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June 06, 2023

Gardening With Coffee

Using coffee grounds in the vegetable garden ensures a slow supply of nitrogen and lowers the pH, thereby contributing to the growth of healthy and robust plants.

Till coffee grounds to a depth of 6-8 inches in the soil for eliminating garden parasites, fungi, and pathogenic worms. Leafy greens and root crops respond favorably to this measure, especially when you mix coffee grounds with soil at the time of planting.


Carve out a Protective Circle



 Fertilize Rose Bushes with Coffee Beans


What makes coffee a great addition is the fact it has high nitrogen content, can change the pH (though slightly) to boost flowering, aerates the soil, and improves soil texture.

Use coffee and tea on roses to boost their growth and flowers!



Mixing carrot seeds with fresh coffee grounds adds extra bulk and makes the small seeds easier to sow. As a bonus, the strong coffee aroma repels root maggots and other insects during the early stages of growth.

The grounds also add nutrients to the soil as they decompose.


Coffee grounds mulching is becoming popular because of the claims that it deters pests away, prevents weeds, and aerate the soil.

As coffee grounds are fine in texture, their use as mulch works best only in combination with coarse organic mulches. If used alone, in a thick layer, coffee grounds can dry and compact the soil and keep moisture out, not in.

Pro Tip: To use them for mulching, always put a thin, half-inch layer of coffee grounds with a layer of coarsely textured organic materials.


Prevent Fungal Diseases


The anti-fungal and acidic properties of coffee make it an ideal supplement to ward off pathogenic fungi and stave off the onset of debilitating plant diseases such as coffee rust.

As they decompose, coffee grounds carry their own complement of fungal and mold colonies that outcompete external fungi from colonizing and causing disease.

The natural mold and fungus on the coffee ground can suppress pathogenic fungi, including fusarium, Pythium, and Sclerotinia species.

So if you have a handful of coffee grounds to spare, throw them on eggplants, peppers, or tomatoes as these plants are prone to various wilts and fungal rots.


Use Coffee Grounds in Vermicomposting


Planting Calendar for White Rock

Click here and save this handy guide for planint schedule for next year)

May 25, 2023

Pinching Out Tomatoes – Why & How To

When growing tomatoes, there is one thing that pops up often and can confuse new growers – pinching out. What is it? Why should you do it? And how do you do it?

Let’s take a look and find out.

What is pinching out?

Pinching out is all about removing the side shoots]Pinching out is all about removing the side shoots]

Pinching out Tomatoes is all about removing the side shoots or “suckers” as your plant grows.

These shoots appear on the main stem above the leaves.

This is something that is only done on vining tomatoes. If you are growing bush tomatoes, then you don’t need to pinch out side shoots.

Why pinch out?

The sideshoots can quickly get largeThe side shoots can quickly get large

If you allow the side shoots to develop, they quickly turn into large branches rivaling the main stem in size.

While this may sound like a good thing at first, you will quickly learn that a tomato plant left to its own devices like this will develop a lot of foliage but not as much fruit.

So pruning the side shoots out and growing the plant as one or two leaders (leaders just means main stem or stems) actually increases the number of tomatoes you get per plant.

How to

Remove these suckers that appear above a leaf node on the main stemRemove these suckers that appear above a leaf node on the main stem

Actually, doing the pinching out is simple. Look for these growths and remove them as soon as they appear.

They are easy enough to remove by hand, especially small ones, like in the photo above. Just grab the sucker and snip it off between your thumb and finger.

If they have gotten a little larger, then use some secateurs or snips.

Topping tomatoes

Topping is where you cut off the main growing stemTopping is where you cut off the main growing stem

Topping is another tomato maintenance job, similar to pinching out but slightly different.

When you top a tomato plant, you remove the main growing stem of the plant. After this has been done, the plant will no longer grow vertically.

You do this at the end of the season as it helps speed up the ripening of the tomatoes on the plant.

It is not something I do, to be honest with you. I don’t do it because I let the plant grow and develop as many tomatoes as possible.

This does mean I end up with a lot of green tomatoes at the end of the year. But I either try and ripen them in the sun or turn them into green chutneys!



May 17, 2023

Green Thumb Gardening Tricks to Help your Garden Thrive

If you enjoy gardening, you’ve probably experienced the joy of harvesting your first crop or blossom. But you’re also aware of how difficult it can be to grow plants. While trying to get your very first bumper crop, you’ll have to battle everything from pests to weather conditions to acidic soil as a gardener.

