Bulb

Shawna Coronado

Garden Obsession: How To Use A Garden Cloche

Cloche covering petunia and seashells in garden

Cloche’s have been a mystery to me most of my life; it was a mystery that was half terrarium and half cake cover. When I was a little girl I remember my grandmother having a few bell shaped glass covers she would set out in the garden, but I never knew their proper use until I became a gardener myself. The word “cloche” is French and means “bell”. Garden cloches are used for a number of reasons; from building a terrarium-like container to starting plants to protecting plants from pests to using it as a decorative element in the home or garden. Above you see my little petunia amongst my seashells getting some extra protection from a hungry rabbit with a cloche.

This season I decided to conduct an experiment and see if I could learn how to grow a Tuberous Begonia from bulb by starting the bulb with a cloche cover in a  Terrarium Grow Kit.

How To Grow A Begonia Bulb With a Cloche Cover

Begonia and Cloche Kit1. Plant the bulb in the soil with its rounded side down and hollow side up, covering with one inch of soil. Here (to the right) you see the plant has already started and is displaying a pale pink stem. This particular variety is Begonia ‘Golden Balcony’  although I’m calling him Brad the Begonia, because every begonia needs a name, right?

2. Water well and then cover with the cloche or terrarium until you begin to see stronger leaf growth.

3. Wipe the inside of the cloche if moisture develops on the glass, lifting the cloche if moisture becomes too heavy and causes the plant to rot.

4. When plant is ready to transplant, remove from under the glass and transplant.

Begonia growing in cloche

When using a cloche, the most important concern is moisture. If not watched carefully it can form a high humidity environment where there will be too much moisture inside the bell. If this is the case, simply prop the lid up on one side so air can circulate. Additionally, a cloche can protect against a pest invasion, but if you leave seedlings under a cloche too long without water, it can also become an inhospitable environment for the seedlings. Watch your cloche projects carefully and the cloche becomes a fantastic garden tool to help you grow.

Cloche’s can be used to extend the growing season and protect young plants from frost. Seed starting using a cloche is a great way to protect the in-ground seedlings from being eaten by pests or stepped on by your pet. While cloche’s can be quite decorative and expensive, they typically range in size and price from the low to the high. Cloche’s can be found at your local independent garden center, online, and of course you can make your own cloche by cutting the top off of a clear 2 Liter bottle and turning it upside down.

Happily, my experiment worked. In the photo above you see Brad the Begonia sitting on my desk early in the season growing like the little champ he is. In the bottom photo you see him as he looks today – all handsome and ready for the garden bed.

Cloche grown begonia full size

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received several products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Three Unique Garden Tools Reviewed

Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator In Use

There was a little old man that lived up the street from me where I grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. I called him Mr. Grouchy Pants. All we kids were afraid of him because he would catch us playing “Army” in his back garden and chase us off his property yelling like a madman and waving this big metal rod like a weapon. I would have nightmares that I was Peter Rabbit and he was Mr. McGregor. In my dreams Mr. Grouchy Pants would trap me in his giant watering can. Years later I learned that the big metal rod was a do-all gardening tool he invented. It was just a heavy rod, yet it was so much more: a seed hole maker, a lever to dig out rocks, a clay breaker, a thin hoe, and a scary pretend weapon to chase away ornery little girls and boys. As gardeners, we soon discover that the most common tools sold are not necessarily the best tools for the jobs. Sometimes we have to make our own or go searching for an creative solution. Below are reviews of three very interesting garden tools that are unique and provide awesome solutions in the garden.

 

Cool Garden Tools Reviewed

Cobrahead Weeder and CultivatorThe Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator – One of my favorite tools ever is the Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator. Cobrahead is the strongest tempered steel blade “finger” you will ever use in the garden and truly acts as an extension of your arm. It is great for getting under a weed with a tap root and popping it out or for using it as an edger along flagstone. I never lose it because the blue handle is easy to spot in the garden and it helps in all kinds of tough jobs – like weeding cactus (top photo). Each Cobrahead is made of a recycled composite material.

 

Trake Garden Tool

Trake - Another strong tool with unique features is the Trake, named for the rakish three tined prong on one side of the tool. There is a measured narrow trowel on the other side of the handle, which is fabulous for bulb and container planting. The three tined prong is super strong, works well to weed, and creates troughs in soil for seeds or plants. Lightweight aluminum makes the tool easy to maneuver, plus it has a vinyl wrap around the handle to help you grip the tool well.

