Monday, August 30, 2010

Planting An Herb Garden

Planting An Herb Garden

Herbs are a wonderful aromatic addition to any garden. Herb gardens are simple to maintain, and are so useful. Planting an herb garden is easy. Herbs have a wide variety of uses, and they are so easy to grow and maintain. Herb gardens don't require much soil preparation or regular watering. Before deciding on the herbs you will plant, consider what purpose you want them to serve. Herbs are grown for medicinal purposes, cooking, attracting butterflies, and for crafts. They can be grown in a sunny window, or they can be grown outdoors in a planter or garden. Herbs are also great to plant in small outdoor locations that would otherwise be useless.

You can start your seeds indoors in trays or peat pots. Doing so will control the exact location of your herbs when it comes time for planting. If you live in an apartment, you can transplant your herbs to a pot or barrel and grow them on a balcony or any other location that gets at least five hours of sun.

Prepare the soil for your herb garden as you would for a flower or vegetable garden. Choose a sunny location where the soil can sufficiently drain. Most herbs don't like to be saturated. Keep the soil free of weeds, and space the plants to allow room for growth.

Some easy to grow perennial herbs are chives, sage, mint, thyme, and oregano. These will come up year after year and they will also spread. Keep this in mind when choosing the location of these herbs. If they start to take over an area, they can easily be thinned out.

Easy to grow annuals are parsley, sweet basil, fennel, borage, savory, and dill. These will need to be replanted each spring, but you can get a head start by planting them indoors before growing season begins.

Herbs can be dried, and they have a long shelf life if they are sealed and stored in a cool, dry location. They don't spoil if they are dried properly, but they will loose their flavor and aroma as time goes by. Herbs make great gifts, and chances are you'll have plenty to share.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Decorative Garden Sticks

Decorative Garden Sticks

How to make a decorative garden stick using mosaic techniques. The garden stick can be used to label plants or as an accessory. Garden sticks can be used to label plants or as a decorative accessory. They can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here are 2 basic concepts

What you need
  • 1 tub of tile grout
  • Mosaic tiles or decorative stones (these can be bought at most craft stores)
  • 1 wood stick or dowel rod
  • 1 wood cut out in the shape of you design
  • School glue or hot glue

Method 1
This is good for labeling plants.
  1. You will need to have a wide wood stick (about 1 ½ “ to 2” wide). The length will depend on how high you want it to stick out of the ground.
  2. With a pencil write the plant name at the top of the stick.
  3. Be sure to leave space in between all tiles.
  4. Glue on tiles to form the name in 1 color.
  5. Glue on tiles surrounding the name of the plant. The name will be easier to read if you make these a contrasting color from the name.
  6. If you have room, make a border in a 3rd color.
  7. Apply the grout making sure to fill in all areas in between the tiles.
  8. Let the grout dry for about 5 minutes.
  9. With a dry terry cloth, remove the excess grout and buff the tiles. You can use a little water if it is easier.
  10. Put the stick into the ground.

Method 2
This is good to add a larger design to your garden.
  1. You will need a wood cut out in the shape or your design. You can get wood cut outs in many shapes at a craft store. You can also use square or rectangular shapes cut out of ¼” plywood.
  2. With a pencil, draw the desired design.
  3. Glue on the tiles following the design.
  4. Apply the grout making sure to fill in all areas in between the tiles.
  5. Let the grout dry for about 5 minutes.
  6. With a dry terry cloth, remove the excess grout and buff the tiles. You can use a little water if it is easier.
  7. Attach a wood stick or dowel rod with epoxy to the wood cut out.
  8. Put the stick in to the ground.

Some more ideas

  1. Use large beads, sea shells, marbles or stones instead of tiles.
  2. Tie and glue a ribbon around the stick.
  3. Look in clip art books for easy designs.
  4. Bright colors will look best.
  5. Add dye to the grout to get more color.
  6. Store inside during the winter months.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wildlife Gardens Wildlife

Wildlife Gardens

Wildlife gardens let you get more out of life and help our environment as well. Gardening in America is the most popular outdoor activity and bird watching is listed as number two; why not combine both outdoor activities?

You can even plant aromatic herbs to please your senses and heal the body! For example, Chamomile plants are easy to grow; wild birds love the seeds and the tea is great for allergies and Insomnia. Think of this as "Applied Ecology" or "planning and orchestrating the study of and bio-diversity of Life for your own family's purposes." Using native plants, you can even lower your monthly watering costs in these "Xeriscaping", wildlife-landscape designs!
The word "Ecology", interestingly enough was coined by a German biologist named Ernest Haeckel in 1869 from the Greek word "oikos" meaning home or "place to live"! Why not make your home or place of business all it can be by enlisting Nature help?

Actually, by combining a love of gardening, a spot for wildlife and rare herbs, you'll be helping Mother Nature keeps some of Her genetic bio-diversity alive in your backyard or business and attract people's attention to!

Ecologist Andre Dubos explains:
"Many people believe that much of the damage done to the Earth is so profound that it is now irreversible. Fortunately, this pessimism is probably unjustified because ecosystems have enormous powers of recovery from traumatic damage.
Ecosystems possess several mechanisms for self-healing. Some of these are analogous to the homeostatic mechanisms of animal life; they enable ecosystems to overcome the effects of outside disturbances simply by reestablishing progressively the original state of ecological equilibrium....
..."wooing of the earth" suggests that the relationship between humankind and Nature should be one of respect and love rather than domination.
Among people, the outcome of wooing can be rich, satisfying, and lastingly successful only if both partners are modified by their association so as to become better adapted to each other.
Furthermore, the outcome is more interesting when both partners retain elements of their individuality - their own wildness."

- from THE WOOING OF EARTH by Andre Dubos (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1980), page 68.

You'll even be part of ALDO LEOPOLD'S LAND ETHIC

"FOR ONE SPECIES TO MOURN THE DEATH OF ANOTHER IS A NEW THING UNDER THE SUN. The Cro-Magnon who slew the last mammoth thought only of steaks. The sportsman who shot the last Passenger Pigeon thought only of his prowess. The sailor who clubbed the last auk thought of nothing at all. But we, who have lost our pigeons, mourn the loss. Had the funeral been ours, the pigeons would hardly have mourned us. In this fact, rather than in Mr. Dupont's nylons or Mr. Vannevar Bush's bombs, lies objective evidence of our superiority over the beasts."

- from A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC by Aldo Leopold (Ballantine Books, New York, 1970), page 117.

What wildlife outside the window brings to people of all ages:
Unusual Plants and landscaping can provide year-round color and these actions increase your property values 10 to 25% and can make a property stand out above all the rest on a crowded housing or business lot market.

  • Birds and small animals add zest to daily life by bring spontaneous wonderment, varied antics and colors, and even music and sounds into our ancestral brain's sensual arena. Most find this sensual response soothing and relaxing.
  • These life miniatures bring elements of Nature and rural memories to young and old up close, right in the back yard or just outside the window - where we can observe it ever day.
  • Children are especially fascinated by the hyperactivity of wild song birds year-round, especially during the cold and "Lifeless" winter.
  • With adult instruction, Children can develop an early interest in Nature and the world beyond themselves and caring for others by watching these little actors act out their lives separate from Yours.
  • Even seasoned birdwatchers can learn new things every day by observing birds attracted by Backyard Wildlife Habitats. Photography and keeping careful notes ( e.g. food, nest-building, child-rearing, etc.) on wildlife observed adds to the knowledge-base about various animals and their range around the world. A compilation of bird photographs arranged with text published in a booklet format makes You a "local expert"!
  • Wildlife have special jobs to do or "niches" in the natural world that can work for You helping You landscape and maintain your property naturally. For example, Goldfinches love dandelion seeds and they will pluck them right off the feathery seed plume before the seeds can escape into your lawn sod. Goldfinches love to nest and live year-round in large, colorful and often fragrant rose brambles.It is amazing the amount of work these animals can do for You year-round by simply eating invasive weeds or insect pests in and around Your home. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found ten song sparrows can eat 875 tons of weed seeds or insects FULL TIME simply to live - the equivalent of 20 railroad box cars of seeds/bugs each year! Note: All birds eats your summer bugs an feed them to their young for a rich source of protein!
  • Lastly Wildlife are a very cheap investment to enhance Your Family and clients' future quality of life. Like the Goldfinches' rose brambles, which provide food, shelter and nesting or a "Home" for Your year-round, NO hassle-helpful, outside guests.What do You see outside your window now? Can it be improved? Even Dentist have found "wildlife attracting gardens" outside Dental office windows entertain, relax and re-assure patients while their teeth are being worked on!

There is not enough room here to describe all the thousands of things You can do in your backyard or business to combine gardening, wildlife and aromatic herbs (i.e. Barbeque Spice beds - tea gardens, Perpetual bird seed/feed beds, Hummingbird-Butterfly Islands, Goldfinches' rose hedges, Night-fragrant Gardens, Cutflower-Bird seed displays, Aromatic-Medicinal herbs beds, Woody Wildlife Corners to attract native song birds year-round). Creativity is your only limiting factor for this process of improving your quality of life from here on out.
A good place to start is using your computer's search engine and type in "National Wildlife Federation".

