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6 EASY TO GROW VEGETABLES FOR THE BEGINNER GARDENER

New to gardening? Worried that planting your first edibles will turn out to be a fruitless labor? Fear not, novice gardener! While not totally foolproof, certain plants are ideal for gardening neophytes who want to increase their chances of gardening success. Here’s a list of the top 6 easiest vegetables you can grow, regardless of skill level or age.

6 EASY-TO-GROW VEGETABLES FOR THE BEGINNER GARDENER

As a beginner, I’d recommend you start with some easy-to-grow, tried and true vegetables. These are ones that grow well and give you a great first-timer experience. Each variety of vegetable has slightly different plant spacing requirements and harvest times. But all of them will work well together.

RADISHES

Radishes are great for beginner gardeners because they grow fast and insects don’t like them. They are typically the first thing to pop up and are really hard to kill. If you have a “brown-thumb,” you won’t with radishes.

Plant the radish seeds about a 1/2 inch into the soil, spacing the seeds about 1 inch apart. Water 1-2 times a day to keep the ground moist.

CARROTS

Carrots are really fun to grow and aren’t likely to attract insects.

Plant carrot seeds about 1 inch into the soil, placing two seeds into each spot, spacing the holes about 3 inches apart. As they grow into seedlings, you’ll need to thin them out (that means you’ll pull some of the new seedlings so there is about 4 inches between each seedling). Water about 1-2 times a day to keep the ground moist.

LETTUCE

Lettuce is fast growing and seems to pop up almost immediately! You can cut off some lettuce, and then they will keep growing. They’re resilient little things!

Plant lettuce seeds about 1/2 inch deep in a 3-inch-wide band. Space each planting about 8 inches apart. Water about 1-2 times a day to keep the ground moist.

SUGAR AND SNAP PEAS

Sugar snap peas are a fun thing to grow in the garden because they produce a lot of pods and can be eaten right away. Kids love these! To produce a good harvest, be sure to place them in soil that drains well, and be sure to plant early in the season. They do visibly better in cooler weather.

Plant sugar or snap peas 1 inch deep in the soil, spacing them out every 4 inches. Water about 1-2 times a day to keep the ground moist.

BEETS

Beets are my favorite to grow, because their deep green leaves are delicious sauteed in a little butter and cream. We eat the leaves throughout the season until we finally harvest the beet roots. Good times!

Plant beet seeds 1 inch deep in the soil, spacing them out 4 inches apart. Water about 1-2 times a day to keep the ground moist.

 Cucumbers

If you let them, cucumber plants will sprawl, so provide your plants with ample space to stretch their roots. Try smaller varieties to make your own homemade pickles! Be sure to avoid planting cucumbers until all danger of frost has passed. My favorites are Diva, Straight Eight and Salad Bush Hybrid.

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How to Grow Lettuce

If you grow only one vegetable other than tomatoes, it should be lettuce. Growing lettuce is so easy, takes up little space, and you can even grow it among flowers.

here are a few things to think about when adding lettuce to your garden. Since lettuce is a cool weather plant it’s best to plant them in the spring or fall. You can also do succession planting to be able to have lettuce harvest all season long. To succession plant, you’ll want to plant a few seeds and then a week or two later plant a few more. This way your lettuce will be ready to harvest at different times, so you don’t have a huge harvest of all at once.

When to Plant

Lettuce is a cool weather plant and does well in most areas when planted in the spring and fall. Lettuce seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost. Lettuce seeds can be direct sown into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Lettuce usually grows well at temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees. Hotter weather tends to make lettuce bitter and it can bolt.

Where Plant Lettuce

Finding a good spot in the garden for lettuce is important. Since lettuce is a cooler weather plant they like some shade. It’s best to plant lettuce in an area that has part sun. I like to plant my lettuce around my tomatoes plants. The tomato plants give the lettuce a little shade. If you are limited on garden space, lettuce grows very well in containers too.

Give the lettuce a little room between plants, if in rows plant 4 inches apart for leaf varieties and 8-12 inches apart for head varieties. If you are using the square foot gardening method you should be able to plant 5 plants per square foot.

