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Tag Archives: Gardening

  • Green thumb? There are apps for that.

    Gardening apps

     

    It's officially spring and that means it's time to get our gardens growing. Here at Grommet we're excited to launch several items this spring that will help you and your landscapes get into full bloom. We're also continuing our series on our favorite apps and have listed some of the best gardening apps below that will help you keep that thumb of yours bright green.

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  • Does Pinterest stimulate oxytocin production?

    Over the last three months I organized a lot of overdue home interior fix-ups.  Nothing truly major, yet this series of projects has had a surprising mood-lifting effect on me.  I used to come home every night to confront "death by a thousand cuts."  No, not emotional trauma.  I was much more tortured by cracked bathroom tiles, and ice-damaged ceilings, and countless scuffs on our walls.  Now I come home to crisp, freshly-maintained rooms (as long as I ignore the day to day mess).  I can breathe!   But my husband is continually surprised at how openly happy I am about this work.  I mention it a lot. Like almost every night. And he must be thinking..."if I only knew the difference a gallon of paint could make."

    I suspect that these home improvements stimulate the production of the natural "contentment" chemical substance--oxytocin--for me. There is something about taking good care of my house (and my family by extension) that is mood-enhancing.  And I believe that the enormous numbers of women who report the calming, mood-lifting effect of Pinterest to be experiencing some version of the same oxytocin effect.

    Why?  Take a look at a tiny snippet of my "Gardening" board on Pinterest, below, and an amateur deconstruction of my oxytocin theory, which depends on three key components of oxytocin production:  generosity, trust, and optimism:

    Generosity: sharing a project doubles its pleasure. In the first two photos I am pinning my spring garden.  Coincidentally, I do almost all my gardening in my front yard because I enjoy sharing it.  I am away from home most of the week and I like the notion that people are passing by appreciating it in my absence.  I feel generous and oddly connected to strangers, which is a documented oxytocin benefit. But now Pinterest enables me to share my garden with, literally, anyone with an internet connection, in a context that makes more sense than, say, Flickr, Facebook, or Instagram.   And I get a slice of that same enjoyment in looking at garden pins from other people.

    Trust: Pinterest enables people to help each other. In the third pin above, (the purple balls) I am sharing a photo of a garden sculpture I want to make.  I am having a little trouble copying what I found in this French garden, so I pinned the photo and asked for suggestions.  According to the neuroeconomist and TED talk-giver Paul J. Zak, I just produced an oxytocin moment for the people who follow me on Pinterest.  Apparently, one of the central ways to stimulate oxytocin is to give a sign of trust to another person.  Zak is publishing a book about it called The Trust Molecule.  It's very low-demand, but putting this project up and asking for help enables other people to have that feeling of being trusted.  Odds are, I will follow their advice and probably even report back.  According to Zak, the mere act of sharing trust is a tiny step to creating a more stable society.

    Pinterest is entirely optimistic. Pinboards roughly divide into two categories.  One is "here is who I am."  (Or at least the parts I am proud of, like my garden.)  The second is "here is who I am going to be."  This second category is very interesting.  It is optimistic and future-facing. Pinning is like losing weight, cooking fabulous food, dressing beautifully, travelling to exotic places, and displaying great taste...with none of the actual effort.  This is who I will BE, and no one can argue with that.  In my case, I created an "Easter Projects" board full of the charming and obsessive things I would make IF I had time.  I am telling the world:

    I am really am like THIS person, even though I don't, um, actually have that life right now. But I would if I could, and I will some day.

    And oddly, the mere act of pinning these projects, knowing full well I would never make them, gave me half the satisfaction of actually doing them.  And as proof (to myself) that these boards can someday be my reality, I used my "Need a new haircut" pinboard  to actually figure out a new hairdo. I made this board to show my hairdresser what I wanted, and to solicit input from a couple friends on my finalist choices.  So Pinterest can be concretely useful to organizing a project, which contributes to my optimism about the much more unrealistic boards I create.  (But for the life of me, I have no idea why 333 people decided to follow my haircut board.)

