Monthly Archives: November 2015

Growing Cilantro in a Pot

Growing Cilantro in a Pot

Cilantro, or Coriandrum sativum as it is biologically called, is the name of one of the most popular and widely used herbs in the world. Its leaves are referred to as cilantro. These plants are used in many cuisines, depending on the part of the plant that is eaten. Different parts of the plant are used for their flavor and aroma in Mexico, Southwest US, Latin America, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and in parts of northern Africa in the local dishes.

How to Grow Cilantro

Some of the important tips for growing the cilantro plant have been mentioned below:

Cilantro needs an environment that is free of both, extreme cold (frost) and high temperatures. It is mandatory to grow cilantro during summer (in milder climates) and in tropical climates, as it is grown in cool and dry atmosphere.
It is necessary to water the plant regularly and it should be rooted in suitable amount of soil.
Cilantro is a plant that does not favor being transplanted. So, make sure that you plant it directly from seed and at the place where you want it.
Growing cilantro from seed is essential as unnecessary movement of the plant can cause pressure on the seed and kill it.
Generally, growing cilantro in a pot is not a very good, idea as the taproots of cilantro extend long and the small seedling pots can cause undue stress on the seeds and hamper their growth.
It is advisable to buy cilantro seeds from the nursery rather than buying the plant.

Growing Cilantro at Home

Growing cilantro indoors is an easy, fun, and interesting indoor gardening task that you will love to perform on your own. One must ensure that it is planted properly. Here are some cilantro growing tips that must be followed for better results:

Growing cilantro in a pot that is 20-28 inches wide and about 10 inches deep is recommended, as the size factor of the pot is crucial. Ensure a good drainage system.
Fill the container with good potting soil that has fertilizer already added to it and moisten the soil before sowing the seeds.
Since the seeds of this plant are fine, they should be sprinkled over the top of the soil. The seeds must be covered lightly with soil and the top layer of the soil must be spread properly.
The seeds will germinate if the pot is kept in bright sun for 7-10 days.

Growing Cilantro From Seeds

Some of the precautions while growing cilantro from seeds are as follows:

Scientifically, the cilantro seeds must be sown 1 cm deep in the soil. However, it is better to cover the seeds and keep them moist.
Plant cilantro in rows and if you have a lot of seeds, spread them over a wide area.
Avoid too many seeds in a smaller area. Let a few cilantro plants grow freely so that they can be healthy and can achieve a good height of 2-3 feet.
If you are growing cilantro for its leaves, keep a distance of 5 cm between the plants. More space is required when you grow cilantro from seeds, so make sure that you provide it.
Cilantro seeds take about two to three days for germination, so give them their time.

Growing cilantro from cuttings can be achieved by cutting the plant carefully as soon as it reaches a height of 6 inches (approximately), by removing the outer leaves and just leaving the growing points intact in the root. Cilantro is widely used in the salads, soups, vegetables, and other dishes all over the world. Growing it in a pot is a good option for gardening lovers, however, take care while growing them in your herb garden, as they need proper care.

How to Layout a Herb Garden

How to Layout a Herb Garden

Basil, thyme, rosemary, and cinnamon are very commonly used cooking herbs. They look excellent when kept in potted plants. Having them in your own garden is also very useful in case you run out of them while cooking. It is easier to simply pluck a few from your garden instead of running to the grocery store.

Of course, growing a wide array of such herbs native to their own climates and soil compositions is not going to be easy. Each herb is accustomed to its own ecosystem, and creating a garden design in one-size-fits-all is not very easy.

The Preliminaries
First, you have to decide which herbs you want in your garden. Herbs come in a wide variety and will vary with your needs. For example, if you have a particular chronic health problem, it will make sense to grow an herb that will help alleviate the illness. Similarly, it is no good growing parsley if you are not going to use it in any of your dishes. So, first decide on the use and utility of each herb that you’re planning to grow. Also consider your local climatic conditions. Herbs are pretty delicate plants, so plant them only if you think that the necessary weather conditions are suitable for them.

Garden Designs
You can choose one or a combination of the following design plans based on the herbs you are planning to plant. Each of these types has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, try to maximize the advantages based on the herbs you use.

