Tips for Container Gardening in Cold Climates

Container gardening becomes a challenging task in the winter and during cold weather because soil in a pot could potentially freeze. This is why you have to follow several important rules when trying to create a container garden in a cold climate.

Choose the Right Containers
There are so many possibilities for plant containers, how do you choose the ones that will withstand the effects of the cold weather?

Every container that you pick should have drainage holes that allow the moisture to leave the soil. Adding some rocks, sand or gravel at the bottom of the container before adding the soil will improve the drainage even further.

Choose a material that will remain intact despite low temperatures. Ceramic pots, for example, will possibly crack. Thin plastic is a bad idea, as well. The best materials for cold climate plant containers include metal, stone, concrete, fiberglass and thick plastic.

Choose the Right Plants
Some plants are very sensitive and incapable of surviving in cold climates. Whether you want to plant flowers or vegetables, the selection of the right plant species will be determining for the outcome of your efforts.

Regional plants are the best ones because they are accustomed to the climate. Refrain from trying exotic species because they will need a lot of heat and sunlight.

Hardy plants that will thrive in cold climates include ivy, coral bells, sedum, smokebush, winter pansies, heather, aster, chrysanthemum, dwarf hemlock, flowering kale, sedge, licorice plant, hens-and-chicks, fountaingrass and strawflowers.

These plants are tough and capable of surviving during the autumn and the winter. Make sure you follow the plant care instructions for optimal results.

Taking Care of Your Plants in Cold Climates
The manner in which you fertilize, water and protect your plants from the cold will determine their growth.

Start fertilizing a few weeks before the first frost date is expected in your region. All of the new growth should take place while the weather is still relatively mild. The cold and the frost will otherwise kill the delicate new leaves and stems.

There are several things you can do to winter proof your containers and to prevent them from freezing. Wrapping the pots in an old blanket is one of the easiest ways to keep the plant roots inside warm. Refrain from placing your pots on a concrete surface. When the weather is cold, concrete will drain away the warmth from the pots.

A plant lamp will provide your garden with the light needed for plant growth during the cold, cloudy months. The plant lamp or grow light stimulates essential processes by emitting a spectrum of light that is suitable for plant photosynthesis.

Finally, consider moving the pots indoor during excessively cold days. When the temperatures are too low, your attempts to keep the pots warm may be inefficient.

Gardening in a cold climate requires more preparatory steps and care than growing plants in containers during warm months. Still, you will achieve success by following a few basic steps. Good drainage and making sure that the containers are warm enough will ensure the wellbeing of your plants. The selection of hardy species will enhance your gardening efforts even further.

Tips For A No Weeds and No Bugs Urban Permaculture Garden

Soil Preparation

To produce delicious fruits and vegetables in an urban permaculture garden, all starts with the soil preparation. This easy method helps minimize weeding and requires minimal watering.

1. Lightly sprinkle the complete grass or soil area that you want to make into an urban garden with fresh compost. This attracts the worms to come to the surface and find all the delicious layers you put on.

2. The most important first step in creating your urban permaculture garden, is to cover the grass or soil thoroughly with wet newspaper, at least 5 pages thick, making sure there are no colored ink pages included.

3. Then cover the newspaper with plain flat cardboard and water it well. Flattened cardboard boxes are good to use for this.

Raised Garden Beds

1. Use untreated 8″ x 1″ or 12″ x 1″ timber to make square or rectangular garden beds, no wider than an arm span from each side to the middle. This allows you to work your permaculture garden from all sides without stepping on the growing area. This way, the worms and insects do all the hard work for you, and their habitat is not overly disturbed or compressed when you plant or weed your crops.

2. Lay out your raised garden boxes on the prepared area of cardboard, leaving wheelbarrow width walkways all around them. Peg the boxes to the ground.

Filling Your Raised Garden Beds

1. Cover the wet cardboard inside the raised boxes with a thin layer of coffee grounds. This benefits fruits and vegetables in a similar way to what nitrogen does. Coffee grounds obtained at no cost, from coffee shops can also be used later as a top sprinkling to enhance growth.

