Growing Plants from American Seed: A Review

Growing Plants from American Seed: A Review
As a frugal gardener, I plant the majority of my flowers and veggies from seed. Extra work and extra time goes into this process, but I find it to be worthwhile. While many gardeners who grow from seed choose the high priced, open pollinated seeds from Burpee or Martha Stewart, I often grow the less expensive brand from American Seed.
After years of growing from all kinds of seeds, I find there is not much difference in the final product. As long as the seeds germinate, they are viable and the success of growth will be determined largely by outside factors such as sunlight, the correct amount of water and nutrition. I’ve compared the final results on several flowers and vegetables and have not seen a notable difference. American Seeds are organic and open-pollinated, no chemicals or GMO’s to worry about.

American Seed, though used as the name on the packets, is not the manufacturer of these seeds. This information is displayed on the American Seed website, here. American seeds are distributed by Plantation Products, the same company that handles the seed brand of Ferry-Morse.

Finished Product Results
I’ve grown Swiss chard, a variety of mustard mixes, onions, radishes and several other veggies from a range of these seed brands and not seen a large difference in the size, quality or yield. American Seed flower seeds do well. The difference is in the price.

Prices for American Seed Packets
In the past I’ve paid one dollar for 3 or 4 packs with American Seed, as opposed to one dollar and eighty-nine cents to two dollar and twenty-nine cents for the Burpee brand. The Plantation Products website says the seed is purchased from the same sources as other brands. Information there indicates that 59 cents per pack is the standard price this year for many seeds. Varieties not offered in the 59 cents line are often available for 99 cents per packet.

American Seed packets are sometimes sold for 10 cents per pack, according to their site. Large boxes of wildflower mixes sell for two to three dollars. They’re available at Walgreens, Dollar General store and various other outlet stores.

Plantation Products handles other brands besides American Seed and Ferry Morse. They distribute the Jiffy line of peat pots, fiber pots and plastic starter cell packs with humidity domes. Jiffy also carries seed starter pellets, and germination and potting mixes. Other brands offered by the company are NK Lawn and Garden and the Mckenzie Organic and Heritage Seed packet lines in Canada.

Give them a try in your seedbeds and take note of the results. You may find growing from American Seed is another alternative to saving money in the garden.


Gardening the Back to Eden Film Method Saves Time and Money

Gardening the Back to Eden Film Method Saves Time and Money
Hey Gardeners, if you’ve already heard about the Back to Eden gardening film than you’re a step ahead of the game. I fell upon this film while sifting through YouTube videos on gardening. You can watch the Back to Eden Film online for free. It’s a documentary about how you can layer any yard, anywhere in the world without tilling the soil, using wood chips, and have the benefits of using less water.

Some people don’t want to do the research or don’t pay attention to detail which have created critics of the method. This is not just throwing down wood chips and you’re done, however it is simple. If you look at the section on How to Grow Your Own Organic Garden and throughout the movie it tells you that your first layer is newspaper (reduce weeds), compost (the free compost from our Orange Country landfill is great stuff), wood chips of various sizes and topped with chicken manure (or in my case we have a rabbit) – makes for a great garden and keeps the moisture in the ground longer, while also reducing the amount of weeds. However, make sure you plant your seeds or transplants in the soil/compost section, not in the wood chips as the roots won’t have a solid enough foundation.

I realized I was sort of doing this method by accident. Since I don’t have the ‘back’ to use a rototiller on my community garden plots I have been layering by default. One of the great things about being in a garden community (online or in person) I learned about free compost from our local landfill which has saved me a ton of money from buying soil in bags. In addition, I’ve been layering with the free hay bales that we get from our annual Fall Festival. The hay breaks down over time and I use them to surround the plots to reduce weeds. In addition, I was using vegetable scraps and rabbit manure for composting but now I give the vegetable scraps to the worms. I have a worm composting bin which makes a great circle-of-life where what I grow in the garden is what we eat, as well as the bunny eats and his ‘stuff’ goes back to the garden as compost as well as the scraps are fed to the worms and their ‘stuff’ goes back as worm casting compost. It turns out I’ve been doing this layering method for years without knowing that there was a movement called the Back to Eden Film method.

After watching this documentary on the Back to Eden gardening I finally realized why my garden did so well even though I was physically unable to manage my plots for nearly three months. I thought I was surely going to return to a lot of back breaking, ground digging work but to my surprise my garden had very little weeds. In addition, I could only depend on the rain that we had for water, which has been very low in our area for several years, yet my vegetables grew very well. I had covered the compost with hay, except where the plants were growing and the weeds were nearly extinct except for some of the areas that were not covered. However, even those parts which had compost that looks like dirt, as the wood chips are well decomposed at the landfill, only had a few weeds. You can follow this link to Back to eden film main site

I’m going to continue the Back to Garden Film method of gardening in my home containers on my patio and have already created some self-watering containers from buckets I got at the Dollar Tree store since they don’t get rained on. I hope you’ll try this method out and reduce your use of water and maintenance on your home garden. Let me know what you think or if you’ve used this method in the comments below.

