Category Archives: Organics

GROWING YOUR OWN SPUDS

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 https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/potato/how-to-grow-potatoes-when-to-plant-potatoes.htm

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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GARDENING TO ‘CULTIVATE’ BETTER SLEEP

INSOMNIA? ALLERGIES? STRESS?

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   

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  

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.

ALOE VERA  

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.

BOSTON FERNS   

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.

SNAKE PLANT  

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.

 

 

Getting Your Garden Ready For Winter

Cleaning The Garden In Autumn –

Fall cleanup can make spring gardening a treat instead of a chore. Garden clean up can also prevent pests, weed seeds and diseases from overwintering and causing problems when temperatures warm. Cleaning out the garden for winter also allows you to spend more time on the fun aspects of gardening in spring and provides a clean slate for perennials and vegetables to grow.

The Secret to Perfect Poinsettias

What Makes Our Poinsettias Special?

Giordano’s Gift and Garden sells “Ecke” poinsettias. These are specially hybridized by our growers to be adaptable to winter home environments.

In other words, most homes have low light in the wintertime, and also low humidity. Our poinsettias are adaptable to low light, and tolerant of low humidity. On the other hand, most “supermarket” poinsettias have been grown in greenhouses that have high humidity, and tend to suffer when you get them home.

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WHO KNEW? EPSOM SALTS FOR YOUR GARDEN?

epsom salts

Most people have heard of Epsom salts and they typically associate it with baths, as this natural salt from Epsom, England is probably best known as a way to help relieve your body’s aches and pains. Or perhaps you’ve even been one of the unfortunate ones who’ve had to use Epsom salts as a laxative. But did you know that Epsom salt can also be an effective gardening tool? Really?

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Feed Your Soil, or Feed Your Plants?

“I thought adding plant food to the water would be best for my plants. What is the difference between feeding the plants and feeding the soil?”

soil-in-hands

Organic Fertilizers and Soil Amendments

At Giordano’s Gift and Garden we sell fertilizers and soil amendments for every gardener’s needs, and we are committed to providing organic products as much as is practical, so there is the smallest negative impact on the environment.  Organics are natural ingredients that beneficial microbes digest as food and then make nutrients available for plants. Feeding the soil preserves the natural biologic interactions that support plant survival and growth. Also,organic fertilizers have a much lower chance of leaching through the soil and contaminating the water table.

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What is Companion Planting?

Companion gardening is the planting together of plants that have similar growing needs,  to maximize the production of both plants. It is still an experimental field with more research needed, but there are some things we do know and can pass along.

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Caring for Your Lawn – Naturally Part III (Watering)

WATERING AND SOIL pH

lawn watering

As counter intuitive as it may seem, you should water your lawn LESS often for better results. Really? The answer is yes, BUT: when you do water, water DEEPLY. Making sure you water sufficiently helps to develop grass roots that go farther down into the soil. Grass watered frequently but shallowly develops shallow roots and the many horizontal ‘runners’ that make up a mat of thatch. Thatch is a loose, intermingled tangle of organic matter that will prevent air and water from reaching grass roots. The result is a lawn that doesn’t look its best and is not benefiting from the watering you are doing.

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So, how do you know if your lawn is getting enough water? Watering so that your grass receives at least 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches of water a week is important. Take a tuna fish can, or empty cat food can, and place it within the zone of the sprinkler and run the sprinkler until the can is full. Check the time it took, and use that as the basis for watering in the future.  If the soil has become quite dry, it may work better to give the grass only 1/2 inch, wait for about 90 minutes, then give it another 1/2 inch.

When to Water?

Avoid watering from 11AM to 3PM, the hottest part of the day. It is best to water between 6 and 10AM. There is less wind, less hot sun, and your lawn has a full day to dry. While you want the roots to be wet, it is important for the grass blades to dry off after watering. For this reason, watering at night invites mildew and fungus. If you cannot water in the morning, doing it between 4 and 7PM is your next best choice.

What About Soil pH?

The pH of the soil (the level of acidity vs. alkalinity) is also important to your lawn’s health. The ideal pH for grass is 6.5 to 7. Since most soil on Long Island is lower than that, we recommend spreading lime to bring the number up. While rare for most lawns, if the pH is too high, soil sulfur should be added. A higher number than 7.0 is more favorable to weeds.

When Should I Apply Lime?

Lime is ideally applied twice a year, once in the middle of the growing season, and again in the fall.