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Don’t Fall for the “Fall” Fallacy: Autumn is an Awesome Time to Start a Garden

October 12th, 2013

shutterstock_119313934Have you have always wanted to grow your own garden and vowed that this year was the year, but found yourself so busy all spring and summer that you never quite got around to it? And now that the fall has arrived, you think it’s too late to start planting anything this year?

Good news: it’s never too late in the year to begin an indoor garden and in fact, starting small with a container garden is a great way to get a feel for the planting process before investing time, money and energy in a full-scale in-ground garden.

Alternatively, there are plenty of cool weather options if you want to plant a raised bed garden outside, so don’t think that just because the air is acquiring a chill that you’re completely out of outdoor options.

In fact, the fall actually presents some unique benefits for gardening. For one thing, the cooler weather is easier on the humans and plants, alike. Plus, the ground is still warm enough for roots to establish themselves this year, whereas if you wait until spring, you need to wait until the frost is over and that can be tricky (late frosts, etc.).

Even if your long-term goal is simply to grow items inside, the point is the same: there’s no time like the present to get going on your growing. Here are a few tips you can use in either growing situation, as well as suggestions for various types of fall vegetables that can still take root in your raised bed garden this year and some considerations for your container garden.

First Things First

Initially, you may think that a raised bed garden and a container garden are the same thing. After all, isn’t a container garden just pots of plants that are raised out of the ground? Not exactly.

A raised bed garden uses soil with the addition of compost to grow items and is often more closely associated with in-ground growing. Many times the bed is “raised” in the sense that it is merely built up to the point that it sits just above ground level and is boxed in with some sort of siding, most often a type of lumber. You might also have a raised bed that is perched upon a platform, thereby making it easier for the gardener to tend to the plants without having to bend over or kneel on the ground.

Container gardens, on the other hand, use soilless potting mix that must have a means for sufficient drainage. Although you can use your preference of containers, keep in mind that pottery dries out faster than plastic, so if you love the look of a terracotta pot, you can easily place a plastic tub or bucket inside of the pot, provided they both have drainage holes.

Both options are great for small spaces and tend to look neater than a large, unruly garden, since they reduce weeding. Starting plants from seeds is also an option for both methods.

Additionally, all plants have several basic requirements for survival that don’t depend on their physical planted location:

  • Sun: At least five to six hours of full sunlight every day is necessary for healthy growth.
  • Water: Although each plant has specific preferences where moisture is concerned, they all need it!
  • Food: Nutrients can be added in the form of liquid food or compost.
  • Well-drained soil is crucial to encourage healthy root growth, to prevent root rot and other diseases, and to ensure plants maintain appropriate chemical balances.

Fresh Fall Outdoor Options

If you opt for a raised bed garden, a few options that will survive and even thrive in chillier outdoor weather include:

  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Spinach

Just be sure to cover them with a blanket or utilize winter lights on especially cold nights or if you are getting a late start getting them in the ground.

*Tip: Fall foliage is a fantastic addition to your pile if you create your own compost. The last few lawn mowings of the season contribute to your “greens” and the dried leaves that fall throughout autumn can serve as some of your “browns!”

Herbaceous Harvest

Because indoor container gardens facilitate growth all year long, the fall is a fantastic time to see what seeds you can sprout inside. A collection of culinary herbs might be the perfect place to start, contenders include:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Parsley

*Tip: If you opt for a container garden, don’t use dirt you’ve dug up from the ground; even if used solely as a mix-in, outdoor garden dirt can contain parasites and soil-borne diseases which can be deadly to indoor plants. Instead, purchase soil mix or make your own and be sure to add time-released fertilizer.

What are some of your favorite cool weather garden components?

 

About the author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was provided by:

Home Depot store associate in Illinois for over 10 years, Chris Long enjoys giving tips ranging from when to plant or build a raised bed garden to fall lawn care maintenance. Chris is also a regular contributor on outdoor decor and gardening products for Home Depot’s blog

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How to Make an Organic Foliar Food Spray from Seaweed

August 6th, 2013

leaf feeding

Did you ever wonder why supermarkets spray their leafy garden produce with a light mist on a constant basis?  As a result of the vegetables being picked, they have been cut off from their natural food supply.  The likelihood of them becoming dehydrated is high. As a result, the act of spraying re-hydrates the leafy greens before they wilt and lose customers’ appeal.

