DIY Aquaponics – How to Build A System

DIY Aquaponics is a class of farming that builds a food production system by combining a system of raising aquatic animals like fish, crayfish, or prawn (aquaculture)  with hydroponics which is growing plants in water. The advantages of aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics creates a symbiotic relationship. The aquatic life in your system builds nutrients in the water that the plants use to thrive and keep the level of nutrients from getting so high that become toxic to the aquatic life.

Building your own DIY aquaponics system can be an easy weekend project depending on the size your want to create. There are companies out there that use old warehouses to enclose aquaponics systems but we’re not going to get into that because it certainly isn’t DIY. We are going to talk about using a fresh water system and anybody with a salt water fish tank can tell you how much more attention they take, and that’s not what we’re about here at the Black Thumb Gardener.


Where are you going to find your aquaponics system? How much food and aquatic life do you want your aquaponics system to produce? Hopefully you’ve thought a bit about what you want from  your system and where it will be located.

Here’s a simple checklist of materials to get your started:

  • Tank for aquatic life-like a fish tank up to a 55 gallon drum. Craigslist’s free section is your friend if you want to keep the cost down.
  • A water pump to move the water from the aquatic tank into the grow bed. If the grow bed will be level with the water tank you will need to pumps to pump the water each way between tanks.
  • Depending on the size pump pick up the right plumbing. Clear vinyl tubing is enough for smaller setups but if you’re in the 55 gallon drum arena you will probably want to use pvc piping which is plant and fish safe.
  • A grow bed, this can be a plastic tote from Walmart of your can build your own very easily with a bit of scrap wood.
  • Hydroponic substrate will be used by the plants to hold onto something so they don’t fall over.


With your supplies in hand now we can begin to set it all up. I suggest doing this in the place that your aquaponics system will live its life because once you build it and add water it will be difficult and risky to move. Depending on what materials you have chosen to use you need to assemble them into a structure similar to this. Don’t worry about being exact there is a lot of range for success and little worry of messing this up. Just take your time assembling your components.



What do you want to eat? Then that is exactly what you should try to grow. You may be suprised how easy it is to grow your favorite herbs. If you’re going to grow something that fruits like peppers or tomatoes you are going to make sure you have enough light, this may mean adding a grow light. I started by adding simple gold-fish and snails to the aquaculture part of my system and used duckweed and algae to build nutrients to feed the fish.

That’s it, experiment and enjoy your aquaponics system.

If you would like to get more information from an expert I suggest checking out Andrew from Easy DIY Aquaponics.

Make sure to let us know how your aquaponics system works out, and if you need any help I suggest looking at our forum!

How to Make Lavender Oil

Lavender is one of my top aromatic plants to use in my gardens so there is an abundance of it around every year. After years of procrastinating I’ve finally set out to make my lavender oil. At the outset I didn’t think it would be that hard and luckily it seemed to be a fairly easy process.

Having some lavender oil around during the winter seemed like a great idea. Every time I mow I always grab a few sprigs of lavender and crush / rub them in my hands and take a huge waft of the scent. Besides just the aromatic properties lavender oil has been used for centuries as moisturizer. I wonder if this will cut down on Cara’s massive lotion allowance, probably not.

So it my research in to the processes of making lavender oil I found several techniques. I’m going to run through all the techniques and then talk about my experience making the lavender oil.

Side note: These techniques will make lavender oil and not lavender essential oil, it’s important that is clear to you. And you can also grow lavender using grow tent packages.


It’s very important that your lavender is completely dried out before you begin to infuse any oil. If you fail to properly dry out the lavender sprigs then it becomes likely that your lavender oil will become rancid.


Luckily drying lavender is a very straightforward and easy process.

  1. Cut your lavender off with hand pruners or scissors. Make sure to cut off at least 6 inches from the lavender.
  2. Use some a rubber band to tie the lavender together at the base of your cuttings. We will use a rubber band over twine because as the lavender dries it will shrink slightly in size and we don’t want it to fall apart. You may see some pieces fall to the ground despite the rubber band, you can either take enough cuttings that this doesn’t matter so much or you can re-attach any fallen sprigs.
  3. Hang the lavender cuttings upside down in dry warm spot that will see direct sunlight as you let it sit there for the next 12 to 14 days.

That’s all it takes to dry out your lavender and now we can begin to infuse our oil with the lavender.

