Gardening

FIGHTING PLANT ENEMIES.

The devices and implements used for fighting plant enemies are of two sorts:

(1) those used to afford mechanical protection to the plants;

(2) those used to apply insecticides and fungicides.

Of the first the most useful is the covered frame. It consists usually of a wooden box, some eighteen inches to two feet square and about eight high, covered with glass, protecting cloth, mosquito netting or mosquito wire. The first two coverings have, of course, the additional advantage of retaining heat and protecting from cold, making it possible by their use to plant earlier than is otherwise safe. They are used extensively in getting an extra early and safe start with cucumbers, melons and the other vine vegetables.

Simpler devices for protecting newly-set plants, such as tomatoes or cabbage, from the cut-worm, are stiff, tin, cardboard or tar paper collars, which are made several inches high and large enough to be put around the stem and penetrate an inch or so into the soil.

For applying poison powders, the home gardener should supply himself with a powder gun. If one must be restricted to a single implement, however, it will be best to get one of the hand-power, compressed-air sprayers. These are used for applying wet sprays, and should be supplied with one of the several forms of mist-making nozzles, the non-cloggable automatic type being the best. For more extensive work a barrel pump, mounted on wheels, will be desirable, but one of the above will do a great deal of work in little time. Extension rods for use in spraying trees and vines may be obtained for either. For operations on a very small scale a good hand-syringe may be used, but as a general thing it will be best to invest a few dollars more and get a small tank sprayer, as this throws a continuous stream or spray and holds a much larger amount of the spraying solution. Whatever type is procured, get a brass machine it will out-wear three or four of those made of cheaper metal, which succumbs very quickly to the, corroding action of the strong poisons and chemicals used in them.

Of implements for harvesting, beside the spade, prong-hoe and spading- fork, very few are used in the small garden, as most of them need not only long rows to be economically used, but horse- power also. The onion harvester attachment for the double wheel hoe, may be used with advantage in loosening onions, beets, turnips, etc., from the soil or for cutting spinach. Running the hand- plow close on either side of carrots, parsnips and other deep-growing vegetables will aid materially in getting them out. For fruit picking, with tall trees, the wire-fingered fruit-picker, secured to the end of a long handle, will be of great assistance, but with the modern method of using low-headed trees it will not be needed.

Another class of garden implements are those used in pruning but where this is attended to properly from the start, a good sharp jack-knife and a pair of pruning shears will easily handle all the work of the kind necessary.

Still another sort of garden device is that used for supporting the plants; such as stakes, trellises, wires, etc. Altogether too little attention usually is given these, as with proper care in storing over winter they will not only last for years, but add greatly to the convenience of cultivation and to the neat appearance of the garden.

As a final word to the intending purchaser of garden tools, I would say: first thoroughly investigate the different sorts available, and when buying, do not forget that a good tool or a well-made machine will be giving you satisfactory use long, long after the price is forgotten, while a poor one is a constant source of discomfort. Get good tools, and take good care of them. And let me repeat that a few dollars a year, judiciously spent, for tools afterward well cared for, will soon give you a very complete set, and add to your garden profit and pleasure.

Fall Gardening

Many gardeners do not even consider fall gardening because of the winter frosts that might make an early appearance. On the contrary, fall gardening will result in excellent vegetables and will extend crops long after spring planted plants are finished. Vegetables produced from fall gardening are sometimes sweeter and milder than those grow in the summer and offer a brand new taste to the same old veggies.

What you choose to grow during you fall gardening will depend on your available space and what you like to eat, just like spring plants. Even the crops that enjoy the heat, such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, and peppers, will produce until frosts hit, which can be pretty late in the year in southern areas. However, there are some plants that will quit towards the end of summer like snap-beans, summer squash, and cucumbers. If these vegetables are planted around the middle of the summer they can be harvested until the first frosts as well. Hardy, tough vegetables will grow until the temperature is as low as 20 degrees, but those that aren’t as strong will only be able to grow through light frosts. Remember that if you have root and tuber plants and the tops are killed by a freeze the edible part can be saved if a large amount of mulch is used.

