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Category Archives: Garden

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.

Success Mulching

With the best part of the cultivating season in front of us, we should investigate how we can make the garden more fruitful while eliminating weeding, one of planting’s more difficult tasks.

Getting the plants in the ground and the seedlings up is only the begin of our satisfaction in the garden. Conveying the plants to development and lessening the opposition for water and supplements from pointless weeds is an on-going exertion. Legitimate mulching can go far to make our garden more beneficial and weed free. Be it the vegetable garden or the bloom bed, there are items that will make you more joyful with the garden without requiring a major expense of cash or exertion. An ambitious start is the key here.

There are essentially three reasons to apply mulch in spring and summer. First, it can help warm the soil earlier and ward off frost on unexpected chilly nights. As the season progresses and the weather gets drier and summer heat more intense, a covering of mulch will help retain moisture near the roots of the plants and retard evaporation. Lastly, this same cover will retard and cut down excessive weed growth, reducing the number of weeds in the garden and making those that do start easier to pull.

You may have already begun your gardening by using row covers. These are light-weight filmy materials to put over young plants early in the season to prevent damage from frost or to keep the day’s warmth from escaping on chilly nights. As the season progresses, they can be used to prevent moths and borers from laying their eggs and keep beetles from damaging leaves. These are mostly used in the vegetable garden.

There are several types available, ranging from plastic stretched over hoops to light fabrics whose use is essentially protection from insect damage. The plastic retains heat better and is most useful early, at the end of spring, to gain a couple extra weeks’ growing time. The fabrics can be used at that time for heat retention or later to protect plants when insect pests are active on a particular crop. You want to keep the borers and leaf eaters from attacking your plants; however, you don’t want to prevent the beneficial insects from pollinating them. This involves careful attention to timing. Keep a close eye on your garden to see when pests are beginning to become active. Many garden guides or the local Cooperative Extension office can help you know when to apply them.

Before leaving the vegetable garden, we should also mention using straw or grass clippings as a mulch along the rows. Due to their appearances, these are not frequently seen in the more formal flower garden. A 2″ to 4″ cover will allow moisture to get to the roots and retard its evaporation during the day. This will cut down on how frequently you need to water, thereby saving you money and time. Some weeds will grow in the straw, but their roots will be shallow, making them easier to remove.

Be sure to use a good quality straw. Do not use hay or clippings that have gone to seed. The weed seeds will germinate and you will have the very problem you are trying to eliminate.

You may have also seen various plastic or synthetic landscape fabrics in the garden store. They are available in several thicknesses and a variety of colors. These can be very effective if applied properly and covered with 2″ to 4″ of a natural mulch – it takes away the artificial look. Landscape fabrics are a very heavy weave of plastic material. They are guaranteed for 5 to 15 years. Most fabrics are permeable to water. Cover them with a natural mulch. Be aware that not only will you have to renew the mulch from time to time, but you should remove any weeds that get started in the mulch. If they ever put down roots through the fabric, they will be virtually impossible to remove.

The same applies to plastic covers. Both landscape fabric and the plastic come in rolls. The material should be cut to fit your bed and held down by garden staples at the edges. Bury the edges under several inches of soil to keep the material in place and to give the garden a finished appearance. Leave a generous cut-out around the crown of your plants and shrubs so they can breathe and water can get to them. Remember plastic is impermeable to water. It will maintain the moisture beneath it, but there has to be some space around the plant to let the water in. If you are using the plastic to change soil temperature or to influence plant growth, do not cover it with natural mulch, and make sure the plastic is in close contact with the soil.

Plastics come in several colors. There is research to show that red plastics can increase tomato yields; blue helps potatoes; orange, turnips. You may also see white or silver plastic. These colors seem to keep down aphids and other insects. Avoid yellow at all costs; it attracts a wide variety of insects, especially cucumber beetles. There is a reason Japanese beetle traps are yellow! Regardless of color, plastic will degrade over time and will have to be replaced every growing season if it is to be effective.

For a more successful and labor-free summer garden, don’t forget to put down mulch.

Guide to Container Gardens

Affirm, so you’ve been to your most loved garden nursery and chose plants that match the sun and shade necessities of your area. You have a compartment sufficiently extensive to hold adequate soil to bolster the underlying foundations of your plants and above all has a seepage opening. Presently what? What do you do beside grow a fruitful compartment plant?

# Plant your blossoms utilizing quality gardening soil. This is not an ideal opportunity to be cheap. There are numerous quality gardening soils accessible, most with moderate discharge manures. Never utilize the dirt from your garden in your holders, it’s much too overwhelming and reduced for the underlying foundations of your plants.

