No Dig Gardening

May 8th, 2009

 

The idea of no-dig gardening was developed by an Australian named Esther Deans. It was originally both developed both as a labor saving idea, and a method to rejuvenate badly depleted soil in a vegetable garden.The process involves starting with layers of newspaper, and by adding lucerne hay, straw and compost in succeeding layers, you can create a growing medium without resorting to heavy digging, and one that is rich in nutrients and which will simplify weeding and encourage your much desired plants to grow. The layers compost together, and greatly encourage earthworms. The gardens are maintained by adding manure, compost, etc., and should not be dug up, as this will undo the good work. I have used this approach to creating vegetable gardens, and it certainly does work.

The principle of not digging has sound foundations. Excessive cultivation of the soil, especially when very wet or very dry, will damage the structure of the soil, and lead to compaction. Such excessive cultivation can also discourage the earthworms, and they are the best free labor a gardener has.

Some followers of permaculture and organic gardening have translated no-dig into never-dig, which I believe is sadly mistaken. If you start with a base soil that is badly compacted, then your no-dig garden will initially work well, but you may find your garden does not continue to perform well. The fertile layer you have built up will encourage the earthworms, but we do know that the worms need to shelter from excessively hot, dry, cold or wet conditions. They have been found to seek shelter from extreme conditions by burrowing more deeply into the soil, sometime many feet down. If they cannot shelter in this way, it is my contention that they will die out or move out.

My belief is that an initial cultivation of the soil before you apply the no-dig system will guarantee a better environment for the worms, and thus a better garden for growing your plants, over the longer term.

By all means give the no-dig approach a try – you will be pleased with the result.

Growing Vegetables

February 21st, 2009

I can hear you thinking that you have no idea about growing vegetables. The truth is that you can easily learn enough to be growing useful crops very quickly, and each session spent in your garden teaches you even more. You will learn much that is unique to your own situation, such as local soil conditions, your particular aspect in relation to the sun, and oddities that relate to your local microclimate. You will learn most of this by getting out and giving it a go.

The taste of home grown vegetables is vastly superior to that of the commercially grown produce. Have you heard people complain that tomatoes no longer have any taste? They will have when you grow your own – you will never taste better. The lack of taste with the commercial crop is not all the fault of the growers, as they are under pressure to produce a crop, of uniform size and colour, to the schedule of the wholesale market, and ultimately the supermarket. You set your own schedule.

The freshness of your own crop is a big plus. Vegetables I have bought from the supermarket, and stored in the refrigerator, have started to become inedible after a few days. I have had home grown produce still fresh in the refrigerator after 2 weeks!

Typically, your home garden will produce a generous yield, and can readily help pay for the cost of growing them. You can effectively end up having free vegetables. Summer, especially, is usually a time of abundance, even glut, as family and friends leave your place with perhaps more produce than they had expected to see. A tip – when giving away fresh produce, try to limit your generosity – it is better to give a small amount to many rather than to give to the few more than they can actually use.

One of the turn-offs to trying something you have not done before is the intimidating flood of information (and misinformation) you will receive.

If you are browsing one of the major bookstores, you may find hundreds of books on the topic – which do you buy? To begin with, look for the simple, basic information. Do not bother with those full of jargon – you will learn the technical terms as you go.

You will hear folklore from the family, such as “Uncle Henry always put … (you name it) … on his … (name it again)”. Folklore is part of our heritage, but there is no guarantee of its usefulness.

You will hear from the office genius, who has done nothing, but still knows all the answers – nod wisely, and then ignore him.

Plants evolved millions of years before humans, and they actually want to grow. It has been said that in many cases plants grow despite what we do to help them. If you provide the basics, and these are reasonable nutrition and regular watering, Mother Nature does the rest – let her work for you.

A GARDEN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

February 21st, 2009

You can have the most elaborated back yard from the entire neighborhood, but if it isn’t functional you have built it in vain. We all want to have beautiful and flourishing gardens, but when we have a family, we must also take into consideration the needs of the other members of it. Divide the space of your yard in two or three visual spaces, one for play and relaxation, one for gardening and maybe one for pets.An open space, covered by lawn is ideal for your children. Here you can install a table for open air lunches or for a romantic summer evening dinner.

Do you have a fireplace? Keep a portion of your garden especially for depositing fire woods, but make sure it is at a considerable distance from the house or animals that can cause damage.

How about pets? You can build for these little members of your family special spaces, in which they can play and exercise. Before you plant bushes and ornamental plants, surround the pet space. Cats and dogs tend to be attracted exactly by the things we try to keep them away from.

