Category Archives: Gardening

Nifty and Thrifty General Garden

It’s easy these days to be blinded by horticultural science and bewildered by the array of new and complicated products on sale for the garden. But look back a few years and use some good old practical know-how and you’ll find some amazing money-saving, nifty alternative ways of growing plants and maintaining your garden.

General garden tips

Egg-box seed trays – use cardboard egg boxes as seed trays. Not only do they provide the perfect home for a seedling to grow, but when ready to be planted out, each cup can be individually cut out and planted straight into the ground where the cardboard will disintegrate and the plant roots can grow undisturbed.

Newspaper also makes great pots for seedlings. Invest in a paper pot maker and save on plastic pots! Just like the egg boxes, seedlings can be planted straight into the ground where the newspaper will provide protection for the seedling until it eventually rots.

Save all those lolly pop sticks in summer – they make excellent plant labels. You can also use plastic yoghurt pots – cut the sides into strips and write on them with a permanent marker pen.

Old tights and stockings make very good plant ties. They are strong but soft, so won’t harm the plant stems.

To help germinate peas, beans and sweet pea seeds soak them in cold water for a day. This helps the tough outer shell of the seed to break open which then helps to speed up germination. This process is called ‘chitting’.

Use a wire brush to remove rust from garden tools and then rub in some linseed oil to help protect.

Use a weak solution of water and washing up liquid to control green fly on roses and other plants. Planting garlic cloves around your rose bush also helps!

Natural fertilizers

If you like a boiled egg for breakfast, save the shells as well as the boxes. Crushed egg shells make excellent fertilizer when worked into the soil. There is also evidence that the sharp edges of crushed egg shell can help keep slugs and snails away from precious young plants.

Used coffee granules can help provide acid in alkaline soil. They too have some success against slugs and snails when sprinkled around the base of plants.

Use the nutrients from the water of a fish tank to feed plants in outdoor planters.

Ash from wood fires, or wood burning stoves, makes a useful additive to the compost heap. It can be also be applied directly to the ground and dug in as a natural source of potassium and trace elements. It also has a liming effect, so wood ash can remedy excessively acidic soils.

Tips for garden birds and wildlife

For a good all round bird feed in winter try whizzing the crusts of brown or wholemeal bread, a few peanuts and a handful of porridge oats in the food processor to make it easier for the birds to eat.

Make your own suet feed by saving bacon or port meat dripping. You can also use lard. Melt suet and peanut butter together until they are smooth and liquid. Add cornmeal and flour and mix well. Allow the mixture to cool slightly to thicken, pour it into molds or containers to use. Refrigerate or freeze suet until it is firm and you are ready to use it. You can also add unsalted nuts, dried fruit and honey to your mixture.

Top Gardening Tips For Spring

It is nearly that time of year again. When we put on a hat and gardening gloves, and step outside to bask in the sun and play in the dirt. Gardening has always been an interesting piece of my life, when I was a child I would cry if I had dirty hands and gloves were not my favorite fashion accessory. So when I moved to Erie I knew I HAD to learn how to get over the dirt phobia and grow all the beautiful flowers and produce that I dreamed that I could. So I have come up with a few tips that I have learned through trial, error and a little education.

Top 8 Gardening Tips:

1. Plan ahead. Determine how much space you have and where it is, preferably sunny and free from any kid or pet disturbances. Plan what you want to plant, draw a picture to help get an idea of where things will fit and how. Don’t forget to include the different planting stages early spring, late spring, early summer, late summer and fall.

2. While planning, think about going for quality not quantity. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. My first year, although I did plan for space, I did not know how much each plant would produce. As a result, I had more tomatoes than I could eat or give away, and not nearly enough of some of the other items, such as cucumbers because the quality of the plants were not as good as they could have been. Quality plants can be a little pricier but they will deliver quality produce.

