Plant Profile: Rosemary

There are many legends about rosemary’s wonderful powers. Some say it can protect you from evil, others describe its magical love charms, and some even claim it can improve your memory. The truth of these claims is debatable, but there are three things we do know about rosemary: it can keep insects out of your garden, it’s strong, woody flavor complements a variety of dishes, and it grows perfectly in a Minigarden. Description Rosmarinus officinalis Difficulty: Easy Rosemary is an evergreen herb, which means it can survive throughout the winter without losing its leaves. It has needle-like leaves and white, purple, pink or blue flowers. If grown outdoors, rosemary can reach heights of 90-120 cm. Rosemary reaches a smaller size if planted indoors or in containers, which makes it the perfect plant for our tabletop planters. Rosemary is drought-tolerant, though it prefers high humidity and dry soil. Conditions Temperature: Rosemary is a hardy plant. It can thrive in temperatures between 50 and 80F (10-27C), though its ideal temperature is 60-70F (15-21C). If you’re overwintering your rosemary, make sure you protect its root area with leaf mould. In the case of severe weather, cover its roots with fleece. Soil: Soil should be dry and airy. Light and fast-draining soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5 is the best choice for this herb. Sun: Rosemary loves bright sunlight, and ideally should receive 6-8 hours of light per day. Try growing your rosemary near a window, or under fluorescent or halide lights. Propagation Rosemary can be propagated by germinating new seeds or by planting cuttings taken from older plants. Germinating from Seed: Usually, 2-3 seeds are...

Plant Profile: Thyme

In Ancient Greece and medieval Europe, thyme was used as a source of courage. Today, you can easily grow it at home in your Minigarden! Description  Thymus Vulgaris Difficulty: Easy Thyme grows from a thin, woody stem. It reaches a height of about 15-30 cm, making it the perfect plant for both container and vertical gardening. Its pale green, slightly curved leaves are fragrant and aromatic, and it blooms with tiny white flowers in the summer. As a houseplant, thyme can be grown all year long. If you’re growing thyme indoors, repot your plant every 1-2 seasons. Conditions Temperature: Thyme is a hardy plant. It grows best in hot and sunny areas, but it thrives in temperatures ranging from 16-27 degrees Celsius (that’s 61-80 degrees Fahrenheit) and higher. Soil: Thyme is one of the easiest plants to cultivate indoors, but it requires attention to its soil conditions. Thyme is intolerant to soggy soil and needs adequate drainage. Choose an airy and light, well-draining potting soil with a pH level about 5.5-7.0. Sun: Thyme loves bright light and sun, so make sure your plant receives enough sunshine during the daytime. If natural sunlight is not an option for you, try using a fluorescent light. Propagation There are three ways to propagate thyme: germinating from seed, dividing your plant at the root, and cutting. Germinating from Seed: If you don’t want to purchase a seedling or aren’t already growing a thyme plant, plant new seeds and cover them with a thin layer of compost. Place your planted seeds in a warm spot, and wait for the seedlings to emerge. It takes anywhere from...

Plant Profile: Basil

Basil is a versatile herb that every home gardener should cultivate. And it’s easy to grow, so any gardener can enjoy basil’s fresh flavour all season long. Description Ocimum basilicum Difficulty: Easy   Basil grows from a thick taproot, and sprouts silky green leaves that can be between 3-11 cm long and 1-6 cm wide. Basil plants can grow up to 30-130 cm tall, depending on the variety. When basil flowers, it produces small white blooms in a single spike at the top of the plant. Basil is often grown as an annual, but a basil plant can survive for several seasons with the proper care. Conditions Temperature: Basil is a warm season crop. It grows best in areas where daytime temperatures remain above 21 degrees and nighttime temperatures remain above 10 degrees. Basil is very sensitive to frost, so make sure you cover it or pull it inside if frost is a possibility. Soil: Use a moist, well-draining soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Sun: Basil needs 6-8 hours of full sun every day. If you live in the south or southwest, your basil plants will enjoy a few hours of afternoon shade. Propagation Sow basil seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before you plant them outside. Seeds should start to germinate in about five days. Transplant your seedlings two weeks after the last frost date. Care Water: Water the soil around your plants, being careful to avoid getting the leaves wet. If leaves get wet, you may see brown spots on your basil leaves. Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season, and water when the...

All About Autumn Gardening

The seasons may be changing, but you don’t have to put away your gardening gloves and trowel just yet! Shorter days and cooler weather don’t signal the end of gardening season – all you have to do to keep your garden growing throughout the fall is plant the right plants. If you already have an indoor garden like a Minigarden, you can plant whatever you want whenever you want as long as your garden gets the right sunlight throughout the cooler months. Instead of packing up your garden for the winter, keep your homegrown herbs and veggies thriving all year long, or even replace your edibles after you harvest with bright, sunny flowering plants or ornamental grasses. Why Garden in the Fall? Gardening in the autumn may seem a bit counter-intuitive – after all, there’s less sun, the weather is cooler, and we’re usually busier at work or making sure the kids settle in to the new school year – but there are a number of compelling reasons why you should continue gardening throughout the autumn: It’s cooler. In the fall, there’s no need to worry about excessive heat, which can be harmful to both yourself and your plants. There are fewer pests. With cooler weather comes fewer garden pests, so you can rest easier knowing your autumn garden is safe from the blights of summer. You can get good deals. Garden centers often offer end-of-season sales, so take advantage of these deals and find yourself some great fall plants for your cool-weather garden. You can grow different plants. Refresh your produce store by growing cool-weather tolerant plants that...

Seed Saving 101

If you thought you could only harvest produce from your garden, think again. Did you know that you can also save seeds from this year’s harvest and plant them again next year? Why Save Seeds? Saving seeds offers a number of advantages you just don’t get when you buy your seeds in store every season. When you save seeds, you can: Save Money: Harvest seeds from plants you’ve already grown instead of buying new seeds every season. Create Heirloom Varieties: Pass your favorite plants down through the generations by gifting seeds to your family and friends. Grow Stronger, Better Plants: If you save seeds you know grow well in your region instead of buying expensive seeds that are designed to grow in different climates across the country, you can slowly develop varieties that are adapted to your region of the country. Understanding Seed Varieties Before you can start saving seeds, it helps to understand a little bit about different seed varieties. There are three main seed varieties you need to know: Open-pollinators: Open-pollinated seeds are pollinated by insects, birds, the wind, or any other natural mechanism. Open-pollinated seeds are more genetically diverse because they allow plants to adapt to local growing conditions year over year. Heirlooms: Heirloom seeds are passed down from generation to generation within a family or community. Hybrids: Hybrid seeds are created using a controlled method of pollination, in which the pollen of two different species are mixed by human intervention. You can save any seed variety, but open-pollinated and heirloom varieties help preserve biodiversity, and also have the added benefit of adapting to your local growing conditions....