerry (one of the oldest Alcatraz swimmers) got me into this blend of Beats, Spinach, Kale and Swiss Chard. It has truly been life changing in the way it has affected my health.

As an Arborist, I am getting older now and was really feeling the pain of the job, loosing energy and wondering if I could continue in the profession. This was the change that saved me.

I will admit, I was skeptical at first and listened to him but thought it was just another fad. It took two years of witnessing Jerry get healthier and healthier, for me to finally take that step and try it. Surprisingly my wife had heard me talk about him so much that she took the initiative and bought those first beats.

She blended the little drink up, I took a long sip, looked at her and said, "this sparks some kind of child hood memory," I thought for a moment, "oh, now I remember, eating dirt." We posted that on face book and got a lot of laughs but we also got a lot of encouragement from people who were using beats to improve their health; about how we could add orange juice, or other fruits.

Which we often do. But as time went by, I now can eat a beat raw without hesitating and actually like it. It shows how our taste buds can adjust. It is so satisfying that I don't munch afterwards and my wife and I now substitute it for our vegetables. Last night we had Salmon and the blender drink and felt great.

So for those who've been asking me I found a Amazon link to the blender we use and just as important is the knife sharpener for cutting everything up. When you look at the food statistics on the healthy page above on Beats alone, it is an amazing body feeder and worth the effort.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Our take on straw bale gardening

Fruit box gardens
An update on straw bale gardening: Several factors you will not read in the hype on this idea is the fact that straw bales shed constantly; so if you put it on your porch or in your lawn you will have a mess all year long. This straw really is difficult to get the lawn mower to suck up or even rake. It blows around the yard and eventually makes a mess all around the area that you have to pick up one piece at a time by hand. So I believe we have to contain that straw to make the straw bale idea practical.
We live in a X-fruit growing area (people buying from Brazil etc. put hundreds out of work in our area of Emmett Idaho) so we have hundreds of these fruit boxes that need a home or will be wastefully burned or thrown away. The boxes are about 42 inches by 41 inches and 30 inches high. I feel they could be bit higher to be comfortable as a garden container. We played with the idea a few years ago but the thought of filling that much up with decent top soil did not seem practical. And then once the box was full of soil there would be no way to move it.
Straw as the foundation really seemed like a good combination here. The bale fit perfectly and was light weight. Then add the idea of straw bale gardening and we have a raised bed that is very simple and inexpensive.
By putting the straw bale in these boxes we were able to contain the straw mess and raise them up slightly for better access. There is an air gap on the sides which is probably a good thing because the wood is less liable to rot. I presume the straw bale will be decomposing by this fall and we will remove it. How much damage the moisture will do to the painted plywood is still out for review.
. The one pictured is a bit hard to move by your self so this weekend we cut one in half. That made a huge difference in the ability to make it more mobile and it fits a single bale fine.
As I said, I still feel it is a bit low and we are trying to put a counter top over them. This might really make them work better because you'd have an open end, then a water proof top to put pots on. I'll update as we experiment.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Straw Bale Gardens

straw bale garden
Seems like everyone is trying to find some way to garden that is easier. Bending over or getting on your knees is something that makes gardening just painful.

The straw bale garden is an interesting idea in that it is a quick raised bed, the straw decomposes and creates heat that helps the ambient temperature of the soil, and it's relatively cheap.

Not a bad idea but there are a few issues. One is that the straw bale honestly is messy. It will shed and not look that attractive especially as it begins to disintegrate. As it disintegrate you have the issue of how to get rid of it without making more mess. One way to help the process is to build something around the bale but keep in mind the oxygen is very important around that bale and watch out for spontaneous combustion which has happened in hay stacks for years.

The other item not discussed much is that just like hydroponics that we discuss in the pages above, where are the soil nutrients? Soil goes through a microbial process that builds the natural elements our bodies need. Just because it grows fast and big does not mean it has the nutrient absorption that is the key reason to raise our own food.