What’s important to note is this isn’t like waxing a cucumber or apple. Moisture from the misty spray is absorbed by tiny pores in leaves through a process called foliar feeding, the word foliar relating to anything that has to do with leaves. How does this work? The pores on a leaf absorb water faster than roots allowing nutrients to reach a plant’s nervous system more directly.

That’s why whether plants are sick or you want to provide them a little extra strength to ward off illnesses, providing a robust foliar feed is a great way to go. Water is the most basic food to feed but if you really want to maximize potential of the process you might want to try a seaweed solution which will boost a plant’s immune system exponentially.

If you live in a place like Bridgeport, CT  where it’s easy to find fresh seaweed- ask any landscaper or gardener and they will tell you how it’s one of the best natural fertilizers because it’s filled with the abundance of nutrients and minerals found in the oceans. Furthermore, unless a store bought brand has added chemicals, seaweed makes for a very organic plant food.

Want to make your own seaweed plant food? Just do the following:

What you’ll need:

  • Fresh or store bought but naturally dried seaweed

  • A closed bucket or container

  • A spray bottle

  • A funnel

Seaweed Foliar Food Recipe:

1. Fill a bucket or container with fresh seaweed, add water until full, and put on the lid. Keeping the homemade plant food in the garage or outside so any developing odors won’t bother the family.  Periodically stir and continue doing so for a few days. If it’s a store bought brand follow instructions on the package regarding how much to use and how long to let it sit. NOTE: The longer it ‘brews’ the stronger the solution and the more potent its effectiveness will be. When the seaweed and water have ‘brewed’ long enough, utilize the funnel and transfer some of the solution to your spray bottle.

2. Approach plants in the early morning hours as it is the best time to feed them whether at the roots or foliarly. Any later and the heat of the sun may dry up the solution too quickly or cause the pores, otherwise known as stomata, to close in an effort to retain moisture.

3. Preferably aiming for their underbelly which is where the majority of pores are located spray leaves until small droplets of moisture form. Do not over spray as this may harm plants more than help them, especially in climates where prolonged wetness can breed mold and fungus.

4. Repeat twice a week in conjunction with regular daily watering.

Remember, not all sick plants can be saved through foliar feeding but spraying leaves with something like a seaweed solution can reinvigorate them and provide a new lease on life. Otherwise, try it out on healthy plants throughout your home and garden and reap it’s amazing benefits.

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This post was written Jakob Barry. He is a green living journalist for Networx.com- a website that helps homeowners save time, money and frustration by connecting them with home improvement professionals. From plumbers and roofers to fencing contractors and landscapers, Networx simplifies the process of locating a reliable professional.

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10 Tips on How to Make the Most of Your Small Garden Space

July 28th, 2013

container gardening

When it comes to having a garden we don’t all have acres and acres of land to work with. Some of us only have small backyard plots or even smaller patio areas. So how can you still have your dream garden in such a small space? Here are some suggestions to make the most of your small garden space:

