Category Archives: Home and Garden

Tips for Growing Tomatillos in Containers

Growing tomatillos in containers is surprisingly easy if you have sun, good potting soil, and an extra large pot. Tomatillos are not only tasty and make fabulous salsa, they are gorgeous and exotic looking. The flowers are a pretty yellow and when the tomatillo fruit first appears it looks like a tiny Chinese lantern – delicate and translucent. While tomatillos require similar care to tomatoes, they are much more forgiving.

They are fairly drought and heat tolerant and  are much less susceptible to blights and fungus.

I have grown both purple and green tomatillos and don’t see a huge difference, other than color. I generally grow Toma Verde.

 Tomatillos are big and sprawling plants. They also need lots of water. To have the best chances for success growing tomatillos, get the biggest container you can and fill it up with a good quality potting soil. You want to use a large pot, because the more potting soil you use the better the moisture retention will be, and the happier the plant. You can use almost any container that that is big enough to hold at least a cubic foot of soil, and has drainage holes or that you can create drainage in.

One of my favorite containers to use for growing container garden vegetables is a big Smart Pot.  A large reusable grocery bag, or any large conventional flower pot would work too. One of my favorite ways to grow tomatillos is in a grow box, as it is easier to keep the plants hydrated.

Tomatillos are easy to start from seed, but if you live in a colder climate it is recommended that you start your seeds indoors about 4 weeks before the last frost. That way the seedlings will be ready to harden off and then plant when the weather gets to be at least 50 °F at night.

If you buy seedlings plant them (after you have hardened them off), making sure to plant them so the crown of the plant (where the plant meets the soil and the roots start) is at at the same level as it was in the nursery pot.

Simple and Gorgeous Container Garden Ideas

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, I think it’s also thrift. I’ll admit it, I’m cheap, which is one of the reasons I’ve had to come up with so many non-traditional container gardening ideas. It helps that I love going to yard sales and thrift stores and finding baskets, tea cups, baby shoes and other odd things to turn into containers.

Though classic pots can be stunning, I also love up-cycling and coming up with new ways to plant.

When figuring out what to plant it, remember, that while almost anything can be transformed into a container for a garden, there are a few things to keep in mind.

You can find old baskets at thrift stores, yard sales and Dollar Stores for less than a dollar. I buy them even if they are falling apart a little bit. I can usually glue them back together, turn the problem to the back, or just ignore the imperfection and call it “distressed.”

To jazz up a basket, I will often spray paint it in a bright color.

After years of trial and error, I now line baskets with clear, lightweight plastic, either the kind you get at the dry cleaner, or a lightweight flexible bag.

I cut lots holes in the bottom for drainage. You can also line baskets with moss. Unless the basket has large holes so the moss would be seen, I generally use plastic, because it is less expensive and helps the soil to retain moisture. I often use moss as a top dressingfor a finished look.

Part of the reason I love container gardening is the possibility for instant gratification. One of the most satisfying ways to achieve a full and beautiful planter, is to cheat. Buy a lush and fully filled out hanging basket then cut or pull off the plastic hangers and then pop the whole thing – right in it’s nursery pot – into a container.

If it sits too low in the container, you can put a bucket, pot or plastic container, upside down in the bottom and put your flowering basket right on top.

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the right level, but you generally want it to sit about an inch below the rim of your pot.

Putting Spanish moss around the pot is a good way to hide it and make the container more interesting.

The Tools That You Need For Gardening

While you really don’t need many tools for container gardening, there are some things that come in really handy. They range from free (I use a lot of large yogurt containers to scoop soil) to pretty pricey, but I put together this list from things I’ve discovered that are worth the money.

There are tons of tools out there that are frankly ridiculous, unnecessary and even environmentally irresponsible.

About six years ago I bought a roll of plastic window screening to re-do some sliding screen doors. I used some of it for its intended purpose and then had yards left over. It has become one of my favorite tools for container gardening. The main thing I use it for is to cover large drainage holes in the bottom of pots. It works really well, letting the water out and keeping the soil in. I have also used it to line baskets, hanging planters  and containers where the holes in the sides are so big that they need to be covered.

The stuff lasts forever and a little goes a long way. Just make sure you buy plastic, not metal screening.

I have a fleet of little red wagons that I’ve collected from yard sales and a few that I even held on to since my kids were little. I use these for all kinds of hauling, including my annual plant drag, where I harden off seedlings and acclimate houseplants by dragging them in and out of my garage. You can buy them new, but I prefer those that have been shown love and are a bit worn and “distressed.”