3. Plant complementary plants to help your garden be its best. This may be to help each plant grow better or maybe help repel pests. We all have complementary friends so your plants should too!

4. Think outside the box! Not every garden has to be in perfect rows. If you are short on space think about taking it vertical or use some different types of containers and the results will amaze you.

5. Work with your soil. Poor soil quality will damage your best efforts. There are many things you can do to help, but the first step should be testing a soils pH. Kits are available online or even at your local home improvement store.

6. Recycle your waste to help give your garden a little miracle encouragement. Composting is a great way to go. In my experience composting can be as complicated or as simple as you make it. I believe that if something is simple you are more likely to do it so start there and then progress if you want. If composting isn’t your thing, you could always just do a few things such as adding coffee grounds and egg shells. They both have great properties for nutrition as well as pest deterrence.

7. Pest… Well as a girl from the city, one of the hardest things for me has been dealing with pests. My husband jokes that we spend a lot of time and effort to make the pests disappear for me. However, in gardening there are good pests that are certainly required! So my tip is supply your garden with the good and helpful pests like ladybugs, lacewigs and ground beetles that will feast on the aphids, slugs and mites that make a sad garden. If you find a praying mantis in your garden, it will also help with keeping those pesky pests away. Lastly, don’t forget about those great earthworms for mixing up the soil. Either way lesson learned for me that not all bugs are bad!

Gardening Tips For Beginners

Looking for the right gardening tips for beginners? Look no further! Here are two tips to help get started with your new garden quickly and cheaply.

1. Check the recycling bin for supplies

You don’t have to spend a lot money to get some decent containers to start a vegetable container garden. Just take some scissors and fashion your containers from the items you found. Things like empty milk gallons and cups of yogurt can work really well. Just keep an open mind, and the ideas will come.

2. Be creative

You could even turn old mugs and ceramic bowls into containers. Don’t overlook egg containers; they can be used when the plants are small and young. Regardless of what you choose to use, make sure that you put a hole on the bottom of these containers to drain out excess fluid.

3. Note any discounts

During gardening season you can sometimes get very lucky and find some useful tools at dollar stores and places similar. So if you don’t like the idea of making the containers yourself, then no problem. You can find a lot of helpful things at these stores.

If they don’t have what you are looking for, you can always resort to ceramic ware and bowls as mentioned before. Also look out for the seeds of the vegetables you desire to plant; they may be in stock at these kinds of stores as well. Little watering cans and towels alike are two other things that you should keep an eye out for.

Garden Tips for Planting

Spring time comes and with it comes the time to plant your garden. Garden tips range from the type of soil to plant in to ways to water your plants in order to get a full yield.However, when planting grape tomato seeds, the main garden tip is to plant them in a container inside. This will help keep them warm and give them a safe growing environment.

The best garden tip for planting sweet grape tomatoes is to prepare the soil properly. Using a good soil is essential and it doesn’t hurt to beef it up a bit. Depending upon where you live, soil can range anywhere from very fertile to don’t plant here dirt. When living in an area that has dirt that is not ideal for planting, go to a garden store and ask what type of soil they advise. The more fertile the soil, the better the plants will grow. If organic grape tomatoes are what you seek, using ordinary potting soil and an indoor container will keep the insects away and will make the tomatoes pesticide free.

Container gardening will help those who live in apartments or houses without large yards grow tomatoes indoors. These containers range from the average flower pot to multi-plant containers that can hold up to a dozen small plants. Another form of container gardening is to rent or buy a hydroponics system to grow your tomatoes in water. Growing grape tomatoes in a hydroponics system guarantees a completely organic, juicy, and super sweet grape tomatoes. The only problem with using a hydroponics system is finding a way to prop growing tomato plants up while they scale to new heights.

The greatest garden tip that you’ll ever receive is to water your plants. The more water that a tomato contains, the more watering it will need. Tomatoes are approximately ninety percent water and if they are not watered enough they will end up being shriveled and sour. No one likes a sour grape tomato, so keep your tomatoes warm and the soil wet and you’ll have super sweet grape tomatoes growing in no time.