# Plant your plants level with the top of the pot or maybe a ½” below. After the first couple of gentle waterings the soil settles anyways. If you plant two or three inches below the top of your containers, your flowers will spend the first few weeks of spring just trying to get to the lip of the pot. Your pots will look much fuller if you plant them close to the top of the pot.

# For lush overflowing containers, plant your flowers next to each other, about an inch or so apart. They do not have to be spaced as far apart like you would if you were planting directly in the ground. Remember you are controlling their environment so you can push the envelope a bit.

# Water…..the secret ingredient to fabulous containers! Containers need to be watered daily. Ideally it’s best to water in the morning so the plants are fortified for the heat of the day. Every time your container dries out and the plants collapse, they lose a little of their vigor. So it’s important to water regularly and sufficiently. Water the container until it runs out the bottom of the pot. You’ll notice as the plants grow you’ll need more water that when the container was first planted.

# The companion to water is fertilizer, also essential for successful containers. Despite using potting soil with fertilizers included, your plants will need a boost of nutrients during the season. I usually start using a liquid fertilizer a month after my plants are first planted, then every other week after that. Remember you are watering daily and many of the nutrients leach out of the soil. Plus you have a lot of plants in a relatively small space and they will quickly use up the nutrients in the soil, especially as they grow bigger as the summer progresses. Even fertilizing your containers only once during the season will be a help. Be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s directions on the liquid fertilizer.

#6 And finally take a little time each week to keep your containers looking attractive. Remove spent blooms, not only will your plants look better but they’ll produce more flowers. Don’t be afraid to do some judicious trimming, some plants get unruly in the summer and want to take over the container. Most plants will grow back if you overdue it but you may want to hold off on serious trimming until after your garden party.

Simple Composting Tips

Fertilizer is a cultivator’s answer for pretty much any dirt issue. The meaning of manure is essentially, “A rotted blend of natural material that is utilized to enhance the dirt in a garden.” For myself, I just wouldn’t know how to plant without it.

The most widely recognized essential elements for us home nursery workers are garden cuttings, leaves, pine needles, kitchen junk, grass clippings, espresso beans, tea sacks, and creature excrement from herbivores, for example, stallions, dairy cattle, sheep, chickens; never include canine or feline fertilizer. Never use meat products, grease or scraps. At whatever time you dump a spent plant from a grower containing old preparing blend, whether inside or out, put it right on the fertilizer heap. The main exemption would be if the plant material is infected

Materials in the compost decompose when tiny organisms in the soil begin their work of eating and digesting the raw materials causing the pile to heat up and ” cook”. While working, these microorganisms are producing the carbon dioxide the plants need to grow. In order to do their work, they need water and oxygen. They also need a balance between nitrogen and carbon. In general, the green-colored additions to your pile are the nitrogen, and the brown is the carbon, but like all rules, there are exceptions. For instance, both coffee grounds and animal manure are considered “green” because they are each high in nitrogen.

You want to turn or stir your pile to allow air to circulate, you want to keep it moist, but never drenched, and you want to layer and mix the brown with the green. A big pile of green grass clippings will just lay there and stink. A big pile of brown leaves will stay whole and crisp for a long time. Mix them together, and they will quickly decompose into a valuable soil additive.

The best way to make compost is to gather all your raw materials together, then build the pile all at once layering the green with the brown keeping in mind that you need considerably more carbon than nitrogen. Using this method will get your pile to heat up sufficiently to kill unwanted seeds.

Even though the best way is to layer, measure, and mix, it is possible to simply throw all your garden waste in a big pile and leave it alone. It will eventually decompose and become compost. The mixing and measuring simply speed up the process. The contrast between the two methods tells you that you can’t go too far wrong.

My compromise is to use two open cedar bins side by side. I dump the raw materials into one bin as they become available, then immediately cover them with some unfinished compost from the second bin. (Never leave kitchen scraps uncovered as they tend to attract unwanted night visitors.) As I cover the fresh additions each day, I am slowly turning the pile. I continue until the first bin is completely empty, then reverse the process. I NEVER add weeds that have gone to seed, or the seed heads of the many self-seeding plants that I grow in my garden.

During the summer, when leaves are not readily available, the bulk of the new additions tend to be green, so the question becomes, where to get the brown? Shredded black print newspapers, straw and ground up corn stalks are some good carbon additions. Using the unfinished compost to cover the fresh additions seems to be the key for me as that unfinished compost is brimming full of the microorganisms needed to break down the new additions.

