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How to grow Cosmos flowers?

If you are looking out for a flower that will stay in bloom for many months and can be simply grown by scattering seeds, then the cosmos are a perfect choice. Cosmos flower is in vibrant colors red, yellow, orange, white and pink. These plants have a height of about 6 feet and they have ferny foliage of  very delicate texture. These flowers are ideal as decorations, used as cut flowers in arrangements and perfect for attracting the butterfly, hummingbirds and enticing beneficial insects in the garden. Cosmos is native to Mexico.

 

Common name: Garden Cosmos, Garden cosmos

Botanical nameCosmos bipinnatus.

Varieties:

  • Bright Lights: Orange, gold, and yellow mix with some semi-double flowers.
  • Chocolate: Rich maroon color; available as plant starts only as seeds don’t come true to parent plant.
  • Daydream: Pale blush with a crimson eye.
  • Double Click: The fluffiest of the doubles, available in white, pink, and cherry shades.
  • Seashells: Fluted petals make it an unusual addition to the vase.
  • Sonata: Early to bloom and heavy flowering in pink, white, or scarlet.

Use in Landscape:

  • Cosmos are an ideal addition to flower beds, borders, and containers.
  • Shorter varieties of cosmos are perfect  to make the edging.
  • Cosmos flower attracts many butterflies including monarch, painted ladies add these beauties to the butterfly garden.
  • Use cosmos plants as backdrops in mixed flower borders.

Flowering season: They bloom starting from early summer until frost.

Growing Tips for Cosmos

Soil: Soil pH 6.0 to 6.8. is the best for these plants. However, owing to their ability to  sustain in adverse conditions as well, they can grow easily in poor soil too. Adding some organic matter to the soil will help them get the well-draining soil that they prefer.

Sunlight: For the best flowering, plant Cosmos in full sun. In very hot locations, consider planting Cosmos in areas where they receive some afternoon shade.

Water: Regularly, whenever topsoil turns dry. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. To avoid rot and fungal diseases due to over-watering.

Sowing season: Spring.

Sowing methods: You can sow them outdoors, however, in colder climates it’s best that they grow indoors. Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 2.5 cm and so at a depth of around 0.64 cm. Soil temperature should be kept higher than 20oC to ensure good germination.

Harvest:

  • Harvest flowers at any time after the plant’s bloom, but when it should be fully bloomed flowers.
  • Put cut flowers in deep water immediately to prevent wilting.

Care:

  • When  Cosmos finishes flowering, deadhead the plants by cutting off all of the dead flower blossoms. Deadheading will encourage the plant to produce more flowers and help the plant to fill out properly.
  • Pinch off any extra stems or shoots growing up from the base of plants. This will also encourage stronger more vigorous growth
  • Cosmos plants may require staking especially in exposed locations to keep them from falling over. Staking Cosmos provides some protection from strong winds.
  • Water these regularly, but make sure you don’t over-water the plants. Over-watering and over-fertilization can lead to plants with fewer flowers. Cosmos beds may become weedy due to the fact that they self-seed, so remember to check them.

Pests and Disease:

  • Two of the most common fungal diseases of plants, Fusarium wilt and powdery mildew, can also plague cosmos plants.
    Fusarium wilt not only causes the plant to wilt but discolors the stems and foliage. The whole plant, unfortunately, is going to die and should be destroyed to avoid spreading the fungus.
  • Powdery mildew spores float on the breeze and will attach to any host plant in shade. The fungus forms a powdery white coating over leaves, which will eventually cause foliage to yellow and drop off if left untreated. Plants with good ventilation, in bright light and that are watered in the day so foliage can dry are not as susceptible to fungal diseases of cosmos Aphids, including aster root aphids, spirea aphids and melon aphids, thrips and plant bugs are some common pests may infest cosmos plants. Aphids can spread fungi and viruses, thrips can scar leaves and flowers, and plant bugs suck juices from leaves, leaving them with a stippled appearance. Beneficial insects and other predators that are attracted to cosmos may be sufficient to control insect pests. Otherwise, use neem oil, insecticidal soap or petroleum-based insecticides to control these pests.