 

DeWit Shawna Trowel Scoop with Cutter ToolDeWit Potting Scoop and Cutter – This unique DeWit Potting Scoop and Cutter Potting Trowel is built in the shape of a scoop with a honed top edge for cutting out the old soil from container. It also has a more pronounced bend for holding soil without spilling and a sharp knife edge for cutting open bags of soil and compost. It’s a heavy trowel with a truly unique cutting edge which I find very handy in the garden because I do not carry a pocket knife. It also works well for pre-hung vertical gardens so you do not spill as much soil when filling wall containers. The special story about this trowel is I got to blacksmith it myself. I complained that I could not find a potting trowel that was built to not spill soil to Sietse DeWit, the President of the DeWit Tool Company. He invited me to come to his factory and blacksmith a tool with his team that would work and this cool scoop/cutter/trowel is what we came up with and it is guaranteed for a lifetime. Below is a video showing the blacksmithing process for the “Shawna Trowel”.

Caring for your garden tools is an important, but simple, part of keeping the tools in good condition for years of use. Each of these unique tools is easy to maintain – rinse after use and put away immediately. Oil wooden handles and iron to prevent aging and rust.

Better gardening starts by finding the garden tools that work best for you for your particular need. Great, long lasting, tools make gardening easier and prevent undue strain while working in the garden. Try these three interesting, unique tools in your garden to see if this garden gear might be the right fit for your special gardening situation.

According the FTC, I need to tell you that I received products in this blog post at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Everyday Gardeners

Ultimate Easy-Care Houseplant

If you’re looking for a unique houseplant that’s easy to grow, consider the veldt lily (Veltheimia bracteata), also known as cape lily. This bulbous plant is a mid-winter bloomer, with a cluster of tubular pink blossoms that bear a resemblance to a bottle brush or the perennial flower red-hot poker. One of my plants is just starting to color up now. Another, which spent more time in the chilly greenhouse, will be several weeks behind.

veldt lily

veldt lily

Even before it blooms its undulating glossy green leaves make it an attractive foliage plant. The leaves are so perfectly shiny that many who see my plants think that they must be artificial. After the plant finishes blooming, cut off the flower stalk, and keep the plant in bright light, watering frequently enough to keep the soil evenly moist. By late spring, the foliage will begin to die back. Withhold water at that time, and let the plant go dormant. (As a native of South Africa, it’s programmed to grow on an alternate cycle to most of our Northern Hemisphere plants.) Set the plant aside over summer–I stick mine in the garage. In early fall, resume watering. You’ll be rewarded with an abundance of blooms in midwinter.

This plant is a survivor. Back in my college days, I left my veldt lily in the care of my mother while I studied abroad for two years. Because I departed in July, the plant was dormant and sitting in her dark fruit cellar. I came back 2 years later to find the plant in the same spot, and still alive! It had not been watered or moved to a sunny window in that entire time. As I recall, it didn’t bloom that first year, but grew beautiful foliage, and by the following winter was back on schedule with it’s reliable display of colorful flowers. Now that’s what I call one tough plant!

You probably won’t find the plant for sale at your local garden center, but it is available from several on-line mail order houseplant specialty nurseries and bulb growers.


Justin W. Hancock

Amazing Amaryllis

Samba amaryllis

Now that we’re well into November, I guess I have to face the fact that the holidays are coming. (There’s a part of me that really doesn’t want to think about Christmas until December starts.)

But amaryllis help me overcome my curmudgeon instincts. I delight in their ease of growth and rich colors.

Happily, there are more amaryllis than ever on the market — from the traditional reds and whites to pinks, oranges, and multicolors.

To show off the wide world of amaryllis, I’ve put up a slideshow here on BHG.com displaying 23 different varieties and links to be able to purchase many of them right now so you can enjoy their beautiful blooms at your holiday gatherings.

If you take a look, I’d love to hear which your favorites are! (My top two are ‘Benfica’, slide 6, and ‘Santos’, slide 17.)


Justin W. Hancock

This End Up

One of my friends is getting more and more excited about gardening. She bought her first batch of spring-blooming bulbs this year and was really excited to start 2010 with a show of tulips, daffodils, anemones, and crocus.

All was well until I got a worried call from her. She said she wasn’t sure how to plant the bulbs and how deep to plant them.

If you’ve run into this question, there’s happily a pretty easy answer.  Plant most spring bulbs about three times deeper than the bulb is tall. So if you have a 3-inch-tall tulip, you’ll want to plant it about 9 inches deep.

And as far as which way to plant, the pointy side is generally up. For types that don’t have a point, plant them on their side — they’ll send their roots down and their shoots up.