Many of my neighbors rake leaves in the fall and put them into trash bags for disposal. I often collect these bags and store them under my deck to use throughout the summer.

Mowed grass is both a blessing and a curse to the compost pile. Nothing heats up my compost faster than freshly-mowed grass, but too much stagnates the pile. Therefore, we spread it on in a thin layer and cover it with brown material. A very simplified measuring stick offered by Lee Reich, soil scientist and contributing editor to Fine Gardening Magazine, is this: if your pile doesn’t heat up, it needs more nitrogen. If it stinks, it needs more carbon. How simple is that?

A final concept to understand about composting is that the smaller and softer the pieces, the quicker they will decompose. A shredder is a great help for chopping the components so they will digest quicker. If you don’t own one, using your clippers to cut up pieces of garden waste will help speed things along. Use only healthy plants, discard anything that is diseased.

Compost is the ultimate recycler. Reusing the cuttings that come from your soil returns nutrients to your garden. The more waste products you compost, the less you are sending off to our landfills. The more compost you make, the less commercial fertilizer you will need to purchase.

Know These Common Garden Mistakes

Ok, the chipper, charming vision of planting an excellent garden. Hold that idea! On the off chance that you are genuinely new to cultivating, you should know a couple of things that will keep you out of inconvenience. Indeed, even furnished with cultivating know-how and planting counsel, being a planter implies, in addition to other things, committing errors.

Above all else, before setting any blossom, vegetable, vine, tree, or bush into the ground, you should set up the dirt. You can buy the most elevated review plant material accessible; yet in the event that your dirt is not legitimately arranged, your garden might be bound to disappointment. Know your dirt. You can begin with top soil on the off chance that you wish; but since without anyone else it is too overwhelming and thick and is constrained because of porosity, water maintenance and absence of supplements, you should add lighter material to it.

You may add any of the following materials to top soil to make it “good” gardening soil: sphagnum peat moss (aerates the soil to promote strong root systems, helps retain moisture and nutrients); perlite (white, lightweight little “pebbles” that improve aeration and drainage and help promote root development); vermiculite (similar to perlite); humus (rich, dark soil); composted cow manure (contains a wide range of minerals and nutrients, adds to the composition of the soil and holds moisture). Do not use fresh manure as it can burn young plants; composted manure has no offensive odor. A generally acceptable mixture is two-thirds soil and one third amendments, well mixed.

Know your conditions. For example, do not plant impatiens where they will receive 6 to 8 hours of sun daily because they will not survive. A better choice of annuals for that space would be petunias, verbena, geraniums, daisies, vinca, or cosmos. Plant your impatiens in a place that receives either a little morning sun with shade the rest of the day or where they receive dappled shade all day.

Do some planning. Another common error beginning gardeners make is to pack the garden with as much as possible. Allow room for growth and spreading. To do justice to a plant is to give it room to grow and be as attractive as it was meant to be. One of my more easily corrected mistakes was when I planted “Gayfeather” liatris in front of tall garden phlox. I didn’t allow for the fact that the liatris was the tallest variety and grew to 5 feet, so the poor “tall” garden phlox disappeared into the back of beyond and they’re too gorgeous not to be seen. I’ve moved them now.

Plant at the proper depth. A very common error is planting too deep. It’s a natural inclination to plant a somewhat floppy-stemmed annual out of a market pack deep into the soil in order to support its stems. However, it’s not a good idea. Instead, the floppy-stemmed plant should be pinched back from the top, then planted so that the rootball sticks out of the soil just a fraction of an inch.

While on the subject of planting in general, when you remove a plant from the container in which you purchased it, be sure to look carefully at the rootball. Half of the rootball will probably be bound up or encircled in its own roots. Before planting, the rootball must be opened and the roots separated, or the plant will just continue to be root-bound and will simply not grow. Opening up the rootball will allow the roots to spread.

Purchase healthy plants. This practice greatly increases your chances of success. Beware of spindly, dry, browned, or droopy looking plants. Symptoms like these often mean they were not well cared for and will probably not make it through the growing season.

Water well. A common mistake is to give the garden a light sprinkle and let it go at that. After you plant anything, be sure to soak it immediately and thoroughly. Be careful of sprinklers; remember that they only water the foliage. In the hot summer, most of that water evaporates before it does any good, and the roots rarely get the water they need. Water deeply, not daily.