Garden and Garden Tips

Well the weather has been a repeat of last week, one day brilliant sunshine so we can get out and about in the garden, the next torrential rain and we are all stuck indoors. Mind you we should not really be surprised, it is Wimbledon this week after all, and Wimbledon is generally a washout! I think this weather is driving us all a little crazy.

The same is true about our dog Rusty as well, one day out playing till his hearts content, but the next he is in a great big hump because he cannot get outside in the garden, well actually he is a fair weather dog and does not like getting wet himself no matter how you try to lure him. He certainly is a dog with attitude, he also has attributes usually connected to camels when there is prolonged rain! Nothing will get him wet.

I bet like us you were looking forward to relaxing in the garden with a good book and a cool drink,or catching up on some of those missed zzzzzzzzz’s., looks like we will have to think again.

The longest day of the year has just passed, and with July just around the corner will summer ever make it. The long term weather forecasters should be sacked, earlier this year they were forecasting one of the hottest years yet, but the way it is going the only record we are likely to break is for the amount of rain. Only yesterday 3 people died in freak flash flooding with hundreds made homeless, not very nice. For some unfortunate people this is the second time this year that they have been hit by floods causing damage and devastation. And of course in the future they might not be able to get house insurance to cover any further disasters, nice hey!!!

Garden tips

As usual just whip that how around the garden to remove any weeds, although if you have been doing this regularly there should be hardly any, but it is good to break the soil, aerating it and keeping the soil loose. A good tip for those of you who have a wisteria is to give it a good prune back. Prune the new growth back to the fifth bud, this may seem a little harsh as you should have carried out a main prune in February, but it will keep it compact and you will end up with a more proliferous flowering and better looking shrub. After all that is what we all want to achieve in our gardens and wisteria is such a showy member in the garden, it takes a lot to beat them.

Another good garden tip is to make sure you keep dead heading your roses, this encourages the new blooms and extends the flowering season. Now is also a critical time to keep an eye on the roses for pests and signs of rust and take action by regular spraying. Aphids are a nuisance around the garden this time of year, your broad beans are likely to be host to black fly, so watch out and the minute you see them nip all the tips out, that should stop them in their tracks.

When we have a break out of pests on anything in our garden, we generally use just soapy water, there are many many pesticide sprays on sale, but these can be detrimental to your health, whereas soapy water is kind to the environment and yourself. If you go to EzineArticles.com you will find a good article on garden and house plant sprays called – ‘Pesticides – Tumour Risks In Houseplant Pesticides’

Lawns

Well the grass on our lawns just keeps growing and growing. Unfortunately so does a lot of other unwanted weeds like clover. This is ideal growing conditions for clover to thrive and multiply in. Although it keeps your lawns looking green it does not do your grass any good what so ever, as it ends up choking and smothering it. Go straight down to your local garden center and buy something to get rid of it before it spreads too much. Do not forget that if you do use weed killers, do not use the clippings on your compost for at least three cuts after application. Talking about compost heaps do not forget to turn them often, that means the bottom of the heap should be put on to the top of the heap.

Gardens, Garden Tips

Hi everyone

The cold weather has now arrived, although it is still warmer than it should be at this time of year. It is also a lot dryer too and that has allowed us to catch up with our workload.

Rusty our dog has been enjoying himself with this good weather out in the garden. He has been taking advantage of my wife Sandra because of the dry warm spell she has been outside in the garden. This means he has been able to have his ball thrown for him to chase. One happy and content dog, also he does have a walk every day around the village when weather permits.

Sandra is going to Egypt shortly for seven days to help her chest as she suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). I must admit until my wife was diagnosed with COPD I had no idea what it was. The long and the short of it, is that she has lung damage due to pneumonia that she had when she was a child and until quite recently did not know there was a problem.

