Gro Like A Pro
News Letters
Just Ask Stan
Stan Responds
Tips 'n Tidbits
Contact Us


  • Natural Disease Control: Grow cool - even with your heat mat or cables , by isolating seeds and cuttings with poly tarp. Use supports over your table or bench to support the poly, but allowing some air circulation and access to maintain and water.

  • Watch the seeding or cutting container for high/low temps. Keep air moving. Purchase a remote or indoor/outdoor thermometer with digital readout. It will have 6-8' of wire as the 'button' or probe.

  • Enzymes are organic molecules that some plants give off through the roots to establish territory. These enzymes can alter their surroundings but not themselves. Enzymes are also manufactured in the plant to break down organic matter on the plant or in the flower to use as food.

  • The deciding factor in the plant, that designates whether plants thrive and ripen in various lengths of light exposure are hormones.

  • Growing Ivy Geraniums - Pelargonium peltatum - Native to, and first discovered in South Africa and introduced into commercial horticulture in 1700. The interaction of environmental container have a direct effect upon the plant. Light, temperature, relative humidity and cultural factors of irrigation, fertilization, and pest management are extremely important for sustained growth from greenhouse to your house. This time of year - know your species for the right light conditions.

High Light: 3000 to 3500 F.C.

Pascal, Cornell, Galilee, Amethyst, Gale, King of Balcon, Balcon Princess

Medium Light: 2500 to 3000 F.C

Beauty of East Bourne , Double Lilac ?? , Balcon Imperial, Balcon Royal

Lowest Light: 2000 to 2500 F.C.

Sybil Holmes, Sugar Baby.

  • Fuchsia and light - most fuchsia will thrive with sheltered light - 1000 to 2000 F. C.
    Remember to check the labels for named varieties and ask advice from the staff or grower.

  • Watch for oedema on undersides of ivy leaves: caused by the aforementioned end conditions ie: cold soil, hot air, high humidity.

  • Cordons are single stemmed fruiting trees, apples being our most common. The tree is purchased as grafted on hardy root stock and planted, or kept as a container specimen, at a 45 degree angle pointing northward, to gain the maximum direct sun light.



  • Mixing varieties of rooted plants in the home will present an interesting show, but unless all your plants require the same light/temperature/and moisture, some of the plants may begin to show stress by dropping excessive amounts of leaves, have a constant wilt, lose leaf and flower color, begin to vegetate showing long weak apical growth.

  • Plants for high humidity: caladium/bromiliad

  • Plants for bright light: /begonias/herbs/euphorbias/fuchsias

  • Plants for bright light/low humidity: Geraniums/Pelargoniums/Dracaena

  • Nitrogen Depletion of the soil is not likely when using shredded bark, sawdust, or shavings as a mulch over the soil and under your plants.

  • Indoor Combination Planting: 'Wandering Jew' (from the botanic name - tradescantia - was carried for good luck along the spice routes against outlaw thieving gangs), is a plant favored by indoor growers to add interest when potted in combination with: coleus, geraniums, maranta, and plumosa (asparagus ferns)

  • Prepare your basic potting or transplant mix now. Store in inexpensive poly bins with snap lids. Hint: start with an amount of pre-mix ie: 5 parts 'Pro-mix' which will include a minimum of fertilizer and wetting agent. Then add: 2 parts perlite and 1 part vermiculite. (Pro-mix can be purchased at garden centers and some greenhouses.)

  • Orchids will be featured in some of the plant departments of box stores, greenhouses, and nursery gift shops. Grow orchids away or in some manner of isolation from your other house plants!! Some common orchids grown for consumers, will have a common soil fungi growing in with the orchid only. Orchid growers know that this pathogen is a good thing, as the rhizoctonia associates or becomes a synergic to aid both the rhizoctonia, by protecting its potential and the orchid, by facilitating a condition for the orchid to take up trace minerals and carbohydrates.