2. Next add any layer of manure at this stage but not too thick. Horse manure from quality stables is good, as these horses have a very good balanced diet. Alternatively, use sheep pellets or chicken manure. The soil that chickens have turned over in their yards can also be added here.

3. Next you can add a thick layer of compost dirt. See the compost section to learn how best to make this, otherwise, buy some from the garden center.

4. On top of that, you can add a layer of potting mix if you are planting seeds or want a finer soil to plant your seedlings directly into.

5. A layer of organic wood chips, leaf mulch, or year old calf shed cleanings tucked in between plants after you have planted, keeps the top soil darkened to allow the worms to come up around all your plants and stops weed seeds germinating. The worms leave their fresh worm juice right there beside your plants.

6. Prior to planting anything in your new garden boxes, give these layers of soil a gentle soak with the best water you can find, and leave them to settle for a week or so, watering daily. This encourages the worms, insects and bug life to take up residence and work their magic in your soil.

Beneficial Additions To Your Soil Layers

1. If you have access to them, a thin layer of wilted comfrey leaves laid on top of the coffee grounds provides valuable nutrients. We grow two large controlled clumps of this, so a source of compost material lays under our fruit trees. This is a prolific, powerful medicinal plant but needs cutting to wilt in the sun first to stop it taking root and spreading throughout your garden.

2. Then to tune into the magnetic field of the earth, you can sprinkle a thin layer of paramagnetic rock dust on the compost. Paramagnetic rock dust can also be added to compost mixes in about 1:10. You may need to search for a supplier near you.

3. Liquid chicken, sheep or cow manures, worm juice or diluted seaweed liquid are all very beneficial manures to add to your garden. The dilution needs to be weak to avoid burning the plants. These dilutions and rates of applications are easily found on the web.

4. We watered our cabbages twice a week with liquid cow manure (one cow pat to a large bucket of water), when we were dairying in the perfect growing climate of Wairoa and grew giant species of cabbages. The outer leaves reached waist height and the hearts were huge! We felt like we had unlocked a secret from Eden!

Pest Control And Ways to Provide For Beneficial Insects And Animals

1.When you plant your cabbage, cauliflowers or broccoli, make a bamboo A frame shape and drape fine white mesh over the plants, to save having to spray for white butterfly.

2. Keeping ducks on your walkways ensures the snails and annoying bugs are eliminated, but you will need to cut some plastic mesh to make a small fence inside the garden boxes, that the ducks can’t get over, to protect the vegetables in your garden boxes. You may need to clip one wing on your ducks if they fly. Feed the ducks kibbled maize, after they have eaten from the walkways.

We have a drake and three ducks and rear the ducklings for meat and have eggs for baking. Peeking and Muscovey are good eating ducks and make a beautiful feature in the garden when they float in the pond. The water they bathe in is excellent to water the gardens with. We give them clean water every day.

3. Make a space full of rocks to encourage frogs and geckos to come to live in, as they can deal with bugs and pests also. Frogs love a small pond.

Insect Life

1. If you really want to be kind to your insect friends, you can make a watered down molasses solution to sprinkle on top of your newly created garden. Do this after your garden’s first watering. This will feed all the worms, bugs and the bee colonies that are going to do the gardening for you, as they love that little bit of sugar content..

2. Bees have a memory of where they get good water and the sweetest nectar, so if you cater for their needs it ensures you get good visitation when you need them for pollinating. They have a good memory and will bring their friends back with them. The wonderful tasting fruits you grow will also attract the bees, thus ensuring pollination when you grow fruits all year round.

3. Plant many blue and purple plants like lavender and make sure you grow colorful flowers to attract the bees throughout the season. Provide a water bath for both birds and bees for resting and drinking. Planting lavender under the windows of your house helps keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay and brings the bees across. This ensures they find all the plants that need polination as they fly back out of your garden.

Water Retention Walkways

1. Box up the far sides of all the walkways around your garden beds enabling them to hold 8 to 12 inches deep of either untreated sawdust, calf shed wood chips, or tree and leaf mulch from your local tree removal firm. Avoid pine mulch.