Still; not a bad idea, but soil and nutrients need to be considered as with all raised beds. This brings us to the subject of mid-summer feeding raised bed gardens.

There is a definite drop as the living organisms in the soil start to fail in a raised bed. This is partially to a interlinking of those micro-organisms that can draw nutrients from hundreds of feet away. The main one is Hypha or Hyphae for plural. This is an amazing network that raised beds cut off. This simply means you need to add worm tea a couple of times a year to insure that the soil is feeding you the nutrients you need in your diet.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Understanding how to use your worm composter

Worm Composter
Worm composting is the key to great returns on raised garden beds.

It is important to make sure you understand how it all works. You'll read lots of information seeming to contradict themselves, but keep to these facts and it will help.

One reason there are contradictions is there are no control factors enforced on how worm tea is produced and how it is labeled.

The Leachate that comes out of the tap on the bottom of your composter is not compost or worm tea. It is drainage from the bins. This has proven to be a great fertilizer for some people, then, other times it can actually harm plants...why? Because the extract from the worms "gut" is what we are looking for to have the micro biology of aerobic organisms that we want. However, if you put raw vegetables in whole, those vegetables will be full of liquid, rotting, and discharging a fluid full of anaerobic bacteria whose function is to break down plant cellulose > that isn't what we want on living plants.

So we have people grinding their vegetables up, putting them in with lots of paper products, which the worms consume quickly, not allowing the drainage of decaying plants in the basin, who say the leachate fertilizer is's actually from the worm extract, so they are right. Then we have people who put in whole rotting vegetables, who get the anaerobic drainage, that actually can harm living plants.

So how do we tell the difference? Well smell actually is the best way, if it's earthy smelling then it's probably from the worms, if it's foul smelling, it's full of anaerobic bacteria. Many people use this method, but still, I recommend pouring the leachate onto the compost pile, and let it do it's job one way or the other.

Worm tea is the powerful stuff we put on our raised garden beds to replenish the mycorrhiza to produce great healthy food. This is from the actual worm castings in the worm bin. This is done by putting the fresh castings in a tea like bag, putting an air pump (like from a fish tank) in and farming off the good stuff into a liquid we can put on the garden. This must be done in a short period of time, in order to get the aerobic affect before the anaerobic takes over. See details.

I hope it doesn't seem to complicated, it really isn't once you've done it. And the results are amazing.
It's simply having the knowledge that takes a few hours to learn, that makes all the difference in success or failure.

Weather Stress on Trees

We had our last cold snap here locally but other states have really been hit. And now we see a quick warm up to the eighties.

pine with damageHow do trees handle this?

 Often the answer is, "not well".
The best way to see what is happening to your tree is to look at the very top first. This will show signs of stress first. The second is to look at the foliage and judge it against healthy trees. The third is to step back and see if there are areas of the tree looking worse than others.

The most difficult part of diagnosing trees is the fact that they don't do anything fast. Heat stress or chemical damage can take weeks to show. So it is crucial that you always look into the history of what the tree has gone through, over the last few months, to make a correct diagnosis.

We will see trees struggle with these extremes in temperatures however, if we feed them and water them properly, most trees can push through one or two extreme stresses.
It's when multiple stresses compound that we see trees die.
UPDATE JUNE 15: That stress we were talking about this early spring is just now showing the damage. People don't understand, or even believe, that a tree will take three months, or, in the case of covering the trunk flare, fifteen years; to show damage from poor tree health care. But that is exactly why their trees often die and they really don't know why. 
We are seeing trees die on one side and live on the other. WHY? The tree's vascular system runs fairly vertical. This means that their "arteries" go up and down. So if you damage them on one side at the trunk base, you'll see death on one side of the tree.
In the case of that late freeze, it was severe enough in some trees to actually freeze and damage the cambium layer on one side. The tree had nutrients enough to put on the first round of foliage, but as soon as the heat hit, it couldn't support the leaf tissue with the damaged "arteries" called phloem and xylem in a tree.
The result is symptoms appearing months after the damage occurred. People who specialize in trees see these late results and know that often symptoms can not be fixed. And at the very least, they can not be fixed quickly in a safe way for the tree to react to a chemical or nutrient. If you  want healthy trees, you have to be diligent in the care and pay attention to what they are going through.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tree Feed

I feed decidua's trees in the spring, and then evergreens in the fall; with a organically balanced Tree Feed - NOT fertilizer.

