Growing orchids

Filed under: DIY, Garden
Posted by: dugu

Alright, so now let’s talk about growing flowers. I am not sure about you, but my all time favorites are orchids. As you will see, orchids are not only beautiful, but they also prove to be useful in solving many problems.

Growing orchids has been seen as a passionate hobby by many people in this age. They are quite a pleasing sight and enhance the visual appearance of the facade. Several individuals have started taking initiatives for growing orchids at their homes. Orchids reflect signs of grace and beauty and have always adorned homes with their brilliant display of flowers. These are considered to be the second largest family of the flowering plants and can grow to a height of about 6 inches, whereas other orchid varieties can grow up to 48 inches.

The flower of paradise

Orchid Flowers

Orchids are known to be the most appealing plants grown by humans. They grow under favorable tropical conditions with a suitable temperature. Some of them are now grown in indoors as well. Orchids are presumed to be the most beautiful flowers amongst god’s creation and this comprises a unique group of plants.

  • They display a far-fetched collection with varied sizes, colors and shapes. Orchids are admired for their subtle beauty and charisma in the global market on a huge scale.
  • In particular, orchids are in great demand and nature admirers have started to cultivate them in their greenhouses.
  • On the whole these orchids craft uniqueness to any garden.

Various species of ornamental orchids

In general orchids can be classified into two types, namely the monopodial and the sympodial. Orchids are known to have a core stem that grows every year, known as the Cattleya whereas the Cymbidium declines the growth of the stem at the end of each season. With the help of their individual bulbous stem called pseudo-bulb, new roots grow from the base of the stem, which eventually blossom into buds. Orchids can be grown as house plants and would blossom for years together.
Several orchid plants have been around for centuries. The orchids can be grown under these favorable conditions:

  • Aid should be taken to retain 60% of humidity for better growth of orchids.
  • Growth of orchids may differ based upon the place and climatic conditions.
  • The temperature can shuffle between 18′ C to 30′ C;

Benefits of growing orchids

An orchid is known for its brilliant display of colors and sophisticated grace. A lot of people find growing orchids to be a gratifying experience. Taking proper care of orchid plants is an art and requires a lot of patience. Nurturing Orchids can bring you many benefits. At this juncture here, are some benefits that you can obtain out of growing orchids.

  • Orchid plants endow a pleasant experience to any house.
  • It depends upon the individual’s choice to grow them as an interior plant in their garden;
  • It adds a pleasing look and portrays the nature’s glorious beauty at your very own lawn.
  • It moreover adds a feminine feel to your residence.

Orchid flowers can be gifted to anyone, especially garden lovers. Craft a beautiful bouquet of orchid flowers and surprise your loved ones. Your partner will feel lucky with a bouquet of orchids.

Suitable soil conditions

It is prudent to discuss suitable conditions for the soil before planning to grow orchids.The orchids grow in a similar pattern like other plants through their roots in soil. Naturally, these orchids are sheltered from the sun with the shade of trees.

  • Look out for fertilizers that comprise of (N) nitrogen, (P) phosphorus, and (K) potassium, besides elements such as iron and other needed minerals.
  • Phosphorous (P) for flower fabrication, and (N) Nitrogen for vigorous vegetation growing is essential for growing orchids.

Planting the orchids in the appropriate place

Like several other houseplants, an orchid needs proper watering, fertilizers, sun light, appropriate temperature and humidity. Plants should be grown in a south-east or west windowpane, but should be sheltered from straight mid-day sun. The soil on which an orchid is planted is an important aspect. A planter has to identify the soil form, locality, favorable climate, condition of the land, and other factors before planting the orchid.
The humid warm atmosphere is primarily important for the growth of the tropical orchids. Orchids can be grown in open air or in a sunny place or in the interior of a house.  Planting of Orchids is the most important phase, as it secures the foundation for the formative years. It can be grown in a container or pot that has a hole for evacuation at the base.