Soil conditions for Lettuce

Lettuce likes to be planted in a loamy soil that is fertile. Be sure to work in some compost or fertilizer before planting and then after transplanting the lettuce add a little fertilizer to the soil in about three weeks.

Watering and Care

You’ll want to keep the lettuce soil moist but not soggy. Lettuce can wilt if the soil is too dry or the weather is too warm. If the soil is moist but the lettuce is wilting in the heat of the day, water the leaves to cool the plant down. If you need to weed around lettuce plants, be sure to hand weed. The lettuce roots are shallow and care needs to be taken when weeding around them.

Harvesting

There are a few ways to harvest lettuce. You can remove the larger outer leaves when you just need a few leaves of lettuce. Let the rest of the leaves remain and continue growing. If you want to harvest the whole head, instead of pulling it up cut it at the base leaving a few leaves and then water the stock right away. After a week or so you should see lettuce begin to regrow from the stock that was left. If you need the space for another plant. Cut off the head and then remove the stock and roots.

Pests

Be on the lookout for aphids and earwigs on lettuce. They like to get down into the plant and snack on it. For aphids, I will spray the plant with a stiff spray to dislodge the aphids. We also purchase lady bugs each year to release into the yard to help control aphids on plants. Earwigs can be picked off the plant. When I harvest lettuce I always turn the head upside down and give it a shake to get rid of any earwigs that might be in the lettuce.

 

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how to grow strawberries in a pot

Strawberries, in general, are fairly easy to grow and there’s nothing like a fresh berry plucked off your own plant. The best pots for strawberries are those which are urn shaped, punctuated with holes down the sides in variable areas. Even though the holes make the pot look like dirt, water or even the plant may fall out of them, these pots are perfect for growing strawberries in containers.

Types of Strawberries

There are three main categories for strawberries: June bearing, Everbearing, and  Day-neutral.

June Bearing strawberries produce a large, concentrated crop once a year during late spring or early summer (usually in June).They send out a lot of runners that can quickly become a tangle of vines. This category is better suited for a garden bed.

Everbearing  strawberries’ fruiting season stretches from early spring until fall.  They send out fewer runners and will not produce as much as the June Bearing types. Although it will produce fewer berries, it’s enough for snacking and tastes better than any store bought berries. This category does well in containers.

Day-neutral is a newer variety of everbearing strawberries. They produced more consistently throughout the growing season. Day-neutral strawberries prefer cooler temperatures and will not bear fruit in hot weather. If you live in an area with hot summers, skip this category.

When shopping for strawberries, the varieties will not always specify which category the strawberries will fall under. Ask the garden center associate to aid you in the category identification.

How to Grow Strawberries in a Pot

Now that we have our pot, the question is how to grow strawberries in containers. You will need one plant per side opening and three or four for the top (for ordinary containers, just three or four plants will do).

Cover the drainage holes loosely with terra cotta shards or a screen to slow drainage and fill the bottom of the pot with pre-fertilized, soilless media amended with compost or a slow release fertilizer like 10-10-10. Continue to fill in the container as you plug each hole with a berry plant, lightly patting the plant into the soil as you fill.

Strawberry plants in pots need to be kept watered. Insert a paper towel tube filled with gravel down the center of the pot and fill in around it as you plant, or use a pipe with holes randomly drilled through to aid in water retention. This will allow water to seep throughout the strawberry pot and avoid overwatering the top plants. The additional weight may also keep plastic pots from blowing over.

Finish off your strawberry container with the three to four plants. Water it thoroughly and set the pot in full sun to part shade. Strawberries do best in temps from 70-85 F. (21-29 C.), so depending upon your region, they may need more shade and/or water. A light colored pot will also aid in keeping roots cool. Too much shade can result in healthy foliage but few or sour fruit. Add sphagnum moss or newsprint around the base of the plants to keep the soil from washing out.

 Growing Strawberries in Containers

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How To Grow Cabbage In ContainersGardening is a fun activity that you can do all year. Some vegetables, like tomatoes, are grown in the summer. Others are grown in the spring or fall. Cabbage is a cool-season vegetable, so plant it in early fall or in early spring.