Watering well promotes the development of a deep and extensive root system. Frequent and light watering only promotes shallow rooting. The preferred deep-rooted plants will be able to survive hot dry weather much better because their roots will be able to reach the moisture deep in the soil. Generally speaking, a flower garden needs at least one inch of water per week. You need to remember, too, that over-watering will wash the nutrients out of the soil and also encourage the spread of fungal diseases.

Gardening is a labor of love for most of us, mistakes and all; and if you realize that mistakes are actually important in the learning process, it will help keep your frustration level down. Happy gardening from a gardener who is still making mistakes and still learning – there’s hope for all of us.

Gardening in Raised Beds

A few changes are being made at the Trial Gardens at the Ag Center on Old Harrisburg Rd. The most evident is the bringing of the beds up in the Trial Gardens. Half of them have been raised for this present year with the rest of the slated to be finished one year from now.

Cultivating in raised beds, a typical practice in America since pioneer times, is getting a charge out of a resurgence of ubiquity among home producers whether it is for raising vegetables, blooms or even a few natural products, for example, strawberries and raspberries. There are various motivations to have raised beds, including poor under soil, restricted space, waste, low areas inclined to ponding and simplicity of working. Our issue at the Ag Center was waste. The ground there inclines sufficiently only to support washouts amid overwhelming electrical storms.

The “raised” part means that the soil level in the bed is higher than the surrounding soil, and “bed” implies a size small enough to work without actually stepping into the bed. The bed should be no wider than 4 feet, but length can be whatever suits the site or the gardener’s needs. Wider beds can be subdivided into sections accessible from planks or stepping stones. The bed does not have to be enclosed or framed. If unframed, the use of power tillers is feasible. However, framing offers several other opportunities and a properly maintained bed will not need power cultivation.

Perhaps the most important advantage of a raised bed is more production per square foot of garden. In a traditional, straight-rows garden, good management may yield about 0.6 pounds of vegetables per square foot. Production over three years in a raised bed at Dawes Arboretum in Ohio has averaged 1.24 pounds per square foot, more than double the conventional yield. In my own garden I raise potatoes in an 8 foot by 12 foot bed and consistently get two bushels or more each year. Raised beds do not require the usual space between rows because no walking is done in the beds to cultivate during the growing season. Vegetables are planted in beds at higher densities – ideally spaced just far enough apart to avoid crowding but close enough to shade weeds.

Another reason for greater production in a given space is the improvement of soil conditions. Soil compaction can reduce crop yields up to 50 percent. Water, air and roots all have difficulty moving through soil compressed by tractors, tillers or human feet.

Raised beds also help with water conservation since you are able to water only the area that is actually growing the crops. No need to water the paths and the area between rows as is done in most gardens. There are several watering systems that ensure the water gets only where it is needed. Canvas soaker hoses, perforated plastic sprinkle hoses and drip-type irrigation disperse water in a long, narrow pattern well suited to raised beds.

There are only a few guidelines to remember in raised bed construction: Keep the beds narrow and match their length to the site and the watering system. A north-south orientation is best for low-growing crops, allowing direct sunlight to both sides of the bed. Beds that will contain taller crops such as pole beans, trellised peas or caged tomatoes might do better on an east-west axis with the lower-growing crops planted on the south side of the bed to take advantage of the sun.

The advantages of raised beds are many. Beds elevated 2 feet or more offer the promise of gardening without bending and can have benches built on the side for even more convenience. Because a raised bed warms up quicker than the surrounding ground, it can easily double as a cold frame by covering it with a lightweight clear plastic cover. Imagine being able to start plants early in covered beds and never having to transplant them.

Yes, raised beds are enjoying a resurgence of popularity. Why not think about them for your own home.

Gardening in Small Space, Here Its Tips

In spite of the fact that our property isn’t little, we have a couple of “little spaces”. These spaces have been made through sitting territories, bunches of trees, and utilitarian structures.

When we first manufactured our home 19 years back, we planted numerous tree seedlings with the trust of making some of these uncommon spaces. One such space is our birch tree forest. We planted what now has all the earmarks of being five cluster birch trees, yet in actuality it was three seedlings we planted in each of the five gaps, making that characteristic bunch influence. Part of the forest is under-planted with Ilex verticillata – winterberry hollies. Since the trees are develop and the garden shaded, I have included Christmas greeneries, Heuchera (coral chimes), and Packera aurea (ragwort) and Thermopsis caroliniana (false lupine) to the bed, making an exceptionally characteristic, insinuate space, all shades of yellow and green. This space is most likely around 20’x10′, so there’s not a great deal of any one plant, but rather a decent assortment with fascinating surfaces and hues.

