Archive | March 2013

City Dweller? You Can Still Grow A Garden!

rooftop-garden-new-york-greenroofIf you knew the one sure-fire way to create a beautiful garden, you would probably be at the garden store right now. But alas, planning a garden that integrates all the elements that make it aesthetically pleasing is easier said than done. Start your planning by considering which plants will grow with little maintenance. Then, focus on contrasting foliage colors and plant shapes. Choose large-leafed bushes and set them off with an agave with spear-shaped leaves, for example. Write out your plans on paper ahead so you can change things until they feel right. This is just some of the helpful information contained in this in-depth guide to successful gardening. Want more tips? Read on!

Use both well-matured compost and mulch in your garden. Compost will naturally help plants grow faster, taller, and healthier, and increase the yield of your vegetables. Mulch helps prevent the growth of weeds. Mulch also shades the ground around the roots of your plants, protecting them from heat and conserving water.

Choose certain plants for shady areas. All plants need light to survive, but not all of them require bright sunshine. Woodland natives, for example, are happiest when given a little protection from the sun’s rays. Be generous when enriching the soil if the plants are under a canopy of trees, as they are competing for the food supply with the big guys! Ajuga, anemone, foxglove, cyclamen, hosta, viola and allium all enjoy a shady area.

Hold off having a pond in your garden until your children are older. A pond, no matter how shallow, can be very dangerous for small children. If you start off with a sunken sandpit for your toddlers to play in, you can easily convert it into a garden pond when they are older. Simply line the area with a rubber pond liner or use a preformed pond.

Make sure the hole you plant for a tree or shrub is at least three times wider than the root ball of the seedling. Most of the root system of a tree or shrub is found in the top foot of the soil. Planting a seedling in a small hole will result in slower growth and failure to thrive.

Do not kill the spiders in your garden. Spiders prey on other insects and can keep unwanted bugs under control. They are a natural source of control for common garden pests. When you see a spider, you should leave him alone to do its job. This will reduce your need for insecticides in your garden.

Disbud your plants. Disbudding is the method of ‘pinching out’ new growth buds to encourage bushier growth and showier flowers. New buds are produced at the leaf axil (where the stem and leaf stalk are attached). By pinching out the top buds, you will encourage the lower buds to grow more freely. This also ensures that the plant has a much longer growing season. Plants that benefit from disbudding include sweet pea, carnation, fuchsia, aster and marigold.

As you can see, garden planning and design takes a little bit of upfront work. When you understand more about features such as your area’s climate and the type of soil in your yard, plant selection and placement becomes much easier. Sketch your plans on paper, then bring them to life and crate a garden you will cherish all year around.

This entry was posted on March 28, 2013.

Gardening Tips for Green Thumbs and Newbies Alike

DSC03914When done well, gardening can be a very rewarding activity. Nothing beats the flavor of a tomato you’ve grown yourself, or the scent of your own flowers. Whether you’re just starting out as a gardener or you’ve been growing things your whole life, there’s always something new to learn. Here are a few tips any gardener can use.

To make the most of the water you use, be sure to water your plants first thing in the morning. Doing this makes your water less likely to evaporate, and allows foliage to dry quickly. This reduces the risk of many common diseases, and will help your plants grow to be strong and healthy.

If you can’t get mulch for your soil, use wet newspapers. Damp newspapers around the base of your plants will help hold moisture in the ground and protect your plants’ root systems from heat and sunlight. Newspaper is biodegradable, so it will eventually degrade and actually add more nutrients to your soil.

A great gardening tip is to water your garden at night time. This ensures that the heat of the sun does not cause the water to evaporate, allowing for maximum absorption. This will help your plants get the appropriate amount of water they need in order to grow.

Save the water when you cook pasta for use in your garden. If you have ever boiled pasta in water, you have seen the cloudy state of the water when you drain the pasta. This water is loaded with starch, which is quite nutritious for plants. Make sure to let the water cool thoroughly, as hot water can damage and even kill plant roots.

It isn’t necessary to have a huge back yard or large space in order to be a gardener. It is even possible to have a small garden somewhere like an apartment. If you live in a smaller space you will want to look into the possibility of having a potted garden in your laundry area.

When it comes to deadheading blooms, wait to remove the faded blooms until the bloom is completely finished. Leave on as much foliage as possible so that the leaves can continue to feed the plant. When the foliage begins to fade, cut out the dying or discolored canes of the plant so that rot or disease does not set in.

Keep your gardening tools organized. You do not want to trek out to your garden, only to realize you do not have everything you need with you and need to hunt your tools down. Keep small tools in a tool belt that you can grab and throw on easily or keep them in a 5-gallon bucket that you can carry out to your garden, quickly.

Gardening doesn’t have to stop in the spring. Planting in the fall can help you have a beautifully vibrant garden once the winter snows melt away. Some plants that do well being planted in the fall include chrysanthemums, kales, and asters. Another benefit of planting in the fall is that bulbs need less fertilizer and watering, saving you some additional costs.

