Sheri Ann Richerson's exotic gardening, elegant cooking, crafty creations, food preservation and animal husbandry... all on two and a half acres in Marion, Indiana!

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    December 2011 Archives


    Place sealed test tubes filled with seeds inside a glass cloche for an elegant way to start seeds.

    Gardeners who start plants from seed know the best way to do it is to pre-germinate the seeds in some type of container such as a bowl, glass dish or test tube. Sometimes finding an elegant way to display those seed starting containers, especially if you have limited space, can be tricky.

    Using test tubes placed inside a cloche is a great way to keep the water the seeds are soaking in warmer, germinate a lot of seeds in a limited space and turn a necessary process into an elegant endeavor.

    Place multiple test tubes filled with hot water and seeds inside a small ceramic flower pot.


    Here is how the process works:

    Begin with clean test tubes. Sometimes you can find these in the Halloween section of stores.

    Place clean, dry seeds in the bottom of the test tubes.

    Fill the tubes 3/4 of the way up with hot water.

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    Plants clean the indoor air and add a touch of elegance to indoor decor. The holidays are a wonderful time to incorporate a few extra plants into your living areas. Plants make ideal centerpieces. They liven up a corner of a room – just make sure you have enough light for the plants you choose – and don’t forget to mist or water them as needed to keep them looking good. It’s so easy to create a festive Christmas terrarium. Even after the holidays are long gone, the terrarium and the plants inside it will continue to bring you joy.

    Poinsettia are a typical holiday plant. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes. My personal favorite is the rose poinsettia because the bright red flowers – which are really bracts – resemble a rose. Unfortunately the poinsettia is not fragrant, however placing a few scented pinecones throughout the room certainly makes up for that.


    These days you can find poinsettias in all sizes from miniatures that will grow into full size plants over time to large plants that make a statement on their own. For a terrarium, choose the size that best fits inside the one you own. My terrariums are rather small so a miniature rose poinsettia was the perfect size for it.

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    The "bare bones" of the aquaponic set-up.

    The idea behind aquaponics has intrigued me for quite sometime. I held off because I felt like getting large food-grade plastic tanks to contain the fish was beyond my ability, since I had no idea where to find them used. Then I read a post in a magazine that said you could use a 10-gallon fish tank. That got my wheels spinning. After all, when you are as avid of a gardener as I am, everyone wants to give you their used fish tanks. They all suggest you can turn them into terrariums, which is a great idea, but let’s face it, aquariums take up a lot of room.

    Of course, I usually accept my friends discarded aquariums, just in case I find a good use for them. I knew I had several empty aquariums sitting around outside in the greenhouse and garage, but had no idea how big they were. As it turned out, I had one twenty-gallon tank and several ten gallon tanks that were not in use. I decided to clean up the twenty-gallon tank that used to hold carnivorous plants. This seemed like a good size to start with, not too small and not too large.

    Once the aquarium was clean, I asked Jerry to clean off one of the metal book shelves so I could have a sturdy stand with two shelves on it. We put the aquarium on the bottom shelf. The plants are going on the top shelf so I can hang a grow light over the top of them. The grow light is essential to the operation since we are doing this in a corner of the living room – for now.

    Tilipia in their new home.

    All I could think of as I was cleaning the tank and getting it set-up was catfish since this is our favorite type of fish. Unfortunately there were none to be had locally, so I had to move on to plan b since I was determined to start my little experiment immediately.

    I know, come spring, the traveling fish men will set-up at Tractor Supply. At that point, I intend to get some catfish, but in the meantime, a nice couple sold me a dozen tilapia. This made my Christmas wish come true – after all, the only thing I wanted this year was “two catfish and one aquaponics set-up.” LOL!

    We went out and met the couple last night. I was thrilled with their set-up – but it did remind me of how much I missed my greenhouse, which has not been in use since it was damaged last fall by that horrible hail storm. I hope, come spring, we can repair it. I’m not sure I can stand another year without it!

    We spent quite a while visiting and talking. We tasted some of the tomatoes they were growing, which were divine! We left with a dozen fingerling fish in a five-gallon bucket.

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    The Complete Garden Vegetable Kit from Dollar Seed has enough seeds in it to start a productive vegetable garden.

    Now that the fish are settled into their new home, it is time to get a jump-start on seed starting for the aquaponic system. The plants I decided to grow in this system are pole beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. I have heard these plants are harder to grow in an aquaponic system, but since I grow lettuce and other cool weather crops outside all year long, I don’t see the point of growing them indoors.

    I had just received the Complete Vegetable Garden Kit from the Dollar Seed. It was sent to me free of charge. The pole bean, tomato and cucumber seeds I selected were from those packets, so I know they are fresh seed. There was even enough seed left over to start another batch of plants with if I choose to do so.

    The steadyGROW sample kit was just right size for starting seeds for the 20-gallon aquaponic set-up.


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