Tree Feed
Do not let someone put nitrogen sticks, drench or deep root application on your trees, unless they can prove a nitrogen deficiency.

The International Society of Arborist ANSI standards has greatly reduced the traditional thinking on nitrogen due to the fact we do not want trees to grow fast, but strong.
An organic balance will be the elements that help the tree sustain itself which is found in correctly created "Organic Tea" type products which encourage the Mycorrhiza  to work in a symbiotic relationship with the plant.
The real problem I see during the summer is lawn care companies filling up the tree well with broadcast fertilizer. You can easily see the pellets and they are usually set for 3 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet five times a year. This is way too much for the tree and creates lots of long term problems.
The answer I have had to use is either to ask the lawn care company to blow the pellets out of the tree well or in extreme cases where I can see the tree is way over fertilized, we have the home owner throw tarps or sheets down around the tree drip line. After the application the pellets are gathered into in the tarps and recycled back to the hopper.
If you have a lawn care company, stress to them you do not want them to fertilize under the trees more than once a year in the second application.
The other problem lawn care companies create is they over apply a selective herbicide such as 2.4-d around the root base of the tree. These are systemic herbicides that can sicken or even kill the tree. Again, ask the lawn care company to only spot spray with the minimal amount of herbicide possible around the tree's drip line.
These are the health tree tips that make my customer trees so healthy and strong versus the neighbor who really doesn't care.

Friday, May 2, 2014

When to Plant Trees

Mothers Day is a popular tree planting event, however I've sacrificed more trees to the weather patterns around mothers day than any other time.
When to plant trees

The best time to plant a tree is when it is dormant. Spring is not the best time if the weather had already warmed up and the plant is in bud or has leafed out.

If you must plant in the spring; watch the weather patterns closely and try to time it in a cool down. Make sure the tree does not have too much water or too little, using a simple potted plant water probe to check wetness.

Tree health is about reducing the stresses on the tree. Replant shock is maximizing the amount of shock the plant can take so any OTHER shock, such as a week without water, insect attack, or too much nitrogen from the lawn fertilizing, can tip the balance and start the tree in what is called a death spiral.

The best time to plant is in the fall or even winter if the ground is not frozen. A decidua tree is hibernating and will not even notice the change. The problem with this plan is it is often freezing and you can't get any water on the tree. You'd think that because the tree is dormant it doesn't need any water. But we don't want those freshly cut roots to desiccate all winter long. There are usually little warm ups which will trigger small shoots of roots and if that ground is dead dry, those roots will die.

The answer is to use a watering device, I'll get one on the blog page here for new plantings, that basically is a slow release of water. If it is not too full it can freeze and not rip. But if there is a warm up it will automatically wet the tree as it needs it. This same device is good for any newly planted trees.

Over watering does as much damage as under watering. So I like to plant by digging drainage trenches out from the planting hole back filled with organic matter and drainage rock. This does two things; first it helps keep us from overwatering. We can water the tree pretty liberally because we know excess will drain off and not drown the roots. The second thing it does is give roots an avenue they will want to go out that will give the tree a faster stable root mass.

