Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mosaic Path - How to Lay

I just love those River Stone Mosaic Paths! Check out my blog on Fun Paths to see some beauties -(Fun Garden Paths) 
 I found this video showing how to lay a rock path mosaic. What I like about this video is it gives you a clue on how to prepare the ground before you lay the rocks.     Good Luck!



Recycled Material Garden Gates






Recycled Material Garden Gates


I love it when folks use what they have around for garden gates and fences. Check these out!












Monday, December 26, 2016

Fun Garden Paths

Fun Garden Paths

I love these mosaic garden paths! I'm going to have to start saving rocks! Oh God!


                   








                       



                           












Saturday, December 24, 2016

Beets - Plant of the Week

Beets


Beets are one of the overwintering vegetables that really pack a nutrient punch. They can be shredded in a salad, roasted, steamed, sauteed, made into borscht or added to a healthy smoothie. They can be canned, frozen or pickled. Their greens can also be eaten raw or steamed. 

Why Grow Beets?

Besides being an easy and quick crop to grow, beets have few insects or diseases. 
Recent studies of benefits of beets have shown this bright red stain producing root to have great detoxifying properties called betalains and is proven to also be an anti-inflammatory. They are a great source of fiber and is currently being studied for its anti-cancer properties.  It has been used in the treatment of anemia, gall bladder, indigestions, kidney function, and heart disease.  Beets also contain Tryptophan, which is known to relax the mind, lessen anxiety and help sleep. 

 How to Grow


Mature time:    45 - 70 days depending on variety. Pick the best for your area or storage capability.   


Planting:  Till the soil depth of 8" to 12". Sift the soil to remove larger bits and rocks for best results. Beets like a  light, sandy, loamy soil enriched with compost or well aged manure.  Sow seeds 1/2' deep,  2-3 weeks before average Spring frost date in rows 12"-18" apart.   For Fall/Winter crop, sow again in late summer 6-8 weeks before Autumn frost date. You can soak the seeds to help germinate them faster.  Thin seedlings when they reach 2" or allow to grow and eat seedlings in salads or steamed.  Mature beets should be 2" - 4" apart depending on the type and size of the variety. 

Ph: 6.5-6.8 Use lime to raise soil ph if necessary as beets do not like acid soil. Consider phosphorous level as this helps promote bulbs. Go easy on the nitrogen, as this will produce larger leafing and smaller bulbs.   

Watering:  Beets like to be kept moist, so consider mulching. 

Growing: Beets like full sun, but will tolerate shade. When thinning, consider pinching seedlings instead of pulling as this is less disruptive to the tender roots.  Make sure to keep the soil moist and weeded completely. Topdress with compost or fertilizer half way through. 


Harvesting: Pick leaves before they are 6", but no more than 1/3 of the leaves of each beet should be taken. You may harvest beets at any stage.  In warmer climates beets can be left in the ground in winter and pulled as needed. In colder climates, store beets with 1" of tops still attached. 


Beet Recipe Links:




Friday, December 23, 2016

Cutworm - Bad

Bug of the week- Bad

Cutworm 


Cutworms are really the larvae of night-flying moths and are pests that chew the stems and roots of young plants. They hibernate in the soil and emerge in the spring, when they do the most damage. 
They are most active and feed from dusk into evening and on cloudy days. They can be solid pink, grey, green or black or wear spots or stripes. They are slightly squishy and can grow to two inches. When you turn the soil over they tend to curl up and this is often how they are first seen. 

They can be found munching corn, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and all the cabbage family.  A favorite food is sunflowers and a garden that was previously grass or weeds is prone to an infestation. 

Keep an eye out for the moth as the female will lay her eggs in dry soil. 


Prevention:

  1.  Till soil in fall and spring. This disrupts the larvae and exposes them to the elements.
  2. Colar seedlings with cardboard or toilet paper rings when planting and delay planting until later in Spring 
  3. Attract fireflies and birds, natural predators.
  4. Keep a wide strip between lawn and garden will help to make it harder for cutworms to reach your plants.

Managing:

  1. Sprinkle Diatomaceous earth around the plants. ( Be careful not to breath this as it causes lung irritation!) It is very sharp and insects won't walk over it. (also works for slugs!)
  2. Go out in evening and hand pick. 
  3. Mulch of oak leaves may be effective.
  4. Insecticide often unsuccessful.
  5. Plant sunflowers at edge of garden as bait. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mulching your Garden

To Mulch or Not to Mulch

Here are some of the basic ideas about mulching your garden and a bit of information about each of the materials used.  Each material has its own merits so consider the benefits and drawbacks to see if mulching is right for you.  

It is important to make sure that you don't drown the plant in mulch and level the material so it doesn't look uneven. Since mulch is always in the process of composting, you will need to replenish it from time to time. It is an ongoing process. Remember what is good for one plant, may not be good for another, so review the list of mulches below and pair them to your plantings.  