We have been absolutely thrilled with our experiment of planting runner beans in pots late in the season when the beans planted in the garden were coming to an end as it was a complete success. We are eating fresh tender beans now and for probably for another two weeks at least.

If you want to read more about what we did with the beans see previous Gardens, Garden Tips articles

Garden Tips

You should have done all your pruning and cutting back in the garden by now, but if you have not there is still time. This is also a good time to prepare the garden areas for next year by digging over all the bare ground ready for next years planting. It will pay you to dig in some good old manure that will nourish the ground.

A good garden tip if you do not want to mess around with wheel barrowing the manure to the garden is to buy some tubs of chicken pellets and spread them over the surface before digging (a real back saver).

The lawns are still growing but at a slower rate. Do not be scared to give them a cut as it will make them look good and will not waste their energy in maintaining the extra length in the plant. Make sure any leaves are raked, blown, vacuumed, brushed or lawn mowed up and then put on the compost heap.

Gardens – Garden Tips

Another hectic week in the gardens, the phone has been ringing non- stop this week with everyone wanting something carried out in either their front or back garden, but as usual the trouble is that they want it done yesterday! Unfortunately it does not work like that, with some customers getting quite upset because you say there is a waiting list; luckily these people are in the minority.

Some clients make us smile after telling them there is a waiting list they respond with “but we only live in the next village” we just grin and say politely “it does not matter whether they live next door or 100 miles away there is still the same waiting list” and the response is generally “can’t you just squeeze us in”.

We do make every effort to help these people out, as we know that when you have made your mind up to get something done you just want to get on with it, so we will try and help them by passing them on to a couple of good friends of ours in the same line of business, but quite often the people who contact us have been recommended to us by friends and family where we have worked and so the list goes on as they then become quite willing to wait until we can carry out the required work in their gardens.

Garden Tips

As the last article on advice and tips on laying a new lawn in your garden we thought we would carry on the theme. Yours garden lawns need to be de-thatched or scarified, what this means is that all the dead bits of grass that have found their way down to the bottom and the grass blades that are laying on the surface need to be brought back up to the surface and disposed of.

There are two different ways of doing this, the first method and the hardest is to rake it by hand, this is carried out by using a lawn rake – the type with the springy tines.

Place the rake down on to the lawn, stand sideways to the rake so it goes diagonally across your body, now place one hand at the top of garden rake and the other about half way down and pull back rake with a slight upward arc so that you flick the tines on the rake. Repeat this process, getting in a rhythm, you will find that it will bring the dead grass and moss to surface just leaving the blades of grass standing up with the ground being nice and clear. A good garden tip is to then just run your mower over the lawn and collect all the rubbish.

Method two and three

You can buy a mower with an interchangeable head that you can use or you can hire a dedicated scarifier from a local hire company or even some large DIY outlets.

These machines are used just the same as if you were cutting the grass. Just go up and down covering the lawn with a slight overlap on the previous pass. Once you have covered the complete area use your mower to collect all the rubbish up that was brought to the surface. Once this is carried out do another complete scarifying of the whole area but at a 90 degree angle to the previous one, then just as before pick up all the rubbish with your mower.

Two good garden tips here are if you have an interchangeable head it is best to borrow a neighbours mower to collect the rubbish so you save time changing heads and also do not put the rubbish you collect on your compost heap, bag it up and take to your local recycling centre.

If you need to hire a scarifier another good tip would be to share it with your friends and neighbours, keeping costs to a minimum and everybody will benefit from having great looking healthier lawns next season.

Basic Home Gardening Tips

Home gardening can be very rewarding and it really isn’t that hard! Here’s some tips for growing any kind of plant including flowers, herbs and vegetables that are sure to help you develop your green thumb.

There are 3 basic things that you need to know to succeed in home gardening and that is that plants need light, water and soil to survive. If any one of these 3 elements is not adequate, it will result in weak plants. Luckily, it is pretty easy to get enough of all for your plants and the plants themselves usually come with directions on what they need.