  • Greenhouse is the best way to nurture orchids.
  • Appropriate ventilation is necessary for the supply of clean air and it helps to control the temperature as well.
  • Humidity tray can be made handy with saucers or trays filled with water and rock.
  • Use of organic fertilizers and minerals would help in keeping fungal infections at bay.
  • The orchids should be watered regularly during the initial stages.

Maintenance and care for orchid trees

An orchid requires added attention than other houseplants. They have to be prepared to spend quality time to care for this interesting addition of their house. Orchids are amazing plants and are extremely popular amongst gardeners. Apart from potting, it is very important to maintain them at regular basis. Orchids have to be regularly watered, as they start to bloom better and likewise, the roots also spread out in an orderly manner.  Likewise plants in pots require less amount of water than the amount of water required in baskets. An orchid requires a time span of 4 to 6 years to blossom.

  • Filtered watering system is the best idea for keeping the orchids hydrated.
  • The plant should not be left without watered, especially in a hot climate.
  • During hot climate the plants needs to be watered 2 -3 times a day.
  • Fresh plants should be watered until new roots appear.
  • Water should be free from saline content.

Indoor orchid care guidelines

A large amount of orchids can come up implanted in a unique pot and entrenched in various sort of wool or rubbery material. This is for the reason that orchids obtain the majority of their nutrients and water from the ground roots. Care should be taken to handle the roots with care. Orchid plants necessitate soaring humidity and direct sun throughout the winter months and indirect light for the period of the summer months. Never allow the orchids to get excessively dry during the warm summers. Water the orchids consistently and keep them hydrated at all times. The water has to reach and nurture the entire roots. Ensure to avoid using softened water or salt water as it would damage the roots. If leaves twirl around with a light green color and shrivel in size, you have to watch out for insects and use fertilizers and other insecticides to keep them at bay. Most of the orchid varieties bloom under different weather conditions and hence it is very important to maintain their surrounding environment as well.

Better produce and quality of orchids

Soft or saline water kills nearly all orchids; consequently if you cannot afford hard water, consider making use of bottled water. Having a water tank nearby would suffice for watering the orchids on a regular basis.
Moreover positive reactions can be seen in root expansion, mainly amongst those orchids that contain air roots while the water quality is enhanced. Follow the labels for better fertilization and there are several online forums that provide valuable information about the complete process for growing orchids.
Most of them can find information from the nearby agriculture labs for their soil conditions and for the right amount of manure to be added to make them yield better. These tests have to be taken before planting orchids, as they would help in eliminating hurdles in the formative years.

Commercial benefits of Orchids

  • Ultimate fertilizers
  • Flavor for food
  • Flavor for making rum
  • For fragrance in perfume
  • Treatment for indigestion
  • Cure from allergies.
  • To ease headache and fatigue.
  • And also healing from hypertension.

Orchids are known to provide a visual treat and have a pleasant fragrance as well. Most of them are used for making scented perfumes and also as a room freshener.

Global presence of Orchid flowers

The Orchid flowers can now be bought or obtained all over the world. Orchid flowers are cherished by all and there is an enormous demand for these flowers in the international market. Since, special orchids grow up in different regions, so all varieties may not be available at the same store. You will nevertheless get several common varieties from far and wide. You can opt for any one of them according to your own liking and budget.

Growing Mushrooms

Filed under: DIY, Garden
Posted by: dugu

OK, now lets move from tomatoes to mushrooms :). Tissue culture is one of the applications of biotechnology that is widely used in mushroom cultivation. It is also called as the agar culture. The tissue of the fungal organism called mycelium is used in this method to grow mushrooms. The traditional way of growing mushrooms that deals with compost and spores are time consuming.