When fall gardening, make sure and pick the vegetables with the shortest growing season so they can be full grown and harvested before the frost arrives. Most seed packages will be labeled “early season”, or you can find the seeds boasting the fewest days to maturity. You may want to go after your seeds for fall gardening in spring or early summer; they are usually not kept in stock towards the end of summer. If they are stored in a cool and dry location they will keep until you are ready to plant.

In order to know exactly when the best time to start fall gardening, you must know about when the first hard frost will hit your area. One of the best ways to tell this is by a Farmer’s Almanac. They will give you exact dates and are rarely wrong. You will also need to know exactly how long it is going to take your plants to mature.

To get your soil ready for fall gardening you must first remove any leftover spring/summer crops and weeds. Crops leftover from the last season can end up spreading bacteria and disease if left in the garden. Spread a couple of inches of compost or mulch over the garden area to increase the nutrients, however, if spring plants were fertilized heavily it may not need much, if any. Till the top layer of soil, wet it down, and let it set for about 12-24 hours. Once this has been done, you are ready to start planting.

Many gardeners will run from fall gardening so they don’t have to deal with frosts, but if tough, sturdy vegetables are planted they can withstand a few frosts and give you some wonderful tasting produce. Fall gardening gives you the chance to enjoy your vegetable garden for at least a little bit more time.

EASY TIPS ON HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR PLANTS

Many people worry a lot when it comes to caring for their plants. When talking about house plants, there is no need to worry. There are just a few things you need to consider.

1. Watering
Overwatering kills most houseplants. Looks can be deceptive, so to see if your soil is dry enough to water, try the finger test. Insert your index finger up to the first joint into the soil. If the soil is damp, don’t water it.

2. Feeding
Foliage plants usually have high nitrogen needs, while flowering plants, K2O is needed. Slow release fertilizers can be mixed with the compost. However, certain plants like cacti and orchids need special fertilizer. Feed plants during their most active growth period.

3. Lighting
Plants like Sanseveria and Aspidistra require no sun. They can be placed away from a window. Spider plants need semi-shade. You can put plants like these near a window that does or does not get sunlight. Check the label to see what your plant needs.

4. Temperature
Houseplants can survive in cool or warm temperatures, but drastic fluctuations of temperature may not be good for them. One thing that most plants cannot survive is gas heating. If you have a plant that likes warm conditions, don’t put it near an air conditioner in the summer.

5. Humidity
Some houseplants require a humid environment. One tip to maximize humidity is to put the pot inside a larger pot and fill in the gaps with stones or compost to keep in the moisture. Grouping plants together often creates a microclimate that they will benefit from. If you want, you can spray them with water once or twice a day depending on the temperature.

6. Re-potting
Some plants require re-potting for optimum growth but there are others that resent having their roots disturbed. Or their roots system may be small enough that they don’t require re-potting. One way to check if your plant needs re-potting is to turn it upside down. Tap the pot to release the plant and check its roots. If roots are all you see, then re-pot. Sometimes the roots will come out of the pot. You should either cut them off or re-pot the plant.

You just need to have a little care for your plants and in turn, you’ll reap the benefits. Indoor plants not only add to the beauty of your décor, but also give much pleasure to the indoor gardener.

Dealing with Garden Pests

While tending to my own garden, I have found that one of the most
frustrating things that can happen to a gardener is to walk outside to
check on your plants. It’s just a routine walk to make sure that your
garden is thriving, but you end up finding holes in all of your plants
that looked fine only hours before. The explanations for some of these
plant-destroying holes are garden pests. Some of the main garden pests are
slugs, worms, caterpillars, birds, snails, and the occasional gopher.
Although you can never wipe out these pests entirely, after all your hard
work in the garden you have to do something.

