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If you've decided to try hydroponics gardening to grow plants indoors, you may be uncertain exactly how to begin, but don't worry, you're not alone. Many of the questions that we get at our grow shop are from new gardeners who need a little help getting started. To help get your vegetable or herb garden underway, just follow these simple steps.

1. Make sure you have all of the essential components for your hydroponics environment. You'll need grow lights and a ballast, a grow room or grow box and a hydroponics system with water filters.

2. Decide what you're going to grow! If you're not sure what to place in your hydro grow environment, check out our earlier blog post on selecting vegetables and plants for hydroponic gardening. You'll also need to decide if you intend to buy starter plants or germinate seeds. If you're going to start with seeds, continue on. For plants, skip to step 11.

3. To get your seeds started, add 1 quart of water to a large container. Be careful not to make it too hot or too cold.

4. Check the pH level of the water with a tester. You want the pH to between 5.5 and 6.5. You can use water treatment products to alter the pH, but a simple, organic way is to add drops of lemon juice gradually. If you end up with a pH below 5, add a little more water in until you're in the perfect range.

5. Soak rock wool cubes in the water for at least 1 hour. Make sure that you wear protection over your face like a surgical mask to protect your lungs from the small fibers in the cubes.

6. Shake the cubes off when you take them out of the water. Wringing them will damage them.

7. Place the seeds inside the cubes. Typically, you should put just one or two seeds for vegetables in each cube. For an herb garden, 7 to 8 seeds can be placed in each cube.

8. Use a plastic planter tray to hold the cubes. Cover with a lid and let them stay in an environment that is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not use plant lights.

9. Each day check on your seeds and give them a spritz with water.

10. Once your plants are at least 2 inches tall and have at least 3 leaves, they are ready for transplanting.

11. Set up your grow room or grow box with your growing lights, the nutrients delivery system and the other components. Follow the instructions provided with your growing environment.

12. Place your seedlings or plants in perlite in growing pots.

13. Fill the hydroponics system with the liquid for nutrition, according to the directions.

14.Congratulate yourself! You're on your way to organic, hydro gardening indoors!

You can purchase many of the growing supplies that you need for your hydroponics herb garden or vegetable garden right here at the iHidroUSA grow shop.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Charles R. Sword

Edible flowers are wonderful garnishments for so many different dishes for that creative touch as well as an interesting flavor for your salads.Five star chefs love working with edible flowers for their own creative touch to some of their finest dishes. Due to their profusion of beautiful colors and shapes, your garden will be magnificent! Edible flowers also attract the wonderful world of bees, pollinating and promoting your garden's rejuvenation.

Although many gardeners only use them for decoration purposes, you would be quite surprised how tasty they can be. Nasturtiums offers a wonderful spicy or peppery flavor while repelling aphids and other garden pests as well. Their heavy vines literally kill underlying weeds, saving you some serious weeding time.

Always grow edible flowers organically because other soils and treatments can produce insects, insecticides or pesticides.

Growing Edible Flowers with a Hydroponic System:

Getting out of the garden and moving indoors for the best, organic solution for growing these edible flowers is not only a great deal of fun, but a healthy alternative.

Hydroponics do not use soil, but instead a nutrient solution that helps grow plants more quickly and produces a healthier plant. Herb gardens will fit nicely in your home, taking up very little room and offering a wonderful nutritional outcome. You place your plants in a grow box which can be either a partially enclosed system or completely enclosed system. These boxes are ideal for growing your plants during the winter months and will protect them diseases and pests while growing them in the summer months.

Grow Boxes:

A completely enclosed grow box is an excellent choice because it comes with so many features. There is a built in grow light enhancing advanced and healthy growth. You will also have a fan system for excellent ventilation for circulation of air and preventing any fungi or mold development.

Hydroponics:

The hydroponic systems water your plants with a rich nutrient solution that many growers find far above growing in soil. Some of the advanced features include their own air conditioning to prevent temperatures from increasing as well.

Grow Lights:

Grow lights are fluorescent bulbs that offer a certain amount of light for plant development. Other plant lights can be hung approximately 2" above the height of the plants in a partially enclosed grow box and should be lifted as the plants continue to grow. There are other bulb options for grow lights that are slightly more energy efficient than fluorescent bulbs.