  • The Narcissus Family includes: amaryllis, jonquil, daffodils, and paper whites. The leaf and flower stem contains an alkaloid that is quite toxic! To humans, the toxin in the fluid (of leaves & stems) can severely burn by raising welts on the skin. If ingested, this toxin will cause tissue burning resulting in a caustic reaction. Do not induce up-chucking, but take milk or chalk dust in water to neutralize the acid.

  • Know your product: Seeds - a self contained mixture of potential growth. Whether annual, perennial, bi-annual, tree or shrub seed - special conditions are necessary to promote the growth. Seeds are pre-programmed to germinate under various conditions and time periods. Seeds are protected by an outer seed coat called an endocarp. Depending on the variety of plant that produces seed, the outer covering is impervious to environmental conditions that may influence germination before the plants pre-programmed time of natural germination. Defense against early germination may include oil-bath double walled endocarp/extremely dense seed husk/waxy coating to inhibit moisture into the seed, or a coating of chemicals that neutralize external efforts to break dormancy.

  • Coniferous Cone Combustion for Colourful Campfires

    1 quart hot water
    2 lbs. bluestone
    2 gallons water
    2 lbs. sulphate of iron
    4 lbs. coarse salt
    1 cup washing soda

    Dissolve bluestone (ground if obtainable) in 1 quart hot water in a 4 gallon crock or plastic bucket. Add 2 gallons of water and other ingredients. Stir until dissolved. NB: Put a small quantity of soda in at a time as it causes foaming. Soak pine/spruce cones for one week. Remove and air dry.



  • Potted bulbs and a 10 week bloom date: Keep bulbs in the crisper until potting date to flower at desired time: midwinter, Easter, prime season, Mothers Day. Program: Pot bulbs into clay pots using garden soil. Note: If garden soil is not available to you, use purchased potting soil. Do not use soilless mix as it will not hold sufficient moisture. Place in dark cold room or spare fridge and keep moist for 5 weeks at -2 to 3 degrees. When 3" high and growth showing, move to cool light with temperatures of +5 to +8 degrees for 3 weeks. Then bring into room temperature and light.

  • Update on wood ash and garden use: Depending on variety of wood burned, the average pH when finely powdered: 1-5% phosphorus, 7% potassium, no nitrogen. Also contains calcium carbonate -known as lime and usually about 21%. Be cautious with use; not to raise pH beyond the bio-rate suitable for the cross section of the numerous plants available which is 6.5 pH.

  • Fungii found growing in infertile soil or soilless mixes, is not harmful. This particular fungii: Pezizae 'ae' meaning 'the ear'.

  • Storing seeds for posterity or just until next year:
    - Collect mature seeds (berries should be onacerated to obtain the seeds).
    - Dry seeds at room temperature or outdoors at a temperature from +5 to +10 degrees (45 to 70 degrees). Note: Do not dry seeds with artificial heat.
    - If seeds are not dry, they will be host to bacterial growth.
    - Most flower and veggie seeds will be viable for one to 5 and even 10 years if stored in air tight containers and cooled to fridge temps with no light.
    - For one year storage: paper envelopes labeled for variety and harvest date. Note: Also add seeding date for the coming season.
    - Store where moisture will not interfere with storage.
    - Hint: Freezing for perennials and cool for annuals.

  • Mandevilla Update: (Ne dipladenia) from Bolivia
    - maintain as Bouganvillea ie: under high light and at room temperatures.
    - florescence are fine during the early dark days of winter.
    - Water only when necessary.

  • More up-date to wood ash use: the down side
    - white ash will leach potassium into soil if ground water is high.
    - if soil does not drain readily, adding ash will clog and impede air and moisture circulation.
    - be careful with seeded areas, as wood ash will halt or alter germination.
    - acid-loving plants should not be in same location as the spreading of white wood ash. Coal ash has little or no benefit to soils.