It was a surprise to me to learn that the purple flowers don’t hold all the scent of the lavender. In fact if you like you can separate the flowers from the stems by using tube of rolled up newspaper and roll them on a table (back and forth). The purple flowers can be used on their own for eye masks or drawer sachet.


You will need some supplies:

  • Large Jar – used to infuse the oil with lavender
  • Cheese cloth or muslin – to strain with
  • Large bottle – to store your fresh lavender oil

Ingredients Needed:

  • Dried Lavender – enough to fill your jar with
  • Mineral oil or Olive oil – enough to completely cover the lavender inside your jar

Clean out your jar and completely dry it, then place your dried lavender into the jar. Pour your oil over the lavender until it is covered completely.

Place your jar in a window sill that will see a good amount of sun, it will sit there for the next 3-6 weeks. The sun over the next month or so is what will release the parts of the lavender plant that will infuse the oil. Once you’ve decided the oil has sat there long enough pour it through your cheese cloth into your last bottle.

Certain instructions I found called for lightly crushing the lavender with flowers still intact and then putting them in to your first jar. I also discovered instructions that suggested shaking the jar on a daily basis. The slight crushing makes sense, but the daily shaking of your lavender oil seems like an unnecessary step that I did not follow.


Just like the other technique you start out with dried lavender cuttings but this time you fill you crock pot with 1 half cup of lavender to 1 whole cup of oil. Set your crock-pot on low and let it steep for the next three hours. Let the oil cool and strain it through cheese cloth. This technique sure seems a lot quicker but I think I like the old school method I mentioned first. I would probably go with the crock-pot method for lavender oil if I was trying to make a large batch of it all at once.


I stuck with olive oil since we always seem to have an abundance of it but there where some other suggestions that I found through me research.

  • grape seed oil
  • jojoba oil
  • sweet almond oil
  • sunflower oil

As long as you stick with a natural oil that doesn’t have an overpowering scent of its own you will probably be safe. I even saw a recommendation for witch hazel oil, the main benefit was that if you were going to use the lavender oil as a lotion the witch hazel would act as a natural skin toner.



Simple answer, anywhere you want. Pick out a bottle that you like and store away, lavender oil should last you a life time in any bottle. Stopping by a second-hand store or antique store to find vintage perfume bottle would be very classy, but I’m probably just going to keep mine in a Ball mason jar.

Container Garden – How to Guide


Adding beauty to a patio, garden, or apartment with a container garden is one of the top pics for a gardener with a black thumb. Traditionally container gardening is used by people with little or no space for gardens, but it also have large advantages for novice gardeners because we use annuals and not more expensive perennials. These potted garden are wonderful way to bring bold color to often naturally toned patios, entryways, and decks. Even though container gardens take some maintenance such as watering and feeding they are very easily maintained when compared to standard gardens.


Long gone are the days of our parents and being regulated to using the standard terra cotta pots and formal urns. Today there is a huge market of custom pots that include wild ceramic glazes an exotic materials with beautiful finishes. If you are interested in some of these I suggest looking at these great options from Amazon.


  1. Style – What style is your home and what style is your garden. A craftsman style home with a garden that has clean geometric lines wouldn’t look right with the same stone planter box that looks right at 3 story Victorian home in New England.
  2. Size – You probably have an idea of where you want to add your planter, maybe its on your back patio or along the front walkway. Lets use a back patio to express this idea. If you back patio is only 100 square feet  and just big enough for to Adirondack chairs then a four-foot tall glazed ceramic planter wouldn’t fit at all.
  3. Material – Part of what material you choose is included in the style part and the size decision, but you want to think of the material when you consider the elements your pot will be exposed to. If you’re in a norther climate you would probably want to store your pots indoors during the winter months. Gardeners in southern climates will want to watch out for materials that might bleach due to sun exposure or heat up and fry the roots of the plants inside them.

You can find containers that where never meant to hold plants and some of the best pots I have were never meant to be. The most important thing to remember when choosing your vessel though is that it must have holes in the bottom for drainage. If you’re considering planting a small bush or tree in your planter you will want to make sure that the container has enough weight to make sure the entire garden isn’t top-heavy and susceptible to tipping over.


The first thing you need to decide is how many containers you think you’ll use. One container can make a statement and several can create a flowing wall of color. If you’re considering more than one planter in near to others you will always want to use odd numbers. We could get into the psychology behind why people find odd numbers more appealing but for now just take my word for it.