Insects are one of the worst things to have in your garden; they can live
under the soil, in old weeds or piles of leaves, or in a number of other
places. In order to help keep insects away, always try and eliminate
places in your garden and near your garden that these insects and other
plant diseases could be living. Remove old leaves, weeds, or any other
decaying matter that insects and diseases could be living in from your
yard. Also, regularly turn over your garden soil and break apart any
clumps of dirt so that you can eliminate the living spaces any insects
that might be hiding underground.

Another way to rid your garden of the pests is to use dormant spray, which
is used to keep destructive insects and diseases under control. It is best
that you use dormant spray when your plants are dormant, usually around
February or early March. I have used dormant spray many times on my garden
and it has worked wonders on keeping insects out. But as I learned from
experience, dormant spray is only effective if you follow the correct
instructions. When I first decided to use some on my garden, I just dumped
it everywhere in hopes of killing everything harmful. Unfortunately I
ended up killing my entire garden along with my neighbors. Some insects
can be beneficial to your garden though, so be sure to find out which
insects help your garden.

Another pest problem I’ve had besides insects has been birds. Whenever I
see birds in my garden I run outside a chase them away, but as soon as I
step inside they come right back. The solution that I’ve come up with to
keep the birds away from my garden is to put a bird feeder in my yard.
Instead of costing me time and money by eating my garden, the birds eat at
the bird feeder. In the long run it’ll save you money. Not only can a bird
feeder help keep birds away from your garden, but they can also be a new
part of your yard decoration. Although not completely eliminating my bird
problem, my bird feeder has made the problem smaller. Getting a dog has
also helped.

If you start seeing mounds of dirt around your yard, and your plants keep
unexplainably dieing, you can assume that you have a gopher problem.
Thankfully, this is one of the few garden pasts that I haven’t had.
However my friend has struggled with a tremendous gopher infestation, so I
decided to research it. Gophers are rodents that are five to fourteen
inches long. Their fur can be black, light brown, or white, and they have
small tails. One method of getting rid of these root-eating pests is to
set traps. The key to successfully capturing a gopher using a trap is to
successfully locate the gopher’s tunnels and set the trap correctly.
Another way to get rid of them is to use smoke bombs, which you place into
the tunnel and the smoke spreads through out it and hopefully reaches the
gopher.

If you suspect that your gardens are being pillaged by any of the pests I
mentioned, I encourage you to try your hardest to eliminate the problem as
soon as possible. The longer you let the species stay, the more
established it will become.

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Creating Microclimates to Facilitate Growth

Many gardeners live in areas where almost anything can grow effortlessly.
Just plant the seeds and water it for a few weeks, and you’ve got a
beautifully lush plant. But if you live in somewhere like Colorado, you’ll
understand what its like to have a slim selection of plants that naturally
grow. It can be quite a challenge to facilitate the growth of a large
variety of plants, especially when the very world you live in seems to be
rooting against you.

Some people solve this problem by loading up their plants with every type
of chemical and fertilizer known to man. This usually works, but to me it
seems kind of unnatural to rely on man made materials to keep your plants
alive. Also, if I’m growing fruits or vegetables, I don’t feel very
comfortable eating something that is entirely composed of chemicals.

A gardening theory that I have relied on in the past to grow many types of
plants is that of creating a “microclimate” for each type of plant. This
is when you regulate the sunlight, shade, moisture, and wind factors for
each separate plant. It sounds like a challenge, and it is. But you can
regulate these factors in such a way that the plant feels just like it is
in the ideal growing conditions. This can be achieved by the use of wind
barriers, shading umbrellas, extra water, or different types or amounts of
compost.

If you’re ready to make an attempt at creating microclimates, you’ll need
to make a detailed plan in advanced. You should start by finding a large
shade providing bush or tree that will grow fast and naturally in your
area. Just look at some undeveloped plots of land and see what is there.
Most likely it grew on its own without any planting or care. This is what
you want to happen. Usually the growing of one plant can bring about the
growing of another more desirable plant.

