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Lessons from working at gardenstead

Caterina and Michelle were hired to work at gardenstead last summer. Both young women had an inkling interest in plants but since joining the team, completely caught the bug for BOTH houseplants and vegetable gardening. Their interest and passion have been turned on to full speed! Here are the top three things they’ve learned in mere months.
1. Brown leaves are OK! I almost threw away my first plant, a prolific Bird-of-Paradise. But, good thing I didn’t because that plant has taught me that plants are not furniture! Wow, I know right? Seems like a no brainer, but cut me some slack! I was a beginner. My beautiful Bird-of-Paradise taught me not to expect every single leaf to be perfect throughout any plant’s life. When I first got her, I loved it, but I was also concerned about the state it was in. The soil had tiny little flies that looked like fruit flies, (which I later learned were fungus gnats!) one of the leaves had a brown tip, and overall the leaves looked droopy and had started to curl right after I brought it home. After listening to Jaz I learned plants can get brown tips for several reasons and I got rid of the fungus gnats by leaving my plant’s soil to dry out completely between waterings.
2. Don’t repot unless necessary Don’t repot when you first get your plant. It’s better to wait and acclimatize your plant to its new home. It just came from living in ideal conditions – a bright and humid greenhouse. The plant was comfortable and used to being in that particular environment and it’s nursery pot. It’s already in a new environment, so to immediately take it out of its nursery pot, the only home it has known and place it in a new container will most likely shock the plant. Allow the plant to become accustomed to your home by keeping it near a bright window and in its nursery pot for at least one year before repotting (unless it’s really, really rootbound!).
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Day 99
3. The reason why plants die Plants have life spans just like humans. Plants wilt and die due to age. It’s okay if you end up grieving your plant. We get it. We have too. Before the end of your plant’s life, take a clipping, root, and pot it. That way you can technically have that same plant possibly forever. So get clipping. The photos above are an example of how to multiply your plant by propagating its leaf.

1. Containers are an Urban Gardener’s Best Friend
I had the misconception that gardening was exclusive to those with a ton of outdoor gardening space. But, I was fascinated to learn that you can grow pretty much anything in containers. There are hundreds of varieties of vegetables that grow well in small spaces. This intrigued me and I started to research everything a beginner vegetable gardener needed to know to adventure into fall gardening.

2. Nutrient Deficiency Can Inhibit Growth I went on to grow turnips, radishes, spinach, peas and beets. However, my excitement was short lived. I learned the hard way that vegetables need to be fertilized because nutrient deficiency can stunt the growth of your seedlings. Most of my veggies never reached maturity. My takeaway for next season is to use fish emulsion to boost growth in my plants.

3. How to Propagate Houseplants
Veggie gardening aside, I also became houseplant-obsessed! I propagated my first houseplant, a Monstera adansonii. When propagating, I learned that you must cut below a node so the plant can root. I also learned that it’s important to change the water a couple times a week to keep it fresh.

What's Next For Us?

Caterina: This summer I want to venture outside of houseplants and try my hand at growing sweet peas. I’ve never grown anything in the garden before. I want to start with one thing and something straightforward like sweet peas. The great thing about sweet peas are they produce blooms for a long time and the more blooms you cut the more blooms your sweet peas will produce. On a side note, my grandpa is a veteran gardener. I think he’ll be really happy to hear I’m going to grow something from seed this year.

Michelle: I’m so excited for the upcoming gardening season. I plan on attempting… tomatoes! Starting from seed indoors. I’m going to take what I learned from last year and make sure to add fish emulsion to help my tomatoes grow. At this moment, I’m not sure which variety of tomato I want to grow, but I’m going to take my time and keep my eye on frost dates so I know when to start seeds indoors.

Take it from us – gardening is for everyone, and all you need is an interest and a little patience. You’ll learn so much about plants, nature, and not to mention have tons of fun along the way! So, regardless of if you’ve been gardening for years or you’re just getting started, be open to new discoveries. You. Got. This!
yellow petaled flower by elias sorey unsplash

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