Friday, August 27, 2010

Front Porch Container Gardening

Front Porch Container Gardening

Learn front porch container gardening. You don't need a garden to grow fresh herbs and vegetables as well as flowers. Pots, soil, seeds and a porch or windowsill are all you need to exercize your green thumb. Whether you want to grow your own kitchen herbs or just have flowers greet you in the morning, a garden in a pot is the way to go.

  • A pot that is at least 6 inches in diameter, or several pots ranging from 6-12 inches in diameter. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom. Larger pots are fine if you have the space for them.
  • Seeds! Make sure that the plants will not grow more than 12 inches tall and that they will have enough sunlight. Whether your porch is shaded or sun filled, there are seeds for either.
  • Potting soil can be purchased at greenhouses, some hardware stores and some department stores like Wal-Mart. It is also a good idea to have some type of gravel or marbles for drainage.
  • Plastic wrap
  1. Place the gravel or marbles in the bottom of the pot, layering them one to two inches, making sure that there is at least four inches of space for soil. This provides drainage so that the roots of the plant won’t rot.
  2. Soak the soil you will be using by placing it in a bucket and filling the bucket with water to cover the soil. Stir it around using a small trowel or your hands.
  3. Place the dampened soil in the pot, filling it up to one inch below the rim.
  4. Sprinkle or place the seeds, according to the packet directions, on the soil and cover by sprinkling a small amount of soil over them. It is important not to cover them too deeply.
  5. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the pot. This will create a greenhouse effect, keeping moisture in without the need to water while the seeds germinate.
  6. Place the pot in a warm, dark place if possible, until the seeds sprout.

Once the sprouts are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, take off the plastic wrap. If they are going to be in direct sunlight on your porch, wait to place them outside until they are at least one inch tall.

To care for your plants, check the pots often to see if the soil is dry. It is not necessary to water plants every day. When the soil is dry, water the plants by filling the pot with water until it drains out the bottom. This ensures that the plants will have enough water. If you are growing herbs, check the packet to see how dry to let them get before watering, as herbs thrive in drier soil. If you notice that your plants are droopy, they need water. If you notice that they are more yellow than green, they may be getting too much or not enough sunlight.

For flowers or herbs that grow taller, you may need to stake them up to keep them from drooping. Gently push a pencil into the soil and tie the plant to it for support. If you plan to harvest the herbs, wait at least until the third set of leaves has appeared. Pinching off the top set of leaves also makes a bushier plant as two sets grow from one pinch.

When purchasing seeds, remember that you can plant anything that will be a smaller plant including all kinds of flowers and herbs as well as some vegetables.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Starting An Indoor Garden

Starting An Indoor Garden

Starting an indoor garden and fun! Especially if you love spring and planting, sometimes it is too hard to wait for the last frost to go. This past spring I could not contain my joy at seeing the green things bud and the sun beginning to shine warmly. I also could not contain myself from the urge to begin my garden. I did, however, stop myself from planting outside, but I didn't stop myself from starting to plant early.

How? I started my garden indoors. I used containers and my window sills to provide the needed sun and space to get it going properly. By the time planting time rolled around, I was already proudly boasting seven tomato plants, one potato plant, and four cucumber plants. I tilled my garden and transplanted my dear plants and sat back to patiently what the yeild of vegetables I knew was soon in coming.

How do you get started? I buy my seeds out of season so that I'll have them before most seeds are even being stocked at most stores. (I also save a few bucks this way!) I keep my seeds stored over the winter months, then break them out in March or April.

Using containers that I get from around the house, I pack them with rich soil and plant my seeds and dutifully water them.

What can you use as planters for your seeds? I am the mother of one six month old baby girl, so I have plenty of formula cans on hand. I simply cover them in decorative paper and fill with soil. I also use regular sized cans as well. (You do have to punch a few holes in the bottom of the can and provide a container to catch access water. I used a simple plastic container that came off a piece of packaging.)

I also use egg cartons. I cut the carton in half at the fold and place the lid beneath the bottom and it forms an automatic bottom to catch access water. (You do have to punch a small hole in the bottom of each shell of the egg carton.)

I plant my seeds, place them on a sunny windowsill, water them accordingly, then wait rather impatiently for the first green shoots to appear. Sometimes you loose a few, sometimes you don't. But, I figure it this way: I am releiving some stress by starting my garden early and I'll be very proud to have my first batch of tomatos and cucumbers when everyone else is just planting their seeds!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gardening In Containers: Create and Maintain

Gardening In Containers: Create and Maintain

Gardening in Containers: Take your first step into the world of container gardens with this instruction on how to create one and the vegetables you can plant. There are several reasons why people choose to use container gardens. They may have limited garden space, or no garden at all, but a balcony or patio that is suitable for this type of gardening.

The gardener may have limited mobility due to age or disability, and a container garden brings them the joy of gardening. Container gardens are manageable, allowing a person with limited time to let their green fingers be satisfied. For people who have had constant problems with their garden soil container gardens can be a welcome relief, and they can add attraction to otherwise dull areas. Those people who have a garden, but no plot for growing vegetables also feel rewarded.

There are several factors to be taken into account when assembling container gardens. The first is what sort of container you should use. Basically you can use anything be it plastic, wood or clay, providing it is large enough to support the vegetable or plant when it is fully grown, and that it has sufficient holes in the bottom to allow for good drainage. Allow 6 to 8 inches of depth so the roots can fully establish themselves. Material type is down to personal preference. Some prefer clay because it looks traditional, whereas others prefer the lightweight characteristics of plastic.

Garden soil is unsuitable for the container garden as it is too heavy and does not allow air to the roots. Because the roots need air, the soil needs to be lightweight. One option is to go and buy some packaged potting soil. Alternatively you could make up your own by combining 2 parts sandy loam soil with 1 part sphagnum peat moss and one part builder’s sand.

Because container gardens are made up of a relatively small volume of soil they need to be watered regularly, as they can dry out quickly. Do not let them stand in water though. A good method of preventing the top from drying out is by covering it with a layer of mulch. If you are in any doubt as to the dryness of the soil you can test it by digging your finger into it. Guidelines may have to be sought for how much to water specific plants and vegetables.

If you buy your soil pre-packed then it should have enough fertilizer for about 8 weeks. If you need to use fertilizer after this then use every 4 weeks and dilute to one quarter of the stated dose.

Many different vegetables can be grown in container gardens. Tomatoes work very well with Red Robin and Florida Petite being excellent varieties to use. Carrots and lettuce are good vegetables to grow as they take up little space. Peppers, like tomatoes bear fruit over time, so are another very good choice.

Take your first step into the world of container gardens and learn that they can be just as rewarding as their larger companions!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Start Your Garden Indoors With Seed

Start Your Garden Indoors With Seed

Step-by-step guide to starting your garden indoor from seed. From preparing starter soil, to seedlings, to planting in your outdoor garden. In order to start your garden indoors from seed you will need: premade soil mixture or one you have made with an equal mix of sand, and peat moss, sphagnum, vermiculite or perlite. Containers, either store bought or recycled like egg cartons, water, plastic bags, a fork, a pencil and a room temperature out of direct sunlight at 70° and 80°. Once you have these things, select your favorite seeds in packets and you’re ready to begin.

1. Moisten the mix slightly and fill your container to within ½ inch of the top. Lightly pack down. Use a fork to make several small depressions in the surface soil.

2. Sparingly drop seeds into the depressions using a point of a pencil to guide seeds out of the packet.

3. Lightly cover seeds with additional dry mix and press lightly so seeds contact the already moistened mix.

4. Place the entire container is a clear plastic bag and store out of direct sunlight, where temperature is between 70° and 80°. Tie the bag loosely to prevent evaporation. This “greenhouse effect” is perfect for seed germination.

5. When seedlings sprout (varies on type of seed) they will need sunlight. Uncover and set them on a table near a window. If you set them on the sill, be sure to insulate against the cold. If the soil is dry just below the surface with a finger poke, it’s time to water – sparingly, being sure not to overwater new growth.

6. In a week or two, the first set of real leaves will be visible and seedlings will need transplanting. Use a spoon or the edge of a blunt knife to break apart root clusters. Gently lift the plant by the leaves while supporting it underneath with the spoon or knife. Place the transplant in your new container and fill container to within ½ inch of the top with new soil mixture. Lightly pack down. Water with a half-strength solution of your favorite fertilizer. Keep transplants out of direct sun for two days, then place in full sun again. Alternate water and then fertilizer each time a fngerpoke turns up dry soil.

7. In two weeks the plants will be ready for hardening off. To gradually get them use to the outside world place them on a south porch or area where they get full sun but are sheltered from wind. For three days bring the plants back indoors around sunset. After this time leave them outdoor irregardless of weather.

8. After two weeks of hardening off, remove the plant with it’s rootball and soil intact. Plant them deeply in your chosen outdoor area. Water with liquid fertilizer immediately after this final transplant, and again every third day until the plants are established.

Growing your plants indoor from seeds will not only save you money, it will also give you the benefits of starting your garden long before mother nature would allow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Indoor Container Gardening

Indoor Container Gardening

Its fun to experiment with indoor container gardening using that spare room. Try growing inside and just see what we can do! Have you thought of growing vegetables indoors? That is, other than in greenhouse. It can be done and is a great hobby! The choices are many and require only your interest, energy, along with containers and a good growing medium and your tender loving care.

