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Tips for Growing the Perfect Vegetable Garden

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It’s official; food gardening is the hottest trend in home gardening right now, for several reasons. Obviously the economy has a lot of us looking for ways to reduce our grocery bills and growing your own can save big money compared to grocery store prices. In addition, we want to know that the food we’re putting in our bodies is as healthy as possible. And the best part is, homegrown food simply tastes better than anything you can buy at the store.

If you’re like the other 21 million people in North America who will be starting a vegetable garden this year for the first time, chances are, a few time-tested tips will come in handy to ensure success. Even seasoned veterans don’t tire of being reminded of the most essential steps to a bountiful garden.

A home vegetable garden is easy to start and doesn’t require as much effort as one might think to keep it growing strong. Following a few simple steps will ensure you’re enjoying the fruits of your labor in no time.

Location is key

Most vegetable plants do best in full sun. Find a location that gets at least six hours

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10 Expert Gardening Tips for Beginners

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Keep tabs on your garden. Create a scrapbook using an inexpensive photo album and add your plant tags and sticks to it each season. Then, make it as detailed as you’d like by adding information as to where the plants were purchased and where the plant was located in your garden. Add your own artistic flair with sketches of your garden or photographs. Get details from The Family Handyman »

Create a no-stick shovel.

 

Spray your favorite garden shovel with a silicone or Teflon lubricant to make shoveling a breeze. A good coating of this spray will make any type of soil slip right off the shovel without a mess. Get details from The Family Handyman »

Lighten those heavy pots.

 

Take the strain out of lifting large planters and pots by filling the pot one-third to one-half full with packing peanuts. Be sure to place a piece of landscape fabric on top of the packing peanuts and then layer on your potting soil. To reduce the weight of the pot further, use a potting mix with lots of vermiculite and peat moss. Get details from The Family Handyman »

Transport your plants.

 

Before your next trip to the local nursery,

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PRUNING FRUIT TREES AND OTHER MARCH GARDENING TIPS

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Pruning fruit trees, sowing seeds, and starting begonia tubers are some of the gardening activities for this month.

Choose a day above freezing, if possible, to prune fruit trees as it is easier on you as well as on the tree.  First, check for and remove the 3 D’s—branches that are dead (usually a different color), diseased (look for scabs or spots), and damaged (as from ice damage or wind breakage).

Then, check for and remove the 2 C’s—branches that are crowded or crossing (they’ll rub on each other, wearing off the bark where disease can enter).    Finally, prune selectively, shaping the tree according to its age and type of fruit tree.  You can learn more details about pruning in the Fruit Gardener’s Bible from Storey Publishing.

By starting your own plants from seeds, you’ll save money and be able to grow unusual varieties not readily available in nurseries. Start seeds in flats filled with moistened seed-starting mix. Once the seeds germinate, place the plants under tube lights or grow lights (14 hours a day, 6 to 8 inches above seedlings), and keep soil moist.

Organize seed packets by planting time. Some seeds are generally sown

Planning a Wedding in Your Garden

It is not unusual for outdoor weddings to be held in a garden. If you have one in your back yard and you wish to use it as your wedding venue you must plan the event carefully.

In the case of a last minute wedding use your garden is a bad idea. The reason for this is because if you do choose to have a wedding in your garden you need to make that decision three to six months ahead of your desired wedding date. You will need these months to prepare your garden to become the location of your wedding.

Preparing your garden for your wedding day may require you to renovate your garden so that you and your guests will not get wet from standing there. Any plants that are unkempt or overgrown should be trimmed down so that they don’t take away from your wedding day décor. Pathways to and from your garden may need repair or cleaning before your big day arrives. It is also a good idea to plant some new flowers that will bloom just in time. Any weeds or bugs in the garden need to be removed in

Beautifully Painted With South Shore Painting Companies

With South Shore Painting Companies, getting your property painted should not be a chore. Because, there is always a huge difference between beautifully painted and randomly painted. When it comes to randomly painted, we all can do that; and by saying we it means literally all of us. The kids can even help us painting it, and even our lovely pet dog can hold the brush if we tell it to do so. Playing with colourful paintings, brush and surfaces, applying the colours and finding surprising colours mix here and there; it must be a painting process that creates so much fun for the family since kids love colours and painting, pets love to play and parents love seeing the family having fun. We all could have this; one good time when what we need is less than a serious painting. This absolutely not the chore painting meant above.