You don’t need a big garden to plant and grow your cabbage. If you live in an apartment or small house but have a spot that receives full sun, you can grow a cabbage in a container. Here’s how to plant your cabbage, whether in the ground or in a container.

Growing Cabbage in Pots

Can you grow cabbage in a pot? Of course, you can! Growing cabbage in containers is easy, as long as you don’t crowd them. Cabbage plants can get huge, growing as high as 4 feet (1.2 m) and nearly as wide. Limit your plants to one per 5-gallon container. Your container grown cabbage will still grow planted closer together, but the heads will be noticeably smaller. Cabbage grows best when the daytime temperature is around 60 F. (15 C.) and, in most places, it can be grown as both a spring and fall crop. Start your seeds indoors 4 weeks before your last frost date in spring or 6-8 weeks before your first frost date in autumn. Transplant your seedlings into your large outdoor containers when they’re about a month old.

Care for Cabbages in Pots Advertisement Cabbage container care can be tricky. Cabbage needs steady, frequent watering to encourage healthy growth. Don’t overwater, though, or the heads may split! Give your plants a good drink 2 to 3 times a week. Pests can be a real problem with cabbage, and while growing cabbage in containers gives you the great advantage of being able to use fresh, uncontaminated soil, even container grown cabbage isn’t completely safe.

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How-to-Grow-and-Care-for-Gooseberries-512x1024

Gooseberries are an easy-to-grow soft fruit and they can thrive in many kinds of soil, although they really like a sunny site. They can be grown as bushes or be trained against a wall to take up less space in a small garden – you can even grow gooseberries in containers.

How to plant gooseberries

You can start planting gooseberries in early spring. Plant bushes that are at least 2 years old, so you can enjoy quicker results. Choose an area of your yard that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day and has rich, well drained soil.

When planting, you want to be sure your plants are 5-6 feet apart. They have shallow roots that like to stretch so do them a favor and give them some space. To plant, make sure the hole is at least 10 inches deep and runs the length of the root ball.

How to grow gooseberries in containers

Gooseberries can be grown year round when you plant them in containers. This allows you to bring them indoors when cold weather hits as well as move them along with sun patterns. To plan gooseberries in containers, be sure the container is deep enough to fit the entire root system as well as offer a few extra inches. Opt for a pot that is at least 18 inches wide and has proper drainage.

How to care for gooseberries

Gooseberries are really low maintenance when it comes to water. As long as you aren’t experiencing a major drought, you can get away with watering every ten days or so. If your gooseberry bushes seem to be lanky, you can offer them support with a trellis or a berry cage.

You will need to prune gooseberry plants in order for them to produce the fruit productively. This should be done prior to the winter months.

General tips for producing a good crop

Mulching will keep moisture in your soil and will allow you to water less. If birds seem to be a problem, try a berry cage or netting.

Aphids tend to like gooseberry plants and can be an issue. If you notice aphids, pick them off and remove any diseased branches or greenery. You can also use a food safe pest product to help keep bugs at bay.

When and how to harvest gooseberries

There are two different times to pick gooseberries. The green, under ripe berries are often used in jams and desserts for their tartness. If you want a tart berry, pick a greenish yellow berry. If you want a sweeter berry, wait until mid July when the berries have a slight blush to them. They will also be quite full of juice with a skin that is thin. To harvest, pick gently and avoid squeezing.

How to divide gooseberries

Dividing gooseberry bushes is important if crowding starts to occur. To divide, you can remove and discard weak or under performing bushes.

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How-to-grow-sweet-peppers-1-512x1024

Sweet peppers are most easily grown from transplants. Start seed indoors 7 to 10 weeks before the date you intend to set peppers into the garden. Peppers can be seeded in the garden or transplanted out 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost in spring after the soil temperature has risen to at least 65°F. Sweet peppers mature in 60 to 95 days.