  • Slow-down time for plants both indoor and out:
    - do not over water or add fertilizers unless plants show signs of deficiencies.

  • Micro organisms found in well tended and applied composts, depend on carbon for energy and nitrogen for growth. An equal amount of green and brown compostables will balance these important nutrients.

  • Ground Cover: Wormwood/absinthe/artemesia - (from the Greek Goddess Artemis) species 'Brocade' and/or Dustymiller species 'Cirrus' - good rain & frost tollerant. Large heavy glistening gray 4" x 8"

  • Abscion - the process of dormancy and the leaf fall - but Abscisic acid is retained in the buds keeping them dormant until spring.

  • Avens [Geum]: perennial herb of the rose family; white, purple or yellow flowers - considered a weed, and plentiful in poorly drained soils.

  • Poisonous Plants to Pets: Caladium; Oleander [Nerium from High Shaperals]; Philadendron; English Ivy; Azalea; Rhododendron; Jeruselem Cherry. NB: All parts of these plants are toxic.

  • Getting the most out of your potatoes means retaining the skins. In 5 oz. of potato skins you receive dietary fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin B6, niacin and copper. Source of vitamin C & magnesium, low calories @ 125 and low sodium and fat AND No Cholesterol!!

  • Elements included in the soil: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, calcium, sulfur, magnesium. - Soilless Mix has few elements, so will have to add using packaged fertilizers.

  • Fall Use of Chicken Manure:
    Using chicken manure during the growing season is not particularly effective and may damage the plants and soil. However - by applying now, to your 'winter ready' soil, you can boost quantity, quality and taste of your 2001 crops.

  • Recipe:
    1 pound of chicken manure per square foot of soil
    1/2 cup bonemeal
    1/2 cup dolomite limestone
    After spreading, work in by deep digging and leave soil course ready for spring planting.

  • Hint: For perennials or berry producing shrubs that require acidic soils, that you may want to containerize, this combination can be mixed and stored for potting. This same mix can be used on existing plants that require acidic conditions by side dressing in rows or around individual plants.

  • Poultry Litter tests out at:
    4 % Nitrogen; 1.25%, Phosphorus; 2% Potash; 1/2% Magnesium

  • Gopher treatment and Garden plants as a barrier: The following plants will help to deter gophers from being a nuisance in your yard. Colts Foot (petasties); Rhubarb; Double Flowered Datura; Mirrabelis (four o'clock); and Companulas.



  • Apples give off methane when rotting - which may help to stimulate flowering, but fresh apples give off ethylene gas, which will adversely affect closely stored veggies.

  • What is a soilless mix? A...a mix of inert material that supports germination and root systems. This mix includes both organic and mineral measures. The amount of each is your choice, based on the purpose of your soilless mix.

    Common organic additives...peat moss, sawdust, shavings, chopped dry leaves.

Common mineral additives...vermiculite - a mined flaky mica that when heated by a manufacturing process, expands and becomes segmented or 'worm-like' (vermicular).

Perlite - a granite, volcanic material that explodes under high heat, graded/packaged.

Sand - ground rock chips, and even pea gravel with clay-pot grindings are used for the mineral content of a soilless mix.

  • DESIGNER SOILLESS MIX: For the home grower...a recipe basic for all plants.

Blend together : 2 icecream pails of medium grade peatmoss
1 pail each of vermiculite and perlite
then add: 1 cup dolomite lime
Add amendments to customize your mix.

Store as a dry mix and when ready to use, dampen enough for potting etc.
Fertilize using 5-10-10, with each 5th watering.
Keep remaining mix closed tightly in cool dry location.

  • A Mexican jungle tree sap has been used for years for chewing.

The name of the tree? 'The Chicle' Could this be the origin of the 'Chiclet'?