But, there are always things to get done seriously, including painting your property. If what you want is a serious painting that results a more beautiful and elegant one, chores must be included. Seeing the brushes applied on the wall does not look like a hard

Lockable Storage Boxes Meet The Needs Of All Types OF Homeowners

There isn’t a homeowner who doesn’t need at least some of their items kept in a safe and secure manner. Yet not all of us have the same storage needs.  Some may need more security while others need less, and of course different people require different storage capacities depending on the size of what they will be storing and how many of them.  Fortunately there is a lockable storage box to meet virtually all homeowner’s unique needs.

Anyone Who Loves To Garden

Those who do their own gardening or landscaping will undoubtedly have many things they need to protect. Unless kept locked up tools can be stolen or even accessed by young children. This can be quite dangerous as most that are made for cutting, digging, and chopping have sharp edges or points that could do serious damage if in the hands of young kid.  Fertilizers and chemicals used for lawn and garden maintenance can also be extremely dangerous or even fatal if swallowed.  Lockable storage bins known as deck boxes are normally the best way to go to ensure your outdoor supplies stay where they belong.  These can be quite large and offer the homeowner

82 Sustainable Gardening Tips

Most gardeners have sustainability on their minds. After all, growing your own food is a huge step toward leading a sustainable lifestyle. Organic, chemical-free methods are inherently more sustainable — for human health, wildlife, the soil and the water supply — than non-organic techniques. But sustainable gardening goes beyond just using organic methods. From water and energy conservation to waste reduction and smart seed-sourcing, there are infinite ways we can make our practices more sustainable.

To find out what’s going on in sustainable gardens across the United States and Canada, we surveyed the thousands of members of MOTHER’s Garden Advisory Group. Here are their best tips, broken down by category, many of which will not only help you garden more sustainably, but will save you money, too! We hope you’ll try these creative ideas in your garden and pass the tips along to your friends and neighbors. (To contribute tips to future articles, join our Editorial Advisory Groups.)

Reusing and Recycling Materials in the Garden

  1. I use an old plastic mesh bag to round up leftover slivers of soap. I rubber-band the bag so it’s tight and hang it next to the hose. The combo of the slightly abrasive bag and the soap

PERENNIAL PLANT FEATURE COLUMBINES

This genus of perennials is one of the most popular and showy for mid-spring to early summer blooms, with a wide selection of colors in their unique flowers.  There are columbines for many types of garden habitats, from rock gardens, to tall meadows, to light shade or woodlands.  Most are quite hardy, surviving to USDA zone 3 (-30 degrees F average winter minimum).
Columbines are in the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family, related to the clematis, monkshood, delphinium, and meadow rue among other perennials.  The common name comes from the Latin “columba” for dove, referring to the appearance of the flowers.  The genus name for columbine (Aquilegia) comes from the Latin word “aquila” for eagle, which also refers to the shape of the flowers.

The five flower petals have a broad tube in front, and long spurs in back that resemble the claws of an eagle.  There also are five flower parts resembling petals, called sepals, that may be the same or different colors from the petals.  Flowers may be upright or nodding, and are quite attractive to hummingbirds. They provide nectar and pollen for various types of bees.

