Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How To Keep Your GARDEN Healthy In Winter

evergreen perennials in a shade garden under w...
Evergreen perennials in a shade garden under winter light (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Old Man Winters' arrival doesn't mean that the Winter garden can be neglected. Keeping the garden on an even footing against the ravages that winter can bring is ongoing. Neglecting proper garden closing chores and winter maintenance tasks is only a recipe for a headache in the spring. Follow a few of these winter garden tips and a bountiful spring will be waiting in a few months time.

Setting the winter garden table
An interesting to look at and healthy winter garden depends upon taking steps in the late fall or early winter. Clean up the garden. Make sure that any garden trash is picked up before the snow flies. If this "trash" is left behind it presents an opportunity for bacteria to find its way into any cuts in the plant or onto the plant's roots. Bacteria growth, and possible disease, on the plant, is the biggest danger to a winter garden.

Watch out for color when trimming
If you have had your garden for at least one winter season you know what has color during winter and what does not. Trim this color judiciously looking for maverick branches, but be sure to keep the overall form of the shrub so that winter color can shine in a uniform way. If you are not sure, leave it alone and get a feel for what has winter color for next winter. If a shrub has a winter bud on it, leave it be as this is where the flower will come from next spring.

Trim out the cut or torn limbs
Chances are that a torn or cut (looks like a knife cutting into an apple about an eighth of an inch deep) limb will end up dangling, or on the ground, as winter progresses. Take care of it early and your garden will look sturdy and ready for whatever the winter has to offer. Look for a nodule on the limb (looks like a knuckle of sorts) and cut about one-quarter of an inch above it on an angle for a proper cut.

Weed to a clean ground
Weeds also present a messy problem through the winter. Not only will they decay and offer disease potential, they will also continue to grow their roots until the ground freezes hard. This will only make them more invasive in the spring. Besides, if you need to a clean ground you will have a nice clean contrast to the dormant plants in the garden.

A nice clean edge
Unless you are going for a more informal look, give a nice edge job to your garden flower beds before the ground freezes. Not only will this make for a crisp look during the winter months, as the edge freezes, but it will put you one step closer to a solid start in spring.

To wrap or not to wrap
If you look at many winter gardens you may notice that people have wrapped burlap or some other material around their evergreen shrubs. Generally, this is to prevent a snow load or high wind from damaging the plant. Unless you have the potential for a snow load or predictable high winds this is not necessarily needed. The wind issue is an issue, but remember that all plants need air circulation, no matter what type of plant they may be. If you wrap a shrub/plant to tightly air circulation will diminish and present the opportunity for moisture build up and disease. If you wrap your shrubs make sure to do it securely but with air circulation in mind.



It cannot hurt to a mound
Mounding around the base of a plant is intended to give the root systems of a shrub/plant a little extra insulation during hard winters. Depending upon which zone you happen to be gardening in the need for mounding rises and falls. In any case, you want to make sure that you compress the dirt of the mound with a firm push of the hands. This gets some of the air out of the mound and generally makes a mound of dirt look a bit nicer. It also shows that you took a little care in your gardening. This sometimes impresses people that visit your winter garden.

Trees are plants too
Take a few moments to assess your trees before the winter winds start to howl. Look for any branches that may have grown old, look to be growing across the desired vertical path of a properly trimmed tree or have died during the season. What you are looking for is any limb or branch that may rub constantly on another opening a wound in the bark. Generally, you would not want to cut a branch as winter approaches, or during the winter months, but sometimes you need to.




Saturday, October 20, 2018

Preparing The GARDEN For Winter

English: A picture of compost soil
A picture of compost soil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are you like me?  Sad to see the summer end but at the same time relieved that there is one less task to tend to.  Weeding, watering, pruning, and more weeding is over for this year and with a few more chores the outdoor gardening year draws to a close.  Most of what needs to be completed is a matter of cleaning up and covering up.  Practical steps to preparing your outdoor garden for winter involve:

1.  Protecting plants.  There are different opinions concerning whether to cut down or leave plants standing through the winter.  Here on the prairies, most people leave their perennials standing for a variety of reasons.  In particular, trapping the snow cover is important for the protection of plants and retaining moisture.  Snow cover acts the same as good mulch by insulating the soil.  Many perennial stems and seed heads are also very attractive for winter interest and provide food for the birds.  After the ground freezes, mulch perennials and shrub beds with pine needles, compost, peat moss, or chopped leaves.  This protects the soil and plant roots and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter periods of freezes and thaws.