  1. Pack it in – One thing that many gardeners overlook is that you can pack plants together without harming your harvest if you do it correctly. Some plants just naturally work well together and can stand close quarters. While carrots can’t be packed too close you can plant them next to lettuce without an issue. Since one produces aboveground and the other below there is little damage done to either of them. As long as they have similar harvest schedules or the harvest does not harm the other plants then you are good to go. The square foot method of gardening is a great example of packing a bunch of plants into a small space. Take a look at your desired garden and see what you can uncover. You can also pack flowers and other ornamental plants close together. Not only does this allow you to grow more but it also makes the plants look fuller and more visually attractive.
  2. Companion planting – Companion planting is a great way to naturally get rid of bugs and other pests while still getting the harvest you need. You can uncover lots of companion plants that grow great together but my personal favorite is corn and bean. You can let the beans grow right up the corn stalk. The beans ward off corn predators and attract beneficial bugs. The corn provides the beans with a living trellis and keeps your beans off the ground and safe. By planting them together you also save valuable space in your garden, even with these two large plants.
  3. High and low – Similarly you can plant high plants with low plants. Plants like lettuce require more shade than cucumber. However if you create a growing screen over the lettuce you can plant both at once and reap twice the crop. Let the cucumber vines grow over the lettuce for shade and use the shady ground beneath the cucumber to harvest lots of lettuce. Flowers can also be grown this way. Tall flowers can help shade smaller and more delicate flowers. Shade loving plants can nestle beneath larger sun loving ones.
  4. Keep it small – Another idea for small garden spaces is to pick small plants. There are dwarf varieties of almost every plant, even trees, that produce great tasting food in large quantities. By keeping your plants on the small side you can pack a lot more into those small spaces and get a great harvest. Bay greens and veggies are always a hit and have a wonderful flavor. Best of all many smaller varieties mature faster and are able to be harvested sooner which means you can get even more out of your garden.
  5. Switch out – Speaking of getting more out of your garden by harvesting earlier, why not time your garden’s harvest and replant. When you pick one item, like carrots, why not replace it with something like lettuce? That way you have a double harvest in the same growing period. You can switch out your harvest schedule to make the most of your planning space. As the seasons change rip up nonproducing plants and replace them with new ones. That way you can have a year round harvest without having to have a huge garden.
  6. Stack it up – Stacking pots is a great way to grow a lot in a small space. Like strawberry pots with multiple holes in different heights you can grow many plants in the same pot without being hampered by the diameter of the top. You can stack smaller pots in a larger one for an adorable and useful container garden.
  7. Container gardens – Speaking of container gardens, you can grow a lot in a container. Even if your open growing space is limited you can expand it with containers. In your home, out on the porch, hanging in baskets or in widow boxes there are a variety of container to fit any garden size. Best of all you can grow year round by bringing your plants indoors during the crisp winter days.
  8. Wall gardens – Another method of container gardening is the wall garden. By mounting your containers on the wall you have a vast amount of space to grow without taking up any square feet. Even an apartment dweller can have a wall garden. You can use pots or even gutters to create a perfect wall garden that can effectively expand your garden area up and up. A repurposed pallet can also be mounted or leaned against the wall for a wall garden. Both beautiful and practical wall gardens are gaining in popularity. Use a fence as well!
  9. Vertical gardens – In a similar vein you can also use walls, fences, trellis, wires, cages or other methods to make your garden grow up instead of over. Veggies like tomatoes take up much less space when caged and trained to grow up instead of out with no loss to the fruit production. Cucumbers can grow along trellises as well as other vines like beans. Even squash can grow up and over instead of spreading out and taking up valuable garden space.
  10. Hydroponic – Last but not least is a great way of getting the most out of your garden space. Hydroponic garden systems make for great and productive gardens even without access to good soil. By enclosing the system there are methods to grow almost any plant without having to add additional water or growing solution. This can be a great way to grow whatever you want right there in your home. Keep in mind that enclosed hydroponic systems must remain enclosed, so no rain should be allowed in the system. A green house or simple clear covering can protect you outdoor plants. If you grow indoors then no covering is needed. I have seen huge cucumber plants grown out of a trash barrel with this system and yards and yards of gourmet lettuce. It is definitely something to consider.

As you can see there are many way that you can make even a small garden into a productive and beautiful space. From using vertical growing methods to companionplanting there are many ways to make the most of your small garden.

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers- this post was written by Ken Myers. He holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of  morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

 

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How to Transition Your Garden From Spring Into Summer

July 21st, 2013

Multi_Frame_Vegetable_Gardening-300x289When the seasons change, we all have our own rituals to celebrate the passing of one season and the beginning of another. When winter gives way to spring, we put away the snow boots, stick the gloves in the back of the closet, and enjoy storing away for months the snow tires on our cars. When spring turns to summer, we make sure we have plenty of shorts to wear and that our sunglasses collection is fully up to snuff. But changing seasons also has an impact on our gardens, of course. When the seasons change from spring to summer, we need to take care to transition the garden into the new warmer months. There are a number of ways to do this, and every garden is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Below are some tips for transitioning your garden from spring into summer.