When you begin to select plants you will want to think about a color scheme and think three dimensional about your choices. If you go with several containers bunched together you may want repeat a plant through all the containers or even use the colors from each pot to set off the other pots.


When you begin to select plants for your garden you will want to make sure that you’re choosing plants that are going to thrive in your climate zone. If you don’t know what climate zone you are in you can take a look at our climate zone map found here. Will you leave your containers outside over winter or will you bring them indoors. If your going to leave them out then you will want to go with annuals. Annuals are great for many reasons, you get access to exuberant colors your might not be able to use with perennials and the cost can be lower than perennials as well.

Herb gardening in containers is a great option as well. I love having a couple of pots with herbs in them right on my back patio. My container setup allows me to just walk out back any time I’m cooking and get fresh herbs. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil have been used in this type of gardening for 100′s of years. You will want to avoid herbs like tarragon and dill though as they don’t like being grown in container gardens.


Any time I meet with someone about a new garden design I make sure to ask how much maintenance they are ready to take on. With these gardens the time caring for them is low but some care is needed. If you live in a warmer climate that doesn’t experience frost then you can use tropical plants that will last over a longer period and add a big punch of color. In northern climates perennials offer a good return on investment year after year if you bring the plants in over winter. If you’re lacking on indoor storage space and really want to save your perennials you can dig a whole deep enough that the when you place your container in them the plants sit flush with the ground and then back fill the hole. You will need to check water conditions at least once a month. If you’re not the kind of person who will remember to check the water or doesn’t want to break out the hose then you may want to consider succulents. Succulent plants include cacti and sedum and can a great option for dry arid climates as well.


Taking advantage of climbing vines is a technique that is often ignored by most gardeners design for plots. Bringing in a small trellis allows you to add tropical plants like bougainvillea, mandevillia, or jasmine. These tropical plants can add some serious flower power. Just like other tropical plants you will want to bring these in during the winter, but they can add some beauty to your home during the cold winter months. If you’re not crazy about bring you plants in to your home during the winter you may want to take a look at hardier plants like clematis or boston ivy which can be taken into a garage or shed during the winter months.

Still intimidated? I’ve Got The Plants For You!

Ornamental grasses are incredible hardy plants. Their tolerance to low water quantities is great for the gardener that might not remember to water that often. Close your eyes (that will make it hard to read this) and think of a wheat field blowing in the wind. Ornamental grasses can add that same visual appeal to your outdoor space. Finding the right grass is going to be really easy, I guarantee if you take a trip down to your local garden center they will have at least half a dozen choices of ornamental grasses to choose from.


Once you’ve gone out and picked up your plants and several bags of potting soil we will begin to assemble the container gardens. Before we begin to put this together you will want to make sure that any large pots are all ready in their last place as they will be heavy and hard to move soon enough. Lets use a 12″ tall as an example to express some quantities for filling a pot. First add a 3 inch layer of rocks to the bottom of the container. The stones should be smaller pebbles like pea gravel. Using smaller stones helps prevent our soil from escaping through the hole when water passes through.

Choosing the right potting soil is important to make sure your plants thrive in their new homes. I like this espoma organic potting soil for my plants. A time release  fertilizer may be necessary if you buy poor quality potting soil but if you use the Espoma then you’ll be fine with out it generally. With your potting soil fill up your container to the point where your plant roots will sit. Begin to take your plant out of their containers paying attention to the soil to make sure you don’t break it up. Take your plants and start placing them in your containers, don’t be afraid to rearrange them several time to find out what looks best. Once you have a layout that looks best to you begin to back fill the cavities with the rest of your potting soil to about 1 inch of the top of your container. Water the pot thoroughly and add soil if there is any settling.


This is where the beauty really comes through for us black thumb gardeners, because beyond watering there isn’t any maintenance. With a standard garden you have to deal with pruning and weeding but because we are dealing with annuals and perennials we will avoid all of this headache. We can even remove some of the stress of water by adding some bark mulch. Adding mulch will help keep water that the plants can use later when conditions are drier. When you do water you will want to water early in the morning before the day heats up. I avoid watering at night because having wet plants with cooler temperature is just inviting molds and infections to hit your plants. If your plants are in their containers for 5 to 6 months you may want to apply a plant fertilizer.

