Maryland Native Plants-Learn About Them Online

Here’s an intriguing idea for the natural gardeners out there: take an online, free class to learn about Maryland native plants.

The instructor, Dr. Sara Tangren of the University of Maryland Extension Service, has created a class that you can do not only while the rain is pattering on your window, but that will carry you to nurseries and parks to learn more!

Learn about goldenrod, echinacea and blue sedge; ecoregions and native plant communities. Have you ever wondered what a cultivar is? You’ll find out and you’ll know how to use them.

There’s not even a test; you are just asked to go “mock shopping” and identify the difference between a “Lousy” plant and an ideal choice.

Find the course here. If you are a master gardener, you can even get credits for it!

Vermicomposters: Make Your Own Spring Seed Starter Mix!

Vermicomposters: Make Your Own Spring Seed Starter Mix!

If you’ve been carefully tending and enjoying your red wigglers (and moving your food scraps out of your trash and into a place where they’re needed) then you have probably got at least a couple pounds of rich, black vermicompost.

Here’s a great way to use your vermicompost for a spring housewarming or birthday gift!(Or, gift yourself for starting your seeds).

You can either purchase a seed starter mix and add your vermicompost, or craft your own soil growing medium.

I suggest using 1/3 coir, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 perlite.

Coir is extracted from coconuts. They come from the layer between the hard, outer shell and the inner layer of the coconut. It competes with sphagnum peat moss; a big benefit of coir, though, is it soaks up moisture, and peat moss, once dried out, stays dried out. So if you forget for a day to water those tender little seed starter pots in a coir mix, they may still bounce back well with a quick watering.

Perlite is the stuff in seed starter that allows water absorption but provides air pockets in your mix. It looks like little flecks of Styrofoam, but its actually a volcanic glass that, after heating, makes little “popcorn” flecks. Vermiculite is another water holding material that is an alternative to perlite.

Vermicompost is what you (or technically your worms) have made. For soil mix purposes, obviously it should be harvested from your worm bin, and ideally screened for fines and dried.

Voila! Seed Starter Mix!