Yield
Plant 2 to 3 sweet pepper plants per household member.
Planting time. Sweet peppers grow best in air temperatures 65° to 80°F. Peppers are most easily grown from transplants. Start seed indoors 7 to 10 weeks before the date you intend to set peppers into the garden. Peppers can be seeded in the garden or transplanted out 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost in spring after the soil temperature has risen to at least 65°F. In temperatures greater than 85°F, peppers may drop their blossoms although set fruit will ripen. The ideal temperature for sweet peppers is a daytime temperature around 75°F and a nighttime temperature around 62°F.
Water and feeding. Keep peppers evenly moist but not wet particularly when blossoms appear and fruit begin to form. Soil that goes too dry can result in flower drop. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and again at midseason.

Companion plants
Beets, garlic, onions, parsnips, radishes.

Container growing
Peppers can be grown in a large container. An 8-inch pot will accommodate a single plant. In larger containers, set plants on 12 inch centers. Peppers can be grown indoors. Peppers started indoors before the last frost in spring will get a head start on the season. Extend the season in the fall by moving plants indoors if frost threatens or if temperatures warm to greater than 90°F. Bring outdoor started peppers inside for a few hours a day at first until they get used to the lower light available indoors.

Pests
Peppers can be attacked by aphids, cutworms, flea beetles, and hornworms. Discourage cutworms by placing a collar around each transplant at the time of planting; hand pick hornworms off of plants. Flea beetles and aphids can be partially controlled by hosing them off the plants and pinching out infested foliage.

Harvest
Sweet peppers are ready for harvest in 60 to 95 days after sowing.

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mygarden1499

Okra is a nutrient-packed vegetable used in many recipes. It also helps thicken stews, soups and gumbos. Originating in Africa more than a thousand years ago, this vegetable thrives in hot climates, is fast growing and ready for harvest in about 60 days. Home gardeners can grow okra in containers if they are short on space or only want a few plants.

Things You’ll Need

  • Container (18 or more inches across and 1 foot or more deep)
  • Potting soil
  • Pruning shears
  • Water-soluble fertilizer or a granular fertilizer
  • Gloves

okra

Choose the appropriate container that is at least 18 inches across and a foot deep. Your container needs holes in the bottom to ensure proper drainage. The pots used don’t have to be fancy. Possible examples include a big bucket, a homemade wooden planter or a whiskey barrel.

Fill your okra container with a homemade soil mixture of 2 1/2 gallons each of garden soil, compost or peat moss, perlite or vermiculite and 1/2 cup of fertilizer made in a formulation of 6-10-4 or 5-10-5. This mixture provides your okra plants with a well-drained, lightweight, oxygenated growing media. Regular garden soil will become compacted in the container, resulting in poor drainage.

Plant two to three okra seeds per square foot of your container’s interior by pushing each seed into the soil mixture 1 inch deep and covering them with dirt.

Water the okra at least 1 inch per week for ideal growth.

Put your container with the planted okra seeds in the sunniest location you can find. Okra thrives in daytime temperatures of 85 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Start growing okra in the latter part of June if you live in the North for faster growth — you will see okra pods in two months.

Harvest your okra pods when they reach 2 to 4 inches long. Pods at this size will be the most tender to eat. If you wait too long, the okra pods will reach lengths of 12 inches or longer, resulting in tough, inedible pods. Cut the okra stem 1/4 inch above the pod using a sharp knife or a pair of garden shears. Place the pods you cut into a basket. Continue to harvest every two to three days. The more okra pods you cut, the faster okra pods will grow, taking only a couple of days to grow from a node to a complete pod. Okra pods will keep growing quickly until you stop harvesting or until the weather cools down.

How to Grow Okra in Pot

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How to Grow Cantaloupe 1

CAN I GROW CANTALOUPE?

This easy growing specialty melon can be direct sown after all danger of frost, or started indoors 3-4 weeks before setting out. Melons take some space to grow and vine, so leave enough room for cantaloupe to spread.

You’ll need a long and sunny growing season for a successful cantaloupe harvest but the flavor of your fruit crop is worth taking a chance. Some varieties mature faster than others, so even shorter growing seasons can accommodate some cantaloupes (try EarliChamp or EarliGold). Cantaloupes are also known as “muskmelons” or “rockmelons”.

