Author Archives: giordanos


Now that the weather is turning cooler, many are  starting to think more about their indoor plants than their outdoor ones.

While all indoor plants are technically tropical, our indoor environments aren’t the best for growing them. Most homes and offices have limited light, which gets even worse in the winter time. So, what are your options?
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Why Have a Birdbath?

If you like watching birds  at your backyard feeder, you’ll have even more fun watching them splash around in a birdbath there.  A good source of water is every bit as important to birds as a good source of food. And in the drought days of summer, water can be hard to come by for them.  So there are several things to keep in mind if you decide to set up a birdbath in your yard.
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Are you magnet for insects?

If you are, you know it. As soon as you walk outdoors it seems, annoying insects are attracted to you. Or perhaps you have a neighbor who can only visit you indoors during the summer months because of the outdoor pests they are bothered by.

But it might help to know that there are ways to help you enjoy the outdoors by strategically placing insect-repelling plants in your garden or on your patio.
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Growing potatoes in your garden can be lots of fun. With the variety of types and colors available, planting potatoes can add interest to your garden. Learn how to grow potatoes and when to plant potatoes in your yard with these simple steps.
When to Plant Potatoes
When growing potato plants (Solanum tuberosum), it is important to keep in mind that potatoes are cool weather vegetables. The best time when to plant potatoes is in early spring. Planting potatoes two to three weeks before your last frost date will produce the most satisfactory results, but they can be planted any time until mid-June on Long Island.
What are Seed Potatoes?

Seed potatoes are grown specifically to be used for planting, and it is a good idea to use USDA certified seed potatoes. This will be the most direct route to a healthy, disease free crop of spuds, but these seed potatoes can also be quite pricey.

Although a cheaper idea, attempting to use supermarket potatoes for seed is not always successful, as they are usually treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting during storage; hence, they may not sprout after planting. But hey, why not give it a try if you can’t find seed potatoes?

A growing potato is an undemanding plant. They need very little other than mild temperatures and soil, which is why they have been a historic food staple. Planting potatoes normally starts with a seed potato. Seed potatoes can be prepared for planting by either planting whole or cutting up the seed so that there are one or two buds or “eyes” on each piece.

There are many ways to plant potatoes:

Straight in the ground – Farming operations and large plantings of potatoes are normally planted this way. This method for growing potatoes means that seed potatoes are planted 1 inch under the soil. As the growing potato plants get larger, the soil is mounded up around the plants.

Straw– Growing potatoes in straw may seem unusual but it is very effective. Lay out a loose layer of straw and put the seed potatoes in the straw. When you see the growing potato plants, cover them with additional straw. Harvesting Potatoes Much like when to plant potatoes, the best time to harvest potatoes is when the weather is cool. Wait until the foliage on the plants has died back completely in the fall. Once the foliage is dead, dig the roots up. Your growing potatoes should be full sized and scattered through the soil. Once the potatoes have been dug up from the soil, allow them to air dry in a cool, dry place before storing them.

Read more at Gardening Know How: How To Grow Potatoes: When To Plant Potatoes

So, yes, you can save your own seed potatoes for planting the next year. Commercial growers tend to use the same fields year after year, which increase the chance that diseases will infect the tubers. The home gardener using their own seed potatoes would be wise to rotate their potato crops, or any member of the Solanaceae family [2] (among these are tomato [3] and eggplant [4]) if at all possible. Maintaining a weed-free area around the plants will also aid in retarding disease as will sowing in organic rich, well draining soil.

How to Save Your Own Seed Potatoes

Your seed potatoes will need a rest period before planting. The rest period induces sprouting, but improper storage can precipitate premature sprouting. Temperature fluxes can precipitate these premature sprouts, so it is important to practice proper seed potato storage.

Harvest potatoes that you wish to use next year as seed potatoes and brush off, don’t wash, any dirt. Place them in a cool, dry are of around 50 F. (10 C.). Three to four weeks prior to planting, put the potatoes in an area with brighter light, such as a sunny window or beneath grow lights. The seed potatoes should be maintained at a high humidity during this period. Covering with moist burlap bags will aid in initiating sprouting [5] as well.