2. Another way to get a good walkway filler is to ask to clean out horse boxes at stables. You will receive unlimited access to good untreated woodchips, complete with horse urine.

These walkways become large worm breeding areas and the next year are ready to become the compost material for your garden beds. You then just refill your walkways annually.

3. The rain water is held in the fibrous wood materials in the walkways and seeps into your garden beds as they need it. When it rains you collect all the run-off across your section in these walkways and this way you are collecting water for your garden for a future drought.

When we made our walkways, we spirit leveled them to hold water evenly along their full length. The paper and cardboard being thicker in the walkways and up the sides keeps the water in for as long as possible.

4. The outside edges of your planned garden area planted with fruit trees close to the walkways enables them to enjoy the wonderful moisture from your walkways too.

5. Lay any tree branches, mulch or grass clippings under your trees and watch the wonderful forest floor develop there. Better still, feed the grass clippings to the chickens first and watch them make beautiful compost soil out of it.

6. This forest floor soil is excellent to grow seedlings in, mixed with potting mix. Mushrooms can also grow in this rich moist atmosphere under the trees.

Composting

1. Soils love compost that have a 1 part nitrogen to a 25 part carbon ratio. Making compost in this ratio, ensures your stack will not sink down to half the size, but stay the size you made it. Just add layers and layers in this ratio, and cover the stack until it is ready. Properly made it will be ready in a couple of months but it is more common to leave it six months to a year.

2. Nitrogen equates to the hot things such as manures or road kill and the carbon equates to the dry wood based matter such as dry grass clippings, dry wood chips, paper, cardboard, or dry tree mulch.

3. A compost made in this ratio is a source of hot water for a shower. Wrap black polythene pipe around and through your compost, connect it to a hose and shower head and there you can have a shower in the garden before heading home.

Leaf Curl and Fungi

1. Copper tacks in the trunks of your fruit trees stops leaf curl and flea collars around the base of your apple trees can stop the apple moth that climbs up the tree before it mates with the ones that flies into the tree.

2. Fungi send out a filament underground, like an internet connection to every tree and plant in your garden so anything you do anywhere in your garden affects the entire area. Your garden is a living, communicating entity.

Harvesting and Replanting

1. Only cut the tops of vegetables like cauliflowers and broccoli when you harvest. Leave the roots in the ground for the soil life to break down, as the rotting roots make good water walkways deeper into the ground.

2. When replanting, just make a small hole, add a bit of compost dirt, then plant your new plant or seeds without disturbing the soil life too much. The soil stays soft and workable if you keep adding mulch to the top and keep the moisture levels right.

3. Your garden will be very lush using no dig, no spray, no weeds, no bugs, urban permaculture garden technology and needing only minimal watering to produce delicious fruits and vegetables. The mulch on the top of the soil slows down the evaporation rate of the available water.

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I hope you liked my article with tips for a No Weeds and No Bugs Urban Permaculture Garden.

The writer is a health and well-being enthusiast and has discovered that structured water as produced by the best water filter does miracles to people’s health, delivers an amazing yield from self grown fruit and vegetables and reduces overall usage.

A Few Simple Things That People Can Do For The Care For Their Lawn And Garden

Having a nice family home is a wonderful thing compared to just having the family live in a big condominium in the city. Now having a big family home is even better because it provides enough living space for all of the family members. Now when we say big family home, one of the features it will surely have is a big lawn and garden. This feature of a family home provides a nice space for rest and recreation, and like they say “the family that plays together, stays together”. Therefore, proper care for lawn and garden is a definite must.

To be able to keep the beauty of a lawn and garden so that the family can have a nice space for rest and play, here are a few simple things that people can do.

For the lawn, it is essential to also keep in mind that the top soil also needs care and protection. When mowing the grass, it will be good to make sure not to cut it too short that the top soil will be partially exposed. This is very important for the top soil so that it will be less susceptible to erosion because having the grass at a good or right length will give the top soil good cover from the harsh sun. This is especially important for those who live in places where the hot months can truly be – hot. Keeping the top soil healthy will help the grass and all of the plants in the garden to grow healthier because a healthy soil will encourage the roots to grow deeper.