After the seeds are scooped out, the orange flesh is very sweet and high in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. It’s almost always eaten raw.

Starting from Seed

Start your cantaloupe seeds around 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost date. Sow your seeds about an inch deep in your potting soil. Cantaloupe plants are very sensitive to transplanting, so you should start your seeds in paper or peat cups that can be planted all in one piece rather than try to dislodge the seedling from a plastic pot.

When planting, tear the bottom of the cup out so the growing roots will have no obstructions at all.

Growing Instructions

When you water your cantaloupes, keep the water down at the roots and soil. Adding water over the leaves can increase the chances of disease and fungus infection. Keep your seedlings well watered, especially when they start to develop their melons.

Unlike most other plants, after the fruit begins to grow, you should actually cut back on the water. This helps to concentrate the sugars in the fruit, making for sweeter melons. Let your plants dry out just until you can detect a bit of wilt, or when the soil is dry to the touch. Fertilize regularly, with monthly applications of standard fertilizer mix.

Fruit that is growing down on the ground can be protected from early rot or other pests if you place something solid under them to keep them off the soil. Coffee can lids work well, and it keeps your fruit cleaner too.

If you have a short growing season, you can help your plants focus on just a few fruit by picking off the flowers after your plants have started 3 or 4 melons. They will grow quicker if the vines aren’t also busy trying to make more.

Containers

Pretty much any variety of cantaloupe can be grown in a container, and you can either let the vines spill over the sides or use a support. To make it easier, smaller plants (with smaller melons) will do better for container gardening.

Minnesota Midget has 4″ fruits and is one of the better choices for pots. The bush is compact and the smaller melons won’t need as much support. Use a pot that’s at least 12″ across, or even a big 5 gallon pail.

Pests and Diseases

Various forms of wilt can harm your plants, and these diseases can live in the soil from one year to the next. So rotate your crops and don’t keep planting cantaloupes in the same place. You can’t treat for wilt, but many melon varieties have been developed that are resistant to it.

Cantaloupes are related to the cucumber, and can be targeted by several of the same insect pests. Cucumber beetles have black with yellow stripes and can really devastate your plants by chewing the leaves. Pick them off when you see them, and treat your plants with a vegetable-safe insecticide. Same goes for squash vine borers, another insect that will eat the vine’s leaves and stalks.

Powdery mildew is a common problem in any vegetable garden, and looks like a dusting of white powder on the leaves. Don’t let the leaves get wet when you water your plants, and treat them with fungicide as soon as you detect the problem.

HARVEST TIPS

Melons need to ripen fully on the vine. They do not ripen well after they are harvested. Cantaloupes develop a wonderful fragrance when they are ready to pick – you can’t miss it. The fruit should slip easily from the vine and the blossom end should feel soft to the touch.

How to Grow Cantaloupe

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How to Grow Watermelon in Containers 1

Growing watermelons in containers is an excellent way for a gardener with limited space to grow these refreshing fruits. Whether you are doing balcony gardening or are simply looking for a better way to use the limited space you have, container watermelons are possible and fun. Understanding how to grow watermelon in containers successfully just requires a little bit of knowledge.

How to Grow Watermelon in Containers

You need to choose a pot that will be large enough for your container watermelon to thrive. Watermelons grow rapidly and require plenty of water, so it is recommended that you go with a 5-gallon or larger size container. Make sure that the container you will be growing watermelons in has enough drainage holes.

Fill the watermelon container with potting soil or other soilless mix. Do not use dirt from your garden. This will compact quickly in the container and will make growing watermelons in containers difficult.

Next, you need to choose a variety of watermelon that will do well in pots. When planting watermelon in pots, you need to look for a compact variety that grows small fruit. These may include:

  • Sugar Baby watermelon
  • Crimson Sweet watermelon
  • Early Moonbeam watermelon
  • Jubilee watermelon
  • Golden Midget watermelon
  • Jade Star watermelon
  • Millennium watermelon
  • Orange Sweet watermelon
  • Solitaire watermelon
  • Moon and Stars watermelon

Once you have selected the container watermelons you will grow, place the seed into the soil. The seed should be plant 3 times deeper than it is long. Water the seed well. You can also transplant a seedling that has been started indoors into the soil. Whether you are planting seeds or a seedling, make sure that all chances of frost have passed outside.

