Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

Children's Gardening

How to Grow Herbs

From seeds: Clean your containers and fill them two-thirds full with commercial potting soil. Soak the soil. Let it drain overnight, then level it. Sprinkle the seeds on top with water and cover them with fine sand or a sprinkle of soil. Cover the container with plastic, and put it in a warm, dark spot. Remove the plastic as soon as you see the first sprouts. When the leaves develop, place the seedlings near a window, but not in direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but never soggy.

From cuttings: If you are unable to plant the cuttings immediately, put them in water. When time permits, fill a pot with a drainage layer and then fill it about halfway with soil. Carefully spread out the roots and cover them gently with more soil, packing firmly. Soak the soil

How to Grow Citrus Fruit Plants (Grapefruit, Lemon, Orange, Kumquat)

These same directions will work for kiwi, squash or melon seeds, olive pits, litchi nuts, whole Jerusalem artichokes and unsulphured date pits.

Plant seeds as soon as you remove them from the fruit. DO NOT LET THEM DRY OUT. Plant about 1/2 inch down in soil. Water well, then cover with plastic and place in bright light in a warm (75-80 degree F spot).

In three to four weeks, the weed will germinate and glossy, fragrant plants will begin to develop. Leave plastic on until plants are a few inches high. Allow soil to dry somewhat between watering. Mist leaves occasionally, especially in hot, dry air. They thrive in cool, sunny spots. The plants should be repotted every year until they are in 8- to 10-inch diameter containers.

NOTE: If you are growing kumquats, keep the soil evenly moist.

How to Grow an Avocado Plant

Remove the pit covering from the avocado. This is a little difficult to do, but if you slip the tip of a paring knife under the thin side just right, it makes it a little easier. Use toothpicks to suspend the avocado pit, flat side down, over a glass. Add water until the base of the pit is immersed. Keep it in a warm, dimly lit spot. The pit will crack eventually, and a root will emerge, followed by a stem shooting upward.

To encourage branching, cut the stem halfway down when it's from 7 to 8 inches high, cutting directly above the spot where a tiny leaf is forming. The stem will branch at this spot. Put the plant in bright sunlight. As branches grow, periodically pinch off the growing tips to promote fullness.

Avocado plants can be started and grown in soil or water. Keep the soil evenly moist. Leaves will brown if the soil dries out.

How to Grow a Sweet Potato Plant

Use toothpicks to suspend the sweet potato over a clear glass of water with the tip down, having enough water in the glass to cover the bottom of the sweet potato. Keep it in a warm, sunny spot. Soon vines with morning-glory-shaped leaves will appear and climb anywhere you train them. Keep the water level constant (covering just the bottom of the tuber). Change the water occasionally and DO NOT plant in soil. When the individual slips put out four to five leaves, you can snap the new plants off the mother potato.

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