Keep the by-passers’ eyes away from your personal life. Before planning the scenery, you must have in sight a place for the garbage cans. It wouldn’t be very nice to have a wonderful garden right next to the garbage cans. These can be efficiently hidden in some kind of surrounded space, decorated on the sides with life fence.

Functionality is an important factor in your garden, so you have to think about children, little pets and family assets before you plant anything. Save a portion of the yard especially for you, in which you can plant whatever you want and leave for the others some space to breathe freely.

You will find it more satisfying this way, once the whole family is happy with your garden and they might even bring their personal ideas for it. It is important that personal space is respected and that is why the garden must not be very wide, taking up all available space. Build from time to time a pathway or some benches where you can just relax and admire your work.

Looking for just the right landscaping plant?

September 20th, 2008

Finding the perfect landscaping plant is not such an easy job. There are so many different plants for you to choose from and each will have its own special ways that make is a great find for your yard. You can choose any kind of landscaping plant that will compliment your particular yard, just make sure that the landscaping plant that you choose can live in your climate. Not all landscaping plants can thrive in all areas so talk to your local plant specialist. The place where you usually get your plants may be able to help you with your selection of landscaping plant.

There are many different kinds of landscaping plants for you to choose from and some of the best ones are the ones that you would normally never think of. For example if you want to have a gorgeous border you can use sage plants. This is the perfect landscaping plant for any home especially yours. You can do so much with this great landscaping plant. Not only can you make wonderful borders with it you can also add them to pretty herb gardens.

What makes herb gardens to fun is that they are not only pretty to look at they are also practical. You can use all of the herbs that you grow as a landscaping plant in your cooking. Cooking with herbs is such a wonderful bonus to having a gorgeous landscaping plant.

When you are looking for a landscaping plant you will also need to take into consideration what time of year it happens to be. You cannot usually go into a gardening store looking for a landscaping plant in the middle of winter and find a summer bloom. Your shopping will have to be at least a little seasonal. Your landscaping plant, some of them anyway, will have to be purchased at certain times of the year.

You can find a landscaping plant that is annual or one that is perennial. An annual landscaping plant will need to be bought and purchased anew each year where as a perennial landscaping plant will grow back each year on its own. Some perennial plants like tulips for instance will double in number each year if left alone. When there gets to be too many in one spot of this kind of landscaping plant you can simply dig down and split some of them up and plant them elsewhere.

Which Type Of Plants Should Be In Your Garden?

September 6th, 2008

Gardening Plants

When it comes to gardening plants, there are too many to name. Gardening plants can refer to flowers, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and many more. There are also gardening plants that are in season at different times of the year, some in fall and winter, others in spring and summer. Whatever type of gardening you decide is your forte; there are plenty of gardening plants available to suit your preferences.

If you want gardening plants that you can actually use instead of just look at, vegetables, herbs, and fruits are all very satisfying. Edible plants add an excitement to gardening because of the produce available at harvest time. The main vegetables grown in smaller, home gardens as well as larger ones include corn, peas, cucumbers, potatoes, squash, peppers, onions, carrots, spinach, lettuce, and beets. Popular fruits are pears, plums, tomatoes, blueberries, apricots, cherries, and strawberries. Herbs are used for their wonderful fragrances, to spice up a salad, and in cooking. Herbs that are often home grown include thyme, sage, dill, mint, lavender, and chives.

It is fairly easy to have a colorful garden in the spring and summer months, but it is a whole different ball-game during the cold, winter months. Even though it is difficult, with planning and a little more care you can have a colorful garden year round. One gardening plant that thrives in the fall and winter months is the Rudbeckia, a beautiful yellow perennial. Others include the Christmas rose, the Japanese Anemone, and Cosmos.

When you think of flowers you automatically think of a spring garden full of many different, beautiful colors. Spring and summer gardening plants are some of the prettiest things on earth and give inspiration to all who grow them. Some of the most grown spring plants are tulips, daffodils, and violets. Favorites of the warmer months of summer are lilies, dahlias, and roses.

When gardening, many people will opt for decorative grasses or shrubs. Monkey grass is an all time favorite, especially for a sidewalk. These will gardening plants can be for looks, can act as a border or fence, and can be used for privacy. Shrubs are easy to take care of and add a defining look to any yard or garden.

There are so many different kinds of gardening plants available. Many gardening plants actually have a purpose and can be used, whereas many of them are just for looks. The kind of gardening plant you choose to have in your garden is completely up to you, but remember, no matter what kind it is, it will require some maintenance and without proper care you will end up with a garden full of just dirt.