That said, I do love a fancier version (a real garden cart) that I was given as a gift. It has big wheels that make it stable and easy to pull, however, the best part of it is that the sides fold down, making it easy to transport large containers and odd shaped items.

I’m not sure if this is the exact one I got (my friend delivered it already assembled–how awesome is that!), but it looks similar:

I am ridiculously fond of my Nutscene twine.  Being a totally distractible, and somewhat absent minded (my family is in hysterics at the modifier, ‘somewhat’), I find that any tool I can nail down is a good thing because it is then harder to lose (notice I didn’t say impossible because my powers to misplace are pretty formidable). I actually nail the can to the wall.

This twine is green, so it blends in, tough and long lasting.

I use it for almost everything you can think of–tying plants, fixing tools and containers–you name it.

Easy For Growing Container Gardens in the Shade Tips

unduhan-40First let’s agree that not all shade is the same. You can have no direct sun at all (think a closet), or you can have mixed sun and shade, dappled shade (think sun streaming through leaves, or you can have bright shade, which has light but no direct sun. Whatever your situation, you can grow beautiful container gardens. Here are some tips to help you get started.

One of the most important parts of successful shade container gardening is to accurately figure out how much sun your pot will get. While you may think a certain spot in your yard, or on your deck or patio is in shade, it pays to take a close look at what kind of shade or sun an area gets. There are several different kinds of shade and determining the exposure of an area can make the difference in whether your containers thrive.

To determine the light levels in a certain area, you can use a sunlight meter or calculatoror you can keep track, throughout the day, of how much light is hitting your spot. As the seasons change and even in the course of a growing season, as the sun moves across the sky, those light levels can change so keep an eye on sun exposure, over time.

This is perhaps the most important step in determining if your plants will thrive in your shady spot. You will want to choose plants that love shade and there are lots to choose from. There are great foliage plants as well as many flowering plants to choose. If you don’t know what you want when you go to buy plants, either ask a knowledgeable salesperson for suggestions, or make sure to read the plant tags.

Some nurseries will even have whole sections devoted to plants that thrive in shade. Also make sure your plants have the same water requirements if you are planning to combine them in a pot. That said, don’t be afraid of just using one type of plant in a container–some of the most beautiful pots have one plant.

Do You Know That Gardens make Great

It is amazing, given that my children have been going to school for over a decade, that I still forget teachers’ gifts until the very last minute. I have discovered though, that even at the very last minute you can put together a meaningful, beautiful and inexpensive teacher gift by making a container garden.

Kids love to help craft them, which makes the gift more meaningful to both teacher and student.

Also, if you want to get fancy, you can add a pair of gardening gloves, a small tool or watering can to the gift.

This is my favorite container garden of all. It is unique, inexpensive and everyone loves them. These succulents are also really hard to kill, even if you leave them out all year in a cold climate.

If you don’t live in an area where you can find free shells on the beach, you can buy them at craft stores and stores like Target.

You will need a drill to put drainage holes in the shell.  I find that hens and chicks work really well because they are tiny and easy to plant.

I save Clementine orange boxes all year. They are great for lots of things, but my favorite is to turn them into spring container gardens that are perfect for teacher gifts. I particularly like filling them with pansies and violas, but any small plants will work. If you can, make them a week before you give the gift so they can settle down and grow in a little. To make it super easy, you can even keep the plants in their pots and fill in around them with moss.

However, if you are like me, you will make them at the very last minute and that’s ok.

If you are looking for a great looking easy and inexpensive gift, make a garden in a reusable grocery bag. This bag is from Trader Joe’s and is a lager size, but for a smaller garden, I love lunch sized reusable grocery bags. I buy mine at Whole Foods and they cost less than a dollar. Plants love them and they make a great teacher gift. Make sure to use a bag that is plastic as the cloth bags won’t last a whole season before they completely fall apart.

Fill them with lettuce, herbs or flowering plants.

Repurposed Container Gardens Tips

In the last few years, the popularity of container gardening has soared, and for good reason. Containers are easy to maintain (almost no weeding!) and because you are controlling the quality of the soil, water and food for your plants, it is easier to create a great growing environment. Container gardening has become an art as well a hobby and by thinking outside the pot, you can have great fun, save money and create gardens that will attract attention and be custom made to fit your style and even your color scheme.