2.  Cleaning-up the garden.  Harvest warm-season crops such as tomatoes even though they are still green.  Lie out on windowsills; or layer in boxes with newspapers between the layers of tomatoes.  They will slowly ripen or you can use green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes or various green tomato recipes.  Pull out any remaining crops or spent annuals; clean up remaining debris and weeds to decrease the possibility of disease problems in the spring.

3.  Evaluating your garden design.  Before you start winterizing your garden, take a few minutes to review what worked and what didn’t and make note of any areas that you would like to change in the spring.

4.  Prepare the soil for early spring seeding.  Turn over the garden soil late in the season while amending with organic matter such as leaves, compost, or well-rotted manure.  In the spring, a light raking is all that is needed.

5.  Caring for trees and lawns.  Protect the tender bark of young trees from rabbits and gnawing critters by wrapping stems or trunks with chicken wire or commercial tree-guard products.  To prevent rodents from nesting near buildings and trees, trim tall grass, and remove weeds.  Deeply water trees and shrubs so that they go into winter well hydrated.  Don’t prune shrubs and trees as it may stimulate new growth just before the harsh weather.  Cut lawns and fertilize if you wish with a low nitrogen ‘winter’ blend.  Use grass clippings for mulch or compost.  Never send them to the landfill, as they are excellent fertilizer left on the lawn (if they are not too long) and/or make terrific compost/mulch dug straight into the garden or used for pathways.  Once rotted on garden pathways, dig into the garden and replace with new grass clippings.

6.  Planting before winter.  Now is the time to plant bulbs.  Garden centres carry many varieties suitable for the prairies.  Remember: buy good quality as cheap is not better – the larger the bulb – the larger the bloom.  Look for plumpness, firmness, clean skin, and surface.  Directions for planting are included with the package.

7.  Composting.  Compost dead plant debris including leaves.  Leaves are a valuable natural resource.  Rather than a nuisance, they are the best soil amendment as well as terrific mulches.  Leaves take very little effort to recycle into a wonderful soil conditioner – leaf mould – for the yard and garden.  You can make leaf mould by the same process nature does.  Pile up moist leaves and wait for them to decompose or shred the leaves into smaller pieces before piling them up.  If you wish, you can enclose the pile with chicken wire, snow fencing, or something similar.  In the spring, I rake up dry leaves and dig them straight into the vegetable garden.

8.  Cleaning your tools.  Clean the soil from all your gardening tools, oil any wooden handles and moving parts, sharpen any blades, and then store them in a dry place for the winter.
9.  Water Gardening.  Bring in pumps, drain, clean, refill (if necessary) and store tender water plants prior to freezing.

10.  Bringing in your indoor plants.  Before bringing in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors, examine them for critters, wash them, and spray with soapy water or insecticidal soap.  Use sterilized potting soil purchased from garden centres or shopping malls if re-potting your plants.  Don’t use garden soil as it may harbour insects, weed seeds, disease, and fungi.




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Adding Beauty To Your GARDEN With An ARBOR

Garden arbors are set up as shaded places in home gardens or public parks where one can relax and rest. These open frameworks are typically made of latticework or rustic work, functioning also as a trellis for climbing or creeping plants. Arbors can also be constructed for decks or patios. Today's garden arbors were not the first attempt to enhance the beauty of gardens. In the 400s B.C. and A.D. 400's, elaborate courtyards were a hallmark of many Roman homes. Landscape architecture was also given a premium in Japanese gardens (A.D. 500's) and Persian gardens (A.D.200's-600's). Beauty was also a priority for civic plazas and hillside estates for Italians in the 1400's-1500's. City gardens and majestic palaces were the highlight of France during the 1600's and 1700's, while country estates with a natural look were the main theme followed by English designers in the 1800's.

Arbor 769
Arbor
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Landscape Architecture

For a good number of these early country estates and gardens, designers were known as landscape gardeners. An American - Frederick Law Olmsted - was the first to use 'landscape architect'. He indicated this title when he approved design plans for Manhattan's Central Park in New York City with Calvert Vaux as his partner in the 1850's. Landsape architecture is not limited to major projects. Some homeowners tap the services of professionals to add beauty to their gardens. However, others now feel confident in do-it-yourself projects as a cost-effective alternative to make their gardens beautiful.