Caring for Watermelons in a Pot

Once you are done planting your watermelon in pots, you’ll need to provide support for the plant. Most people are growing watermelons in containers because they lack space. Without some kind of support, even watermelons growing in containers can take up an enormous amount of space. Support for your watermelon can come in the form of either a trellis or a teepee. As the vine grows, train it up the support.

If you are growing watermelons in containers in an urban area or a high balcony, you may find that you don’t have enough pollinators to pollinate the watermelons.

You can pollinate them by hand and directions on how pollinate melons by hand are here.

Once fruit appears on your container watermelon, you’ll need to provide additional support for the watermelon fruit as well. Use a stretchy, flexible material like a panty hose or a t-shirt to create a hammock under the fruit. Tie each end of the hammock to the watermelon’s main support. As the watermelon fruit grows, the hammock will stretch to accommodate the size of the fruit.

Your container watermelon will need to be watered daily in temperatures under 80 F. (27 C.) and twice daily in temperatures over this. Use a water based fertilizer once a week, or a granulated slow release fertilizer once a month.

 

How to Grow Watermelon in Containers

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This way you can use plastic bottles to make something amazing out of them. Repurpose those old bottles, which you usually throw away to grow your favorite plants either indoor or outdoor and help to save our environment.

Here are 10 inspiring plastic bottle vertical garden ideas to make a vertical soda bottle garden.

1. Plastic Bottles on Walls

Rosenbaum

Follow this amazing idea for growing small leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, fenugreek and spinach, herbs and medicinal plants. This plastic bottle vertical garden is made of by stringing the bottles horizontally in a grid along an interior wall, which then filled up by substrate and herbs.

Source: Rosenbaum.com.br

2. Plastic Bottle Tower Garden

Tower-Gardening

A remarkable kitchen garden with plastic bottles with minimal means and efforts. It can be set up easily and does not require regular watering. Here is the tutorial with more images of it.

3. Growing Cactus in Hanging Plastic Bottles

cactus-planter

Do you want to create a low maintenance vertical soda bottle garden? Follow this idea. All that is required is bottles cut in half, cactus plants or succulents, and many colorful threads to get a really cool decorative effect. Here is the complete tutorial.

4. Half Plastic Bottle Vertical Garden on Wooden Frame

vertical-garden_bottles

Use two-liter soda bottles, cut them in half and use the neck side. Turn them upside down. Adhere the bottles to a wooden frame and arrange them in such a way so that the open neck of the bottle will drain out the water into the bottle below it.

Follow this tutorial to find out more about this garden project.

5. Green Soda Bottle Vertical Garden

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Here’s an another idea to create a vertical garden using the plastic bottles. It is a great way to reuse old plastic bottles and to introduce some greenery to a small urban space.

Source: Flickr

6. Another Vertical Garden

Singapore-Vertical-Garden

One more wonderful idea to make use of plastic bottles, more useful if you don’t have much space on the ground.

Source: Dreamandgrowit

7. Plastic Bottles Hanging on Net

straitstimes

Another useful idea on using plastic bottles vertically.

Source: Straitstimes

8. Hanging Soda Bottle Garden

hanging-bottles

Another innovative and great looking plastic bottle vertical garden. Bottles are hanging horizontally, attached through the strings.

9. Pyramid Plastic Bottle Garden

A-vertical-pyramid-garden-with-plastic-bottles-and-wood

A vertical pyramid garden made of plastic bottles.

Image Credit: Pinterest

10. Window Farm

diagram

If you love DIY ideas and you have a green thumb then starting a windowfarm is a smart idea. A windowfarm will let you do a lot with the little amount of space you have. The indoorwindowfarms allows the crops to take full advantage of the light and vertical space available at the windows. Here in this PDF, you will find all the instructions on how to build a Window Farm.

 

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