 Planting Cosmos flowers in the garden will add bright colorful and tall flowering background material in the annual border, they attract birds, bee, butterflies and beneficial insects to garden with low to no maintenance.

This makes Cosmos a colorful winner in any garden.

Happy gardening

 

 

 

tejas.rane7@gmail.com'

Colorful annuals that you can grow in winter season!

Winter season is always the best time to grow beautiful flowers in your garden. If you are planning to grow some beautiful blooms in your garden then the right time to sow seeds in October- November. Some seeds grow in colder times that is in December and January.

In India,  you will find different seasons and diversity. Winter season make our surrounding colorful and this is all because of the beautiful flowers. These blooms always spread happiness around us. For healthy growth and  flowering, proper amount of sunlight, water and care are very important. 

Site, Soil and watering :

Selects the site according to your landscape which receives a good amount of sunlight for colorful annuals. Watering needs to be done carefully. Smaller plants are more susceptible to over or under-watering. Use good soil which contains a good amount of organic compost like vermicompost which is rich in nutrients.

Winter flowering annuals :

Petunia, cockscomb, zinnia, calendula, chrysanthemum, cineraria, and marigold are some best colorful annuals  that we can grow in the Indian climate during the winter season. Flower plants need soil up to 5 inches deep. So, dig a hole in the soil and bury the seed about 2 inches deep. After 6 weeks, you will see the seeds sprout into saplings. 

Tips for growing winter annuals:

  1. Plants annuals in a sunny area and close to each other.
  2. Don’t overwater and keep the soil moist.
  3. This bright colorful annuals suitable to make ornamental edging, container gardening and for hanging baskets
  4. Use these colorful flowering pots for instant display.
  5. This bright color annual helps to attract butterflies, honey bees in your landscape.

Petunia

One of the most popular annual flowering plants, they are quick-growing and known for their beautiful blooms pink, purple, violet, red, white. Winter is the perfect season to grow petunias in the garden. Petunia seeds can be sown when the temperature is cool. Petunias are perfect for hanging basket and container gardening. The seeds are very small, so one needs to take extra care while sowing. Sprinkle seeds on well-drained soil and gently push them down. Light sandy soil is ideal. Do not cover them with soil, as they need light to germinate. 

Petunia

Cockscomb or celosia

Cockscomb known for its unique flowers, it produces feathery flower spikes in a pyramidal fashion resembling ostrich-plums in various colors, deep rust red is the most common color, although purple, yellow and pink varieties have gained popularity in recent years. It is best to grow cockscomb plants in large groups. Germination time is five days to two weeks. Celosia prefers full sunlight and can tolerate little shade. Maintain  moist soil with regular watering.          

Celosia

Cineraria

The Cineraria plant, the term cineraria means “ash gray,” so it’s not surprising to be called the ashplant. These plants are not suited for growing in hot, dry climates. Cineraria should be grown in partial to full shade and planted in slightly acidic, rich, well-drained soil with high compost content. Water them regularly to keep the soil evenly moist.

Cineraria

 

Zinnia

Zinnias are one of the easiest flowers to grow, as they grow quickly and bloom heavily. Zinnia flowers can create a massive burst of color in the garden. Grow zinnias in a spot with full sun for most prolific blooms. Zinnias are very drought tolerant and don’t usually need any supplemental watering. If your soil is poor, you can add some compost to give the plants a boost, but they will grow in even bad soil. Zinnia is one of the first flowers to bloom in the space. 

Zinnia

 

Marigold

No annual is more cheerful or easier to grow than the marigold. Marigolds are a very versatile flower. They enjoy full sun and hot days and grows well in dry or moist soil. This hardiness is one of the reasons that they are often used as bedding plants and container plants. Plant the marigolds in a prepared garden site that has been tilled to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches and amended with a layer of compost or other organic matter. Space the plants about 8 to 10 inches apart. Increase the spacing by 2 inches if you grow a large variety.