If you have a fence in your backyard (you would be surprised at how many
people don’t) then you already have a good amount of shade to work with.
You can start the microclimate process using just the shade of the fence,
combined with (perhaps) a screen or large bush to shade your new plant for
the other half of the day that the fence doesn’t take care of. The fence
is also useful for shading against wind for very fragile plants.

Once you have established the shade, be it natural or unnatural, you have
created a slightly less harsh miniature environment. You must remember
this is a gradual process, and find a new plant to put in the shade of the
other one. Now your choices are a little more open. You don’t have to go
with a rugged plant like the one you did before; you can now choose a
plant that survives in cooler weather.

If the plant you are trying to grow next requires more moisture in the air
than your area provides, installing a fountain or small pond can fix this
problem due to the evaporation. You may think you don’t want to waste
water on a pond or fountain, but it’s all going toward the betterment of
your garden. It’s just like the watering process, only indirect. As an
added benefit, usually fountains are quite aesthetically attractive and a
great addition to your garden.

I can’t explain every stage of the process, because everyone’s goals and
setups are slightly different. But to reach your goal, you should do
research on every plant that you would like to have in your garden. Find
out everything you can about the zone that it flourishes in, and ask
yourself how you can emulate that zone within your own backyard. Almost
always you can take control of the environment and recreate whatever you
wish. Usually all it takes is some planning and strategy.

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Creating a Raised Bed

If your current planting goals involve plants that require good water drainage, I am sure you know how frustrating it is to have a yard that just won’t cooperate. Some plants can handle the excess water that comes about from being in an area that doesn’t drain properly. In fact, it might just cause them to bloom more lushly. However, other plants don’t cope as well, and it will cause them to die a gruesome, bloated death. You should always find out about the drainage required for every plant you buy, and make sure that it won’t conflict with any of the areas you are considering planting it in.

In order to test how much water your designated patch of soil will retain, dig a hole approximately ten inches deep. Fill it with water, and come back in a day when all the water had disappeared. Fill it back up again. If the 2nd hole full of water isn’t gone in 10 hours, your soil has a low saturation point. This means that when water soaks into it, it will stick around for a long time before dissipating. This is unacceptable for almost any plant, and you are going to have to do something to remedy it if you want your plants to survive.

The usual method for improving drainage in your garden is to create a raised bed. This involves creating a border for a small bed, and adding enough soil and compost to it to raise it above the rest of the yard by at least 5 inches. You’ll be amazed at how much your water drainage will be improved by this small modification. If you’re planning to build a raised bed, your prospective area is either on grass or on dirt. For each of these situations, you should build it slightly differently.

If you want to start a raised garden in a non grassy area, you won’t have much trouble. Just find some sort of border to retain the dirt you will be adding. I’ve found that there is nothing that works quite as well as a few two by fours. After you’ve created the wall, you must put in the proper amount soil and steer manure. Depending on how long you plan to wait before planting, you will want to adjust the ratio to allow for any deteriorating that may occur.

If you’re trying to install a raised bed where sod already exists, you will have a slightly more difficult time. You will need to cut the sod around the perimeter of the garden, and flip it over. This may sound simple, but you will need something with a very sharp edge to slice the edges of the sod and get under it. Once you have turned it all upside down, it is best to add a layer of straw to discourage the grass from growing back up. After the layer of straw, simply add all the soil and steer manure that a normal garden would need.

Planting your plants in your new area shouldn’t pose much difficulty. It is essentially the same process as your usual planting session. Just be sure that the roots don’t extent too far into the original ground level. The whole point of creating the raised bed is to keep the roots out of the soil which saturates easily. Having long roots that extend that far completely destroys the point.

