Monthly Archives: July 2016

Ways to Grow and Care for Chayote Plants

Chayote Mummies!
There have been claims and urban legends that the bodies in a mausoleum in the Colombian town called San Bernardo have mummified due to their diet which was rich in Chayote. It is claimed that this plant abounds in cell-regenerative properties.
It was first recorded by modern botanist, Patrick Browne, in his famous work the Civil and Natural History of Jamaica which was released in the year 1756. Later, it was classified as Sicyos edulis by scientist and botanist Nikolaus von Jacquin in 1763. A French naturalist, Michel Adanson, classified it as Chocho edulis, and finally in the year 1800, it received its present genus classification Sechium given by Swedish botanist Olof Peter Swartz.

This edible plant belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae. It is also known as vegetable pear, mirliton, choco, squash vegetable, and custard marrow. They are native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. In the U.S., they are mostly grown in Louisiana and Florida but are also hugely imported from Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.

Given below are its propagation and maintenance methods.

♦ These plants are grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 11.

♦ The seeds of this plant germinate while still inside the fruit; hence, you can plant the fruit as whole or buy the fruit and allow it sprout in a dark, dry place. The best time to plant it is after the final frost of the season when the soil has reached 65 Degrees Fahrenheit in spring, or if the climate is too cold, you can plant it indoors.

♦ While growing it outside, prepare a soil bed in an area that receives abundant sunlight, mix compost with 10 inches of soil, and till the ground.

♦ Then plant the unmarred chayote fruits at least 10 feet apart from each other. Make sure that the setting is flat so that the bottom and stem end up at the soil surface.

♦ Keep the soil moist by watering it regularly, at an interval of 2 – 3 weeks, nourish it with compost, once or twice weekly, during the growing season.

♦ These are perennial vines, hence, provide them with support by digging up 2-foot deep holes for the trellis supports which are at least 6 ft tall.

♦ While growing them indoors, plant the unmarred fruit in a one-gallon pot of soil with the stem set up at a 45-degree angle, and place it in an area that receives a lot of sunlight with temperature ranging from 80 to 85 Degrees Fahrenheit, and water it occasionally.

♦ In hardiness zones 9 through 10, make sure the plant is protected from dry winds and has ample shade.

♦ It grows well in a frost-free environment. The vines grow quickly and clamor wherever they find support. It produces juicy, pear-shaped fruits which are about 4 – 6 inches in diameter and weigh around 6 ounces – 3 pounds. The fruits get tender when they are ready for harvesting. The vines grow 30 – 50 feet long, and are productive up to 8 years. Each plant can produce 25 – 100 fruits.
Pruning & Pest Control
♦ Prune these perennial vines to about 6 feet for new growth, in spring. Make sure they have plenty of space to grow. To reduce water loss, prune the leaves at the lower end; they propagate well when they are planted in a horizontal angle. Avoid over watering the plant. Use a liquid fish fertilizer for better growth.

♦ Chayotes are normally disease-free plants with just the occasional attacks from white flies and aphids. Remedial measure is to hose off the insects with water or cure the plant with insecticidal soap or neem solution.

♦ As all parts of the chayote plant are edible, it is used in a variety of dishes. Because of its crisp texture and raw mild flavor, it is ideally used for salad dressings and stir-frying cooking.

♦ The leaves and fruits of this plant are said to be diuretic and anti-inflammatory, hence, they are used in the treatment of kidney stone as they help in dissolving them. They are also used for the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension. The tea made out of its leaves and roots, is said to be very beneficial for health, as it’s rich in Vitamin C and fiber.
The chayote which was a favorite crop of the Aztecs, hundreds of years ago, remains so, even today. It’s delicious, healthy, and easily available.

Choosing Flower Garden Designs

I bet that you are not an excellent gardener who is skilled enough and at the moment you are in search of some flower garden designs that is why you are going through this piece of writing. When it comes toflower garden designs then you need to take a start by deciding on what shape you would like your flower garden to be. Since you are a beginner, I would suggest that you go with simple straight lines; these are easier to work on. Dig a few square beds so you can start planting the flowers. If you desire to give your design a bit of a curve then the digging needs to be done boldly so the lines would not go out of shape otherwise your garden might give a pretty confusing look.