 

Look for the right annuals for your garden. It is important when choosing your annuals that you match them to the lighting of your garden’s locations. Plantingvegetables.net makes the following recommendation: “Try impatiens, begonias or brilliant fuchsias to brighten shaded nooks, as these flowers thrive in shade or partial shade. Petunias, marigolds and geraniums fill the bill for sunny locations. Tuck annuals into the flowerbed between your perennials to liven the bed while waiting for summer perennials to bloom.”

 

Make room for vines. Vines can make a beautiful addition to a garden, partly because they evoke a romanticism from the time of Shakespeare and Italy, and also because they are often great annuals. The right vines also add texture and a variety of heights to your garden. Morning glories and tall nasturtiums can make things interesting by being tall and beautiful. Wait for the danger of frost to have passed through your area. By midsummer, the vines will cover the trellises and be in full bloom.

 

Don’t forget the mulch. Mulching is an important tool for all gardeners, as most already know. Using it around the base of your flowers will control weeds and help your plants hold onto their moisture. You can buy decorative mulch at a gardening store or you can make your own with grass clippings, woodchips and other organic materials. Stone mulch is another option and is well suited for those gardeners without a lot of extra time to spare: unlike organic mulches, stone will not break down and eventually require being replaced. Find what works for you.

 

Use trimming to help the seasonal transition. Trimming is an essential part of gardening. While some gardens have that unkempt, overgrown look, that doesn’t mean that their gardeners are not trimming. All gardeners trim to some extent. During the spring to summer transition time, make sure you are cutting back yellowed leaves from your spring-blooming flowers. Don’t wait – trim as soon as the yellowing starts. Once the foliage is yellow, it is dead, and the plant no longer needs it. You should safely remove the yellowed foliage to keep your garden looking fresh and summer ready.

 

Hang flowers too. Not all of your plants need to be planted in the ground. Try some hanging baskets to add some depth and variety to your garden. If you have, for example, a large swing in your garden, see if you can hang a basket of flowers from the top of it. If you have a tree, use the branches. There are plenty of ways to hang baskets in gardens, you just have to see what will work in yours.

 

Keep everything clean. While you are in your garden getting it ready for summer, planting the right flowers and trimming the dead foliage, make sure you put in some extra time to straighten things out. Rake away any leaves that have gathered and clear away any gardening tools, toys, or other detritus that has a tendency to collect in the garden. Keeping your garden well maintained includes keeping it clean. Nothing will undo all of your hard work faster than a pile of gardening tools in your garden.

 

Spend time outside! What’s the point of a beautiful garden if you never use it to relax? Grab a glass of wine and a book and spend some time outdoors!

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Matt Zajechowski who writes for Architectural Garden Design, Located in Lake Forest, IL.

 

 

 

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How to Promote a Healthy Garden on a Budget

July 7th, 2013

Saving Money

 

If you’re a beginning gardener or have problems getting a garden to form, there are ways you can promote a healthier living without investing too much money. While you may have to spend a few dollars here and there for necessities, much of the experience can utilize items you may already have around the home. Whether you are building a beautifully rich garden full of color or trying to get vegetables to grow for home-grown meals, your labor doesn’t have to be fruitless.

1. Starting Strong - Getting your plants to grow healthy can be difficult if your yard is heavily trafficked or the environment is too harsh for seedlings to take a solid root. Instead create starter plants within the home where you can control the entire environment the plants are subjected to. By keeping the seedlings indoors where they can grow stronger you are more likely to be successful in your gardening. Once the plants stand at least three to four inches, they can easily be transplanted to your garden.

2. Soil - Mixing nutrient-rich top soil into your garden can ensure that your plats have a solid base to work with. If you have the budget to include top soil, it would be advisable. However, there are ways to encourage a garden without investing a lot of money. Compost and natural mulch can be a great source of nutrients for your garden. This is the process of taking organic material from the home and yard to decompose in the garden to infuse it with the necessities the plants need. By mixing food bi-products from the home, leaves, and grass clippings into your soil, you can save money from topsoil purchases as well as reducing the amount of waste that you throw out.