The containers you will use for growing indoors are the same as outdoor container gardening. The container should be adequate in size and have a good drainage system. Read the instructions on the seed package for the correct amount of seeds and spacing for planting. Use your imagination for a planter. Visit junk shops and garage sales you may be surprised what unique receptacles you might find. Plus, its fun to explore at flea markets looking for ¡§special¡¨ things! Any neat looking repository might work.

  • A fish aquarium
  • A waste basket
  • An old pail or bucket
  • Old wood boxes with plastic lining
  • Old wash basin or tub
These are just a few ideas and I am sure that you can look around your garage and find even more inventive items to use.

Use purchased potting soil for inside growing, regular soil will compact and be hard, thus not lending itself well to growing healthy plants. You could mix 1/3 each of perlite and commercial potting soil. It is very important to have good drainage!

Growing inside will require feeding more often. Fertilize every two weeks with a good balanced household fertilizer. Water daily, the indoor growing conditions will dry the soil quickly.

In order to grow the plants will need good light. A window that faces South is the very best area to place your pots. Plants that have begun to produce will need at least 12 hours of light each day. If you are unable to position your plants to receive that much bright sunlight use a florescent light to supplement.

Some vegetables suited for indoors are:
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Spinich
  • Endive
  • Swiss chard
  • Radishes
  • Dwarf carrots
  • Bunching onions
  • Beets and Turnips

Tomatoes (choose the patio size) will not set fruit unless they have nighttime temperatures of at least 60-70-degrees and daytime temperatures of at least 80 degrees. The leafy and root crops like it cooler, with highs of 60-70 degrees and down as low as 40 degrees at night.

If you have a room with lots of light, you will probably enjoy experimenting with this project. Expertice comes by trial and error. Your local county extension office might have more in depth information on the subject. Have fun!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Container Gardening Ideas For The Novice

Container Gardening Ideas For The Novice

Container gardening ideas for the beginner: how to choose suitable containers, and plants. When and how to water. How to use container gardens for privacy. When you decide that you would like some plants in containers, whether they are flowers for color, vegetables to supplement your larder, or greenery for accent, you have several thousand choices. Let's break your choices down into manageable chunks.

First you will need to select a suitable container. The choices are limited only by your imagination. Decide upon your theme, rustic, formal, casual, etc. Then look at the available containers, an old bucket, a classic urn, and a flowerpot all can be converted to growing containers. Don't limit your imagination. I have seen some very attractive containers that most people would not consider suitable, such as a child's wagon, an old toilet tank and an old horse trough. If you can add drainage holes, potting soil and plants you have a container for gardening. I wonder if my old CPU case would work?

Your containers will need drainage holes of some type. You can poke holes with a nail, or drill; you should make your holes about one to two inches apart on the bottom of your planter. If the bottom is not level, such as bowl or ball shaped, make sure one hole is at the lowest level. Place one to two inches of gravel, or if weight will be a concern, packing peanuts (not the cornstarch based ones), on the bottom. If you are concerned about the dirt washing out of your holes you can fill the holes with part of a plastic scrubber. You can also place part of a broken clay pot over the holes to keep the dirt and gravel from being washed out.

Now you have chosen your containers and prepared them for planting you will have to decide what types of plants you want. This will depend upon your theme and what you hope to gain from the garden. You will also have to take into consideration your climate, the location of the container, the available space, and the container itself. Corn can be grown in containers, but would look out of place in a Grecian urn, but would look nice in a long planter at ground level. Visualize the plant in various stages of growth and then match it with the container. Don't forget you can grow several different types of plants in one container, so you need to look at the total picture. If you are going to grow several plants in one container, take into consideration the amount of water each needs. Cacti and bulbs may look nice together, but the water requirements for each are so different that you would end up killing one or the other.

The soil that you use will depend upon the location, the type of plant, and the container again. If you are going to place your containers on a balcony, you will want to use a lightweight potting soil for most plants, if on the other hand, you are growing them in a ground level patio you won't have to worry about the weight. Wet soil is heavy, so also think about how often you might need to move your container. You might consider getting casters or a rolling plant stand if you will need to move the plant frequently. A hanging basket again would need lighter soil with a high percentage of vermiculite, or something similar. You can get potting soils at most hardware stores, and of course your local gardening center.

Some plants need more light than others do. Tomatoes, for instance, do much better with a southern exposure than with a northern exposure. Do remember that although they may do better in certain areas, that does not prevent you from planting where you want to or need to. I have a 5-year-old tomato plant that moves from an outside southern exposure in the summer to an indoor, eastern exposure during the winter. I do so enjoy fresh tomatoes from my tomato plant in January. The only time you have to be careful is if your choice of plants prefers shade. Look at the plants that are available and make your choices. Annuals will last one year, perennials will last as long as they are cared for, so decide if you want to change the plants yearly, or just plant once and then leave them.

Watering is more important in a container garden since they dry out faster than in the ground. They should be watered daily, and during the hottest months water twice and sometimes three times a day. Does this mean you can't go on vacation? No it doesn't, I save my bleach bottles cut the bottom off, rinse well, poke a half dozen holes in the neck and cap, push it into the container near the center. Just before I leave I fill with water. This will usually hold my plants for three to four days, and if I will be gone longer, I have a neighbor refill them. Fertilizing should be done a little more often than in an inground garden. Once a month with a diluted fertilizer should be enough unless you are growing vegetables, in which case once a week will work well.

Pick your containers, plan your plants, and have fun. Let your imagination soar. You can use a climbing rose in an urn to screen a porch from the neighbors and provide you with privacy; you can add some color to an otherwise drab window with flowers in a window box. Screen an unsightly view with a vine in a hanging pot. Let your imagination soar.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Garden Container Planting

Garden Container Planting

Overveiw of container gardening, to those who are interested in the basics. There is enough information to start this hobby that could last a lifetime. Many of us live in cities with limited land space. When spring comes and brings with it the hint of green and growing things, there is something within us that needs to take part in the planting and growing process. Container gardening could be the answer!

Those of us who live in mobile home parks, apartments, or condominiums still may experience the satisfaction gardening brings. Window boxes, pots, and planters of all sorts. Nature provides the essentials, which are light and water. We provide the enthusiasm and energy and will see the positive results. Basic in all of mankind is the need to commune with nature. Pretty green plants create a beautiful swath of color in a drab area. Containers are portable, easy to move and decorate for special occasions perhaps a pool party. A “not so pretty” spot can be camouflaged with attractive pots of flowers.

The best garden soil that comes from our grandfather’s garden, is not necessarily the best for growing plants in containers. Regular soil is not porous enough; it will become hard. Organisms may be hiding in the soil causing poor results, such as rot and disease. Make your own potting soil by mixing one part sandy loam to one part sphagnum peat moss and one part perlite. Because this mixture uses regular soil it should be used only for established, more hardy and disease resistant plants.

A soil replacement called “potting mix” is more desirable to establish your container plants. This is a combination of pasteurized soil and peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite that allows good drainage yet retains water to help the plant to grow. You may purchase potting mixes in various combinations at your local garden store, with such trade names as Pro Soil, Metro mix, and many others.
The size of the container you may use depends on the size of the plant and the top growth and root system. Most seasonal plants and vegetables will grow nicely in a container ranging from 1 gallon to 6 inches. Larger plants such as tomatoes and roses need at least a 3-gallon pot.

Most any thing can be used to pot your plants, including old buckets and unique cans, however, it is important to have holes in the bottom for good drainage.
  • Cedar or redwood can be used without painting, and are rot resistant. Chemically treated wood should be avoided.
  • Clay has been around for a long time and is used often by gardeners. The clay is porous and water is lost from the sides, also it can break easily. If you need mobility this may be a consideration.
  • Plastic containers come in a large variety of sizes and styles. Choose the more durable types of plastic, in order to last a few seasons.

Pots and containers are not fixed items, they can be moved to suit your needs, or to lengthen their growing season. When the weather cools move to a more protected area. No hoeing or weeding makes the busy person's life much easier. The specific needs of each plant, for example the condition of the soil, acid loving or high pH, can be made to fit without disrupting the balance of adjacent plants.

The popularity of container gardening has created the development of special plants designed for this specific purpose. You can check seed catalogs for new varieties.

  • Beets Tomatoes
  • Squash Carrots
  • Lettuce Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Radish
  • Cucumber

  • Alyssum
  • Begonia: (Wax leaf)
  • Blue Bells
  • Geraniums
  • Impatiens
  • Marigolds
  • Vinca or Periwinkle
  • Lantana
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansies
  • Petunias and more!

You may encounter special problems on porch balconies with heat light and wind. There are ways to solve this problem so don’t give up to soon!

Prop your containers with what is available, such as support railings walls or pipes.
  • The container should have wide bottoms, so they will be less likely to tip or fall over.
  • Anchor trellises and supports firmly in containers.
  • If your area is very windy avoid hanging baskets, Styrofoam, or flimsy plastic.
  • Window boxes should be secured firmly in place, by screws or bolts.
  • Place gravel in the bottom of each pot to add weight and help with draining.
  • Your freestanding pots will need to be grouped together.