The Black Thumb Gardener is here to help you learn the joys of container gardening. We will also try to squash some of your fears when it comes to starting a garden inside of a pot. Check back often to see the latest articles or sign up to the right and get alerts to your email when ever we add a new post.


Edible Flowers Right Under Your Nose

While gardeners rave about the latest blueberry or raspberry, one group of edibles often gets overlooked. Your garden is probably full of them, but they haven’t made it to the kitchen – even though they have centuries of testing to back them up. Edible flowers, courtesy of classic garden plants, are not just pretty garnish on a plate. Though beautiful, they count as worthy recipe ingredients for their texture and taste. Expand your palate, and jazz up your cooking. Get edible flowers on board.


Common garden classics offer some of the finest edibles. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), simple to grow and harvest, look gorgeous with their brilliant red, yellow and orange blossoms overflowing hanging baskets and containers. They look even better in a meal. With most edible flowers, you eat only the petals. But with nasturtiums, eat the whole flower, the petals, leaves and seeds. Let their peppery flavor kick up green salads a notch, or stir petal ribbons into pastas as you serve.

Lavender blossoms (Lavandula angustifolia) complement dishes from chicken to ice cream. Brilliant-blue, star-shaped borage flowers (Borago officinalis) add panache and a fresh, tangy taste to nearly any dish. Highly scented Old Garden Roses (Rosa spp.) sweeten up butters, soft cheeses, sorbets and frostings. The more intense the fragrance, the sweeter the taste. Flowers from garden classics such as hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), daisies (Bellis perennis), alpine pinks (Dianthus), sunflowers (Helianthus anuus), daylilies (Hemerocallis) and bergamot (Monarda didyma) all add distinctive flair and flavor to cooking. Their fragrances often hint at their taste.


Edible flowers beg for experimentation, but start with what you know. Grow from there. Try petals fresh, sautéed or chopped like herbs, and develop your own edible flower style. For most edible flowers, only the petals are edible. Remove the flower whole from its calyx or remove the individual petals. Discard the green parts when you’re done. If the petal has a white portion at its base, it probably tastes bitter. Remove it before adding to food.

Most plants used for teas and culinary seasonings have edible flowers with a similar or complementary taste. Flowers from basil (Ocimum basilicum), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and oregano (Origanum vulgare) can be used with their leaves or on their own. Like herbs, edible flowers should be harvested in the morning when flavors are at their peak. Watch out for small native bees that sleep in some blossoms. Shake them out gently before you reach your kitchen door.


When you create with edible flowers, use wisdom. Not all flowers are edible – no different than inedible or poisonous berries on some plants. Be sure that children understand. Stick to flowers you know, and always identify them by botanical name. Common names refer to vastly different plants from one region to the next.

If you’re allergic to pollen, don’t eat flowers. Always use flowers from your own garden or one you know is pesticide-free. Exercise moderation, as with all good things. What’s tasty in small quantities can cause less-than-pleasant side effects when you overindulge. If you’re uncertain about a flower, don’t use it – no matter how great it looks. Never put a flower on a plate unless you know it is safe to eat.

17 Plants You Can Grow From Kitchen Scraps

I love composting all the kitchen scraps I can but when I fill up my compost bin or run low on some vegetables in the garden using kitchen scraps to grow plants is a great activity. I love using kitchen scraps to start new plants as a fun gardening activity with my son, everyday we check and see how the plants are progressing. It’s a great way to come full circle on produce we bout at the market together and cooked together. Starting your own plants from kitchen scraps is really easy and for a gardening nerd like me!

If You are going to attempt this I suggest making sure the scraps you start with are good quality, I like to use organic produce grown locally when I start plants from kitchen scraps.


You could go out and buy some vegetable specifically for growing but I like to wait till I actually have a call for them in my cooking. With all 5 of these examples you will use the end of the vegetable with the white roots.

Take the left over white roots and place them in a container with a small amount of water in it. You want the roots to be wet but you don’t want the entire thing submerged. Take your container and place it in a sunny window sill. I’ve actually grown green onion scraps in a fairly shady window on the north side of our house, your success may vary. I like keeping some in a window in the kitchen for my morning eggs, and in my office for snacking on (the wife loves kissing me after that). Within 3-5 days you will begin to see new growth come up. Remove the produce as you need and just leave the roots in the water to continually harvest your kitchen scrap crops. You should refresh the water weekly to keep the plant healthy.


