How to Choose the Best Garden Design

The garden is one of the most beautiful and peaceful parts of a home. It brings us closer to nature, gives us a glimpse and feel of greenery with the comfort of our lawn. You can spend a perfect afternoon in your garden reading a book or unwind after a tiring day enjoying the beauty of green, all these will bring you such solace which you cannot find even if sitting in a fancy decorated room. But in order to get peace and happiness in the garden, its look and design should be pleasing. If you are not happy about the look of your garden then you will hardly find any peace there over all the grumping. The design of garden plays an important role in your outlook towards it. So choose the design carefully.

Before choosing the design for your garden you need to understand the shape and condition of your yard. If the shape of your garden is small then you should not opt for a large number of tall trees. It will hog up extra space, leaving you only a much smaller portion. Medium plant pots with will well-trimmed grass and patio furniture will be a suitable option for small gardens. However, for big gardens, you can choose any design you want. Availability of space is a benefit.

The design of the garden also depends on the fertility of the soil you are reaping and the climate. Every season demands different plant. For example, if you wish to plant a tree which grows in autumn then all your effort will go to waste. Also the climate of the region you live in plays an important role. It is better to do some research before putting your hands in the soil. Make sure the plants receive the appropriate amount of sunlight to grow plus shade exposure as well.

Also, choose your design and theme according to the people living in your home. If your house is one of the kids then choose a theme which they find cute and attractive, like giving it look of a playground. This way they will be spending some time outdoors, doing some outdoor activity rather than just sitting in front of the television. If you are a bachelor then choose any design you find appealing.

Another tip, make your garden your look attractive so that you will be compelled to spend some time there. A garden is a great place for morning exercise. Not only you will get enough space for movement there, but you will also inhale fresh morning air, which is good for your health, plus walking on the grass blades barren feet is really good for brain and body. It is suggested by doctors also.

You give your garden a fancy look by adding garden lights. You can use solar garden lights or LED outdoor lighting. It will not only make your garden look beautiful but will also be perfect for outdoor theme parties.

How Outdoor Play Is Beneficial for Special Kids

Are you worried about your special child and fear he might lack behind other kids in learning? Special children have special needs because they are different than others. These children face problems in communication skills, social interaction, and cognitive learning due to the deficiencies they have. Despite lacking some obvious skills, they can benefit from outdoor activities up to a great extent. Apart from providing physical benefits, playing outdoors is absolutely beneficial for improving social and mental skills in special children. In this post, I will be talking about physical, mental, and social benefits, separately and respectively.

Physical Benefits

The most obvious benefit kids get when they step outdoors to play is an intake of Vitamin D from the sunlight. A number of researchers have shown how important it is for kids to expose themselves to sunlight for a few minutes every day. What is more, playing outdoors enhances motor and balancing skills and also boosts muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination. Moreover, playing also enhances cardiovascular health, which, in turn, increases life expectancy.

Mental Benefits

Special children have a great inferiority complex. However, playing outdoors helps in improving their self-esteem by overcoming obstacles and meeting challenges. Even setting minor challenges help in boosting their confidence as they feel pride in accomplishing something they thought they couldn’t do. Moreover, it enhances their problem-solving skills as completing a task involves a lot of issues that have to be resolved. What is more, special children suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression more than normal kids, and the outdoor playtime helps in overcoming such psychological problems.

Social Skills

Kids with special needs suffer the most from an inability to interact effectively with others. Since playing outdoors is all about teamwork, it provides them with an opportunity to make new friends and interact with them. They share their ideas and listen to others, deal with conflicts that arise during playing and work in a group to meet their goals. They do all this in a low-stress environment and have fun doing so. As a result, they are able to maintain a healthy relationship with their peers due to the improvement of self-confidence, resiliency, and self-advocacy. The process of overcoming challenges in a group helps a great deal in boosting social skills.

Where to Take Kids for Playing Outdoors?