Monica Lehua is a native of Hawaii and now resides in Orlando, Fla. She’s taken some of the methods of gardening that she’s learned from her family of agriculturalists: farmers and simple home gardeners and tweaked it to fit the central Florida climate. Need more information about muclhing? there are other articles about mulching your garden!


5 Things You Should Never Do when Growing a Garden

5 Things You Should Never Do when Growing a Garden
Have you ever done any of these mistakes when planting a garden? It doesn’t take much to grow a plant, just a little know how. Here are some things you should never do if you want to have a beautiful garden:

Don’t plant in the shade
If you plant your garden in the shade, you will get a lot of green leafs but no fruit. They need sunlight to produce flowers and fruit. If the humidity is high while plants are in the shade, the roots and seeds can also mold and therefore never grow.
Don’t plant in unprepared soil
Always prepare the soil before planting. Add compost, potting soil and till the ground if needed. Another option you have is to plant in a raised box where you can use all new soil, which already has all the nutrients added in for a healthier garden.

Don’t water the plants in the heat of the day
By doing so, you will hurt the roots and leaves and possibly kill your plant. Water them at dawn and dusk so that the soil has time to absorb the water before the heat of the day. Always check the soil to see if it needs more water before watering.
Don’t use too much fertilizer
Another way you can kill the plants is by using too much fertilizer. You can burn the roots and leaves and they will wilt. If you use fertilizer, make sure you read all the instructions on the labels and know how to apply it.

Don’t forget to water
Sun and water are very important for the health of the plant. Don’t water too much but don’t forget to water them either. If you go on vacation have someone take care of your garden for you. Your plants need your help to grow but soon you will reap the rewards.
Learn from your mistakes and move on. You are capable of growing a garden, but need patience, consistency and will power.

Flower Seeds to Plant Right Now

Flower Seeds to Plant Right Now
Many beginning gardeners want a show of beautiful colors in their yards. However, intimidation can set in once you reach the huge selection of seed packets at the retail store. This list should make your visit to the seed packet aisle a breeze.
1. Zinnia: This easy-to-grow annual (only lives for one blooming season) comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Zinnia petals also come in single, semi-double, and double. Zinnia is fast-growing (germinates within 7 days) and sun-loving. Its cheerful look will brighten up any flower bed and container. Try the smaller “Thumbelina Mix” in the front of your flower beds. The tall “California Giant” will add interest in the back. Flowers come in red, yellow, pink, orange, and even green and purple. The “Envy” variety is a cool lime green. Zinnia also come in mixed colors, such as the “Peppermint Stick Mix” and “Queen Red Lime.” For a fluffier texture, try the “Cactus Mix.”
2. Cosmos: This is another fast-growing and easy-to-grow annual that loves full sun. Cosmos germinates within 7 days. This plant gives a light and airy feel to gardens. They have feathery foliage and flowers that are available in pastel shades to scarlet hues. Cosmos can grow up to 4 feet tall. For a unique look, try the “Seashells Mix.”
3. Marigolds: This annual comes in the warm colors of yellow, orange, and red and orange. A cream-colored types also exist. The French and African varieties are very popular, but no matter what you choose, these pest-repelling flowers will bloom all spring and summer. Marigolds look great in flower beds and containers. The seeds germinate within 14 days.
4. Dianthus: Anything in the Dianthus family is very easy to grow, including the Carnation, Sweet William, and Pinks. Whether you choose an annual or a perennial (lives for several blooming seasons) will bloom repeatedly, especially when dead flowers are pinched off regularly. Depending on the variety, germination can take anywhere between 5 days and 3 weeks. Dianthus come in white, as well as shades of pink, from a light baby pink to deep hues of magenta. Many also come in a combination of white and pink or white and magenta. Petals are described as single or double, depending on the variety of dianthus.
5. Sunflowers: Nothing represents summertime quite like the beloved Sunflower. If well-cared for, these hardy plants bloom into Fall. Although there are many types of Sunflowers, you can pretty much choose any one and it will be easy to grow. The “Mammoth” will take a long time to reach its 12-foot height, but its massive flower will be worth it. For a more distinctive look, try the “Teddy Bear” variety. It’s fluffy flower head will make you smile. Whether you choose an annual or perennial type, most varieties will germinate within two weeks, but they may not bloom or reach their full height for several weeks.
Other seeds for first-time gardeners to try growing are Impatiens (great for shady areas), Columbine, Daisies, Nasturtiums, and Sweet Peas.
Always read the information on the seed packet, and plant according to instructions. Keep in mind the amount of shade or sun your garden or container offers. Look at the amount of watering and maintenance the plant needs, and compare it to the amount of time and effort you are willing to commit to gardening. Growing plants from seed is a rewarding experience. When those flowers start to bud and bloom, the work you put in will be worth it!