You can make sunscreens out of lightweight fabric by tacking it to frames, or roll-up bamboo porch screens work well.
  • You may need to move your plants to a more shady area.
  • When watering your plants, allow the water to run from the hose until cool. Hoses stored in the hot sun may have very hot water held inside, and could damage your plants.
  • Pots that are thin with the bottom close to the ground should be elevated to avoid root burn.
  • A dark color in a patio or deck can cause plants to burn. Set them on a light color such as an old sheet, white plastic, or a surface that reflects the sun.
  • Shield plants from intense heat by using pots that are light colored or white. Metallic containers will reflect sunlight and make soil somewhat cooler.

Your vegetables and plants will need an average of 6 hours of light daily. If you can easily move your pots you could then take advantage of available light. A dolly is convenient for this purpose. Placing containers against light colored walls will help increase exposure to light.

The confined area of your plants will cause them to dry more quickly than usual. They will need to be watered at least once daily and often two times. Check daily if the soil in top feels dry water until the water drains out the bottom. The increased amount of watering will cause the loss of nutrients. Fertilize often throughout the season. They will need to be fed at least every 3rd or 4th watering.

You can make your own watering system, and give your friends a break! When you pot your plant insert a small cord, a "wick" into the drainage hole. When you are ready to enjoy your vacation or time away from home, you need not worry. Insert the cord into a container of water. An empty plastic milk bottle will work great. A continuous supply of water will be carried through the cord to your plant.

Many gardeners grow herbs (in containers) and outside but near the kitchen, available quickly to use in cooking. There is nothing like the taste of fresh herbs in dishes. Many herbs are perennial and when cold weather arrives may be moved indoors.
Enjoy container gardening!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Container Gardening

Container Gardening

Try container gardening if you love plants but have a brown thumb or if you have no gardening space. You adore gardening, but your backyard’s the size of a half bath and worse, you have a notoriously brown thumb. What’s the solution?

It’s simple. Container gardening. Surprising as it may sound, many types of plants, with minimal care and attention, do very well in containers. There are also very hardy specimens out there that can survive even the most notorious of “brown thumbs”. Annuals, (plants that grow for only one season), are the most logical choice for container gardening and for beginning gardeners. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

If you have a sunny location try grouping 3 or 4 of the following annuals into a container: alyssum, geraniums, snapdragons, cosmos daisy, petunias, flowering tobacco, gerbera, lobelia, morning glory, marigolds, zinnias, verbena, shasta daisies, nasturtium. If you want a bit of contrasting greenery, add a dracaena, some trailing ivy or an asparagus fern. Don’t worry too much about overcrowding. The most attractive containers are usually ones featuring half a dozen different annuals.

For a shadier location try some of these colourful specimens: dusty miller, fuschia, begonias, coleus, scented eucalyptus, French lavender,impatiens, polka dot plant, canna lily, licorice plant, waxy begonia, wandering jew. Ferns are also nice additions to any shady areas,
whether as a contrasting foliage plant in an annual grouping or all on their own in a smaller decorative or hanging pot.

Here’s a nifty idea. Get a tall, deep container or bucket and fill it with ornamental grasses like: sedum, blue fescue, northern sea oats, black mondo grass or switch grass. Since most grasses love to spread, keeping them confined in a container makes for an interesting contrast. Some of them even retain their natural colours during the winter months and are wonderfully attractive painted with frost or weighted down with snow.

Seasonal vines and creepers are also interesting choices if you have a wall or bare section in your back yard that needs some perking up. Virginia creeper grows very quickly and needs virtually no maintenance other than something to cling to. Birds love it and in the fall the leaves turn blazing orange. Very showy! If your growing area has mild winters Virginia Creeper and certain other vines might even come back the next spring!

Why not try some easy-to-grow vegetables and herbs? Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, beans, spinach, lettuce, oregano, parsley, onions, garlic, sage, English cucumbers, lemon balm, thyme -- those are just a few herbs and vegetables that can be harvested from containers. Most vegetables enjoy full or at least partial sun. Group one or two together, depending on the size of your container. Certain herbs enjoy periods of shade. Check the tags for light requirement when you buy the plants, or ask the experts at your local greenhouse or garden centre. Regular fertilizer applications every few weeks and you’ll have your own mini bumper harvest by late summer or early fall.

Some things to remember about annuals and container gardening:
  1. More frequent watering is required.
  2. Ornamental grasses grow very tall. Use taller pots to accommodate their height. Adding an inch or two of gravel before filling container with soil should keep the pot more stable.
  3. Choose containers that have adequate drainage.
  4. Don’t forget to fertilize.
  5. You don’t need to spend a fortune on containers. Shop around. Re-cycle. Discarded barrels, buckets, and tubs are ideal for annuals. Check out local flea markets and garage sales.
  6. Have fun! Your only limitation is available space and your imagination!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Small Garden Design

Small Garden Design

A guide to small garden design explaining how to plant a vegetable garden using containers, including how deep the containers must be and how far apart to plant the plants. The first step in planting your garden is to decide what you want in it. Then you must make sure you have enough space. Vegetables will naturally want full sun, so your space must have either constant sun or you will have to move things around each day, which will require your plants to be planted in a container.

Container gardening is great for just that reason: its mobility. You can change the look of your garden instantly as well. And if you discover that a plant is not thriving because of its location, it's easy to move. You can also grow plants in your containers that would otherwise not thrive in your soil because of a high alkaline or acidic content.

Tall plants, such as tomatoes, will require very large containers. Tomatoes tend to grow rapidly and get wider as opposed to taller when the container in which they are grown is too small. A two-feet high container should work quite well.

Peppers also need a deeper container, but a 12" deep one should do just fine. If you choose to put them in a longer planter box, place only two plants in the box, a foot or more apart. The plant will get quite bushy as it grows.

Carrots, onions, and radishes, since they are root vegetables and are going to grow down, need a two-feet deep container as well. These three vegetables can be grown next to each other nicely.

If you are having trouble finding containers that are deep enough, simply buy the two deepest you can find, cut the bottom out of one of them and tape the two together. If you want to hide the tape, put a wide ribbon around the seam and tie a a large bow in it.

Plants grown in containers tend to dry out very quickly and need watering everyday. Try to water at night after the sun has gone down; it will prevent water burn. If you water in the morning and droplets remain on the leaves, the sun will fry the plant rather unattractively. During periods of extreme heat, the plant will need to be watered in the morning as well. As long as the sun has not yet started to hit them, go ahead and water the plants. As the sun warms the air, any remaining droplets will evaporate.

Make sure when planting that adequate drainage is put on the bottom inside the container. Mix your soil mixture with 1/2 part of peat moss; this allows for air to circulate down in the soil, and it will also hold in moisture.

Check for parasites, beetles, and aphids every day and spritz with a garlic water mixture if need be to keep garden pests at bay. Cayenne pepper water poured into the soil will not only not harm the plant, but will keep earwigs and slugs away for the balance of the summer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Water Garden Design

Water Garden Design

You can design a water garden. Its easy to do if you follow these simple instructions. Listed are tha types of plant to use and the kinds of containers to use. You can use cuttings from plants or plants in soil for your water garden. If the plant is in soil, wash the roots with tepid water being careful to not damage the roots. Next, take a container and put a few pieces of charcoal in the bottom. Then add enough water to cover the roots and part of the stem. Never let any of the leaves remain in the water as this will cause them to rot. Don't forget the charcoal. This will keep the water pure and clear. Do not change the water unless you have an accumulation of algae or dead roots. After a few days you can add a few drops of liquid fertilizer.

The only insects that you may encounter in your water garden are white flies and spider mites. Wash the leaves with soap and water. This will get rid of them.

Plants for your water garden:
  • Arrowheads
  • Syngonium: Creeping or climbing vines with shiny leaves of dark green. A good climber.
  • S. Podophyllum Tri Leaf Wonder: The centers of the leaves are generally a light green, deepening toward the edges.
  • S. Macrophyllum: Large, emerald green, heart shaped leaves. Also a climber.
  • S.Wendlandii: A more compact member of the genus family, with deep green leaves and sharply contrasting white veining.
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Coleus
  • Dracaena
  • German Ivy
  • Ivy, Hetaera
  • Hawaiian Tree Fern
  • Miniature Sweet Flag
  • Philodendron
  • Sweet Potatoes, Ipomoea

Choose the container that you prefer. Glass bowls, glass jars, etc. You can find all sorts of pretty containers at thrift stores and yard sales. Some of my prettiest containers have come from these sources. Other containers that can be used are battery jars, beakers, flasks, graduated cylinders, museum jars, show bottles, volumetric flasks, test tubes, and vases. You will soon find out that the container that you choose is only limited to your imagination.
You will enjoy your water garden for many years.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Backyard Ponds And Water Gardens

Backyard Ponds And Water Gardens

Water adds another dimension to a garden. How to choose a site for a pond, construction materials, aquatic plants, etc. Incorporating a water garden into your landscape may seem overwhelming at first. There are several key points to think about. Is the site you’re considering more conducive to a formal or informal pond? A property with a wooded setting and rustic house is perfect for natural looking pools. These have irregular shapes and are often edged with natural stone, softened by ferns and other natural-looking streamside plantings. A formal water feature is more architectural and might take the form of a reflecting pool, with clean lines and a rectangular shape.