Now, the question is where should you take your kids to play? To be honest, it could be anywhere at all, but wherever you take them, make sure it’s safe enough for playing. There are different types of playground structures that look amazing apparently but aren’t as safe for outdoor play as they should be. Therefore, first inspect the playground you are taking your kids to. Since they are special, they need extra care. There are some playgrounds that offer an exclusive play area for such children. If you can find such a playground nearby, then it would be beneficial to take them there. If you can’t, then do not take a risk and make your home garden their playground and gather neighborhood kids to play with them.

Creative Recreational Systems, Inc. manufactures and distributes Commercial Playground Equipment for both residential and recreational areas. In addition, the company deals in equipment installation, playground part replacement, and project design consultation, and Foam Padding For Playground installation. Since 1972, the company has been successfully delivering high-quality recreational playground equipment across America with 100% customer satisfaction.

It Was a Gobble-Gobble Kind of Day

I do not know about anybody else, but I truly enjoy Thanksgiving Day. It is not just because of the turkey that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage prepares so brilliantly, although, I cannot think of any other reason.

Of course, there is the idea of family getting together. I enjoy that all the time. I like to hear the stories and get caught up with the latest happenings that have to do with my family.

I remember years ago good old Uncle Bud was my favorite uncle. He could tell a story that was so unbelievable that you ended up believing him.

Even today, I can remember some of the stories that he would tell and I could see now that he was exaggerating very well. I guess it’s in our family.

So, it is wonderful to get together with family and get up-to-date with all the happenings in our family.

However, when it comes to Thanksgiving, my focus is on the marvelous food. Everybody in the family is to bring their special dish to share with everybody else. Some are good at baking pies, some at doing vegetable dishes (although this year we were not allowed to use lettuce), some at casseroles and a host of other delicious delicacies.

Here’s what I like about a good old-fashioned family gathering at Thanksgiving. No matter what the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage says to me, I feel obligated to eat every dish brought in by a family member. After all, I surely do not want to embarrass anybody or shun them.

And, the best thing about this is, I need to have seconds and thirds and sometimes even more. After all, I do not want to offend anybody in my family.

I’m not sure, but I think everybody brought a pie. There were so many different pies on the table that I could not choose which one I wanted. Therefore, being the wonderful family person that I am, I took a slice of each.

My reasoning is simple, if it is a Thanksgiving dinner and the food is brought by family there absolutely no calories attached to it. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Although everything else was rather delicious, I must say that the turkey was magnificent. And, as you might know, my wife prepared that turkey.

She began the preparation for our Thanksgiving Day Turkey somewhere in August. There were some turkeys on sale and she scooped them up as much as possible. After all, she wanted to make sure she had enough turkey for everyone. And, according to her, it is against family rules to leave the family dinner without taking leftovers with you.

To prepare for this, the turkey had to be huge. That meant two and maybe even three turkeys to be prepared. It took her days to cook the turkey. Since I have no cookery imagination, I am not sure how she cooked it or how long it took her to cook it. All I know is, the kitchen smelled delicious for several weeks.

Please, do not let this get out. But she had one turkey that was done and she put it on the shelf to cool down a little bit before putting it in the freezer. I looked at it. I thought it looked back at me. I looked at it again and I got to the point of nonresistance. After all, why should I fight with the turkey?

Very carefully I sliced bits of turkey where I thought nobody would notice it and walked away munching on very delicious turkey. My problem was, the turkey was too delicious and I was too hungry. I went back several times and cut off just a little bit so nobody would notice. The nobody that I did not want to notice, of course, was my wife.

I happen to be chewing on a bit of turkey when the wife came into the room and asked the question she always asks me, “What are you eating?”

“Oh,” I said rather hesitatingly, “I’m just chewing on a little bit of meat I found in the refrigerator.” I thought that would solve the problem and for a while it looked like it did.

I just got seated in my chair when she, looking at the turkey, said, “Did you get a piece of this turkey to eat?”

When you’re found out, you’re found out. And trust me, I was found out.

Not all the lying in the world could get me out of this predicament that I was in.

I thought I had come to the end. She had caught me with turkey in my mouth. I was sure I was in some deep trouble.

Then she said something that totally surprised me. “How was that turkey? Was it any good?”

I like to take advantage of situations so I said, “That was the best turkey I have ever tasted in my life.”