For watering your lawn and garden, one of the best practices for this is to give water in the morning and not in the afternoon. Giving the plants and the grass water in the morning will give them good protection later on when the sun gets very hot. Watering the plants and the grass in the afternoon can actually cause damage to the greenery. Although the plants and especially the grass can survive really hot days, giving them water when they are overheated can be a shocking experience. Remember these are also living things.

Doing these things should be a good help to your lawn and garden especially if you live in a place where the weather can get really hot. You can also find other tips from other people that may also be of great help in keeping your greens at home very healthy.

You can also get help and advice from professionals to ensure that your lawn and garden will be as pretty as can be. After all, getting help from professionals in lawn and garden care is a good way to guarantee that your greenery will get proper treatment.

How To Save Worms And Soil Life During Flooding Of Your Garden

An interesting discovery enabled this article on how to save worms and soil life during flooding of your garden. Two years ago after learning urban permaculture gardening, and turning a whole town property into a food forest, something very interesting happened that shed light on a wonderful way how to save worms and soil life during flooding of your garden.

After adding a lot of local natural materials, like horse manure, wood chips from calf shed cleanings, tree and leaf mulch, hen manure, sheep manure, seaweed, and many other organic nutrients to the gardens, setting up water retention walkways filled with mulch, and vegetable filled, no dig, no weed garden boxes and planting many double grafted fruit trees, delicious fruits and vegetables grew prolifically.

Following urban permaculture tips, covering soil with straw, wood chips, or leaf mulch, this encouraged worm activity to the very surface, and held the soil moisture in. This year a very thick layer, nearly two feet thick covered all the garden beds, tucked in around plants and trees.

The indoor pot plants also had worms and mulch added, and just before every flood, the indoor worms would leave their pots and go walkabout along the carpet. Interestingly, they were in tune with the outdoor worms who were migrating to a safer place with the impending weather conditions.

After a very long drought this year, the rain finally came and then came the flooding. The difference this year was all the worms had somewhere to go that was above the level of the surface flooding! They were in tight balls in the very top of the straw and hay, about a foot above the soil and water. They were dry, warm and safe. No doubt many other beneficial bugs and insects found refuge there too. This year it seemed no worm or soil life was lost to rain or surface flooding.

When the rain stopped and the ground dried, our worm life simply slipped quietly back to their homes underground, and as the ground continued to dry out, beneficial watering by hand kept the worm and soil life healthy.

We now wonder where do the worms and soil life go in serious flooding and how often have we lost many beneficial creatures by our old ways of gardening? And how much top soil do we lose to flooding and how many nutrients washed away through not covering the ground with mulch?

Forests live for many years without any intervention from man, simply through recycling waste materials. A forest floor is thick with leaf mulch which keeps in the moisture and feeds the ground. This layer provides a wonderful haven for all soil life in any weather.

We only need to copy nature in this way, and water with the best water we can find, to reap great rewards from our gardens. We invite you to take a look below if you want to learn more. It is so rewarding, you will be glad you looked.

I hope you enjoyed learning how to save worms and soil life during flooding of your garden, as much as I did sharing it with you.

The writer is a health and well-being enthusiast and has discovered that structured water as produced by the best water filter does miracles to people’s health, delivers an amazing yield from self grown fruit and vegetables and reduces overall usage.

Gardening Advice And Tips How to Water Your New Lawn Sod

Having a nice looking lawn requires taking care of your sod from the start. In doing this, it will guarantee your lawn looking beautiful for a long period of time. To begin the process, the soil you’ll be laying the sod on should be moistened including the rolls of grass you will be applying to prevent dryness.