Benefits:

1.     Conserves Water
2.     Deters Weeds
3.     Insulates Soil – Warm in Winter, Cool in Summer
4.     Attracts Earthworms
5.     Improves soil fertility and structure
6.     Keeps fruit, vegetable and plants clean
7.     Provides clean places to
8.     Makes the garden look neat and tidy

Drawbacks:
1.     Soil can become too wet, causing plants to rot
2.     Mulch can be keep sun from warming the soil
3.     Insects and rodents can breed and hide
4.     Annual seeds can’t get through
5.     Not good for seeded areas or seedlings
6.     Some mulches can drain nutrients from soil


Straw vs. Hay
I recommend only using straw as it contains almost no seeds. If you must to use hay, as it is often less expensive option or free, try to get a second or third cutting as it will contain less seeds and keep the mulch extra thick.  Just know that if you get that free hay from the farmer that let it get too moldy for livestock, you will need to deal with the seeds that come with it. Both hay and straw breaks up into flakes and is lovely to lay beside plants keeping them safe and warm. When it breaks down you can till it into the soil.

Grass Clippings
First, never use grass clippings on your vegetables that have been sprayed with weed killers or insecticides. Grass can become very hot and burn your plants so it is imperative that you keep the clippings from touching your plants. It is advisable to let them dry out a day or two before using them. Grass also decomposes quickly and looks somewhat messy in a flower garden. It can be used to warm up the soil in the spring.

Fall Leaves
It is best to shred larger leaves like maple before placing them over ground covers or herbaceous plants as they tend to pack down and create a heavy mat when laid whole.  Smaller leaves, such as oak make for a much lighter aerated material.

Black Plastic
Many gardeners use black plastic for weed control, then place another material on top to keep it in place and make the area more pleasing to the eye. If you are using plastic as a mulch, make sure you secure it well to the ground and poke some holes in it so water doesn’t pool and seeps to the earth.

Buckwheat Hulls
Buckwheat Hulls come in large easy to manage bags. Sprinkle directly from the bag to tidy up your garden.  It is not a very good weed control as the hulls are very light weight. If your garden is in a windy spot, I would choose a different material. However, the hulls clean up a flower garden and do stop many annual seeds from germinating.

Newspaper and Cardboard
Cardboard and newspapers are easy to come by. I have used cardboard extensively for fighting weeds between my vegetable rows as you can often get boxes from the market for free.   I like to put wood chips on top to make my garden look a bit tidier and keep a barrier for the soil. If you water it all down well at the start it helps to hold it in place. In the spring, it is easy to pull up or I have even tilled it into the soil.

Cocoa Shells
Cocoa Shells also come in a handy bag and is another light mulch that looks nice in a traditional garden setting, cleaning up pathways and making things look tidy.   

Evergreen Branches and Needles
For those gardeners that live in the north, evergreen branches can be used around perennial beds to create a basket of snow, protecting roots from alternate thawing and refreezing.  Pine Needles can be used and can look quite lovely, however they are acidic and this should be taken into account before placing around some plants. However, acid loving plants such as rhododendrons and roses would love it.

Material, Cloth
Cotton sheeting can be used, especially with another heavier mulch to weigh it down.  There are many cloth materials sold as mulch. Some of them are even biodegradable.  Just make sure it is pure cotton and not a blend of something else.

Seaweed
If you live near the seaside, this may be a fun option. Seaweed is very heavy and can be awkward to transport and distribute. It should be rinsed before using.  It used as a winter mulch and tilled into the garden in spring.  

Shavings, Sawdust, Shredded bark
Sometimes you can get these from sawmills or purchase in bags. Be careful of using shavings or sawdust from carpenters as it often contains chemicals from plywood or chipped boards and can harm your plants. Bark always cleans up the area nicely and lasts a long time. However, it can deplete the soil of nitrogen.

Stone, Rocks, Pebbles
Pebbles need to be several inches thick to deter most weeds. If you use a plastic material underneath, you only need to cover the plastic, but make sure you poke holes in the plastic or use a manufactured cloth that allows moisture to seep through.

Mulching your garden and plantings can be a very effective way of keeping the soil moist and keeping weeds under control. Happy Mulching!  


























                                

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Plant Starts Protection and Growing Area

Plant Start Stand and Protection

This four tiered plant greenhouse plant stand is a great way to get your plant starts growing early in the season at a reasonable price.

Check it out at thegreenhousekits.com





Sunday, December 11, 2016

Garden With Children

Gardening With Children



Children love to get their hands in the dirt and emulate what the adults are doing. Working side by side with your child creates memories and teaches life lessons. Show them the value of growing plants and they will be lifelong gardeners.
Environmental studies, nutrition, and biology are just a few of the many ways to inspire young minds to the world around us during the gardening process. Besides, growing plants feels magical and spiritual. Gardening teaches patience, attentiveness, and caring. Scientists have found a bacteria in the soil which interacts with our bodies to release serotonin, a brain hormone that makes us feel happiness and fights depression. Gardening is healthy and fun, with the added bonus of getting children away from digital screens. What could be better?