Create an illusion of space. If you have a small garden, use color to create an illusion of more space. A background of blues, grays, pinks and mauves will create a misty effect, giving you the feeling of depth. If you use a bright color in the foreground such as red, this will emphasize the effect, as it draws the eye forward.

The best way to improve your soil is to amend it with different substances, depending on the type of soil you have. Most plants thrive in loamy soil, so adding organic mulches, such as peat moss or hummus, will add nutrients and improve the soil structure. Grass clippings are another material to add that will decay slowly into the soil and add valuable nutrients. Just make sure the grass doesn’t have pesticide residue on the blades that might harm plant roots.

A great tip to consider in regards to gardening is the fact that only plants that are potted or in baskets will need to be watered on a daily basis during the hottest weather. The plants in soil will have access to moisture that takes a lot longer to dry out. This is important to avoid over and under watering.

When removing and replanting perennials, it is important to replenish the soil as well. If you remove a large number of perennials, and then replant them without adding additional compost and soil, the bed will be lower, reducing drainage and air circulation. Also, the compost will replace nutrients that have been used up by previous growing seasons.

As with any pastime, your gardening will benefit if you continually educate yourself. No matter what your skill level is, you can always learn something new that will make you a better gardener. Put some of these ideas to work, and soon your garden will flourish more than it ever has.

This entry was posted on March 22, 2013.

Don’t Have A Green Thumb? Follow This Advice And You Soon Will!

large_07-31-nz-cabbageGardening is a magnificent way to spend time and spruce up your house’s exterior. Not only can it help you to see your home in a new way, but you will also be able to eat all of the great food you’ve grown. It can also be beneficial to your mental well being, as you will have something to see grow and to take care of. It’s a great way to spend your off time.

Plant self-seeding flowers. Let your flowers do the work of re-stocking the garden for you. If you allow your flowers to go to seed, the following year you will have new seedlings popping up everywhere. If things get too crowded, or if plants appear in the wrong place, simply thin them out. Good self-seeders are alyssum, bellflower, forget-me-not, poppy and columbine.

Buy Diatomaceous earth as an alternative to toxic pesticides or adding predatory insects to your garden. Diatomaceous earth is natural, organic, and non-toxic as well as inexpensive and easy to find. It is a green way to keep pests under control. Sprinkle over the surface of soil and water as normal.

There are several different styles of gardens and they are not all compatible. This means that you should decide the purpose of your garden long before you actually start planting things. If you want a garden simply for beauty you need to plant very different things then if you want a garden for food.

Organize your garden so that all your plants are exposed to the sun most of the time. Your house or your trees cast shadows: keep in mind that these shadows move throughout the day. You ideally want your plants to be exposed to the sun in the morning and the afternoon, but not around noon, especially in the summer time.

Start a compost bin, and enjoy nutrient-rich fertilizer that you can use for your vegetable plants, herbs, flowers and more. Food scraps and peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, newspaper, paperboard, yard waste and other organic matter are perfect additions to your compost bin. Keep a small bucket or bag in your freezer as an odor-free way to collect kitchen waste, and empty the container into the outdoor bin when it is full.

Alfalfa meal can be a great fertilizer for many gardens. This is a natural fertilizer, and can be readily purchased at most health food stores. It provides essential nutrients to your plants, while letting you avoid harmful chemicals. Apply the alfalfa meal directly over your soil. Reapply after any heavy rain falls.

If you are intending on getting into gardening, be sure to purchase the right tools and equipment necessary to do all the tasks. This will help insure that you do not end up ruining your garden by using improper tools and wasting a lot of time and energy for naught.

If you have many potted plants, do not water them all the same way. Some plants do well with plenty of water, whereas other plants might prefer a drier soil. Over-watering can do as much damage to a plant as under-watering. So, be mindful of what types of plants that you have in the pots, and water them appropriately.

To make your own miniature greenhouse, simply cover a pot with an old plastic bag. This will mimic the humid environment that allows plants inside a greenhouse to thrive. If you’d also like to protect your plant from the weather, build a dome out of a sturdy plastic and place it atop the plant.

Gardening will make you feel better and will help your yard look spectacular. It’s a very great way to eat, and to keep busy. You can find many tools to help you and many nurseries in your area that can sell you different types of plants. It is a fantastic hobby for anyone to take up.

This entry was posted on March 21, 2013.

Create A First Class Garden When You Use These Ideas

versailles_gardenMany people think gardening takes a lot of time and work. This is not always the case! There are types of gardens to suit all climates and lifestyles. In many places, native plant gardens require little water and will attract beautiful butterflies. Even if you have only a small yard, or no yard at all, you can grow herbs and vegetables in pots. This article provides some helpful tips for home gardeners.

If your home just has a small patio, you can still have a garden by growing plants in containers. Container gardening can give you the option to grow all kinds of flowers, plants, and even vegetables. You can also bypass the problem of frost by taking your containers inside during frosty weather.