2. Use Quality Materials

Creating a small garden arbor is an easy task, with costs becoming significantly less if the homeowner is patient enough to shop around and compare prices, particularly for pressure-treated lumber. Other items that may vary slightly across discount stores in price terms are deck screws, scrap lumber, crushed stone or gravel, washers, bolts and nuts. The same principles apply to building larger arbors, although some ideas and items would tend to increase in scale. As an example, using two posts for a small arbor may mean using four posts for a large one, as a bigger arbor would need greater support for strength and stability, and also to enhance alignment.

3. Designing a Garden Arbor: Some Do-It-Yourself Fundamentals

- To stabilize the arbor, the homeowner should have the main posts of the structure sunk into concrete poured into holes below the garden's ground level.

- The carpenter's level is used to determine if the posts stand at equal heights. The tool is also used to establish plumbness, or if the posts are vertically 'level.'

- Wooden crosspieces in varying measurements can be attached perpendicular to the posts for further support.

- Since some rejects still make their way to lumber stores, one should be patient enough to sort through many boards until a good quality board is found.

- Buyers should remember that conventional measurements are not exact: a 4 by 4 may actually measure 3.5 by 3.5, while 2 by 4 may measure 1.5 by 3.5.

- The same consideration for post height must also be given, as part of the arbor posts will be underground. Galvanized post anchors is one option homeowners have if they intends to make use of the post's full height - or have all posts above ground level - for their garden.



4. Tools For Do-It-Yourself Projects

These will actually cost a lot more if one does not have the necessary tools at home for building garden arbors.

- Circular saw or handsaw
- Stepladder
- Wheelbarrow
- Hammer
- Wrench
- Spade bit
- Garden hose
- Carpenter's level
- Shovel
- Drill
- File
- Wood chisel

5. Building Tips

- Arbor boards can already be pre-drilled and pre-cut as a time-saving step.

- The wooden crosspieces can be designed at the ends. Patterns can be drawn using a pencil and later cut using a jigsaw.



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

7 Timeless GARDEN DECOR Practices

Are you looking for a way to add to your garden dcor? Want something everlasting, nature-based or stylized? There are many things that you can add to your outdoor living space to make it comfortable and inviting and still provide you with few hours of work on maintenance. Here are 7 ways to add dcor to your garden.


Tip 1: unadulterated Is Best. When adding products outdoors, from furniture to statuary, you should always look towards the most organic of products. When you do this, youll allow for something that fits within the landscape, not something that sticks out in it.

Tip 2: Flow Is Essential. If you have a large garden or landscape, you can create a flow throughout it to make it a much more livable and organic environment. For example, a pathway leading through the garden is important as it provides for a way to move through the area enjoying all of the principle sights along the way.

Tip 3: Overboard Isnt Good. Over crowding a space with too much dcor or even too a multitude of plants is bad business. Instead, look for a more nature-based landscape component. Overcrowding plants can cause them to eventually die or take over the entire garden. To much dcor can make it look cluttered instead of lavish.

Tip 4: Use Lines. Lines from your home or your edging can help to create a lovely look within the garden. The roof line of the house can be a line that leads the eye to something excellent at the end. Use the lines that you have to create a flow to the eye.

Tip 5: Charm Means Theme. While you dont need a specific theme throughout your garden dcor, you should look towards the same or similar offerings. For example, if you place a white metal table under your trees to produce a restful place, make sure that the chairs that go with it match it. Add a white picket fence or other matching pieces to tie certain areas of the garden together as well.



Tip 6: Uphold it. a large amount of of the aspects within a garden are going to need some upkeep. If you pull your weeds, dont let this be overshadowed by the fact that you havent washed that white possessions in a year. Keep up on broken or misplaced items as well. Within the duration of harsh winter months, make sure to put as much as possible in storage that can be broken.

Tip 7: Garden dcor is not done without the look for lovely patio items. Allow it to mesh with the settings that you have created too. For example, in a woodsy area, look towards an organic, lovely product such as teak to keep it looking as if it belongs there.

The aforementioned points can help to contribute to a lovely and fashionable garden dcor that is everlasting, easy to manage and a welcoming place to call your own.