When choosing an unusual container, look for something that will weather well and last for at least your growing season and longer if you have a plant that you want to bring inside at the end of the season. Old wooden boxes are inexpensive and easy to find. Metal buckets, decorative tins and baskets also work well, and can even be enhanced by a patina of wear. Plastic reusable grocery bags are inexpensive and come in fun patterns and many sizes–they will only last for a season but plants seem to love them.

Start in your house. It may surprise you how many things you already own that can easily be made into great containers. On old colander, oatmeal tin or Clementine orange boxall make wonderful choices. Buckets, little red wagons, old kids toys or even a chipped soup bowl or a beat up basket all can be easily transformed into a pretty pot. Once you’ve checked your house, move on to yard sales and second hand stores.

Look at things with an eye for interest, durability and scale. Also, the kitchen departments of discount and Dollar stores can turn up some interesting and inexpensive finds.

Your container can be as big as a boat, or as small as a teacup, juice box or even a tiny mint tin, but the smaller the container, the less soil it will hold, which means that there is less water retention and nutrients available for your plants. This also means that there is less margin for error on the gardeners part—small containers can dry out completely very quickly. For some drought resistant and hard to kill plants–most succulents fit that description–that isn’t a problem, but for plants that need a consistent moisture level, a bigger pot may be a better choice.

The Secret for Growing Herbs in Pots

I think everyone should grow a pot of herbs. Even if you only have a tiny spec of outdoor space, if you have some sun, you can grow herbs. Most herbs grow well in containers and some (like mint and lemon balm) should be grown in pots because if you grow them in your garden they will try to take over the world. Also, many are pretty forgiving and even beginners can grow them with success. I grow herbs for cooking and decoration as well.

Almost any recipe is better if you put parsley in or on it (ok, perhaps not chocolate mousse, but you get my point). Parsley is exceedingly easy to grow. You can either buy seedlings, almost anywhere that sells plants or grow it from seed. I usually buy seedlings because the seeds can take weeks to germinate and are fussy about transplanting. If you do start parsley seeds, soak them overnight before planting.

Parsley comes in two types, Italian, also called flat parsley and curly parsley, which is the more common variety. Many people prefer flat parsley for cooking and curly parsley for garnishes. I’ve never been able to tell the difference in taste. Parsley prefers full sun, but can grow in partial shade. It’s very hardy and will make it through a frost. I’ve even found perfectly usable parsley under a a few inches of snow of snow. To harvest, just snip off at the base of a stem. As with most herbs, the more you harvest, the more you’ll get.

Parsley is biennial, which means that it can come back for two years, though some think the leaves are more bitter the second year.

Parsley is an herb that will thrive if you keep using it. To harvest, cut stalks on the outside of the plant, down near the soil.

Are You Think About Gardening Without Ground

For many people, hardscaped areas might be the only outdoor places available to create a garden. Rather than limiting, this lack of earth can open up a world of possibilities. Whether your area is a small terrace off the back kitchen, or a rooftop or balcony, there are a number of practical and design considerations to bear in mind when taking a barren hardscape from boring to beautiful.

One of the primary design considerations for any garden – especially a garden carved out of a barren, hardscaped area – is how you plan to use the space. Defining the purpose for the garden will drive design and plant choices.

  • Do you want to entertain friends or is the area to be a private refuge?
  • Would you like an edible garden from which to cook outdoors or inside
  • Do you simply want to block out the neighbors?
  • How important – or an impediment – is the view?
  • Are there obstructions that cannot be overlooked, such as an air conditioner or gutters?
  • What are the size limitations of the area?

You can delineate garden rooms in even the smallest of terraces or balconies. For example,

  • Freestanding vertically planted walls, fencing, or trellises can be used to separate one area from another
  • Obelisks, furniture, and rugs might divide garden areas
  • Tile or stone paths can send you in a new direction

Your responses to these questions will drive your design decisions. If you want the area to simply be a place to sit with coffee before work, you’ll want to focus on necessities – a chair, a table, and a few plants in containers to soften the hardscape. On the other hand, if your intention is to mimic a larger, on-the-ground ground garden, you’ll want to create different rooms, delineate movement


Once you have decided the purpose for the space, determine how you will get containers, plants, furniture, and ornaments to the area and the impact of weight, climate, and weather in the space. Ask yourself:

  • Do you need permission from the landlord or association if you live in a condominium or apartment?
  • Do you need a structural engineer to ensure the area can sustain the weight of heavy plants, vessels, and ornaments?
  • Is the area windy?
  • How does the light bounce off of walls and how will that affect plants?
  • Are there spaces in complete shade?
  • How will the snow or beating sun impact each of the items in the area?