3. Weed Prevention - Once your indoor started plants are transplanted into your compost-rich soil, it’s time to think about ways to prevent weeds from invading your garden. Mulch made from grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, or essentially anything else that can prevent weeds from getting direct sunlight can help eliminate the work of pulling these invaders out every weekend. For those who are developing edibles, many will use black plastic sheets to cover the beds save for the area where the plant is present.

4. Watering - Water is essential to promoting a healthy plant. Depending on your area, you could be faced with drought restrictions. In these areas, rain-barrels can be a savior providing it will rain any time in the near future. If you have the money to invest in a water saving material this can help your plants retain every droplet of water they can by keeping the water locked where it needs to be. These water saving materials are perfect for areas that are only allowed to water lawns and gardens on specific days. Your plants can live longer with less watering.

You’ll get out of your garden the amount of effort you put into the experience. This also includes a constant vigilance over the development and care of the plants themselves. At moments, it can be akin to caring for a child as you provide necessary nourishment and the proper environment for them to flourish. Don’t get discouraged if the plants don’t perform to your expectations and find solutions to what is causing the problems you face.

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.

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Making Weeds into Snacks

June 16th, 2013

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-dandelion-salad-image19302508

As gardeners we often see weeds as pests and think up new ways to destroy them. But there are more to weeds than what meets the eye. Did you know that many weeds are edible and even nutritious? Here are a few weeds you can snack on instead of eradicate:

  • Dollar weed  – This circular weed has a tendency to take over yards. However since you can eat them perhaps you will find them not so objectionable anymore. The small round leaves of this weed can be eaten raw and have a taste similar to cucumber. Try to pick leaves smaller than a quarter for the best flavor. Dollar weed also grows in standing water so be sure to wash well before eating. If you desire you can also make a kimchee or sauerkraut like dish from the leaves. Only the leaves are edible. The stems are stringy and hard.
  • Dandelion – This is another common weed that is edible. With its distinctive yellow flowers and fluffy seed heads this is one weed you can’t overlook. This is also a nutrition packed plant. High in many vitamins, minerals and even protein, you could survive for a while on this plant alone. However the flavor leaves something to be desired. With a bitter taste this plant is best eaten cooked. The yellow flower can be eaten raw of the green parts are removed. It makes a colorful addition to salads. Young leaves can be mixed with other greens for a flavor burst. Wilting the leaves is also a great way to make the plant palatable. Combine with hot bacon drippings, green onion, a little sugar, and apple cider vinegar for a tasty side dish. Or you can use a strong oil and vinegar dressing or a salty accompaniment like soy sauce to disguise the bitter flavor. The roots of the dandelion can also be roasted and ground for a coffee substitute or boiled for twenty to thirty minutes before eating.
  • Spiderwort/Day Flower  – With beautiful blue flowers and long, slim leaves this distinctive plant is easy to spot growing in the shade. You can eat the stems of this plant and they have a texture similar to okra, and just as slimy. The sap from the plant can be used to relive minor burns and the stems can be added to thicken stews. The leaves are also edible raw. Nutritious and hardy a frost will kill this plant but it will grow back within a couple of months.
  • Chickweed – Another weed, this one loves to grow in sidewalk cracks, along foundations and anywhere the soil has been disturbed. It has tiny white flowers and likes to grow in clusters. Full of vitamin C, iron and other minerals, this plant is best cooked in stews and soups and acts as a thickener. It tastes good chopped fine and cooked in pasta sauce or as an addition to pesto and salsa. Do not eat too much of it as excessive consumption can cause stomach upset.
  • Purslane/Sedum/Stone Crop – Another weed that loves sidewalk cracks, this juicy looking plant has many uses. This pant loves heat and can often be found growing during the hottest parts of the year when everything else is turning brown. The leaves and stems are edible raw or cooked. Full of vitamins A,C, and all the Bs, minerals, and omega-3fatty acid, this plant is a great addition to your diet. You can also steam it or fry it and the largest stems can be pickled like cucumber.
  • Sow Thistle – This weed is another variety that pops up where you least expect it. It can grow to waist high and has many edible parts. The young leaves are edible raw, steamed or boiled. The stem can be peeled and then cooked like asparagus. Very rich in vitamins and minerals the whole plant can be picked before flowers appear and steamed. The buds of the yellow flowers also make a great caper substitute. Just pluck them before they open and pickle them for six weeks. The roots of this plant are very bitter but can be roasted for a coffee substitute.