Light

In general, most plants need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Some more and some less so be sure to read the tags that come with your plants for best results! Study your yard or garden area throughout the day to figure out how much sun it really gets and be sure to place your plants where they will have the best chance of thriving. You can buy plants that like full sun,. partial sun and shade so there are plants that will be happy in every type of yard or garden.

Water

One of the most important home gardening tips has to do with water. Plants need water to survive but too much of it is a bad thing! You want to be sure they get enough water so that the soil is not hard and dry, but you never want to have standing water around your plant. Plants in containers will need to be watered more than those in the ground and more watering is necessary in summer months. When watering try not to splash water on the leaves and petals of your plants as this can promote disease – a garden soaker hose is ideal for this.

Soil

Plants need nutrient which they typically get from the soil. Be sure to use a rich soil that is fortified with fertilizer appropriate for what you are planting. You want your soil to be a bit loose so the roots can easily spread and grow. Nutrients can also be delivered to plants through water which is what hydroponic gardening is based on. With hydropinics you grow plants in a water solution – no soil needed!

EZ Gardening Tips

Gardening is a very rewarding and enjoyable hobby to get involved in. whether you are a complete novice or a die hard pro there is always room to expand. There are many things to keep in mind when first starting a garden one of which is to begin on a small scale. I would suggest an area no bigger then 20×30 feet because this will give you a space where you can grow about 30 plants depending on the size of the various plants. By starting small you can try out your skills and see if enlarging the plot is something you would want to do. Enlarging your garden is something you can always do. Moving from garden hose to fancy sprinkler system is always a blast.

Some useful gardening tips:

The very first thing you want to do is go and find your self the perfect area for your new garden. You should try and find a place that gets sunlight for the better part of the day. Even better would be the whole day. Though if in a place where the climate gets extremely hot that more shade is a good idea. Of course sometimes full sunlight is not always a reality so fear not there are many plants that can grow in the shade. Just head down to the local nursery and ask them for advice they are usually very helpful.

The next thing to think about is the soil. The soil for your garden is the backbone of your greenery. A rotten bag of soil can really hamper your ability to grow anything and cause nothing but headaches. There are different types of soil for different gardens but one common thread is to completely strip your garden area off all debris with a garden tiller if you have one if not a shovel will work. If this is done correctly it will be the best preventative measure against bugs fungus and disease.

When growing a vegetable or an herb garden you will always want to shy away from normal fertilizers and pesticides. There are many organic and chemical free alternatives now on the market. A backyard compost heal works the best but wood much can also suffice. Using a garden tiller to ensure that the soil is mixed well is always recommended. For a standard plant garden that excludes edible plants you can pick and choose fertilizer based on the type of plants. Once again head down to the local nursery and ask them which ones work best for what plants. As previously stated a good ole garden hose might suffice to water a small garden but if it gets bigger a sprinkler system or a drip system should be installed.

A very good idea when planning your garden is to arrange the plants together in groups from small to large growth. The small ones in the front and the big ones in the back. That way you can utilize the space most efficiently. It is also very important to plant in the correct calender month. The perfect time is usually spring but it does very from plant to plant.

A few more notes about watering your garden are keep the water more in the hot months and less in the colder months. Automatic sprinkler systems can pretty much make gardens go on auto pilot . You can also install an automatic drip system. These are sometimes preferred because they are much more efficient due to the fact that they drop water right on the plant and do not water unnecessary area. I suggest installing on of these auto systems if your planting area gets big because it can take a load off!

To bring it all together… A garden can take some work but if you collect the right tools like a tiller and an automatic watering system it will make things easier. The four basic steps to a garden are: Find the perfect area for your garden, create and mix the soil that will be best for your garden, organize the plants by size and features, then plan how you are going to water that place. With a little bit of detective work and time you will have one bang up garden. i hope these gardening tips helped. For a more i depth look at gardening you can visit the site below.