The leaves are often bluish-green, are found in groups of three (called “ternate”), and

EASY HOUSEPLANTS FLAMINGO FLOWER

The flamingo flower comes by this name from its traditionally pink to red flowers.  It often just goes by its scientific genus name (Anthurium).  Attractive, long lasting flowers in many colors that are produced throughout the year, attractive leaves that are easy to clean, easy care, and few problems make this a top houseplant for most situations.
Anthurium (said as an-THUR-ee-um) comes from the Greek words for flower (anthos) and tail (oura), the latter referring to the central part of the flowers resembling a tail.  Similar to the peace lily (Spathiphyllum), it is in the Arum family.  One characteristic of these plants are the unique flowers, composed of an outer shell or hood (the “spathe”, really a “bract” or modified leaf) and inner stalk of densely-packed flowers (the “spadix”).  While the spadix is usually straight, you can find selections in which it is curved or twisted.

With anthurium, the spathe has a waxy texture, is glossy, flattened or reflexed backward slightly, and often is of the same color as the spadix.  The spadix can be a contrasting color such as white or yellow—attractive against the shiny background of the spathe.  The latter can come in most shades of reds or pinks,

CARNATIONS A CLASSIC CUT FLOWER

Carnations are one of the most popular and classic cut flowers and, in fact, the most popular one world-wide after roses.  What makes them popular is that they’re inexpensive, long lasting compared to many cut flowers, fragrant, and come in most any color.  They are no longer just limited to prom boutonnieres and funeral bouquets as in the past. You can find them from grocery stores to florist shops year round and, depending on time of year, in many other outlets.
The carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) is native to Eurasia and means “flower of the gods.”  This “divine flower” grew wild on hillsides in Greece, and was first named by the Greek botanist Theophastus for the Greek words referring to the god Zeus (dios) and flower (anthos). Its first known historical reference is its use in garlands by Greeks and Romans. The common name may come from the words coronation or corone (flower garlands) from this first use of them.

The first carnations were imported to this country in 1852– a shipment of French carnations to a Long Island grower. These came originally from a strain first registered in France in 1842. Within 20 years, there were 54 varieties of carnations listed

How to Design and Plan Your Vegetable Garden

There are two basic approaches to planning the layout of a vegetable garden:

Row Cropping

 

This is probably what comes to mind when you think of what to plant in a garden with vegetables: You place plants single file in rows, with a walking path between each row.

Row cropping works best for large vegetable gardens, and it makes it easier to use mechanical equipment such as tillers to battle weeds.

The downside of row cropping is that you don’t get as many vegetables in a small space, as much of the soil is used for footpaths rather than vegetable plants.

Row cropping isn’t as visually interesting, either.

Here’s a hint: Allow at least 18 inches between your rows so you have plenty of room to work between them. And as you sketch out your plan, place taller vegetables at the north side of the garden. This includes naturally tall plants — like tomatoes — and plants that can be grown on vertical supports — including snap peas, cucumbers, and pole beans.

Intensive Cropping

 

This type of planting a garden with vegetables means using in wide bands, generally 1-4 feet across and as long as you like. Intensive cropping reduces the amount of area needed for paths, but

NEW VEGETABLES TO GROW IN 2016

Each year the best of the new annual flowers and vegetables are judged nationwide, and the winners given the All-America Selections (AAS) designation.   To be an AAS winner, plants must show improvements over any similar existing cultivars (cultivated varieties).  This year’s vegetable winners include a mustard, onion, two sweet peppers, a pumpkin, radish, two tomatoes, and even a strawberry.
In the past, the winners were only those that were deemed worthy across most of North America.  While there are still these “national” winners, there are now regional winners as well—those performing best in a particular region.  This doesn’t mean that they won’t grow and produce acceptably in other regions too.

