Growing Mint

Mint is one of the oldest herbs and comes from around the Mediterranean area, however the plant has been found everywhere expect the Poles. As far as I know there are well over 30 varieties of Mint.

The herb is very easy to grow and does well in cool, damp places, however Mints will also grow in the full sun quite well.

The plant was first written about in English by one John Ray in the year 1696.

There is something about Mint that not many people realize and that is the plant is a very hungry feeder. Before you plant, make sure that you put some well rotten manure or good vegetable compost at the bottom of the hole. If you grow mint in pots; do renew the compost every two or three years

I know many people think that mint is a bit of a rouge, in so far as it will spread and take over you whole garden. This is true up to a point. The reason is that, like many other plants (Mares tail) the roots spread under ground and spring up where you least want it.

Not many pests or disease trouble Mint. Every now and then my Mint will get Mint Rust and as I grow all my Mints in pots; I just discard the plant and the compost and start again in a fresh pot.

Whichever Mint you decide to grow in your garden, it is a good idea to taste the leaf from the stock you are thinking of planting. They are quite different and not all make a great cup of mint tea.

I have several, but the ones I like best are: Apple Mint and Spearmint.

Apple Mint is a vigorous growing perennial with long underground runners. The mint grows up to 18 inches high with leaves that are light in color. Apple Mint has reddish stem which is also hairy with flowers of dense spikes of pale lilac. This Mint gives off an aroma of apple and spearmint. The distinctive apple and mint flavor of this Mint adds a delicious taste to fruit salads, water ices, and cider cups as well as other fruit drinks. I use it to make Apple Mint Tea.

Spearmint is the common or garden Mint that everybody knows about, even to the extent of people forgetting that it is a growing plant! As such, it is also the oldest culinary herb to be used.

Like Apple mint, this grows to a height of 18 inches and as the same flower color.

Spearmint is mentioned in all the early writings of doctors and naturalists. The mint is used in food as well as medicine because of its value as a digestive.

Spearmint is most often used to make mint sauce or to cook with new potatoes. I also use it with other vegetables like carrots, green beans and roots.

A handful of chopped mint goes well with minces beef, giving a wonderful flavor to your meal.

Myths About Grow Lights

Summer-to-Winter Kelvin Shift

A well-respected garden writer recently wrote this in one of the most popular indoor gardening magazines: “The [high-pressure] sodium light is very red and mimics the fall sun to induce flowering.” HID lamp salesmen and hydro shop owners also claim that MH lamps are best for vegetative growth because they are “blue” like spring sunlight while HPS lamps are best for flowering because they resemble “red” fall light.

This is the second most widely held gardening myth: that the color of sunlight changes dramatically between seasons and that this color shift induces flowering. Ask yourself this: at midday, does a spring day look blue to you or a fall day look red? In a word, No.

Light “color” is measured according to the Kelvin (K) scale with blue having higher values and red lower ones. The world would look very strange indeed if the light temperature of sunlight changed from season to season by anything even close to the 2000-2500K difference between MH and HPS lamps. Don’t misunderstand: There is a seasonal shift in daylight color due to the depth of the atmosphere the sun’s light has to penetrate before reaching the earth. But this shift is small, 300-500K depending where you live, which is a difference that’s barely perceptible to the human eye.

On the other hand, daylight color definitely shifts across the duration of a single day. Sunlight starts out in the morning at approximately 2000K (orange), climbs above 5000K (white) at midday, then drops back to 2000K or lower at sunset. Daylight-sky color temp can climb as high as 8,000-10,000K (blue) on a sunny summer afternoon.

Why does this matter? Because indoor gardeners have been taught that changing from “spring blue” to”fall red” will induce flowering-in other words, will cause plants to shift from their vegetative growth phase to their flowering phase. This belief is likely the downstream effect of how HID lights found their way into indoor gardens. Initially, only MH lamps were available, and growers using them experienced results that were… OK. Then HPS lamps were introduced, and the gardeners who tried them found that these new lights significantly improved the weight of their harvests. Someone postulated that MH was better for vegetative growth and HPS better for flowering, and the myth was born. It’s become a mainstream “fact”: pick up any of the magazines distributed in hydroponics shops and you’ll find it. That doesn’t make it true.

Many gardeners use only one type of HID light for their entire grow, and that includes MH, HPS, and CMH lamps. None of these gardeners has any trouble “flipping” their gardens from vegetative to fruiting/flowering. They simply changed the photoperiod-the length of time the lights are turned on. Plants that are sensitive to day length flower when their photoperiod changes, not when the color of the light they receive changes.

90 LED Watts Can Replace 400-600 HID Watts

Oh, how you missed out on the fun of the early days of LED grow lights! When LED grow lights were first introduced, many manufacturers boldly proclaimed that a single 90-watt LED grow light would out-produce a 400- or 600-watt HID. These claims were laughable then, and they’re still laughable now. LED grow light manufacturers have typically been overzealous with their claims, which they”prove” by growing wheatgrass or lettuce instead of the light-hungry crops (e.g., tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, or flowers) that indoor gardeners generally prefer.Testing revealed that these early “90-watt” units actually drew only 54-56 watts of power at the wall, on average. With a few watts going to power onboard cooling fans, these lights actually produced less usable light than 75-100 watts of HPS-not anywhere near the 400- or 600-watt HID performance claimed by their manufacturers.