Your watering begins right away after sod installation. The key is to keep your sod moist but not soggy at all times for the seed to germinate. If you keep your sod dry, it will dry out the sod and both the sod and the seed will die. Apply mulch on top sparingly then water twice a day for a week then twice a week for a month. Watering will also depend on the climate. If it rains you don’t need to water your new lawn sod. Water your lawn same time during late hours to save water and not during the afternoon time which will make most of the water evaporate instead of soaking down the lawn. Wait until the sod is well rooted before decreasing your watering. Water your lawn evenly and water less on shaded areas. Lift each corner of the sod for resistance. The more resistance you get, the sod is more rooted down. When sod is rooted, watering frequency should decrease but the amount of water should increase. Keep in mind that soil that is too wet does not allow the water to soak deep down. This causes algae to grow and seed to rot depleting the oxygen for the roots. If you see moss showing up, especially in shady areas, you need to decrease your watering frequency and time. Do not mow your new lawn sod until it is thick and strong enough. The grass must be tall and thick enough to withstand the pressure of the lawn mower. If there are areas that are too thin, apply seeds and allow to germinate. Do not over seed.

If you remember all the above gardening advice on how to care for your new lawn sod, you will be blessed with a nicely looking garden lawn. Patience, timing and dedication will be needed to attain this. There is no such thing as an ugly lawn unless you do not put an effort in caring for it. Remember to invest your time caring for your new lawn sod.Watering your new grass seed may be quite a challenge, but will surely result in having a beautiful grass lawn in the future.

It Is Easier to Create a Realistic Fairy Garden When You Are Familiar With Miniature Scales

The allure to miniature gardening or fairy gardens is that all ages that can create a garden suited to their lifestyle and surroundings. From small-scale terrarium gardens to large-scale landscape gardens, miniatures can be displayed in a variety of places. People living in the country may consider designing a plot of land for their garden, while apartment dwellers may chose container or terrarium mini gardens. Whatever the size of your garden, having a consistent scale will create realism in the world of minis.

There are a variety of scales used in miniature gardening, but the most popular size is 1:12 or 1-inch equals 1-foot. This is considered a large scale. The next size would be the 1:24 scale or medium scale, which is a great size for smaller pots or wicker basket tabletop gardens since.05-inches equals 1-foot. Lastly, there is the small scale, which works well with terrarium or tiny pots. This scale has a 1:48 ratio and.25-inches equal 1-foot. These three sizes are most commonly used in mini gardening, although there are additional scales that are popular with miniature enthusiasts.

In the fascinating world of miniature trains and railroads a variety of scales are used. When it comes to outdoor garden railways, the G-gauge or 1:22 scale is generally accepted. Even though the “G” comes from the German word for big, many feel it stands for the garden railroad. These medium scale model railroads are landscaped with live plants and they are designed to represent the real world. Since the G-gauge is so close to the 1:24 scale, many miniature gardening items can be used to set the scene.

When planning a Garden Railroad the scale not only relates to the accessories, but it also refers to the foliage growing throughout the landscape. Make your garden railroad come alive with plants. Add some moss to create a lawn or plant a small Boxwood Honeysuckle to become a shrub. According to the Chicago Botanic Railroad Garden’s Resource Guide, here are a few of the plants recommended for the miniature garden: Blue Star Creeper, Boxwood, Cotoneaster, Duckfoot English Ivy, Stonecrop, Picea glauca Spruce, and Scotch Moss. In addition to plants, the garden spaces can include waterfalls, ponds, pathways, retaining walls, and hardscape. Do you want a real life looking Garden Railroad? If yes, then take time to select items that are in proportion to the trains and tracks in the garden.

My final thoughts on scale in the garden include, “What if I measure the mini accessory and it doesn’t match any scale?” Select the scale that is the closest. Next, look at the proportion of the plant or accessory in comparison to the miniature garden and decide if you should go smaller or larger. Unless your miniature garden is entered in a competition, something that is close in scale will work fine and make your miniature gardening the topic of the neighborhood.

Miniature Gardening offers a variety of accessories, fairies, plants, garden tools & furniture to create enchanting miniature landscapes for containers or your yard. Adding fairy houses like whimsical cottages, gnome doors, bridges, paths, rustic fences, garden tools and even a miniature animal or two to the miniature garden will delight all in your family.

5 Proven Ways You Can Inspire Kids to Garden With YOU

Us gardeners all want to inspire the kids in our life to join us in our gardening and seed saving passion.