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

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Grow Up! Tips for Maximizing Your Garden Space

June 11th, 2013

Lattice

Yards come in all shapes and sizes, and even the most gifted gardener may run into the issue of trying to grow plants in an itty-bitty space, only to become frustrated and end up with frustrated plants, as well. If you’ve found that your plants aren’t thriving, don’t dismiss the idea of having a gorgeously blooming yard quite yet. There are ways to please your green friends, even when you don’t have acres of lush land with which to work.

What’s the secret to having more space in which to garden? Extending your yard upward, not outward. If you’ve never considered using a lattice, now might be the time. You’ll be amazed what you’ll come up with (pun intended).

What is lattice?

A lattice, quite simply, is a structure where pieces of material cross over each other in a grid. A lattice can make the garden space you’re working with seem much larger, since it enables your plants to grow up toward the sky.

Different Types of Lattices

There are a few types of lattices, each boasting its own advantages. Before you decide to put one in your garden, take a look at your options.

Plastic or Vinyl

A plastic lattice can be the least expensive option for the gardener, and plastic certainly has its good points. The advantages of using a plastic lattice can include:

  • It is less susceptible to weather elements.
  • Insects are not as drawn to plastic as they may be to natural materials such as wood.
  • It is easy to clean.
  • It will not warp or splinter.

Wrought Iron or Metal

A metal lattice can be copper, iron or a lightweight aluminum. The advantages of selecting a lattice made out of metal can include:

  • It is durable through the years, provided you maintain it.
  • It brings a sophisticated look to the garden.
  • It can hold heavy plants because it’s durable.

Wood

Of course, let’s not forget wood. If you choose a wooden lattice, you’ll have your pick of trees – pine, cedar and redwood, to name a few. Here are the advantages of a wood lattice:

  • It is environmentally friendly.
  • It blends naturally with the beauty of the natural world.
  • It can be painted or decorated easily.
  • It is relatively inexpensive.

Installing a Lattice in the Garden

Once you’ve decided on the type that suits your space the best, it is time to introduce the lattice to your garden. If you chose a lattice made from wood, follow these tips to install it.

  • Measure the space; measure the lattice.
    You’ll need to make sure that your lattice is cut into the size you need. Measure the space first and cut the appropriate amount of lattice. Use a fine tooth saw on a steady surface for cutting the lattice.
  • Create a frame.
    It’s a bit more difficult to get the lattice to attach to the earth, so a frame is helpful in this case. A simple wooden frame that surrounds the garden space should work.
  • Attach the lattice to the frame.
    Use small nails, deck screws or staples to attach the lattice to the frame you’ve created.

Selecting Plants for the Lattice

Now that you have a lattice in your garden, which plants will grow successfully in a vertical direction? Here are a couple suggestions for plants that will beautify your newly decorated space – there are many others, of course! Keep in mind, too, that these plants are also great for picket fences and any other structures around your home.

  • Roses
    There are many different types of roses in the world, so pick your favorites (make sure they’ll grow in your climate) and watch them wind around your new lattice. Roses are cherished for their fragrance – not to mention that they’re a symbol of love.
  • Clematis
    Clematis vines come in many colors. This is a hearty plant in most climates.
  • Wisteria
    Wisteria is known for its small flowers (usually white, blue or pink). Wisteria blooms in the spring and also thrives in many climates.
  • Morning Glory
    Considered one of the easier vines to grow, even for beginners, morning glory will bloom in the morning with large flowers in colors including white, purple and scarlet.

Remember, a lattice can offer privacy and beauty to your yard, as well as creating a more vertical garden space for happier plants. If you’ve been wondering how to make the most of a minuscule yard, letting your plants grow up might be the answer you seek.

 

About the Author:

Chris Long is a store associate at a Chicago-area Home Depot. He frequently writes for the Home Depot website. Chris’ outdoor project interests range from providing homeowners with lattice tips to how to choose the right fencing for your yard.