It can also be a bit of a costly venture. Tools, pots, seeds, fertilizer, weeding supplies, and structural supports are all must-buys for gardeners. All of that costs money, even if it pays off in the long run. However, that’s where gardening hacks come into play. These tricks can help you care for your plants in a more economically or environmentally friendly manner.

So, where do you begin? With these 40 gardening secrets that every gardener should know!

Milk Jars Can be Designed into Watering Cans

You can puncture the top of a milk jar to create a watering can if you choose not to spend money on a factory-made watering can.

It’s perfect for watering your plants in a more environmentally friendly manner.


Make holes in the lid to use as a watering can on the fly!

For example, heat a needle and poke holes in the cover of an old plastic milk jug to allow water to flow through it to create a new design.

Toilet Paper Rolls as Biodegradable Planters

It is unnecessary to use plastic planters when you can utilize a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Everyone has a couple of rolls of toilet paper on hand at any one time.

Preserve these items for your garden instead of throwing them away.

Using a knife, cut the toilet paper roll in two.

Make four cuts 1/3 of the way up the roll.

Fold the bottom cut section in half as if closing a box.

Prepare your seeds by filling your fresh, new seed pots with dirt.

Trash Bins Make Excellent Water Barrels

You might believe that making a rain barrel is too tricky.

You can, however, create one yourself by attaching an ordinary trash can to your gutter.

You can find simple guides to assist you with this endeavor on the internet.

Rain barrels can be made out of trash cans, basic PVC pipes, and electrical connections.

Stack up as many contraptions as you’d like in order to fulfill your water barrel needs.

Then, place the drum near a downspout, drill a hole towards the bottom of the side, and screw in a drain valve.

You Can Use PVC pipes to Fertilize Dense Plants

Watering dense plants might be complex.


Because they have well-protected root systems that are tough to access.

PVC pipe may be useful for helping to direct water to the roots.

Source: The Family Handyman

Use a common PVC pipe. Pour the fertilizer into the pipe by sliding one end down to the plant’s base. To make a larger opening to pour in the fertilizer, cut the top of the tube at a 45-degree angle.

Mulching is Made More Accessible by Using a Small Container

Mulching is a tedious and time-consuming gardening activity, but it can be simple. Before you begin, transfer the mulch into a smaller container. It may appear to be a minor change, but operating from a bucket rather than a large bag can significantly differ.


It’s easier to get mulch up close to flowers and bushes if it’s in a tiny container.

Fill your wheelbarrow with mulch by placing buckets and pails in it, and that should do the trick.



May 10, 2023

Perennial Fruits and Berries



Raspberries are a popular perennial fruit that can be harvested for years. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun, although they can tolerate some shade. 

There are two main types of raspberries: summer-bearing and fall-bearing. Summer-bearing raspberries produce fruit on second-year canes, while fall-bearing raspberries produce fruit on first-year canes. 

Proper pruning and support, such as using a trellis, are essential for successful raspberry plants.


Blueberries are another perennial fruit that can be enjoyed for years. They require acidic soil and plenty of sunlight to thrive. 

Various cultivars are available, including highbush, lowbush, and half-high blueberries. Highbush blueberries are the most common type grown for their large, flavorful berries. 

Fertilizing and mulching with materials like sawdust or pine needles can help maintain blueberries’ ideal acidic soil conditions.



Blackberries are a hardy perennial fruit that can grow in various climates and soil types. They prefer well-drained soil and full sun. 

There are three primary Blackberry types: erect, semi-erect, and trailing. Erect blackberries are the most common, producing fruit on second-year canes. 

Pruning blackberry plants annually and providing support will encourage a more substantial harvest.



Strawberries are a delightful perennial fruit that can be easily grown in gardens and containers. There are two primary types: June-bearing and overbearing. 

June-bearing strawberries produce one large crop in late spring or early summer, while everbearing strawberries produce multiple smaller crops throughout the season. 

Strawberries grow best in well-drained soil and full sun, and using organic mulch like straw can help keep fruit clean and retain soil moisture.



Grapes are a popular perennial fruit that can be used for fresh eating or winemaking. Grapevines require a site with well-draining soil and full sun exposure. 

Proper pruning and training on a trellis or arbor are essential for grapevine success. Many grape varieties are available, ranging from table grapes to wine grapes, which are well-suited for different climates and taste preferences.