There is a common method among gardeners where they would simply separate all their plants and flowers and get them into separate beds to give a distinguished look. Well, with time this approach is changing a bit and gardeners now prefer to plant shrubs, flowers, and other plants all together so the look can be more natural. Your beds should be dug wide enough so they can hold all the things together and there should be some extra room among all the plantations as well so they can flourish and grow well.

Although I am telling you to simply mix everything together and plant in your flower garden but make sure you do not specifically plant a separate flower after another other your flower garden design would give an awkward and clumsy look. Your flowers need to be grouped together and they should be around 5 or more in each group. This way you will have different flowers in each of the beds but there would be at least one color that would stand out and be attractive giving a neat sort of flow.

Although different gardeners bring in different flower garden designs into play but generally what you should do is get the taller flowers at the back and the smaller ones should stand at the front. This way all your flowers would be visible and at the same time, you garden design would appear attractive as well.

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Tips for Indoor Planting

When you think about an indoor garden, you need to ensure that you take into consideration all possible points before actually starting it. First, you need to decide what kind of plants you’ll be planting. Then you need to pick a good location. If the plants that you’re planning to plant need sunshine, then you’ll obviously have to pick a spot near the window where they are exposed to sunlight. If they need shade, then you can have them under the window sill, where they are protected from the sun. Next, you need to make sure that the area is properly cordoned off. Nothing from the inside of the garden gets out, and nothing from the outside goes inside. This way, your garden remains clean and so does the rest of the home. The next thing you need to take care of is proper drainage of the water. All plants need water. So you have to make sure that the water that seeps out gets properly drained and does not mess up the entire room. Given below are some ideas that you may want to try out.

Herb Garden
Nothing looks prettier in the interior of a home than a herb garden. The lush green herbs, together with their tantalizing aroma all mixed together in the air, render a sense of peace and exquisite ‘flavor’ to the house. If you don’t want them on the ground, you can have them in hanging garden planters all around a room. Your options for herbs can be coriander, thyme, mint, etc.

Flower Garden
Nothing says garden better than flowers. And if you don’t have the space for a full-fledged landscape, you can have your own little miniature flower garden inside your home. Pick one flower that blooms in different colors. Roses, gerbera daisies, and orchids are good options but tulips definitely take the cake in indoor flower gardening. They look stunning, especially when they bloom against a wall in a contrasting color.

Vegetable Garden
Another popular idea is a vegetable garden. It is practical and very useful. While most of it will be container gardening, if you have a balcony, you can allot a corner and plant the vegetables directly into the ground too. Chillies and tomatoes are very good options. Avoid roots and tubers for indoor vegetable gardens as they could get quite messy.

Cactus Garden
An unconventional yet fabulous idea for an indoor garden is a cactus garden. Go to your local nursery and get different varieties of cactus plants. The best part of this idea is that since cactus plants are really hardy, you do not have to bother about watering and taking too much care of them. They do that for themselves.

Indoor gardening can bring a sense of peace and calm to your home. It beautifies your home and makes it appear more friendly and relaxed. So, get started on one for your home right away.

Tips to Water Plants While You are on a Vacation

The very thought of a vacation could be a cause of worry for those avid gardeners who have no one to water their plants in their absence. While two to three days without water may not cause damage to most plants, a longer duration would affect them detrimentally. It is also not possible to water them well in advance. In such cases, you may either go for some plant watering aids from garden stores, or try some DIY ideas. So, all you have to do is to adopt any of these methods or get some ready-made devices, so that you can find your plants hale and hearty, when you return from a vacation. Go through this Buzzle article for a brief overview of the same.

DIY Watering Systems

Bottle Method 1
This is one of the simplest methods to ensure that your plants get enough water while you are on vacation. Take a plastic bottle, and make a tiny hole through its base. Fill the bottle with water, and place it on the soil just besides the plant. The base of the bottle must be slightly below the soil surface. Now, water the soil thoroughly. The water will drip from the bottle, as and when the moisture level of the soil drops.