Japanese Red Kingdom mustard was a national winner, being an F1 hybrid (a cross of two specific parents).  It is the first mizuna type, or Japanese, mustard AAS winner, and has attractive reddish-purple leaves in addition.  It has higher yields than some other mizunas, is less likely to “bolt” (make flower stalks), has a mild flavorful taste, and the leaves make it good too as an ornamental.  It only needs three to five weeks from sowing until harvest.  Mizuna greens are used in Asian cooking, such as stir fry, or in

USING SAFE SALTS AND OTHER FEBRUARY GARDENING TIPS

Deicing walks safely for plants, searching catalogs and online for new flowers and vegetables, and growing flamingo flowers indoors are some of the gardening activities for this month.
When deicing walks, use one of the granular products with a “chloride” other than from sodium—these are safer on plants.  They may cost a bit more, but you often can use less product.  Calcium chloride works best in the coldest areas (down to about 5 degrees F).  If below this temperature, don’t use any chemical product but rather sand instead for traction.  To save on cost and dilute the salt too, mix it with a large portion of coarse kitty litter.  Liquid products don’t track into buildings as granular ones often do.  Apply any material before ice and snow, if possible, for best results.

If you are clearing your driveway with a snow blower this winter, direct the snow away from plants. Otherwise, the blowing ice crystals may damage the tender bark of young trees and shrubs. This isn’t as much of a concern for plants wrapped with burlap.

A great winter pastime for gardeners is spending hours with seed and plant catalogs, or at such firms online.  Make sure if choosing fruit plants

EASTER LILIES

We can thank the two world wars for most the world production of the Bermuda lily–better known today as the Easter lily–in this country.
Native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, this lily (Lilium longiflorum) grows in coral (limestone) rock pockets by the sea.  Due to ocean currents, this area where these grow naturally is tropical.   In 1794, Carl Peter Thunberg– a physician (most famous now as a plant explorer) for the Dutch East India Company who was stationed in Japan—first described this plant in Western literature.  It was first described in one of Japan’s oldest gardening books, published in 1681.

Thunberg sent bulbs of this lily to England in 1819, where it soon became popular during Easter. It is the Madonna or Resurrection lily (L. candidum) though, native to southern Europe across to Asia, which was the true white lily of the bible.  Among the many biblical references, one mentions that these sprang up in the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ’s tears fell to the ground during his last hours of sorrow and prayer.  Other stories depict, and paintings show, lilies with the Virgin Mary.

Missionaries and sailors carried the Easter lily to Bermuda in 1853, where much commercial bulb

MAPLE SYRUP

Many know that maple syrup comes from the sap of the sugar maple tree, collected and boiled down each spring to make it denser.  In fact, native Americans were making it when the first European colonists arrived.  Whether you make your own maple syrup as a fun family activity, for income, or just enjoy using it, you should know some of the interesting facts about this important agricultural product in our region.

The Cornell University maple research and education website (maple.dnr.cornell.edu) has many interesting facts about maple syrup, including the one that it takes 43 gallons of sap (with 2 percent sugar content) boiled down to make a gallon of maple syrup.  Since sugar content of the sap can vary by tree, and previous season growing conditions, this can range from 40 to 50 gallons or more for a gallon of syrup. On average, sugar content of sap is about 2.5 percent.  If the tree is too vigorous, it may use up more sugars and so result in less sweet sap.  Or if the tree is attacked by pests, or grows poorly, it may produce fewer sugars.

A tree in the forest with gravity lines or buckets may produce 10 to 14

How to Plan a Vegetable Garden

Why Plant a Garden with Vegetables

 

Starting a vegetable garden at home is an easy way to save money — that $2 tomato plant can easily provide you with 10 pounds of fruit over the course of a season.

Planting a garden with vegetables also gives you the pleasure of savoring a delicious, sun-warmed tomato fresh from the garden. In almost every case, the flavor and texture of varieties you can grow far exceed the best grocery store produce.

Plus, growing vegetables can be fun. It’s a great way to spend time with children or have a place to get away and spend time outdoors in the sun.

Learning what to plant in a garden with vegetables, and how to tend them for the best harvest, is probably easier than you think. If you plan it right, you can enjoy a beautiful garden full of the fruits of your labor — without having to spend hours and hours tending it. Planting a garden that includes vegetables and flowers means you’ve combined natural companions, and that can turn a potential eyesore into an attractive landscape feature. Read on for more!

