What is Seed Stratification?

Some seed is difficult to germinate unless you stratify them. If you do that correctly, you can germinate just about any seed with ease. I’ve germinated over 2,000 different types of seed and many needed a cold stratification period before they would germinate. In this stratification guide I’ll tell you everything you need to know about germinating seeds.

3 seedlings just poking above the soil line
Seeds that have been properly stratified, source: Chris Penny

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Germinating Seeds Quickly: Complete Guide

Starting seeds is one the most exciting and enjoyable parts of gardening and you can do it in winter. Each seed pack contains little miracles that in your hands will develop into beautiful mature plants, provided you follow the simple steps outlined in this post. 

I have personally germinated over 2,000 different varieties of plants using the methods in this guide. It is much easier than you think and the tricks and procedures detailed here will work for vegetables, flowers and even trees.  Grab those seed packs and let’s get started.

seed just poking its head above soil

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Over mulching Trees | Mulch Volcanoes Kill Trees

As Penn State puts it: “Mulch Volcanoes are Erupting Everywhere“, and they are killing trees. It is a slow death, but one that is almost inevitable. Gardeners and landscape professionals see over mulched trees everywhere and they copy the method, not knowing that they are mulching incorrectly.

The main cause of death has been attributed to increased trunk rot, but that is a myth. This post will debunk this myth, explain the real cause of death, show you how to mulch trees and shrubs properly and how to fix the problems caused by mulch volcanoes.

huge cone shaped pile of mulch around a thin tree
An extreme mulch volcano. Notice that all of the trees in the background are also over mulched, source: Paul Hetzler, Adirondack Almanack

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What is Hydroponic Fertilizer?

Hydroponics has become more popular especially with the invention of the aerogarden systems, like AeroGarden. DIY home hydroponic grow systems are also popular, as are Kratky methods. All of these systems require hydroponic fertilizer which is quite a bit more expensive than regular soluble fertilizer. It begs the question, can you use regular fertilizer in place of hydroponic fertilizer? What makes hydroponic fertilizer special and what should you be looking for when you buy them?

hands holding lettuce plant showing roots
Lettuce grown hydroponically, source: Farm

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How Long Does Grass Seed Take to Grow?

Most grass seed starts growing in about 10-14 days but it can take as long as 30 days. Here are some tips and tricks to speed up the growth of grass seed, as well as advice on starting a new lawn.

small grass seedlings
Lawn grass seedling growing fast, source: CSIRO

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GMO Myths – Understand the Truth About GMO Plants

GMOs are very controversial for two reasons. Firstly, there is a lot of misinformation out there and secondly GMOs are not well understood by the general public. Rather than discuss the topic in detail I have decided to focus on some of the common myths. I will present a number of GMO myths and if the reader is interested in more detail they can look at the references.

If you have formed an opinion on GMOs based what you have read on popular web sites and in newspapers, you have probably reached the wrong conclusion. The anti-GMO movement is strong and based almost entirely on emotion and fear. Science does not back up most of their claims.

GMO Myths - Understand the Truth About GMO Plants
GMO Myths – Understand the Truth About GMO Plants, source Antoine.Couturier

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How to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden

Do you hate strange cats using your yard as a personal litter box?  You’re not alone. Keeping cats out of your garden is a big problem that comes up all the time on social media.

In this post I’ll examine the many proposals for controlling cats to see which ones actually work. Spoiler alert – most suggests are just myths and don’t work or are not practical, but some are worth trying.

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It’s Seed Starting Time

I know it is still snowing, but this is perfect weather for winter sowing. It is also a good idea to look at your seeds and figure out which are still viable using my simple seed test. You should also start getting your equipment ready. Is this the year you order new LED lights?

Below are some excellent videos that answer many of the questions you have about starting seeds including my most popular video about using the baggy method for seed starting which now has 1.2 million views!

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Soil Calculator | How Much Soil Do You Need?

Automatically calculate the amount of soil you need in both imperial and metric units. This soil calculator shows the amount for both bulk and bag purchase and can be used for any type of material including topsoil, compost, mulch, and gravel. Automatically calculates the soil needed – give it a try to see how easy it is.

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18 LED Grow Light Myths You Should Know About

LED Grow Lights are becoming very popular and they are a good choice if you are buying a new grow light system or upgrading your old florescent fixture. This post about LED grow light myths will save you time and money.

As with any new technology there are many myths about LED grow lights. Some are started because of a lack of knowledge by the general public, but many are started by manufacturers who are trying to sell their product. Some of them prefer to keep us in the dark so they can make outrageous claims, but the better companies don’t do this. We need to do our part and become educated consumers so that we can properly evaluate both the message being broadcast and the product itself.

Don’t go shopping for LED grow lights until you read all of this post.

LED grow light myths, showing a red and blue LED
LED grow light myths, showing a red and blue LED

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Best Seed Starting Mix, Including DIY

You work very hard to grow the very best seedlings you can. So start them off right and give them best seedling mix you can. I have grown over 2,000 varieties of plants from seed and wrote the book Soil Science for Gardeners. In this post I review the best commercial and DIY seed starting mixes and give you my opinion on starting your babies off right.

Two hands potting up a tomato seedling
Use the right seed starting mix

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What You Should Know About Composting Cat Litter

Composting cat litter can help keep it out of your garbage while turning the waste into something beneficial for your garden. Composting litter though is not as simple as composting food scraps and there are special risks you need to understand. However, done right it is easy and safe to compost cat litter.

cat on the toilet holding a paper towel roll
Composting cat litter is a bit harder than just sitting your cat on the toilet, photo source: flamsterette

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