Planting in a bag can make gardening simpler

Clydette Alsup Egbers is leading a research project aimed at putting the fun back into gardening.

By planting directly into plastic or paper bags containing potting soil, she says, gardening can be cheaper, quicker, more productive and a whole lot simpler.

“The average gardener doesn’t have a clue that they have another option, other than traditional methods,” said Alsup Egbers, an associate professor of horticulture at Missouri State University in Springfield. “Gardening in a bag is nothing more than placing the bag in the location you wish, planting into it and covering it with mulch. Ornamental borders are optional.”

She came up with the idea eight years ago after watching a neighborhood couple struggle while adding a flowerbed to their front yard.

“The young guy was actually swinging a pickax replica watches to break up and loosen the soil,” Alsup Egbers said. “I thought that was crazy that gardening shouldn’t be such hard work. By the end of the afternoon, when I observed them replica watches again, those two young people looked a lot less enthusiastic about gardening than when I first saw them.”

That led her to think about other gardeners, especially the elderly or infirm, who might be unable to handle the physical demands of soil preparation.

“Gardening should be enjoyable, not back breaking work,” she said.

Making it easier

Diane Relf, emeritus professor with Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said arthritis caused her to look for easier ways to do container gardening.

“I’m not so excited about doing things on the grand scale tha replica watches t I’ve done in the past just nurturing a few plants for personal satisfaction,” Relf said. “Gardening in a bag enables me to continue growing flowers and vegetables that I can share and enjoy.”

Some advantages of this no dig planting method:

Cost: relatively cheap. A 10 to 15 pound bag of, say, a Miracle Gro potting mix may retail for about $10; or about $14 for a 20 to 30 pound bag. “They have the right nutrients and moisture control features already included,” said Keri Butler, spokeswoman for the Scotts Miracle Gro Co., which makes eight blends.

Ease: Plop down a bag, slit drainage holes in the sides and bottom, cut a few more on top for your plants and you’ve created a raised bed. Finish by adding a layer of mulch and giving it all a good soaking. replica watches Soil disease problems often are fewer in raised beds, drainage usually is better and the soils warm more quickly than those in the ground, Alsup Egbers said.

Flexibility: The bags are light enough that they can be shifted around to follow the sun, or to add color and texture to the landscape. They also work well as hanging baskets for flowers, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and other small crops. Beware using native topsoil, however, which compacts easily and may not drain well. It also might be nutrient poor.

It’s plastic”Getting rid of the plastic afterwards, unless [you’re] using paper bags or planting into the same bags the following year,” Alsup Egbers said. “Plants may be smaller if grown in bags [rather] than in the ground. That’s not always a disadvantage, though, considering the small yards many people have.”

Other suggestions for bag gardeners:

Placed vertically, the bags can eliminate the need for stooping or bending. This also is an effective planting method things like tomatoes and potatoes.

Small bags turned into flowerbeds can make attractive centerpieces for inside the home. They also make convenient displays for apartment dwellers or people who want to scale back their gardening.

Planting Broccoli

If you want easy access to a healthy vegetable that most anyone will eat, planting broccoli in your garden is second to none. It is extremely nourishing and has versatile serving options. It is simple to produce and easily stored. Water and sun exposure requirements are also important along with controlling pests and diseases. Knowing when, where and how to plant broccoli is the first step in yielding a great harvest.

Broccoli grows well in cool climates, though it is sensitive to frost. Extremely hot weather is definitely its enemy. Early spring and late fall are the best seasons for growing broccoli, when it isn’t hotter than eighty degrees and not colder than sixty five degrees.

The soil for broccoli needs to fertile with plenty of organic matter added. It needs to be kept moist, but well drained. Using mulch helps to keep the soil moist and cool, setting the conditions for a prosperous crop. Fertilizing the soil about a week or two before planting is recommended.

It is best to plant broccoli in an area that gets full sunlight; however, it will grow if it has minimal shade. Crop rotation is necessary when you are growing broccoli or other members of the cabbage family, since you shouldn’t plant them in the same area year after year. In fact, planting in a spot that hasn’t grown members of the genus for four years is suggested.