 

Marigold

Dianthus

Dianthus flowers (Dianthus spp.) are also called “pinks.” Plants are small and usually between 6 and 18 inches tall. Dianthus flowers are most often in pink, salmon, red and white hues. The foliage is slender and sparsely spread on thick stems. Dianthus plants grow easily from seeds sown indoors in trays or sown directly outdoors. For dianthus plants choose a location in full sun with loose, well-drained soil. The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure)  encourages plant growth and blooms. Water them only at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and prevent mildew spotting.

 

Dianthus

Grow these colorful annuals to your garden, which adds color contrast wherever you need them!  

Which winter annual will you choose? We love to hear from our garden lovers. Do tell us in the comment section below.

 Happy gardening

 

Common Gardening Mistakes !!!

Remember the first time when you decided to a cook a dish? only to realise later that the water quantity was not adequate or you confused salt with sugar! You made these mistakes because you were a novice and every new journey is marked by an initial failure that teaches you to not repeat those mistakes again.

Similarly, those of you who have just started gardening, are bound to make some mistakes. You must have realised that maintaining a garden is not a simple activity but something that demands you to be observant and attentive to the growing needs of your plant.

This article will take you through many gardening faux pas you can avoid and will train you to become a meticulous gardener.

Here are a few tips that will guide you on how to avoid common gardening mistakes.

THERE SHOULD BE ENOUGH SPACE BETWEEN SEEDS & PLANTS.

  • The number of seeds should be bought based on the space you have for planting these in your garden. What’s the use of buying surplus seeds if space is a constraint? It’s not just about the measurements of the garden but the spacing between the seeds too, so when your plants grow they should not look like they are competing for space! Always start with your gardening adventure in a small plot to gain experience. Overcrowding will also result in insufficient air circulation and hinder the full potential of the plants. As they say, small and steady steps lead to success.

SEEDS BOUGHT SHOULD ADAPT TO SOIL

  • For beginners who are sprightly and always passionate, the dream is to have a grand garden. In an attempt to turn their vision into a reality they tend to purchase plant seeds that are not only way too many but may also be completely hostile to the soil in your garden. Hence, instead of going on berserk with you choices, first carefully assess the soil type and choose the plants carefully. Planting exotic varieties that won’t grow in your weather would just result in the seed failing.

DON’T PUT EVERYTHING TOGETHER

  • Don’t overdo. Flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, shrubs whatever caught your fancy in the garden shop you purchased it without much pondering. To make matter worse you have planted them all together. This will not just augment your workload of providing individual attention to each of them but spoil the aesthetics too.

PREPARING THE SOIL RIGHT

  • The soil is the base for your plants to grow and without a healthy soil the plants will starve for nutrition. Prepare the soil before planting the seeds. The soil should be a good mix of coco peat/ peat moss, garden soil and compost/ manure. The soil should be airy and should offer good drainage.

SUNLIGHT SHOULD BE JUST RIGHT

  • Some plants will always require more sunlight than the others. This poses the issue of positioning your seeds in the correct space of the garden where there won’t be a paucity of generous sunlight.

sunlight on plants

DEPTH OF PLANTING SEEDS

  • Planting seeds too deep or shallow is something that you should take care of.  Seeds which are large in size, demand greater space than the ones with smaller size. If large seeds are planted too shallow, then they will dry out at a quicker pace. On the other hand, small seeds planted at a greater depth will fail to sprout.

DON’T OVER WATER OR UNDERWATER

Watering the plants

  • Let your enthusiasm not come in the way of deciding the water quantity for plants. Over watering or under watering both will stall the growth of plants. Moreover, do save water in your garden. The idea of gardening is to strike a harmony with nature.