Here are five proven ways to encourage kids to get their hands dirty with you!

1. MAKE IT THEIR OWN.

Giving kids ownership of at least part of your garden is a great way to pique their interest. A dedicated garden bed just for them is an excellent idea.

Keep an eye when they’re planting so if needed you can assist later to be sure what they planted will grow (pressing the seeds down to the correct planting depth, watering afterwards, etc… see “pick up the slack” below).

Give them their own tools, such as a gardening trowel or this Seed Saving Kit.

If you are short on space, give them total ownership of some activities. For example, let them plant the seeds. Let them do it all on their own. Give them a few options of varieties you know will grow during this time of year, and let them choose what to plant.

Kids LOVE planting… it’s a great introductory garden activity to inspire them!

2. ENGAGE WITH THEM. REALLY, COMPLETELY ENGAGE.

Many activities in the garden can feel like chores to kids. But, if pulling weeds means meaningful connection with you, it’s on. True engagement will win kids over like nothing else.

You want kids to understand that garden time = fun time connecting with you. If this is their understanding of the gardening experience, it won’t matter what you do together in the garden. It’s the together part that they’ll love and want more of.

3. PICK UP THE SLACK.

Let kids plant the seeds on their own…

BUT…

It’s up to you to make sure they grow.

This means that it is your responsibility to ensure that the seeds are planted at the right depth. You’ll also need to keep on top of watering, at least until the seeds sprout.

If the seeds they plant never grow, a major part of the magic is gone and a disheartened little gardner might be less enthusiastic to join you next time.

4. LET THEM HARVEST.

Anything… especially flowers or seeds or dinner.

Let them pick a bouquet for mom or dad or teacher all on their own. Let them harvest dry pods from your bean plants. Harvesting is the grand payoff, and one of the more fun activities to hand over responsibility to a child.

5. DON’T BE PUSHY.

Lead by example. You love gardening. Let your young ones see this.

Give them the option to join you in the garden. If they know they will have some ownership or responsibility, or true engagement with you they will no doubt be by your side. Pushing a child to garden is the best way to turn them off of truly enjoying it.

CONCLUSION…

Starting kids gardening at a young age is a great way to foster a connection with the natural world, inspire curiosity, and spend quality time outdoors together with you!

Here’s to the next generation of gardeners and seed savers! :)

(author: Justin Huhn, organic farmer & seed grower, founder of The SeedKeepers)

The Primary Advantages of Mulching Plants and Gardens

“Mulching” is a way of giving your plant beds a change. It makes plants healthier and garden maintenance hassle free. Organic mulch is more beneficial and easy to find. These include wood fragments, straw, grass trimmings, and leaves. Plants require sufficient moisture to grow properly. These substances keep the soil moist longer because of the ability to absorb rainwater and irrigation. It holds back evaporation of wetness in the soil. Enhanced water preservation reduces the need for repeated irrigation. It also allows plant growers to schedule watering. Mulch can decelerate erosion since it prevents water from washing out soil.

Mulch insulates the soil. Thus, soil temperature increases slowly. The soil remains cool for a longer period if you apply mulch in spring or early summer. The material takes in some of sunlight. As the temperatures declines, mulch helps the soil to maintain heat. Warm soil protects the roots from severe winter temperature. It also controls growth of weeds since it serves as barrier against the sunlight to penetrate sprouting weeds.

Mulch should be applied properly. In the case of decorative plants, the mulch bed should be spread over at the plant’s drip line. On the other hand, mulch beds may not be symmetrical or properly lineal. This may be used to bring together isolated plants and form slack groupings in the garden. Tree saucers should be a minimum of three feet in diameter around the foundation. These can stretch to the perimeter of drip lines. The mulch bed must not be thicker than three inches so it will not limit the flow of oxygen to the roots. Besides, too much soil covering that will create conditions for anaerobic putrefaction.