    It's a pretty rare and special thing for a bunch of pixels on a website to provide a consistently pleasant and personal experience.  The "oxytocin effect" of Pinterest is not dependent on delivering great new pins every day, or dumb humor, or exceptional stories.  I can look at my home page, find nothing of interest, but still wander over to fuss with  my own boards and feel...content.  I am tending my future.  (I have boards for trips I am actually planning, and trips I will never take.  Boards for house projects I am doing and houses I will never own. Boards for business ideas, meals, parties, inspirational people, gifts. Basically anything that I can capture online, visually, that I want to remember.)   And I probably spend a maximum of ten minutes a day on the site, so it is not as though it takes a lot of work.

    Pinterest is the site that gives and does not take.  Clearly, being the fastest growing site in history, Pinterest is playing with more than pins and pixels.

  • The top things that leave tomato lovers quizzical in the garden

    Steve Goto is a third generation nurseryman. With an education in banking he never thought he would be selling tomato seedlings let alone be one of the most experienced and sought after lecturer of tomatoes in California. He recently let us in on one of his secrets for growing the best tomatoes: John and Bob's Soil Solution.

     John and Bob’s products help me grow tomatoes with stronger stems, flourishing canopies and sweeter fruit! -Steve Goto

    Once we started talking with the "Tomato King," we soon realized he was full of tomato-growing knowledge. We were lucky enough to get some advice for our own gardens....we are sharing it with you today.

    by Steve Goto

    With the long weekend coming up, many of us anticipate getting our gardens in the ground. Many of us enthusiastically plant a variety of tomatoes so that we can enjoy the vast bounties of the summer. There is nothing like a fresh beefsteak tomato sandwich on a hot summer day, a fresh heirloom tomato salad with balsamic vinegar in the fall, or a hearty winter marinara canned from some sweet Amish paste tomatoes with peppers and onions from the garden.

    To enjoy these fruits (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit ;) ) many gardeners have some common questions:

    1. Watering, How much? How often?

    I found that a deep watering at intervals is the best way to water. A rule of thumb is to water deeply once every 7 days for the first 4 weeks. Watch the foliage in the coolest part of the morning after sunrise and check to see if the foliage is drooping. Do not be fooled by a plant’s foliage drooping as needing water. This is natural when the foliage is drooping in the mid-morning or afternoon heat. If the foliage is drooping in the cool morning air, then the plant requires a watering. That’s the best time to water. Deep watering is the key. A slow drip from the hose for at least 45 minutes is advised. Apply water again when the foliage is drooping only in the cool early morning. Count the intervals between waterings. That will determine your interval. You will know about when the plant will need water again.

    2. How important is it to rotate your tomato crops?

    By using organic gardening methods it is no longer necessary to rotate crops. However, it is generally a good idea to switch things up every few years. This gives the soil a chance to rest and deters both insects and diseases that prey on tomatoes from establishing firmly in a particular spot in the garden.

    3. What are suckers and is it important to remove them?

    Tomato suckers, or side shoots, are the growth that appears in the plant crotch between the stem and a branch. This extraneous growth takes away from blooming, fruit producing branches. It is important to remove these suckers because this allows the tomato plant to produce the best quality tomatoes and encourages stronger stems to support the fruit. Trimming the suckers redistributes the plant’s sugar stores to the place where you want it the most: in that big, delicious red orb!

    4. Is it a good practice to remove the foliage before you plant and why do you plant tomatoes deeply?

    Prepare the plant by removing all the foliage on the stem, leaving only the top three leaves, or 4 to 6 inches of foliage at the tip. Bury the plants stem in the soil only exposing all the way except the top three exposed leaves, or 4 to 6 inches above the soil line. Tomatoes plants are amazing this way, in that the buried portions of stems will produce roots in 5 days. This process creates a much more organized system where your plant will be able to absorb more nutrients than from the larger established root system alone. Remember to always remove the flowers and any forming fruit!!!!!!

    5. How do you prevent the dreaded Tomato Hornworm?

    Tomato hornworms can best be controlled by picking them off your plant with a pair of tongs, but it is best to spray first, then hand control them. Hornworms with the white egg cases of parasitic wasps should not be destroyed because the wasps will hatch out and destroy other hornworms in the garden. Organic controls such as Spinosad or B.T. are safe for people, but deadly for insects.