Saturday, March 12, 2016

SPRING PLANTING Tips

Français : Démonstration de démottage d'arbre ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Spring means that the garden centers are packed with people, and car trunks are packed with plants. Everybody has dirt on their knees, dirt under their nails, and is excited about gardening. To make certain that this excitement yields positive results, let's discuss the basics in this article of spring planting tips.

Installing new plants and having them grow successfully is not difficult, nor is it as complicated as some would have you think. Is it as easy as just digging a hole and setting the plant in? Yes, it certainly can be. I won't get into bed preparation, as I have covered that in other articles that are available at http://www.freeplants.com

Let's start with B&B plants. B&B is short for balled in burlap. Closely examine the ball on the plant that you have purchased. Did the diggers wrap twine around the ball to hold the plant secure? If they did, you should at least cut the twine and lay it in the bottom of the hole, or remove it completely. Pay close attention around the stem of the plant where it emerges from the root ball, as diggers often wrap the twine around the stem several times as they tie the ball. This is extremely important because if the string is nylon, it will not rot and will girdle and kill the plant two or three years from now.

When B&B plants are stored in the nursery for extended periods of time it becomes necessary to re-burlap them if the bottom starts to rot before the plants are sold. If the plant that you buy has been re-burlaped it is possible that there could be nylon stings between the two layers of burlap, so check the stem carefully. As long as the nylon string is removed from around the stem of the plant, it is actually harmless around the rest of the ball, and you do not have to remove it.

Is the root ball wrapped in genuine burlap, or imitation burlap made of a non-biodegradable plastic material?

Genuine burlap will rot quickly underground and does not have to be disturbed before planting. If you're not sure or suspect a poly type burlap, you don't have to remove it completely, but should loosen it around the stem of the plant and cut some vertical slices around the circumference of the ball.

Now here's the critical part. What kind of soil are you planting in? 

If your soil is heavy clay, I highly suggest that you raise the planting bed at least 8” with good rich topsoil. If you can't do that for some reason, install the plant so that at least 2” or more of the root ball is above the existing grade and mound the soil over the root ball. Keep in mind that plants installed this way could dry out over the summer, but planting them flush with the ground in heavy clay can mean that the roots will be too wet at other times of the year.

The “experts” suggest that when planting in clay soil you dig the hole wider and deeper than the root ball and fill around and under the plant with loose organic material. That sounds like a really great idea, doesn't it? Some of these experts also recommend that you dig the hole extra deep and put a few inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage. Where do you suppose they think this water is going to “drain” to?

Keep in mind that most B&B plants are grown in well drained soil. That means that the soil in the root ball is porous and water can easily pass through. Now imagine if you will, a root ball about 15” in diameter, setting in a hole 30” in diameter. All around and under that root ball is loose organic matter. Inside of that root ball is porous soil. Now along comes Mother Nature with a torrential downpour. There is water everywhere, and it is not going to soak into that hard packed clay soil, so it is just flowing across the top of the ground searching for the lowest point.

When it reaches our newly planted tree surrounded by loose organic matter, it is going to seep in until the planting hole is completely full of water. (Remember my article on getting rid of standing water and the French drain system?) By using this planting technique we have actually created a French drain around our poor little plant that cannot tolerate its roots being without oxygen for long periods of time. Because the bottom of this hole is clay, even though we've added gravel for drainage, there is nowhere for the water to go, and this plant is going to suffer and likely die.

If you cannot raise the planting bed with topsoil, and are planting in clay soil, I recommend that you install the root ball at least 2” above grade and backfill around the ball with the soil that you removed when you dug the hole. Backfilling with the clay soil that you removed is actually like building a dam to keep excess water from permeating the root ball of your newly planted tree. The plant is not going to thrive in this poor soil, but at least it will have a chance to survive. 

Once again, raising the bed with good rich topsoil is the best thing you can do to keep your plants healthy and happy.

No matter what kind of soil you have, be careful not to install your plants too deep. They should never be planted any deeper than they were grown in the nursery. Planting too deep is a common problem, and thousands of plants are killed each year by gardeners who just don't understand how critical planting depth is.