Allow the mulch to decay before you scatter these on your plants. If not, it may decompose underneath the plants. The process of rotting may produce discharge of gases, timber alcohol and strong organic matter. These can drain from the bottom and temperatures will shoot up to 160 until 180 degrees Fahrenheit and heat the plants. The excessive heat can also damage the lawn. Cultivate the soil around the tree for ventilation purposes and put an inch of mulch substance on top. It should not be put on near the bark or on top of perennial plants. The substance will preserve soil moisture and prevent the tree from drying quickly if the cover is applied appropriately. It turns into organic matter as soon as it crumbles.

Simple Tips For Effective Landscape Gardening

There are many people who believe that there are just two ways to keep your lawn. There are those who believe that you spend no money on it at all and ignore the fact that it looks like a trailer park, or else you have to you lavish care on it and make it look like the White House lawn. Of course, as with everything else that takes an extreme view of things, and is fundamentally flawed in its outlook. Affordable landscaping is eminently possible and it can be yours if you know how.

If you’re actually trying to win awards for your landscaping, of course, then you need to put a lot more effort into your landscape gardening but that’s not what we’re trying to do here. We’re just trying to make affordable landscaping possible so that you and your family can enjoy nice, well-kept grounds. But even if you are trying to make everyone green with envy, these tips for affordable landscaping should help you.

What makes a person look really healthy and well-taken care of? Well, it’s a healthy diet of course. And so it is with your yard. The better-fed it is, the better it looks. The best lawn feed hands-down is compost, of course. The great thing about compost as we all know is that it is organic; but more importantly, it is free. Whatever you use in the kitchen at home – from apple cores to coffee grounds – throw them all in the compost heap, and you get what experienced gardeners call black gold. With a garden this healthy, you’ll spend a lot less on all of the other stuff.

It’s not a good idea to skimp on your fertilizer though. Using great homemade compost doesn’t preclude the need for quality fertilizer as well. Get a professional to come in and spray good quality fertilizer and weedicide on your yard. Usually, for the average-sized home yard, you can expect to pay something like $70. But there is a better way to do it.

You can keep weeds off your yard simply by fertilizing the right way. You’ll basically need to go to one of those small garden centers that are run by truly knowledgeable people. There, you will need to ask them about the kind of fertilizing schedule you should utilise for your local area, and you will need to ask them for the best fertilizer to go for. Usually, you’ll get a much lower quote than at Home Depot and you won’t have to spend on weedicide.

We live in a time when, thanks to advances in horticulture, we can basically grow anything, anywhere. For example, it’s quite easy, these days to get a plant that’s not entirely native to your area and even though it’s going to take a bit extra effort in that you’re going to have to compensate for its lack of natural defenses by pumping the earth full of artificial fertilizer, it’s still possible to make it flourish. However, is that really such a good idea? Personally, I think it’s a waste of time and money when you could simply do the right thing and populate your garden with local plants. You’ll find that you’ll run into a lot less trouble.

The author is an experienced Aberdeen landscape gardener. You can check out their website for a range of services and tips on how to make your garden look great no matter what you budget, climate or level of expertise.

Norma’s Garden Pool

As a lover of plants and flowers, I am captivated by the garden and consider the swimming pool a nice touch. Youngsters are captivated by the swimming pool. They may or may not ever notice the garden (except on occasion when a buzzing bee gives them a reason to jump into the pool.)

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It all began in 1977 when Kenny and Norma Wilson, with a “Yes!” vote from their four children, chose to build an in-ground swimming pool on the family homestead. The youngest was three years old at the time.

The 20 x 40-foot pool has a concrete walk as its perimeter, bordered by a narrow strip of grass on all sides. Norma’s garden meets the grass. This inviting combination of lovely home, nice family, and swimming pool with a garden has been a refreshing place to visit for thirty-six years now. The pool has served Kenny and Norma’s children, their thirteen grandchildren, and now their great-grandchildren (as Norma affectionately refers to those youngsters that are close to her family).

This week, I paid a visit to Norma to tell her that I would like to write a little article about her garden. So we chatted, and then I took pictures of the plants that surround the pool.
The pool was quiet on this day as we shared memories of children happily splashing in it over the years. Besides family, the pool welcomes friends, parties, celebrations, and baptisms.

