How to Grow Cactus Indoor or Outdoor Gardening

Cactus is a plant usually found in hot climates and desert areas, with the right growing conditions, the plant can live to be as much as 150-200 years old. There are over 2,000 species of cacti, with various shapes and forms. Cactus is also said as decorative plant.

The spines of the cacti are actually its leaves. The size of the spines can vary from species to species and they can be as long as 15 cm. As the leaves are small, they prevent loss of water. Another function of the sharp, pointed spines is to keep birds and animals from sucking out the water from the plant.

How to Grow Cactus Indoor or Outdoor Gardening

The tallest cactus plant is Pachycereus pringlei with a height of about 66 feet. It can weigh up to 5400 kilograms, which is mainly the weight of the stored water. The shortest is Blossfeldia liliputiana with a height of just a few centimeters.

Growing Cactus is not a big deal, as a small kid can also grow. Cactus is a tropical plant so they don’t require much attention but yes a little care can grow them amazingly. Cactus can be grown from its seeds or it from its saplings.

Growing from saplings: Remove a healthy saplings from the mother cactus and plant them in a container containing potting mix made especially for tropical plants. Water them and keep them under the direct sunlight. Within a week or more than a week they spread root and you can see one more sap growing above the planted one.

Growing Cactus from seed: Purchase seeds from your nearest nursery. Prepare the soil in a container, using high quality of potting mix of pumice or granite content with high drainage system or get a potting soil which is formulated especially for growing cactus with gravel and sand. This potting soil can be used for growing indoor cactus as well. Spread the seeds on the potting mix and cover the soil slightly. Do not plant the seeds deep inside the soil as they won’t be able to grow.

Once you covered the seeds, moist the soil with water. Remember cactus is a tropical plant so watering too much will end up killing the plant. Just moist the soil and place the container where they can get direct sunlight throughout the day. To retain the moisture in the container you can cover it with a transparent plastic lid or cover with a transparent plastic sheet.

Germination will take several weeks or it can be several months depending on the cactus species you have planted. Once the germination takes place make sure you water them every day with little amount of water. Cactus is a slow growing plant so it will take a lot of time to grow. Remove the cover when the plant emerge its leaves.

Always remember it is not a good idea to transplant your cactus, so before you plant seed make sure you have a large container for the cactus to grow. Even if you want to transplant the plant, then you should allow them to recover from the shock.

Watering Cactus: Cactus don’t need much water. Most of the cactus varieties require little water. So water the cactus every day with little amount of water or thrice in a week. Do not allow the soil to completely dry out or water logged. Too much of water will let into root rot and kill the cactus.

Cactus doesn’t require much attention though it need less amount of fertilizer. Use dilute solution of liquid fertilizer with nitrogen and phosphorus and feed your cactus once in a month.

Growing cactus Indoor: Cactus can be grown indoor if you can locate them where they can get at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight every day. Indoor cactus require less amount of water comparatively to outdoor cactus. If you are not able to locate a sunny area, then place them under indoor growing lights.

Caring Cactus: Do not leave your cactus near windowsills in a cold climate as it will stunt the growth of your cactus and kill your plant. While handling cactus always wear thick hand gloves. Cactus make easily affected by mealy bugs. Know how to get rid of mealy bugs organically.

Cactus flowers: Cacti flowers usually bloom when it rains. The flowers of the cacti range from white, red, pink, yellow or violet. Some cactus flowers stand for several days, others die in just one day. Some cactus flowers bloom only at sunset, others only in the daylight. The century plant only blooms once in its lifetime, which is about 20-30 years. The flower stalk of this slow growing cactus plant can grow up to 40 feet. After it finishes flowering, the entire plant dies.

Uses of the Cactus: Besides being a decorative plant, cactus can have fruit which can be eaten and also made into syrup. The wood of some cacti species is used in making roofs and walls. The roots of a Mexican cactus were used for its medicinal properties. The spines of cacti if sterilized on hot coals may be used for bandages.

Growing, Planting and Harvesting Best Garlic

Garlic is an Allim (onion) family closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. It grows in various parts of the world and it is very popular ingredient used in cooking for its strong smell and taste. Garlic is also used for medicinal purpose as it has a lot of health benefits.

To get the best garlic is to plant at the right time. Best time to plant garlic is mid-autumn or early spring. Plant garlic four to six weeks before the ground freezes in your area. Plant close to the autumn to grow best.

Garlic is usually called a bulb and each segment is called clove. In each bulb there will be 10 to 20 cloves. Garlic has high sulfur compound called Allicin which gives the most health benefits. Growing garlic is very easy and inexpensive. It comes in different varieties in size, shape, taste and color. There are two subspecies of garlics one is hard necked and other one is soft necked garlic. Hard necked garlic are the original garlics grown by growers.