Staking newly planted trees is always a good idea. If your new tree constantly rocks back and forth when the wind blows it will have a very difficult time establishing new roots into the existing soil. Stabilize the tree with a stake. You can use a wooden stake, a fence post, or for small trees I often use 1/2” electro magnetic tubing, (conduit), available at any hardware store.



You can secure the tree to the stake with a single wrap of duct tape. In about six months or a year the sun will dry the glue on the duct tape and it will fall off. Check the tape to make sure that it has fallen off. You don't want to girdle the tree with the tape. 

Container grown plants are much easier. Follow the rules for depth of planting as described earlier. Before gently removing the plant from the container check the drain holes in the bottom of the container for roots that might be growing out the holes. If so, cut them off so they will not make it difficult to get the plant out of the container.

The easiest way to remove the plant from the container is to place your hand over the top of the container and turn it completely upside down and give it a gentle shake. The plant should slide right into your hand.

Examine the root mass as you hold it in your hand. Sometimes when plants have been growing in a container for a long time the roots start to grow in a circular pattern around the root mass. This is not good, and you should disturb these roots before planting so you can break this circular pattern. You can take a knife and actually make about three vertical slices from the top of the root mass to the bottom. This will stimulate new roots that will grow outward into the soil of your garden. Or you can just take your fingers and loosen the roots that are circling the root mass and force them outward before you plant them.

What about fertilizer, bone meal, peat moss, and all those other additives they are going to try and sell you at the garden center?

Raise your planting beds with good rich topsoil and forget about the additives. Be very careful with fertilizers, they can do more harm than good. I landscaped my house 14 years ago and I haven't got around to fertilizing the plants yet, and have no intention of doing so. They look great.

As far as bone meal and all those other soil additives are concerned, don't get too caught up in all that stuff. The only thing that I know for sure is that they will make your wallet thinner, but I don't think you'll see a difference in your plants. Over the years I've landscaped several hundred homes with fantastic results, and I never added any of these additives to my planting beds.

Did I mention planting in good rich topsoil?  That's the secret!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to Coax FRESH VEGETABLES From the Garden All Winter Long

Autumn typically signals the end of home grown vegetables from the garden, but with a little ingenuity you can harvest garden fresh produce well into the winter months. My Central Pennsylvania garden continues to supply fresh vegetables during the fall and winter when most gardeners in my growing region are content to dream about next summer’s bounty. Read on to discover simple tricks that will fortify your garden against the onslaught of frigid weather.

English: Variety of fresh vegetables being sol...
Variety of fresh vegetables
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)
Fall often delivers brief cold spells with a few frost filled mornings, sandwiched between weeks of milder, frost-free conditions. The problem is that a single touch of frost can wipe out every tender annual growing in the garden. Fortunately, a little protection will enable frost sensitive vegetables and herbs to survive a cold snap, and reward the resourceful gardener with an opportunity to enjoy extended harvests.

Something as simple as the transparent, fleecy, floating row covers used to shield plants from harmful insects can also prevent frost damage. Row covers trap the warmth that radiates up from the earth much like the way that a cloud cover holds temperatures and prevents frost from forming. Row covers offer a few degrees of protection, keeping tender annuals safe from light frost. Use the thicker grade covers for maximum benefit.

Late summer is the ideal time to sow cold tolerant vegetables that will flourish in the fall and endure cold weather without complaint. Examples of hardy vegetables for fall gardening include: kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, cabbages, oriental greens, rutabagas, and some varieties of lettuce. 

Once freezing conditions arrive, even cold hardy crops will appreciate some protection if they remain in the garden. Cardboard boxes and fruit baskets can provide shelter to individual plants, while old sheets, blankets, and heavy plastic tarps will protect entire rows or beds of plants. Apply the coverings in the evening when freezes are forecast and remove them the following morning after the sun warms the air. 

Another effective solution is to use a commercial variety of cloche, or to set up a portable cold frame over the garden bed. Cloches include the heavy glass, bell shaped jars, or variously styled and shaped rigid plastic devices.

One style of cold frame consists of a tubular frame covered by a woven poly material with flaps for venting. You can also obtain sturdier cold frames made with aluminum framing and twin wall polycarbonate panels that lift up for venting. Regardless of the type of protection used to cover your plants you must remove it or provide venting during the day as temperatures rise.