Growing mushrooms crop

Tissue culture of mushrooms

The process of tissue culture is laborious and needs to be carefully studied under excellent lab conditions. The process is usually divided into three steps and are as follows:

• First step deals with formation of the spawn using the tissue culture method. Most of the times, saw dust or sterilized grains are used as the ground medium to develop spawns.
• The secondary stage deals with the fungal organism ‘mycelium’ and is introduced into the developed spawn.
• The acquired spawn is then introduced into an organic material to support the formation of the mushroom. This organic material is called as the substrate. The substrate used in the tissue culture method supports the actual growth of mushrooms.

Kinds of Mushroom

Mushrooms are broadly classified into two types based on the environment, namely the compost and the other that grows on the woody material. The common and the most popular type of mushroom known as the ‘Aquarius bisporus’ is grown using the compost method. Other mushroom types such as Oyster mushrooms, shiitake, reishi, maitake, and Lions Mane prefer woody environment. It is very difficult to specify the number of species of mushrooms present throughout the world. Some species of mushrooms are edible, while others are poisonous. The identification of edible mushrooms can be done through careful microscopic observations.

Nutrients in Mushroom

Mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin B and essential minerals that helps in reducing high cholesterol levels and increases immunity. Potassium content in the mushrooms helps in reducing the blood pressure and in turn prevents strokes. The mineral selenium in the mushroom can act against free radicals preventing cell damage and other related effects. The mineral selenium is found more in animal proteins, so for a vegetarian diet this can provide the same benefits. Mushrooms also contain the mineral copper which is necessary for the normal growth of the body. The nutrition value of the mushrooms may differ for certain species but most edible mushrooms species grown in farms are good for health and even have medicinal values.

Mushroom farming

Mushroom growing can be done in three ways based on the environment we choose. It can be growing in farms or using existing environments such as growing in woods and logs. Growing it on the woods and logs will be more like growing in a natural environment.
• For growing a particular species of a mushroom, understanding the choice of wood, harvesting methods and the suitable conditions are more important.
• This method of growing mushrooms in wood and logs as a growing medium needs some expertise and careful study. So it is better to choose farming methods which are now very popular and also the easiest of all the methods.
• By growing mushrooms in farms it is possible to provide the necessary conditions such as temperature and moisture.
The mushroom farming usually comprises of six steps which are necessary for the mushroom production. These six steps include preparing the compost, secondly finishing the compost, thirdly spawning, fourthly casing, fifthly pinning and finally cropping.

Step 1: Making the compost

Compost preparation is the first step in growing mushrooms. Compost is done with ingredients that supply essential nutrients needed for the growth of a mushroom. Preparing compost can be done in two ways. Using horse manure along with nitrogen and gypsum forms compost and is the cheapest way compared to synthetic composts which uses hay and crushed corncobs. Preparing compost involves mixing and arranging the ingredients in a rectangular pile. The initial phase includes arranging of rectangular layers of ingredients with tight sides and loose centers. A compost turner is used to mix the synthetic compost or horse manure along with nitrogen and gypsum. Then water is sprayed at regular intervals to maintain the moisture content. Now leaving the compost for 7 to 14 days in a suitable temperature of about 155° will create some chemical reactions in the presence of ammonia.

Step 2: Finishing the compost

The second step involves in reducing the ammonia content in the compost and pasteurization. The content of ammonia in the compost will be very high after the first step. Excess ammonia content in the compost will not favor the growth of mushroom in the spawn. The ammonia content in the compost is reduced to 0.07 percent. Pasteurization is the process that helps in removing or neutralizing harmful species from the compost.

Step 3: Spawning

The addition of the fungal organism mycelium to an organic material will help in initiating the growth of the mycelium. The organic material is nothing but a substrate which acts as a growing medium.
• Choosing the right substrate for the right type of mushroom is important.
• Generally materials like logs, wood dust and straw are used as substrates.
• Using sterilized grain also help in forming spawn.