Gooseberries are a less common but equally versatile perennial fruit. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade. 

Gooseberries are low-maintenance and can be harvested for years. They can be eaten fresh or used in jams, pies, and other recipes. 

Proper pruning and thinning of the gooseberry bush will encourage more significant fruit production and air circulation, reducing disease risk.


Lesser-Known Perennial Vegetables


Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) is a tuberous vegetable native to South America. It is known for its unique, tangy flavor and can be eaten raw, boiled, or roasted. 

Oca is rich in carbohydrates, vitamin C, and phosphorus, making it a nutritious addition to any meal. They thrive in cooler climates and should be planted in a sunny, protected spot. 

The tubers can be harvested from late autumn through winter, allowing for a reliable food source throughout the colder months.



Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is another tuber originating from South America. Its sweet, crunchy tubers are often compared to apples in texture and flavor. 

Rich in antioxidants and prebiotic fiber, yacon is delicious and offers health benefits. The plant requires a warm climate and well-draining soil to grow. 

Yacon tubers can be harvested in late autumn or early winter, providing a sweet treat for the festive season.



Skirret (Sium sisarum) is a root vegetable that was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. With a taste similar to parsnips, skirret can be prepared in various ways, including roasting, frying, or adding it to soups and stews. 

The plant is relatively easy to grow in various climates and soil conditions. Skirret can be harvested in the autumn and winter months, providing a reliable supply of root vegetables during colder seasons.


Caucasian Spinach

Caucasian Spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides) is a less-common perennial leafy green vegetable native to the Caucasus region of Europe and Asia. It is a climbing plant, high in vitamins and minerals, and has a similar taste to spinach but a slightly more acidic flavor. 

Caucasian Spinach can grow in both sunny and shaded areas, making it a versatile option for different garden layouts. Harvesting can be done throughout the growing season, typically from spring to late summer, depending on the climate.


Incorporating Edible Perennials into Your Landscape

Edible perennial gardening offers a versatile and practical approach to enhancing your landscape with functional, decorative plants. By incorporating perennial vegetables, you can enjoy the benefits of consistent harvests, reduced effort, and aesthetically pleasing greenery in your garden.

To create a diverse edible landscape, consider mixing various types of perennial vegetables with ornamental plants. Some great choices include:

  • Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)

  • Berry shrubs or hedges (examples: raspberries and blackberries)

  • Small fruit trees or fruit-bearing vines

Integrating these plant types allows you to optimize your landscape for functionality while preserving its visual appeal. 

Also, expanding the edges of an already-established garden is worthwhile by adding a border of perennials. This strategy allows for a seamless transition between your conventional ornamentals and edible plants.

Edible perennial gardening doesn’t have to be limited to merely large spaces. Small gardens can also benefit from integrating edible plants with ornamental ones. 

Planting vegetables in containers or utilizing vertical gardening techniques can enable you to maximize space while enjoying the advantages of edible perennials. Some tips for such spaces include:

  • Plant berry shrubs in containers or as hedges

  • Grow small fruit trees in large pots or other suitable containers

  • Utilize trellises or fences to support fruit-bearing vines or climbers

May 03, 2023

Wine Bottle Plant Waterer

Materials Needed: Wine bottle, water 
Cost to Make: $5* 

Even novice gardeners know that keeping plants watered is the key to keeping them alive, but it’s not always as easy as it looks. For a start, what happens when you go on vacation and can’t get someone to water the garden for you? 

As it turns out, all you need is a few empty wine bottles. If you’ve got them lying around the house, then this hack will cost you nothing, but you can pick up a bottle for under $5 at stores like Walmart. All you have to do is fill it up with water and stick it into the planter. The water slowly seeps out, keeping the compost moist. 


Baking Soda for Sweet Tomatoes

Growing vegetables can be a sure-fire way to live a more sustainable and independent life, but no one ever said it was simple. Some crops never come to anything, while others end up tasting bitter and inedible. However, if you’re trying to grow tomatoes, there’s an age-old trick that could help. 

You can pick up a bag of Kroger’s own baking soda for just 65 cents. According to experts, sprinkling it over the soil around the tomatoes makes for a bigger, sweeter yield when the fruit starts to grow!


Glow-in-the-Dark Planters

Materials Needed: Planters, glow-in-the-dark paint
Cost to Make: $12* 

When summer comes around, lighting in the garden can be a nice way to add ambiance, but getting creative can often mean spending an awful lot of money. In reality, the solution to a chic outdoor space might actually lie in a coat or two of paint. 