At least the industry seems to have learned its lesson. These days, most LED grow light manufacturers provide realistic power ratings and coverage area recommendations for their lights. This combined with better, more powerful LEDs and more effective light designs are helping to end this myth. It would be ideal for LED grow light manufacturers to publish the power of their lights in micromoles at set height intervals so that we, their customers, could decide for ourselves how much HID these lights could replace in the actual conditions we face in our gardens.

This Could be the Last Grow Light You’ll Ever Buy

Because LED emitters have a 50,000-hour-plus life-span, which is about 10 years if used 12 hours a day, a common sales pitch is: “This could be the last grow light you’ll buy.” This pitch is intended to help the buyer overcome the high cost of an LED grow light. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

Even though LED emitters have very long useful lives, continuing innovation in light design, such as secondary optics, better heat management, and still-better LED emitters on the horizon, will cause most growers to upgrade to a newer, better-performing light well before they’ve put 10 years on their first LED grow light. So while “the last light you’ll ever buy” makes a great sales pitch, don’t believe it. It’s not true.

LEDs Produce Little to No Heat

The next-most-common sales pitch for LED grow lights is that they produce little to no heat. When a manufacturer claims that an LED grow light produces almost no heat, it makes the experienced gardener wonder whether the manufacturer has ever used one for anything more than a photo shoot.

Sure, LED grow lights produce less heat than HID grow lights, but there is still heat, and that heat needs to be managed. See for yourself: garden temperature will drop immediately after an LED grow light switches off, just like in an HID garden. No heat-no way!

About Growing Aubergine

The plant is a member of the nightshade species and as such related to the potato and tomato. Asian in origin and first written about in China in 544. I think of it being Greek because they use it in many of their dishes, however in China, the fruit is in daily use.

Here in the UK, they were first thought to be inedible. They were used around the house as ornaments so that people could enjoy the glorious colors, glossy smoothness as well as its sensual shape.

For a long time, the Aubergine was thought to be grown only in warmer climates, however, now that short-season varieties have been developed so that people living in more northern climates can grow them.

I have never seen or tried to grow Aubergines outside. Some form of cover, be it Polly tunnel, glasshouse or cold frame is needed here in the UK.

I sow my seeds inside in small pots half an inch deep in good potting soil, two seeds to a pot. After the seeds have grown for a while, I pinch off the weaker of the two, leaving one plant per pot. I found that by late May or early June the temperatures have risen high enough to plant out in my glasshouse.

It is very important to make sure to harvest the Aubergine at the right stage. As the fruit ages, they can become bitter-tasting with soft flesh and tough skins. Size of the fruit is no indicator that they are ready to be harvest. A mature Aubergines will have a glossy, taut skin and flesh that is just barely resistant.

A good test is to press down on the Aubergine very gently with your thumb: if the flesh of the fruit presses in and bounces back, the fruit is ready for eating. If the flesh is hard, that is, with no give then you must wait awhile because the fruit is immature and too young to pick. On the other hand if the flesh of the Aubergine when pressed down, stays down, then the fruit is overripe.

Be aware that Aubergine bruise very easily, so when you harvest them be gently. The stems of the plant can also be prickly, so you might want to wear a pair of gloves or use shears. Always cut off the Aubergine with the cap and some of the stem attached.

Aubergine are also very perishable, so it is best to harvest as close to cooking time as possible. As a hot climate vegetable it does not store well in cold climates, so do not put it in the fridge.

Grow Shiitake Logs In A Home Garden

Identifying the log

This is another important step that comprises the process of growing shiitake. For Shiitake Logs you have to identify the best and get them from hardwood trees that are freshly cut. While the specifications of logs can change, you can cut them into suitable sizes to achieve your target. There are different trees from which you can cut sections of logs for Shiitake Spawns but make sure that you consult a professional with adequate experience to know the things in entirety. Buying mushroom logs for sale is another idea on which you can rely to enhance the production. It is the quality of the log that can boost the growth of mushroom. Once you have finished the process of getting the Shiitake Mushroom Logs you will be able to grow mushrooms on them for a long time. Logs need to be left for some time to allow the fungicides to die before you move on to the next step.

Buying and stuffing the spawn

Next is the step to get shiitake mushroom spawn whether in the form of sawdust, plugs or thimbles. There are a lot of online portals selling spawns needed for shiitake mushrooms offering different strains and varied characteristics. For each log, you will need a certain number of spawns. After this, you will need to drill holes in the logs and the entire thing is to be done around the circumference of the log. You have to plug spawn in the holes. After filling the holes with spawns you have to cover them with good quality wax which is food grade such as beeswax to avoid contamination.

Keeping the logs

You have to stack the logs against something or lay them on the ground, preferably on a bed of straw. Ideally, the place in which the logs are placed must be shady. However, air circulation must be proper and if there is scanty rainfall in the area, you can keep the logs moist. As a matter of fact, this is the trickiest part of growing shiitake mushroom on the logs. You might have to go through a few steps of trial and error before getting it right.

Growth of mushroom

Finally, the shiitake mushrooms will grow on the logs within a period of six to twelve months. If you are lucky enough the production can continue until springtime. You can expect the growth for about three to four years until the cellulose of the log is consumed fully and prepare for commercial selling if you want.