Small potato seed can be planted whole, but large spuds must be cut. Each seed piece should contain at least two or three eyes and weigh around 2 ounces. Plant in rich, well draining soil [6]with an all purpose fertilizer worked into the top 6 inches. Most people plant seed potatoes [7] in hills and it is a good idea to apply a thick layer of organic mulch [8] (grass clipping, straw, or newspaper) around the plants. Hills should be 10-12 inches apart in rows 30-36 inches apart. Irrigate the hill well each week — about 1-2 inches of water at the base of the plant.

For the best results using your own seed potatoes, proper storage is crucial, allowing the tuber time to rest. Select potato varieties that are tried and true, such as heirloom varieties that our grandparents grew and routinely saved for their own seed potatoes.

Practice crop rotation [9], especially if the plot has been planted with any member of the Solanaceae family in the last three years.

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Many people know that houseplants provide beneficial oxygen to the home environment. But do you know they can do more for you than that?  Studies show plants can actually do more, removing toxins from our personal atmosphere, and also helping to promote drowsiness. And who doesn’t want to sleep better?

Given that information, what plants should we bring home to further our goals for better health and sleep?


Jasmine fragrance, working in ways similar to barbiturates, eases anxiety and encourages sleep. The scent was tested by researchers on mice, who curled up and went to sleep in its presence.


Lavender bouquets and essential oils are used by many as sleep inducers, but as with vitamins, you are better off getting the benefit from the original source, in this case, the plant. And who doesn’t love the smell?

ENGLISH IVY — A former NASA scientist who has researched how to keep the air in the space station clean, says English ivy helps reduce mold spores in the air, making it particularly beneficial to those with allergies.


In addition to providing a soothing gel for skin injuries, this plant has other important benefits. Another NASA study demonstrated that this hardy succulent vacuums up unhealthy indoor chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while you sleep.


This houseplant is great for bedrooms that traditionally have low light so are easy to care for, but more importantly Boston ferns remove formaldehyde from the air. Formaldehyde is emitted from carpet and furniture. The newer the furniture the more it gives off.


Also called “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” for reasons that are unclear, snake plants are among the easiest to care for, and is considered an excellent air cleaner.

So grab a plant or two, place in your bedroom, and prepare to have sweet dreams.




Weed, Baby, Weed! (Or Plant, for That Matter)

Gardening is a healthy habit! It burns calories, it works your muscles, and it increases your harvest. And while it’s good to dig in the dirt, the aftereffects can be a pain. That’s why it’s important to condition your core, and position yourself correctly so the right muscles are used:

  1. When planting or weeding keep your back straight (not hunched) to minimize back strain, and take breaks every so often to protect your knees and back.
  2. When picking up heavy bags of soil (or anything else) bend at the knees-not your waist- to engage your leg muscles. This decreases stress on your neck, shoulders, and most importantly your back.
  3. When pruning, pull branches to your level. Avoid twisting or reaching too far overhead.

Families who garden are more likely to get their 5-plus a day of fruits and vegetables.

  • Kids who garden tend to eat more veggies (even when they go off to college). And everyone knows that eating veggies is a healthy habit!
  • 6 easy vegetables anyone can grow: green beans, cukes, leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini.
  • The number one vegetable people grow in their gardens is tomatoes, with 86% of American households planting them.

Other Healthy Outcomes

  • Gardening is a proven tension tamer. In one study, people who took a frustrating test then gardened for 30 minutes showed an uptick in their mood and a lowering of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Stronger immunity? Yes. Research shows that children who garden (and play in dirt) develop healthier immune systems.
  • Finally, garden helps society. OK, that sounds rather grand, doesn’t it? But think about it: 72% of plastic wrap and materials used to package produce ends up as litter on land or in water. And if you grow it, you will eat it (freeze it, can it, give it to lucky friends) before it spoils. Supermarkets, on the other hand, often end up with piles of unsold produce, costing an estimated $15 billion every year.

So, eat well, feel great, and garden for good health. Get digging.


You probably know someone (maybe even yourself) who has said, “Gardening is too hard. There is so much to learn. I just know if I plant something, I’ll kill it.”

Well, of course you will. Everyone who has ever gardened since Adam and Eve has killed a plant. This is called learning. It’s how we figure out what works and what doesn’t.
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