In the spawning process, the sterilized grains are mixed with water and chalk. Then the mixture is added to the compost along with a bit of mycelium in regular intervals. After mixing the compost, a temperature of 75° should be maintained. This temperature will help in maintaining the moisture content of the compost. This process of growing mycelium in the organic material for about 14 to 21 days is called spawning. Maintaining the ideal temperature and moisture content at the final stages of the spawning will maintain the mycelia growth. The rate of spawning varies based on the weight of the spawn and compost and by maintaining the temperature; it is possible to reduce the time taken for spawning.

Step 4: Casing

After making the spawn it should be packed in such a way that supports mushroom growth. This process is called casing and it is done using clay loam field soil, ground limestone along with a mixture of peat moss. This casing allows the formation of rhizomorphs inside the compost which is responsible for the mushroom growth. After casing there is a possibility of harmful species and pathogens to develop inside the casing. With the help of pasteurization it is possible to eliminate these harmful species. The moisture content inside the casing is the key to mushroom growth. Maintaining the moisture by spraying water at regular intervals is important. The next factor to be considered is the temperature of the casing. For the initial period of casing the temperature should not increase more than 75°.

Step 5: Pinning

After casing is done, one can find the sprouts of initial mushroom grown over the rhizomorphs. They are extremely small but can be seen as outgrowths on the compost. Once the mushroom grows four times its initial size, they are called pins. Then the pin starts to expand and becomes larger after a particular period. After casing and the initial growth of pin, it will take around 18 to 21 days for the mushroom to develop completely. With the 0.8 percent of decrease in the carbon dioxide level, the pinning normally develops. Exposure to fresh air in the atmosphere will help in reducing the carbon dioxide content. By reducing the effect of pinning, the quality of the mushroom will increase considerably. It also helps in reducing the number of days to start harvesting.

Step 6: Cropping

Cropping is the final step involved in mushroom cultivation. This cropping process will take 3 to 5 days in the harvest period. Cropping is done in a periodic manner in the harvesting days. The mushrooms will start to form after the cropping period. Harvesting days varies based on the mushroom type and other related conditions. It may range from 35 to 42 days and in some cases the harvest can reach up to 150 days.

Temperature and moisture level plays an important role in each stage. In this final stage of cropping, a temperature of 57° to 62° should be maintained throughout the cycle. Maintaining the temperature will benefit us in many ways. It reduces the effect of harmful species and pathogens that can develop in the final stage and also helps in yielding better results. After completing the production cycle, it is important to protect the mushroom growing area from pathogens and pests. Pasteurization will stop spreading these harmful species to the next production cycle. The total yield depends on the temperature, humidity, most importantly pests and so on.

Growing Tomatoes

Filed under: DIY, Garden
Posted by: dugu

Ok, spring is here, so I thought I would post some tips on getting your garden into good shape. Here’s the first on growing tomatoes.

Introductory Tips

A ripe juicy tomato is substituted by nothing else. Most of us with a small backyard garden generally wish to grow these yummy things. However, there is a lot to tomato growing than just the lovely results. A tomato sure adds more than just color to the yummy gravies.

Tomatoes of different sizes and colors

The first aspect to consider before planting the tomato seeds is the climatic condition and the temperature. Tomatoes are ideally suitable for warmer temperatures, at least above 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit. 75 degrees Fahrenheit is simply perfect. It must be kept in mind that the plant is sown at a time when the temperature remains around this level. The place chosen for planting tomatoes must have access to direct sunlight. This is integral, as tomatoes need a lot of light for proper growth. There must be ample breeze. In fact, it is advised that in absence of natural wind some artificial means of providing wind directly to the planted tomato plants must be arranged for. This strengthens the stems of the plants.Tomatoes grow in a warm area; therefore the soil must be prepared in a way that it is heated. The area may be covered with a waterproof sheet that is black in color. This step needs to be performed at least a week before the tomato seeds are planted. The area needs to be made fertile. For this, one can add compost to the soil. Make sure the compost is not green but rotted compost. About thirty to forty kilograms compost is perfect for a square meter of the soil. The compost must be turned into six centimeters of the soil.