LEDs (light emitting diodes)
High intensity lamps
Sodium vapor lamps

Grow Rooms:

Grow Rooms can be just about any size where plants are in a controlled environment. You may choose from a variety of sizes, depending on your space availability.There are many reasons why gardeners prefer to use grow rooms. In many cases, there are no other alternatives for growing various plants then indoors due to outdoor elements. As plants do very well growing with plant lights, these rooms are perfect. Keep in mind, these rooms can become quite hot, due to these lights, and therefore it is highly recommended you acquire a ventilation system such as a fan.

In order to purchase the right hydro system for your needs, you should visit your local hydroponics grow shop. If you don't have someone local who deals in hydroponic systems, you will find what you need online. You can ask questions, receive great advice and purchase all your needs in one place!

Edibles and Non-Edibles:

There are literally dozens of edible flowers to choose from, if you have never grown this variety of flower always check with professionals for what is truly edible or what could possible make you extremely ill, even causing death. Therefore it is extremely important that you know the differences.

When Serving To Others:

Also, keep in mind, just like other foods we consume, some people do not react well to these flowers or they might have an allergic reaction toward them. If you or a friend have never consumed an edible flower, it is strongly suggested to try only a tiny piece and then wait for an hour or so to see if there are any negative reactions.

Never feed these flowers to your family or friends unless you know they are Ok with it. Again, check first to make sure they won't have an adverse reaction from consuming them.

There are so many edible flowers for you to choose from and grow. Whether you are purchasing to enhance your herb garden's appearance, or to just add an accent to your favorite dishes, always check with experts before purchasing. This is for you and your family's well being as well as your friends.

So Many Varieties and Flavors:

The beautiful blue star shaped Borage blossom is a wonderful choice if you like the taste of cucumbers. They work really well in salads or as a pretty added touch to your tropical party drinks.

Try chive blossoms with your grilled fish or other favorite summer grilled dishes. How about adding a very small amount of lavender blossoms to that homemade ice cream! Just don't go overboard because lavender can be extremely potent.

For Decoration:

Even if you are not quite sold on eating flowers, you will want to include them in your herb garden designs. They are absolutely exquisite to see, adding awe to your garden. Use a little creativity when planning your hydroponic garden and include these flowers, you will not be disappointed.

0 Comments | Posted in News Hydroponics Details By Charles R. Sword
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Hydrogardening has become extremely popular over the past decade due to the ability of growing healthy, nourishing produce indoors. With so many products being treated with pesticides and chemicals, more people are looking for better ways to incorporate their favorite vegetables and herbs into their diets. Hydroponic gardening is the best alternative for those wanting a better produce on their table.

What Is A Hydrogarden?

A hydrogarden is a method of gardening using hydroponics. Hydroponics is a subdivision of hydroculture and method of growing plants in water instead of soil and administering a mineral nutrient solution. Hydroponics is Greek for: hydro (water) + ponos (labor).

In the 18th century, researchers discovered that plants absorb mineral nutrients in both water and soil. Soil performs as a mineral nutrient reservoir but is not an indispensable element for growing plants. It was discovered that when mineral nutrients were dissolved in water, roots were able to absorb them without soil.

It is believed that the Gardens of Babylon was one of the first hydroponic gardening techniques in the world.

Through the use of hydroponics, roots have shown faster growth and plants are developing a greater yield. It is no wonder that gardeners, both experienced and beginners, are getting more involved in hydrogardening. The labor gardeners are putting into hydrogardening is a great deal less than they experienced with outdoor gardening. They have also discovered their produce is much more flavorful with both fruits and vegetables and freshness exemplory.

Hydroponic Gardening and the Environment:

Hydroponic gardening does not use harmful pesticides or chemicals and is very environmentally friendly. Hydroponic gardening uses a great deal less water than standard outdoor gardening and you never have to worry about weeds because there is no soil involved. One major plus to hydroponic gardening is your being able to enjoy your favorite fruits and vegetables year round. There are no limitations for producing these wonderful foods in the dead of winter because everything is grown indoors within a controlled environment.

For those gourmet chefs, you will have fresh, flavorful herbs at your finger tips for those exquisite recipes for family and friends.

Say Goodbye To Tasteless Produce:

As you probably know, by the time produce are grown and shipped to your local store, most of the nutritional values and flavors are gone. Freshness is a word totally remote for what you are paying and you are paying for them, high-end!

Gardeners have known for a very long time that the foods they have grown in the gardens are far superior to foods presented at their local supermarket. With hydroponic gardens, they are discovering even higher levels of freshness and flavor. By growing hydroponic gardens, you are serving up foods that are healthier to your body with the total lack of toxins.