With a smile, she turned and walked away. How I got away with that, I am going to have to ponder for quite a few days.

How To Grow Shiitake Logs In A Home Garden

Shiitake logs that are grown at home have superior taste along with appearance and texture when compared with the commercially available products. With a bit of knowledge about growing logs and effort, you can grow this product in the home garden. Depending on the capability and need you can start the plan of growing logs. In the beginning, you need a space that is allocated for this purpose. The cultivation of logs is one of the most important things to know for which you need logs of specific sizes. To make the log moist you must allow staying them in the water for a few days.

Identifying the log

This is another important step that comprises the process of growing shiitake. For Shiitake Logs you have to identify the best and get them from hardwood trees that are freshly cut. While the specifications of logs can change, you can cut them into suitable sizes to achieve your target. There are different trees from which you can cut sections of logs for Shiitake Spawns but make sure that you consult a professional with adequate experience to know the things in entirety. Buying mushroom logs for sale is another idea on which you can rely to enhance the production. It is the quality of the log that can boost the growth of mushroom. Once you have finished the process of getting the Shiitake Mushroom Logs you will be able to grow mushrooms on them for a long time. Logs need to be left for some time to allow the fungicides to die before you move on to the next step.

Buying and stuffing the spawn

Next is the step to get shiitake mushroom spawn whether in the form of sawdust, plugs or thimbles. There are a lot of online portals selling spawns needed for shiitake mushrooms offering different strains and varied characteristics. For each log, you will need a certain number of spawns. After this, you will need to drill holes in the logs and the entire thing is to be done around the circumference of the log. You have to plug spawn in the holes. After filling the holes with spawns you have to cover them with good quality wax which is food grade such as beeswax to avoid contamination.

Keeping the logs

You have to stack the logs against something or lay them on the ground, preferably on a bed of straw. Ideally, the place in which the logs are placed must be shady. However, air circulation must be proper and if there is scanty rainfall in the area, you can keep the logs moist. As a matter of fact, this is the trickiest part of growing shiitake mushroom on the logs. You might have to go through a few steps of trial and error before getting it right.

Growth of mushroom

Finally, the shiitake mushrooms will grow on the logs within a period of six to twelve months. If you are lucky enough the production can continue until springtime. You can expect the growth for about three to four years until the cellulose of the log is consumed fully and prepare for commercial selling if you want.

Be Sure Your Grin Will Find You Out

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year and I appreciate it so very much. I recognize I’m difficult to purchase presents for because I have my books, my pens, what else do I really need?

Once in a while I get a Christmas present to beat all Christmas presents. This year was one of those “once in a while’s.”

It’s a pretty well known fact that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and myself differs when it comes to culinary likes and dislikes. How we got along for so many years is truly a miracle, I suppose.

She, for example, loves vegetables, particularly broccoli. (Excuse me, I need to go and wash out my mouth.)

On the other side of the table, I love Apple Fritters. (Excuse me, I need to relish the thought of an apple fritter.)

Throughout the year, she tries tricking me into eating vegetables. I’ll take so much, but then I draw a line in the sand. That sand sometimes gets a little disheveled and I know who is disheveling it.

I have tried to tell her that a good mother will make Apple Fritters for her family. She dismisses that and says quite emphatically, “No good mother will ever do anything of that nature. A good mother will make vegetables for their family.”

And so the “discussion” goes on and on.

We were watching the news as they were reporting on the funeral of the 41st President of the United States. Someone was giving some kind of a eulogy concerning that president and said something that caught my attention.

According to this eulogy, the 41st President hated broccoli. Let me repeat that, he hated broccoli, as well as all other vegetables.

I looked at my wife and said, “I’m in good company.”

She just dismissed that and went on with her work in the kitchen. I grinned a lot and relished the moment. I just don’t get too many moments like that.

Then, something wonderful happened.
Christmas cards were coming from family members all over the place. I think people send an early Christmas card to make sure we will return a Christmas card. I was opening the Christmas cards and came to one that made my Christmas the delight that it has become.

Some of my wife’s sisters were sending her throughout the year recipes from their mother in their mother’s own handwriting. I didn’t take much note to that because I’m not allowed in the kitchen to do any cooking.

