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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Growing Indoor Plants Tips

growing-indoor-plantsWhether you have heaps of light or next to no light, one can grow an indoor plant in the home or office. Be that as it may, there are components to need consider before selecting a house plant, for example, light introduction, space, temperature and stickiness in the room.

An immense determination of indoor plants is promptly accessible. Do you need something to develop tall or short? Use whatever you need, the length of the encompassing components are reasonable. Plants are accessible in an extensive variety of sizes. In little spaces, a three-creep pot can work. The root framework won’t be cheerful for a really long time in this size, however repotting is simple. A four-creep pruned plant works flawlessly on a work area or a kitchen window ledge. What about a story plant? They come in numerous sizes, contingent upon assortment and accessibility.

Safety of indoor pets or children must be considered; check your plant choice for toxicity at your local nursery, on the web, or in gardening books. Remember that both pets and children could decide to take a taste. Caladiums, Dieffenbachia, English Ivy and Poinsettias are toxic, just to name a few. A hanging plant would be a good choice here. For a more complete listing of toxic plants, just Google on the web to see that many common houseplants can be toxic if ingested. Avoid those that might tempt little ones.

If you are a beginner, start small with a plant recommended by your local nurseryman for its ease of care. Even on a low budget, there’s a plant for you. Try mixing several different plants together in single pot. The sky’s the limit with regard to creative plantings. It is important to select plants which require not only the same lighting levels but also the same watering schedule when mixing more than one plant in the same pot.

There are other factors to consider, too. Plants get bugs. The best prevention is early detection. Once a plant is infested it may be too late. Consult your local nurseryman or a Master Gardener when a disease or bug infestation is apparent. Act quickly.

Plant books are wonderful to have; you can never have too many. With the wide variety of gardening books on the market today, it is possible to educate yourself in the basics of any aspect of gardening or plant choices. If you don’t want to go the book route, just call the Adams County Extension office and talk with a Master Gardener there.

With the right care, one can get a plant to bloom. For instance, did you know the corn cane gets this wonderfully smelling bloom? Gardenia and Jasmine smell like heaven while the Ardisia, Croton, Maranta, as well as many others have an insignificant bloom. The Lipstick plant gets a flower that really does resemble a red lipstick tube. The Christmas cactus’ blooms are gorgeous, too, and come in an array of colors.

Fertilizing indoor plants on a regular basis during the growing season is advisable for the most successful result. Giving your plants a regular boost according to package directions will most definitely boost foliage growth and flower proliferation. Happy gardening inside until the weather breaks, then garden happy both in and out!

Caring Ivy Topiaries

A debt of gratitude is in order for your incredible question. I cherish ivy, particularly topiaries. Ivy can be developed on such a large number of fun shapes and in the event that you take after these straightforward care necessities you’ll have the capacity to make the most of your new ivy topiaries for a long time to come.

In the first place ivy inclines toward splendid light or sifted sun. They additionally like cooler temperatures (60-75) and high dampness. In the late spring you can move your topiaries outside to a shady area. They will appreciate the mid year’s stickiness and invigorate themselves for another inside season.

Try not to permit your topiaries to dry out. It’s best to keep the dirt uniformly sodden. In the event that conceivable splash or fog the ivy trees with water a couple times each week. Rather than clouding, I get a kick out of the chance to put my ivies in the sink once every week and splash the leaves with warm water. This gives the plants a decent dousing, washes away any tidy or soil and keeps bugs away.

And speaking of pests lets talk about the dreaded spider mite, the bane of many ivy plants. Dry air and high temperatures create the perfect conditions for these insects. Spider mites are tiny, sap-sucking insects that infest the underside of the plant’s leaves. The top of the leaves will have yellow splotches and the leaves can fall prematurely. When the infestation is heavy you may see white webbing between the leaves and stems. If you suspect you have spider mites it is helpful to spray the leaves top and bottom with lukewarm water. After the leaves dry, spray with insecticidal soap, following the directions on the package. Be sure to wet all the leaves (especially the underside), leaf stems and vines. Spray only in a well-ventilated area and out of direct sun.