    6. How do I prune my plants to get the biggest sized tomato plant or squeeze out the best flavor?

    Pruning is a method of removing side branches from the main stem. Most times tomato plants can get out of hand and should be pruned to keep the plant orderly. Another reason is to enhance the growth of the remaining fruit by channeling the plants growth energy to only the fruit on main stem. This causes the fruit to grow to its maximum flavor and size. This method also produces less fruit – but better fruit. All side branches on the plant will produce fruit. Many are confused about the need to prune or even what to prune. I find that this answer lies with the grower. Pruning is directly related to what the grower wants to accomplish.The rule of thumb is: Do you want maximum size and flavor? Yes, prune all side branches. Do you want a large crop of fruit but don’t especially care about size? No, do not prune.

    Hopefully these answer your “big” tomato questions. What concerns do you have about getting the best tomato harvest?

  • Gardening... a community of growth (we hope!)

    With Spring's arrival, many of us here at Daily Grommet have an itch to get in the garden. Whether you're a novice gardener or a seasoned pro, it seems gardening is always a learning process. Jen Wallace, founder of www.IndieFixx.com, knows this all too well. She shares some of her experiences with us and offers a way to make gardening a bit more enjoyable.

    by Jen Wallace

    So, I'm a pretty new gardener ... last year was my first year at it, and one thing I've learned is that gardening in a vacuum is not a good idea. You need to connect with other gardeners. Both for the information, but also to share your accomplishments and your defeats. There's nothing better than sharing your garden's growth with others; and conversely, only another gardener knows the heartache of losing all one's tomato plants (something that happened to a lot of us last summer).

    To that end, I share a lot of my gardening experiences on my blog Indie Fixx and I've also started a Gardening Flickr Group as a way for all of us gardeners to connect and share images of our hard work. So, whether you have a large backyard plot, just have a few herbs in pots, plant vegetables or just flowers, come share with us

    Here are a few recent highlights from the group. 

    Thanks for sharing your gardening  journey with us, Jen, and for helping to build a community around a shared loved for gardening. I was so pleased to learn about Jen's flickr gardening group that I joined too! Like Jen, I'm a new gardener, so I'm thankful to have found a community  to learn and share with.

  • Garden therapy

    We're really into gardening this week, and todays' Grommet makes it a cinch to have a weed-less garden.  If you want a garden like Amy's, check out Growin' Gridz Gardening Templates.  We think you'll love them.

    Garden Therapy

    By Amy Urquhart of Assertagirl and Playing in the Dirt

    tomatoes growing in gardenWander into the yard of one of your neighbours. Choose a yard that is filled with flowers, a lush and inviting lawn, or rows of tiny vegetable seedlings making their seasonal appearance. You’ve probably wandered into the yard of someone who proudly refers to herself as a gardener. Now, ask her why she grows plants, and something pretty predictable will likely take place. She'll take a deep breath, survey her yard or balcony or patio, breathing in the scent of green, and smile.

    “It’s like therapy.”

    Whenever I’m asked about what I like about growing plants, my answer usually follows along these lines. I grow all kinds of plants, from the red-stemmed dogwood in my perennial border to the brand new, three-foot tall sugar maple at the back of our yard. Then there are the containers of annuals that decorate the back deck and the stately, staked tomato plants that rise proudly above the organic soil below, their round, ripening fruit glistening in the early morning summertime dew.

    While gardening seems like a lot of work to some people, growing plants is my way of taking it easy. I plod out into the back yard first thing in the morning during the growing season, a basket in one hand, a pair of pruners in the other, and set out to mingle among the plants. I look carefully at each one, hoping to catch a glimpse of the miracle of new growth, which, seems at times to take place overnight. I pull a weed, I water a pot, I harvest a handful of beans from their vine. I take comfort in knowing that I am nourishing living, growing, changing things, an experience which simultaneously nourishes my own heart and soul.

    The question, then, should not be “Why do you grow plants?” but “How could you not?”

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