Container Planting
Simply put, container plantings are where you are growing herbs in pots. The easiest way to do this is to club together all the herbs that need similar soils and sun exposure. Conversely, you could also pot each one in individual small pots. The latter idea is better as it avoids the possibility of overcrowding. Most folks make the mistake of planting herbs too close to each other. This will create a competition between them for space and the weaker ones will get a beating. So, make sure that the plants are well spaced out.

Standard Outdoor Planting
Alternatively, you could plant them outdoors. Instead of keeping the plants inside the house, you could demarcate some space outside your house and design an herb garden there. Again, the same care needs to be taken. The sun and soil combinations for plants should be taken care of while planting. Usually, it is a good idea to plant outdoors. Most herbs are not averse to the sun and in fact thrive in good sunlight. Also, make sure that you space the plants well so that they grow properly.

Decorative Planting
Decorative plantings look beautiful and give your home that ‘rolling-parkland’ kind of feel. It’s a grandiose project, ideal for big homes and big budgets. It requires lots of planning and creativity. You have to plan the whole project in advance. If you are planning to make a garden like that, do a bit of research as well. Look at other homes for cues. Search the Internet and you will find some unique garden designs for your home. Chart out your garden first, before you go about the design. See how best you can place the plants. Plan which ones will complement each other in color and size. The main consideration for designing a garden is spacing.

How to Grow Herbs Indoors

How to Grow Herbs Indoors

Nothing beats the flavor of fresh culinary herbs. They have the potential to vamp up the most normal and boring of all dishes. While you can easily purchase them from groceries, adding home-grown herbs to the food makes a whole lot of difference. That is why, most people who reside in apartments still prefer growing their herbs to enjoy the flavor of just-picked herbs. Maintaining a culinary herb garden will not only satiate your culinary requirements, but will also create a cooling effect in your interiors.

Appropriate planning, sufficient knowledge about gardening basics, and a little bit of patience are all that you need. While almost all plants require direct sunlight for optimal growth, majority of the herbaceous cultivars perform well indoors and require less maintenance. For avid gardeners, environmental conditions that become unfavorable for maintaining an outdoor herb garden are no deterrent and they prefer growing herbs indoors. The following guide is a step-wise approach to growing and maintaining an indoor garden.

Choose the Location
The preferred area to start is a windowsill, or in areas near the door or window, where the plants can receive indirect sunlight. In case your kitchen window faces south and receives an adequate amount of sunlight, you can start a kitchen garden right there. That way, irrigating the herbs and harvesting the leaves (whenever you need), will become easy for you.

Gather some Containers
Using pots of the right size is mandatory for container gardening. The ideal pot size varies according to the herb that you want to grow. The logic behind this is that the plants should get adequate space for spreading. Say for instance, parsley and sage require a larger pot, while scallion can be planted in smaller pots. Also, to ensure good drainage, selecting pots with drainage holes is a must.

Prepare Potting Media
The potting soil plays a major role in maintaining a healthy garden. It serves as a medium for supplying water and nutrients to the plants. If you are using heavy garden soil, amend it with sand, vermiculite, and lime components for solving water drainage issues. And before you fill soil in the containers, lay, gravel, small rocks, and brick pieces at the bottom. Then, add soil to match about three-fourth of the pot’s height.

Select the Best Herbs
Be careful while selection of herbs and start with the local varieties that adapt well in your area. Once you get the hang of it, you can include other exotic herb species later to your project. Some of the cultivars that remain all-time favorites for gardeners are coriander, chives, dill, basil, oregano, mint, sage, bay, chamomile, rosemary, lavender, and parsley. Of these, dill and coriander are annual plants, while bay and parsley are perennial herbs.

Decide the Propagation Mode
Purchasing healthy seeds and plants should be of prime importance. Or, if you already have a herb garden outdoors, make cuttings out of the plants and root them. You can also start gardening using seeds. But, this requires additional efforts for seeding, germinating seeds, and transplanting the seedlings to individual containers. So, decide which one is a better option for you, and proceed accordingly.

Plantation of Herbs
This step will depend on your choice of method of propagation. If you purchase young plants, you can plant them directly. Take a pot and make a planting hole such that the root ball size matches with the hole dimension. Place the young plant, and fill the pot with soil. Likewise, you can transplant seedlings and rooted cuttings in the original pots, as per your plan.