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Your Guide in Starting an Organic Garden

March 29th, 2013

Organic gardening

Everywhere we look, the word “organic” seems to take center stage. With so many advances in technology, including genetically modified or genetically altered foods, everyone wants to go back to basics and partake in organic gardening.  All gardeners, whether they are professional or those who do it as a hobby prefer organic gardening because of two main reasons. It promotes better health to those who eat the produce, and also promotes a better environment.

Organic gardening involves not having to use any pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers which are usually used during common farming. However, little did farmers know that using these chemicals was harming the environment. Pesticides and fungicides were being washed away into rivers by the rain, which affected aquatic life. People also discovered that these chemicals did no good to humans once they ate the food.   So naturally, people started organic farming, which involved no pesticides or other chemicals which are harmful to animals, humans or the environment.

The basic principle of organic farming is to saturate the soil with nutrients rather than the plant. More attention is therefore paid on getting the soil as nutrient rich as possible, since plants get their nutrients from the soil naturally through their roots. In organic farming, crop rotation is also crucial. If you are growing crops in your garden or greenhouse, then this basically means swapping the boxes or located areas around. It allows the soil to rejuvenate itself since each plant takes up a different amount of each nutrient.

Fertilizers are still used in organic farming, but they are organic i.e. natural. In most cases, organic fertilizer comes in the form of manure. However, this is more likely to happen on farms. If you are planning on doing some organic gardening in your home, then you may not be able to get a hold of manure. In this case, you can use compost, which can be made at home or purchased from a good gardening center.

How to start an organic garden: 

If you want to start organic gardening, you will not be sorry that you did. All you need to do is prepare the soil in a way which is natural and chemical free. This means not using any form of plant or flower food as a fertilizer or a plant growth booster. You want to use the most natural product available to you which can be manure or compost (take your pick).  Then water your soil to make sure that it is fully moist.

Decide on what it is you wish to grow. Since you may be completely new to the organic farming game, you may want to start off by planting something simple and easy such as tomatoes or blueberries. Over the growth period, you need to make sure that you are not using any artificial fertilizer to promote growth, since this goes against the principles of organic farming. If you feel the need to re-fertilize the soil, simply add more manure or compost.

Once you have mastered the simple food such as tomatoes, you can try something harder such as potatoes or peas. Once you have enough experience and are comfortable with the concept of organic farming, you could grow virtually anything, which is a superb quality to have, especially during these times where we cannot be entirely sure about what is in our foods.

Your final product will be a delicious item of food that has been grown using nothing but nature’s goodness. This crop will contain no chemicals in any way, shape or form. It is completely and utterly natural, making it the healthiest you could possible get.

 

About the author:

Nicole is an author keen on flowers and home organizing. Enjoy her tips on decorating with flowers and gardening.

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How to Maximize Small Space Gardening for Apartment Renters

March 1st, 2013

Herb Gardening-Pizza-219

“I’d love to have a garden but it’s impossible to do living in a tiny apartment.” If this is what you think, you’re either not trying hard enough or not that interested in gardening, because there are tons of ways to use your green thumb—even for renters. From balcony plants to window boxes to sprouting jars, apartment-dwellers have a wealth of options available to them.

And with the number of urban gardeners on the rise, you can even find lots of store-bought tools and DIY ideas that help you to greenify your space while still keeping your living area clutter-free and maximizing the space. Here are just a few great ways to get the most garden out of a tiny area.

Use the walls. If you don’t want to have plants taking up precious counter space, consider mounting them to a section of your walls that gets a decent amount of sun. You can use manufactured options like FloraFelt to create a true “vertical garden,” or make your own mounting system to show your knack for design and artistry. A simple wood slab with metal brackets attached can be fantastic for sprouting jars, or you can build a shelf, a window box that goes on your wall, or use gutters (yes, that’s right, gutters). Some people have even used old hanging shoe organizers as “pots” for their herbs—not bad if function is more important than aesthetics to you.