Once you have plants in your new bed, you’ll notice an almost immediate improvement. The added soil facilitates better root development. At the same time, evaporation is prevented and decomposition is discouraged. All of these things added together makes for an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow in. So don’t be intimidated by the thought of adjusting the very topography of your yard. It is a simple process as I’m sure you’ve realized, and the long term results are worth every bit of work.

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Choosing and Planting Perennials

If you’ve been growing a vegetable garden for a while, you might be feeling slightly disgruntled at how plain it is to look at. I too began my gardening career with a vegetable garden, but I decided that it wasn’t quite as pleasing to look at as I would have liked. I heard from a friend that the use of perennial flowers could be a great way to liven up my garden without adding any extra work for me.

Perennial flowers are strong, local flowers that come back every year without having to replant or do any extra work. During their off seasons, the flowers and stems die back and you can hardly even tell the plant is there (rather than just dying and looking like hideous brown clumps in your garden). When it’s time to bloom, entirely new flowers shoot up where the old ones were.

Before deciding whether to put in perennials or not, you need to make sure that your soil has proper drainage. If the water stays saturated for long periods of time, you should build a raised bed. To test, dig a hole and fill it with water. Wait a day, and then fill it with water again. All traces of water should be gone within 10 hours. If the hole isn’t completely dry, you will need to build a raised bed.

Picking your perennials can be a complicated process. The goal should be to have them flowering as much as possible during the year, so you should create an outline of the year. Research the different types of flower you want, and create a timeline of flowering. If you plan it right, you can have a different type of flower blooming at any point in the year. Getting just the right mixture of seeds can give your yard a constantly changing array of colors.

When you go to buy the seeds from your local florist or nursery, you might be able to find a custom seed mixture for your area. This takes the really tough research part out of the job. Usually these blends are optimized for the local climate, and do great jobs of having flowers always grow in your yard. If one of these isn’t available, you can ask the employees what they think would be a good mixture. They should be happy to help you put something together which will be optimal for whatever you desire.

You should definitely use mulch when planting perennials. This will reduce the overall amount of work you have to do, by reducing the amount of weeds and increasing the water retention. Bark or pine needles work great, I have found, and depending on the rest of your yard you might have them on hand at no charge. As for fertilizer, you should use it sparingly once your plants start to come to life.

When you actually go to plant the seeds, you should put them in small, separate clumps according to the directions. This is because they tend to spread out, and if you have too many too close together then they will end up doing nothing but choking each other out. As you plant them, throw in a little bit of extremely weak fertilizer. In no time at all you should start to see flowers blooming up.

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Choosing a Garden that is Perfect for You

If you’re thinking about starting a garden, the first thing you need to
consider is what type of garden you will have. There are many different
choices and often it can be hard to pick just one, but hopefully you can
narrow it down. But by narrowing it down, you’ll make the gardening
experience easier on yourself and the plants. If all your plants are
similar, then it shouldn’t be very hard to care for them all. So here are
some of the main garden ideas for you to choose from.

If you’re just looking for something to look nice in your yard, you’ll
want a flower garden. These are usually filled with perennial flower.
Perennial flowers are flowers which stay healthy year-round. They’re
basically weeds because of their hardiness, only nice looking. Different
areas and climates have different flowers which are considered perennials.
If you do a quick internet search for your area, you can probably find a
list of flowers that will bring your flower garden to life. These usually
only require work in the planting stage – after that, the flower take care
of themselves. The only downside to this is that you don’t have any
product to show for it.

Another choice for your garden is to have a vegetable garden. These
usually require a little more work and research than a flower garden, but
can be much more rewarding. No matter what time of the year it is, you can
usually find one vegetable that is still prospering. That way you can have
your garden be giving you produce almost every day of the year! When
starting a vegetable garden, you should build it with the thought in mind
that you will be adding more types of veggies in later. This will help
your expandability. Once all your current crops are out of season, you
won’t be stuck with almost nowhere to put the new crops. A vegetable
garden is ideal for someone who wants some produce, but doesn’t want to
devote every waking hour to perfecting their garden (see below.)