Shaping Trees for Different Situations

August 25th, 2008

Through the use of pruning techniques, it is possible to shape your tree to a certain style. There are seven main tree shapes that all have their own benefits for certain situations. During the growth of the tree, simply cut off the unneeded branches, tie the wanted branches into the proper shape, and you will be able to shape it however you want. However, for some of the more advanced shapes, equally advanced pruning techniques are required. There are many books written on this subject.

Usually, if you’re trying to get your tree to a certain shape, all the tying and pruning should occur in the fall. This will encourage the shape to stick, since no fruits will be produced at that point in time. Each of the different shapes is very useful in certain situations. So, here are some different types of shapes you are able to choose from.

Standard trees hardly need any explanation. These are the varieties that are most common, and probably what you picture when you think of any tree. No specific shaping is required to get the shape to take this form. Just let it go and prune it as you would normally, and unless you have a strangely deformed tree then it should end up being a standard tree.

It is possible to turn a standard tree into a bush tree through pruning. The branches take the same shape, but the stem or trunk of the tree is noticeably shorter. This can be beneficial if you want to grow trees, but don’t want to block the view. For example, my house has a great view of the Rocky Mountains. I didn’t want to sacrifice this gorgeous view, so I grew my trees up as bush trees.

Cordons are a type of tree that you might not be familiar with. It consists of one stem with no branches. It is planted at an angle so that it arches up over the ground. Through the course of its growth, all branches are removed. These are beneficial because they take up very small amounts of space and more can be fit in a certain square footage. The only negative aspect is that they produce smaller amounts of fruit per tree.

Espalier trees grow with a single vertical stem in the center, and several horizontal branches on each side. These allow for long rows of trees, while still producing large amounts of fruit. If you operate an orchard, you probably use this shape to fit as many trees as possible into the area you have.

Fan trees use the same theory as espalier trees. However, the shape is slightly different. The same central vertical stem is used, but the connected branches are not horizontal; they grow in the same pattern as a standard tree, only they are two dimensional rather than three dimensional. They are also used to save space, and are used instead of espalier trees for certain types of trees that do better with sloped branches.

Another type of espalier is the step-over espalier. They are like a normal espalier, but with just one horizontal branch very close to the ground. They are particularly interesting because they still produce delicious fruit while providing a border for whatever you want. I have used step-over trees to fence of my garden. They are definitely my favorite shape of tree, mainly because they are like a fence that bears fruit. What’s not to love?

As you can see, each of these shapes has its own benefits and negative aspects as well. If any of these sounds like they would be a good fit for your garden, you can ask your local nursery employees for advice on reading material that will help you achieve your goals. Most of the time, getting the tree into the desired shape is a very easy process and just requires some guidance at the beginning.

Types of Lawnmowers

August 9th, 2008

Lawnmowers began as human-driven machines which are used to cut grass. While they still perform the same basic function, many varieties of lawnmowers have been developed throughout the decades in order to cater to clients with different needs as well as to take advantage of new advances in technology.

Below is a list of some of the most common types of lawnmowers.

1. Reel/cylinder

- this is one of the most basic and common types of mowers around. This maybe powered several ways such as human-power and others by using an internal combustion engine. It basically works by having a roller with blades which then cuts the grass.

2. Rotary

- unlike the reel mower, rotary mowers have rotary blades to cut the grass. Most mowers of this type are powered by internal combustion engines although some operate using electric power. Typical residential-type rotary mowers cut the grass and either discharge it on the lawn or keep it in a bag.

3. Ride-on

- this type of mower has a size that is fit for the job that it can do. Ride-on mowers are typically used on larger lawns such as school grounds. Because of this kind of demand, they are usually fitted with several blades to cut a wider area.

4. Hover mower

- as its name suggests, this type of mower hovers over the ground to cut the grass. While they may look like novelty items, hover mowers do a good job at cutting tall grass and even shrubs because of their unique ability to float.

See also Buying A Lawnmower? Consider this first…

Buying A Lawnmower? Consider this first…

August 9th, 2008

Lawnmower Buying Guide

If you’re looking out to buy a lawnmower to take care of your lawn or would simply want to buy one to replace your old workhorse, there are several things that you have to consider.

We have listed them down below for your quick reference.

1. Consider the size of your lawn

- this is one thing you have to keep in mind when buying a mower. The size of your lawn will pretty much decide what kind of mower you’ll get for yourself. And while there are honest salesmen out there, knowing what your specific needs are keep you from getting scammed by unscrupulous ones.