Very nonchalantly, I was opening these Christmas cards and then I came upon “the” Christmas card. I noticed it was from my wife’s sister and as I opened it, there was a little card inside that made my life a true joy.

The sister was sending in her Christmas card one of their mother’s recipes written in their mother’s own hand. You will never guess what the recipe was in that card!

When I opened it up, I could not believe my eyes. My eyes have fooled me quite a bit down through the years, but this time I had to rub them several times in order to believe what I was seeing.

There in their mother’s own handwriting was her recipe for “Apple Fritters.” I had it in my wife’s mother’s own handwriting.

You can hardly imagine my joy. There is no Christmas joy equal to the joy I felt looking at this recipe.

Now, how was I going to present this to my wife and get all the benefit out of it?

I put all the cards back together and laid this particular Christmas card on the top. I invited my wife to come and sit down and look at some of the Christmas cards that had come from the family.

She sat on the couch and I gave her the Christmas cards and then returned to my chair to watch her opening up these Christmas cards. In the meantime, I had such a big grin on my face and I didn’t know how to hide it.

As my wife is opening up the Christmas card, she looked up at me and said, “What in the world are you grinning about?”

“I’m just having a happy Christmas season.”

Then she opened the Christmas card containing her mother’s recipe it her own handwriting for “Apple Fritters.” She just stared at it for a few moments and then looked up at me with one of her classic stares.

“What did you find?” I said as calmly as I could.

“You know exactly what I found.” She was quiet for a few moments as she looked at that handwritten recipe from her mother.

“So,” I said rather slowly, “when can we expect that recipe to be used in our kitchen?”

She looked at me, then look back at the recipe card and spontaneously we both burst out into hilarious laughter.

I don’t think I could have received a better Christmas present than that. Proof positive that good mothers do make Apple Fritters. Maybe there will be some changes in our kitchen.

Financial New Year’s Resolutions You Should Definitely Keep

The New Year is a perfect time to overhaul your life. The first place to start is making financial resolutions that can get you closer to your monetary goals. It’s easy to make resolutions, but not so easy to keep them. This is true for all resolutions, but especially financial ones. The key for all resolutions is to set achievable, actionable goals. Don’t be ambiguous and don’t aim too high. So, if getting your financial life in order is a resolution you would like to make this year, here are a few you might consider adding to your 2019 itinerary.

Prioritize Your Debts
Did you know that not all debt is created equal? Make a list of all your financial obligations and organize them by the interest rates. Debt with the highest rates (most likely your credit card debt) should be paid off immediately. It does no good to invest funds while you are paying 19 percent or more in interest each year.
I suggest putting all this financial information into a spreadsheet. I want to warn you though, this can be a frightening activity for most people. It’s like weighing yourself when you know you have over eaten. Nevertheless, it’s critical in establishing your plan to rid yourself of unnecessary debt. I suggest having a cocktail or two before you determine your grand total.

Once you have all of the debt and interest rates established, then select the best repayment approach for you. Some people prefer paying the smallest debts first while others like to pay the highest interest rate debt first. Select the option that works best for you.

Save 15% or More of Your Gross Income Most people say they want to save more, but don’t know how much they should save or where they should save it. The best way to be a successful saver and achieve this goal is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account for the same amount every month. If you find you need some of that money in the future you can always transfer it back.

Set up Automatic Bill Pay Everyone’s life gets frenzied, and it can be tedious keeping track of what bill gets paid when. Technology has made it easy to schedule your bills to pay on their due date automatically. Credit Union members have Bill Pay access to set this up in one place, and you can choose if you want to manually schedule it or automate it.

Close Unnecessary Accounts Most banks charge fees for everything. Is it really necessary to have several credit or checking accounts? Although there are exceptions, in the vast majority of cases the answer is a firm no! If you need to have multiple accounts, you may want to check out your local credit union, which in most instances do not charge checking and savings fees.

Earn Money Doing What You Love To Do Most everyone has a passion. Have you thought about turning your passion into profit? The world is full of amazing occupations. Find one that works for you and love what you do while paying off your debt.