Now you already have your ivy topiaries growing, but if you would like to start your own topiary it’s easy to do. First find a shape that you like. There is no end it seems to the different shapes that are available. Check your local garden center or the internet. The size of the frame you have chosen will determine the size container you will need. They should be in proportion. Remember eventually the frame will be covered with ivy and heavier than when you first plant it, so make sure your container will be stable. Your container should also have a hole in the bottom for proper drainage. Now you are ready to plant. Using a good quality potting mix, plant a well-branched small-leaved ivy in the container. Then carefully insert the frame into the pot. Next, carefully pull the stems of the ivy plant through the frame so that they drape over the outside of the pot. Then distributing the stems evenly gently twist the ivy around the wires of the frame. It may be necessary in the beginning to use garden string or twist ties to hold the stems in place. As the ivy grows continue to train and twist the stems up the frame. In no time at all the frame will be covered and you’ll have created your very own topiary. As a side note, depending on the shape of your frame, it may be easier to plant several smaller ivy plants around the base of your frame, instead of one larger multi-branched ivy plant. These individual plants can be trained up the frame in the same way just discussed and eventually will look like one plant.

To maintain the shape of your established topiary, new growth can be woven into the wire frame or snipped off. Every year or two your topiary will probably need to be repotted. To do so simply remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the rootball. Place the topiary in a container 1 to 2 inches larger, fill in with additional soil and water thoroughly.

Composting Leaves

composting-leavesLeaves are regularly alluded to as “Planters’ Gold”. Their splendid green appearance in the Spring is a harbinger of the start of another life cycle. Their nearness in the mid year gives genuinely necessary safe house from warmth and rain for untamed life and people alike, and also being the vehicle through which trees create their own nourishment. Their sensational excellence in the Fall can be unparalleled. Notwithstanding the majority of this, appropriately utilized as mulch or fertilizer they give extraordinary natural matter and supplements to the dirt.

Sadly, to utilize leaves adequately as mulch and manure despite everything they should be raked or blown from your greenery enclosures and yard with the goal that you have control over where they are utilized. Leaving a thick layer of leaves on your yard or garden can make conditions that prompt decaying of the grass or perennials underneath. Thus, to begin with rake the leaves up into a heap.

Once your leaves have been gathered, you have a choice between using them undecomposed, as mulch, or composting them before you put then in your garden. Regardless of how you are going to use them, the first step is to chop or shred your leaves. This will save space if you are placing them in a bin, it will minimize their blowing around and matting if you are placing them in the garden, and it will hasten their eventual decomposition into composted organic matter.

If you do not have a shredder, and do not wish to rent one, you can use your lawn mower to shred the leaves. If the leaves are on your lawn attach a bagger to your lawn mower before you begin cutting. As you cut the lawn, the leaves will be shredded and gathered into the bagger. You may also gather leaves in a pile and run the lawn mower without a bagger through the pile. Direct the discharge shoot in one direction at all times so that the shredded leaves are placed in a pile and not blown all over the place.

Once you have your shredded leaves, you may place them in your garden as mulch immediately, if you wish. However, do not place an excessive layer of mulch directly on the crowns of herbaceous perennial flowers. This is not necessary, and it can lead to root rot. If you are trying to extend the season for winter root vegetables, like rutabagas, carrots, leeks, kale or beets, you may use a heavy layer of shredded leaves to cover them. You may find that you can harvest these vegetables all winter with this added protection from the leaves. If you do use uncomposted shredded leaves as mulch in your garden, you should add some slow release nitrogen fertilizer to the garden in the Spring, as the process of leaf decomposition may rob the soil of nitrogen.

Another alternative for your shredded leaves is to compost them, either alone or with other organic matter. The simplest but longest process is to place the shredded leaves in a wire bin. Leave them there for two years, turning them occasionally, and you will have a really nice product. Leaf mold is a special fungus-rich compost that can retain three to five times its weight in water, rivaling peat moss. The “Leaf-Gro” that is available in most of or local garden centers is leaf compost. The only disadvantage of using leaves alone for composting is you will find that you need a tremendous amount of leaves to produce any quantity of compost.