One of the more difficult types of gardens to manage is a fruit garden.
It’s definitely the most high-maintenance. When growing fruits, many more
pests will be attracted due to the sweetness. You not only have to deal
with having just the right dirt and fertilizer, you have to deal with
choosing a pesticide that won’t kill whoever eats the fruits. Your fruit
garden will probably not produce year-round. The soil needs to be just
right for the plants to grow, and putting in another crop during its
off-season could be disastrous to its growth process. If you’re willing to
put lots of work into maintaining a garden, then a fruit garden could be a
good choice for you.

So now that I’ve outlined some of the main garden types that people
choose, I hope you can make a good decision. Basically, the garden type
comes down to what kind of product you want, and how much work you want to
put into it. If you’re looking for no product with no work, go with a
flower garden. If you want lots of delicious product, but you are willing
to spend hours in your garden each day, then go for a fruit garden. Just
make sure you don’t get into something you can’t handle!

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Vegetable Gardening Tips

With the costs of living rising all the time, it may be possible to save money and increase your family’s health at the same time by growing vegetables in your backyard.

It’s a good idea to choose your favourite vegetables to grow and plan beds for early, middle of the season and late varieties.

Most vegetables require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, some need 8. Some quick growers like lettuce and radish can be grown between the rows of plants that take longer to mature, like beet or corn, thus making full use of the area available.

Throughout dry periods, vegetable gardens need extra watering. Most vegetables benefit from an inch or more of water each week, especially when they are fruiting.

During the growing season watch for insect pests. If you discover a bug problem early it will be much easier, but be careful to not use pesticides once the vegetable are close to being picked unless it becomes an absolute necessity. Organic gardening is one healthy and environment-friendly option. Once you have reaped your crop, put the vegetable waste into your compost pile so that it can be recycled for next spring.

It is important to protect your vegetable garden from wild animals looking for a tasty treat. Make sure your garden is surrounded by a fence that will keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals. The harm done by wandering animals during one season can equal the cost of a fence. A fence also can serve as a frame for peas, beans, tomatoes, and other crops that need support.

Protection is needed in order for your vegetable garden to yield a bountiful harvest. Hard work will pay dividends if necessary precautions have been made.

Safe Pest Control Tips

Pest control must be done with utmost consideration to safety; safety in terms of the plants, animals and humans. This holds especially true for those with vegetable and organic gardens.

The main purpose of growing vegetables organically will be defeated if they become tainted with pest control chemicals.

Here are a few long-term maintenance tips to make pest control less damaging and more environmentally friendly.

1. Use the physical pest control process.

This may be accomplished through picking grubs off by hand, creating barriers and traps and plugging holes. Snails can be found hiding in damp places under rocks and towrds the base of those plants with straplike foliage.

2. Apply biological pest control.

Encourage predatory insects such as green lacewings and dragonflies to feed on aphids and other pests that attack your plants. You can do this by placing a shallow bowl of water in the garden. Dragonflies especially will hover around water. Bacterial insecticides such as B. thuringiensis could also be used against caterpillars.

3. Only as a last resort should we turn to chemical pest control.

Organic pest control methods can be successful and the ingredients for many of the recipes can be found in the kitchen cupboards. If chemical sprays are really necessary, try and find the least-toxic. These include insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, dehydrating dusts, etc.

4. Consider the use of safer pest control substitutes.

Recipes for alternative pest control include the following:

Against Green Aphids and Mites – Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid soap and a cup of vegetable oil. Dilute a teaspoon of this solution in a cup of water and spray on aphids and mites.

Against Cockroaches – Dusts of boric acid can be applied to cracks or entry points of these insects. Bay leaves on pantry shelves could also help in warding off these critters.

Make sure that the chemicals you use are made specifically for the insects you are targeting.