Lemongrass is similar to all other grasses and because of that you just need to place the roots you cut off into a container with water and put in a sunny window. In my experience the lemongrass is a little more dependent than green onions and leeks from above.

After about a week there should be some new growth from your lemongrass. Once you have new growth you will need to transplant the plant from the water into a pot with soil and put it back into the sunny windowsill. You want to wait till your lemongrass reaches a foot tall before you begin harvesting it. Just like before cut off what you plan to use in the kitchen and allow the roots to continue to sprout. It’s just like cutting your lawn, it will just keep coming on if you keep it healthy.


Just like the scallions, you will take the white roots of these vegetables to grow your produce. By cutting of the stalks or leafs with an inch or more and placing them into a bowl of water with the roots facing down you will be on your way. You want to make sure the roots are in water but you don’t want to submerge the entire plant. Make sure to place the bowl into a sunny window and spritz it with water weekly to keep the top of the plant moist.

Several days later you will begin to see the roots and leaves sprouting. 7 to 10 days in remove the plant from the water and plant it into soil with only the leaves above the soil. Your plant will continue to grow and in several weeks you will have a new head ready to be harvested.

If you want a different way to go with your pant you can try planting directly into the soil, skipping the water staging step from before. Keeping the soil from drying out will be very important that first week.


If you’re looking for an easy plant to grow indoors Ginger is the one for you. Just take you’re a chunk of Ginger from your kitchen scraps and place it into the soil. Make sure the newest buds are facing up. Unlike the other plants we’ve talked about so far Ginger will enjoy filtered light rather than direct sunlight.

Soon enough you will begin to see new growth sprouting up out of the soil, and under the soil roots will begin to sprawl out into the soil. After the plant acclimates to its new home you will be ready to harvest the next time you need Ginger. Pull the entire plant out of the soil and cut off a the pieces you need, and just replant it like you did initially.

As an added bonus for you Ginger makes a great house-plant. Even if ginger isn’t your thing as far as cooking goes you can still get some aesthetic value out of the plant.


Taking potatoes from produce back to growing is a great way to keep more waste out of the garbage. You can grow any variety of potato you like, it should just make sure the scrap has ‘eyes’ growing on it. With a potato that has a strong presence of eyes you can chop it up into 2 inch square pieces. Make sure each piece has 1 – 2 eyes. After you’ve cut your potato into pieces leave them out in room temperature for a couple of days. Leaving the pieces out allow the cut surface area to dry out and become callous which will prevent the pieces from rotting in the ground.

Note: All the above can be grown using a grow tent package.

Potatoes need a very nutrient-rich soil, so if you have compost you should be sure to incorporate some into your soil before you plant it. When you are planting your potato cubes make sure they are in the 8 inch depth range with the eyes facing the sky. When you back fill your cube place 4 inches over the potato cube and leave the other 4 inches empty. Over time as your potato grows and roots begin to appear you will want to add more soil.

This is a guest post by Richard of real hcg drops hormone. He is fitness enthusiast and a gardener.

How to Build and Install Raised Bed Garden

A raised be garden make any gardening task easier. You can fill your beds with your own soil that is primed to grow plants in. A basic raised bed garden can be built in the matter of a few hours and quick trip to the hardware store. I suggest using redwood or cedar for your sides because they will resist rot and add beauty to your garden.


  1. To Prepare the site get rid of the turf and weeds.
  2. Outline the bed dimensions on the ground with a chalk line or string.
  3. Dig with vertical strokes along the outline, just deep enough to bury about half of your first course of lumber.
  4. Put down a layer of weed-suppressing landscape fabric that extend to the outer edge of the wood frame.
  5. Build each of your walls separately.
  6. Fasten the walls together and put them into place.
  7. Install your cap railing that will run around the outside and tie everything together.
  8. Use galvanized pipe straps to mount 1 inch PVC pipe inside the bed walls. Cut 1/2 inch flexible PVC tubing twice as long as the beds width. Bend it, mount it and clip a cover in place.
  9. A simple framework of hoops and lightweight cover can extend your growing season in cool areas, conserve moisture in dry areas and protect plants from birds or insects.
  10. Install your irrigation system and then backfill with topsoil.

Dandelion Tea Recipe

Dandelion tea is a delicious drink but lately has taken on a large following with people using it as a dietary aid. In my own experiences I have found just as it’s reported that the dandelion tea prevents hunger cravings. Honestly I’m not sure that it works more than just drinking a tall glass of water which is also a known dietary technique.