Track Your Expenses Daily Tracking your daily expenses will make you mindful of everything you spend. There are many free apps like Expenses OK and Spending Tracker that can help.

Instead of Paying Off Debt Pay off a little each month Reducing your debt is a great goal, but it’s not going to be easy to do. It’s best to have a set plan for payoff, and picking an amount each month is a great way to stay on track. If you have seasonal income, you could try setting a yearly goal. Just remember to keep it attainable.

Go on a Cash Diet
If you spent a great deal of money on your friends and family this holiday season and your credit cards begin to bulge, then my suggestion is you go on a cash diet for the next six months. Limit your spending to a certain amount of money every week and see if you can live off that amount. Being conscious of your money and the way you spend it is the first step in becoming financially healthy.

When I say a cash diet, I mean actually paying for items with cash. Swiping your debit or credit card shuts down our brains and we don’t even think about what we are buying. It’s like it isn’t happening. When you make a cash payment, you are forced to keep your brain connected. I believe a cash diet is a great way to keep your spending under control.

Collect Loose Change
Start a piggy bank for adults. Every time you pay cash for something and they give you pocket change, go home and throw it into a container. If you do this over the course of a year, you have the potential of saving several thousand dollars.

Knowledge is Power
If you want to learn to do something you read a “how to” book or ask someone to show you. Reading financial books can put you in touch with ideas you can utilize in your own financial life. By reading “The Intelligent Investor” or other financial periodicals you can pick up on ideas, philosophies and techniques of the most talented minds in the financial circles. Committing yourself to educating yourself about financial health is essential to creating your long-term wealth.

Remember; set yourself up for financial success in 2019! Staying on track will motivate you to keep going throughout the year. Start small and keep it real. Soon you’ll be on your way to becoming a personal finance champion.

Typical June Gloom Provides Ideal Conditions For Garden Growth

June in southern California usually means overcast mornings that transform into mild sunny afternoons making it an ideal month to spend time in the garden before summer heat takes hold.

Thin Out Fruit Trees: By June, trees should be bursting with small fruit such as apricots, plums and peaches. The weaker fruit will start to drop this month. Don’t be alarmed. In fact, after the initial shedding, remove the smallest of the remaining. This will allow the hardiest of fruit to reach their full potential.

Deadhead Flowering Plants And Bushes: Your rose and other flowering plants should be in full bloom by now. Remove older flowers to make way for new ones. Trim wayward branches and stems to encourage better density within the center of the plant.

Control Aphids: Everything springs to life in June-including bad bugs such as the tiny aphid. These bugs latch onto plants and suck the sap from new growth. When the infestation is significant, they can curl leaves and stunt plant growth. Tips: Remove stems with the largest aphid concentration and then shoot a strong stream of water at the aphids to knock off the remaining.

Plant Avocado Trees: Plant your avocado trees in well-draining, loose soil, level or a little above level to the ground. Place 5 inches of wood chips around the tree. Don’t over water even with a young tree. Let the soil around the tree become somewhat dry before watering. Never let it pool around the trunk. Flowers will bloom next spring, but don’t expect fruit until two to three years after planting.

Be Water Smart: With dry, hot weather on the horizon, replace water-loving trees and shrubs with those that require little water once established. A water-efficient landscape can include such drought-tolerant trees and shrubs as bougainvillea, California sycamore, California wax myrtle, acacia, manzanita, Catalina cherry or western redbud (with its magenta flowers).

Lawn Care: Spring and fall are ideal times for patching or replacing lawns. Grass types that are best suited for southern California include Fescue (absorbs water well), Bermuda (drought resistant) and St. Augustine (durable). Proper soil preparation with the correct compost mix (based on soil type) is crucial to lawn success. Once established, add a layer of top dressing especially designed for lawns.

Work Fast. Still Time to Plant Vegetables: For a summer harvest, plant tomatoes, squash, cantaloupe, celery, corn, cucumbers, lima beans, okra, peppers, spinach and squash in early June.

Pretend You Live Alone

So often I hear family members complain about how others make a mess and are not willing to help with the cleanup. They want things done a certain way at a certain time and feel upset, blaming everyone else who lives in the house for this mood.