Selection and Planting

The tomatoes are available in a large number of varieties. First time planters choose to buy saplings for planting. It is suggested that the soil be dug pretty deep since seeds of tomatoes need sufficient depth. The saplings need to be planted till the point very few leaves are seen from above the ground. In case seeds are being planted, make sure they are placed at sufficient intervals to avoid overcrowding. Eighteen to thirty five inches gaps are perfect. Plant a mixture of all varieties of tomatoes like the creole, early girl, celebrity or any other variety of the grape tomatoes or the cherry tomatoes you want.

After planting these saplings, they need water in sufficient quantities. About half a liter of water is needed during the first week of planting. After this first week passes off, mulching the soil becomes necessary. This means the placement of pine needles, dried grass and straws, surrounding thirty centimeters around the tomato plant stems. Though tomatoes need water, it must be ensured that the soil is not persistently wet as this causes damage to the plants. The plants need to receive about 7 to 8 liters of water every week; after the second week of planting passes off. As the plants grow, increase the quantity of water.

Staking and Caging

A fortnight after the seeds have been planted or the saplings transplanted, the time arrives for supporting the vines of the plants using stakes. The boards used for this purpose need to be at least 1.3 by 5 centimeters in and 6 feet in length. At a distance of 6 centimeters from the plant, drive the stakes into the soil about 30-60 centimeters deep. Tie up the vines to these stakes with strong strings. Make sure that the knot is not very tight. Ready made tomato cages can be installed over the area of the plant. However, with the rapid growth of the tomato plants, the cages might collapse. Make sure that all the stems and leaves of the tomato plant are pulled into the cage.

Tomato plants grow well in soil that is organically very rich. Since the soil bed is already added with compost, it is suggested that fertilizers are added on a fortnightly basis. In case synthetic fertilizers are being administered, the quantity as prescribed on the backpack needs to be added. A spray able compost or liquid fertilizer needs to be used on the stems and leaves of the tomato plant. The most useful chemical fertilizers that enhance the yield and ensure the growth of healthy plants are the nitrogen fertilizers, rock phosphate, potassium, slow release fertilizers and fertilizers of manganese, zinc, iron and other micro nutrients. Organic fertilizers can be made simply by combining grass clippings, vegetable peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, fish emulsion, cow manure and kitchen wastes that are bio degradable. These are often the best fertilizers for the tomato plants.

Do not overuse the compost or fertilizers. The plants need to be shaken mildly for a few seconds after flowers appear. This improves pollination prospects.

Appearance of Tomatoes

Tomato plant starts fruiting in about 50-90 days of being panted in the soil. The first tomatoes are light green in color and very small. Once the size increases and the red color is visible, the tomatoes are ripe. Never press the tomatoes too hard, simply check them by lightly pressing. Once the fruits appear almost ripe and have attained the red hue, they can be picked up and placed in a sunny part of the kitchen. This ripens them completely, and also reduces the chances of over ripening and being eaten by rodents and birds. The fruits may be covered with small bags so that they do not get eaten up by these animals or birds. While tying a bag or pouch, make sure that at least a 6 centimeter gap is left on every side so that the fruits do not suffocate. Make small holes over the bag for healthy growth.

Checking and pruning

The tomato plants need to be checked from time to time so that it is not affected by pests. Water sprays and planting of marigold shrubs around the tomato plants are of help in keeping away aphids, fruit worms and similar pests. Make sure that the off shoots around these tomato plants are cut off and the plant is pruned from time to time. Dead leaves and the parts of the plant that are not receiving proper sunlight must be pruned away.

Additional tips

Now that one is clear about the process for growing tomatoes, there needs to be a discussion on the various types of diseases that might affect the plants. It is necessary to keep a check on the plant at intervals so as to diagnose what disease has come to affect it and therefore, arrive at a proper cure. Fungal diseases are amongst the most common ones that tomato plants get afflicted with. Look out for small black spots at the place where the fruit is joined to the stem. This arises out of cold temperatures and deposition of dew.