Going Green:

Over the past decade everyone has been talking about "going green". In many cases, everyone associates this term with recycling or buying products that have little to no added chemical processing additives. Whether it's a hand lotion, facial cream or fast foods.

Growing vegetable gardens, fruits or herb gardens is also going green. Hydroponics deals with no soil which incorporate fertilizers and dangerous chemicals. These elements are also very harmful to plants and water, causing environmental problems. Plants grown hydroponically are healthier, stronger and offer a much better yield. Hydroponic gardens are very easy to start and produce great results as well as being highly cost efficient.

What Is Urban Gardening?

If you have lived in or visited a large city, you have probably seen gardens being grown of the tops of buildings. Urban gardening is developing a garden and growing plants where actual land and soil are not available. Urban gardening also refers to plants that are grown on windowsills across the country.

Most city dwellers live in apartments or town homes and do not have access to a great deal of space to grow gardens. Hydroponics has turned that completely around and made it possible for these folks to grown their own fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers within their own small spaces.

Large cities, including New York City, have started incorporating hydrogardening within the city for communities. This has proven to be a great way for people to come together and grow wonderful gardens within their own neighborhoods. Not only is this great for individual growers, but has helped create foods for those less fortunate who are in need of healthy foods for their families as well.

Going Organic But With A Price:

Over the years, many people are skeptical about produce in their local stores because of chemical hazards. Their only alternative has been to hunt down places that only grow organic foods. The downside is these foods can be much more expensive and if you do not know the farmer, are they really organic?

Being your own gardener will alleviate your concerns about the quality of produce you are placing on your table. Setting up your own hydrogardens, you know exactly the quality you are getting.

Learning and Sharing The Wealth:

There are many other upsides to growing hydroponic gardens including forming new friendships around your neighborhood, learning and teaching the values of hydroponic plants to your children, discovering a great long lasting hobby and sharing the abundance of your harvest.

A Neighbor In Need:

You might have a neighbor who just can't afford the high cost of produce but would definitely benefit from the gift of a hydrogarden. You can teach them the benefits and show them how to get started and let them know you are available with any questions or problems they might run into, when starting off.

Your neighbor might be elderly and weeding, dealing with soil and the overall hard work of an outdoor garden is out of the question. A hydrogarden is the perfect solution for them to enjoy fresh produce year round and be able to do it themselves.

Teach Your Children Well:

Kids are like sponges, they absorb information and new ideas faster than anyone else. Introducing a hydrogarden into their lives is a great way to teach them the importance of nature, having a healthy environment and how to eat healthy foods that they have grown themselves.

These kids could take the newly found knowledge and bring them into their classrooms as a class project or just to share with other classmates and their teachers.

Your Church and Community:

Educating your church members and pastors to the advantages of creating and growing hydroponic gardens could help out those less fortunate. Churches are always setting up food drives, canned goods, etc. What if they started growing their own fruits and vegetables to help out those with very little? Members of the church coming together and sharing their own skills specific skills is very positive. Some of these members might be quite knowledgeable in gardening and offer valuable suggestions. This is working together to make great things happen in a very positive way.

Summing It Up:

Hydroponic gardens have more benefits than can possibly be imagined. You are not using soil, so there's no need for pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. You are using less water because the water recycles. Plants grow healthier and offer a much higher yield than any other form of gardening. You will enjoy fresh, nutritional and tasty foods throughout the entire year.

On top of all the healthy reasons to start a hydroponic garden, there are many other positives springing up everywhere. These gardens can bring communities together by sharing ideas and offering assistance to those who want to learn. Family and friends will discover a whole new insight into "Going Green" and along the way, you can reach out and help others less fortunate than yourself. The gift of food, a hydroponic garden and teaching children to understand and respect the world around them is pretty powerful!
Hydroponic gardens have been around for centuries but only in the past couple of decades has the concept spread throughout the entire world. Gardeners growing healthy produce on their roof tops or in a spare room are catching on every day. Senior adults are able to grow their favorite produce easily and with little effort. Hydroponics is proving to be an important part of protecting and caring for our environment and without doubt is here to stay.

0 Comments | Posted in Hydroponics Details Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell
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More often then not, going to the grocery store is depressing due to the high costs for produce and the low quality. Many times vegetables look like they are on their last leg and flavor is nonexistent. It's no wonder we opt for processed foods and every unhealthy food just because it's cheaper!