Sufficient Care
Providing sufficient water is of utmost importance for your plants to grow healthily. Over-watering is a common problem occurring in winter gardening that beginners should be careful about. Excess soil moisture reduces air circulation in the underground parts, resulting in leaf-yellowing and root-rotting. Ideally, watering once in every two weeks is ideal for moisturizing the soil and proper maintenance.

When the temperature of the outdoors rises or becomes warm, place your potted plants in direct sun for some time in the morning. This will boost their growth and promote production of new leaves. You may add organic matter to the plants to supply nutrients, but should absolutely refrain from using chemical fertilizers. A plus point with indoor gardening is easy control over pests and unwanted weeds.

How to Grow Astragalus at Home

How to Grow Astragalus at Home

Out of the various species of shrubs and herbs that are categorized under the Astragalus genus and Fabaceae family, Astragalus membranaceus is one of the species that is widely used due to its therapeutic properties. Astragalus root has long been a part of Chinese medicine. This herbaceous plant is commonly found in some regions of China, Korea and Mongolia. Chinese call it ‘Huang qi’. It is also called ‘milk vetch’. If you are planning to grow this herbaceous perennial plant at home, it would be best to know more about the ideal conditions that are needed for its growth. Though this plant is quite hardy, knowing about certain important aspects such as the right growing season, method of propagation and watering would certainly help. So, leaf through the astragalus plant information along with instructions on how to grow astragalus at home.

Characteristics of Astragalus Membranaceus

Before I move on to the planting instructions, let me provide you with some information on the characteristics of Astragalus membranaceus, which is one of the most prominent varieties of this plant. Well, this perennial plant can attain the height of about three to four feet. Its stems are hairy and the leaves consists of about 12 to 24 pairs of leaflets. Small pea-like flowers arise from the axils of the leaves. The flowering season starts around midsummer and goes on till late fall.

As mentioned earlier, it is the root of Astragalus membranaceus, that is used for medicinal purposes. The numerous benefits of the astragalus root are mainly attributed to its antioxidant properties. Astragalus genus consists of more than 2,000 species. Some of the species that are categorized under this genus are also used as ornamental plants. One can grow this plant from the seeds and the best time to do so is during late winter. If the objective behind growing astragalus is just to procure the curative root, remember to harvest the root only after a period of 3-4 years.

How to Grow Astragalus Membranaceus

As mentioned earlier, astragalus can be grown from seed. Wondering what all needs to be done so as to grow this hardy plant? Well, you would need to prepare the seed first. Here are the instructions that need to be followed.

Prepare the Seeds: First of all, you would need to scrape off the hard coating of the seeds. You could do so by rubbing them lightly with a sandpaper. Scraping off the outer membrane is believed to speed up the process of germination. However, one must ensure that the inner part doesn’t get damaged in the process. The next step you need to follow, is to soak them in warm water overnight. Remove the seeds from water. These should appear to be swollen. The ones that are not swollen, would have to be pricked with a needle. Make sure that the inner portion is not disturbed.

Plant the Seeds: Seeds must first be planted indoors. So, get hold of small two-inch deep peat pots and put in each of these pots, a mixture of potting soil and sand in 2:1 ratio. Place a seed about one inch deep in a small pot. Don’t go on a watering spree. Water in such a way that the soil stays moist. It would be best to keep the pot at a place that receives sunlight. Once the seed germinates, and the seedlings are about a couple of inches in height, transfer them into a bigger pot. Handle the plant well, so as to avert any damage to its tender roots. Make sure that you place the plant at a spot that receives ample sunshine. Plant them outdoors in the garden in early spring, only after the danger of frost is gone.

Planting Site: While astragalus is a hardy, drought-resistant plant that adapts well, it would be best to test or amend the soil. Astragalus thrives in well-drained, slightly alkaline sandy soil with soil pH slightly more than 7. You could add hydrated lime to the soil if you intend to increase the soil’s pH. Since this plant grows best in full sun, look for a sunny spot. Before transplanting the seedling into the garden bed, make sure that you dig a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the root system. If you are planting more than one plant, these must be at least fifteen inches apart. Watering the plant every now and then, can cause root rot, so be careful. However, water if the soil seems to be dry and the leaves start wilting.

These were some instructions on growing astragalus at home. If you planted astragalus with the sole intention of procuring the root, wait until three to four years. If, however, you want the plant to remain a part of your garden, don’t disturb the thick taproot, and harvest only the smaller roots.