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The Basic Gardeners Toolkit

October 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

If you have decided that you would like to improve the look of your garden by getting out there and doing some work, then you will need to be sure to have the correct tools for the job. If you have never tackled anything like this before, you may have to start off by making a small investment. Here is a brief list of the basic pieces of equipment that every novice gardener should have at their disposal.

A Garden Fork
There will be several uses for your garden fork. This is handy for breaking up big chunks of soil and creating an even and level ground in preparation for something like laying a new lawn.

A Spade
It is a great tool for digging up particular areas where you would like to place your plants, trees or shrubs.

A Hand Fork
Smaller tools are necessary so that you can carry out work that needs to be specifically targeted. A hand fork is the right size for dealing with unwanted weeds that grow up around your plants. You can be sure just to dig up the weed without causing damage to the plants.

A Trowel
Whether you are planting flowers in the garden itself or in plant pots, a trowel will make the task a lot easier. This is a good tool for creating a small hole in the soil and then transferring your plant without damaging the roots.

A Rake
A standard size rake is useful for breaking up and levelling soil, fertilizer or mulch that you need to distribute. It is also great for collecting up all the grass clippings after you have mowed the lawn.

A Lawn Mower
The easiest way to keep the grass in your garden under control is by using a lawn mower. There are plenty of different makes and models to choose from. You will need to decide what will be suitable for the size of garden you have and whether you would prefer to use a manual mower, an electric powered model or a gas propelled mower.

A Pair of Gardening Gloves
A good pair of gardening gloves will help to protect your hands from any scratches or scrapes that could occur if you have prickly bushes or nettles that you need to remove from your garden. They can also help to prevent blisters.

As you will be working with the soil you may feel uncomfortable about getting dirt under your fingernails so a pair of gloves would be a useful barrier between your skin and the soil.

There are plenty of other garden tools that you could also choose to invest in but if you have these basic items, you will be ready to start working on your garden straight away.

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Preserve Herbs in Ice Cube Trays

October 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips, Videos

How To Preserve Herbs in Ice Cubes

Drying herbs isn’t the only way to preserve them. You can cook with fresh Italian herbs from your garden all Winter long with this easy trick!

Learn more at www.GardenGirlTV.com and www.UrbanSustainableLiving.com
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Herb to Plant — Rosemary

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

In planting an herb garden, knowing all you can about the herb that you are growing is important to making sure you care for it properly. Finding out the conditions the herb needs to thrive, when and how to harvest it, and its particular uses can make this hobby much more enjoyable. And for those who like to entertain and show off their herb gardens, knowing a bit about the history and the folklore surrounding the herb makes for good conversation.

If you are not sure where to start, a good book for home herb gardening is certainly a good idea. One such book is “Healthy Happy Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide To Herb and Herb Gardening”. Books like these can help you get started, and teach you how to grow different kinds of herbs. More importantly, it can help you avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that frustrate most beginner herb gardeners.

One of the most popular, and easy herb to plant is rosemary. Did you know that this herb was named Herb of  the Year by the International Herb Association in 2000? Rosemary is said to be one of the oldest herbs in history. Early records of it dates back to when cuneiform writing on storm tablets were still the norm, which is around 5th millenium B.C. It’s Latin name, rosmarinus, means “dew of the sea” and is associated with the story of the birth of Venus, the Greek goddess of beauty.
In Christianity, there’s a popular story involving the rosemary herb. In this story, it is believed that rosemary’s flowers were originally white. It became blue when Mary (mother of Jesus) once placed her coat to dry on a rosemary bush.

Nowadays, rosemary is popularly known as a kitchen herb, used best when flavoring lamb and chicken, and widely used in Mediterranean cooking. Several varieties of the herb exists, including Miss Jessup, Tuscan Blue, Spice Island (these three are the ones usually used and recommended for cooking; the plant grows 4 to 6 feet from the ground and have fragrant, large leaves), White, Benenden Blue, Golden Rain and Ingram.

Rosemary is actually one of the easiest herbs to grow, requiring little or even no attention at all once firmly established. In fact, fussing over it too much can actually be detrimental to its growth.

It is usually propagated by cuttings, but starting with a nursery-grown plant would be your best bet. Seeds are not recommended to beginners as they have a hard time germinating. A 2-inch cutting from a rosemary plant would be more than enough for you to start. A dry, well-drained soil and about 8 hours of sunlight are all that your rosemary plant needs for it to survive and thrive.

It is better to put rosemary in a container or pot so that during winter, you will be able to easily transfer it indoors. Terra cotta pots are a good choice. When kept indoors during winter, artificial light can substitute for sunlight. But, when the weather permits it, allowing your rosemary it’s quota of sunlight is best.