Starting your own indoors hydro garden is not only inexpensive, but a nutritionally perfect solution. Many gardeners have turned from store produce, opting to grow their own. They have discovered the wonderful world of hydroponics for the very best, highly nutritional vegetables and herbs you will ever experience.

What Is Hydroponics:

This is a method to grow plants, from vegetables and herbs to flowers, using rich nutrient solutions in water vs traditional gardening with soil.

Here are some of the advantages of gardening with hydroponics vs soil:

  • No soil is needed
  • The water in the hydroponic system recirculates meaning the use of less water
  • Greater nutritional value
  • Pests and diseases are a great deal more controllable
  • Healthier plant growth
  • High yields
  • Enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs during the winter months

Starting Your First Hydro Garden:

As hydro gardens are grown indoors, you must first decide on the space available for your herb garden or vegetable garden. Grow boxes come in small to large sizes so there will be a perfect fit for you.

What vegetables and/or herbs are interested in growing? Common sense dictates that you choose produce that you are now purchasing and consuming.

You need to evaluate your sunlight and whether you can place your grow box in a sunny window or use artificial light from a plant light. The plants you choose will help you decide the light you will need for a healthy garden.

Grow Box:

A grow box is a structure with a base to grow various plants in small spaces. You grow plants with their roots in a nutrient solution or with a medium such as perlite, coconut husks, mineral wood and perlite (to name a few). The nutrients are absorbed by the plants' roots. Grow boxes are either partially enclosed with a base structure or completely enclosed with a frame and walls.

Talk With An Expert:

Once you know your space, your natural light offerings, what you want to grow, it's time to get with an expert in hydroponics. Visit your local gardening shop that offers hydroponic systems and accessories. They will be able to guide you to the best choice of grow box and grow lights that work with your chosen plants. They will familiarize you with water treatments and filters essential for healthy plant growth.

Grow Rooms:

Grow rooms are more sophisticated and also come in a variety of sizes. Your herbs and vegetables are grown in a controlled atmosphere. You are flexible regarding their light source from artificial grow lights, natural sunlight or a combination of both. The downside to grow rooms is the amount of heat that develops in this environment. As they become excessively hot, you must provide good ventilation (such as a fan) to prevent harming your plants.

Water Filters and Treatments:

Your water supply must always offer a proper pH balance in order to assure healthy plant growth. Your water filter should deliver pH balanced mineral water by cleaning the water and removing contaminants.

Purification should remove chlorine, chemicals, metals, sediments and other contaminants that would otherwise alter your happy plants.

Water treatments provides more oxygen in your water and reservoir. It will promote constructive Microbes in your root zone, prevent slime buildup and odors and allow for better absorption of nutrients.

In Conclusion:

Take your time and make a list of everything essential for starting your first hydroponics garden. Get professional advise and make sure you have all the equipment and supplies you need to start growing your favorite herbs and vegetables.

You will discover how easy it is to grow fresh, healthy foods to enjoy all year round.

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Parsley is a member of the carrot family and is an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals. This fabulous herb is grown as an annual and depending on your taste you can grow flat leaf varieties or curled leaf varieties. Flat leaf varieties are excellent for stews and soups where curled leaf varieties are best for garnishing dishes or salads.

The Right Environment for Growing Parsley:

Parsley needs a well draining soil and plenty of water. This herb also requires afternoon shade especially if you reside in a hot climate. The beds should consist of compost and manure, mulched into a depth of approximately six inches.

Planting Parsley:

The best options for growing parsley are a nursery stock or seeds at the beginning of the growing season. When there is still a slight chance for light frost, sow the seeds outdoors approximately 1/4 inch deep. The seeds will germinate within 14 to 21 days, then soak in warm water for 24 hours before actually planting.

Parsley demands a good fertilizer with one application of slow releasing organic fertilizer in the spring and then monthly to ensure a healthy growth.

Is Parsley Prone to Insects and Diseases?

You can cut down on the chance of diseases by making sure your plants have good air circulation. Apply a good organic fungicide early if you see signs of disease. As a general rule, parsley is rarely pestered by pests! An occasional butterfly leaving larvae might occur as they love parsley. As butterflies start off as caterpillars, you will find one or two from time to time, just pick them off. All in all, parsley is a robust, healthy plant and you shouldn't run into many of the problems other plants are haunted by.