 If you have trouble identifying dandelions make sure to wait until the flowers come up. Take a bag or basket with you and begin to harvest the dandelion greens. Young dandelion leafs that are soft and green are the best to make dandelion tea with. Before you prepare to store or cook your dandelion greens make sure to wash them thoroughly with cool water and let them dry off in a colander. If you’re not going to make your dandelion tea immediately store your dandelion greens in a plastic bag that enough holes for air to move through.


Pour one cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion leaves. Now I would never steep a tea bag in to boiling water and that’s not what you’ll be doing here so don’t be scared. Also the dandelion greens are meant to be pat dry and not dried out in an oven.


When you want to make a pot of dandelion tea you will want to pour 1 cup per person of boiling water over a teaspoon of dandelion greens for each cup of water you used. When making a pot of dandelion tea you can throw in an extra teaspoon of dandelion greens for the pot. Allow the dandelion greens to steep for 3 minutes then stir and let steep one final minute and serve. There are a couple good options if you would like to flavor your dandelion tea: orange, mint, honey, and lemon. If you’re trying to use the dandelion tea to put off hunger than lemon is probably you best option as lemon water and dandelion tea are both dietary aids.

If dandelions are out of season you can grab some dandelion tea from Amazon by clicking here.

Just like any time you are making tea I always suggest using  a non metallic tea pit,here’s mine which comes with a loose tea infuser which is really nice.

Building A Storage Shed On Your Own

When you need additional storage for your home or garden, you can either buy a shed or you can build one yourself. You don’t have to be a professional carpenter to build a shed, you just need to find a good set of shed building plans. There are many places to find plans for building a storage shed and by using the plans, you can build yourself a good custom shed.


Whether you’re an experienced carpenter or not, plans for building any size structure are essential. They provide you with the dimensions of the unit that your constructing and most plans also provide you with a list of materials that you will need to successfully build the structure you want. Even if it is a small birdhouse, if you don’t use plans for its construction, your walls may not be straight and the structure could collapse.


You will need to do some prep work before you buy plans to build a shed. One of the first tasks you need to do is to figure out where you are going to put the shed. Once you have a location for it, take measurements so you know the size of the shed you need. Consider the items that you will be putting in the shed in order to plan how you will move them in and out of the shed. Be sure and leave plenty of room to fully open your shed doors to avoid hitting the fence.


When you are putting up a storage or garden shed, you can usually find shed building plans at home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot or you may be able to purchase plans from your local hardware store as well. You can also find shed building kits that will provide you with not only the plans to build the shed, but all the necessary materials as well. However, another great resource for finding building plans is the Internet.

You can often find free building plans by doing a simple Internet search for what you want. People like sharing information online and this includes building plans that they have made themselves or purchased for their own purposes. Many times you can find step-by-step pictures or videos made by people who have built their own storage sheds. These are a great resource because they often help you with problems that you may be having during the construction phase of your project.


Be sure to buy all the materials you need for your shed before you start the construction phase. This will keep your stops and starts to a minimum, which will in turn help reduce your frustration and stress levels. Follow the plans you’ve procured exactly so your shed turns out just like you want it. Once the shed’s construction has been completed, you can add your own touches to your new shed to make it fit your storage or garden needs.

Growing Calla Lilies Outdoors

People love Calla Lilies and I understand their shape and colors make them a beautiful choice for summer color. Calla Lilies aren’t overly complicated but in order to grow them in colder climates like here in New York they will require a little love and attention.


In the spring when the danger of the last frost has passed find find a place of full to partial shade to grow you callas. Out West and down South you will want to choose areas with partial light so that the calla lilies don’t dry out as quickly.


Calla lilies need nutrient rich and most soils, so the first step will be to till the soil and amend it with organic mulch or mushroom compost. If the area in your garden where you intend to plant the calla is overly sandy or rocky you will want to make sure to add more organic material.


Calla lily tubers should be place 3 to 4 inches down in the ground and 12 inches apart. When you place the tubers in the ground be sure to place them in horizontally, with the growth points facing up.

You can start Calla Lily tubers indoors several weeks before the last frost. In 12 inch pots you can place 12 tubers and once the last frost has passed you can simply dig the pots into the garden and let them grow all year.