Leaves can be used more effectively as a component in a compost pile that contains a variety of organic matters. A good balanced compost pile contains materials rich in nitrogen and others rich in carbon. Leaves can provide the carbon component of your pile. Other good carbon components include straw, nonglossy paper, wood and bark chips. Good nitrogenous materials include grass and plant clippings, uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds. Use your shredded leaves and other carbon materials to layer between your nitrogenous materials in a bin. Turn the pile occasionally to aerate it, and make sure that it is moist, but not soggy. It is not necessary to add commercial compost starters or fertilizer to a compost pile to start it “cooking” but doing so may hasten the process. The amount of time it will take to produce compost depends upon its size, composition and conditions. The process can take anywhere from three months to one year. My small suburban compost bins take 6 to 9 months to produce a fully composted product. I cut the materials I am placing in the piles into small pieces, and I turn the piles about once every 3 to 4 weeks.

I find reusing organic materials such as leaves for mulch and compost to be one of the most satisfying aspects of my gardening. I hope you will give it a try.

About Growing Asparagus

Asparagus, one of spring’s most savory gifts, is at its peak. Whether steamed, stir-fried, roasted, wrapped in prosciutto or sauced with Hollandaise, asparagus fresh from the garden is as nutritious as it is delicious.

Used in both culinary and medicinal ways in ancient Egypt, its popularity spread to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia during the middle Ages. Introduced in the United States about 1850, this perennial vegetable favorite can be found growing anywhere where there is a cold or dry season (needed for its dormant period) in cultivated home gardens, as well as abandoned garden sites, old farm fields, fence rows and even roadsides, where birds have dropped seeds.

Seeds aside, asparagus (Asparagus, officianalis) is best and most easily grown from transplanted crowns, planted in early spring or late fall in rich, well-drained neutral to slightly alkaline sandy loam soil where it will receive ample full sunlight. Traditionally set in 12-inch deep trenches, 18 inches apart in rows 4 to 5 feet apart, asparagus prefers its own bed, as its roots spread laterally for several feet. There has been some success with the more recent method of planting crowns in a shallow furrow several inches or more below the soil surface; but for the uninitiated, best results most likely would follow with the traditional method. With the addition of a dressing of well-rotted manure or compost and watered to 8 inches once a week, all that’s needed from the gardener at this point is adequate patience. During its first spring, the spindly new stalks must be spared and allowed to “go to fern” or to mature to a ferny 39 to 59 inches in height.

Being dioecious, or having both male and female plants, the ferny asparagus may sport bright red berries on the female plants during fall, These berries are much appreciated by birds, but toxic to humans. In the fall, the ferny growth will turn brown, but it should not be cut down until the following spring, when spears will begin to emerge as early as April. When 6 to 8 inches tall, these spears may be harvested lightly for a period of about 2 weeks. It is during the third spring that patience begins to pay off, and the new chubby spears can be snapped off or cut at ground level for a period of 4 weeks. During the fourth and succeeding springs, the harvest may cover an 8-week time span. Given adequate sun, nutrients and water, a well-managed asparagus bed can be expected to produce well for 18 to 20 years.

Remember to mulch deeply after planting, but when spears emerge, remove all but a light covering to discourage lodging slugs. One other known pest, the asparagus beetle, can be controlled to an extent by companion planting with tomatoes, while the asparagus may repel certain harmful nematodes in tomato roots.

While green asparagus is most familiar and popular with gardeners and diners in our area, blanched, or white asparagus, created by hilling soil on the spears as they grow, is considered by many, especially in Europe, as gourmet and thought to be more tender. A more recent, purple cultivar, with a higher sugar content and lower fiber, is also available.

There are many reasons to grow your own fresh asparagus– nutritional, medicinal and horticultural among them. A high fiber vegetable, asparagus is low in calories as well as in sodium and is a good source of vitamins B6, A, C, E and K. Add to that calcium magnesium and zinc. High in antioxidants, asparagus is also known as a natural diuretic and can be helpful in treating hypertension through its ability to restore an imbalance of the sodium-to-potassium ratio in the body.

As always, when selecting seed or crowns, it is best to purchase from reputable dealers who can be relied upon to carry treated seed and healthy stock. Untreated seed can result in plants prone to rust and fusarium rot. Some proven varieties in our region are Mary Washington, Rutgers Beacon and Waltham Washington.

With all its benefits, as well as its ferny beauty, consider asparagus in your garden.