Top 10 Free Android Gardening Apps

Top 10 Free Android Gardening Apps
It’s officially spring time and now is the time to start gardening. These 10 free Android gardening apps will help keep your green thumb motivated, inspired, and growing. 
1. Garden Design Ideas
This is my favorite gardening app because it’s full of inspirational ideas when you have a blank slate or would like to redecorate your garden. They have some really amazing pictures to look through and plan from. 
2. Gardener
This app is great for keeping track of the progress of your plants. It also has a reminder feature to help you remember when it’s time to prune and weed.
3. Gardening
Gardening is a guide app that contains valuable do-it-yourself tips and tricks.
4. Vegetable Gardening 101
This is a great book app for beginners that covers the bases that you need to know before you start your garden.
5. Garden Manager: Plant Alarm
Some days it’s hard to remember what you had for breakfast, let alone remember to water or fertilize the garden. With Garden Manager, you can set up reminders for individual plants so you don’t forget which plants need to be watered or fertilized, especially if you have a garden with a wide variety of plants with different needs.
6. Flower Garden
For anyone who does not have a green thumb – this may be the app for you. You can cultivate your own garden with the app but there are no worries about real plants withering and dying. The graphics are nice, the sound effects are realistic, and you can set your own goals to unlock a larger variety of flower seeds.
7. Sweet Garden
Sweet Garden is a silly, but cute, Japanese-styled animated app that is great for kids and adults alike.
8. Inner Garden
This app is perfect for when you are daydreaming about your ideal garden on a rainy day when you can’t do your own gardening! It’s also ad free which makes it great for children too.
9. Little Garden
A cute gardening app that was designed for children and toddlers that helps them understand the basics about gardening.
10. Garden Live Wallpaper
If you want some inspiration or to feel like spring is finally here, Garden Live Wallpaper lets you set beautiful live wallpapers on your phone. It’s only a shame that you can’t smell the flowers! You can find other articles about gardening apps

Must-Have Gardening Apps That Everyone Will Love

Must-Have Gardening Apps That Everyone Will LoveWith so many apps out there these days it’s hard to pick an absolute favorite. When it comes to gardening, I hadn’t given apps much thought until I saw a few YouTube videos demonstrating their usefulness to me. I was surprised at how in-depth and advanced they were, and that’s why I want to share with you 10 gardening apps that I know you will love.
The Best Gardening Apps 1. Gardener: This instantly became one of my favorites, not just because it allows you to keep a ton of important information within it, but also because it allows you to take pictures of your plants’ progress. This might not seem like a big deal, but it helps a lot with keeping track of how long it takes certain plants to grow and how weather affects them. This app also won me over because it displayed current and future weather right at the bottom so I didn’t have to go out of the app to find out and plan accordingly.

2. Garden Squared: The hardest thing for me growing up was learning plant spacing. No matter how many times my grandfather showed me I would always forget the plant spacing for something. That’s exactly why I love this app. It allows you to input the item you would like to plant and using that information it will then show you what the correct spacing is. This is great for teaching kids and it’s also great to use as a constant reminder.

3. Plant Pal: This is a great app if you tend to forget when to water your plants like I do. With this gardening app you are able to set up a schedule for all of your plants and keep track of them in one simple motion. You can determine how much water a plant needs and when you last watered it. This helps to make sure you never forget to water your plants.

4. Gardeners Calendar: This app is beyond great. It contains a ton of information and tips about gardening as well as advice on any part of gardening that you can think of. The best thing about this particular app however, is that it gives you data on soil that allows you to pick the best types of plants for your particular soil type.

5. Vegetable Gardening 101: This app is a must for anyone who wants to start gardening for the first time. Even if it isn’t your first time gardening, you will still love this app. It provides you with a wealth of information about the ins and outs of gardening. It also teaches you how to move away from store bought good to organic and how doing so can save you a ton of money.

6. Garden Tender: This is a lesser known gardening app, but for someone who likes to keep track of all expenses like myself it can really come in handy. This app allows you to see just how much you spend on each gardening item as well as the time you spent. This allows you to then compare prices from other sources and get the best price you can possibly get for next time. Additionally it tell you the exact size of garden you will need for the amount of yield you would like to achieve, doing all the hard math for you.