Harvest Time:

Once your plants have produced leaves with three branches you should start harvesting. You will want to cut and collect the plants during the summer when they are plentiful. You can bag them and dry them for the winter months. To dry parsley simply tie the cuttings in small batches and hang them upside down in a dark, well ventilated area or room. Once they are dry, remove the leaves and stems and place the rest in storage. Crush only small amounts that you are going to use immediately.

About Seeds:

Parsley loves to cross pollinate so you might want to isolate large areas by the second year. Dig up the roots in the fall season before the danger of a hard frost. You should trim the tops of the plants approximately by 2 inches. Take the plants and store them in leaves, sawdust or sand. Their roots will store well for approximately 3 to 4 months in an atmosphere of 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the plants are dry, harvest the seed heads and separate them by hand.

Along with butterflies, this wonderful herb also attracts "beneficial" insects such as ladybugs! You might want to read up on beneficial insects so you aren't destroying them.

Growing Parsley Hydroponically:

  1. Parsley grows very nicely hydroponically! In order to go this route, you need to know how to hydroponically grow! Hydroponic gardens do not consist of soil, the only medium is a nutritional solution that gives plants oxygen, excellent nutrients and water!
  2. The nutritional solution drips into the plants and drains regularly, allowing your plants to receive the proper nutrients they require.
  3. So if you are interested in hydroponically growing plants, you'll need to learn how to go about it.
  4. The first step will be to plant the seeds and steps that need to be followed for absolute success!
  5. Parsley is opposed to germination unless they are exposed to moisture within a 12 hour period. Keeping the seeds in warm water, will discourage any opposition and not harm the parsley seeds.
  6. Soak rock wood cubes overnight then plant the seeds within the cubes, this will help germination.
  7. Place the rock wool cubes mix in a flat low box and then plant the seeds in the box approximately an inch apart, assuring there are two or three plants in each rock wool cube.
  8. You should sprinkle a fine thin layer of moist soil over everything about one-fourth inch high. Keep the soil temperature around 70 degrees and water regularly. Sprouts should start appearing after 2 weeks of planting.
  9. Once there is an appearance of leaves you need to place a florescent light approximately 2 inches above the plants and provide them with nutrients.

How To Transplant Your Parsley:

Start by setting up your hydroponics container and filling it with hydroponic fluids. You must prepare your hydroponics garden before you start your transplant process. Depending on the hydroponics system and planter you choose there are various steps you must take to prepare before transplanting your plants. Always follow the instructions in your manual and then test it.

Clean Your Plants Before Transplanting:

Hydroponics planters require the removal of soil from the plants. Carefully remove your plants from the rock wool cubes and then gently clean the roots with water. Each plant must be carefully placed allowing enough space for the sprouts to grow. There should be at least 2 to 3 inches between each plant.

Maintenance:

Good drainage and proper refilling of fluid is extremely important. Maintaining constant care will allow your plants better, faster growth and stronger plants. You must pick off leaves once the parsley reaches 2 to 3 inches in growth from the stem. Done properly new leaves should replace the old ones.

Summary:

Parsley is a popular and wonderful herb. Taking a little time to grow fresh parsley, you will experience the very best flavor and aroma.

Follow instructions, whether you are growing your parsley in your backyard or hydroponically. You will have a treasure trove of one exceptionally amazing herb for all your culinary needs.

Bon Appetit!

0 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening Indoor Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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You would think that growing a houseplant would be easy, yet many people struggle to get it right. Knowing the type of soil to use, how often you need to water and how much water is needed is often enough to do people in. The process can now be made a whole lot easier by using a process known as hydroculture. There is no soil or compost used in this growing technique, with a nutrient solution used to make the plants grow. This is something of a dream come true for those who would love to have houseplants, but have had issues in the past.

What should be pointed out, though, is that the costs associated with growing plants this way is quite expensive. What that means is that the cost of filling your entire home or office with plants may be prohibitive, but once you see how easy it is, you might just become hooked. In order to get started, you will need to invest in a hydroculture unit. Once you have it set up, you will only be required to add water once or twice a year. The unit itself is usually comprised of a plastic container, an outer container that houses the nutrient solution and an inner container that holds the plant. You will also need an aggregate, which is often clay granules, to anchor the plant, and you may also find that the unit contains a water reservoir that shows the current water level.