Resourceful gardeners can combine a few discarded window sashes and bales of straw to create a simple makeshift cold frame. Just arrange the straw bales into a rectangular shape around a garden bed and lay the windows across the top to form an enclosed and insulated growing area. This setup will work great to keep a bed of leafy greens growing further into the winter.

Oddly enough, water can protect and insulate plants from the cold. Commercial orchards actually spray water and mist onto their trees to prevent frost damage. 
In the home garden you can employ plastic gallon jugs filled with water to provide protection. Place the containers around plants, under floating row covers or tarps, and inside of your cold frames.

The water will absorb and store heat during the day and release it at night to provide warmth for your plants. You’ll get the best results by painting the jugs black so that they’ll absorb more energy from the sun during the day. Incredibly, even if the water in the container freezes, it will continue to release a significant amount of heat energy into the surrounding area.

Certain vegetables will survive on their own in the garden through bitterly cold conditions. Leeks, kale, and collards frequently withstand harsh winters without any protection. Fall planted garlic and shallots will develop strong root systems in the fall, spend the winter underground, and then spring up at the earliest signs of the arrival of spring.



Many root crops including beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips can be left in the garden protected with a thick layer of shredded leaves or straw. You can then continue harvesting as needed, provided that the ground doesn’t freeze and prevent digging. Complete your harvesting before spring arrives though, since quality will degrade once the roots resume growing and switch into seed production mode.

With proper planning and a little extra care you can easily grow and harvest vegetables beyond the normal spring and summer seasons. Simply implement a few of the ideas presented in this article and you’ll soon enjoy your own home grown, fresh produce much longer than usual, possibly even year-round.




Monday, December 28, 2015

GREENHOUSE Maintenance (E-Book)

Greenhouse Maintenance - Selected Tips

greenhouse_maintenanceTypes Of Greenhouses
After you decide that you want to build a greenhouse, you have to decide next what type to build. This should not be a difficult one to address, provided you know what kinds of plants you want to grow. You will need to answer questions such as:
  • What will my greenhouse be principally used for?
  • Do I want a large or small greenhouse?
  • Will the greenhouse be the main attraction of my garden?
  • Is my garden exposed to strong winds?
  • Are there young children or wild animals in the area?
Factors such as cost and space will determine the type of greenhouse you build. If you do live in a windy area, it may be worth to spend the extra money for a solid and sturdy greenhouse. If you live near a large hardware store or a nursery, or even a do-it-yourself home center, go and visit some models. The customer service representative should be able to provide you with valuable information before you make a final decision.

So as not to mislead you, while there may be different types of greenhouse designs, we're talking about the same greenhouse. You get to decide which type you want it to be. For example, if temperature is the main factor, because of the plant varieties you want to grow, then there are three types in terms of temperature control. There are also different types of greenhouses based on structural design. We'll start with temperature control factors. For temperature control purposes, three types of greenhouses exist:
  • a hot greenhouse
  • a warm greenhouse
  • a cool greenhouse.
Read more on the E-Book; Greenhouse Maintenance

87 pages

Friday, December 25, 2015

5 Steps To A Better LAWN and GARDEN

If you’re lucky enough to have a lawn with a good topsoil base, much of the hard work of keeping a lawn beautiful is already done for you. But many of us do not have this luxury, and besides, even with a good topsoil base, you still have to work hard to keep a beautiful lawn and garden.

Lawn&Garden
Lawn & Garden
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)

1. The best time to mow a lawn is when it is cool and dry. Wait for the morning dew to dry off, and before the afternoon heat takes hold. Alternatively, late afternoon or early evening following a watering in the morning is also a good time.

2. A hedge is a much better boundary divider than a fence. It will provide better privacy and keep pets and children in – or out. It will attract birds to its shelter, and provide a great backdrop for plants and flowers.

3. Bring the beauty of your garden to you; plant hyacinths near walkways and doors. Their magnificent perfume will swamp the spring air and make your garden really come alive.

4. Add your garden to non-garden items, such a lampposts and mail boxes. Surround these items with flowers planted to take advantage of the earliest to the latest flowerings. You could have white snowdrops, purple and gold crocus, blue hyacinths, and various colored tulips. You could also surround the posts with rocks to provide added interest.

5. Simple, but effective weed control can be achieved on your lawn by mowing often during spring. This will prevent dandelions spreading by eliminating the yellow blossoms and preventing seed formation. Mow high during late spring and early summer. This will allow grass blades to shade the ground, and will help prevent crabgrass from sprouting.