Container Gardening Tips For Amazing Plants

It’s often overlooked that Container Gardening can be a life long passion, a creative and artist hobby, and a simple and effective way to create a stylish, clean and inviting home, a great way to eat healthy organic foods, and an amazing way to connect with nature.

So if you’ve got itchy green fingers, and want an amazing collection of plants and flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs – just simply follow these key Container Gardening Tips!

The 7 Steps Process to Great Container Gardening

1. Get Your Lighting Right

2. Choose Your Soil

3. Monitor humidity levels

4. Water as required

5. Check temperature

6. How to Choose the right container

7. Food & Nutrients

Lighting

Via photosynthesis, plants absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide to create food. As such light is a very important factor. Try and keep your container plants and flowers near a natural source of light during the day. If you have a dark corner at home or your home does not receive much natural light, use a 150 watt incandescent bulb about 4 – 5 feet away during the day. An even easier way to get some light is to buy a plant stand equipped with a built in lighting system. This is a great way to keep container gardens anywhere around the home. And remember light is only important during the day!

Humidity

The humidity required depends on the nature of the plant. Jungle plants need about 90% humidity, sub-tropical about 50%, temperate zone plants (such as North America and Europe) require 30 – 40% and desert / cacti about 5 %.

Cheap humidity indicators are great at monitoring moisture in the air, however obvious signs of low humidity levels are dry topsoil and wilting leaves. Excess humidity is not often a problem except for desert plants such as cacti. Low humidity levels can be quickly rectified by a spray on the leaves once or twice a day, and by placing a pot on a shallow try of water and small pebbles.

Temperature

Jungle plants thrive at higher temperatures, temperate zone plants thrive at between 90 – 100 F. Container plants, flowers and edibles are able to handle relative lower temperatures at night, as long as they are not too low i.e. near freezing. Tropical plants can handle a minimum of 65 F at night, sub-tropical plants about 55-60 F and temperate zone plants about 45 F.The exception to this are the desert plants such as cacti, which have adapted to the plunging evening temperatures of the desert.

Soil

The vibrant organic environment of jungle plants makes them more conducive to leaf mold and moss, and therefore a more acidic environment. A ph of 5.5 is ideal. A good potting ratio for jungle plants is :

25% organically enriched garden loam
50% leaf mold
25% coarse sand or compost

Temperate zone plants have less organic material to cope with, and a therefore more comfortable with a ph of near neutral i.e. 7.0.

Desert plants prefer a slightly more alkaline soil.

Containers

The material from which the container is made – will affect the rate at which water is sucked out of the soil. Some container gardening enthusiasts can’t stop raving about clay pots, as they remove water at a generally faster rate, preventing water clogging of the roots, and keeping the pot cool. What ever the material , just make sure that their are water holes at the bottom, or material at the base which raises the pot and allows excess water to drain.

Get creative and indulge those container gardening ideas. Choose a variety of container colours, materials and styles to add a bit of sophistication and pizazz to your home.

Water

The amount of water required by a container plant, flower or edible will depend on it’s make up and size, and environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and type of soil, as well as the nature of the container it’s self.

Always check the surface of the soil, and about 1 – 2 inches deep to determine moisture levels and top up as required. Too much water will drown your roots, and too little will dehydrate your plant.

To prevent excess moisture loss, keep a layer of rich top soil or moss on the surface of the soil.

A useful container gardening tip is to never use cold water! This may be too much of a shock to a delicate system. Go with room temperature or slightly above.

Food & Nutrients

Slow release plant-food granules can be added to the compost or potting mix in the recommended quantity before filling the container, or at the sprinkled on the surface of the soil. Pelleted granules can be added about 1 -2 inches under the soil surface. If the soil is nutrient rich, additional food may not be required, however a little extra will go a long way!