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New Year’s Resolutions For Gardeners

December 27th, 2013

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Brainstorming New Year’s Resolutions for 2014? As you start thinking about the new year, consider these mindful gardening practices that will improve your garden, your wallet, and the planet!

Save More Water:  With the growing concern of water sustainability, many are looking to reduce the need of water use in their own home and garden.  For some, simply trying to use less water is not the answer.  Rather, a new perspective on gardening with water conservation as the leading principal is becoming the new standard for 2014. With this in mind, consider building a Xeriscape garden equipped with water harvesting this year. Xeriscape gardening conserves water by designating three different zones based on water use and encourages the use of native and locally adapted plants.

Passive water harvesting simply directs excess rainwater where it is needed, and includes sloping sidewalks/ terraces and channeling roof water.  Also, by constructing well thought out earth mounds of berms and channels, one can passively water harvest by keeping water on site for plants to take advantage of. If passive water harvesting proves difficult or is simply not your thing – active rain water harvesting is the new trend that involves storing water for later use in rain barrels, cisterns or other storage systems.

Combat Pests Naturally: Using chemicals to combat pests and animals in your garden? That’s so 2013! This year opt for more natural methods. A sharp blast of water, plant-based soap, vinegar, and coffee are all useful (and powerful) ways to treat pests in your garden without harming the environment. Try this caffeine-spray for preventing aphids, flies and leafhoppers:  Caffeine Spray: Combine a few tablespoons of used coffee grounds with herbs like: catnip, lavender, yarrow and thyme. Add 2 cups of water, and allow at least 24 hours for the mixture to steep. Strain, and spray liberally on insects and plant leaves. Combine with insecticide soap (below) for a stronger treatment.

Plan Your Garden More Efficiently: Don’t spend 2014 mourning your frost bitten tomatoes or complaining about time wasted in the garden (we’ve been there). Take the time to plan out your garden this year, including what plants grow well in your region, which are most susceptible to frost, and what new plants you’d like to try. We also highly recommend this Garden Planner for both beginning and experienced gardeners.

Start Composting Your Trash: Why begin composting in 2014? For one, it reduces the amount of organic waste that ultimately ends up in landfills.  In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency claims that 14% of food ends up in land mills each year. Secondly, it’s more sanitary. Placing food scraps to rot in your neighborhood garbage can ultimately lead to rodents, raccoons and insects. When done correctly, composting in your home reduces the potential of these nuisances, while also posing less imposition to public health and safety. Most importantly, composting can create a rockin’ fertilizer for your home garden.

Grow Your Own Food (and share it!): Instead of driving to the grocery store to pick up perhaps some not-so fresh vegetables that have traveled great distances, take out the middleman this year. With some planning, you can build a garden with everything you enjoy just a few steps from your kitchen. Another plus? Even if you start small, you can slash your food bill by planting a garden. Be sure to choose seed varieties that are organic and non-GMO to ensure your family is also eating healthfully and sustainably in 2014.

More New Year’s Resolutions Ideas:

Why You Should Add Disaster Preparedness To Your New Year’s Resolutions

Five Reasons To Start A Garden This Year 

** Friends, what gardening New Year’s Resolutions do you have this year? **

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Oh, Christmas Tree! Which is the right one for me?

December 5th, 2013

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It’s the first week of December, which means it’s time to start thinking about Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. For some people decorating is the best part of the holidays, but others greet Christmas decorating with a combination of dread and nausea.

Picking the right Christmas tree type, for example, has become a trial in and of itself. It seems like everyone in your family wants something different from your tree. Your kids want a big tree that they can hang all their ornaments and tinsel on, while you and your spouse want something small that isn’t messy.

Lucky for you, finding the right tree isn’t complete guesswork anymore. Here are a few tips on selecting the right tree for your home, and also some tips on what to do after the holiday season comes to an end.

Scotch Pine
This is the most popular Christmas tree in the US. It has the classic shape you associate with Christmas trees, and since it is a pine tree so it doesn’t shed its needles as much as other kinds of evergreen trees. If you’re thinking of replanting your tree – which is becoming increasingly popular – the Scotch Pine is able to grow in many different climates.

Virginia Pine 
The Virginia Pine is aptly named, as it is a great tree choice for Southerners. It is one of the few evergreens adapted to living in warm climates and also retains its needles well.

Fraser Fir
The Fraser Fir is a unique tree, due mainly to its needles. They are a dark green on top and a gray-silver white on the bottom. The color variations make the Fraser Fir a popular tree for those that like to go all out on tree decoration. It also has a strong aroma that helps add to the Christmas ambience. In terms of growing, Fraser Firs are for cold climates only.

White Spruce 
If you have an ornament-crazy family, the White Spruce is a great choice. The White Spruce has the right kind of needles and branches that allow for a lot of Christmas tree decorations. The main drawback to the White Spruce is the unpleasant odor that its needles give off when they are crushed. That means you will need to be vigilant in cleaning up any fallen needles.

Maintaining your Christmas tree once it is up is important and shouldn’t be ignored. If a tree isn’t watered properly, it starts to drop its needles and some trees produce a pungent odor that isn’t appealing. Here are some tips to making sure your tree will survive indoors.

  • Cut off the bottom branches that prevent the tree from sliding into the base easily.
  • Cut off the bottom inch of the trunk. That will remove the sap that has leaked out and covered the stump. If you don’t do this, it will be difficult for the tree to get enough water.
  • Slide the tree into the stand and screw it in so it is stable. Make sure you get help with this. Nobody wants a broken window or sap on his or her sofa because the tree tipped over.

After the Holidays
There are numerous options for disposing of your Christmas tree.  Here are a few:

  • Plant it! Depending on the type of tree you have and where you live, replanting your tree outside is a viable option. If you want to replant your tree, it is essential that you provide enough water for it while it’s inside your home, and that you protect it from high winds and cold once you replant it outside. Make sure you ask for a tree that is balled-and-burlapped, which means its roots are still intact and are wrapped in a burlap bag.
  • A protective layer for your garden. If you have a raised bed garden filled with fragile plants you want to protect from the cold, trim the branches off your Christmas tree and lay them over your garden. Yes, you still have the trunk to contend with, but there are other ways to deal with the trunk.
  • Mulch it! Do some research and find out where you can take your tree to recycle it. Many places will grind trees into mulch that you can pick up. Every city is different, so make sure what your city offers and ways you can go about it.
  • Sink it! If you have the means – and the permission – sinking your tree in a lake can provide a habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures. Just make sure that your tree is stripped bare of all ornaments and decorations!

Do you have a type of Christmas tree that you prefer? What do you do with your tree after the holiday season?

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was written by Chris Long. Chris has been working as an associate in various departments at The Home Depot for over 10 years. He is a regular contributor to the company blogs and likes to give advice on a plethora of topics ranging from lawn care to Holiday décor and live Christmas trees too.

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