Get inspired by the White House vegetable garden!

Deciding What to Plant in a Garden with Vegetables

 

At

10 Steps to Beginning a Garden

Spring is a good time to begin growing and digging, although planning can take place before the snow melts. Gardeners spend most of the summer watering, weeding, and watching young plants grow. Fall is a good time to plant trees, shrubs, bulbs, and some perennials.

  1. Get an idea. Is this going to be a vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? If you choose to grow flowers, do you want annuals, which you must replant each year but which give color most of the summer? Or do you prefer perennials, which have a shorter bloom time but come back year after year? You can mix any of the above — after all, it’s your garden. Just one bit of advice: Start small. ‘Tis better to succeed just a little, than to fail grandly.
  2. Pick a place. Almost all vegetables and most flowers need about six hours of full sun each day. Spend a day in your chosen spot and watch how the sun moves across the space. It might receive more sun than you think. But don’t despair if your lot is largely sunless; many plants tolerate shade. Check plant tags or ask the staff at your local garden center to

Fertilize with Epsom Salts

After working with home gardeners for more than 10 years, I know that they love to use home remedies on their plants. From setting out beer traps for slugs to hanging bars of soap to repel deer, if the household product seems to work, gardeners try it. That’s why I was intrigued by the often-mentioned idea of using Epsom salts as a fertilizer.

Gardeners apply it to tomatoes, peppers, and roses, hoping to produce more flowers, greener plants, and higher yields. You can use it to improve magnesium content if you know you have a soil that’s deficient in that element, but home gardeners are most likely to apply Epsom salts to peppers, tomatoes, and roses.

I wanted to find out if it really works and learn the best ways to apply it for best growth, so last summer I asked some of our test gardeners (home gardeners who tested seeds and products for National Gardening) to test Epsom salts’ effects on plant growth and vigor by applying it to pepper plants and roses. Then I talked to researchers about using the salts as fertilizer. Here’s what I found out.

The History and Science of Epsom Salts

This natural mineral, discovered in the well

A Few Favorite Tools

When it comes to choosing my wardrobe, I go for hardworking and practical over the latest fashion statement. A few well-made, nice looking, easy-to-care-for basics (no handwashing or ironing for me) with only the occasional decorative accessory serve me well. (I’m still trying to figure out how to arrange those popular, colorful scarves properly!)

I use the same strategy when it comes to choosing garden tools and equipment. I don’t have lots of bells and whistles, just some well-made, sturdy basics that I can count on using for many seasons. A flat-bottomed spade, a garden fork, a steel rake, a narrow bladed hoe, and a leaf rake are my long-handled tools, while loppers, hedge clippers, and hand pruners take care of most cutting and trimming chores. Add in a couple of trowels and hand weeders and I’m set.

But beyond these basics, there are a few tools and pieces of garden equipment that I’ve really come to value. Here are some of the things that have become garden and landscape must-haves for me.

Two-wheeled garden cart I bought my garden cart way back in 1984, and it’s probably hauled tons of soil, mulch, garden debris, and autumn leaves over the years. Made of

Preparing for the Next Season Winter

There are a number of variables to consider as you prepare your yard and garden for the winter season. Normal and predicted weather is at the top. If you don’t have freezing weather, this article won’t have much for you except to see what you are missing out on.

If you might experience frost, but not extended stretches of freezing weather, your main concern is protecting valuable plants from predicted frost events. In those cases you gather up all the sheets and blankets or cardboard you can find and cover the most important plants first and keep going until you run out of covers. Besides southern frost events, these tips also are for early spring or fall frosts in the rest of the country. Place the coverings before the temperatures get below 40 degrees to trap heat under the cover. Remove the coverings in the morning after the temperatures are safely above 40 degrees. Don’t leave them on too long. If you can use stakes to keep the covers from resting on the plants, the coverings will be most effective. Thin, clear plastic is usually not a sufficient cover.

If water use permits and the temperature is not going below the upper