Start by giving your child their own small patch of dirt. Make it close to where you garden, side by side is best. The plot should be easy to get to, sunny and have good soil. An old sandbox is an ideal raised bed option, as long as it is in a sunny area and can be converted easily. A good start is a flower box outside a prominent window where a child can see their plants through the entire growing process. 



It is important to set your child up for success by giving them real tools, not plastic toys. Nothing is more frustrating than using an inadequate tool. There are some adequate tools kits for very little cost. Allowing children to use your tools can build trust and can be an opportunity to teach tool safety and maintenance. Many gardening centers now stock adequate children’s tools.











It is best to begin with seeds so children can be a participant in the complete growing process. It still seems a miracle to me when a sprout bursts from a dried bean. Besides learning the miracle of life, a child can learn the pride and satisfaction from adding healthy foods to family meals. Kids learn how healthy food tastes and smells. The flavor of a fresh picked tomato or snow pea never leaves you.

Get at Barnes and Noble


At first, you will need to step in and help keep plants watered, healthy and growing strong. However, as the child matures and grows more focused, tasks can be re- delegated. It is best to keep this a fun project, letting the child drive their own interest and motivation. 


Make sure to avoid pesticides and manure in your gardens. Going organic is always encouraged as children are especially susceptible to harmful chemicals and microorganisms. Even some of the organic compounds can be dangerous, so make sure to be extra careful when adding anything to the soil or spraying for insects.

Some of the best starter plants for eating are carrots, radishes, lettuce, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, and potatoes. Sunflowers, nasturtiums, and marigolds are all great beginner flowers and are all edible. Strawberries are always fun to grow and can be very successful in a container as well as the ground.

Building great memories is one of the byproducts of getting outside with children. My fondest memories of my grandmother were in her flower garden, tending, pruning and arranging. It was a time when we could relax, talk and laugh. 

So brag about your child’s garden to anyone who will listen and give lots of praise. Showing your excitement is the best way to motivate your child to continue enjoying their garden. And remember, have fun!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Orchard Mason Bee: Good!

  Bug of the Week: Good! 

Orchard Mason Bee

There are many varieties of Mason bees that are so beneficial to pollinating fruit trees that they have become known as Orchard bees. These super pollinators are even better than honey bees at pollinating! 
These bees show up in early spring to mate and start making their nests. Their favorite food is fruit tree pollen, especially, apple, pear and peach trees. 

Their drawback is their short lifespan and they don't make honey.  they have fulfilled their destiny by June. Great for fruit trees, but not too                                                                                       good for the rest of the year in your garden.

The good news is that it is VERY easy to keep these bees, just provide a place for them to nest. They live and reproduce in cracks in wood, so reproducing this using lumber that you drill a grouping of six inch deep holes does the trick. And, unless you grab them and squeeze, their not going to sting you. 

You can purchase a ready made home and "Mason bees in a can" from an online source. But, be aware that you should order the species for your area. Make sure the seller you purchase from asks you where you live and sends you the right type of bee fore your area. 


Buy Bees Here: Crown bees is a good reputable source and won't ship you a non-native variety.  http://www.crownbees.com/

Some sites for bee boxes:

     Planet Natural                                                           Mason Bee Homes

Masonbeehomes.com


Kale

KALE


Kale is one of the healthiest, most nutritious plants you can eat and one of the easiest to grow. It can be cooked or eaten raw.  It grows in every zone and right through the winter. Let it go to seed and you will have Kale forever in your garden. 

Why Grow Kale:


Well, for one, it's easy and beautiful. Kale is loaded with beneficial vitamins (best source for vitamin K), minerals (Cal/Mag) and compounds (Beta Carotene). Kale is a powerful antioxidant, a great source of Vitamin C, can help lower cholesterol and fight cancer. It even has nutrients that can help your eyesight.  And because it is so low in calories and fat can be a great help to those wanting to lose weight. 

Have I sold it yet?

There are many varieties of Kale, so have fun looking over your seed catalogs, the ornamentals are edible, though maybe not as tasty, and can go into your flower gardens freshening up your beds for fall and winter.  

 How to Grow

Mature time:    It takes 2 months for Kale to mature. 


Planting: I like to sow directly in garden in a rich humusy soil, 1/2 inch deep, in early spring.   You can start them indoors, just plant them a bit deeper than they were in the pot. Thin seedlings to 18" apart. You may start fall Kale from June to two months before the first frost, (frost will improve the flavor). 


Watering: Because roots are shallow, mulch to keep moisture constant and help extend harvest into the winter.  Roots often survive through the winter and new growth comes again in spring.

Growing: Ph of soil should be above 5.5, add lime if your soil is acid and to add the calcium that Kale needs. If you want to speed up the growth, side dress an organic liquid fertilizer or manure tea. 

Harvesting: Pick the tender outside leaves as the plant produces leaves from inside out. 


Kale Recipe Links:



Sausage, Potato, Kale Soup

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Goofy Gardener

Be a Goofy Gardener!

Gardening Does Not have to be Serious. Have Fun!