  • MULCH is any material placed over the soil to reduce evaporation:
    - to reduce or prevent weeds
    - to maintain soil temperatures
    - to save water, and saves time watering
    - to prevent splashing of soil onto leaves
    - to prevent bacterial growth splashing on leaves

Mulching improves the organic content of soil, when turned-in each fall or spring.
Organic Mulches - grass clippings, straw, leaves (cut into bits with mower)
Mulching cuts weeding by 90% and is particularly effective with multi stem plants.

  • Bone Meal: high phosphorus [P]

The element is mostly concentrated in the seed and roots. Phosphorus is water soluble and quite mobile in the plants. The usual concentration of phosphorus in our soil is from 50 to100 parts per million (p.p.m.). There is a relationship between nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen tends to stall or inhibit plants - from using phosphates especially when over using winterizer fertilizers.

  • Some houseplants require acidic mixes to stay healthy [4.3 to 5.5 ph]

Remedy: a cup of tea per 6" pot, once per month
Acid-loving plants: African Violets, Aloe, Amaryllis, Azalea, Begonias, Cycleman, Dieffenbachia, Hydrangea, Impatiens, Norfolk Pine, Maranta, Zygocactus.

  • Nitrogen is only in the first 2 or 3 inches of soil. Remember that when taking soil samples for nitrogen.

  • Business Opportunity: Grow Tequila - from the Agave/Lily Family. It's the Blue Agave that produces the best tequila. Tequila from the Town of Tequila! The USA goes through 6.5 million bottles per year.

  • Huckleberry [vacinnium]. -thrive in heavily mulched damp areas. Combine with assortment of Evergreens, Pine, Cedar, Hemlock, and native Junipers.



  • A mature enough earth worm will bear 2000 progeny in one season.

  • Longevity of a seed refers to the length of time that seed will retain their vitality or viability. We know that light has an effect on seed. It has been shown that related growth responses work through a light absorbing pigment in plant leaves. Red light makes lettuce sprout, but infra-red rays rearrange atoms in the pigment molecule. Red light shifts the molecule to its growth-controlling form, while infra-red rays push it back to the inactive form. A long dark period has the same effect as infra-red rays.

  • Mecoprop is the active ingredient included in weed killer sprays, and will control thistle, clover, and chickweed.

  • Water is never more important, than when it is not available. When plants wilt for lack of water, they have but minutes, to perhaps an hour of suspended animation before irreparable damage to the leaf and stem cell occur. Saving and using your grass clippings as a 2" mulch under your plants upon the soil will guarantee your plants a longer and healthier life by limiting the loss of moisture during our hot summer days.

  • A foliar drench or the spraying of fertilizer over leaves and stems, should be applied on over cast days early in the morning or after the peak day heat.

  • Leaving garden hoses laying in the sun with the discharge end closed off, will allow heated water in the hose, to a significant and damaging temperature to plants unless hand tested when the hose bib is turned on.

  • 'Dead soil' can be identified quite readily after sand, limestone or peat moss has been added. The treated soil easily becomes compacted and will form solid lumps when a handful is squeezed. To encourage the missing micro-life, rake to cover the soil with an inch of compost (commercial or your own) and add packaged blood and bone meal. Rototil or dig this combo to a depth of six inches.

  • The building and care of compost systems, that when successfully underway, is an awesome responsibility. Management of this system by feeding, watering and allowing the very necessary air to circulate permitting oxygen to enter the compost, is crucial to a well-balanced organic additive for your soil or soilless growing media. There is, however, a retro process that is seldom considered or acknowledged, and that bi-product is fermentation that causes heating. With this energetic and final activity of compost, there is a combination of non-toxic and toxic gasses and other oddments like water, hydrogen, methane, ammonia, nitrogen, and sulphuretted hydrogen. The natural generation of these products may cause concern but a safety factor will minimize the harmful effect on the plants while in the compost. While in the last stages of composting, bacteriums have the ability to neutralize dire consequences to the world of phyto organisms.




All images contained herein are the © property of Stan Thompson, What's Up Stan and/or Great Gardens & Gargoyles