Get a pallet, jack. Yes, that was cheesy, but it’s also a great idea. If you stand a pallet up vertically, the open slats are spaced perfectly for you to fit in a bunch of different plants while using very little space. You’ll just need trays that have been cut to fit and plants that are okay with being a little cramped. Oh, and of course the pallet itself but, if you just call around to a few stores close by, you’re bound to find a place that will allow you to take a pallet or two the next time they get a shipment. Some of the surprisingly best options to try are pet stores and paint stores, and you should definitely check out Craigslist, because it’s fairly common for people to list them.

Let it all hang out. The concept of decorating your house with hanging plants isn’t a new one but you can take that a step further by creating a hanging garden. This works fantastically for individually potted plants, especially if you can find a space where they’re able to get a lot of sun. But if you just don’t have room or like the idea of heavy ceramic pots hanging over your head, you can always try your hand at what this crazy guy has discovered and start a string garden. No, those photos aren’t doctored. The plants really are hanging by a string and there’s no pot holding in all that dirt. It’s pretty awesome.

Create tiers. Even for those of you apartment-dwellers lucky enough to have porches or balconies, there’s a good chance that they’re not very big so you still have to be creative with your space. One clever solution is to nest your pots together vertically rather than placing them side by side. This blogger made a gorgeous outdoor herb garden by using different sizes of galvanized steel containers and punching holes in the bottom to let the water drain through. The end result is kind of like a series of Russian nesting dolls (or a snowman), with a giant tub on the bottom, followed by a medium-sized tub centered inside it, and then a small tub centered in that one. Making it tiered gives the plants more space vertically and horizontally since they can spread out above the lower ones. Genius.

About the Author:

Mark Russell writes about apartment living and solutions and creative ideas for living in small spaces.  Mark is a writer for Apartment Guys in Chicago.

 

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Lavender – The Flower of Distrust

January 19th, 2013

They say that every flower has its meaning when it is given as a present. It may express good feelings but also doubt and warning. The lavender, it is not exactly clear why, is it due to its color which is usually not connected with good feelings or due to some story, in the language of flowers is connected with the distrust. Besides this fact it is very nice and useful flower, which has found its place in many industries and is grown in many parts of the world.

It belongs to the mint family and is native to the Old World. It was also found in the Canary Islands and on Cape Verde. Some of the uses of the lavender are connected with growing it as ornamental flower. It is also used as herb and the nice lavender oil is extracted from it. With the time due to the specific shade of the violet color in which this plant is growing even a special color appeared in the English language with the name of the flower.

It is natural that everybody has seen lavender but still it will be briefly described with few words. The shape of the leaves is diverse. In some species that are commonly grown they are simple, and in others are pinnately toothed. However in almost any species the leaves are covered with fine hairs, when actually is the oil extracted from.

The flowers grow in whorls, and they are higher than the foliage.

The most common type of lavender that you can see is called the English lavender. This flower is grown in gardens, which means that it is too far from its original ground of a wild plant. That is why in many case it can be very invasive for the other flowers in the garden. In many countries in the past lavender was growing so much that it was declared as a weed in Australia and in Spain.

As for the conditions to grow best lavender from the above said you can guess that this plant does not need much water to grow. The soil has to be very well drained for it. Grainy and sandy soils can be the best choice for the plant. The direct sun is also very necessary. No matter what type of lavenders you choose to grow you have to take good care of them as you are regularly fertilizing them. The good air circulation is also very essential for the plant. Do not risk planting the lavender seeds in areas with high humidity. It can develop fungus on its roots and this can turn into a huge problem.

In large quantities the flower is usually grown for the extraction of the above mentioned lavender oil. When use in the medical and cosmetic industry it can have very strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

The English lavender has more sweet notes and is mostly used in cosmetic products like shower gels rather than in medicine.

Like most of the plants the lavender also have reserved place in the kitchen and cooking. The honey which the bees produce from the flower of the lavender is marked worldwide as one premium quality product. The flower of the lavender allows to be candied and makes beautiful decoration on cakes and candies. There is special group of baked products made and flavored with the so-called lavender sugar.

When added to a dish it gives it really nice sweet flavor and can be successfully combined with sheep or goat milk.

 

About the author:

Nicole is a passionate  writer, devoted mum and housewife. She enjoys writing about healthy home organizing. Read more at http://www.sendflowers.org.uk/

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