Generally a pond looks most natural in a low but relatively level spot, where water would tend to accumulate on its own. A spot with some natural elevation can be ideal for realistic waterfalls that splash downhill. Perhaps most important of all in choosing a pond site: don’t forget to consider how you will get electricity (for pumps) and water (for filling and topping off as it evaporates) to the pond.

Types of Installations
Here’s an overview of the three most popular pond construction methods.

Flexible PVC liners.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is available in several thicknesses. Choose a minimum thickness of 20 mil for long-lasting construction. Buying the PVC from a garden center or pond supply company will ensure that it has not been treated with any chemicals that will be toxic to plants or fish (as some materials meant for swimming pool use may have been). Basically the PVC liner is laid out on a bed of moist sand at the bottom of the excavated site. The edges of the liner are concealed with stone or brick and the excess cut away. The lifespan of 20 mil PVC is about ten years. It can deteriorate more rapidly if exposed constantly to direct sunlight, so keep your pond well filled.

Prefabricated pools.
These black plastic shells resemble children’s wading pools to some extent. They are much more expensive than flexible liners but are more durable and resistant to punctures. On sloping ground, a prefabricated pool may be easier to work with. Another use is for raised pools the unit is set on top of a patio or other level space and brick or stacked stone is built up to conceal the edges. Many shapes and dimensions are available, including formal and informal, large and small. The selection, however, will always be more limiting than a flexible liner. Installation may be a bit trickier because the excavated site must very closely fit the shell.

A pool of concrete is durable and made to last --but hard to remove if you wish to ever decide to alter your landscape, to accommodate a children’s playset for example. Depending on how it is shaped and edged, a concrete pool can be formal or informal. It’s easy enough to install a drain in the bottom of the pond, or to do tilework on the bottom, sides, or top edges. Concrete must be mixed and reinforced properly to avoid settling or cracking, so it may be preferable to contract out this kind of job.

Aquatic Plants
The water lily is the most well known, and perhaps most admired, of the aquatic plants. Many varieties are tropical and must be treated as annuals, but there are also a large number of hardy varieties. In garden pools, water lilies are grown in containers of topsoil that set on the pool bottom. Pebbles on the surface of the container help to prevent the dirt from clouding the water. Most lilies need full sun -- eight to twelve hours a day -- to bloom.

The spectacular lotus is also a well known water flower. Leaves may measure two feet across. Blossoms are huge, very fragrant and rise several feet out of the water, creating quite a show. Miniature cultivars are more suitable for small ponds.

Marginal plants are a category of plants that grow in the boggy ground or shallow water at the edges of the pond. They are characterized by roots that grow in the soil. Examples include cattails, Chinese water chestnut, horsetail grass, marsh marigold, pickerel rush and several varieties of iris.

Floating plants are those that don’t need soil. Their leaves and flowers literally float on the pond surface while roots hang into the water. Best known of this category is the beautiful water hyacinth, with its lavender flowers. The yellow water poppy is another choice.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Building A Water Garden

Building A Water Garden

Water gardens are no longer just for those that have a gardener, now the average gardener can easily build their own. Water gardens are beautiful accents to homes, and with some initial effort and regular maintenance, they can be a wonderful asset to your landscape. Begin by deciding on where you want your water garden. Take into account where you like to sit, how it will work into the landscape and, your access to electricity if you plan to build a garden that circulates water. You can install a water garden any time of year that you can work your soil, however the easiest would be in the spring. This allows you to have several months to experiment with adding water, plants, etc. to keep the water clean. Only when you can keep the water clean and clear should you add fish to it.

Your garden does need some sunlight, however you want it to get some shade also, especially if you plan to have fish. These small water gardens are not deep enough to provide adequate protection from the elements, and your fish will get too hot if they are in exposed sun all day. Also, if your water is to warm, it encourages algae to grow.
Once you have decided on location, start digging. There are many pre-formed gardens available, and that is really the easiest route to go. These are available at nearly all home and garden stores. Decide on a shape, and start digging. Follow the manufacture’s directions for installation, as not to void the warranty should something go wrong. It will probably be recommended to lay down some sand or pea gravel in the bottom of your hole to cushion your liner. Once you have your liner installed, the fun part begins. You will want to use rocks and plants around the edge of the garden to conceal the liner, and to blend the garden seamlessly into the remainder of your landscape. Be sure to budget enough landscaping dollars for some gorgeous water lilies, cattails, and other water plants. After you have your basic design laid out go ahead, get the garden hose, and fill your pond. Now is also the time to add your aquatic plants, as they will help to stabilize the water.

When you are planting water plants, leave them in their pot and set the pot into the garden. Add some rocks to the bottom of your pot, so that it does not tip over. If you are going to have fish in your water garden put an inch or so of small gravel over the dirt in your pots, so that the fish will not stir up the dirt and muddy your water.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kids And Gardening

Kids And Gardening

Get your kids gardening! With imagination and dirt you can introduce children to a world of experiences in the garden. It's easy, inexpensive and educational. How can you get children interested in gardening? Let me count the ways. With a little imagination and dirt you can introduce your children to a world of experiences in the garden. Since I'm an avid gardener I wanted to share this interest with my young son. Together we created a garden full of wonderful things to taste, touch, smell, decorate - even sleep under. It's easy, inexpensive and educational (the kids don't need to know that part).

Children like a sense of ownership so give them a plot of land, let them help choose the site and let them name it. Have them outline it with stones and put in some simple paths with mulch or grass clippings. Be sure to leave a play space just for pure digging fun.

Kids are tactile creatures so in planning the garden I started with the senses:

Chocolate and pineapple mints, basil, sage, anise hyssop (smells like licorice)and lavender. Teach your child to crush the leaves with their fingers, encourage them to experiment with different scent combinations.

Big, soft lamb’s ears, fluffy spider flowers, smooth, cool pumpkins and prickly globe thistle provide a variety of tactile sensations. Let your child know that in their garden touching is ok.

Children will love munching their way through their garden. Cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, radishes and baby carrots can be enjoyed fresh from the dirt. (Be sure to NEVER use pesticides on your child’s garden.) You might discover that you can get your child to try something they have never eaten before – zucchini maybe – simply because they grew it.

Birdhouse gourds can be turned into rattles or drums. Seeds can be used to create a rainstick.

Let your child try to find the faces on the pansy and work the jaws of the snapdragon. Have them open the purple pod of a pole bean and discover the green bean inside. Plant a rainbow garden using yellow marigolds, white zinnias, red salvia, blue pansies and purple petunias.

I made sure to create a secret place in the garden where my son could rest in some shade and maybe read. You can do this by creating a cave out of chicken wire and some small poles and then growing morning glories and sweet potato vine or sweet peas onto it. You can also grow mammoth sunflowers on a small, square plot and weave the tops together into a teepee.

There should also be space for birds. Birdbaths, feeders and a birdhouse can attract finches and blue jays into your yard.

Have your children decorate the garden. They can make plant markers using smooth stones that can be written on with indelible markers. They could draw big versions of what they planted on poster board and it can be laminated and hung in the garden. Every garden needs a scarecrow! Let them choose from clothing they have outgrown to create a guardian for the garden.

Some final tips
  • Buy good quality seed to ensure good plant production.
  • Kids like instant gratification. You may not like radishes but they grow fast!
  • Buy an instant camera and let your child keep a scrapbook of his garden.
  • Use themes in your garden plan – plant a pizza garden, Peter Rabbit’s garden or a maze garden.
  • Invest in some child sized tools.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gardening With Children

Gardening With Children

Learn why it is important to teach your children how to garden. The fruits you reap will long outlast your vegetables. Learn easy tips to make it fun. Spring has sprung and it is time to get outside and into the garden! As you decide on your spring planting, don't forget to include your children in the fun. Gardening with children can be very beneficial to your child, yourself and your garden. Even very young children can be helpful and learn from gardening.

Parents of small children know that toddlers love digging in dirt. Why not put that love to good use? Allow your child to help dig the soil and plant the seeds, then water the area. It will be necessary to explain to the child that it will take time, but the seed will open up under the ground and start to grow. Soon, a small plant will sprout. The amazement and joy your child will get from this first small sprout will be enough reward, but the benefits go far deeper. Your child is learning patience, responsibility, a sense of wonder and a love for nature. Plants such as green beans and sunflowers work best for very young children because they sprout quickly and grow fast, although any plant will do. You may either sow the seeds directly in the garden, or in a small container kept inside in the windowsill.

You can even plant beans around large wooden poles you stand up in a tee-pee shape. When the plants start to grow, gently direct them sound the poles. When they are full grown your child will have a bean house to play in! If you plan on doing this, make sure the beans you plant are pole, not bush beans, or they will not climb.

Older children will also benefit from gardening. You can give a child a few of his/her own plants to care for or give him/her their own plot in the garden. It won't take long to learn the amount of assistance your child will need. Your child's abilities will grow with experience. Just start with the basics and you'll be amazed by what they can accomplish. Planting and caring for the seedling will teach responsibility in such a fun way that the child won't even realize he is learning!

To add to the fun, you can make garden stakes so you know what you planted where. Start with a wooden paint stick. You can either paint and decorate the stick or attach the seed packet to the stick. To do this, open the packet from the bottom, and place over the top of the stick, then staple in place. To protect the stake from the rain, you may want to cover the packet with clear contact paper once it is attached to the stake.