The importance of understanding weight, weather, and climate conditions before designing a terrace, balcony, or rooftop garden cannot be overstated.

How to Grow a Lemon Trees at Home

unduhan-41Growing Meyer lemon trees in garden pots is hugely rewarding. Not only are they prolific fruit producers, the blossoms of Meyer lemon trees are incredibly fragrant and beautiful. The Meyer lemon fruit is also sweeter than the fruit of other lemons and even their thin skin is tasty and great for cooking.

Though Meyer lemon trees are naturally shrub-like, they can also be pruned into tree form. When planted in the ground, they can grow up to 8-10 feet tall and up to 12 feet wide.

When grown in garden pots, depending on the size of the pot, your plant will probably be smaller.

With their growing popularity, Meyer lemon trees are pretty easy to find in local nurseries or online.

What Meyer lemon trees like:

  • Full sun
  • Protection from the wind
  • High quality potting soil
  • A large pot with good drainage
  • Consistent watering – soil should be damp not wet
  • Regular feeding (except during the heart of winter) with either all-purpose or high nitrogen fertilizer
  • Temperatures between 50-80°F though they will survive down to 32°F

What Meyer lemon trees don’t like:

  • Wet feet (too much water will kill them)
  • Freezing temperatures
  • Not enough or too much fertilizer
  • Not enough light
  • Strong winds

All citrus trees love sun – the more the better. They are happiest in temperatures between 50-80 °F. That means, unless you live in USDA zones 9-11, you’ll want to bring your Meyer lemon tree inside when temperatures start regularly dipping below 50°F. In spring, if you live in a cold climate bring your tree outside when nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50. It’s a good idea to slowly acclimate any plant to outdoor conditions by hardening it off.

Once it is used to being outdoors, place it in a sunny area, protected from the wind.

Feeding: During the growing season, spring to fall, feed your citrus plant regularly with either a high nitrogen fertilizer or a slow release all-purpose fertilizer. Citrus trees also respond well to additional foliar feeding with a liquid fertilizer like compost tea or liquid kelp of fish emulsion.

Watering: Proper watering is one of the keys to growing any citrus plant, but particularly those grown in pots. The aim is to keep the soil moist but not wet. Stick your finger into the soil, at least up to the second knuckle. If you feel dampness at your fingertip, wait to water. If it feels dry, water your plant until you see it run out of the bottom of the pot. If your plant is indoors, particularly in winter when the heat is on, misting the leaves with water can help keep your lemon tree happy. It’s also a good idea to use pot feet , so your citrus tree doesn’t sit in water.

Harvesting: If you keep your lemon tree indoors for the winter, your fruit can take up to a year to ripen.

Because citrus fruit will only continue to ripen while it is still on the tree, make sure to wait until it’s ripe before picking. Meyer lemons, when ripe will be an egg yolk-y yellow and will be slightly soft to the touch. Use a knife or scissor to cut off the fruit so you don’t risk damaging the plant by pulling off a larger piece than intended.

How to Get Beautiful Herbs With Easy Way

There are many herbs that are as beautiful as they are tasty, which makes them perfect for growing containers, either on their own or in a mixed pot. Herbs are generally easy to grow and many are drought resistant and thrive on neglect, which are also good characteristics for container plants. You can use herbs in hanging baskets as well as traditional containers and don’t hesitate to experiment growing them with other plants.

Another great thing about herbs is that generally, the more you pick, the fuller and better the plant will look. That said, you want to be careful not to pick so much that you leave a giant hole in your container.

Many herbs also have beautiful flowers and some are edible and delicious. However, some herbs, like basil, once they flower become bitter.

Oregano is one of my favorite herbs for containers. It is incredibly forgiving, scoffs at drought and likes poor soil so doesn’t need much fertilizer. It is a low growing plant with small leaves and will drape over the sides of containers, so can be used as a “spiller,”though it won’t spread too much.

Of all the oregano varieties, golden oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) is my favorite because it can add a bright spot to any container.

Oregano loves lots of sun and is a perennial in zones 5-8. To keep plant thriving, don’t over water and keep pruning back. Oregano needs good drainage.

If plant starts getting leggy, cut back and wait a few weeks for recovery. You can propagate oregano by rooting it in water.