Growing Your Own Herbs

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. While the product might not seem as
significant, you’ll still 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 what I did; just look at what you have 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. Therefore 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? Well first the
process begins with drying them out. This is easily achieved by placing
them on a cookie sheet and baking them 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 4
hours. After they’re sufficiently dried to be used in cooking, you can
consult the nearest cookbook for instructions on using them to effectively
flavor a dish.

If you want to store your herbs for later usage, you should keep them in a
plastic or glass container. Paper or cardboard will not work, because it
will absorb the taste of the herbs. During the first few days of storage,
you should regularly check the container and see if any moisture has
accumulated. If it has, you must remove all the herbs and re-dry them. If
moisture is left from the first drying process, it will encourage mildew
while you store your herbs. Nobody likes mildew.
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Getting Started in Container Gardening

Sometimes, the urge to garden might be stomped out by other circumstances,
such as living arrangements or space constrictions. If you live in an
apartment, you can’t really operate a full garden, just because you don’t
really have a yard! I think that one of the best solutions for this
problem is to grow plants in containers. You can hang these, or just
arrange them on your patio, window sill or balcony. Just a few baskets or
pots, and your whole living area will look much classier and nicer.

A benefit of growing in small containers is the fact that you can move
them around to suit your needs. If you rearrange your furniture and you
think that it would look nicer if it was in the other area, it’s no
trouble at all to scoot it over. As long as the lighting is about the
same, your plant shouldn’t mind the transition at all. Another benefit of
the containers’ versatility is the fact that you can adapt it to simulate
any environment depending on the type of soil you fill it with and where
you place it.

If you are trying to make an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of
containers and plants, you can adjust the containers to be at different
heights by hanging them from the ceiling or placing them on supports.
Hanging them will allow you to make the most of the space you have. This
is called “vertical gardening”. If you pull it off right, you can make a
very pleasing arrangement of plants while conserving your valuable space.
If you live in an apartment, you know how important it is to conserve
space! One method of vertical gardening is the use of a wooden step
ladder. If painted correctly, you can arrange all the plants on it in a
beautiful, stylish cascade of color.

The maintenance of container plants takes slightly more time, since you
have to water more often and go around to each individual container.
However, the square footage for container plants is much less than that of
an actual garden, so the time spent on maintenance and watering is more
balanced. It is important that you don’t over-water your container plants,
as this can be just as fatal to their health as under-watering.

When choosing containers for your plants, you’ll want to buy them all at
once along with some extras in case they break or you add more plants
later. You don’t want them to be all the same shape and size, but
definitely the same style so that the compliment each other. Plastic
containers are the best and require the least amount of watering, but if
you want to stick with clay or earthen pots then you should line the
inside with plastic. This helps it retain water more, as the clay will
soak up water.

Another thing to remember when buying pots is the fact that the size of
the pot will ultimately constrict the size of the plant. Make a careful
choice of pots according to what you wish to grow in each one. If you
search for the plant you chose on the internet, you should be able to find
specifications as to how much root space it should be given. This can even
be an advantage for you if you choose a plant that can grow very large. If
you only have a limited amount of space for it, you can constrict it by
choosing a pot that isn’t large enough to support huge amounts of growth.

If the benefits of container gardening sound appealing to you, then you
should start planning out your container garden today. If you write a list
of all the plants you desire to have, you can do the necessary research to
find out what size and shape of pots you should get. After that, it’s just
a matter of arranging them in a way that makes your home look the nicest.

Gardening Gifts for All Occasions

There is nothing nicer than receiving a gift relating to one’s passion. If your loved one’s passion is gardening, then show your thoughtfulness by giving a gift that will be truly appreciated.
There are so many great gardening gifts that the only constraint is your own budget.

If your budget is small, go for things like gloves, kneepads or even a shady hat. A pretty pot (or a watering-can) filled with a small bag of potting mix, a packet of bulbs, some gloves and a small trowel or other tool will be received with delight by most gardeners. There are many hand tools at hardware stores that are reasonably priced.

If you feel that is too ordinary, how about a subscription to a gardening magazine? A tiny bit more expensive perhaps, but it will give twelve full months of delight. A book on gardening is another idea, but make sure your recipient does not already have the one you choose. Books are often heavily discounted at Christmas time, so you may get a bargain.

On the other hand, a pot that contains a flowering plant is usually a welcomed gift. Be sure to choose a plant that is suited to your climate. Sometimes plants are sent from tropical to temperate zones and kept in artificial conditions in the store. These plants will not do well once taken from their environment. Shrub roses are hardy and attractive and grow in many climates. Tulips do best in the cooler climate.

If your budget is strong, a more expensive tool may be appropriate. A pull-trolley is easier to use than a wheelbarrow and, like some electric tools, is still not terribly expensive. Small electric tools such as whipper-snippers can retail for as little as $20.00. Or if your friend has a hose but not a hose reel, then that would be a more useful gift that he would truly appreciate.

Automatic lawn mowers, electric cultivators, hedge trimmers and brush cutters are in the more expensive price range and you are the only one who can decide whether that is an appropriate gift. However, when the recipient realizes you have given a gift that complements his passion, expensive or not, it will certainly become the best gift

Seven Gardening By the Yard Tips

If you have a tiny yard and would like a simple but well-maintained garden, you only need two things – determination and know-how. Here are some tips on how to keep your garden by the yard looking spruced up and glamorous.

1. Deadheading
Keep your border free from wilted flowers and dried leaves. Deadheading or removing dead flower heads will encourage the plants to produce more blooms for longer. Many perennials such as geraniums and dahlias, and some annuals benefit from having spent blooms removed

3. Pinch out tops.
Certain plants – especially foliage plants like Coleus – respond with a spurt of growth when their tops are pinched out. Pinching out makes the plant much bushier and so more blooms are produced. Fuchsias are prone to becoming leggy unless they are pinched out.

4. Fertilize lightly.
A minimal amount of fertilizer will further boost the growth of your vegetation. If you water your yard frequently, you have to fertilize it more regularly because of nutrient depletion. A fortnightly application of liquid fertilizer is sometimes more beneficial than granules as it is more readily absorbed by the leaves. Container plants will be considerably healthier with a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer applied regularly.

5. Weed out.
This is one of the best ways to preserve the beauty of your garden by the yard. Remember, weeds compete with your plants for both nutrients and moisture. If the weeds are not close to seeding, leave them on the bed to rot down for mulch. If you must use a weedicide, try and get a wick applicator, rather than a spray. This will protect you plants from spray-drift.

6. Water them well
One good tip when it comes to watering your garden by the yard is to give it a thorough soaking once a week, making sure there is no run-off to cause erosion. Deep watering will encourage the growth of deeper roots that will be able to withstand dry spells weatherwise

7. Say no to chemicals
Chemicals are dangerous to humans and often kill the natural predators of the pest in your garden, so avoid them if possible. There are many organic alternatives that work almost as well.

With these simple tips, your garden by the yard will soon be the envy of your neighbors.

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.

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.

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!