While in the garden with your child, keep the focus on fun, not work. Also, develop your own sense of wonder and discovery. This will add to your child's excitment. Don't forget the best part: picking and eating your crops. The sense of accomplishment you child will have after he/she brings in the first harvest will lead to a lifetime of self-confidence.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Children And Gardening: Have Fun With Nature

Children And Gardening: Have Fun With Nature

Children's experience with gardening will nurture their natural fascination with nature and help instill a lifelong respect for the environment. Nurture their natural fascination with nature and help instill a lifelong respect for the environment.

Difficulty Level: average Time Required: 20 minutes to a day

Here's How:

  1. Work with large seeds that are easy for children to handle.
  2. Plant a round 'pizza garden' with 'slices' of green peppers, tomatoes, onions and any other veggies they might enjoy. Include basil, parsley and oregano.
  3. Grow sunflowers for a summer bird garden.
  4. Create a living 'tee-pee' with running vines or tall sunflowers by training them on tall stakes that are tied together at the top with twine.
  5. Allow children to carve their name into young pumpkins on the vine; at harvest allow them to keep their personalized pumpkin.
  6. Help a child maintain a pint-sized garden around a playhouse.
  7. Mix radish seeds with carrot seeds and scatter them in a cool season garden. The radishes mature quickly and can be harvested making more space for the baby carrots to grow.
  8. Grow real grass in Easter baskets with annual rye grass seed, garden soil and a plastic liner in the bottom of the basket. Begin this 2 weeks before Easter for best results.
  9. Plant a theme garden to learn about colonial life, birds, butterflies, or even Shakespeare. Place white flowers such as carnations or daisies in a mixture of water and food coloring to see the flowers change colors.
  10. Grow lush sweet potato vines by immersing potatoes halfway into a small jar of water; place them in a sunny window.
  11. Grow new plants from grocery store produce such as avacados, garlic cloves, ginger root or pineapple.
  12. In late fall, force several types of bulbs in layers in one container and allow the child to give the blooming pot as a holiday gift.
  13. Consider a Knot Garden of herbs; at the end of the growing season, hang them to dry and package them in small jars for holiday gifts.
  14. Children can design and print out their own custom labels.
  15. Create a terrarrium from an old aquarium or fishbowl.

Grow veggies your child likes to eat; and don't make him/her eat it just because they grew it.
Mix annual flowers in with veggie gardens.
Help with difficult tasks such as bringing around the water hose or carrying heavy loads. And if possible, use child-sized tools.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nuisance for Any Lawn

Nuisance for Any Lawn

Lawn weed control:
Weeds are a nuisance for any lawn. There are steps to rid yourself of unwanted plantain, thistle and daises. Getting rid of weeds takes time and patience. There are a few simple steps that can be taken, used on a regular basis, will prevent weeds from spoiling your lawn.

Weeds make a lawn look messy and neglected. Getting rid of weeds will promote grass growth an conserve water. Weeds take a lot of water out of the ground, which starve the grass.

Mowing the grass regularly is the best way to keep you lawn weed free. If the grass is strong its network of roots will prevent most weeds from growing. There are chemical weed killers available. There are two types available: general and systemic. General types are spread all over the lawn and need to be reapplied on a regular basis. Systemic weed killer work more slowly but kill the weed and its root.

The most common weeds and ways to get rid of are as follows:
  • Plantain is a broad leaved weed with flower spikes, these need to be removed by hand at first sight. Regular mowing will also prevent them from spreading.
  • Thistle is a broad leaved weed with purple flowers and coarse foliage, they can be treated with weed killer. Regular mowing will also prevent them from spreading.
  • Daisies are a broad leaved weed with small, white flowers with yellow centers. These need to be spot treated with a weed killer. Regular mowing will prevent them from spreading.
  • Crabgrass is a grassy weed, it has long stems with nodes from central rosette. General weed killer can be applied.
  • Wild onion is a grassy weed, it has long , straight stems and grows in clusters with a strong odor. You will need to remove these by hand and treat with a general weed killer.
  • Large areas of weed killer can be applied by using a spreader and powdered weed killer. You will need to pour the desired amount of weed killer in the spreader, and slowly walk across every infected area. When lawn is covered, then water thoroughly.
  • Single weeds can be removed by hand or by spot weeding by using a spray weed killer applied directly on the weed.
  • When pulling weeds by hand ,make sure to get the root also, or it will usually grow back within a week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lawn Weed Control

Lawn Weed Control

Lawn weed control can be done by several ways, herbicides, cultivation, planting a close bedding, and mulching. This is an endless job, weeding! You no more than get control and here they are again! Those pesky weeds that have only one good reason for existing and that is to torment you! When the thoughts enter your mind "I give up", those green leafy monsters will conquer you. So let's think about this awhile. Do you really want them to win? Take a deep breath, cool off and let's think about what we might do!

The right chemical can be very useful and save time and work however the wrong herbicide can damage your garden. Spray on days when there is no wind. You must take the time to do the spraying correctly. Be conscientious about measuring and following specific directions.
  • Apply with a sprayer or watering can. Determine the square footage to cover. Make two sweeps walking in different directions each time. Be very cautious!
  • Read the label
  • Use for only listed crops
  • Observe all precautions
  • Avoid prolonged contact with the skin. Wash thoroughly after use.
  • Keep away from children pets, and food.

This is one way to help rid the garden of un-wanted plants. Mature weeds take away a large amount of moisture and nutrients from the soil. Get rid of them when they are young! If you have a small garden hand pulling is good as you can usually remove roots and all. This is not reasonable if your garden is larger in that case a hoe is mandatory. A large garden calls for a rotary tiller, which makes the job much easier. Manual rotary cultivators work well on long rows especially if the weeds are small. Nonetheless these tools are not able to take care of weeds close to vegetable plants without causing damage. Use hand methods or hoeing in this instance.

Cultivate when the soil is somewhat moist but should not be wet. Work in cooler temperatures, perhaps earlier in the morning or later in the evening to be more comfortable.

Straw, old hay, grass clippings, and black plastic mulch laid in April before beginning your actual planting can help control weeds and will hold moisture in the soil. Organic mulch placed in thick layers around June will help a great deal and those weeds that poke through are easily removed. Black plastic may be a good idea where weeds and runners are prevalent. If you have a pathway through your garden lay old newspapers or old carpet pieces or any such material that will suppress weed growth. Cover with sawdust to blend with your garden soil. Keep the sawdust away from your plants.

Place the plants close together:
By planting close together the shading of the soil will retard weed growth. A raised bed or planting a wide row so that the foliage of plants across from each other will connect to provide a canopy, is a good way to discourage weed's growth.

Our old friend the weed will always be with us, and will continually cause us problems. Just consider the act of gardening as very worth while indeed! Good Gardening!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lawn Care Tips

Lawn Care Tips

Lawn care tips for a beautiful lawn without digging deep into your pocketbook or your time
Think it costs a lot to have a great lawn? It does, if you choose to go that direction. After you buy a high-powered riding lawnmower, a trimmer, tons of fertilizer and herbicide, water hoses, etc., you could be out several hundred dollars.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Here are some tips for having that great lawn without digging deep into your pocketbook and your precious time.

1. Know when to mow and when not to mow.
The house next to mine was abandoned after the owner died and the heirs refused to have anything to do with the property. The grass grew, and grew, and grew until it was taller than my small children. Finally, after a year of impatience, I told the lawyer in charge of the estate that I would mow the grass for the safety of the children. Plus, the estate would get the bill. Anyway, the first mowing revealed something interesting. When you let grass grow too tall, it bunches and causes the grass below it to die. Every six inches, you might find a small clump of grass. You get the same kind of effect when you leave a used tire on the ground for a month. The grass under it dies.

After a few mows, I noticed that the grass started to spread, and the lawn looked better. Use the principle to deal with weeds. We have a fast-growing strain of grass in our yard. If allowed to outgrow the clover and other weeds, but not allowed to grow too much, the grass will overtake the weeds. Hence, you don't necessarily have to apply herbicide to deal with certain weeds. And, your grandparents used a forked hoe to deal with dandelions. You can, too.

I suggest that you mow low to the ground in the first of the spring. Some people call this "scalping." Be careful not to do what I did when I scalped a root. The shaft and the blade on the mower bent, unnecessarily costing me some money.

Then, let the grass grow two-three inches high before cutting again. Do this two or three times, then mow at the first sign of needing a mowing.

I tend to mow like I care for my hair - I get it short and wait a long time until the next cutting. However, find the balance that suits you.

2. Use a mulcher for thin lawns.
I have used a mulcher blade on my lawn when the grass was thin. This allows for the grass to spread naturally. However, don't do that forever, as you'll choke out your grass with too much mulch. Take off the mulcher blade and let the trimmings either fly into your bag or be raked after you mow.

3. Trim before you mow.
This is a quick tip for saving a little time. If you trim the edges before you mow, you will mow over the trimmings, saving you from raking them afterwards.

4. Look for good deals on equipment.
The local pawnshops and yard sales contain many good buys. If you are on a tight budget, use older equipment until you can afford newer equipment.