You should place human hair in netting around your garden to deter animals from eating your growing produce. The scent of humans can deter animals from coming near an area. When you get a hair cut place the cut hair into satchels made from netting. Hang the netting around your garden to ward off pests.

Wash off your garden harvest before taking it inside your home. Use a laundry basket or some other plastic basket with holes. You can spray down your fruits and vegetables easily with water inside the basket, and the water and dirt will run out. You could also save the water that runs out to water your plants with.

Wait for the right moment if you plan on dividing a plant. Leave perhaps two years to grow and divide it at the end of the season when it looks at its best. If your plant shows signs of diseases or has areas with fewer leaves and flowers than others, it is too late.

Protect your hands when gardening. Garden gloves are made to fit all different hand sizes. They protect your hands not only from getting dirty but also from splinters, cuts and scrapes. Most gloves are inexpensive and are well worth the investment.

Choosing colorful perennials for your garden will make a bold statement and will give you much satisfaction throughout the season. Some perennials with interesting foliage are the lungwort, Japanese painted fern, and the hosta. These plants are very attractive and thrive for many months. There are many varieties of perennials to choose from, just go online and search for perennial plants that remain beautiful for many months out of the year.

If you are planting your first garden, download a zone map to use as a guide. You can also find these on the back of some seed packets. The zone map will basically tell you what plants to plant when. Some plants thrive in sunshine and hot weather, others prefer cold weather and shade.

When deciding to plant a garden, it is important to survey the areas available for planting and determine which will be the best location. Whether you grow your fruits and vegetables in your yard, on your patio in containers, or on your apartment balcony, your plants should be in a location which is exposed to sunlight. To yield the best harvest, most crops need to be situated in an area which is an open location that is sunny.

Check your store bought soil for pests. If you buy from big home improvement stores, your soil may have pests such as aphids. To kill the insects and their larvae, put the soil in a metal baking pan and place it covered in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool before using.

Grow vegetables and fruits to drink. Often overlooked yet easy to grow are items that can be made into fantastic and nutritious drinks. These berries and fruit juices can be frozen or canned or made into wine and hard cider. A well made apple wine or blueberry wine can start at $10-12 a bottle, so this can also be a profit available with the garden.

If having a lot of color in your garden is what you like but you want a sense of continuity, the best way to achieve this effect is to use two colors consistently among all of your plantings. As you look at your garden, your eyes will be drawn to the continuity of color and the view will feel more harmonized to the senses.

A tip to prevent dirt from accumulating under your fingernails while working in the garden, use a bar of soap before starting. Rake your fingernails across a bar of soap and it will seal the undersides of your nails so that dirt will not collect beneath them. When you are finished in the garden, just use a brush to scrape the soap from beneath them and your nails will still be sparkling clean.

To grow an incredible crop of tomatoes, make sure your planting area gets plenty of light and has lots of room around each tomato plant. Tomato plants are sun hungry! They really want at least ten hours of sun each and every day and the additional space between plants helps maximize each tomato’s succulence.

Use bar soap to keep dirt out from under your fingernails when you are gardening. Before you start digging in the dirt, drag your fingernails across a bar of soap. The soap will gather under your nails and seal them up so no dirt can get stuck in there. Then you simply wet your hands and use the soap that is already under your nails to wash them.

Create a series of garden ‘rooms’. The days of a square lawn with a surrounding border are long gone. A garden can offer so much more, by creating different areas to explore. A patio area is simply an extension of your indoor living space. Add an arbor at the end of the patio, leading to another outdoor room. This can be a play area for children, or a small vegetable or herb garden. Create seating areas under a tree or nestled in between shrubs. Add an element of surprise, such as a unique sculpture or piece of large pottery. Let your garden reflect your personality!

Whether you want to grow your own food or herbs, provide a habitat for wildlife, or just like to stop and smell the flowers, almost anybody can make a garden, even in small spaces. Use the knowledge gained from this article to make the most of your home garden, whatever type it may be.

This entry was posted on March 21, 2013.

Growing Your Own, by Zalman Silber

a_zalman_8700led_cpu_coolerIt’s so important to grow your own, now more than ever!  Hey there, I’m Zalman Silber, international man o’ mystery and green thumb extraordinaire, and I’m gonna expound now on the critical importance, blast it, of growing your own healthy delicious fruits and most importantly vegetables.  Yeah, veggies! Now don’t make any faces — you know they’re good for you.  And cooked right (and oftentimes just prepared right, with no cooking at all!), they taste just as good as anything meat-based.  But to really reap the benefits, you really ought to grow yer own.

Of course, many if not most of us have no access to a garden, whether a small plot where we live or some community space for vegetables.  But there are now these things, “agro-culture”or “hydro-agriculture” or some such thing, which let you grow fresh nutritious veggies right on your kitchen counter!

This entry was posted on March 14, 2013.