See the Tree section above on the airspade for what those trenches look like.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Does Grassology work?
 reel mower

A quote from the below blog on Grassology Reviews?
"Based on a few months worth of Grassology Reviews we've accumulated, most customers complain of poor service, difficulty cancelling orders, and underhanded selling tactics. Regarding the product specifically, the most common complaints cite failure to work, poor seed quality, and that Grassology is simply a rebranded mix of Pearl’s Premium.
- See more at:"

So what DOES work when trying to get a grass blend that is not so difficult to maintain?

I am not a lawn salesman, but over the last twenty years in the business, I have heard hundreds of similar claims for improved turf grass. My back lawn has four different varieties that had similar claims as this new Grassology and none of them lived up to the sales hype.

What I have found is the old standard Rye/Blue grass combination maintained correctly is the only real way to control growth and keep a green lawn. So my advise is not to tear up your existing lawn, but to over seed with a good quality blend. Then use a simple plant water probe to test areas of your lawn for wetness when watering.
water meter

When testing with your water probe you will find that there are areas that are sandy and areas that may have heavy clay. These areas need different amounts of water to keep the lawn consistent.

Change the nozzle in the sprinkler head to compensate for areas that need more water. The next step is to make sure the sprinkler adequately covers each area.sprinkler adjust

Once the water is taken care of the next item is to take better control of your fertilizer.

If you use a standard fertilizer system or a service you are getting too much nitrogen which does make the lawn very green but it also promotes too much growth.

If you are doing it yourself, it is better to do more applications with less material. This means you need to calibrate your spreader, see above under lawn, and reduce the overall impact the nitrogen is having. Nitrogen leaches fast through our soil. So more is not better. More just means you lost a lot of nitrogen that the plant couldn't take up fast enough before it moved through the soil and into our sub water. This moves nitrogen into our wells, rivers and lakes. Something we do not want to do.

I recommend a golf course product you can purchase from supplies called Spread it and Forget it.
With this product you can fertilize once during the growing season and it does a true slow release utilizing heat. This creates a consistently green lawn without that annoying flush of growth. It is often hard to find because you have to ask a local supplier for it.

If you can't find this product, you can focus on time release and even organic fertilizers that are slower to release nitrogen. Just know if you go organic it will take a lot of material. But the organic will help the soil become self sustaining which may be worth your extra time and cost in the long run.

I don't sell any of these products. I'm just sharing with you the truth of what works.

Don't waste your money on gimmicks, simply maintain what you have.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Browning on a pine tree

Always keep in mind that you can get a quick view of the health of a tree by what is happening at the very top. This is the longest distance for fluid uptake to move and often the top will show signs of stress first.

Pines can have several issues as this link shows.

Tree with die back

However it is dangerous to jump to a conclusion based on web or book information. You must know the history of the tree over the past year, including water, environmental changes, construction or landscape changes and pesticide use. I see misdiagnosis as a common problem in the field and it's because people grab one small bit of information and decide "that's got to be it."

Accurate history is a must if you want an accurate diagnosis and cure.

A good way to do this is with a Tree Log. Simply a diary you keep of what was done to the tree and the reactions you see happening every month. Include services the lawn care has been doing, watering practices and what the weather has done.

This Tree Log becomes very helpful when asking a professional service to be accountable for the treatments they are giving the trees. There should be only one Dormant Oil, do not let TruGreen cheat you with two, that is the reason I resigned from that organization. Only one is necessary and to do more is not for the tree but the companies profit. This also is important for remembering to do systemic insect treatments on Ash and Maples in the fall when they will store the product better for the first push next spring.

The Log gives you a map of how you actually water and the trees reaction. It is invaluable because our memories are pretty crowded with everything else; we don't want to forget our trees though.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Ants seem to be everywhere. Keep in mind that spraying them can make matters worse. Bait is the correct way to treat them in that it kills the nest and truly wipes out that colony.

Most DIY folks try the "ant hotels" and state they don't work. Part of the problem is that the bait needs to be fresh and often the bait sold in a grocery store has been on the shelf since last year.