Too frequent wilting or yellowing of the leaves of the tomato plant is another dominant disease. Appearance of a powder like substance on the tomato plant leaves and small circles on the tomato surface too are symptoms of a fungal infection. Discolored leaves, stunting of the plant growth and curling of the leaves too are symptoms of viral diseases. Spots may break out as a result of bacterial affliction as well. The plants need to be observed regularly so that the diseases are nipped in the bud. The plants may wilt owing to deficiency of water too. It is necessary to loyally supply the water amount prescribed in the article previously.

Disease Resistance

Since most diseases have no cure and leave the plot incapable for further cultivation for about the following two years, it is advised to talk out with the nursery in charge and procure seeds or saplings of a variety that are resistant to the diseases. There are several varieties of tomato plants available in this category. It is also advised that tomato plants are not grown in areas which have plants like walnut and sunflower, in the vicinity. These plants belong to the alleolopathic group and are responsible for wilting of tomato plants.

Blossom End Rot

Another problem that needs to be tackled while growing tomatoes is that of the blossom end tomato rot. The main reason for the bottom portion getting rotten is the accumulation of water on the spot of the tomato. The solution to this problem lies in ensuring ample moisture and calcium in the soil where the plant grows. The soil must never be cold. Mulching and heating the soil as suggested before, helps. Overcrowding the seeds or saplings is a strict no no. While using synthetic fertilizers make sure that excess nitrogen is not going into the soil. Overdosing of fertilizers must be avoided to reduce the risk of blossom end rot.

Avoiding cracking up of tomatoes is essential to get a perfect tomato crop. Watering the plants, and mulching helps in eradicating this problem. These tips go a long way in assisting one to grow lovely juicy tomatoes at home. Good luck!

Making a smocked dress

Filed under: DIY
Posted by: dugu

Ok, so Christmas is coming, I am starting to give the readers of My Green Corner blog some gift ideas. If you want to make something special for your daughter, one good idea would be to make her a smocked dress. Smock dresses look beautiful on baby girls, teenagers and even adult women of different body types. These dresses are stylish yet at the same time comfortable. Although smocked dresses are available in many retail stores, it is always fun to make one for yourself or your dear ones. It is not at all difficult to sew this type of dress, provided you know the brass tracks of sewing, have some time to spare and enjoy this activity.

First, you will need some things:

  • Already-made dress
  • Smock dress pattern
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Choice of accessories, such as elastic, satin bows or lace

Step 1. Choose the pattern. Get the fabrics of your choice, examining the pattern and the color that you feel will suit your dress the best. To look for the best and simplest patterns, you can always refer to the numerous free patterns available on the internet. Go through dress design magazines as the ones that are displayed at retail stores.

Step 2. Take the right measurements. With the help of a measuring tape, you need to measure the armhole depth, waist, hips and busts and write it down. If you want to make a sleeved smocked dress, you should also take the sleeve length measurements.

Step 3. Cut the fabric neatly. First, cut out the pattern from the paper. Then pin the cut papers on the fabric and cut it out carefully. You will have to take out the front and the back of the dress, as well as the sleeves separately. Start making along the pattern the classic stretches that each smocked dress needs to have. You should also cut out the neckline or the belt if you intend to have one on the smocked dress. You should add 2-3 inches for the neckline, for easing the process of making the stretches in this particular area.

Step 4. Sew the dress properly. Stitching a smocked dress is simple if you follow the instructions given on the pattern. You need to be meticulous while you stitch the hemline. Also, make sure you stitch the seam lines neatly. Complete the stitching by using zigzag stitching or a pinking shear. Check the length before you trim away the extra fabric. Add the other accessories such as belts, bows or any elastic casings.

Other tips:

  • The measurement for the dress has to be taken very carefully with the help of a measuring tape.
  • Choose the starting dress with a size number over yours, so you can use the extra material for making the stretches.
  • Check as many patterns as you can to get the best of ideas.

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