If you’ve already got the planters, then all you need to do is shell out around $12 for some glow-in-the-dark paint from somewhere like Amazon. Simply coat the planters in the paint and watch your garden come to life at night! Even if you need to spend $15 on buying pots, it’s still a bargain. 


Old Spoons Signs

Materials Needed: Metal spoons, paint, hammer 
Cost to Make: $5*

If you’re lucky enough to have a herb garden, then identifying the different plants might be easy – but if you’re new to the herb game, it can be a challenge, especially when the seeds are just starting to grow. Signs solve this problem, but the standard ones can be quite boring. 

If you feel like flexing your creative muscles you can buy some all-surface paint on eBay. Use a hammer to flatten the spoons out, decorate them as you wish, and there you have it – fun, colorful signs that will put an end to herb-induced confusion.   


Purse Planter

Materials Needed: An old purse, waterproof lining, plants 
Cost to Make: $15-$25*

There are many different ways to brighten up a garden, but if you go to a major retailer you’ll find garden ornaments can be pricey. The more elaborate they are, the higher the spend, but that doesn’t have to be the case. 

If you’ve got an old purse lying around, you can line it with waterproof lining and use it as a very fancy, very unique planter. You might want to varnish it to make sure it withstands the weather, but this creative idea will still cost you less than buying something new from Home Depot


Old Cans for Drainage

Materials Needed: Old cans
Cost to Make: $0* 

Almost every single household consumes some type of canned drink at least a few times a month. Instead of sticking them in the recycling when you’re done, you might want to think about saving them. They could actually be a very valuable – and totally free – gardening resource. 

Placing a few old Coke cans at the bottom of a planter before you fill it up with compost acts as a drainage aid, making sure your plants don’t wither and die before they’ve even got off the ground. After all, the aim is for things to live!



Tuesday April 25, 2023

How To Test Seeds Will Germinate Before Sowing!

If you’re planning to grow plants from older seeds, testing them before sowing to ensure that they will germinate is essential. This can save you time and effort in the long run and give you a better chance of seed-sowing success.

To test seeds for germination, you’ll only need a few supplies: a paper towel, a plastic bag or container, and some water.

Testing Seeds

What Is The Test?


Test your seeds on a paper towel.

Testing seeds for viability is a simple process that requires providing the seeds with the best possible conditions for germination. The goal is to determine whether the seeds are viable by encouraging them to germinate quickly.

Wet the paper towel and place it in the plastic container, then add the seeds to the towel. Close the lid of the container to create a warm, humid environment that will encourage germination.

For even better results, you can use a heated seed mat and grow lights to create optimal conditions for germination. Place the plastic container on the seed mat and position the grow lights above it to give the seeds the warmth and light they need to sprout.

By providing seeds with the best possible conditions for germination, you can quickly determine whether they are still viable. This can save you time and effort by only planting seeds that have a good chance of growing into healthy plants.


What To Expect

Seeds germinating

The germination speed of different seeds varies, so there is no definitive rule for how quickly your seeds should appear. However, by providing the seeds with optimal conditions for germination, you can encourage them to sprout as soon as possible.

Typically, you can expect some action within a week of planting the seeds in ideal conditions. Within two weeks, you should have a good idea of whether the seeds will germinate or not.

Some seeds may sprout much more quickly than this, with germination occurring within a couple of days. This is a good sign that the seeds are healthy and viable.

It’s also essential to observe the germination rate of the seeds. If the rate is poor, it may be a sign that the seeds are past their prime and should be used within the current growing season to ensure the best chance of success. By monitoring the germination rate of your seeds, you can make informed decisions about when and how to plant them for optimal results.


How To Promote Better Germination

Sweet Pepper Seeds In My Milk Bottle Propagator

Numerous tips and tricks are available to improve seed germination, but not all are effective. In my experience, many of these suggestions don’t seem to make much difference.

For instance, soaking seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing is a commonly recommended technique, but I have never observed any significant improvement in germination rates as a result.

Instead, I have found that using a heated seed mat in combination with a lid or propagator can be very helpful. This creates a warm, humid environment that encourages germination and helps seeds to sprout more quickly.

I have had great success with a DIY milk bottle propagator, as shown above, but a professional propagator can be even more effective.



Discover what seeds suit your space - take our matchmaking quiz to find out.

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