When they come to me as clients, they believe that I have magic powers that will instantly change everyone but don’t expect what I have to say about their dilemma.

I frequently see looks of surprise when I tell them that I live alone and therefore don’t have anyone to blame when the place is messy. I also don’t have anyone to pick up or organize everything. When you live alone, you don’t waste a lot of time feeling resentment of others who might not have done things when or how you would have done them.

However, here are some hints to help deal with the domestic tasks:

Meet with everyone living in the household and set out a list of items that need to be done as well as the timeframe to complete them.
Let each person decide what they are willing to do and put their name on the list next to the item chosen. Make sure that they are not just making a false promise but understand truly what it expected.
Select appropriate and realistic consequences for not completing the task on time. For example, the movie isn’t watched until it is done. Outings are delayed or cancelled.
Be consistent and never make an exception on consequences (or you will be setting a precedent for the future).
Get rid of the things that are causing the most work. If there is too much laundry, perhaps it is because you have too many clothes. Too much on the floor perhaps indicates too many toys. Dusting taking too long – declutter!
Use your machines. I view my appliances as free labour. All I need to do is load the dishwasher and I get almost a half hour of unpaid kitchen help. The washing machine gives me about twenty minutes of work that I don’t need to do or supervise, and the dryer provides another sixty minutes of unpaid labour. All I need to do is invest a few minutes to fill each machine and push the buttons.
Make chores fun. Instead of nagging or feeling annoyed, try setting a timer to see how much can be accomplished before it rings.
Plan a reward for everyone when the tasks are completed. A board game, movie or cup of hot chocolate can be motivation.
Hold yourself accountable. Make sure that you have done what you are committed to do before complaining about others.
Practice and teach habits for cleaning your environment as you go.
My aunt used to have the following “Golden Rules for Living” framed on the kitchen counter to remind everyone about what matters:

If you open it, close it.

If you turn it on, turn it off.

If you unlock it, lock it up.

If you break it, admit it.

If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.

If you borrow it, return it.

If you value it, take care of it.

If you make a mess clean it up.

If you move it, put it back.

If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.

If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.

If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.

If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.

Wise thoughts to ponder!

Start Your Fall California Garden in September

September is the time to plant cool weather vegetables and flowers as well as perform fall maintenance around the yard.

Plant Cool Season Vegetables: Plant such vegetables as broccoli, peas, kale, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots and celery. These plants will start producing in late winter or early spring. Plant onions and garlic too.

Add Bulbs: Some bulbs can go into the ground now while others need at least six weeks of cold storage (in a paper bag in the refrigerator) before planting. Ask your local nursery what to buy and plant in your area. Bulbs will begin to grow and bloom in spring. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of refrigerating bulbs, plant these varieties: amaryllis, calla lily, Dutch iris, freesia and watsonia. They can be left in the ground throughout the year.

Plant Flowers That Bloom In Fall And Winter: While the weather remains warm, plant flowers that bloom in fall through most of winter. These include chrysanthemums, sweet peas, ornamental cabbage, snapdragon, pansy, primrose and asters. Add mulch to the garden to hold in moisture.

Stay On Fire Alert: Since fire season is year round, winds and low humidity can easily fan brush fires in fire-prone areas. Be sure to clear weeds and brush around houses and keep landscaping near buildings well watered.

Reseed Lawn: It’s time to address the bare spots in your lawn. First, loosen the soil, add a substantial layer of cool-season grass seed and then apply a compost top dressing. Water thoroughly daily until the seeds become 1-inch blades of grass.

Clip Roses: Remove dead flowers and rose hips. Lightly prune. New flowers should continue to bloom through October.

Divide Perennials: Perennials such as Shasta daisies, sage, lavender and yarrow need to be divided every few years. If you don’t, they can turn brown and die in their middle. They will also produce fewer flowers. Divide during cool weather. Dig deep to pull out a clump of roots, separate the individual “crowns” or stalks and replant in soil containing flower planting mix.

Keep Watering: September and October can be hot, dry and windy months. Water gardens, shrubs and lawns as needed. Water in the early hours (between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.). This is the most efficient time to water. Plants watered in the evening instead of in the morning are susceptible to fungus.