SAY NO TO WEEDS 

  • Get rid of the weeds when they are at a nascent stage. Allowing the weeds to grow will cripple the growth of the plant as the weeds consume all the essential nutrients.

GO ORGANIC

  • Adopt organic mulching with the likes of straw, dry leaves or grass clipping. This keeps a check on weeds that are about to develop and also retains the soil moisture. The root area remains cool with this and also receives a steady diet of nutrients while the mulch meets its decaying end. Avoid using grass hay as it in itself initiates weed growth.

KEEP YOUR GARDEN BUG-FREE

  • Garden pests and critters that eat at your hard-earned vegetables and flowers can frustrate even the most patient of gardeners.Practicing proper pest control is one of the leading ways to keep your garden both disease and pest free. When you find harmful insects in your garden, the best way to deter them is to invite good insects into it. These beneficial insects will eat the harmful insects.
  • Consider attracting bugs such as:
    • Ladybugs
    • Praying mantis
    • Lacewings
    • Honeybee
    • Dragonflies etc.

Well then, what do you think? Have you made some of these mistakes while gardening?

Feel free to share your experiences for us all to learn from!

Hope this gave you a new approach for your gardening. A good way to avoid mistakes while gardening is to consult a seasoned gardener and the best way is to keep yourself updated through GreenMyLife blogs 🙂

Happy error-free gardening folks!

Happy-gardening

 

tejas.rane7@gmail.com'

Grow Your Own Pumpkins !

A mix of vibrant pumpkin varieties is a valuable staple in your kitchen garden!

Pumpkin is one of the easiest garden vegetables to grow. If you have space in your garden for them, they are a relatively maintenance free. Pumpkin vines grow best in a location with lots of sunlight and good air circulation.

Did you know Pumpkins are also famous during Halloween? 

Modern Halloween comes from the Irish festival Samhain. Tradition dictated huge bonfires built in fields, and it was believed that fairy spirits lurked in the shadows. To distract these spirits from settling into houses and farms, people would carve rudimentary faces into large turnips, and set candles inside. 

As pumpkin carving grew into a multi-million dollar industry, American farmers began to examine the specific types of pumpkins they grew, and breed new lines of squash specifically for carving. Massachusetts farmer John Howden developed the Howden pumpkin in the 1960s, and it is still the most popular carving pumpkin in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Pumpkin? 

In Hindi Pumpkin is called as Kadoo. Pumpkins come in unique shapes, sizes and hues and have diverse flavors. They are a rich source of Vitamin A, potassium and fibre. 

Where to grow Pumpkins?

Ideally grown on the edge of a garden bed where it receives adequate sunlight. As with most plants, they thrive in loose, well-drained soil and under direct sunlight which allows the fruit to ripen evenly. 

Add neem cake or neem solution to the soil a week before planting. Mix organic matter, wood ash and well-rotted manure into the soil.

The mound should be about 8-12 inches high and around 2 feet circumference at the base. This can also be done on a long raised ridge with the same proportions. Though they are considered monsoon crops, pumpkins can be grown throughout the year — successive planting will provide a steady supply of fruits.

How to sow Pumpkin seeds?

Soak the seeds in warm water for a day to promote germination. The seeds can be started in a nursery and shifted later, but for best results sow directly in prepared beds. If they are to be planted on flat ground, keep a distance of atleast 3 feet for the vines to spread out. For raised soil, flatten the top of the heap and press the seeds an inch deep — 3 seeds per mound or 3 feet apart if it is on a ridge. For terrace gardens, use large deep troughs with at least 1.5 feet depth and sow 2 seeds in each.

How to care for Pumpkins?

Once the seeds have sprouted, restrict weed growth around the seedlings with an organic mulch of leaves or grass cuttings. Remove weak seedlings at this stage. As the long vines supply nutrition to the plants, they should be well-maintained by trimming dead leaves and weak side vines. 