As far as pest and disease control, you won’t have many problems with broccoli. Some pests, like aphids, slugs, cabbage worms and maggots, may cause some problems. They can be taken care of with beneficial garden insects or by spraying the plants with insecticide. Black rot, club root and leaf spot are diseases that are occasionally found in broccoli crops. Rotating your crops helps to prevent diseases. Club root can be taken care of through alternating the pH by applying lime, but with leaf spots, you should destroy the plant because the disease will spread.

When planting broccoli, it is best to plant transplants, although germinating them from replica watches seed is possible. If starting from seed, it takes about six weeks before they will be ready for transplanting. Before you plant your transplants, it is a good idea to use a liquid starter fertilizer on the transplants.

Transplants should be p replica watches lanted deep enough to cover their roots and about one to two feet apart. In sixty days (maybe longer), your broccoli wi replica watches ll be ready to harvest. The part that you pick is the flower head and it needs to be harvested before the flower buds open. This can be done using a mix of white vinegar and warm water (not hot). Don’t soak them for too long, about fifteen minutes will do the job.

You can keep fresh broccoli in the refrigerator for about two weeks. For longer storage, freezing is recommended. To freeze broccoli, you need to cut it up and blanch it in boiling water for about three minutes. replica watches After it’s boiled, put it in ice water for about three minutes, drain it and put it in zip lock freezer bags. Serving it may be a bit of a challenge if you’re spoiled to the pre cut, ready to serve varieties that are bagged in the grocery store. When you grow your own broccoli, you have to remove the leaves and the tough part of the stalk. You may prefer just to cut the buds off to serve them, but the stalks are edible too. You can both remove the buds and cut the stalks into pieces or you can cut them lengthwise to make broccoli spears. Broccoli spears are great steamed, and the cut up portion is excellent in casseroles and soups. Of course, fresh broccoli flowerets are wonderful served as appetizers or added to salads. For a nutritious vegetable, the diversity of serving broccoli makes it a winner to be grown in your garden.

Plantation woman bids for bins

So the high replica watches school American history and government teacher waited for more than an hour to talk to the City Council at a recent meeting.

Nagel asked that residents be allowed to use recycling bins instead of the clear plastic bags they now must purchase at supermarkets in the city.

Other cities use recycle bins, Nagel said, mentioning Sunrise, Cooper City and Davie. “We can have bins one for glass, one for plastic, or one big bin,” she said.

Nagel said Plantation has a low garbage collection fee. She suggested charging residen replica watches ts $2 or $3 more each month.

The base rate for residential users in the city is $6.25. Melaleuca Isles and Plantation Acres homeowners pay $25.73, and Hawks Landing residents pay $36.12. The higher fees are for Waste Management trash haulers to go to the side of a hous replica watches e and take garbage and recycling to the truck. All residents pay a $1 monthly recycling fee.

Denise Vincent, a neighbor who accompanied Nagel to City Hall, said she doesn’t buy the plastic recycling bags. Each week, she said she takes cans, bottles, Styrofoam, milk cartons and newspapers to the city’s drop off center at 750 NW 91st Ave.

Mayor Rae Carole Armstrong and the council was sympathetic to Nagel’s request, especially when the conversation shifted to prohibiting plastic bags of all types, including those used by most area supermarkets. replica watches

“We will look at it,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to ask some questions of Waste Management.”

The city’s contract with Waste Management includes recycle bags, she said.

Cost is an issue, Armstrong said. The city would have to pass the cost on to residents.

“The beauty of the system,” Armstrong said, “is that [with plastic bags], your streets are immediately cleared as soon as your garbage or recyclables are picked up.” Plastic bins, she said, are out until the evening when people come home from work and take them back to their houses.

“We have to put in the easiest system so people have an incentive to recycle,” Armstrong said. “The bags are not a deterrent to recycling.”

City Council President Rico Petrocelli said he thought Waste Management might charge residents upfront for the bins. Some people can’t afford them, he said. “It’s just about cost.”