If the air is humid, then be on the lookout for powdery mildew – a kind of fungus that is white and powdery and thrives in humid environments. While it won’t kill the rosemary, it will definitely weaken it. As much as possible, allow the soil to dry in-between waterings. Make sure that there’s enough air to dry excess water (if there’s no breeze, you can bring out an electric fan). And leaving the plant in sunlight will also help dry the soil.

Aphids and spider mites are two more pests that usually attack during winter. They don’t just attack the rosemary, but other plants as well. Spray plants with natural or organic insecticides to repel these pests.

Rosemary is a perfect herb as a container plant if you are looking for a low maintenance plant.  All it needs is sunshine, air, water and a bit of tender loving care.

If you are serious about cultivating an organic herb garden, be sure to check out “Healthy Happy Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide To Herbs and Herb Gardening” by Jeannie Woods. It’s a book packed with all the information you need to be able to successful start and keep a thriving organic herb garden. You can read more about it here: http://www.healthyhappyherbs.com.

 

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Adding Interest to Your Garden

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

There are many ways that you can add interest to a garden.
Anything that becomes a focal point will add interest and that can range from garden sculptures to the types of plants you choose.
 

Adding block planting of a particular specimen can become a focal point in the garden.
Even adding areas of variegated foliage can create a focal point in the garden. (more…)

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THE HOME VEGETABLE GARDEN.

March 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

THE HOME VEGETABLE GARDEN.

When deciding upon the site for the home vegetable garden it is a good idea to dispose once and for all the old idea that the garden "plot" must be an ugly spot in the home surroundings. If thoughtfully planned, carefully planted and thoroughly cared for, it can be made a beautiful and harmonious feature of the general scheme, lending a touch of comfortable homeliness that no shrubs, borders, or beds can ever produce.

With this fact in mind we won’t feel restricted to any part of the premises merely because it is out of sight behind the barn or garage. In the average moderate-sized place there will not be much choice as to land. It will be necessary to take what is available and then do the very best that can be done with it. But there will probably be a good deal of choice as to exposure, and convenience. Other things being equal, select a spot near at hand, and with ease of access. It may seem that a difference of only a few hundred yards will mean nothing, but if your depending largely upon spare moments for working in and for watching the garden and in the growing of many vegetables the latter is almost as important as the former this matter of convenient access will be of much greater importance than is likely to be at first recognized. Not until you have had to make a dozen time-wasting trips for forgotten seeds or tools, or gotten your feet soaking wet by going out through the dew-drenched grass, will you realize fully what this may mean.

Exposure.
———

But the first thing of  importance to consider in picking out the spot that is to yield you happiness and delicious vegetables all summer, or even for many years, is the exposure. Pick out the "earliest" spot you can find a plot sloping a little to the south or east, that seems to catch sunshine early and hold it late, and that seems to be out of the direct path of the chilling north and northeast winds. If a building, or even an old fence, protects it from this direction, your garden will be helped along wonderfully. An early start is a great big factor toward success. If it is not already protected, a board fence, or a hedge of some low-growing shrubs or young evergreens, will do the job very nicely. The importance of having such a protection or shelter is altogether underestimated by the amateur.

The soil.
———

The chances are that you will not find a spot of ideal garden soil ready for use anywhere upon your place. But all except the very worst of soils can be brought up to a very high degree of productiveness  especially such small areas as home vegetable gardens require. Large tracts of soil that are almost pure sand, and others so heavy and mucky that for centuries they lay uncultivated, have frequently been brought, in the course of only a few years, to where they yield annually tremendous crops on a commercial basis. So do not be discouraged about your soil. Proper treatment of it is much more important, and a garden- patch of average run-down, or "never-brought-up" soil will produce much more for the energetic and careful gardener than the richest spot will grow under average methods of cultivation.

The ideal garden soil is a "rich, sandy loam." And the fact cannot be overemphasized that such soils usually are made, not found. Let us analyze that description a bit, for right here we come to the first of the four all-important factors of gardening food. The others are cultivation, moisture and temperature. "Rich" in the gardener’s vocabulary means full of plant food; more than that and this is a point of vital importance it means full of plant food ready to be used at once, all prepared and spread out on the garden table, or rather in it, where growing things can at once make use of it; or what we term, in one word, "available" plant food. Practically no soils in long- inhabited communities remain naturally rich enough to produce big crops. They are made rich, or kept rich, in two ways; first, by cultivation, which helps to change the raw plant food stored in the soil into available forms; and second, by manuring or adding plant food to the soil from outside sources.