Remove Spent Vegetables and Flowers: Summer annuals are nearing their end of productivity. Remove these plants from your garden. At this point, they just attract bugs and rodents.

Growing Coleus From Seeds

Coleus plants are some of the prettiest flowers that one can have around their home. They come in all sorts of variegated styles and offer an endless amount of enjoyment for the home gardener. These seedlings will produce all types of coleus showing their diverse color range, leaf forms and various markings. The key to increasing your stock of these popular flowers is to grow them from seeds yourself.

I happen to chance upon a grower who was selling Coleus seeds at a great price. For a mere couple of dollars I received over 100s of seeds of this beautiful plant. You cannot beat that price. An important point here is once you have so many of the plants you can easily root your current plants to grow more. I remember the first time I tried growing these plants it was from stem cuttings. It was easy and simple but the fun comes from growing them from seeds. An added benefit of growing the Coleus from seeds is that although they are perennials by nature they are not usually adaptable to colder climates thus they will need to winter over inside where the temperatures are more to their liking.

Growing Coleus from seeds is as simple as growing a bunch of radishes. The seed itself is just a bit larger than a petunia seed. The seeds can actually be planted at any time of the year where you can provide a warm environment for them. When started inside if you begin your seeds in February you will have them ready to plant outside around May. Coleus seeds are very fine thus they will require well-drained soil in containers which can be protected from scorching sun and heavy rain. For your growing medium I recommend using one that you would grow African violets in. You want it light and rich but not over-fertilized. If using any sort of topsoil be sure to sift it through a screen wire several times until it is very fine.

Plant your coleus in pots that are three to four inches deep with plenty of drainage. The containers should be well filled giving the new plants plenty of room to grow. When planting, wet the soil slightly and sprinkle the seed thinly on top, sifting over them with enough soil to hide the seed. Do not cover the seed but rather give the soil a gentle firming with your palm than set the pot in warm water allowing the moisture to come up from the bottom so as not to disturb the seeds. When you see water on the top of the soil it is time to remove the pot from the water and wrap some plastic on top of the container to create a mini-greenhouse and place it in partial shade, but warm spot to await germination. Keep in mind that Coleus will not propagate if the soil is dried out or if the surrounding temperature is below 60 degrees. Seeds should normally germinate by the fifth day.

As your new seedlings begin to sprout you will immediately recognize them. Now give them plenty of direct sunlight if it is not too hot but remember never let the soil dry out. Coleus’ have very shallow roots and will easily die. If you notice over crowding in the pot then it is time to transplant your seedlings which is surprisingly simple to do. Merely place them in individual pots or plant them as a group several inches apart. Your plants should never be crowded and they can be transplanted at any age. Always protect them from the harsh sunlight, high winds and heavy rains. As they start to grow you will notice a vast assortment of different designs and colors which makes growing coleus from seedlings especially intriguing.

Many people like to pinch the buds of these plants to encourage additional growth but believe me when a coleus plant begins blooming there is no stopping it. That inevitable bud sprouting will take place and continue as long as the temperatures are warm and favorable. Once your plants are mature allow some to go to seed so you have a fresh supply for the following spring. The coleus flowers appear rather quickly with its large range of colors which continues to grow all throughout the season. Crosses created between coleus are one of the factors which make this such a fascinating plant. You never know what your new plant will look like.

When obtaining next years supply of seeds keep in mind that they tend to scatter rather easily and it is important to remove the pods as soon as they turn a yellow shade. After the seeds have dried rub then between your hands and blow on them lightly to remove the chaff. Defective plants which have unsatisfactory leaf shapes or color should be destroyed and not allowed to bloom or go to seed. You want to keep the healthiest and showiest of your collection for future growth. This means eliminating those with dull color or pale shades, and those which appear to be spindly. My wife’s Coleus are just starting to bloom and heading for seeds at this time.

Your final Coleus plants should reveal colors ranging from a velvet looking purple-black, with slightly green edges to white and green combinations. You may obtain some with shades of brown, red and pink or various combined of green, yellow, or cream. You will be surprised at the wide array of colorful leaves these plants have.