The aggregate plays a major role in the growing of the plants, as they are able to absorb a great deal of water. It is the proper delivery of water that often causes normal plant growing to fail. The soil can also cause a problem when trying to feed plants properly, but that is taken away with the use of the nutrient solution used in hydroculture. The effect here is that the plants are steadily fed exactly what they need, with very little needing to be done to look after the plant you are growing. Pretty much all that is required is to check the water level, which will probably only have to be topped up every 6 months.

This doesn’t mean that you can simply pot the plant and do nothing else, as you will still need to make sure that the plants are placed in an area that affords enough light and humidity. Plants grown using the hydroculture process are still prone to the same pests and ailments as other plants, so you will also need to be on the lookout for those issues, too. The temperature of the water is also important, so make sure that you always add room temperature water in order for your plants to thrive.

You need to be aware that not every type of plant is a good fit for the hydroculture growing process. It’s best to check with a professional at your local garden center before choosing a plant to grow in this way. They should be able to set you up with your first hydroculture system unit, as well as being able to help you choose the perfect plant for your home or office.

3 Comments | Posted in Plants & Flower Gardening By Florence B. Harrell

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Fall Gardening Ideas

Fall is such a wonderful time of year, with temperatures cooling down from overbearing heat of summer and the anticipation of upcoming holidays.  It's time to gear up for cooler days and colder nights.  It's time to move your favorite plants into pots and relocate them until next spring.

The weather, this time of year, is perfect for digging up plants from your garden and placing them in pots.  Herbs do very well indoors and will continue to flavor your favorite dishes and make great gifts for friends and neighbors.

So let's look at some great tips for transplanting herbs from your garden into your home.

I'm sure you have stacks of pots accumulated from purchased plants from your favorite garden place.  Now is the time to clean them up and put them to good use one more time.

Herbs:

Almost any herb from your outdoor garden can be transplanted indoors so you can continue to harvest and enjoy them throughout the winter months. Rosemary, oregano, thyme, mint, chives and even lavender will adapt very nicely and add a beautiful touch to your sunny window sills.

You should transplant your outdoor herbs before the first frost in your area.  Carefully dig up your herbs, showing caution not to damage roots.  Pick only the healthiest of herbs as withering, sickly plants will not do well in transplant.

Herbs require soil that is rich in nutrients and offers good drainage.  Your pots should contain rich soil, moss and sand for good drainage and growth.  Once your herbs are repotted water them immediately, saturating the soil.

Before moving them inside, you must make their move gradual, otherwise they will go into shock.  Leave your pots outdoors for approximately one week, moving them away from direct sunlight.  Then bring them inside for a few hours each day for approximately another week.  Once this process is complete, you should be able to move them indoors for the fall and winter months.

You might prefer to start an herb garden from seeds, creating a miniature indoor garden.  Seeds usually germinate with temperatures between 68 to 85 degrees.  They will require moisture and warmth, but not wet!  Cover your seeds with either wet paper towels or wet newspaper until new growth starts appearing.  At that time, move them into direct sunlight.

Whether herbs you have moved from outdoors to indoors or growing herbs from seedlings, be sure they are mature before processing for your use.  As you have been enjoying your herbs from the garden, I am sure you know how to cut the plants before dicing.  Should you run across an herb unfamiliar to you, be sure a read up on the best ways to get them ready for your favorite dishes.

Harvesting:

Fall is known for harvesting and what better harvest can there be then the pumpkin! Pumpkins represent all those wonderful fall festivities such as Halloween and Thanksgiving!  They are the perfect decorations, make delicious pies and roasted seeds just for snacking.

Pumpkins:

There are absolutely no other vegetables that represent Fall better than the Pumpkin.  Pumpkins should be harvested before the second light frost as pumpkins can be damaged by extreme cold weather.  If your pumpkins are getting inundated with leaf growth and other foliage, cut it back so the pumpkin can ripen more quickly.

You want to leave the pumpkin on its vine until it has reached its full color.  Once you cut off the vine, the pumpkin will stop developing color.

You will know a pumpkin is ready for harvest when you press your thumb against its shell and the shell is not punctured.

Pumpkins should be cured before using.  Place the vegetable in a sunny window or on a sunny porch for one to two weeks.  This allows the skin to harden and will deter any scratching or dents.

Storing pumpkins is quite easy.  The best climate condition is between 50 to 60 degrees and they can be stored in your basement, root cellar, garage, etc.  In order to prolong the life of your pumpkins, dip or spray them with a solution of bleach and water to kill off any organisms.  The solution should be one gallon of water to one teaspoon of bleach.

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