"Sandy" in the sense used here, means a soil containing enough particles of sand so that water will pass through it without leaving it pasty and sticky a few days after a rain; "light" enough, as it is called, so that a handful, under ordinary conditions, will crumble and fall apart readily after being pressed in the hand.

"Loam: a rich, friable soil," says Webster. That hardly covers it, but it does describe it. It is soil in which the sand and clay are in proper proportions, so that neither greatly predominate, and usually dark in color, from cultivation and enrichment. Such a soil, even to the untrained eye, just naturally looks as if it would grow things. It is remarkable how quickly the whole physical appearance of a piece of well cultivated ground will change.

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Preparing Healthy Soil

March 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

Preparing Healthy Soil

If you’re getting ready to start a new garden, you need to prepare
your soil for your plants. The best thing you can do in the
soil preparation process is to reach the perfect mixture of sand, silt,and clay.
 Preferably there would be 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt, and
20 percent clay. There are several tests used by experienced gardeners to
tell whether the soil has a good composition. First you can compress it in
your hand. If it doesn’t hold its shape and crumbles without any outside
force, your sand ratio is probably a little high. If you poke the
compressed ball with your finger and it doesn’t fall apart easily, your
soil contains too much clay.

If you’re still not sure about the content of your soil, you can separate
each ingredient by using this simple method. Put a cup or two of dirt into
a jar of water. Shake the water until the soil is suspended, then let (more…)
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Growing Your Own Herb Garden

February 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

If you’re not the type of person that wants to spend their time managing
an elaborate fruit or vegetable garden, you might consider planting and
maintaining an herb garden. You’ll  enjoy the constant availability of fresh,
delicious herbs to flavor your meals with.
First you’ll want to choose the herbs that you’ll plant. You might have a
hard time doing this because of the huge scope of herbs available. But the
best way to choose is to do look at what you use in your kitchen.
By planting your own collection of these herbs, you can save
money on buying them from the grocery store while having the added benefit
of freshness. Some of the herbs you might start with include rosemary,
sage, basil, dill, mint, chives, and parsley among others.
When choosing an area to put your herb garden, you should remember that
the soil should have extremely good drainage. If the dirt gets watered and
stays completely saturated, you have no chance of ever growing a healthy
plant. One of the best ways to fix the drainage problem is to dig a foot
deep in the soil, and put a layer of crushed rocks down before replacing
all the soil. This will allow all that water to escape, thus saving your
plants.
When you are ready to begin planting herbs, you might be tempted to buy
the more expensive plants from the store. However, with herbs it is much
easier to grow them from seed than it is with other plants.  You can save
a bundle of money by sticking with seed packets.
Some herbs grow at a dangerously fast rate. For example, if you plant a mint
plant in an open space then it will take over your entire garden in a matter of days.
The best way to prevent this problem is to plant the more aggressive
plants in pots (with holes in the bottom to allow drainage, of course).
When it comes time to harvest the herbs you have labored so hard over, it
can be fatal to your plant to take off too much. If your plant isn’t well
established, it isn’t healthy to take any leaves at all, even if it looks
like its not using them. You should wait until your plant has been well
established for at least several months before taking off any leaves. This
wait will definitely be worth it, because by growing unabated your plant
will produce healthily for years to come.
Once you’ve harvested your delicious home grown herbs, you’ll want to use
them in cooking. Why else would you have grown them?  Use fresh off the
plant or dry them for future use.
So if you enjoy herbs or gardening, or both, then you should probably
consider setting up an herb garden. It might require a little bit of work
at first to set it up for optimal drainage, and pick what herbs you want
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Tips For Growing Vibrant Healthy Flowers

January 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

Most every gardener strives to grow the best, most stunning flowers around, but that goal is hard to get hold of. Whether you want to raise prize-winning blooms or just have a home garden filled with of beautiful flowers, there are some things you can do in order to ensure your garden is in the best shape possible.

Soil chemistry counts
The chemical make-up of the soil is one of the biggest factors that contribute to the success or failure of your garden. If the soil in your planting beds is poor in nutrients, it is unlikely that your plants will thrive or produce those beautiful flowers that you want until you enrich the soil with the nutrition the plants need.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the soil chemistry is the same all over your yard. It is important to test the soil in each area of your property that you plan to plants, especially if the areas are away from each other. This can be important if part of your property is on a slope, or if it has been used for other things in the past.

The slope of the land and the soil type in your area are important considerations to make. A complete analysis of the soil in your yard will give you a good place to starts and a help you to monitor the quality of the soil as your garden matures.