Bottle Method 2
Take an empty beer bottle; clean and fill with water. Water the soil thoroughly. Now close the opening of the bottle with your hand, and flip it upside down. Insert the bottle into the soil (with its neck down) at an angle. Do this fast, so as to reduce the amount of spillage. As in the first method, water will flow from the bottle to the soil, in a gradual manner. If the plant is big, you may use two bottles.

Absorbent Threads

This method uses the capillary action of water to provide moisture for plants. Take a container filled with water. Place it on a slightly elevated area besides the plants that are to be watered. Take some absorbent strings (even shoelaces will do), and tie them to a small, heavy object. Put that object inside the container so that it holds the threads in place.
Now, use a screwdriver to poke holes near the plants. The holes must have a minimum depth of three to four inches. The other end of each string must be inserted inside the hole. The strings will wick water from the container to the soil.


A thick layer of mulch will reduce the amount of water lost from the soil. So water the soil well, before covering the surface area with mulch. However, make sure that the mulch layer is of normal thickness. However, an unusually thick layer of mulch may cause harm to the plant. You may also use newspapers soaked in water for mulching. This method is not suitable for a period of more than four to five days.
Water Tray
If you have a big, shallow tray that can hold several pots, make use of it. Spread some pebbles or small stones on the tray. Fill the tray with water, till the pebbles are completely immersed. Place the plant pots on the tray.

Plastic Bag

Water the plants thoroughly. Now, place a clear plastic bag over the plant, and secure the ends of the bag to the rim of the pot using a rubber band. You may insert some bamboo stakes in the soil so that the foliage of the plant does not touch the plastic bag. This set up works like a miniature greenhouse, as the plastic bag traps moisture inside but allows movement of air. Make sure that the plants are not kept in direct sunlight. Shift them to a location with some indirect light.
These are some of the simple ways to water your plants while you are away on vacation. If you have extra empty pots, add some soil into them and water thoroughly. Place potted plants inside them. Instead of soil, damp newspaper or sponge may also work. You may also try covering the plant pots with damp towels. If you find these methods time-consuming, you may opt for devices and gadgets that are readily available in garden stores.

Store-bought Watering Devices

Capillary Mat
Made of absorbent fabric, the capillary mat holds moisture which, in turn, can be taken up by the plants. If you are going for a long vacation, spread this mat inside the bathtub, and turn on the faucet till water trickles drop by drop. Make sure that the drain is open. Now place the potted plants on the mat.

Aqua Globe
This instrument is nothing but a glass bulb with an attached tail. All you need to do is to fill water in it and push the tail into the soil near the plant. When the moisture level of the soil reduces, water will drain slowly from the globe to the soil. These instruments are available in different sizes, from which you can choose the right one as per the size of the plant and the duration of your vacation.

Terracotta Plant Waterer
This conical, hollow, terracotta spike (like an ice cream cone with a hole at the bottom) has an open end to insert a bottle filled with water. The other end with a pointed tip has very small holes. Clean an empty wine bottle and fill with water. Place the cone over the top of the bottle. Now tip the bottle upside down, along with the cone. Insert the tip of cone into the soil, at an angle. Water will seep into the soil through the pores in the terracotta and the small holes provided in the tip.

Drip Irrigation
Get an inexpensive drip irrigation kit for watering plants while you are on vacation. However, you must attach a timer to the spigot so that you can choose the time and amount of watering.

Soaker Hose

These hoses can be used to keep the soil moist for a long duration. They have tiny weep holes, through which water seeps into the soil in very small amounts. You can keep the hoses beneath the soil or mulch. In this case too, you have to attach a timer to regulate watering. Another option is to keep the faucet open, just enough that it drips water.

Time-release Water Products
Various products are now available for time-released irrigation. These products contain biodegradable materials with water in the gel form. Water is released, as and when the gel comes into contact with the soil. Water the soil thoroughly, before placing the gel. The amount of gel must be in accordance with the size of the pot.
In short, watering plants in your absence is no longer a cause of concern. You can use DIY mechanisms or ready-made
devices for the same. Otherwise, hire a garden sitter, who will take care of the plants, while you are away. Find out if any of your friends or neighbors are ready to help you out.