Calla Lilies are a tropical plants and are used to moist soils, in order to keep yours happy you will need to make sure that the soil around your calla lilies doesn’t dry out. To make sure that the callas have all the nutrients they need watering them with with a water-soluble general plant fertilizer (like this one). When the flowers begin to form you may want to increase the amount of fertilizer you apply, this is the time when the plants are most in need of nutrients.


After the flowers have passed you will want to stop fertilizing the plant so that the tubers will enter a dormancy period. Depending on your U.S. Hardiness Zone you may be able to overwinter them outdoors. Calla Lily tubers are hardy up to zone 9, but zone 8 can keep them outdoors if they are covered in a layer of mulch throughout the winter. I’ve even heard of them being overwintered in zone 7 given enough mulch. Here in New York I pull the bulbs before the first frost every fall.

After you dig up the bulbs prune back the growth to within a half inch from the tuber and place them in sand or a dry peat moss. During the winter try and store them in an area that will stay between 60 and 75 degrees. If you are growing your Calla Lilies in containers all year long you can simply unearth the pots and bring them indoors for storage. Make sure to keep the pots completely dry during the winter until you are ready to start growing them again in the spring.

Daffodils In The Garden

Daffodils are one of those plants that let you know that Spring has finally arrived. These are really easy plants to add to your garden as well, simply plant them a few inches below the ground in fall and in late winter or early spring you will have beautiful colors. Daffodils come in two colors, yellow and white with a number of varieties that mix colors in different ways. These beautiful bulbs grow in almost all of the US for the southern most parts of Florida.


Daffodils lend themselves to many different garden settings because of the limited time of growing. The most stunning use of Daffodils for me is when they are used in mass planting. The fact that they flower so early means you could plant a large number of daffodils right in a lawn and by the time you need to mow the flowers are ready to be cut down. They also lend themselves to being tucked away into little open pockets in your garden or in woodland settings. Daffodils are also a popular choice for cut flower gardens and as a plant to forcing to bloom indoors.


Daffodils prefer full sun but can tolerate a small amount of shade. Daffodils are pretty tolerant when it comes to soil composition but you will want to check your specific bulb requirements when you purchase them. The soil conditions in the spring during the growing season should be moist but well draining. For the most part most daffodil varieties you will run into like neutral to slightly acidic soils but on rare occasion some varieties prefer alkaline soils.


  • When you pick out bulbs check to make sure they are still moist.
  • If you’re picking bulbs in person choose a bag with the biggest bulbs.
  • Daffodil planting times are 2 to 4 weeks before the ground freezes. In NY that generally around Thanksgiving.
  • Daffodil planting depth is 1.5 to 5 time their height. I like to place a light layer of leaves over them to keep severe winters from harming the bulbs.
  • For proper spacing keep them 3 to 6 inches apart but it your garden is tight you can crowd them a little bit more.
  • Depending on your soil conditions it might be a good idea to add some bulb fertilizer.
  • When your daffodils do begin to pop in the spring don’t help them out by uncovering them, a surprise frost may damage your daffodils.


  • If daffodils are underperforming applying a low-nitrogen and high-potash fertilizer (like this one).
  • If the spring weather hasn’t brought much rain be sure to water in order to keep the soil moist. If the daffodil bulbs dry out they flowers may die-off.
  • As flower heads die-off you can deadhead them to keep the dead flowers from ruining your garden aesthetics.
  • Once the daffodils finish flowering wait at least 6 weeks until you prune them back to the ground. These 6 weeks allow the bulbs to collect energy for the next bloom.
  • Daffodil bulbs will multiply and become crowded eventually. When that happens you need to dig up and divide the bulb clusters
  • Adding Bone Meal ( Found Here)
  • Daffodils don’t attract any of the regular garden pests from deer to rodents.
  • Commons enemies of daffodils are narcissus bulb fly, bulb scale mite, narcissus nematode, slugs, narcissus basal rot and a few other fungal infections.


The Daffodil ‘ Golden Ducat’ has true yellow colored double petals. The height is anywhere from 12 to 16 inches and blooms in mid to late spring.

The Daffodil ‘Petit Four’ is a popular option for those gardeners that want to add daffodils to a shady area. The flowers double cups of apricot pink stand out with white petals. These daffodils average a height of 16 inches.

Daffodil ‘Rip van Winkle’ is in a subset of daffodils in the miniature variety only growing to a height of 6 to 8 inches.