Know what your plants will need to thrive
You probably already have an idea about what you want to plant in your garden, so it is important that you understand what those plants will require in order to grow and flourish. Although many types of annuals, perennials, and bulbs can grow and thrive in a broad range of soil and weather conditions, others can have special requirements for food, water, and soil conditions.

For example, if you are interested I n cultivating roses in your garden, you will need to know the pH level of your soil, and adjust it if you need to. Roses are commonly acid loving plants, and therefore they will not thrive in soil with a higher alkaline level. Getting some humus and tilling it into the soil can amend alkaline soil. If the humus does not do the job, adding sulfur to the soil can raise the acidity level.

Keeping an eye on nutrition
The nutrients in the soil will dictate the health and vitality of your plants and flowers. If the phosphorus and nitrogen levels, as well as the presence of other types of organic matter are not sufficient, your plants may be malnourished, and not thrive at all. Nutrients can be added to poor soil by suing humus or any number of good-quality fertilizers.

Now you understand why the chemistry of your garden soil is so important in growing your ideal garden. Having the best flowers around is a big task to fulfill. Make sure that your garden soil is ready for the duty.

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Choosing The Right Flowers And Plants For Your Garden

January 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

Many times we buy plants on impulse then find there is nowhere in the garden that really suits them. Before buying plants carefully examine your garden to see how much sun and shade it gets, whether the soil is well drained or waterlogged and whether your aspect is sheltered or windswept. You’ll then be equipped to go and buy the best plants for your situation; shade-loving plants for the sheltered areas, sun-lovers for the warm spots, drought-resistant plants for the parched areas which may be either sunny or shaded, and swamp plants for the poorly-drained parts.

But wait! Test your soil first, to determine the pH level of your soil and what kind of nutrients you need to add, if any. Is the soil acid or alkaline? Most plants prefer soil that is slightly acidic, but there are some that must have alkaline soil to grow. You can alter the soil’s pH level, but it’s much easier to simply plant for the soil you have.

Now you are ready to plant. Well – almost. Will you plant in groups or singly? If you buy ‘one of everything’ your garden may seem rather spotty. Group plantings are organised, harmonious and you can vary the color for interest.

Before planting out, place your chosen plants around the garden bed in their pots to see how they will look. Re-arrange them until you are satisfied. Grouping plants in sets of threes or fives usually looks better than planting in groups of even numbers. Be sure that you have an interesting combination of colors and textures of plants. Tall plants should go to the back, or the centre if your garden will be viewed equally from all sides. Try to keep your plants away from trees. The roots of trees are fiercely competitive and will steal all the nutrients and moisture meant for your flowers.

The right color scheme is one way to maintain the harmony in your garden. Imagine the color of the flowers when they are in bloom. Some colors may clash with others, but can still be planted side-by-side if they have a different blooming season. Foliage color is also important. Many flower plants have silver, grey or purplish foliage that is just as attractive as the flower. This means that they are still attractive well past the blooming season and so have added value.

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Tips For Buying Seeds Online

January 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Gardening Tips

Many people like the challenge of raising plants and flowers from seeds. While it can be easier to stop by the local gardening center and purchase plants that are already growing, many gardeners truly enjoy the prospect and challenge of raising plants and vegetables for their gardens from seeds.

Perhaps you are a person who is interested in growing flowers and vegetables for your own garden spaces from seeds. If that is the case, you may be wondering what resources are available to you through which you can order seeds for garden plants, seeds for flowering plants and vegetables for your gardens.

As with so many things in the 21st century, the Internet and World Wide Web is proving to be a truly wonderful resource for people who are interested in growing their own plants from seed. At this point in time, there is a wide array of different types of websites through which consumers such as you can actually purchase seeds for your own gardens, including seeds for flowering and for vegetable plants.

There are now some more generalized websites on the Net through which you can by all types of seeds. For example, there are sites that are in business to offer men and women seeds at discounted prices. At the other end of the spectrum, there are website operations that have been established to provide people with some more high end (and more expensive) products.

Because many people have become interested in more specific types of gardening — for example, organic gardening — there are now websites that cater to some of these more specialized areas of gardening. For example, if you are interested in organic vegetable gardening, you will want to consider stopping by one or another of the sites that deal specifically in the selling or organic vegetable seeds.

By way of another example, there are some people who are interested in crafting and creating beautiful flower gardens. To this end, there are innumerable websites on the Net that deal with the selling of seeds for people interested in growing flowers. Indeed, there are sites that are committed specifically to selling seeds for specific kinds of flowers.

Finally, there are information resources on the Net that can provide you with authoritative information on a wide array of different issues dealing with gardening. In both the short and the long term, you can learn a great deal about gardening practices from these useful websites.

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