This space can further be developed by adding a small seating area and a few containers for additional color. Suddenly within a large space, a small garden that can be viewed and experienced in a very personal way has been created.

Another fun small area is by our patio. The two trees that shade it are paperbark maple and pagoda dogwood. Both are small trees, about 20’ tall. The Acer griseum, paperbark maple, has interesting peeling bark. I have pruned it so the bark is visible while sitting on the patio. This tree also gets a wonderful orange-red fall color. The Cornus alternifolia, pagoda dogwood, has low branches that just about hit the ground with white flowers in May. These trees have created a small understory area that I have a collection of shade perennials like hosta, ferns and hellebores. Each of these perennial plants has unique textures and foliage colors that can be seen and enjoyed close up – the beauty of a small garden.

Small spaces do not mean that gardening cannot be done. As a matter of fact, I enjoy small spaces better than large areas. Plants are seen individually and enjoyed up close, as opposed to mass planting and quick viewing. Small areas allow us to really work with different textures, shape and colors. Maintaining them is even more enjoyable. Weeding is easy and can be accomplished in a quick manner.

There are some limitations, however. We can’t plant everything. Site analysis, like understanding the sun, wind and soil will define the plant community. Not always in a small space can vegetables be planted. If there are trees shading the garden, you will be limited to ornamentals and not edibles, although a shade garden will allow for a great place to have a few chairs for relaxing.

Sun allows for edibles and ornamentals, but if a sitting area is needed provisions by umbrellas or some type of trellising will have to be considered. Deciduous flowering shrubs can be easily used in a sun garden, remembering that many flowering shrubs can get some great size to them. Using them individually as focal points or pruned into more of a tree form can make a great impact on a small garden.

Vegetables can be introduced in a sun garden within the planting beds mixed in with the ornamentals, allowing you to really work with textures and colors. Having great fruit color and interesting leaf texture makes some vegetable plants a great addition to a perennial bed. For instance the fern like leaves of the asparagus is a great background plant. The course texture of zucchini leaves make a great accent plant, and the climbing ability of a cherry tomato is great for on a trellis, as the red tomatoes are quite pretty.

Imagine sitting at a small bistro table with your best friend under an umbrella with a climbing cherry tomato plant behind you and plucking those tomatoes as a snack while relaxing. And in the corner of your small garden is a Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’, an dark leafed ninebark, growing as a focal point, reaching 8’ high with peeling bark and allowed to arch over a ground cover of strawberries that you picked and made some jelly. And how about a small birdbath in the other corner that has a few Deutizia gracilis ‘Nikko’, a dwarf deutzia that gets white flowers in the spring, at the base? Mix in a few sun perennials like Phlox paniculata (garden phlox) and Rudbeckia hirta (black eyed susan) and your small garden is filled with blooming plants to be enjoyed throughout the seasons.

Small spaces are synonymous with the use of containers. Container gardening allows a person to grow multiple types of plants in areas that have hard surfaces, like patios, decks and walkways. Typically we think of container gardening as growing annuals. So plants like geraniums, petunias, and million bells are often what we might envision. However, container gardening can be so much more. Vegetables, perennials and even small shrubs can be grown.

When choosing the container, consider what type of plants you will be growing in them, how big the plants are going to get and how much sun they will need. The sunnier the location, the more likely a pot that is plastic, or something other than clay, should be used. Clay, although looks great, dries out very quickly and watering daily is imperative. However, in the shade, a clay pot will do just fine.

The type of plants grown in containers will determine the size of the pot. For instance, vegetables require large pots – 16″ or larger, depending on the plant. Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers would need a minimum of a 16″ pot, but if lettuce is your vegetable of choice, a smaller pot will do. Annuals plants are great in containers for quick color, and a variety of container sizes can be used.

Potting mix is important when growing in containers. There are many on the market. Whenever we talk about growing plants, we always start with the soil, and container gardening is no different in that aspect. However, the soil we use is soilless mixes. These are the mixes we purchase, not dig up from our yards. Soilless mixes are used because they do not compact and harden in containers like native soil does, and they are sterile, so do not carry and soil-borne diseases that can pass onto the plants. Many potting mixes are peat based, however, some mixes contain peanut shells, composted bark, or even coir. Coir is natural fiber made from the husk of coconuts.

Don’t limit yourself to turf and annuals in a small space – think about flowering shrubs, small trees, perennials and vegetables. If you have a small space, go crazy and design a great garden. Enjoy the space and all that can be done within that garden.