Growing, Planting and Harvesting Best Garlic

Before planting garlic prepare the soil. Choose the best variety of garlic to grow according to your region. Garlic prefers well-drained, rich loamy soil with lots of organic materials. Avoid clay soil as garlic won’t grow well. Add compost, manure and nutrients to the soil and make sure the soil has a good drainage before you plant garlic. Soil pH should be slightly acidic to neutral. Choose a best location where they can get direct sunlight or partial shade will also do. Garlic grows well in a wide range of climates, very hot or humidity region.

Growing from Seed

Garlic seed is a clove of garlic, each clove produce a new bulb. Buy garlic from store or from your local market. Make sure you buy fresh, quality, organic and large garlic bulbs. Choose the strong clove and avoid the soft one. Remove the cloves from the garlic plate carefully without damaging the base of it.

Plant the clove directly into the soil pushing them about 2 inches deep. Make sure you plant the clove tip upward the soil. Plant the cloves into row giving space about 8 inches apart.

Once planted the cloves into the soil cover the soil with straw, mulch, dried grass clippings and leaves. Sprinkle litter water above them to wet the soil. Water them an inch of water every week during growing period. It will take 4 to 8 weeks to grow depending upon the climate and the variety of the garlic.

Garlic need balanced fertilizer to grow healthy. Apply organic fertilizer which contains base nutrients NPK or use seaweed mix with fish emulsion mix into a gallon of water and apply on garlic. Clip off the flower so that the plant can concentrate more on bulbs. Harvest garlic when you see the leaves turn yellow brown. Carefully dig up each bulb without breaking the stalk from the bulb. Once you harvest the garlic tie them in a shaded dry area or in your garage for about six weeks.

Growing in Containers

Choose best container for planting garlic. The container should be at least 8 inches deep and has a good drainage system. If you are willing to grow more garlic choose the big wider container. Prepare soil mixing potting soil with your garden soil. Keep the ratio as 3:1 of soil to potting mix. Fill the container with soil leaving an inch from the top of the container.

Once you prepared the soil, start planting the clove deep into the soil pushing the cloves at least 4 to 6 inches deep. Sprinkle the water, making the soil wet but not soggy. Allow the water to drain well before you water them.

Place the pot where it can get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight. Best place to keep is kitchen window sill. If you are not able to provide them the natural light then you can place them user grow lights. Garlic will take 8 to 10 months to fully mature. Once the leaves start to dry, harvest your garlic. Store your garlic in a dry place and use them whenever you required.

Benefits of Growing Plantain (Banana Plant)

Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world. Bananas don’t grow on trees. Rather they grow from a root structure that produces an above ground stem. The plant is specifically classified as an arborescent perennial herb. It is the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the world, which grows up to 15 meters long. It is said that there are almost 1000 varieties of bananas grown worldwide. Most common variety is Cavendish variety grown more than 150 countries.

banana

Over 100 billion bananas are consumed annually in the world, making bananas the 4th largest agricultural product in the world following wheat, rice and corn. Bananas are one of the healthier natural food sources in the world. They are very low in calories and are high in vitamin B6, fiber & potassium. They also contain decent amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, K Niacin & Pantothenic Acid.

Plantain (Banana) grows well in tropical region. They prefer warm and humid weather. They can be cultivated in a temperature range of 10°C and 40°C with high humidity. Bananas yields higher when temperatures are above 24°C for a considerable period. Plantain prefers full sun to partial shade and will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

Plantain is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions and can be sown outdoors directly in mid-spring, or start indoors in early spring and transplant outdoors in late spring. To plant a banana, remove a 12 inch side shoot from the main banana tree. Make sure you separate them carefully using a pruning knife. Before you separate the shoot, prepare the location for planting the banana. Choose a location where there’s a direct sunlight with a loamy soil having a good drainage area.

Dig a hole as deep as to accommodate the shoot’s rhizome. Plant the separated banana shoot carefully into the hole make sure not to damage the rhizome. Back fill the hole with the loosened soil and tamp the soil down with your hand. Apply a 2 inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the newly planted plantain shoot. Water the soil to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Plantains need constantly moist soil. This plant requires a large amount of water during warm climate apply at least 2 inch water everyday but ensure they drain well.

Feed your plant at least once in a month especially at blooming period. Use good balanced fertilizer like 5-5-5 or 10-10-10. Do not fertilize in winter climate. Bananas are heavy feeders so feed them plenty of nitrogen and potassium. Apply chicken manure.

Prune most of the suckers, as they take away nutrients and moisture from the plant. Remove all excess shoots from the parent, let the shoots grow 4 leaves and then remove from its parent plant. This will help the plant to grow healthy and concentrate on their flowers and fruits.

Each plantain blooms only one single flower, once the plant bear fruit the plant intend to die. You can harvest when the fruit changes its color to light yellow from dark green. Carefully cut the bunch of banana and keep them in a dry place to fully ripe. You can eat the fully ripe banana or use the raw plantain as vegetable.

The entire plantain is used in few countries. Its leaves are used as plates, its raw plantain, stem and flower used as vegetable. Its stem is also used to make rope.