I learned the hard way about being too tight to buy a trimmer. It really is a vital tool for a good-looking lawn. You can get a new gas trimmer as low as $60 and a new push mower for as low as $90

If you buy new equipment from a store or old equipment from a mower shop, ask about warranties. Sometimes they are not worth the money, sometimes they are. Ask yourself if you expect the cost of breaking down to exceed the cost of new equipment. If so, check out the warranties.

5. Save the fertilizer and water.
Unless you live in a desert or an area of extended drought, don't worry about watering your lawn. Where I live in eastern Oklahoma, we get enough rain to keep the grass nice and green.

If you do think you need to water, do so at night so the water will soak into the ground instead of evaporating into the air. A little on a regular basis is better than a good soaking once a blue moon.

Fertilizer is a double-edged sword. If you use it, you'll mow a lot more. If you don't, your grass may be too thin. However, follow my tips for mulching and mowing, and you will probably not have to use too much if any fertilizer.

6. Do the work yourself.
While this option does not save you time, it saves you money. The other day, an enterprising young man asked my wife if he could mow the grass. She said no, and that's a good thing: Lawn care is part of my exercise regimen. I would rather mow for an hour than run circles around a track for an hour. The workout is better because it tones my whole body. Therefore, mowing my own grass gives me a workout, saves me the money of joining a gym, and provides me the satisfaction of a job well done.

One of my pet peeves is an unmowed lawn. I spend precious little money on lawn care, but the results are satisfactory. If you take these tips, you too can have a good-looking lawn.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Type Of Lawn Grass

Type Of Lawn Grass

Learn the types of lawn grass work in which types of yards and environments. How do you know which type is right for you? The type of lawn you choose to grown around your home can play a huge role in the overall appearance of your property. When you're choosing which type of grass is best for you, you should first and foremost consider your climate. You need to decide if you want a type of grass that will regrow year after year, or if you want one that will die after time and you'll need to re-seed. Generally the ones that you have to re-seed are of a higher quality. You need to also consider how much sun and shade your lawn gets.

Some lawn-care specialists actually recommend you planting a variety of different types of grasses in your lawn for best results. This provides the most colorful and deepest green lawns. Here are some different types of grass you should consider for your home, what their care requirements are, and what the best qualities are.

  • Turf grass. This is grass that is grown in most parts of the United States. It is probably the simplest of grasses, and requires minimal care. Your turf grass will grow green and healthily if you water it frequently, mow, and fertilize it.
  • Cool-season grass. These are grasses that do best in northern regions. They prefer to grow in normal temperatures of 50-65 degrees. And they grow best in summer temperatures of about 75-80 degrees. Some examples of a cool-season grass are colonial bentgrasses, perennial ryegrasses and Kentucky bluegrass.
  • Warm-season grass. These are grasses that do best in southern regions. They prefer to grow in normal temperatures of 75-85 degrees. They blossom and thrive in temperatures in the 90's. Some common warm-season grasses include centipedegrass, bermudagrass, and St. Augustinegrass.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Natural Pesticides: Herbs

Natural Pesticides: Herbs

Various herbs, wisely placed in your garden, can deter even the worst pest. This article will teach you what to plant or use and where. Although there are a multitude of chemical pesticides available to protect your garden, many of todays gardeners find themselves looking for a less time consuming and safer alternative. Growing a variety of herbs in and around your garden can be the perfect answer, not only to your pest problem, but also to enrich your soil.

To maintain the general health of your garden, fragrant herbs like parsley, sage, thyme, chives, garlic chives, hyssop and marjoram have proved to be beneficial as both pesticides and soil enhancer. Dill, sage, camomile and rosemary planted with cabbage and potatoes will help deter pest that feast on these vegetables, while chives planted with carrots and celery come to their aide. Plant parsley with your tomatoes and chervil with radishes for extra spice. Mint is a good ant deterrent, while pest like the carrot fly that locate by scent, are lost when aromatic herbs such as bay, rue, lavender, borage, balms, bergamot and dill are present.

Crushed garlic and hot peppers such as cayenne, added to water and sprayed on your plants will repel most chewing and sucking pest. Steep one gallon of water with 1\2 teaspoon of each and dilute to about 25% before spraying vegetables. Most beetles can be detoured by using cedar chips. Aphids, as well as tripe, disappear when sprayed with an infusion of larkspur and many soft bodies pest hate tobacco, which can be used as a spray in your garden, but remember that these two can be poisonous to humans so be sure to wash anything you spray thoroughly before ingesting.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Herbicides: Preemergent Or Postemergent

Herbicides: Preemergent Or Postemergent?

Outlines the differences between preemergent and postemergent herbicides and ways they are used. Includes precautions to take. What are they?

Herbicides are chemicals that retard or kill plant growth. One of the ways herbicides are categorized is in terms of the time they are applied. Two types are Pre-Emergent and Post-Emergent.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

These weed killers are applied before the weeds sprout, which prevents weed germination while allowing desirable plant growth to continue normally. Pre-emergent herbicides are usually applied in a granule form, which permeates the soil to about an inch or so. They are an effective weed control when applied beneath a weed block. Pre-emergent herbicides do not kill existing weeds and the product will lose some efficacy if the soil is often disturbed by feeding birds, digging or cultivation or is used as a pathway. Always check the label to make sure the pre-emergent product you have chosen is safe for your groundcover.

Post-Emergent Herbicides

These herbicides will kill off existing weeds. Some of these can be applied without damage to groundcover, while others must be applied only to the weeds you wish to destroy. Otherwise they will kill off both desirable and undesirable growth. Some types of post-emergent herbicides are systemic and will work throughout an entire plant right down to the root. Before choosing a post-emergent herbicide read the instructions carefully. Make sure you are aware if your groundcover is susceptible to damage and if you need to protect other garden plants in the area. If your groundcover is susceptible to the herbicide and is thick, you may have to carefully paint the herbicide onto the weed with a brush. Only use post-emergent herbicides on days of low wind, otherwise chemicals can drift on the breeze.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Lavender Herb

The Lavender Herb

The lavender herb has been used for thousands of years, whether in food, in the garden, in the medicine cabinent, or just looking lovely in the garden. Find out more about this intriguing herb.
The scent of lavender seems to recall grandmothers, graceful teas, and the cleanest of linen closets. Almost everyone will have a pleasant memory awakened when confronted with this soothing scent.

Lavender has been used since Roman times, when soldiers used it in their bath (its properties for relaxation are well known). In the Middle Ages, herbalists prescribed it for apoplexy, palsy, and loss of speech. Churches in Spain and Portugal strew it on the floor as a way to banish evil spirits.

Coming from the Latin word lavandus, meaning to be washed, lavender is a natural in cleaning. Containing antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, it is a wonderful treatment for bug bites, or any mild skin irritation, including acne. Simply dab some of the essential oil on the afflicted area, or put a lavender sachet in your bath water.

Around the house, use lavender wax on the furniture, or wash the floors with lavender water. A few sprigs placed between woolens in your closet can help keep away moths.

Lavender is lovely in the garden, not only for its own beautiful blooms, but for the butterflies it attracts. It is reasonably hardy, with no insect pests and an ability to withstand at least mild bouts of drought. Indeed, too much moisture can create root rot, so make sure the plant has adequate drainage. There are numerous varieties of lavender, and between them, the blossoms can be found from zone 3 through 10, so talk with your local nursery to find out which is the best variety for your area. The most important thing to have is alkaline soil and full sun. The blooms begin in June and can last through August, depending on the variety.

The best known of the species is Lavandula angustifolia, sometimes called English or true lavender. The Buena Vista variety of this type is bred for its sweet fragrance and deep color, and is perfect for drying.

Lavandula latifolia, otherwise known as spike lavender, is more tolerant of high humidity, and contains the Provence variety, which is very tall and very strongly scented, giving your garden a definite perfume quality.

French lavender (lavandula dentate) is delicate and lovely in the garden, but that delicacy makes for poor drying.

Making lavender oil is not only simple, but makes for a gracious gift. Fill a jar with lightly bruised stems and flowers, then fill with good quality almond oil to cover. Seal jar, and let the mixture steep for a month, shaking it daily to ensure that the fragrance is distributed throughout the oil. After one month, strain the concoction through cheesecloth and then pour the filtered oil into a decorative jar. A few lavender blossoms placed in with the oil improves appearance.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How To Harvest Herb Seeds

How To Harvest Herb Seeds

Buying new starter herbs each year can be costly. Learn how to identify when your herbs are seeding, to harvest those seeds for next years crop, as well as, how to dry and store the seeds.

Your herb garden has given you great pleasure from the planting of the first seeds, through the excitement of the first sprouts and continuing to the mature plant which you have enjoyed in so many ways. Now it's time to think about next year's herb garden and harvesting the seeds provided by your plant.

Most herbs will begin to flower a little after mid-summer, attracting the insects they need for fertilization. Once this process has taken place the petals begin to drop revealing the seeds or seed pods. It is very important that you pay attention to your plant during this time if you desire to harvest the seeds. Many herbs are, by nature, self-seeding and can shed their seeds in a matter of days.

The best way to harvest herb seeds if your herbs are in small pots is to gather medium sized sheets of white or light colored paper so you can lay the herb on its side. With the plant on the paper, gently shake the plant allowing the seeds to fall. Many herb seeds like chamomile are tiny and this will aid you with seeing the seeds. Next you will need to remove any dried leaves or plant parts which have shaken loose. Spread the seeds on the paper to dry and place in a sunny area with little or no drafts. If you have larger plants, you can spread sheets of newspaper under the plants and gently shake the seeds loose. Although most seeds can be easily harvested, many plants such as the mints are notorious self-seeders and will come back year after year.