Ants are so sensitive to chemicals that when you spray a pesticide they often will not walk over it. This is also why you should never spray and then follow up with bait. The ants will not take bait that has been near pesticide spray.

As a matter of fact, ants are so sensitive to pyrethroids that if the container is even stored near the bait, they will not take the bait. This may be why the ant hotels on the retail shelves do not work. I often smell pesticide leaks when I walk down a retail store isle. If it is anywhere near those ant hotels, the hotel will not work.

Ants are a series of battles won but you will never win the war. Expect re-occurrences and jump on them with ant bait as soon as you see them. There are constant scouts our looking for a new area. If they find a food source, they are going to report it. Better for the scout to take back a bait that kills the queen of that colony. So diligence in fresh ant bait is also important.

If you're having problems call or email me directly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why Spiders Bite

Spiders are moving - these are the adults that over wintered and they are not friendly.

identyfy a spider biteDuring the cold winter months the food sources such as flies and bugs are  not moving but in their egg cycle. Without food spiders go into a hibernation waiting for spring. Their average life span is two years. When spring does warm up, they awaken hungry and aggressive to guard their egg sacks.

We often do spring cleaning and this is when the encounter occurs.


A corner area or under a table is disturbed as we clean and the spider attacks to protect its environment.

Keep in mind, all spiders use some sort of venom or injection to break down cell  tissue. They capture a prey and then put in digestive enzymes to break down the tissue so they can eat the prey externally. So in a way their stomach action is happening outside their bodies.

When we are attacked by a spider, it may use the same venom as a weapon if it has that ability. But unless it is really threatened, it doesn't want to use that venom that it will need to eat.

Often the bite is just with the fangs. The problem is those fangs have been used on dead and decaying carcass of flies which have a high amount of bacteria. Your epidermis was punctured introducing this bacteria. Spider bites that did not hurt at the time of the bite, but itch and become very red after the fact are usually from this. Treat them with anti-bacteria in that case or as your doctor directs.

There are spiders such as the black widow with amazing venom. Consider how small the venom sack on a black widow is and how much she puts into a human victim, yet the results are extreme. I often am told, "I think I got bitten by a black widow". Truth is, if  you get bitten by a black widow, you'll know it. It will be extremely painful at the time of the bite with nausea, headaches and sometimes even partial paralysis of the legs.

People seem to have an unreasonable fear of spiders. The fact that they are aggressive predators in their micro-environment is part of the reason their presence bothers us. As small as they are, they still have that boldness and speed that unnerves us giant monsters with overwhelming size over them.

My rule is spiders are fine in their environment outside, just not in our environment inside.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Early Spring Garden Start

How to get an early spring garden start.

Well you know how I believe in small personal gardens to grow healthy food to save us from the overuse of chemicals...well now is the time to get to planning and growing.

Get those starts in and let's get growing

Just a small plastic container and some spinach seeds...anything to get you started. You'll be surprised at how growing something starts to get you motivated as those little sprout heads miraculously start peeking out.

You'll soon find yourself getting motivated to do more and's just let's get started!

Early spring gardening means you'll probably have another round of freezing weather. So we need a way to protect those plants either by covering them or by using smaller pots or a cart that can be moved into the garage. Failing to pre-plan will waste a lot of time in frozen plants.

The other consideration is how to warm up that dirt. The ambient temperature or dirt temperature is what helps to trigger the seed to crack and the plant to grow. Soil can be heated with something as simple as a heat lamp the first two to three days. But remember the heat lamp will burn new sprouts so it has to be moved away from the plant as soon as the growth starts. If possible the heat lamp put under the pot to heat from the bottom will protect from that situation.

I always use grow lights because the amount of day light is too short in our area in the spring. So the grow light extends that time to insure the plant will grow.

I also use heated water, not scalding but very warm, to water with. This helps that ambient temperature in the soil and seems to get my starts our earlier.

It takes a lot more baby sitting but it is fun to have frost on the ground and fresh vegetables.