Need more gardening apps? We have plenty of articles about gardening apps try the search bar above or chek this article called 10 Handy Gardening Apps We Really Dig!

7. Garden Design Ideas: This one has mixed reviews, but I personally like it. It does exactly as the name suggest and there are hundreds of great pictures and ideas for you to choose from. It’s not always easy to come up with a good garden plan, but this app makes it easy and fun at the same time. No matter what design you are looking for this app has it right at your fingertips.

8. My Garden: My garden is your own personal plant database in an app. It will tell you everything you need to know about any plant you want to grow from its’ recommended soil type to specific care instructions. You can search through a drop-down list or just type a specific plant type in and it will bring up the information instantly.

9. HortChat Gardening Secret Tips: If you’re looking for an app that allows you to connect and chat with your fellow gardeners then look no further. This app will provide you with a constant stream of updated tips and information from experts and fellow gardeners as well as the ability to start your own topic discussions. I like this app because it allows me to get the answers I need about gardening quickly and effectively with little hassle.

10. Gardener’s Lunar Calendar: If you’re interested in planting the way those in times past did I highly suggest this app. It works by calculating the phases of the moon and studies in the past have shown that in this way farmers were able to improve their overall yield. For me it wasn’t so much the potential increase in yield, but the fact that I could have a way of connecting with gardeners of the past.


A Guide to Using Gardening Apps

A Guide to Using Gardening Apps
Every spring is a new chance to grow a garden. Technology has been created to help you plan the best garden you can dream. Your best resource can be a garden app for your phone or tablet.
If you are using an app from the Apple Store you must download iTunes first. Most apps can be downloaded from iTunes App store or Google Play. Gardening apps give you the opportunity to tap into your digital green thumb. Have fun with gardening. Throw a summer party to show off your garden. This article is written as a guide for using garden apps to grow a garden.

Tips on Using Gardening Apps

Gardening How-To app by North America Media Group has 575,000 members and is the largest magazine in the nation. They provide content for the avid home gardeners.
The Dirt on Organic Gardening app by JinLi Wang provides information that is presented in an easy to understand way. This app provides straight forward easy to use information. The pictures make it easy to follow the instructions.
Sprout It app by Vaxa Design Group helps you set up a plan and then gives you customized guidance. They provide easy to read information about the plants you are growing, growing instructions, pest information, disease information, ideas for cooking and preserving your plants.
Mother Earth News app by Ogden Publications Incorporated offers a free gardening guide for teaching you how to plant, when to plant, how to prevent pests and diseases, which types and varieties to try and how you can save seeds from the crop. There are two departments in the Mother Earth News magazine that the Food Gardening Guide provides expert advice on and they are Crop-at-a-Glance and Garden Know-How.
Fine Gardening Magazine app by Taunton Interactive offers slide shows, plans, new gardening varieties, seasonal reports. You also get a free issue of the magazine with the app.

The Essential Garden Guide app cost $0.99. This app teaches you about planting, plant spacing, soil preparation, watering and garden care. You can also find information about pest and disease identification and how to control the problem.

Gardening ToolKit app by Applied Objects cost $1.99 for iPhone and $3.99 for iPad. This app has an encyclopedia with photos of more than a 1000 plants which include herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. This app also gives you a to-do list and reminders of when your plants should be blooming and ready for harvest.
My Garden Magazine app by Magzter Incorporated provides instructions on plants and flowers. They have a lot of good articles. They also provide information on dealing with pests and weeds.
Eden Garden Designer app by Herbaceous Software Incorporated cost $1.99. There is an auto-shopping list that is handy. This app does not give tips on care and upkeep. It is basically to give you design ideas. They do provide regular updates.
Vegetable Gardening Guide app by Rampart Software Development teaches you how to grow a vegetable garden. They give you planting care advice, help with harvesting problems, provide reading material about nutritional value of the vegetables, how to prepare the vegetables, how to preserve the vegetables and recipes.
Produce Converter app by Primolicious LLC cost $0.99. This app will help you with produce conversions. There are over 100 breakdowns for 55 different fruits and vegetables. They also support custom conversions. You can add your own notes.

The Plant Doctor app by Adelante Consulting Incorporated collects information about the problem(s) you may be having like diseases in your garden, landscape, nursery or farm and sends it to a professional to get you a diagnosis.
Garden Compass Plant/Disease Identifier app by TeamSOA Incorporated allows you take a photo and submit it to a garden advisor. They will identify the plant with the problem, pest or disease. You will get a response with some possible ideas as to what the problem may be.
Growers Edge app by iNet Solutions Group is a free online source for farmers. They will send information to help you find more profits. They will help farmers set a goal and track their profits. Those who use Growers Edge will earn 10 to 30 cents more per bushel.