2. Human power, electricity or fuel?

- it is also important to be familiar with the different types of lawnmowers according to their power needs. Human-powered ones are earth-friendly (they produce no emissions) but they are more labor-intensive. Meanwhile, electric-powered ones also don’t produce any harmful emissions but may be more expensive. Finally, fuel-powered mowers are more common although they produce emissions that would otherwise be harmful to humans and the environment.

3. Money matters

- whether you like it or not, your budget will always be a deciding factor when buying a lawnmower, or anything for that matter. So keep in mind how much you will be willing
to spend before even hitting the store. This prevents you from overspending because of impulse buying. But then again, no matter how much money you have, you are always sure to get the value out of your lawnmower. With a typical lifespan of over a decade, a mower is always a good investment.

Related Post “Types of Lawnmowers”

Must Have Gardening Tools No Gardener Should Be Without

August 2nd, 2008

What good would a green thumb do you if you do not have some of the very essential gardening tools to make your job go a lot smoother? Here are some basics that every good gardener should have beginning with the novice all the way up to the “professional” gardener.

Gloves – You should have a good pair of waterproof gloves that fit well. You should also find some that have long cuffs. Gardening gloves seem to be best suited to fit men so women will probably have to hunt to find a good pair.

Sun hat – You should have a hat with a wide brim equipped with a drawstring cord. This should provide adequate protection from the sun. You have to make sure that your hat will not be lifted aloft when those spring winds come.

Canvas apron – A good apron to have is one that has pockets to fit some of your tools in as well as your phone. This is good when you don’t always have a chance to put on your grubbiest clothes.

Five-gallon bucket – This comes in handy to tote your tools around with you as you make your way through the flower beds. You can always toss weeds in as you are working!

Spade – This is an important tool to have but one that can easily get misplaced or thrown out by accident. It would be a good idea to get some brightly-colored tape to wrap around the handle so it will show up against the grass.

Pruners – These are great to clip back woody stems. You will get a nice, clean cut that will minimize any injury to plant tissue.

Hand rake – This is just a little bit larger than a spade and does a great job in fluffing up mulch or in turning up very young weeds.

Wild Flower Gardening part 2

July 26th, 2008

Read Wild Flower Gardening part 1 here

The other March flower mentioned is the saxifrage. This belongs in quite a different sort of environment. It is a plant which grows in dry and rocky places. Often one will find it in chinks of rock. There is an old tale to the effect that the saxifrage roots twine about rocks and work their way into them so that the rock itself splits. Anyway, it is a rock garden plant. I have found it in dry, sandy places right on the borders of a big rock. It has white flower clusters borne on hairy stems.

The columbine is another plant that is quite likely to be found in rocky places. Standing below a ledge and looking up, one sees nestled here and there in rocky crevices one plant or more of columbine. The nodding red heads bob on wiry, slender stems. The roots do not strike deeply into the soil; in fact, often the soil hardly covers them. Now, just because the columbine has little soil, it does not signify that it is indifferent to the soil conditions. For it always has lived, and always should live, under good drainage conditions. I wonder if it has struck you, how really hygienic plants are? Plenty of fresh air, proper drainage, and good food are fundamentals with plants.

It is evident from study of these plants how easy it is to find out what plants like. After studying their feelings, then do not make the mistake of huddling them all together under poor drainage conditions.

I always have a feeling of personal affection for the bluets. When they come I always feel that now things are beginning to settle down outdoors. They start with rich, lovely, little delicate blue blossoms. As June gets hotter and hotter their colour fades a bit, until at times they look quite worn and white. Some people call them Quaker ladies, others innocence. Under any name they are charming. They grow in colonies, sometimes in sunny fields, sometimes by the road-side. From this we learn that they are more particular about the open sunlight than about the soil.

If you desire a flower to pick and use for bouquets, then the wild geranium is not your flower. It droops very quickly after picking and almost immediately drops its petals. But the purplish flowers are showy, and the leaves, while rather coarse, are deeply cut. This latter effect gives a certain boldness to the plant that is rather attractive. The plant is found in rather moist, partly shaded portions of the woods. I like this plant in the garden. It adds good colour and permanent colour as long as blooming time lasts, since there is no object in picking it.

There are numbers and numbers of wild flowers I might have suggested. These I have mentioned were not given for the purpose of a flower guide, but with just one end in view your understanding of how to study soil conditions for the work of starting a wild-flower garden.

If you fear results, take but one or two flowers and study just what you select. Having mastered, or better, become acquainted with a few, add more another year to your garden. I think you will love your wild garden best of all before you are through with it. It is a real study, you see.