Watering is best done early morning or in the evening, preferably by drip tubes which supply water directly to the roots; excess water on the leaves can cause powdery mildew. 

Protect against aphids, ants and other pests by spraying with a neem solution; peppermint solution is another insect repellent which can be sprayed once a week. Look for squash bugs under the leaves and remove them by hand. 

Once the flowers appear, sprinkle wood ash around the plant on alternate weeks to supply potash. Pumpkins produce male and female flowers on the same plant and are naturally pollinated by insects. To ensure this, pollination can be done manually.

Identify the flowers — the female flower has a small fruit at the base and the male is distinguishable by its absence. Rub the male flower over the female flower to transfer pollen. This will increase chances of healthy well-proportioned vegetables.

Female flower

How to harvest Pumpkin?

Most pumpkin varieties can be harvested after three months, when the fruit has ripened on the vine. Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the stem has started to dry and the skin of the pumpkin begins to harden. Remove from the vine leaving about an inch stem.If the stem breaks, the pumpkin won’t cure or store well.

That’s all you need to know about growing pumpkins in your kitchen garden. Pumpkin has so many uses in the kitchen so learning how to grow pumpkins successfully will be truly rewarding experience.

Happy Halloween!

Happy-gardening

How to make your own seed bombs ?

What is a seed ball/seed bomb ?

Seed bombs/seed balls are a fun and effective way of re-seeding depleted landscapes where you reintroduce. Seed bombs are usually small balls of about 1-3 inch diameter – made of clay, potting soil or compost and seeds. Once they have been made, and dried for 24-48 hours – they are then either sown or more commonly “thrown” across land which needs new flora. Perhaps throw them on the land on the side of highways or barren patches of lands in urban areas like apartment complexes etc or soil on road dividers, to create a green cover.

There are some advantages of using seed bombs instead of using seeds directly:

  • Because there are nutrients in the seed bomb in the form of compost or potting mix or cow dung,  it gives a leg up to germinating seeds – gives them nutrition in the early days when the young plant needs a little help to survive in harsh conditions.
  • The ball prevents animals or birds from eating up the seeds.
  • It takes less time to cover a large area – since you can simply throw the seed bombs – so you could, for example, drive around in a car with thousands of seed bombs and a slingshot, and disperse the seed bombs all around while cruising in your vehicle. In fact, there have been scenarios where seed bombs have been used for aerial reforestation by dispersing hundreds of thousands of seed bombs using a low flying aeroplane !

What sort of seeds should you choose ?

You should choose seeds of varieties of plants or trees that are native to the region where you are going to carry out your seed-bombing activity, so that they are likely to survive. You can choose trees as well as plants – for foliage, flowers or even vegetables !

When is a good time for seed-bombing ?

In India, doing it a little before the beginning of the rainy season is great – that’s when the tiny saplings would grow very fast when the first rains hit. Doing it in the middle of the rainy season may wash away the seed bombs.

Steps to make your bag of seed bombs

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 parts potting soil or compost
  • 5 parts pottery clay mix from an arts and crafts shop or some river bed clay
  • 1-2 parts water
  • 1-2 parts seeds of your choice
  • a bucket to mix ingredients
  • a cardboard box to dry and store seed balls

Directions:

1.Mix the potting soil, clay and 1 part water thoroughly. Make sure there are no lumps.
Slowly add more water until the mixture is the consistency of play dough or toy store modelling clay.
2.Add seeds. Keep kneading the dough until the seeds are well mixed in. Add more water if necessary.
3.Take small bits of the clay mixture and roll into ball about one inch in diameter.
The balls should hold together easily. If they’re crumbly, add more water.
4. Dry seed balls for 24-48 hours in a shaded place before sowing or storing. They store best in a cardboard box. Do not use plastic bags.

This is a great activity for both adults and kids alike – its great fun making these seed bombs with your own hands, as well going on a seed bombing drive with friends and family, once your hand moulded seed bombs are ready !