Your lawn and garden should be a source of pride and beauty. You don’t need to spend lots of money on expensive fertilizers and herbicides, or fancy lawn furniture and ornaments. A little commonsense and thought can go a long way to making your lawn and garden a much better place.





Monday, November 30, 2015

How to Coax Fresh Vegetables From the GARDEN All Winter Long

English: Early morning hoar frost In the back ...
Early morning hoar frost In the back garden on a misty, cold December morning. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn typically signals the end of home grown vegetables from the garden, but with a little ingenuity you can harvest garden fresh produce well into the winter months. My Central Pennsylvania garden continues to supply fresh vegetables during the fall and winter when most gardeners in my growing region are content to dream about next summer’s bounty. Read on to discover simple tricks that will fortify your garden against the onslaught of frigid weather.

Fall often delivers brief cold spells with a few frost filled mornings, sandwiched between weeks of milder, frost-free conditions. The problem is that a single touch of frost can wipe out every tender annual growing in the garden. Fortunately, a little protection will enable frost sensitive vegetables and herbs to survive a cold snap, and reward the resourceful gardener with an opportunity to enjoy extended harvests.

Something as simple as the transparent, fleecy, floating row covers used to shield plants from harmful insects can also prevent frost damage. Row covers trap the warmth that radiates up from the earth much like the way that a cloud cover holds temperatures and prevents frost from forming. Row covers offer a few degrees of protection, keeping tender annuals safe from light frost. Use the thicker grade covers for maximum benefit.

Late summer is the ideal time to sow cold tolerant vegetables that will flourish in the fall and endure cold weather without complaint. Examples of hardy vegetables for fall gardening include: kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, kohlrabi, turnips, cabbages, oriental greens, rutabagas, and some varieties of lettuce.

Once freezing conditions arrive, even cold hardy crops will appreciate some protection if they remain in the garden. Cardboard boxes and fruit baskets can provide shelter to individual plants, while old sheets, blankets, and heavy plastic tarps will protect entire rows or beds of plants. Apply the coverings in the evening when freezes are forecast and remove them the following morning after the sun warms the air.

Another effective solution is to use a commercial variety of cloche, or to set up a portable cold frame over the garden bed. Cloches include the heavy glass, bell shaped jars, or variously styled and shaped rigid plastic devices.

One style of cold frame consists of a tubular frame covered by a woven poly material with flaps for venting. You can also obtain sturdier cold frames made with aluminum framing and twin wall polycarbonate panels that lift up for venting. Regardless of the type of protection used to cover your plants you must remove it or provide venting during the day as temperatures rise.

Resourceful gardeners can combine a few discarded window sashes and bales of straw to create a simple makeshift cold frame. Just arrange the straw bales into a rectangular shape around a garden bed and lay the windows across the top to form an enclosed and insulated growing area. This setup will work great to keep a bed of leafy greens growing further into the winter.

Oddly enough, water can protect and insulate plants from the cold. Commercial orchards actually spray water and mist onto their trees to prevent frost damage.
In the home garden you can employ plastic gallon jugs filled with water to provide protection. Place the containers around plants, under floating row covers or tarps, and inside of your cold frames.

The water will absorb and store heat during the day and release it at night to provide warmth for your plants. You’ll get the best results by painting the jugs black so that they’ll absorb more energy from the sun during the day. Incredibly, even if the water in the container freezes, it will continue to release a significant amount of heat energy into the surrounding area.

Certain vegetables will survive on their own in the garden through bitterly cold conditions. Leeks, kale, and collards frequently withstand harsh winters without any protection. Fall planted garlic and shallots will develop strong root systems in the fall, spend the winter underground, and then spring up at the earliest signs of the arrival of spring.



Many root crops including beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips can be left in the garden protected with a thick layer of shredded leaves or straw. You can then continue harvesting as needed, provided that the ground doesn’t freeze and prevent digging. Complete your harvesting before spring arrives though, since quality will degrade once the roots resume growing and switch into seed production mode.

With proper planning and a little extra care you can easily grow and harvest vegetables beyond the normal spring and summer seasons. Simply implement a few of the ideas presented in this article and you’ll soon enjoy your own home grown, fresh produce much longer than usual, possibly even year-round.