Drying seeds will take from 7 to 9 days and with larger seeds, possibly longer. When the seeds are dry, gently fold the paper to make a funnel and pour the seeds into glass jars or paper seed packets. Seed packets can ordinarily be purchased from you local garden center and are preferable to glass jars because the allow any moisture in the seed to evaporate naturally.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grow Herbs In A Terrarium

Grow Herbs In A Terrarium

Your favorite herbs can easily be grown in a terrarium. canning jars, apothecary jars, or even Pyrex casserole dishes can be used.
Growing herbs in a terrarium is easy, and you don't have to have a green thumb to do it. Most of the materials for it can be found right around the house.

What you will need:
  • A glass container with lid or seal
  • Small amount of clean gravel
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting soil mix, (make sure your soil is moist enough so that when you squeeze it, it turns into a crumbly ball.)
  • Water
  • A seal for your terrarium
  • Your herb seeds of choice

Almost any glass container can be used as a terrarium, from a pickle jar to a Pyrex casserole, to a large aquarium. Be sure your container is clean and dry when you begin.

To make terrarium:
  • Place a 1/2 inch layer of gravel at the bottom of your container
  • Add a layer of activated charcoal, about a 1/4 inch will be sufficient
  • Place a layer of soil over the charcoal, a couple of inches of soil, at the most.
  • Add the herb seeds of your choice. Remember, how much depends on the size of your container. A medium container of 1 to 5 gallon size will support about 3 or 4 plants.
  • Add another 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seeds. (Follow seed pack directions here.)
  • When finished planting, water very lightly. A spray bottle will work well here.
  • Close cover of your container. If you don't have a tight fitting lid, use saran wrap. It will work. But make sure the opening is sealed tightly!

Next, place your terrarium in a bright area, but never in direct sunlight. Always water your terrarium lightly. Never overwater. Every couple of weeks should be sufficient. When plants get large, pinch off tops to keep them contained. Harvest leaves off of it as needed.

Remember, the soil in your terrarium should be just damp, never wet. Water only every few weeks. But if you should over water, take the lid off and let it dry out some, so mold doesn't form in it. Wasn't that easy? Enjoy your herb terrarium!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Angelica Herb

Angelica Herb

The Angelica Sinensis herb is an aromatic plant. Both the flowers and the roots are used medicinally. Angelica archangelica derives from the Medieval Latin "herba angelica," or "angelic herb." It was so named because it was believed to have special powers against poison and the plague. It was also believed that angelica protected against contagious disease, wards off evil spirits, bestows a long life, and cures the bites of mad dogs.

Angelica is a native of Northern Europe, but is now naturalized throughout Europe and the United States. It is a biennial plant and can grow up to 8 feet tall. In the garden it is best planted in partial shade, in rich, moist soil.

Angelica is an aromatic plant, and both the flowers and the roots are used medicinally. Its main components are phellandrene and limonene, but also contains coumarin, glycosides, organic acids, bitter compounds, tannins and sugars. These constituents are what give Garden Angelica tonic carmative, stomachic and antispasmodic actions.

Angelica can be used for loss of appetite, flatulence and bronchial catarrh. Angelica also contains volatile aromatic oils, sugar, valeric acid, angel acid, and a resin known as angelicin. Herbalists use it to aid in the elimination of toxins, for the recovery from rheumatism and colds, urinary complaints, and as an aid against colic.

Research shows that angelica stimulates the circulation and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Young leaves of the plant can be made into tea. It is beneficial to drink the tea one hour before going to bed to reduce tension. It's also good for nervous headaches, indigestion, anemia, coughs and colds. The tea made from the root is said to be especially soothing for colds. Externally angelica is used in bath preparations for relief of exhaustion. Crushed leaves of angelica freshen the air.

Angelica is also used to relieve menstrual discomfort, to minimize the symptoms of menopause, and as an aid in the prevention of arthritis. Diabetics or pregnant women should not use angelica as it increases the blood sugar, and is an emmagogue.

The juice of the plant has been used to relieve toothaches, clean wounds, and to soothe the stomach. Angelica contains vitamin E, calcium and certain species of the plant even contain vitamin B1, which is rare in vegetation.

Angelica is also at home in the kitchen and has been used as a flavoring for tea since the 10th century. Candied stems of the plant were a popular confection, and Norwegian cooks use the powdered root in their baked goods.

To make a medicinal tea, use 1 teaspoon of the crushed root per cup of boiling water. Steep 15 minutes. The tea has a fragrant aroma and a vaguely sweet taste, followed by a pleasant, bitter aftertaste. If using commercial preparations, always follow package directions.

Angelica lives up to its name as the angel of herbs!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Herb Kitchen In Your Window Box

Herb Kitchen In Your Window Box

Grow your own collection of favorite herbs in your kitchen garden, a handy window box or in container. Zesty herbs adds zing to any meal! Nothing gives a garden salad more of a lift than adding a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives. Or how about a bit of minced dill drizzled over your broiled salmon? Simply delicious!

Chives, dill, rosemary, sage, oregano, basil, parsley, marjoram, cilantro, peppermint, and lemon balm -- these are a few herbs that can add flavour and zest to your everyday meals and summer drinks. They are also herbs that you can easily and inexpensively grow in your very own kitchen garden.

What is a kitchen garden? Simply put, a window box or a collection of smaller containers set outside on your patio or balcony. Containers come in all shapes and sizes. Shop around and see what's available and what's the most appropriate for your needs and location.

Most herbs will flourish in containers. Choose the herbs you reach for most often when cooking, and maybe even a few you've never heard of before. With a little care and attention, a moderately sunny location and regular watering and fertilizing, herbs will produce abundantly all summer long. Snipping them regularly will maintain thick and healthy growth. If you're afraid of pests invading your little herb patch, plant a garlic clove or two among your collection. Garlic is a natural and effective bug repellent.

Garden centres and nurseries carry all of today's essential herbs. Select healthy specimens and ones that are insect and fungus free. Check the plants for excessive roots -- yellowed growth hanging down through the drainage holes.

Once you get your herbs home, transfer them into the window box or selected pots. If you're using clay, soak them first. Clay is porous and tends to soak up water at a faster rate than other types of container material. A regular potting soil mix is usually adequate. If you're unsure about the right type of mix to use for your herb kitchen, ask the experts at the garden centre. Consult them as well about fertilizing requirements.

Your herbs will quickly begin to thrive and soon you'll probably have more than you can use. Dry the herbs and store in glass jars. Most varieties will keep well for many months.

Growing herbs really is easy. So what are you waiting for? Organize your window box herb kitchen today!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Creating And Maintaining A Herb Garden

Creating And Maintaining A Herb Garden

Learn how to create and maintain a herb garden and savour tastes form around the world as a result of your own growing. Both the creation and the tending to of an herb garden are relatively simple jobs, but they can bring huge rewards in the superb flavours that can be brought to your table directly from your garden. Follow these guidelines to ensure you experience the pleasures of tastes from around the world as a result of your own growing.

First you must decide on a location for your herb garden. Try to find an area that gets plenty of sunlight, preferably eight hours, but six will suffice. Try to pick an area separate from other plants growing in the garden, as some of your pungent herbs may overpower them. A good idea is to cordon off an area with bricks, maintaining a permanent physical barrier. It is a matter of personal preference for a casual or formal style, but try and plan to keep each type of herb separate, and take into account their sunlight and irrigation requirements. Plant those requiring less sun for growing in the shadiest areas of the herb garden.

Once you have picked a location, check that the soil is well draining. If it isn't you can raise the beds using compost. Do not use an overly rich soil, and find out if it is alkaline or not. Herbs in general prefer alkaline soils. You will find that it is best to directly plant some seeds into the herb garden whereas with others it is better to either buy a small plant and transfer it to the garden, or sow in trays indoors and then transplant at a later date. Examples of herbs that like direct planting from seed are chervil and coriander. Others such as mint and oregano are better transplanted into the herb garden as young plants.

During the growing season (the summer months) it is advisable to layer three inches of mulch around the herbs. Mulch is a mixture of wet straw and leaves that enrich and insulate the soil. This will provide sufficient protection for herbs such as mint or chives in the winter months against temperatures well below freezing. The mulch should be removed in early spring to allow new growth. With other herbs such as basil it is best to move them indoors for these months. Try and ensure that they receive adequate sunlight though.

There are some other factors that determine how well herbs are prepared for the winter months. It is generally accepted that it is best not to fertilise or prune heavily after early August. This is because the new growth that both these techniques would encourage would not be sufficiently mature to survive a frost. Light pruning is acceptable though. Also, do not keep the soil excessively wet, especially if you have lots of Mediterranean herbs such as oregano growing there. Try and imitate their natural climate by letting the soil dry out before watering. On the other hand do not starve your plants of water as this can weaken their ability to fight frost. A windbreak is a good investment, especially in preventing winds over drying herbs such as tarragon in the summer months.

By following these simple gardens you can successfully create and maintain an herb garden. Happy growing.