All the while these poolside events are taking place, there is a graceful lady watching over her garden in that skillful, invisible way that graceful ladies do. One look at the garden, and it is obvious that an industrious hand and a creative mind are at work.

Perennials are the mainstay of Norma’s garden, with annuals added in. Shrubs and vines are focal points of interest, and garden decor complements the plantings in a subtle way. All of it says, “Welcome.” Although it would take volumes to tell the whole story, here are some of the highlights that caught my attention.
The deep end of the swimming pool is the side where many butterflies flit and flutter on the pendulous, thin spikes of Norma’s butterfly bush. It is flanked by crepe myrtles, lovely in their own right. The butterflies fluttering on that bush were many, and they were very active. I finally pulled myself away so that I could photograph the other plants and flowers. (I will return to try and see if I can get three or four swallowtails in one frame.)

Norma then pointed out her “Chaste Bushes”, and I thought it fitting to have a bush so aptly named at the home of a devout Christian family. As any true gardener would, Norma bemoaned the fact that her lilies were finished blooming but had looked very nice in the center of those two bushes. I completely understood.

The tall chaste bush (tree) looks a little like a butterfly bush, but its flower spikes are upright. In a gentle breeze, it sways and invites butterflies as well, adding charm yet majesty to the poolside.
Around the corner from the chaste bushes is the vegetable section that includes cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions and fits right in with the overall flower scheme. (Since you’re gardening, why not literally enjoy the fruits of all your hard work?) Norma gave me a few cucumbers from her abundance that day. The cucumbers tasted great; I ate them out-of-hand, like an apple. They were sweet and filled with the goodness of summer.

(I made a mental note of the wire support used for the cucumber vines in case I want to try making one someday. But as the only one in my family who likes cucumbers, it might be best to just visit Norma each summer at cucumber time.)

Although the regal chaste bushes, the lovely crepe myrtles, and the magical butterfly bush command attention, what pulls everything together is the flower design. It is a feast for the eyes! The varieties are delightful and numerous. The four o’ clocks are my favorite. Or is it the zinnias? Or the coreopsis … It is difficult to decide. Meanwhile, the tall phlox makes a bold statement, agastache lends vertical lines, and a demure rose bush commands attention near the deck. Here are some snapshots that give us a glimpse into the enchanting world of the garden:

Yellow coreopsis with dainty, needle-like leaves Four o’ clocks grow bush-like at the entrance to the porchImageImageImageA strong, circular wire cage with an equally strong cucumber vine growing upward

Swimming pool with mature crepe myrtles and butterfly bushMedium-pink, upright phlox in bloom

Deep pink phlox blooming next to AgastacheCompact rudbeckias with yellow eyes surrounded by tall, fuchsia-colored zinnias

Watering the garden is a daily task in the hot summer months. Norma’s sprinkler does a fine job and only has to be moved from section to section at intervals.

In between garden chores, the pool is handy for taking a dip as often as you want to. Norma went in and out of the pool between watering her garden and accommodating me. That day was hot and humid with a heat index warning, so we made sure to drink water and to sit in the porch for a bit. (Photographing a garden in bare feet in 98º Fahrenheit on pavement was interesting—ok, it was hot!) I was in bare feet because Norma’s garden pool is that kind of place—to just kick your shoes off and relax. I should have brought my swimsuit. And from now on, I will keep my flipflops on at midday in 90+ degrees.

I surely have learned some things about perennial gardening and landscaping just through Norma’s example. She really doesn’t have to say much but is well-versed in gardener’s talk, like when she uses the word, “deadheading”. Whenever she says that word, my face lights up because it means that I get to take some seeds home. Norma freely gives seeds to anyone interested in trying some of her flowers. That will be next season’s project for me.
Postscript: Just off the back porch, in a hanging petunia basket, a tiny bird had built a nest—right in the middle of the hanging flowers! Norma would watch the nest from inside the porch. The morning after snapping these pictures, she informed me that the eggs had hatched.
Having been invited, I am looking forward to taking care of the garden for Norma for a few days this summer. I can’t wait! It will be an honor.