Archive for March, 2014

Starting Seeds is Fun and Easy as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

These are tomato seedlings which have just sprouted. I start my main crop on April 1st, but need to have something growing a little earlier. Photo by Doug Oster

These are tomato seedlings which have just sprouted. I start my main crop on April 1st, but need to have something growing a little earlier. Photo by Doug Oster


Growing from seed saves money, provides the opportunity to grow endless varieties and, most importantly, nurtures the soul.

Being able to say “I grew it from seed” just feels good.

The key is to start off with the right kind of growing medium. Use a planting mix or seed-starting mix from your favorite nursery. Don’t use garden soil or potting soil; it’s too heavy.

Moisten the mix before putting it into the container. I use plastic six-packs from last year’s flowers, but anything with drainage will do.

Lay the seed on the mix and cover it. Press down to assure good contact between the mix and the seed.

Cover the container with clear plastic and place it in a warm, bright location. You might be able to get away with a bright south-facing window, but you’re better off growing under fluorescent shop lights. Hang them from chains just inches above the plants. As soon as the seeds germinate, remove the plastic.

Start fertilizing at half strength a couple of weeks after sprouting, then continue about once a week.

When temperatures warm up, get the transplants outside to acclimate them to the weather — at first only for an hour and eventually overnight. The process takes about a week. Tender plants like tomatoes and peppers can go out into the garden around the third week of May. I usually wait until Memorial Day when the soil has really warmed up.

This year, I’m going to try a trick I learned at Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse in Clinton. On a tour of the farm in April, I saw rows of tomatoes covered with two layers of floating row covers supported by wire hoops. A floating row cover is spun bound translucent fabric often used to extend the season. It’s really a greenhouse in the field. I’m going to try it with just a couple of plants.

Growing from seed is fulfilling, educational and fun. Give it a try.

Cool New Varieties for 2014 as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

'Hip Hop' violas have an interesting flower shape.

‘Hip Hop’ violas have an interesting flower shape.


Every season bring with it new varieties. Here are just a few I mentioned on PTL. I bought them all at Chapon’s Nursery in Baldwin.
I fell in love with ‘Hip Hop’ violas when I first saw them. The unique flower shape is cool. I want to see how they hold up in cool weather outdoors.
Petunia ‘Glamouflage Grape’ has pretty green and white variegated foliage with purple flowers.
Gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle’ is a showstopper. with three inch wide bright pink blooms.
Every nursery will have their own selection of new plants. Spend a Sunday with a gardening friend and search around, it’s fun. And that’s why we garden…right?

Doug’s web garden chat live at 12 noon Thursday 3/21/2014. Celebrate the first day of spring!

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

This snow crocus heralds the start of spring! Photo by Doug Oster

This snow crocus heralds the start of spring! Photo by Doug Oster


Let’s celebrate the first day of spring by talking gardening. All you have to do is log in here.

I did a lot of these last year and we had fun. Ask questions, tell stories and complain about the endless winter!

I’ll be chatting live at 12 noon on Thursday 3/20/14. Just click the link above.

Hope to see you there.

Join Doug for a once and a lifetime trip to Italy

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

This garden is one we'll see on my trip to Northern Italy.

This garden is one we’ll see on my trip to Northern Italy.


Response has been overwhelming for my upcoming trip to Italy. If the trip is right for you, call Alice Steel today at (724) 266-5715 to make sure you’re registered to go. Here are all the details-
Next September I’m taking gardeners on a once in a lifetime trip to northern Italy. It’s a 10 day trip starting with our overnight flight to Venice on September 6th, 2014 (my birthday). Gardeners who came to London with me last May have already started to sign up. There’s a $250 discount for travelers who sign up early. The price of the trip includes air fair, lodging, 12 meals, bus travel, admission to all venues and more. Highlights include Venice, Murano Island, Doge’s Palace, Giusti Giardino, Como, Lugano, Switzerland, Bellagio, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, Isola Madre, Isola Bella.
We’ll have local professional guides at each area and I’ll be traveling with you to help them.
It’s going to be a wonderful time. There’s nothing better than traveling with other gardeners. But this trip is more than gardens, there will be lots of other things to see too.
Here are all the details.
Call me with questions, 412-779-5861.